Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith- week 6/final week: Wholehearted Living

Learning to trust your intuition takes a strong inner compass.  It’s saying to yourself, “I hear me” and what I feel inside matters, even when I feel afraid and uncertain.  Listening to and following what your intuition is telling you is probably the most key component to Wholehearted Living.

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Getting comfortable with uncertainty is easier said than done.  As humans, we are programmed to feel uncomfortable in the unknown.  When we cannot predict or know what’s happening, it sends our emotions and actions into a tail spin.  I know this firsthand.  Being comfortable with uncertainty is an area in my life where I have to consistently be checking in.  For example: I took a solo flight last weekend with my two kids from Austin, TX to Columbus, OH.  There was a lot of uncertainty and unknown that went into this trip.  From the time we woke up that morning, it all was uncertainty from that moment.  And I told myself repeatedly as I prepared for this trip- “Megan, you must control what you can and leave the rest in God’s hands.”  I kept repeating that to myself over and over.  And especially when the airplane hit unexpected turbulence as we ascended into the air!  I’m happy to report that despite the snowy weather, we had a wonderful trip spending time with family.

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The cause of most of our conflict, tension and anxiety is the fear of the unknown and our fear of being wrong.  Living this fearful on a regular basis can cause a person to become isolated.  It also triggers us to rely on coping mechanisms such as destructive behavior and numbing pain, which never leads us to experience joy.  Personally, I have deeper view on faith than what Brené speaks of in her class because I have a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ.  They are the focal point of my life.  And yes, I do believe in the quote above about Faith being a place of mystery and the place where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see.  However, I believe strongly that each and every human has a purpose to their life. When we find our faith and rely on God’s everlasting love and acceptance- this is when we find our purpose. There is a strong correlation between when I accepted God into my life and when my life’s shift toward purpose began.  It happened when I leaned into my fears of uncertainty. The healing started when I forgave myself and those who have hurt me.  And my inner strength grew by practicing gratitude daily.

In our final week of Wholehearted Living we were tasked to create our own personal mantra.  Here is mine:

I will continue to show up, practice vulnerability and share my story

In addition to my personal mantra, I will continue to recite my life’s personal mantra, which are the 3 pillars to the Serenity Prayer

Serenity – Courage – Wisdom

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

I want to thank all of you for following me over the past 6 weeks through my journey of Wholehearted Living.  Each day I awake, I see it as a new opportunity for growth and acceptance. It took a great deal of courage to share myself and my life’s work with all of you. By sharing my story, it helped me overcome my fears and allowed me to be authentic to myself and my readers.  I sincerely appreciated the comments I received both publicly and privately, they meant so much to me.  If you are interested in doing this same work in your own life, Brené is holding another online course beginning January 12th.  The greatest gift for yourself to begin anew in 2014!  Check out the link below:

January 12th- March 1st Brené Brown: The Gifts of Imperfection/Wholehearted Living eCourse. 

Wishing you all much love, peace and joy throughout the holiday season,

Megan

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Harvest Minestrone with Quinoa and Kale

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Good Monday Morning!

I’m a subscriber and regular reader of the online health and wellness site, MindBodyGreen.  If you haven’t already discovered this publication, I encourage you to do so.

Last week, MBG posted a fantastic recipe for a hearty and healthy minestrone.  Once I saw it, I quickly gathered the missing ingredients and had my Le Creuset (aka- my favorite soup pot) on the stove and was ready to go!  There was a substantial amount of time spent prepping the veggies, but it was so worth it when this flavorful soup hit my lips.  So hearty and healthy, even my son who is a picky eater ate “almost” an entire bowl.  It took all my willpower to not go for thirds and it tasted even better the next day.  Typically when I make soups, I freeze half the batch.  Not with this one- it was an instant hit!

Harvest Minestrone with Quinoa and Kale

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet onion – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks – medium diced
  • 3 carrots – medium diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
  • 2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 bell pepper – medium diced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 28-ounce cans of water
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups kale – stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with parmesan to taste (optional)
  • Garnish with slivered basil or finely chopped rosemary

Directions:

Place a large stockpot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.

Add the zucchini and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.

Grate in the parmesan, add the basil and serve. (or do this for individual servings).

Stay warm, safe and healthy,

Megan

Meatless Monday- Easy Veggie Fajitas

Image 1Hi Friends,

I’ve been slack on posting Meatless Monday recipes, but it’s still happening at our house and hope it is at yours.  Monday is the best day to feed yourself and your family a healthy dinner loaded with vitamin rich foods.  I am trying to be mindful about what I eat today since I overindulged this weekend in holiday treats and goodness.  For something quick, easy and kid friendly- I turn to the old faithful, Veggie Fajitas!

You can make any variation of this because the key is getting loads of vitamins and fiber with the  veggies and protein from the beans.  If you want more whole grains, add a quinoa/brown rice mix such as Spanish Style Rice with quinoa and brown rice.

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For the wrap:  Use Organic corn or flour tortilla.  Lately, I’ve been using flour tortillas made with spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient grain that is rich in manganese and B3.  This grain is quickly gaining popularity with the wheat sensitive crowd (that’s me!)

To cut down on prep time, find bags of organic veggies in the frozen food section.  I often use bags of cut red, green, yellow bell peppers with onion.  Cutting and preparing the veggies is the part that can add time to this recipe.

Southwest Veggie Fajitas

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • can black beans or ranchero beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt and pepper to taste*adjust seasonings to your discretion
  • fixings: spanish rice, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream, salsa verde

Directions:

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or safflower oil to bottom of large pot.  Add garlic and onion, saute for 1-2 min.  Add peppers, saute for 3-4 min, Add corn and seasonings and allow mixture to simmer on med-low for about 10 min.  Add beans and adjust seasonings.  You could also add salsa to the mixture.  Allow to simmer for 10-15 on low so mixture has time to become flavorful.  Meanwhile, heat tortillas on stove one by one with a small amount of oil in the pan.  Or wrap in damp paper towels and microwave for no more than 1 min.  Top with favorite fixings and ENJOY!

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy — week 5: Wholehearted Living

joyWhen our family first moved to Austin, I was overwhelmed with joy to have a fresh start in a vibrant new city.  But once the newness wore off, I fell into darkness.  I couldn’t figure out where this darkness was coming from.  It really had me puzzled and thinking that something serious and psychological was wrong with me.  How could I be feeling depressed when I was finally where I wanted to be?  I was quickly making friends, living in a wonderful neighborhood and community, but it was a daily struggle for me to find happiness.  But why?  Why was I still feeling empty? When I’m stuck in a downward spiral, I first turn to prayer and I’m not referring to fake and rehearsed kind of prayer that is learned in religion class.  I’m talking about the kind of prayer where you let it all out.  And yet another awakening happened, words and thoughts of wisdom returned to me and hit me like a ten ton truck….I was forgetting to practice GRATITUDE!  The light bulb illuminated and everything became clear.  I was so focused on the wrong things in life, I’ve been here before.  Each time this happens, my downward spiral becomes shorter and less intense.  During the spiral, my daily thoughts went something like this…

  • I’m tired
  • I will never get all of these boxes unpacked
  • Wow, it’s hot in Texas!
  • I’m feeling lonely here and scared that no one will like me or accept me
  • ugh, our brand new couch looks terrible in our living room
  • I need to exercise
  • I need to be a better mom and wife
  • I need to be a better daughter, sister, aunt and friend
  • I’m not cooking healthy food and so my family doesn’t feel healthy
  • I never feel happy anymore
  • My family is suffering because I am in darkness right now
  • I’m not good enough

A brief pause to note how negativity and stress wreaks havoc on the physiology of the human body:

When I use negative self talk, which spirals me into darkness, my body responds in negative ways such as; skin breakouts and acne, restlessness and inability to fall into deep sleep, irritability and feeling like my insides are live wires, plethora of digestive issues, lack of concentration and/or feeling like I can’t complete tasks.  When the body is in negative mode, it responds by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine.  The endocrine systems is hormone HQ in the human body.  Cortisol is believed to affect the metabolic system, which causes weight gain. This is why people who are chronically stressed are typically over weight and have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off long-term.  A person can consume 10 tons of kale and run back to back marathons and still struggle with weight issues. Losing weight for the long-term begins with a healthy mind.  Furthermore, norepinephrine is believed to play a role in ADHD as well as depression and hypertension.  Just one of the reasons why stressed out people have to work 10 times harder to think clearly and stay on task.

*Stress hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.  Constant stress causes continual release of various stress hormones which can cause:

  • A depletion of energy storage
  • Stress-induced hypertension
  • Effects on metabolic processes
  • Ulcers (digestion)
  • Hampered growth
  • Decrease in testosterone levels in males and irregular menstrual cycles in females.
  • Increased likelihood of infectious diseases.

*source: Wikipedia

Awakening from Darkness:

The moment I awakened out of darkness and remembered my gratitude practice, my thoughts went something like this…

  • God, thank you for the opportunity to live another glorious day
  • grateful to be living in such an awesome city, community and neighborhood– thank you for leading us here
  • thankful for my life, my husband and 2 beautiful children
  • grateful to have the means to provide healthy food in abundance to our family
  • excited to take chances, meet new people and learn new things
  • grateful for the moments of darkness in my life, so that I can find the light of self-acceptance, gratitude and joy
  • thankful to use the hardships and painful life lessons in my life as a chance to learn and grow

when my thoughts turn to giving thanks and practicing gratitude– this is when I experience JOY!

gratitudeJoy is….

  • soaking in the sun and experiencing the sounds of nature as I walk my dog through the neighborhood
  • hearing my children laugh and watching them discover new talents
  • cooking with my kids
  • watching my kids learn through making mistakes and messes
  • the unexpected kiss on my forehead from my husband
  • giving and receiving kindness in the checkout line of the grocery store
  • knowing my kids feel safe and secure in our home
  • thinking about all the people who touch the beautiful farm grown food we eat and then saying a prayer for them
  • living each day and moment to its absolute fullest
  • watching the power of vulnerability work as I emotionally connect with another person
  • having an argument with my husband and ending it with understanding and respect
  • knowing my kids are happy because I am relaxed and present with them
  • going to bed with dishes in the sink and not giving a damn
  • taking time for self care and not feeling guilty
  • feeling worthy of love and friendship
  • feeling fulfilled by God’s love

Week #5 Wholehearted Living was all about practicing gratitude.  By practicing gratitude, we can find joy.  When we sit in our darkness, feel it, praise it, and push through to the other side without numbing ourselves- this is when we experience joy.  In order to feel joy, we have to feel pain.  If we numb pain, we are numbing joy.  It is impossible to numb the bad while still feeling the good.  This explains the constant struggle addicts experience throughout their life.  Addicts continue to numb their pain in hopes that it will bring joy, but the end result is merely pleasure that leads to more darkness.  The person seeking a life made of authenticity and self-acceptance must accept the power and correlation between gratitude and joy. A daily gratitude practice truly is the ticket out of darkness.

With love and gratitude,

Megan

ImageSunset walks with my pup, Sandy. It’s the perfect time for me to practice gratitude and experience joy all in the same moment.

Resilience & Hope – week 4: Wholehearted Living

ImageMy week has taken a different turn as I have two sick kiddos at home with me.  Well, let me rephrase “sick”.  They both tested positive for strep, but are feeling quite well.  Strep is one of those weird viruses that hangs out quietly in the body and can actually do some damage if not treated properly with antibiotics.  However, quite often the strep virus is not accompanied by painful symptoms.  So, today has turned into a bit of a fun day since they are home with me, but they are in good spirits.

This week’s focus was Cultivating Resilience.  I’ve had many profound ideas and wisdom filled thoughts running through my head that I intended on sharing this week, but then it hit me about an hour ago that I was living in the core of Resilience.  I was leaning into every joyful moment that God was bringing my way today.  And I had to stop for a moment, smile, and make light of how I would have handled this scenario two years ago.  Considering Thanksgiving is on the horizon and I am hosting 10 people to our home, the old me would have been at my whits end and near a complete breakdown of emotional stress if BOTH kids turned up sick the week prior to such a large event.  Instead, I am seriously living in the present moment.  And as I write this, I can hear the kids playing outside.  The funny part, they have dressed themselves in winter accessories on top of shorts and t-shirts because their little minds are trying to process why it’s almost Thanksgiving yet still warm outside.  They still haven’t quite grasped the mild southern climate here in Texas!  The old me would have failed to notice or found joy in watching them destroy the coat closet so they could find their winter gear that was still packed in boxes.  The family room is a total disaster with every cushion off the couch, leftover blankets and books on the floor from playing kings, queens and knights in their homemade forts. It all just feels so joyous!  I’m not talking about that fake joyous feeling where you know you should feel joy and let your kids be kids, but deep down it’s actually making you feel like your insides are live wires.  Feeling complete distress over the house being a mess while stressing about the mile long ‘to do’ list.  That’s how I would have processed this moment before my life’s transformation.

Yes!  THIS is what Resilience feels like!

Once again, I realized that my journey toward Wholehearted Living is truly paying off.  The countless days and hours of strengthening my mind, body and soul are finally bringing me back to JOY.  The joy I felt before I knew darkness.  All the moments I spent in prayer and growing deeper in my relationship with God are now worth everything to me.  Knowing that God showers me with unconditional love and acceptance, so that I can live in the present, while leaning into joyous moments such as today.

I have never intended to send another Mom or person into a shame spiral by sharing my journey.  Just one of the reasons why I don’t follow many Mommy blogs.  Sure, some Mom bloggers give it to their readers straight up, ugly and messy and I totally appreciate that. Because being a parent is hands down one of the most difficult jobs on the planet.  And for those who are sharing their joyous moments or journey’s of darkness being lifted, we share because we want to help others find the same light in their lives.  Transferring our experiences so that others might relate and feel inspired to make the first steps toward living a Wholehearted life.  That really is my ultimate goal each week as I share my heart through my writings.  By sharing real moments, I hope to inspire and be the change that everyone wants to see in our world.

Peace, love & light,

Megan

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Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

The Gifts of Imperfection- Brené Brown

* the below information is taken from a portion of the book, The Gifts of Imperfection

What Makes Up Resilience?  According to Brené’s research, here are five of the most common factors of resilient people:

  1. They are resourceful and have good problem-solving skills
  2. They are more likely to seek help.
  3. They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope.
  4. They have social support available to them.
  5. They have a strong connection with others (i.e.- family and friends)

Resilience is a core component of Wholeheartedness.  According to the people Brené interviewed, the very foundation of the “protective factors”- the things that made them bouncy (resilient) was their spirituality or connection with God. Brené defines “spirituality” as not religion or theology, but more so a shared and deeply held belief.  Here’s the definition from the book.

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.

She goes on to say;  from this foundation of spirituality, three other significant patterns emerge as being essential to resilience:

  1. Cultivating hope
  2. Practicing critical awareness
  3. Letting go of numbing and taking the edge of vulnerability, discomfort and pain

I touched on #2 & #3 in my last post.  It was the section about HOPE in this guidepost that really spoke to me.  Most people, (including myself) have thought of hope as an emotion, like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility.  She concludes that is the wrong interpretation for hope and here is why.  Brené discovered during her research that hope is in fact, NOT an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.  Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of a trilogy of goals, pathways and agency.  In simple terms, hope happens when:

  • We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go in life)
  • We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again)
  • We believe in ourselves (I can do this!)

Therefore, hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.  HOPE IS LEARNED!  And children most often learn hope from their parents.  To learn hopefulness, children need relationships that are characterized by boundaries, consistency, and support.

It’s pretty empowering to know that as a parent, we are responsible for teaching our children how to HOPE!

Cultivating Self-Compassion- week 3: Wholehearted Living

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The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of being yourself.

– Anna Quindlen

The topic of perfectionism is probably the one that hits home for most people.  I know it does for me, and since taking this journey toward Wholehearted Living, I have finally realized that being perfect does not exist.  I loathe the word, perfect.  It makes me cringe when I hear it used in the most generic sentence.  It’s in the top 3 words we don’t say in our house.  It accompanies other words such as hate and fat.  Using the word, perfect to describe a person, object or action is careless, but people throw around the word without much thought.  It’s a proven fact that by telling a child they must perform perfect, look perfect or simply “be” perfect, you are likely breeding a narcissist.* see definition: Narcissistic Personality disorder

Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield.  Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight  — From the Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown

Most perfectionists were raised in an environment where they received praise only when they were earning the highest grades, scoring the winning goals, people-pleasing or looking the most beautiful and/or handsome.  This belief system debilitates a person because they only see themselves as; I am what I accomplish.  The focus of the perfectionist only lies in what people think of them. Perfectionism also leads to crippling and destructive behavior such as depression, addiction, anxiety and life paralysis*

*Life-Paralysis is lost opportunities because of the fear of being imperfect.  It’s also the dreams we don’t follow because of the fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others. 

Perfectionists move through their day and life missing out on opportunities and experiences because they fear their self-worth is on the line at all times.  How do I know this?  Because I am a recovering perfectionist.  I used to live a crippled life plagued by depression, paranoia and anxiety because the fear of failing was so terrifying for me.  I missed out on trying new activities because I felt deeply that if I didn’t perform at 1000% right out of the gate, I would be judged and ridiculed.  Never giving myself the time to learn a new craft or skill so I could make mistakes and learn from them. I was the constant quitter because I hid behind my shield.  In my career days, I was hesitant to share ideas because I was fearful that someone would think I was an idiot.  And when you feel fear like this on a regular basis your natural tendency is to want to numb the feelings.  This is why perfectionism leads to addictions such as alcoholism, drug abuse, sex addiction, uncontrollable gossiping, constant planning and over-scheduling  and the list goes on.

In order to overcome perfectionism, we must become vulnerable and recognize our imperfections, realizing that we are enough. Through self-compassion we can cultivate a life of shame resilience. And when we face great strife and strong emotions we are better equipped to lean into how we are feeling at the present time.  Living in the present moment, being still and just feeling.  It takes a tremendous amount of acceptance and self-awareness to be able to sit still in the midst of darkness.  Recognizing that it’s only a wave of emotion, whatever it may be.  It just is what it is.  This is the birthplaces of living Wholeheartedly.  I know, because that’s where I live now and it’s the most peaceful place to be.

Peace and Love,

Megan

a peek at my journal:

This week we were tasked to find photos that give us the feeling that we would like to reach out and hug our “other” self or have a compassionate conversation with the person in the photo.  I chose the following:

Image 3This photos was taken at my senior Homecoming before we walked across the football field.  First off, I was terrified to stand in front of that many people. I also felt like such a fraud that I even made the homecoming court to begin with.  I didn’t feel worthy of such an honor.  When I look at this photo, I just want to hug (really tightly) my 17 year old self, look intently into my eyes and confirm that I was worthy of the recognition.

ImageI look pissed-off in this picture…and way too thin! This was taken at my freshman orientation at Ohio State University (June 1995). When I see this picture, I remember that I was a bit self destructive the summer prior to college.  I partied a lot, obviously “drank” more than I was eating.  If I wasn’t working, I was hanging late night with friends and most likely, barely avoiding trouble. If I could sit right next to that 18 year old (know it all) on the wall, I would warn myself that things were going to get out of control in my life unless I anchored myself with purpose and self-worth. That people weren’t going to have my best interest or look out for me, I was solely on my own to fend for myself.  And every action, good or bad, would have a consequence.  This day my journey began as an adult.

Authenticity- week 2: Wholehearted Living

“When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside of our story.”
― Brené Brown

After sharing my last post, I had what Brené likes to call a “vulnerability hangover”.  And let me tell you, it looks and feels a bit like an alcohol hangover because it’s super uncomfortable, but the vulnerability hangover is missing an important component and that component is shame….

For the first time in my life, I have no shame sharing myself, my thoughts and my story.  I am not afraid of being seen or heard because I believe in myself, and the journey I’m on for personal growth and change.  I pray everyday (and specifically before I push the ‘post’ button) that by sharing the work I’m doing in my own life, I can empower others to practice the same self care.

Last weeks class was about cultivating an authentic life.  What does it mean to live authentically?  First off, authenticity is a practice and a choice in how we want to live.  Authenticity is not something you are born with, it is cultivated over time by making conscious choices.  It’s the choice to show up, be real, be seen, be heard and most important, be vulnerable.

Brené developed her own interpretation of what choosing authenticity means in The Gifts of Imperfection:

Choosing authenticity means

  • cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable
  • exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle
  • nurturing the connection and sense of belonging than can only happen when we believe that we are enough

Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving- even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.

Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.

*quoted from The Gifts of Imperfection, guidepost #1: Cultivation Authenticity: letting go of what people think*

Personal story:

If you read my blog regularly, you might remember the post regarding my 2012 Spiritual Awakening.  For those who would like to revert back, you can find it under the Awakenings tab.  Anyway, ‘the awakening’ began around this time last year and deepened to the point of complete breakdown on December 14, 2012.  I don’t think anyone could ever forget this day, it was the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting where 26 innocent lives were lost.  20 Kindergartner’s and 6 adults.  My daughter was in Kindergarten at the time, so this story hit way too close to home for me.  I was already feeling unsettled and fragile from a surgery that had taken place 6 months prior and experiencing a difficult year with my daughter, who was dealing with minor developmental delays and chronic ear infections, which were causing her (and Me) emotional heartache daily because she was unable to keep up with her peers.  The Sandy Hook tragedy was the final straw for me. It layered a blanket of such deep emotional distress upon me, which lead me to collapse onto my knees and cry hysterically for two straight hours. This was a pivotal moment in my healing, it was the moment I hit rock bottom.

After I (sort of) got myself together- enough to call my husband to tell him about the shooting and that I needed him to come home because I was in a very bad place, which all came incredibly shocking to him- the shooting and the fact that I had completely fallen to pieces.  In the 10 years we had been together, I’m pretty sure he had never seen me this weak.  We both agreed it was time for me to put myself first, set boundaries in my life and get on a new track to rebuilding myself.  And that is what we did.  We teamed up like a husband and wife should and we made some hard decisions. The first, cancelling our trip to see my family for Christmas.  One of the most difficult messages to deliver to my parents and it shook the family to the core.  Leaving family members upset with me and taking my decision personally, but I was on a mission to find myself and live a life of authenticity and by doing so, it was time to set boundaries.  Not because I feared anyone or external circumstances, more so because I feared what the outcome would be if I didn’t begin to change my life for the better.  And so the journey began and I haven’t looked back.  There have been peaks and valleys along the way.  Some existing relationships have weakened, some have strengthened and some are growing healthier by the day.  All that matters is that with each step forward, I am practicing self-compassion.  And for the very first time in my life, feeling comfortable in my own skin. Trusting myself and my intuition to guide me toward a life of authenticity.

A peek at my journal– Week 2: Wholehearted Living

We were tasked this week to find pictures of ourselves that spoke to us.  Maybe some photos brought back an uncomfortable feeling or maybe they had us longing for care-free living and laughter like our childhood days.  I selected the following:

Image 1This photo was taken a few months ago when I was still feeling pretty uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was playing a round of golf with my husband, which was humbling as I learn more and more about such a difficult sport such as golf.  Therefore, it required vulnerability.  Also showing vulnerability by sharing this photo because of the acne on my cheeks and chin!  Oh my, so happy that is all under control now (thanks to my Ava Anderson Non-Toxic skin care and healthy/balanced diet)  Ok, onto loving my younger self in the next photos. 🙂

ImageIt’s amazing how much I can see my own children when I look at my baby photos. Love.

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OWNING MY 80’s HAIR!!!

Image 3A decade of looks and style’s

Preschool – Freshman High School (1982-1991)

Be well and cultivate your authentic life

Much love,

Megan

Fitting in vs. Belonging (week 1: Wholehearted Living)

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I’ve had many intentions and ideas for this topic.  The topic is bold to me because I believe it’s what everyone struggles with daily.  When I think of fitting in, it takes me back to 4th grade when it became really important to me that I wear the clothing that was in-style. Because if I didn’t, no one would like me.  Or to wear my hair like the late 80’s punk rockers, so I could be a trend setter in the 4th grade.  I literally used to take Dep gel and grease back the sides of my hair.  I am laughing as I share this because it looked so hideous!  And my hair is super thick, so imagine a big puffy brown cotton ball on top with gobs of gel on the sides and a perm in the back.  For lack of a better term, yes- I had a mullet!  As I moved into Jr. High School (7th and 8th) I pushed myself into sports that I didn’t enjoy because I wanted to fit in with the popular crowd.  I also made this choice because I wanted to make my parents happy because athleticism is a strong trait in my family.  My older brothers held records in track and football.  In retrospect, I wish I had gone more towards the arts, music and drama.  I know my parents would have supported me either way, but I chose to fit in.  Then came high school and college.  Well, let’s just say that if I could get a big DO OVER for those eight years, I would take it in a heart beat.  Many wonderful memories with my class of 110 kids at my small town high school.  Most of my classmates were very kind and good down to earth people.  Raised by solid families who lived a simple life. Like any teenager, I took for granted how simple life was back then. Wishing now that I had spent more quality time with my classmates.  But I was always searching for something….trying to fit in.

And then I took off for the big city of Columbus, Ohio at barely 18 years to begin a four year wild ride at The Ohio State University.  I joined a sorority fall quarter of my freshman year and partied my booty off until I almost failed out of school after Spring quarter.  Springtime at Ohio State is equivalent to someone being set free from prison. Long cold winters resulted in the campus turning wild when Spring finally broke. Partying from Wednesday to Saturday, hanging out for entire days in the Oval.  The Oval was the central part of campus and you didn’t dare set foot in there on the way to class because it was like the Bermuda Triangle.  Sucking you in with no exit.  Well, I finally found my exit when I woke up at the end of Spring quarter (10 weeks later) and realized that I had likely failed every class.  And I had no one to blame but myself.  I spent the rest of my college career trying to make up for one quarter and it was like running a marathon straight up a hill.  Once your GPA is in the crapper, it’s seriously hard work to recover.  Why did I do this?  because I was trying to fit in.

Now those memories, some good and some bad, sit in the rear view mirror of my life.  And now I’m 36 years old, married with 2 children and I’m still trying to fit in.  Whether it be with my family, friends and community, I am usually focused on fitting in rather than belonging.  Why are humans like this?  Why do we succumb to the pressures of society?  Even though we know our society is pretty messed up.  Our internal value systems are broken because we are only focused on obtaining tangibles. We have stopped listening to our intuition and our self esteem is running on empty.  Why? because we are trying to be perfect.  Perfect little beings so no one will see our flaws or experience us on our worst days.  We hide, we hide from everyone and everything because we are afraid of being afraid.  We are afraid of being vulnerable.

One of my teachers at this juncture in my life is Dr. Brené Brown. Over the past ten years she has dedicated her life to researching a wide range of topics such as vulnerability, courage and authenticity to empathy and shame. I encourage you to watch her famous TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability

Last week I began a six week online eCourse lead by Brené.  The course is based off her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I absolutely love her work because it allows me to dig deep, become vulnerable and to own my story.  By owning our story we can give up the notion of being perfect.  We can accept our imperfections and recognize that we are enough.  I plan to take you on this six week journey with me as I share my story through writing my inner most thoughts and intentions in a creative journal.  Sharing my vulnerable self is incredibly scary for me, but I want to empower others to own their story.  When you allow yourself to own your story, your life will evolve into living wholeheartedly through the divine of your authentic being.

Be well and be comfortable with being imperfect,

Megan

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The Age of Innocence

“You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward”
— Miguel Ruiz

I have a few goals this week and those goals include being more mindful, present and creative.  I also want my love for writing to be a priority in my life, like it was when I was a young girl.  As we were packing up our home earlier this summer, I found a box full of all my old writings from grade school.  Very imaginative stories with well defined characters.  I found myself sitting in our basement one afternoon looking through this box full of purity and innocence.  The days when my mind was less cluttered and I could express myself in such a clear manner that nothing could stop my thoughts and creativity from flowing onto a piece of paper.  My handwriting was better, my creativity more clear and my heart being shared with whomever I was writing to.  It was beautiful.  And I cried as I made my way through this box of memories, carefully examining my young-self in each piece of writing.

Discovering this box of treasured writings reminds me that I need to be more mindful, peaceful and present.  My children (4 and 6) are in the age of innocence right now.  They are so expressive with their imagination.  My daughter likes to create pictures or make art books where she prints off photographs from the iPad and pastes them into a handmade book.  She likes to paint and tell stories through her art work.  I can already see that she learns and expresses herself through visual creation.  My son, on the other hand, is a deep thinker.  Let’s just say the word “why” is the most frequently used word in our home right now.  And his “why” questions are deep.  So deep, that lately I can barely answer them.  He asks questions about God and the Solar System.  His questions keep us on our toes and in continuous learning mode!

I love this phase because of their innocence.  Their brains haven’t been warped by social media and the like.  They don’t really understand evil, but rather they only see good in people and the world.  Each day they begin anew, a new beginning without the stress and worry of past and future.  I think we can all learn more by observing our children or the children that surround us in our communities.  They serve as a great reminder to live in the present moment and to act upon our great ideas, so the world can become a better place.

IMG_3455     My son while visiting the Art Museum. Note: he also wore his Superman cape that day. 🙂

IMG_3541My daughter at her favorite spot in the house, the art table.

With Mindfulness and Creativity,

Megan

Slow-cooker Meatless Mexican Lasagna

IMG_0330Hi Friends!

We had a weather front come through Austin on Friday, which brought a full day of heavy rain!  And following the beautiful and much needed rain, came cooler temperatures!  And when I say “cooler” in Texas, I’m talking high 80’s / low 90’s during the daytime and nighttime lows in 60’s.  It was funny, on Saturday morning our family had sweatshirts on as we headed out the door in the 70 degree temps! I guess our blood has already thinned.

Being grateful for the cooler temps meant that I needed to break out ‘ye old faithful’…..the slow-cooker!  Here is a recipe I prepared for tonight’s Meatless Monday.  I’m not sure how it will go over with the kiddos, but I’m hopeful – I will let you know.  It seemed very flavorful as I prepared the mixture and it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Perfect for our meatless evening.

Meatless Mexican Lasagna

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 can drained fire roasted tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can of corn (could use 1 1/2 c of frozen corn OR can of Mexicorn)
  • 1/3 c fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 1/2 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • jar of tomatillo sauce (aka- salsa verde)
  • 6 med flour tortilla or 4 large flour tortilla

Directions:  Combine first 7 ingredients.  Add 1/2 mixture to bottom of slow cooker, add 1/2 jar of tomatillo and top with 1/2 the cheese add 2-3 flour tortillas and repeat layers.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or low for 5 1/2 hours.

** adapted from Family Circles Vegetarian Slow-cooker meals

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Happy Meatless Monday!

Megan