Contact Lens Safety: A Refresher of What You Should Know

The history of contact lenses dates back to 1508 and Leonardo da Vinci’s idea of “wearing a water-filled hemisphere over the eye,” first published in his book, Codex of the eye, Manual D. Since then, designs have evolved and the version of contact lens that is mostly similar to today’s lenses actually originated in 1949. In fact, President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first President to appear in public wearing contact lenses in 1964. Today, over 150 million people worldwide wear these thin lenses over their eyes for therapeutic, corrective, and cosmetic use. While contact lenses serve great purposes, they need special care. October is Contact Lens Safety month and the perfect time to refresh ourselves on the safety and importance of taking regular care of your contact lenses. Improper maintenance can lead to increased risks of eye infections. Most of the following tips are from the CDC and FDA.

  • Clean and disinfect your lenses daily. There are many types of contact lens solutions available. Use a solution that works for you and follow the appropriate instructions. Most eye doctors suggest using a solution with hydrogen peroxide, which provides extra disinfecting. However, as a contact lens wearer myself, it is important to read the instructions for hydrogen peroxide solution, as you can’t wear your lenses for several hours while cleaning. For example, you can’t put them in the solution and place them in your eyes an hour later. Also, never reuse solution. Lastly, if you wear hard contact lenses, once you have taken them out, rub the lens carefully with the solution, and rinse well before placing them in the case.
  • When removing and putting in your contacts, always wash your hands with soap and water beforehand. Dry completely. This practice erases the germs from your hands and avoids getting them in your eyes.
  • No matter what solution you are using, replace your storage case at least every three months or as stated by your eye doctor or solution instructions. For me, every time I open a new bottle of solution, I change my case. This is due to the fact that I am using the hydrogen peroxide base.
  • Don’t expose your contacts to water and always remove before swimming or showering.

This past summer, I read an article on the Today Show website about a man who developed a parasitic infection and lost sight in his right eye after showering with contact lenses. This is an extreme example, but still shows what can happen and serves as a warning.

  • Unless told by your doctor, don’t wear your lenses overnight or while sleeping. The darkness of night causes extra stress on the cornea and reduces the amount of oxygen to your eye, drying them out and making them more susceptible to infection.
  • If you start experiencing symptoms of irritation or infection, remove your contacts, and wear your glasses. If needed, call your eye doctor immediately. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include: excess tearing, discomfort, unusual sensitivity to light, itching, burning, blurred vision, pain, swelling, or redness. I often have dry eyelids that cause an urge to rub my eyes. When this happens, I choose glasses instead of contact lenses. Plus, it never hurts to have a pair of glasses available as a quick backup; just be sure they are also up to date with your prescription.
  • Speaking of prescriptions, visit your eye doctor yearly to keep up with your eye health. This way, you won’t be wearing contacts or glasses with old prescriptions.
  • Contact lenses are normally worn by adults. Children can use this type of eyewear but should take extra caution. Parents and guardians should play an important role in encouraging safety and health behaviors to maintain contact lenses.

I love my contact lenses and don them almost every day. However, I know, like most people, this wouldn’t be possible without practicing these tips. One easy way to remember to take care of your contact lenses is the CDC’s slogan: healthy habits = healthy eyes.

xoxo,

Megan

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A Cheater’s Guide to Saving Money at Various Stores

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I keep a running list of toiletries, groceries, and other items I need to replenish. Then, go through the weekly store flyers and coupons on Sunday to see if anything from my list is on sale. If there is a special, where I will buy it can depend on what it is. Will I buy the item at a drugstore, grocery store or a superstore? It depends on wherever I can get the best buy because there are little-known secrets on ways to save based on the various types of stores.

Grocery Stores:

Grocery stores are logistically laid out in a square. Most of your essentials are located on the outer rim of the store, such as dairy and produce. However, most of the time people will walk through the middle aisles, spending money on unnecessary items. Try to skip the aisles you don’t need and stick to your list. Never buy toiletries here, instead, buy them at a drugstore. Rarely do I buy toiletries with my groceries. Yes, it is more convenient, but it can also be more expensive. When shopping for items, don’t be afraid to buy generic and store brands compared to brand names. Just be sure to check the ingredients to make sure you are getting the right item. Lastly, remember that the most expensive items are located at eye-level on the shelves. Look up top and down below for better buys.

Drugstores:

Drugstores can be a place to easily overspend. One of my favorite tips for saving is to shop when your essential items are on sale, not when you run out of them. I’m guilty of purchasing toothpaste, shampoo, etc. when I desperately need them and don’t have a coupon. If possible, wait until you have a manufacturer’s or store coupon to stock up. Always read the store flyers and cut out coupons before your shopping trip. Speaking of coupons, check to see if the drugstore has a store coupon book. These books include high-value store specials that can be used with manufacturer’s coupons, letting you double up on the savings. Also, use your points or bucks from the rewards program. Some stores have a kiosk when you walk in to scan your rewards card and print more specials. There can be time limits on when to use the points. If you don’t need anything during the time, as money allows, stock up anyway. You can give the items to someone else, donate them to a non-profit for a tax write off, or keep them for yourself. All the points and bucks are extra money, so spend all you have, and you’ll get more in return.

Superstores or Major Retailers: 

Sometimes at superstores or major retailers, we think of buying in bulk. Well, be careful. Compare the prices of a bulk item to the item individually to see which is the better price. Also, pay attention to the quantity of the item you need. At the end of the aisles, there can be a fun display promoting an item with a special. This isn’t always the best deal, but the way the display is advertised serves to trick customers into believing they are getting a great deal. Another way to save is by downloading the store’s app. Sometimes there will be specials only on the app or additional coupons for you to download. Want to know if an item is going to be on clearance? Look at the price tag. For some stores, a price ending in 7 is usually the original, a price ending in 5 is the 1st markdown, and a price ending in 1 is the final markdown. For others, prices ending in $0.06 or $0.08 mean the item will be on markdown again, and prices ending in $0.04 are at their final clearance price. Lastly, research the store’s markdown schedule, because different items are marked down on different days of the week. Speaking with store managers can help you understand the schedule.

The next time you go shopping for essentials, pay attention to where you are going and where you can get the best buy. Shopping for the right items at the right stores will help you put more money in your wallet.

xoxo,

Megan

Head into the New Week with these Life Hacks

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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

Recipe Wednesday: Mini Banana Cream Pies

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I’m crazy about bananas! They are one of my favorite fruits, so this easy and quick mini banana cream pies recipe is one of my favorites!

Ingredients:

1  roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1  box banana cream pudding, prepared according to package directions and chilled
1 banana
Whipped cream for topping

Directions:

1: Roll the sugar cookie dough into little balls. Using a mini-cupcake pan, place one ball in each spot (there should be 24 balls total).

2: Bake according to the directions on the dough package.

3: Once cool, fill up each cup with banana cream pudding and top with whipped cream and a slice of banana, if desired.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

A Recipe for #SharkWeek: Tasty Shark Poke Cake

Today’s shark-related post is all about food. This Shark Poke Cake recipe is adapted from delish.com and is delicious to eat. Plus, you can turn the recipe into a cupcake version. Just use a cupcake pan instead of a cake pan, as well as, one doughnut and fin per cupcake. Remember to also adjust the needed number of ingredients for a dozen or so cupcakes. For example, you’ll need 12 fruit roll-ups, not one.
Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix plus ingredients for cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
  • Blue food coloring
  • Black food coloring
  • 1 strawberry fruit roll-up
  • 3 mini powdered sugar doughnuts
  • 2 cups marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 cups whipped topping

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and grease baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to the box directions. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and stir together. (The cake will resemble the ocean.) Bake until done, about 25 minutes. Once cool, poke holes all over the cake.
  3. Combine the marshmallow fluff and water. Microwave for about 10 seconds. Pour the mixture all over the cake, making sure the holes are filled.
  4. In another bowl, add 5 drops of the blue food coloring to the whipped topping. Fold together. Frost the cake with the icing and decorate with shark fins and life preservers.

To make the shark fin decorations, mix the melted white chocolate with a few drops of the black food coloring. Using a piping bag or sandwich bag with a hole, pipe fin shapes (similar to triangles) onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard. Once frozen, add a drop of marshmallow fluff onto the bottom of the fins and place on the cake’s icing.

To make the life preservers, cut the fruit roll up into 3-inch long pieces. Then, each piece again into four pieces. Wrap four strips around a powdered doughnut and secure with the marshmallow fluff.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

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Every day I try to use the motto “Work smarter, not harder.” Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. For example, instead of putting something off that would take five minutes or less to complete, do it immediately and move on to the next task.

The main purpose behind the “work smarter, not harder” motto is that you, as the individual, are able to prioritize your own needs and build upon your strengths and weaknesses. You are able to visualize what you need to focus on, see if there is anything you can cut from your workload or lifestyle, ask for help if needed, and figure out how you work in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Everyone has their own answers and meaning to the motto. Now, the question is: how do you work smarter, not harder? Take a look below to see some of the tips on how you can put this motto to use in your life.

  1. Move and work in blocks. Instead of working hour after hour, divide up your work into equal sections. For each section of your to-do list, change up your location for working, whether it is inside, outside, or at home. The most important thing is to not set exact time limits for when you’ll finish a certain section, but to move when you have a certain section finished. Be sure to take a quick break or a fast walk to refresh yourself after each task.
  2. Check your email first thing. This is mainly where I get the bulk of my to-do list. See what items you need to prioritize and get those done first. Then, move on to the smaller tasks that will take less time to finish.
  3. Communication is key. Collaboration and communication can either make or break a project. Communicating effectively with other team members will help eliminate any mistakes or misunderstandings, or having to rework parts of the project.
  4. Don’t multitask. As much as we love to do so, multitasking can actually cause more trouble (and work) than needed. Stay focused on one task at a time and complete that task before moving on to the next.
  5. Create a routine and stick with it. When it comes to your work, to be more effective and efficient, it is best to try and do most of it at the same time each day. According to research, when we establish routines, our brains become in the habit of completing the task over and over again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to accomplish a task quickly with less preparation. Essentially, you do the job on autopilot.
  6. Relieve stress. When you are stressed, it can be hard to achieve anything on your to-do list. Let’s refer back to tip #1. The breaks between the sections of time will help you ease your stress and stay calm while working. Also, having a clear mind allows you to think through your task and helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings.
  7. Use your “GPS.” In her book, It’s About Time! author Mitzi Weinman explains GPS as “goal, purpose, and scope.” According to Weinman, this system can be used to get the whole picture and how you need to accomplish it. For example, you can see a task completed and then envision the various steps needed to completing it. Also, “GPS” can help you set goals for each of those steps until it is done (goal). Always ask yourself “why” we are doing something and how it fits into the larger goal (purpose).

“Work smarter, not harder” is a motto everyone should try at least once in their lives. Give it a shot – you might happily discover you are able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

xoxo,

Megan

Why We Should All be Celebrating Mondays

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Have you ever had a case of the Sunday scaries? You know, the time you realize on a Sunday night that Monday is coming? According to research, two-thirds of the population state that Monday is the worst day of the week. And why not? It is the start of a new week, the start of several continuous days of work and errands, and many days until the next weekend. In addition, research shows that people put pressure on themselves to start something new or quit something. Let’s face it, we all have said: “we’ll start Monday.” However, we can change that. We can change the way we think about Mondays and can make them one of our favorite days of the week. In fact, people across social media and online are already celebrating Mondays.

Recently, I read the book The Pepper Effect: Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation by Sean Gaillard. This novel is meant for educators and included lessons on how to implement the ingenuity and imagination of The Beatles into schools. Throughout the book, Gaillard touched on many topics, including why we should celebrate Mondays. After a quick Google search on the idea, I discovered that many people had already taken part in this concept.

For Gaillard, celebrating Mondays started with a desire to create bigger professional learning networks for teachers, while utilizing social media. To do this, Gaillard developed the hashtag #CelebrateMonday. Its purpose is to start each week with positivity and highlight the activities teachers are doing throughout the community, as well as, teaching children to be responsible citizens online. Essentially, it is all about recognizing the good things happening in the world of education and sharing them with others world-wide. Since then, many people, mainly in the educational community, have been using the hashtag and starting the week off on a good note.

As for those who aren’t teachers, principals, or school administrators, there are still many ways we can celebrate Monday. After all, don’t most people dread the start of a new week and count down the days until Friday? Referring back to my Google search, I noticed one particular site that put a new perspective on the concept. Writer Marc Seigel posted on his blog, A Flipped Approach, the article “Let’s Start Celebrating Mondays.” In this post, Seigel stated that the second day of the week is a fresh start and a clean slate. In addition, he added the image with the caption “T.G.I.M.” – thank goodness, it’s Monday. Usually, you say this for Friday, but have you ever thought about saying it for Monday? It might be time to start. Speaking of starting, T.G.I.M. is quickly rising in popularity, thanks to the lifestyle website, Thrive Global. This site has started the social campaign to change people’s way of thinking.

There are many opportunities for people to alter their attitude towards Monday. Start thinking of the day as a new beginning of a new week. However, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments and goals. For example, celebrate Monday by looking at how far you came the previous week or how much you have accomplished on a tough goal. Ease the pressure of the day; it is just another day of the week. Another idea is to celebrate those around you. Give your co-workers a high five in the lunchroom or tell someone you are proud to be their friend or ask them about the best thing that happened the week before.

Monday blues don’t have takeover your week. Instead, kick off the next seven days with a celebration. Over time, more and more people will begin to start celebrating Mondays and before you know it, Mondays will be the best day.

xoxo,

Megan

Make Sunday a Day of Rest with These 5 Relaxing Ways

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Recently, I heard the phrase” Sunday – a day of rest, not stress.” How true is this statement? After working hard all week, everyone should take at least one day of the weekend, Sunday, to relax and rejuvenate. However, I have trouble relaxing…

I always feel as if there is something I need to be doing or should be doing.  As I grieve my grandmother’s death, I have learned that there is no shame in taking a day (or two) off to unplug from everything. And that is exactly why I am renaming Sundays to “My Day of Rest, Not Stress.”

In my usual fashion, I decided to research “how to make Sundays more relaxing.” Yes, that is the exact phrasing I used in my Internet search. I came across numerous ideas and thought I would share my favorites with you. After all, everyone can use more relaxation in their busy lives.

Ways to Make Sunday A Day of Rest, Not Stress: 

  1. Ignore the chaos and unplug. Put aside your email, social media, calendar, etc. All of these communication forms can be overwhelming and heavy to take in at times. Instead, do an activity that “sorts out the clutter and puts the pieces together,” such as a puzzle or following a recipe.
  2. Spend time with your loved ones. Before my sister and brother-in-law moved to Kentucky, they would come over every week for Sunday night dinner. So, why not bring back the Sunday night dinner tradition with your loved ones? Other activities to consider include playing a game, watching a movie, or going for a walk together.
  3. Catch up on a good book. Reading is something I never have enough time to do. Yet, I have discovered that there is nothing better to do on a Sunday.
  4. Have a leisurely meal. Take your time making and eating one or all of your meals.
  5. Get out of the house, even if it is just to go outside. A breath of fresh air can make all the difference.

When you make Sunday a day of rest, you start the new week a better, more relaxed version of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

The Educational Triangle

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Some say it takes a village to raise a child. In many ways, that saying is true. Parents, guardians, family members, friends, teachers, and coaches are a few examples of people who can influence a child in different parts of their life. In addition, these influences have responsibilities to do what they can to help a child succeed. One area where it is essential for these responsibilities to be upheld is in education.

Recently, I came across the idea of an educational triangle. This concept illustrates the relationships between those mainly involved in a child’s education and how they are connected, like a triangle. At one corner is the student, another corner is the parents/guardians, and at the last corner are the teachers and school. All of these people need to work together and fulfill their responsibilities. While the responsibilities of each corner can vary and overlap, it is important for everyone to understand how their role plays a part in the overall goal—helping the student be successful in school. Let’s take a look at the different obligations of the educational triangle.

Responsibilities of the Student –To be honest, the responsibilities of the student are probably the most important in the educational triangle. In President Obama’s “Back to School” speech at Wakefield High School in 2009, he references the opportunities education can provide, but it has to start with the student, carrying out their duties. He states that “you have the responsibility to yourself, to discover what you are good at, and you are the next generation of leaders in America.” Because of this, a student should work hard: work towards getting good grades, completing their work, and asking for help when they need it. For students, no one is going to do your work except for you, and there are no excuses for not trying. One of my favorite quotes from President Obama’s speech is, “That’s why today I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education and do everything you can to meet them.”

Responsibilities of the Parents and Guardians –No matter what age they are, a child is still learning and figuring things out. As for parents and guardians, it is your task to help guide them in the right direction. After all, parents and guardians are a kid’s first teachers. Part of your responsibilities is to be role models. With education, parental engagement and involvement are keys to success. Take an active role in your student’s learning; stay on top of their homework and assignments, but let them complete the work; help them study for tests, and know who your child is friends with. In addition, don’t be afraid to communicate with teachers when needed. Lastly, make education a priority and encourage your child to take ownership of their education. Have conversations about what is working and what needs improvement, as well as adding in fun ways to learn.

Responsibilities of the Teachers and Schools –Teachers and schools have the obligation to provide the best education possible for students. This comes from knowing your content area, giving opportunities for exploration and learning, and engaging students in their own learning. Along with these responsibilities, teachers and staff should keep up to date with professional development, new research, and keep challenging themselves to be better educators. Also, it is important for teachers and schools to give students a safe and welcoming learning environment. Children spend around eight hours a day, 180 days a year, at school. They should feel comfortable and supported in this environment. Lastly, faculty and staff at schools are role models with the responsibilities of demonstrating professionalism and good behavior to students.

There are many moving parts in the educational triangle. Yet, when everyone involved fulfills their responsibilities and works towards a common goal, a child’s life can be changed for the better.

xoxo,

Megan

Self-Coaching Yourself to A Better and Happier You

Dictionary.com defines “life coach” as “a person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges.” The role of a life coach includes helping others set goals, organizing different areas of a person’s life, making a huge change or decision, overcoming a tough challenge, and more. They are there to provide support and accountability during a time of improvement in a person’s life. Most of the time, people turn to a professional life coach for assistance. Yet, did you know you can be your own life coach, also known as a self-coaching, and assist yourself in these same situations as a life coach would?

According to professional experts, self-coaching occurs when you apply the same techniques as a life coach would to your own life and do it yourself. It is important to understand that determination and dedication are needed to self-coach. As a teacher, I encourage my students to use a growth mindset. This type of thinking means a person’s abilities, goals, and skills can be developed and accomplished through dedication and hard work. It is a mindset that energizes people to never give up and stay positive. When a person self-coaches, having a growth mindset is a must and a basis for it all. Along with the support of using a growth mindset, a life coach can provide timeliness, accountability, and motivation. All of which a person can provide for themselves.

One of the hardest things can be deciding when to start something new or make a change. Think about the situation and what you are changing or working towards. Did you receive a promotion or new job offer? Are you wanting to lose weight? Then, ask yourself: are you anxious, depressed, or restless about a certain part of your life? Are you ready for something new? Will this make you a better person? Honestly answering these questions can signify to you whether you are ready or not to self-coach.

Now that you have decided the time is right, try to focus on only one aspect of your life at a time. Go back to your answers for the questions above and think about the situation to which they applied.  Was it for your career, health, finances, etc.? Sometimes it is not possible to focus on only one area. If this is the case, break your actions for the different areas into small steps and complete one at a time. Martha Beck, a professional life coach, states in the article, “Tips from the Pros: How to Be Your Own Life Coach,” to start with the “area of least satisfaction. If a person has a good life, but there are some things that aren’t great, work on the stuff that’s not great. If you have a terrible life, work on what’s most terrible.” Then, turn your area for improvement into a goal with a timeline.

According to Doctor David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, goals should be short and able to be stated in three to seven words. As for the timeline, the goals should be approachable, achievable, and realistic. For instance, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, consider how much time you realistically need to accomplish it. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make a change here or there. Just don’t stray too far off track. A way to hold yourself accountable with your goals is by using a journal. Write down everything you do each day that pertains to that goal – good and bad. In addition, use your journal to rate your “quality of life” as you are working towards something. Beck recommends using a scale of zero to ten and rate your quality of life daily. Ten is super happy and zero is miserable. In the same article, she says, “The purpose is to look back and see what you were doing on the days you felt bad. It’s a way of looking at: where did my happiness go? Where did I find joy?”

Lastly, be sure to use a growth mindset and change how you think about your goal. Instead of thinking that you have to do something, think about it in terms that you get to do something.

Anyone can be a life coach for their own lives. Through using the techniques of self-coaching, you can be on the way to a better and happier you. Plus, you’ll feel empowered for accomplishing goals you might have been putting on the back burner for a long time.

xoxo,

Megan