Finding My Path – Part 3: Set, Match, Goals

It’s now been three plus months since I started the Chookoonlooks Path Finder Course, and I’m so proud of my progress so far. It hasn’t been easy, but moving my life forward in a positive way has been so worth the effort (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up on my journey here or here). The past few months have given me so much positivity and hope for the future, and I’ve never felt so good. That said, the end of May/whole month of June were filled with wannabe setbacks. My day to day life was quite hectic, and I found myself slipping in to bad habits. When things get crazy, I tend to go in to “get it done” mode. I become this robotic, super-woman, which in theory sounds amazing (Robot Super-Woman, coming soon to a theater near you in 3D!), but in reality is so exhausting.

The past few years I’ve spent the month of July on a digital sabbatical (you can read why here or here), abstaining from all things Internet. This year, I wasn’t quite sold on that idea, as I’m attempting to grow this little-blog-that-could into a bigger part of my career, and giving it all up for a month would surely kill the momentum I’ve spent the last few months building. So this month, I decided to set some other short term goals and post some of them here instead.

July 2012 Goals

Now, will I accomplish all of this? Probably not. But for me, the whole point of setting these goals is so I’ll at least try. If I’ve learned anything the past few months, it’s that just attempting something can change everything. Some of these items are pretty broad (do something fun every day) and some are more specific (abstain from alcohol*), but as long as I’m working toward each, and keeping them as a focus in my life, I know good things will happen.

Happy July, everyone. Let’s do this thing.


*Every few months I take about four weeks away from alcohol just to restart my system and clear out the cobwebs. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I have a tendency to enjoy a glass of wine, and when I am stressed out, that glass easily turns into more than one. For me, taking a month away from the stuff reminds me of all the other, more healthy ways, to deal with stress. I got a lot of comments on this last time I did it, so I wanted to say something before it becomes a “thing.” Don’t worry, my happy hour friends, I’m not off the sauce for good, just for a little while.

**Monthly Goal Format inspired by Elise over here. If you’re looking for info on goal setting, she’s a great resource.

Finding My Path Part 2 – My Life Menu: An Updated Life List

Back in 2008, when I was feeling sort of low and sad about my life, I made a “Life List” (idea inspired by Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl) of things I wanted to do in my lifetime. It was all pretty free form and there were lots of ridiculous and lovely items on it. In April of 2012, I participated in the Chookooloonks Path Finder Course (by Karen Walrond), an online class dedicated to finding your passions and loving your life. As part of the course, we were to create what Karen called a “Life Menu,” similar to a Life List, but something a bit more flexible, with lots of items you’d love to accomplish, but less pressure to complete them all. She explained that a menu is something you look at and choose from, but you don’t berate yourself for not trying everything in one swoop.

As a classic Type A Personality, I was a fan of this approach. The pressure of completing everything on my Life List was making me want to scrap it all together. A Life Menu sounded like a lot less pressure and a ton more fun. So I rewrote my Life List/Life Menu, to reflect who I am right now, today.

My list is a little silly at times, sometimes it can get a bit serious, but when I look at it, it makes me happy. Some of my 2008 items are still on there, and I may add more in the future, even though the original perimeters included keeping the list at 100 things. My menu, my rules. I am Megan, hear me roar!

I wrote this list out in my now falling apart journal about two months ago, and I’ve already managed to complete some of the items. The strangest thing is I never really looked at the list and picked something, saying, “OK, I’m checking this one off now.” It just happened organically. As I sat down to share this list in a post, I realized I had already completed some of it. It’s crazy, but true. When you really decide to change your life, and take steps to plan out that change, it just starts to happen on it’s own! I’m not saying I won’t have to work at some (most) of these things, but just the very act of writing them down has inspired me to get out there and DO!

In that same realm, here is an article the famous Mighty Girl posted just yesterday, that had me feeling inspired and ready for action: How to Make Decisions (via the July 2012 O Magazine). If you’re feeling like I was, it is a perfect read to get you going.

Without further adieu, here is my current Life Menu. I hope you enjoy and gain some inspiration from it. At the bottom of this listing, you’ll also find the items from my oringal 2008 list that I completed. Hooray for me!


1. Write a freelance article.
2. Photograph 15 mothers.
3. Quit the corporate life.
4. Volunteer in an underdeveloped country.
5. Go on a trip, alone with my husband. – DONE – May 2012, NYC!
6. Redesign Crazybananas. – DONE – April 2012
7. Sell a photograph.
8. Open a shop to sell my art.
9. Teach a class.
10. Speak at a conference.
11. Take a design/art/photography class.
12. Run a half marathon.
13. Interview my dad once a month for one year.
14. Pitch my book idea to an agent.
15. Move abroad with my family.
16. Have a job where I dictate my schedule.
17. Take Lucy on a mother/daughter trip.
18. Take Tate to Legoland.
19. Go on a a wine tasting vacation.
20. Run every day for one month.
21. Learn to sew.
22. Take my family to the beach for two weeks.
23. Ride a roller coaster with Lulu.
24. Build/have a small studio.
25. Grow a vegetable garden.
26. Take the family apple picking.
27. Teach Tate to swim.
28. Teach Lulu to ice skate.
29. Run in another race with my dad.
30. Buy Trent a new truck.
31. Open a restaurant.
32. Learn to play the guitar.
33. Learn the B. Spears “I’m a Slave 4 U” choreography.
34. Send both of my kids to college.
35. Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.
36. Supervise a school field trip.
37. Go fishing with my kids at the lake.
38. Get up the guts to email my heros and let them know how awesome they are. – DONE – May 2012
39. Learn how to do letterpress.
40. Start a social non-profit business.
41. Give up drinking soda. – DONE – May 2012
42. Have beautiful photos taken in my wedding dress with my husband.
43. Write a screenplay.
44. Ride an elephant in India.
45. Report for NPR.
46. Live somewhere where we don’t have a car.
47. Get a bike and ride with the kids. – DONE – May 2012
48. Read a novel to the kids.
49. Learn to snap my fingers.
50. Learn to “wolf whistle.”
51. Teach the kids how to drive.
52. Learn to drive a stick shift.
53. Get over my fear of boats and go on a cruise.
54. Work at Harvesters for a day with the kids.
55. Start a charity in my family’s name.
56. Ride in a hot air balloon.
57. Renew my vows with the husband.
58. Go on a cross country road trip and stop at all sorts of kitschy places.
59. Finish my first painting.
60. Give up alcohol for one month out of every year.
61. Go to Vegas with my best friends.
62. Put together a will.
63. Ask our friends to be Tate’s godparents.
64. Learn to be more tolerant of people in my family who’s views are different from mine.
65. Look up my geneology and find out where I came from.
66. Throw a fancy dinner party.
67. Do another photography project (ie. NYC + KC).
68. Buy a beach cottage.
69. Cook every meal for one week.
70. Learn to surf.
71. Kiss Trent at the Eiffel Tower.
72. See the Grand Canyon.
73. Hike through a tropical rain forest.
74. Learn how to fly an airplane.
75. Relearn how to speak fluent Italian.
76. Go camping with the family.
77. Go to New Orleans during Marti Gras.
78. Get another degree.
79. Teach English at a school abroad.
80. Learn to snowboard.
81. Create new content ideas for the blog, like video and images.
82. Hug a koala bear.
83. Visit Hawaii.
84. Donate $100 on Christmas Eve yearly to a stranger.
85. Go to Japan.
86. See a show on Broadway (like, the real one). – DONE – Newsies in NYC, May 2012
87. Ride in a rickshaw. – DONEish – Rode in a pedicab in NYC, which Trent says definitely counts as a rickshaw…May 2012
88. Spend an entire day in a museum. – DONE – The Met in NYC, May 2012
89. Have a gallery showing.
90. Turn off my cellphone.
91. Find out what makes me happy and do it, every single day.
92. Learn to be a better communicator.
93. Make my home a happy and hopeful place.
94. Attend a non-traditional wedding.
95. Do “Project Life” for one month.
96. Be proud of my self. Treat myself better. Celebrate my successes.
97. Give a toast at an important event.
98. Read one book a month for a year.
99. Journal daily.
100. Create weekly goals. Organize what I want to do, and try not to get distracted.
101. Learn to deal with disappointment in productive ways.
102. Write affirmations. Don’t discourage myself.
103. Own my life.

Items Completed from the Original 2008 Life List

2. Purchase my own house – DONE – October 2008
11. Give a stranger $100 on Christmas Eve – DONE – Christmas Eve, 2009 (and 2010, 2011…it’s a tradition, yay!)
17. Take photos of someone famous – DONE – June 2011, Disneyworld, yup, I’m counting Minnie Mouse
24. Buy a brand new Mac computer – DONE – February 2011
31. Turn off my phone for a day – DONE – August 2008, Family Reunion in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
45. Attend a political rally – DONE – October 2008, Barack Obama “Change We Need Rally” in Kansas City
46. Donate to charity anonymously – DONE – October 2008, but I can’t tell you who or that ruins it!
47. Drink wine in Central Park – DONE – May 2008, Theresa’s Wedding
50. Reconnect with an old friend – DONE – June 2008, Anna “Banana” Kaye, Roomate from Italy
55. See a Broadway play – DONE – November 2009, Wicked, during the Broadway Across America Tour
58. Cook every night for 7 days – DONE – June 2009
69. Have more kids – DONE – December 2010, Mr. Tater Tot
77. Have a girls vacation with friends – DONE – July 2010, Girls Trip, Destin, Texas
88. Make enough money to support my family DONE – February 2008
92. Drink a fancy cocktail on the roof of an apartment building in NYC – DONE (sort of, close enough, technically not an “apartment” building) – May 2008, Theresa’s Wedding
93. Go to therapy – DONE – April 2011
94. Go for a week without checking email – DONE – August 2008, Peters Family Reunion

Finding My Path – Part 1

Some have called it a midlife crisis. Some have called it hormones. All I know is the past year I’ve found myself completely unsatisfied.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is pretty incredible. From the outside, it might look like I “have it all.” I have two amazing kids, one successful husband and a great career. I own my own home, I have a mid-sized SUV and a slobbery dog. I go to happy hours with friends, have the most wonderful in-laws and spend Sundays in the park with my family. Seriously, what’s not to love?

But as awesome as all of that sounds, I felt like I was running on empty. My whole life was passing me by, and I just wasn’t happy. I blamed much of my misery on my job, which while it was well-paying, wasn’t really revving me up. I dreaded going to the office each day and found myself turning pretty ugly to the people I love the most.


After my birthday last year, I made myself a list of resolutions (which can be found here) to make myself a happier person. And really, they did. I started riding horses again. I started running. I found myself doing things I hadn’t since I was a kid and I was definitely happier. But I still felt lost. When people would ask, “Well, what do you want to do?” I didn’t have an answer for them. I just knew where I was wasn’t cutting it.


In March I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a class with the inspiring Karen Walrond called “Path Finder.” The entire goal of this five week course was to really explore yourself and figure out how to understand what you want out of life. It was not easy. It was really, really hard. Many of the exercises Karen gave us to complete involved taking a real, difficult look at yourself, and seeing what it is that really lights you up. I won’t divulge the entire course here (if you want to, or are feeling like I was, you should visit here to find out how to sign up), but suffice to say, my life has completely changed.


I’m a better mother. I’m a happier wife. I’m a kinder friend. And I’m even a better employee. All because I finally, FINALLY took control.

That, I think, is the biggest lesson I learned from the Path Finder course. You want to figure things out? Then try. Try to learn and change and explore…and just by trying, you’ll feel 100 pounds lighter. I can’t even describe the physical and emotional changes that have occurred since I started Path Finder. I am alive. Truly alive, and it shows.


Much, much more to come…but for now, I’d love for you all to watch this video of Neil Gaiman (author of one of my most favorite novels ever, Stardust) giving the 2012 commencement speech to the University of the Arts. My absolute favorite part is at 8:21, if you don’t have twenty minutes to watch the whole thing. Trust me, you won’t regret it. (Hat tip to The Bloggess for the link.)

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