Back To School Organization Tips

I know, I know: many of us don’t want to hear it, but in less than two weeks, summer is over for the students among us. As we try to soak in as much sun as possible, plan last minute trips somewhere far away from campus, or attempt to catch up on some much-needed sleep, fall semester is upon us — whether we like it or not.

This is my last year as a student for now. I can’t believe four years felt so short and I really want to avoid thinking about next summer — my first summer as an ‘adult adult’ who is expected to have a full-time job, salary, and be ‘responsible.’ (Yikes!)

Before we go into panic mode and forget to prepare for the upcoming semester, we must remember that we have been off for three months and actually do need to prepare and organize ourselves before we jump into class.

Here is a list of how to organize your life before going back to school in two weeks:

1. Buy a Planner
All summer long, your calendar on your phone may have sufficed. But now that you have to balance four or five classes, a job, and your social life, that means careful planning. Planners are perfect to map out your upcoming semester in one spot.

2. Buy Supplies
It may be the last thing on your mind, but you will need new notebooks, pens, and folders, and other supplies for classes. A good, prepared start to the semester starts each class off on the right foot. Also, if you get a head start now, you don’t have to deal with long lines and empty store shelves in a couple of weeks.

3. De-clutter Your Desk
If your desk looks anything like mine right now, it is crowded with stuff that just needs to be set aside, stuff that actually has nothing to do with school, and work — that should actually be stored somewhere else. Go through last semester’s papers and notebooks and decide which ones to store (neatly) and which ones to toss.

4. Clean Your Room
I know this sounds like a nagging parent’s tip, but the best start is a fresh and clean start. I like to do an end-of-summer cleaning; this way, I can make sure I have everything I need for the upcoming year when it comes time to pack up and head back to school.

While you’re enjoying the last bits of summer, remember that the fall will be less stressful if you just follow these four steps to make the beginning of the semester run a little smoother.

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Director Profile: Agnes Varda

French director Agnes Varda is a singular figure in cinema, as recognizable for her blunt bowl cut and effervescent smile as she is for her whimsical, creative approach to filmmaking. Best known as one of the few women associated with the French New Wave movement of the mid-20th century, Agnes’ innovative approach to visual storytelling and documentary form, along with her commitment to feminist issues, has won her critical acclaim and a hefty collection of awards from the world’s top festivals.

Born in 1928, Agnes and her family escaped Nazi-occupied Belgium in 1940 for rural France. She spent her early adulthood studying art history and working as a photographer in Paris. It was in Paris that she met her husband, director Jacques Demy, and began working on her first feature, La Pointe Courte. Agnes’ experimental, socially conscious and pared down cinematic style sounded the entrance of the new French cinema (think Jean-Luc Godard) that exploded during the 1950s and ’60s.


Some of the women, including Agnes, who signed the ‘Manifesto of 343 whores’ in 1971. Image source.

It wasn’t just the structure of Agnes’ films that was radical and new. The second-wave feminist movement was gaining political speed and intellectual ground in the 1970′s. Agnes was drawn to the social change and revolution of feminism, engaging with the lives of women in her work, and directly participating in protests on the street. She even signed a French feminist document called the “Manifesto of the 343,” where 343 women declared their support for better reproductive rights by admitting to having a then-illegal abortion.

Now 86-years-old, Agnes has retired from her career of feminist cinema. She still teaches about film at the post-graduate level.

Curious about Agnes’ work? These selected films are a great introduction to her early work, feminist focus, and later documentary style:

Cleo From 5-7 (1962)

This psychological, temporal black and white film follows a young woman, Cleo, as she waits for a phone call that will determine if she has been diagnosed with cancer. Agnes’ second feature is firmly in the world of Left Bank and French New Wave film.

Vagabond (1985)

Later in her life, Agnes spoke of this gritty, surreal work as an expression of the anger and rebellious energy of the feminist movement that she participated in. The film tracks Mona, a seemingly homeless and restless woman who lives by her own rules as she squats from place to place in the French countryside.

The Beaches of Agnes (2008)

No one does autobiography or documentary quite like Agnes. In this free-spirited and playful doc, Agnes looks back over her life and filmography with a charming modesty. She plays with mirrors on the beach, rides in cardboard cars, celebrates her birthday on camera, and has a wonderful time reflecting of a life in film on film.

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Fiber Filled Foods To Keep Your Tummy Feeling Good

If you’ve been working out, but feel like you aren’t seeing any results, the answer may reside in your digestive health. Certain foods are better for your digestive health than others, and you may be missing out on a few. If you look bloated, have stomach pain, or have a belly that just doesn’t seem to go away, what you’re eating may be the problem.

The first thing you always want to be sure of is that you’re drinking enough water, especially if you’re exercising. On average, you should drink at least eight glasses (eight ounces per glass) of water a day. This will reduce bloating and promote digestive health.

Most foods that are great for your tummy are full of fiber, which helps your body breakdown and excrete the foods quickly. So, from sweet to salty, and a bit in-between, here are some of the more fiber-full foods you may want to consider adding to your diet.


More specifically, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. These berries are full of fiber and are low in fat and calories. Not only are they delicious on their own, but you can also add them to a bowl of cereal, some yogurt, or a smoothie.


You can pick your favorite kind from the long list, because pretty much all beans contain fiber. If you are using canned beans you want to make sure to rinse them thoroughly, as the preservatives in them usually contains a large amount of salt (which can bloat you and be counterproductive). Not to mention, beans are full of protein, which is great for giving you energy for the day. Try adding beans to a salad, a burrito bowl, or as a side to your main entrée.

Whole Grain Bread

You may assume that carbs will make you feel and look fuller, but healthy grains are actually great for your digestive health. So instead of attempting to cut bread out of your diet, switch to a whole grain loaf. You’ll still feel full, but your body will digest the bread much faster.


Believe it or not, popcorn actually provides you with a decent amount of fiber. The trick is to avoid the salty and oh-so-buttery kind. Try popping your own popcorn, and then adding a small amount of coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt. You can also purchase air popped popcorn from your grocery store; just check to make sure salt and butter weren’t added.

Dried Fruit

The best of the dried fruits, when it comes to fiber anyways, are prunes. This fiber packed fruit also contains a natural laxative, which makes it great for your digestive health. The trick with this snack is to make sure you eat it in moderation; too much fiber could equal too much time in the ladies room.

All of these fiber filled foods are great for your digestive health and make for healthy snacks. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to eat all of these foods in one day. Quite frankly, that would be a bit too much fiber for anyone. Try picking one or two of these that you like the best, and begin incorporating them into your daily diet.

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Encouraging You To Be Your Best: How A Pet Promotes Good Health

They’re your most loyal friend and your number one fan. Who are they? Your pet(s). Pets are great for snuggling, sharing snacks with, and chatting at, but what else are your pets great for? As it turns out, a pet can benefit your physical and mental health, which makes them an even better companion than you may have imagined.

First thing first, a pet can be a great stress reliever. They are always there to listen, and though they may not give advice, they are the constant you need in your life. Your pet will always be around when you need them, and they are always down to split a late night snack or curl up on the couch as you unwind. Not to mention, while you’re playing with your best pal, you’ll be pretty distracted from whatever was stressing you out.

Your pet arouses the organizational and leadership skills within you, skills you may have never known you could have. To care for your pet, you have to remember to feed and exercise them regularly, which promotes an organized lifestyle. Once you have a schedule with your pet, fitting in the rest of your activities will be a bit easier. Plus, as the owner of your pet, you become the lead figure in their life. Even if this leadership role is on a smaller scale, it still fills you with a feeling of responsibility and accomplishment.

Exercise, exercise, exercise; something we all strive to accomplish on our own, but can be a bit easier to accomplish with a friend. Your pet, especially if it is a larger animal, can help you exercise more regularly. If it’s running with your dog, walking with your horse, or simply entertaining your cat, you are also getting exercise. So remember to exercise your pet everyday, because it’s great for the both you.

Laughter is the best medicine, and your pet can often give you a good laugh. Between the ridiculous things they do, or how excited they get when you come home, your pet is always keeping a smile on your face. So, if any reason should convince you most, think of how happy a pet can make you. When you’re feeling great, you’ll be inspired to live life to the fullest, and who better to live it up with than your loyal pal?

A pet can be great for you in so many ways, so if your lifestyle permits  and you could use a new companion, consider adopting a pet. It will give your life a new, and very beneficial, twist.

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online shopping

Skip The Mall: Shop Your Favorite Styles Online!

It’s late and all of your friends have gone to bed. Your homework is done, and you’re all Netflixed out. But you can’t sleep, and you’re just itching to do something.

And then it hits you.

You pull out your computer and crawl into bed with it. The white screen illuminates your face and the area around you, blinding you for a little bit while your eyes adjust (and they eventually do). You pull up your browser, eagerly anticipating what you’re about to see.

This, my friends, is a familiar habit of an online shopping addict. You know you’ve been there, and you’ve definitely done it. During your late night boredom or your rainy day sadness, sometimes the only cure is some hot tea and your favorite online shopping sites.

Online shopping has become quite popular, and many prefer it to regular shopping.  Forget the lines and the hassle of driving all the way to the mall, only to spend a half hour looking for a good parking spot. While our parents don’t trust websites that take our credit cards, we shop with absolutely no fear. And hey, if it’s not physical cash I’m handing over, sometimes it makes the blow to my bank account feel a little easier.

The Internet has made a lot of stuff easier for our generation, and online shopping certainly falls under that category. Even if you just add a billion things to your shopping cart and not even purchase anything, for some reason, you’ll still feel comforted. Maybe that’s just me, but I seriously enjoy filling up my shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of clothes that I will never purchase. Online stores have seriously taken window shopping to the next level.

And that’s another thing: some brands don’t even exist outside of the Internet! Yes, you can purchase Forever 21 in store or online (and avoid the mess), but popular websites such as Tobi don’t even have a physical store that you can go to. All the hassle is eliminated, and you can shop for hours from the comfort of your own home. Now, that’s what I call the good life!

So check out some of the best online sites to shop from!

1. Tobi

Tobi is amazing. Many young women between the ages of 16 and 25 will know exactly what  it is you’re talking about if you mention you shopped at Tobi. With a wide variety of trendy clothes available, there’s something for everyone on the Tobi website. While it is an online-only store, the exchange and return policy is generous and makes it hassle-free to return clothes that do not fit. Also, when you sign up with your Facebook, you get 50% of your entire order the first time you shop. Go check it out and shop till you drop!

2. Modcloth

If you love vintage clothes, Modcloth is the place for you! With name-brand, but affordable clothes, shoes, accessories, and even home décor, Modcloth is an online dream. You know those high-waisted bathing suit bottoms you’ve been looking for? Yep, Modcloth has them; and those crazy Betsey Heels you can’t find anymore? Yep, they’re here too. You can bet you’ll find the quirkiest (and cutest!) outfits on this site.

3. UrbanOG

Love Urban Outfitters but hate the prices? Yep, me too. UrbanOG takes care of that issue, offering the trendy clothing similar to both Urban Outfitters and Tobi for a much lower price. Better yet, there’s always discounts and markdowns on the site.

4. Choies

You know you’re Pinterest-worthy when you put on an outfit from Choies. Heck, you’re even good enough for Tumblr. The best way to describe the styles on this site is funky. Let out your inner fashionista and be the trend-setter you always wanted to be.

5. Necessary Clothing

Trendy, designer clothing without the designer price. If you’re a fan of Nasty Girl, you’ll be a fan of this site as well. This may be a cheaper alternative, but the quality and style of the clothes are great!

6. boohoo

Last, but of course not least, is one of our absolute favorites: boohoo! Shop the latest trends without breaking the bank with this online site! Remember our 30 styles under $30 article? Yeah, you can thank boohoo for those awesome prices. Plus, they’re a UK-based company…so bonus points for that.

Happy shopping!

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Taylor Swift Shake It Off

Taylor Swift (Finally) Announces New Music

The time has finally come! Taylor Swift just announced that she will be releasing a new album on October 27, 2014. Fans had been patiently waiting for hints about new music from the superstar; yesterday, during Taylor’s live stream she finally gave her fans the details — alongside a new single and music video.

Excited about the big new announcements? Fans can now pre-order Taylor Swift’s upcoming album, which will be titled 1989.  Taylor claims 1989 will be really different from anything she has done before, describing it as her “first straight-up pop album.” In addition to the album news, Taylor gave fans a nice surprise by premiering her first single, “Shake It Off,” which is dedicated to all of her haters.

When talking to Rolling Stone about the song, Taylor said:

“I’ve had every part of my life dissected — my choices, my actions, my words, my body, my style, my music. When you live your life under that kind of scrutiny, you can either let it break you, or you can get really good at dodging punches. And when one lands, you know how to deal with it. And I guess the way that I deal with it is to shake it off.”

It’s no secret that Taylor gets a lot of hate, so it’s pretty cool to see her addressing the fact that she doesn’t really care about what they say. As she sings in the single:

The “Shake It Off” music video is entertaining; it shows Taylor surrounded by different types of dancers and scenarios, and she is unable to do any of the moves. Poking fun at herself for her highly criticized dance moves, Taylor is making a statement that the negative comments don’t matter.

“It takes a long time to figure out who you are and where you fit in in the world. I’m putting myself in all these awkward situations where the dancers are incredible, and I’m having fun with it, but not fitting in. They’re doing the most beautiful things, and I’m being embarrassingly bad at it. It shows you to keep doing you, keep being you, keep trying to figure out where you fit in in the world, and eventually you will,” Taylor said about the video during her live stream.

“Shake It Off” shows a bit of a new side to Taylor Swift; less of the vulnerable singer songwriter and more of a fresh-faced pop star who can take a joke (or five). Amidst endless criticism and scrutiny about various aspects of her life — from the public to the very private — it is nice to see Taylor take a positive stand on the trials and tribulations of being a superstar.

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Two Talented Sisters + Curated Collections = VelvetCrate

Amy Sullivan and Allison Loftus, co-founders of VelvetCrate

Amy Sullivan and Allison Loftus, co-founders of VelvetCrate

Allison Loftus and Amy Sullivan may not live in the same city, or even the same state, but this dynamic sister duo has managed to make their startup, VelvetCrate, the next big thing in online subscription services.

Allison, who is located in Dallas, had the original idea for VelvetCrate. As a child, Allison loved gift shops and dreamed of opening her own one day. Amy, who’s based in Kansas City, applied her expertise from multiple successful startups to help turn Allison’s dream into reality. Thus, VelvetCrate was born. It’s the gift box filled with curated collections that “make it easy for you to send ‘her’ a gift she will love.”

Running a business is never easy, but Allison and Amy make it work — despite the distance between them. Allison says, “We have weekly status calls with each other and text and email back and forth all the time. We actually talk with each other much more than when we both lived in the same place! Running a business has definitely brought us closer together despite the physical distance.”

What do Allison and Amy consider to be the best part of working together? Allison says it’s that they “both have such distinctive, separate skill sets that complement each other. Amy has the business brains, and I’m the creative.” When we asked about the worst or hardest part of collaborating as sisters, Allison said that there has been no worst part, and things have been smooth sailing.

Together, Allison and Amy scour “the market, magazines, the Internet, pop culture, Pinterest, blogs, and you name it” to find the best gifts out there for women of all ages. Allison says, “Our gifts remain tried-and-true gifts that women of all ages love, but we love discovering new, trending brands that make the gifts we carry.”

If you’re looking into a VelvetCrate for the fall, you can expect similar sorts of gifts, but new brands and products. Allison teases that you can likely anticipate “a beautiful paper good, a treat, a luxurious scented item, and a gift you didn’t know you needed but can’t live without!”

You can shop with pride, knowing that not only are you purchasing high quality items, but you’re also supporting philanthropy through VelvetCrate. The company likes to “Pay It Forward” with their VelvetCrates and give back to causes that catch their eyes. Allison explained, “[Amy and I] have both been raised that giving back to our communities is one of the most important things you can do in life. Amy is a Registered Dietician and I was a teacher for seven years before launching VelvetCrate, so our jobs were both in the business of helping people.” VelvetCrate is currently paying it forward in their headquartered location of Kansas City, where they are helping raise money for Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Ray Rice

Ray Rice: Domestic Violence And The NFL

As women, we are told to fear the male strangers. We are told to walk quickly to our cars at night, carry pepper spray, and pretend to talk on the phone when walking alone late at night.

These are clearly victim-blaming statements– meaning, if women do all of these things, they will not be attacked or assaulted. However, people argue that these are merely means of prevention in a world where men are constantly bombarded with images and messages of committing violence against women.

But what about when women experience violence at the hand of someone familiar to them? There are no dark alleys to avoid or improper clothing to wear in your own house. How is it possible to blame the victim in a case of domestic violence?

Apparently people do and will.

Ray Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back in the NFL, has been under fire for an altercation with his former fiancé and current wife. This case of domestic violence was caught on videotape at an Atlantic City casino on February 15, 2014.  Rice, having knocked out his fiancé unconscious, drags her out of the elevator after a “fight.”

You can watch the chilling scene here. (Trigger warning.) This video has since then gone viral, and evoked immense media debate and discussion. According to police reports, Palmer and Rice both attacked each other. However, by the looks of the video, obviously the NFL player hit her much harder—enough to knock her out.

In the wake of the video’s release, Rice received a two-week long suspension from the NFL, resulting in him being unable to play in two games.

…I know what you must be thinking.

That’s it? Just a short suspension for an insanely violent act?

If a player is caught using marijuana three times, a four-week suspension is the punishment. In effect, the NFL is really saying that marijuana use is worse than or more punishable than a player clearly carrying out felonious crimes of domestic abuse. Seriously?

While Palmer did admit to also hitting Rice, any type of physical altercation is unacceptable regardless of whether or not it comes from a man or a woman. However, men (especially in this case) often have the advantage of physical strength. Here is an example of a NFL player who is obviously bigger and stronger than his fiancé, knows what he is capable of doing, and literally knocking her out to the point of unconsciousness. He definitely deserved more than a 2 week suspension.

It’s unacceptable for a woman to slap a man or hit a man, but the man shouldn’t hit her back either. This is not about gender—this is not about being a man or a woman. This is about an individual having an obligation as a human being to not hit another human being, especially if you have that kind of advantage and strength. It’s simply common sense.

 And what’s even worse about this whole situation is the way that the media reacted.

Stephen A. Smith is a commentator for ESPN known for his outrageous comments, but he went way too far in this case. Smith commented on the Rice case as follows:

“We got to make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a two-game suspension, which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as can about elements of provocation. We’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying.”

If you’re enraged at this point, I can’t blame you. Basically what Smith has said is so long as women don’t provoke their male partners, you wont get hit; if you provoke them, expect to be hit.

Is this the 1950s? Really?! The  true means of preventing violence against women is to educate women and men to use communication rather than violence, and to educate men that despite all of the misogyny seen in the media, women deserve to be treated with respect. Violence is never okay, no matter who is committing it.

It is clear that Smith is promoting victim-blaming behaviors, and telling women not to push their male partners too far. Sorry Smith, but being “driven crazy” by a woman never justifies this violence.

Thanks must be given to the sane people in the world for coming out and criticizing Smith’s comments. Smith, quickly trying to make amends,  tweeted the following:

“If a man is pathetic and stupid enough to put his hands on a woman…of course he has to pay the price.”

“Who on earth is denying that? But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them?”

“In no way was I accusing women of being wrong. I was simply saying what that preventative measures always need to be addressed because there’s only but so much that can be done after the fact…”

Nope. Nice try, Smith, but everything you’re saying still promotes victim blaming.

In consequence of his comments, ESPN suspended Stephen A. Smith from its TV and radio airwaves for a week.

While these suspensions (while much too short) on both the part of Rice and Smith are welcomed, they do not solve the problem here. “This is not an isolated incident. The NFL is perpetuating a culture that tolerates violence against women,” says Becky Bond, Vice President and Political Director of Credo.

These brief suspensions do nothing to prevent violence against women. If every NFL player can get away with something like this and only miss out on two games, then what’s to stop them from committing these crimes against women? It truly is absurd that the NFL could weigh the punishment for marijuana use more heavily than what was a very public and obvious display of domestic violence.

The NFL should be ashamed for their promotion of violence against women.

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On The Record: The Week’s Best New Music (August 19)

Looking for some sweet new sounds? We’ve got your back with a round-up of this week’s most compelling new music and fresh releases.

Imogen Heap – Sparks


Imogen Heap’s fourth album incorporates fan-sourced samples into her technologically experimental choral pop,  wreathing the tender, powerful voice that has always been her primary instrument with gorgeous cello moans and ambient landscapes. Rhythmic vocal arrangements, like those on her explosively popular single “Hide And Seek,” are refreshed with a nervous, post-Internet edge in “The Listening Chair” and “Telemiscommunications.” Always on the forefront of musical technology, through Imogen Heap’s ear the mechanical becomes accessible and warm.

Beach Day – Native Echoes


Somewhere between surf-rock, girl group, and riot girl, Florida’s Beach Day makes the perfect two-minute treats of honey and fuzz. The smooth harmonies and scuzzy guitars are topped with wry, bratty lyrics and a healthy portion of nostalgia.  Guitarist/vocalist  Kimmy Drakes croons “I don’t wanna be BFFs,” on “BFFs,” and  remembers teenage rebellion on  “All My Friends Were Punks.” Break out this hard lemonade before what’s left of summer fades away.

Kimbra - The Golden Echo


Even if you think you aren’t familiar with Kiwi musician Kimbra, you’ll probably know her as Gotye’s duet partner on the ubiquitous “Somebody That I Used To Know” back in 2012. Her jazzy, surprising mash of genres on Golden Echo will be sure to make an indelible impression.  Lounge, R&B, 80’s and 90’s pop, and science fiction soundtracks beautifully collide in “Teen Heat,” and funk, alt-rock, and orchestral blend into something new on “Carolina.” Your life will actually be worse without a taste of  Kimbra’s idiosyncratic vision.

Hildur Guonadóttir  - Saman


For fans of experimental and classical music, cellist Hildur Gudnadottir’s resume is a dream come true. She’s played with Throbbing Gristle, Nico Muhly, and The Knife, and is a solo artist in her own right. Her sombre, minimalist compositions build a world from the simple relationship of voice and cello, the instrument’s melancholic tone giving us the soundtrack to a long-lost dark drama.


New (School) Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

With the start of a new semester right around the corner, women everywhere are busy buying furniture, moving in, and prepping for new classes. But amidst the flurry of plans and shopping sprees, it’s a good idea to take time to think about the upcoming year. What do you want to do differently?

New year resolutions are notoriously hard to keep, but there’s nothing stopping you from improving yourself during the school year. The key is to make resolutions that are attainable and manageable. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

If you want to be healthier…
While simply saying you want to “be healthier” or “exercise more and eat better” isn’t necessarily bad, it certainly doesn’t work as a solid resolution. Instead of making broad, generic statements, create specific goals. For example, promise that you’ll go to the gym one more time each week or run a mile every day.

Don’t just aimlessly try to eat healthier; make a resolution to keep a food journal, or at least to eat one serving of vegetables every day. Whatever your goal is, make it simple enough that you can hold yourself accountable.

If you want better grades…
I swear, I’ve “resolved” to stop procrastinating for four years in a row. Again, a broad goal isn’t going to get you anywhere. Instead, pick up a good planner and resolve to making (and keeping) a schedule every day that aims to balance work, health, and fun.

You could also resolve to not watch Netflix until after you’re done working for the night, or to put your phone away while doing schoolwork. These small steps can really make a big difference in your productivity.

If you want to improve yourself…
Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of making small goals to improve specific parts of my personality. Taking tiny steps is the best way to become a better person.

To do this, pick out a personality trait that you’d like to work on. If you tend to be more negative, resolve to write down three positive things that happened each day. For those of us who want to be more social, resolve to say “yes” to more invitations, join a new club, or invite a new friend to get coffee each week.

Resolutions are hard, yes, but they’re also easier than they seem if you make the right ones. Just remember that small steps lead to big improvements!

Eliminating misinformation and promoting miss information.