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.

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 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…

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