Becoming…A Better Me in 2019 (Part 1)

Last night, as the clock ticked towards midnight, I found myself crying. It was happy tears that came pouring from my eyes. 2018 was a tough year, but when I started thinking about it, the year was probably one of the best ones yet.

Just to give you an overview of what happened in the now “last” year…

  • In January, my grandmother battled the flu and pneumonia. My family heard twice in the course of two weeks that she might succumb to the sickness.
  • Throughout the year, especially in the fall, she had numerous hospital visits and rehabilitation stays. We almost lost her when they had to do emergency surgery to drain fluid from her heart. In addition, it has been hard to watch someone you love so much, be so much in pain. We have had multiple doctors’ visits and waiting for test results. Lastly, my family has felt the emotions and tough love of being caregivers.
  • There has been financial stress. At times, we worried how we would make it to the end of the month.

All these things out may not seem much to you, but to me, they are what made me stronger. You may also be thinking “why was this year one of the bests?” Well, because of this…

  • I received a graduate certificate in middle grades education and accomplished my goal of becoming a teacher.
  • The opportunity of student teaching and getting a job at two great schools have made that dream and goal all the more of a reality. In these positions, I have been challenged and overcame obstacles that made me a better educator.
  • My sister got engaged and married in a beautiful ceremony.
  • Above all, my grandmother survived all the health scares. She is flourishing and doing marvelous for an 85 year old.

In fact, we all survived. And we are all here; stronger and ready to take on the next 365 days. So, yes, 2018 was a pretty great year.

Xoxo,

Megan

Advertisements

Happy New Year!

2018 has taught me many things, including that I am stronger than I think and capable of overcoming challenges. I am a better person because of this year.

I hope you have a great New Year’s! Check back tomorrow to see what my goals are for 2019.

Xoxo,

Megan

Care for the Caregiver

FW102-CareForTheCaregiver

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

Help a New Teacher Out!

screen-shot-2018-08-16-at-7-29-10-pm.png

I normally don’t post pieces like this, where I ask for donations. However, I’ve changed careers and have entered the world of teaching! I’m ready for this challenge and excited for what is to come! Yet, as a first year teacher, I don’t have the necessary supplies and materials needed for my students to succeed.

I have created a projector DonorsChoose.org for the needed items. Any donation amount is greatly appreciated and will go far. If you give by August 16, your donation will be doubled up to $50. Just enter the code RIPPLE on the payment page. Please visit the link below for more information.

Thank you so much in advance for your donation and support! You are helping make an impact in a student’s life!

xoxo,

Megan

https://www.donorschoose.org/project/help-stock-ms-taylors-classroom/3442430/?rf=directlink-dc-2018-08-ifproject-teacher_5497896&challengeid=21226893&utm_source=dc&utm_medium=page&utm_campaign=project&utm_term=teacher_5497896

Are You Lying to Me? The 411 on How to Catch a Liar

FW110-DetectingALiar

It happens to most people. Every once in a while, during a conversation, you think, “Is this person lying to me?” You then spend unnecessary time going over their words in your head, thinking about whether or not what they said is true. However, sometimes detecting a liar is something that can be easily done in less than five minutes. All you need to look for are certain actions and movements a person does when they are lying. Body language says it all, and I’ve got your tips and tricks for spotting a liar.

  1. According to Dr. Gregory Jantz, in his article “6 Ways to Detect a Liar in Just Seconds,” more than 80 percent of lies go unnoticed. To prevent this from happening, start by asking neutral questions. Listen to how a person responds to questions about the weather, their hobbies, etc. Be attentive to their body language when they are telling the truth by watching their eye movements, stance, and hand positions. This will help you suspect any unusual actions for when they answer questions that are in the so-called “lie zone.” These questions are ones that aren’t rhetorical and require more in-depth responses.
  2. After the neutral questions are complete, begin observing a person’s facial expressions, responses, and body language as a person replies to personal questions. Surprise questions are another way to bring out lies. Most of the time a person pulls their body inward when lying and shrugs their shoulders. Also, they might become squirmy, jiggle their feet, and hide their hands to prevent fidgety fingers. Lastly, look for any hand gestures towards the face. These gestures, along with the other body movements listed above, are signs of distress and dishonesty. Research shows that President Bill Clinton touched his nose 88 times during his Lewinsky testimony.
  3. Watch for any facial changes and microexpressions, which are brief expressions that are used to conceal emotions. Sometimes a person’s face can exhibit a light shade of pink color as if they were flushed, or they may flare nostrils. Other ways to tell include biting their lips, blinking quickly or not at all, and perspiring. Shifts in body language and facial expressions occur during lying because there is an increase in the person’s brain activity.
  4. In the article, “An FBI Agent’s 8 Ways to Spot a Liar,” former FBI agent Justin Bariso states to listen more than you speak, meaning liars will talk more and in more complex sentences to stop the truth from getting out. He suggests being on alert if a person speaks faster, louder, and has a cracking in their voice. All are indications that the person is stressed. Repetitive coughing and clearing of the throat are clues of tension, as well.
  5. Bariso also notes that one should watch as someone says the word “no.” A person might be lying if they do one of these characteristics when answering “no”: looking in a different direction, hesitating, closing their eyes, stretching the word out, and replying in a singsong manner.
  6. Along with paying attention to the way a person speaks, pay attention to what they say. Some signs of a lie are: refusing to give details to short answers or providing too many details, speaking more formally, over-exaggerating or giving numerous compliments, and making contradictions to early parts of a conversation. Also, look for repeated phrases when talking. Sometimes a person will have prepared their answers for expected questions. When caught off-guard, they are more likely to show inconsistencies and stressful behavior.

Unfortunately, almost every person in the world lies at least once in their lives. However, some lies have more negative impacts than others. If you suspect someone is lying to you, use the tips above to decide fact from fiction.

xoxo,

Megan

Finding a Job at Any Age

FW42-FindingAJobAtAnyAge

It’s a common task that almost everyone has to conquer at some point in their life: the task of finding a job. The reality of hunting for a job, going through numerous searches, and updating your resume and cover letters can be daunting. Then, add in your experience level, and unfortunately, your age, and things might get tricky. Some like to say that finding a job is a full-time job in itself. If you are in the market for a new job, here are some tips to help ease your stress and make your search a little easier, no matter your age.

In Your Twenties: 

You are fresh out of school and ready to take on the world with a new career. But you might come across a few problems, such as your age and experience level. To overcome this, start with polishing up your resume. You may not have much job experience at this stage in your life. To help fill your resume, list any jobs, internships, volunteer positions, honors, skills, and coursework. Be sure to tailor your resume to each position you are applying for and make it relevant to what qualifications the job requires. That way you are highlighting what you could bring to the job. Also, always proofread and correct any typos. Employers usually discard any resumes or cover letters with grammar and spelling mistakes. Lastly, continue learning new skills. The more abilities you have, the more hirable you’ll become. Part of finding a job is getting your foot in the door and networking, especially for the job searchers in their twenties. Bring your resume to various career and networking events held by your college or university, or in your community. Starting to build those professional relationships at the beginning of your hunt will help you secure a position when the time is right.

In Your Thirties and Forties: 

At this point in a person’s life, there are many reasons why someone would be looking for a new job. The first step in your job search in your thirties and forties is determining your strengths and in what career they would be beneficial. Think about what interests you, and what type of career would make you happy. Then, find professionals in that field and network. If you can, complete an internship or “job shadow” a leader in that position to get exposure to the company and job. Another option is to volunteer with a nonprofit in that career field. This opportunity allows you to network with employers, and vice versa, so they will get to know you, which can be helpful when a position in that organization or field opens up. An advantage of exploring a career field while applying for jobs gives you a chance to see if you need to further your education or get qualified for a certain occupation. There are many options available for continuing your studies while working, such as online classes offered through colleges and universities. One downfall to this part of the job search is the time an internship, networking, and job shadowing takes. Be sure to attend different events in your community where you’ll have the chance to network. Also, think about your family and friends. Do they have a professional connection that would help you? It never hurts to ask.

In Your Fifties and Sixties: 

It is a harsh reality that finding a job later in life can be tough and age discrimination does occur in the job search. Some employers view people in their fifties and sixties as being too expensive or not wanting to work or stay for long in an entry-level position. However, this is not true. People in this life stage can offer professionalism and usually have a strong work ethic earned through their maturity. A person 50 or older will automatically have more experience and knowledge, perhaps in a variety of fields. During a job search, this is a quality to highlight on your resume and in your cover letters. Emphasize your accomplishments and where you have been a leader in various occupations. However, you do need to explain in your cover letter any gaps in employment, or why you are applying for a job for which it may seem you are overqualified. Leave off years from your education and shorten your resume to focus on jobs held within the last ten years. Along with your abilities already acquired, show off your skills and interests in current news and events, and how to navigate technology. Try to stop thinking about your age as a burden in the job search, but instead, as an advantage you can bring to the job.

No matter what your age is, all of these tips can be useful in a job search. Be confident in your abilities, skills, and experience, and before you know it, you’ll find the perfect profession for you.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I Am Quitting Doing “More”

IMG_6297

All of my life, I have gone above and beyond on everything I did. Whether it was my job, school, being involved in a dozen different activities, or even reading, exercising, and writing, I was a perfectionist. There was never a limit to how much I would do or how long I would work. However, about a week ago I saw the picture above on Instagram and it made me think, especially #10: forget doing “more.”

Often times, I call myself a “recovering perfectionist.” Since seeing this image, I have tried to put tip #10 to use. Before when I hadn’t completed a task or gotten as far on something I feel as if I should have, I would have been hard on myself. The negative thoughts flooded my head and my self-esteem would fall. But, since I have starting using the “quit doing more: technique, I have discovered that I am happier and more relaxed with a higher self-esteem. It is just one of my many practices for self-care.

You see the key trick to “quit doing more” is to just do your best and take comfort in that. There is no guidebook or rules as to how much a person has to work, the number of activities a person has to be involved with, or how much time one has to spend on a task. Just do your best. There is no shame in not finishing a task in one sitting or not completing a chapter before going to bed. Listen to your mind and body and don’t over do it. Remember, in everything that you do, you are enough and important.

xoxo,

Megan

A No-Spend Month? Budget, Please!

no-spend

It happens to most of us – overspending one month and not having enough money for the next. There are many ways to alter your budget to fix this problem. One of those solutions is having a no-spend month. That’s right, you don’t spend money on anything, but the necessities. You might be thinking, “How can I do that?” Continue reading to find out.

  • First, keep it simple. Try giving up only one luxury for the month. This tip is especially important for starting out. For example, try avoiding shopping for clothes, shoes, etc. for a whole month. This can be a drastic change, and it is best to start with what you are most comfortable with in terms of eliminating expenses. If you feel like giving up multiple expenses for the month, start with decreasing one at a time. Maybe it is the coffee you get on the way to work each morning, or maybe it is cooking dinner at home for a whole week, instead of eating out. Then, build up the amount of purchases you eliminate, until you aren’t spending money on unnecessary expenses by the end of the month. Lastly, you can also alter the time frame for how long you are doing this undertaking. Give it a go for a week. If that works, add on another week and so on. The main idea about the no-spend month is to truly keep it simple. Do what works for you and the plan won’t fail.
  • One option to help motivate you to stick with the no-spend month is to set a goal or give yourself a reason to save up for something. You might be wanting to add an X amount of money to your savings account for the future, or you might want to contribute a certain amount to your favorite cause or organization. This challenge can get tough. It is helpful to have a big picture in mind as to why you are doing this task.
  • Can it be a complete no-spend month? Yes and no. You need to still pay the bills and will have to do some planning ahead of time for the other expenses, such as groceries, gas, toiletries, etc. Think about this goal in terms of not spending money on things that can be considered “luxury” items. Do you really need a new pair of shoes this month? Do you need to see the latest movie in the theaters or can you wait until it is available to rent? There is no exact way to have a complete no-spend month because things happen and expenses come up. Just don’t go overboard on buying items that aren’t needed at that time or could wait another month or so for purchasing. For the needed expenses, try finding deals before spending the money.
  • Use what you have at home before going shopping. This is huge for groceries and toiletries. Remember that pantry full of products or extra shampoo you bought some time ago? Use those items first before purchasing more. Get creative and cook some fun meals for you and your family. You never know what will taste good together until you try it. As for the unused toiletries just sitting there? Think about the money you spent on purchasing those items. Not using the product is really wasted money. Another option is utilizing the items to make other items. For example, low on household cleaning products? Make a homemade version. Most DIY cleaners take ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and dish soap. Recipes can be found through a quick online search.
  • Stay at home, instead of going out. Date nights and family nights don’t need to be nights on the town. Try spending a day or night at home, watching your favorite movie, reading a classic book, cooking a meal together, playing a game outside, or doing absolutely nothing, but relaxing. There is no shame in spending a day or night at home. Plus, it puts more money in your pocket. If you feel the need to get out of the house, spend your time doing free things in your community, such as taking a walk in a park or volunteering.

A no-spend month can be tough. Create a plan and stick with it. Know exactly where you need to spend money and where you can save. At the end of the month, you might be surprised by how much money you saved.

xoxo,

Megan