Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Just run sprints. That is what my dad used to tell me constantly whenever I’d complained that I’d hit a plateau in my running. My dad was a runner for years and years and is a huge reason why I got into running when I was 13.

As my dad aged, his body didn’t allow him to run anymore. There were a few times he would hop on a treadmill next to me at the gym and we could get in a couple of miles together side by side, but that was rare. However, my dad was always encouraging me to run better and smarter. But it’s kind of funny how the cycle goes.

After my dad died, I clung to running. It was the one thing I knew and could trust. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I’m not sure if it was the endorphins, the time alone to think or even the occasional crying session mid-run, but it helped me get through the hardest time of my life.

I’ve had all sorts of feedback on my love of running — a lot of positive and a lot of negative. I know it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but that’s alright. I absolutely believe without even knowing it that my dad put running in my life to help me cope with the hardship I’d go through.

After my dad died, I developed severe anxiety from the situation, something I still struggle with. Running is one of the few things that alleviates that anxiety and is often one of the few things that gets me through the hard days. Conversely, there are days that my anxiety interferes with my running.

Every day I am beyond thankful that God has given me something tangible to help me get through the hard days. Running is my time to think, pray, cry, remember, etc. And let’s be honest, running is cheaper than therapy.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sweet potato and black bean taquitos

Yesterday during lunch, I was talking to my cube-mate Tania about how I used to blog about recipes that Mark and I would make. Those blog posts were always a blast for me and forced me to actually cook something creative instead of microwave something from Trader Joe's... or make a meal out of chocolate-covered pretzels.

So I've decided to start blogging again (occasionally) about some of the more "fun" meals Mark and I make. Tonight's dinner was one I've never made before: black bean and sweet potato taquitos.

Since I don't eat red meat, I tend to get tired of chicken and fish all the time, so I am always looking for different ways to get my protein... and black beans are one of my favorite healthy ways. So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the black bean and sweet potato taquitos. Nom.

2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes, cubed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, melted
2/3 cup salsa (we like Clint's)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple dashes pepper
10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


Since I bought frozen corn so that I could save the extra, I had to cook my corn first. I also went the easy route and bought microwavable sweet potatoes, which cooked in 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, I combined the corn, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese and black beans. In a smaller bowl, I stirred together the cream cheese, salsa, chile powder, cumin and salt/pepper. Once these two bowls had been adequately mixed, I poured the ingredients in the smaller bowl on top of the larger bowl. 

(Don't judge the above picture; I know it's not the prettiest.)
Finally, I sprayed two baking sheets with coconut oil and filled the tortillas with about 2/3 cup of the mix. After I had rolled them into taquito-shaped beings, I brushed the melted butter/olive oil on the tops to make them brown when they were baking. After 15 minutes in the oven at 350, I was left with this.

These guys are super filling — Mark and I only ended up eating one each — so I now have about 10 of these guys leftover. (Hello, lunch tomorrow.) Overall, I would say these turned out pretty good. They aren't something I would make all the time, but they were a nice Pinterest win... which is always better than the Pinterest fail I usually make.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The not-so-glamorous life of Megan

"I'm doing pretty good" became my phrase of choice after my dad died. For months, I got asked multiple times a day how I was handling things or how I was doing by a number of different people. The easy answer was "I'm doing pretty good" with a half-smile (it says I'm sad, but I'm making it). And honestly, I felt like I was doing pretty good. But the painful truth is that I have been pushing my feelings under a gigantic rug for the past two and a half years, and it's gotten me nowhere fast.

Eventually, as anyone would expect, I didn't get asked these questions daily, or even weekly, anymore. And it'd become so easy to pretend that my life hadn't come crashing to a halt when my dad died. Just stay busy, I kept telling myself, and you won't have to stop and face reality. I filled my time with a new boyfriend, a refueled hobby (running) and as many distractions as I could find.

But when life takes the rug out from under your feet, it's only a matter of time until things catch up to you. For me, the shock and sudden nature of how I lost my dad was too much for me to take in. I have a paranoid personality by nature, one I work hard to keep hidden, so I knew if I ever stopped to accept the hand I'd suddenly been dealt, I wouldn't handle it well. While I kept hearing people tell me "it's not healthy to postpone your grieving," I wasn't listening.

Eventually, my grief reared its ugly head in the form of anxiety in my life. The paranoid personality I'd worked so hard to mask became impossible to ignore anymore. Out of embarrassment, I kept my anxiety-ridden self a secret, hoping things would just go away.

When they didn't, I decided to attend a grief class. Surely this would relieve some of my burden. By this point, my life had become so affected by my tragedy-induced anxiety that I was miserable and willing to give this class a shot. While I enjoyed the class, which lasted several months, I rarely spoke and mostly listened to other people share their stories. And, not so surprisingly, I felt no alleviation from my burden.

After dealing with this stress and anxiety for nearly a year, I'd learned to handle it for the most part. In fact, other than the few people I'd told, you couldn't tell I was battling anything from the outside. But the ugly truth was, my life had become controlled by this anxiety and I had started to believe it was something I would deal with my entire life.

A few months ago, I sat in my doctor's office, explaining the situation to her, hoping for any help she could provide. Her solution was no surprise: anti-anxiety medication. I flirted with the idea for weeks, knowing that a solution was out there, but was it the solution? I have never been someone to take medication (I barely pop an Advil unless it's absolutely necessary), and I certainly didn't want to start now. This felt like defeat.

So I decided to pass on the pills and figure this out on my own. Since then, I wish I could say life has gotten magically better. It hasn't. It's still really hard. The heaviness that my grief and anxiety has added to my life is a struggle every day. Sure, some days are much better than others. There are days I feel 90% like my old self, but there are other days I struggle to make it through the day.

One thing I've come to realize is that there are certain events that trigger these emotions and hardships for me. Personally, a big trigger is my dad's birthday, September 17. My dad and I were born three days (and 26 years) apart, so for 24 years of my life, we would celebrate our birthdays together. Unfortunately now, each year during this week, I'm just reminded that we can't do that anymore, and I'm left with this feeling that life is entirely too overwhelming to me (I know, I know, I'm not the only one).

I honestly don't know if I will ever be able to call myself the "old Megan" 100% again, but I'd settle for 99% (I kinda like that 1% anyway). I know that a lot of prayer has helped me come so far over the past two and a half years, and continues to do so on a daily basis. I've also decided to start talking to someone that can help me understand my feelings, because let's be honest, I need all the help I can get there... feelings are not my specialty (I'm my father's daughter, sue me).

I'm sure all of you who have managed to make it to the end of this post are thinking this is a total over-share, and you're probably right. I pride myself in transparency and honesty, and honestly, the most valuable lesson I've learned throughout my walk the past couple of years is that sometimes your struggles can be someone else's lifesaver during a difficult time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I Hate The Mileys Of The World As A Wife

Last Sunday night, I was faced with one of the biggest dilemmas of my life. “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and the VMAs all started at 8 pm and our DVR can only record two shows at once. Talk about your first world pains, right?

So I did what I thought was the smartest choice — I watched Breaking Bad live (no brainer) and recorded it for backup purposes, recorded Dexter and vowed to watch the other two shows one of the million times they would air again this week.

Mark and I plowed through Breaking Bad and Dexter back to back and decided to go to bed, only to realize the first reairing of the VMAs was about to be on. Amid all of the NSYNC rumors that had been swirling around, there was no way I couldn’t not watch, at least to see them perform — I owed this to 14-year-old Megan at least.

Those of you who watched the VMAs know, to get to NSYNC, you had to cross Miley first. Woof. Mark and I sat there watching as Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana to most of us) did things on that stage that I never wanted to see in an outfit that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

Each minute was more uncomfortable than the last, especially when you’re watching this with your husband. It was the same discomfort I felt two weeks ago when Mark and I saw “We Are The Millers” in theatres.

There are few times in my life that I can remember feeling as uncomfortable as I did watching Jennifer Aniston do all sorts of inappropriate things wearing practically nothing on the biggest screen the theatre has. I felt so awkward, in fact, that I almost got up to go to the bathroom or to grab a snack (hello, Reese’s Pieces), but if you’re the only one walking out mid-strip tease, isn’t that even more awkward?

I’m sure I’m more uncomfortable in these types of situations than most women, but why shouldn’t this make me uncomfortable? There is a half-dressed woman doing completely sexual things in front of my husband — while I’m sitting next to him. There’s no way this doesn’t bother anyone else.

It’s sad when I’m afraid to go see a movie with my husband or to turn on some dumb music award show without feeling insecure, inferior and uncomfortable. Luckily, I married a good one, who always tells me how uncomfortable he is in these situations too. (And I choose to believe it for my own peace of mind.) It just makes me sad that this is a situation that seems to be occurring more and more often lately. Put your clothes on, ladies! (And put your tongue back in your stupid mouth, Miley.)

Let's be honest, the Smith family said it best with their reaction.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Honeymoon Bliss

Two months ago, Mark and I celebrated one year of marriage. You know...that first 365 days where you live in your honeymoon bliss and just smile at each other constantly. Or so they say. But let me be transparent here. Even in the best days, marriage is not a honeymoon...not even in the first year.

Maybe I should rewind momentarily. I love my husband more than anything. He's the best friend I've ever had and I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Every day I feel so blessed to call him my husband. But just like with best friends, we fight. He does things that make me mad and I daily do and say things that I'm sure make him question my sanity.

But today, Mark and I sat in on a sermon on love and marriage, and what I heard really struck a chord. I've heard 1 Corinthians 13 more times than I can remember. In fact, I had the verse engraved in Mark's ring. But it wasn't until today that I realized how little I actually honor that verse in my own marriage.

Love is patient, love is kind, the verse starts out. Whelp. I'm 0 for 2 there. I can't remember the last time I was patient with Mark, and I'm sure he wouldn't consider my all-too-often snide comments as kind. The pastor went through the rest of the chapter, as I sunk deeper and deeper in my seat. I am often jealous, quick to anger, selfish and I'm pretty sure I have a mental checklist of everything Mark has ever done wrong.

So often we read blog posts or articles about how we can better our marriage. But as I listened to the rest of the sermon today, the one thing I was most concerned with was bettering myself. You see, my marriage has no problems. I have the problems. If I were to think twice before I snap at Mark the next time he makes me upset or stopped to consider him before myself more often, there would be no problem.

Mark and I are both still growing up and learning how to be married. But marriage isn't about righting your spouse, nor is it your responsibility to "fix" what they may do wrong. After all, don't we have enough on our plates to worry about just with ourselves? I know I certainly do. Love is about actions. Marriage is about making life easier for your spouse. Am I making life easier for Mark? Right now, honestly, probably not. But by working to better myself and really living 1 Corinthians 13 on a daily basis, I can get a whole lot closer to doing so.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Feeling The Tug

I remember a year or so ago sitting in a service at my home church, Valley Creek, listening to the pastor speak on the trials he went through before realizing God was trying to get his attention. At the time, I thought Wow, I hope that never happens to me. But lately I've been feeling that same tug that Pastor John described.

In the past six months, we've had more doctor visits, ER visits, emergency dental visits and family trials and tribulations than I'd ever expected. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when I started feeling down on things that I realized maybe this was God's way of getting my attention. I don't think God necessarily punishes people who aren't pursuing him — there are lots of non-Christians who live healthy lives — but I do think He will do whatever it takes to draw you closer to Him. And as tough as the past six months have been, I'm actually thankful for a God that doesn't let me be complacent when I get lazy.

So I started thinking about where I've been slacking. Yes, I am a Christian. But am I constantly in the Word? Not at all. It has never been easy for me to just sit down and read the Bible. I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth. So I took my butt to the closest Christian book store and found a daily devotional that I can use to help me read my Bible and to understand what I'm reading.

I'm not under the impression that once I open up my Bible everything will become peachy keen in my life. Nor am I saying I haven't been overly blessed the past six months as well. But I do think that even if things stay the way they've been, at least I will have a place to go when I'm feeling down or afraid. There is no better place to seek comfort and understanding than your Bible.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kids, wear your helmets.

I have only had the sinking feeling where you actually don't know if everything is going to be alright three times in my life. The first time was when my family was on a cruise in the Cayman Islands and my mom fell from the second story of a boat to the first. Thankfully, she only ended up with a lot of bumps and bruises. The second time was the day my dad died. And the third was yesterday.

Having been with a mountain biker for a couple of years now, my biggest fear has always been a phone call saying Mark had been hurt. Well, yesterday I got that call. Mark crashed his bike while going down a steep hill and was thrown from his bike, landing on his head. He was unconscious for a couple of minutes before he regained consciousness and was able to call and tell me what happened. Thank goodness Mark was wearing his helmet, which cracked in half (instead of his head).

I knew it was bad when he couldn't remember the accident at all. Thankfully, Mark was riding with his stepdad and his stepdad's good friend, who is a doctor. Both of them were able to take care of Mark enough so that he was able to get back to the car. I picked him up from their house and knew he wasn't in good shape.

Being the paranoid person I am, I brought Mark home to shower and immediately began calling emergency clinics to see where he could go. Luckily, one of the emergency centers in Plano was able to examine him and take a CT scan of his brain to make sure there was no bleeding. After lots of waiting, the results came back clean (no bleeding, although he does have a concussion and probable cracked ribs) and we left with lots of pain meds in hand. God is good.

In the 30 minutes after Mark first called me with little information to share until he called me back to let me know he was on his way home, I was a nervous wreck. I couldn't stop crying. After losing my dad, the thought of losing someone I love as much as Mark is a paralyzing fear to me everyday.

As a million thoughts raced through my head. I had that same sinking feeling I did the day I lost my dad. It's the helplessness of being able to do nothing. And all I could think the entire time is that the stupid little things I'd been nagging at Mark about the day before seemed so... stupid. I started thinking about all of the times that I'd brought him down for no reason when instead, I should have been building him up.

I think sometimes it takes an absolutely paralyzing moment to make you realize how you wish you treated the people you love. The thought of something happening to my husband makes me want to encourage him every single day and look past the little things I would typically nag about. This life is too fleeting to dwell on the little things. You just don't know what tomorrow brings, so today is what really matters, and I fully intend to smother my husband with love as much as I can from here on. :)

Don't let the smiling fool you, he was pretty out of it at this point.
Nolan was trying to help his boo boos.