Monday, August 1, 2016

We've Moved!!!

After years of wanting to switch from Blogger to a fancier online presence, I have decided upon Squarespace. Unfortunately, due the the new Blogger platform, I cannot redirect this blog to my new domain,

Please visit this link,, for new content! I've been able to migrate older posts over, so everything is now in one place, on the new blog.

Friday, July 22, 2016

MegAGLOW Marketing

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. Until I picked up a camera, writing was my passion and obsession, one that led to the establishment of multiple class newspapers in elementary school, and editing my middle and high school newspapers.

Even when I determined I wanted to go into business with photography, I chose to pursue an English degree in college. National Geographic has said they prefer their photographers to have degrees in journalism, history, and/or science rather than photography.

My recent places of employment hired me because I'm a writer first, photographer second. But in the professional business sphere, I was known as a photographer. After joining the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors, however, people started learning that I write as well. So I expanded my freelance writing gig to include more clients.

I'm always the type that needs complete control and has to do everything myself. The MegaBug website is a prime example: I designed, wrote, and photographed everything. Emshika was so impressed that I designed her a website.

Others began asking for websites, but I'm not confident enough to do a huge website on my own.

Enter Angie.

We met at the Littleton Chamber's Annual Dinner in 2014, where Angie developed a crush on my camera. (She's a photographer too!) Over the past few years, we've developed a friendship, and always concurred that we should find a way to collaborate. After working directly together at M-ZO Tea & Co., she discovered I'm a writer while I found out she's a web and graphic designer.

So last month, we started MegAGLOW Marketing, LLC.- a combination of our respective photography business names, MegaBug Photography and AGLOW Photography

MegAGLOW Marketing offers numerous services under the umbrellas of web design, graphic design, photography, public relations, and social media. We look at each project individually to determine how to best utilize a variety of our offerings, so each client is left with a fully developed website, social media campaign, e-newsletter outreach, and more.

For clients looking for a more comprehensive approach, we offer managed marketing services in three tiers, tailored to the businesses' wants and needs.

I'm excited to use my business degree and minor in marketing, and to expand upon what I learned about while working for TotalScope Marketing. Mostly, I'm looking forward to helping other small businesses realize their potential.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Streamlined Summer

I love Spring cleaning! Refreshing my space, my mind, and my physical being leads to so many benefits come summertime, but this year's Spring cleaning has an incomplete to it. Grandpa's illness, managing MegaBug while working full-time, starting a new business, and life in general left me exhausted with either no time or motivation to finish cleaning.

I was, however, able to attend a Spring Cleaning workshop at Rooted By Stacey with my mom in March. We did yoga, learned about Feng Shui, eco cleaning, and even tried a few delicious smoothies. From there, we went to the Little Village Toy & Book Shop where mom picked out an awesome book. She let me have it when she exhausted the wisdom from its pages.

Clearing Clutter: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual kept me up with our Coleman lamp. My favorite
section was Physical, and it has motivated me to take control of our clutter and clear our surfaces. Each night I'd check out the Bagua Map to see which space reflected what. (I always strive to keep our kitchen clean, as it is wealth and prosperity!)

With each item I put away or donated, I could feel my head clearing. Not only were the tangible objects around me in place, but so was my mind. It's incredible how much the physical has to do with the mental.

I took a hiatus from organizing, which led to a pile up of dishes and Shelby dumping all of our laundry on what I call the Blues Clues chair. (A green version of what Steve sat in on my favorite childhood show.) My mind was full and I lost motivation to do anything about it after the past few weeks of weddings and losing Grandpa.

Then I received an e-mail in my MegaBug inbox from the School of Styling, an organization whose newsletter I subscribe to. They were advertising "Streamlined Summer Challenge," seven days of helping readers simplify and streamline their business/life. It seemed interesting, so I signed up.

Day 1 was finance, and I like to toot that my bookkeeping is impeccable. I reflected a tad, then counted down to Day 2. Oh my gosh did Day 2 hit me. The e-mail listed these facts:

  • The average American wastes 55 minutes a day (roughly 12 days a year) looking for things they own but can’t find. Newsweek
  • The average office employee spends 1.5 hours a day (6 weeks per year) looking for things.
  • The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year (almost an entire month), searching for lost information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to $3,842 annuallyForbes ASAP
Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally statistics to back up my reasons for keeping a tidy space! I'm so sick of wasting time trying to find something in my desk. Over the past month I have yet to find my business cards and MegaBug checkbook (yeah, I really need to get on that), and recall having vivid memories of where I placed something and finding it within seconds in the past. When spaces are tidier, the mind is tidier. Not only is it easier to find something in an organized space, but with a clear mind, it's easier to remember where the item was left in the first place.

So Day 2 focused on digital clutter. Fortunately, this was last winter's project so I did a few simple maintenance tasks and am back to a clear desktop. Both of my inboxes have also been hovering at 10 or fewer e-mails. It's incredible.

Yesterday, Day 3, was about physical clutter- especially in the workspace.  Every room in our apartment has been decluttered (minus the "dining room table"), but the office. It's actually an office/garage/basement at the moment. Shelby and I have enough tools, computers, decorations, and other miscellaneous items for a house that organizing this room has been an elusive task.

Two months ago I was able to file all of our paper clutter away. That felt incredible! Then I sifted through items for the donate pile and cleared off the bureau, but now the desk is full and there are a few items around the room that need to find a better home than the floor.

This is my workspace. It needs to be functional.

In addition to, Shelby and I are buying a house soon. I moved three times last year, and because I never fully unpacked, my items were thrown in multiple boxes in disarray, making it harder to unpack on the other end. When we move this time, I want everything to be in a box with like items, and I don't want to move something if I don't have to. This is why it's imperative to donate or sell as much as possible.

The good news is I'm leasing a studio space with two other ladies beginning August 1st! I will take all of my film cameras to the space as decoration along with my studio lights, plethora of camera bags, and some pieces of equipment and office supplies. This will clear up our office/garage/basement considerably. But in the interim, I need to get on it.

These e-mails have inspired me to take the time and make our space as organized, welcoming, and efficient as possible. I'm excited to feel happiness when I look around, not dread.

One more element of the Day 3 e-mail was color, and its psychological effects. Blue encourages creativity and calmness, which I definitely need. So I went through my Bermuda photos and made Warwick Long Bay Beach my background. It was mine and Nanny's favorite beach in Bermuda, and the light blue waves paired with the pink sands is automatically setting my mind at ease.

Day 4 had interesting ways to tackle my to-do list from batching like tasks to block schedule in order to accomplish them. I love to-do lists!

On Day 5 I was tasked with creating my ideal morning. So here it is:
Expectation of an ideal morning...
6 a.m. Rise. Stretch. Take probiotic. Oil pull. Brush teeth. Sip green tea with lemon.
6:30 a.m. Say good-bye to Shelby. Prepare protein breakfast. Enjoy!
7 a.m. Assemble my wardrobe like a pro. Wear it proudly.
7:15 a.m. Answer e-mails and tackle small tasks.
8 a.m. Tidy up around the apartment (soon to be house!)
9 a.m. Get to work!
*On an ideal evening, I would go to sleep at 9 p.m.

8 a.m. Rise. Take probiotic. Oil pull. Brush teeth.
8:30 a.m. Prepare protein breakfast. Enjoy!
9 a.m. Answer e-mails and tackle small tasks.
9:30 a.m. Decide if I can wear the same outfit I had on two days ago.
10 a.m. Get to work.
11 a.m. Tidy up around the apartment.
*Go to sleep anywhere from 10:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. the next morning.

I tend to lose motivation towards the afternoon then gain it back at 7:30 p.m., working all hours into the night to accomplish what needs to be done. When I move beyond the hectic stage of establishing a new business and concluding wedding season, I'm going to make a strong effort to make my expectation of an ideal morning a reality.

I was a champ at Day 6. On this day, School of Styling focused on goals. Since I can remember, I have always written down my personal and business goals, the majority of which I've been able to achieve. However, Day 6 advised me to break-down my goals into monthly and even weekly assignments. I usually do it overall, by the year, and in daily to-do lists, but if I find the right planner, I'll give their break-downs a shot.

The final day focused on social media, which I really need to get on. It recommended writing out content towards the beginning of the week and scheduling it throughout. I always schedule my Facebook posts, but I don't like apps that will share to Instagram and Twitter from Facebook and vice verse, as it creates a link to the other instead of an actual post. Not as viewer friendly. However, the e-mail recommended the Later app specifically for Instagram. I'll give it a try.

Overall, I feel that I've been able to organize and plan how to organize the intricacies of life and business. I'm thankful I read Clearing Clutter and signed up for the Streamlined Summer challenge! Excited to pack up and implement these tactics at our new house.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Hardest Words

Warren E. Dixon, Jr., 73, of Merrimac passed away July 5 after a three-month battle with mesothelioma at Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill.

The son of Warren E. Dixon, Sr. and Pauline (Pickard) Dixon, he was born the eldest son of 14 siblings on August 27, 1942 in Lowell. Warren graduated from Pentucket Regional High School in the Class of 1961 along with his sweetheart, Joyce (Burnham) Dixon, whom he married two years later.

Shortly after graduation, Warren joined the U.S. Navy where he served for nearly four and a half years until his honorable discharge.

After his Navy days, Warren became a meter reader for Haverhill Gas, Essex County Gas, and National Grid where he was honored with numerous excellences in customer service awards. Upon retirement after 29 years, Warren accepted a custodial position with the Merrimac public school system where he remained for 14 years. He enjoyed his work in both positions and was regarded for his dedication, kindness, and attention to detail.

An avid collector, Warren enjoyed flea marketing and post card shows where he’d add to his abundance of treasures. He tended to his immaculate lawn in the evenings and enjoyed a nightly puzzle before bed. Warren loved spending time with his family, and was well known for his Thanksgiving stuffing balls.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Warren’s family includes a daughter, Lisa Brown, and husband, Tim, of Sugar Hill, N.H.; son, David Dixon, and wife, Stephanie, of Cornish, Maine; grandson, David Ziebart, of Derry, N.H.; granddaughter, Meg Brown, of Bethlehem, N.H.; and grandsons Eddie and Danny Dixon of Cornish, Maine.

How do you summarize a vibrant and amazing life in less than 300 words? A life so full of love that has left us way too early.

One of my first tasks at the Littleton Courier was proofreading the obituaries. I'd share the life stories with Nanny and Grandpa, and a few of the corrections I'd made. One man's obituary stated he served during Pearl Harbor and joined the military in 1942. I called the number listed- his wife- to confirm that he actually joined in 1941. It was these stories that led Grandpa to turn to me one evening and ask, "Miss Meg, when I die, will you write my obituary?"

I laughed it off and said, "Of course, Grandpa," expecting that day to come decades ahead. He asked me again over a month ago.

Writing has always been my way of processing thoughts and feelings, but I'm at a loss. Growing up I could sense the pride Grandpa had towards his service in the Navy. His smile while recollecting stories, the Navy cap he'd wear when going out, the anchor magnet on the refrigerator, so many mementos. There's a framed black and white photo of the U.S.S. Johnston going down the sketchy stairs into his basement. It's devastating to us that Grandpa's Naval service led to his premature end, but Uncle Dave says he believed Grandpa was proud to have died early due to his service for the U.S. Uncle Dave was in the Air Force, so he understands.

But the one thing everyone agrees upon, is that this happened way too soon.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July! Snooze

Today is Independence Day, one of my favorite holidays. Every year, my family and the family Mom and Uncle Dave grew up with convene at The Camp for a day of lakeside fun that usually includes playing King of the Raft, Mom running around with her camera, Jake and the other dogs tearing up and down the dock, rides on the family redneck's speedboat, and trash can turkey. Due to the circumstances of Grandpa's illness, we canceled this year's event.

Our Fourth celebration has been- for the past few years- the only time I really made it to The Camp, and the only time I could just relax. But I can't imagine doing that without Grandpa, even though we'll have to in the future.

After last week's hectic schedule (I ended up photographing four weddings instead of three!), Shelby and I visited Grandpa Saturday, I had my fourth wedding last night, so today we kept with the yearly tradition of relaxing. I slept in, we cleaned and organized the apartment (somewhat), went to TJ Maxx for a set of sheets- and walked out with more, as per usual- then came home and napped.

Now we're about to eat leftover Giuseppe's from Saturday night. Not the typical way I enjoy spending the holiday, but we haven't had a day like this in so long. Next year we'll get back in the spirit. I still tied my stars and stripes ribbon in my hair, though!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Glorification of Busy

I've always led a busy life. Managing multiple classes, working full time, and running a business was the norm for awhile, but I always anticipated these bursts of exertion to end at a point. "When I graduate...", "when I'm living on my own...", "when I'm fully self employed", etc. I've said it all.

Well, I have graduated, I am living on my own, and I am completely self employed. But this week, I have a strenuous time ahead of me.

The overview:
-3 wedding shoots
-3 event shoots
-Discuss the rental of a studio/office space with my business partner and another fabulous lady.
-Look at a house
-Go to the doctor with Shelby (poor thing has Bell's Palsy)
-Shelby's birthday
-Visit Grandpa as much as possible in Massachusetts
-And, of course, every other little thing that needs doing.

According to Merriam-Webster, "busy" is defined as:
-Actively doing something
-Full of activity or work
-Full of people or things

I think most people's busy tends to revolve around the middle definition. Throughout the past seven years or so, I've been so busy with work, and school, and everything else that I have refused to use the word "busy." Seeing it, reading it, and saying makes me feel stressed. Usually I go with "occupied," but is that really much better?

I also feel like society judges you based on if you're busy and to what degree of busy you're experiencing. Why is it such a competition? Isn't life meant to be enjoyed?

My prior boss, Emshika, told me about Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Although I fully intend to read the book, I found this article which seemed to be an excellent summation of Huffington's points. She argues that instead of focusing on money and power, we focus on thriving as a metric of success.

Because I'm such a logophile, let's look at the definition of "thrive":
-To grow or develop successfully; to flourish or succeed

Doesn't that sound more fulfilling than busy?

Huffington notes that thriving is spending quality time with family and friends, sleeping an adequate amount each night, avoiding burnout and much more. It's certainly a difficult practice to start, but one we all should be doing.

I am fortunate that because I'm self employed, I can take a moment to process everything by writing (this blog post!), take a nap, make a to do list, and get going. For me, to do lists help pull worry from my mind by recording thoughts and tasks tangibly on paper. The satisfaction of checking items off keeps me going.

This week I have to work on each task at a time and each day at a time, putting on my blinders to everything else. In the future, however, I need to reign in my busy and make time for cleaning (yes!) and relaxation (absolutely yes!). Saying "no" is a struggle, but it does pay off. My mantra this week comes from Winston Churchill: If you're going through hell, keep going.

What keeps me going is knowing that I'll make it to heaven and calmer days next week. And hopefully thrive after that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thank you, Mrs. Platt

Photo from Mrs. Platt's Facebook profile.
When I started high school at Profile, there was no photography course. No small segment in another art class. Nothing. When I found out Littleton High School still had a darkroom, I coordinated tirelessly to get there.

After some convincing, guidance counselor was for it, their guidance counselor okayed it, and the photography teacher was overjoyed to have me.

Looking back, I learned so much in this class. It was the first time I worked with the exposure triangle, composition techniques, and darkroom developing. I enrolled in chemistry at the same time, which helped make Mrs. Platt's explanation on chemicals and the photographic process click. It was incredible. Never have I made such connections between courses.

What I remember most from this class was Mrs. Platt's patience with us, her tolerance at our silly antics, her kindness, and her style. I want to dress like her when I grow up.

It was important to Mrs. Platt that we took pictures as much as possible. That's how we learned. She'd take us on strolls around Littleton, spending time at Remich Park or on Main Street. I had the most fun writing an essay when I chose my topic- Photography and Social Reform.

I loved her class so much that she allowed me to come back my senior year for an independent study. She let me stay in the darkroom for six hours like a mole person so I could evade the Winter Carnival activities I detested at Profile. Best day ever.

Mrs. Platt built my foundation as a photographer, which led to the opening of my business just one year after graduation. She is best known for her kindness, which is how I ended up a transplant in the basement darkroom of Littleton High School. She set the example of what we can achieve if schools, students, teachers, and people in general work together. She could have said she didn't want another student utilizing her resources, but she was willing to share her classroom and materials with someone who didn't even go to her school. I will be forever be grateful.

I found out a few days ago that Mrs. Emily West Platt passed away from cancer. Everyone is stunned by the news, and I never knew she was sick. Someone made a Facebook post on her behalf, writing:

"Emily passed away peacefully last night, after battling cancer with courage and grace. She carried a smile on her face to the end, leaving this world looking radiant and beautiful as ever.
Here is how she hopes her friends will carry on:

'Help others! Make this your everyday habit - no matter what it is (big or small). Don't do it because you want acknowledgement, but because it's the right thing to do. This will make me happy and proud!

Be kind and tolerant of everyone! You never know what someone is going through or how they're feeling and why. Don't judge - show kindness and compassion. This will also make me happy and proud!

Do this often enough and long enough to make it part of who you are.'"

Thank you, Mrs. Platt. You will be remembered by your students and everyone around you.