Thursday, October 9, 2014

This post is 15 months in the making

...and that's all I can come up with. That empty space above...

Over the past six months, I've watched some of my favorite blogs shut down. Including some mammoth ones like Young House Love. Those folks had a book and a line of products at Target for chrissake. And they left it all to go participate more in the very life they've been blogging about. 

There's this thing that happens- somewhere in the first half of your 30s for most of us- that makes you want to talk about it less and do it more. Maybe it's the marriages, the baby making, or the joys of home ownership that leave us prisoners of our cubicles and small, windowless offices in hopes of the promotion that'll fund new appliances/windows/a new garbage disposal. If you're trying to fund a new baby... Good luck.. Most of us struggle to pay for that one no matter what.

We are fighting hard to get ahead and gritting our teeth as we fall behind.

Who the hell has the time or the stomach to write about it?

My longtime Love and I got married last weekend. Finally, I know. Or maybe not so finally. We sold a house, bought a house, both changed careers, saw loved ones grow old and ill and pass away, bid farewell to beloved family pets, painted the basement, and just this week, learned that together, we can trap and destroy a mouse infestation in the third car garage stall. 

Chris and I were so busy living that there wasn't time for marriage. Which seems to be a common theme for most of us- there's never any time. 

You wake up one day with an Instagram collection of 1800 pictures but only 14 of them contain tangible memories of actual life moments. I will not ask you to raise your hand if this statement rings true. It doesn't have to be said: the world is full of white noise. 

We spend so much time trying to appear successful/beautiful/happy/fulfilled that we aren't doing the work to get ourselves there. Really there in the real world. 

I've done a lot of living in the past 15 months. Probably more so than in any other stretch of life. I've learned that I suffer from a yeast allergy. So all those times you saw me running like a whackadoo around downtown under the influence of Coors were only partially my fault. 

I've learned that Chris and I bring out both the most disgusting and most delightful aspects of one another's personalities. I wish the former weren't true, but it is and I take ownership of that. 

I've learned that Corporate America will never, ever be for me. 1100ish wedding related emails almost sent me to the Crazy Place. Can we have a 72 second phone call and skip the seven email volleys?

Chris has learned that there are moments- like when our treasured 6 year old dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer- in which I cannot power through. I don't think he ever saw me weak and broken until that moment.  I've learned that Chris is stronger than I thought and can hold me up when life is bringing me down. 

I've learned that I can relandscape a yard, in the rain, by myself. 

And last Sunday, when we woke up married and everyone asked, "so does it feel different?" I learned that marriage did not change anything other than my last name. Which tells me that Chris and I did not marry to fix something that was broken, or because it was expected, or because we were looking to fill some kind of void.

Chris and I married because we were living our lives and the path lead us right on up to that altar. It was glorious and overwhelming and magical, and I can't wait to see where it takes us next.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Open Letter (like the ones film directors write to Lindsay Lohan, only this one is for my fitness folks)

In all of my years of lifting weights and running triathlons and hill sprint intervalling, it never crossed my mind that fitness would bring my life anything other than euphoria and joy.

This past weekend, fitness delivered a spitefully packaged dose of shame and a tinge of embarrassment for those in my fitness community.

We all have tales of woe. Some sad. Some tragic. Some ridiculously dramatic. I am no different. I was picked on as a kid- a teenager- a young adult. Picked on to the point of changing schools and hiding in the bathrooms during lunch period so I wouldn't have to worry whether or not anyone would want to sit with me or someone would tease me for- GASP- eating in front of my peers.

I was taller than my 5th grade teacher, taller than most of the boys, bigger than the girls. The bathroom of my grandparents' house is the first place I remember crying over how fat I thought I was. At 7 years old. There's a family photo from that day and there I was, so unfat, in a turquoise and white dress with my Mom holding a red geranium and me feeling like I was unworthy somehow.

But all kids get picked on. It's an important part of growing up: learning to tolerate criticism and stand up for oneself.

I was teased by softball teammates and the Cool Kids in high school. Called butch and a dyke and all sorts of other things. I turned down every invitation to a school dance ever received because I thought for sure I would be teased and taunted for being a fat girl trying to look pretty in a sparkly dress at prom.

This is not my tale of woe. This is my tale of growing up and having had a tough go of it only to find my voice and myself and to feel so good now that those woeful moments are a memory so distant that I hardly give them thought for long enough to roll my eyes, shake my head, and move on.

I had always played sports and been active as a kid. My Grandpa was still swimming laps and lifting weights well into his 70s. He was meticulous to the extent of using a ruler to draw charts for his exercise. I so admired him. And he admired me and everytime I did something noteworthy, he made sure to marvel. While living with my grandparents during freshman year of college, I would watch Grandpa from the corner of my eye. I'd use what we learned in the high school P.E. class weight unit and what I saw Grandpa doing and quietly took up exercise. Not the occasional jog around the block, but the deliberate kind.

The endorphin rush took hold of me. I felt empowered everytime I exercised. It felt like each mile and lift and lap swam was payback for every derogatory name my childhood self bore witness to.

My soul wanted more.

The story of how I met my trainer is well documented. It's a classic: Girl gets engaged; Girl hires personal trainer to get skinny for wedding; Girl calls off wedding/cries in front of trainer/trainer says GUT CHECK, HOMIE and both survive an hour of crying over lost love and lunges.

I cried through many more workouts. But with each week- each new 10lb plate I added- my soul felt stronger right alongside my glutes and triceps. The only thing about exercise I dreaded was running, so the logical choice was to sign up for a triathlon.

Years and races and tens of thousands of back squats have passed and fitness has taught me more about resilience, tenacity, and self reliance than any absurd Chicken Soup For the Soul book could. Because when 275lbs is sitting across your shoulders or you're standing in the middle of a race course all alone, wanting to quit but knowing the only way out is to finish... it's you and your own devices... THAT is inner strength and confidence that cannot be shaken by any external force.

Fitness and I are deeply, eternally devoted to one another for that reason.

When I come across others just like me- others that make the choice to show up to the gym, that make the choice to give their time and energy to putting in hard work-- those are my soulmates. I've met beautiful, encouraging people along the way. I remember the faces of competitors that absolutely kicked my ass in triathlons but turned around and came back out on the course to cheer me on to the Finish. I remember the first women I saw at Lifetime that were lifting heavy weights. Because God knows that six years ago, there were only a handful of us daring to go there. I know the smiles and sincerity of people that holler MEGAN! HEY, HOW ARE YA over the headphones and across the Stairclimbers.

I love these people. If all I ever know of them is that she power cleans 15lbs more than me and he gets double protein in his post workout smoothie, this community of people has a place in my soul.

So when I see us acting like total and complete jerkoffs to one another, my soul feels ashamed and embarrassed for this community of very wonderful people behaving very badly. Outside of the bubble of our suburbs, this Crossfit vs Lifetime feud is entirely obsolete and inconsequential. As it should be. But inside of the bubble, the air is thick and stinks like whey isolates that have been spoiling and mutating inside of an unwashed shaker for a week.

There is a difference between competing WITH each other and AGAINST each other.

No one is more competitive than me. Believe that: no one. But I can want to mop the 50yrd dash track with your face in competition and still think kindly of you as a person once the timer stops. You feel me?

This gym has done that to spite that gym and that gym has used that gyms blah blah who cares shut the fuck up all of you about all of it!!!

When I came to cheer on friends- from both gyms, thank you- at Saturdays Lifetime Alpha competition, I stared at all of the folks wearing shirts with CROSSFIT CHAN blazed across the front and thought.. what pricks. Then I turned to my left and saw the marketing materials Lifetime had used out of spite and thought.. what pricks.

It isn't everyone. I am taking nothing away from anyone that showed up for the right reasons. But let's be real-- there were a lot of wrong reasons on the field on Saturday.

I was so overwhelmed with irritation for the melodrama that I had forgotten that there was supposed to be a competition going on. And it didn't feel like a competition between competitors, it felt like a pissing competition between egos.

Fitness saved me. It has saved many of us. Perhaps that is why I feel connected to many of you beyond that we all wear Lululemon at the gym, preschool, and probably on dates with our husbands.

We are a community bound together by common interests. There is room for us all and each of us should take it upon ourselves to cheer one another on in our pursuit of individual goals. Surely, not everyone's hands are dirty, but it is only the unfortunate few that can poison the well for all. If positive thinking can get you through Fran or 50 minutes of Prowler pushes and kips, then it can surely bring a little harmony to the air between our two parking lots.

Love and Burpees. Forever.

For The Love of Fitness: Let's all be friends.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Paleo Is for More than Crossfit Crazies: It's For You Too, You Crazy Carbovoire

I first learned about the Paleo diet/lifestyle about four years ago when my body weight started climbing and energy dropped. Paleo came after South Beach was so mindless that it practically asked for cheating.
My trainer kept chirping about a book called Primal Blueprint, urging me to read it because he felt it was keeping right in line with my beliefs about food. Save for the fact that I was newly out of retirement from a decade as a pescetarian vegetarian. After browsing Mark's Daily Apple a few times, I picked up the book and quickly proceeded to read it cover to cover.

Over the next couple of years, I used Paleo as a starting point for reducing processed foods in my diet. It was also a sure fire way to cut weight quickly and repair stalling energy. I moved on to a Ketogenic Diet-- something I'd seen a childhood friend live through as an Epilepsy patient at a research hospital-- and delightfully ate nothing but chicken and cheese for as long as I could take it and voila! Five to seven pounds gone in less than a month.

I can clearly remember being Keto on moving day. Chris can probably clearly remember, too. Especially on day 4 of unpacking when I stood at the dining table, flailing silverware and a box cutting knife, screaming and weeping IM LIVING ON CHEESE, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!

So that didn't last.

As exercise programs like Crossfit grew in popularity, cookbooks, websites, and Pinterest pins with Paleo recipes and substitutions popped up in the mainstream. Plenty of the recipes tasted worse than cardboard, but for the most part, it's safe to assume that if you take white and processed foods out of your diet, you're at least Paleo-friendly.

Now, fellow Cavepeople and wannabes, please use common sense when Pinterest suggests that so long as you use almond flour instead of Gold Medal something is Paleo.. just... ugh. USE YOUR BRAIN. Organic Oreos are still Oreos and a wolf in sheeps clothing still has sharp fangs.

Everyday Paleo. Southwestern Frittata.

If you've never tried Paleo, please please please start with this recipe. Sarah is the most badass bitch of Paleo cooks and this recipe will show you that clearing your diet of grains and artificial "foods," can be delicious, affordable, and completely satisfying.

Southwestern Frittata
1tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup salsa verde (I used Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde)
12 eggs
Sea Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350. In a large saute pan, saute the onions and minced jalapeno in the coconut oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the ground beef and cook just until it starts to brown and add the grated sweet potato and garlic. Cook until the beef is completely browned and the sweet potato is soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salsa, stir and cook until heated through. Taste and season with a little sea salt if desired. Transfer the meat mixture to a 11×7 glass baking dish and spread the meat mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the 12 eggs add pour over the meat mixture in the baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle when you jiggle the pan.
Now, don't try to be cute and modify the recipe because you feel scared of the coconut oil instead of butter or because you've always put milk in your eggs to make them fluffy. Because if you add milk or butter, you're not Paleo. And if you're not Paleo, you're not feeling as freakin awesome as you could.
I made this tonight with the intentions of having it before flying out the door for a Sunday at work. But the smell was so enticing that I stuck my fork in and didn't take it out until I'd helped myself to an entire serving. The best part is not only the clean eating and the yumminess of it, but walking away from the plate fully satisfied and not feeling like you're going to explode/vomit/or die.
You're welcome.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Feeling green

It was a busy weekend at Casa Megan. (Chris's) Family dinner on Friday, (Megan's) family dinner on Saturday, Superbowl on Sunday.

The hours were also filled with the predictable and prerequisite workouts, trips to the golf store and grocery, laundry, and daydreaming of all the things the future holds.

Chris and I are in that awkward relationship moment when we aren't married, we don't have kids, and we are already moved into the house with the yard and dog. For quite a while now.

We often look across the room at each other on Saturday afternoons and think, "there has to be more than this." More than just a boyfriend and a girlfriend and a big house full of too many boring grownup possessions.

We know the missing piece has ten tiny toes and ten tiny fingers.

But since that's a really serious lifetime commitment, for now we doddle and tinker and bicker and do aimless things like shop online and reorganize garages and pantries.

After a full week of anticipation, this box finally arrived on Saturday and it sent me running into the house for a scissors to tear into it with.

Inside were precious contents. Paraben free contents. If that sort of thing tickles your intrigue, then be sure to checkout Abe's Market. While many of the items are available at Whole Foods or the Co-Op, internet shopping practically guarantees a discount code of some kind. So I snagged shave cream, deodorant, and the most awesome Vicks-esque stuff called campor. I mist the inside of the humidifier before bed and I feel clear in the morning and my sheets aren't muddled in scary petroleum grossness.

The green theme continued on Sunday when a rare occurrence of Spring Fever struck me. I generally adore winter and swallow enough D3 and fish oil to keep the Winter Blahs away. But for whatever reason, the greenhouse and its between seasons destitution whispered into my ear to come inside.
I was disappointed to strike out in the herbs department. The hope had been an enormous basil plant and a rosemary topiary, but that's fine because lord knows I can't get a usable herb to grow in the herb garden much less a kitchen window in the dead of winter. 

Instead, I found these darling clay pots rimmed in silver and distressed enough to sport some real Euro flavor. Like sheep on the countryside and lavender fields as a backdrop for crusty bread and red wine.

They were charming and a fiscal ripoff originally, but an acceptable amount on clearance. My one regret is only buying three for myself and not picking up the rest to fill for fiends as gifts come spring and summer. Nothing says I Love You, Pal, like a fabulous pot full of mojito making spearmint.

You can never go wrong with succulents and even if you neglect them, they'll still give you a good amount of life and green before joining the English Ivies and ferns in Houseplant Heaven.

I love Sunday nights for their quiet nature: I love Sunday nights because it's like getting to hit Restart on the computer and the week can begin clean, fresh, organized and uncluttered. With Sunday night comes a sense of satisfaction for what was accomplished and an anticipation for what's yet to come.

We may not have babies, but we have succulents and gleaming countertops. Here's to hoping the weekend found your time blooming with goodness.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Not So Sugary Truth

When I decided to walk away from college before my senior year, there wasnt an ounce of hesitation in my heart nor a doubt in my mind.

Others were not so sure.

People wondered how long I'd "babysit" before getting a real job.

And while I don't have a 401k match program or large group medical benefits, I can assure you that there is nothing more real than the responsibility and privilege of the work I do each day.

Ive been called a servant and someone's personal bitch and a babysitter and a spineless doormat.

Please ask the kids I care for who and what I am: they will tell you I'm the person that taught them how to ride a bike without training wheels, I'm the person that prepares thoughtfully homemade meals 3x a day, I'm the person that begins the morning with a smile and a hug for every child, every day. They will tell you I'm a champion at fort building, scheduling, and Scrabble. I read to and with them each day and through gritted teeth, they will even tell you that I'm the person that takes away electronics, unplugs XBoxes, and sits them down for those tough to have This Is Unacceptable discipline talks.

I've been called a Fill In Parent. And while flattering, it is also untrue. You see, I am no one's bitch and I am no parental replacement. Because I've been grinding and hauling and poopy diaper changing for long enough that I don't have to work for just anyone. I choose not to work for lazy or absentee parents because that's a shipwreck that I can't change the course of.

Been there, done that.

But the not so sweet truth of what I do is that I'm not a fill in parent for one main reason. And it's the thing you're not supposed to say: I do it better.

That's not a judgment, it's a fact.

I could not go to the office of any of my employers and do what they do. Because I'm not an executive, I'm not a finance whiz, and I'm not a ruthless business person.

I am a Nanny.

Boogers on the shoulder of my shirt, sticky handprints across the thighs of my pants, and probably a Dora The Explorer bandaid stuck to the bottom of my boot: loud and proud, I am a Nanny.

A professional one with more than a decade of experience and instinct and Babies Should Sleep In Their Own Beds knowledge.

Where parents have every right to let little Tommy watch the Backyardigans for a moment of peace or even a shower, I dont have that right. Where McDonalds is easy and convenient and super practical when you're running around to hockey practice, a choir concert, and school to pickup the homework Tommy left in his locker, I don't have that right.

Where parents are human, I am expected to be superhuman.

I am paid to wear the cape.

Each day, I dont just show up and do my work. I excel and I give it every ounce of my every effort and when thats not good enough, I dig deeper. I fold another load of laundry, I play Barbies AGAIN, I do something that's not really my job but is helpful and needed.

You see, being a Nanny means not saying, "that's not my job." It means coming early, staying late, and giving up your free time to showup at Tommy's football game on Saturday because it means something to him that you came. That you care. Even when not on the pay clock, these kids come before all else.

My job description is never ending because my job is whatever is best for the kids. Which means yes, I break my neck to keep Moms happy and cared for and I believe in that. No one believes in Moms and family more than me.

And I can only hope that someday, I can be as good of a Mom as I am a Nanny.

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