Sober Looks Good

How to Age Backwards : Get Sober

Today I turn 35 years old.

Is that old? I’m not sure. In some ways it feels old, because when I was young, I never imagined what it would be like to be 35. But in other ways, it feels so young, because I’m constantly around people who are older, wiser and have much more life experience.

35 feels significant to me because during my last BIG DEAL BIRTHDAY, when I turned 30, I was at one of the lowest points in my life, both physically and mentally. I was two months away from my first stint of sobriety (when I told myself I wouldn’t drink for 30 days…I lasted 28 before I caved, and then figured I was totally fine because I could stop for 28 days), four months away from really trying to not drink anymore, and six months away from finally kicking the booze for good. It was a WONDERFUL birthday (my very first trip to Vegas with friends), but as a whole, I wasn’t in a great place.

This time around, it’s a little different. I don’t have any huge trips planned, but I may go to lunch with some friends and a movie in the evening. I won’t be dancing the night away in Vegas, instead I’ll hopefully be in bed by 10 p.m. And there is one hugely significant change.

I’m sober. And it feels awesome.

I’ve talked quite a bit about how my drinking affected my mind, but today, on my birthday, I’m gonna get a little vain. Because while all the mental and spiritual changes have been amazing, there is a one huge change that is pretty evident, and it’s one we, as women, don’t like to talk about too much. We don’t want to sound vain or snobby, and we don’t want to call attention to ourselves. At least, I don’t. It’s also sort of scary to put this before and after out on the world wide web, where anyone can see it. But here we go.

Sober Looks Good

You guys, I look SO MUCH BETTER. The photo on the left is me two days before I finally got sober and the one on the right is this past summer after four and a half years.

I think the differences are obvious, but just in case your computer resolution isn’t on point or something, let me list it out for you…

– Bloated face and stomach
– 30 lbs heavier
– Skin is sallow and unhealthy looking
– Hair looks fried and dull
– Posture is sloped and self-concious
– Eyes are dead and sad
*Kid who is with me is THE CUTEST and I’m so happy I was able to give her the gift of a sober mom.

– 30 lbs lighter, added muscle, zero bloat
– Hair is shiny and healthy
– Skin looks best it’s ever looked
– Eyes are bright and alert
– I am standing up straight and proud
– Smile is genuine and happy

You guys, it’s a miracle. I am asked all the time what my health regimen is and how I have managed to look younger at 35 than I did at 30. My secret? Being sober. When I’m sober I eat better, I sleep, I drink a ton of water, I read, I meditate, I work out and I take care of myself. I spent so many years dumping poison into my body to escape who I was, but when I stopped, I realized I LIKE who I am, and I’m worth being around. So instead, these days, I treat my body like it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Because I’m so, so lucky to have a body that can run and play with my kids. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a mind that can read and learn new things. It’s my obligation to treat it the best I possibly can.

So that’s my gift to myself today, on my 35th birthday. The gift of sobriety. Maybe I’ll have some cake and ice cream on the side.

Megan and Jean at She Recovers

Talking Politics and Sobriety on the Bubble Hour

I’ve been fortunate to have a plethora of tools in my recovery toolbox since I first got sober over four and a half years ago. I’ve gone to 12-step meetings, yoga classes, downloaded meditation apps, started a gratitude practice, participated in therapy…the list goes on and on. But one of the greatest tools I’ve had since the very beginning is access to podcasts.
Megan and Jean at She Recovers

These days there are tons of amazing podcasts about sobriety (Home podcast, Recover Girl), but when I was getting sober, there was only one that I could find, the Bubble Hour. I’ll never forget my first summer of recovery, when I had three major roadtrips with my 6 and 2-year-old, and I downloaded every Bubble Hour episode I could fit on my phone to get me through it. I was so humbled when I was asked to be on the show a few years ago, and even more so when Jean asked me to be on again a few weeks ago. I met Jean McCarthy (the host of the Bubble Hour and author of the Unpickled blog) at the She Recovers Conference back in May. Getting to hug her in person was one of the greatest moments of the trip, as she’s been such a huge part of my journey.

Jean and I sat down for a conversation about recovery and what’s happening in the world today. We did our best to keep personal political beliefs out of it, but if you follow me anywhere online, you know I believe that all politics are personal and that as people in recovery, we are uniquely tuned in to the plight of those that are suffering. My activism is directly tied to my sobriety, and so we discussed that, along with a few tips to help newly sober people navigate difficult conversations with loved ones about politics. You can listen via iTunes or by using the media player below!

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…


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.

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.


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?

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”

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