Travel Diary : Our Western Kansas Road Trip

If you’ve been following my online adventures for the past few years, you’ve heard of our annual trips to Western Kansas for dance camp. They are magic, you guys. I’ve written about them quite a bit, but this time around I wanted to share what it’s really like. I decided to attempt to capture some of our trip on film, and put together a little Travel Diary with some of our adventures. We are so grateful to kick off our summer every year spending time with old friends and indulging in the slower pace of life in the country.

But most of all, this video is a little love letter to my in-laws, who invite us in to their quiet home every year for a week and let us take over their lives! The last part of the video is my favorite, because it truly shows how lucky we are to be a part of this family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…this kind of closeness and joy is exactly what I always wished for my children, and I could not be more thankful that it is their reality.

Song Credit: Found A Heart by Emily Hearn (used with permission)

She Recovers…And So Do I

A few weeks ago, I walked into a beautiful hotel in Lower Manhattan, completely exhausted. What was supposed to be a three hour trip from Kansas City to New York had turned into a 12-hour debacle, with airports closed due to weather and a detour to Albany when our plane ran low on fuel. I was, for lack of a better work, in shitty shape.

I lugged my suitcase up the stairs, too tired to notice the elevator that was conveniently located on my left, grumpy and annoyed with everything around me. And then…


A gorgeous, blonde woman stood up from a couch in the lobby and started toward me with a huge grin on her face. I said, “Yes, I’m Megan,” probably looked totally confused, and she replied, “I have to give you a hug!”

Turns out, this sweet young woman was someone I’d helped in early sobriety. She had read something I’d written or heard me on a podcast (now I can’t remember which!) and had emailed me, asking for help in joining our online recovery community. That action, which was honestly small in my mind, affected her life in a multitude of positive ways. And I know how she feels…because I spent the rest of the weekend in a similar position.

I was in New York for the She Recovers Conference, a gathering of 500 women in recovery. While many of the women there were in recovery from alcoholism, like myself, others were in recovery from a sex or shopping addiction, cancer or another illness, and many other conditions. The mantra of She Recovers is “we are all recovering from something,” and that rings true for me.

There was something so beautiful and life-giving about sitting in that room surrounded by all those badass women in recovery. Women who have seen the worst, and have chosen another path for themselves and those they love. These women are the truth-tellers, the kindness-whisperers, the best people on the planet. I am so lucky to have been among them for a few short days.

We listened to incredible speakers like Glennon Doyle Melton, who told us “we are grown ass women and we can do what we want!” I’ve been muttering this to myself daily as I navigate this weird world we live in these days. Elizabeth Vargas shared her experience with anxiety and how that fueled her addiction. Gabby Bernstein, Elena Brower, Niki Myers and Ann Dowsett-Johnson also shared their experience, strength and hope. We can recover, you guys. We can do it! And we can do it well!

But, by far, the best part of the event was meeting women who have been there for me since the beginning…those who I have met online during this recovery journey, but I’ve never been able hug or thank in real life for their contribution to my health and happiness. These are women I texted from the bathroom during my first big dinner event out after I got sober, terrified and afraid if I said no to the waiter’s offer of wine, everyone at the table would know my horrible secret. Women who listened while I ranted and raved that it was TOO HARD and I wasn’t strong enough. Women who shared their own stories, and gave me hope I just might get better. These women saved my life. What an honor to tell them that to their faces! What a joy to eat pizza with them at 11 p.m. and talk about life! How did I get so lucky?!

I have to thank the team from She Recovers, Mama Dawn, Taryn, Annie, Payton and Dara, for putting together such an incredible event. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I know it was a beast to organize and execute! Thank you for giving us all this opportunity to experience recovery like this…what a gift you’ve given us all!

To anyone out there who is suffering or feels alone, I want you to know you have cheerleaders out there. Addiction is a horrible thing, but we can recover. We just need each other. If you want to talk, I’m always available at You read more of my recovery story over at Scary Mommy, the Kansas City Moms Blog and in the recovery section of this blog. You can also listen to me share my story on The Kick Ass Life Podcast and on the Bubble Hour Podcast. You are not alone, friend.

Huglife Kansas City

Every once in a while, people come into your life in ways you never expected. That was certainly the case with my friend, Lindsey, who I met a few days before my daughter started Kindergarten at our back-to-school night. I was so incredibly nervous to be sending my sweet girl to Kindergarten, but she couldn’t have been more ready or excited. When we walked into the room, I was immediately put at ease by the gentle, fun and joyful energy of her teacher. Who happened to be… guessed it! Lindsey!

(I know it’s out of focus, but I think I was probably crying so it’s an accurate interpretation of the view that day…my baby was so little!!!)

Lindsey also had a son around my daughter’s age AND a baby the same age as my sweet little man. We had a wonderful year with Lindsey as our teacher, but after a few more years, she decided to stay home with her boys full time. I was so happy for her, but I missed seeing her around school (and knowing our little guy wouldn’t get her as a teacher was a bummer, since we had such a wonderful experience the first time around!). So imagine my excitement when our sons ended up at the same preschool! I got to see her almost every day again! She even invited me to be a part of a commercial her husband was shooting for Sporting Kansas City (remember this?), which had many of my friends saying, “Wait, did we just see you on TV?”

Lindsey is one of the kindest and most giving people I know, so I was thrilled when I learned of her new venture, Huglife KC! She and her bestie, Robin, decided to create a business where the main purpose was to spread more love around to everyone they meet. During some especially frustrating weeks in 2016, Lindsey and Robin realized they were doing more complaining than usual and did not like the negativity they were continually expressing, so they went back to their mantra of “not being jerks.” They made a conscious effort to be happier and immediately saw the impact a new attitude can have on everything around them. Kindness truly begets kindness. This, coupled with the t-shirt company they had always talked about starting since they basically live in yoga pants and t-shirts, reared Huglife KC. They had the idea to make cute, comfy, stylish t’s that they would want to wear and market them with a love and kindness message, which can be seen throughout all of their social media. They are made from the softest material and are super flattering. And they just came out with kids sizes! Yay! You can get the Heather Blue KC Design (which I am wearing in the photos above) or the Heather Grey #huglife Design via their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Make sure to follow them on social media, because they post the BEST photos and stories of awesome people wearing their shirts and spreading a little joy.

{Photo of Me by Kymberly Janelle}

Gratitude Journal

A New Gratitude Practice

A few years ago, when I was new into my recovery, I started working on cultivating a gratitude practice. I had worked on being more grateful in the past, but I never really stuck with it. I knew that being thankful and paying attention to all the good things in my life would make me a happier person, but I couldn’t seem to be able to keep myself consistent.

Gratitude Journal

Then, around two years ago, I joined a “Gratitude Group” with a few other friends in recovery. The purpose of the group was to send each other a list of things we were grateful for every day. The hope was that by having others who were practicing with us, we’d all be more accountable and this practice would become a habit. We started out in a private Facebook Group, and then moved over to What’s App for a while (some of the members lived in other countries, so texting was too expensive). I loved that group, but after a year or so, it fizzled out. Nothing horrible happened, we all just sort of moved on to other ways of working on gratitude and recovery. However, one member and I decided to keep it going, and we still send messages (almost) every day with three things we are grateful for. We share huge and tiny things, but just the act of looking at my day and finding something to be happy about makes me a better person. I love this woman and being able to share my happy moments, large and small, with someone and receive her good news is such a gift!

Recently, I decided to try an additional, creative gratitude practice. While I love sending my daily messages to my “Gratitude Buddy,” I was finding myself stressed out about it! Yes, I was stressed about being grateful. I know, I know. But the ease of having it right on my phone meant often I was just realizing I needed to send my list at the last minute and rushing through the process. I’d quickly come up with a few things and send it off, without really thinking about it.

Gratitude Journal

Recently I was browsing Instagram (I’m so grateful for Instagram!) when I came across a photo in the feed of one of my favorite planner shops, the Get to Work Book. In their feed, they featured a photo where someone used their monthly layout in the planner to sketch out their gratitudes. I thought it was such an awesome idea!!! And since I have a Get to Work Book and rarely use the monthly spreads (I mostly use the weekly spreads and use my online calendar for monthly to-do’s) it was the perfect solution! Now, I am NOT an artist or illustrator…my drawings often look like my six-year-old created them, but I thought it was a fun way for me to sit down every day and REALLY THINK about what I was grateful for, and then spend some time drawing it. I’ve found it to be a fantastic way to end my day and to slow down when I feel my brain spinning out of control.

Gratitude Journal

I still text my daily list to my “Gratitude Buddy,” but I’m finding this illustration practice is an amazing addition to my life. I love looking at past months, seeing what I drew (and let’s be honest, laughing at my drawing skills) and remembering how truly lucky I am.

Farm Sunset October 2016

October at the Farm

Autumn is like an extended marathon around here. As the leaves start to change and the weather cools off a bit, our schedules and lives go into overdrive. Work and school and deadlines and sports and events and choir practice and class parties and all of the things start to meld together into one giant pile of “things to do.” Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. It’s by far my favorite season, but sometimes the pace can be a little much.

Farm October 2016

Farm October 2016

So when we had an unexpected open weekend, a part of me wanted to stay in my PJs all day and never leave my house. But the other side (the louder side) was craving clean air and open skies…so I packed up the kids and we headed to the family farm for the weekend. My mother-in-law, who doesn’t usually get visits from us to the farm this time of year, was so excited to have the kids there a few days before Halloween. She organized the cutest activities, from a Halloween scavenger hunt to bobbing for apples and an egg toss.

Farm October 2016

Farm October 2016

The grandparents had evening plans, so the kids and I ended up hanging out together and picking veggies from the garden they helped plant earlier this year. At dusk I somehow convinced them to go on a long walk around the property, and we were rewarded with the most gorgeous sunset! Kansas, I think I like you.

Farm October 2016

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