Waiting on Tomorrow.

Unless you are a liar, you’ve spent most of your life waiting and hoping on what’s next. The weekend, that vacation, the visit from your family. “I will be happy if I can just make it through this week.” I gave up on this mentality not by choice, but by coming to the realization that it’s simply bullshit. I won’t ever quit working hard enough to truly relax for an entire weekend, and I won’t get to Friday and just revel in the Friday without thinking about what comes the next week and weekend. Slowly but surely, I’ve had every single luxury of ‘wishing for what’s next’ tugged from my callused hands. And I’m so grateful.

jcrew u

Losing my way. For most, heading off to college is exciting, marked with new friendships, and  future plans. For me, it felt wrong. All wrong. Like I was in the wrong place, trying to fit the mold that so many others from my high school fit. They loved every second since stepping on campus. I didn’t. It wasn’t me. From the personalities of most, to the fact that I was in Ohio, surrounded by nothing but superficial reality, I couldn’t make myself love it. I can fake it, but this was hopeless. Then, while on a run one morning, listening Bruce Springsteen Born to Run on repeat, I returned back to my dorm room to turn on the TV and see planes crashing into buildings. I needed to get the fuck out of there and back home. That day sealed the deal. I spent my first semester of college determining next steps, starting with breaking the news to my parents.  The gentle guidance offered by my parents at that time was comforting, yet you can’t help but feel like a failure. My dad and I drove six hours only to load my stuff and drive straight back home to throw our hands up in the air and say a prayer it would all work out. It did, because I have never taken the path of thinking that it wouldn’t. 

Stalled with a Broken Engine.

piece of shit.
piece of shit.

I bought my first car, all alone, at the age of 21. I walked into the VW dealer, found a used Passat, and negotiated better than I thought was possible. My car dealer even told me that he wasn’t sure what to do except give me the price I finally demanded. I was proud for three years. Until that car broke down in every horrible area possible, on empty highways in between dealers claiming they fixed it. Although I almost ended with a restraining order from VW, it was an incredible lesson. Looks are never more important than what keeps a motor running. Doesn’t get any more real than hearing you need to rebuild an engine from the ground up.  I had to throw my hands up in the air and say a prayer it would all work out. It did, because I have never taken the path of thinking that it wouldn’t. 

Career Disruption. I loved my job. I worked to help Native American’s understand the importance of non-gaming income diversification. Why? Because I believed in it. I believed that through marketing and communication, and driving four hours each way many times a month, that I could forge relationships and make a difference to communities that needed it most. I still believe in it. But you know who one day didn’t believe in me? An elder that didn’t see the value and cut our entire team. When you seek acceptance your whole life based on your hardwork ethic and ability to make things work, I’m not sure I can explain the ‘megan, can we see you in the boardroom’ said by a lawyer you’ve never seen. ‘Here is your paperwork, we are sorry but you are being let go, not because of your work, but because the position and all others are no longer.’ Right. Sure. I still don’t believe it 9 years later, but it was a time of exploration, and the first time in my life that I didn’t have to wake up at 5:45am. But I did anyway. I threw my hands up in the air, tried to figure out this thing called ‘Twitter’ and ‘blogging’ and said a prayer that it would all work out. It did, because I have never taken the path of thinking that it wouldn’t. 

Mortgage Meltdown. When you read as much as I do, you can be sure that at the ripe old age of 22, I had every Suze Orman book known to man. I read about financial success and smart choices, and knew damn well that throwing money into rent was a waste. So, I saved and bought. At the crest before the mortgage world collapsed. At the highest point, with no indication of what was to come. High(er) mortgage rate due to lesser down payment, and in a new construction subdivision. What happened next no one could have predicted – the worst possible luck? Yes? Criminal activity? Yes. A truly devastating situation that I couldn’t talk, work, promise, or beg my way out of? Yes. I spent my pregnancy navigating a situation you only see on 20/20 – trying to recoup the loss I was facing, and secure the best possible future for my son, ensuring a roof over his head. In a world where inspectors pass homes without flashing, builders go the cheap route, because they knew the inspectors, and mold takes over the insides of drywall, you have one chance. When you can’t sue a bankrupt builder, you give in. I had to throw my hands up in the air, spend hours researching, meeting with lawyers, and knowing I was losing every single penny I ever had. I had to say a prayer it would all work out. It did, because I have never taken the path of thinking that it wouldn’t. 

Happily Ever After. This makes me laugh. Not because I’m not happy, but because I’m certainly not in a constant state of happily ever after. Hell, most days I am teetering on the fence of ‘your jaw is really loud when you chew that way’ and ‘jab, jab, I will kick you out of this bed if you don’t control that snoring.’ I believe in seasons. I believe in love languages. I believe there are five and I am some magical unicorn with an undefined love language of 6.7 or something?  I believe that having young children, faced with daycare bills, and renting a house that doesn’t really seem like your home, while both working demanding jobs, just to still be in the red each month, doesn’t seem like a state of pure bliss. We will get there. But for now, I revel in the moments of pure joy and happiness that make up whatever percentage of a day they do. Sometimes 3%, sometimes 80% — and yet, it’s seriously enough to fill my tank, depending on what state I’m in at the given moment. There are so many days that I have to pray harder than Sweet Baby Jesus knew my praying knees (that haven’t seen a church since Patrick’s baptism) were capable of.  It will work, because I have never taken the path of thinking that it wouldn’t. 

Incurable illness. You want to know what makes all the above seem ridiculous? Falling in love with a curly haired little man, that tested every ounce of strength you had from the moment he entered this world to a momma severely sick from the flu. It was never meant to be smooth sailing with Patrick. I knew the first night he was home that something was off. I stayed up all night catching Hayden’s vomit, and watching Patrick’s labored breathing. I was right. I spent the next few months learning everything I could, adding to my ‘why the hell do I know this amount of detail on a topic I’d never heard about’ depository of knowledge in my brain. We’ve survived to a point where despite my five wake-up calls each night, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of joy, smiles, and love that his hilariously volatile personality brings to my life. When Patrick falls, can’t go down/up stairs, still asks for a bottle, or struggles with things his younger peers have perfected, I have to tearfully beg and hope, that we will cross each bridge as gracefully as we can. It will all be okay, because I no longer have the luxury of controlling the path we are heading down. Whatever path we take, it will work out. 

The reason I am.
my everythings.

I’m not waiting on tomorrow. Many of my tomorrow’s have been full of things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I am not waiting on having the perfect house that is my home, it may not come, and it doesn’t really matter. I’m not waiting on a vacation, because as I mentioned in my previous post, I don’t need anything but open windows, my playlist and the smell of Lake Geneva. I’m not waiting on my Size 6 body, because well, let’s be honest, I know that what I just ate for a snack may make up most Orange Theory addicts entire daily caloric allowance. It’s cool.

Not waiting on tomorrow has led me to a place that I can’t explain or articulate – and I don’t want anyone to pretend to understand. We’ve all gone through so many struggles, and when your “normal” is faced with relentless blows to your resiliency, you buck up and make it work – without wishing for something else.

The above examples have evolved into a powerful mix of experiences that help me appreciate moments more than I ever imagined I could. I’m not waiting on tomorrow. I have found the secret to my lifetime of happiness. It’s a quilt sewn together by patches of momentary satisfaction that fuel my tank to get me from A to B.



Carpe Diem

I got home from a business trip at 1am on Saturday morning to the sound of Patrick crying, but it was a welcome distraction. I had missed my boys, and was ready for my next shift to start, even if the last one resulted in 6 hours of sleep over the span of three days. There are worse things.

Knowing that I was also going to be waking to a 76 degree day, and the chance to take the boys to Lake Geneva made everything okay. My desperate need for rest didn’t pan out, but it didn’t matter. When my 3:45am wake up call rolled straight into morning, I was able to wake with purpose.

Packing was easy. I opened my suitcase from hours before, and dumped it all over the floor. I threw running shoes, sperrys and flip flops in the place of heels and Ann Taylor suits. I added two hats, suit, jeans/hoodies and loaded the stroller in the car, We were off.

Marshall Tucker. Tom Petty. Zac Brown. Beach Boys. Josh Ritter. 43-South. Open windows. Sleeping boys. Probably the best cure for whatever seems to ail me these days. WhIMG_1020en I made my way into town, I just kept going. I had no where to be, no timeline to follow, and felt the call of home, another one, and yet another one in Wisconsin. I drove up and down the rolling hills, past too many memories to process, only to turn down the street that used to give me butterflies each and every weekend growing up. There it was – my Grandpa’s cottage. I stopped. There were three cars on the driveway, but I stopped. I couldn’t really pinpoint what I was there for or why I had stopped, but I felt the need to take a picture of the one thing that will always resonate with me when I’m anxious and unsure of what’s next.

Carpe Diem. To the naked eye, it’s an ugly sign that hangs on the front of the cottage. To me, it’s a memory of simplicity. A memory of craftsmanship in the most authentic form. I made that sign with my Grandpa. My Grandpa may not know that or even remember at this point in his journey, but he gave me something I will never forget. Time. Concern. Care. And a lesson in perfect imperfection.

carpe diem

In between teaching me how to use a drill, how to install cabinetry, and shelving, what type of head was used for each nail at Home Depot, or how to not turn AC in the car when working in 90 degree temps, we would head to the garage, set up the horse, and drivel in cursive. ‘Carpe Diem.’ In many ways, it’s the elegant version of my so well known ‘oh, fuck it’ said with a smile. It’s freeing. It’s subtle and powerful all at the same time.

While I was there lost in memory, stalking the cottage that is not our family’s cottage anymore, three girls and their babies came down the front stairs (that are probably ready to crumble thanks to Shanahan construction). They asked if I needed help – and something came across me that I can’t explain (maybe lack of sleep). But I burst into an intense cry, thankfully covered by sunglasses. For fear of being arrested, I said as best as I could – ‘I spent my best memories growing up here. I’m not Miranda Lambert, but this was the ‘weekend cottage that built me.’ My Grandpa is starting to forget things, things that made a huge impact on me… and one of those things, was that sign. We made it together. It is ugly, and it means so much to me. Before he dies, I want to write and share his eulogy with him, and this is part of it’

The girls started crying, and two husbands came out. I’m sure I looked like I was missing from the looney bin. To them, I was a stranger, casually losing her shit on their driveway. They didn’t say a word – but opened the garage, grabbed a screw driver, ladder and took it down. They handed an old, dirty, cob-webbed covered ‘Carpe Diem’ sign to me and said – this is not ours. This is yours, just like that story is yours.

I didn’t go for the sign. I went for the solace. When my Grandpa does eventually enter his final carpe diem, I will be at peace, even though I hope it’s not for years, I will be okay. He taught me that when you have no choice, you make do. You make things work. You enjoy what you can, hide the pain and upset, and seize the mother fucking day. I will do that. I will look at this sign, re-purpose it into my home, and make sure that in moments of confusion or overwhelming responsibility, I will remember the hands that build this memory.