|bubble wrap|

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When I was little, I loved playing with bubble wrap. My dad was a Marine, so from birth till around middle school we moved around quite a bit. One of my favorite things about moving was all the bubble wrap and boxes that would be left over after we would move into a new city. My younger sister and I would eagerly wait till everything was unpacked so we could build forts from the boxes and of course roll the bubble wrap out on the floor. We would run across it as fast as we could to hear the “pop, pop, pop” echo through our new home. I have so many found memories of all the moves throughout my life, and while I was often leery about moving to a new city, I loved making new friends and experiencing new places.

Now that I’m older, I still love the sound of popping bubble wrap but I have found I am not as open to change as I was many years ago. Recently, I moved home to my parents’ house, for the time being while I finish up my seasonal job with the Washington Nationals and continue to look for jobs. As I wrapped and packed up my belongings in bubble wrap, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I moved as a child and the innocence and optimism I held for changes in my life. I wonder why it is we have to lose so many child-like views on the world as we grow older?

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We all like to be in control and have some knowledge of what is going to take place in our life. Whether it be job security, having friends or knowing exactly how long it takes you to get from your house to the grocery store, we all like things that are routine. However, change is a natural part of life and it happens whether you like it or not. The one thing that I am slowly learning is that you have to simply take the changes in your life for what they are worth.

“And even, in His severe mercy, He withholds good things from her that she might return to Him”

I recently started a bible study in the book of Hosea, and the above quote was in a passage that went along with scripture. This verse hit me square in the gut. All my fears about not landing a job and insecurities about moving home suddenly seemed so minuscule. You see often times when we have changes in our life we are completely unaware that these changes are part of a bigger plan.

It’s easy to praise God when everything is wonderful and you’re in “control”. When things start do not go in the way that you wanted, or turn sour, we tend to pull away from God. But the thing is, God is in control when things are good AND bad. He uses these situations to try and draw you closer to Him. To realize that no matter how hard you may try, He is the one in control.

fCorey Smith is one of my favorite artists. One of the song lyrics states: “ To live is to struggle and to struggle is to grow.” I cannot think of a better way to look change. Whether good or bad, theses experiences help shape you and allow the potential for growth; you just have to be able to recognize how to let this change shape you. So next time something happens that is out of your hands, take a deep breath, roll out the bubble wrap and remember that God loves you and He has everything under control.

|anniversary|

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At some point in our lives we all celebrate or commemorate an anniversary. Whether it be one year of marriage, or a second birthday, the term anniversary helps us remember special days in our lives. I like to think that they are also a great time of reflection. To look back and see the growth that has taken place over time. Today, I celebrate an anniversary. A three year anniversary. It is one that holds a very special place in my heart, for it holds the day that I received the news that I had cancer.

I will never forget the date August 26, 2011 or every little detail that took place throughout that day. However, as I reflect on the past three years since that day, I can’t help but be happy. You see, cancer saved me. I know that may sound like an oxymoron, but it is completely true. The lessons and experiences that this sickness has given me, is something that I am thankful for every single day. Below is a photo I took in a dressing room with my sister hours before I was to find out I had thyroid cancer. For me, this photo helps remind me how far I have come since that day.

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As I look back on the past three years since my diagnosis, I have my own appreciation for all the things cancer has taught me.

Laughter
Before cancer, I took life way too seriously. Cancer taught me that life is extremely short to be anything but happy and that you should embrace a childlike innocence when looking at the world. Laughter is the best medicine for anything and smiling is contagious no matter what may be going on in your life. We all get stressed at times, but it is important to realize that life should never be taken too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself is such an important trait and helps all the worries of this world fade away.

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Wanderlust
Before cancer, I didn’t fully appreciate travel. Cancer taught me that you can and should travel to new and exciting places as often as possible. Being able to see the world is something  that allows you to not only come in contact with beautiful places but beautiful people. Travel helps open your eyes to new cultures, new ideas and further broadens our view on life, making it more robust and unique.

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Love
Before cancer, I thought I knew what love was. Cancer opened my eyes to what real unconditional love looks like and the one person who will always be there for me. Re-affirming my faith in God is something cancer helped me accomplish and has been my saving grace ever since. Without His love, I would not have the strength to push forward every single day and cross the finish line of finally being able to say I am in remission (hopefully this upcoming December).

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Quality
Before cancer, I never put everything I had into the relationships around me. Cancer taught me that you can and should give those around you every ounce that you have to give. I started pouring into my friends, family and into possible relationships. Sometimes I experienced heartache and disappointment, but I learned that I would rather give what I could than to neglect someone. All of my failed friendships or relationships taught me more lessons about myself and in turn helped me grow. It is important to constantly be aware of yourself and how you engage with others in order to make sure you are being a good friend, family member or significant other in order to help yourself grow and encourage those around you. Cancer taught me the importance of quality over quantity in these relationships and that still rings true today. Better to have a handful of people you know you can count on than numerous acquaintances who do not have your best interest.

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Cancer has taught me a lot. It has catapulted me into a life full of new experiences and is still teaching me numerous lessons about life. Today, I celebrate 3 years of laughter, wanderlust, love, and quality. I encourage you to take some time whenever an anniversary occurs to sit down and think about what you have learned since the initial day of whatever it may be that you are commemorating. You may be surprised at how much you’ve learned and that this life is something that really should be celebrated.

“I love the person I’ve become because I fought to become her”

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This year has been full of learning experiences. As I navigate through what it means to be an “adult”, one area where I have devoted time has been in the kitchen. However, in order to be a really good cook you need time and money, two items which a graduate student does not have. So I have gotten really creative when it comes to making things that are first tasty, second fit within my budget and third healthy.

For the 4th of July, a good friend and I decided to throw a little get together and I immediately started brainstorming ideas for what I could make. In the morning I sometimes will eat an english muffin with peanut butter, so I thought what if we made mini pizzas using english muffins?! Well I tried it out and it was a huge hit, and I’ve been using the recipe whenever I am crunched for time but want something that is filling. I hope y’all enjoy my version of these mini pizzas

IMG_6881Ingredients:

1 English muffin (I use the light multigrain which are only 100 calories)
Pizza sauce (store brand is just as good and cheaper)
Mozzarella cheese
Pepperoni or other toppings as desired

Directions:
1. Split the english muffin into halves and lay on a baking sheet
2. Using a spoon add a small amount of pizza sauce to each half of english muffin
3. Sprinkle as much mozzarella cheese as you wish
4. Add toppings
5. Set your oven to broil, I normally do High so it cooks quicker
6. Place the baking sheet in the oven
7. Set the timer for around 4:30/5 mins
8. Make sure you keep checking just in case your pizzas cook quicker
9. Once cooked, cheese will be golden in color, remove and let sit for around 2 mins
10. Enjoy!

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|wait|

1One thing that I have realized that comes with blogs, and social media and all things digital is the constant state of happiness that everyone seems to be in. Have you ever realized that for the most part, any negative things about a person’s life are not blasted out on the web for everyone to see. I decided I wanted to be honest with myself and write a post about something that is my biggest struggle and still seem to wrestle with. There is one word that I have never particularly liked, and throughout my high school, college and now post college years, always leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I’m sure you’re wondering what concept could constantly bother me and make up the largest amount of my stress throughout the years and to some this word may not affect them in the slightest, but I know far too many people that feel their identity is sometimes shaped on the fact on if they are in a relationship or not. Yes, the one word that has caused me so much heartache and struggle throughout the years is the term : single.

Now let me make a couple things clear before I start this post and before you think this is another one of those rants on loving being single or loving being married, simply put, this post is about loving Jesus. So we are all in a time when people are doing one of two things. The first would be settling into long term relationships, getting married, having children etc. While the second seems to be the ultimate single life, going on plenty of dates, having fun and not stressing about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. I don’t necessarily fit within either one of those categories and I know a good amount of single friends who are in the same boat, but I have realized one thing, saying that you are content being single and actually being content are two totally different things.  As long as I can remember, I seemed to measure my worth on if a boy liked me or if I was dating someone. Even when I was single, I would say I loved it being just me and I knew God had a plan for me, but deep down, I had doubts.

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The thing we have to remember is this, we cannot settle. Do not let yourself get caught into a friendship with  someone where there is grey area. Do not allow your heart to be vulnerable with someone who has not expressed any intentions on dating you. Do not allow your emotions and state of being to be constantly thrown around because they do not know what they want. Wait. Wait for the person that knows your heart is something held by a heavenly Father. Wait for the person who is intentional with you and is able to be honest on their thoughts and feeling about you. Wait for someone who understands where you have been, what you are at this moment and who is excited for the potential you have in the future.

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Again, saying these things are one thing, actually believing with whole self is another. So how do we get to this sense of contentment with being single? For starters, focus your energy and attention on loving your church, your community and most importantly yourself.  Your purpose on this earth is so much greater than loving a man or woman. Focus your eyes on Jesus and allow him to provide for you in these moments of uncertainty. “You are being pursued by the ultimate pursuer, allow your heart to know the beautiful pursuit of your Beloved. You are worth the pursuit and and you are worthy to be treated with respect. Respect yourself in return”
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Take the time to focus your energy and attention and creating the best possible version of yourself, all while you chase after the Lord. The most important thing about all if this is realizing your worth and trusting in God’s ability to provide for your life. You are who God says you are, not what the world wants you to be. The world may have eyes but God has vision, and his vision for your life surpasses all the limits for your destiny. The importance of this to know that you are worthy and you are loved. When you find someone that is chasing after the Lord and wants you to join them on their journey, you will know it and it will be worth it. So pray for them, pray for God’s understanding and timing and pray for patience.  I challenge you (and I am currently challenging myself) to focus your energy and attention on your faith and growing and shaping yourself into the woman/man you want to be, while slowly learning that being content as well as happy as someone who is single is totally ok at this point in your life. yes

|wanderlust|

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Growing up in a military family, I was use to picking up and moving every 2-3 years and unlike my younger sister I loved the thrill of moving to a new city. The thought of exploring new areas, meeting new people and learning all that I could about a foreign area fascinated me. As I grew older, I found a love for traveling. My first big trip was in the 6th grade when my parents took a family vacation to Alaska. I had never seen views of wildlife or been able to breath in such crisp air. Throughout my younger adult years, I became passionately in love with travel.  However, there was one big important factor that I learned along the ways of my travels.

 

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You see, I always thought about travel as something that needed to be to different countries or places with exotic views, but I started realizing that even the most simple of trips could turn into a new adventure for exploration. I also realized how even the smallest changes in scenery from what one is used to on a daily basis could help refresh and revitalize.  Whether it’s a weekend hiking trip, taking a new route to work, or even finding spots within your own town you never knew existed, all of these can help you see the world in new light.

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Travel and exploration allow you to experience a new perspective on the way the world takes place. It can give you an appreciation for all the beauty this life has to offer. So I urge you to start a simple travel jar and fill it with any change you have and challenge yourself to go somewhere new at least once a month. You’ll never know what could be waiting around the corner…

Fight.

“Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.”

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Almost everyone has had their life impacted by cancer in some way or another. Whether it be a loved one or yourself, most people know the terror that comes after that awful word is muttered from someone’s lips. If you don’t know the turmoil it brings, consider yourself lucky, oh so lucky. Cancer is something that knows no boundaries. Knows no race, no sex, no religion. It doesn’t care how wealthy you may be or how good of a moral character you may possess. It rips through families and communities, bringing with it fear and uncertainty. But if you have been impacted by cancer you know the importance of the fight. The fight for joy. The fight to keep a smile on your face when you feel your world is crashing down. The fight to be a support system to your best friend when you have no words to help them. The fight to find a cure. The fight to survive.

This fighter mentality is something unlike anything on this planet. It unifies people from all walks of life. It brings hope to those that feel lost. It brings to light what is truly important in life: coming together as a human race to fight against a word that has caused too much pain and suffering in this world.

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The problem though? We are lacking the motivation and funds we need to make an impact. Yes, there are many organizations out there that are determined to find a cause for cancer and to provide support, but they operate on the funds they receive from donors and people like you. You see, many people assume that these organizations don’t need their help or that even if they were to donate, it wouldn’t have an impact. Well I’m here today to show a different perspective. Every single dollar that you donate to an organization will in fact help. It allows you to face the word cancer in the face and have real discussions about how you can engage in preventative care. It allows research to preform tests to come closer to a cure. It allows those who can’t afford treatment a shot at getting to survive.

Apparently, today is Global Cancer Day. Chevy and The American Cancer Society have teamed up and if you make your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter to the color purple then they will donate a dollar to the ACS, up to a million dollars. While this is a great campaign, can you imagine if everyone that actually changed their profile picture just donated $5 to the ACS or another cancer organization? Instead of just a million dollars donated, we would have 5 million dollars. See where I’m going here?

You can either take action to actually make a difference or just sit back and assume that someone else will take care of it. What if it meant saving the life of your mom? What if it meant being able to give treatment to your uncle who is slowing dying? That $5 looks a little different now doesn’t it? We all need to realize just how far a little can go and actively motivate ourselves and one another to fight, and to keep fighting long after the match is over.

“Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life”

While I am finally “Cancer free” I can tell that it does not simply leave your life. You are always worried it may come back. You have flashbacks to the cold hospital rooms. You remember how low you felt but how you somehow managed to gather every ounce in your body to push yourself further than you imagined. Pushing the limits is something cancer survivors know very well. I decided to push my limits even more, I am running my second marathon but this time I’m gathering all I have. I’m fundraising for LIVESTRONG, a cause near and dear to my heart. I want to run 26.2 miles for every single cancer survivor, fighter, and those who may not have even been diagnosed yet. I’m running for those currently going through chemo who don’t have the energy to even stand. I’m running for every single loved one that has been lost. I’m running and I’m fighting for something that has set a fire deep within me, and I won’t stop until the day when there is a cure.

So I encourage you, find that motivation, it’s in you, I promise. Find that anger, the hatred towards cancer, the pain and the suffering. Channel all of that into something great. Take action and go out and fight. Fight for those you love. Fight for yourself. Fight for life. Fight for a cure.

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Click here if you’re interested in helping me fundraise for my next fight: 26.2 miles

Define Yourself

“You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you — it’s something inherent. You exist, and therefore, you matter. You’re allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold onto the truth that who you are is exactly enough. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise.”
-Daniell Koepke

Something that every single person has had an issue with at some point during their life is that of body image. Whether you were bullied when you were in grade school or constantly have a feeling that if you just lost a couple pounds you would be happier, most of us have faced the issue of trying to improve how we look. I myself have struggled with my image and it is something I am still addressing.

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I can vividly remember my years of being in the third grade to fifth grade when I was a little larger than the other girls in my class, and the constant bullying that would come from it. Fat jokes were a normal thing on the bus ride home and I remember countless days going home and just crying because I hated myself. I hated my big thighs, I hated that I didn’t have skinny arms like the girls in my class, I hated that I couldn’t be smaller. Then came high school, where the pressure to be little was unlike anything I have ever experienced . My junior and senior year of high school I would hardly eat throughout the day, then go to whatever sport practice I had and then often times when I got home I would either go on a run or go to the gym with one of my girlfriends. On the weekends, I would workout at least three times a day. I was the smallest size I have ever been in my entire life, which was a 4. But I realized I still wasn’t happy. I was in the best shape of my life but I still was comparing myself to the other girls in my class, just like I did when I was in elementary school. It took me to about my junior year of college, when I realized that no matter how much I tried, I would never get below a size 4 because I have thighs and a butt AND after I had thyroid cancer I came to the realization that my metabolism would be regulated by a pill, and I would have to be extremely careful about what I ate in order to maintain my goal weight. But then I asked myself, why am I defining who I am by my weight? Why am I trying to define who I AM by OTHERS? Why do I even have a goal weight?

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You see someone created you, with all your “imperfections” and when they were done making you, thought, wow that is a beautiful creation. I read something lately that caught my eye. You only get to see yourself in a very small dimension; when you look at yourself in the mirror or when you see yourself in a photo/video. You can’t see the way your eyes light up when you see something beautiful, you can’t see the way the corners of your mouth turn as you smile at a friend, you never get to see yourself as others see you. So why are you comparing yourself to others based on the sole comparison of looks? Now I know many of you are saying, ok Morgan we get it, love yourself, but it is so much more than that. It is finding acceptance with who you are and not letting how you look define you. We live in a world that is consumed with looks. It is everywhere we turn in the media, with guys and girls with perfectly sculpted bodies, beautiful hair and pearly white teeth. But its also in our day to day life. In college I cannot tell you how many times I would hear girls compliment other girls on how “good” they looked, but it was really about how skinny they were. Some people are naturally skinny and have a quick metabolism, while others, are born with a more muscular tone. The key here is to not let how you look define you. Instead focus on being healthy and happy. When I was in the third grade my mom would make me stand in front of the mirror every day of the week and tell her something that I loved about myself, and each day it had to be something different. I remember hating having to do this, but it has taught me a very important lesson on how I define myself. Now every morning as I get ready for the day I make myself find an attribute that I love about myself, like how I love my thunder thighs because they are pushing me to run my second marathon, or the way I have small wrinkles on my forehead because of the amount of laughter I engage in. This positive thought helps push me through the day not letting how I look define that day.

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I AM MORE THAN MY WEIGHT AND MY SIZE.

I AM MORE THAN MY OUTWARD APPEARANCE. 

So ask yourself, what defines who I am? And I challenge you to not use a number on a scale or the size of your clothes.