My Social Media Break

For as long as I’ve been writing about my life on the internet (so…14 years, holy crap) I’ve taken intermittent “digital sabbaticals.” I’ve written about them here in the past, with the main objective being taking a break from blogging and focusing more on my day-to-day life. That time has come again, my friends, but it’s different this time around. In fact, I have no idea how many of you will actually even see this post, since I won’t be promoting it on Instagram or Twitter or my personal Facebook. That’s right…I’m taking an extended social media break.

Why social media instead of a “digital sabbatical?” Well, it’s complicated. Except it’s not. The world has changed and while in the past I spent much of my computer and online time perusing and commenting on blogs, these days I find myself scroll, scroll, scrolling on the various social media apps. Most of this social media interaction happens on my phone, meaning it’s within my reach at almost all times of the day and night. This is a disaster for someone who likes to escape from reality…ME!

In the last few years, I’ve found my social media habit increasing as my other poor coping habits were cut out of my life. Don’t get me wrong, quitting alcohol, working toward eating healthy, and exercising are all awesome life changes that I’m really proud of. However, when I need to rest my brain or check out for a bit, my options have become a bit limited. Enter social media.

I’ve felt the need for a break for a while, but in the last few months, it’s really gotten loud out there and my brain was on overload. However, I always found reasons to stay online. I’m a small business owner, and my income depends on me getting the word out about what I’m creating. I’m involved in advocacy, and most of our events and actions have to be shared online. How could I continue to do these things that mean so much to me if I wasn’t posting on social media? I assumed it would be impossible.

In May, there was an incident where I found my social media interaction leading to physical and mental strain. I wasn’t sleeping, my anxiety was through the roof, and while on the surface I handled the situation fairly well, underneath I was exhausted. I knew this was the final sign that I needed a break.

I started with wide perimeters, but quickly realized if I had any access to my social media feeds on my phone, I’d end up scrolling without even knowing how I got there. In the end, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone and posted a social media break message on Twitter, Instagram, and my personal Facebook page. I then deactivated my Facebook account. I am still managing my Twitter and Instagram for August Light Studio and Education First Shawnee Mission, and have kept all of my Facebook business pages up and running, including the page for this blog. Facebook pages don’t require you to scroll through a newsfeed, so I figured I was safe keeping those active.

It’s been about a month, and I’ve found my anxiety has dissipated immensely. I take photos of my kids and upload them to a shared family drive so my close family members can still see them at baseball or camp, without sharing them with everyone on the internet. I have gotten between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. I’ve still been able to do my advocacy work, attending meetings, forums and even hosting a tabling even at a farmer’s market. I have read five books and listened to a ton of amazing podcasts. I talk to my friends daily using the phone (what a notion!) and my Voxer app. I finished my family photo book from last year that’s been sitting on my desktop for six months. I applied for a speaking engagement that’s been on my wish list for ages. I watched the first season of Schitt’s Creek.

But most of all, my focus has shifted in such a positive way, I feel it affecting everything I do. Originally my plan was to be off social media for a month, but a month has passed and I still have no desire to go back. So for now, I’m staying dark on social media, in order to stand in the light in real life. It’s a good trade.

Welcome 2018 Goals

Welcome 2018 : Goals, Plans and Social Media

Welcome 2018 Goals

Is anyone else THRILLED to say goodbye to 2017? I have to admit, while last year was full of wonderful, empowering moments for me (lobbying Congress on Capitol Hill, starting a new business and getting my first studio space, helping form a PAC that is hyper-focused on public education and local politics, hosting my first art show to benefit refugees, attending the Women’s March in D.C. to name a few) the overarching theme of the year seemed to be fear and overwhelm, and those are huge triggers for me. I am proud of how many of my friends and family found productive ways to make change and support causes that are important to them in the face of such fear, but all in all, I’m still happy to see 2017 go. Good riddance.

So far, 2018 has felt better, calmer and a bit more hopeful (thank you, Oprah). I have a plethora of goals for the new year in my advocacy and in my business, but I also really want to focus on a few personal goals. I think the biggest theme for this year is to try and live my life with more focus and intention. I know there are certain things that I use to numb out and “relax” that certainly aren’t serving me, and I want to do a better job of cutting those things out of my life. One that comes to mind is social media…how can something that has brought such joy and diversity to my world also be THE WORST THING EVER? When I use social media with intention, I find it to be an amazing tool of connection and creativity. But when I use it to numb out or fill dead time in my day, I feel a bit like I did when I used to drink…tired, depressed and sad. Not because of the content in my feed, necessarily, but because I’m missing out on so much in my real life while I scroll scroll scroll. I keep telling myself I “don’t have time” to do some of the things I really want to do, but when I actually sit down and look at the amount of time I’m spending on social media, I realize I DO have the time, I’m just not prioritizing how I use it.

Welcome 2018 Goals

So for this month (January), I’m doing my best to stay off social media. I can’t quit cold turkey, because I have businesses to run, but I’ve taken everything off my phone except Instagram, which you can’t use from a desktop. Instead, I have logged out of my Instagram account and am only actively logged in to the August Light Studio account. Every couple of days, I log back into my Crazy Bananas account to check direct messages, but I’m not posting, liking, commenting or scrolling. I’m also posting on the August Light and Crazy Bananas Facebook pages (since I don’t have to see my personal Facebook feed to post there, thanks Facebook!). So if you need to reach me, I suggest email as opposed to social media for the time being! Already I have found I have so much more time in the day, and I can do things like write this blog post, balance my budget, read the stack of magazines that’s been sitting by my bed for days and reach out to friends in a more personal way.

I plan on getting more into a few of my other goals for the year in-depth later this month, but the two that are my priorities at the moment are focusing on friendships and becoming a more sustainable shopper, with a goal of not buying any new clothing in 2017. These are both goals that probably deserve their own posts, but you can be sure they are (so far) equal parts challenging and awesome. I am feeling excited and happy about them, instead of dreading how I’m going to make it happen or if I can do it. I think that’s a good sign!

Do you have any 2018 that have you pumped up and ready to go? Let me know in the comments (and maybe not over on social media, since I’m not there at the moment…)!

Travel Diary : Canyon Ranch

A few weeks ago, as we were laying in bed at night, Trent said to me, “What are your plans Thursday through Sunday? I want to take you somewhere for a few days…” To say I was surprised would be a fairly large understatement. As a couple, we had been doing the thing that all middle-aged couples with busy lives/families/jobs do…we’d been taking each other for granted. The situation had left us both feeling emotionally bruised and battered, and honestly, really lonely.

So Trent decided to take action, and he booked us a three night stay at Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona. Canyon Ranch is basically a wellness camp for adults, and it was EXACTLY what we needed. The best part was that Trent planned the whole thing himself, and wouldn’t give me a hint to where we were going. Eventually, I figured out we were headed to Tuscon (hard to keep a secret when you’re holding a boarding pass!), but even after our flight landed, I still wasn’t sure where in the city we were headed. It wasn’t until our car reached the front gates that I saw where we were.

I actually hadn’t heard of Canyon Ranch before this trip, but it’s pretty popular among wellness and health conscious people as a prime destination. It’s an all-inclusive resort that boasts amazing whole foods, a plethora of exercise and workout opportunities, medical care, spiritual guidance and even metaphysical services. Our activities were all across the spectrum, from yoga to mountain biking through the desert to tarot readings and massages. I meditated in a pool of warm water, received my first craniosacral treatment and hiked a mountain. Trent even got his very first pedicure! We swam and ate delicious food, and in those three days, we worked on rediscovering who we are as a couple. It was wonderful.

I highly recommend Canyon Ranch to anyone looking to get away in an environment where health and wellness are the number one priority. The resort had no alcohol or soda, which was a huge bonus for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a vacation where alcohol wasn’t available and it was really lovely to not have it in front of me all the time. I’m so grateful to Trent for making this trip happen and for finding such an amazing place for us to spend time together!

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Bar Method Kansas City

Becoming a Bar Babe

Bar Method Kansas City

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about becoming a “Bar babe” on a website that focuses on sobriety, huh? Well, let’s just get this straight…it’s not THAT kind of bar! But honestly, people who know me might be even more surprised, because the old me would definitely be more likely to be found at a pub than at a workout club that emphasizes ballet. And stretching. And flexibility. And grace. I could go on…

I started attending Bar Method around a year and a half ago at the behest of a good friend who had just become a certified teacher there. In truth, I was just planning on going once or twice to support her. And after the first class, I KNEW it wasn’t for me. I felt like such a doofus around all those graceful ladies in their Lululemon gear! I am not flexible and never took a dance class in my life, so as I hurled my leg up on the ballet barre while trying not to fall over, I cursed my friend for putting me in such a position. Not to mention…this class was HARD. By the end my legs were shaking and my arms felt like jello. The next day I could barely walk, with sore muscles I didn’t even realize I had!

Bar Method Kansas City

But lucky for me, I had signed up for a 30 day package at that first class, and if there is anything that motivates me, it’s money. I was gonna use that package if it killed me, because I had already paid for it! So I started attending classes two or three times a week. A few weeks in, I caught myself in the class mirrors and noticed my arms. I could see definition and lines! I hadn’t been able to do a full push up since I had shoulder surgery in high school, and here I was doing 20 or 30 in a row. It was crazy! And by then, I didn’t always feel like I was going to die after class. My body was getting stronger and I felt so much better. I was craving healthier foods and after YEARS of struggle, my sleep patterns were finally beginning to even out.

Bar Method Kansas City

So when that 30-day period was over, I signed up for a three-month package. And then another. And another. A year and a half later, I am a little in love with Bar Method. There are times when I can’t go (because: life) and I feel it in my body. I crave the endorphins I get when I go to class. While I’ve always been athletic, I’ve felt super-intimidated by gyms. Exercise is a huge part of my recovery journey, but before Bar Method, I had a hard time being consistent with my workouts and avoiding boredom. I love the energy of the Bar family. The teachers make me laugh and always make me feel good, even if I’m in the midst of a hectic day. They also know their stuff…there have been times when I’ve injured myself outside of class (being a clumsy person is a hazardous life) and they always find modifications so I can still exercise safely. Not to mention, they are awesome people. A few of my Bar Method teachers have become some of my dearest friends!

Bar Method Kansas City

You guys, I never thought I would be one of those moms in yoga pants, headed off to barre class. I really didn’t. But here I am. And I couldn’t recommend it more. This program has increased my strength, provided stability and flexibility, improved my mental health and enhanced my recovery. I keep going back because I love how my body feels and looks, and I really love being a part of the Bar Method family.

If you’re interested in trying Bar Method, check out either one of their studios (one in Leawood and one in the West Plaza area…with another studio coming later this fall!) and tell them that girl from Crazy Bananas sent you! Right now they are getting ready to launch an awesome 28-day fitness challenge, which I did back in February and it really helped kick start my eating and nutrition habits! The challenge includes a meal plan, nutritional coaching and more. You can sign up in either studio through September 11th.

Photos by Kymberly Janelle Photography

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…

“ARE YOU MEGAN?!”

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 megan@crazybananas.com. 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.

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