Monday, September 30, 2013

11 Months

Dearest Ryan Michael,

Oh Baby Boop. I am taking a giant sigh as I write this letter to you this month. It hasn't exactly been the best, but things will get better.

Your Grandpa Carolin has some boo boo's in his body right now that need to be healed. He has four boo boo's inside his brain and one on his lung. He needs his lungs to breathe better and he needs his brain to keep dishing out his words of wisdom and his jokes. So the doctors are working really, really hard to fix the boo boo's.

Your Grandpa is very strong. He's going to be okay, and will be able to play with you again soon. He's in a hospital right now because that is where the doctors are working hard to make him feel better. We put a picture of you by his bed so that he can still look at your cute face, and you did visit him once and crawled all over him.

At times like these, I like to talk to God. I talk to Him all the time, but even more so when someone needs our help. It's easy to do that. You don't need to be in a Church or kneeling down. Just start talking. And you're very close to God, Ryan. You were just with Him 11 months ago. So I hug you close hoping to get a little closer to Him, too.

What Grandpa is going through is a little scary, but when we all see you, we laugh and feel better. You are pushing us to keep on going.

Keep smiling, Ryan. Grandpa's boo boo's will get better soon. Give him a kiss.

Love you more than you'll ever know. Soon you will be one year old and we are going to celebrate you with all of our family. It's going to be a beautiful celebration of our favorite little baby boop.

Love, Megan

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My rock.

Last Tuesday was one of the worst days of my life. I got a phone call at 715 am from my dad telling me that the results from the MRI came in and they weren't good. They had found four lesions on his brain and he was being admitted to the hospital immediately. After hanging up the phone I burst into tears and began to shake. That was not the outcome we were expecting to get from his MRI. I quickly contacted my work, dropped stuff off at the office, and made my way to the hospital. That first day was a blur. Doctors and nurses were in and out, the word cancer was thrown around.

They did a full scan on my dad's body and found a mass on his lung, coming to the conclusion that he indeed had cancer, lung cancer that spread to the brain.


He's a nonsmoker and a pretty healthy guy, so this diagnosis was a shock. A complete, ugly shock.

My family members and I have been in and out of the hospital ever since to visit him.  A prayer page has been started on Facebook. And tonight, a prayer service was held in his honor at the church. It
was a beautiful ceremony led by one of my best friends, Dean, and attended by many many friends and family members. My dad had even written a letter to the attendees that was read outloud.

One of the songs sung was "how can I keep from singing". It was a perfect choice. There was a line that really stuck out to me, though, and that was "no storm can shake my inmost calm, while to my Rock I'm clinging".

My dad is my rock. He is who I cling to. He's the rock of the family, giving us advice and challenging us. And when I cling to him or go to him for advice, I am calm. He calms me. He is my rock. He's my daddy. I don't know any man that is better or greater than him. He is gentle and sweet, funny and easy going. And I hate that such a special man has to go through this. He didn't do anything to you, cancer, so you can just leave him alone.

He's a fighter and is ready to fight this thing. He will have surgery Tuesday to take out the biggest lesion in his brain and the lung cancer will be treated with chemo and radiation. He's gonna kick cancers ass.

I love you dad and so does the entire community that surrounds us: our friends, the families at st Hugo, and our family.

We will beat this.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life Lately

Blogtember today encourages us to post a "life lately" post. Boy oh boy. Life lately has been busy.

What I'm Up To
  • Working. This is my busy time of year. I'm always jam packed in September and October with trainings, events, meetings, etc. This week alone I have four events and two meetings, one of which is all day. It will start to settle down in November.
  • Getting ready for my bestie's wedding this weekend. I can't believe it's finally here. My best friend Christine is getting married to the love of her life, Paul. We've been planning and waiting for so long, and now here we are. I'm so excited I can barely sit still at work.
  • Working out. I try to go 5 days week. I usually aim for morning. It's a part of my routine, now. The same group of people go in the mornings, and I'm getting used to seeing the same people and talking to them.
  • Dating someone. Ha. Kinda weird to list it in bullet form, eh? But since I'll be talking about him occasionally, I guess I should make the official blog announcement that yes, Tom and I are in a relationship. We've been "dating" for a few months now. We took things really, really slowly because of how my last relationship ended. He's been incredibly patient and understanding of me wanting to wait to put a label on things. He's a sweetheart. If you're friends with me on facebook it really shouldn't be much of a surprise, we're always together as noted by pictures and check ins. My roommates know him well, and he's met my family and even did some of my dad's yard work for him. It's funny, though, now that it's official on facebook people are coming out of the wood works to ask about him. To me it's nothing new. He quickly became one of my best friends and then it was clear that it was more than that. So even though we have a title on it now, it doesn't feel super different. I just know I love hanging out with him. Here's the two of us being goofy at the photo booth.

What I'm Reading

I just finished a young adult book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Powell. It is an absolutely precious story and an easy read, which I needed while I stress about work and the wedding. I highly recommend reading it. I'm about to read Fangirl next, which is by the same author. Don't judge me for reading young adult fiction, okay? Sometimes you just need to give your mind a break.

What I'm Watching
Fall TV is back! My "shows" are Glee, Modern Family, Parenthood, and XFactor. What are your shows? I've never seen Breaking Bad but I know it's all the rage, according to my Twitter feed.

What I'm Looking Forward To
  • The wedding! Duh!
  • 5k on October 12th for Gilda's Club
  • Ryan's 1st Birthday (the big guy turns 1 on October 30th.)
  • Our Halloween party on October 26th. My roomies and I are dressing as the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. We have snacks and drinks planned already. My brother and sister in law will be in town that weekend also!
  • Sam's 30th Birthday
  • Lions game November 24th with Tom.
What I'm Praying For
Join me if you wish...
  • For the man who attempted suicide on a busy Detroit freeway this morning. Police were able to talk him down. A coworker of mine witnessed the event. I am praying for him to find peace in his soul.
  • For my aunt Terry, who is battling stage 4 lung cancer and not doing well. I pray that she is comfortable.
  • For my dad
  • For Christine and Paul as they begin their new life together.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wizard of Oz

You know how last week I was all giddy because I got to see Fall Out Boy in concert? I'm just as giddy now,but because I saw Wizard of Oz in 3d this weekend.

Wizard of Oz is my all time favorite movie. I love everything about it. When I was in kindergarten I used to watch it after school like all the time. I get excited when it's on tv. I know every line. My mom and I used to go to the Wizard of Oz display at the mall every year. I can't get enough.

I happened to read something about the movie coming to Imax theatres for a limited time and immediately Tom and I made plans to go. I practically skipped into that theatre, y'all.

As I sat there with my 3d glasses on, I let myself fall into the world of Oz. I don't think the smile left my face the entire time. I said the lines, sang the words, giggled, and even cried. It was almost as though I was seeing the movie for the first time all over again.

I think each of us can take something from that movie. For me, and probably many, it's the realization that sometimes what we want the most is already inside of us, it just takes a little adventure to realize that.

The lion is my favorite character. I relate to him the most. I spent most of my life wishing I was braver, wishing I had more courage. It took me a very long time to realize I am brave, I just had to dig a little deeper to find it. You know when Dorothy is trapped and the three of them are trying to come up with a plan? The lion goes on and on about what he's going to do to save her, and then pleads the other two to talk him out of it. I've always understood that part so well. There are many times I wish I could get out of a situation, wish someone would give me an easy way out. But most of the time, my friends step in like scarecrow and tinman, and push me forward. Like they should.

Of course, the other obvious message in the movie is "there's no place like home". No matter how far away we can drift, our home will be there. And home doesn't even necessarily have to be your immediate family or the house you grew up in. For me it is, but I know there are people who aren't as lucky and who may never want that to be considered home. I don't think it has to be. I think home is wherever you are most at peace, most full of love and joy. Surrounded by people who you adore and who make you a better person.

Besides my family, my other home is anything mercy related. That was made obvious to me again tonight, when I led a prayer service for Mercy Day with the sisters of mercy. I walked into the chapel with an overwhelming sense of peace. That's hone, and there really is no place like it.

I loved escaping into that magical world. The immense joy that movie gives me is just beautiful. I'll carry the words and lessons for as long as I live.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Today's blogtember prompt is "Friday, September 20: React to this term: comfort. ".

I really wrestled with how to answer this prompt. I had a lot of different ideas and kept deleting posts. I decided, though, I need to just let it flow.

Because of my anxiety issues, there are very few times when I am 100% comfortable. I am almost always scanning the room for signs of disaster. I question the things that come out of my mouth again and again until I drive myself crazy, worrying that I said something wrong or that I hurt someone's feelings. In large group settings I hold back from speaking up.

There are two places where I feel 100% comfortable. And they are very different.

Church. Something about walking into church just allows me to breath a little easier. I feel a sense of peace and belonging. I know that not everyone has this feeling, and I feel for those people. Because trust me, there are plenty of places where I walk in and feel my skin crawling. But Church is the opposite of that, and I thank my parents for raising us in church. I don't go every week, but when I do go, I benefit. It's not even always about the sermon or the message- it's about being there and feeling God's presence. It gives me time to reflect and pray, to talk to God.

The second place may seem silly, but it's going to a concert. I know. Roll your eyes. But seriously. At concerts, I don't care who is next to me or around me, I completely slip into this world where it's just me and the music. Most of my friends can tell you that they have witnessed me dancing, singing, screaming at a concert. It's actually quite a sight. Something fuels inside of me when I'm at a concert. I come out of them skipping, smiling, and wishing the night could last forever.

At this point in my life, my idea of comfort is putting on a pair of sweats, curling up on the couch and watching mindless tv shows while sipping on wine or coffee, hair pulled back in a bun. I get comfort out of the people I surround myself with, so my favorite nights are the ones where both my roommates are home and we just laugh. I love when my whole family is in one room and we are sharing stories, giggling and just enjoying our time together. I love eating lunch with my coworkers every day and venting, encouraging each other and having a sing a long. Those are the things that bring me comfort. And music. Lots and lots of music.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 12

Well, since last week I have lost another three lbs, putting my total weight loss at 16 lbs! This is exciting! I cannot wait until I hit that 20 lb mark.

Last week, My "girl time" REALLY messed things up for me. It caused me to gain 5lbs overnight and those 5lbs did not go away until Mother Nature did- so frustrating. But I have to remind myself that it's nothing I did. What matters is I am still kicking butt, getting healthier, and on my way to my goal.

Sober September
I sort of feel like I didn't quite get an accurate idea of whether alcohol played a part in my weight loss or not since my period caused me to gain 5 lbs. (which, yes, I lost again, but my body did a lot of changing this month). I am going to continue on my Sober September trek until 9/28 (best friend's wedding). We'll see. HOWEVER, I will say, overall, I feel better without alcohol in my system. I don't get headaches, I feel better, and my skin is better and glowing.

Other Changes/Accomplishments/Findings
  • I usually wear skirts to work in the summer, but last Friday I wore jeans for casual day. 3-4 coworkers noted that my butt looked smaller.
  • Tom told me my back looks smaller. Which is probably a weird thing to observe, but I know what he means- it's more flat. Less fat. HA. #Rhymes
  • I am trying to get rid of my upper arm fat by doing overhead weights. I have noticed a small change and will keep working at this.
  • Tummy is slimmer
  • Pants are big on me
  • Bought a shirt a few months ago that was too tight at the time. Now it fits perfectly.
  • Yesterday I had a really busy day and a presentation at noon. I always eat lunch at noon on the dot. So, I grabbed a bag of carrots with me on the road to the meeting and ate 5 of them, slowly. It helped hold me over until I got back to eat lunch at 2.
  • I try to call my dad right after work to distract me on the way home. I know myself, and I know that I get bored driving, especially in traffic. So I call my dad, and he gets me almost all the way home with our chit chat and it stops me from grabbing chicken nuggets at Wendy's or a blizzard from Dairy Queen. Because before my weight loss journey, that's what I'd do. Grab a unhealthy snack on the way home and then eat dinner. I don't do that anymore, but I still have to distract myself so I won't!
  • Today a girl at the gym who is also there every day and is super fit and thin said "I have to ask you- how much weight have you lost? I saw you working out up there and thought 'damn that girl looks good!".

  • I need to make sure I take my vitamin d. This may be one of my biggest issues. I forget to take it a lot. My levels are severely low, which can actually hurt weight loss. So, I need to make sure I take it every day. I now have a daily alarm on my phone to go off to remind me to take it. I'm going to take some notes in the next few weeks to see if it makes a difference or not.
  • I'm hungry a lot. This is something that's only recently been an issue- like the past few days. I don't know what it is, but I can't get full. Obviously this could be sabotage so I am doing my best to figure out why I'm so hungry and to drink a ton of water. I've been putting lemons in my water, too. I have to find very low calorie snacks to pack during the day. Suggestions?
  • I cannot seem to lose the weight in my lower tummy. It's gross because it's a little pooch. How do I get rid of this? I have been doing crunches!
EmotionallyI almost had a melt down on Friday night. It was a bad day at work anyways, my roommates were gone and I was waiting for Tom to get off work. All I wanted to do was order a large pizza all for myself and dip it in ranch. I held back, and ate a 150 calorie frozen personal pizza and salad. But the temptation was so severe I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn't order the large pizza from Jets.  It came out of nowhere. I wanted to just give up on my diet and "lifestyle change".  I thought about it all weekend and I realized: I'm scared. I am so scared that I won't be able to do this, that something will happen and I'll fail. And I really do not want that to happen. It's not about anyone else or how they'll feel, it's about me. I've been working so hard, and I can't give up now. I'm still in the beginning stages. Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself, but I have to remember that there is no timeline, I just have to keep going. I'm just scared that one of these days, my mind will trick me into believing I can't do it anymore and I'll just stop.

So that's why, I guess, I post so much about it on the Internet. My posts hold myself accountable. I can go back and read something I put and it pushes myself to keep going. To see the support I get from friends and family, it helps the fear go away. It gives me hope. And at this point, I need all the hope I can get.

So yes. My friends. I need some support/advice as far as the feeling hungry thing. How do I stop that? Or how do I help satisfy my tummy enough to the point where I don't sit here daydreaming of candy bars?

I think at this point I can honestly say that I need you guys. Yes I am doing this for myself and yes I am the only one that matters, but I need my friends and family to be there for encouragement. It's hard for me to admit that, but I do.

I hope you all have a good week, and I'll be back next week with another check in and some fall recipes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Mom....

It just so happens that today's Blogtember prompt is "Write a public love letter to someone in your life. (It doesn't necessarily need to be romantic.)"

It also happens to be my mom's birthday. I think you know what's coming.

Dear Mom,
Happy Birthday. I'm sure today is just like any other day for you. Your students will frustrate you and yet bring you joy, you and Dad will have dinner and you'll check papers. But it's not like any other day for me. It's my mom's birthday, and I am celebrating you and remembering how lucky I am to have you as my mom. You are the best, after all.

I love spending time with you. There are times I'd rather spend time with you and Dad than my own friends. You make me laugh and you give me the best advice. You're always looking out for me. You want me to be happy.

Sometimes I just sit and think how lucky I am to have you as a mom. You are one of my best friends and someone that I want to call right when I get out of work or when I'm leaving youth group or after a date. I want to fill you in on everything. I want to hear your opinion. I want you to be proud of me.

You are beautiful mom. On the outside and on the inside. You are beautiful because you care so much about people and want to help them. You find different quirks in your students and cater to them. You find a way to relate to everyone and help them to feel included and welcome.

I'll never forget you telling me that a parent once told you that you had hidden angel wings. I think that's the best description I can give about you. You really do. You fly to the rescue to get people what they need. That's an angel.

Your students are beyond blessed to have been able to sit in your classroom and hear your wisdom, your jokes, and get your guidance. For many, you were the "best teacher they ever had". I hear that all the time, from young students and older ones who remember how well you taught them. I hear it from parents who tell me you changed their child's life.

Duh. You certainly have shaped mine. A few months ago you and Dad may have even saved it when you convinced me to do something about my health. You have been supporting me nonstop through all of that and I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

I love you, Mom. Your hidden angel wings have swept me up more times than I can count.

Love, Megan

To the rest of the world, let me just show you a small collection of screencaps I've saved that showcase how much my mom makes me laugh.

She asks me silly questions...

She's sassy when I need her help.....

She calls auto correct "spell check"
And, probably my favorite thing, she trolls twitter during and after Notre Dame football games and sarcastically replies to haters. Here is she throwing in a sarcastic "LOL" to a UofM fan after their embarrassing win to Akron. My mom is just too cool.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall Out Boy

I am going to try to write this as best I can, but I'm not sure words can capture how I feel.

My brother has always been one of my best friends. As kids we were inseparable. As teens we fought, spent days/weeks not speaking, but at the end of the day, I loved him. I cared about him, and I admired him.

I have a very clear vision of the day he introduced me to Fall Out Boy. Their first album had just dropped. It was 2003. We were in our basement and we were both working on homework. We had this giant cd player/stereo in our basement that we used all the time. It was one of those that had several different slots for cd's , so we'd put a few in at a time and shuffle it. He put in Fall Out Boy and told me I should listen. Within seconds, I was absolutely hooked. I couldn't get enough. I'd play it in my car at all times, I knew every word to every song. I was obsessed.

Ever since that day in our basement, Fall Out Boy has held a special place in my heart. I remember another time my brother told me the reason he liked them- they were different, and they made music for kids who were, too. That made sense to me. I guess I always felt "different" because of my anxiety. I had a lot of friends, but I was also lonely. I think that's why I connected so well to their music. I got it. I knew what they were singing about. So did my brother. We didn't realize it at the time, but my brother and I bonded over that music because we both felt whole when we listened to it.

I think of my brother every single time I hear a Fall Out Boy song. Even their "new stuff" that he doesn't like as much because it's Top 40. It doesn't matter. I just need to hear their band name, a song, and I go back to that day in the basement.

I love Fall Out Boy because I love my brother, and they remind me of him. I love Fall Out Boy because they speak, loudly, for what they believe in.

Last night, my best friend Sam gave me the opportunity to live in their music for a night. She won tickets through a radio contest. We got to got to a private meet and greet during the day and even though Patrick Stump (lead singer) wasn't there, we got to meet the rest of the band. It was so surreal. To be standing next to the dudes that have been a major part of my life for 11 years.

We got to go to the concert in a suite. I've never done that, and this was the best concert to do it for. I enjoyed every moment of it. I felt my heart beating faster when Fall Out Boy took the stage, and through the whole concert I was just nodding my head, tapping my feet, and smiling. When they'd do an older tune I felt a rush of emotion through my body. When they sang a new song I found myself discovering new lyrics to fall in love with.

There was about 10-15 minutes of pure joy during the show, though. It was when things got a little quiet. The band covered Drake's "Hold On We're Going Home" and then went into their own song "What A Catch, Donnie", via piano which is my favorite version of the song, which is one of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs. Some of the lyrics include "I've got troubled thoughts and a self esteem to match". For the longest time, that simple phrase summed up my own emotions. Back then I had a really hard time describing what I was dealing with to people, and when I heard that song it was like -yes. That's how I feel. Also during this set they brought Brendan from Panic! At the Disco out to sing "20 Dollar Nose Bleed", a song that he guest vocals on in the original version. It was cool to see it live- they ended with the line "have you ever wanted to disappear". The lights went out, and the band quite literally disappeared. They reappeared on a smaller stage at the back of the arena (closer to us), where they performed two acoustic songs. The first was "Me and You", and the second was "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy". That's when I lost it. That's a song from their first album, a song that I absolutely adore, probably my favorite song. I immediately reached for my phone to call my brother so he could hear it. I had to stop tears from falling because I was brought back to being 15 and in my basement. It was perfect.

The show was amazing, and I was truly in my element. I  couldn't help but notice how young the fans were. Everyone seemed to be between the ages of 15-19. At first, I had a hard time with that. These kids were babies when the band first came out. I couldn't imagine how they could possibly appreciate the music. But then I saw them singing along to the songs- every song, even the old ones. And I realized that Fall Out Boy is gaining a new generation of fans. That these teenagers are hearing them for the first time and googling, youtubing, buying the stuff on ITunes. That made me happy. Maybe I'm "too old" for Fall Out Boy. Maybe I've outgrown it. Maybe I don't need them anymore as much as I used to. But these kids do. And I'm happy that someone is there for them and that when they get lonely and sad and feel different, they can turn on Fall Out Boy and feel accepted. That's the point, after all. My brother taught me that.

Thank you to my brother for bringing this music into my life.

Thank you Sam for being an amazing best friend and winning these tickets so that I could have a beautiful night. Thank you 98.7 Amp Radio for this opportunity and for the wonderful suite.

And thank you Fall Out Boy for being in my life for the past 11 years and for making the music the world needs to hear.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Self Portrait

Today's Blogtember prompt is to do a self portrait.

When I think about self portrait,  I think drawing. So that's what I'm gonna do. Fun fact about Megan: I can't draw. Like, at all. I never learned, never had the patience. I barely got by in art class in elementary/middle school and never had an art class in high school. So don't laugh at my picture below. Okay, you can laugh.

That being said....

C'est moi. Kinda.

Here's the me, in true form:

That picture was taken just a few days ago when I was trying to see if my face is smaller with my weight loss.

In high school, I had some extra off periods so I was asked to model for the art class so they could paint me. It was an hour every few days, and I had to sit perfectly still with four of my school mates staring at me. But I got paid $25 a week for it, so it was worth it at the time for extra gas money. The best one was hung in the hallways of Mercy for a good few months. Freaked me out a few times when I'd walk out of the bathroom and see my face.

And when I did my year of service, my community member Katie quickly drew a picture of the four of us on a dry erase board that was incredibly accurate.  I am the one with the ponytail, obviously.
Can you do a self portrait? Has anyone ever drawn a great picture of you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: Inspiration Post!

It's time for another inspiration post! First, a little update about me. I am not allowed to weigh myself until next Wednesday. The dealio is, I gained 5lbs overnight last week thanks to Mother Nature. Seriously. 5 lbs. Luckily, I have dropped that now. (You men have NO idea how lucky you are!) but have not lost any additional weight on top of that (yet) so I am not going to drive myself crazy, I am going to just keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens next Wednesday.  I will say, though, that my bridesmaids dress was still too big, and had to be taken in at the sides now too. (Before it was just the straps). So obviously something is happening!

Anyways. Today I'd like to introduce my readers to one of my absolute most favorite people in the entire universe. Alicia. This gal came into my life when I was a junior at Mercy and she was a senior. I was immediately drawn to her because we were at a high school dance, and she was running around the gym with a balloon in her hand, calling it her date. She was laughing hysterically and having the most amazing time. She didn't care what anyone thought of her. My friend, and date to the dance, Alex, knew Alicia through theatre, and I demanded that he introduce me to her. We became best friends almost instantly. She was on costume crew for the spring musical and I was on stage crew. One day we went out for a "crew lunch" and I somehow wound up at Alicia's table. She and I laughed the entire time. I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard. My friend Heather looked at me and said "Megan, you've just met your match". I had. Alicia and I were attached at the hip for the rest of the school year. She went off to college and we stayed close. Now she lives in Chicago and we only see each other once or twice a year, but last November she made a point to travel all the way back to Michigan to surprise me and come to my Mercy Associate ceremony. I know this is going to sound super corny, but Alicia is the light of my life. She is honestly one of the very few people who can still make me laugh until I cry, who I can tell anything too, who I can be my dorky self around. She goes OUT OF HER WAY to make people smile and feel happy. She's seriously the best friend to have and I don't always do a good job of telling her how much I appreciate her. Even just saying her name makes me smile. Okay, that's creepy. But it's true. You know what one of the coolest things about her is? After almost every conversation, she says "I love you and support you". Most of my friends and I don't even say I love you on the phone, and Alicia goes the extra step and makes it clear that she is there for you.

A month or so ago Alicia called me to tell me the big news that she is ENGAGED to the love of her life, Justin. I've yet to meet Justin, but I was one of the first to know about him. They met on a train people. ON. A. TRAIN. Right out of a movie, right? I could not be happier for my sweet, beautiful friend. Justin was the answer to her prayers and knowing how happy she is makes me happy.

Alicia started her weight loss journey a few years ago, and is now maintaining what she's lost. and here's what she had to say about it.

This is Alicia pre weight loss. She's beautiful. That smile is constant, people! CONSTANT!

Alicia, post weight loss, at her sister's (her non identical twin, actually!) wedding last October.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? 
My name is Alicia.  I am a 27 year-old 7/8 grade Reading teacher in Chicago, IL.  I love reading, writing, photography and running.  I love being happy and try my best to surround myself with people that bring joy to my life.  I am lucky to have loving and supportive family and friends who have loved me at every size. 

What moment or event started your weight loss journey?
I was living at home with my parents after college.  I think that pretty much sums it up.  I was frustrated and bored and felt like I had little control over my life.  I decided to start working out because I had the time to do it and wanted to make a tangible change for myself.  

How much weight have you lost?
I like to say I've lost 100 pounds, but my weight usually wavers about 5 pounds around there.  I was 251 pounds before I started my weight loss and now I weigh in around 151-155. 

What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss? Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? Something else?
All of it!  My mindset was the greatest barrier to my initial weight loss.  I never thought I could lose weight and I didn't want to put the work in to really try.  When I started seeing the results of my hard work it really motivated me to try harder.  I've become more disciplined in my thinking as a person.  My mindset is what helps me to make healthier food choices and what forces my to stay active.  After mindset, my eating changes have been most significant.  I used to eat every meal until I felt I was going to vomit.  I really have to pay attention when I'm full now, which is usually after my first burp.  I try to look at my food and visualize the size of my stomach (about the size of my fist).  I do my best to stop after I feel I've eaten that amount.  Eating is a constant challenge, though--there are so many delicious unhealthy foods!  I believe in allowing myself a treat when I really want it and opting for healthier choices when I can.
Running was what really helped me to see a jump in my weight loss.  If I run 15-20 miles a week it really helps me to feel good and keeps my weight at equilibrium.  

Are there any obstacles you had to overcome to begin exercising / keep exercising? 
Time!  Being a teacher is exhausting and I work long hours.  I get up for work at 5:15 and can't bring myself to wake up earlier to exercise, so I work out at night.  I usually get home around 5:30 and I often skimp on my work out for the sake of lesson planning/grading/eating dinner/buying groceries, you know, all those little things that have to get done before 10:30 bedtime.

What’s your favorite exercise?
Running.  I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I feel antsy when I don't run but sometimes it takes everything in me to lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement.  Especially when it's cold outside.  But I love running because it helps me think and makes me feel empowered.  It's really powerful to think you can take yourself anywhere.  I make the choices of where I run and I choose to push myself.  I always feel good about running.  Maybe it's the runner's high.
How do you deal with boredom in your exercise program? 
I try to download new music to run to when I'm feeling bored, and then I only listen to those songs when I'm running so it's like a reward.  I also try to mix it up by running stairs or doing weights.  Sometimes I do the elliptical to give my knees and break and mix it up.

What are 3 of your best eating or dieting tips you would like to share? 
1) Hold yourself accountable.  Go by how you feel, not by the number on the scale--but definitely don't neglect the scale.  I've found that sometimes I make myself feel bad because of the number I see on the scale, however the scale keeps me in check.  I didn't weigh myself for a month or so in the winter and when I finally stepped on the scale I had gained about 10 pounds back.  I wasn't holding myself accountable.  I didn't weight myself EVER before I started my weight loss because I was in denial.  Now I am all about accountability to ME--I try to beat my own best whether that's running, sit ups or on the scale.
2) Eat what you love but do it in moderation.  If I really have a craving for a chocolate malt I'll get one, but I don't reward myself when I am not really craving something, that's when I make healthier choices.  I have to eat the foods I love because my weight loss is a lifestyle change not a temporary fix.
3) Surround yourself with support: find a running buddy, share your weight loss success, tell the doctor about your goals.  I guess this one relates back to accountability--find people who will help you to stay accountable.     
Any final words of advice?
Megan, you're the best and I love you for doing your blog.  Keep it up!  I love and support you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Cannot Be Replaced

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wrote a post about this last year, and I'm going to write one again. And probably ever year after this year until I close down this blog. Because this is something that is important, it's something that cannot be ignored or neglected.

To Write Love On Her Arms, one of the most well known suicide prevention organizations, has adopted the phrase "you cannot be replaced" as the theme for this year's suicide prevention awareness. Let's read that again. Slowly.

You cannot be replaced.

You, sitting right there, cannot be replaced. There is no one like you. You are unique in your beauty and goodness. There will never be another you. And we, your friends, family, coworkers, community, do not want to lose you. Because you can't be replaced.

If you think that no one will miss you, that life will just continue on like normal if you go, that people may actually even rejoice, you are so, so wrong.

Maybe you've made some poor choices, maybe you feel trapped, feel like you are suffocating and there is no other way out. But there is. There is always a way out. Use your words. A simple "help". We will come to your rescue, because we love you, and we don't want you to get hurt.

Maybe you feel like you are not accepted. And, maybe some people aren't doing so great at showing acceptance and love to you. Don't make their ignorance your problem. Keep being you. Because you, my friend, cannot be replaced.

When you're lying in your bed at night and all these bad thoughts are running rampant through your mind, call someone. I don't care if it's 3 am and you worry you'll upset them. Call them. When you're walking through the hall at school or work and feel like you can't breathe, stop, and talk to someone. When it's the weekend and the sun is shining but you don't want to get out of bed, take the first step out. Go wash your face and brush your teeth. Baby steps. Then talk to someone. Let them know how you are feeling.

You cannot be replaced.

You are loved and you are far more beautiful than you will ever realize. Your beauty is not defined by how you look, darling. It's in your actions. In the way you carry yourself. And sometimes the most beautiful creations emerge from disasters. So your "mess" right now won't be a mess forever.

Spread love today, people. Every day, but keeping in mind today that we all have a reason for living, and that someone you know may be suffering.

Resources for hotlines, counseling, and more can be found here:

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm Rare!

So there's a bloghop going on that I didn't know about until this morning. It's Blogtember and by the looks of the prompts, I need to be a part of this! The prompts are great and are giving me a much needed jump start to writing.

Today's prompt was to take this quiz and post the results. Here are my results:

I actually took the longer version of this test in high school and got the same results, so I guess things don't change. Here are some fun facts about INFJ (which I got from this website)

  • The INFJ type is believed to be very rare (less than 1 percent of the population) and it has an unusual set of traits.
  • Even though their presence can be described as very quiet, INFJ personalities usually have many strong opinions, especially when it comes to issues they consider really important in life.
  • INFJ personalities are drawn towards helping those in need – they may rush to the place of a major disaster, participate in rescue efforts, do charity work etc. INFJs see this as their duty and their purpose in life.
  • INFJs are masters of written communication, with a distinctively smooth and warm language.
  • INFJs need to have some “alone time” every once in a while or otherwise

  • INFJs take great care of other people’s feelings and expect others to return the favor. Unsurprisingly, people with this personality type are very sensitive.

INFJ strengths

  • Determined and passionate.
  • Altruistic.
  • Decisive.
  • Creative.
  • Inspiring and convincing.
  • Very insightful.

INFJ weaknesses

  • Extremely private.
  • Can burn out easily.
  • Very sensitive.
  • Perfectionistic.
  • Always need to have a cause.
INFJ In The Workplace (Peggy, Lynn, Mags, Amy 1 and 2, Christina---can you confirm/deny these? haha)
  • Loathe conflict and tension
  • Highly idealistic, but also very insightful, able to sense somebody’s motives nearly instantly
  • Surprisingly social and eloquent, quickly and easily connecting with their co-workers
  • Popular, friendly and altruistic (however, INFJs need to make sure that their generosity is not being abused)
  • Very serious about their duties and responsibilities, especially if they are strongly aligned with the INFJ’s principles
  • Seek harmony and cooperation
  • Prioritize values and good atmosphere rather than cold facts or ruthless efficiency
  • Need to be able to work alone if they choose to
And, just for fun...two cartoons about INFJ that relate to my life!


So to those that know me, does the sound like me? What is your personality type?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

i wanna see you be brave

Happy Sunday, everyone! Although, it's late, so maybe happy Monday?

First of all, I apologize if there are any spelling or format mistakes in this blog. I am posting from my kindle fire for the first time because my laptop is having issues keeping a charge so I'm giving it a break. 

I wanted to talk about this song

"Brave" was one of ny favorite songs of the summer. It gave me confidence for my weight loss journey and strength to pick up the pieces of myself that were broken. Every single time I hear this song, a smile crosses my face. I have written the words "I wanna see you be brave" on a note card and I have it displayed on my desk so that I can see it every day.

This song should be our mantra. All of us. We should not let fear or worry run our lives. We get one shot at this, we need to make it count. We need to be brave.

I chose to write this blog today instead of as a Tuesday tunes post because as the start of a new week I need to go in with this mindset: to be brave. Things are gonna come at me this week from all different directions and life won't always be easy. But I can handle it and I can be brave. I can take a deep breath and know that I am a powerful person with the ability to fight through the roughest of days.

My challenge to you, my sweet friends, is to do the same. Do something this week that scares you. Tell fear it's not welcome in your life, embrace courage.

And you don't  have to do it alone. Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is turn to someone and ask them for help.

c'mon, friends. I wanna see you be brave. Have a good week.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Laurence

Dear Laurence,

Happy Birthday.

I really went back and forth on whether or not to write a blog in honor of your birthday. I have done it for the last two years, and have several other blogs about you. I thought -eh- my readers know about Laurence. They know I miss him. They know how special he was.

And then I woke up.

Because your life, your mission, is always new to someone. Maybe someone will stumble on this blog and want to know more about you, so they'll ask and do some research and once again someone will be inspired by your story. Maybe it will change another life. Maybe it will motivate someone to get out and help somebody else.

Because, if a 15 year old with Stage 4 brain cancer can make a difference, anyone can.

Sometime last year, your name started to make local news headlines again. Your guitar was put on display at the UofM hospital and people were talking about you, and all the money you raised for the One Campaign. Some of my coworkers even heard about it, and we'd have lengthy discussions at lunch. Once one of them called me from her car because she heard them talking about you on NPR. That was pretty cool, you know? To have a reminder that your legacy and inspiration live on.

In some ways, I feel like I have failed you and your family, because I still haven't finished that book I started writing about you. I have a lot written, but I always get frustrated with myself, thinking it's not good enough, and then I quit. I should keep going. I don't think it will ever be too late. Even if one other person besides me reads it, it won't be too late. Right?  I should keep writing. For you. My beautiful cousin who's spirit lives on.

You know, last summer your beautiful Grandma Mary Ann gave me this picture she found:

It's so perfect, the two of us playing in the sand at Ft. Walton. We have some years in between us in age, but that didn't matter. I loved spending time with you. Even back then, you were a little ray of sunshine in my life. I probably didn't fully appreciate it then, and you probably never knew, but my moments with you were my favorites of the Florida trip. You would look at me with that adorable face and ask me a million questions. You loved to learn. And I loved to teach you. But later, when you were sick, I learned more from you than I ever would have possibly imagined. You were the greatest teacher I ever had, and I never sat in your classroom.

I spent about 15-20 minutes staring at this picture this morning. In fact, I was late to the gym because of it. But I couldn't help it. Part of me was reflecting on the memories, part of me was praying, and part of me was desperately seeking something in the picture to comfort me, to remind me that you are still here somehow.

I found it.

First of all, your hand, although I know it is holding a shovel, is positioned close to my chest- my heart. My head is down and I am kneeling. While I was staring at the picture, I couldn't help but to think- it looks like you are praying for me, or with me. You are looking at me intently. I know to others this may seem odd, and they may even roll their eyes and think "Megan. They simply captured a moment of you two building a sandcastle". But today, that's not how I see it. Today, I see it as two people praying together, you comforting me.

Do you know that I usually don't like building sandcastles/playing in the sand? I would avoid it all costs. I much preferred to be in the water. Bonny, my Godmother, used to call me "The Fish" on our family vacations because I never left the water. So the simple fact that you got me to build a sandcastle with you says a heck of a lot about your influence on me, kiddo.

Happy Birthday, Laurence. Know that you continue to live on with me in my heart. I promise to finish the book. I promise to keep building sandcastles.

Love, Megan


I am doing a short walk in honor of Laurence on September 21st. You can get more details here if you are interested in walking. If you want to donate in honor of him, let me know. I will send you to the right place.

If you have not read about Laurence before in my blog, and want to learn more, check out this post.

Or, do a simple Google search for "Laurence Carolin".

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 10

My pants are too big. Like, almost falling off of me big. I used to be able to wear my black capri's without pulling them up, now I worry they are just gonna drop. I can't afford new clothes right now, so I am going to have to get creative.

I am down 13 lbs total. I can't wait to hit that 15 lb mark! I also can't wait to go back to my doctor. I know she's going to be so proud.

I wanted to talk about something that hit the news this week. A 14 year  old girl was shopping in Rue 21 for perfume when she was asked to leave because she was "too fat". The store has sort of responded, saying they are aware of the situation and working to figure out exactly what happened.

Although I have never been asked to leave a store, I have been in this situation before. Except I never told anyone...until now.

Oddly enough, it was the same store. Rue 21. I was 15 and shopping with my friends. They were all trying clothes on and I was waiting for them, pretending to look interested in the jewelery but really just anxious to get out of there. It was obvious I was waiting, my friends kept coming out to show me stuff and I'd mutter "cute" and tap my feet. I knew I couldn't fit in the clothes so there was no point to me trying. One of the employees, who was not much older than me at the time, came over and actually said, outloud "Sucks to be the fat one, huh?". I swear to you, she said that. I was mortified. I didn't even respond to her, I just walked away and waited for my friends. I've hated that store ever since.

I always hated shopping with my friends. Always. They were smaller than me. I wasn't even that overweight in high school- I gained most of my weight in college- but I was bigger than them, with broad shoulders, wide hips, etc. I could not fit into clothes at Rue 21, Express, or Abercrombie, which were all stores my friends loved. I had to pretend like I just didn't want to buy anything. I told people I didn't want to spend money or that I didn't like anything in the store. In reality, it was that they didn't fit me. And I wasn't going to ask my friends if we could go to Old Navy or Torrid because they actually carried my size. I just stood back and went along with it.

This is something that has continued through my adult life. Even now, I don't shop at most of the same stores my friends do. But again, I'm not gonna be the girl that says "you guys go ahead and go into Express, I'm going to Lane Bryant". It's embarrassing. I already know I'm the big girl, I don't need to make a point of expressing it.

The thing is though, feeling awkward/embarrassed about not fitting into clothes is my own issue. My weight is mine, no one else's. So not fitting into clothes is not the problem here. It's the fact that someone said something to me, and someone said something to this little girl too. WE KNOW. We know we can't fit into your clothes. You do not need to point it out!

I was 15 when a store employee actually pointed it out to me. As if I needed another reminder. I never told anyone, not even my parents. It hurt my feelings terribly, and I always feel like it's going to happen again, but I never said anything. My story did not make news headlines. It happened, and it sucked.

It happens all the time, people. I feel horribly for this little girl, all she was trying to do was spend her birthday money. And the fact that they asked her to leave is disgusting. It's discrimination. It's wrong.

I know this is sort of off topic from my usual weight loss Wednesday post, and a rant rather than an inspirational post, but I hope it at least made you think, or helped someone who has also been in this position.

September Weight Loss Journey Goals
-No alcohol (yep. Changing it to ALL of September except 9/28.)
-No fries (something Sam and I are doing together).
-Get too 100 lbs on the row machine
-30 full minutes on the elliptical
-5.5 miles on the bike

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: Erika Van Pelt.

I know most of my facebook pals will see the title of my blog for today and decide not to click on it. It's probably not something that interests them. They, unless they are an Idol fan, do not know who Erika is. But if you clicked out of curiosity, I thank you. Because I want to introduce you to Erika.

This is Erika. Watch.

Yeah. She has a killer voice, right? Right. She was on American Idol Season 11, eliminated far too song, has mega talent and a loveable personality. She's chill, hard working, and passionate.
I want you to consider donating to her Kickstarter. She's working incredibly hard to make her debut album, independently, and needs all the help that she can get. She is trying to raise 20,000.
Why should you, someone who doesn't know Erika, donate? Because if you believe in music, if you believe in a girl who is working her tail off to get some good music out there, it will be worth it. This girl has pipes, but more than that she lives and breathes music. So I know, I just know, that this album will be incredible.
If you are reading this and you know me, Megan, then let me add a little personal twist to my plea. Erika is one of my favorite contestants ever. Her season was one of my favorites. I loved pretty much everyone, but especially Erika, Josh, and Elise. Erika was special in that she had this incredible energy level about her, it was obvious how happy she was to be on the show, and she was always gracious. That summer, when the Idols went on tour, I took my mom to see the show. Erika's solo performance, which I posted above, was a cover of Pink's "Glitter In the Air". That, my friends, was my choice solo for her. I desperately wanted to hear her do it on tour, and she did. It was beautiful, and gave me goosebumps. It's my favorite Pink song because it describes anxiety to a tee, and if you follow the blog closely you know by now how much anxiety consumes my life. So for Erika, one of my favorites, to sing that song, it helped me to know that I was not alone. Later that summer, I had my tonsils out. Now I know this seems silly to a lot of people, but my recovery process took a HUGE toll on me. Laying in bed for three weeks, not eating, not sleeping, and not talking really does something to a person. I fell into a really, really weird funk. I did not feel like myself, I felt lazy and sad. I wanted out of my own skin. It was one of the strangest things I have ever gone through. At the same time that this was happening, I was going through a rough time with a guy who I thought really liked me. We had been talking, and the day of my surgery he never once texted or called to wish me luck or ask if I was okay or needed anything. Then a few days later, he puts on Facebook that he's in a relationship with some other girl. So I was already miserable and lonely from the tonsillectomy, and then this was added on. But who was there? Erika, and her best friend Jessica, who I had connected with via twitter. Erika was there for me in the musical sense- I would YouTube tour performances of "Glitter in the Air" and watch interviews from tour. She was so happy and so confident, full of zest. Jessica and I would have lengthy convos, and to this day Jess will never know how much that friendship meant to me. She didn't even know about my guy troubles, she just knew I wasn't feeling my greatest. I'll never forget those few weeks, and can honestly say that the two of them saved my summer, even if it was from a distance. Back then I didn't have Lauren and Sam, I really didn't do much socially. Erika and Jessica helped turn around my attitude, make me feel whole again.
So yeah. Please, please, please consider donating to Erika's kickstarter. I know how it is. Money is tight. I'm in that position also. I wish I could donate more to this project, which is why I'm reaching out to my family, friends, and blog readers to consider chipping in. Even $10 will help.
Jess, Thank you. God bless you girl!
Erika, rock on girl. I am ecstatic to hear "Hurricane" when it is released and I will do what I can to fully support the album and your music. Thank you for everything.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Little Bit of Summer Makes A Lot of History

It's September 2nd. The weather is going to cool down this week. Kids are going back to school. Football has started. Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Spice Latte's again.

Guys, summer is over.


Now, I work full time, so I don't really get a "summer" in the sense that most people think of. I can't sleep in until 10 every day, walk over to the pool, hang out poolside all day, and come back and nap on the couch with a sunburn. Instead I wake up at 5, go to the gym, then work from 8-5, sometimes longer. But I had the weekends.

So I guess summer officially starts in June, right? If that's the case, then here are my summer memories.

JP and Sara visit: My cooky brother and lovely sister in law came the first weekend in June. It's always a blast with those two around. They, along with my sister and mom, came to visit me at work. We all cooked a lovely dinner together Friday night. On Saturday (also the day we got our cat!), they came over and partied with us, my friends Dave and Katie, Alex, and Krystin. We had an amazing time, drinking, laughing, and playing games. I honest had so much fun that night and with my brother. That Sunday was Father's Day and we enjoyed  a lovely meal out.

Lizz and Brett Visit: Sam's BFF from home and my sister from another mister came to visit us in June with her husband Brett. More laughs were shared. We played guitar (well, Brett played and we watched him and sang along), walked in the rain, played games. Those two absolutely crack me up. They need to come back again soon.

Kelly Clarkson Concert: Even though this day was a hot freaking mess, Sam and I still managed to have a really good time. Sure, we missed out and meet and greets and sure, our concert was cut due to insane rain storms, but we got to see our fave gal rocking the stage and we had fun. We were close to the stage, Kell Kell waved to us and sang with us. I'll never forget that night, and I think my clothes are still soaked from all the rain!

4th of July Weekend: Despite my credit card number being stolen this weekend, we had a damn good rocking time. Our friend Brenna came in for the weekend. We grilled, cooked, baked, drank, blasted music, played with sparklers, ran around, and just had an amazing time. So happy, so full of life and love.

Ellie Goulding/Bruno Mars Concert: I had been looking forward to this for MONTHS! They are two of my all time favorite artists and I had never seen either of them live before. We walked in just as Ellie took the stage and I was jammin. Her songs are absoutley amazing and that girl can perform. And Bruno was just out of this world. I was seriously in a different element when I was watching him. It felt like I was the only person in the room and I was moving like crazy. He was amazing. Honestly. this evening was probably the best night of my summer.

Up North Trip with my Girls: Ah, such an amazing, fun, laughter filled weekend. We absolutely had the BEST time. I made new friends, laughed till my belly hurt, rode 8 miles on a bike around the island, grilled brauts with Lauren, MADE A FIRE, sang along to Disney songs. It was the happiest I had been in a while. Loved it, loved it. LOVED IT. Wish I could go back!

Birthday: So yeah, I turned 26 this summer. My real birthday celebration was going up north with my friends. But on my actual birthday I was surrounded by family and friends. We had dinner, I got some amazing gifts. I was happy happy happy. My work friend Ashley had the Taylor Swift Vinyl sent to my office. My friends and family treated me like a princess.

Christine's Bridal Shower: Had so much fun spending the day with Christine and Paul's family members and watching how happy my BFF was to be surrounded by her family and friends, preparing for her big wedding day.

Tiger's Game with my Church Group: I got involved in the young adult group at my church, and the Tigers game was one of our activities. I got to bring Tom with me, and we had a lot of fun even though the Tigers lost. He even bought me a stuffed Paws to make up for the Tigers loss :)

Dream Cruise Night: Sam, Lauren, Chris, Tom, and I spent dream cruise evening grilling outside, chowing down on delicious foods, walking on Woodward, and playing ROCKBAND. We had a lovely time. It was so chill, so fun, so full of laughs.

Crashing A Bachelorette Party: Lauren took Sam and I with her to her friends party. We didn't know the bride to be, but we made ourselves at home on the party bust, turned up the jams and had an amazing night!

Summer Softball: I absolutely love my softball team. They are the best. We've been playing together for a while, and some players have left and we've adopted new ones, but we're a team, and we act like it. Some of those people are like siblings to me. Plus I have my sister and Dave playing, and my parents as our "coaches". We had a hell of a season and wound up in 2nd place overall. I can't wait until next year.

Losing 10 lbs: My weight was becoming a problem. A big, big problem It was affecting my physical health. My mental health was causing the weight gain. I was in a horrible spot, physically and mentally. Most don't even know how bad it was. So far me to say that I have lost 10 lbs this summer, and am well on my way to losing more, is a huge accomplishment and something that make me very, very happy. My lifestyle has changed. I am better. I am healthier.

Christine's Bachelorette Party: And finally, this past weekend packed away all the summer memories. Christine, Michelle and I headed across the state to Lake Michigan for the weekend. We had a very relaxing, lovely time, spending time on the beach, at the casino, chowing down, etc. I know it's what Christine needed to refuel before she does all the last minute wedding stuff, and I'm glad we could give her a quiet, relaxing weekend. So much fun!

 I had an amazing summer. I'd like to thank everyone who was on the list that made me giggle, made me forget my problems.  Especially my roommates who were with me for almost every summer moment (seriously. Almost every single one), who made me laugh hysterically every night, who helped me have a beautiful birthday and who listen to everything I carry on about. I also want to thank Tom, who was also there for me through everything and who got me the best birthday present I have ever gotten: a record player. I could not be more grateful.

And finally, I want to thank my parents who push me and support me every single day. I have the greatest parents in the world.

So long, sweet summer 2013. Thanks for the memories.