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.

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

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 megan@crazybananas.com. Let’s make this the best year yet!

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