Life has been a little hectic lately.

Life has been a little hectic lately. In the last 7 weeks or so, I have worked in inordinate amount of overtime. Do you still call it overtime when you’re a salaried employee? Not just a few late nights here and there or a few early meetings but multiple days’ worth of time. Leading up to our project launch, I was in the office for a 14 hour Saturday backed up to a 17 hour Sunday and back in by 7:30am on Monday (but only because I slept through the 6:00am scheduled start).

I have never before and hope to never again experience the kind of exhausted, not-enough-eye-drops-in-the-world, mental/physical/emotion strain of that kind of timeline for a project launch. Take it from me, you should never attempt to launch before you’ve completed your mock launch activities.

But my project team and I did it. We’d been preparing for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation. We were already using a previous version of the same software but instead of looking at this change as an upgrade, we pulled out all of the data that had been erroneously entered over the past several years and sifted it out. We remapped table keys. Restructured business processes. Rewrote code and reports and work instructions. And despite a few misses that we’ve worked to clean up over the last two weeks, this project has been considered an overall organizational success!

But can we zoom out a little?

I’m exhausted. Still, almost two weeks later. My husband, who pulled all of the weight of family life during this period, is now fighting off his first illness of Autumn. My house is full of tiny fruit flies from a misplaced can that wasn’t properly recycled during my usual cleaning routine because, well, there was no routine. I worked out this past Saturday (taking it slow) and it nearly killed me. Fast forward half a week and I pulled a muscle playing with my daughter; my body is wrecked. And my beautiful little girl wants “Momma, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Momma. Did you hear me calling you, Mom?”

We’re all a little drained from the chaos. And to be honest, there’s no way we all would’ve made it without these things right here:

  • My Tribe
    • Friends who continue to pour into me when I go dark. Friends who continue to text or Snap without a response. Friends who send flowers to work for encouragement.
  • My Husband
    • Who allowed our roles not just to flip flop, but to completely shift onto him. Who put his career behind mine for a period. Who bit his tongue – a lot. And who continued to encourage me even if he felt like I should be waving the white flag.
  • God
    • For putting those people in my life. For continually tapping me on the shoulder with scripture or songs about being a light or a door for others to experience his goodness. For keeping me from completely morphing into a troll at the workplace.
  • Whole30
    • For categorically denying my desire to stress eat. For minimizing the impact of skipped meals, small meals, or late meals on my system. For giving me the energy that I needed to make it through a 17 hour shift at all, let alone without getting sick immediately following. For giving me something else to commit to when the project felt all consuming. For teaching me ways to cope without food.

So really, this post is a gratitude post for those things that kept me going. At work, we passed the project launch, cleaned up the few misses, and we’ve already started sliding back to normal. But me? I’m changed. I’m exhausted and more experienced and more filled with gratitude. It took overtime and high stress and looming deadlines to remind me that my focus is really on people, and that includes me.

Thank you, tribe and Freddy, and God, and Whole30, for shaping me during this time. For showing me grace. And for teaching me about my priorities and the balance that leads me to my best me.

Without you, I am a lesser me.

A Mile A Day: Day 13

Saturday.

What. a. day!

In the morning, I took the birthday bicycle to the bike shop to get properly fitted. The surprise gift from my husband was essentially a big gift card; he arranged for me to come try out a few models before completing the deal and although I loved the matte black, I ended up with a steely blue that fits oh-so-right and keeps the pressure off my bogus right knee.

We celebrated the fitting at a delicious Bosnian restaurant. It’s that’s been on my list for a while so the impromptu stop was a very welcome food break. After a splitting some gyro-styled fries and a spicy gyro sandwich, we headed home in time for some relaxation and my daily mile.

That’s when the fun really began.

It was date night. My birthday date night, to be exact. And despite asking Freddy to pick anything for our date night except going out to eat, he told me a few weeks ago that we were going out to eat.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the news. In fact, every single one of my friends heard about it leading up to the night (a reminder that I need to quit running my mouth about minor things). But by the time the evening rolled around, I was just excited for sunshine with my beau!

We started driving and he told me he had pushed back our reservation largely because I love chatting with our babysitter and we talked through the first reservation. He was so cool and collected about it. “No worries. We have plenty of time now. What do you say to grabbing a drink before dinner?”

Sounds great!

We pulled up to a cider mill that I had mentioned earlier in the week. There were some white table cloths at the stand up tables outside, white and turquoise balloons, and a beautifully set long table so I turned to Fred and said, “Are you sure they’re open? It looks like they’re having a private party.”

“It does looks like that. They’re open though.”

“It’s okay,” I told him. “A guy just walked out in a tank top and shorts and he does not looked dressed up. Oh, the open sign is out. We’re good!”

We walked up the steps toward the door and I swear I saw my sister’s reflection through the glass. My sister happens to live over 2 hours away and was currently in a southern state in the US so my mind went racing into how that person looked so much like my sister and then how that person was my sister and why would my sister be here without telling…

SURPRISE!

My sister, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my parents, my friends from college, my friends from church, Freddy and my friends, my people. They were lined up in front of the bar with party hats and noise makers for me!

I had a quick thought that I might burst into tears and Kim-Kardashian-ugly-cry in front of everyone but the fear of being ridiculed for life was enough to keep me semi-locked up. And if I had gotten to have drinks or dinner surrounded by my people, it would have been enough…but it was so much more!

That beautiful, long table that was filled with place settings? In each napkin was a menu, pre-selected with the most delicious foods. At the top of the menu was written “Happy birthday, Megan!”

I celebrated my 30th with friends and family under the sun, drinking delicious cider and eating delicious food, and being overwhelmed with these people’s love for me and my love for them.

Birthday_Couple

Thank you.

Thank you to my wonderfully planned husband who surpassed all expectations and loved on me in such a tangible way this week and weekend. Thank you to family who traveled from opposite ends of the state or even from several states away just to spend the evening with me. Thank you to my dear friends who mingled and meshed over donuts and prosciutto, apples and blue cheese, bratwurst and hot mustard, spring hash, and banana cream pie. And thank you to those of you who wished you could have been there in more than spirit. You are so deeply loved.

Appreciation + Gratitude =

If you know that you are appreciated and when you experience gratitude from others, you begin to walk with a little more clarity through life. They are two simple things but I do believe they are necessary for moving past the past. Those two things, they never cease to be a breath of fresh air for me. They revive me and I am grateful for them.

Comfortable Skin.

Wow.

This weekend flew by and lasted a lifetime all the same.

I took my first solo flight. I flew from Detroit Metro to Denver International Airport and I must say, traveling is very me. I finished reading The Happiness Project this weekend, and in honor of Gretchen’s “Be Gretchen” mantra, I made a list of things  that fall under the “Be Megan” title. Traveling is most certainly one of them. So is wearing scarves and flats, collecting coffee mugs and interesting rings, going for walks, long car rides, reading, writing, trying different foods, smiling, meeting new people, not trying to be sexy, music of all shapes and sizes, intuition, letting my emotions lead me, laughing, drinking dark beer, the wind messing up my hair – and traveling. Did I say traveling? 🙂 Things that are other people but not me are: killing bugs, anything medical, water sports (wait – is rafting a water sport? because I love that!), politics, rollercoasters, clubbing, and choosing restaurants.

I realized this weekend that my inability to choose a restaurant stems from my desire to try new foods. I rarely go into a dinner-date with a preconceived notion regarding the plate that will be placed before me. And I genuinely like it that way. I like finding something from what I’m presented rather than pre-deciding on a flavor. It might seem silly, but this came as a revelation to me. I can now say that it’s a trait I like about myself and I’m not going to try to change it.

I finished The Happiness Project but also began and finished Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung. Reading that was like turning a light on. Did he write that just for me?

I went to Denver, Colorado this weekend to visit a friend. The thing is, we went to high school together. We ran in the same group. But we rarely called one another. We didn’t hang out one-on-one. And yet I felt as though we’d have some things in common as of late. And that perhaps she would enjoy some company. So I called. And I booked a flight. And I went.

Hands down? … Best decision I’ve made in a while. In the past, I would’ve been nervous about flying out to spend the weekend with someone who I hadn’t considered to be my close friend. What would she think about me asking? What if we didn’t get along as well as I’d hoped? What if after all this time we really don’t have that much in common? What if? What if? What if…

Nervous.

Looking back at this weekend, nervous didn’t even have an opportunity to cross my mind. Not when I stepped on the plane. Not when I met up with her and we chatted the entire car ride back to her house. Not when we went to Boulder in the pouring rain to walk around for a place for dinner, not when I met her friends, or rafted through white waters, or hiked on a mountain trail, or rode passenger up the side of a mountain as she drove, or walked through Red Rocks Park, or ate lunch together, or watched movies, or shared music tastes, or talked through heavier topics, or planned our next trip, or flew home.

What I did feel was excited. Charged. Inspired. Adventurous. Happy. Glad that I’d made the decision to just go with it. Bettered. Overwhelmed by the beauty of Colorado. Humbled by the whole experience. Grateful. Appreciative of my friend’s attitude/her ability to host/her personality/life stories/faith/insight/friendship. Connected. Thrilled. Elated. Fortunate. Thankful. Impressed by everyone’s ability to roll with the punches provided by the inclement weather. Encouraged by the positive moods around me.

I had an amazing time. And to think I would’ve missed out on such an opportunity if I hadn’t allowed myself to unfold and live in the now/act spontaneously/embrace the unknown.

I’m already brainstorming our next trip together. Exploring Michigan’s finer offerings. Letting her in on some of the things I’ve come to appreciate in our mutual home state. And I’m looking forward to keeping in touch. To keeping up with what we’ve set in motion.

In 2010, I’ve come to remember so much about myself that I had forgotten somewhere along the way. I’ve learned and I’ve grown. Remembered and modified. I’m happy. I’m happy with where I am and where I could be in the future. It’s open-ended. Not to say that I don’t have things I need to work on or fears I still want to overcome. But I know that I can face them. And I know what I should work to change and what I don’t want to change. And if I haven’t considered it yet, I know how to consider it. It’s not that Colorado changed me. But it made it very apparent to me that I have changed. And I’d like to think it’s for the better.

“Blessed” Brett Dennen (performed at Red Rocks Amphitheatre)