Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Spirit

Last year I wrote a post about how I was having a terrible time getting in the Christmas spirit.

This year, I'm like an elf on crack. I can't stop talking about Christmas or looking at Christmas stuff. I bought all my gifts and have started on the homemade ones. I already want to wrap my presents and put them under the tree. I can't wait to hand them out. My office has adopted a family and I've created flyers about it to post in the office. I'm planning on writing out my Christmas cards this evening while Sam and I watch a Christmas movie. And ladies and gents, as we speak, I am watching a holiday cooking show and TAKING NOTES. I don't even watch the cooking channel! Like ever! Next thing you know I'll be rolling around in Christmas lights singing Mariah Carey. 

I can't be tamed, and I don't know what has gotten into me. I usually refer to myself as Scrooge. Not this year, Charles Dickens! I'm a regular Tiny Tim! 

I have been sitting here trying to figure out exactly what the difference is. I think it's pretty simple: I'm happy. And no, it not all because of Tom/being in a relationship. I'm sure that has a lot to do with it, but I was dating someone during the holidays last year as well. Tom is 100000 times better, but I still don't think he gets all the credit ;) (no offense, dear).

This year - heck- these last few months have taught me how truly special our relationships with others are and that we should cherish them. With that in mind, I want to truly bring out the holiday spirit in everyone around me, and try to make people smile. I really can't afford many gifts, and am only buying for a few people, but I am going to spread as much holiday cheer as possible, and make a conscious effort to make the people around me feel loved. 

The priest at Mass today talked about preparing for Jesus, focusing on advent and letting ourselves fully emerge in the true spirit of the holiday. I found myself smiling. I want that. The presents and cards I mentioned above are exciting, but even more exciting is celebrating Jesus! I am taking the priests suggestion and reading the daily readings from now until Christmas. Perhaps I'll learn some things along the way.

Happy Christmas/Advent Spirit, every one! 

13 months

Dear Ryan, 
November seemed to take forever to fly by! I kept thinking to myself... Isn't it time to write Ryan a letter? But I had to wait until today. You just turned 1 a month ago but it feels like a very long time ago that we watched you stick your hands in your cake! 

So let's see. Now you're OVER a year old. You are babbling and giggling to standing up on your own. You're not quite Walking yet, and when you try you kind of look like Forrest Gump. (When you are 13 I will have you watch that movie with me. It's amazing. I will be 38 by then! Holy smokes!) you are growing and doing new things every time I see you.

We just celebrated thanksgiving. It was your first thanksgiving with the big family celebration. Everyone adored you and said you look like your mama. You ate lots of sweet potatoes and made a mess on the tablecloth. Your mom told everyone you were thankful for your puppy And milk, which is pretty accurate but I would add your parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles to that list too! After dinner everyone went outside to play football and you were all dressed in warm clotheS, so much that you couldn't move!

Last month, right after your birthday, we took family photos. A really nice lady named Anne took them and they turned out beautifully. I am sure you will see them through the years. And I'm sure there will be more photos to come! The day we took those pictures was one of my favorite days of the year so far.

It is the Christmas season and I have just finished buying all my gifts. I got a few things for you, little guy. But more importantly I want to tell you about a family that I am helping this year. They haven't had very good luck and they need some extra help to make their Christmas special. They won't be able to have a nice Cheistmas meal or give eac other presents. My coworkers and I are all coming together to help. We want them to have a good Chrismtas, too. Ryan, sweetheart, this is the true meaning of Christmas, to give to others. Especially the people who need a lot of help. When you get a little older I want to take you with me to serve meals to people who can't buy food or who don't have a home. You will see how good it feels to help someone else. 

I love you so much Ryan! See you soon.

Aunt Megan

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Howdy, kids. Are your tummies full of delicious food and your hearts full of love? I certainly hope so. That is my Thanksgiving wish for each of you.

I have a lot, and I mean a lot, to be thankful for this year. 

First and foremost I am thankful to the medical team at Beaumont. They successfully removed the tumors from my daddy's brain and continue to research and fight the lung tumor. Every single doctor,  nurse, and staff member we've come in contact with have been gracious and kind and totally dedicated to helping my dad beat this thing. 

I am also thankful for my family. I fully believe that I have the greatest family in the world, and I dare you to try to tell me otherwise. I do not know how I got so lucky but the bond we all have is one that will never be broken. They are incredible people and each do fantastic things in their own lives, and touch mine in a way I can't ever properly express.

I am thankful for my friends and coworkers who help distract me from life's craziness by making me laugh, going on dinner dates and letting me vent. I am thankful for Melinda's backups, who , six years later, continue to support and love me, encourage me and pray for me. 

I am thankful for the incredible St Hugo community who have totally overwhelmed me with their constant flow of love and support. Those are some very special people, people with hearts of gold and determined minds to help others, and my family is on the receiving end of those gifts right now. Every message, email, hug, prayer means the absolute world to me and keeps me going when I'm not sure I can. So many of the Hugo moms are inspirations to me, role models. Especially Martha.

I am thankful for Paula and my parents for pushing me to do something about my health and for encouraging me every step of the way. I am thankful for Sola Life and Fitness for the support, tools and resources they have provided for me to lose the weight so far and to continue to push on.

I am thankful for Tom, my wonderful boyfriend who has been there for me every step of the way through everything with my dad and my weight loss journey. He's the sweetest guy I've ever known and I am so lucky that he puts up with me and cares about me. He is a gift and I cannot wait to see where else our relationship with go from here.

I am thankful for God and for my relationship with Him. For the unconditional love that He gives me and the blessings He puts in my life. Without Him, none of this would be possible.

There is more, but I will stop there. I am going to enjoy what's rest of Thanksgiving on the couch at my parents house, sipping tea and nursing my sore muscles from our flag football game.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Love is all around

I had a beautiful weekend. I use that word a lot. But I have no other way to describe it. All around me I saw beauty. 

Saturday was my typical workout, errands, and nap kind of morning. Then Sam, Tom, and I went to see Catching Fire. No spoilers, but damn. What a good movie. I meant to re read the book (my favorite in the series) but I never got time. Now I'm kinda glad I didn't. I had forgotten some things and found myself getting incredibly invested and emotional. It was glorious. 

On Sunday morning Tom accompanied me to 8am mass. As someone who wasn't raised with any sort of religion, I am both touched and proud that he is willing to go to church with me. It's actually helping me, too, because I am finding myself paying more attention so I can help him understand. After Mass we grabbed breakfast and then headed downtown to the Lions game. We got there early enough to score a good Parking spot and walk around the stadium, even participating in all those cheesy games they have set up like "guess how many footballs are in the net" and the 50/50 raffle. We found our seats, right in the end zone. Took an obligatory "selfie", which was later displayed up on the big screen! We had a ton of fun cheering on the lions and taking in the atmosphere, it's just a shame the lions had to lose.

We headed back to my house where Sam and Lauren were cooking. Tom and I joined in, preparing for our first annual Friendsgiving. A while ago I invited some of our friends over for a potluck dinner to celebrate thanksgiving. I love this holiday, and love that it's all about family, but I like to celebrate my friends too. So, some of our friends gathered in our house for food and fun. Everything was freaking delicious, and we laughed hard playing our favorite game. It was so nice to be surrounded by my friends for an evening. I am hoping to make this an annual thing. To me it doesn't matter who comes, it's just important to celebrate friendships and be grateful for our blessings.

Now it's the week of Thanksgiving and it's a roller coaster of emotions this week for me. I'm excited for a day of family time, but sad because a friend of ours passed away over the weekend and I'll be attending her funeral Wednesday. Plus I have to work Friday and be in a meeting all day, when i would much rather be in sweat pants on the couch watching tv with my mom and dad. 

I do wish you all a beautiful week, hope it's nothing but happy for you. Cheers! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weight loss Wednesday: surviving thanksgiving

My friends at work can tell you I'm really careful at parties and luncheons. I don't totally starve myself but I don't overdo it. 

But Thanksgiving is tomorrow and that day is pretty much centered around food.  And while I'd like to tell you I'm not worried about it, I'm worried About it. So that has forced me to come up with a plan.

First of all, I'm going to work out in the morning. My gym is closed but my parents have a treadmill so I'm going to do that. And do some core work. Maybe.

I'm also going to eat my normal breakfast  . I don't believe in starving myself all day and then binging for the meal. I'll eat some oatmeal and fruit in the am to get my metabolism going! 

I will eat a snack of raw veggies before we leave. I'll also have some waiting for me when we come home.

I'm going to drink a ton of water. Like, a ton.

I will do my best to avoid hor d'ourves, or at least the dangerous ones. 

For the meal I we serve myself a hefty slice of turkey and green beans. I will take small amounts of the rest.

I will participate in the flag football game and maybe actually even try to break a sweat. Usually I just kind of stand there. 

That's my plan, kids. We will see how it goes. I plan on having a glass of wine or two so I really do need to be careful on my calorie watch.

In other news, I DID finally beat my weight loss plateau and am now down a total of 27lbs. I also saw my doctor and my blood pressure was the lowest it's been in over a year. She was really excited about that! And, my clothes are falling off. Like literally. All of these things are excellent reminders that I'm on my way to reaching my goal.

When I hit 50lbs I think I'll have a party to celebrate. You're all invited.

Happy thanksgiving, I am off to enjoy thanksgiving eve by having sushi with my boyfriend and then head to my parents house for the night so we can drive together tomorrow. I will be posting tomorrow, but in the meantime go hug your family and enjoy your time with them!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post Swap!

This month I participated in a Guest Post Swap sponsored by Chaotic Goddess. Here is my partner's post. Enjoy and go check out her blog!

Hello Everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day. I’m Jacquie and I blog over at Confessions Of A College Angel. My blog is a little bit about everything so I was super glad when I found out that I would be getting a chance to blog over here!

I am so excited to share with you guys my:

Best Of November



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1. Irish Breakfast tea by Twining's- this is my FAVORITE brand of tea and Irish breakfast tea is the best. It is different from English Breakfast Tea in that it contains more Assam Tea.

2.  My super cute Starbucks tea mug. I LOVE these little travel cups so much and buy WAY to many of them!

3. Selena Gomez’s Stars Dance CD I really like her music and this CD has some great beats. My Favorites are Slow Down, Come and Get It, Forget Forever and Love Will Remember.

4. Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red CD- Classic Christmas Songs and I adore all of them!

5. Revlon Color Burst Matte Lip Balms- I think I have gotten all 10 from this collection and have yet to find a color I didn’t like even the one that looks Barney Purple turns into a pretty matte plum on your lips!
6. The New Dracula TV show has really gotten my attention- I am a little behind but I love it so far!

7. Civilization V – This is a favorite time waster for me! I can sit down and play this game for HOURS if I don’t pay attention.

So what are your favorites for November? I would LOVE to know!!

Megan's  November Favorites:
  • Dandelion Tea- Alright, so it doesn't actually taste that great, but it's really good for your body and helps decrease bloating!
  • Bath and Body Works Candy Apple Body Wash- Smells so delicious <3 li="">
  • Melinda Doolittle You're The Reason EP- Damn good music! If you haven't picked it up yet I really don't know what you're waiting for.
  • Starbucks Nonfat, no whip, gingerbread latte- Honestly I could drink one of these every day. I have to limit myself to two a month, but they are DELICIOUS.
  • Orange is the New Black- Not exactly new, but Sam and I just finished watching the entire season and OMG. If you stream Netflix, watch this now.

PS: My guest post is live on Jacquie's blog!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You're not a princess

A Sisters of Mercy sponsored school, Mercy Academy, has recently released a campaign to empower women called "You are not a princess". At first, I was a little, teeny bit putt off by this. Mostly because I am a huge fan of the book/movie A Little Princess and my favorite line is "all girls are princesses. Didn't your father ever tell you that?".

But I get it, and the more I think about it, the more true it is. As a society we have this mindset that girls should be rescued by a prince, that life should be a fairytale. And it's fun to think that way- to imagine a life of luxury and beauty. But then we are a poor 25 year old, eating ramen noodles for the third time that week, and we realize that the whole "princess" thing is totally unrealistic.

The girls at Mercy Academy are pushing for girls to realize that embracing reality and real life is the better option. I don't think they are expecting little girls to stop buying tiara's or tutu's (heck, I just bought a tiara last week for my best friends' birthday!). I think they are trying to push girls to set goals and work hard, rather than expect to be rescued or for everything to be handed to them. It's not about the little princess parties girls have, it's the attitude that tweens and teens have about wanting to live in a fairytale life where they won't have to lift a finger and someone will always pull them out of a challenge. And I'm not saying every teenage girl has this, but some do.

This is one if the reasons I loved the Pixar movie Brave so much. I love Belle and Cinderella as much as the next person, but Merida from Brave was one tough, independent little princess. She's a strong role model for our young girls.

Like the girls at Mercy Academy, I went to an All Girls School (also sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy), and I learned early on that women are freaking awesome. Because at our school, girls were the athletes, the leaders, the smart kids, the talent. We weren't competing with boys and we were taught to truly work hard toward our goals, to whatever it was that we wanted to accomplish. Just a theory, but I have a feeling if there were boys at our school we may have held back a little bit, been more concerned with impressing them than doing our own thing.

So cheers to those girls at Mercy Academy. I fully stand behind their campaign. To the rest of the girls out in the world, be your best self. Don't depend on anyone to rescue you, save you, or to give you your happiness. You are in control of your own destination. Work hard, go out in the world and reach those goals. Surround yourself with real woman role models.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Well kids, it's happened.

I have hit some sort of weird weight loss plateau.

I am not gaining weight, but I'm not losing any either.  And it's so frustrating that I'd love to punch a wall right now.

The most frustrating part is that I am still kicking my own ass. Actually, I'm working even harder. I am burning 500+ calories at the gym and being even more careful about what I'm eating. And yet I'm not moving on the scale. At all. Like, not even an ounce.

I have a pretty solid team of people working with me to try to figure out what's going on. The Sola people are getting me into new exercises, wondering if my body is just too comfortable with what I'm doing. I am seeing my doctor Monday and she is going to run some blood tests. My other doctor is watching closely to see if the new medication she put me on is the root of this.

But I'm still insanely frustrated. It's like nothing I do is making me drop any weight. I also feel really bloated, which makes no sense because I have cut my sodium and increased my water intake.

I am certainly not going to give up, but this is very disheartening. I was on this great roll of losing 1-2lbs a week, and now I've just stopped. It's crushing me.

I'd tell you that it's okay because I feel better, which I do, but like I said I also feel super bloated, a problem I had not been having previously. It's uncomfortable and annoying.

I am not going to let my 25 lbs go down the drain. We have to figure this out. But in the meantime, you have a very frustrated, disheartened Megan on your hands. I am still going to the gym 4-5 times a week, working my tushie off, and I will still watch what I eat, but darn it, I'm allowed to be upset. (Hint: don't tell me not to be upset or frustrated. I can't help what I feel).

I am hoping and praying we figure out what's going on here, because if I go much longer without losing even an ounce, it won't be good for my psyche.

Has anyone else on their weight loss journey gone through something similar? How did you get through it?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Please don't go shopping on Thanksgiving.

The biggest lesson I have learned in the past few months is this: Life moves too quickly. Suddenly things can happen and your entire world can be changed and you may have missed an amazing opportunity.

Thanksgiving is one of the rare days in a year that is focused totally on family. No matter who your family may be- parents, siblings, roommates, friends,'s a day devoted to spending time with them and appreciating the blessings in your life.

Please do not go shopping on Thanksgiving. The fact that these stores are opening to push their sales and to make money is disgusting. We now live in a culture where shopping is more valued than family time. It's sad. Now the store employees are being called to work because corporations are being selfish and forcing stores to open on Thanksgiving so that they can compete with one another and make more cash. I want to walk up to corporate buildings of these stores and slap CEO's on the head. While that CEO is enjoying a slice of apple pie with his family, because Lord knows HE won't be working, his store associates will be doing crowd control so shoppers don't beat each other to death over the PS4. That, my friends, is not the spirit of Thanksgiving.

The problem isn't just the company itself, though. I mean, they should have better morals, but obviously enough customers pushed for this that it happened. I get that people want to go grab hot items while they can. They want to buy toys and games for their kids at the best price possible. They want a deal. Wake up, people. The best deal you've been given is the gift of your family. Try, for a second, to see past all the material things and realize that your family is here now, and they won't be forever. Instead of chowing down your food and driving to the closest Target, please talk to your cousin about how her first year of college is going, throw a football around with your brother in law, share a glass of wine with grandma. Hold your nieces and nephews. Do a puzzle with your dad. Call your best friend and remind them how thankful you are for them. Say a prayer of gratitude. Bring your leftovers to your neighbors house. Invite a stranger into your family. But please, please, don't go shopping on Thanksgiving.

Personally, there's nothing I'd rather do than be with my family on Thanksgiving. I work in healthcare and rarely get days off. I won't be off at all on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, or New Year's Eve. Having Thanksgiving off is a blessing for me, and I will be spending it with my family. You won't be able to pull me away from my nephew. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Sidenote: Kudos to Costco, Nordstorm, and the other stores that so far refuse to open on Thanksgiving. Extra sweet potato casserole for each of you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Dad Has Cancer.

Something else happened on retreat, too.

Saturday evening they gathered us in the conference room before our "Reconciliation Service" in the chapel. We were asked to each stand up and say a prayer intention for the others to pray for. They went around the room, and when it was finally my turn I forced myself to stand up.

"My dad....." I began, and immediately started trembling.

Omg! I thought- why is this so hard to say? Just say it!

"My dad was just diagnosed with lung cancer a month ago". I said, as fast as I could. And then I collapsed back into my chair and looked down as tears ran down my face. When I looked up, everyone was staring at me. The next person even waited a few moments before she stood up with her intention.

We filed into the chapel for our Reconciliation service (which, by the way, was very powerful service). I sat between two of the women. When the service ended, the directors encouraged us to exchange a sign of peace. Immediately, I had people surrounding me and hugging me. One woman even said "come here little girl" and wrapped me in the tightest hug I've ever felt.

These strangers, whom I barely spoke to all weekend, lifted me up in prayer and comforted me. Some gave me their email addresses and asked me to update them on my dad's condition. Others simply said "I've been there". It was incredible.

It was also the first time I had spoken the words "my dad has cancer" out loud in a long time. In the first few weeks of his diagnosis, I was saying it so often I thought I should get it tattooed on my head. But now, most people around me know, and it's rare I encounter a stranger who needs to know this information. To say it, though, makes it real again. Opens back up that fear. And that's okay. That's normal. Even if it sucks to say it, even if I cry while saying it, I can say it and know that people will be understanding and empathetic.

I cried again when that woman called me "little girl". Because even though I don't stay up all night, every night crying anymore, and the nightmares have gone away, there are moments when I still feel totally terrified, and, like a little girl, just want to crawl into someone's lap and cry. And I know that it's okay to feel that way. I, and the rest of my family, need to be patient. Feelings will come when they want to, we cannot control that. Just let it happen.

When my dad was first diagnosed and in the hospital, my phone was constantly ringing and dinging- emails, texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, tweets. People were responding to my updates or wanting an update or sending me an uplifting quote or asking what we needed. That has settled. People ask me when they see me in person - "Hey, how's your dad?" or they will end an email with "by the way, how's your dad?". And to be honest, I never know how to answer that question. I love that they ask because it means they care, but I also hate it because I don't know what to say. He's fighting, a little tired, but he's in great spirits. That's my typical response. And people say "GREAT!" and walk away. But it's not always going to be great. This is still the very start of a very, very long journey.

To sum it all up:
My dad has cancer.
Myself, my mom, my siblings- we all have moments where it's still very tough for us, where we're scared. And that's acceptable.
My dad is feeling okay today. I don't know about next week or next month, but we'll get there when we get there. Today he's okay, thank you for asking. It really does mean a lot that you ask.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Not the best quality photo, but I can certainly tell a difference. Even in my hands. Look how chubby my hand is in the picture on the left compared to the right. (Do I always hold my hands like that, by the way?). And even though I'm kind of slouching in the first picture, there's even a difference in my upper arms/shoulders. Much more defined on the right side. And, the biggest difference is in my tummy and my face.

Weight Update: I'm not sure. haha. I have lost like 24.5 lbs or something silly like that. I am not weighing myself, though, until the last week in November. Because currently my body is adjusting to some different medications, plus I think I am focusing too much on the numbers on the scale. So I'm gonna give it a little break and be back with a number on November 27th (which is also the day I see my doctor again).

So, I really wasn't sure what to talk about in this blog. I feel like last week covered a lot of it. But then I started to think about my retreat again, and how my spirituality is playing a part in my weight loss.

I don't think God cares what I look like. I think He'd love me no matter what. But, I do think He cares what I FEEL like. And I think He wants me to be able to be healthy to take care of myself and others. At my starting weight on this journey, I wasn't healthy. I'm getting healthier now and have a long way to go. And I certainly did not feel good. I felt sick almost all the time, whether it was a headache, upset stomach, lethargy. God doesn't want that for me. He wants me to feel energized and free.

Also, for me, a big portion of this journey is an emotional one. I don't want to have to turn to food in every stressful situation. So I have trained my mind to turn to prayer or encouragement instead. When I'm stressed, food is not my first option anymore. Previously, under stress, I'd eat a whole pizza or a supersize McDonalds meal. (I remember once in college I was really stressed about money because I had like $10 in my bank account- so what did I do? Go to McDonalds. And spent $6 of that $10). Now, I count to ten, drink some water, take a walk, go find a friend to talk to who will make me laugh. I'll look up encouraging quotes or read the "daily motivation" from The Berry.

I am eating wiser now. We had boxes upon boxes of donuts in the office yesterday. The old me would have grabbed one of those giant, glazed and frosted chocolate ones with tons of sprinkles. Actually, the old me would have eaten two or three of these. The new me looked at all the donuts, smelled a big chocolate one, and grabbed a plain. (which by the way, is still hefty in the calorie count). I didn't want to totally deny myself, but I didn't want to go crazy, either. That's just an example of the daily things that go on in my head. I try not to stress or worry about food- but I do pay close attention to what I am eating.

If you ask me, everyone has something that tempts them that isn't good for them. Gambling, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gossip, lies, etc. Mine is food. And now I know how to deal with it. Now I know how to care about myself enough to turn away from temptation.

Why now? Why at 26 years old? Folks that's a question I can't answer. My weight has been on ongoing battle since I was a teenager. And trust me, I've tried things before. Weight watchers, Atkins, gym memberships, nutritionist. I've tried it all. Something just snapped in me a few months ago, after a very heavy conversation with my parents, that made me realize how unhealthy I was. I was also really depressed, and had someone told me back in January/February that I needed to lose weight before something bad happened, I would have said "oh well, who cares". But I care now. Something made me want to actually start living my life again. And now, it wasn't Tom, because we weren't dating when I started this. I just, suddenly, realized that I didn't really like being unhealthy and depressed.

That's my post for today. Maybe next week will be more exciting!



Monday, November 11, 2013

I Choose You

Yesterday I blogged about some of my retreat experiences. I left out part, specifically because it is a whole different topic. Also because it's something I don't oftenspeak publicly about my relationship.

I don't insert my boyfriends name into every conversation. I don't call him "my boyfriend" to people- I call him Tom. I don't need to see him every single day (although I usually do because of our workouts, but we don't talk much at the gym) and if he doesn't text me for a few hours I don't go all crazy. Because even though he is one of the best things in my life, he's not my whole life.

But on retreat, we talked quite a bit about being chosen by God and by others. We also, ironically enough, talked about this quite a bit in our youth group meeting last night.

Your family sorta chooses you. I mean- they make the choice to take care of you. Your friends choose you based on shared interests and personality. But it's really something special when someone chooses you romantically. When someone wants to have a relationship with you.

And that's what Tom did with me. He chose me. He waited for me when I was insistent I was not ready to enter into a new relationship. He continued to build a friendship with me until he became my best friend, and eventually we realize what we had was much more.

Tom chooses me every time he does something little for me. Buys me coffee, let's Sam and I use his netflix account so we can watch Orange is the New Black. Buys me 7up when I'm sick. Promises me that my cooking is good. Sends me wake up texts and tells me to shut up when I'm hard on myself. He knows my favorite songs and what to do when I start to panic.

He chooses me in bigger ways too, like taking me to see Pink, doing yard work for my dad, and leaving work on his lunch break to see me when I had my major breakdown the week my dad was diagnosed. 

Up until this past weekend, I really didn't understand why Tom did all these things for me. Don't get me wrong: I was grateful. I just didn't get it. Now I do. He does them because he cares, he's choosing me. He chooses to do these things to show that I'm the girl he has chosen to be in a relationship.

And I'm really lucky to be that girl he chose. Tom is a great guy. Like a really, really great guy. I'm not as good as being cute and romantic as he is, but I know he knows how I feel about him. I choose him, too. The guy is my best friend. 

We don't know where this will go and we don't need to. We are both choosing to be happy in these moments. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Retreat reflection

I love retreats. I almost wish I could go on one every single weekend, but I also know if I did that, they wouldn't be as special as they really are. But I try to go on at least two retreats a year. 

This one was a silent retreat at St. Mary's in Oxford. I will say , though, even though it was silent, there were several points of discussion. Which I very much appreciated because it allowed for connections to be made and to see other perspectives. 

Since I'm not sure where to begin, I am just going to list the main points that hit home for me. I hope they resignate with you as well.

From session 1, Friday evening
God says to us "know who you are. Do not limit yourself." The Gospel call us to continue growing. God does not call us I be perfect, He calls us to be the best person that we can be.

We sometimes use the words "I'm only human" to describe something negative. Ie "yes, I gossip. I'm only human." What if we used being human in a positive light?

If we appreciated the uniqueness in ourselves, maybe we'd see each other differently.

From Session 2, Saturday morning  
Who is God to us? What we think about God influences how we treat others. God is always going to be bigger than the image we give, because God is more than we can ever imagine. 

At this point in the discussion, we did an excerise which challenged us to list a verb for every letter of the alphabet. We did not know why until we were done. Then, we were told to look at our verbs and see if they describe things God does.

What I and others learned is that they a fit-becAuse God does everything. Even jokes, which wAs my verb for J.

My favorite was "d". Because my verb was "dares". From there, I wrote this:

God dares me to be...
The best that I can be.
Open and willing to experiences, to love, and to listen to Him.
Trusting in His plan.
A leader in faith.
A follower of His teaching.
Grateful for what He has given me.
Honest with Him
Loving and gentle to all who surround me.
God dares me to be me, because He loves me.

Session 3, Saturday afternoon
Be awake to new experiences of God. If we aren't, we might miss Him.

Each person we meet is a face of God.

We then picked our favorite image of God. Mine is Protector. we were then challenged to reflect on if our image of God also describes ourself. Am I a protector? I think so. I hope so.

The only thing God is asking us to do is to love. He loves us more than we can ever possibly imagine. 

The question was posed "when was a time you felt God's love for you?". My answer: when Ryan was born. 

Session 4: Saturday evening 
We are all so connected to one another. Spirituality is the art of making connections. Having another person present to our pain doubles our capacity to endure it.

Our challenge is to not leave anyone behind. We're connected to people even if we don't know them. 

Those close to us are our "believing mirrors". They reflect back to us our highest potential. 

Session 5: Sunday Morning
We are called to be the healing of the world, the parts of the world that we touch. Hope compels us to action.

We are called to keep looking at our world: is there anything I'm missing, are there new opportunities to help make things better? We do not need to do extraordinary things. They can be small random acts of kindness. 

Gospel calls us to take each other in. Are there others we need to take in?

We receive the body of Christ to be the Body of Christ.

Thoughts in between sessions
The most incredible thing happened to me on Saturday morning. I woke up and went for a walk. Feeling a little lost and unsure of my worth, I asked my grandma to show me a sign that she was here. In that moment, I heard something next to me. I turned, and there was a deer next to me, just a few trees between us. Chills went through my spine. The deer ran away quickly and I kept walking.

I took a different turn and suddenly, two deer appeared. A male and a female. It was in an open area. They stared at me for quite some time. Tears ran down my face and I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and comfort. I snapped a picture. 

Just after I took this, the female (on the far left) got much closer. She was staring at me and all I could hear in my mind was "it's okay". After about 5 minutes the deer ran off.

Later that afternoon, I went on a second walk. Now, I know some will call me crazy, but when I am walking in silence is when I am most in tune with God. I hear the things He wants to tell me. And no, it's not an actual voice. Rather, I get thoughts. And I know He puts them there. 

So on this walk my thoughts were going craZy. And hear is some of what I heard 

God will not always appear in big, cliche, magical ways. He is always There. I don't need to look for the big signs. He is in everyone. He is the gentle hand pushing me along the path. I don't always feel the hand, and I certainly don't see it, but it's there. 

As these thoughts came I stopped for a moment and questioned God, and whether or not I was worthy. At that exact moment, a leaf flew and hit me in the face. Perhaps God wAs trying to tell me to shush. 

I do struggle with these things sometimes. I wonder if it's all in my imagination. If it was just a coincidence that there were two deer outside when I was. If my thoughts are not God but that they are the things I want to hear so I make them up. 

Or, are these actually God moments. God revealing himself to me. 

It's an internal struggle I have. I don't think anyone can give me a concrete answer because one of the amazing things about God is we don't know what He is up to. But he's always up to something. 

I walked again this morning. I told God and my grandma that they didn't have to appear to me today. That they should go embrace my mom. Have her feel that comfort that I felt. Half joking, I stopped and asked "hey wait- why do I always feel grandmas presence? Why doesn't grandpa come see me?". Immediately, I got this back 

Because he is with your brother.

Makes sense to me. So I asked who was with my sister and I did not get a specific person just a reminder that there are several others watching over my family.

I know to some of you these thoughts I have sound crazy and that's okay. My chats with God would sound crazy to me to if I wasn't me. 

The last thing id like to share is this: the retreat truly helped me to see the goodness in my life. The good things God does, the good people, the good that I am. It also helped me to realize that my cares and concerns will be handled.

I hope you got something out of the rambling I posted. Remember to see the goodness in yourselves and be looking for someone else to take in.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pink: Truth About Love Tour

I am sure I thoroughly annoyed all my Twitter and Instagram followers last night with my concert tweets/videos, but YOU GUYS.

That was not like any concert I've ever attended. How many artists can truly sing live while being catapulted through the air and flipping about? Not many. And how do I know she is singing live? Well, for starters, she'd often stop to breathe and the singing would stop too (except her background singers). Secondly, there's a pretty famous video on youtube of Pink falling during one of her stunts, and the singing totally stops. That's proof right there.

The entire show was centered around love. Which makes sense, being that her latest album was titled Truth About Love. The concert was very theatrical, weaving stories of love in between the songs. They didn't just focus on the sweet, lovey dovey type, either. They talked about sensual love, love that frustrates you, heartbreak, and, my favorite, loving yourself. Some of the final words spoken to us by the Ringmaster (yes, there was a ringmaster) were "We all know you cannot love another person until you love yourself".

I knew it was going to be a great show from the start. The Ringmaster came on the stage and got everyone excited, and then said he needed someone from the audience to come on the stage. He pointed to a section and the cameras zoomed into Pink, just sitting in the audience. The lights went dark and a few minutes later, she came flying out from under the stage, attached to ropes and wires, flipping in the air above the stage while singing "Raise Your Glass". I kept hitting Tom and screaming "OH MY GOD". I had never, truly, seen anything like that before.

Pink continued the spectacle by singing songs everyone knows, like "Just Like A Pill" and also cuts from her latest album, like "All We Are We Are". The choreography, stage set up, dancers, band and background singers were all flawless. Here are some of my absolute favorite moments from the show:

Try. This song is super powerful on its own, but for the concert Pink did acrobats, plus she and a male dancer did the actual choreography from the music video. I found a great quality video from another concert. Watch for yourselves and be amazed.

The Great Escape. Detroit was only the third show where Pink played the full song on piano. Before starting she admitted she was terrified, but she nailed it! Here she is doing it at another concert stop, but before she fully learned the song and had a few boo boo's, letting her piano player take over at the end.

Sober. This one was full on acrobats, as they put her in a wire cage and she flipped and spun around. The choreography for this matched perfectly for the mood and lyrics of the song. Here's a video from Orlando. Fast forward to about 45 seconds in to get the start of the song.

So What. Pink closes the show with this tune, and I really can't explain it to you, you just have to see it.

So now you have a little taste of the show I was truly blessed to witness last night. Pink is an artist you see live, no questions asked. Go see this show. I'm going to be on a concert high for a very long time from this!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: Asking All The Questions.

So, over the weekend I posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that people can ask me questions about my weight loss journey. I admitted that I am no expert, but that I have learned a lot these past four months and I felt confident in answering questions people might have as far as getting started, diet tips, etc. I posted, and waited anxiously these past few days for questions.


Sometimes, you have these great ideas, and they just don't work in your favor.

So, I came up with some questions that people HAVE asked me over time, at random. I know. This seems a bit narcissistic. But hey. yolo.

1. How much weight have you lost?
24.5 lbs. And counting. My nephew weights 21 lbs. Talk about holding a kid and realizing you have lost what they weigh!

2. How much weight do you have to lose?
A lot. I don't have an actual number because my doctor won't give me one. Which might sound odd, but her logic is that if she gives me a goal weight/number of lbs to lose, I will go crazy trying to get there super fast. So instead, I pay my doctor a visit every 2 months, she sees that I am still losing weight, gives me a gold star, and sends me on my merry way. To some it may sound like a waste of a $30 copay, but it actually really helps me to stay accountable. I love my doctor and she is helping me on my journey because I can tell that she actually cares about me and my health. I have this team of people helping me, and she's on it. So always, ALWAYS include your doctor on your weight loss journey. If you don't like your doctor, find one that you do like. That is key, people. Weight loss isn't just about trainers and nutritionists.

3. What do you do to exercise?
I belong to the greatest gym in Oakland County. No, for real. It is the best. It's pricey, but worth it. Anyways, I go there 4-5 times a week, usually in the mornings before work. The bike is my favorite. I usually go about five to six miles on the bike. I also love the elliptical (I used to hate it) and go on there for about 20 minutes at a high incline/resistance. I mix it up sometimes and walk a mile or two instead of doing the elliptical, but I almost always do the bike. I used to swim once a week, but I stopped and now can't get myself back into it. It's harder to get dressed after swimming (omg, how lame do I sound right now??) and I juts haven't done it in a while. Maybe I can start putting that back in my workouts. But ANYWAYS- I do zumba sometimes on Saturdays, too.

4. Were you exercising at all before you started your "weight loss journey?"
Hell no. Okay, I took a walk once in a while and I played volleyball once a week for a few months. But for the most part, no. I made a lot of excuses like not having time and things like that. Now, I make the time. Getting up at 5 am isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it's part of my routine now.

5. Do you lift weights or just do cardio?
Both. Primarily cardio, but I spend the last 10 minutes of my workouts doing weights. Sometimes its free weights, sometimes the machines. I do this because I want to get toned, too. My favorite weight machine is the sitting row machine. I can row 110 lbs now.  My arms are sculpted now!

6. What motivates you when you want to give up?
Well, for starters, seeing the scale drop down helps. There are times when it goes up or stays the same and I admit that's frustrating, but I keep in mind all the times it has dropped down and that helps keep me going. Also my bimonthly doctor visits, because I practically run in there and yell "WEIGH ME, I DARE YOU" to the poor little nurse. I just want my doctor to see that I'm losing weight and I get excited. Having people tell me I look good or that they can see a difference helps, too, because I know it's not all in my head. Recently, my clothes have started falling off of me which is embarrassing but also motivating. I have a workout buddy, too. My boyfriend. He is also a member of my gym and works out with me most mornings, even the days he doesn't go into work until 2 or into work at all. That helps. We barely speak at the gym because we're doing our own thing, but just seeing him there and knowing he's doing this with me is helpful.

And then there's the whole emotional aspect. When I think about giving up I sit there and think do I really want to be where I was before? Which was overweight, unhappy, depressed, etc. No. I sure don't. That allows me to push forward and to continue getting better and healthier.

7. Do you count your calories?
Yes. I read once that Carrie Underwood counts every single calorie she puts in her mouth, including like, spices. I'm not that brand of crazy (but good for Carrie, have you SEEN that girl's legs?), but I do count almost everything. And I try to do it right away. The good thing about smart phones is apps. I use MyFitnessPal and try to put in every meal after or while I eat it. When I am cooking, I count everything I put in it separately so I make sure I get everything. (Ex. Last night I made pasta, so I counted wheat penne noodles, ground turkey, vodka sauce, parmesan cheese). Also, sometimes you don't want to put in what you eat. I get it. You ate a donut and don't want to count it. But count it anyways. That way you aren't hiding what you are eating and you won't feel so guilty. Just eat the damn donut, count it, and don't go over your calorie intake that day. Or go over it, and forgive yourself. Not every day is going to be perfect.

8. What are some of your previous eating habits that you cut out when you started your weight loss journey?
  • I cut out 90% of my pop (soda) intake. I was drinking, like, 5 diet cokes a day. I stopped cold turkey. I occasionally drink Sprite, but not too often. I had a sip of diet coke the other day and spit it out. Yes I realize diet coke is zero calories, but it does not have any positive health effects for you, so why keep drinking it?
  • I used to get fast food, like, all the time. sometimes I'd even stop on my way home, get chicken nuggets, and then come home and eat a huge meal for dinner. Also if I went somewhere like Starbucks I'd get a sugary drink and a cookie or a rice krispy treat. Now if I go there, I get iced green tea, unsweetened, and no treats. And I rarely eat fast food anymore. If I do, I get something like a chicken sandwich w/o a bun and apple slices as a side, or I get a kids meal instead of a supersized meal.
  • I cut my alcohol intake a TON. I used to drink a lot-more than the average person probably should. I would go through, like, four bottles of wine in a weekend. I know. Stop judging me. Now I pretty much drink one night a week, IF THAT, and when I drink it's not nearly as much as before. I have found this to be a HUGE help overall.
  • Portion control. I could easily eat an entire box of cooked pasta before. Now, I cook my food and immediately but 1/2 or more in Tupperware to take to work for lunch. I do this with pretty much anything, even salmon which is low in calories. But I get my salmon from Costco (well actually, my parents get their salmon from Costco, and I take a few pieces each week), and the pieces are HUGE. So I cook it on the George Foreman, and cut it in 1/2.
9. Water. I hate it. Thoughts?
Water is key to weight loss. Start becoming friends with water. Start slowly. Add things to it like lemons, cucumbers or mint. Soon, you will love water. I try to do my 8 glasses a day. I try to drink a full glass of water before lunch or dinner. My roommates will tell you I fill up a water glass at night while we watch tv and I sip it instead of snacking to give me something to do during commercials. I have begun to almost crave water.

10.  Do you plan your meals?
I'm pretty simple. I rotate between two breakfasts: one is Oatmeal, one is egg whites on an English muffin. Lunches are easiest because I usually just eat leftovers. If I don't have leftovers I grab a lean cuisine or can of soup or something. So that brings us to dinner. Before this weight loss journey, I didn't have much interest in cooking. Now, I love it. I don't necessarily plan my meals, but I do buy groceries with keeping what I'd like to make in mind. Like, I know there is salmon and chicken in my freezer right now. Tom and I are making a frozen pizza tonight before the concert, so I don't need to worry too much about dinner tonight. But I am already thinking ahead to tomorrow. There's about 4-5 chicken breasts in the packet, and I'll be gone this weekend. So, I'll make the salmon tomorrow night, and have leftovers from that for lunch Friday. I'll probably do something with chicken Monday night and have enough leftovers for Tuesday's lunch AND dinner. See? Semi planning. It works.

11. Snacks?
I'm not very good at snacks. I should be better. When I do eat a snack it's usually yogurt, granola, nuts, or veggies.

12. Do you ever allow yourself treats?
Absolutely. I'm careful about it, but I allow it. I had a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup yesterday. People bring in donuts or muffins a lot for work, and I'll split one with my friend Amy so that I can still get a taste for it. I eat ice cream sometimes. I had a piece of cake at my nephew's birthday party, but then skipped cake at a work party. It's all about control. And counting the calories.

13. Has there been a point where you have said "I am doing something right. This is good." ?
I have those moments a lot. But I do remember the first one I ever had, and that was when Paula (who I just wrote about the other day) told me that my eyes don't look so dark and sad anymore. That hit me big time, mostly because at the time I barely knew Paula but she, from afar, could see that this whole weight loss thing has had a positive effect on me. Now when I look in the mirror I look at my eyes first.

Also, last week I got two messages via facebook from people who told me that I am inspiring them and that I'm doing a great job. Things like that help me more than anyone can ever know!

Alright, I think that's enough. I don't want to bore you all too much. I hope this helped anyone who is on a similar journey or anyone who is thinking of getting started.

I mentioned up there that I have a team of people. Here's my team: My parents, my siblings and sibling in laws, Tom, Paula, Martha, gym trainers, Sam, Lauren, Peggy, Sue, Amy Z, Maggie, Carol, Lynn, Amy S, Laura P, Christina, Christine, Lizz, and anyone who likes or comments on my facebook. You all are the

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: Pink

I'm a very lucky gal. My boyfriend surprised me with tickets to see Pink tomorrow night. She's one of my favorite artists but I have never been able to see her live, and now I am! I'm so excited.

Pink has some really good songs. Like, some really amazing songs. Most people don't hear them because they are typically not her singles (although we did get Try and Just Give Me A Reason as radio hits!). But for the most part, a lot of her best stuff goes unheard, unless you own her albums. So I've decided to treat you to my 10 favorite Pink songs. Some you've all heard, some you may not have. Sit back and enjoy this Tuesday tunes.

10. Who Knew. I'm sort of sick of this song now, but I still like to belt it.

9. Misery: an awesome duet with Steven Tyler.

8. Funhouse.

7. Try. The message behind the song as well as the emotion she puts into it makes it a gorgeous song.

6. Long Way To Happy. Always loved this song. Pink has had some issues.

5.  Just Give Me A Reason. How can you not love this song? Both Pink and Nate Ruess are flawless on this track!

4. Don't Let Me Get Me. A little old school Pink for ya. I loved this song back when it was big. Mostly because I was an awkward freshman in high school and I felt like this song defined me. Also, when I had to do a project in college about my adolescence, I referenced this song.

The Great Escape is from her latest album and it's just goregouse.

2. The One That Got Away. No words, just listen.

1. Glitter in the Air. Her most beautiful song, hands down.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dark skies have returned

So with the time change, it's nearly pitch black by 530 pm. I've always wondered if I have SAD. I think everyone has a touch of it, actually) but I do know I'm pretty deeply affected by darkness.

I like light. I like sun. It makes me feel better. Dark skies and cold air makes me feel sad and lonely even though I'm not actually either of those things. Dark skies make me want to run away and get the out of here. It makes me more anxious, more tired. I have severely low vitamin d levels as it is, so no sun just pulls out the worst in me.

But there's nothing I can do about it. It's michigan and it's winter and this is what happens. I've lived here for 26 years, you'd think I would get used to it. 

So because I don't have a magic wand to put the sun in the sky or make the weather a little warmer, I do what I need to do to get through these next four months. I make sure I take my vitamin d supplements. I write letters. I listen to music. I force myself out of my bedroom I socialize. I laugh. I pray. I read inspiring words. I get through it.

It's not easy and I'm not claiming that it is. We all have these things thrown at us that make it difficult to feel totally at peace. Darkness is one of my things-one of my road blocks. But instead of laying I the ground and waiting for it to be over, I push through it.

Whatever it is blocking you, push through. Together well all get to our happy place and no obstacle is going to stop us.

And spring, come soon. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Then A Hero Comes Along

Most of you know that I volunteer to co-lead a youth group at my parish on Sunday nights. It's for high school students and each week we have a different theme. I usually end up getting a lot out of the lesson, even though it is geared toward teens.

Tonight's lesson was about heroes. First we talked about the stereotypical superheroes and their "powers". Then we watched a video on everyday heroes, People who have gone out of their way to help someone else. The students were then asked to reflect on the heroes in the own lives. The following was what we read outloud to them:

Many everyday heroes are the people in our lives who believe in usand who are there for us when we need them. They are the ones who inspire us, who support us, and who love us.  They often see things in us that we don’t see ourselves. By their actions, words and example, they cause us toreach for greatness, to dream big things for our lives. To truly fulfill our full potential in life, and to become the person God truly knows we can be, we needthese people—these heroes—in our lives.

As this was read to the students I began to think of what my answer will be. And in that moment I realized how lucky I am, because it was almost too difficult to just name one hero. I am surrounded by people who make my life better.

My dad was the first person I thought of, which may seem a bit of a "duh" considering all he's going through right now. But to be fair, he was my hero long before his diagnosis. He's always been a hero. Why? Well if you've met him you know why. He can talk to anyone. He is understanding of all people. He is kind, compassionate and hard working. He literally is someone who would swoop in and save the day. And he has, on countless occasions. And now, he's fighting his tail off to get rid of this cancer. Even with everything he is dealing with, he's still putting us first. He's a hero, without a doubt.

Something else crossed my mind, too. I don't know exactly how to word this, but the St. Hugo community as a whole are "heroes" for myself and my family. You all have these invisible capes and have truly swept in to help when we needed you most. It's pretty incredible, all the kind and selfless things you have done. From planning the prayer service to putting a lunch in the fridge for my mom every day to driving my dad to appointments. From silent prayers to encouraging texts and emails. So if any of you have any doubt that you've been any help to us, wipe those thoughts clear away because you've not only helped us but you'd save us. 

I obviously can call out many, many people in my life who are heroes. And I certainly don't want to leave anyone out. But there are a few people who recently have struck me in a special way. 

Martha: alright, so she's not really recent. Martha has been in my life for about three years. Without giving you the whole back story, I'll just tell you she's the coolest. She has six beautiful children and Martha has instilled such strong values and faith in them. Martha also has an incredible sense of humor and compassion. She was the brains behind the John Carolin Prayer Warriors page and has been a constant source of support for my family, even though she surely has enough on her plate. I've never known anyone as strong willed, open minded and patient as Martha. 

Paula: Paula is a special person. You'd know that just by having a simple conversation with her. She looks at you and you can tell she cares about you, even if she doesn't know you very well. She is the reason I began my weight loss journey and has been a CONSTANT source of advice, encouragement and inspiration ever since. I sometimes feel badly because I ask her so many questions, but she's one of the smartest people I know, and also one of the most down to earth. 

Paula and Martha are also best friends and often joke about "who is better" ( all in good fun!). Honestly they are both my role models and I can only hope to be even half the kind women, mothers, friends that they are. I strive to be like them.

I could go on and on and I could probably list at least twenty other people who have shown their hero cape to me recently. 

I am challenging myself this week to let the heroes in my life know that I love them and what they have done for me. I am also going to challenge myself to be a hero for others. Maybe I can't save a life or do anything drastic but I can be there for someone who needs it. We all can.

Who are the heroes in your life?