Recovery : Three Years

1,096 Days Later

Today is a pretty basic Saturday around here. We have a few sports games for the kids, I have a photography session tonight and maybe we’ll even have a family movie night. I’ll make meals, wash clothes, maybe lay in our hammock while the kids and the dog run around the backyard. I won’t save the world today. Today won’t be one for the history books. Today is just a normal, simple day.

But also, not. Because today is never, ever a basic day for me. Three years ago today I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, one that has caused ripples of change throughout my own life and many others. Three years ago today I was reborn.

In the recovery community, we call the anniversary of our last drink our “birthday.” We sometimes even eat cake and blow out some candles. In so many ways, it really IS a birthday, because the person I am today didn’t exist three years ago. The Megan from three years ago was a vastly different person. She was more timid, more afraid. She was always looking over her shoulder, worried that underneath all the sarcasm and humor that someone would figure out who she really was. And if they found out, her life would be over.

Recovery : Three Years

Today I am rarely afraid of being “found out.” I live my life out in the open in a way I never did before. A year ago today I spoke for the first time publicly about my recovery here on this blog, and that was a huge milestone in my life. Even though I’d been in recovery for two years, I never really felt free of the immense shame until I started talking about it. Funny, huh? Fear and shame hold us hostage, when in the end, we held the power to defeat them all along. By sharing my story multiple times over the past year I have been healed. I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I’m damn proud of it!

In the last year so many of you have reached out to me to tell me your own stories. From people struggling with addiction or mental illness, to those of you who are afraid for someone you love who is dealing with his or her demons, to those of you also in recovery giving me virtual and physical hi-fives….every time I open a message from one of you my heart grows three sizes. I’m like the Grinch of recovery. I used to think that everyone in the world was out to get me, but the last year has taught me that connection is the solution. By reaching out, you have helped me immensely. Thank you.

Recovery : Three Years

If you are new on this journey, and you’ve found this post because you don’t know who to talk to, hold tight. It gets easier. Find your tribe, your people who get you. I was so fortunate to find my people on this path. My support system of women and men just like me, from all walks of life, who have held me up, cheered me on, sent me “hell yeah!” texts when I reached a milestone and listened to me cry when I was afraid it was never going to get better. I reached out to them earlier this week because I wanted to make something fun to celebrate today, and they didn’t let me down. We talked about remembering the terror of refusing a drink at a party or gathering and wondering if everyone knew our dirty little secrets. We laughed (yes, laughed…eventually you will laugh again!) about how much changes as you grow in your recovery, and shared different responses for that guy at the party who just WON’T LET IT GO and keeps offering you a cocktail! I loved them so much, I put together this little video to help you out if you’re newly sober and wondering what the heck you say to the dreaded question, “Hey, do you want a drink?”

Here’s to finding the funny again. Here’s to bright eyes and clear hearts. Here’s to no more fuzzy, wine tongue at 3 a.m. Here’s to being who you really are, without numbing and running away.

And here’s to many, many more basic Saturdays.

Happier + Healthier

A few years ago I started thinking about getting my health into check. I was in my late 20s, and I felt awful. I was exhausted all the time, I had a gym membership, but I rarely exercised, I had colds and sinus issues from October to March, and most of all, I was deeply unhappy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time, but my unhappiness was probably the biggest problem of all, and the root of that unhappiness was a deep seeded shame and, honestly, a hatred of myself.

The first step to addressing all of my health issues, both mentally and physically was quitting drinking. While I didn’t know it at the moment, that one choice would ripple down and affect everything in my life. And over the past few years, I’ve made small baby steps toward a life that is so much more fulfilling and joyful than I could have imagined.

(If you’re interested in learning more about my recovery, please click here for my story. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.)

Getting Healthy

Now, while quitting drinking was a huge leap on my road to wellness, I’ve found so many other things that have changed my life in such positive ways. I relate all of my health wins back to recovery, because without that, I never would’ve had the urge to get well in the first place! But while I have talked at length about what quitting drinking did for my health, I haven’t talked very much about what came after.

When I quit drinking, I lost 25 pounds in three months. Now, mind you, I would guess that 80% of that was water weight and pure bloat, because I certainly wasn’t eating any better! In fact, after I quit drinking, I promptly replaced alcohol with a strong addiction to gummy bears! My body craved sugar like never before, and in early recovery, I didn’t care what I had to do, as long as I didn’t drink. But after a year, I felt like it was time to get myself back. After all, I hadn’t saved my own life, just to waste it away on gummy bears and bad reality television! (Though I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Kardashian’s, whose crazy lives truly got me through those early days…)

For me, facing my issues with alcohol forced me to look at my body in a new way. As I became less toxic, my body could do more and more. I liked that feeling! I finally saw my body for the miracle it was, instead of seeing everything it wasn’t. I felt like superwoman, and became obsessed with finding new, easy-to-understand ways to make my body function at it’s best. Now, let’s be real…I’m still me. I still love cheesecake and think yoga pants are best suited for hours on the couch watching a Doctor Who marathon, but I knew there had to be small, simple ways for even ME to live a little bit healthier.

  1. Cut Out Soda/Drink Tons of Water – You guys, have I told you how much I love La Croix? Because I love it, so, so much. It’s a little unsettling when you notice how many empty La Croix boxes I have in my recycling bin, but it’s way better than empty wine boxes, so I’ll take it! La Croix is a sparkling water and it has almost completely replaced my soda habit. I’ll still have a Coke every once in a while, but for the most part, it’s water all the way.
  2. Get Rid of (Most) Sugar – This is a HARD one for me, you guys. Luckily, I’m not a perfect person, so perfection is not my goal. So yes, I still have cake and chocolate and ice cream. Just not every day anymore. And I’ve been working to replace most of my household foods with items that have less sugar. Peanut butter is a great example! We eat tons of pb&j in my house, but most peanut butters are LOADED with sugar. So we swapped it out for a natural brand, where the only ingredients are peanuts and a bit of sea salt. We did the same with our jelly and bread. We still rock our pb&j’s, just with a little less of the sugar.
  3. Making Our Meals – I am an awful cook. AWFUL. The worst. But one of the big changes in our house has been implementing a meal plan and sticking to it. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m cooking four course meals every night, but I am finding it way easier to stick to healthy options when I know ahead of time what we will be eating. I’m also slowly growing my skills in the kitchen so that one day I won’t burn all the toast. Fingers crossed! 
  4. Vitamins, Supplements and Essential Oils – I truly believe that a huge part of why we haven’t been as sick this year is because as a family we have taken a proactive approach to our health. Trent has been taking vitamins and supplements for years, but only this year did I start adding them to my daily routine. You should definitely talk to your doctor before starting any sort of supplement plan (which I did) to figure out what your body needs and what’s right for you. In addition, we started using essential oils to replace some of our needs around the home. We use Young Living essentials oils to make everything from kitchen cleaner to headache remedies, and I love how they have replaced many of the toxic chemicals in our home. Sleep has always been a huge issue for our family, and initially we started using essential oils to help with that, but I keep finding new applications along the way, and I’m so grateful to have them as a tool on my journey.
  5. Sleep and Exercise – Like I mentioned above, sleep is a big deal in our home. We have two night owls and two light sleepers, and the mix can be exhausting. In the last year I’ve done a lot of research on sleep, and we’ve tried quite a few methods, some of which have helped, and others which have failed MISERABLY! We are still working on this issue, but I’ve found that a good mix of exercise and movement during the day really helps my sleep patterns at night. In fact, I feel better in general when I exercise…who would’ve thought? Apparently yoga pants can actually be used WHEN PARTICIPATING IN YOGA?!! Crazy. I’ve also added running and strength training to my days, and the combination not only makes me physically stronger, but the activity releases endorphins, which help with depression, anxiety and stress.

While this blog hasn’t regularly covered health topics in the past…it’s a lifestyle blog. So that means if there is something happening in my life, I’m gonna write about it! I’ve put off writing about health topics for a while, because I didn’t feel qualified, but this blog is about sharing my life, and right now health and wellness are some of the most important things I have going. I’m so excited to have you come along on this journey! I hope to post more regularly about wellness-related issues, and maybe even team up with some incredible people who have helped me along the way to provide you all with easy how-to’s, DIY’s and health hacks. Let me know if you all have any ideas or anything you’d like to learn more about!

Hooray for healthier bodies and happier minds!

CB Reads : Library Pressure and Meeting a Warrior

In the last few years, my reading schedule has been either feast or total famine. If you ask me, “Read any good books lately?” I will probably either rattle off five books I read in the last month or I’ll look at you with a blank stare for a few minutes while I try to remember the last time I picked up anything with actual pages with words on them. The biggest motivator for me lately has been an institution that certainly isn’t new…the public library! Instead of buying new books, I’ve gotten into the habit of requesting them from the library, and since many are in demand, it takes a while before I reach the front of the list. Then, once I have the book in hand, I only have a few short weeks to finish it before it’s due! Nothing like the pressure of paying a surly librarian a late fee to get me turning pages!

CB Reads

Here are a few books I’ve finished since January 1 (and yes, I totally have a late fee on my library card right now…one thing at a time, friends!):

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Now I’ll admit, I was a kid when the movie version of this book came out, and I remember my mother loving it…which of course meant that I hated it! Kids are fun. Anyway, I saw this novel on a list of favorites by another blogger, and I figured I’d give it a shot. It was so much more than I expected, and though the subject matter was heavy, I couldn’t put it down. The language and scenery drew me in, and I was totally enthralled. I highly recommend this one, it’s a total classic.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton


I’ve written about this book before, but just this past month I was lucky enough to hear the author speak and was also able to meet her in person. My goodness, what an experience! Glennon’s blog Momastery and this book carried me through my early days in recovery (this post in particular, which is also included in her book), and I can’t describe what an honor it was to meet her, thank her and hug her. This is a book for anyone struggling with hardship in their lives, especially if they want to laugh again.

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson

Now, this book called my name from the YA shelf at the library, and while it’s not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon, it was still dishy fun! It’s a quick and easy read, despite it’s length, and I really enjoyed it. The story centers around a wealthy teenager who is also a amateur private detective, and a series of murders happening among her wealthy New York friends. There are several backstory mysteries as well, and the whole thing kept my attention, even if it was a bit predictable.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ve had this book on hold for months, so I was super excited when it finally came through! This story of a woman who witnesses a crime from a train car is non-stop action. I found myself finishing this book during one of our snowed in days early in the year, tucked in front of a fire, swatting at the children to leave me alone so I could finish! It’s an intense thriller (which is usually not my favorite), but the human stories that are built in to the story line are as interesting as the main mystery.

What have you been reading lately? I’m in the middle of All the Light We Cannot See, and I’m having a bit of trouble getting into it, even though it’s good.

2016 Goals

Goals, Resolutions and the Recovering Perfectionist

It’s the beginning of January, so I’m gonna guess this isn’t the first post you’ve seen regarding “setting goals” or “resolutions” for the new year. Am I right? I thought so. Well, if you’re feeling over the whole thing, I hear you. I am not a natural goal-setter and honestly, the thought of making a list of things I want to do sort of makes me want to gag.

I wasn’t always this way. As a Type-A Supermom, I used to love writing down all of my resolutions and then checking them off, one by one. I got a strange satisfaction from looking at this yearly to-do list and feeling the superiority of completing it. On this very blog I hosted a bucket list of 100 things I wanted to do in my lifetime. But there was one problem. I wasn’t the best at failing. And when you’re trying new things, odds are high you’re going to fail once or twice (or a hundred times). For me, failure didn’t feel like an option, so often I’d push myself to complete tasks I’d lost passion for or didn’t make sense anymore, just to prove I could do them.

When my perfectionism came crashing down around me a few years ago, I swung in the other direction. I hated goals. The word “resolution” gave me chills. Any talk of pursuing anything new or scary was just not in the cards for me. This isn’t a healthy way to live either, because if you don’t strive for anything, how will you ever get anywhere?

So about two years ago I came to a balance that has worked well ever since. We decided to make goals and resolutions as a family, and work together to help each other and keep ourselves accountable. (You can read a post on our family goal setting night here) Shockingly, it worked! Does that mean I complete every resolution on my list? Nope, not even close, but that’s part of the process. Sometimes we think we want something (a thinner body, a new job, etc.) and find what we wanted isn’t exactly what we thought! Maybe we start out the year wanting to do more yoga, and realize we hate meditation and would rather run marathons instead. Does that mean we failed? Nope, if anything, we succeeded.

F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning

I love this acronym. LOVE. Because that’s really what it’s all about, right? In the end, it’s not about checking items off a list, but using those items to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Having this mindset changed my whole perspective, and now I get a rush out of setting resolutions again. Not because I want to show how amazing I am, but because I start to imagine all I’m going to learn along the way, and that my friends, is pretty freaking exciting.

My personal goals this year are pretty tame. I want to do a project with my husband. I want to continue simplifying my life and my home (i.e. KonMari everything and get rid of all the “stuff”). I want to get back into the habit of daily journaling, something that fell by the wayside during my busy work season followed by the holidays.

My business goals are a little more lofty.

2016 Goals

Is it because I think I can really accomplish all of this in a year? Heck, I have no idea. And honestly, it really doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about getting it all done. It’s about the different paths and routes I will end up taking on the journey. And you know what, if I end up failing at all of them, it’s okay. There’s always next year.

Sunday Morning Project |005

The Sunday Mornings Project

Sunday Morning Project |007

Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of a good photo project. Sometimes when I’m feeling uninspired and find my creative self very far away, I turn to photo projects as a way to steer myself home. I’ve done a couple of collaborative ones in the past (like NYC + KC), but I felt like it was time I create something on my own. Something that is wholly made of that interesting stuff between my ears.

I’ve been pretty vocal about being in long term recovery, and what that means for me. But sometimes I think it’s difficult to explain how it affects my daily life. People understand I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but I think they just assume that only affects my nights. They think of the glasses of wine I won’t be sharing at happy hour or the social events I miss all together. Rarely do they ask about my mornings. Which is strange to me, because it is the days that are the most changed. Specifically, Sundays.

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Sunday mornings used to be a tortuous period in my week. Those were the mornings I’d wake up with a pounding headache, my heart racing, my stomach turning…my mouth would be dry and my teeth would feel slimy. But worst of all, I’d have a sinking feeling, deep down in my gut. For many, MANY years I’d wake up every Sunday full of so much shame and remorse. I’d push through the pain and get on with my day and my life, but it was never easy and always painful. Sunday was the day I felt the worst, and it was also usually the day I’d say to myself, “I can’t do this again. I’m done.”

But then it would be Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and I’d find myself right back in it. I felt like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the mountain, just to have it roll back down…over and over and over. It was a battle in a seemingly endless war with myself. I feared it would never end. I assumed Sunday mornings would just always be the worst. That was my reality. That was my penance.

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Today, Sunday mornings are glorious. They are amazing in their simplicity and joy. They are easy, which may not seem like something to celebrate, but for someone who usually waged war on Sundays, easy is pretty wonderful. There was so much I missed out on before…not because things weren’t happening and not because I wasn’t there, but because no matter how “there” I was…I was never really, truly anywhere. I was always in my head, fighting the battle with myself, and never really in the present moment at all.

When I decided I wanted to start another photo project, Sunday morning jumped out at me. I knew I wanted to do a project about recovery for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work. My answer was Sunday mornings.

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Every Sunday morning I am trying to capture something simple. Something understated. Something that most people would see and say, “Huh, looks like a nice little Sunday.” But for those of us in recovery, and those of us still fighting the war in our own minds, seeing these images can give immense hope.

There are good Sundays out there. Sundays full of love and light. They are simple, but they are glorious. So for one year, I am going to do my best to capture my Sunday mornings. I want to look back and remember how I felt, just in case the dark thoughts come back. I need the light to fight them off. And if you’re struggling, I hope you can see these images every week, and remember there is a reason to keep fighting. The struggle is worth it. You are worth it.

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Follow the Sunday Mornings Project over on Instagram by following me @crazy_bananas or via the hashtag #cbsundaymornings

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