I Am

Happy throwback Thursday to one of my favorite blog posts and one I needed to hear this week.

I AM:

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I am strong. I am worthy. I am respected. I am loved. I am capable. I am.

Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder how your day will go? Will something good happen? Something bad? Will you help someone on the street or be hurt by a friend?

It is only early afternoon and my morning has consisted of me sitting in the car for almost 4 hours. I’m waiting on my mom in the doctor’s office. A few weeks ago, she had her annual mammogram and was called back to the office for more tests. More tests. Those words scare the living daylights out of me. Knowing my family’s history with cancer, the phrase “more tests” often means there is something we need to worry about and that there will more waiting for test results.

As I sit here, typing this post and reflecting on the morning, I am constantly drawn back to my “I Am” motto above and how those words keep me going. Yes, the phrase “I Am” is the motto for the Invictus Game, created by Prince Harry, but they have also special meaning to me. Those two words paired with another give me the strength I need to take on the day. I am loved. I am worthy. I am strong. I am.

Whenever I begin to worry, I just repeat my motto and remember I can do this. If my mom does have breast cancer (and hopefully, she won’t), my family will battle it like we do any challenge – together. If you’ve been following along to the blog, you can easily tell that my life is in a whirlwind right now. However, my “I Am” motto helps me keep my balance. What is yours?

xoxo,

Megan

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The Power of Laughter

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“What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator.” Did that pun make you laugh? If so, congratulations – you just strengthened your immune system, lowered your stress level, and got in a little bit of exercise. A simple laugh can cause the above health benefits, as well as many others to happen within your body. We have all heard the quote “laughter is the best medicine,” but do you know why?

Laughter has been known to be a positive healing force. It has physical, mental, and social advantages. When looking at your physical health, research shows a good laugh helps boost your T-cells. These cells are specialized immune system cells which, when activated, help your body fight off sickness. In addition, laughing releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. When they are released, chronic pain can be relieved. Another benefit is lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Lowering a person’s blood pressure helps reduce their risk of stroke and heart attacks. Stress and anxiety levels can also be decreased, which triggers the T-cells to increase your body’s immune resistances. Lastly, humor can help a person add exercise into her day. When you are laughing, your stomach muscles expand and contract, providing effects similar to doing ab workouts. Along with your abs, laughing gets your heart pumping and can burn as many calories as walking at a slow to moderate pace. Can’t complete a physical activity due to injury, illness, or another health problem? Start laughing to get your body moving.

Humor has many mental health benefits. When a person’s stress and anxiety levels are decreased, a sense of well-being and joy can occur. Laughing is known to help create a positive and optimistic outlook. It helps a person shift her attitude and perspective during a disappointing and difficult time. Psychological research states humor allows people to see things more realistically and stop them from feeling overwhelmed. Another benefit is when you are laughing, you can’t feel any other emotions. You can’t be angry or sad when you have a smile on your face. Instead, your energy is increased, giving you a sense of hope and strength to face life’s challenges. A simple smile or small chuckle can go a long way, no matter how you are feeling.

Lastly, relationships are strengthened, and your social health can improve through laughter. There is a reason why people say laughter is contagious, because when one person starts laughing, it is easy to join in. It helps people connect and share a moment of humor and happiness. Humor can be used as a way to communicate and produce positive feelings among people. When a positive bond is created, people will be more spontaneous, express their emotions more, and there are less disappointments and disagreements.

All people learn how to laugh as babies. However, as you grow up, it can be harder to find things that humor you. Life’s challenges could make it hard or you might not feel like laughing because of one thing or another. Sometimes you have to make an effort to laugh during the tough times. Easier said than done, right? Try bringing humor into your day by completing small tasks, such as renting a funny movie, reading a funny book, or watching a funny television show. Every Sunday, your newspaper has a section dedicated to making you laugh, so why not check it out? Also, take a walk down memory lane and remember the hilarious moments of when things didn’t go right. Keep up to date on good jokes and stories, or play with a pet or children. Finding laughter in your everyday life can be trying, but take the time to do fun activities with your family and friends. Be silly and goof around. Once you start laughing, you’ll recognize the many benefits. After all, Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

xoxo,

Megan

A Delicious Look into Cookbook Book Clubs

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Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.

Steps to Beginning 

  1. The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
  2. Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
  3. Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
  4. One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
  5. Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
  6. Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
  7. Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.

There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.

xoxo,

Megan

What’s in a Carolina Name? A Look Inside the Names of Famous North Carolina Cities

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We know their names by heart and everything about them, but we don’t truly know their meanings. Wonder what I’m talking about? The names of famous North Carolina cities. Have you ever thought about why Raleigh is named Raleigh? Or why Wilmington is called just that? Well, sit back and read below for the history behind the names of famous North Carolina cities.

Winston-Salem: 

Let’s start with our hometown – Winston-Salem. Originally, the Camel City was two towns: Winston and Salem. The name Winston comes from local Revolutionary War hero, Joseph Winston. Until 1851, the area was known as “the county town” for being the county seat for the town of Salem in the newly formed Forsyth County. As for Salem, it bears its name from “Shalom” meaning peace. It was chosen by Count Zinzendorf, a patron of the Moravian town.

Raleigh: 

North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh, is the second largest city in the state. The City of Oaks is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in current Dare County. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth gave Raleigh a royal charter to explore and colonize land in the New World. His first attempt at establishing a settlement was known as the Roanoke Colony (the Lost Colony). Three years later, he returned and tried again to reestablish a settlement on Roanoke Island.

Greensboro: 

Formerly spelled Greensborough, Greensboro is the 3rdlargest city in the state. The city gained its current name after the Revolutionary War. Major General Nathanael Greene was an American commander at the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781. The battle was a British win, but Greene’s troops inflicted many casualties on British General Cornwallis’ army. Before 1781, the residents of Greensboro were Quakers from Pennsylvania. In 1750, they arrived in Capefair, the area now known as Greensboro. Quickly, more people came to the settlement, making it the most important Quaker community in North Carolina during that time.

Wilmington:

An important port city for various periods in history, Wilmington is currently known for being the Hollywood of the East Coast, its one-mile-long Riverwalk, and the coastal arena it provides people. The city was settled by English colonists and named after Spencer Compton, the 1stEarl of Wilmington. Compton was a British Whig statesman and is considered to be Britain’s second Prime Minister from 1742 to 1743. As for the area, the settlement was built in September 1732 on land owned by John Watson, and was founded by the first royal governor, George Burrington. Before deciding on the name Wilmington, the city was called “New Carthage,” “New Liverpool,” and then “New Town (Newton).” In 1739 – 1740, the town was incorporated under the new name, “Wilmington.”

Boone: 

A quick drive up US-421 North will take you to the beautiful city of Boone, North Carolina. The area is famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, skiing and snow sports, bluegrass music, and of course, Appalachian State University. One can easily guess Boone got its name from American pioneer and explorer, Daniel Boone. According to historians, Boone spent time camping at locations within the present city limits. His nephews, Jesse and Jonathan, were members of Three Forks Baptist Church, the town’s first church, which still stands today.

Charlotte: 

The biggest city in North Carolina, the Queen City, and home of the Carolina Panthers, everyone knows the city of Charlotte, but few know the name’s meaning. It was first settled by Scotch-Irish and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and German immigrants before the Revolutionary War. Charlotte is named in honor of German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1761, she became the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland. Seven years later, the town of Charlotte was incorporated. Along with its nickname, the Queen City, the city was often called The Hornet’s Nest, due to British General Cornwallis’ troops occupying the city during the Revolutionary War. Eventually, residents were driven out and Cornwallis wrote that Charlotte was “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

Next time you’re in one of these cities, you can show off your skills by testing your travel companions on their knowledge of the meaning of the city’s name.

xoxo,

Megan

Ribbons with Reasons: The Causes behind the Colors

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We all have seen them at one time or another: awareness ribbons of different colors, representing various causes. According to the website Disabled World Towards Tomorrow, awareness ribbons are “short pieces of colored ribbon folded into a loop and are used in the United States, Canada, Australia, UK, and other parts of the world.” These ribbons are used to show your support for a certain cause or issue. A single color can have multiple meanings, and some can have patterns. Also, a cause or issue can have more than one color. There is no exact number as to how many awareness ribbons exist because they are universally-used. Some of the well-known colors include pink for breast cancer, red for AIDS, and purple for Alzheimer’s. But, do you know what the lesser known colors support? Let’s take a look below.

  • Black is used as a sign of mourning for those lost in the 9/11 attacks and the Virginia Tech massacre. Also, black is associated with melanoma awareness, narcolepsy, and sleep disorders.
  • Blue awareness ribbons have many meanings, including addiction recovery awareness, bullying, colon cancer, foster care awareness, Huntington’s disease, and the West Nile virus. Light blue ribbons stand for Addison’s disease, prostate cancer, and lymphedema. As for navy blue, this color brings awareness to Crohn’s disease, rectal cancer, colon cancer, and colorectal cancers. Robin’s egg blue represents Pierre Robin syndrome, and pale blue is achalasia awareness. Lastly, royal blue stands for child abuse awareness. A mixed blue and gray ribbon with a red drop means awareness for type 1 diabetes.
  • Brown is an alternate color for colon cancer and colorectal cancers, but it also stands for anti-tobacco.
  • Burgundy has a few different meanings, including adults with disabilities, meningitis, sickle cell anemia, and headaches and migraines.
  • Brain tumors and brain cancer are supported through gray ribbons. Also, diabetes and asthma awareness use this color.
  • There are a few shades of green that symbolize various causes. Your regular shade of green gives awareness to bipolar disorder, childhood depression, cerebral palsy, depression, mental health, mental illness, and kidney cancer. A lime green ribbon is used for Lyme disease, muscular dystrophy, and lymphoma. Addiction recovery, bone tumor awareness, and renal cell carcinoma are supported by turquoise ribbons. Another commonly known awareness ribbon is the color teal. This shade represents anti-bullying, anxiety disorder, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and other gynecological cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, food allergies, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual assault and sexual violence awareness.
  • Yellow awareness ribbons mean bladder cancer, endometriosis awareness, liver cancer and liver disease, missing children, and suicide prevention.
  • Gold awareness ribbons are another popular color and many people know their meanings. Childhood cancers and neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma are represented by this color.
  • Orange brings awareness to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), COPD, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and kidney cancer.
  • Pearl, white and clear ribbons stand for dating violence awareness, lung cancer and lung disease, emphysema, bone cancer, postpartum depression, and scoliosis.
  • Pink is very well-known for breast cancer, but it also gives awareness to birth parents and nursing mothers.
  • Many people associate purple awareness ribbons with Alzheimer’s Disease, but that isn’t the only thing they’re known for. This color is used for ADD, ADHD, cystic fibrosis, domestic violence, epilepsy, March of Dimes, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid cancer. Shades of purple, such as lavender and periwinkle draw awareness to all types of cancer awareness, gynecological cancers, eating disorders, and gastric cancer.
  • Red awareness ribbons support AIDS and HIV, congenital heart defects and disease, heart disease, stroke awareness, and tuberculosis.
  • Last, but not least, brain disorders, dyslexia, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia are given awareness through the color silver.

Symbols and patterns are also used in various awareness ribbons. These symbols include the autism infinity symbol, blue star, blue diabetes circle, and butterflies for Turner syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.

If you are like me, you have always wondered what a certain color of ribbon meant. Well, now you know and can easily see what causes have special meanings to different people.

Thank YOU! Thank YOU!

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Thank you so much to ALL of my readers! Because of you, I have reached one of my goals and have 101 followers! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write from my heart on topics that are important to me. Thank you for reading my posts!

I look forward to what the future holds for this blog. All my readers hold a special place in my life! Now, onto writing new posts!

xoxo,

Megan

The Last Crusade

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Today, Dr. Billy Graham was laid to rest in Charlotte, NC. Beforehand, thousands of people gathered and participated in his “last crusade.” Dr. Graham is world-famous for his tent revivals and crusades that led many people to a life of faith. As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to one of his sermons on YouTube.

Watching and reading the news coverage this past week on Dr. Graham’s passing has made me think about the importance and meaning he gave to the world. Also, it has made me think about the message I want to give to the world. Is it a message of kindness? Acceptance? Gratefulness?

As we head into another weekend, take time and think about what will be your message to the world. Let it be one that reflects you and your good character.

Happy Friday!

xoxo,

Megan