According to Megan

I’ve been trying to revamp what my blog is for me for the entirety of 2018. I like a lot of things so it’s always been hard to try and have a “brand.” Well, I’m semi-throwing that out the window and doing what I want.

I’m changing my Facebook page and this blog from “Creative Imaginations” to “According to Megan.” Creative Imaginations just wasn’t fitting anymore for this blog. I used to do a ton of poetry and short little excerpts. So it made sense then. I created this blog in 2011 and picked a title on a whim, never thinking too much about it. I didn’t know a lot about social media. I didn’t understand much about marketing.

Oh times are a-changin’.

I have found myself always getting asked for recommendations, whether someone is going on vacation to somewhere I have been, or what local spot to try out, or what festival is going on, or even what wines would be the best for them. I really enjoy doing that. It didn’t really dawn on me that I could just be making my posts more about this. Especially because it is very easy to add links and have it be a very nice reference.

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I started to put some of my recommendations on Instagram — that’s where this idea started to blossom. At first, I was going to try and just stick to Kenosha, but that’s not me. I love travelling. Josh and I go somewhere every year. We do a few-mini weekend road trips, but we fly one place every year. There was no way I could just market myself to just Kenosha.

Plus, I know a few amazing Instagramers and bloggers who already do that.

Two other passions of mine are photography and running. I joined the Kenosha Running Club this year and PhotoKenosha last year. KRC has been just absolutely life-changing. (That is another blog itself… so stay tuned!!) And I’ve learned so much in photography. (Even more blogs to come!) I couldn’t pick just one of these to talk about!

I tried thinking of a name, but I didn’t want to try and get “trapped” with only writing about one thing. I even tried combine a few names together – like running and photos. I didn’t like that either. There was no way that I could combine all the words that I could use to describe this blog.

“According to Megan” was born.

What you’ll expect to find me writing about:

  • Running
  • Photography
  • Kenosha
  • Travel (tips, places, recommendations along the way)
  • Wine (and other alcohol related things)
  • Relationships (i get asked this a lot because Josh is introverted and I am not. Among a few other things as well, but that’s the biggest one.)
  • … and who knows what else!

What will remain the same:

  • My photography blog (click) and my photography IG (click) will both remain under “Creative Imaginations” since that is what makes the most sense!
  • This blog will keep the same url, but I’ll be revamping the photos at some point.
  • #Caffeinatedopinions (click) will still be active, but with no set schedule. I don’t have near the interest that I thought I would. And that’s totally okay! Live and learn!

I have my first official post as “According to Megan” set to go up Sunday. ❤

XOXO,
Megs

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The Art of Maybe

Do you know how many drafts I have saved for blog ideas? Or actual blogs I just never posted?

Go ahead. Take a guess.

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32!!!

Thirty-two blogs.

I never realized how much I’ve wanted to say, but just don’t say until I look at that number. I’m sure there will be people out there who say, “well, why won’t you just post it then?”

See, here’s the thing.

We have freedom of speech. Everyone knows that it’s supposed to be a right.  BUT. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without consequences. You can’t just go around saying whatever you want to say and expect nothing to happen. Do you have the right to say it? Sure of course you do. However, once you put something out on the internet, it is there forever. Forever is a long time. And ONE thing… some simple thing…can change someone’s perspective on you.

“But Megan, stop caring what other people think about you.”

Honestly, that’s bullshit. It’s so easy to say for people who have anonymous blogs. I do think the majority of us deep down care what other people think about us. I sure do. I have opinions. LOTS of them. But is it worth sometimes coming off like a jerk just to exercise the freedom of speech? Not really, no.

Okay, I hear ya. “Well, if you aren’t even saying what you want to say, then are you even being real? Is this your fake personality.”

No. No it isn’t. I don’t write about things that are false. I don’t fake an opinion. I just chose what to write about and not write about… publicly. I have had plenty of conversations in person with family and friends that I would never post on my blog. It’s censorship of my blabbering mouth. Not a fake personality.

I’m not here to talk about huge world issues, specifically politics or religion. And I do think it’s very easy to stay away from those topics if I’m being truly honest; however, I think that fear still trickles down into the rest of my writing when it shouldn’t.

Maybe it is because I grew up before social media.

Maybe it is because I don’t really believe in my writing.

Maybe it is because I’m afraid people don’t really know my sense of humor.

Maybe I’m just straight up lazy.

Maybe I’m out of ideas.

I don’t know. But year after year I have some sort of an excuse to not keep up with my writing. (Or I do keep up and just not post it.)

There comes a time where all the maybes start defining who you are as a person. And it defines your writing style. All the maybes start becoming a firm no. “No do not post that.” “No you cannot say those things.” There are no longer any debates about what to do.

And you know what the irony is?

I like to write about wine, food, running, and travelling. And the occasional poem, which I haven’t shared in a very long time. Literally none of that is political or racial or controversial. Will people have opinions on it? of course. It’s the internet and people can’t scroll passed a meme about peanut butter and jelly without complaining about it. I do have thick skin when it comes to comments and corrective criticism. In fact, I always embrace it. When corrective criticism is actually that, and not “i’m going to tell you something mean just to be an asshole,” it really does help us grow.

What I’m saying is that maybe I just really don’t have an excuse as to why I’m a terrible blogger. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hopefully I can pull myself together at some point to actually write from time to time!

Until then!

Cheers.

Happy One Year, Prius! 🚗

Happy belated one year to my car! ✌️ I’ve done so many fun things this last year! I put about 15K on my car and I’m not even mad about it:

I started off my New Year in January with a trip to the Dells with Sokhon, Monica and their girls.

In March, I drove to Madison with Ally and DeAnna to meet up with Sokhon to run the Shamrock Shuffle that kicked my ass. ☘️

In May I drove to Pewaukee by myself to run my 4th half-marathon.

In June, I drove to Chicago with DeAnna for Emily’s bachelorette party and then the longest road trip I’ve ever taken: Ally and I DROVE to Denver, Colorado Springs, and Georgetown, CO. Nebraska is booorrringggg. Yes we drove the whole way. We toured around Colorado and even walked a half-marathon in Georgetown. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was gorgeous. But lemme tell ya, DRIVEing down the mountains was SCARY! 🏔️🗻

In August, I drove to Mackinac Island with Justin, DeAnna, and Josh to surprise my mom. She had no idea we planned to come to surprise her. Such a fun family vacation! The very next weekend, Josh and I drove to Door County to celebrate Janelle and Andrew’s wedding. 💍 I was so honored to be a bridesmaid!  And the next weekend after that, Sokhon drive down from La Crosse and then I spend to the Metra station so we could get to Chicago for LADY GAGA.

In September, Josh took me to my first metal music festival: Sonic Boom in Janesville. 🤘

In October, i drove to Milwaukee to run a half-marathon with my brother-in-law Chris, who was running his first. Such an emotional race! I also drive to Chicago with DeAnna to run the Hot Chocolate 15K race. Her longest race length to date! So so proud of both of them! 🏃

In November, Josh and I drove to Chicago to have a date night and watch the Packers win against the Bears.

This month in December, we drove to Door County to have a relaxing night away and stock up on wine. 🍷

From Oct – Dec, I completed a Photography Certificate from UW-Parkside. 📸

So many fun things happened this year!!  And the above are the ones I used my car for!! Crazy! Josh and I also went to St Louis for his 30th birthday to see Iron Maiden, but we took his car. DeAnna and I drove to La Crosse to go camping, but she drove. I attended a few more races, planned a few girls nights, and made many many many trips to the grocery store.

But the biggest thing… NO MORE METRA!!! This was the first year in a very long time that I haven’t been on train time. And it’s been amazing!

Can’t wait for 2018. ❤️🍷✌️

“Creative Imaginations Photography” Officially Launched

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For as long as I can remember, I have always loved photography. I never took the time to really learn the craft. As a child, I had a disposable camera that I would take photos of my dog Abby. Yes, the ENTIRE roll was of her: dressing her up and trying to get the perfect shot. I should dig up those photos at my mom’s to share. They are quite comical. 

Quite a few years ago, my sister Adrienne received a nice DSLR camera: Nikon D3000. I took a slight interest in it, but I was in college at the time. I didn’t live at home. And, to be honest, I did not have the disciple to learn. I had a post back in 2011 of some of the first photos I ever took with my sisters camera. You can see them here. We all have to start somewhere, right?

While I loved borrowing my sister’s camera from time to time — Thank you, Adrienne!! — I still did not really know what I was doing. I knew nothing about photography. I shot in fully automatic mode. I got mad because “the camera didn’t work right.” Aka, user error.  I put “learning photography” on my bucket list and never pursued it.

Until this year.

A friend of mine and I planned a road trip to Colorado. I knew this was just the PERFECT time to learn. We officially booked the trip early 2017. Our trip wasn’t until June.  I spent nearly 4 months researching cameras and another month researching about lenses. I finally decided on the Canon T6i. Of course if I had a few extra thousand bucks in my back pocket, I would have picked the 5D Mark III. And you know what, even if I did have that extra money laying around, I would still start off slower. What if I ended up not really liking it? I know there’s always an option to sell a camera, but what a hassle. I do want to capture a lot of life moments so at least if photography didn’t end up being a huge passion of mine, the T6i didn’t break the bank.

In any case, I found myself in the internet black hole with watching countless hours of Youtube videos. It’s all so fascinating to me. I love learning the reasons why the camera functions the way it does.

Colorado was beautiful. Although I hadn’t taken any official classes at that point, I did get some beautiful scenery shots while we were there. But it piqued my interest even more.  I enrolled in a Photography Certificate through UW-Parkside. 20 class (40 hours), plus an additional 2 classes (4 hours) of a Lightroom workshop.  I had saved up the money to do it so I jumped into it head-on.

I am currently just over halfway through my classes. I went from shooting in fully auto mode to shooting in manual. I have learned SO MUCH about my camera. More than I ever would have by myself. I fell more in love with photography that I quickly snagged up my friend’s children to practice taking their photos. I was also taking photos during my lunch breaks. I have my camera with me all the time.  My camera has already been to Denver & Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mackinac Island, Michigan, and St Louis, Missouri — all done in three short months! June, July, & August were some very busy months! 

I even started up a separate website for my photography. It took me over 2 months to really start setting everything up. I’m happy to announce that it is officially launched!

I’d be honored if you hopped on over to check it out!

 

Creative Imaginations Photography

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This was the first photo I took of the rain while trying to get that bokeh effect. I loved how it turned out so much that I have ended up using it on my website.

There are still a few updates that I will be doing on my photography page, but it’s at the point where people have asked to see more of my photos and to start booking with me so I wanted to get something together. I can’t wait to learn more and more about the craft!

Thank you!

Megan Elizabeth

#BloggingFundamentals – Day Four: Identify Your Audience

Day Four: Identify Your Audience

We often create posts hoping that a specific person (or persons) will see our work. Who’s your ideal reader?

Today, publish a post you’d like your ideal reader to see, and include a new-to-you element.

Here’s how:

  1. First, brainstorm the kind of person you hope will read your blog. What do you want to say to them?
  2. Next, start your new post by clicking on the button below. Remember to include a media element (an image, a video embed, etc.) you haven’t experimented with yet.
  3. Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Writing with a specific person in mind is a great way to focus your thoughts and goals. Exploring new media elements adds more tools to your storyteller’s toolbox and helps engage your readers.

 

I decided to join “Blogging Fundamentals.” to try and challenge myself to write more and learn more about the WordPress community.  I did not do the first two days. Day One was a “why are you here” type of entry, which I have done in a previous WordPress class. You can read that here.  And Day Two was to create a tagline. These two are more geared to people who have never blogged before, so I skipped them since I already had that part done. Day Three was about connecting more with other bloggers. So the last two days I spent time searching through blogs and finding other people with common interests. I followed quite a few bloggers and commented on a lot of posts.

This brings us to “Day Four: Identifying the Audience.”

This is something I’ve always struggled with, since I never really had an audience in mind. I started off writing poetry, which was mainly for myself. I started writing about running a lot in hopes to connect with other runners. And then I started #CaffeinatedOpinions recently, which I am really enjoying so far.  I took a leap of faith that this would be something that people would be interested in reading so I hope to not be too boring. 😁

I can’t and won’t try to categorize my ideal audience. But instead, I want my audience to be respectful of others and open minded. People are too offended by everything these days. I of course everyone is entitled to their opinions – I have enough of my own – but I also do not ever want to see people others down for their ideas and opinions. I want to create an open and safe place for people to respectfully discuss topics.  I realize that this is nearly impossible to do, but I will always try my best to see every aspect I can. 

Until next time 

Megan Elizabeth 

When You Run, You Win the Day

Megan, that is some life you’ve already had for a young person. Judging by the progress on your bucket list it seems like you’re winning… Depression is, rightly, being more recognised and accepted as an illness. Have you found (or not) that your running helps you in this regard? Oh, and what’s your target time for your half-marathon?

Roy McCarthy
Blog: https://backontherock.com/

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Hi Roy!

Thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel like I’m winning at life, although, I cannot say that I always have felt this way. Our inner struggles might make us who we are, but understanding them is quite difficult. It isn’t until we truly understand and accept what lies within us, that we can overcome it.

I shut a lot of people out at an early age. I was seven when my parents got divorced, and, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. (Mom, I know you’re reading this, so don’t worry, I haven’t felt this way in ages. Love you!) I wasn’t one of those kids who turned to the school books to distract me. I was a very average child when it came to school. But sports kept me going. I started basketball in 5th grade and, while I wasn’t the best on the team, I certainly wasn’t the worst. Our practices in grade school weren’t very intense — I mean, we were in grade school, not in college — but going to practice and running up and down the court and learning the plays kept me occupied enough to not have to think about depression.

In every single stage of my life, running and sports have pulled me through. I have something to focus on. Something that didn’t necessarily require me to engage with other people emotionally. I had my teammates and while I didn’t trust them to keep any of my secrets, I trusted that they wanted to win as much as I did so we performed well as a team.

It was funny though… I always had this want to be around people. I didn’t like being alone. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know how to be alone. I would surround myself with my basketball or volleyball teammates, but not have any friends. They were my teammates. They were not my friends. I had a very very small group of friends once I got to high-school, but it was a very close-knit group of about 5 girls. And that’s it. But I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Now my experience and thoughts on my actual high-school days isn’t all that revolutionary. High-school is high-school. Filled with unnecessary drama and a lot of awkwardness. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of people in high-school have suffered depression to a certain degree. I was wont who turned to sports because of it.

Throughout college, I dealt with failing a few classes, switching majors, boyfriend drama, the death of my grandma and my grandpa within a year and a half of each other, learning the hard way how to handle money which lead me to $0 to my name, transferring schools and switching my major again. But through all of that, the one thing I really enjoyed was volleyball. I was on the Club Volleyball team at my first college, and then I joined an intramural team at the second college. Since I started volleyball in 7th grade, there had not been one year that passed where I didn’t play on a team. (Even to this day! I play sand volleyball every summer.) Going to practice and focusing on how to better pass the ball or how to serve in the spot I wanted to – those things kept me from falling into the trap of self-loathing. I have always had the tendency to get into a slump and focus on the bad things in my life. It wasn’t a constant throughout my entire college experience, but it happened often enough to affect my friendships and relationships. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that great at dealing with it in college. I thankfully have a few friends from that time in my life who stuck around. Most of my friendships from then faded away, but that isn’t something I dwell on anymore.

Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much until after college. I was a seasonal runner for the longest time. I would run only during the summer, and it was never consistent. About a year and a half ago, I really started getting into running. June 18th 2016 I ran my first half-marathon ever. I ran two more after that. And thus year, I have three more scheduled in the books. I finally call myself a runner. And not even a seasonal runner – I have ran in all of the seasons. The hottest it’s been was around 90 and the coldest has been around 15 degrees F. I’ve rain in pouring rain and snow. Not going to lie, I felt pretty bad ass running in the snow.

runRunning has become such a lifeline for me. And, to be honest, I really wish I would have started running sooner. Because running releases endorphins, it just makes me feel like a rockstar when I’m done running. And that will happen to everyone. I really believe it will. Now, don’t let running fool you. It is very much so a mental game. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” or “I HATE RUNNING” while I was running. But I have never once been done with a run and said “well that wasn’t worth it.” Because it’s worth it every single time. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. A healthy addiction. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron!

Running or any other form of exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce stress levels and help lower your depression. The endorphins that get released while exercising interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

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If anyone is looking to start running, just know that it is never too late! I’ve read about so many 90 year olds, yes ninety, that still run – some of whom didn’t even start to pick up running until well after retirement. I encourage people to try the Couch to 5K app. It’s amazing. It helped me get started with running. You can find their website here for more information: http://www.c25k.com/ It’s a free app as well, so there’s nothing to lose!

When you run, you win the day.

Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

P.S. My current half-marathon PR is 2:46:33. I have a half-marathon coming up May 13th that I’m shooting to shave off 10 minutes. Big goal for me!

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

How To Adjust Living With Your Significant Other

Dear Megan,

My boyfriend and I moved in together recently. About 4 months ago.  We have been dating for almost 3 years now and thought we should take the next stop in moving in together. We are having a hard time living together. We never really fought and now we do. Is this normal? I feel like all we do now is fight. And it is about the silliest things, too. I thought moving in would be like a fun little sleepover every day, but I don’t really want to come home now. What can we do? Is not getting along like this a sign?

Thanks for taking the time to read my pathetic question!

Anonymous-BW

BW –

First, your question is in no way pathetic. We’ve all been there! Second, it’s totally normal!  Think of it this way – you both had your own space for 4 years of your relationship. (Whether or not you had roommates, since i’m unsure what your living situation was current to now). But you had space away from each other.  Living together is a whole different ball game. Josh and I will have lived together four years this coming August and we are still learning things.

You really get to find out a lot of habits from your significant other that you might not have known before. For example: Dishes.  When Josh and I got our own house two years ago (we had roommates prior), I was pretty adamant that as soon as we were done eating, we would clean the kitchen. Josh on the other hand, would leave dishes for the next day… or two or three. It would drive me absolutely insane. To come home from work and see a messy kitchen stressed me out. Instead of talking about it, I just did dishes. While I was doing dishes, I would be super upset. I wouldn’t even want to talk to Josh, and let me tell you, if he even thought to ask me “What do you want for dinner?” I would have lost my cool. (more on this question later!) However, Josh would see me do the dishes and just think I didn’t mind doing them. And because I didn’t ask for help, well, I must be good. So he would do something else… Well, that caused fights. What I was interpreting as “ugh he never wants to help me – why can’t he just offer to help?” He was interpreting as, “Oh how sweet – she’s doing the dishes for me.”

We have to remember that we cannot read each other’s minds. After I asked him a few times to help me, he did without question. He just didn’t know that I would have preferred help. He assumed I was fine doing them alone. And I assumed he was being a talklazy brat. Since we’ve talked about it, he actually washes the dishes more than I do. I will dry them and put them away. It’s a system that works for us. I don’t particularly enjoy putting my hand in dirty water and cleaning food off dishes. Obviously I will if I have to, but it grosses me out. And don’t even get me started at how peanut butter smells after hot water ran over it. Plus, I enjoy painting my nails, so I have definitely complained about them chipping more often. (Yes I do actually wear gloves). So, he washes, I dry.

It’s been said time and time again, that communication is key. And it’s so very true. You should talk to your significant other about chores. It sounds juvenile, but I can bet that it will help. You each might have different ideas of what to do when.

Laundry schedule: This one can be tough depending on work schedules, too. Josh and I both have a Monday – Friday job. Although he typically has to work Saturdays for overtime. Josh will do his laundry during the week, and I’ll usually do mine on Saturday when he’s working. But definitely talk about if you will do each other’s laundry, too. Josh is not allowed to do my laundry and he knows that. I’m too particular. However, he doesn’t mind if I do his laundry, although he’s pretty good about keeping up with it himself.

Bathrooms: I highly highly recommend having two bathrooms, if possible, when you live with another person. It can be 1.5 baths, but just two places to go to get ready, especially if you need to get ready at the same time. Are you a night or morning showerer? I take showers at night and Josh takes them in the morning. If you are both on the same schedule, then make a plan.  Cleaning the bathroom. Not the funnest, but it’s gotta be done.

BILLS: this is a big one. A lot of couples don’t want to talk about money, but it’s one thing that couples argue about the most. Do you want to switch off months? (he pays one mmoneyonth then you pay the next). Does he put all the bills in his name and then you just pay
him half?  It’s easier to split bigger grocery bills since their registers can split it, but what happens if you go grocery shopping alone? Do you want to open an account together to dump money into and then use THAT for bills? Do you want to keep track of who spends what each month? If someone makes more money, will they take on a little more of the bills or is everything 50/50? Talking about bills can be an awkward conversation, but it needs to happen.

Days away: Always make sure to spend time with your own friends. Go out and do something – even if it’s just a short amount of time, or a weekend getaway. Don’t ignore your friendships. I know it’s super tempting to always want to hang out with your significant other, but you also can’t shove others aside.

Be courteous: Are you running late? Did you get stuck at work? Let them know so they aren’t worried about you. A quick “i’m running late” makes anxious people like myself feel more at ease. Just be mindful that if someone tells you they are running late or got stuck at work, to not grill them right away about why. You live together. Ask them later. Are you going to the grocery store without them? Ask if they need anything. Are you making dinner plans with someone else? Let them know so they aren’t expecting to have dinner with you.

Don’t stop dating. As lovely as it is to sit on the couch and binge watch your favorite TV show, it will get old after a while. Make a monthly date somewhere. It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Josh and I love going to Wine Wednesdays – a wine bar in our town does half price datingbottles of wine, so we will go there and order a few glasses (thank you Uber – please don’t drink and drive, guys!) and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. These are NO PHONE dates. If we are just sitting on the couch, let’s be real, we are both screwing around on our phones. And that’s normal and totally fine. Just don’t whip out your phone while on a date.  And wine not your thing? Do something else! Check to see what’s in your town. Do you have a place to place darts or pool? Josh and I don’t always go out. We have found some fun 2-player games and we will sit at home and play a game. But don’t stop dating.  Josh and i made that mistake and fell into the trap of “work-come home-cook-eat-clean up-binge watch TV-bed” and that’s it. Not only did we gain weight, but we got bored of each other and then we started into a routine of he did his thing and I did mine and I barely talked to him for months. That was not a good time.  So, definitely do one or two no phone date nights.

And to include in the dating part, try and surprise them every now and then. I’ve put little “hello handsome” notes in Josh’s lunch or just decided to do a deep clean on the house when he was gone working on Sat and I was at home and he came home to a nice clean house…. guess who got a foot rub then… I did!

You will eventually learn that “what’s for dinner?” is a dangerous question. I don’t know how many times couples fight about this. And it seems such a silly thing to fight about. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there, Done that. But I have a few ideas on how Josh and I have avoided this fight in a very long time.  The first thing to note, is that before you decide to surprise someone, make sure you know what they like and don’t like for foods. I definitely found that Dinnerout the hard way when cooking for Josh. He hates Thyme! Imagine that. It totally ruined the French Onion Soup for him. I thought it was great, but hey, it left him hungry. Oops. But second, have a no fail back up plan. My favorite food is anything Mexican. So, if I ask Josh “what would you like for dinner?” And he says “I don’t know,” then tacos it is. If he has a suggestion or something he wants, then we can go for it, but an “i don’t know” means tacos.  Now, if Josh asks ME what I want for dinner, and I don’t really know (or truly don’t care), then it’s Chinese take out. So if I don’t want takeout, I better speak up. That is our no-fail way to NOT fight about dinner. And for the love of goodness, please don’t say “I don’t care” when you actually do. If you say “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” and the other person gives a suggestion, you better not say “Well, no not that.” Sorry, you lost your chance by saying “I don’t know.” 🙂

I can’t reiterate enough about “we can’t read each other’s minds.” SO SO SO often when I’m talking with either my siblings or my friends, I hear situation get out of control for no reason:

“Oh my gosh, he hasn’t texted me back in a few hours so he must be mad at me. I don’t even want to talk to him now.”
–> He was at work and left his phone in the car. mind reader

“There’s all this laundry to fold and she decided to go out with her friend instead? This place is a mess! I guess I’ll fold this myself again.”
–> Her friend was having a bad night and she planned to finish folding laundry when she got home.

“Seriously?? Why are these empty cans just sitting here on the counter? The recycling bin is RIGHT HERE. ugh, i’ll just crush them myself I guess.”
–> He brought up the cans to crush later, but wanted to finish a video game first.

I could go on and on with those examples, but I think you all get the idea. It’s very very easy to jump to conclusions. We all do it. I’m very guilty of this. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Every single relationship is so different. If something is bothering you, talk about it. We all have good days and bad days. But it’s better to ask and then find out you’re overreacting than to sit and wonder.

I highly highly recommend reading “The 5 Love Languages.” You can even buy the book on Amazon, too.

Living together can definitely be like a sleepover every night. It took us about a year and a half to really figure it out. But I can honestly say that once we learned all those little things about each other, it turned into the “sleepover” kind of feel more often. Give your relationship time to flourish. Even though you’ve been together for a while, there’s still a lot to learn.

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Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

 

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

Welcome to #CaffeinatedOpinions

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Hi! And welcome to #CaffeinatedOpinions!

For the longest time, I never really knew what direction my blog should go towards. It was all over the place. Poems, random posts, fitness… No real direction.

I’ve been told my entire life that I’m a really good listener. That I take the time to see both sides to every story. Over the last year or so, I’ve really taken to heart when people tell me this. I’ve finally started to really believe it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one to really sugar coat anything. I do try and be transparent as I can without being a total monster, but also being very informative. I never ever make fun of people. I don’t actually think it’s funny when people say “um that’s common sense.” Well maybe not. Everyone has a different background. We all have so much to learn from each other.

I’ve decided to make a dedicated section of my blog for people to submit questions that they would like an opinion on. Now, let’s just get a disclaimer out there… No, I am not a doctor. I am not a trained therapist. But sometimes, we just need a second opinion on topics.

Categories to start off with, but don’t think by ANY means that you are limited to ask me what is on this list.

To submit a question, head on over to this link. Click here. You are ALWAYS welcome to remain anonymous. You have the option to tell me who you are and have me link back to your own blog; you can tell me who you are, but I don’t post any links and keep you anonymous, or you don’t even tell me who you are. Whatever you feel comfortable with!

– I love to cook. I’ve been cooking my whole life and have a few scars to prove it. I acquired some of my first scars on my knuckles from learning how to flip pancakes. I’m sort of a closet vegetarian. Since I was very little, my mom would take me to the state fair, and I could see the cows and get very upset because I thought they looked sad. I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that I refused to eat meat for months. I’ve gone through spurts of not eating any meat for months and even years, and then I’ll revert back. I currently don’t eat any meat except chicken. And I really do try and watch my dairy intake, simply to cut down on cholesterol. I have quite a few opinions on food. (Whether or not I decide to take my own advice of “stop eating so much pizza” is another story.)

– Running is life. I’ve trained for three half marathons in 2016. And right now, as of April 12, 2017, I’m in week 4 of my 8 week training for a half marathon. I definitely have some opinions about running.

– I have insomnia and restless leg syndrome. And yes, this is confirmed by a doctor and not WebMD. I went through sleep training and quite a bit of doctor appointments, so I definitely have opinions on this.

– While I might not be married, Josh and I have been together for 4 years (it was 4 years as of Feb 2017) and we have lived together for 3.5 years. So, I might not have advice on planning a wedding, but I definitely have some opinions on living with a significant other. Especially one who doesn’t share the same hobbies. I’m extroverted (for the most part) and he is very introverted.

– I am the oldest of four siblings. Me, my two sisters, and my brother is the baby. We are all roughly two years apart. I have quite a few opinions on dealing with siblings. (Don’t hate me guys. 😉 )

– I come from a divorced family. My mom divorced my father when I was seven years old. It wasn’t the prettiest of divorces. My three younger siblings have a relationship with my father; whereas I do not. I have quite a few opinions about dealing with family, especially when everyone doesn’t quite get along.

– I’ve had friendships last for 10+ years. I’ve had friendships just stop for no reason. I’ve had friendships start while drunk in bathrooms. I’ve had to cut toxic friends out of my life. I’ve kept long distance friendships. I’ve lost touch with people who live a mile from me. I have many opinions on how to keep friendships, and what ultimately lead to never talking to someone again.

– From 2004 to 2015, I moved NINE times. Yes, 9 times. In five different cities. I have learned a lot about looking for roommates, navigating new cities, finding jobs, going to college plus having a job, leaving friends and/or family behind after moving, learning what things to let go of and what mementos to hold on to. I believe there is a fine line between true mementos and junk. I’ve also learned a hell of a lot about packing efficiently.

– I am not a Esthetician (yes i feel like I need this disclaimer often), but I swear by having a multi-step skincare routine and going for monthly facials. I have been following the Korean skincare routine religiously now for almost 3 years. I’ve half assed it for a few years as well, and I’ve been getting facials since 25. I turned 31 years old in April 2017 and people STILL think that I’m 25. I 100% thank my skincare routine. Got questions? feel free to ask!

– I have battled depression from grade school through high school. Therapist and drugs and all. I was diagnosed with PTSD after my parent’s divorce. (For those of you who do not know, my mother was a victim of domestic abuse that, as a 7 year old, I witnessed). PTSD took me a very very very long time to cope with. It greatly affected me even throughout college. I have no taken any anti-depressant medication since high school. I do have episodes from time to time. I have opinions on how to cope with a lot of this, and one of them is definitely that it is normal to ask for help.

– I’ve had a decent amount of death in my life. My grandma passed away in 2005, and my grandpa unexpectedly in 2007. I was very close with my grandparents, and even now 10+ years later, I think about them often. I’ve had a close coworker of mine die from a family member stabbing him. I’ve also lost a friend to suicide. It isn’t easy. And I’ll be the first one to admit that time really does not heal your wounds, but I’ve learned to love the scars.

Please, if anyone is reading this and is coping with suicidal thoughts, I urge you to reach out. There are people who will be there to help you every step of the way. Never ever be ashamed. You’re not alone. Confidential help is available for free.

Suicide Hotline:
1-800-273-8255

 

To submit a question, head on over to this link. Click here. I won’t really be able to filter through the comments section, so make sure you use this link to submit your questions.Thanks everyone!!

My 2016: Medal Monday

Looking back on 2016, I’m still in shock at how far I’ve come. It shouldn’t surprise me, because I worked my butt off, but sometimes, just looking back at my progress, I can’t believe it. I skipped out on a lot of drinking nights. I sacrificed lazy nights in lieu of meal planning. Instead of getting brunch with friends, I made healthy breakfasts at home and met up with them for coffee. I skipped out on some work parties so I could get home at a decent hour because I knew I had to get up early to run. “Sorry I can’t; I’m running in the morning” was a text I think my friends got use to hearing. And you want to know the best thing about all of that?

It was worth it.

Every single decision. Every gathering I CHOSE to miss. Every glass of wine I decided not to pour and drink water instead. Every Sunday I would meal plan or plan out my running schedule instead of doing nothing. Every time I turned down going out to lunch at work and getting major crap for it… “you never come out with us!” Sorry guys. Plus, Chicago is expensive. All of it. Worth it.

I feel great.
I have more energy.
My skin looks more youthful.
I’ve lost weight.
I gained some absolutely amazing friendships.
My self-confidence boosted.
I am more positive.
I fight less.
I forgive more.
I listen more and talk less.

In 2016, I ran 21 races. TWENTY-ONE. Of those 21 races, three of them were half-marathons. I ran my first ever in June 2016 and loved it so much that I did two more. 2015, I could barely run 4 miles…. and I completed THREE half-marathons. I am so proud of that!

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I also participated in the #HolidayMile which was a challenge to run or walk one mile every single day from Thanksgiving to New Years. And that was a challenge, let me tell you. I missed a few days, but I ran more than I would have without this challenge.

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I ended my year with 547.34 miles. My original plan was to do 1,000 solo miles, but due to some poor planning in the beginning of the months and lack of discipline, I did not hit that goal. But my running buddy Ally and I decided to do a team effort and we hit 1,000 miles together. (More on that here.)

With the 21 races and 2 challenges I participated in, I gained 17 new shiny medals to proudly display:

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I have a plan of attack for 2017. I’m going to hit 1,000 solo miles. But I’m giving myself a different kind of challenge than I did in 2016.  I split the months up into sections of three. So, for example, Jan, Feb March is one set, then April, May, June is the next, and so on so so forth.  I picked one month out of the set of three to be my 100 miles in one month (one set I chose two) and I made sure I didn’t have any back to back months of 100 miles. I was strategic with what I decided to pick.

Here’s the breakdown:
JAN-Because it’s the first month of the year and I should start off strong.
APRIL-It’s my birthday month
JUN-I’m training for a half-marathon anyway. Plus, it will get me outside.
AUG-Josh and I usually go on vacation in Sept, so I can’t pick that month, and I needed at least a month in-between the last 100 mile month.
NOV-Because Nov 2016 was my first 100 mile a month ever.

So there’s half of my 1,000 miles in a year right there: five 100-mile months. Which will then leave me with six months to do an average of 84 miles each (which can consist of running, walking and biking). The month directly following my 100 mile month will most likely have a higher biking mileage since I’ll want to give my knee a rest.

But my challenge to myself is a two-parter. In my 100 mile months, I’m only counting actual RUNNING miles as a part of that. Here’s a visual to make more sense:

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My plan for 2017 is to also incorporate some biking, which I will count towards my grand total of 1,000 miles in the year, but during my 100 mile months, I’m keeping a separate note for just running.  So, for example, today I ran 3 miles and did a half mile cool-down. I logged my 3 miles in for running and the half mile down for walking.  So, my grand total for the year (including my New Years Day walk), is 4.75 miles, but only 3 miles of that I’m counting towards my 100 miles for January.

The reason I’m doing this is because I wanted a little more of a challenge. I really learned a lot in 2016 about the importance of planning week by week. When I hit 100 miles in Nov, I counted both my running and walking. I accomplished that, so now I just want a bit more of a challenge for myself. I also found that I would make excuses to not run. “Oh I can just walk 2 miles and run 3 miles for a total of 5 miles for the day,” when really my body is perfectly capable of doing a 4.5 mile run with a half mile cool down. I want to get faster and break my PRs and that will not happen when I’m walking.  Again, I’ll still count my walks towards my 1,000 miles for the year. Walking is still very important. I am by no means putting down walking, but this is the goal I picked for myself.

Some of my other 2017 goals:
Plan my week every Sunday night
Blog more
Run a half-marathon in a different state that is far enough to have to spend the night. (road trip!)
Read 10 books
Cross-train (I literally did none of that last year. Oops)
Explore healthier foods and blog about it
Be more positive

I’d love to hear some goals my readers have made! Comment below with yours!

Best wishes to all.

Vegan Gluten Free Healthy Brownies

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In my previous post, I talked about my entire journey of becoming a healthier person. One of those things was to really watch what I was eating.  I became more cognizant of what i was putting into my body. No I don’t really count my calories – that is just not something that worked for me. But I watch cholesterol, sugars, and fats. I make sure I’m getting enough protein and vitamins.

(I shouldn’t need to put out a disclaimer, but just in case: no i’m not a nutritionist. I am not a doctor. Everyone is different. Please do not use this to make any life altering decisions.)

Also, another disclaimer. I am not vegan. I do enjoy eating a LOT of vegan meals, though. I will still eat chicken occasionally. I will not eat pork or red meat if I don’t have to. Too much fats and cholesterol for me. I will not make hard boiled eggs or scrambled eggs for myself, but if someone offers me a food, I will more than likely eat it. I eat cheese, but I try and limit my intake of that as well. A lot of people think that because I post about a lot of the meals I eat and label them as vegan, but I’m personally not a vegan, that I’m being a hypocrite. Well, the meal itself is still vegan, so I’m not going to stop that.

Okay back to these brownies.

One of my sisters has a dairy allergy. And I love to bake. So I wanted to try and find a good recipe that I could make for Christmas that tasted good and was also dairy free. I found a brownie recipe that I was dying to try: Black bean avocado brownies. Sounds gross, I know, but it’s actually VERY good!  I already ate a row of brownies. Okay, a small row. It is made in a 8×8 pan. 😀

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large flax egg
  • 1 – 15oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 medium to large ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Place flax egg, black bean, avocado, vanilla, and brown sugar and process in a food processor until smooth. Add in cocoa powder, coconut oil, baking soda, and baking powder and process again until smooth. Batter will be thick. If batter is way too thick and won’t process, you can add in a tablespoon or two of almond milk. This batter needs to be very thick in order to produce fudgy brownies. Fold in chocolate chip or sprinkle onto batter then transfer to prepared pan and use a spatula to spread evenly to sides. Sprinkle top of batter with 2 tablespoons of remaining chocolate chips.
  3. Bake for 22-30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out somewhat clean. We don’t want these to dry out, but we also don’t want them completely raw either! The top of the batter should be completely set and no longer jiggle. Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into 12 bars.
NOTES
You may be able to sub the brown sugar for honey, agave or maple syrup. I would reduce to 1/3 cup though.
The brownies are best went made in a food processor so that beans can blend together better.
The brownies are best when served at room temperature or cold.

Recipe credit here.

Vegan GF Healthy Brownies

I followed the recipe almost exactly. Instead of the flax egg, I used a chia egg instead since I already have a huge bag of chia seeds. (To make a chia seed egg: For each egg, combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seed (or flax seed) with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the result should be a sticky egg-like substitute) For the powder, I used Viva Naturals Cacao Powder, (which you can actually find on Amazon!) and the Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs for the vegan choc chips (again, hello Amazon!). I was a little weary about trying this at first because it’s black beans and avocado, but if I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this was packed full of chocolate (not the vegan kind). I do not not taste black beans or avocados AT ALL.

I decided that since this is a relatively healthy recipe, and my sister can eat these, that I am going to bring them to Christmas for all to enjoy!

Happy baking!

P.S. I’m always open to making new things! Anyone have any dairy-free and/or vegan desserts they love? Post below!