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....