Saturday, December 30, 2017

A gentle reminder

I’m a fixer. I like to fix things. I like to help my friends and family and my coworkers. When I see a problem, I work to fix it. 

There’s so much going on in my life right now that I simply can’t fix. I can’t take away my dads illness. I can’t take away my moms stress. I can’t keep my apartment as neat and tidy as I would like. I can’t see my husband as much as we both would like. I can’t be at work. I can’t always be at my parents house but I can’t always be at my own house either. I can’t workout as much as I want to. I can’t hang out with my friends. 

And it’s weighing on me. I’m used to being in control (for the most part) and able to balance giving a little bit of myself to everyone around me. Right now it’s more like whack a mole. I temporarily “fix” one thing, while I million other things pop up. 

And while I KNOW that no one around me expects me to fix everything, I put an immense pressure on myself to be the fixer. So I start to feel guilty. Things left undone or unsolved drive me absolutely crazy.

Tonight I sat in these thoughts for a few moments. I kept hearing the same phrases over and over again running through my mind “give it up” “let it go”, and “surrender”.

I have to let it go. I have to know that I am only one person. That I am not going to be able to be there for everyone else right now, and that’s okay. That my work can be put on hold. That my friends can (hopefully) be there on the sidelines, supporting me and waiting for me. That my husband is the most understanding and kind person I know and that he doesn’t feel like I am abandoning him.

Why are we always the toughest on ourselves? Why is it so hard to block those nasty, untrue thoughts that come into our brain? Why is it so hard to let go? And to forgive ourselves?

And so, Megan, the next time you start to feel like you aren’t doing enough, remember this:

You’re the only you that you’ve got.
You deserve to be cherished and protected just as you cherish and protect those in your life.
Be as gentle and kind with your heart as you are with others.
Let go.
And take one step at a time. 
You cannot plan too far ahead, not now. 
You can only live by each moment.
The world is not going to stop, that’s true.
But you can stop.
And you can come back to your to do lists when the time is right.
For now, just take small steps.
And deep breaths.

And know that you are doing enough, and that you are enough.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Small Miracles

When my dad was first diagnosed with cancer, he started to use the term "small miracles". He would encourage us to look for small miracles in every day life. I took him somewhat seriously, and it changed the way I looked at life. I try to spend less time thinking about the "next big thing" and more time enjoying each moment, finding gratitude in every day, and viewing hard experiences as learning experiences. I don't always excel at this, of course. I am human. But I've tried.

Here's what my dad may not always realize: he is a miracle. The last four and a half years have been a miracle. I don't use that word lightly, either. But looking at all he has overcome, when all the odds were against him, is a miracle. 

With the guidance of my dad's oncologist, we have recently decided to transition him to hospice. Certainly not an easy choice for anyone, and we are each dealing with our emotions in our own way. At the same time, I am able to recognize the gift we've been given. 

First of all, I recognize how lucky I am to call him dad. I've always known this, but seeing the comments of well wishes has further validated this statement. So many friends of mine, my brother, and my sister feel very close to my dad. He has always been the kind of guy who takes other people in. He knows our friends, and he loves them. He knows my mom's friends, and he loves them. 

I recognize the gift of time. Time to spend with him, reflecting, praying, conversing. Time to tell him how much we love him, and assure him that we will all be okay.

I recognize the gift of community, and how it has become so strong over the last four years. We couldn't have fought this battle alone, and we never had to. Our friends, family, church community, and co-workers have joined our army, and it's been a beautiful thing to receive so much love and empathy. 

I recognize the gift that my dad made it to my wedding. We had our doubts, early in the springtime. But he pushed through, and he made it there to help get me down the aisle. I will cherish the memory of that experience for as long as I live.

I realize that I am painting a picture of one that is content and at peace. I assure you, I am struggling. But I am fully capable of struggling and recognizing the good, all at the same time. It's complicated and exhausting and I am nearly always on the verge of tears. But another gift that I have is my strength. And I know that with my strength and the army of people with and behind me, I will forge on. 

Knowing what I know about grief, I am fairly certain that one of the most challenging parts about all of this will be that the outside world will go on as normal. It isn't going to stop because of what my family is going through. There's still work to be done, problems to be solved. I will want to hit a pause button but I will not be able to, and will have to go on balancing it all, envious of everyone else who gets to live a "normal" life. 

I'm not sure how else to end this post, other than to say thank you for reading, thank you for understanding, and thank you for your gift of friendship. Please continue to keep my family in your prayers during this time. I would especially ask for prayers for my mom.  Also, give hugs. I like hugs.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Favorite Tweets- 2017

A few of my friends always seem to enjoy this post, so here we are. No long introduction, other than to say that this year has been a rough one for our country, and Twitter was both toxic and comforting at the same time. Here are some of my favorite tweets of the year.

And that's a wrap, folks!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Favorite Albums:2017

10. Imagine Dragons, Evolve. Need an album for your run? Evolve is it. Their sound hasn't changed from previous work, which may or may not be important to you. For me, this is just what I expect and need from Imagine Dragons. It's a powerful album, from the lyrics to the musicality.

Favorite Songs:
Believer"Don't you tell me what you think that I can be/I'm the one at the sail, I'm the master of my sea"
Whatever It Takes "Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains"
Walking The Wire "Oh I'll take your hand when the thunder roars"

9. David Archuleta, Postcards In The Sky. Admittedly, I didn't even realize David was releasing an album until he posted the week it was due to come out. I figured I'd give it a listen, mostly out of solidarity as an Idol fan (and that my best friend is a huge fan). I was very pleasantly surprised to hear an incredible album! David poured his heart and soul into these tracks. It's his best work, by far. Messages of hope, light and love are woven throughout every track. Listen to it when you need to feel at peace.

Favorite Songs:
Numb "Someone out there's on my side, it's not my place to question why"
Shine A Light "Look up ahead/you’re gonna stop ‘em/The good is never gone
Cracks of Heaven "every day's a fight, but it'll be alright"

8. Pink, Beautiful Trauma. Pink is one of the artists out that releases consistently good music. I had no doubt that I would like her album. She's a strong singer with well crafted pop songs. I was especially excited for this album once I heard "What About Us" on the radio. Personally, I felt that was one of her best singles in years. 

Favorite Songs:
 What About Us "I don't want control, I want to let go"
You Get My Love"You get my love/don't let my mistakes take that away from us"
Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken "There's not enough rope to tie me down/There's not enough tape to shut this mouth/The stones you throw can make me bleed/But I won't stop until we're free

7. Demi Lovato, Tell Me You Love Me. I like Demi and I have ever since she released "Skyscraper". I think she's brave, powerful, and strong. I've always thought that of the "Disney stars", she has the strongest vocals. Her album came out when I was on my honeymoon, and I remember sitting in our Florida condo listening to it track by track while Tom went out to catch Pokemon. I was impressed, acknowledging her maturity in this album. It's a solid pop album with a combination of power ballads and fun, sassy tracks.

Favorite Songs:
Sorry Not Sorry "Feelin inspired cause the tables have turned/yeah I'm on fire and I know that it hurts"
Tell Me You Love Me "What's my hand without your heart to hold? I don't know what I'm living for if I'm living without you"
Games "Careful when you play these games/you might found out the hard way that two can play these games"

6. Sam Smith, The Thrill Of It All. Earlier this year, Tom turned to me randomly and said "whatever happened to Sam Smith?". I laughed. I mean, I can appreciate Sam's incredible vocals, but he wasn't an artist I was anxiously waiting to release music. But then I heard this album. It's amazing. Sam delivers a massive serving of emotion through his lyrics and vocals.

Favorite songs:
No Peace "I used to find comfort in your arms/caught up in the wonder of your charms"
Pray "There's dread in my heart and fear in my bones/I just don't know what to say/maybe I'll pray"
HIM ""Holy Father, we need to talk/I have a secret that I can't keep".

5. Lorde, Melodrama. I was counting down the days for Lorde to release a new album. I was a huge fan of her first album, plus the work she did on the Hunger Games soundtrack. It's obvious how hard Lorde worked to craft this album, and the four year wait was worth it. Her collaboration with Jack Antonoff was the perfect fit for this album. It's catchy, synth heavy, and lyrically impressive. The best part of this album is that every time I listen, I find something new that I love.

Favorite Songs:
Writer In the Dark "But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power/I found a way to be a without you"
The Louvre "But we're the greatest/they'll hang us in the Louvre/down the back, but who cares? Still the Louvre".
Supercut "We were wild and florescent/come home to my heart"

4.Ed Sheeran, Divide. I've been a fan of Ed Sheeran since I randomly discovered him on Youtube in 2011. Each of his albums have made my "favorites" list. He's just so good. I recently heard someone say "Ed Sheeran is good for running and for just chill mix". It's so true- he somehow makes music that makes me want to move and sit on the couch and cry at the same time. In fact, that's what makes it so hard to pick my favorite songs. Do I go with the ones that helped me run, or the ones that made me cry? I picked a little of both.

Favorite Songs:
Castle On The Hill "these people raised me, and I can't wait to go home"
Perfect: "We are still kids, but we're so in love/fighting against all odds"
Supermarket Flowers "When I fell down you'd be there holding me up/spread your wings as you go/when God takes you back, He'll say Hallelujah you're home"

3 Taylor Swift, Reputation. From the moment Taylor started posting cryptic snake photos on her social media sites, I knew we were about to have a sassy, different album. I was right. I'm never quite sure how to describe this album. Over the past few years, Taylor has gone from America's Sweetheart to the pop star everyone loves to hate. She wrote Reputation about that. It's evident to me that some of these songs are supposed to be the "media version" of Taylor, and some are more real life. Taylor touches on the drama, revenge, loss, anger in this album, while weaving in songs and lyrics about the love she's found. While totally different than the old Taylor we know, this album is creative, aggressive, sassy, and fun.

Favorite Songs: 
Don't Blame Me "Halo, hiding my obsession/I once was poison ivy, but now I'm your daisy"
New Year's Day "please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere"
Getaway Car "It's no surprise I turned you in/cause us traitors never win"

2. Mandisa, Out Of The Dark. Mandisa's album released at a time in my life when I needed to hear the words she was singing. My dad was in the hospital in early May, and her album released May 19th. We learned that my dad's cancer had spread to the spinal fluid. The next few months took  a huge emotional toll on me. I struggled (and still am struggling) with anxiety and depression. Mandisa's album is about her coming out of a very dark period of depression. This timely, beautiful piece of work is her best album yet, in my opinion. It's honest, encouraging, heartbreaking and comforting. She adds some fun and soul stomping music into it, too. Emotionally, this is the album that meant the most to me this year. I recommend it to anyone, but especially those struggling with depression or anxiety. You are not alone. I am so incredibly proud of Mandisa for her bravery.

Favorite Songs:
I'm Still Here "Now I see there's a reason I survived/there's a story still to write"
Unfinished "But I picked myself back up and I started telling me/No, my God's not done making me a masterpiece/He's still working on me"
Back To Life "Shame and depression, and all anxieties/they have no power over me"

1. Kelly Clarkson, Meaning Of Life. ALL THE PRAISE HANDS! I was counting down the days until Kelly Clarkson released this album. As a fan, I knew that she was switching record companies (a blessing and something Kelly has been anxiously waiting for) and that Kelly was making an album of songs with soul and sass. This album is incredible. Her powerful voice shines on every single track, she's truly never sounded better as she does on Meaning Of Life. There are no weak songs on the album. How often can you say that? Usually there are 1-2 songs I skip. Not on Meaning Of Life. Which makes it incredibly difficult to pick my three favorites, but...

Favorite Songs:
Didn't I "I can't stay clean with all the dirt you're throwing at me/then turn around and call me a queen"
I Don't Think About You "I feel freedom where I stand now/And I feel proud of who I am now"
Meaning Of Life "I was broke down so long in the dark/until you showed me the light

Take a listen, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Let the number GO!

I've posted a couple times now that I gained a few pounds over the summer. My dad's hospitalization in the spring really took a toll on me, and in those few months, I gained a few extra pounds. I've gone up and down, but mostly have been hovering at about 4 lbs my goal weight. I know. 4 stinking pounds.

And I try to act like it doesn't bother me, I nod along when people tell me I'm too hard on myself. I read blogs about weight loss plateaus and how the scale doesn't matter. But I'm still bothered by it. I let a number define me. After all my preaching to other people about not paying attention to the scale.

Last Monday, I had a doctors appointment. I was terrified. I thought for sure she would say something about my weight. I wore my lightest outfit and cringed when I stepped on the scale in the hallway, certain that the nurse assistant would comment on the increase on the scale. Neither of them said a word.

Because I think I'm the only one who cares.

I take that back, I know I'm the only one who cares.

I workout somewhere between 3-5 days a week. Admittedly, these past few months have been rough and it's closer to 3 than 5 most weeks. But I do my best. I drink a lot of water, and I eat pretty well. Overall, I am really healthy person. I also know that my stress level has been incredibly high, which can make you gain weight, even if you're healthy.

So why can't I let that number go? Why am I holding myself to a number?

Why can't I truly be okay with "not looking at the scale"?

I don't know.

I can't control the number that shows up on that thing.

What I can control is how often I exercise and what I put in my body. So I have to shift my focus on those two things, and letting go of the number on the scale. Letting go of beating myself up. I need to embrace that I am alive, I am here, and I am moving forward.

This goes for any number- your salary, age, etc. We are not those numbers. We are more. It's time to start treating ourselves like it.

PS- I know, I've written about this before. But as it came up again, I found myself needing to let it out...again....

Monday, November 6, 2017

answering the tough question

I get asked how my dad is doing roughly 10 times a day, give or take. And I'm not complaining. It means the world to me that people care, and I would MUCH rather have people reach out and ask me then to ignore the elephant in a room and leave me feeling lonely and forgotten.

So, I don't mind you asking.

But here's the thing you should know.

You will not always like the answer.

I wish I could say "he's great!". But that's just not true.

He's really, really sick, and on any given day his status could decline further.

So when I'm asked how he's doing, and I say "not great", I see the look on your face. The sadness. And I quickly add little caveats like "but we're just taking it one day at a time!" or "but he's in good spirits!" because I don't want to leave you feeling sad or upset.

When I try to tell you his latest update, I feel like I just snowball into this long conversation  that you didn't really ask to be engaged in.

The truth is that this is a really challenging time for all of us, most especially my mom, and that at any given moment we could break or snap at you because we have more emotions running through our veins than we know what to do with. The truth is that we just need you to listen, to help us get the self care we all so desperatley need, to understand that it's hard to make long term plans because cancer is the most unpredictable little booger. We need you to offer something tangible to do, instead of asking if we need anything, because that question is much to broad to try to answer. The truth is that when you ask us how we are doing, or how my dad is doing, we're scared to respond and we may either babble on too much or give you a quick, closed off response. The truth is we just need our friends to embrace us, literally and figuratively.

As hard as it is when you ask, don't stop, or don't feel like you can't or you shouldn't. It's far more hurtful when you ignore it. I know, it's confusing. I know you don't always know what to say. And that's okay. Just be there. Preferably with open arms, at least for me, because I like hugs.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Be Kind To Yourself

As I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I looked at the date on the calendar and could not believe that it's been 1 month since our wedding day. It seems so long ago now, like a distant memory. All of the planning and prepping for that day, and it was over so fast. I will cherish the memories of our special day for as long as I live, but I wish I could go back and freeze time. I could live in those happy moments forever.

Life since we came back from the honeymoon has been a whirlwind. Outside my world, it's been the Vegas shootings, the sexual abuse/harassment stories, and all of the nasty fighting and hate that has been surrounding us. Inside my world? My work schedule has been demanding, exhausting, fulfilling, and exciting all at once. My dad has been back in the hospital since October 9th. My mom has been working so hard to take care of him and keep up their house, the bills, etc. My best friend gave birth to her beautiful baby girl.  This is an absolute blessing, and I am so excited, but I worry I won't be able to support my friend as much as I want to. My apartment is a mess, because Tom and I are both working hours that don't allow for much time to tidy up. I haven't been able to work out as much, and I've noticed a pattern with emotional eating.

I feel as though I am at the bottom of a hole, and someone keeps tossing in piles of dirt. The second I see a clearing, another shovel comes with more dirt, and I have to climb my way out again.

And with that feeling comes the immense guilt as a side topping. I feel selfish for feeling this way. I know that others are suffering far worse than I am, so the negative thoughts in my brain tell me that I have no right to be complaining, that I should just keep my mouth shut and keep moving, that my problems/challenges are not validated. I beat myself up for feeling anxious/overwhelmed. I worry that I am not being a good enough daughter/friend/employee/coworker. That if I say no to someone, I am letting them down. Even as I write this post, I am worried that people reading this will think that I am being selfish or whiny.

I wish that I would start to believe all the things that I tell other people who may have found themselves in these situations. That I can't fix everything. That I can't be everything to everyone. That I can only do so much. And, perhaps most importantly, that I need to take care of myself. My initial instinct in life is to see how I can be of help to others around me. I see or hear other people struggling, and I go to help them. This is one of my greatest gifts, but also a hinder, because I hit burn out.

Right now, I'm not taking care of myself. I'm not saying very nice thing to myself, and not treating my body in a way that I know will renew my energy and refocus my mind. Someone in my circle told me that I am dehydrating myself, because I keep pouring out water without filling up my cup. (Also, in a literal sense, I haven't been good about drinking my water!)

So how do I fix it? Since I'm so big on fixing things, how do I step outside everything else happening and do a better job of taking care of myself? For one thing, I'm going to try to be better at drinking that water. I'm going to try to make time for workouts, and not feel guilty about choosing the gym over working or attending to someone else's needs. I am going to try to put my phone down at night and read instead. I'm going to try to slow down. I'm going to resist reaching my hand into the candy jars at work. I'm going to try to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, because I know the dark and cold days are coming soon.

Thank you for reading, my friends. Let's all care for each other and ourselves, with no expectations or limits. Ready? Break.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We are love.

Disclaimer: This is cheesy, but from the heart. Read on.

Tom and I are two people who were meant to be together. We are two people who signed up on a dating website, looking for love. We are two people who dated once, broke up, became friends, and then, slowly but somehow not so slowly, fell in love. We are two people who are getting married in just a few weeks. We are two people who understand each other, who embrace each other, who encourage one another. We are two people who were lucky enough to find one another.

I believe that Tom and I are a combination of the love that surrounds us. We are the love of our parents. Both mine and his have stood by one another through very difficult times, putting love and family first. They have brought the words "dedication", "commitment", and "partnership" to life. We are the love of our siblings, each so different but each so wonderful. We are my sister's patience, my brother's humor, and Nick's perseverance. We are the love that we have seen our siblings show their partners. We have grown tremendously through their examples. We are the love of of nephews and niece, who light up our lives and make us want to be better and to do our part to make a better, brighter world.

We are the love of our friends, who bring so much joy and laughter to our lives, who have stood by us and watched us grow. The memories we've made with our friends, and the examples they have been in our lives, have made life a little more fun, a little less scary, and a lot more beautiful.

We are the love of God. My very favorite quote from Les Miserables says "To love another person is to see the face of God". I am not quite sure I really knew what that meant until I loved Tom. Although our religious views differ, I know with full confidence that God brought us together, and that the Love God instilled in both of us is what has kept us together.

Lastly, I am Tom's love. I am his patience, understanding, compassion, encouragement. I am more "me" because of him, he's brought out the very best in me, and continues to love me even when I am at my worst. He is the only person I could ever imagine having by my side, forever and always. He is my love.

On September 23rd, we will be celebrating our love and our commitment to one another. Every single person in that chapel and in that reception hall has been an impact on the way Tom and I live our lives. It is your love that inspires us, and our love for each of you goes beyond measure. It's a day of celebration. My greatest hope is that we hold on tight to the love we feel at weddings, and we go out in the world and spread it- to everyone we meet, no matter how different they are from us.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Dad is an Overcomer

Note: I wrote this blog post last Thursday but have been waiting to post until we received official news on my dad's test results.

I lost my car in a parking garage today. In my defense, it was a very confusing parking garage, and I was trying to carry my heavy work bag, purse, VERY strong coffee, and vegan granola bar from the hipster coffee shop. After walking a few laps and taking trips up and down the steps, I did find my car.

I only had a slight moment of panic. I remained relatively calm, sipping on that super strong coffee. For a split second, I did think "okay but what if my car was gone? What would I do?"

I would probably call my dad.

At least, that's what I would have done 5 years ago.

I wouldn't now, he has enough to deal with. But is the first person I would think to call.

Because for the majority of my life, my dad was that person I called in crisis when it related to cars or money. Car accident? Call dad. Car battery dies on the freeway? Call dad. Over draft my bank account? Call dad.

And he always knew how to fix it, without judgment or overreacting.

I learned at a fairly young age that my dad was unique. Not only did he care for his three children, but he often served as a "second dad" to our friends. Everyone who knows my dad adores my dad. I have always seen his strength, his compassion and his gentle understanding. When he was diagnosed with cancer nearly four years ago to the date, it rocked our world. Suddenly, he needed us. The four years to follow have been incredibly rocky, full of ups and downs. I've written about them plenty of times before but I will not go into it here. I will just say that I have watched my dad suffer, in more ways than I ever thought possible, but time and time again, he has pulled through.

This guy is a true hero, even though he doesn't always see it. He has sailed through every single hurdle that this damn disease has put in front of him. He has never shown any hint of giving up. He is not letting this disease win. He has taken cancer for a ride. And even though he needs us and needs help now more than ever, he's still beating the odds.

Earlier this summer, we didn't think my dad would make it to the fall. On one of those days in the hospital, just shortly after he came out of a sort of comatose state, he looked me in the eye and said "I'm gonna make it". I asked him "make it to what?" And with all the confidence in the world, he said "September 23rd".

My wedding date.

The day before this happened, he didn't even know our names. But he pulled through, like he always does, and he's fought every single day since then so that he CAN and WILL make it to September 23rd- and beyond.

He is a rockstar, a warrior, a superhero, a fighter. He is my dad and I couldn't be more proud of him.

And let's not forget the woman that has stood behind him, walking right beside him through this entire journey. Mom, we know that you are the secret wings behind dad, pushing him, carrying him, encouraging him. None of us could do this without you. We love you.

Dad, your strength and determination is not only admirable, it's contagious. When you fight, we fight. We are your army, standing behind you in the front lines. You don't give up, so we keep marching on, picking you up when you get weak, but you are the one actually fighting this battle. And you're winning.


Here is a very quick run through of how my brain has operated this week:

A huge hurricane is about to hit Florida. It may hit our Honeymoon vacation spot. 
We might have to cancel our vacation, which we've been looking forward to since we got engaged.
The place where are going is so incredibly special to my family, and all I wanted was to take Tom there.
We won't cancel until we know what the storm is going to do.
We won't know what the storm is going to do until Friday or Saturday, and by Monday we can no longer cancel and get our money back.
We will only get our money back if the city has a mandatory evacuation.
We can't plan another trip without getting that money back
I'm going to follow every reputable meteorologist I can find to keep on top of updates.

Oh my god, I can't believe I am so worried about a vacation when these people are about to lose their homes and people are going to die.
What is wrong with me? When did I become so selfish and heartless? How could I even let myself worry first about a vacation?
This storm is very, very bad. I can't stop watching. No longer as worried about my precious vacation, but I am focusing on the sadness, unpredictability, and fear of it all.

Why is this happening?
Why does God let this happen?
Where is God?
I thought I had a strong faith, why am I questioning God?
But I don't understand how this can happen.
No one deserves this.
Why isn't God stepping in?
How can I help?
Are there enough resources left over from Harvey to help Florida, Puerto Rico and all the other affected areas?
Do my friends who live in Florida have somewhere to go? Can they get out? 
This isn't fair.

Tom and I will just deal with whatever happens. It doesn't matter. There are bigger things in life than a vacation. If we have to cancel we will make do. We will have a vacation somewhere else, somehow we will pull together the money. Our vacation loss will be nothing compared to what other people are about to face.

God, I am sorry I questioned you but I can't even possibly imagine the reason for all of this, or why you are not stepping in, after there has already been so much destruction. I am thankful for my friends and mentors who have tried to find words to comfort me. And I do believe in You, and I believe you will provide- but I am struggling to understand why some people will have to lose everything they know in the process. I am praying that there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel, and that You have great plans in the works. I am praying that I gain trust in You. The one thing I have come to embrace in this whole thing is that life is so precious and unpredictable. This is a lesson I seem to be learning time and time again, and I am reminded of it once more with these hurricanes. We can plan all we want to, but sometimes life does not work out the way we imagined.

In sum, this week (and last, with Hurricane Harvey) I have felt anxious, confused, guilty, selfish, helpless, angry, fearful. I want to be able to make a human chain to Florida and every other affected area, and pull every person and animal in danger out of there, safe into a warm house. I don't want anyone else to suffer. I don't want anyone else to lose their home or business or certainly their life. But I can't do anything, except continue to donate to those in need.

I know it can be depressing to watch the news. Frustrating to hear updates. But please don't turn away. They need us. Those of us who are safe and capable need to come together and help. The one thing I am certain about God is that His (or Her) light is within each of us, as cheesy as that may sound I believe it, always have and always will. It's time to turn that light on as bright as we possibly can and help each other, it is not the time to hide or to ignore.

Stand strong, my friends.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Taylor Swift- Look What You Made Me Do

I know what you might be thinking. What 30 year old sits down to write a blog post about Taylor Swift?

I do.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Taylor's most recent single, Look What You Made Me Do, and perhaps even more buzz around her video to accompany the song. And ever since I first heard the song on Friday morning, I have wanted to share my thoughts. I've sent out a few tweets here and there since Friday, but let's face it, 140 characters just doesn't cut it.

Before we dive in, I should give some background on my Taylor Swift fandom. I have been a loyal fan since her first album dropped in 2006. I was fascinated that this 16 year old, just three years younger than I, was writing these incredible songs. And I wasn't even a fan of country music! I loved her lyrics. I've been following Taylor ever since, and have always appreciated her creativity when it came to songwriting, performing, and, let's face it, marketing. Taylor's music has been a major part of my life for 11 years now. So yes, you can say that I am a fan, and I am not ashamed nor do I think her music is solely for teenagers. I also have an incredible respect for the way she treats her fans (giving them gifts, paying for tuition or medical treatments, etc).

That being said, I've had my share of disappointments in Taylor. There are songs I refuse to listen to (22 and Welcome to New York being two examples). There have been times I've rolled my eyes at her. There have been times I wish she would speak up, and times I wish she wouldn't say anything. I recognize that she's done some shady things.

 But I certainly can see that people have been very unfair to Taylor, too. Calling her a "serial dater" when she is a teenager/young lady who is simply dating just as any other person her age does. Saying she only writes about heartbreak when literally 90% of the songs we hear on the radio are about love/heartbreak and no one complains about Ed Sheeran doing the exact same thing. Saying that she is "always playing the victim" when she literally HAS BEEN the victim in many situations.

So that sort of brings us to where we are today, with her recent release of the pop heavy Look What You Made Me Do. On first listen of the song, my initial reaction was that this MUST be about Kanye/Kim. But after a few more listens, I started to wonder if the song was actually Taylor talking to herself, at different phases of her life/career. I thought this song could maybe be like Blank Space, which is a total sarcastic response to the media's image of Taylor's dating life.

After watching the video, I think I might be on the right track. Sure, there could be some subtle digs at Kanye, Kim, and Katy. But I truly think the real "bad guy" in the song is the media, combined with mistakes or missteps Taylor has made along the way. This was especially obvious toward the end of the video, when all of the "old Taylors" are knocked down by the new Taylor, and at the very end of the video where Taylor full on addresses some of the most common criticism she has faced along the way.

I know that for a lot of people, this song is another "she's playing the victim" song. But in my mind, it's Taylor taking back ownership of what she's created. And frankly, she should. Taylor is one of the most hardworking people in the industry, several folks who have worked for her can back up that claim. And she makes a lot of, if not all of, the creative decisions surrounding her work.

I get that a lot of people won't like this song. People miss the old "Teardrops on My Guitar" Taylor or they just think this song is too much. I'm not here to convince you to like it. People have different music tastes and I get that (and frankly, I hated Shake It Off the first several times I heard it). What I'm doing here is simply saying "Taylor, I get the song, I get the video, and I support you".

If you appreciate creativity, symbolism, or are just genuinely curious about Taylor's video, check it out below. You can read a breakdown of all the symbolism here. It really is quite fascinating and creative. Also, I should add, I have not cared or appreciated a music video in about 5 years, so obviously something about this is sitting with me:

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Last 5 Years

Five years ago, I wrote a blog post sharing life lessons that I had learned by the age of 25. It was one of my most popular posts, and frankly, one of the most fun to write. You can read that post here.

Each of those were strong, important lessons. Lessons I am ever so grateful for learning. But at the time, I had no idea what was to come next. The five years that followed that blog post were ones full of self discovery, adventure, challenges, and accomplishments.They were my growth years. They were the years I experienced heartbreak, fell in love, put myself first, grew closer with my family, and found myself. They were the years I found my voice, I pushed past the fear that had held me back for so long, and learned to forgive myself.

So I am here to update you on some lessons I have learned in these 5 important years.
  • Just because someone can make you laugh and buy you presents doesn't mean they are your soul mate. 
  • If you get the feeling someone is not being truthful with you, don't ignore it just to avoid conflict. 
  • Do not let another person define your worth. 
  • Cut yourself free from anyone or anything causing you pain. 
  • Family, above anything else, is the most important thing in the world.
  • The best way to get revenge on someone else is to prove to them you are so much better than the way they treated you.
  • You are worthy of being healthy and happy.
  • Pay attention to the people who embrace you when you are feeling the most unlovable. 
  • When you think you can't, you can. When you want to give up, push harder.
  • There are very few things a Girls Weekend trip cannot fix.
  • Do not be afraid to be happy. Do not be afraid to succeed. 
  • Let love in, even when it's hard. 
  • Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. Your dreams do not came true with a snap of a finger. 
  • That special guy who is patiently waiting for you to put your guard down IS probably your soulmate, so stop ignoring it.
  • Cancer is an asshole, and it does not discriminate. Cancer can happen to anyone at any time. 
  • Let people help you when they want to help you.
  • You do not have to live life the way society wants you to. You do not have to follow anyone's timeline but your own. This is your journey.
  • Taking care of yourself and becoming the strongest, healthiest version of yourself is not selfish. Do not let people tell you otherwise. You truly cannot begin to take care of others if you yourself are not taken care of.
  • You are capable of so much more than you ever even imagined. You just have to try.
  • Be open to new opportunities and challenges. Do not put yourself in a box. 
  • You will feel tired, worn down, and defeated when challenges arise. Allow yourself to rest, and find the spark to keep fighting.
  • Treat every single person you meet with love, but do not forget to love yourself just as fiercely. 
  • While it is nearly impossible to keep in constant contact with your friends, do your best, and remind them how much you love them. 
  • It's okay to breakdown. Find a health way to empty the negativity from your life, cry it out, and take the next step forward.
  • Take pride in your accomplishments, and own them.
  • Understand that you are a constantly changing, ever growing human who will make mistakes, and that's okay. 
  • Marry that guy who was waiting for you, who stood by you through all of the curve balls life threw at you, and who would do anything to make you happy. 

There are so many more lessons where these came from, you guys. It's been a jam packed, fast faced, incredible five years. When I wrote that blog post 5 years ago I had no idea that my life was going to change. I didn't know that I would lose 140 lbs, or that I would find a job that I absolutely adore, or that my dad would be diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know that I would fall in love and get engaged to a guy who I had already dated once before. I didn't know that I would have a niece and nephew who I would love so much. I didn't know the toll my dad's cancer diagnosis would take on my family, and I sure didn't know the unexpected blessings that would come with that diagnosis. I didn't know that I could be happy. 

I am not afraid to be 30. I am embracing 30. To me, it is just a number. I am not worried about a timeline or what next year or the next 5 years will look like. Perhaps that is because the biggest lesson I have learned is that you truly cannot plan for anything in life. We are not in control, here, and we have to learn that it's okay. Things happen, plans change, and it's all for a very distinct purpose. 

I am sending so much love out to each and every single one of you who have been there for me in these 5 years of craziness. I couldn't have possibly learned all of these lessons without you.

Closing with a song that I believe defines my last 5 years.

Monday, July 10, 2017

All We Need Is Hope.

It's hard to believe that it has already been over a month since I last wrote a blog entry. True, I do not blog as much as I once did, but it still seems hard to believe that so much time has passed.

When I last wrote, I spoke of the hardships my family was facing with my dad's cancer. One month later, we're still there. The roller coaster ride has not stopped, not even for a moment for us to catch our breath. But we are still holding on.

Tonight I feel it on my heart to share (duh, Megan, why else would you post a blog) something that has been weighing on my heart.

I'm getting married in 75 days. And I'm beyond excited. We are starting to get some of the RSVP's back, I've had my bridal shower, and there is really not much left to do besides the last minute logistics stuff and figure out the seating chart. Oh, and I have to pick up my dress. But other than that, we are pretty much on track with our to do list. But aside from the details of the ceremony and reception, I am so incredibly excited to marry Tom and to start this next chapter of our life. I am finding that I am starting to lay in bed just dreaming of our special day, our honeymoon, and the life we are about to have together.

But every single time I start to get excited, that excitement comes with a side of guilt. I feel almost selfish for being so excited about our wedding day, when my dad is fighting this battle and my mom is dedicating her life to taking care of my dad. I also get a side of anxiety. I mean, that's pretty natural when it comes to thinking about your wedding, but I have worries about my dad. I, along with almost everyone else in my life, have very, very strong gut feelings that he WILL make it to my wedding. And every time I see him, he reminds me that he will make it there. And I am trying to trust in God on this one. But that doesn't mean I don't worry about his health and whether or not he will be able to participate. And with these worries comes the lonely feeling, because there aren't too many people around who understand these feelings. I even checked the wedding forums. There are people in similar situations, but no one knows what to say except "I'm so sorry, I hope **insert relative here** feels better". And I don't blame people. There is no answer for this. I just wish that there was. I wish no one had to worry if their loved ones would or wouldn't make it to their wedding.

Combine all of this, along with the general wedding anxieties, plus work, and you get me. A sort of tangled web of excitement, fear, anger, guilt, and extreme sensitivity.

So what gets me through?

I take a breath. I remind myself that the little stuff (or as I like to call it, the Pinterest shit) for the wedding does not matter. I go to the gym. I carve out time to spend with Tom or my family. I listen to a LOT of music. I do what I can to help my mom with my dad. I pray. I go to church. I cry.

And now, for the first time ever, I share.

I bet I can guess what some might be thinking- none of us ever know what tomorrow brings, so why spend all our time worrying? Well, when there is a dark cloud of worry hanging over your head that literally is unpredictable and simply will not disappear, you can't help but to just dance in it's raindrops and hope the sun comes back out, pushing the cloud back out of the picture.

And that's what I'm trying to do-. Embrace the craziness of this roller coaster, hanging on tight to hope and to the people around me, understanding that it's beyond my control and that I can only do what I can do and spread my love as loudly as I can.

As always, thank you all for all the love.

PS: I know I've shared this song before, but it's become my mantra.

Monday, June 5, 2017

I Have This Hope

When someone you love has cancer, people try to tell you to be positive. They encourage you to live your life to the fullest, to cherish every moment, to take one step at a time. And for the most part, you can do that. You can take a deep breath and move forward, living life as normally as you can, accepting that cancer is just a little extra burden that you have to carry around.

But, because cancer is unpredictable, sometimes it decides to sucker punch you in the gut. You lose your positivity. Your strength starts to fade. You can't imagine how you're going to take one step forward, because you're so damn tired. And you try so hard to be positive, to look on the bright side, to hold onto hope, but cancer puts a dreariness over your world that you didn't even know was possible.

I've said before that cancer is a rollercoaster. One minute things are fine, the next you're going downhill fast, until someone or something sends you back up again.

My family has been on the cancer rollercoaster for almost four years now, and frankly, I hate it. We seem to have jumped ship to an even rockier, scarier rollercoaster now. I never asked for that, thank you very much.

It's been about 4 weeks since we found out that my dad's cancer had spread to his spinal fluid. He was put on chemo, which (we think) sent him into a weird state of confusion/unresponsiveness. He has pulled out of that now, but the poor guy is very weak, and very sick of being in the hospital. Of course, we know must also decide how to proceed, if he truly cannot handle the chemo. The medical team is running more tests and discussing options. While that's happening, we wait. We sit by his side and try to keep his spirits up. We test his memory. We support each other. We break down into tears, or fall apart laughing over the most ridiculous things.

I'm used to riding this rollercoaster with my family. But this time around, I told my coworkers, and basically anyone who will listen, that I need everyone to jump on with us. We know how serious this diagnosis is, and that it can be extremely difficult to treat. We have no idea what the next days, weeks, months will bring, but I am certain that they will bring a whole lot of emotion with them, and I am not going to lie and say that we can do this alone. We need prayers, hugs, etc.

Oh, and I'm getting married in just a little under 4 months. So on top of the journey with my dad, I am preparing for a life long commitment to my best friend, and planning for a celebration of that marriage. I have had a few people make suggestions for how I should handle my wedding (or ask what I am planning to do). I really didn't feel like I could write this blog without addressing the elephant in the room. So I will say this: My dad and I have talked. Tom and I have talked. We've got it covered. Trust me, the emotions I feel on this subject are quite intense, but I assure you all, everyone over here on my end is on the same page. I think that's really all anyone needs to know.

I will close this by saying thank you. Thank you for the prayers- if anyone is ever doubting the power of prayer you just need to come hang out with us for a while. Your prayers are working, and giving us both the grace and comfort that we need to power through. Thank you for the sweet texts, cards, messages, etc. Thank you for stepping up when we need someone to fill in for us. Thank you for the meals, treats and snacks. Thank you for being such wonderful, compassionate, beautiful souls. Thank you for everyone who sees me in Church and takes the time to ask how I am doing. Thank you for my coworkers for the coffee dates, encouragement, hugs, and for working so hard to put an end to this disease. And finally, thank you for hopping in a cart and taking this ride with us.

So, so, so much love. Like, an insane amount of love.

Oh- one more thing- of all the emotions I have been feeling as of late, the greatest of them all is hope. I have gotten a lot of that hope through all of you and your stories and your empathy. So thank you for giving me hope.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Carry You

I am not going to go into the whole long story about what is happening with my dad, because I assume if you are reading this you already know.

The short story: My dad's cancer has spread to his spinal fluid. This is a very serious diagnosis. Tomorrow he is having surgery to put a shunt in his brain, and from there he will get chemo through that shunt directly to the spinal fluid.

How did this happen?

My animated answer is that cancer is a bitch. (Excuse the language). You just never know what cancer will do.

The (sort of) scientific/medical answer is that cancer cells can go rogue, nearly impossible to detect, and they spread to other parts of the body. After 4 years of surviving Stage 4 Lung Cancer with Brain Metastasis, my dad's cancer cells have decided that the spinal fluid seems like a fun place to live. So they broke off from the brain and traveled to the fluid.

Like I said, cancer is a bitch.

A lot of people are asking how we are feeling, how we are doing, what we need. I'm going to try to answer these questions as best I can, right now in this moment. Be warned, this is me unloading my stream of consciousness. Also, I speak only for myself, not for other members of my family.

I'm tired. More tired than I can ever remember being before. Before Tom and I left the house this morning I asked him "Why am I so tired". He just sweetly said "Babe, you're stressed". Right. Duh. I'm stressed. That explains the tiredness, the headache, the craving for carbs and sweets. I'm scared. I'm afraid to see people who I'm close to because I think I might just sob. I don't always know what to say so I make awkward conversation. I'm hopeful but not too hopeful. I'm trying to be strong, but I have moments where I break down, and then I feel guilty because everyone just keeps telling me to be strong and to think positive. I want to spend every minute at the hospital and yet when I get there I just want it to all go away and go back to "normal". But, despite all of this, I am ready. I am ready to keep going. I am ready to fight alongside my dad. I am ready to take on each challenge. I am ready for the breakdowns that will come.

My sister said it best when she told a friend of ours "we are prepared for the worst but hoping for the best". From here on, that is my mantra.

We are not a family that gives up and you will not see us quit no matter what is thrown our way. We may stumble, we may take a time out, we may wonder how we will keep going, but we WILL keep going. For each other.

I love you all, I appreciate the prayers and well wishes and acts of kindness more than you know.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Maintenance Update

I cannot believe how incredibly quickly March has flown by. It feels like we were just watching the Superbowl and celebrating Valentine's Day, now we are just days away from Easter.

March has been a stressful month for me. I was really sick in the beginning and had to take a few days off work. I never felt fully caught up (and still don't) from just those few days. In fact, I just blocked my Friday to be a "catch up" day.  On the days I was working, things were super busy! I had so many meetings, events, and projects starting in March. It's all super exciting stuff, but also super time consuming, and requiring a lot of careful follow up.

Also, looking ahead, I know how busy May and June will be. So part of my stress is anticipatory.

That being said..... the stress, combined with too many carbs, backing down on my workouts a bit and slacking on my water= I gained a little weight. By little I do mean little, 5 lbs to be exact. I'm still at my goal weight (exactly at it). I just enjoyed being 5 lbs under that weight. It gave me some flexibility. So it's nothing crazy, and certainly something that can be expected during stress and changes.

It was a little painful to see it on the scale, at first. I felt badly about myself, guilty, and immediately started planning for what I can do to lose 5 lbs. It wasn't a great feeling.

In the days since, I have calmed down. I've realized it's okay. I don't need to do anything crazy. I could certainly change some things, like less bread (oh my gosh, after the stomach flu all I ate was bread!), more water, and more consistent workouts (back to 4-5 days a week). I can do this, it may take a while, but I've certainly lost more than 5 lbs and I know I can do it again.

I'm writing this because I don't feel like you often see people talk about the maintenance phase of weight loss. I lost over 130 lbs. I've kept that weight off for a year and a half. That is a LOT to be proud of. And I am proud of it. But it's not always sunshine and rainbows. I still get down on myself. I still worry that I need to lose more. I still feel guilty if I eat a piece of cake. It's just the reality. I don't believe that maintenance is "the hard part" (so many people told me it would be). Losing the weight was much harder. But keeping it off certainly takes discipline...and also understanding, which I am slowly learning.

I can do this and I will do this. 5 lbs is nothing. And I'll gain those 5 lbs back again sometime, and have to lose them again. It's part of my life now. I just have to know that, accept and embrace it, and keep moving on through life without being to obsessed with a number on the scale.

Whatever goals you have, please do not beat yourself up when you get a little off track. There's too many other things in life trying to bring you down, your own self talk should not be one of them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Being Brave

I have found that the times I am most proud of myself are the times when I was brave. For me, it's not always about the wins, numbers, or titles in life. It's about those moments when I don't think I can do something, and then I do it anyway.

I try to practice my bravery every single day. I try to do things that I am scared to do: make that phone call, send the e-mail, ask the question, make a suggestion, speak up in the meeting. These are all things that seem small, but can sometimes be incredibly difficult for me. But I do them anyways. It may not seem like much on an average day, but the little things encourage me to try bigger things. To be just a little bit braver and bolder.

My constant fear, one that has been there for most of my life, is one of being wrong. It's why I almost never raised my hand in class growing up. I am almost 30 years old and slowly learning that it is okay to be wrong. It's not a fault or a flaw, it is merely a chance to learn from it, ask more questions, gain understanding, and start fresh. There is no need to be embarrassed to be wrong. We were meant to be wrong sometimes. We were meant to trip so that we can get back up again.

When you start to learn that it's okay to make a mistake, you can begin to be a little bit braver. You no longer are paralyzed by the fear of someone disagreeing with you, so you speak up.

It's a slow process for me. I still doubt myself quite often. But man, in those moments where my bravery shines through, I sure feel proud. And I recognize when others are showing their bravery, too. I know this life isn't easy for any of us and that so many of us wrestle with self doubt and worry. So know that when I see you stepping forward, speaking up, and standing out, I'm incredibly proud of you.

Not every day is going to have a monumental moment of bravery. That's not the point. Be proud of the little things, and know that every single day that you are putting positive energy and good things out into the world, you are making a difference.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wedding Planning: Let It Go

Tom and I have almost exactly 6 months to go until our wedding day. We've also been engaged for about 8 months, so we are right smack in the middle of the wedding planning process.

We have crossed nearly every priority task off the list. We have booked our venue, DJ, photographer, and florist. We're close to booking our cake baker (she is a friend of mine, just need to schedule a day to meet and sign the contract!). We found someone to do our favors and I booked our hair and makeup team for the day of. My dress is purchased and Tom has a deposit on his tuxedo.

Through all of this, we've managed to remain pretty level headed. We've made decisions together, gone through our checklist, made the guest list, etc. There really hasn't been too much to stress about- yet.

But now we are starting to plan for all the little things. You know, like all the paper stuff. Invitations, programs, table numbers, escort cards (so much paper). Decorations, shoes, jewelry. Cupcake stands and card boxes. All the little things that truly don't make that much of a difference, yet somehow still cost entirely too much money and have far too many options.

So I am writing this post, mostly for me, to come back to when I find myself too stressed out over the little things. Maybe this will help some other brides out there, too.

Remember what is important about your wedding day. It is not the little things that people see for a moment and then forget about. People are there to celebrate you and the love of your life, not to examine your escort cards. You are there to marry your best friend, not to stress about the seating chart. This day is about your marriage, being around your dearest friends and family, and making a promise to your partner. When people walk away from a wedding, what do they remember? Spoiler alert, it's not centerpieces. And they probably never saw your shoes. They want to have good food, hear fun music, and drink alcohol.

So do not let these little things stress you out. And when they start to stress you out, think back to every wedding you've ever attended and think about what you remember about those weddings. Most likely it's memories on the dance floor or the killer speech someone gave...or the beautiful music during the ceremony. Or how stunning the bride looked. You did not remember what kind of decorations were on the "welcome table" or the "gift table" or the "dessert table" and for the love of God, why do we have so many tables?

Just enjoy this time with your best friend and family. Take a breath, let it go, and move onto the next thing.

Cheers to every other couple in the middle of their wedding planning. We've got this.

And to Tom, I love you and thank you for being the calm presence I so need.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Listen to your body

A few weeks ago, I started playing with the idea of planning a mini "staycation". I was having constant dreams about work, and waking up several times in the middle of the night worrying about work related things. In a group text with some of my coworkers, I asked when the cutoff was to use our carryover PTO days. I could sense I needed a few days off. It didn't help that most of my weekends had been completely full of activity, leaving very little time to just relax.

I kept putting it off, this staycation idea. I thought maybe I'd take a few days off in April, maybe around Easter. 

Last Monday, while eating lunch with two of my coworkers who had been battling the upper respiratory stuff going around, I made a comment that I don't really get sick anymore. Which is actually pretty true. The last time I was really sick was over a year ago. I'd made it out of a few season changes (which is when I usually get a cold) without a hitch.

Until last Tuesday, when I woke up with that dry, scratchy, sore throat feeling I always get when I am about to get sick. I immediately went into defense mode and got myself some tea, zicam, and orange juice. I cancelled an evening meeting and went home so I could eat some chicken noodle soup and go to bed. By the time I got home, my voice was completely gone. It was too late- I was sick.

I spent Wednesday-Friday working from home. Most of my days were full of conference calls and webinars, so I could easily stay away from the office and spreading my germs while getting work done. By Saturday, I was starting to feel better. I went and met with the gals who will be doing my hair and makeup for the wedding to sign the contract and test out the style I wanted, and Tom and I babysat my niece and nephew. Ryan and I played hockey and did yoga- aside from constantly blowing my nose, I was feeling better. When Maureen and Dave got home, Tom and I stayed and we all ate dinner together.

On Sunday, Tom and I had an all day marriage class. Again, I was feeling better. Still keeping kleenex at close hand, but doing better. We had a wonderful class, came home and called my family, as they were meeting my brother's new puppy, Mac. While on the phone, my mom mentioned that my sister wasn't feeling well, she was exhausted and her stomach was upset. Since I had been with her the night before, I joked that she better not have given me the stomach stuff.

I took a nap, did some laundry, and cooked dinner for Tom and I. But I was feeling exhausted, even though I had my nap. I figured it was just the head cold I had been fighting, plus a long day. As soon as I ate dinner, though, my stomach started rumbling and I knew something was off.

I'll spare you the details of the stomach flu, don't worry. It was rough. I spent from about 9 pm to about 4 am off and on in the bathroom. I was off Monday and Tuesday. It's now Tuesday evening and I am feeling much better. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Not for sympathy. I'm fine, I made it, it was just a bad cold and a stomach flu. Could be worse.

But, remember back at the beginning, when I said I was needing some days off, but kept putting it off?

My body, I believe, was forcing me to rest. I KNEW I needed some days away yet I kept going- and because of it, my body suffered. 

It was a huge reminder to me that I need to listen to my body. If taking a day or two off work to recharge were not possible, could I have cut back on evening/weekend activities and spent that time just relaxing? Probably. 

I haven't been to the office or to the gym in a week. My "step count" since last Wednesday is laughable. I haven't drank coffee in a week. I've had more soup in the last 7 days than I could ever imagine. I've watched more youtube videos than I care to admit. I have had very little contact with the outside world. 

Tomorrow, I go back. I imagine I'll be pretty tired, my first few days getting back into a routine. I'll try to remember to take things one step at a time, to not get too far ahead of myself, do my best with what I have and to take breaks/rest when I need it.

I hope you do the same- remember to listen to your body, mind, and spirit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Latest Life Lessons....

Lately, I've found myself saying the following phrases either to myself or to people around me. I hope they may serve as a gentle reminder for you, too.

  • You are not defined by a number. You are not your age, you are not your salary, you are not the number on the scale, you are not the grade you get on a test or your rank at your work evaluation. You are a person, who is unique and full of wonderful qualities, and you are not defined by a number.
  • When you are anxious, you are going to want to take it out on the people closest to you. Don't. Or, if you do, remember to apologize, to ask for forgiveness, and to remind that person how much you love them. Go for a walk, write down your emotions, listen to music, do some yoga- try your best not to lash out on your loved ones.
  • Do not shame others for what they eat. This is such a pet peeve of mine. I'm certain I'm guilty of it as well- like when I ask Tom how he can possibly eat Taco Bell. But I absolutely cringe when I see posts or hear people criticize others for their food choices. Sure, I am all about being healthy. But good gracious, let a person make their own choices, and don't make them feel guilty for it. Food is already such a touchy subject- you don't know what kind of eating disorders a person may have. Eat the way you want to eat, and let others do the same.
  • Do not read the comments section on news articles. You know it will just make you upset. I am all about sharing our opinions in this political age, and I don't think it's the time to be silent, but I also know that for my mental health, I can't read those comments.
  • If you're going through a really hard time, it's okay to tell people. They may not understand, and they may not have a response, but I think it's important for the people around you to know that you are struggling.
  • Thank your coworkers. They may not know how much you appreciate them helping you with a project. Or, they may think no one notices how hard they work. Send little appreciation notes here and there, spread the love in your workplace. It helps boost morale, you will make someones day, and you'll probably feel a little bit brighter yourself.
  • Everyone has a different idea of what life's checklist should look like. Your goals will not match my goals. Your idea of happiness is probably not my idea of happiness. What you define as successful may not be my definition. The way you picture a family to look like may not be what I envision as a family.  We've got to understand that all of us come from different paths in life, and all of us are going about this thing in our own way. So long as we are happy (our own version of happy), there's no right or wrong way to do it. 

That's it for now, folks. Just keep living life, spreading love and doing the best you can.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My hope for you...

This Valentine's Day, and every single day of your life...

I hope you know that you matter.

There are people who love you, even when it feels like the world is against you.
Your thoughts and your words are important.
Your creativity is needed.
Your dreams can become a reality.
You have the ability to make a difference.
Your fears do not make you crazy, and you are allowed to be afraid.
You are worth it.
You are enough.

I hope you know that you deserve the love shown to you.
I hope you know that if someone is treating you poorly, it's okay to leave them behind.
Self care is not selfish, and it is needed.
You are stronger than you think.
Even if you feel weak, or hopeless, or helpless, you are not alone. 
You are beautiful.
You don't have to be the hero.
It's okay to have an off day- or week- or month.

I hope you know, I want you to be here. 
I want you to feel love.
I want you to see the love that surrounds you.
I want you to BE love.

It's not about the flowers or the candy or the cards.
It's not about going overboard to show your love and affection.
It's about celebrating love, in all it's forms, today and every day.

You are loved.
You matter.
You are enough.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Remembering how to embrace every moment.

Lately, I've found myself eagerly looking ahead. I am constantly looking at my calendar, both work and socially, to see what my next "thing" is. I keep a close watch on my wedding and honeymoon countdown.

I don't know if it's because I'm ready for spring and warmer weather, or all the fun outings, concerts, and adventures that spring and summer bring.I don't know if it's because world events have been getting to me and consuming my brain. All I know is, I keep looking ahead, wishing time would go by faster.

Yesterday I had to give myself a stern talking to. WHY am I looking ahead when I know the importance of living in the moment and cherishing every step of life?

I've written about this before. I bet I could find at least a dozen blog posts that I have written about the importance of living in the moment and taking life day by day.

So why is that so easy to forget? Why is it easier to want to rush through life, only stopping at the really exciting moments?

Why can't I realize that every moment of life IS really exciting because I am a living, breathing human being who is given a chance to truly make a mark on this world?

I want to learn to truly be okay with every moment of life without wishing it would go faster. I want to remember that we are not guaranteed another day, so we should make the most of each one we do have. I want to remember to make sure my friends and family know how loved and appreciated they are, before it's too late.

It's nice to have things to look forward to, of course. I think they motivate me, they spark a little flame inside of me. But I don't want to depend on those things to be my sole source of happiness, only to be sad and even let down when they are over.

I will be grateful for every day.

Or at least, I will try.

How do you live in the moment?