Saturday, April 30, 2011


I know, I know. I'm behind. I can't promise this will be the most riveting blog post for all of you, but it was my best "X" option without cheating.

X-Men...aka, a large majority of my childhood.

My brother was such your typical little boy- action figures were his THING. We have a video of his 5th or 6th birthday party, where he literally got some kind of action figure for every gift. Either Ghostbusters or Ninja Turtles...then came X-Men. He was obsessed with those things, the comic, the cartoon tv show, the video games, and, later in life, the movies. He knew everything about every single character. We played with his X-men action figures for hours. He taught me about the "Bad guys" and the "good guys", their powers, everything. He was like a walking X-Men Encyclopedia. His favorites were Wolverine and Gambit. Mine were Storm and Jubilee (Can I just say Jubilee is so much more BA than the movies make her seem). We were unstoppable with our X-Men obsession. I loved hanging out with my brother. We always had the best time.

My brother has lived in Indianapolis since he was 18, when he went away to college. I miss him dearly, but there is something still so special about our relationship. We protect each other. He can still teach me about the "good guys" vs the "bad guys". He likes to annoy me, only because that is his role as a brother. (He sends me clown pictures whenever he gets the chance). But we understand each other. And I know, if the X-Men movie is on TV, I can call him and say "GO TO CHANNEL ...". He will, and we'll both smile, remembering.

Long live X-Men.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What If We Were Real

Thanks to the two people who texted/emailed to ask where my W post was. I feel loved. Oh, and to my mom who said "Did you post your thoughts yet tonight?" Ha. She's cute. Anyways, here is my W post. It gets pretty personal.

I really have no words to describe my admiration and respect for Mandisa. Some of you may know her from Idol, others may have picked up on her music later. Regardless, she is extremely successful and immensely talented. On top of that, she has a huge heart, and a beautiful story to tell. Mandisa has been on quite a journey- her music speaks that story loud and clear, as does her honest discussions with fans through interviews, twitter, concerts, etc. Mandisa has lost over 100 pounds, after a long journey of overcoming food addiction. I'm proud of her and inspired by her. She is open about her relationship with the Lord and how He has pulled her through this journey. What If We Were Real, Mandisa's third album, is compelling, breath taking, and inspiring. The songs relate to image- of ourselves, each other, and God. If you are seeking a powerful, soul seeking album, you need to listen to this.

1. Stronger. The first single, a wise choice at that. Mandisa has said that when she went into record this song, she wasn't feeling so hot- just down in the dumps, she had hit a wall with the weight loss and feeling low about herself. She then reports that once she was in the studio, things changed- not her circumstances, but her perspective. How powerful is that? I think we all need to remember that we can choose our own happiness sometimes. For me personally, this song came out RIGHT at the time I was hitting an all time low with my job search. I was frustrated, sad, lonely, broken hearted. When I heard these lyrics, I really did become Stronger. I was reminded that perhaps God was using this journey to make me stronger, make me more patient and grateful. The song is uplifting and encouraging, both the lyrics and the track itself.

2. What If We Were Real. A little bit of a rock/Gospel song, which is new for Mandisa (I think), but it totally works. This is my car song. This song is basically about us being real with each other, not putting up this front like everything was perfect. Mandisa has always been very real to me, she shares her story with grace opens up about the difficulties of food addiction and weight loss. She's like a friend. The line that sticks with me the most is "why can't we let someone love us", because I tend to push away people who get too close to me- perhaps because I'm afraid. It all goes back to my self worth and self image, which is what this song is about.

3. "These Days". Reminds me a little bit of "Only The World" from her first album. It's about learning to love the things that bring us down, to be grateful that we are here. I've been trying to work on this, make the best of each day regardless of the circumstances. This song is a nice reminder that God is there, even in the bad days.

4. "Truth About Me". First of a few ballads on the album. A very emotional tune that really touched my heart. We tell ourselves so many lies about ourselves- "you're not good enough", "you won't find love", etc. This song is saying- hey- those aren't true. God's truth about you is that you are loved, you are worthy...and if we believed these truths, it would change everything. I really, really struggle with this. Mandisa's song helped me to realize just how much I do struggle with it- I had never thought about it this deeply before. I need to believe the truth about me :)

5. "Say Goodbye". This song is SO. PERFECTLY. PLACED after "Truth About Me". It is taking those lies, and singing about saying goodbye to them, because they are breaking you down and does not have to define you. When I heard this right after the song above, I nearly broke down. Thank you thank you thank you Mandisa and producers for being so smart :) This song is deeply personal to me. I know I need to say goodbye to my old habits, beliefs, and lies. This song is giving me strength to do so.

6. "Good Morning" Now this song is my JAM. I listen to it every morning. You cannot help but dance to it! It helps that there is an amazing rap breakdown by Mr. Toby Mac. And the words "zumba" and "1/2 a marathon" are included in this rap. This fun, upbeat track puts an instant smile on my face and gives me hope for a great day. One of these days I should video myself dancing to it in the morning. Thanks, Mandisa, for waking me up every day!

7. "Waiting For Tomorrow". Who here is guilty of saying "that can wait till tomorrow". ::raises hand::. Yep, me. ESPECIALLY when it comes to eating healthy/working out. "Well...I didn't get to the gym, I'll just work out tomorrow..." that usually turns into a week later. Such a bad habit to keep pushing things off until tomorrow, and that's basically what Mandisa sings about in this pop tune. Saying that we are promised today, today is a new beginning, why wait until tomorrow to make changes that we need to make? We are worth so much more than that :) It also, kind of, talks about not waiting until tomorrow to get help if you need it. So if you are putting off something until tomorrow that could potentially save you, or even change you just a little bit, why not start today.

8. "just Cry". This could be my favorite Mandisa song ever. I really did break down and cry when I first heard it. If you want powerhouse ballad with raw emotion, listen to this one. This one goes out to everyone who believes tears are a sign of weakness, anyone too afraid to just break down and cry- know that it's okay. Sometimes that's all you can do to get you through. You can't listen to this song without feeling an incredible impact. I LOVE the emotion in her voice, especially in the chorus.

9. "Temporary Fills". Yet another song that hits so close to home. See, I tend to "fill up" on things that give me a temporary feeling of comfort, love, acceptance- like food...instead of focusing on God's love, love in general. This song is about those temporary fills, and how they only make us feel better for a while.

10. "Free". Love the vibe of this song. Mandisa is singing out her testimony here, about her journey to freedom and basically inviting others to do the same. Love the chant of f-r-e-e! GO Disa! Congratulations on your journey and for helping me to stay on track!

11. Lifeline. A beautiful Worship tune. This song displays hope, faith, and love for God, matched with flawless vocals. She is basically giving praise to God for bringing her through this journey of taking her mask of, learning to love herself, etc. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful, Disa!

Simply put, "What If We Were Real" is more than an album. It is a journey. It is an honest, inspiring, genuine story. It has given me hope and strength, motivation and encouragement. It has given me the courage to be real, to believe the truth about me. To cry. To say goodbye to my temporary fills, to be quit waiting for tomorrow and make all of these days start with a positive, good morning. To be free. To praise my God, my lifeline.
I love you, Disa!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The power of "the voice". And no, I'm not talking about the new show on NBC. (Although I am watching it right now and falling in love with it! Such a great concept). I'm going in a bit of a different direction, though...

Actually, two different directions. First of all, to quickly echo what I was saying yesterday about finding your inner beauty, you also have to find your inner voice. Do not be afraid to stand for what you believe in. This may be your last chance to say what you need to say, so do it now. This is something I'm learning as well, and have to push myself to do every single day. Just today I had to speak up and say my piece. It all goes back to self worth.

Secondly, today I experience the true, raw power of a beautiful singing voice. As part of my job training, I have been shadowing various people in the company to understand what they do and how I will be supporting them in my position. Today I spent a few hours with the music therapist. Prior to today, I had no idea what music therapy really does. Boy, was I in for a treat. I can tell you this: it works. Music therapy is used to calm the patient from anxiety, take away depression, or pain, trigger conversation. The therapist I was shadowing told me she once had a patient who had not spoken in a year. Once she began singing to this patient, the patient immediatley started singing-loudly-along with her. Today I saw similiar affects. One patient was in tremendous pain, by the end of our session she told was smiling, engaging in conversation, and singing along to many of the songs. Our second patient was a sassy little lady, who loved having a part in the session- she played the bells while the therapist sang and played guitar. Our last patient is slowly declining, and in a lot of pain. When we walked in she was breathing quite quickly and heavily. The therapist sang and played a slowed down version of "somewhere over the rainbow", and the patient immediatley slowed her breathing and calmed down. She also began talking to us a little bit. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I have always been a large believer in the power of music, but today totally moved my heart and proved to me the truth of that belief. I am so honored and blessed that I could be a part of this expeirence, and now a very strong supporter of music therapy. I also learned some fantastic old (and I do mean old) songs.

Use your voice, use it proudly. :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ugly Duckling

I'm about to get real cheesy on you guys...just hear me out.

When I was a little kid, I LOVED the story "The Ugly Duckling". I got it. I understood the meaning, the moral. That little ugly duckling who was mocked and ridiculed by his little duck neighbors, forced to spend a lonely, cold, miserable winter all by himself, and then, turned into a beautiful swan, more beautiful than any other swan. Even as a kid, I knew what that meant- don't judge a book by it's cover, love and accept others and yourself.

The Ugly Ducking is one of those stories that everyone can relate too. I'm sure, at one point or another, each of us have felt like the Ugly Duckling. Maybe because of other people's nasty words, maybe our perceptions of ourselves. Heck some of us battle this every single day. Some of us are constantly labeling ourselves as "The Ugly Duckling". I know I'm guilty. Among my friends I've always, always been "the big girl". When I was in middle and high school I hated going shopping with my friends because they could still wear the cute little junior sizes, and I couldn't. It's taken me a long time to accept myself, and some days I still struggle. But I am too the point where I can work on it (I aim to work out 3-4 days a week and eat healthier. Some days are better than others) and be happy. We compare ourselves to others, beating our self worth into the ground. It has to stop. I grew up in a household where we were taught "let's build each other up, not tear each other down". If only everyone lived their life this way. How peaceful and loving our world would be if we didn't judge others so harshly. Do not dare judge someone by the way they look. Who are you to do such a thing? Our hearts, our thoughts and our actions tell so much more than our face or body.

Love yourself. Do not let anyone call you an Ugly Ducking. Find that beauty inside. Be proud of who you are! Make a list of all the things you love about yourself, and say it out loud. You are worth it. You are beautiful...and you, my friend, are no Ugly Duckling.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


As I looked around the Church this morning, I could not help but reminisce about my family and our own traditions. And, sadly, how some of them seem to have been lost...well, maybe not lost, maybe more like put on hold. Since all of us have grown up into that "adult children" phase, maybe new traditions shall come about once we start having our own kids. We used to have so many traditions. Ft. Walton for Easter, Carolin Christmas Parties, Christmas Day at my mom's parents house, trips Up North with the whole family during the summer. As everyone has grown up and moved away, we rarely hold onto these. I so cherish the ones we do still practice (Thanksgiving at Uncle Kevin's, reading A Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve together even if it means reading it over the phone). Of all the traditions my family had, I did have a personal favorite (besides Florida for Easter. Nothing can top that).

Weekends at Grandma's. Those were so special. My mom's lovely, beautiful, compassionate mother was my hero from a very young age. She was sweet- to everyone. I loved spending time with her and cherished every moment. The girl cousins in town were lucky enough that we got to spend a whole Saturday-Sunday with Grandma every two months or so(And Grandpa too..I'll get to him). We rotated turns, and I always looked forward to my turn. We were treated like princesses. We were given the chance to buy our very own book (my Grandma was a librarian. She met my grandpa in a library. I know, they win cutest people ever award), choose a movie to rent, and go out to dinner, or have dinner in, whichever we wanted. In the summer, we went out for ice cream. I don't remember the conversations we had, but I remember how happy I was, how loved I felt. Not that I wasn't getting love at home, but it was just special with Grandma. I was felt like I was in the presence of someone great around her..probably because I was. On Sunday mornings at their house I would wake up to the smell of bacon- my Grandpa's bacon, the best bacon you would ever eat in your life. Now I know I've been talking about my Grandma, but Gramps was pretty incredible himself. He's kind of indescribable. He was hilarious, strict yet had a heart so full of love and energy. We would sit around the table, Grandpa pouring butter on everything, Grandma filling my glass with orange juice. I looked forward to those weekends and had them up until I was 11 or 12, when I was "too cool" for weekends with Grandma anymore. If I had only known that my Grandma would not live much longer, after passing away from Leukemia within 24 hours of being diagnosed when I was 14, I would have spent every single weekend with her.I miss our old traditions, and my grandparents (both sets. I did not know my dad's parents as well, I'd only known them as being sick). But I am so glad that I have such happy family memories and traditions to look back on.

Here's to old traditions, and here's to building new ones. To my family, I love you. Thank you for providing me with such a happy, loving, safe childhood and for continuing to protect and support me.

Do you have a favorite traditions? Have your traditions changed over the years?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seven Things

After my first week of work, I'm giving my brain a little bit of a break and making a few lists of "Seven Things". Feel free to share some of yours!

"Seven Favorite Things"
1. My Family. I know, I know. Cliche. But I'm pretty lucky that I adore my family, love spending time with them, and have fun with living with my parents. I have wonderful, strong, compassionate parents; loving, patient and honest siblings; and fun, lively, warm sibling-in-laws. We're pretty awesome, not even going to lie about it.

2. Music. Shocking, I know. I love how no matter what kind of mood I'm in, I can find music that will help. I love when lyrics illustrate my life so perfectly. I love when I can emotionally connect to a song, when vocals blow me away.

3. Books. One of my favorite places to go is the library, get lose in the aisles and come out with these amazing books that will take me far, far away. I enjoy reading, finding new books, and discovering things about myself and the characters.

4. American Idol. This show just makes me so darn happy. It works. It gives us new music, gives people a chance for their dream. My favorite this season? Casey. <3

5. Road Trips. There is nothing like getting in the car, music up, windows down, driving for miles and miles. There is something about it- maybe feeling free, alive. I love seeing new things, meeting new people, and all the hilarious stories that go along with road trips. Having your best friend in the passenger side, driving through unknown territory and laughing until your tummies hurt makes the perfect road trip.

6. Documentaries. This is actually a very recent favorite thing of mine, but now I'm kind of addicted. I found free, legit documentaries on Hulu a few weeks ago and have been watching as many as possible ever since. I watched one on all the girls who have played "Annie" in the Broadway/touring companies, and what happens to them after they leave the show (which is usually...nothing. Unless your name is Sarah Jessica Parker). Quite interesting.

7. Summer. Now that I'm working, I won't really have my summer...but summer is still one of my favorite things, favorite memories. The smell of "outside", jumping in the pool, flip flops, BBQ, summer concerts, sun kissed cheeks.

Seven Things I Am Looking Forward To:
1. Getting a start on my job.
2. Easter! One of my favorite holiday's- celebrating Jesus. Sad we won't be in Florida, but excited for family time.
3. Getting back on Twitter/Facebook :-)
4. Warmer weather
5. Spring releases- my favorite author is releasing her new book soon, and there are some good album releases coming out as well.
6. Retreat for my work May 19-20th
7. Building a life for myself

The following lists are all RECENT. I have thousands of favorite books and music, but these are recent.

Seven Of My Favorite Books

1. God Loves Ugly, Christa Black
2. Left Neglected, Lisa Genova
3. These Things Hidden, Heather Gudenkauf
4. Marcelo In The Real World, Fransico Stork
5. Backseat Saints, Joshilyn Jackson
6. I'd Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman
7. ROOM, Emma Donoghue

Seven of my Favorite Albums
1. What If We Were Real, Mandisa
2. 21, Adele
3. Doo Wops and Hooligans, Bruno Mars
4. Speak Now, Taylor Swift
5. Love 101 (Live), Melinda Doolittle
6. Farmers Daughter, Crystal Bowersox
7. Kaleidoscope Heart, Sara Barielles

Thursday, April 21, 2011


This is the true story. Of one girl, hired for her first full time job. Find out what happens when her life turns around, and starts getting real. The Real World: Megan.

All this week, I have been training for my new job. (For those who don't know, I was recently hired as a volunteer coordinator for a hospice. My job is to recruit, retain, and recognize volunteers to be companions for our patients. In a nutshell). This is not only my new job, but my first real job. 9-5. Salary. Benefits. AKA, reality. No more volunteering, no more part time hours. It really hit me when I received my work cell phone yesterday, as well as my badge. I'm in the real world. I was so excited I texted some of my family/friends. I got this back from my brother in law, Dave.

"Welcome to no vacation, no pay, and long hours".

Gee. Thanks, Dave. That's quite a welcome. I know I'll love my job, but I alos know he's right. Reality. I'm ecstatic. I've been waiting for this for a few years. It's slightly terrifying, I'll admit. This week I have been slammed with information. Each day I brought home a new huge pile of papers to read through. And I haven't even really started yet! I've learned about the company, the roles within the company, the policies of the company. After a few more days of training and shadowing others with my position, I'll be plopped into my office, they will cut the chord. Time to work.

This is a complete transition from the life I was living a few weeks ago. I went from chasing four little kids around a house, steaming green beans and picking up a playroom to sitting in meetings all day and learning how to evaluate patients and volunteers. Like I said, I'm excited. The team has been more than welcoming, I am learning and taking in all kinds of information. I have ideas, millions of questions, and enthusiasm. I'm growing up. Making and saving my own, hard earned money. I'm adapting this whole new lifestyle. This week I worked out a work out plan that I will adhere to, forcing myself to go straight to the gym after work 3-4 days a week.

Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this new chapter in my life. I'm sure I'll be a little bit of a mess these first few weeks as I tiptoe around and try to figure things out, but also hit the ground running on some of the projects I have in mind.

Reality...I'm ready for ya.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I'm a quiet person. I always have been. I talked about this a little in my "L" post when I touched on "listening", how I spent so much of my childhood not speaking and just listening. I'm still pretty quiet. Once I get to know you, I can talk your ear off, but it takes me a little bit. The exception to this is when I'm very passionate about a subject. During one of my first few weeks at my old job, one of my old co-workers said "So, do you ever talk or...". I hadn't noticed I wasn't speaking up as much, it just seemed normal to me. I didn't know these people, why bore them with my life story. And the thing is? Most of the time it's not that I'm nervous or don't want to talk. It's that I don't know what to say, or I think people don't care what I have to say. I have had to sort of push myself and remind myself of my worth, and that what I say does matter. It's an ongoing process.

Different from my personal quiet attitude, I enjoy my quiet time in general. I mentioned yesterday I have little patience and have problems being completly still. But there are moments where I so need my quiet. I need to take a step back from everything going on and just enjoy the peace. Last year, I went on a silent retreat, by myself, for three days. Did I get bored? Kind of. But it was so necessary for me to just recharge my batteries. I didn't speak to anyone, I just sat and wrote in my journal or prayed. It was a beautiful experience. I really recommend to everyone to spend at least 5 minutes in silence, every day. Turn off computers, tv, music, and just BE. You might surprise yourself.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patience...Or Lack Thereof

The good Lord did not bless me with patience. It is probably my biggest flaw. I can't wait for anything. I am a complete wreck when I have to wait for news. So you can imagine how lovely I was during all my "transition stages" in life- waiting for college acceptance, MVC acceptance, job offers. Yeah, it wasn't pretty. Traffic? WATCH. OUT. During American Idol result shows I have to keep myself occupied by writing or helping my mom grade her papers. I can't teach my mom anything on the computer without my blood boiling when she doesn't understand. I yell at kids I babysit for when they take too long putting their shoes on. My kids at Cristo Rey caught onto my impatience immediately (is that irony?) and used it against me. They knew how much it irked me if a group of them all asked me a question at once or continuously asked me the same question over and over. They enjoyed seeing me get angry and would purposely do things to test my patience.

I envy those with patience. I wish I could sit still and wait calmly. I can't. I've tried, and believe it or not I have improved. Sorta. I still always have to be up and doing something, rarely taking time to just be still. Those of you who are able to do so, able to have a free mind and relaxed body while waiting, I applaud you. Don't take it for granted.

Maybe it's because most of my jobs have been so fast paced, or the generation I grew up in (we have EVERYTHING we need at our fingertips with computers and phones)...or maybe it's just me. I was born this way, baby. Maybe I can learn to be patient....I think God has certainly been testing me latley with this. I just don't know I've done so well on those tests.

My question for you all is this: Are you a patient person? How do you do it? Do you have a technique or is it just the way you are? Can patience be taught? Will you teach me?

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Hit Wonder

Aah, One Hit Wonders. A musical miracle :) People laugh, but we've had some darn good one hit wonders out there. It's a shame the artists who create them just disappear into thin air. (Sorry if I mention one of your favorites but you still follow them. I know how that feels). It's funny what people consider to be One Hit Wonders. Like, most people say Hanson...and while they aren't making hits, per say, they are still making incredible music. I also looked up a list on wikipedia and bands like Jimmy Eat World and Green Day were mentioned. I also don't even want to mention how many "idol castoffs" were on this list. Uh....anyhoo. Here are some of my favorite one hit wonders. Enjoy!

Black Velvet, Alannah Myles

Closing Time, Semisonic

Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice

99 Red Balloons, Nena

Video Killed the Radio Star, the Buggles

How Do You Talk To An Angel, The Heights

Breakfast at Tiffany's, Deep Blue Something

Also, I was totally convinced that both Ke$ha and Katy Perry would be One Hit Wonders. Sorry, ladies. Enjoy your multiple number one hits.

Do you have a favorite?

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I asked my family (parents and brother) for a little help on an "N" post. Each of them immediately responded "Notre Dame". Yeah, right. Look I love Notre Dame and all, but not nearly as much as my family does. So I will say this: Cheer Cheer for Old Notre Dame. Thanks for bringing my family such happiness. Rah rah.

Moving on...

My neighborhood growing up was your typical, suburban neighborhood. Every house looked exactly the same, except a different color. It was full of families and little kids, sidewalks and fenced in yards. When I think of my childhood I think of summer days outside on the lawn, playing with all our little neighborhood friends. We were the rare "Catholic school kids", holding that title with only two other families in the neighborhood. My friend Amy did go to the same school as I did, she was a year younger than me. We played...every day. At least, it feels that way. I remember riding my bike to her house and spending hours playing paper dolls, Mary-Kate and Ashley (I was Mary-Kate), barbies, etc. We also used to pretend to be the babysitters club. When it started to get dark, her mom would walk me halfway around the block, where we would meet my dad and he'd walk me the rest of the way home.

Summer days in my neighborhood were so much fun. All the kids would come out and played roller hockey (my brother and his friends once constructed a Stanley Cup out of tin foil and water bottles), Capture the Flag, tag, baseball, etc. We'd ride our bikes to the park, go for walks, play basketball in someones driveway. Nothing mattered. Our job was to have fun, and we excelled at having fun. Oh sure, their were tears. Their were cliques. Once, I was sitting on my lawn, watching three of my little friends play across the street. I yelled to one who lived there "hey! Can you play today!". Do you believe she had the nerve to look right at me and say "no"? When she already HAD friends over? Her mom yelled at her, and our two other friends came running over to comfort me. Take that, Rebecca.

When I got a little older, I was introduced to three girls who I had never played with when I was younger. For some reason, my brother and I always stuck to a few houses of kids. We never even looked the other way down the street unless we were riding our bikes. So imagine my surprise when I discovered three girls very close to my age- two a year older, one a year younger. I met Katie first. She went to my school too and I think our moms set up a play date. Katie was so different than my other friends- much more mature, calm. Her dad was very sick with cancer, and passed away the summer we became friends. Because I met her when I was older, it wasn't cool to "play" anymore, so I really just remember us talking for hours and listening to music. Then Katie introduced me to HER next door neighbors, Jamie and Lindsay. They were sisters. I met them in a tree house eating turkey sandwhiches. We formed this sort of instant bond. I have a very clear memory of watching Hanson videos in their basement very quickly into our friendship. I didn't live in that neighborhood long after knowing Jamie, Lindsay, and Katie, but I do remember that, in the time I had left, it was spent with them. Especially walks and bike rides. I went to an Nsync concert with them, too. My first concert ever.

After I moved out of that neighborhood, I stayed very close with Jamie and Lindsay. We still had sleepovers and nights out at the mall or going to see a movie. We went on trips together, talked on the phone and through IM. I still consider them to be two of my best friends, even though I don't get to see them as much anymore.

My new neighborhood couldn't compare to what I had in Troy- not because of the people, but because of my age. You just can't run around all day with your friends once you hit high school. I did spend my 8th grade year wandering around with the few friends I had here, but we were not interested in playing baseball or riding bikes. We were looking for boys. However, I do notice the tons and tons of little kids in this neighborhood hanging out with their friends on warm days. And it makes me smile, knowing how happy and carefree they are. Soon they will grow up and move on, I just hope they remember how special it is to live in a neighborhood where all you have to worry about is whether or not the ice cream truck is going to come by that day.

I'm wondering- did you have this kind of neighborhood growing up?

Friday, April 15, 2011

me myself and I!


Perhaps this is self-absorbed, but I try to mix it up. I've talked about other people, books, music, places, and concepts. I thought today I'd just give some fun facts about good old Megan. Enjoy.

-My parents thought that I was going to be a boy and were SET on naming me Danny (after the song "Danny Boy"). Surprise! They named me Megan because of it's Irish roots. My mom also once told me that at the time she didn't think it was a popular name. Surprise again. It was one of the most popular names of 1987. Oops.

-I people watch. All. the. time. Do the creep! I've almost fallen of the treadmill at the gym many a time watching people. Yep, I'm that girl.

-One of my nicknames in college was "Jesus Jr" because I was "always saving people".

-I'm not good at it, but I love to dance. And sing. God did not bless me with a voice or dance moves, but that doesn't stop me.

-I have never learned to play an instrument but have always wanted too. One of the first things I plan on buying when I make money is a cheap, beginner acoustic guitar. I'd also love to learn piano.

-When I buy a new album, I obsess over it for approximately two-three weeks. Then I put it away because I can't stand it anymore...sooner or later I'll take it out again and obsess. It's kind of a vicious cycle. Right now I'm back to Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" after taking a two month rest.

-For three-four years now I've said I've wanted a tattoo, but then changed what I wanted. Drastically. So it's a good thing I never went through with it a few years ago.

-I'm pretty much just a big kid at heart. I get excited easily over little things. But, in other ways, I'm an old soul. I relate to people older than me really well. It's strange. I've never quite felt my age. Either drastically younger or older.

-When I was a little kid, I really wanted a black baby doll. One of the parents in the neighborhood told my mom not to buy it, because it was "wrong". When I first heard that story (I was probably 12) I was so mad I wanted to punch someone. I didn't (and still don't) understand- why the HELL is that wrong?

-I have guessed people's thoughts many times. My roommates in college were freaked out by it. I usually just know how people are feeling and what they are going to say. It's a little scary sometimes.

-I would not be able to get through my days without music. (Currently listening to Lady Antebellum's Need You Now album).

-I will drive out of my way for Starbucks. Sometimes to just sit there and write, most of the time for that AND a skinny vanilla latte.

-I have had SEVERAL friends stab me in the back. I've often wondered what I've done wrong for this to happen. I still have no idea.

-I just asked my mom to describe me and she said "Big eyes, sensitive and thoughtful soul. Intuitive". I'll take that :)

-I will not eat anything with BBQ Sauce. Ew. I also despise Sweet Tea. Sorry, south!

-I cry all the time. Commercials, songs, stories. Doesn't take much! Today I cried when I heard Taylor Swift bought her parents a house as a thank you gift.

-I wouldn't mind if it rained every single day. I LOVE rain. Then again, I do love the sunshine. Maybe a good combination of both. With no snow, at all.

-I am extremely nostalgic and hate any kind of change. I get weird when things have to change.

-I watch Bad Girls Club. Not only do I watch it, but I invest myself in it. Probably my biggest guilty pleasure.

-Even though I can't sing, I do killer impressions of other artists. Recently I've pulled off Nicki Minaj (I LOVE HER OKAY), Haley from American Idol, and Adam Lambert. And I must say...I am quite a good rapper.

-I used to want to be an actress, and I'd still jump at the chance to do some acting. Theatre intrigues me.

-I have never broken a bone or been stung by a bee. I have sprained an ankle, though.

-I have only ever lived in Michigan. I love this state, and the city of Detroit, but I'd also be willing to get out in a few years, see something new.

-Mental illness fascinates me. I read books, fiction and non fiction, on the topic. So interesting how different people are affected!

-I have met several American Idol contestants, including Kelly Clarkson. Also met Lady Antebellum, Hanson, and Taylor Swift.

-In high school my friends and I made a really silly video to submit to Oprah for me to meet her. We never received a response. However, one year in college, I wrote a letter to Tyra Banks saying they needed to have plus size girls on America's Next Top Model. Few weeks later? Got her autograph. Next season of ANTM? Plus size girl won. I'M. JUST. SAYING. Take that, OPRAH!

-I've never been one of those girls who plans out their entire wedding years before marriage is actually in the cards. C'mon now.

-Never cheated on a test or forged a signature.

-I think I have the movies "Miss Congeniality" and "Mean Girls" memorized. I once watched Mean Girls 9 times in a week.

-I did a year of Catholic volunteer service at a low-income high school in Detroit. It was the most amazing, eye-opening experience of my entire life. I love this kids to DEATH.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lesson on L Words

I have a few favorite "L" words. Rather than choosing one, I wanted to share them with you.

LEARN. It makes me sad that I don't "love to learn" as much as I used to. I was one of those kids who actually enjoyed school. Soaking in all new information, facts, history, methods, etc was always so interesting to me. (Except math, but that's a totally different story!). In college I truly enjoyed going to class and then sitting in the library/computer lab for hours on end, researching and writing papers. Call me crazy, but it was just sort of like stepping out of my own world and taking pleasure in what was going on elsewhere. These days, I don't have that same drive. I have a few theories- I'm no longer in a "school setting", therefore am not learning in the traditional sense. Still, I could make up for that by reading more news stories or watching history/travel channels. I just don't. Another theory is that I, like so many of us, have been consumed by pop culture. I need to remind myself that Idol's latest castoff isn't NEWS, isn't learning. I've been brainwashed in that sense, checking gossip sites more frequently than CNN. I need to remember there's a difference between entertainment and lifestyle. Wow, that got waaaay off track, but you get the jist. I hope. Anyways, one of the greatest feelings in the world is when you've learned something, mastered a skill- OR the ability to teach others. I guess I'm more in that role now. But you better believe, at my orientation for my new job on Monday, I will be sitting as close to the speaker as possible, hanging on every word they say, furiously writing and hi-lighting.

LISTEN. I've always considered myself a strong listener. This may be totally wrong, but I believe it is because of my shyness as a kid. I didn't talk much, but I was always listening. I became pretty fascinated with human emotion and interaction. I'm really good at knowing how people are feeling. I try to give advice, but mostly I just listen. I think that was what connected me to the Cristo Rey kids so well last year. On a completely different note, I am constantly listening to music. I can't have it playing too loudly, though, because I need to hear every word and I feel cranking the volume sort of takes away from that. Also, I can't listen to more than one thing at a time. I need to stay totally focused while listening. Example- when I was not living at home, sometimes I'd be on the phone with my mom, typing on my computer, AND listening to music softly. She'd pause for my response and I'd have to say "wait, what?". I need to put myself in a place where I can listen completely. Oh, and one of my BIGGEST pet peeves? NOT listening. That is the number one thing that frustrates me with kids I babysit for, or my students...also the number one reason I could NOT be a teacher :) I'd probably throw something at a kid who refused to listen.

LAUGH. One of my favorite sounds in the world is laughter. It's also one of my favorite feelings. I love the different ways people laugh, and when someone has a really ridiculously loud laugh, they are automatically one of my favorite people. (Hey Alicia!). I really miss college if only for the reason of all the nights I laughed until I cried. (Once I laughed until I threw up. And yes, I was sober. It was just that funny). What gets me the most is when a little kid bursts into giggles. The other night when I was babysitting, my mom came over for dinner. She knows the family quite well, and they were excited to have A TEACHER come over for dinner. When she came to the door, their decibel level reached a whole new level of high. It instantly put a smile on my face to hear them giggle like that. Aah, to be so carefree. I try to make it a point to laugh every day. Even on the bad days. Lucky for me that's pretty easy, my parents provide plenty of comic relief. ("I can't talk to you right now, I have to eat my ice cream"-My mom). But sometimes it's a little harder, especially when I was sitting at home all day job hunting. So I'd seek it out. Look at old pictures, read old blogs, talk to a friend, watch a youtube video. Laughter is truly the best medicine, in my opinion.

LET GO. This little two word phrase has been a favorite of mine since high school. I heard someone say "Let go and Let God" and it pretty much rocked my world. That's been my mantra ever since. I don't always follow through with it, but for the most part, when I'm buried deep in stress and worry, I can tell myself "let go" enough times, and I finally do. I also think it is important to "let go" of the things bringing you down- whether that be friends, negative thoughts, job, etc. There's no use keeping a constant negative in your life. Let go and replace it with a positive. People so often see letting go as a weakness, but in reality, if you are strong enough to let go, you can handle anything. Don't be afraid.

LOVE. Love always. Love first. Love hard. Love carefully. Choose love. ETC, ETC, ETC. I consider myself a very loving person. I am not afraid to tell the people in my life how much I love them. Perhaps my actions don't always show it (ie, making plans, phone calls, etc), but I do my best. I don't see a point in judging and I try to give everyone a chance. As far as "in love". I don't know if I've ever been in love. I've been close. There have been boys around. But in recent years I've realized that I truly need to work on myself, my self esteem, etc before I can ever love someone else. Basically, I need to love myself first. And it has taken me a long time to get to that point. I'm not even sure I am fully there. But I know that my "perfect guy" is there somewhere. I know I have time. And, luckily for me, I am surrounded by couples who are perfect examples of love. My parents and siblings are in these amazing, strong, faithful relationships that give me hope.

LIVE. When it comes down to it, we only have once chance to make this right. Tomorrow is never promised, so live for today. One of my favorite Spill Canvas songs quotes "live for the moment now". I try to remember that throughout each day. Be you. Live your life. No sense in wasting it. Some people don't get the chance, but you do. Take it. Dare. I have really, really worked on putting this into full practice. If I can't sleep at night, I write down the things on my mind, and next to them ways to fix or eliminate them. Then they can no longer consume my every thought and I can live my life freely. Remember what is important in life, and just live.

Sharing a song with you because it's been in my head since I sat down to right this...and it's relevant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I had a really, really difficult time with this one. Only a few ideas came to mind for a K post, none of them I was too passionate about. In the end, I went with


What is Kairos, you query? Well. In the eyes of a high school student (at least, at Catholic schools who participate) It is a four day retreat with your classmates, usually during your senior year of high school. It's pretty intense...emotionally, that is. It's meant to be a time where you break down barriers and take time out of your busy schedule to get to know yourself, your classmates, and God. Each day is focused on something different, and all the activities revolve around those topics. The final day is focused on LOVE, and how to put everything you learned into action. One of the very special parts of the retreat is that all forms of technology and time are taken away from the retreatants. Only the adults and student leaders know what time it is, and time increments are measured using your hands. Example? You would say you have this much time (holding your hands facing each other just a short distance apart) to go to the bathroom. Or You have this much time (holding your hands larger apart) to go for a walk and write in your journal. Another one of the greatest parts of Kairos? It's all a secret. Well, it's meant to be. Sometimes people ~knew things. But for the most part, no one has any idea what to expect. Which is why I can't share many of the fabulous, wonderful things that happen on the retreat. I would hate to spoil it for someone who randomly stumbles on this blog.

I went on Kairos as a junior...I was sort of hoping to be accepted as a Kairos Leader the next year for my class. I say hoping because I really wasn't sure. I felt "the call" but wasn't confident about it. anyways, That is also pretty routine. At our high school, there were four separate Kairos retreats. The class is split up into equal numbers and you are assigned your dates. But, if you are a junior and interested in being a leader, you must apply to go on the spring Kairos as a junior. I was one of those juniors, and I must say I was pretty terrified. I wasn't friends with many people in the senior class, and I wasn't sure they would care what I had to say or value my opinion. I was wrong. I actually grew very close with all the girls, especially the leaders, whom I admired greatly. My first experience on Kairos wasn't life changing, though. I had a great time, I learned a little more about myself and my faith, but I was underwhelmed. All through high school I had heard I would come back a changed person, and I didn't. Everything just went back to normal.

However, it would be my 2nd time on Kairos that I would truly find meaning and hope. I was accepted to be a leader for Kairos. A HUGE honor. I was selected to lead the first Kairos for our class. I wasn't allowed to tell any of my friends, especially those going on the retreat. I was leading with some of my best friends, so that made it kind of difficult. We were always whispering and having meetings. Anyhoo. One of the major responsibilities of the leaders is to give a talk to the group. We were each assigned different topics. I was assigned a new topic, one that our pastoral minister wanted to introduce to Kairos- God's Friendship. I was given a few basic guidelines, but basically, your talk is supposed to come straight from the heart. I don't know if I've ever written something so honest as I did for my Kairos talk. I spoke out some of the things I was struggling with (none of which my classmates were aware of, because I kept it hidden), some of the beautiful friendships that I had in my life, and how my experiences at Mercy had helped me to find my faith. Mrs. MacLennan (my pastoral minister) helped me to go over and over my talk, making sure it was right. We made very little changes and I felt good about it-until I had to actually give it. I still remember the moments just before I gave my talk. I walked into the room, sat at the little white table facing empty chairs, and said a prayer. At that moment, Mrs. Mac walked in. She could tell I was nervous, and she said "You wrote a wonderful talk, Megan. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you.". I did. And guess what? My talk went perfectly. I spoke with confidence and grace, that I never knew I had in me. I held back tears, but overall, I felt so accomplished and relieved. After my talk, I looked up and there was a line of girls formed around the table for hugs. One of them was a girl who I had grown up with, but we were NEVER friends. She hugged me so tight, kissed me on the head, and said I inspired her. In that moment, I knew I had done the right thing by answering God's call to attend Kairos.

Another huge responsibility of the leaders is to lead a small group of classmates. Myself and the fellow leaders spent 4 hours one afternoon dividing up the retreatants into groups. We couldn't have best friends with each other, we couldn't pick our own best friends. I spoke up, very clearly, to say "I don't mind who is in my group, but I need her to be in it." I picked up a name of another girl I had grown up with. We HAD been best friends, but once we hit high school we fell apart. We weren't on speaking terms. I knew it was a risk putting her in my group, but I felt like it would be good. My small group kicked so much ass (sorry, but we did). I fell in love with them. We shared stories, they were all so strong. Ironically enough, one of our activities was to make friendship bracelets for one other person in our group. Who's name did I pick? You betcha. I spent so much time on her bracelet, picking colors that meant something. (forgiveness, friendship, trust, etc). I loved my group. We stayed close throughout the rest of our senior year. In fact, I still have a picture we all took together on Graduation night.

Besides my small group and giving my talk, leading Kairos WAS truly an overall incredible experience. I learned SO much about myself and my classmates. I am still, to this day, so thankful for God for that experience. I still have my Kairos cross. Still have my journal, and my talk.

I know many of you won't be able to connect to this post, and that's okay. I just needed to remember what a special time that was for me.

HEY. I found a journal entry from back then...This is me, circa 2004.

I'm kind of at a loss for words right now. Leading Kairos was, hands down, the most amazing experience. It was just...beautiful. All of the girls on the retreat taught me so much, they are all beautiful, intelligent and amazing. I just wanted to thank everyone who went on Kairos, you have no idea how much I love and admire each and every one of you. To my fellow leaders...Andie, Aria, Heather, Staci, and Kaits...we made it. It was hard work, yes, but girls I love you and you're awesome and I had such a good time with you guys...high kicks, good deeders, ya know. the usual. :) im on that like mayo on a sandwhich.

Live The Fourth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Last year, when I began my year of service at Detroit Cristo Rey High School, I knew I would get attached to students. I also knew pretty early on that one of those students would be Jasmine. Maybe it was because she was the first student I met, but I could just tell that she was special. (Note: I do love all my students I worked with last year. Every single one.)

Jasmine and I formed an instant bond. I learned, during one of our initial conversations, that she lost her mother at a young age and was raised by her sweet grandmother. I learned of her love for Michael Jackson, mainly because her mom loved him. His music gave her hope. Wise beyond her years, she was constantly holding mature, genuine conversations with me. She was so beyond the petty drama that the majority of her classmates were involved with, she loved getting to know her teachers on a personal level. She's funny, intuitive, and compassionate. She cares about other people and is not afraid to show it, which is rare for a high school student. We also shared a mutual love for music. We were always introducing each other to different songs and artists, writing down lyrics that we found inspiring. I remember one day in particular, when I casually mentioned Melinda Doolittle, Jasmine burst into tears. She told me that Melinda was her favorite Idol contestant ever, that Melinda had inspired her and helped her to have faith and hope. Sound familiar?

Our respect and admiration for Melinda and music was not the only thing we had in common. Jasmine and I just had this genuine understanding for each other. Even though she was my student, she looked out for me just as much as I looked out for her. Once, I was having a really really horrible day. She and another amazing student of mine, Marisa, pulled their desks up to mine so I couldn't leave the room. They said, very seriously "Talk, Miss Carolin. You're always listening to our problems, we want to hear yours". It was one of the sweetest things my students ever did for me, even though I couldn't exactly tell them what was bothering me, I made sure they knew I was grateful. I was also always looking out for Jasmine. I knew some days were hard for her, not only because of her circumstances but because she WAS so mature and grown up.

Jasmine and I had several other "moments" like the one I just mentioned. Another favorite of mine is when we were at the Garden Party, a fundraiser for the school, and the President of the board came to speak to the two of us. She said "You know, you two kind of look alike". We both smiled and nodded, not responding because we both knew- we don't look anything alike. I all. As soon as she walked away, we burst out laughing. Jasmine turned to me and said "It's because you're like my big sister". That meant the world to me. In a way, though, I know what the comment meant. We don't look alike, but we are a lot alike. Jasmine reminds me so much of myself when I was in high school- except she probably handles situations with much more grace than I did. But we share similar values, thoughts, and beliefs.

Jasmine is going to make an incredible impact on this world. She already has, with her sweet spirit, love for life, and passion for helping others. I can't wait to see where she goes from here. Jasmine, thank you for being a breath of fresh air during my year of service. Even though I am not there every day, I do think of you and keep you in my prayers. You continue to make me so so proud :)

Oh, to give you an example of how mature and gracious Jasmine is, here is part of one of the letters she gave me at the end of the year. (I left out part of it that talks about her struggles last year, for her sake).

Dear Miss Carolin,
The previous letter given to you by me was rushed and not appropriately written for a person of your caliber. You are a gift from Our Father an an over all joy to be around. You are giving, free spirited, and loving. You have a personality to die for. It has been a pleasure to have you here. I will never forget you. I will miss you. Love your dear friend and lil sister, Jasmine.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Am....

A-Z Challenge
I Am Poem

"I Am"
I am compassionate and intuitive
I wonder what they think of me
I hear a child playing gleefully
I see a kitchen full of children's art
I want to be free
I am compassionate and intuitive

I pretend to be confident
I feel anxious and curious
I touch the familiar coffee cup
I worry about getting it right
I cry when others cry
I am compassionate and intuitive

I understand God's unconditional love
I say stop the hate
I dream for a peaceful life
I try to be positive
I hope everything is in it's place
I am compassionate and intuitive.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Sorry I'm posting this a day late, but I was Up North yesterday morning-this afternoon at Higgins Lake with this year's Mercy Volunteers and two of the Cap volunteers. We had a wonderful time, so thankful they invited me to join on the mini vacay! We have had BEAUTIFUL weather here in Detroit this weekend. 70 degrees and sunny today!

I'm currently babysitting for a family of four. I got here 2pm this afternoon and leaving 9 am Tuesday morning. I've done overnight sitting before, but never for four kids. I was a little nervous, but as of right now, it is 8:15 pm, all the kids are fed, showered, and in bed! Score one for me. Next battle? Getting the two oldest ready for school in the morning. Wish me luck.

Anyways, my H post is...drum roll please...


During the "welcome home" ceremony for sorority recruitment in the fall of my sophomore year, my friend Betsy and I stood together in the bleachers, anxiously watching the potential new members. We were eager to see which girls were going to choose our house as their sorority. We particularly had our eyes on a girl named Sam. Sam was a transfer student, coming to WMU as a junior. We held each others hands tight when it was Sam's turn to "run home". And cheered-loudly- when she came running towards Delta Gamma. Later that night, in the comfort of our little sorority house, we played "get to know you games" and chatted up the new members. I will always remember someone asking Sam her favorite band/music, and Sam, boldly and proudly, answering "Hanson".

"HANSON? Like...MMMBOP?" We all asked. But Sam stood strong. She loved Hanson. I didn't even know they were still making music. I just assumed they disappeared sometime after 1998 and never came back. I was wrong. Sam constantly talked about them, and it peaked my interest. One day I went home and started looking up their music. I was literally amazed by what I found. They were indeed still making music- fantastic music. Genius music. Music with meaning, solid lyrics and beautiful harmonies. I would casually ask Sam questions about them, and she had all the answers.

Eventually, my friendship with Sam grew stronger. We ended up living together the next year and were pretty much inseparable. Our common love for Idol and music, among other things, made us two peas in a pod. She even showed me some documentaries Hanson had done, which were intriguing and impressive. We went to several concerts together that year, including a few Hanson shows. As if I was not already impressed, I became a loyal, dedicated fan after seeing the boys live. The passion that they put into their music and their fans was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Here's the special thing about Hanson. They are not just your typical indie band. They've been tossed around in the music business quite a few times, people trying to stop them from making true music. Their label refused over 80 songs from them before the band went Indie. Aside from their belief in honest songwriting and in themselves, they do an incredible amount of charity work. Their album "The Walk" signifies this. When they did "The Walk Tour", they organized fans, before every show, to walk one mile, barefoot, across the city they were performing. This was to signify the children in Africa and what they go through on a daily basis.

I can't force you to like this music, but I can suggest you listen to it, and give them a chance. I will post my favorite song from each studio album (excluding the Christmas album, even though that is my favorite Christmas album ever). I hope you listen, because this is some good, honest music with significant meaning and brilliant vocals and instruments to back it up.

My favorite song from "Middle of Nowhere" is "I Will Come To You". Here is a live version, from many, many years after MON was actually released. Enjoy.

My favorite song from "This Time Around" is "Can't Stop", because it is so fun to rock out to :)

From "Underneath", my favorite song is "Lost Without Each other"

The Walk is such an intriguing album. The songs are so unique. I'm posting two songs...Great Divide and Watch Over Me (probably my favorite Hanson song, ever).

And finally, Shout It Out. My FAVORITE Hanson album. It's a little tougher to pick a song for this one, but I decided on "Carry You There".

I hope you enjoyed. And Sam, thank you for reintroducing me to this incredibly talented musicians!

Friday, April 8, 2011

God Loves Ugly- Christa Black

Book Review: God Loves Ugly, Christa Black.

I first became familiar with Christa Black in November of 2007, when Jordin Sparks debut album was released. I was a fan of Jordin, and took time to put her album in and listen carefully to each track. When I got to the song titled "God Loves Ugly", I was overcome with emotion. The words touched my heart. I quickly grabbed the CD inset to find out who wrote the song- and read the name Christa Black. I logged onto myspace to find out more about Christa, and when I found her page, I found it was full of compassion and inspiration. I followed her ever since, discovering her incredible writing abilities and the way she related to young women, giving them hope. Most people know of Christa through her work with the Jonas Brothers, as a member of their band on a world tour. During that tour, Christa began writing blogs that touched on topics such as self esteem, eating disorders, faith in God, etc. Those blogs turned into a book, appropriately titled after the life changing song, God Loves Ugly.

Within just the first couple pages of God Loves Ugly, I was completely taken aback by the truth and wisdom in Christa’s writing. So much so, in fact, that I often had to put the book down and take a break. By the middle of the book, I almost didn’t pick it back up again. I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear what I had been shushing all these years. Thankfully, I picked it back up, kept reading, and kept learning about myself. Christa’s writing is not only beautiful, but honest and daring. She shared her story, intertwined with snippets of advice and encouragement. It takes a strong person to be able to pour her heart out the way that Christa did in this book. She did it with grace. Through her stories, her struggle with eating disorders (both a food addiction and bulimia), struggling to fit in, and discovering that she was truly worthy of love, I have found a new hope. The book is relatable, inspiring, and gives hope to all those suffering any form of addiction of self hate that freedom is waiting for them.

I really believe every woman should read this book. While it is aimed at young women and teenagers, everyone will be able to relate to the stories and testimonies. The book will change the way you view yourself, not only with Christa's words of advice and inspiration but the helpful "your turn" section at each end of the chapter, where Christa encourages you to ask the questions that are in the way of finding freedom. I'm not sure that I have ever read a book so hopeful and honest, so invested in its readers and truly wanting them to better themselves and to realize their worth.

Do not be afraid to read this book. I can promise you, it will help you through your struggles. You are loved.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

I had to go to my friend Jena (check out her blog. She is a fantastic writer) for advice on today's blog. I had so many ideas and no clue where to begin. Jena's response? I think it just depends on what mood strikes you when you sit down to write. Amen.

For as long as I can remember, my family has been traveling to Ft. Walton Beach, FL every Easter. And when I say family, I do mean- FAMILY. We took over! It used to be that when you pulled up to the gates of the El Matador (the condominiums which we rented), you could say “Carolin” and the guard would just laugh and wave you you through. My Dad, the youngest of seven, has been going there his entire life. It’s a tradition, it’s a memory, it’s an escape. My parents actually met in Ft. Walton when they were both on vacation there. Year later, it would be the location my brother-in-law proposed to my sister, and where my brother and sister-in-law had their honeymoon. So, Ft. Walton is pretty special to me. Unfortunately, I have not been able to go since I was 16, A junior in high school. I did a service trip my senior year, and then my college spring breaks never lined up correctly. So, Ft Walton is slowly becoming a distant memory. That breaks my heart, because for the longest time I could just close my eyes and imagine myself on the beach. It’s tougher for me to do that now. I am distracted by all the memories crushed in between my precious Ft Walton and I.

Here is what I do remember… I remember our usual condo in Building 3, with my mom’s parent’s right across the sidewalk. I remember the smell of the ocean combined with sunscreen and aloe. I remember the palm trees and the pure white snow. I remember the tall white buildings with the red roofs. I remember the Y shaped pool. I remember playing outside in the grassy areas after a day of swimming and mini golf. I remember shrimp sandwiches and raw oysters from the High Tide. I remember my grandpa forcing me to try black butter on my shrimp, saying I was not truly his granddaughter if I didn’t like butter. I remember spending hours in the ocean. I remember my uncle fishing further down the beach. I remember every year looking for my brother’s ninja turtles which he had lost in the sand when he was little. I remember the water park, the souvenir shops, the mall (it had a carousel inside that always amazed me as a kid). I remember being terrified of go Karts…and when my sister’s friends forced me to go on them when I was a little older, I remember crashing. Yes. I crashed. In a go Kart. I remember my sister’s friends then buying me ice cream and one of them hugging me while I cried. I remember Easter mass. Waking up early to find eggs scattered across the condo, putting on an Easter dress and headed to mass, surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. I remember brunch afterwards at Jo and Eddie’s, a kind of dirty little diner that we could never stay away from. They had the best chocolate chip pancakes I have ever had. I remember one very special trip where I drove down with my cousin Patrick and his son, Laurence. That would be the trip that bonded Laurence and I, and I held a very special place in my heart ever since then. I love that kid, may he rest in sweet peace.

I remember, when I got older, that I was allowed to bring friends with me. The first year I brought Jamie and Lindsay. I remember our long walks at night with sunburned cheeks and hoodies, sitting on the boardwalk and laughing at the other teenagers who were drinking. I remember us laughing until we cried every single night before we fell asleep, taking turns who had to sleep on the floor. I remember the car ride with them there and back, and writing down all our inside jokes. The second year, I brought Reena and Megan. My brother was a senior then, so he had quite a few friends with them. Naturally we tried to keep up with them and hang out with them. I remember an epic water fight with them that turned pretty painful. The third year, I brought my friend Staci. I actually don’t remember much from that trip, which is sort of fitting considering our friendship completely, fell apart shortly after that trip. But I remember going shopping one day and finding a Starbucks and we both screamed with joy. I remember how well she got along with my family, how easily she fit right in, and I do remember our long, LONG late night chats. We were really good to each other. What happened I’m still not sure, but I thank Staci for making my last trip to Ft. Walton a good, peaceful, and fun one. I guess I remember more than I thought. Amazing what your mind can do when you just let it be. I miss that place, I miss the family times and happiness it brought. I can’t think of it without thinking of each of my uncles, aunts, grandparents, and cousins whom I spent that week with. I think of my brother and sister and what fun we had annoying each other in the car. I hope, soon, that I can go back and pay it a visit. My special Ft. Walton. Our special Ft. Walton.

Pictured here is the El Matador, our condo place where we rented from. You can see the pool, white sand, palm trees, and grassy areas I was talking about. See the two buildings that are closest together? With just a sidewalk in between them? We were always in the building on the right, first floor, first room on the left. Grandma and Grandpa were right across the sidewalk, first floor, first room on the right.

And here, my friends, is a very short slideshow of my family and I at Ft. Walton. These are more for my own sake than my readers, but enjoy a little glimpse into my favorite vacation spot :) Click on the box below to open the video in a seperate window. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I can see it in your eyes...

I have this crazy weird obsession with eyes. In some regards, they terrify me. I have to look away when someone is scratching their eye, and it took me two hours to learn how to put in a contact. I won't put eye drops in, either. Just grosses me out.

But, one the complete opposite spectrum, they fascinate me. I know that sounds weird. Eyes are the absolute first thing that I notice about a person. I can get a glimpse of who they are, what they are feeling, by looking into their eyes. My kids at Cristo Rey used to be freaked out by this. I'd ask them if they were okay, they'd say no, why, and I'd respond I can tell by your eyes. Common response "dang Miss Carolin!". Sorry. I love how much eyes can tell you about a person or a situation...fear, happiness, sadness. They are incredibly descriptive. I have a notebook full of poems/song lyrics, and I'd say about 1/2 of them mention eyes. Brown eyes, green eyes, lying eyes, sad eyes, etc. I love that we all see the world differently through our eyes. I once heard someone say "let us walk this life with faith filled eyes". What a passionate, intuitive statement! I try to remember that every morning.

One more thing about eyes, and then I'll stop creeping everyone out. When I was a little girl, I had (Well, I suppose I still have them) HUGE eyes. Most of my childhood memories involve people saying stuff about my eyes. Whenever we went out in public, at least one person would stop us to say something about my eyes and how big they were. It terrified me, and I hated the attention. I was a really shy kid, so any interaction with strangers totally threw me for a loop. On my first day of preschool I cried and cried and cried. My mom asked me what was wrong, assuming I was just nervous or maybe not quite ready. My response? "I just don't want anyone to say anything about my eyes!". Yikes! People still comment on them, actually, but I don't cry anymore. :) My students at Cristo Rey were fascinated by my eyes. One of them even said she was going to take them out of my head and keep them in a jar. Creepy. Oh, and Kelly Clarkson told me that we had the same eyes.

To close, I will leave you with a song from Rent. I've heard a lot of Rentheads say that hate this song...that Roger could have come up with something better. Maybe so, but I think it's perfect.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A-Z Challenge...Detroit.

I love this city. When I was in high school, a group of my friends and I did Habitat for Humanity during our Spring Break. We traveled to Beattyville, KY to help build houses and a church for the community. I remember that trip very clearly- not only for our service but for the laughs we shared together. Everyone down their asked us where we were from, it was pretty obvious we did not fit in. We quickly responded "Detroit". One of my friends, Mary, rolled her eyes. "THEY are not all from Detroit. I am". She was mad we didn't say we were from the suburbs. I never quite understood that. IS someone from Beattyville, KY going to know where Bloomfield Hills is located? Not likely. Detroit? Likely. I didn't understand why it mattered. Sure I didn't live in the city...but I had been there...for like...concerts and stuff. Plus I had friends that lived there. That counted, right? Wrong.

I would never fully understand what it meant to be a Detroit resident until I lived there for myself. For one year, I lived in Detroit (Trumbull and Michigan Ave) with three other roommates. We were doing a year of service through the Mercy Volunteer Corps and placed at different organizations around the city. I soon learned Detroit was about more than concert and sporting event venues. It was a city full (well...not exactly full, but you get my point) of people from thousands of different backgrounds, beliefs, stories. People who hated the city and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, kids who were told they never would get out of there, and people despretly trying to make a difference. I saw working people, over-working people, homeless. I saw rich and very poor. I saw excited and I saw bitter. I saw victory and happiness and I saw defeat and heartbreak. But through all of that, I saw beauty. Yes, I think that Detroit is beautiful. Call me crazy, but until you see it for yourselves, until you truly live there and take in the experience of being a "detroiter", you have no idea what I mean.

Detroit is full of these little hidden treasures. Good Girls Go To Paris. Heidleburg Project. Campus Martius. Cafe Con Leche. The Burton. Little Bird. Amazing places, amazing people fronting these businesses, trying to breathe life back into a city that has suffered more than anyone could ever imagine. I have zillion "favorite places" in Detroit. I've met beautiful, anxious, inspring people working insanley hard every single day to deliver to the people. That's what makes Detroit beautiful...the hidden treasures. It's not hard to find something you like in Detroit.

I have been lucky enough to work with a large number of teens in Detroit. One thing they all have in common? They've been told they won't make it. Imagine that. Imagine your whole life hearing from a parent, or a different family member, a family friend, the news, a teacher, someone on the street..saying "hey. kid. you won't make it.". The cycle that turns into is a dangerous one, and we are seeing it now more than ever. But I've seen kids who have turned around and said "screw you. I will make it, and this is how." I have more belief in those kids than anything else. You can tell me I'm naive, but I tell you to go visit Cristo Rey High School, have a conversation with those kids, and PLEASE tell me that they won't make it in life. I dare you. Every single one of them has the potential. We have to work a little harder to make some of them realize it, but they will. They will get there, and they will play a huge role in turning this city around. I promise.

I cringe when I hear bad things about Detroit. I worry watching the news, fearing one of my kids has been hurt in a hideous crime. It's not a bad city. We've had horrible things happen, there are people who are so far past the point of desperation they are willing to go to any lengths to escape reality. Detroit will rise. We will make it.

Also, now that I am back living in the surrbs (I'm not a traitor. After a year of volunteering, I need to live with good ol mom and dad for a while), I do miss that city. I'd love to go back. But when I do, I want to bring people from these parts with me. I want them to see it for themselves, without going to a concert or a play or a Red Wings game. I want them to meet some of the people I did. Vist the museums, go to the grocery store and talk to the cashiers. LIVE IT. That is what it is going to take to bring this city back.

I love you, Detroit. Thank you for being so good to me. Take care of yourselves.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"A Concert Doesn't Just Last One Night"

Those that know me may have expected my "c" post would be concerts. Those who don't? Hi. My name is Megan. and I am a concert junkie. And, I've had some crazy things happen to me at concerts. I've made best friends, I've passed out, I've been sung to from the stage, Gotten shoutouts from the stage, I've met famous people, and more. I know people who don't get concerts. They don't understand spending money to hear songs you can listen to in your own home on itunes. LEt me try to explain it as best I can. I consider myself a musically emotional person. I tag a song to every event in my life, big or small. Songs make me cry, make me angry, giddy, etc. I don't just listen to songs, I feel them. Usually, if you hear me say "I hate this song", it's the frustrated part of me saying "there is no way for me to connect to this song". I'm obsessed with lyrics and analyzing them. So, hearing those same songs live, by the artist or band I respect so much, puts me in a whole different world. I go to concerts to escape. Belly up to the barricade, sreaming out the words to my favorite songs, tears rolling down my cheeks. THAT is my shining moment. That's my bliss. I leave everything else behind and completly emerge myself into the songs, the stories, the music. I remember every concert I have been too, because each had a different meaning. Not to mention, the passion that the artists have on stage runs through my veins and deep into my gut. I've been to several concerts in my life...and below you will find a short list of what I believe what makes the BEST. CONCERT. EVER. (By the way, I say that after every concert).

-My familiarity with the band/artist. I usually don't see people I don't know of, but once in a while I'll catch a live show for someone I've never heard before, or only heard a couple songs. Those typically don't do much for me. However, once in a great while, I have really connected with one of those bands, gone home and researched, knowing every lyric to every song in 24 hours. (I'm looking at you, The Spill Canvas). Also, opening acts are usually hard for me. Sometimes I'm amazed, but most of the time I'm tapping my foot anxiously waiting for "my guy" or "my boys" or "my girl" to come out and do their thing. They win me over if I can hear solid lyrics and passion. That's how I discovered Lady Antebellum. They were opening for Martina, and though I had never heard of them (to be fair, no one had at that point. They had ONE SONG on their Myspace page. Their first album had not even dropped yet, first SINGLE hadn't even dropped yet). I remember very clearly saying to my friend Jess "they will be famous". Their passion for music and energy for the crowd combined with incredible harmonies and lyrics made me an instant, die hard fan. But, they are an exception. Usually, my favorite favorite concerts are when I can sing along to every single song...know the band members by name, know why their story.

The People I'm With. Again, there are exceptions. I have been to concerts by myself, with a huge group of people all supporting one person, with a few friends, with one friend. My go to concert buddy is Sam...because she is just as passionate about live music as I am, and will be my partner in crime. We dance, throw our hands up in the air, bounce around. She gets me, I get her, we get the music. Anytime Sam is with me, no matter who else joins us, it's going to be a good time. I also once went to see Melinda with 15-20 other backups, and that was just incredible. Sitting on that little stoop with some of her biggest fans, who had then become a family, watching our girl shine, was amazing. I think my cheeks hurt for weeks from smiling so much from that one. I will really never forget that. I've also been to concerts alone. Mostly Spill Canvas shows, but some others as well. I've typically still had a good time, but it's harder to dance and make a fool of yourself when you're alone. I think the only time I ever completely let go when I went to a show solo was Kelly Clarkson in October 2010. It did not matter that I was by myself because I was surrounded by hundreds of my best Kelly fans. I screamed out every word, I cried, I laughed. I grabbed the hand of the girl next to me when Kelly was singing Breakaway to me. Oh, plus I had met her that night, so that helps too :)

The Venue. Small venues are my thing. We've been serious for a while now. For real, though, I love small venues. It can be overcrowded (Hanson), sweaty, etc, but that's part of the concert experience. I've passed out at concerts before (Linkin Park), but nothing will take my love away from a small venue, especially if I'm close to the stage. Small venues are just intimate. You get to know the people around you REAL well. The artist interacts with the crowd more. I just love it.

So, my friends, those are my thoughts on concerts. A huge thank you to all the artists who have let me act a fool when I have seen you live. Especially to...

-The Spill Canvas. I cannot name all the dates I have seen them, but it is several. Their lyrics get me like no one else does, passion just kills me. I wish they would stop this hiatus nonsense and get back to making me the happiest girl alive.

- Melinda Doolittle. Your incredible voice matched with art of storytelling through song is truly a masterpiece and I feel lucky that I have seen it live. I miss the death out of you, but I am so proud of you.

-Jordin Sparks. You have given me some of my favorite concert memories. I always have a good time at your shows. One of my favorites? Watching the entire crowd at Royal Oak Music Theater sing back the words to "One Step A Time", and seeing the smile on your face.

-Kelly Clarkson, for having the most energy of any artist I have ever seen. I don't know how you do it but you manage to put me through an emotional roller coaster every time I see you. I'd like to scream the words to Since U Been Gone with you sometime again soon.

-Hanson, for your overwhelming passion for music, your fans, and life in general. You have huge hearts to match your beautiful vocals and lyrics.

PS: Speaking of amazing people and music, Mandisa's new album comes out tomorrow. I've been hearing the songs on her website and let me just say I think this may actually be her best album yet- which seems unreal because on each of her previous albums, I love EVER SINGLE SONG. So you should get it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B-B-B-Best Friends

Today's blog is brought to you by the letter B.

This one was a little harder for me. Books? Bruno Mars? Bono? book review? Backups,? bands? believe? blessed? bananas? beauty? beer? So many to choose from! I asked my mom, and her response was "best friends". Funny, since that was at the top of my list too. So, here you go.

Best Friends.

I'm blessed with some pretty badass best friends.They come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I've known some of them most of my life, other just a few years. Each of them have been there for me in my celebrations and challenges, and have loved me and supported me no matter what. That's pretty amazing. My perspective of best friend has changed over the years. At a young age it was someone who I had the same interests with- boys, bands, etc. In hs it was a combination of that (theatre, campus ministry, sports), and the emotional connection. college? Well, my first few years of college I had a blinder of what a best friend was. The people I chose to be important in my life ended up doing more bad than good. But that turned around my junior year, when I met Sam. Now I'm a little more careful.

I've learned it's okay to be best friends with my family members. My siblings and siblings-in-law are some of my best friends. I enjoy them, get mad at them, they annoy me, I annoy them, but they still mean the world to me. My parents are my best friends (and roomates. Score).

I have a best friend named Christine who has known me since I was five. Our friendship has been easy. We are there for each other, we support each other, we hav a remarkable understanding for each other. I have a best friend named Dean who I have known for only a year and a 1/2, but, he knows more about me than a lot of other people in my life. Time doesn't matter.

I have a best friend who is younger than me (although I don't really think of it that way, because his maturity level is insane), and a best friend named Gem who is older than me. They both offer me advice, encourage me, motivate me, etc. Age doesn't matter.

I have several best friends who do not live nearby. It's sometimes hard to keep up with them, but it does not strain how I feel about them. The emotional connection is what matters. I pray for them, hope nothing but the best, and love hearing about their lives. Plus it makes it even more special when I do get to see them. Distance doesn't matter.

I guess what I'm saying is. Best friends should come naturally. The connection should be there, no matter what. Make up when you fight, don't leave it out there. Don't ever let things get so bad that you do not spak anymore. Friendships like that are too important to let go.

To every best friend I have had, if time/distance/age is our only excuse, forgive me. To the best friends I have right now, I love you, and thank you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A to Z Challenge, Day 1.

I'm entering the A-Z Challenge (details here- Basically, for each day in April, (with the exception of Sundays), you make a post about any topic of your choosing, in order of the alphabet. I'll probably throw in music and book reviews if they fit in appropriately.

Anchor. Most people think…

a heavy device dropped by a chain, cable, or rope to the bottom of a body of water for restraining the motion of avessel or other floating object.

Or, perhaps…
a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay.

When I think Anchor, I think Delta Gamma, who adopted the anchor as the symbol for hope. I think pink and blue, bigs and littles, rush and frat parties, candles and initiation, I think “Anchored Always”.

To say being a member of DG Epsilon Rho was a rollercoaster is the understatement of the year. And you could say we were the opposite of an anchor, because we weren’t holding it together, but I would disagree. Yes, w had our faults. Yes, I’m still bitter and honestly, a little confused. But I’m also proud. Proud of the handful of us who fought with all of our might to keep us together. Those girls were my anchor, my hope. I love them, despite the fights and petty drama and heartbreak. I still doodle anchors on notebook and journals can spot them from miles away. By the time we closed, we were all so emotionally drained that none of us bothered to keep up an “alum chapter”. We felt defeated, there was no fight left. I knew I personally could not spend one more night crying about what could have been. It was time to put that in the past, for all of us. I wish we could have survived. I wish every member had been as enthusiastic about the chapter as some of us were. I wish people paid and showed up and got good grades. But they didn’t, and nothing could have changed that. People don’t understand that, but there was no way that we could have kept going. Call that pessimistic but until you have stepped foot in that house between 2005-2008, you have no idea. But it wasn't all hard times and drama. Some of my greatest college memories come from DG. Lik driving all night to Grand Rapids or getting stuck in Texas or, most importantly, finding my best friend Sam, and proudly declaring her as "my future bff" at a frat party. Turns out, I was right.

Unfortunately, most of us did not stay friends once we were closed. Everyone stuck to their cliques. I found my best friend in DG, which I will be forever grateful for.
I will always see an anchor and think Delta Gamma. I think hope, I’ll think fight (in more ways than one, ha). I’ll think of my big sister Megan and my little sister Lindsey. I’ll think of Greek Week, Recruitment, AnchorSplash, t-shirts in the basement, rec volleyball. I’ll think of Sam, Jess, Mary, Fitz, Lyndsey, Kerry, Afty (Who…I realized, as typing her name, I miss the #$%^ out of). Jordan, Rachel, Margo, All 20993 Ashley’s, Jen, Dana, Jeanette, Marisa, Betsy, Elise, LeDuc, Alyssa, Caitlin, Becky, Natasha, and everyone else. I hope they know…no matter what; I will always be here for them. We won’t ever be what we were before, but, in a way, that’s probably for the best. Cheesy? Yes. Truth? Absolutely. I have put the past behind me. Thanks, girls, for the laughs. Thank you for fighting.

Anchored Always.