Care for the Caregiver

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November is National Family Caregiver month. Each year, caregivers are celebrated for their contributions and efforts in assisting others. This month also raises awareness for the stress caregivers experience while putting others before themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are caregivers, and a caregiver can be defined as anyone actively helping others. This includes family members providing for older adults. While the job is wonderful, selfless, and rewarding, many caregivers experience emotional and physical stress. They may feel overwhelmed, constantly worried and tired, have frequent headaches, gain or lose weight, deal with depression, and become easily irritated or angry. If you are a caretaker and are showing some of the symptoms below, it might be time to reenergize. Below are some tips to help manage some of the caregiver stress.

  • Focus on how you can assist and what care you are able to provide: No one can be there to help with everything all the time. The important thing to understand is that you are doing the best you can and shouldn’t feel guilty about not being the perfect caregiver.
  • Ask for and accept help: There is no shame in asking for others to assist you. Create a list of things others can do and let them decide on the task. For example, the helper could cook dinner one night, or run an errand. You never know who will lend a helping hand until you reach out.
  • Find support for yourself: Most communities have caregiver resources. Types of aid include support groups, caregiving services (transportation, meal delivery, etc.), and health professionals. Also, stay in touch with your family and friends. Your loved ones can offer emotional support without being judgmental.
  • Practice self-care: Sometimes there is nothing better than a hot bath after a long day. Set aside time each week to focus on yourself and relax. Go for a walk each night, read a book before bed, etc. It is important to create a good sleep routine, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget to be physically active at least three times during the week.
  • Talk to your doctor: Before starting, make sure you are up to date on vaccines and your yearly physical. Plus, this helps establish a deeper relationship with you and your physician. That way, whenever something occurs, or you need someone to talk to, your doctor is able to offer assistance.

In addition, establish a relationship between you, the care recipient and the care recipient’s physician. Most of the time, the caregiver takes the care recipient to doctors’ appointments. Because of this, the caretaker needs to be on top of medications and treatments. Creating this relationship allows for more communication and understanding of how to better provide for the care recipient. If needed, prepare questions before the appointments to make sure the caregiver understands the care recipient’s healthcare plan. Lastly, don’t be afraid to call nurses or doctors with any questions or concerns.

If you are a caregiver and feeling stressed, try some of these activities. Remember to take time for yourself and relax. After all, you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

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Day 1: An Update

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Back in October, I gave a life update on the new journey I was taking. Now, several months later, I decided it was time to provide you with another update.

Life hasn’t truly gotten easier. In January, we had another health scare with my grandmother. At 84-years-old, she got the flu and pneumonia. Hearing the doctor say “she might become one that succumbs to the flu” scares you to death. The two weeks she was in the hospital was full of emotions and prayer. Thankfully, I’m happy to report she is now 85-years-old and went into her first store since December this past Tuesday. Let me tell you, that woman is as tough as nails.

As for my job with the magazine, due to recent budget cuts, my position was eliminated. Yes, I am sad, because this means a decrease in income each month, but I’m also comforted. I’m comforted in thinking that I’m on the edge of finding my passion and what I am meant to do. You may know that I’ve been in graduate school, getting my teaching degree. This past spring, I have been student-teaching and loved every minute of it. Those students were so inspiring and made me want to come to work every day. Along with teaching, I feel as if I will spend this summer and the months afterward doing more of what I love. God only knows where life will take me and I’m confident in His plans.

During October to December, I healed from the stress of my grandmother’s stroke and grief of my dog’s, Gidget, death. Now, I am using these summer months to heal and find myself. In these past few months, I have been grieving; grieving for things in life I may never have and grieving for things I’ll never have again. My depression and anxiety have taken hits in my daily life. Now, I’m going to heal.

Some say writing things publicly makes your commitment to them stronger. Whether that is true or not, I’m going to share the ways I want to heal. I want to write, I want to design, I want to read, I want to take pictures, I want to paint, and I want to go for walks. Darn it; I want to sit and watch a whole movie without doing anything else. To be honest, I can’t remember when the last time was I did some of the things listed above. Life has been busy, and I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to manage work, student teaching, and school. However, I’m ready to sit, listen, and heal.

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering. I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” 

xoxo,

Megan

Link to “Day 1” post: https://metaylor.com/2017/10/06/day-1/ 

 

A Look Back at 2017

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As I look back at another year, I realize 2017 was full of ups and downs. I started working towards my graduate certificate in middle grades education and are now getting ready to be in the classroom. I have been given excellent writing and leadership opportunities at Forsyth Magazines. There has been tons of love and laughter; however, there has also been a good deal of heartache.

My grandmother had a stroke back in September. Yet, praise the good Lord, she is now completely back to normal. I learned the reason why she had a stroke. It was to diagnose her cancer, which is now treatable with daily medicine. If we discovered the disease at a later time, who knows what would have happened. My doggie, Gidget, spent the year battling health problems. At 17 years old, she had her good and bad days, until she passed away in my arms in October. Lastly, I experienced my scariest morning and night. The morning was when I saw my grandmother have her stroke and waited for the ambulance to arrive. The scariest night was when Gidget passed away in my arms. I have never experienced that level of grief and I’m still processing my new life, months later.

2017 was a year of discovery. I learned more about the person I want to become and how I can help change the world. Gidget taught me more about love and how to believe in more than what I can see. Little signs related to her appear all the time and I know it isn’t coincidental. My anxiety and depression diagnosis gave me the chance to learn more about mental health and become an advocate for mental illnesses. It is okay to not be okay. I have a better understanding and grasp of what is going on in my mind and how to handle it. These struggles helped my family grow closer and man, are we stronger. Nothing is going to keep us down.

I’m ready for what 2018 holds, because I know 2017 has prepared me for whatever life throws at me. I am brave. I am strong. I am loved. Here’s to another year. God bless it.

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is a beautiful time. We are given a designated day to express gratitude and reflect upon the many blessings we have been given. I am grateful for my family, friends, and of course, my dedicated readers! Be sure to stop and give thanks today for what you have in life and celebrate being with those around you.

From my family to yours, a very happy Thanksgiving! And eat everything you want, because after all, this day only comes once a year.

xoxo,

Megan

A Memorable Family Reunion

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Every year in June, my family, extended and immediate, gets together for a family reunion. At this reunion, there is a lot of family fellowship, food, and fun. This year (this Saturday!), our reunion is a very special one. It is the 50th-anniversary of our family reunion. Fifty years ago, my family started coming together every summer to reconnect and spend time with one another. Throughout this past year, we have been planning many fun and new ideas to make this reunion very memorable. If your family is having a reunion, take a look at the ideas below for to how to plan a memorable event for all ages.

Start Planning Early: Once you know you’ll be having a reunion and the date, start planning all of the details for the event. Think about whether or not you want a theme, where the reunion will be held, the food, etc. When deciding on the event’s location, think about special places for your family. These places could be a member’s house or even a vacation destination. Try to plan at least a year out and involve other family members to help get things organized. Don’t forget about games, decorations, and favors. Also, if the reunion involves traveling to a destination or another member’s house, think about how you want to handle the travel arrangements and accommodations, as well.

Get the Word Out: You can’t have a family reunion without your family there. Once you know the date of the reunion, go ahead and send out “Save the Dates.” Also, you can include surveys or ideas for members to send back on what they would like in a family reunion. Then, closer to the event, about a month or so in advance, send out official invitations. Be creative and make the invitations special and unique to your family.

Food: There are a few different food options for a family reunion. First, you can have it catered and save some stress for family members. Another option would be to have a potluck, where members make their favorite family recipes. Always include desserts to end the event.

Take-Home Gifts: It is always nice to include a take-home gift for your family members. These gifts don’t have to be big, and could be a bookmark, a T-shirt, or a small favor bag. Want something bigger? Create a family tree or family cookbook. In the cookbook, add favorite family recipes, pictures, and stories. You could also create small scrapbooks for each family member.

Games and Activities: An important part of a family reunion is having games and activities for all ages. Depending on where your event is held, some games could be: relay games and races, scavenger hunts, board games, and family Olympics. Carnival games are also popular. For family Olympics, family members can compete in rounds of corn hole, bocce ball, Jenga, Twister, and more. Award medals to the winners. As for activities, craft projects are favorites among the various generations. Other ideas are: family bingo or trivia or a “Blast from the “Past, in which family members take trips to the old houses where the grandparents grew up, former schools, and other places down memory lane. Let grandparents and/or kids share stories from the past or funny anecdotes about another family member. Lastly, create a family video with pictures and clips from the past years. Collect these items while planning the reunion and show the finished product at the event.

Pictures: How many times are year do you see your extended family members? Use the time together to make memories and take tons of pictures. These photos can be pictures staged in a photo shoot, or candid snapshots. Display with your decorations the family reunion pictures throughout the years to see who has, or hasn’t, changed.

A family reunion is meant to be a memorable time, and planning for the event can be enjoyable. Be sure to get everyone’s input and make it special and unique to your family. However, the most important part of a family reunion is to have a good time with your family members.

xoxo,

Megan

 

My Fall Bucket List

My favorite time of the year is upon us – Fall! I love all the decorations, sights, and smells season. In addition, I have my annual traditions I must do, including the ones below:

  1. Take a drive/walk to see the fall foliage: We live within driving distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway and can make an easy day trip to see the colors of the season. Another way to take in the views is simply driving around your hometown and surrounding areas. Or walk through downtown, parks, or Old Salem to experience the beautiful scenery.
  2. Attend a fall festival /fair: Once I go to the Dixie Classic Fair, I know fall has arrived. Other events include the Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy, Harvest Day at Old Salem, and the Apple Festival at Historic Bethabara Park.
  3. Bake: Apple pie, pumpkin pie, homemade apple sauce, caramel apples, the list goes on and on for all the delicious fall foods. One of my favorite things is baking during the season. Don’t know what to bake? A simple google search or Pinterest will bring up hundreds of recipes. Just a hint: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are delicious.
  4. Go to a pumpkin patch: There is nothing better than finding the perfect pumpkin to carve. Hawks Pumpkin Patch on Clemmonsville Road and The Farm at The Children’s Home are favorite local pumpkin patches.
  5. Carve a pumpkin: Do you like a friendly face or a scary face? It’s up to you, because after you get that perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, you can take it home and carve it. Growing up, we always carved a pumpkin and also painted one. Let your kids have fun with creating their favorite book or cartoon character by using paint, markers, yarn, and other craft supplies on the pumpkin.
  6. Decorate for the holidays: Many stores throughout the area have been selling fall and holiday decorations since the middle of summer. Seeing these items always gets me into the decorating mood. Take one Saturday and turn your house into a fall oasis. Some of the decorations can even become DIY projects, such as this fun scarecrow. All you need is: one shirt, one pair of pants, a hat, old pillowcase for face, old newspapers, safety pins, narrow rope, small amounts of straw, raffia, or dried grass, and permanent markers or felt scraps for the facial features. Button and zip the shirt and pants and tie the ends of the arms and legs with the rope. Stuff full with newspaper and use safety pins to attach the two pieces of clothing at the waist. In the pillowcase, add stuffing and form into the size and shape of a face. Use the permanent marker or felt to create facial features. Tuck into the neck of the shirt and secure with safety pins. Add the hat. To finish, stuff some straw or raffia into the openings (such as arms and legs) and glue if necessary.
  1. Watch Halloween movies: Freeform’s (formerly ABC Family) 13 days of Halloween is the perfect place to start your Halloween movie marathon. To make the marathon complete, watch older fall movies, such as all-time favorite Hocus Pocus. You can’t get through the season without watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least once.
  2. Watch football: No matter who your favorite team is, it’s the time to root for them. High school, college, pro – everyone has a favorite. Let’s just hope the Carolina Panthers have as good of a season as they did last year! Super Bowl LI material? I think so! In addition, spend some time outside with your family and friends playing your own game of football.
  3. Jump in a pile of leaves…and then rake them up: Fall is one of the seasons to be a kid again and with being a kid comes the chance to jump in a pile of leaves. However, the adult responsibility sets in when you have to rake them up afterwards.
  4. Go trick or treating: Who doesn’t love putting on a costume and being someone else for a while? Halloween gives you a chance to step outside of the box and do just that. Plus, if you go trick or treating, you’ll get candy. Another option would be dressing up and handing out goodies to children that stop by your house on All Hallow’s eve.
  5. Have a bonfire: What better way to celebrate fall than with a cup of apple cider and s’mores in front of a bonfire? Bundle up with your hats and scarves. Gather your family and friends as you toast to the new season.

xoxo,

Megan

Birthdays, Birthdays, Birthdays

Earlier this week, I turned another year older. For many, birthdays come with the thought of getting older. For me, birthdays come with the thought of getting another year to live.

Birthdays are always a big thing for my family and friends. There is cake, decorations, and events throughout the day. This is just a simple reminder to remember how important the birthday person is in everyone’s lives.

Each year I’m thankful for getting another year to be in this world. I’m thankful for getting another chance to take risks, to love, and to experience the ups and downs of life. With each birthday, there is a sense of renewal and a new beginning. Maybe that’s because I’m reminded just how loved and special I am to those in my life.

So, whoever’s birthday is next, whether it be a friend or family member, make sure they know how important they are to you and celebrate their special day, like there’s no tomorrow.

xoxo,

Megan

Christmas in July, Final Day

Today is the last day of my Christmas in July extravaganza! Grab your family together and create a new tradition, all while enjoying some festive holiday tunes.

A Book A Day

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Place 24 wrapped books under the Christmas tree. These books can relate to the meaning of the holiday, favorites of your children, or any type of book you would like. Starting December 1 and going through the 24th, unwrap one of the books each night. Have fun and be creative with this exciting tradition!

Favorite Holiday Songs

Add some Christmas music to your holiday with some of my favorites.

1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

2. “O Holy Night”

3. “The Christmas Song”

4. “White Christmas”

5. “Christmas in Dixie”

Until next time, have a fantastic Christmas in July! Seems the perfect time to say “Mele Kalikimaka!”

xoxo,

Megan

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