Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanks for loving me, cuz you're doing it perfectly

I have to tell you guys about something terrible that happened today. I know, today is supposed to be about gratitude and joy...but I have to get out the pain somewhere.

I was at my uncle's house in Lansing, just like every year. All was well. Wine in my hand, chatting with relatives. Made a little comment, something like "all I need are sweet potatoes, and I'm good to go". My aunt says... "I didn't bring them". I swear to you I got tears in my eyes.

No sweet potatoes.

Just about the worst thing someone can tell me on Thanksgiving. Okay, I know much worse things can happen, but this is also a mini tragedy in my life.

Isn't that just horrible? Don't worry, after some deep breathing and more wine, I got over it. Kind of.

Anyhow. Thanksgiving. I had a lot of time to reflect on what I am thankful for yesterday on my 10 mile walk. And I decided the best way to do this is in a list. So, here we go:
-God. I am so thankful that God loves me and protects me, that He does not give up on me and that He helps me through all the hardest times in my life and brings me what I need. So so lucky.
-My family. It's like no matter what happens, I know I will always have a home. We've been through some challenges (what family hasn't) but we are a strong little army of seven. I would do anything for my family members. I am very lucky and grateful that both of my siblings have found a genuine, true love and have shared that love with the rest of us, so I now have two more siblings :) Plus, my parents have just about saved me this year. At the end of my year with MVC, I had no idea what was going to happen next. They could have easily said "well, good luck." but instead, they said "you can stay with us for as long as you need too". I know everyone makes jokes about movin back in with the rents...and yeah, it has been very tough at times. But the good outweighs the bad. 95% of the time, it has been a real joy. They love me, they care about me, and they support me. It's pure, genuine, unconditional, and everlasting.
- An incredible support system. I don't have a lot of people that I can "hang out" with anymore- most are living elsewhere- but I do have a very long list of people that I can count on for support and prayers...and that means the world to me. Just yesterday I was in a little pickle. I had left my ipod at home on my walk. Big mistake. 10 miles without music is incredibly tough. My sister had walked the first three with me, then I was on my own. It was cold, it was dark, and I was needing some motivation. So I sent a quick text to some friends asking for inspiration. Almost immediately I had a ton of responses- song lyrics, quotes, cheers, even a picture of Isaac Hanson (thanks, Sam). That was just one little example of some of the amazing things they do for me. I feel incredibly supported. I may be lonely at times, but I know I am never alone. I am grateful for that.
-The lessons I learned with my year with MVC. I'm STILL trying to process 09-10. Sometimes I feel like it didn't even happen. It was just a really long dream. I don't know how long it will take me to really understand the magic of that year, but I do know that when I think about it, I smile. I wish I could place myself back into any day last year and relive it just for one day, because I miss it so much. I miss the Sisters of Mercy, tje JV's, my coworkers, my students, and my community members. I know that I was incredibly blessed to be able to spend a year volunteering in Detroit with outstanding people to work with. I will never forget it, and I know it made me a better person. <3
-That I was able to find work that is meaningful and rewarding. My new job started off a little rough, and I did not think it was going to work out. But in the past few weeks I have really appreciated it. I know I won't be there forever, but I'm happy there for the time being. I'm still learning and getting the hang out of it, and I definitely did not have the instant connection I did with Cristo Rey. But I enjoy doing it, being able to support a group of teenagers in need. Plus I'm just very glad I was able to find something. Cuz those few months where I was completely jobless were miserable. Also, babysitting John and Claire has been a wonderful experience. They are my little buddies now and I love spending time with them and getting to know them.
-Music and writing. The two things that get me through each and every day. Everyone goes through the bad days. The important thing is to find something or someone that will guide you. Mine have all been listed above, with a side dish of music and writing.
-My health, and the fact that I am able to continue to strengthen my health through daily walking.

I truly hope that all of you had an amazing Thanksgiving, that is was full of all things that are happy. We had a great time, watching the Lions and then playing our annual flag football game. (But tell me why I got tackled...twice?). It's always good to see the extended family :)

Again, hope your days were lovely. But please don't tell me how amazing your sweet potatoes were unless you want me to hit you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

forget regret

When my year with Mercy Volunteer Corps was coming to a close, someone said "This year will always have an impact on you. It might not happen right away, but it will hit you."

It's happening. Only, not MVC. I don't think that time has come yet. I'm really missing college lately. I graduated in 2009 and then went right into my year of volunteering. Now, I really miss college. This probably comes as a surprise to those who know me quite well, considering I could not wait to get out. But here's the thing I miss it in two different ways...

First, I miss it in that I miss the nights of laughter. Particularly my last two years...when we would have Christmas movie marathons and drink hot chocolate, or spend rainy Sunday's playing RockBand. I miss frat parties and my secret little coffee shop and the spot on East Campus where you can see all of Kalmazoo. I miss watching Greys and Idol with a room full of my best friends. I miss dance parties in the kitchen. I miss driving to the den with Lauren. I miss classes. (Yep. True)

The other side of it is...I've grown up a lot since then. I am a different person. And I just wish I could go back and tell myself how to act, what decisions to make. I miss the good times, and it also makes me sad that I can't go back and change a few things around. No matter how many times I can say "Oh, I wouldn't change anything, it made me who I am, no regrets", deep down I know...I'd do anything to change those circumstances. And I don't really understand what I was supposed to learn from all the sucky things that no one? Because that's what I learned. I learned that even people who call you sister will still stab you in the back. Not a great memory to have from college, friends.

If I could, I would go back in a second. I'd put my hands on my 18 year old selfs shoulders and guide her through the next four years carefully. But I can't do that, so I will try my best to remember the good times I had and be grateful for the bad, even though they leave me bitter, I will try to remember that I am stronger because of them. Forget regret, no day but today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

oh darling, don't you ever grow up

So most of you are probably aware that I've been babysitting for the same family overnight lately. This is my third week doing it, and I'm getting more and more attached to these kids. Tonight I was tucking C into bed and she said "guess what? When I'm nine, I'm going to horse back riding camp. What did you do when you were nine?"

Do you know I could not think of a single cool thing I did when I was nine? I just stared at her like she asked me if I had ever been to outer space or something...trying to come up with a really awesome answer. I racked my brain....there has to be SOMETHING. All I could say was "Well, I was in fourth I probably learned cursive". Um, LAME. First of all now a days kids learn cursive in second grade. Secondly, was that IT?

The conversation was just another reminder of how fast time flies by. I have been very lucky to form strong bonds with young people, especially in the past year. From little baby Caroline to the nearly 18 year olds. I've heard their stories, seen them cry. I've had to say goodbye to many of them, move on. I didn't want to...I just want to protect all of them. I don't want them to grow up and forget how exciting it is to be nine and going to horse back riding camp. I don't want anyone to break their hearts or make them cry. I want them to live in their little bubble of bliss forever...but I know that they can't. That soon, if not already, they will be faced with really tough challenges. And they will have to learn how to deal with them. That though is so scary for me, and I can't imagine what it is like as a parent.

Like I said, time flies by. But I don't think that is any reason to be apathetic. I think it means we need to give 100% at every moment. We need to celebrate the people in our lives, because they won't be around forever. I can't quite find the write words I am trying to say, but here are the lyrics I wrote about it.

I could return to my old ugly habit
push you away before you g>t too close
So it won't hurt as much when you're gone
But I've grown up, and instead I want you to know
I'm smiling like a fool, writing down our memories
Taking all of this in, every moment we share
Because now I know forever doesn't exist
And something just ma> break us apart

We can try and hold on
But I've accepted life happens
And reality just might be bold enough
l you from me

So I'll enjoy it while I can
And miss you when you're gone
Don't worry, my friend
You're forever in my heart
I refuse to forget you, to let this vanish

We can try and hold on
But I've accepted life happens
And reality just might be bold enough
To step in and steal you from me

And to those who are already gone
I know things back then were messy
But please believe me, I hope your life is beautiful
Just like you... and the times we had
Cliche as it may be, the good and the bad
And I am ever so grateful
That for even just a moment
Our lives collided, and we shared our hearts.

We tried to hold on,
But I've accepted life happens
And reality was oh so bold enough
To step in and steal you from me

There's one more thing you should all hear
Straight from my heart to your ears
The bold reality is this-
The love I have for you is real
It always was, it always will be
Do good, my favorite friend.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

leave it in the valley

Remember when you were a little kid, and you had someone you just really admired? You looked at them and thought "I want to be like ___ when I grow up" ? Maybe it was a teacher, or a TV show character (Hey Aunt Becky Hey). Have you lost that feeling?

I’ve always believed in the importance of mentoring. Not just in the structured sense, like Big Brothers Big Sisters or through a school program, but just in general. People often associate mentoring with kids, but that is not the kind of mentoring I am talking about tonight.I am talking about having someone to look up to, no matter what age you are. We could all use a little guidance, the important part is having a person that is going through a similar life experience, or has already been through it, to look to for advice.

I have different mentors for areas of my life. For faith, it is Mrs. MacLennan. Writing, Mr. Schusterbaur and two great friends of mine, Shari and Jena. For motivation, encouragement, faith, perseverance, Melinda. In addition, I am faced with two daily challenges: my weight loss journey and anxiety. I have (thankfully) plenty of people in my life whom I can turn to for support, but there is one person who I look to as a role model and a guide in both of these areas: Mandisa.

Mandisa has been known to publicly share her struggle with her weight and anxiety. In fact, she wrote a book about it, and I owe a lot of my success to her. It was not until I read her book that I even grasped what was going on in my own life. Before I read it I thought I was completely alone, constantly wondering “what’s wrong with me?”. Mandisa’s story helped me to begin to rewrite my own.

Since then, she has been a constant source of support. I have been lucky enough to be able to communicate with her, through myspace, twitter, and different events. She has been an absolute blessing in my life, and definitely a mentor. I look to her for many things- encouragement, recipes, exercise tips, scripture, and, obviously, music. Her music has gotten me through my toughest days, and I can also rely on her tweets to get me through my challenges. She tells us when she is struggling, she reports when she has a good day. She keeps me going on my own routine. Every single day is a challenge, but knowing that Mandisa is going through the exact same thing is a huge motivation. By the way, homegirl has lost nearly 100 pounds and looks amazing. I am so proud of her for all of her accomplishments, both internal and external!

Mandisa spreads her story. She shares it every weekend with hundreds of women at Women of Faith events across the country. I know that she is making an impact on so many lives, and I am really quite grateful to be one of them. By now she knows what she means to me, but I always like to remind her. :)

So please allow yourself to look up to someone. We don’t have to be little kids to admire another person. We're all in this life together, we may as well help each other out.

Going to close with a song by...well, Mandisa.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

believe in me, you are not alone

One of my incredibly gifted friends, Shari, recently wrote this

"sometimes it’s okay to lean on someone. It doesn’t make you weaker. It makes you stronger."

I'll admit something. I used to be afraid to ask for help. Afraid that it would make me seem weak, or stupid. Instead, I would keep everything completely trapped inside of me, waiting to explode at the smallest little trigger. And trust me, I've exploded multiple times. Many people reading this have not seen me in one of those states...but I could be so stressed out that I bawl my eyes out because I can't find my keys. It's not because I've lost my keys that I'm crying. It's because there are a zillion things going on in my mind that I cannot control, and it call comes out the second one more thing piles on. Luckily for me, I have the help I need. I've found a pretty strong support system in my family and a few close friends. I've learned, through time, that being able to say "hey, I really need you for this..." not only makes me stronger, but makes the outcome of the situation much more positive. Without my support system I would be nothing. Life is a daily, step by step process for me and for many others. I am so blessed to say that I can lean on people whom I trust when the road gets rocky.

The lesson in all of this is to make sure you are letting yourself lean on someone else. You don't always have to be the savior. You can fall apart sometimes, too. Just make sure you have someone there to help you pick up the pieces. How do you find those people? You'll know who they are. They are the ones who have never left your side, even in the worst of times. The ones who you can call at any time of day and say "I just need someone to talk too.." The ones who are always up for a sleepover or a movie night, who forgive you, who love you completely. For me, that happens to be my family. My sweet friends (you know who you are), the backups. The people who can make you laugh the hardest.

Speaking of laughter...I've always fully agreed laughter is the best medicine. I mean really, how can you not? Last night, I was blessed to see that cliche put into practice. In a living room sat four people. Four completely different people, in different stages of life. Yet, last night, we were bound together by love and laughter. All of our worries, problems, fears...they fell apart. Drifted into the air with our uncontrollable giggles. Most girls my age would probably think hanging out with my parents and an amazing "family friend" was totally lame on a Saturday night. But to me, it was perfect. It was necessary, and I hope to have many more nights just like that. It felt good to laugh. :)

I hope everyone has a beautiful week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


If you're anything like me then you think forgiveness is like going to the dentist for your 6 month cleaning. You know you really should go, but you hate it...and would do just about anything to get out of it. It's no fun at all, annoying, and can be painful. All our lives we are taught "forgive and forget". Being told to forgive someone gives me anxiety. I sort of wrinkle up my face and cross my arms...why should I?

Here's the thing. We've all be hurt by someone. That hurt can do so many things- most often it turns into anger, or bitterness. To forgive someone doesn't mean you have to forget what someone did to you, or that it makes it okay to do it again. What forgiveness does, in my opinion, is allows you to turn a negative situation into a positive one. When you forgive someone, you are bringing a sense of peace into the conflict. Rather than plotting ways to get revenge or dwelling on your hurt feelings, You are saying "Okay, I'm hurt, but I am strong enough to say that I can forgive you, and move on with my life". By forgiving the person who hurt you, you are putting the control back in your hands. You are no longer the victim, they do not have power over you. I think we often dismiss forgiveness because it feels like we are giving the person another chance, but it is really quite the opposite.

Forgiveness is hard, especially if the other person won't admit to their wrong doing or maybe they didn't even know that they hurt you. But just because something is hard does not mean we don't do it. We try. Write about it. Pray about it. You will be able to do it once you realize the peace that will come with it.

A few years ago I was hurt really badly by one of my best friends. It wasn't just one little fight or misunderstanding, it was one big mess of lies and petty drama. This person knew they had control over me, so they did whatever they could do belittle me...from leaving me angry drunk voice mails about how it was all my fault to completely ignoring me. It hurt, especially coming from someone who used to be so close to me, a person who was there for me in my hardest times. For a while I just didn't speak to this person. I thought this was the easiest solution. I held a major grudge and when people would ask me about it, I got very defensive. It took a lot for me to forgive them, but eventually I did, because I couldn't keep living with pent up anger and bitterness. I wrote them a letter stating my forgiveness. With forgiveness came peace. Am I friends with this person? No. Does it hurt? Sometimes...but I know in the end it was the best thing for us. I miss the good times we shared together but I am so glad we have been able to move forward. I can promise you that if I had not stepped up and forgave them, they would still have control over me to do this day.

So...if there is someone out there you need to forgive...push past the fear, the annoyance and just take a leap and do it. Pray about it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear November....

Dear November,
This may seem kind of cheesy, but I've been told I'm great at writing letters. So hey, how are ya? You're back! I've always liked you, November. The last time you were in my life, things were much different. I was happy. Not that I'm not happy now...I am happy. It's just a different kind of happy. Everything was just...right. Perfect, even. OH, except those few days I was really sick and everyone though I had swine flu. That was NOT fun. But I'll forget about that because you gave me one of the best Thanksgiving weekends I can ever remember having. Anyways. You were great. I loved my job, had great friends and an amazing support system, a cleansing spirituality. That's all gone. It slipped away somehow. Somewhere between then and now, it's all disappeared. The thing is November, I could have all of that now, if I tried. I'm not really trying. I've just sort of settled into this web of "oh, I'm doing fine". Where as last year, I would enthusiastically reply "I'm FREAKING AMAZING, how are you?" I think I deserve more than fine...don't I? I think so. No, wait. I know so. So, November, I'm writing to you for a little help. You and I, let's do this. There's only a little bit left of 2010, I want to make it as magical as possible. I hope you have some glitter left in ya. I promise to put 100% of myself into you. All I ask is for a little sunshine. I love you, November. Thanks for listening.

Love, Megan

PS: I know you're all about gratitude, so I'd like to say thank you for being the birth month of my best friend, Sam. :)

I have big plans. Small steps will lead to big changes. These last two months of 2010 are gonna rock. I have to prepare for the epicness that will be 2011. Life is what you make it. That's been the biggest lesson for me to learn in these past few weeks. I have a choice. I'm choosing happiness. What will you choose? If you could write a letter to November, what would you say?

On a COMPLETELY different, but much needed note:

I don't usually spend my time talking about teenage Disney stars, but something about this Demi Lovato story hits me hard. I have no idea why. I mean I've always liked Demi. I thought she had an edge to her...which now I'm realizing could have been the root to her problems. For those of you who don't speak pop culture, here's the story from how I understand it: Demi is in a "treatment facility" for "physical and emotional reasons". It's been said it was for eating disorders and cutting herself, and rumors are also going around that she was a coke addict. I anyone really surprised? What do you expect when all eyes are on you...from kids ages 5-19? They watch your every move. You are a product, not a person. You're supposed to be this little perfect role model. Half of those kids are completely obsessed with you and sleep under sheets with your face on it. The other half can't stand you because they are "team Selena" or whatever nonsense, so they find every way possible to bring you down. At some point you are bound to crack. Anyways, my heart goes out to the girl. I pray that she gets the help she needs and I am very proud of her for being brave enough to ask for help. That takes guts. I hope this is a lesson to all her young fans. If you need help, get it. You deserve it. You are WORTH IT.

Also, stop trashing Ashley Greene. This is not her fault. Depression is internal. It is about your perception of self. If that is distorted, you are on the road to eating disorders and the like. No one is to blame here, so instead of focusing your energy on hating some girl, spend it sending positive vibes to the one you admire.

And...I'm finished.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My American Idol

“Cheer up, don’t be afraid. For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you in great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song.” — Zephaniah 3:16–18 TLB

I've always believed that God speaks to me through music. Yes, He is always surprising me by speaking to me in the strangest of circumstances, but most often it is through music. When I am most lonely, most afraid, all I have to do is turn on the radio or load up my ipod and sure enough there will be a song that speaks to my heart. Sometimes I'll even just find myself randomly thinking of the time I was on a silent retreat, focusing on what was coming next in my life. I was so full of questions, so confused. A little phrase came into mind.. "there will be an answer, let it be". I was so impressed that God knows me so well that He used one of my favorite songs to deliver His message.

The idea of God singing for me is overwhelming- in the best way possible. It makes me think of all my concert experiences, and how giddy I get if the lead singer just happens to look my way while singing a great tune. Now I sit here and imagine God singing a song all about me, for only me, and it is truly beautiful. I believe that God's song for me is one that fills me with peace and joy and reminds me that I am loved. If God was on American Idol, I'd totally vote for Him :) I am so grateful to have my very own song sung by God.

Are you listening? Take a step back. You don't want to miss what He is saying to you.