What Brand Is Your Easter?

What Brand Is Your Easter?

Materialism has more than taken over.
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So it's currently Easter Sunday evening; I'm sitting in my bed slowly eating a handful of Easter jellybeans as I type, a floppy pair of bunny ears lying next to me. And suddenly I pause from within my sugar-induced trance and realize - since when did Jesus dying have to do with the Easter bunny and candy?

And yeah, okay there is an entire story behind it, but since when did it take over? People thinking of the Easter bunny over Jesus, or Santa over Jesus at Christmas, or the general overtaking of Thanksgiving by Black Friday? Sales for every single holiday (like Washington would have wanted a sale on Ford cars for his birthday...)? But that's just a broad, holiday-focused list of examples. How about the fact that people are inherently judged on the clothes that they wear, specifically the brands? Even more so with cars, to the point that broad, sweeping assumptions are granted to people based on the brands they portray?

I would attribute this effect to capitalism -- and I think it is definitely safe to do so -- but also to our culture of materialism, a factor that is related yet not the same as capitalism. One can be capitalist yet less materialistic (philanthropy being an example) and one can be materialistic yet not capitalist (hoarding things not meant to eventually be sold for money). And it is more the materialism within our society that drives us to find a physical gain for spiritual holidays and to decide that a person's worth is reflected in who made their clothes.

Okay, party pooper, and...? It's a hard lesson to teach your kids, especially when focus on material value such as brand or expense is a large part of their daily lives. Yet ultimately the value is immensely worth the long, hard process of helping your kids see nonmaterial value in life -- understanding that clothes are just as fine if they aren't Nike brand, and Christmas is still magical if they do not receive that xBox that they were wanting.

And don't misread me -- I love my material objects as much as the next person. I absolutely love my car, I probably couldn't live without my phone and I am definitely one of the people to stay up all night shopping on Black Friday. I totally recognize that living in our world today would be almost impossible without some level of materalistic appreciation.

But please, guys, there is a meaning to everything beyond the monetary value of it (and I don't mean one that is necessarily religious). Look deeper into people than what they're wearing. Harbor peace of the holidays in your heart. And as you unwrap your presents and devour the candy that you found in your hidden eggs, remember that life is more than a price tag. You cannot improve your life by buying more expensive things... so appreciate what you have right now, no matter how much that phrase makes you think of the letter posters they sell at Hobby Lobby. It is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Pascal Terjan

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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