Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Months.

Dear Ryan;

You are two months old today! It actually feels much longer. I feel like you've always been here. I want you to know how much your mommy and daddy love you. I'm sure that will be a frequent topic of these letters, but I think it's important for you to know that the love was present from the second you arrived...and I can see it growing stronger and stronger every single day. It's the way your daddy refers to you as "my baby" or how your mommy says "I'll be right back, bye bye Ryan" and kisses you, even when she's just going up the stairs. They protect you and they look at you with sparkling eyes and wide smiles. They are so proud of you.

You've grown a lot in the last month. You're a whopping ten pounds, you are sleeping more during the night, and you have turned yourself over from your tummy. We all love watching you grow. You started smiling more, too, and that smile is beautiful.

You had your very first Christmas, and you got so many presents, our way of saying that we love you and can't wait to watch you grow. I got you the book Peter Pan. That is my very favorite children's story, Ryan, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I can't tell you to never grow up because I know that you will- but I hope that your life is your very own version of Neverland. Magical and full of surprises and adventure.

We are all waiting for your hair to turn a certain color- right now it is light, but with dark hair in the back. We're still oohing and aaahing over every little thing that you do and we are all very much in love with you.

Tomorrow is the last day of 2012. What a year it has been. The greatest gift of all was you, our little Ryan.

Love, Aunt Megan

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 memories.

I scrolled all the way down through my facebook wall until I reached January 2012. Because the easiest way to look back on your yeari s through facbook. No but seriously, it is. And so, here is my 2012 reflection.

A few things you will never forget in 2012.

  • Taking a week long trip to Ft. Walton Beach, FL with my siblings and their spouses. 
  • Becoming an aunt for the first time
  • Making a commitment as an associate of the sisters of Mercy
  • My 25th Birthday weekend
  • Moving out of my parents house
  • Susan Jarrell
  • Cristo Rey Graduation
  • Tigers going to the World Series
  • Tonsillectomy
Relationship (s)

  • This was the first year in a while where I tried to put myself out there a little more. I tried online dating. I went on dates. I had a 4 month steady relationship. I stuidly let a really bad guy back in and he once again broke my heart. I learned to stick up for myself. I learned not to settle. I learned what I am looking for in a relationship and that I don't have to desperately try to find someone. Someone will come along when the time is right. I think what I have to work on is being more open about it. I don't like my family to tease me so I don't always talk to them about the "relationship" thing. I need to just get over that and talk about it.
The Best Day

  • July 28th. Woke up at 5 am. Rocked the color run. Fell into a color run coma. Woke up, got pretty. Went to a Japanese place with my backup besties and Sam. Saw Melinda perform the Love 101 show. Hung out after. I was so happy, so free. The next morning was my 25th birthday, and that was pretty perfect too. 
 The worst day

  • January 11th. My mom came barreling in my room to tell me Susan had been murdered the night before. I had never been so distraught in my entire life. I felt sick. I was shaking. I was crying. I was numb. I was helpless. I have never felt like that before and it was the worst feeling. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. I stilll miss her. I still have her name naad nmber in my phone. I still have nightmares occasionally. And I pray for those beautiful children every single day. My pain was nothing compared to theirs. I only hope that their hearts can heal.
On that note, I want to sincerely thank everyone who came to my aide during that time, the most difficult thing I've ever been through in my life. I love you all. I know when January 10th/11th roll around this year, I'll be in a very strange place of mind but I will armor myself with prayers and good people.

The most memorable moment.

  • Holding my nephew for the very first time and realizing what it meant to fall in love with a baby.
Your best friend(s).

  • To be quite honest, my coworkers were pretty much my best friends this year. Probably because I spent the most time with them. Maggie, Sue, Tierra, Ashley, Christina, Carol, Christine, Shannon, Stella, Suzanne, Sarah, Lynn. Those girls supported me, stood by me, advocated for me, and made me laugh. I care about them and I know that they care about me. I couldn't ask for a better group of gals to be surrounding myself with every single day.
Your birthday.

  • My 25th Birthday was one of the greatest birthdays I have ever had. I was in Indy. The night before I saw Melinda's Love 101 Show with my friends. I woke up sore from doing the color run, all smiles from being around some of my favorite people. We went to breakfast in downtown Indy and I sat next to my idol and friend Melinda. We laughed a whole lot. She shared a personal story with me that brought closure to a huge chunk of my life.
 The best getaway.
  • For sure, without a doubt, our siblings trip to Florida. I laughed so hard every day of that trip, I didn't think about work and I let myself relax and enjoy. Honestly one of my favorite moments of the entire year is running around the sand dunes with Sara, pretending like we were in the Hunger Games. And finding that turtle shell. I am still kicking myself for not bringing it to JP to tease him that we found the ninja turtle he buried years and years ago.
New Year resolutions.
  • I hate resolutions. Because they are basically the things we should have been doing all along. Makes me feel like I didn't do something right, or that I failed. But the new year is about hope. And for 2013, I strive to: Eat in more than I eat out; apply for graduate school;  finish Laurence's book; take the stairs; turn off computer by 10 pm; pay off my debts; cut out gossip; and start my days off with prayer. Think I can do all of that?

favorite tweets of the year from people I follow

@lover_of_sushi I saw this really hot guy out of the corner of my eye and then I realized it was a chick! This is amazing!

@jessyjams Nothing makes me sadder than a middle aged hoodrat

@immattgiraud Someone just made a comment on the radio about breast feeding and I said Heyooo! Haha #awkward

 @Kristen8108 Crapcakes. I just remembered that I forgot my cat's birthday again this year. Not like he really knows but I still feel bad.

 ‏@ladygaga Is it wrong that sometimes when people call me, I break out into 'Telephone,' my mom always does Beyonce's part.

 ‏@GloZell 1D Flawless Homosexuals? Well pass me the Rainbow cuz I want to taste the Skittles

 ‏@IAmCaseyAbrams I'm watching spiceworld on tv. I feel the movie kind of explains my life

 ‏‏@SaraBareilles Children are like little drunks.

‏@Lauren_Collins I forgot Taylor Swift's last name today for like, TEN minutes and thought I was having a stroke.

‏@jessyjams i would love a pulled pork sandwich for dinner. shit, ill eat it for breakfast.

@glitterbots i wish i weren't allergic to elephants so i could join the circus.

@Zammie255 I shuffle everyday it's exhausting

 @Jacob_Lusk I want to live my life with mermaids and poets!

 ‏@lizZmilK i wish i was off every afternoon so i could cuddle with my dog in bed and cry about characters on tv shows. i feel so alive.

‏‏@GloZell So cold on this bus ... My left nipple just broke off and rolled away. RIP NIP.

‏@mdoolittle OMG! Just got ANOTHER autograph request from a prisoner that said, "I loved you on Mash!" LOL! Who exactly do they think I played?

@KhloeKardashian  I literally just shat on the floor. Ugh.

@mandisaofficial One day I wanna find a White person that looks like me and play a trick on tanning salon workers. LOL!

@jambajim  On my walk from the parking lot, a rooster crowed, a squirrel popped out of a bush & a butterfly landed on my shoulder. #DisneyPrincessSwag

@DeniseJanae  Okay....not once but TWO times I have been in the presence of the muppets. God...why are you so cool??????????


@JordinSparks @mcaro05 lol TWITTER IS A BATTLEFIELD!!!

‏@Zammie255 Ahh! @OfficialSanta just faved my tweet. Excuse me while I fangirl.

So that was my 2012 in a nutshell. What happened to you this year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Personal 2012 Pop Culture Picks

I love reflecting on the year, both personally and pop culture wise. Listed here are some of my favorite movies, albums, and songs from the year.

Top 10 Movies.

10. Brave
There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.

9. People Like Us
Most doors in the world are closed, so if you find one that you want to get into, you damn well better have an interesting knock

8. Breaking Dawn 2
You nicknamed my baby after the Loch Ness Monster?

7. The Dark Knight Rises
 A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy's shoulder to let him know that the world hadn't ended.

6. The Vow
The moment of impact. The moment of impact proves potential for change. Has ripples effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together. Making them closer than before. While sending others spinning off into great ventures. Landing them where you've never thought you've found them. That's the thing about moments like these. You can't, no matter how hard you try, controlling how it's gonna affect you. You just gotta let the colliding part goes where they may. And wait. For the next collision.

5. Sparkle
All I think about is music.

4. Pitch Perfect
Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that's what counts.

3. Hunger Games
May the odds be ever in your favor.

2. Perks of Being A Wallflower
So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how could that be.

1. Silver Linings Playbook
You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it's a sin if you don't reach back...

Top 15 Albums of 2012...and my three favorite songs from each.

Maroon 5- Overexposed

  • Tickets "you're perfect on the outside, but nothing at the core"
  • Sad "I'm scared to death that there may not be another one like this. And I confess, that I'm only holding on by a thin thin thread"
  • Daylight "Here I am staring at your perfection in my arms; so beautiful"
Zac Brown Band- Uncaged
  • Goodbye in Her Eyes "the life she wanted, it was gone. Prince Charming I wasn't"
  • Uncaged "every day find a way to face my fears"
  • Natural Disaster "and the rebel in her soul brought her to me"
Pitch Perfect Soundtrack.
Won't do the lyrics because they are all covers :)
  • Cups
  • Bellas Finals
  • Riff Off
Fun., Some Nights
  • Some Nights "what do I stand for? Most nights I don't know anymore"
  • Carry On "may your past be the sound of your feet on the ground. Carry on"
  • Why Am I The One "for once for once I feel like I'm right where I belong"
Mumford and Sons, Babel
  • Babel "press my nose up to the glass around your heart, I should've known I was weaker from the start"
  • I Will Wait  "raise my hands, paint my spirit gold"
  • Hopeless Wanderer "Hold me fast 'cause I'm a hopeless wanderer. I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under"
Alex Clare, Too Close
  • Too Close "at the end of it all, you're still my best friend"
  • Damn Your Eyes "damn your eyes for taking my breath away, for making me want to stay. damn your eyes for getting my hopes up high"
  • Tightrope "the only thing I'm sure of is to have no fear at all. Just go, keep on going on."

Ed Sheeran, +
  • Wake Me Up  "and you will never know just how beautiful you are to me." 
  • Sunburn "She was mine, I was hers...And all that's in between. If she would cry, I would shelter her, And keep her from the darkness"
  • Lego House "I'm gonna pick up the pieces, and build a lego house, when things go wrong we can knock it down"
P!nk, The Truth About Love
  • Try "funny how the heart can be deceiving  more than just a couple times. Why do we fall in love so easy?  Even when it's not right."
  • Chaos and Piss "I also feel things more than I should. I don't relax very often, as often as I could. I worry how the whole thing looks, it doesn't look good."
  • The Great Escape "Terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me. And I don't need a pill to make me numb. And I wrote the book already, but that chapter of my life will soon be done. I'm the king of the great escape. You're not gonna watch me checking out of this place. You're not gonna lose me, cuz the passion and the pain are gonna keep us alive someday".
Haley Reinhart, Listen Up!
  • Undone "I don't want you back, I just want to have what you took from me".
  • Hit The Ground Running "You better watch your mouth boy, cuz I don't miss a beat"
  • Keep Coming Back "don't you have a home to go to? don't you have another soul to hold you? am I the only one who really knows you?"
JillandKate, Heart of Stone
  • Burn It Down "caught that liar right in his tracks, and I said some things I can never take back. Wouldn't if I could".
  • I Come Alive "I come alive when you look at me that way"
  • Breakdown "If we don't get this figured out, it's sure to break us down and we won't ever find a way back home"
Bruno Mars- Unorthodox Jukebox
  • If I Knew "I know it breaks your heart to picture the only one you want to love in someone else's arms, but I wouldn't have done all the things that I had done if I knew one day you'd come" 
  • Natalie "you'll be begging me please please please, while I sit there and laugh laugh laugh, and you'll be cryin for me cryin for me cryin for me"
  • Gorilla "oh look what you've done, but in this jungle you can't run"

Casey Abrams, Casey Abrams
  • Wore Out My Soul "As time keeps moving on, your shine is clearly gone"
  • Ghosts "Found out that love is too precious to waste, but I'll waste it all on you"
  • Midnight Girl "And I wanna tell your right now, you're the kind of girl Ray was singing about"
Jason Mraz, Love Is A Four Letter Word
  • I Won't Give Up "We got a lot to learn, but God knows we're worth it. I won't give up."
  • 93 Million Miles "sometimes it may seem dark, but the absence of light is a necessary part. just know you're not alone, you can always come back home"
  • Hidden Track "I hope you notice that I am still in love with you. Yes I, I'm coming over tonight. I hope you notice I was never over you."
The Spill Canvas, From San Francisco
  • Whiskey Dream Kathleen "To my babygirl in the picture, could you pass along that I miss her? I know you're still in there somewhere".
  • The Meds "don't get me wrong I think about you all the time, that doesn't mean I enjoy you spoiling my mind"
  • To Chicago "At one point I thought maybe I should warn her. But such information is reserved for our dark corners".
Taylor Swift, Red
  • I Knew You Were Trouble "And the saddest fear comes creeping in...that you never loved me, or her, or anyone, or anything."
  • I Almost Do "I bet it never, ever occurred to you that I can't say hello to you and risk another goodbye"
  • All Too Well "And you call me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest. I'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here, cuz I remember it all too well"

15 Songs Not Previously Listed That I Really Freaking Liked This Year. No judging allowed.
15. Nicki Minaj- Pound The Alarm
14. Ellie Goulding- Lights
13. Justin Bieber- Boyfriend
12. Carly Rae Jepsen- Call Me Maybe
11. Taylor Swift- Eyes Open
10. Phillip Philips- Home
9. Adele- Skyfall
8. Kelly Clarkson-Dark Side
7. Kelly Clarkson- Stronger
6. The Lumineers- Ho Hey
5. Carrie Underwood- Blown Away
4. David Guetta feat Sia- Titanium
3. Of Monsters and Men- Little Talks
2. Gotye- Somebody That I Used To Know
1. Kelly Clarkson- Catch My Breath

Monday, December 17, 2012

teachers are heroes

I am not a teacher, but I know a few. I know young and old teachers, those who teach in the inner city and those who teach in upper class suburbs. Some teach little ones, others high school.  And I can tell you this: Every teacher I know is a hero.

We all know the job of a teacher. Their job is to spread knowledge to the kids, prepare them for life. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Being a teacher is like being a parent. These lives are in your hands. Everyone remembers their teachers growing up- whether you liked them or not, you can probably admit that they made some sort of impact on your life. That's not an easy task. You always have to be on your game, ready to answer questions, to be patient, to be honest. And if you have one bad day, one bad HOUR, people attack you. Teachers are the number one source of knowledge for our kids.

Do you know that most teachers work over 50 hours a week? They come in the classroom early, leave late. They grade papers in the evening and on weekends and heck sometimes even go into their classroom on the weekend to get it ready for the week. And yet, the profession has one of the lowest paying salaries.

And guess what? They don't just teach the basic subjects or extracurriculars. They teach about life.   They lead by example, giving kids the chance to have a role model. They push kids to try their hardest, never give up, aim higher, set goals.

I am telling you all of this because I can pretty much promise that today, December 17th, was one of the hardest days in a teacher's life. The Newtown tragedy is very, very fresh in our minds and hearts and millions of children are stepping into school very scared. And it will be up to the teachers to comfort them and to answer their questions. They don't have to, of course. They could ignore it and go about their day. But they won't, because they are teachers, and because they care a whole lot about your kids. They are invested. They would go to the ends of the earth to see them succeed and to protect them.  God bless you, teachers.

I want to end by sharing some personal stories about a few teachers that I know. I can name every teacher I've ever had, I probably have a story for each of them. But I have four I want to tell you about today.

Mrs. Carolin
I bet you didn't see that one coming, did ya. So Mrs. Carolin is this teacher I know. She teaches second grade at St. Hugo and has for sixteen years. She's pretty extraordinary, if I do say so myself. There are a couple of things that make her so special. First and foremost is she really fricken cares about the kids. I don't know how else to say that eloquently. I know this is a fact because I lived with the lady for fourteen years of her teaching at Hugo and have heard the stories of every single student that have passed through her classroom. I know this because several times she has been the contact person in the face of a tragedy. I know this because I can't step foot near St. Hugo's campus without someone stopping me to tell me how wonderful she is. Another reason she's so special is her teaching method. She's unique in that she has her old school way of thinking, but is also incredibly innovative. She's had to adapt to technology in the classroom and now she uses it more than I do. She uses a format called Workshop that teaches kids skills and information, but allows them to work at a pace that works best for them- because Mrs. Carolin is one of those teachers that knows not every kid learns the same way. I have sat in her classroom before, both as a student and as a visitor. But I'm the lucky one who got to have her as my mom, too. I have seen the hard work she puts into her students and her work. I know how late she works, how sometimes her bones ache from all the emotion and demands. But I also know that she wouldn't choose to be anywhere else but in A-1, teaching those kids. And that's why she's a hero.

Mrs. Currier
 Mrs. Currier was my English/Literature teacher in 7th Grade at St. Hugo. Let me set the scene for you a little bit and give you an insight on 11/12 year old Megan. I was shy. I had a solid group of friends but was not one of the "popular" girls by any means. In fact I actually HAD been friends with them at some point, but somewhere between sleepovers, soccer games, and spelling bees, they decided I wasn't cool enough for them anymore. But that's not the point. The point is, I always saw myself as average. I did alright in school, getting a's and b's, I just never saw myself as extraordinary  or as having any kind of talent. Mrs. Currier was the first person to change that. She was passionate about reading and writing, and that passion somehow was passed along to me. I  fell in love with words. She was tough, trying to prepare us for high school, but I also remember how compassionate and enthusiastic she was, cheering each of us on and encouraging us to do our best. Mrs. Currier helped me to discover a whole new world of learning. I remember specifically one project where we had to pick our favorite song and write a paper about the lyrics. I cannot for the life of me remember which song I picked (which probably makes this story a bit of a let down), but I do remember how intrigued I was by my classmates choices and their presentations. Mrs. Currier is still teaching 7th grade at St. Hugo, and I cannot tell you how excited that makes me for those kids. They are getting a rich education, and discovering strengths they never knew that they had.

Mr. Schusterbauer
My Junior year English teacher at Mercy. (See a theme here?). Good ole Schuste. I had him first hour for Lit Into Film. I was terrified at first. He had a reputation of being tough- but also hilarious. I wasn't the kind of student that spoke up in class, and I was always worried he'd call on me out of the blue. But from day one of stepping my 16 year old self into that classroom, I was mesmorized. If Mrs. Courier gave me my love for writing, Schuste reinforced it. Talk about passion, he had more passion for English and writing than anyone I've ever met to this day. He was poetic, and had a beautiful unique view on the world that he willingly shared with us. I feel like being able to have him as a teacher is like being a member of a secret club. If you've sat in his classroom you know that I'm talking about- we were spoiled with knowledge. That class was special. We learned techniques, themes, skills, and lessons that I would have never known otherwise. In a way I think I grew up a little bit in that class. It hit me, after the class was over, that we had the ability, the opportunity, to live our life the way we wanted. When I went away to college and had my freshman English class, I was amazed by my classmates and their lack of basic writing skills. Not only did I get that as a young student, but it was pounded into our heads at Mercy. I thank Schuste for the opportunity to be a student in his classroom. He is retired now, but he continues to spread his wisdom through poetry.

Mrs. Kowalski
So now that you know all about my love for English and writing, you can hear about my disgust for math. I hated math. I had it in my head that I wasn't good at math, and therefore didn't try very hard. I would pretty much hold my breath through all my math classes growing up, waiting for the bell to ring so that I could escape. In high school I suffered through, got c's, and rejoiced every spring when it was over and I didn't have to think about math all summer. I had Mrs. Kowalski twice, once freshmen year and then again senior year. I requested her senior year, and that's the year I remember better. I was one of the few seniors in my class, because I had started at the basic level in high school. Mrs. Kowalski understood me, probably more than any other teacher in high school did. She made me sit in the front row. She made me come in during my off hours to study or catch up on homework that I didn't understand. She paired me with a junior who understood it all.  She constantly asked me to put problems on the board so that she could help me figure out where I went wrong. She scared me to death by telling me that I wasn't going to be able to be a Kairos leader if I didn't bring my grade up. She helped me to pass that class. In fact, I think I got higher than a C. She was honest with me, and she was rooting for me. As a senior I was mature enough to know that, even though it seemed like she was being a pain, she was doing her job. She was teaching. She is still teaching math at Mercy and I can pretty much guarantee that she is helping girls like me get by. Thank you, Mrs. Kowalski!

To all the other teachers that made a significant impact on my life, you are a hero, and I appreciate you: Mrs. MacLean (Miss Joyce), Mrs. Leahy, Mrs. Morrow,  Miss Michalik, Mrs. Schrimsher, Madame Campbell,  Miss Desmond (Sorry, you'll always be Miss Desmond to me!).

Go hug a teacher today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

newtown tragedy.

There are a lot of people trying to make sense of today's tragedy. Going through the details, piece by piece. The timeline. The pictures.

I can't do that. I don't even know all the details. Just some numbers. The shooter was 24. 27 people are dead. 20 of them are children.

That's all I really need to know to feel this affected, this broken. I'm not sure what urged me to write this blog, or what it will really entail, I just had to say something.

The Victims.
Stating the obvious...their lives were cut short, tragically. No one should go like that, ever. I have this image of Jesus hugging the kids so tightly, wiping tears from their eyes and telling them they don't have to be afraid anymore. They are angels now, and they will protect other children.

The Survivors/Witnesses
They will never be the same. Memories of this day will be stuck in their minds forever. And it won't be easy. My prayer for the sweet kids AND adults who witnessed this tragedy is that they are somehow able to heal from the pain. That something will keep them going, even on the hardest days. For the teachers who did their absolute best to comfort their students during the tragedy, God bless you. You are heroes. I'm not going to tell you to stay strong because I know right now that seems impossible. I will just pray that you find strength, find hope, find peace.

The Families of the Victims
My words won't mean much but I am so, deeply sorry, and if I could take away the pain and loss that you are feeling and bring back your loved ones, I would. I am sending you all the hugs and prayers that I can muster.

The Rest of Us
We cannot argue over gun laws right now. I have my opinion, and so do you. But fighting over it and spreading hate is not going to solve anything. Stand up for what you believe in without bringing someone else down. The people of Newtown need our prayers, not our nasty comments toward one another. We have to stand together, stand up for each other and be a shoulder to lean on during these hard times. We must teach our children that there is still good in the world and that love conquers hate.

My St. Hugo Family
I could not help but think of you guys immediately after hearing the news. I want you to know how appreciated you are- the kids, the staff, and the parents. You are treasured and you are loved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

the Christmas spirit

I am totally not in the Christmas spirit this year. Which is totally out of character for me. Totally. I just can't bring myself to be cheery and spirited and full of sparkle and snowflakes. I almost smashed my phone in when our work radio station switched to Christmas music. I haven't even watched Elf yet. Or made cookies. Or sent out my Christmas cards. I had to pretty much force myself to buy them today.

My question was WHY. I love Christmas! I have a brand new little nephew who is going to be celebrating his very first Christmas. That in itself should be enough. Why am I so anti-holiday this year?

I had a breakthrough. I realized- I am focusing too much on what I don't have. I worry I don't have enough money to give decent gifts out, I don't have a family of my own or a special someone to share the holidays with.  We don't have any sunlight and haven't for days. I don't have any energy. I don't have enough time. I really really just want an acoustic guitar, but I know that's not happening. 

As soon as I realized I was focusing too much on the things I DON'T have, I began to gain a little more cheer. It's not about what we don't have. It is about celebrating what we do have. I have my health. I have my family and my friends. I have God's love. I have the ability to serve others and to make their day a little brighter. I AM blessed. And darn it, I'm gonna be grateful for it and spread Christmas cheer.

So my two part challenge to myself and to all of you this Christmas: Stop worrying about what you are lacking and enjoy what you have. Maybe you won't get an Ipad this year. It's gonna be okay. Spend time with people that you love, and if you live away from your family and can't afford to go home, write them a letter about how much you love and miss them. Second challenge? Serve others. I don't mean you have to donate all your money, we all know many of us are strapped financially. But participate in a service project at your church or go feed the homeless- and then make a commitment to keep doing that, monthly. The no time thing is not really an excuse for any of us- most organizations will take your help, even if it's just an hour a month. You can set aside an hour a month to serve someone else. Me? I'm going to volunteer at Gilda's Club holiday party (I volunteer there once a month), encourage our youth group kids to pull off a huge service project, and spend some extra time with our hospice patients who don't have any family left. 

Now, I'm going to write my Christmas cards. Totally.

Hugs and Kisses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 somethings

This is dedicated to my fellow 20 somethings. Life for us is miserable and magical at the same time. Oh crap. That’s a Taylor Swift lyric. Don’t you hate how that 22 year old billionaire is always right?  But seriously. T Swizzle, you’re right again. It IS miserable and magical at the same time. 

We are pulled in a thousand different directions. We’re trying to figure it out. We’re trying to forget the mistakes we made in college. We’re trying to build our future. And everyone wants to know our plan. But we don’t have one. We can still laugh for hours at the silliest things but we can also cry at the drop of a hat. We wonder why everyone feels the need to mother us, and the next second we’re begging for someone to mother us. We’re praying that everything will fall into place, preferably before the ke$ha concert because we have 2nd row tickets and that’s the reason we put feathers in our hair. And most of all, we are looking for love. We are looking for our match, someone who has a decent job, doesn't live with mommy and daddy, and ::gasp:: actually treats us well. 

Also, don't you find it kind of ironic that we are supposed to be role models for the youngins' in our life? A coworker of mine wants me to meet her daughter and "knock some sense into her". My youth group kids recently discussed their worries about career goals. I was so amused by that. Here I sit at 25, no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, and these 15 year olds are worried about it? Cripes! I try my best to be a role model to those kids. I know my life may not be exactly the ideal life, but at least I can teach them to be kind to one another.

It’s exhausting, huh?  Is there a solution? I don’t think so. I think we have to find what works best for us. And I think we just have to keep going and to live every day as if it is a new adventure. It’s kind of exciting, to see what surprises are in store for us.  We can do this. One freaking step at a time. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

one month.

Dear Ryan,

Hooray Hooray! You are a month old! Even better news, you are healthy and strong. I am so happy to have you in my life. When I am holding you and your hands reach out, it’s like you are trying to figure out who is holding you, trying to memorize faces with your hands. When you do that, I give those little hands a little kiss. It’s my message back to you, to say, I’m here. Always.

We celebrated thanksgiving this month. Your mommy and daddy came over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I was there too. It was a simple thanksgiving, different than what we are used to. We broke tradition a little bit. We wanted to be with our little turkey. We had fun, the five of us, as we always do. We were all thankful for the same thing: you. You have brought so much joy into our lives, Ryan. We are all head over heels in love with you. We love you unconditionally. We’re learning how to take care of you and you are growing so fast already.

I had a really bad day today, Ryan, on your one month. It was one of those days where nearly everything went wrong. I cried, hard, in front of people at my job, which I never do. I always hold it together in front of them. But today I couldn't. And you know what? They cared. They hugged me, told me it was going to be okay, and asked how they could help. I knew I worked with cool people, but I didn't realize what good friends they could be, too. And you know what else? What gave me peace? Seeing a picture of you. Your daddy sent me a picture of you in a onesie that I had bought you, it has a dinosaur on it and says My Aunt loves Me. It was so cute and you looked adorable. And it reminded me that what I am going through right now won’t matter in 1, 5, 10 years. That it is temporary. That I can do this. I have faith. I have faith because of you, Ryan. You are the reason I know that I can keep going. You are our little gift from God. So thank you, sweet pea.

I just want to be sure you know how much we love you. I will tell you that over and over, so get used to it. Because love means home and you should know you always have a home.

Happy One Month, Little Guy. Little Ry Fry. Love you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thank you.

I realize it's the time of night on thanksgiving where everyone is cuddled up in sweats watching movies on the couch, promising to never eat a bit of food again. And maybe everyone is over the whole holiday in general. But if you have an ounce of thanksgivingness (yes, Mom, I know that's not a word) left in you, this blog is for you.

This is my favorite holiday. I love that it's about family, friendship, and gratitude. I'll admit this year I wasn't feeling it too much at first. I just haven't been in the holiday mood lately. And I'm surrounded by people who are celebrating love. So I gave myself about 30 minutes today of self pity, and then I dusted myself off and turned that into positivity. Because I really truly believe that if you are gracious and thankful, good things will come to you. So there's no need to sit around and be sad about the things you don't have. That's not what this day is about. It's about being thankful for what is in your life, not what's missing. So for us single folks let us have hope and faith that God is ready to introduce us to that special someone at the perfect moment.

In other news, I do have a lot to be grateful for this year. First, foremost and always I am thankful for my sweet family who make me laugh, protect me, guide me, teach me, and support me through it all. Lord knows this year has not been easy, but they have been there for me at each step. I am thankful for my friends who do the same, and who know exactly what to do when I am in crisis mode. I am thankful for the coworkers who keep me sane, who understand me with a simple look and who have taught me to be a more confident me and a more passionate me. I am thankful for the Sisters of Mercy who have enriched my spiritual life and given me hope and purpose. I am thankful for Melinda and the backups for being an open, compassionate group of people who love music as much as I do and who support each other from a distance. I am thankful for music, as it is the one thing that is constant in my life, the one thing that brings me through each day. I am thankful for my love of writing as it fuels and energizes me. I am thankful for my freedom, for a job, a house, the hope for a better future. I am thankful that my doctors figured out why I was so tired and that they took care of me during my tonsillectomy. I am thankful for sunshine and bright skies, laughter, hugs, white wine, my dog Seamus, and for pumpkin spice lattes.

Above all of these things I am thankful for my baby nephew Ryan Michael. If you haven't already heard, he's the cutest, sweetest little boy in the whole wide world. He has brought so much joy to my life and to my family and now I can't imagine life without him. I am thankful for the opportunity to see him grow, to love him unconditionally.

I am thankful that I took tomorrow off and can sleep all day.

Love love love.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sr Mary Jo

 A few days ago I got an email that informed me that Sister Mary Jo's health was declining rapidly, and that she wasn't expected to make it through the weekend. I tried to prepare myself. She really didn't want visitors, so I didn't push it. I just prayed.

So tonight when I got the news, right after I had been running around my kitchen screaming over the fantastic Taylor Swift performance, I was surprised that I was so taken aback.  I had been ready for this. Wanted it, even, so that she could go peacefully. And yet I still felt that heaviness on my heart, that nervous breakdown type feeling everyone gets when they hear of a loss. I couldn't concentrate on anything, I just sat on my floor and did what I had to do- passed the word along. And prayed some more. And now, I let out my thoughts on paper.

Everyone has a mentor. I've had several. A friend, a family member, a teacher, and idol. They have come and gone throughout the years and they have shaped me into the person I am today.Three years ago I began a year of volunteer service though Mercy Volunteer Corps, a catholic volunteer organization hosted through Americorps. I was placed in Detroit at a high school. MVC is sponsored through the Sisters of Mercy, who are a group of extremely intelligent, compassionate women who have founded their own organizations and helped and healed hundreds of people.

My very first day in Detroit as an MVC-er I met Sr. Mary Jo. Instantly I was drawn to her. She was quiet, but said so much with her eyes. Sweet, genuine, loving. We were told that she had been diagnosed with cancer and was fighting strong. Mary Jo lived on the opposite end of the state, but she was our community resource person- we went to her for everything. And she became my mentor, she became my friend. She took the idea of "love in action" seriously. She did everything with love and kindness. She lived simply and beautifully.

I remember very clearly the day that Mary Jo and I started to form a close relationship. She was in town to help us out with stuff, and she offered to drive me to the pharmacy to pick up and pay for my medication that was not covered by my insurance. In our short drive to and from the store, we had this amazing conversation. The words just came out so easily- we shared a lot about ourselves. It then became a tradition of sorts- she drove me every month to pick up my medication and we’d continue our conversation wherever we left off the last time- plus we e-mailed each other often. And when Laurence died——no one else comforted me more than Mary Jo. Our retreat as a community was shortly after he passed, and at one point during the retreat I joined Mary Jo, alone, on a couch in one of the rooms. We were silent for a few moments, and then she said “He is with you, Megan”. I looked at her and she was shedding a tear. I held her hand and said “I know”. And then she read me a prayer from a mercy book about finding hope in grief.

My year with MVC ended in July 2010, but we have continued to e-mail back and forth...and every time she came into town for a meeting, we set aside time to have our chats. My face lit up when I would see her waiting for me in the lobby. We would go for a walk around the facility or eat dinner in the cafeteria, and she always lifted me up with her wisdom and encouragement. What Mary Jo probably never knew was that one of the main reasons I became an associate was because of her. I wanted to be more like her. She gave me so much confidence in myself and made me really feel like Mercy was in my bones and in my heart. She made me feel like Mercy was home.

Now that she is gone I will keep her in my heart. I will remember how she lived her life, and I will keep that in mind with each step I take. I am sad, struck by grief and wrapping my head around this loss. But I am pleased to know she is in the arms of God. I have to believe there is a very special place in heaven for her. Somewhere she can walk around as she loves to do, and where she can pull up a chair next to Catherine McAuley and enjoy a comfortable cup of tea. Sprinkle Mercy down on us, Mary Jo.

Rest in peace, Mary Jo. Thank you.

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” ~ Gandhi

Saturday, November 17, 2012

happy birthday sam!

There is a girl in Niles MI who is celebrating her birthday today. And I should be there. Because that's what best friends do. As I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure we've ever missed a birthday celebration with each other before? Except maybe my 24th birthday, when I went to Indy and she did not come with me. But other than that, we've pretty much been there for each other's birthdays since 2007. But unfortunately there's just too many things happening in my life right now, I can't take a trek out there.

But the good news, I can still celebrate her. Because she deserves to be celebrated. Because she is the kind of person who celebrates everything, the kind of person who dances through life with a smile on her face. She lives passionately. Everything and everyone matters to her.She's the kind of person who is moved by art, specifically music. She likes to listen to people more than she talks, so that she can gain a better understanding of them. She pays attention to the little, but important, details.

Sam, Friendships are hard. They take work. Sacrifice. But ours is pretty simple. I guess it's because we care too much to let silly things get in the way. I know we always joke that "we are the same person" but really, we have  a lot of differences. That's what makes this friendship so great and so unique. I laugh when people say our friendship is only based off American Idol. If they only knew. If they only knew that we are better than that. I think people forget we were friends before we learned our mutual love for that show. We became friends the instant we met. I latched onto you and your fiery personality. Your love for Idol was only an extra added plus. The fact that we are both so fueled and energized by music is something we share, yes, but it is not all that we share. You are the one who was there for me when my world came crashing down, you are the one who knew why I was heartbroken when a stupid boy changed his mind and forgot about me. You have been there for it all, and you have supported me through the ups and the downs. That is what friendship is.

You and I have been through our share of sadness and heartbreak, that's for sure. Life hasn't always been fair and we've lost a lot of people. I think that's what has made us even closer. One day we'll make it. One day we'll each find our perfect man and we won't have to deal with these stupid guys anymore. One day we'll get what we deserve.

So happy birthday Sam,  raise a glass tonight and know that we are lucky to have you . All of us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

sometimes the best of us give up on love, but it's never gone

I know, too many facebook/blog posts from me recently. I'm taking over your feeds. Sorry.

I' m trying to write a blog every few days to keep my writing fresh. Hard to believe I've had this blog since 2009 and still coming up with things I want to say to the internet.

First of all, please keep the St. Hugo/UofD community in your prayers. There was another tragic loss over the weekend when a young man who graduated from both schools committed suicide. Many of the students in my youth group knew him. Although I didn't know him, my heart broke when I heard the news. It broke for his family and his friends, it broke for our community. But mostly, it broke for the kids in my youth group. This is one of several tragedies that have occurred in the past year, all of which are closely tied with students in my group. I just feel so helpless. I wish I could fix it, take away all the pain. I know loss happens, but these have all been tragic, traumatic, devastating losses. They shouldn't have to witness so much hate and pain. To Morgan, I know that you are now free from your inner destruction and safely in God's loving arms. May you now rest peacefully.

To everyone else, Don't let today pass you by without telling the people in your life how much you love and cherish them. Know that you are worthy, you are loved, you are special and you are here for a reason. Reach out to those around you who seem to be fading. Take care of yourself and those around you. Be a shining example of God's love.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I really do love the kids in the youth group. I just... I appreciate them. I appreciate their young wisdom and their jokes. I appreciate the way they care about each other, even if they have an odd way of showing it. I am happy to spend every Sunday evening with them so that I can check in with them. I care about them and want them to do well- mostly because all of them have the total potential to rock this world. I'm proud of them. And it hurts that they have been through too much tragedy.

As for me I'm hanging in there. Feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, both of happy and sad things. Sad for this tragedy, that people are leaving my company, that my favorite Sister of Mercy is dying, that I'm not sure I can travel to the west side for my bff's birthday party. Sad that I am drowning in bills. Happy that my little nephew is now two weeks old and that he lives close enough for me to visit often. Happy that I continue to build relationships with people at my work. Happy that I am alive and breathing.

We're all going to make it. Onward.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

tightrope walker

Something has happened, dudes. Something I didn't see coming. I guess it's been slowly building up for the past year and a half. But it hit full force.

I really, really care about my coworkers. Even the ones I don't particularly like.

How did that happen? I'm not sure. I mean I've made some great friends at work. But it hit me yesterday as I walked up and down the hallways giving away tissue paper made flowers just how much I really CARE about them. I worry if they look upset, I jump to help them if they are having issues with their computer or tablet. I hope that they have a good day and a relaxing weekend. I hate that they work too much.

When I first started this job I was terribly shy. In some ways I still am. But mostly, I have grown out of that. I have gained confidence, enthusiasm, and, most importantly, I have gained several important relationships.

It would be silly to name my coworkers who have become my close friends. I don't want to leave anyone out, and there's too many. They know who they are. But let's just say they all fill a different purpose. Some act as my "work moms". Some annoy the daylights out of me. Some I turn to when nothing else is going right. Some I go to for laughs, encouragement, eye rolls. One has become one of my best friends. One is my best friend and has been since we were five. And one is the gal I can talk to about Taylor Swift, boys, and Constant Comment tea.

I have so much respect for my coworkers. We have a difficult job. Every single day we are working with people who are dying. We work with their families who are fragile. We go into nursing homes and assisted livings, all of which have a totally different system and personality. Our work is difficult. Challenging. Frustrating. Heartbreaking. But they are amazing. Caring. Beautiful. Strong. Compassionate. Some of them don't even know how great they are, how many lives they touch. How much they are appreciated. My life has been significantly impacted over the past year and a 1/2 by knowing these people. So at the end of the day, when I'm tired and frustrated, I keep in mind how lucky I am to be surrounded by such people.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

sweet perfection

I have a ton of bills to pay this week, my car is acting up even though the mechanic found nothing wrong, work has be totally burned out. I hate how dark it is and I'm not ready for winter.

But at this moment, none of that really matters. Those things worry me, but they do not consume me. They don't control me. Because in the end, what really matters are the people whom I surround myself with. And this weekend, I was reminded just how special each of those people really are.

If you've been keeping up with my blog you know that I have been preparing for my associate ceremony or a year now. The ceremony was on Friday night, and it could not have gone better. When I was on the altar I looked out into the crowd and there were my family and friends, listening intently and watching as I read my covenant statement and signed the papers. Sisters, associates, and others friends and family filled up the rest of the chapel. It's hard to pinpoint my favorite moment of the actual ceremony. It all happened so fast. One second I was praying I didn't drop my candle the next it was all over.

When it was over, I stood on the altar for a few moments with a few of the other brand spankin new associates. Sisters approached us with hugs and smiles. Pictures were snapped here and there. I broke free after a few minutes and ran to my best friend Alicia, who traveled all the way from Chicago just to witness my ceremony. Then we all gathered in the dining room, and there, around one big table, sat my family (minus my sister and Dave), my aunt mary ann, my three best friends, and my boys Dave and Dean. I couldn't have been happier. Sisters and associates kept approaching, handing me cards or giving me a shoulder squeeze or a hug to say congratulations. It was beautiful. Everyone had a smile on their face. My sister in law looked at me at one point and just said "I love this place. It's so happy". Yep. That is exactly why I love it, too. It completes me.

The rest of the weekend was just as wonderful. It was spent lounging and laughing with the family, shopping with Sam and  Sara, and loving on our perfect little Ryan.

Before Sara and JP left this afternoon, Sara told me that she and JP were having a conversation in the car about my friends. Sara said she was impressed by my circle of friends, that they were all good people with a solid foundation, that she really admired that. Allegedly  my brother's response was "Maybe Megan attracts those kind of people"

Can we get an awwwwwwwwww? :) How sweet. I'm not sure how I am so lucky to have such good friends, but Sara made me realize just how grateful I am for them. And not just for the ones who were with us Friday evening, but for all my friends who truly love and support and encourage me. That includes coworkers, backups, and other family members.  I'm lucky. I am blessed. And I am grateful.

And. I'm an associate. Word.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little King

"All I know is a simple name, and everything has changed......."

Those lyrics are taken from the new Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran duet "Everything Has Changed". And while the song is meant to be a sweet love song, a song about finding someone new who changes everything, it works for today.

Because today, all I know is that a little 6lb, 1.3 oz boy named Ryan came into my life, and everything has changed. When I walked into my sister's hospital room and saw his face, I was so overwhelmed with love that I felt like I could melt right there. I've seen a lot of babies before, but no one has stolen my heart like this Little King. He's perfect in every single way. His arms are long, so he'll grow to be strong. His eyes are the perfect shade of blue, and when he opens them you can see that they are full of wonder and curiosity. His skin is this adorably perfect shade of pink. His hands reach out for the sky. His hair is sandy brown. He is gorgeous  And he's my nephew. I haven't stopped smiling since I first laid eyes on him.

So Happy Birthday, Ryan, you sweet boy. We are all so excited to have you here. I was ironing my pants for work when my phone rang. I threw the iron down, ran to get my phone, and saw it was your mommy. "You have a nephew" she said. "Ryan Michael". My stomach did a billion flips, I said a prayer of gratitude that you and mommy were healthy, and then I called into work. I had more important things to do- like meet you! Your Grandma and I went shopping, and then headed to the hospital. Oh Ryan, you are so perfect! There are so many people for you to meet, so many memories to be made. There are so many things I want to talk to you about. There are so many things I am dying to learn about you. But mostly, I'm just really glad you're here. October 30th. What a perfect day for you to choose to come into our lives. The air is cold and windy, and there are so many world disasters and traumas happening around us. But we have you now, our joyful little guy, to remind us of the important things in life. So, thank you for coming. I love you Ryan! Happy Birthday!

And to my sweet sister and brother in law, congratulations. I am so proud, so happy for you both. I know this has been a long road, but he is here now, and he is perfect. And you will be amazing parents. Get some rest, and know we are all surrounding you with love and peace.

World, meet Ryan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"you're doing WHAT?"

November 2nd is a really big day for me. It's the day I make my commitment as an associate for the Sisters of Mercy. I have been preparing for this for about a year, doing different readings, being mentored by the amazing Sr. Karen, going to spiritual direction. Just soaking up all things Mercy and preparing to make it official, to say to the Sisters "I am ready to walk this journey with you as your companion and friend". 

I realize that a lot of you have no idea what this really means. But to me, its one of the most important things I've ever done in my life, and it will be one of my proudest moments.

I am going to answer some of the questions I've been getting about this whole process.

What exactly is an associate?
Per the website, An associate member of the Sisters of Mercy is a woman or man who agrees to share the Mercy community life and mission in the tradition of Catherine McAuley through ministry, prayer, study, retreats, celebrations and bonds of friendship. Joined together, Associates and Sisters of Mercy strive to support one another through prayer, participation in community life, and service to those with whom they live and work.

Why are you doing this?
Think of the place that you love the most, where you feel the most comfortable and are the most at peace and at home. For me, I have two places. One is my parents house, and the second is 11 mile and middlebelt.  Mercy's campus. Mercy is a part of me. I went to a Mercy High School where I was deeply influenced by our president, Sr Regina. She was so gentle and sweet, and took the opportunity to actually know and care about the students. I saw how much good she did, I saw how genuine she was in each action and interaction. Then I did a year of volunteer service through Mercy Volunteer Corps, where I not only was revitalized in my spirituality but I was surrounded by Sisters of Mercy, who were, plain and simple, doing the work of Jesus Christ. And they did it with a smile on their face and opened the arms to everyone with whom they came in contact with. These women, these educated, dedicated, compassionate women, are so amazing. I brag about them all the time, talking about their accomplishments and works of compassion. I can't just talk about it as if I'm not a part of it, as if it's something I barely know anything about. Mercy is a part of me, it runs in my blood. To just walk away from that would be unjust. I belong there. And not only that, but I have a desire to be like those women. But since I also have a desire to be married and have children, I know becoming a sister is not for me. Being an associate gives me the opportunity to walk closely with these women, to pray with them, to encourage them as they encourage me. It is not only a promise but a bound relationship. Does that explain it well enough? I feel like I never can quite put it into words. I just. I just know that this is what I want to do.

Once you're an associate, what happens next?
That's a darn good question and one that I have spent the last few weeks discerning. To me being an associate is more than just showing up for an event every once in a while. It is truly being with the sisters in prayer and service (and also fun! those gals can have a good time!) There may be opportunities to put some of my gifts to use. For example, I am so very passionate about the importance and power of mentoring. I also (clearly) love the Sisters and think they have so much wisdom to offer. So I'd love for there to be more of a connect between the sisters and the students at the high school. We'll see where this journey takes me, what comes to me. 

So as I spend the next week and a 1/2 in the final preparation of my ceremony, I ask that you say a quick prayer. Ask me questions- I sometimes get frustrated because it's so hard to explain, but I like talking about it and about my passion for Mercy.

I love you all and I want you to know that if you are reading this, it is likely that you have played a huge role in my life and in my spirituality, and for that I am most grateful.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

aunt megan

I am sitting here. on a cold Saturday evening, cuddled up in blankets at my parents house. I am watching youtube videos, writing and editing my Laurence book, and waiting anxiously for Saturday Night Live to come on.

I just looked down at the date. October 20th. And it hit me. I am going to be an aunt in roughly 15 days. Cue panic mode. And by panic, I mean excitement. But, yeah, also a little bit of worry. I want to be a good aunt. And being that it is my first time, I don't know how. I even googled "how to be a good aunt". (Good ole google!)

I also started thinking about my own aunts, and the qualities in them that I admire. But that made me a little sad, because, if I'm being totally honest, there is only one aunt that I would actually call up and talk to, and that is my Aunt Maryann. It's not that I don't love the rest of them, I just have not had many close relationships with my aunts. But I do have precious memories of almost all of them. Sleepovers and family bbq's at Aunt Tucky's, perfect Thanksgiving dinners at Aunt Linda's, Aunt Marty always buying me books. Playing in Aunt Pat's basement with her dollhouse, Florida and Christmas dinners with Aunt Terry. I could go on and on, but my point is, they are all special in their own ways. I have just grown apart from most of them.

I don't want that to happen with my little niece or nephew. I want them to be able to call me, when they are 25 and I'm 45. I want them to be able to tell me when they are in trouble, or share good news with me, or ask me for my advice. More than anything, I want them to know that I am here for them. That our bond won't be broken despite what time or distance does. That I love them, unconditionally.

I want to be the kind of aunt that is just there. I know it sounds simple, but it's something I wish I had more with my aunts. I want to be the aunt that sends a card just because, visits just because, actually attends the kids school plays and soccer games. The dependable aunt, who is also fun, a little nerdy and awkward, who is not afraid to tell that kid how special they are...and to give them a goofy nickname that only we understand.

I cannot wait to meet my little niece or nephew in roughly 15 days. I can't wait to begin to build our relationship. I just can't wait.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The good in goodbye

Saying goodbye can sometimes be tough. It usually means moving on and letting someone or something go, usually someone or something that we love very much. Sometimes goodbyes are forced, other times it is a choice.

There can be good in goodbye. That's something I've had to learn very fast in my twenties; that change is okay. Friends grow apart. Life happens. You don't need to hold onto every little thing, especially those things  that are toxic.

I spent some time tonight thinking about what, in my life, right now, do I need to let go of. This is this list I created.

There is no point in putting things off. Life moves too fast, opportunities slip away too quickly if we make excuses. We've got to say goodbye to them. They don't do any good except hold us back. You have this moment, right now, to do something, so use it wisely.

People Who Bring Us Down
I have never once understood when my friends go back, willingly, to the people that hurt them.But then I realized I do that sometimes too. Oops. I always tell people "You don't have to stick around someone who makes you feel like crap. You are worth so much more than that". I need to take that to heart as well.  It's time to say goodbye to those people and put those battles to rest.

Filling our lives with THINGS, not PEOPLE
This one is harder because we live in such a material world, where we have to get the latest thing instantly. But if there's one thing my job has taught me it's that what matters most in this world is your relationship with other people, not what phone you have or your shoes. Say goodbye to desires that don't matter, and hello to more home cooked dinner dates with friends and family.

Working Too Much
t. It makes us cranky and tired and sick. And then we push people away because we just need a night to ourselves and to stop working. I personally, since Saturday, have already worked 46 hours this week. It's only Wednesday. I still have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to go. Megan, say goodbye to working too much and hello to having more time to be a normal 25 year old girl. At the end of the day, work tasks can wait. Family, friends, and self are much more important, despite what society tells you.

Worrying goes you know good. Things will work out the way they are supposed to, like they have before. There are people in your life who love and support you, no matter what. Say goodbye to fears and anxieties, and hello to acceptance and responsibility.

I know, that if I make a conscious effort to say goodbye to those five things, that I will live and breathe easier. I will be happy. And, when recently asked what I want most in this world, my response was "to be happy".

Friday, October 12, 2012

Catch my breath, won't let them get me down, it's all so simple now

This week, beginning on Tuesday, I challenged myself to keep track of the positive things that happened. I refused to let negativity get the best of me. Enjoy.

October 9th
-Had volunteer orientation at Gilda's Club, a cancer support center. I will be working the front desk and/or children s playroom once a month, plus possibly hosting a writing workshop for teens. It's an amazing atmosphere and I felt energized after my orientation. I like the flexibility in the volunteer schedule.
-My Aunt Mary Ann called me and gave me the name and email address for the campus minister at UofM, thinking it might be a good connection for me. Mary Ann and I also had a nice little chat on the phone :) 
-Ran into someone who used to work at Make A Wish Foundation and who knew of Laurence. 
-Starbucks with two of my coworkers during our lunch break.
-Cuddling under a blanket with the Pitch Perfect soundtrack on repeat.
- This email from my coworker: "There is a big world out there for you to explore. I hope that soon you can afford to travel and buy things for yourself and have time for fun! You have to take care of yourself. You are so smart and talented and young! I am sitting with the tv on tcm- there is an old silent move on that I am not watching but the music is lovely. Not always in the mood for something like this but it is calming me down somehow. Just a weird tidbit! Oh I get sidetracked easily don't I?????

October 10th
-Snacking on almonds, drinking coffee, and giggling over silly stuff with my coworker Jill. Started the day off right.
-Lunch in an abandoned office with Christine
-Phone call from my friend Jena that I probably would have ignored a few days ago, but today, I was excited and energized and wanted to talk to her.
-Listening to Kelly Clarkson's new single "Catch My Breath". Again and again and again.

October 11th
Honestly most of this day is a blur, but the positive thing is the most important
-Sitting around my work bff Maggies kitchen table with Carol and Christina, chatting about work and life, eating pizza. But the best part was meeting Maggie's newborn baby, a sweet sweet little boy who is absolutely precious and beautiful. I could not help but stare at him and watch Maggie cuddle him. I am so happy for her. I can't stop thinking about that little peanut. It was a perfect evening and I am beyond blessed with good friends at work and that I was able to meet Mr. Little Guy. Plus, it made me even more excited for my future niece/nephew who arrives in just a few weeks!

October 12th
-Laughing hysterically to myself in my office relating Mean Girls quotes to my work life. "That's why her pony tail is so high, it's full of secrets". Even better were the looks from my coworkers outside my office  watching me giggle uncontrollably.
-Visiting a married couple on our hospice service who have been married 72 years. Their love for one another was so evident. I hope I can find a love like that.
-Running into two of my coworkers at one of our buildings (a nurse and an aide) and just stepping back to watch them as they interacted with patients. It was beautiful.
-Catching up on all the TV shows I missed this week.

It's the weekend. I work tomorrow, but it's a volunteer training and I enjoy those. Sunday I have a retreat reunion from the retreat I went on last spring, and then youth group. So it won't be much of a relaxing weekend, but I'm looking forward to it and to being surrounded by good people.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I love fall so much I just wanna snuggle it and never let it go. I love the changing leaves, pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING, the crisp weather, cuddling up in hoodies and fleece pants, cider mills. I even love haunted houses and horror movies. But I hate Halloween.

I don't know if I've always hated Halloween or not. I'm sure I loved going trick or treating with my friends and swapping candy with my siblings. But dressing up? No thanks. There's so much pressure to have the BEST costume. It's totally nerve wracking. You don't want to be that kid that has a bad costume. You have to be unique and extroverted and totally confident in yourself and your costume. I hold none of those characteristics.

I really started to hate Halloween in college. Halloween was just an excuse for people to get totally drunk, wear little clothing and try to out skank each other. Totally not cute. Costumes for older women are all the same: gross. Unless you are creative and can avoid that route...which, again, I am not.

Do I have a bad memory associated with Halloween? yes. Yes I do. I was abandoned by friends in college. The night did not end well. It didn't really start well either. That one night caused an entire collapse of friendships for me. So when I think of Halloween, I think of that night. Talk about scary.

Ever since then, I avoid it as best as I can. The next two years in college I went home for Halloween. I passed out candy to the kids in my parents neighborhood. I wanted no part of the excessive partying. I've managed to pretty much avoid it every year since then, too, except the year I did MVC. But that was different, because my friends actually shared the same values as I did, and I felt comfortable enough around them to dress up and participate. (I was a teeny bopper.)

I've avoided it again the past two years, again passing out candy at my parents house while Psycho played in the background and I sipped on my apple cider. I like seeing the little kids costumes. I like when my moms students come to the door and ask for her. It's precious. Halloween is for kids, if you ask me.

But this year, my dear friend Alex is having a Halloween party. Now I'm really at a crossroads. I love Alex, and I miss him. We never get a chance to hang out anymore. So YEAH, count me in, we'll have a blast! But then- it's a Halloween party. Costumes mandatory. Really Alex. Why you gotta do that? So I started looking at costumes online and my sweet sweet lord. The costumes got shorter and I want to be Sophia Grace, that little child rap princess on Ellen. But do you know how hard it is to find an "adult princess costume" that's not skanky? So then I think...okay. I'll just be a hipster. It's easy and I can get my entire costume at salvation army. (Ironically, of course). But is that good enough? I also thought about being Katniss Everdeen, but that's pretty much the costume of the year. So much PRESSURE!

But I am not going to avoid Halloween this year. I'm going to challenge myself. I'm going to the party. I'm gonna have fun. And no one will stop me.

PS: For real though, what should I be for Halloween? Ha!

Friday, October 5, 2012

love actually is all around us

This week, I was reminded that love actually is all around us (Love Actually). Here are the examples.

Sometimes it takes a really good friend to grab you by the arm, look you in the eye, and say "you're not happy". That's exactly what happened to me this week. I thought I was fooling my friends at work, laughing and joking and being my normal happy go lucky self at our meeting. But then one of my sweet friends, Carol, stopped me in the hallway, grabbed me, and said "Megan. You're not happy. What's wrong". She was right. That day, I had a horrible morning, and was trying to put it aside to concentrate on my other tasks. The day prior, another horrible day, with emotions running high and tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. It had just been a series of bad days, cranky attitudes, high demands, and pressure. I was crumbling, and Carol could see it.

We're often so afraid to reach out and help someone. We see them struggling but we just pass it off. assuming someone else will take care of it or that that person is just having a bad day. But it's not always just a bad day. Sometimes they need you to show that you care. That you notice.

I was so grateful that she did that, because I could take a giant sigh of relief and say "you're right. I'm not. And here's what is wrong". I didn't have to hold it all in anymore, I could just let it out and vent. and she listened. Not only did she listen, but she gave me encouragement. Then she took it a step further by sending me an e-mail that evening, saying that she was thinking of me and hoping things turned out better.

Example 2. That same day I crumbled and was called out by my friend, I was on my drive home from work and needed to talk to someone who understood. So I called my good friend, Tierra, who used to work with me. And boy, did I let her have it. She was such a good listener, she made me laugh and she reminded me to pray and turn it over to God. That's love.

Example number 3. I put up a facebook post about how I wasn't feeling well, and several people commented telling me to get better. That's love. One of those people, Christina, another coworker of mine, e-mailed me the next day,  a short but sweet message saying she hoped I was feeling better and to let her know how she could help. That's love.

And finally, the greatest act of love of all. My beautiful friend Maggie gave birth to a little bundle of joy, Alexander. I nearly cried when she sent the picture and have been looking at it every day since to remind me of how precious life is. Maggie's words say it all "He is perfect. I am in love with him". Does that not make you smile like a fool? How sweet. She is going to be a wonderful mom, and I am absolutely overjoyed for her.

What this has taught me is that despite all the ugliness, hate, defeat, and fear that I am facing in my life right now, love still exists. And there is nothing better than knowing that your friends love and care for you.

I heard this song on the way home from my parents house last night; I know I was meant to hear it because it brought me to tears and it describes perfectly how I feel right now. God, I need you now.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

broke, but not broken

Raise your hand if you love weddings.

Hi, my name is Megan, and I have an addiction to weddings. I get all giddy when I talk about them, about my favorite parts of each wedding I've been too. I would go to a wedding every weekend if I could. They are so magical. So full of love.

This past weekend my friend Betsy got married to the love of her life Mike. It was a beautiful wedding, and a great time. To be honest I was a little nervous about going. I didn't know many people going, and I get shy and awkward in front of new people. But it turned out to be a great night. Betsy looked stunning, the weather was perfect, the food was delicious, and the company was a plus. I made so many new friends, I danced the entire night, and  laughed so hard it hurt with my best friend Sam. And, an extra special added plus, I was reunited with my sweet friend Dana. I haven't seen Dana since I was 19 years old. She was a senior at WMU when I was a freshmen, and she was one of my best friends and role models. I have a very special place in my heart for D Rog; I'll never forget what a good friend/big sister she was to me in college. She really made an impact on my life. Loved seeing her, hated saying goodbye again.

There were many hi-lights of the evening, but rather than list of all of them, I gotta say the coolest part is that they are all centered around the same thing: love. Love for Betsy and Mike, the love they have for each other, love for my best friend Sam and for Dana, love of music and dancing, love of making connections with people, love of laughing. I've got the biggest smile on my face just thinking of all the love that surrounded us yesterday and this morning as we shared breakfast and swapped stories of the evening.

I made the trek to Holland solo, so I had plenty of time by myself in the car to just sit and think. (well, and drive). I was a bit sleepier this morning, but on the way there I was totally in tune with my thoughts, my fears, ideas, frustrations. I have a lot going on in my life right now. A lot of worries, a lot of things bringing me down. And it frustrates me to the core that I am stuck here, that as hard as I try I'm still in the same place of general unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I know many of you are saying- then do something about it! I'm trying. But I'm not getting very far. I know I have to place my trust in my faith that everything is going to be okay, that life is unfolding as it should, but then the other side of me doesn't believe that, and freaks out about it. I have to find a happy medium. And I know all of this sounds a bit depressing and confusing, but simply, I am not really where I want to be. I want to be able to buy groceries without worrying that I'll overdraft my account. I want to be able to pay off all my debts and bills. I want to get paid justly for the amount of work that I do. I want to have more time. I want to be more motivated. I want guys to stop being jerks. I want dating to be easier. I want LIFE to be easier. I know, it doesn't work that way. I know, almost every other 20 something is feeling the same way. But that doesn't make it easier or less frustrating.

I'm sorry that I took a happy topic and suddenly turned it into Megan's monthly whine session, but I had to let that out. I know that I have friends and family who read this blog who care deeply for me and are praying for me, and for that I am most grateful. Things are going to get better. They have to. I have to make some changes in my life, many of which are pretty much beyond my control. So I will take a deep breath, work hard, pray, and let God lead me to where I need to be.

Have a good week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

retreat reflection

Tomorrow is Mercy Day, where we celebarate Catherine McAauley and the opening of her House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. I love Mercy day! Time is on my side, because I attended a Mercy retreat this past weekend so Mercy is flowing through brain at high speed right now.

 I almost did not come on the associate retreat. With everything going on in my life, I wasn’t sure that I could add just one more thing to the agenda- I thought I needed a weekend to just be alone.
But something changed when I heard the news of the sweet Sister Mary Jo’s decline. Something inside of me said that I had to go on the retreat. So I registered and squeezed in at the very last moment. Now that the retreat is over, and I’ve had some time to process, I am so very grateful that I had the urge to go.
For the past several weeks, I have been struggling at work with my purpose, or my role. When I tell people I work at hospice, I get “the face”- you know the one- that sad, half smile, half cringe kind of face. And people usually say “you must have a huge heart”. I usually follow that question up with “Oh, I’m just the volunteer coordinator”. Although I enjoy my WORK, I have never thought of what I do as very important….until this weekend.

One of the associates, Bev, was giving a talk and spoke of some of the work Catherine was involved in. She said “Catherine was essentially running a hospice; and she taught people how to make the dying comfortable”. When she said that, my cheeks flushed and my heart pounded a bit. THAT’S WHAT I DO! I wanted to scream – it hit me at that moment, that I am not just recruiting volunteers or training volunteers- I am empowering them to be compassionate people, to care for those that are dying. Looking at it in that sense makes me feel so much better, and a bit more passionate about my work, and ready to go in and do it with a bit more grace.

The other thing I have been thinking about lately is: what exactly will my role be as an associate? What does that really MEAN for me? I don’t want to just show up for events once in a while, I want to really journey with the sisters and associates in Mercy. So this weekend I spent some time discerning that, and thinking about the things that I would like to see strengthened within our mercy community. Two things have continued to come to my mind: 1. A deeper connection between the high school and the sisters of mercy and 2. Alzheimer’s/dementia education at the McAauley center in Farmington hills. Both of these are things that I see as needs, things that I would like to see happen. Since they are consistently on my mind and heart, I am taking that as a bit of a sign/urge/prompt/call to take a lead on them and see where they take me.

I shared this in a large group discussion this morning; but during some reflection time it hit me, in a bit of an overwhelming way, how blessed I am to be a part of this community. Many of my friends and even family do not understand it, and to be honest sometimes it is quite exhausting to try to explain it. But it makes perfect, complete sense to me. Mercy is where I belong. Mercy is home. It has been since the moment I walked through that door on 11 mile and middlebelt as a 14 year old. I have such a deep, deep connection to Catherine McAauley and to the spirit of Mercy that there’s no way I can let it go, and pretend like it is a thing of the past. Because it is very, very present. And I embrace that with open arms. 

This weekend opened my eyes and my heart. I met people who sprinkled a bit of wisdom into my mind, I met people who touched my heart with their outpour of compassion, and I met people who made me laugh so hard my tummy hurt. The associates who led the retreat did a phenomenal job, and I am so glad to call them my friends and my community. 

I cannot wait until November 2nd to make my commitment to walk with the sisters and associates in mercy. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

cmon take a walk with me, take my hand

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about the storm of stress that was about to hit?

Uh. It hit. hard.

No one likes to hear whining. So feel free to ignore this and move on with your life. But my goodness, am I stressed. Work is so busy that there have been mulitple days that I don't even sit at my desk for more than 10 minutes- I'm running around the office, scanning, going into meetings, going out in the field. I've trained 13 volunteers in the past three weeks. I am constantly working, even when I go home for the day- answering emails, returning phone calls, tweaking powerpoints or training exercises. I need to stop that. Then there's financial stress. I haven't been paid in a solid month because of my tonsillectomy. And yet, my bills are doubled because of my tonsillectomy. How is that fair? It's not. So I am just holding my breath until payday on Friday and praying for a bit of a miracle at the same time.

And then there's the people in my life who are struck by illness. I worry for them. My aunt and uncle, both sick, both struggling. My mentor, sister mary jo, who is getting weaker and smaller by the moment. I know that she is going to slip away soon (morbid as that may sound)...and I cannot really accept it yet. She is one of the greatest people I've ever known. I just wrote her a letter that I will be sending off tomorrow morning to her hospital room. I had to let her know how much she means to me.

So, in volunteer training, we get to a chapter on grief and loss. It's always interesting , depending on the group. I have the volunteers do a few exercises to get them comfortable in talking about the losses in their life. But then we shift gears, and we talk about the importance of taking care of yourself. I ask them "what is it you do to unwind, or de stress?"

But I've never really told a group my answer to that. There are actually several things I do, based on what exactly it is going on.

1. Write thank you cards. Yep. This is one of my favorite stress relievers, and usually my go to. It accomplishes two things: writing; and then pouring love and gratitude out to someone who probably needs to hear it. Seeing the smile on their face is an instant pick me up.
2. Music. There are days when I need to just sit in a corner, put my headphones on, and listen to the people who get me the most. It doesn't even really matter the genre. Sometimes I need a little Lil Wayne in my life, sometimes Britney Spears. Whatever works. (And you can read my most recent music reviews here and here
3. Cry. Don't you feel about 10 times better after a good, hard cry? I do.
4. Hot shower, polar bear pants, hoodie, curl up in a ball. The "polar bear" pants are these pj's I have that are super warm and comfy. In college it was a commonly known fact that if I had those on, with a hoodie, that I was having a really bad day. Funny, it's still true. Some days I just need to curl up in my polar bear pj's. Sometimes I have a giant glass of wine in my hand, too.
5. Talk. I used to be the silent type, and in many ways I still am, but more often than not now I need to just vent. I have found some really wonderfully beautiful people at work who put up with my rants and listen to me. Maggie/Carol, I'm looking at you two for today's daily rant session :)

I think that just about covers it. I need to get back in the habit of walking every night, because I know that will help me continue to bring a little peace to my mind. Plus, I'm going on a retreat this weekend to Ludington, MI and I'm super excited about it. Retreats are another stress reliever for me, a time to put away everything and just grow closer with God and myself. That's what this weekend will be for me.

Cheers to all of you, I am sending you positive vibes and hoping you are a little less stressed than I am. Things will calm down by November, but then I'll have a little niece/nephew to smother with love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

suicide prevention awareness!

First of all, high school seniors, would ya stop trying to find out Kairos secrets? I don't spill them. Seriously, almost all of my "google searches" to get to my blog for the past month have been these search terms: Kairos secrets; what happens on kairos; small groups on kairos; kairos retreat. And because I wrote a blog on Kairos for my a-z challenge, you wind up here. Go on Kairos and find out the beauty of it for yourself. And for you Kairos leaders, go to your campus minister for guidance, don't google it.

Now  back to your regularly scheduled programming. Today is Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. I think it's safe to say that everyone reading this knows someone who has committed or attempted suicide. It is a terrible tragedy, one that continues to be an issue in our society...and one that can be prevented. Suicide is a very real thing. But we don't talk about it enough- it's a hush hush topic, people are scared to reach out for help and people are even more afraid to acknowledge it and to do something about it.

I am very passionate about the fact that there is always hope. There's always another chance. Suicide is not the answer. But when I hear of a suicide, my first thought is- how awful for that person. How absolutely heartbreaking it is to know that they were so terrorized by fear, anger, hurt that they chose to end their own life. Some of us are lucky, we will never know that pain, never know what it is like to feel that hopeless. Others of us feel it, have felt t, will feel it. Maybe even feel it every day. Maybe there are days we have to force ourselves out of bed, or days we roll over and don't even try. But you have to try.

You have to get help. There are people out there who will help you. Don't push away the ones who will try. Let them. Tell them how you are feeling. Speak up. You do not have to fight this alone. You were put here for a reason and you've got to believe me when I tell you things are going to get better, and life can be beautiful if you give it a chance, if you try. It may take some searching, and every day may be a battle. But you can win.

And for the rest of the world, wondering how in the heck you can prevent suicide: use your words, and use them wisely. If you notice a change in a family member, friend, or coworker, don't ignore it. Ask the questions. Find out why they are so angry/sad/withdrawn lately. And if they admit to being suicidal, get help. Call the suicide hotline. Call the police. Call a doctor. Just do SOMETHING. Let people know that you care. Let them know you think they are worthy. Appreciate people. Don't give up on them. The worst thing you can do to someone fighting thoughts of suicide is to turn your back on them. That's when they give up- that's when they assume no one cares. But we should all care. Life is far too valuable to let it just slip away.

Obviously (I hope) I am super passionate about this cause. It hits close to home. I have felt that hopeless before. And all it took was one person to show me that if I held on just a little bit tighter, there would come a day that everything would be okay. That person was right, and I can sit here today and tell you that while it wasn't easy, I've made it, and I will continue to be  an advocate for others and for the beauty of life.

Perhaps this has not been the happiest of posts, but I hope it has touched someone reading it. Please join me in spreading awareness. Suicide CAN be prevented.

Much love.

Don't give in
And don't give up
Just let go
Just reach out
You're at your worst
But this is not the end
You are not what haunts you
You were made for so much more
Take one step, and then another
Have faith that you will recover
Don't give in
And don't give up
Just let go
Just reach out
there's so much livin left to do
there's so much waiting for you
you can be happy, you can be free
just let go
just reach out
don't give in
and don't give up
you don't have to live like this
wrapped up in sadness and fear
just say the words
And I'll take it from here
you don't know how much
you are loved
let yourself be loved
just give in to love
just give up the bottle
just let go of the weapon
and just reach out for a hand- megan carolin; september 2012