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The Sunday Mornings Project

Sunday Morning Project |007

Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of a good photo project. Sometimes when I’m feeling uninspired and find my creative self very far away, I turn to photo projects as a way to steer myself home. I’ve done a couple of collaborative ones in the past (like NYC + KC), but I felt like it was time I create something on my own. Something that is wholly made of that interesting stuff between my ears.

I’ve been pretty vocal about being in long term recovery, and what that means for me. But sometimes I think it’s difficult to explain how it affects my daily life. People understand I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but I think they just assume that only affects my nights. They think of the glasses of wine I won’t be sharing at happy hour or the social events I miss all together. Rarely do they ask about my mornings. Which is strange to me, because it is the days that are the most changed. Specifically, Sundays.

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Sunday Morning Project |005

Sunday mornings used to be a tortuous period in my week. Those were the mornings I’d wake up with a pounding headache, my heart racing, my stomach turning…my mouth would be dry and my teeth would feel slimy. But worst of all, I’d have a sinking feeling, deep down in my gut. For many, MANY years I’d wake up every Sunday full of so much shame and remorse. I’d push through the pain and get on with my day and my life, but it was never easy and always painful. Sunday was the day I felt the worst, and it was also usually the day I’d say to myself, “I can’t do this again. I’m done.”

But then it would be Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and I’d find myself right back in it. I felt like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the mountain, just to have it roll back down…over and over and over. It was a battle in a seemingly endless war with myself. I feared it would never end. I assumed Sunday mornings would just always be the worst. That was my reality. That was my penance.

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Today, Sunday mornings are glorious. They are amazing in their simplicity and joy. They are easy, which may not seem like something to celebrate, but for someone who usually waged war on Sundays, easy is pretty wonderful. There was so much I missed out on before…not because things weren’t happening and not because I wasn’t there, but because no matter how “there” I was…I was never really, truly anywhere. I was always in my head, fighting the battle with myself, and never really in the present moment at all.

When I decided I wanted to start another photo project, Sunday morning jumped out at me. I knew I wanted to do a project about recovery for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work. My answer was Sunday mornings.

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Every Sunday morning I am trying to capture something simple. Something understated. Something that most people would see and say, “Huh, looks like a nice little Sunday.” But for those of us in recovery, and those of us still fighting the war in our own minds, seeing these images can give immense hope.

There are good Sundays out there. Sundays full of love and light. They are simple, but they are glorious. So for one year, I am going to do my best to capture my Sunday mornings. I want to look back and remember how I felt, just in case the dark thoughts come back. I need the light to fight them off. And if you’re struggling, I hope you can see these images every week, and remember there is a reason to keep fighting. The struggle is worth it. You are worth it.

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Follow the Sunday Mornings Project over on Instagram by following me @crazy_bananas or via the hashtag #cbsundaymornings

Dreams, Gratitude and Opening Night

On Friday, I had my first official art show opening. It was terrifying. And amazing. And scary. And overwhelming. I won’t rehash how the project came to be (you can read all about it here), but it was sensitive and emotional subject matter and I was so honored to just be asked to tell these stories…let alone be featured in an art showing!

If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember my life list from years back. It’s no longer active on this site, mostly because my life kept changing so I felt like having this master “LIST” was a little silly, but I still love the concept. I wrote down all of my wishes, big and small, even if they seemed completely insane. Some of them have come true, and many of them have not, but having my photographs displayed in some sort of gallery show was definitely at the top of the “probably never going to happen” portion of the list.

But it did. Miracles are all around us.

Walking into Aimee’s Coffeehouse on Friday was more overwhelming than I had anticipated. I had sort of blown off the whole thing as no big deal, until saw my images adorning the wall. And then under the sign that said “Artist of the Month” was my face and bio. The smiling faces of the women who spent so much time putting the Phoenix Project together and creating this amazing concept were all there, along with a few of the women I photographed. My kids and husband came too, beaming at me and snapping photos as I dumbly stared at the displays in awe. A few people came up to me and said, “You’re the photographer, right?” I then tried to sound smarter than I felt and answer their questions, even though my head was spinning. Oh yeah, and my dad was there. Totally surreal.

I am so grateful and filled with appreciation that this project, three years in the making, is finally living! The Phoenix Project will be on display at Aimee’s Coffeehouse in Lawrence, Kansas until the end of June. All the art displayed, including my photographs, are for sale, with the proceeds benefiting the women, men and children that are served by the Willow Domestic Violence Center. If you’re in town, stop by and check it out! And if you do, send me a photo! I’ve loved getting texts and images from people who have gone to see the show. It makes my day to know people are seeing the work and being touched by it.

As always, thank you. If you’re reading this, you’re a part of this journey. I couldn’t have done it without you.


Kansas City Rainbow Skyline

In Anticipation of Summer : A Work at Home Mom Dilemma

Can you guys believe it’s almost summer?! Me either. My preschooler has already ended his school year, and my third grader is done in two days! Ack. The summer months have become a little more challenging now that I’m a work-at-home mom. When I was in an office full-time, I used to lament the fact that my kids never really got a “summer.” I mean, sure, it was hot outside, but they still had to get up early and head off to daycare or camp in the morning. Actually, most of the time, summer felt just like the rest of the year. One of the things I looked forward to the most when I started my freelance life was getting to spend the summers with my kids. It’s so nice being able to let them sleep in a bit and not be so rush-rush.

KC Rainbow Skyline

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. I still have to work, but in the summer my childcare is seriously limited. I don’t exactly need full-time childcare, but part-time care is expensive and difficult to schedule. I have spent the last three months trying to find a summer babysitter that would be able to work part-time, but had several girls back out because they wanted or needed more hours. Which I totally understand, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating! Luckily, we have found someone awesome who will be helping us out this summer with the kids, but since she doesn’t start until June, I’m basically working around my kids for the next few weeks.

I think this is a challenge we all face, whether we are work-at-home moms, stay-at-home moms, or moms who work outside of the home. It’s easy to assume the other side has it easier, but in reality, we are all dealing with frustration, messy schedules and missed opportunities. When I worked in a corporate setting (which I did for most of my career as a parent), I would be so jealous of the moms that worked from home and got to spend more time with their kids. Now that I’m working from home with a flexible schedule, I miss the continuity and availability of full-time daycare. I hate putting the kids in front of the TV so I can take a conference call or having to turn down work opportunities because I can’t find child care. In fact, I’m writing this post from inside a local play place where I’m sitting on the floor in the corner while my son runs around to burn off some energy. It’s not exactly the most inspiring place to create!

But the trade offs will always exist, no matter what parenting path you choose. There aren’t any easy answers, and there are sacrifices regardless, so I try to focus on gratitude and the positives. I get to spend the summer with my kids. I get to work and create art. I get to be there on all fronts. I get to continue to grow, through different challenges and obstacles. And most of all, I get to choose. That is a complete luxery. When I worked in my corporate job, I didn’t love what I did for a living. I was unfulfilled and uninspired. The work was good, the people were great, but I wasn’t doing what I was born to do.

These days, I love what I’m doing. Is it perfect? No. Not at all. It can be frustrating, scary and stressful at times. There are days when I want to give up and just be at home with my kids, with no client obligations. There are days when I want to go back to an office full-time. But most days, even when it’s hard, I know I’m in the best possible situation for myself and my family’s unique chemistry. And now, with long summer days looming ahead, I know I am making the right choice for me. Am I doing it all? Hardly. But I’m doing my best, and that’s got to count for something.

Gratitude, Silliness, and the Lessening of Obscene Hand Gestures

A few months ago I joined a gratitude group. Yes, I know it’s all a little woo woo, but for this recovering cynic, staying positive can be pretty hard work. So when I heard some friends were starting a group all about thankfulness, I was totally in. I love journaling about the happy things in my life, but because I’m only accountable to myself, I tend to let the task slide in favor of seemingly more fun items (like rewatching the entire Fringe series from beginning to end because I’d forgotten how incredibly hot Pacey Witter Peter Bishop looks in a sharp peacoat). Soon I’m grumpy, surly and an all around Grinch, and before you can say “Are you PMSing or something, Megan?” I remember I haven’t been very grateful lately. Mystery solved. Someone call Angela Lansbury.

So I joined this gratitude group and basically we just send little messages to each other via Facebook where we tell the others something we’re grateful for that particular day. Everyone comments on each other’s sharing and it’s really quite lovely and uplifting. Sometimes I share simple things, like when Tate finally napped or when Lulu rode her two-wheeler for the first time. Other times I share deeply personal items, like when I looked around me and realized my life, which was in such chaos not so long ago, felt good and real for the first time in a long, long time.

I don’t know when gratitude changed my life, but I’m sure that it has. A few days ago, a car cut me off on the highway and instead of honking my horn and waving obscene hand gestures, I took a deep breath and told myself that person must be on the way to something really important. Maybe their wife was in labor or maybe their kid was throwing up at the nurse’s office in school? Who knows? I just sent a little prayer into Universe that they get wherever they are headed safely. I know, right? I can’t believe myself either. Who am I?!

I can tell you I am not a person for whom this comes easily, and I’m just as likely as you to scoff at the silliness of it. But I’m also a person whose blood pressure is lower and sleeps better at night. My brain is not wild with the craziness of the ungrateful (and therefore always needing MORE MORE MORE) person I was before. I am not looking to fill some hole in my life with more stuff or more people or more food or more throw pillows or more blog posts…I’m all filled up. Is this because of gratitude? Maybe. Can I prove it? Nope. But I’m gonna keep my glass half-full anyway, just in case.

@dallasclayton just gets it. #rainbows

Image by Dallas Clayton

The Secret


I was tagged by a friend for a gratitude challenge on Facebook, and while I know I’m supposed to list out things I’m grateful for today, I don’t know how to limit myself to only a few. My life is so full, so silly wonderful, narrowing it down would be impossible. I believe we go through hard times and struggle so we can fully appreciate it when life is good. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember on the darker days, of which this past year I’ve had many, but then, one day, the sun comes out. And holy wow, life is good. Not perfect, not even close, but incredibly lovely in all its imperfection.

Today I spent the entire day with my family. It was heaven. There was the cider mill and the bike rides and the dog park and the book store and the fire pit and the leaves crunching and the eating on the patio. There were runny noses and skinned knees and bad directions and turning at the wrong (right?) corner and I’m right/you’re wrong’s and I’m sorry’s and I love you’s. I ended my day swinging in a hammock with my husband, wrapped up in a pink snuggie and watching my kids perform a play about ninjas they created in the backyard. This was life today. As I write this I’m snuggled up with a cup of warm apple cider and a pumpkin candle filling my room. My dog hasn’t even eaten any of my shoes today!

Tomorrow might be hard. Yesterday may have been the worst. But right now, today, I am so grateful. My tank is full. It isn’t always easy, but as long as I stick with gratitude, service to others, and connection through my spirituality, I’m good. I don’t need much else.

I hope wherever you’re at today, whether it’s dark or light, you can find a small thing to be grateful for. Gratitude changes everything. Trust me, I’m a certified reformed cynic who is surprisingly… actually… really… truly… happy.


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