9.20.2019

How Are You? : The Simple Self Assessment That Has Changed My Days


Twice a day (while I brush my teeth) ask myself a simple question: how are you?
It seems silly, and definitely felt awkward at first, but these twice-daily check-ins are the bookends of my day. Along with a few other q’s to practice gratitude and self-love and ending with a little prayer, this daily practice surprised me with its power in such a simple way!

So many times I found myself rushing to bed at night and rushing out the door in the morning without ever taking the time to analyze (or even notice) my emotional state. This lead to me winding up anxious and wondering why I was so stressed all of a sudden. However, through checking in with myself, I've noticed that stress is rarely an "all of a sudden" occurrence.

Whenever someone asks me "How are you?" my immediate, automatic response is "Good! How about you?" This isn't always honest and rarely leads to a conversation beyond the surface level. But what if we were honest and vulnerable with ourselves and others when answering "how are you?" What if we made it okay to say scared, sad, exhausted, confused? Or even excited, happy, joyful? This can begin in your own bathroom mirror ;-)

What follows "how are you" on my morning and nightly examen is just as important and I want to share that with you, too!

MORNING
1. How are you? 
2. 5 people you're grateful for - Take account of all the people in your life that make it better!
3. One thing you're looking forward to - Every day has a reason to live it. Think of one thing (as simple as your daily coffee!) in your day that you are excited about.
4. One thing you like about how you look - The mirror can become a place of self-criticism if we aren't careful. By saying one positive thing per day about our appearance (I'm having an amazing hair day!), we can combat insecurity in a small way.
5. Intention + Deep Breath - Name an intention for your day. For example, "today I will greet every opportunity with joy!" By saying our intention, followed with a deep breath, we can give more purpose to our day.
6. A Hail Mary!

NIGHT
1. How are you?
2. One thing you're proud of from today - Small victories are real, people! And it's important to notice them.
3. One way you saw God today - Did you pass a friend just when you needed someone most? This is your chance to notice God working in your life!
4. Smile! - A simple smile can actually boost your mood!
5. A Glory Be 

I hope this post helps you to check in with yourself daily, I promise it will go farther than you think!


Stay Sunny,
Meg


This content originally appeared as a shortened version on Instagram.

7.31.2019

Answering All the LDR Questions (with Co-writer Greg!)


Today is the first time I have a CO-WRITER on a blog post, and a very special one indeed. My boyfriend, Greg, is joining me today to talk about our experience having a long-distance relationship and what we've learned!

Sometimes I feel like I should rename my blog "Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-But-I Didn't-So-I'm-Telling-You" but that doesn't have quite enough ring to it ;-) instead, I'll just start this post by saying that sharing this experience is so exciting for us, and we are not experts but perhaps you can learn from our failures, or at least give our insights some thought!

So let’s start with a little background information -- Greg and I will tag-team this!

Greg: Meg and I became friends through our best friend, Caroline, during Meg's sophomore year of high school. We later started dating when I was a senior and Meg was a junior. When we started dating, we both knew that we had the tough bridge of me going to college next year, but we decided to be present every day, taking one day at a time, and cross that bridge when it comes to us. 
Meg: Greg decided to go to college in our hometown (go flyers!) because the program was perfect for him -- not because of our relationship! But I was grateful to have him close nonetheless. That year of adjustment -- not quite apart but not quite together -- was great to prepare us for the next year of me going 8 hours away to USC.

Our first picture together in 2016 -- ugly brown school uniforms and all! We started dating half a year later.

G: We just want to let you know that long-distance is a process, not a destination, and we are very much not arrived. We don’t have it all figured out, but over the last two years, we feel like we have learned a lot of tips that might help you or your loved ones. 
M: Long distance is hard, really hard, but it’s worth it so long as you don’t compromise your joy, peace, and contentedness in your life. As long as you feel like your LDR is life-giving, even when it’s hard to miss the other person at times, I say go for it! I’d rather have Greg in my life from a distance than not at all, and we’ve found ways to support and love each other through the distance.

Today we’ll be answering some questions that you all asked!

Q: Do they actually work?
M: Studies say about half of long-distance relationships work out in the end, and we’re willing to take those odds! Jordan Lee Dooley has great advice as well that helped guide how we were going to live out our relationship.
G: We’re so lucky to have great LDR role models in our life: My sister, Ashley, and her husband, Jake, who started dating in high school as well. They got married after 10 years of dating, five of which were distance! 

Q: What’s the best way to coordinate talking with different class schedules?
M: SHARED GOOGLE CALENDAR. We both shared our g-cals with each other so we could see our class times compared and  know when each other would be unavailable. Be creative and don’t discount little blocks of time that you know you can depend on. For example, we had a ten-minute block of time every MWF morning where we would be walking to class at the same time. I looked forward to these calls and counted on them as a time to say good morning and briefly catch up!
G: Don’t take ten minutes for granted! You’ll soon learn that the hard way ;-)

Q: How do you communicate besides texting, FaceTime etc.?
G: We like to get old-fashioned! Turns out, giving and receiving mail is a thousand times cooler than texting. Be original. I loved sending Meg cards that I would buy while grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. Sending packages, like Meg’s favorite cookies from home, was a way to make our relationship more tangible. One of the greatest surprises was receiving a box of small goodies and a note from Meg. 
M: We would also email each other articles, send Instagram DM’s of cool things we find (it really does go down in the DM’s), send voice memos, and Venmo each other a few dollars for coffee on us when the other person needs a little extra encouragement.

Q: What communication issues did you face?
M: Trying to catch each other up on EVERYTHING happening in our lives. At the end of the day, what boring lecture I had or what temperature it is outside isn’t crucial. 
G: Getting out of the habit of saying go-to cliches like always starting a conversation with “how are you?” I would always try to be spontaneous and different in conversation. It’s also important to be patient on the phone and try not to interrupt the other person. Talking without body language or facial expressions is hard so Facetime instead of call when you can.
M: When you’re on the phone or Facetiming, treat the other person as you would if you were really together. Don’t be on your phone or doing something else. 

Q: How can you be intentional with the other person?
G: We had so much fun going on Facetime “dates” to the same restaurant. I looked up places that were in both Dayton and Columbia and we would go to them and eat a meal.
M: On our anniversary, we dressed up and went to Whole Foods. We started Facetiming as soon as we got into the parking lot, picked out our meals on Facetime, and ate “together.” 

The virtual Whole Foods date!

Q: How long did you go without seeing each other for a time?
M: Nine weeks! It sucked! 
G: We were apart more than we were together. But that doesn’t mean that we grew apart in our relationship, we just had more time to better ourselves which ultimately makes us a better couple.

Q: What’s the hardest part?
M: The hardest part for me is the anticipation of saying goodbye and actually saying goodbye. Once I get back to school and can focus on studies
G: The constant wanting to be together, especially when you see other couples out. You have to learn to be okay with it. 
M: It can be frustrating to try to find time to connect, and that's okay! Honestly, a lot of the time I looked like this:


G: Long distance has totally refined us as a couple. We don’t sweat the small stuff, it has made us more mature, grateful, and better able to value each other’s time. It reminds us of the universal truth: you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone!
_________

Thank you, Greg, for co-writing with me! And thank you to everyone who asked us questions -- you got this!

Stay Sunny,
Meg

7.24.2019

MY CLEAN BEAUTY PICKS

Get this: the skincare industry in the U.S. is worth HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of dollars -- but is only regulated by a ban of about 20 ingredients. In the E.U., more than 1,300 are banned. 

At the beginning of high school, I learned that not all beauty products are created equal. Since then, I have been dedicated to slowly cleaning up my routine. It's not perfect, but I have found natural/organic alternatives to my old go-to's. I feel good about what I put on my skin and body, and I think it's just as important as what I put into my body. 



So here's the break down of my favorites:

Cocokind MyMatcha *: One of my very first "clean beauty" purchases -- that I still use every day! I use this as a chapstick and under eye balm. The caffeine of the matcha helps brighten and reduce puffiness under the eyes!
Dr. Bronner's Lavender: My everything soap. It's so clean I use it as face wash while traveling, body wash, dish soap, a spot treatment on laundry, and even to clean my retainers! Bury me with this soap. 
Swish De Coco: Natural, whitening mouthwash made from coconut oil! Oil pulling pulls toxins from your body and can reduce inflammation, including acne. All I know is that it makes my teeth white and my mouth feels super clean!
Alaffia Lotion: Unscented lotion to lather up in! Not much more to say about this -- it's a straightforward moisture godsend.
The Healthy Deodorant: The only natural deodorant I can use! It has an awesome, clean scent and it actually works -- even in the South Carolina sun. It goes on smooth and lasts me for months (worth every penny). 
Cocokind Chlorophyll Mask *: THE BEST MASK EVER. It comes as a dry powder so it's preservative-free, and you can mix it with water, rose water, or facial oil based on your needs. The chlorophyll is oxygenating and brightens my skin and it also helps to detox from breakouts. It makes me look like Shrek when I have it on and I have scared wayyy too many people in my dorm, but it's worth it for that fresh-faced glow. 
Cocokind Turmeric Stick *: Layer this under the chlorophyll mask or use it by itself to reduce redness and inflammation. Sometimes I sleep with this on and just cover my pillow with an old t-shirt!
Thayers Facial Mist: Holy grail. So good my whole family and boyfriend have started using it too! It refreshes and tones without overdrying your skin and the spray makes it super easy to apply. 
Cocokind Sea Moss Exfoliator *: A gentle yet effective exfoliator that adds minerals to your skin with sea moss. I always turn to this little guy when my skin looks dull or just feels congested.

Cocokind Mai-Light Rose Highlighter: My dream highlighter: you can use it DAILY and it delivers hydration while combating skin stressors with adaptogens! Is this real life? 
Bareminerals Powder: This baby is made without sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. Now I don't know what all that means, but I do know that it's literally ground-up minerals with no synthetic fragrance or dyes.
Cocokind Macabeet Stick: Blush and tinted chapstick powered by beets. Subtle color plus antioxidants. If you would've told me a couple of years ago that I would be using BEETS as makeup I wouldn't believe it, but I truly love this product!


Wanna know more about clean beauty? Here's how to start:

Think Dirty Shop Clean App: Probably the best app on my phone. You can scan barcodes on products and it tells you about the ingredients and their level of toxicity.
EWG Skin Deep Website: The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit that protects the environment and human health. This is their site that tells you about the ingredients in your products and rates them on a scale! In my experience, they have a little bit more products than the Think Dirty Shop Clean app.

You deserve a beauty and skincare routine you can trust and feel confident in. Try things out, do your research, and don't forget to aim for improvement, not perfection!

Stay sunny,
Meg