Category Archives: life

The One Thing You Should Never Say to a Caregiver

The love of my life has been battling end stage renal disease (ESRD) for six years now. During this time, I’ve sat by his side in the ICU while he was on life support. I’ve seen him so weak that he can barely catch his breath. I’ve watched him wince in pain as large gauge needles are plunged into his arm for dialysis access. I’ve watched him almost collapse from plummeting blood pressure. I’ve watched him puke endless times. I’ve listened to his sighs as he dreads Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’ve seen the anguish in his eyes as he wishes he could do the things that healthy people do: go to work, go to school, go on vacation, drink as much as he wants; the list goes on. I’ve jumped with him at every ring of the phone, wondering if this is the moment a kidney donor has become available.

As his partner and support person, it’s been heartbreaking at times. I wish I could take away all of his pain. Most of the time there is nothing I can do. I feel helpless. I feel scared. I feel anxious. I feel selfish. I feel sad. But, I try not to show it or talk about it, and it bottles up inside.

As a caregiver to someone who is ill, time can often stand still. You feel like everyone around you is moving forward with life. While I know our situation is not nearly as bad as it could be, it’s still really tough at times, and I feel like I don’t know how to deal with the emotions that I’m feeling. There are times when I need support, too.

The one thing that you should never say to a caregiver? Nothing at all. I can count only a handful of times when someone has asked me how I’m doing. Most of the time, they ask how he is doing, which is perfectly normal. I would (and should) absolutely expect that. But, hardly anyone has asked me how I’m holding up.

Saying this sounds a bit selfish, and I feel guilty putting it out there. Hell, I’m not the one who is sick. I can work. I can come and go as I please. I can eat and drink whatever I want. I don’t have to sit in a chair for four hours three times a week hooked up to a machine that is pulling and cleaning my blood. I have it easy.

But, sometimes I feel like I don’t have it easy. Many times, it’s simply because I feel alone. I never know what the next day will bring, and it scares me. It scares me a lot. There have been days I’ve felt so anxious that all I can do is cry into my pillow. Many people don’t know what it’s like to be in my situation, and I don’t expect them to. I think that scares a lot of people. They don’t know what to say or how to react. So, often times they say nothing. With the exception of a few close family members and friends, many people have kept their distance.

While you may not know what to say or how to say it, don’t walk away. That hurts more than anything you could say. If you don’t know what to say in person, send a card. Write an email. Send a Facebook message. Send a quick text message saying hi. Even the smallest gesture showing that you care will bring a smile to the person’s face. Trust me. As long as I know you care, I won’t feel so alone. That goes a long way in keeping me healthy so that I can be the best caregiver I can be.




Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I am writing today to let you know about my hopes and aspirations. I have recently learned that if I do not put my dreams out there for you to hear, they may get lost in an unsettled sea of averageness that will disable me from sailing toward any desired destination that this life has to offer.

I want to make waves with my words. I want to be a writer. I want my words to have meaning. I want my words to have power. I want my words to help people. I want my words to inspire others and myself.

Writing brings me peace. It helps me heal and release my emotions that I often bottle up too tightly. Composing words into beautiful meaning is something that I look forward to. It is something that keeps me up at night, thinking about all of the potential opportunities and possibilities to influence the thoughts and actions of my readers.

Writing is not a job or a chore. Writing is a love. It is something that I can see myself doing the rest of my life. It is something that I need to do the rest of my life.

I have lived my life playing the “safe card.” I do not want to do that anymore. I want to take risks. I want to click “Publish” even if it scares me. I want to feel deep in my soul that my words are valuable and they mean something to someone.

I am tired of blending in. I want to scream and shout. I want you to know that I matter, too. I want to stop standing still while everyone around me is moving toward their glory. I want to make an impact on the world. I want a happy life doing what I love. And I will fight for it with passion, determination, and heart.

With much appreciation,




Thankful for the Body I Have

I have battled with my weight since I was a kid. I was never the pretty girl, the popular girl, or the sport star. I was the girl that had intriguing thoughts constantly running through her head, but always too shy to express them. One of the reasons for the shyness was my weight. I was afraid of being judged. I didn’t want any more eyes on me than required. School presentations sent me into panic attacks.

Much of my stress was due to my own negative self perceptions. I was shy and fat. Who would want to be friends with me? High school was tough and I felt very alone. I remember sitting at lunch many days hiding in my heavy coat or my baggy sweatshirt. During a Friday night football game, an older girl thought it would be fun to humiliate me in front of all her friends. I remember walking back up the stadium stairs with my head down in shame as dozens of kids and adults erupted in laughter. No one deserves that, young or old.

Fast forward many years later, and those self-loathing thoughts have diminished. While I still experience moments of looking in the mirror and feeling displeased with what I see, I’ve come to realize that the stretch marks and the flabby tummy that I see reflected back at me are battle scars. They show history. They remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go.

I’m still working on myself and that’s okay. I’ve come to realize that I’m thankful for the body I have. It allows me to wake up every morning. It allows me to feel the warmth of the sun shining on my face. It allows me to feel the breeze in my hair. It allows me to laugh. It allows me cry. It allows me to love. It allows me to run 13.1 miles.

My body is strong. My body is beautiful.

Flags for Our Heroes

Today, I took a moment to reflect on all the heroes that fight for our liberty every day by visiting the Flag for Our Heroes display at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

FlagsForOurHeroes_May 26, 2014-2

The flags honor personal heroes in the community, including military, police, firefighters, and first responders, as well as teachers, mentors, coaches, and anyone else deemed a personal hero.

It was awe-inspiring to see the hundreds of full size flags waving in the wind against the blue sky. It reminded me that so many good people sacrifice their lives on a daily basis so that I can live in freedom on a daily basis.

Thank you to all the men and women (including my grandfather, who was a US Navy veteran) for your service, dedication, and sacrifice.



Rain, Pain, and Toughing It Out

It’s been a while since I checked in, so I thought I would recap the latest happenings.

We celebrated Mark’s birthday in a big way. After the lows of last year, I decided it was time that he experience some highs. I made a mental note and tucked it away in my brain when he mentioned that flying a plane was on his bucket list. The local airport offers flying lessons, so I set him up with an introductory lesson as a birthday gift. I will never be able to properly explain his reaction when I revealed that he would soon be thousands of feet up in the air. It was priceless and something I will never forget. As I watched him take off in that plane, I shed a tear and smiled, knowing that he was living his dream.

airplane flying

I got a new job. It’s with the same company, but it’s a move up. While this change is a bit nerve-wracking, it’s something that has been much needed for a very long time. I was feeling really unhappy where I was, and I know that was impacting other areas of my life, including getting healthy. I was miserable and one of the few things that would make me happy was eating. I just felt stuck and had no motivation to get moving. Now that I have something new to look forward to, it’s like a sense of freedom. I know this is a step in the right in the direction for me. I have a feeling this will be the motivation that I need to get moving in the other areas of my life that I want to improve.

Remember the dresser drawer garden that I mentioned a couple weeks ago? Well, guess what? We have our first tomato! It’s a tiny one, but it’s growing growing growing! There’s also sprouts on the zucchini, squash, and bell pepper plants. I can’t wait until I can pick and enjoy them all.

tomato in garden

My Biggest Loser 5k is coming up in roughly three weeks. I haven’t been training like I should, so I contemplated skipping it. But this is something that I always tend to do. I push something off until later, even though I know I’m capable now. So I decided that I’m going to do it. The 5k is a run/walk, so I really shouldn’t be nervous about it. I’m going to do the best I can and that’s all I can do.

To prep for the 5k, I went to one of my favorite places to run this morning. Unfortunately, the running path that I usually take is under construction, so I took a bit of a detour. It’s a path that I was unfamiliar with, and I wasn’t feeling super comfortable running it by myself. It was a bit secluded nestled in the woods. I thought about turning back, but I spotted another female runner who looked like she was a veteran of this running path. Once she was a good distance in front of me, I decided to follow.

I alternated between running and walking for almost an hour as I followed the unexpectedly long running route that meandered through the park. I was happy to have the safety net of another runner who was close by, but boy did she put me through the wringer. I think I ended up doing at least a 5k, which is a distance I haven’t completed in quite a while. Plus my right foot is still giving me problems. After thirty minutes, I was hurting. I thought about turning back half way through, but decided to keep going. Then the rain started.

By the time I made it back to my car, I was hobbling, wet, and covered in sweat. Although I was hurting, I was so happy that I toughed it out. Had this been a few months, or even weeks, ago, I would have given up. But I didn’t this time. It’s another one of those a-ha moments that makes me realize that in the very trying situations in my life, both minor and major, if I just stick it out everything will work out in the end. All of the rain and pain is worth it when it blossoms into a new beginning.

Happiness Logo

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Happy First Birthday

Wow, I can’t believe that a year ago today I published my first post! Where did the time go?!

I’ve learned a lot this past year, both about blogging and about myself.

I’ve learned that I’m capable of running. I completed my first 5k and my first 8k, distances that I never imagined myself running before.

I’ve learned that I still have goals that I want to accomplish, particularly a half marathon. I set out on this journey with that being the end goal, and I was hoping that I would have tackled it by now. While that didn’t happen, it’s not a reason to give up. It’s just a reason to keep pushing forward.

I’ve learned that it’s crucial to go outside of my comfort zone. I’m still working on this, but I’m realizing more and more that it’s really important. I don’t want to put myself in a bubble and stay there my entire life. Life happens once and I need to take full advantage of what it has to offer. It’s been challenging at times to publish some of the posts that I have, but I realize that I have something important to say and I should put myself out there. I often fear rejection, but I’ve been amazed at how much support I’ve received thus far.

I’ve learned that generosity is abundant in the blogging world. I met my fundraising goal for the 2013 Northern Virginia Kidney Walk thanks to bloggers that made donations to my team. I’m still amazed at their generosity, and I hope that I can give back this next year.

I’ve learned that I absolutely love to write. It’s a form of therapy for me. I can be creative and express my thoughts and emotions. It’s been really great to document my journey. I realize that writing is a part of me. It’s something I need to have in my life on a daily basis. I’m trying to figure out a way to make that happen professionally. I’m hoping that my time and effort that I put in to blogging will be a stepping stone to help me get there.

I’ve learned that I have so much more to accomplish. I have some great projects in the works that have been thoughts up until now, but I now know that I want them to become reality. I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’ve learned that my dreams are attainable. I just need to continue chasing them. I can’t wait to reflect on what I’ve learned and achieved this time next year.

post workout bliss

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2013 Northern Virginia Kidney Walk

It was a great day for a walk.

NKF Kidney Walk

I had the pleasure of participating in the National Kidney Foundation’s Northern Virginia Kidney Walk today. It was so inspiring to see all of the people come out to support friends and loved ones that have been affected by kidney disease. Some were transplant recipients. Some were currently battling kidney disease. Others were walking in honor of someone currently battling the disease, as well as those who had succumb to their fight. It was truly touching to see so many people unite for this cause.

After Mark got sick last year, I was determined to participate in the walk this year. I was determined to form a team and set a fundraising goal to contribute to NKF’s mission. I know what kidney disease is capable of. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s something that can be prevented, and I wanted to do something to help spread awareness and possibly save lives.

M&M's Kidney Dream Team logo

I decided to go out on a limb to get the word out. I tend to be on the shy side, but I knew that this was important to me and something I HAD to accomplish. I first spread the word on Facebook. Family and friends donated right away. You know who you are. Thank you so much. I also wanted to reach out to the blogging community to see if I could generate support. I approached Healthy Living Blogs to see if I could purchase ad space to donate to one of my readers who made a donation. Instead, I was awestruck when they donated the ad space for my giveaway. A huge thank you to Heather for your generosity.

The next thing I knew, HLB members made donations to my team. While I asked for a $5 donation to be eligible for the giveaway, these bloggers decided to give more. These ladies are people that I’ve never met, yet they wanted to contribute to my cause. Wow.

Thank you to Natalie from BodyAide.

Thank you to Ashley from Running Bun.

Thank you to Julie from Food Fitness and Happiness.

Thank you to the anonymous person who made a donation.

I continue to be amazed by your generosity.

Because of my wonderful family, friends, and new blogging friends, M&M’s Kidney Dream Team accomplished its fundraising goal. I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for their support. It truly means the world.

Kidney Walk 2013 Goal

Today was a great day. I am most thankful that I was able to spend this beautiful day with Mark. Last year, Mark was laying in a hospital bed close to death. By the grace of God, he survived. He brings joy to my life and continues to make me laugh everyday.

Mark and Megan Kidney Walk

Things in life don’t always go as planned, but I do believe they happen for a reason. While I may write mostly about my running journey, I am truly honored in times like these when I can write to spread awareness about issues that are so important. Kidney disease can be prevented. Learn what you can and do what you can to protect yourself and the ones you love.

If you have it in your heart to become a donor, please do so. All you have to do is check a box on your driver’s license. It’s that simple. It may not seem like a big deal, but when you see someone you love suffering, it becomes a big deal. If you’re not sure, do your research. That’s all I ask. You can save a life.

Donate Life Bracelet

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The Grandest Bucket List Adventure of All!

When I started my blog, Lesley Carter was one of my very first readers. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. She “liked” many of my posts, which made me giddy knowing that someone was actually reading what I had to say. It meant a lot!

When I checked out her blog, I was in awe. She is the creator of Bucket List Publications, where she documents her travels and fulfillment of the items on her bucket list. She’s traveled to 34 countries and doesn’t plan on stopping there! She’s been skydiving, base jumping, dog sledding, and biplane flying, to name a few. She also encourages and inspires her readers to create their own bucket lists. She wants you to get out there and create new experiences. Pretty awesome in my book!

5-27-2012 5-50-45 PM         IMG_9634         20110219_LasVegas_0877

Now, she has the chance to go on an amazing adventure! She is competing in My Destination’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List, where the winner gets to choose and visit destinations across six continents over six months…and gets $50,000! In order to win, she needs our votes!

I don’t know Lesley personally (other than the interaction I have with her on my blog). But I do know that she has so much passion for what she does. Not only does she travel and go on thrilling adventures, but she gets to know the people. She immerses herself in the culture. She takes in the experience fully and learns from it. I love that. She inspires me to overcome my fears and accomplish the goals that I’ve set for myself.

I want to help her fulfill more items on her bucket list and send her on this amazing adventure. In order to become a finalist, she needs to be one of the top five voted entries in the next seven days. Let’s get her there!

She created a fantastic video about her trip to Fiji and what she learned from her experience. Check it out and please vote, vote, vote!

I had the opportunity to ask Lesley about her travels and her personal bucket list. Here’s what she had to say:

You’ve entered the Biggest Baddest Bucket List contest – a chance to travel the world for six months and win $50,000! If you win, what destinations do you plan on choosing? I know you have a special place in your heart for Fiji. Do you plan on traveling there again during your BBB tour?

While nothing is set in stone yet, these are some of the countries I had in mind so far:

South Africa
New Zealand

These choices are based on places I’ve yet to visit, but I’m certain there will be lots more to add when the time gets closer. Fiji is my favorite county, but I just returned from there in December so I don’t think I’d add it to the list for the MyBBB tour.

On your Biggest Baddest Bucket List entry page, you say that your most essential travel phrase is “Are you local?” What’s the best advice or tip a local has given you?

Locals always know the hidden gems and true cultural experiences. I try to experience each new country as if I’m a local. I spend a few days immersing myself in the culture and environment. That’s the only way to truly get an understanding of a new country. The best way to do that… find a local and hang out with them if you have the opportunity. I’d say that I received more experience based knowledge than a verbal tip from locals.

Many people struggle with staying fit while on vacation or traveling. If you win the Biggest Baddest Bucket List contest, you’ll be traveling for six months. Are there any activities that you plan on doing to stay fit while on your adventure of a lifetime?

I’m a hyperactive tourist. I like to take in every possible opportunity and activity so traveling usually leads to a healthy, more active lifestyle for me. It’s difficult to get out of shape when you’re hiking waterfalls, exploring new territories, and rafting down rapids.

You’ve had the courage to cross off a lot of extreme activities on your bucket list, like sky diving, base jumping, paragliding, bungee jumping, and flying a jet pack (wow!) Of all the extreme activities you’ve done, which is a “must do again” activity?  Is there one activity that you’re glad you tried, but don’t ever want to do again?

I love any activity that involves flying, or falling, through the sky. Piloting a helicopter was one of my favorite experiences and it’s definitely on the list of “must do again” activities. I don’t think it tops skydiving, though. I’d go right now if I had the chance.

There is no activity that I’ve done that I don’t ever want to try again. Each item on my list has been a learning experience. I’m always up for anything.

Now that you’re a mom, do you plan on helping Athena create her own bucket list? What’s one activity that you recommend everyone add to their own bucket list?

I can only hope that she’ll share in my adventurous spirit but I will support and encourage all of her dreams and goals regardless. If she wants to have her own list, I’ll help her make it but let her create her own items.

One activity that should be on everyone’s list is volunteer. There are countless ways to give back; adding it to your list will make it a reality.

What do you say to people who want to create a bucket list, but don’t think they have the courage or resources to accomplish their dreams?

I am no different than anyone else. I didn’t start out rich or famous or with unlimited resources. I just decided what was important in my life and found ways to make it happen. It’s possible for everyone. It’s all a matter of priorities. Find out what you want from life and focus on that.

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Inspire Me Friday

Things that really inspired me this week:

1. Random act of kindness for soldier in Afghanistan and his girlfriend

$40 and a note of support overwhelms soldier in Afghanistan


2. Danni’s amazing transformation on The Biggest Loser


3. Family and friends who are supporting my effort to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation’s 2013 Kidney Walk (details in an upcoming post!)

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The Words We Speak

It’s funny how one little unexpected moment can really make you stop and think about things. I had one of these moments tonight.

As Mark and I were cruising YouTube, we came across a clip of an interview that Alicia Keys gave recently.  What she had to say was really powerful. She was talking about the way she used to think about things. She used to verbally doubt herself. She used to say things like, “With my luck” and “This is how it will go for me.” One of her writing partners called her out on it and asked her why she said those things. It made her realize that if she says negative things like that, that’s the way her life will go. She took the word “if” out of her vocabulary and replaced it with “when.”

I realized that I do the same thing to myself. I always verbalize my self doubts and insecurities. Even if I whisper them quietly to myself, the words are still present. They are out there in the universe for myself to hear and believe. I have to stop doing it. If I start telling myself that I can do something, I will do it. If I tell myself that I can’t, then I won’t.

I started thinking about all of the negative words and phrases that I’ve told myself.

Negative Words

Pretty ugly isn’t it?

It’s a reflection of how I treat myself. I need to replace it with something more beautiful. Something more worthy of me.

Words to Live By

Starting now, I’m going to replace the ugly words with the beautiful ones. I’m realizing that the only way to kick start the journey to achieving my dreams starts with the dialogue in my mind.

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