Give Thanks

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I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! Stop and give thanks for your many blessings. Thank you for following along on this journey with me!

xoxo,

Megan

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My Dog, Gidget

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I’ll be honest. I’ve put off writing this post for some time, because today would have been her 18th birthday. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to write it. Instead, I knew penning this story would bring up many emotions that I wasn’t sure I was ready to confront.

Over the years, I have written several posts about my miniature poodle, Gidget. From my references to her in other posts, one could easily tell how much Gidget was a part of my family. Sadly, on Friday, October 13th, 2017, Gidget passed away in my arms at the age of 17. Just writing that sentence makes my heart break and brings tears to my eyes. Losing a pet is tough. The house is quieter with a sudden emptiness in all the rooms, and days no longer consist of vet trips, feedings, and asking, “Where’s Gidget?” However, during these past ten months, I have learned what it means to love and be loved by an older pet. The lessons are ones that people, no matter what their life consists of, can relate to and use.

  • Enjoy the present and don’t worry about the future. Gidget started getting sick late spring of last year. My family began to grieve and dread what life would be like without her. Yet, Gidget was still with us, not in pain, and could have a couple of months to a couple of years left. From this, Gidget taught us to enjoy the present and not worry about the future. Changing my mindset and starting to live in the present with Gidget made all the difference. Reflecting on her younger years and funny memories became easier because we were still making special moments. The future comes far too quickly, and the best thing anyone can do is to live in the present.
  • Be thankful for the times you spent together.My opinion might be a little biased, but Gidget had the world’s biggest personality. She was sweet, friendly, sneaky, a ham, and a major cuddle-bug. She always knew how to put a smile on a person’s face and how to get all the attention. (Ever had a dog who would take a small piece of food and “attack” it in front of everyone just to get all the claps and praise? Yes, that was Gidget.) Looking back at all of these times, I am always brought to laughter. A piece of advice: whenever you are feeling sad and missing a loved one, reflect on the good times you spent together. This is just one of the many ways you will feel closer to them.
  • You’ll never regret spending time caring for a loved one. Everyone has their own way of taking care of loved ones and should do what works for them. In my family, we treated Gidget like an elderly human family member. When she got really sick and even before that, our lives rotated around her and her needs. Life was busy during this time, with vet trips three times a week for fluids and assisting Gidget with her feeding four times a day. However, if we were given the chance, every single member of my family would do that all over again, because, in return, Gidget gave us love. As I mentioned above, she was a huge cuddle-bug. It was our nightly ritual for me to hold her on my chest as we drifted off to sleep. Towards the end, Gidget never wanted to be put down at night, and I don’t look back at the loss of sleep and everything we did for her with regret. This is the same with other family members and friends. Go the extra step for them when they are sick.
  • Love never truly leaves you.Whether it be a human or a pet, loved ones will always stay in your heart, no matter what. There are little reminders of Gidget throughout the house, just like there are reminders of my grandfather, who has passed away. In her later years, Gidget taught me that she will always be a part of this family and will keep loving us, even after she’s gone.

Loving an older pet is something very special. You and your animal grow closer on a different level, and they become more dependent on you. In return, your pet gives you extra love and many memories, just like Gidget gave my family and me.

xoxo,

Megan

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

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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

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

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

 

 

Can I Get an Amen?

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There are some times in life where the struggle is too real. I mean the moments where you thought you were already tough and you get tougher. Well, this has week has been filled with them.

You see just before midnight on Friday, October 13th, my dog of 17 years passed away (more about that in a later post). Since then, I have been trying to adjust to a new “normal.” In the mist of that, my grandmother is recovering from a stroke and had a bone marrow biopsy. The biopsy was to determine whether or not she had cancer, because of high platelets. This past Thursday, we received the results and while it is still “cancer,” it is the type where she can take a chemotherapy pill each day for the rest of her life and be fine. However, between the 13th and now, I have been on edge (great for my anxiety, great right?) and in constant worry about what else will my family go through? Haven’t we had an enough? I’ve told God many times, “if you are trying to make us strong, I think we’re strong enough.” Then, it hit me.

This. Is. Life. Life is a constant battle of finding beauty, laughter, and love, through the pain and struggle. I have become tougher during these past two weeks and I hope I continue to become tougher. This fall has been a challenge yet I have discovered more about myself and where I want my life to go. As hard as it has been, I don’t regret anything, because I know more about the person I am meant to become. Everybody has these moments and once there are all said and done, you’ll scream a loud “amen, I made it!” These times only make you stronger, tougher, and more grateful for the sweeter moments in life.

xoxo,

Megan

Life Hacks

I’m all for making life easier. So, when I find a tip I like to use, I feel obligated to pass it on.

Here are my favorite top 7 life hacks (so far):

  1. If you mess up a voicemail for someone, press # to erase and start again.
  2. You can heal paper cuts immediately and stop the pain by rubbing chapstick over it.
  3. While on vacation, hide your emergency money in chapstick containers, lip balm containers, and other less noticeable places.
  4. Eat marshmallows to relieve toothaches, sore throats, and arthritis.
  5. If you ever break a glass, put a piece of bread on it. The bread will pick up all the small pieces of glass.
  6. Put candles in the freezer before using them. They will burn longer.
  7. In a public bathroom, the stall closest to the door is the cleanest. Studies show that this stall is the least used.

What are your favorite life hacks?

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

To Inspire and Motivate

I have always been a big component of learning from others and being inspired by them. To motivate other human beings is a big task, one that not may people achieve.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “inspire” as to make someone want to do something and to cause something to happen or be created. Looking at this definition, I realize how many people I look up to and want to make my actions and life be like theirs. Of course, some of our role models are celebrities, world leaders, and athletes, but what about our family and friends? They inspire and motivate us as well.

Over the next few posts, I’ll look at my biggest motivators, who had the courage to help make the world a better place. I hope you join me on this journey. After all, you never know who will inspire you and who YOU will inspire.

“Work for a cause, not applause. Live life to express, not impress.”

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

I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Part II

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” continued from Tuesday. 

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas

One night, as we were decorating the Christmas tree, I couldn’t take it anymore. This was always a tradition my family did together and without Russell, I wanted nothing to do with it. “Why can’t we find anything out about Russell?” Are you sure you contacted everyone you could think of for information?” I exclaimed, out of anger. “Lizzy, your mother and I are doing everything we can. The least you can do is be supportive and keep up hope,” stated my father. “It’s hard to keep up hope. It’s easier to have doubt. I’m going up to my room and the two of you can keep decorating,” I said, disappointed with his response. “Lizzy, please don’t,” my mother began to say, but a knock on the front door interrupted her.

“Who do you think it could be, Bill?” my mother weakly asked. All of our hearts were pounding out of our chests, wondering who stood on the other side of the door. One by one, with my father in the lead, we walked to the door and slowly opened it. “Are you Mr. Dillard?” a man in an Army uniform asked. “Yes, yes I am,” my father replied, nervously. “Here, I have an important letter for you. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas,” he said as he passed the letter to my family. As quickly as he came, the uniformed man went. Not knowing what to do, my family stood there like statues in a museum. “Open it Bill! Don’t just look at it!” shouted my mother.

Very slowly the letter was torn open. As he began reading, my father’s eyes grew ten times bigger. “It’s…it’s from Russell!” Jumping with enthusiasm, my mother grabbed the letter and shouted “Safe! He is safe! Russell is safe!” Hearing the news was the best thing I could ask for. “What else does the letter say, Mom?” I asked. “It says he is safe and an Italian family has taken him and a few other soldiers into their home, after their plane was shot down. They are keeping them in hiding, otherwise they would be taken as prisoners of war. All that matters is that he is safe,” my mother said as she squealed with excitement.

After hearing the happy news, my family gained a little bit more Christmas spirit and together, we finished decorating the tree. From then on, my family kept receiving letters from Russell; however, we couldn’t write back, because it was too risky. Between letters, I kept reading the old ones over and over again until I could recite them from memory. All I wanted for Christmas was for him to be home, but I knew that was impossible.

Within no time, Christmas Eve was here. As always, my family went to the Christmas Eve Lovefeast service at our church. Right as we were pulling out of the driveway, it began to snow. “There’s nothing like a white Christmas, don’t you think?” said my mother. There was something different about the evening, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. “Oh well,” I thought, “tonight is Christmas Eve and I’m not going to let anything bother me.”

I loved everything about the Christmas Eve Lovefeast service. From singing “Morning Star” to eating the Lovefeast buns, the service officially signaled to me that Christmas had begun. By the time we left church, the snow had picked up and the ground was covered in a blanket of white. “Almost two inches deep and more is going to fall by morning,” my father said as he observed the sky. Sometimes I believed my father could tell the weather better than anyone.

Once we got home, we built a fire, and opened the traditional only one present on Christmas Eve. Still, there was something strange about the night, but I still couldn’t figure it out. Once the Christmas Eve traditions were done, there was one more thing to do. “Does everyone want hot chocolate? Bill, make sure the fire is going strong and Lizzy, make sure the lights are turned down,” my mother said from the kitchen. The Dillard family always watched the snow fall from the living room window and drank hot chocolate by the light of the Christmas tree before going to bed.

We had only watched the snow fall for about 10 minutes when a jeep pulled into our driveway. Oddly, it was Russell’s jeep. Thoughts began to run through my head, but I quickly pushed them aside, thinking there was no way he could have gotten home. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see the person walking up to the front door. Instead of knocking, the mysterious person began to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Glancing between the window and my parents, I realized the jeep actually was Russell’s and he was the mysterious person. “Run and open the door,” exclaimed my mother as her and my father stood there, smiling with joy. As excited as I could be, I opened the door and saw Russell, standing there in his Army uniform, singing the last note of the song as loud as he could.

“Russell! Russell! You are home!” I said as I jumped into his arms, knocking him down. “What? How?” I exclaimed as a million questions began to surface. “Lizzy! Lizzy! Let me come inside and tell you,” Russell replied to my incomplete thoughts. “It’s good to see you!” both of my parents said as they greeted their son. “Tell me how! Tell me how!” I blurted out, breaking up their reunion.

Before Russell began, my parents showed me a letter they had kept hidden from me. “You knew he was coming home and you didn’t tell me?” “Lizzy,” my parents said, “we wanted this to be a Christmas surprise for you.” In his letter, Russell said he was coming home for Christmas, but in order to leave, he had to pretend he wasn’t an US citizen until he got back to base. Getting back to base wasn’t easy, but Russell was able to make it there safely.

“But how did you get your jeep?” I asked. “While you were at church, a neighbor drove me home from the train station and I got it then. Mom and Dad helped me plan the whole welcome home surprise, once I got back to base. ‘Operation Lizzy’s Christmas Present’ was what we called it. Keeping it a surprise from you wasn’t so easy,” answered Russell.

As I raced towards my brother, I began to list all of the old traditions we still needed to do. “Ok, ok. We’ll do them,” he said, “but where to begin?” I thought about this for a moment, and then pulled Russell out the door and to his jeep. “It’s time to go caroling,” I said. With our parents waving from the door, Russell and I started our annual caroling trip through town.

As we pulled up to the front house, Russell looked over at me and said “Told you in my letters I would be home for Christmas.”

The Christmas of 1944 became a Christmas I never forgot.

xoxo,

Megan