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.

Wait for It

There are days when I wake up and know exactly what I want to do with my life. I want to help people. I want to make a difference. I want to create change.

But then there are days when I just want to wake up and feel nothing. To feel numb and empty. Because maybe it would be easier.

Four years ago I decided that numb wasn’t worth it. Sure, there were days when it felt easier, but I was never going to be able to get where I needed to go if I couldn’t feel anything. I know that I am very sensitive. I’ve been told that all my life, mostly by people who wanted to relieve their own guilt for being cruel.

“You’re too sensitive.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. Why are you so emotional?”
“You take things too seriously.”

And I believed them. I believed that I was broken and wrong, so I built up my armor so no one would be able to hurt me again. My armor was made of humor and sarcasm and wit. I fought the world with my words and my brain. I had to be the smartest person in the room, so no one could tell me (again) that I was doing it wrong. I had to be the best. There was no second place in my world.

But.

Armor is not permanent. It gets rusty and after a while a few screws loosen up. Before you know it, you’re standing in front of a firing squad and all your defenses are gone. You have no skills, no way to escape.

So, you just decide to stop the fight. It is the worst moment of your life.

It is the best moment of your life.

The last four years have been long and short. I look at my kids, and see how quickly it passed. Four years is a blink of the eye and they’ve grown a foot. My diaper-clad toddler now plays soccer and can do math. My 1st grader with the lisp and the missing teeth now fits into my flip flops. They don’t remember what I was like before, and that is a gift.

This past year I have watched as the world has seemed to fall apart around me. I saw hopelessness, fear and anger like never before. I have seen it and KNOWN what to do. Because I’ve been through all of this before.

When I got sober four years ago I couldn’t imagine handling conflict with grace, speaking up when it’s unpopular or being kind to those I disagree with. But as I’ve moved through recovery, I learned. My tiny piece of the world split into a million pieces and I had to bring it all back together. I learned how to disagree, to love, and to speak out. I learned that fear is NOT the boss of me. Fear can fuck off, frankly. I became open about my sobriety and my journey and I found that I have nothing to fear.

I don’t know…I don’t really believe all things happen for a reason, but maybe sometimes they do. Maybe I had to go through all that pain and suffering so I could be the person I need to be in the world we are living in now?

Woman.
Partner.
Mother.
Artist.
Writer.
Photographer.
Advocate.
Activist.
Community Leader.

Maybe I had to get sober four years ago because the world needs sober Megan more than ever.

Maybe this is how we change everything.

“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original. I’m not falling behind or running late. I’m not standing still, I am lying in wait. Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes, and we keep living anyway. We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes. And if there’s a reason I’m still alive, when so many have died, then I’m willing to wait for it.” – Aaron Burr,
from “Hamilton: An American Musical”

Lucy in the Snow 2017

Snow Days and Chasing Slow

Lucy in the Snow 2017

The last few weeks have been short ones around here. We got back to a somewhat normal schedule after the holidays, just to be slammed with more days off of school for the kids than I can count.

Just kidding, I’ve counted. Twice.

Basically with the combination of national holidays and inservice/teacher learning days, we have four-day school weeks from now until mid-February. Which, let’s face it, isn’t ideal. Not only does this make my work schedule difficult, it is hard on the kids as well! It’s almost impossible for any of us to get into a groove when our schedule is all over the place.

When I’m faced with these types of working mom problems, I tend to get extremely over-stressed and anxious. I find myself making lists in my head of everything I won’t be able to do because I won’t have the time. I torture myself by looking at the social media feeds of my competitors and colleagues, seeing all their perfectly lit images and the work they have been doing, and instead of cheering them on, I feel resentful. I worry that I’m falling behind, yet again, and that I’ll never get ahead of the game. I decide that I’m destined to fail, resign myself to my bed with some fuzzy socks, ratty PJs and Netflix. Why bother even trying, right?

WRONG. Because I don’t have to live fast in order to find success, and the whole idea of hustle equating happiness just doesn’t resonate for me anymore. When my kids have a day off school, I enjoy being with them. I like stepping away from the computer and being present as we throw snowballs at each others heads or read books. I don’t feel lazy when I’m in my PJs with them until 11 a.m. I feel happy. Joyful, even!

Tate in the Snow 2017

So why I am I torturing myself? When they were babies and I worked out of the home full time, I felt guilty for missing all these moments. When I started my own business and they were in preschool, I felt guilty because I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to. Now I’m feeling guilty when they have days off elementary school. I keep waiting for the next phase of life, when things slow down, but I’m starting to think that’s NEVER gonna happen. There will always be something pulling me in one direction while another is pushing me the opposite way.

This year I am planning to focus more on being present, but also on listening to my inner self when it comes to my schedule and work. I am finding doubling down on hustle when it comes to work isn’t always resulting in success. Instead, when I focus on doing what feels right in all facets of my life (working, creating, mothering, reading, meditating, eating chocolate, whatever) the success seems to follow. Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to read the new, beautiful book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which really speaks to this topic. Erin chronicles her journey from a fast life, to a slow life and back again…and her conclusions aren’t what I expected. Instead of being a book about slowing down your life, this book was more about the question of why do we believe we have to have any particular sort of life for it to be a happy one? I related so much to her journey, and it made me think twice about my goals. Do I want a fast life? Do I want to be a minimalist? Do I want to disconnect from the internet and live in a yurt? Do I want to move to New York City and take my kids to school on the subway? Do I want neither? Both?

Chasing Slow

Do I have to decide?

Maybe we can just be balancing along the middle…sometimes wanting to throw out everything we own because the clutter is strangling us and other times buying a shirt on sale just because it looked cute online. Who knows? But for now, I can only be where I am. And I am a mom of two kids who are growing into grown-ups faster than I can fathom, so if they have a day off school, I’m probably needed on the front lines of the snowball fight. Afterward, when they are sipping on hot cocoa and fighting over marshmallows, I’ll likely sneak away for a little editing session or to answer a few emails. I’m not perfect, but luckily, no one is.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

If you’re looking for more info on this topic, the podcast “The Lively Show” is an amazing listen. I recommend starting with this episode!

What You Can Do – Week 1

So…that election happened. For the first few days after the results were announced, I think I went through all the stages of grief about 10 separate times. And honestly, everyone handles these things differently, so I think whatever you need to do to deal is just fine. However, after spending the last three and a half years of my life learning how NOT to wallow in anger, fear and resentment (which for me, leads to really bad and unhealthy choices) I knew that wasn’t an option. I can be angry, but I can’t sit in that anger, or it will eat me alive.

One thing I have heard over and over since Election Day is, “What can I do now?” I was asking myself the same question, so I decided to sit down and make a list of all the things I could do that could affect change in the world. Some of the items were big actions, while some were simple and small. But if there is anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that I can’t control anyone else, only myself, and when I choose to take positive action toward others, it causes a ripple effect in everyone around me.

When I was in my first days of recovery, I remember feeling completely alone. I didn’t know how I could do anything, let alone change anything about my life. But a wise person told me to get up, get out of bed and do something…it didn’t matter what it was. Make the bed. Put on clean clothes. Go outside. And little by little, those small actions got me moving. Before I knew it, my entire life had turned around, and it all started with those tiny acts.

So I’ve decided to apply the same logic to the new world around me. Every day I plan to do something positive…and hopefully those little things will add up to make this world a little bit better. I am sharing them daily on my social media because there are so many people who seem to want to do something, but don’t know where to start. My hope is that by sharing, we will all be inspired to do something, big or small. I’ll gather the week’s actions in a short list here every Friday, so it’s easier to find them and get ideas moving forward. I’m also tagging on social media under the hashtag #smallthingsforbiglove. Just remember, I’m not giving up, and neither should you.


Here’s this week’s list!

1. Go to a public meeting or rally! Reach out to others and ask if they have any info on events going on in your community. I went to a HUGE private gathering of women and men of action to plan for what we do next, and how we can support causes near and dear to us that are in peril of being defunded in the future.

2. Do something spiritual. For me this week, that meant going to church. This was the sermon. I was in tears. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

3. Donate blood! When you donate blood, you save three lives. It’s easy and it only takes about 30 minutes. Click here for more info.

4. Continue working for causes you care about. I met with my friends on the KS-03 ONE Congressional District Team about advocating and talking with our representatives in congress about the Education for All Act! Want to help? Send me a note at megan@crazybananas.com. Read more about ONE here.

5. I called my two senators and two representatives to ask them to come out against the appointment of Steve Bannon to the White House Staff. It was incredibly empowering to make my voice heard! If you want to call, click here for more info!

6. I listened to the This American Life podcast, which did in-depth storytelling during and following the election. The most recent show is an absolute must if you’re wanting to really listen and learn.

7. I called a charity I’m interested in, but haven’t ever worked with, to learn how to get involved!

Sober Friday Night

Friday Night Recovery Toolbox

(If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that I am person in long term recovery, which for me means I no longer consume alcohol. While I’ve often been a writer and contributor to recovery-based websites, in the past few months I decided to share a bit more about my recovery journey here on my own blog! If you’re looking for more information about how I got into recovery, what my path has looked like so far and more, check out the Recovery section of this site!)

Friday night…those two words strike terror in the heart of those in early recovery! If you’re in your first days, weeks or even months of your journey, Friday nights can be some of the most difficult times. For me, Friday nights were always my “free nights.” During the week, I often felt extreme guilt and shame about drinking. What kind of a mother is up late drinking on a Wednesday? A horrible one, I would think to myself. But Fridays….well, all you have to do is look at your Facebook feed and you’ll find endless justification to drink on a Friday. It’s the end of the work and school week, the big weekend is looming ahead of us, and social events are usually on the calendar. So when you decide to take alcohol out of the equation, Fridays can become extremely triggering. There were so many times where I would make it a couple days or weeks alcohol free and feeling amazing, only to be foiled by my own lizard brain on a Friday night.

Sober Friday Night

When I decided I really wanted recovery to happen for me (for REAL!) I knew I had to take on Fridays. This meant having a plan. Now, having a plan won’t guarantee you won’t drink, but it will make it a heck of a lot easier to say no! That said, here is a list of 29 things you can do on a Friday night that don’t involve drinking. Pick one (or more than one!), make a plan, and hold on, my friend!

  • Order pizza and get the special cheese-stuffed crust.
  • Put on a mindless TV show for the kids and start a warm bath for yourself. Lock the door. Put a funny show or podcast on your phone.
  • Have a friend night! Go for coffee or just for a walk.
  • When the kids start whining for dinner, get out cereal, milk, bowls and spoons and tell them to have at it!
  • Make a giant bag of popcorn and snuggle underneath warm covers with Netflix.
  • Spend $5 on some Epsom salts and put them in a hot bath. Breathe. You’ll sleep like a baby (well, a baby who sleeps…I mean, I never understood that saying…babies are the worst sleepers!).
  • Fill your freezer with the fancy ice cream that comes in those little pints. Refuse to share.
  • Order take out from your favorite sushi place. Refuse to share.
  • Go to a movie, but not one of those theaters where they serve wine! Instead get a soda, popcorn and candy and pretend you are 13 years old again. Bonus if you can get a good girlfriend to go with you!
  • Wander the aisles of Target with a Starbucks coffee and silence.
  • Go for a run.
  • Binge watch Stranger Things. Then decide you’re totally gonna dress up as Eleven for Halloween.
  • Call a friend or someone you know in recovery. Tell them how much this sucks. They will get it.
  • Sign up for a Friday night yoga class. Or download Yoga Glo and do your own practice at home.
  • Send the kids out with friends or your co-parent and go to bed early.
  • Plan out your Saturday morning…think of everything you get to do because you won’t be hungover! You won’t miss out on half of your weekend!
  • Journal. Write how you are feeling. Let it out.
  • Get a couple of those fun face masks from Sephora and some trashy, celebrity magazines.
  • Watch reality TV. Zone out.
  • Get a massage.
  • Buy some incense or a smelly candle. Get a book from the library. Read in a comfy chair with good smells all around you.
  • Buy some new nail polish and give yourself an at-home pedicure.
  • Go out and get a real deal pedicure.
  • Rewatch (or watch for the first time!) all the old Gilmore Girls episodes in preparation for the new ones coming out the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Download the Headspace app and meditate.
  • Go to a recovery meeting.
  • Schedule a Skype call with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Buy a bunch of ingredients and create your own signature mocktail.
  • Have an at-home dance party with the Fitness Marshall videos on You Tube. Try not to smile. I dare you.

This list could go on forever…but hopefully this gives you a few ideas to get you started! And don’t worry, one day Friday won’t seem like such an huge mountain to climb. Instead, it will be just another day in your life. You real life. The one you got to be a part of when you put down the bottle.

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