The Gift of Self Care

I read an article the other day that claimed putting Christmas lights and decorations up early might make you happier. I’m inclined to agree as I definitely felt a surge of happiness and excitement while decorating our entire home last weekend. I have never ever decorated this early for Christmas but something about it just felt right to me this year.

As our lights lit up our street our early Christmas decorating was made all the more obvious by the lack of lights on the other houses. Our decision was literally bright as a light shining in the darkness—a beacon of nonconformity. What would the neighbors think? It was the perfect literal example of, in my opinion, the most vital form of self care—making the best choices for myself even if they may seem odd, inconvenient, or against the social grain.

Please hear me, I’m not talking about rebellion. I’m referring to healthy, calculated decisions based on what is the healthiest, and most beneficial action for me to remain in a calm and centered spiritual, emotional, and physical state. That is much more difficult to execute than rebellion. Rebellion is caustic and harmful to the rebellious person, and those surrounding them often suffer the consequences too. While making the best decision for self is healthy and healing not only for that person but also for those surrounding them too. I’ve heard it said that making the best decision for ourselves is also the best decision for everyone else too.

Our early Christmas decorating is unconventional and could possibly irritating to our neighbors but it was the best decision for Sam and I. I needed an early injection of Christmas joy and my decision made Sam happy and created an opportunity for us to have fun together. We haven’t had one complaint from our neighbors and the lights cast a cheery glow on our street. Then yesterday, after the lights outside were hung, I read an article that said there’s another possible benefit to decorating early: the neighbors might think we are friendlier! Research has shown that people interpret Christmas decorations on a home as a cue that the people inside are sociable. With all that’s gone on this year, I want nothing more than to spread friendship to my neighbors!

Choosing to do what was best for me injected my life with some much needed Christmas joy, created an opportunity for Sam and I to laugh and have fun together and create happy memories, and shared some friendly and sociable goodwill with my neighbors. I’d say that’s a win, win, win!

With Thanksgiving just days away and Christmas here in a month it can be tempting to make decisions for yourself and your family based on what you think other people want or need. I want to encourage you to do what is best for you this holiday season. This is a head time of year to focus on self care and mental health but I’d say it’s the most important time. Being in a calm and centered state will surely make this the most enjoyable holiday season you’ve ever had.

So wether it’s putting your Christmas lights up early, saying no to that holiday party, or sleeping in your own bed for Christmas give yourself the priceless gift of doing what is best for you. You won’t regret it!

Oh, and early Merry Christmas!

Maegan

Fear of Responsibility

Happy Monday! It’s time for another #mentalmonday post. Today I want to talk about fear of responsibility. It’s an epidemic that is infecting my generation like never before, and I am certainly not exempt. I used to think that it was fear of failure that kept me from writing my books or starting a YouTube channel, then I realized that it wasn’t the act of the those things that kept me from doing them, it was what might come after.

My heart seizes at the thought of success. Can I handle that much pressure—that much responsibility? That’s where self confidence and love come in. I have to believe in myself that I can handle whatever responsibilities and pressure are given me if I succeed and unconditional self love when I fail.

As a Christian I also know that God’s love for me is based on his unchanging decision to love me—my performance has no bearing—that’s really helpful too. Believing in and loving yourself—while acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses—is paramount in squashing your fears. Believe in yourself and love yourself unconditionally, and soar or crash-land you’ll conquer your fear in peace. And the important thing is that you lived your life, you tried—isn’t that what really matters?

Is fear of responsibility holding you back? You are not alone! What are your dreams, your ambitions? I want to know!

*The little boy in the photo is my dad in his Roscoe Bankers baseball uniform. Thanks for letting me use your photo dad!

Maegan

Positivity

For today’s #mentalhealthmonday I want to embrace positivity. Sam, Lemon, and I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at an Addison park engulfed by gorgeous 75 degree wether. It was so serene—the wind wasn’t even blowing! Sam and I had been talking earlier that morning about how despite life’s great difficulties and heartbreaks life is still good.

Even though I was struggling with some emotional things, I couldn’t deny that indeed my life, my day, was still really great. I mean, just look at those trees! I acknowledged I was spending a quiet Sunday afternoon with my best friend and my dog, drinking unsweetened, blackberry tea from Sonic, while basking in fall’s radiance. It turned my whole day around!

If you find yourself emotionally struggling today, remember that your life is still good too. You’re alive, it’s your favorite time of year, the sun is out, you’re being soothed by rain on your window, your cat woke you up purring in your ear, your dog wants nothing more than to love you, you have family and friends who care about you, and God loves you(even if you don’t like/believe in Him), and I care enough about you—maybe you’re someone I’ve never met—to reach out and give you a virtual hug and remind you that you matter! Your life matters and your today is a good day! Grab a piece of paper and write down three reasons your life is good then tag someone you know who needs encouragement in the comments! I believe you are going to have a fantastic Monday! #dontstopbelievin ✨🍁🦔

Maegan

Encouragement

It’s #mentalmonday and I just wanted to remind you that today may feel like it’s kicking you in the pants, but it’s not because you are warrior who knows the value of surrender, submission, and positive thinking! It takes inner strength and endurance to wrestle against our hardest days. When you’re having a bad day, remember that it takes a strong person to admit their struggles, embrace them, and do what is necessary to move back to a safe place of rest.

If this is you and you’re having a bad day today I want you to reach out to a friend with a phone call, text, or dm. Isolation is the enemy! Confide today’s struggle to them(it doesn’t have to be your whole story) and ask for prayer and/or encouragement! If this is not you today (though make no mistake that this could be you tomorrow)I want you to reach out to the first person that pops into your head or the person that’s been on your heart or mind lately and call/text/dm them words of encouragement and/or prayer AND an open ended invitation to be an ear who will listen and be supportive (without giving unasked for advice😉)! Let’s lift one another up today with encouragement and positivity! Happy Monday!

Maegan

Our 2018 Fall Bucket List: A Maegan Johnson Blog Post

Our Fall Bucket List

Fall is my favorite. And, I don’t care what any of you may believe, I love fall more than anyone anywhere! Don’t misunderstand–I’m so glad I’m surrounded by others who love fall like myself–it’s just never going to be as much as me. My birthday lands on the first day of fall and its like the official fall kick-off party. The respite from the hellacious temperatures, the annual Monarch Butterfly migration that swirled though my town every year as a kid, sweater weather, and football season, drinking hot cocoa on aluminum bleachers that could turn your butt into a Popsicle, the knit hats, and the promise of crisp nights and cool morning walks with my dog; it’s just the best. A fall bucket list is practically my love letter to the season.

FALL BUCKET LIST:

Dallas Arboretum – Autumn at the Arboretum

The Texas State Fair

Texas Discovery Gardens

Day trip to East Texas to see the Fall Foliage

Carve Pumpkins

Make Apple Cider

Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING!

Dress Lemon up for Halloween

Crisp evening walks with Sam

Make bourbon apple pie

Wear all my favorite sweaters . . . And all my scarves too!

Wear dark lipstick

Lay under a warm blanket and read good books

Read 10 books from Sept. 21st – Nov 30th.

Celebrate my Birthday

Watch non-scary Halloween movies

Knitting in the evenings

Trips to the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Arboretum: Autumn at the Arboretum event which begins on September 22rd-Nov 21st. Thier fall festival is a spectacular show of color with 4,500 of fall’s favorite flower-Chrysanthemums, along with 150,000 more stunning, fall blooming plants, and thier internationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village, featuring more than 90,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds, plus the outstanding Children’s Adventure Garden. Don’t miss this amazing festival and be sure to bring your camera. It is breathtaking color at every turn.  It’s incredibly impressive and makes for a great photo opp. Plus it’s a great excuse to grab a “sack lunch” at the nearby Eatzies and have a picnic overlooking White Rock Lake.

Several days later the Texas State Fair begins! Sam and I go to the fair to see Big Tex, ride the giant Ferris wheel, eat a Fletcher’s Corny Dog, visit the amazing vegetable gardens and Texas Discovery Gardens, the petting zoo and the pig races(they are hilarious). And bonus: the Monarch Butterflies will be migrating south during the fair and the Texas Discovery Garden ground’s have planted flowers that specifically attract the Monarchs. If you get lucky you might even get to see them catching and tagging the butterflies to track them!

This year Sam and I have made plans to see the fall foliage in East Texas. The trees in most parts of Texas don’t turn for the fall–mainly because most Texas native trees and shrubs are evergreen–and that’s something I miss seeing. I’m already looking forward to our day trip and will share more with y’all when we go in late October.

Anyway, those are just some of the big things Sam and I do every year together during the fall. It doesn’t mean the simpler things on our bucket list are less important though. Laying under a warm blankets on a cool fall afternoon and reading a good book is practically Heaven.

I know you probably love fall like I do and probably have a bucket list of your own. I’d love to know what you put on yours. If you live in the DFW area and have a recommendation I’d love to that too!

Maegan

Master Bedroom Closet Mini Renovation

I have been waiting so long to share this tour with you all. The renovations were minor but the overall effect is spectacular! I get so excited every time I walk into our closet, now. This is my closet? No way! It is so beautiful to look at I purposely leave the closet door open! I’ve also started using it more like a real walk in closet by getting dressed in the closet–it’s way faster and more convenient. Sam is also a huge fan of the new layout and excited he no longer has to fight his way through the pillows strewn over the floor. I always feel satisfied and proud of my work when Sam gets excited about the end result of a project. I know I not created something beautiful but also functional. I’m linking the post I wrote on how I decluttered our closet before I redesigned the layout and organized our clothes. BONUS: I’m also listing the five ways to instantly give your closet a face-lift at the end of this post. This is not an affiliated post and there are no affiliate links in this post. All products and opinions are my own and bought with my own money.

Here is the before:img_0028img_0029img_0030

And here is the after:acs_0509acs_0510acs_0529 My total renovation cost for this project was fifty-two dollars. Most everything I purchased was on sale or I used coupon. We already owned the lumber, paint, wooden dowel, acrylic magazine holder(this one is similar), chair, sheepskin rug, and art(thrifted). The total project if you owned none of the supplies but, did have you own power tools, screws, and paint brushes, would be about $150+ (not including the accessories). Here’s the breakdown: $20-$30 for lumber, $4-$7 a piece for shelf brackets depending on size, $15 for a quart of paint, $18 for hat hooks if bought full price, $8 for a 6ft 1 1/4in wooden dowel rod, $15 for an acrylic magazine holder, 60 hangers for $30, 10 for $8 plastic slimline hangersacs_0515acs_0522

As you can see the ‘before’ closet was a jumbled mess. The mismatched hangers and random pillows and other accouterments strewn across the floor lent itself to a haphazard feel. As I considered the closet’s overall design I realized that Sam’s clothes needed to be hanging where mine currently hung and vise versa. I was also wasting a lot of dead space with the dresser and small ‘shoe shelf’ which didn’t even begin to hold half of my shoes. There was also an odd nook on the other side of the door I was never sure with what I should do. I’d also been organizing my purses in shoe boxes on the shelf above my clothes and it had never stayed tidy.acs_0512acs_0525

The first thing I did was declutter our closet. I then swapped Sam and I’s sides of the closet so my maxi dresses wouldn’t be dragging the floor and Sam could store his things on the shorter shelf. I decided to move all the clothes down the closet so when you open the door and step inside we would greeted by white open space. With the clothes moved to the other side of the closet I replaced the hangers. Just swapping out the mismatched, bulky, plastic hangers for identical slimline hangers made a huge difference. I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough hangers the first go around and it ended up taking sixty hangers–which was shocking–for my clothes alone. We lucked out and had enough white velvet slimline hangers for Sam’s dress pants but we had to buy more to replace the rest. Sam’s hangers were very cheap($2 a 10 pack) because he doesn’t like the non-slip hangers for his shirts so we found some plastic ones at Walmart!acs_0511acs_0517

To maximize space I added a bottom rod beneath my tops for jeans and dress pants. If you saw my Instastories, the original bottom closet rod brackets were hung too far to the left and were old. We bought two inexpensive brackets to replace the old ones and repositioned them to hang directly below the top shelf brackets. Since this is a rental, I stuck to the same closet bracket style that already existed–though I would have loved to rip them out and replace them with modern and stylish brackets. I want our apartment complex to appreciate the upgrade–not charge me for it whenever we move out.

Next, I worked on the shoe shelves. I measured my tallest pair of heels and added an extra inch in height to determined how many shelves I could get from floor to the shelf above the closet rod. I also measured my tallest riding boots and allotted space for them on the floor. I painted and Sam cut and hung the shelves. This is my favorite part of the entire closet!acs_0524acs_0523

The purse shelves gave me the most trouble. I didn’t think I could fit boutique style purse shelves in our closet. I originally wanted a little command station but decided to give it up in favor of purse shelves. We had some left over wood from another project that just happened to be the perfect depth. I painted them and Sam hung them and the ended working perfectly! Now, I have room up top to add even more purses! I can hear the leather of Sam’s wallet squeaking as he death-grips it. I have a very small hat collection that I was keeping on Styrofoam mannequin heads–which was cumbersome–and the blank spot on the back wall seemed like the perfect place for them. The hooks I bought were a little too big but for $3 each they are getting the job done. Now I think the mannequins look chic and add character. acs_0514acs_0513

Lastly, I felt the space needed an bit of personality and a place to sit and put shoes on. I already owned the sheepskin and chair–some of these items were haphazardly stuffed in a corner of our loft. The floral art was something I thrifted recently and was so so excited to give it a permanent home!

Overall, I think the closet mini-reno turned out beautifully! Its such a functional space now AND it’s beautiful to look at! There are a few things I still want to work on in this space. I still want to add an extra shelf on Sam’s side of the closet to extend the storage, install a milk glass light fixture, and swap the storage boxes out for ones that are 12×12. Overall, it turned out wonderfully and I’m very proud.acs_0526acs_0517

Here are the five things you can do right now to give your closet a major face-lift:

1. Declutter your closet — the best thing you can do is donate all those clothes you don’t wear so you can see the things you actually love to wear. I wrote all about declutteringnmy own closet here so you don’t have to figure it out.

2. Matching hangers — matching hangers streamline the closet and creates a cohesive, and dare I say, custom look for not a lot of work or cash.

3. Hang clothes by color– hang all red tops together, hang all red dresses and skirts together(separately from tops), etc. then hang all clothes by type in rainbow order. This streamlines the closet and makes getting dressed quicker and more fun.

4. Invest in hooks — hats, belts, scarves–get those things off the floor and out of the clothing space by hanging them on hooks along the wall

5. Add something personal — a monogram, a piece of art, your favorite perfume, pink hangers, find a way to make your space look and feel like you!

I hope you loved this post! I want to see your closet makeovers! Link them in the comments below so I can check them out!

Maegan

P.S. Here are some bonus blooper photos of Lemon! Have a great week!

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My Fall Playlist

The last several years I’ve made a fall playlist and since I have a blog this year I thought I would share it with everyone here! I don’t know if it’s actually a thing to create a fall playlist but I make one just like I do every year for Christmas and summer.

Click on the player above and it will take you to my playlist on either your Spotify app or the Spotify web player. Spotify is an app you can download on your phone or computer that will let you listen to music for free. You don’t have to have a paid membership–that’s just of you want add free listening.

I am really curious if I’m the only one that does this. I can’t be the only person who makes a fall playlist, right!? So I thought it would be really awesome if we could all share playlists because I want to know what you guys listen to and maybe add some more good tunes to my own list!

Leave a link to your Spotify playlist or maybe just your favorite songs or bands that remind you of fall in the comments so we can all enjoy your jams! If I get enough suggestions I can create a new playlist with all your suggestions!

I’m so excited! I hope this works! Don’t forget to leave your faves in the comments!

Maegan — xx

Our Foster Care Update

We’ve waited all summer to make this decision and we know that many of you are eager to know what is next for our foster care journey. After several months on break Sam and I have decided to put foster care on hold.

The reason for the postponement is a lack of space. Right now we just don’t have the adequate space to continue sharing our bedroom with an older infant or possibly a toddler. We are so so glad we fostered Baby E and would do it again in a heartbeat, but going forward we need more space. We also have no room for our families to come stay and help out from time to time. Not having that extra room put a strain on us and our families when they did come and visit. So until our lease is up we are putting foster care on hold.

While we wait, we will still continue to advocate for foster care and the children who are in the system. I will continue to talk about and advocate for foster care here on the blog as well. This blog began as a way to share our journey with family and friends and it will always be a topic I talk about.

Maegan — xx

If you’d like to read about our foster care journey start here.

If you’re like to learn more about the foster families I featured in my Unsung Heroes Series you can find it here.

The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

The Last of Summer

The end of summer is finally are upon us. There were many house renovations and projects and a whole bucket list of summer activities–only half of which were accomplished. I always begin looking froward to fall every year about this time as the summer heat has worn its welcome and my desire for cooler weather is thwarted by the knowledge that the heat wont be letting up until late September or October.The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I’m enjoying the last bit of my regular house decor before I take it all down–like the madwoman my husband thinks I am–and decorate for fall. I wont see the burnished coppers and bright reds of fall until almost winter so I make up for the sun-scorched grass and ever-green oak trees with a homage to fall in my home.The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

My manuscript plans were thwarted by the two weeks in July I lay in bed with the most horrible tooth and jaw pain. And I in no way got to the end of my reading list. The tooth pain also got in the way of my master bedroom closet renovation and the repainting of my upstairs office–such is life. The 110 degree weather killed my Doris Day rose bush but Sam is having a wonderful crop of cucumbers and we have made at least six jars of pickles in the last three weeks. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

Sam and I did manage to go record shopping several times this summer to my utter delight. We have plans to get the loft painted soon and the closet renovation was finally finished. I didn’t feel the need to get everything on our summer bucket list done because it’s a guideline and not a rule. Whenever Sam and I needed something to do we had our bucket list to rely on and otherwise we made our own fun. We are true homebodies and enjoy just being at home together–so it’s a real shock I didn’t get through my reading list. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I did manage to finish a moderate knitting project that is now tucked away to be wrapped as a Christmas gift. We are soaking up the last of our summer at home before the holidays arrive. My birthday is next month and then we have plans to travel to Alabama for a family vacation in October. I plan to visit my parents in Tennessee sometime in November since I wasn’t able to visit during the summer. And then of course, there is Thanksgiving and Christmas for which we always travel seven hours or more to be with family. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I have always wondered what life would be like to stay in my hometown or even my own home every holiday. I never have had the privilege my whole life. What is that like? If that is you, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s it like to be able to sleep in your own bed after spending the day with family for the holidays? It must be so nice, I would think.

Here’s to enjoying the last dog days of summer.

Maegan – xx

domino home tour of designer Leanna Ford. / MaeganKJohnson

Restored by the Fords

For some time now, I’ve been seeing these incredible white interiors on Pinterest and I can’t get enough. I did a little search and found that these beautiful interiors all have one amazing designer in common–Leanna Ford. She is also part of the duo that makes up the HGTV design team on Restored by the Fords in which she and her brother Steve enliven quirky and unique houses in Pittsburgh.

This fabulous home of Los Angeles-based interior designer Leanne Ford was photographed by the talented Nicole Franzen for domino. Leanne’s 1945 farmhouse is filled to the brim with fabulous vintage finds and an almost completely white color palette that brings a sense of cohesion to the cacophony of textures and design eras galleried throughout her home. But make no mistake, as gorgeous as the vintage chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and shiny brass fixtures may be, it’s the white color palette that is the star of the show. Endless shades of vanilla, cream, and ecru are the showgirls against the time-worn and weathered backdrop of the farmhouse itself. Never has anyone made white feel so warm, so timeless, so layered–like the folds of a creamy, woolen blanket.

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Photography by Nicole Franzen for domino