What’s in the Jar?

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It is always nice to give a loved one in your life a meaningful, handmade gift. But, where do you start? First, take a Mason jar (different sizes or types of jars can also work) and think about what kind of present you want to give. Is it a birthday present? Is it an anniversary present? However, the jar doesn’t have to be used as a gift. It can be a jar full of ideas for your family, spouse, or children. Below are a few ways to use a Mason jar as a gift, or in other ways.

Date Night: In need of some date-night ideas? Fill your jar with strips of paper with ideas for you and your loved one to do. Some paper strips can be for game nights, movie nights, or having a meal together. The purpose of a date-night jar is that all of the ideas are inexpensive, yet meaningful. Create enough ideas to last a year. Another take on the date-night jar is to write reasons why you love your special someone. Give it to them on Valentine’s Day, their birthday, or your anniversary.

Boredom Busters: Keep your kids entertained during the summer and school breaks. Take Popsicle sticks or strips of paper and write fun, creative ideas for your children to do. Whenever they are bored, have them pull out an idea and have a ball. Also, include activities for your whole family to do together. Maybe a family game night, places to visit throughout your town or elsewhere.

Mixes: This type of jar is great for Christmas presents, especially if you need to make something in bulk. Prepare the dry ingredients of your favorite recipe for cookies, brownies, hot chocolate, etc. Attach the recipe’s instructions and be sure to mention liquid ingredients that need to be added.

Movie Lovers: We all have someone in our lives that is a die-hard movie lover. They are always the first ones to see the latest blockbuster hit. The next time you are looking to give them a present, think about a movie lover’s jar. This jar can contain popcorn, candy, and gift cards to the movie theater. You can also package it with a few bottles of soda or a DVD.

Spa Night: A spa in a jar is the perfect gift for a friend, mom, sister or aunt. Give it to them for their birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or “just because.” All you need to do is include a face mask, hand-and-foot scrub, lip scrub, massage oil, bath salts, hand cream, foot lotion, and an eye mask. Also, add in a pair of socks and pieces of candy.

Survival Kit: Jars are quick and convenient ways to hold and carry needed supplies. Survival kits can be used for college, a new parent, the first day on the job, and more. Think about the items a person needs the most when starting a new occasion or life event. They can also be used for holidays. For example, a bridesmaid survival kit could include a mini-sewing kit, safety pins, breath mints, lip balm, lint roller, polish remover, stain remover, nail polish, pain reliever, tissues, and bobby pins.

Housewarming Gift: When a new family moves into the neighborhood, they will soon be greeted with welcome baskets, pies, cakes, and other gifts. But, do you know what will be a unique gift? Give them a housewarming jar full of items such as mini-champagne bottles, kitchen utensils, soap, colorful napkins, clothespins, Magic Erasers, and other cleaning supplies. You can also include local restaurants or helpful phone numbers on a strip of paper. Another example is creating a sangria jar with the ingredients to make the popular drink.

Color-Coded: Think of a person’s favorite color, then make a jar of items of that color. For example, if your friend loves purple, think of only purple things to include. This idea can be used for any type of present, whether it’s going off to college, a housewarming present, a birthday gift, and more.

With any type of jar you choose, throw in as many items as you would like. Just remember to get creative and have fun!

xoxo,

Megan

Article originally published in the May issue of Forsyth Family 

Dear Mom, Thank You

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

If you are like me, you are wondering how on earth will you find the right present for a woman who deserves the world. To honor my mother on this special day, I’m taking a look back at a previous post, written just for her.

For last year’s Mother’s Day, I wrote a “To Inspire and Motivate,” post called “Dear Mom.” Looking back, what I wrote is still very true.

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Dear Mom,

Recently, I have seen a lot of “Dear So and So” letters floating around the Internet. So, I decided to write one to my biggest supporter and hero, my mother. Below are the top five things she has taught me that I wanted to pass along in my “Dear Mom” letter (trust me, there are tons I have learned from her, but I’ll just share a few for now:) ).

Dear Mom,

What can I say? Thank you for being my biggest supporter and always being there for me. Thank you for teaching me that:

1. Everyone deserves love and respect–no matter what. End of story, no more explanation needed.

2. Over celebrate a person’s birthday.  Everyone deserves a special day, where the attention is on them.

3. It’s okay to be organized. Sometimes we need to have things colorized, alphabetized, sorted by size, etc.

4. Family comes before everything else. This is the group of people who will love and support you during the good and bad times. Family doesn’t have to be blood-related, they just have to be there for you and you need to be there for them.

5. It’s okay to break down and fall apart, as long as you get yourself back up. My mom never stops trying. She tackles everything life throws at her with class, charm, and gumption.

xoxo,

Megan

From My Heart

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It’s 10:30 on Thursday evening and I’m sitting here with a sleeping dog on my lap. As I look down and smile at this bundle of fur, I can’t help, but think about my day and ponder. I always say writing helps clear your mind and visually see your thoughts. So, bear with me, but these are the thoughts on my heart that I wanted to share.

  1. Dogs sleeping in your lap are absolutely the sweetest thing ever.
  2. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and Month. As someone who struggles with mental illness, there needs to be more awareness and education about mental health and knowing it is okay to get help. The Royal Trio (Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince Harry) have recently started the conversation through their work with Heads Together, but this conversation needs to continue, especially here in the US. And I will do all that I can to help end the stigma.
  3. Today, I decided to sponsor a child to help get them clothes and supplies for the next school year. Funny thing, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.” Looking back, I’m very glad I made the decision that I did.
  4. I want to be nicer. Life has taken its toll on me and I have let my stress, anxiety, and depression take the fun and “niceness” out of me. I want to do better and help more people. I want to love, laugh, and live. Lastly, I want to spread kindness throughout everything I do. May is a good time as any to start a new habit, right? 🙂
  5. Don’t worry about what’s happened today, just look to tomorrow. Sometimes, I let the things that didn’t go right get to me. Its like they are on repeat in my head. But, I’m trying to learn to let go and not worry about them, because tomorrow is a new day.

xoxo,

Megan

The Benefits of Coloring

 

 

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In an interview, Prince William once said one of Princess Kate’s hobbies was coloring in coloring books. You might be thinking, “Isn’t coloring just for kids?” Actually, no, this popular new hobby has great benefits for adults that many, even including the Duchess of Cambridge, have discovered.

The first successful adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013. Since then, art therapists and researchers have explored the many advantages of coloring. It is not considered a form of art therapy because art therapy implies a relationship between a client and therapist, while coloring is often an individual task. However, the benefits are very similar. This new trend is therapeutic with social, emotional, and mental health advantages. Also, it helps a person’s brain meditate by turning off negative thoughts and thinking about a specific task. It puts you in a relaxing mindset, because the result is often predictable, decreasing the amount of risk and failure. These aren’t the only benefits coloring has for adults. Take a look below to see how this latest trend helps improve a person’s mind.

Life for an adult is hard. You are balancing work, family, bills, and more. All of this can be stressful and cause anxiety. One benefit of coloring is it helps lower your stress and anxiety by taking your mind off your challenges and helping you focus on your present task of simply filling in the lines. It puts everything else on hold because the act of coloring is not a stressful act. Little effort is involved with having a colored pencil or crayon in your hand. Negative thoughts are being replaced with positivity. Also, to easing stress, coloring improves your focus and concentration. This hobby allows you to be engaged in creating a beautiful picture. Afterward, you can apply your improved skills to other tasks.

Along with an improved focus and concentration, different areas of your brain are also strengthened. When coloring, you are focusing on the paper, colors, and design, using your sense of sight and fine motor skills. These two areas are located in different hemispheres, which cause your brain to communicate and make connections which strengthen brain activity. Because of this ability, research has found coloring helps delay, and possibly prevent, dementia in older adults.

Coloring gives you a break from technology. When you are unplugged from your devices, you are directing your thoughts on creating an image instead of consuming news, videos, etc. from an electronic device. There is also a social advantage to the hobby. With its increasing popularity, more people are having coloring parties. During these events, people will color images and engage in conversation with their friends. This atmosphere helps people feel as if they are part of a larger project. While everyone is coloring individually, everyone is also working on the same task.

Sometimes it can be hard for adults to express themselves. Coloring provides an outlet to express yourself through art. You are creating a picture that hasn’t been created before, and you are doing so in your own way. No two pictures will ever be the same. The design you choose reflects your personality. Now, it is up to you to choose the colors to further express thoughts and personality. Different colors have different reactions to your mood. Blues, greens, and purples help produce a sense of calmness, while yellow creates a positive feeling.

Lastly, coloring gives you beautiful home décor. If you would like, display the artwork you create for others to see. Frame your pieces and place them on walls or tables.

Interested in joining this latest trend? Pick out a coloring book that is exciting and interesting for you. There are multiple options available, such as coloring books for scenery, fashion, puzzles, and more. The benefits of coloring for adults are endless. Plus, it makes you feel like a kid again. Who doesn’t want to feel that way?

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Magazines 

 

 

This Is Us and Me 

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This. Is. Us. Those three little words have been turned into a television show that I, along with millions of people, have gotten hooked on. It has been over a week since the season finale and I’m trying to figure out what to do without my weekly Tuesday night visit with the Pearson family. With each episode, I sobbed….ugly cried really. I mean, remember the episode when William died (spoiler alert)?? I cried BUCKETS that night! But, you want to know why I sobbed and why This Is Us has connected with so many people? It’s because This Is Us is well…real life. After all, it’s tagline is “This is real. This is love. This is life.”

The show revolves around the Pearson family: Dad Jack, Mom Rebecca, and kids Kate, Kevin, and Randall. The show flashes between the past, when Kate, Kevin, and Randall were growing up. and the present. During the episodes, the family experiences real life situations that people can connect to. It shows that people make mistakes, parents make mistakes, families create memories and traditions together, life has twists and turns, and most importantly, through it, all people forgive and love each other to the end.

For me, This Is Us gives me comfort in all the above things, but it also gives me comfort in one thing I’ve been scared to acknowledge….panic attacks. In one episode, Randall, a hard-working husband and father of two, has an attack after being weighted down with the stress of his career, family, and worrying about his terminally ill biological father (he was adopted as a baby). This moment in the show gave a new meaning to what it is like when a person has an attack and it gave a new awareness that panic attacks are completely normal.

What I feel like after having an attack is tired, confused, overwhelmed, yet I have a sense of peace and relaxation. Sounds crazy, right? That sense of peace and relaxation comes from knowing I just stressed all I could about a certain task or situation and now I can let it go.

People have panic attacks in many different ways. No attack is the same. Some people like for others to be there, by their side, just like Kevin was with Randall. For others, myself included, are more comfortable having their attacks alone and in private. In addition, the way an attack comes on is different. My panic attacks vary in degree. They have been where I fall on the floor, crying and almost hyperventilating. Others have been as small as hands shaking or mind focusing on one task. When that happens, I zone everything else out until the task is done.

Panic attacks are normal and I thank  This Is Us for bringing attention to them and normalizing them. I also thank This Is Us for bringing us a show that explains normal life and all the feelings, emotions, and situations that come with it. Life can be crazy and confusing, but it can also be happy, exciting, and loving. The first season of This Is Us has ended, but my hope is after reading this post, you’ll jump on the bandwagon and watch the second…and third season. (Yes, this show is that good, a second and third season are already in the works). To all of you have had panic attacks, know it is okay and you’ll be okay.

 xoxo, 

 Megan   

Luck of the Irish: The History Behind St. Patrick’s Day

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Top of the morning to ya! Ok, you might be reading this article in the morning, afternoon, or evening, but every year on March 17th, we are all Irish at heart for the day. This day, known as St. Patrick’s Day, is a religious holiday in honor of the patron saint, Saint Patrick, and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. However, it wasn’t until the ninth or tenth century when people began celebrating the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17th. The first parade for the day wasn’t held in Ireland, but in New York City, when Irish soldiers in the English military marched through in 1762. From that parade, Irish patriotism grew within the United States, and celebrations grew throughout the world. Today, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and largest in the country. Other big parades and activities are held in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Savannah.

Throughout the world, celebrations are also held in honor of St. Patrick. The Sydney Opera House is known to go green by being lit with green lights on March 17th, and in Trafalgar Square in London, thousands of people line up for the annual parade. However, there is no better place to be on St. Patrick’s Day than in Ireland. The home country of the holiday is known for its festivities. The day is held in the same regard as Christmas and Easter. Since the holiday falls during Lent, Irish families spend the day at church in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon. Parades, community feasts, mass, and charity shows are the usual events, and everything except pubs and restaurants are closed. The biggest celebration is held in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, where Saint Patrick is buried. Here, a week-long festival occurs with thousands of people attending.

Why Green?

On St. Patrick’s Day, it is a tradition for people to wear green or they will be pinched. Historically, blue was the first color associated with the day and Saint Patrick. Green was soon connected with the holiday, because of Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle.” Also, the color is on the country’s flag and is the color of the clover, another St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Many Irish people will wear a three-leaf clover or shamrock on their clothing. It is known that Saint Patrick used the clover in his teachings about Catholicism. The clover’s leaves represented the Holy Trinity. Another tradition some still follow is that Catholics will wear green and Protestants will wear orange. Both colors are on the flag, as well as white. The color white represents the peace between the two groups. As for the pinching, the myth goes that, if you don’t wear green, leprechauns will see you and pinch you. The green makes you invisible to them.

Traditions

The Shamrock – More commonly known as the three-leaf clover, the shamrock is a sacred plant in ancient Ireland. Also referred to as the seamroy by Celts, it symbolizes the rebirth of spring. In the seventeenth century, it became the symbol of Irish nationalism and pride for their heritage.

Irish Music – Music is an important part of the Irish culture and St. Patrick’s Day. The Celts’ culture was based on oral history with religion and legend being passed to the next generation by stories and songs. After the English had conquered their land, they were forbidden to speak their own language and were oppressed. They quickly turned to music to help remember their heritage and history. Today, traditional Irish music is played by bands and groups worldwide.

The Snake – During his time in Ireland, it is rumored that Saint Patrick once banished all the snakes from Ireland. He stood on a hilltop, now known as Croagh Patrick, and used a wooden staff to send the reptiles away. However, this legend is used mainly for the removal of pagan ideology to further the success of Christianity. In fact, Ireland was never home to snakes.

Leprechauns – The myth of these figures developed through folklore, with their Irish name “lobaircin,” meaning small-bodied fellow. Legend has it leprechauns come from the Celtic belief of fairies using their magical powers for good or evil. They are often represented as cranky people, who are known for their tricks for protecting their pots of gold, as well as mending shoes of other fairies.

On March 17th, the world comes together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There are parades, music, and lots of wearin’ of the green. After all, on St. Patty’s Day, everyone is just a little bit Irish.

xoxo,

Megan

Article originally published in Forsyth Magazines. 

Giving Back with a Bruised Heart

It seems as if I should provide a somewhat disclaimer. The next few upcoming posts are going to be a little heavy with emotion and meaning. I’ll throw in a few lighthearted posts in between to change the mood, but sometimes I like to discuss more serious topics and start conversations every now and then.

This past week has been very stressful and hard for my family. We are right now dealing with a family member’s health issues and trying to keep it all, along with other things, in balance. You see, when your family goes through stressful times, you lean on each other and sometimes, not meaning to, take the stress out on each other. This past Friday night, my mom and I had a huge fight, probably the biggest ever. I’m not telling you this for sympathy, I’m telling you this because I’m human and things happen. Let’s just say that fight was long and took a great deal out of me. Well, the next morning, I was supposed to be up at 6:30 am and go help work on a house for Habitat for Humanity. A group from the magazine I write for was volunteering. I knew it was going to be a fun time, helping a great cause. But, you know what? After Friday night’s fight and the stressful week, building a house wasn’t one top of my fun list.

6:30 Saturday morning, my alarm went off. By then, my mom and I were on better terms. So, I put on make-up, got dress, and out the door I went. And now, I’m glad I did.

Saturday ended up being a great day! I’m always one for volunteering and helping others in the community. However, sometimes it can be hard to give back when things in your life aren’t going so well. But, during the hard times, giving back can be one of the best things you can do. When I left the job site that afternoon, I felt confident and empowered. I felt better about myself because I knew I helped work on a house that will soon be a loving home for a family in my community. In addition, I made memories with my friends that will last forever. We laughed, we talked, and we worked hard. Our task was to finish the siding on the outside of the house. At first, I thought “there is no way.” But then, little by little, our team finished the job and learned a new skill in the meantime.

Let me tell you friends, giving back in your community is a powerful thing, no matter what is happening in your life. You’ll be happy to know things are fine between my mom and I and if you ever need someone to put siding on your house, I’m the person to call 🙂

xoxo,

Megan