Farm Sunset October 2016

Being Here, in 2017

Friends! It’s the start of a new year…and honestly, it’s a time where I can get easily overwhelmed. In the past I’ve written about lofty goals and ideas I want to tackle in the next 350+ days, but this year feels different. I have been struggling to wrap my head around last year and plan what comes next in several facets of my life. But after a chat with a good friend I realized something really important:

I’m already here.

The last three years or so have been a crash course in goals, resolutions and overcoming obstacles. Almost every facet of my life has gone through a fairly extreme overhaul…from my marriage to my career to my parenting status to my family. Illness and health have been a huge factor in the past few years, both for myself and for those I love the most. After really taking a look back on last year and everything I went through, I felt a sense of calm. Did I accomplish every goal I set out for myself last January? No. Not even close. But I learned so much and one of the biggest lessons was that I don’t have to wait until January 1 to decide to change my life for the better. I make that choice on a daily basis.

Farm Sunset October 2016

Last year was a big one for my business. I completely overhauled my pricing and the way I sell my photography. I created and facilitated the 30 Days of Summer Photo Challenge, which had hundreds of participants. I did a dozen television segments. I went to Greece to photograph a refugee camp. And I photographed dozens of families, newborns, children and couples…it was a fantastic year! Personally, I went through many (MANY) challenges, but I’m very proud of how I came through it all, even though there is MUCH to improve upon. One of the biggest personal goals last year was getting fit, slowly and surely, over about nine months of hard work, exercise and nutritional changes. I feel better physically today than I did in my 20s, which is saying something! I am officially in my mid-30s now and I feel stronger than I ever have. I also started working to find ways to make an impact as an activist in my community. This is something I didn’t plan on when 2016 began, but now I’m grateful for the opportunity.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to some more changes in how I do business, with a focus on continuing to be profitable while also serving my family, friends and community. There will hopefully be a few more writing and blogging projects (which took a backseat last year) and maybe even a new creative endeavor or two! I want to create more than I consume, and make the world a little more joyful every day. I am excited to reach out and work with even more creatives and amazing people doing wonderful work in my community.

If you’re interested in working with me in 2017, or you have an awesome project you want to chat about, send me a note at Let’s make this the best year yet!

Bar Method KC

Fitness Solutions for Mamas

Here’s the thing, you guys, I have a hard time sticking with a fitness plan. There are a million reasons (excuses?) why that is, but mostly it’s because I don’t have the time! As a working mom of two who likes her television probably a little too much, I struggle to choose fitness over other things….like Netflix. But I’m getting older and these days I can feel my body start to fight back when I don’t take care of it. So in the past year I’ve started trying to make fitness more of a priority in my life, but I have to keep mixing it up a bit, or I can get bored quickly. If you’re local, you may have seen me this morning on the Fox 4 Morning Show sharing about some of my favorite ways to stay fit, even when I’m “too busy.” I definitely mix it up between local classes and online workouts, and I’ve tried a TON of different programs. After lots of starts and stops, these are the top four that have really worked for me this past year:

Bar Method KC

1. Bar MethodThis is by far my favorite workout…I’m grateful that Bar Method has two locations in Kansas City and tons of classes to choose from! The hour-long class targets specific muscles and improves balance and core strength. I’ve never looked or felt stronger than I have since I started taking Bar Method classes. Plus, the classes are fun, the teachers have so much energy and the community is always encouraging. An additional bonus…they offer childcare while you take class! Score for all the mamas out there! Bar Method is celebrating 5 years in Kansas City with an awesome anniversary event on November 5th, which will include tons of giveaways, freebies, different classes and more! But if you can’t wait until then, they are also running a great deal right now where you can sign up for 45 classes in 45 days for only $75…which is a total steal! Just use the code “Fall into Bar” when you purchase your classes.

2. Yoga Glo –
This app (which you can download for Android or iPhone) is basically like having a yoga studio in your pocket! It was recommended to me by a yoga teacher friend of mine, and has hundreds of classes by a ton of incredible teachers. Plus, it’s portable, so you can fit in your yoga time anywhere! Yoga Glo is free for the first week, but then you pay $17.99 per month to continue the service.

3. The Balanced Life with Robin Long – I heard of Robin earlier this year when I saw a Facebook ad for one of her 30 days of pilates challenges…and I never looked back! She provides so much amazing fitness content, like free online video workouts, recipes and more that are tailored toward busy moms. With her Balanced Life Sisterhood program ($13 per month) you get even more content, including meal planning, workout calendars and an incredible community of women who support each other as they get fit together.

4. The Fitness Marshall – If you haven’t heard of these amazing dance workouts on You Tube, get your booty over there and try one! The Fitness Marshall videos are incredibly fun, and even if you’re not the best dancer (ahem…me!) you will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping while dancing to hit songs. My kids even love doing this with me!

Making Me Happy

A Few Happy Things

Okay, friends…it’s been a hard, long, exhausting few weeks around here. When things get hard, that’s when I used to reach for unhealthy solutions to make all the bad feelings go away, but in the last few years I’ve made it my MISSION to find better ways to cope. Some of these things have been ongoing (exercise, eating better, watching dumb TV, therapy, recovery meetings, etc.), but since the last few months have provided new and unique challenges, I’ve found myself more mindful of things that are making me happy. It’s just how things work, isn’t it? When life is all happy frappy, you don’t necessarily notice the little things that make you smile. But when life is a bit darker, the things that light up your day, even if it’s just a little bit, make all the difference.

So here are a few things that have been making me happy lately:

Making Me Happy

1. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – I have shared my love of Glennon, the brilliant mind behind the Momastery blog, before (remember when I met her and cried and she hugged me?!), so I was more than excited when I heard about her upcoming book Love Warrior. I preordered a signed copy last Spring, and while the official release date is September 6th, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in my mailbox yesterday! I’ve only read a few pages so far, but I’m already engrossed in this memoir. You should absolutely order yours so you can get it next week when it comes out everywhere!

2. My Fake Candy – You guys, I’m a bit of a sweet tooth. I may or may not have bought an entire cherry pie the other day because I was feeling low. And while I definitely think it’s okay to treat yourself and ice cream can help when you’re sad (and it’s a much better choice than alcohol or drugs!), I know myself, and treating feelings with food isn’t usually a good choice (note: USUALLY…there are always ice cream exceptions). So I’ve been looking for a few healthier options for when my sweet tooth is raging, but I know I don’t want to eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. These chocolate chip cookie dough Larabars legitimately taste like candy to me, and are my favorite substitute when I am craving sugar. I’m also a huge fan of these wolfberry crisp bars from Young Living, which curb my chocolate craving.

3. LUSH Dream Time Temple Balm – My sweet husband LOVES giving gifts, so he always finds the kids and I little presents when he goes on work trips. When he returned from Las Vegas a few weeks ago, he brought me back a kit of fun bath products and beauty items from the brand LUSH, and this Dream Time Balm is my favorite. You rub a little on your temples right before bed, and all of a sudden your bedroom feels like spa!

4. Mai Tai Spritzer from Drybar – Okay, I’m not gonna lie…the other day I was feeling depressed and decided to go wander the mall. Is this healthy? Probably not, but I am not much of a shopper, so I figured it would be alright to do it once. Anyway, I found myself in Sephora with the goal of “finding something that makes me happy.” This sea salt spray for my hair was the winner! It smells like summer and heaven, and every time I put it on my mood elevates. #worthit

What’s making you happy right now? I need a few more things to add to my arsenal! All suggestions are welcome! If you need me, I’ll be over here eating ice cream Larabars…

Bee in Grammy's Garden

In Gratitude

What to say, you guys? I have spent the last 12 years sharing my life on this blog, and there has rarely been a moment where I kept to myself…but the last few months have been extremely difficult for me and my family, and the need for privacy outweighed my love of sharing and connecting with others. In late June, my dad started feeling quite sick, finding it hard to breath and feeling worn down after minor activity. This was extremely rare for my dad, who is an extremely active person, and still plays basketball daily and runs 5K’s even though he’s 78-years-old!

Bee in Grammy's Garden

A few weeks ago we finally got a diagnosis, and while knowing is a bit scary, it’s good to have a plan going forward. He was accepted into a clinical trial that has given us new hope! He started treatment, and so far he is feeling fairly good.

I know I haven’t been here on the blog much the past few months, and trust me, it’s felt so strange. But the truth is, I’ve been so mentally and emotionally depleted, I just didn’t have anything left in myself to give. I am so fortunate to have a job where I can work from home or on the road, and take breaks when I need to. I’m so grateful for the abundance of work I had earlier in the year that has been able to offset this unexpected break. My husband has been amazingly supportive during this hard time, making sure I knew that my work could come last, as my family and my dad’s care needed to come first.

As I enter into fall, my favorite season, I’m looking back at this past summer and happily waving goodbye. I’m looking forward to writing again, creating beautiful photographs, embarking on new adventures and hopefully paying forward some of the love I’ve been lucky enough to receive the past few months. So many people stepped up and helped me when I was in need, I hope that I can do the same for others.

Recovery : Three Years

1,096 Days Later

Today is a pretty basic Saturday around here. We have a few sports games for the kids, I have a photography session tonight and maybe we’ll even have a family movie night. I’ll make meals, wash clothes, maybe lay in our hammock while the kids and the dog run around the backyard. I won’t save the world today. Today won’t be one for the history books. Today is just a normal, simple day.

But also, not. Because today is never, ever a basic day for me. Three years ago today I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, one that has caused ripples of change throughout my own life and many others. Three years ago today I was reborn.

In the recovery community, we call the anniversary of our last drink our “birthday.” We sometimes even eat cake and blow out some candles. In so many ways, it really IS a birthday, because the person I am today didn’t exist three years ago. The Megan from three years ago was a vastly different person. She was more timid, more afraid. She was always looking over her shoulder, worried that underneath all the sarcasm and humor that someone would figure out who she really was. And if they found out, her life would be over.

Recovery : Three Years

Today I am rarely afraid of being “found out.” I live my life out in the open in a way I never did before. A year ago today I spoke for the first time publicly about my recovery here on this blog, and that was a huge milestone in my life. Even though I’d been in recovery for two years, I never really felt free of the immense shame until I started talking about it. Funny, huh? Fear and shame hold us hostage, when in the end, we held the power to defeat them all along. By sharing my story multiple times over the past year I have been healed. I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I’m damn proud of it!

In the last year so many of you have reached out to me to tell me your own stories. From people struggling with addiction or mental illness, to those of you who are afraid for someone you love who is dealing with his or her demons, to those of you also in recovery giving me virtual and physical hi-fives….every time I open a message from one of you my heart grows three sizes. I’m like the Grinch of recovery. I used to think that everyone in the world was out to get me, but the last year has taught me that connection is the solution. By reaching out, you have helped me immensely. Thank you.

Recovery : Three Years

If you are new on this journey, and you’ve found this post because you don’t know who to talk to, hold tight. It gets easier. Find your tribe, your people who get you. I was so fortunate to find my people on this path. My support system of women and men just like me, from all walks of life, who have held me up, cheered me on, sent me “hell yeah!” texts when I reached a milestone and listened to me cry when I was afraid it was never going to get better. I reached out to them earlier this week because I wanted to make something fun to celebrate today, and they didn’t let me down. We talked about remembering the terror of refusing a drink at a party or gathering and wondering if everyone knew our dirty little secrets. We laughed (yes, laughed…eventually you will laugh again!) about how much changes as you grow in your recovery, and shared different responses for that guy at the party who just WON’T LET IT GO and keeps offering you a cocktail! I loved them so much, I put together this little video to help you out if you’re newly sober and wondering what the heck you say to the dreaded question, “Hey, do you want a drink?”

Here’s to finding the funny again. Here’s to bright eyes and clear hearts. Here’s to no more fuzzy, wine tongue at 3 a.m. Here’s to being who you really are, without numbing and running away.

And here’s to many, many more basic Saturdays.

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