The Power of the Pause in a Busy Life

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The days are busy and the hours are packed with items to complete on our to-do lists. Let’s all admit it – life can be hectic, no matter what stage of life you are in. It can be easy to get into a routine of working all the time with little to no rest. Yet, this habit can make one tired, stressed, and not the best version of themselves. To renew your energy and add more balance to your life, practicing the power of the pause is key.

According to CEO of The Energy Project, Tony Schwartz, “human beings perform best and are most productive when they alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal.” In addition, author Cara Bradley writes in her article on mindful.org, that it is a commitment to practice the pause, but “taking the time to just be still and quiet gives your nervous system a chance to regain balance.” Sounds persuasive, right? Pausing in a bustling lifestyle is a form of self-care and one that should be done, often. Practicing the pause can be done for a couple of minutes, hours, or longer. One thing to keep in mind that no matter how long you pause, you need to omit noise and embrace silence.

Noise is all around us. Outer noise in our various environments and inner noise in our heads. Bradley is correct when she states that “we are over-stimulated with noise.” Don’t you hate it when you are trying to get to sleep and the thoughts in your head keep you awake? Well, practicing the silence side of the pause helps. Just like noise, there is outer and inner silence.

Pausing for a Short Period of Time:

First, whenever you are ready or in need of a break or pause, turn off all the outer noises, such as phones, televisions, etc. Also, try to get yourself in a silent environment away from distractions. To find inner silence, begin relaxing with breathing exercises and meditation. One way to do this is through the exercise below:

  1. While sitting down, place your feet on the floor, hands on your thighs, and close your eyes.
  2. Think about your feet and pay attention to where they are on the ground. Notice everything around you.
  3. Find your heartbeat and focus your mind on the rhythm of your pulse. Do the same for your breathing. At this point, you should begin to feel at ease and your body should start to relax.
  4. Continue this for a few minutes or however long you need to pause.

Practice this method by scheduling 1 to 2-minute breaks every hour. Pauses can happen at any time, such as getting in and out of your car, before heading into a meeting, or finishing a hectic errand. Always include a short pause when you wake up in the morning and right before you go to bed at night.

Pausing for a Longer Period of Time:

Inner silence can last longer than only a few minutes. Settle down with your favorite activities, such as an evening bath with candles and music, an afternoon walk, or reading and napping on a rainy Saturday. Get in the mindset with the same techniques as listed above. Trust me, there is no harm in taking a whole day and doing nothing. Find what “pause” works best for you and add it into your schedule.

There are many benefits to the power of the pause. Reduced stress, more balance, and focus increase in awareness of healthy choices, and a better you are just a few of the reasons. Make sure you practice the pause daily and more peace will be added into your life.

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipes for Homemade Cleaning Products

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There has been much discussion about whether or not cleaning products are safe and healthy for homes. Most are filled with toxins and chemicals that could cause harm to your family and furry friends. For example, some products warn you to keep them away from animals, due to the odor and/or the ingredients. If the item has this type of warning, it may not be safe to use in your home. However, there are ways to make your own cleaning products with materials you probably already use, such as baking soda and vinegar. Creating your own allows you to feel safer and more in control of what your family and animals are breathing in, while you still have a sparkling clean house. Here are just a few of the recipes for homemade cleaning products. For these recipes, make sure you are stocked up on baking soda, vinegar, and spray bottles (available at Dollar Tree stores).

All-Purpose Cleaner 

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. baking soda

1 quart warm water

½ cup white vinegar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a spray bottle or dip a sponge into the mixture. This all-purpose cleaner is great for use on kitchen counters, appliances, and more. The baking soda acts as a deodorizer and takes away smells. In addition, you can add a lemon rind, rosemary sprigs, or drops of an essential oil to add a scented smell to the all-purpose cleaner. 

 Glass Cleaner 

Ingredients:

2 cups water

½ cup white or cider vinegar

¼ cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration works best)

1 to 2 drops of an essential oil of your choice for smell (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and add into a spray bottle. Don’t spray the cleaner directly onto the glass; spray onto a towel or cloth first. Let’s just say—move over, Windex!  This natural glass cleaner is perfect to take away streaks and make your glass items look like new.

 Heavy-duty Scrub

Ingredients:

Half a lemon

½ cup borax

Dip the lemon into the borax and put directly onto the surface. Then, rinse. It is never fun to keep scrubbing rust stains on porcelain and enamel areas when nothing happens. This heavy-duty scrub will take away those stains in no time at all.

Fabric Softener

Ingredients:

5½ cups water

15-oz. bottle of your favorite hair conditioner

2½ cups white vinegar

20 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and store in an empty container. Whenever you are doing laundry, add in about ¼ cup to a normal-sized load right before the rinse cycle.

 

Disinfectant Wipes:

Ingredients:

1 cup water

¼ cup vinegar

8 drops tea tree oil

8 drops eucalyptus essential oil

8 drops lemon essential oil

15-20 squares of cloth

Empty container, such as an old baby wipe container

Directions:

Fold and place the cloths into the container and set aside. Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl, making sure to mix well. Pour mixture over the cloths and let soak. Whenever needed, the disinfectant wipes will be ready to use. Make sure to repeat as often as needed to keep the wipes moist.

One final tip to leave you with is to use lemonade Kool-Aid as a toilet bowl cleaner. Just flush, sprinkle in the Kool-Aid and scrub with a toilet bowl brush. Then, let sit overnight and flush in the morning.

These five recipes are just a handful of the multiple examples out there. A quick search on the Internet will reveal different homemade cleaners with different purposes.

xoxo,

Megan

7 Ways to Make Time for Yourself

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Let’s be honest with ourselves – life is busy. The days are filled with work, family, errands, appointments, and more. Sometimes we become stressed and tired, especially if we spend more time caring for others and neglect caring for ourselves.

Whether it is five minutes a day or an hour a week, make it a goal this new year to add self-care into your schedule. Some of the many self-care ideas are below. However, it is important to always choose an activity that is fun and relaxing for you.

  1. Exercise: Take a walk, join a gym, or participate in a fun class at the Y. Being active is good for your mind, body, and spirit. Research suggests aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Don’t consider yourself too busy to exercise. If 30 minutes seems too much at one time, break it into smaller increments. Try 10 minutes at a time and then build up to adding 30 minutes into your daily schedule.
  2. Schedule a digital detox: We are attached to our electronic devices and rely on them most of the time. However, when we are dedicated to a screen, such as our phones or computers, we are detached from those around us and from ourselves. Make it a priority to devote an hour or two per day to place your devices in a different room and not to touch them. Then, try it for an afternoon or whole day during the weekend. Think about it – don’t you feel stressed out by constantly checking your emails, looking at social media profiles of others, comparing your life to theirs? The more time you spend away from your device, the more time you’ll feel relaxed and more confident in your own life.
  3. Develop a new hobby just for yourself: One of the main things in self-care is making sure you are putting yourself first. It isn’t a time to feel guilty that you aren’t taking care of others or indulging in something you normally won’t do. It is a time to better yourself, so you can be a better person for your loved ones. A way to do just that is by developing a new hobby or restarting one that you had given up, one that is just for yourself. Maybe it is reading a book each night, sewing, coloring in a coloring book, or listening to a podcast. A hobby should be something you enjoy and want to do in your “me time.”
  4. Declutter: For me, I can get stressed out when things are all over the place and in a mess. To help with that, decluttering and cleaning up is the key. Every now and then, declutter a certain area in your home. It might be changing your wardrobe every three months and giving away pieces of clothing that you haven’t worn in a long time. Or you could use five minutes of each day to tidy up a corner of a room until it is done. When things are in place, our minds are calm.
  5. Educate yourself and learn something new: If you or a loved one are dealing with an illness, major life change, etc., research the situation and learn about all the different elements of how you are able to help. Sometimes being in the know about something takes away a great deal of stress. Also, learn something to broaden your horizons. Have you always wanted to learn another language or how to do a special skill? Now is the time.
  6. Change things up: Take a different route to work or go to that new restaurant you have always wanted to try. It is pivotal to have a routine, but every now and then, be spontaneous and try something new. An example could be making each Friday night the night to do something different. Do a new activity with your family and friends each week.
  7. Reward yourself after accomplishing a small or difficult task. Overcoming all types of obstacles should be celebrated. Reward these times with a pedicure, going to a fancy store, etc.

Self-care needs to be a priority for everyone and a part of a person’s to-do list. Find something that helps you and don’t feel bad taking the time to focus on you. As mentioned above, self-care makes you a better person.

xoxo,

Megan

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

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/ 

 

Self-Defense 101: What You Should Know

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Almost every day, we read or hear a story about a woman getting attacked and assaulted. According to research, assault on women is a common crime, because many assailants assume women are more passive and won’t fight back. However, there is one way to change the facts and statistics. One of the most important things a woman should know is self-defense and how to protect themselves in case they are in a horrible situation. Don’t know where to start? Read below for five important tips.

  1. Have a plan: A woman will always hope that she will never get into a situation where she needs to protect herself from violence. But, if it does occur, be prepared and have a plan on what moves and actions you should take. Create and practice your steps at self-defense classes or even with videos online. There are many martial arts studios, gyms, and personal trainers who offer self-defense classes. In fact, some communities hold events for women, at no charge, to learn the various moves. You don’t have to take a full class to know what to do. Finding self-defense moves on Google and YouTube will give you the basics. Also, part of your plan should be mentally preparing yourself if an attack should happen.
  2. Be alert: If you are alone in a public place, especially at night or on vacation, be smart and pay attention to your surroundings. Put down your cell phone and anything else that takes away your attention. If you think someone is following you, cross the street or step into a crowded place, such as a store or restaurant. Attackers usually will give off clear signals that they want to harm you. Most don’t begin with brutal force. Instead, they try coaxing into secluded areas, using excessive charm to manipulate you, refusing to accept rejection, and giving unsolicited help while expecting something in return, whatever makes the victim give up control.
  3. Follow your sixth sense: Also known as intuition, human beings are born with survival instincts, such as fight or flight. You are built with the ability to use your judgment and not to brush off your gut feelings. Trust your intuition and learn the differences between real fear and worry. If you ever feel as if something isn’t right, don’t second guess yourself. It is better to be safe than sorry. Get help immediately.
  4. Know your strengths and where to hit: You know when you accidently push someone with your elbow or get hit with theirs, how bad it hurts? Well, that is because your elbow is the strongest point on your body and your best weapon. If you are close enough to your attacker, use your elbow to push them away and go for the four weakest points: eyes, throat, groin, and knees. If you are pulled to the ground, kick your attacker with your legs in one of the four spots. Grabbed at the waist from behind, pinch the person hard under their arm, in the triceps, or in the upper inner thigh. In these spots, muscle can be easily pulled away from the bone, creating more pain, giving the victim time to get away. Similar to your elbow, the knee is a powerful tool and can be utilized wherever the attacker is in relation to you. Kick the inside of your attacker’s knee and they’ll immediately fall to the ground.
  5. Being choked? Use this move: The choke defense is good to use if you are smaller than the attacker. If you are being choked, don’t try to grasp their hands and pull them from your neck. Instead, form your hands into a “C” shape, with your thumbs beside your pointer fingers, and try to pull your attacker’s thumbs away. Try to kick them at the same time, as well. Once you managed to disengage the attacker’s thumbs, you’ll have time to fight back. Remember you only have 3 to 8 seconds before you start to lose oxygen and pass out.

Don’t be afraid to fight. Be confident in what you have learned from self-defense. Third-degree black belt and self-defense instructor Kelly Campbell encourages women to memorize and use the Cobra Kai code, if attacked: “Strike first, strike hard, strike fast, no mercy!”

xoxo,

Megan

 

11 Tips for Better Self-Care

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Recently, I have discovered the value of self-care. In the past few years, I did things that I considered to be self-care, but never truly understood the importance of taking care of yourself. Yes, I love to help others, but to effectively do so, I need to make sure I’m healthy and able first. Also, it is helpful for me to divide my self-care into “categories” of physical, mental, and emotional. That way, I can make sure all areas are covered. Below are some ways to fit self-care into your daily schedule:

Physical: 

  • Go for a walk
  • Dance
  • Swim
  • Play with a dog
  • Clean and reorganize a space in your home
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Drink water

Mental: 

  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Turn your phone OFF
  • Do a DIY project
  • Color
  • Take pictures
  • Take a long, deep breath
  • Watch an old movie

Emotional: 

  • Meditate
  • Practice yoga or exercise
  • Light a candle
  • Talk with a friend
  • Write down a list of things you’re grateful for
  • Take a nap
  • Bake cookies for a family member or friend
  • Donate or volunteer

Whether it is an hour or only five minutes, take time for yourself every day. Sometimes you have to make yourself a priority, in order to be a better person for the ones you loved.

xoxo,

Megan

5 Winter Skincare Tips You Should Know

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“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” With temperatures freezing and below this week, many people head out doors bundled up from head to toe. While layers of clothes protect you from frigid weather, winter isn’t fun for your skin. This season is full of low humidity and dry air, making dry skin common. The tips below, useful for people of all ages, will help prevent your skin from drying out.
  • Take showers and baths in lukewarm water, not hot. Even wash your hands and face in a warm temperature, to avoid stripping oils from your skin.
  • Moisturize all the time. Especially, after any type of washing. I’m always slathering on lotion after my showers, because this practice helps allow the water’s dampness to further hydrate my skin. Also, apply a lotion or moisturizing balm before bed each night. Pay special attention to dryer areas, such as hands, feet, elbows, and knees where the skin is thin. Lastly, it is important to choose your moisturizers wisely. Dermatologists have found that an oil-based solution rather than water-based is better for your skin and helps retain more moisture.
  • Try using a humidifier in your home to prevent dry air from creeping in. This will also protect your skin.
  • Use an exfoliating mask on your face, hands, and lips to get rid of dead cells. Another option is exfoliating body washes. Always immediately moisturize your skin after using.
  • Drink water and hydrate your skin from the inside out. Balance your intake of hot beverages by adding in some H2O.
Keep these winter skincare tips in mind and win the winter skin battle.
xoxo,
Megan

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

 

 

7 Home Remedies to Use When You Are Sick

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I got a Christmas present I didn’t ask for you this year – a horrible cold. No one wants to wake up Christmas morning unable to breathe and coughing up a storm. However, after using these seven home remedies, I’m on the mend to feeling better.

  1. Salt Water – Gargling salt water can help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish around in month and throat. Then, spit it out.
  2. Warm Baths – Take a warm bath with Epsom salt and baking soda. Cold and flu symptoms and body aches can be reduced with the warm water. Also, try adding a few drops of essential oils for a soothing effects. Some options are: tea tree, juniper, rosemary, lavender, or eucalyptus.
  3. Heat Up Your Sinuses – Hold a hot pack or hot washcloth to your sinuses for a few minutes. Reusable hot packs can be purchased at drugstores. Be careful to not make the pack too hot.
  4. Honey – A spoonful of honey before bed helps decrease nighttime coughs.
  5. Cinnamon – Naturalists loved this spice, because of its healing effects, such as easing a dry or sore throat. Boil one teaspoon of cinnamon in a glass of water and drink. For an extra effect, mix it with pepper powder and honey.
  6. Take Vitamin C – You can get a dose of vitamin-C through a supplement or foods, such as citrus, green peppers, dark lefty greens, and kiwi fruit.
  7. Lemon – The acidic effects of lemons help eliminate bacteria from mucous membranes. Chopped one lemon into half and keep the skin on. Place in a boiling cup of water and let it steep for a few minutes. Inhale the steam.

Use these home remedies whenever you feel under the weather and you’ll feel better soon!

xoxo,

Megan