How I Keep Calm
From what I’ve seen over the past few weeks, everyone that I know is handling quarantine differently. It’s important that we do what makes us feel comfortable and calm in this unpredictable situation. During this time, I’ve been doing a few things that I’ve found have been very helpful:
I haven’t been to a regular dance class in quite some time, so I’ve been taking some online dance classes to help me maintain my flexibility and strength. It sounds odd, but I’ve also found myself just dancing around my room to whatever song I’m listening to. This is something I highly recommend to everyone. Play your favorite song and just dance however you want to. It is something that has repeatedly lifted my spirits while in quarantine, and I find that it will release whatever stress I’m feeling at that exact moment.
Before COVID-19, I would paint every few weeks, but now, I’ve been painting almost every day. I have found that it is a very relaxing activity. I usually paint a few hours a day and watch TV or listen to music while I’m doing it. I have never considered myself a great painter, but I think I have been improving over the past month.
Listening to Music
I try to listen to music as much as possible. Even before quarantine, I would listen to it when I walked in the hallways in school, when I went to the store, and almost all of the time at home. Listening to music distracts me from the real world. More recently, I have found myself listening to music and doing nothing else. Just closing my eyes and enjoying what I’m hearing.
I think a lot of my peers have been using TikTok during this time. It is something that I’ve been using since last year around this time, but now it has become a major part of my daily routine. I finish homework; I look at TikTok for half an hour. Before I go to bed, I go through TikTok. I use it pretty often, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know, but it has been helpful in calming me down during this stressful time. It gives me a chance to look at entertaining and funny content that I haven’t seen on other apps before.
Communication is key while we are isolated in our own homes. Staying in contact with my friends has kept me sane. My friends and I sometimes call each other to talk about something specific, but other times it’s just nice to talk about whatever comes to mind. On weekends, I sometimes end up staying up late because I’m talking with my friends.
Although not everyone may want to participate in these activities, they are what have kept me going during this time. I really recommend that anyone who is bored or who is feeling overwhelmed, try one or two of these. See if it calms you down.
Natalie - In Five Words!
Describing oneself can be somewhat difficult, especially when you have to condense it into five words. After thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that funny, introverted, passionate, empathetic, and perfectionist (kind of) best describe me.
When I started to write this post, I asked my friends to describe me. Every person I asked described me as funny, so I guess that means I am? The truth is that everyone has some sort of sense of humor. I think my sense of humor is more of a sarcastic one. I usually just make a few sarcastic comments in a conversation or make a joke. I wouldn’t say that I joke constantly.
When I put my mind to something, I’m usually pretty passionate about it. When I have a specific opinion about something, I am very passionate about it and want to stand by it, even when it is not the same as my friends’ opinions. That can vary from something as simple as what my friend and I want to do when we hang out, to my political beliefs. I’m also pretty passionate about dance. I have been dancing for a long time, and although I’m not super competitive, I try to make it one of my main focuses and put as much effort into it as possible.
Being with friends is fun, but being alone is also nice, too. That’s why I consider myself a fairly introverted person. When I go somewhere with my friends, I have a great time, but if I don’t have a small part of my day to myself, then I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I need to de-stress at home by myself. Some people could probably go an entire weekend of being with friends and family, basically being social for two whole days. I would rather be with my friends for a couple of hours on Saturday then take the rest of Saturday and Sunday to relax. Being social just takes more energy out of me than it would for someone who is considered an extrovert.
Caring for other people is a big part of who I am. Being empathetic means you may not have had the same experience as that person, but you put yourself in their shoes and see how it can affect them -- and then see how you can support them. I try to do this with my family and friends because everyone should feel that they have someone to support them. I may not relate to their situation, but knowing that there is someone they can talk to about their problems seems important. I try to do this whenever I can.
I think I could be considered a perfectionist. For example, it took me a couple of days to come up with the perfect words to describe me. That includes asking my mom and three of my friends how they would describe me. My mom thinks I am a perfectionist. She claims I didn’t walk or write my name until I could do it perfectly, however, last time I looked at the papers my mom saved from when I was in kindergarten I spelled my name “Nataiel,” so I don’t know about that. However, when it comes to school and simple things like picking out clothes, I’d say I’m definitely a perfectionist.
I think these describe me pretty well. Although I think I could be described with a few more words, I think this sums it up.
See ya later!
-Nataiel (get it?)
Natalie’s Disney Trip Tips
A Disney Vacation can be difficult to plan and to execute, but after a few trips, you tend to pick up on the dos and don’ts of Disney. Here are some tips for anyone planning to go to Disney World:
Check the ride wait times as you schedule your fast passes. You'd be surprised which rides are popular and which ones aren’t. Rides like Peter Pan’s Flight don’t seem like they would have a long line, but it’s actually one of the longer wait times in the Magic Kingdom. Looking ahead of time will help you to know which rides’ lines to avoid. Personally, I always schedule a fast pass for Peter Pan’s Flight and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Between the scheduled times, I can ride other nearby rides that typically have a smaller wait time.
Don’t get the meal plan. It seems like a good idea, but in reality, it's not. Imagine this: you’ve been waiting for 50 minutes in line for a ride and the amount of time you’re given to eat lunch is coming to an end. Do you get out of line? Do you not eat? Without the meal plan, you may be spending more money, but you don’t have to stick to a specific schedule when eating. This is also helpful because you are already on a schedule that you’ve created with your fast passes.
Get to the park early. The earlier you get to the park, the more time you have. Plus, if you get in line for a ride like Test Track at park opening, then you can avoid scheduling a fast pass for it and use it on something else like Frozen or Soarin'. The parks are less crowded in the mornings, so you can ride a lot more rides in a shorter amount of time.
Go to Disney Springs. Personally, I think the best way to do this is to book a later flight on your last day of the trip and use that morning to go to Disney Springs. This way you know when you’re there, you aren’t missing out on time at the parks. Disney Springs is a great place to go shopping, if you missed out on shopping at the parks. It also has more modern stores and places to eat that aren’t available in the parks. Plus, Disney Springs isn’t considered to be a park, which means admission is free.
Find hotels that fit your needs. Some hotels are closer to one park than another. If you are wanting to spend more time in one park than another, you may want to pick the hotel that is within your budget and close to that park.
Use the single rider line. Maybe you won’t get that picture with your family, but if you want to ride Expedition Everest more than once, it is the way to go. Sitting next to one stranger is way better than waiting in that long line surrounded by strangers that have no sense of personal space and don’t care that their five-year-old is way too close to you.
Don’t stay in an expensive hotel. You most likely won’t spend that much time at the hotel. The only things I ever do at the hotel is eat breakfast, sleep, and maybe go swimming. If you spend money on a big room and a better pool, it may not be worth it. You can swim at home, after all! Instead, try going to the parks because that’s an experience you may not get to have ever again, while you can swim at your aunt's pool (or the public one) at anytime during the summer.
Plan outfits ahead of time. Before you leave for your trip, do yourself a favor and try on outfits and see if you feel comfortable in them. Also, the weather at the parks may not be what you are used to, so you may need to adjust. It can be surprisingly cool in Florida during the winter and unbearably hot in the summer. It can also rain a lot, so have a poncho and umbrella ready.
Don’t go to the parks during a holiday or major event if you aren’t really interested. Disney goes all out during every holiday and event. If you don’t want to wait in long lines behind a loud group of cheerleaders, like you may have to during an event like the National Cheerleader Competition, check the events section of their website. See what will be happening near the time you want to go. These events can also be really fun, though. It all depends on what you are interested in. If you are a fan of the holidays, I highly recommend going for Christmas or Halloween.
Check character meet and greet times. If you are interested in taking pictures with the characters, expect long lines. If you check the Disney app that lists the meet and greet times, it can help you to know what characters have the shortest times and to know if it fits into your busy schedule.
Don’t get in people’s way. I think this is pretty self-explanatory. If you go to the Epcot right at rope drop and you decide to slowly walk to the World Showcase, you will block all of the families who are running to Test Track. If you aren’t planning on getting to a park early to ride a ride, then try to wait a little bit so that you don’t get in the way.
Bring things you don’t expect to need. If you are staying on the Disney property, chances are you won’t have access to normal things you find at a drug store. You will only have what is available at the gift shops or at guest services. You are allowed a small bag in the parks and on the rides, so you can bring everything you think you will need and more. Be prepared for anything you might need. I recommend ponchos and umbrellas, not only for the rain, but for rides like Splash Mountain where you get really wet.
Hopefully, this has been helpful and encourages you to start planning a Disney adventure in the near future!
Fingers Crossed for 2019-2020
Going into sophomore year doesn’t seem so scary once you’ve made it through that first year of high school. The start of the new year brings hopes and fears, but unlike last year, I have a better idea of what to expect.
This year I hope to be more open to meeting new people. I tend to stick with the same people in my friend group and isolate myself from those outside of it. I want to learn to be more comfortable around new people and also people that I know, but haven’t taken the chance to really talk to yet. Now that I am in Blue Jay Journal TV I hope I will be able to get to know everyone on our staff and make new connections this way, too.
One of my fears for this year is being able to keep up with everything I’m involved in, and school in general. There is a lot of pressure to succeed in school from teachers, family, coaches, and myself. I don’t mean that I have to have a perfect score on every assignment, but I want to do quality work that I am proud of.
Another fear is that I won’t be able to give both dance and school their needed attention. Having to learn new information at school everyday and doing assignments for multiple classes can be stressful and sometimes they pile up. Dance can be just as demanding with dances to learn and improve upon, along with the pressure to become better and better throughout the year.
Our dance team, the Jaywalkers, has been awarded highest combined GPA in our division at our state competition for the past few years and the pressure to maintain that is high. It is a team effort and if one of us does poorly it could bring it down. I work hard at both dance and school to maintain a good image in my coach and teachers’ eyes.
Another one of my hopes is that I will step out of my comfort zone more this year. Last year I began the process of being more open by joining the dance team and clubs like Interact and Student Council. I took it a step further by going on a school trip to a few countries in Europe over this past summer. This was something I wouldn’t have done a few years ago. I would have been too afraid of meeting new people and being vulnerable in new situations. While I have gotten better at trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone, I am hopeful that this school year I become even stronger at this!
I am very excited to start another school year, especially now that I have a better clue as to how high school works. I hope I continue to be more outgoing and that this school year will be even better than the last!
I Would Be Lost
Some of the things I care about most are Disney, movies, dancing, friends, and family. One thing that all of these have in common is music. Without music, I would feel lost.
As a dancer, I need the music to help tell the story of the dance. The words and the sound of the music help translate the message of the dance itself. The music helps excite our audience and allow them to feel the same emotion as the dancer.
In Disney, the music plays an important role in both the movies and the theme parks. When watching a Disney movie, some of the most memorable parts are the scores. One example is in the movie “Up.” In one of the first scenes, it shows the main characters go through challenges in their lives. With the music, you can experience the characters' sadness and happiness and relate it to your own life. The music of Disney reminds me of happy times I spent at Disney World, as well as sad times like when I have lost family members.
In any movie or tv show, music is important. Music adds more depth to an already exciting scene and is what holds my interest when I am watching. In the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy,” one of the scenes is set in a cutely decorated hotel room and the song “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” plays. In the scene two of the characters are in a fistfight giving the scene a sense of irony, making it more interesting.
Music, in general, can make us feel things that aren’t expected. When I hear the song “ilomilo” by Billie Eilish, I think of my grandpa who passed away this year and the fun times I had with him. The lyrics of the song really embrace the fear of losing someone and how it feels when they are gone.
Other songs are just enjoyable because of the sound and lightheartedness of them, like “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” by ELO and “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles. These songs are important to me because their upbeat tempo reminds me of fun times I have had on vacation or relaxing days spent in the pool. These are the moments that make me incredibly happy and I am reminded of them when I listen to these songs.
Music indeed has a connection to all the things that make my life complete. Without it, I think life would be dull to say the least!
Lover of "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," and "Friends."