Blue's UnBashful Blog

Blue's UnBashful Blog

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10k!

I have many special memories running this race.  It was my first half marathon in 2011 and my first full in 2012 and I enjoyed running it other times for other reasons.  It's my hometown race and I love it.   I wanted to do the half this year.  I was honored to be selected as an ambassador for this race and really enjoyed being a part of promoting a race I love.  I decided to run the 10k, I wasn't able to train.  What can I say?  I'm not a cold weather runner, it's hard for me to train when it's raining, snowing, and cold!  I also had yoga teacher training and focused on my yoga practice over the winter.  I felt the running was too much and that's ok. 

I went into this race with no expectations other than finishing, having fun, and being injury free.  I woke up super early and grabbed what I needed.  I looked at the weather and it looked cloudy but good.  On the drive downtown, it started raining.  What?  This was not in the forecast.  Fortunately, I grabbed my blue Akron half marathon shirt. This shirt meant a lot to me as I earned it after a tumultuous time in my life.  I decided to shed it the last mile as I no longer feel attached to it and the memories it held.  I've been doing th a lot lately...shedding, throwing away, and letting go of things that no longer serve me, that's another post. 
The garage where I was to park wasn't open.  No worries.  I found another garage.  I noticed my gas tank was on empty.  These are all things that would have set me into panic mode in years passed but I was going with the flow this year.  I've been going with the flow a lot this year and it's been working well for me thus far.  No need to stress the small stuff! 

I walked around near the start line to keep warm and fluid.  I didn't see anyone I knew but I felt good.  I felt present and took in all the sights and energy.  We finally started and I crossed the start line.  I kept thinking, "ok, Megan, this is not an A- race, let's have fun and see how I feel".  I felt great.
Fortunately I have been cross training with HIIT at Cleveland Fit Shop with Jake Barb.  That helped!  I was in the moment and feeling incredibly thankful for how much my life has changed this year and how much I have overcome.  I teared up several times but I really enjoyed running. I soaked it all in.   I realized how much I loved running and can't wait to run more in the warmer weather. 

So, I walked the hills, and didn't push myself too hard as I didn't want to hurt my hip again as I did when I ran the Miami 5k.  Before I knew it, I passed 2 water stations, had no idea what mile I was at and kept on moving.  I started picking up the pace the last mile and per usual I started hauling ass the last .5 mile, wanting to pass the next person ahead of me.  Not in my plan, quite the opposite, but I really love leaving it all out on the course.  And my hip felt good! 

I'm not sure there will ever be a race that I don't get choked up during and after.  Crossing each finish line means so much to me and I always feel so thankful for the ability to cross another.  There is always a reason I get choked up crossing the finish line.  Today, I got choked up for how far I have come and how magical my life is.  I'm so blessed and thankful with how far I have come along this year.  This year has been magical in its entirety.  Thank you CLE for the memories! Thank you body for doing amazing things, thank you mind for being present, thank you soul for the tenacity and resilience,  I love you! 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Please and Thank you

I spent most of my life begging and pleading, "please..."  Please take this pain away, please help me, please... " I can't believe this shit is happening, why me". .....I spent years on my knees begging, praying, and hurting.  Now....I can't stop saying "Thank You" and "Oh my Buddha, I can't believe all this good shit is happening'.  I talked to someone recently in panic mode because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for what has happened a million times before and she said, "you know what Megan, you deserve this,  you have been manifesting this, and it is happening.  It is real...just go with it and embrace it".  Regardless of what happens, I have found myself, I have let go of the shit that has been weighing me down for  I now flow, I speak my truth, I live my life...I am so thankful.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!  I am open, I am free, and I am loved.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I used to keep track of many days it's been since 11/26/ I don't

I hesitated in sharing this because I don't need to waste anymore time on it, I have so many good things that need my time...I'm literally overwhelmed with all the good things happening.  Alas, I feel that it is important to share, we all go through shit and have struggles, most not so public and that's ok.   It is a huge part of my story and I love my story, wouldn't change any of it.    It's all about how we change and grow from our negative experiences.  I hope I can help others overcome stuff,  inspire others to hold on and move through their own storm...I want to be a person that I needed to others and that takes sharing.   Someone brought up pill gate to me today. Typically this would irritate me in many ways.  As this person talked,  my heart didn't start racing, I didn't feel tense, I didn't feel the urge to vomit, I didn't get upset,  I didn't crave justice and vindication, and I didn't dwell on it, my face didn't even flush.     It's been a while since it popped in my head, it's good to have a reminder once in a helps me measure my progress and I appreciate that.    I'm sure it will bother me a few more times in the future, but today it did not bother me at all.  I just responded with the following, " A lot of people in positions of power worked really hard and took a risk to try to bring me down because I stood my ground, called out their wrong doings and rocked the boat.   ..I, one person, did not go down....I stumbled and it affected me more than anything else in my life but I rose up and became a much better person in spite of it.  I see it as getting into a boxing ring, out-numbered and such, they took a few hits on me, knocked me around, and I left the ring a bit bruised.... but I left the ring and found so much more.  They are still stuck in the ring, swinging at my memory and whatever issues they struggle with so deeply that led them to plot and plan as they did.  To me, that is a win....Honestly it's been quite helpful because now when I get nervous, anxious, or scared of something I think to myself, ' Eh...I've been through worse, I can do this.'"  We are all so resilient....We just need to reach deep. 💙💙💙   #justsaynotopolitics #believeloveunderstandempower #pillgate #belikewater #beyourownhero

Darkness and Light

I took my sister to my favorite breakfast spot, Townhall, and a friend of hers recommended we check out the Cleveland Flea..sure, why not!?!   It was so cool!  I had no idea that Cleveland had such an awesome event. We were like kids at Christmas.  I really enjoyed the giant chalkboard.  Of course my creative sister came up with the "you can find the light in the dark, if you look at it right"....she was trying to quote a sublime lyric.  She claims she didn't get it right but as soon as I saw her write it out, I knew what I needed to write...." then you become the light".  This resonated with me so much because the darkness consumed me for so long but I stuck it out, held on, and the darkness in my life has become the most bright light ever.  I find that so fitting because my brightness has become as a result of my darkness.   I would not have felt this light if not for the darkness.........and because I stuck it out I recognize the correlation and I appreciate the darkness so much.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

B.LU.E. Jeans

If you follow me on social media then you saw my recent post about finally being able to fit back into my pre-politics jeans.  If you follow my blog then you are familiar with the struggles I have had during my time as mayor and most painfully the time following when my term as mayor ended.

I have been struggling with body image, anxiety, depression, trauma, for so long.  Things finally started to turn around when I began yoga teacher training in Jan of this year. I didn't know it then but looking back I see the domino effect.   I remember the first weekend thinking, "oh my Buddha", what did I get myself into now.  I didn't feel ready, I felt out of place, still struggling with weight and all the above.  I promised myself that I would be open and I would just be.  I promised to Be Like Water.  So much has happened this year, it's been a whirlwind.  But, let's focus on these jeans.

These jeans represent so much baggage, pain, struggle, you name it.  When I ran for office in 2011, I ran because I was happy, thought I figured life out, and wanted to give back.  I knew it would be tough but I had no idea how tough.  The carpet was quickly pulled out from under me and I spent 4 years beating my head against a wall and chasing my tail.

After those 4 years, I was in the worst shape of my life mentally, spiritually, and physically.  There was literally 0.5% of me that refused to give up.  The 0.5% is what brought me to today.  Last Wednesday I went to throw on a pair of jeans to head out.  I put the jeans on and noticed they were a little snug.  My first thought was, "oh for fucks sake, I gained some weight again".  My intuition led me to check the size and check my closet.  Turns out I grabbed the wrong pair.  I grabbed the pair of jeans that have been sitting in my closet for years, neglected as I neglected my mind, body, soul.  During my last 4 months in office, I couldn't get those bad boys pass my knees.  I hung on to them "just in case".   I rocked those jeans last week.  My other ones (just a size up) were feeling too baggy.  My thought was, "oh for fucks sake, I'm going to have to spend more money on new clothes since I'm losing weight".  Then, I noticed I had 3 pairs of jeans (tags still on), no idea when I bought them- it must have been years ago.  I found them when I let go of NINE bags of clothes (stuff I hadn't worn in years).  I have been feeling a strong urge to purge stuff that no longer serves me and to create space for better things.    So I tried them on and they fit.... they are new!  I already spent the money so no worries!  Ha!  It's insanely miraculous how the universe has been working in my favor.

I used to think to myself, "Why is this shit happening" (seriously, my 4 years in politics was not far surpassed all previous traumas and challenges, and I got rocked left and right, up and down.)  Now, I keep thinking to myself, "wow, I can't believe this awesomeness is happening" (so many times, over and over).

Today, I remembered posting on facebook about the jeans and for some reason I checked the size on these new jeans...they are actually a size down from the pre-politics jeans!!!  According to the scale, I still need to drop a few lbs but I feel amazing. Most importantly, I feel MORE confident now then when I wore my pre-politics jeans.  I feel freer, lighter, and more grounded than ever.   I have always been a back of the room, in the corner yogi when I practice at a studio.  I like my safe space where no one can see me and I can lean on the wall.  Last week I went to a yoga practice, laid out my mat in the middle of the room, let go of my baggy t-shirt, and got down to my form fitting tank top where you can see all my curves.  I let go.  I let go of the comfy baggy clothes, the corner, the safety net, and I was just me.  It was an amazing practice and I felt so good.

I no longer want to eat bad food, be around negative people, I no longer want to do or be around anything that no longer serves me.  I no longer want to hide, I no longer want to be quiet, and I no longer want to stay put.  I want to do everything and anything that makes my soul feel good.  I no longer want to wait for the perfect time, or just the right moment, I want to do it all now.

One thing that hasn't changed is B.L.U.E.   I created B.L.U.E, in 2011 when life was great, not knowing what was to come, but the whole time Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower never left me.  I'm so excited for what's to come but I'm focused on the present...right now.  I know if I just Be Like Water and Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower, it's going to all work out as it should and it's going to be better than I could have imagined.  I am ready for it and will rock my BLUE jeans.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Golden Turmeric Milk

I went to breakfast this morning with my sister.  She tried the golden tumeric milk and I took a taste.  I immediately ordered my own. It was to die for.   I no longer drink coffee.   I enjoy tea but sometimes want something with more comfort.   I decided to try it at home and I nailed it.

Golden Turmeric Milk not only tastes comforting , it helps with:
Liver detox
clears mucus
helps with diabetes
weight loss
helps with pain
inflamed joints
helps purify blood
helps with depression
wound healing
helps the digestive tract

Here's the super easy recipe:

I can of coconut milk
1 tsp coconut oil
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tspginger powder
1 tsp honey
sprinkle black pepper (helps absorb the turmeric)

put it all in a blender and blend, then heat it up in a saucepan on the stove.

Cheers to good health!

Just do it

We are born with 2 fears, all other fears are learned.  We are born to fear falling and loud noise, all other fears we develop and learn as a result of negative reinforcement.  How can you tell the difference between anxiety and intuition?  Anxiety comes from a place of fear and panic, intuition is calm and loving.

I realized tonight that my writer's block is coming from a place of anxiety and fear.  I feel that I need to articulate the most structured and poignant blog post before posting.  My aha moment tonight was, why not treat my writing like I have been treating my life as of late?   Just do it.   Stop overthinking and just let it flow. Be like water.

Monday, April 16, 2018

CONGRATS to my RACM FREE Entry Winner!!!

Many thanks to everyone that participated in my FREE ENTRY week!!!  Congrats to Tisha Chrobak on winning!  

If you didn't win and still want to run, use my code: MFCLE10 for a 10% discount on any distance! I'm getting so excited for this race as it is my favorite.  My hip has not been cooperating.  Right now, balance and patience are incredibly important to me.  I really wanted to do the Half as it is my favorite distance but I'm thinking the 10k is the best option for me now.  There is no sense in pushing it (usually I would push it so this is a good learning experience in patience and in balance) and risk being out all season.  I'm going with the flow, being like water.  

I'm looking forward to all of the good vibes and energy that this hometown race brings.  I want to have fun and soak it all in without worrying.  Listening to your body is an important trait to have, it takes an incredible amount of patience and understanding.  

See you at the finish line Tisha!!!  

p.s.  I owe so many blog posts but I am still overwhelmed (see previous post) and trying to gather my thoughts in an organized manner.  Amazing things have been happening for me since January and it's overwhelmingly good.  I'm so thankful.   Until I can sit down and properly write, I'm keeping it short and sweet.

I also returned from an amazing trip to Miami, Florida last Tuesday and had an event every night, then yoga teacher training all weekend.  All amazing things but still need time to process before I share all the goodness. Honestly I feel like more like dancing than I do writing.   xoxooooommmmmmm

Thank you for reading and following <3

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador RACE ENTRY GIVEAWAY WEEK!!!

Guess what week it is?  It's my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador week! You know what that means?  As of today, Tuesday April 3rd....we are 46 days away from Race Day Sunday!  The Rite Aid Cleveland was my 1st half marathon in 2011 and my 1st full in 2012.  I love this race because it's in my hometown, the CLE vibes are fun and tenacious, and the weather is unpredictably fun!  This year the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon will again be hosting a "series".  What's the series? 

The series:  
  • 8K and full marathon (Total Distance 31.2 miles)
  • 8K and half marathon (Total Distance 18.1 miles)
  • 5K and 10K (Total Distance 9.3 miles)
The Challenge Series spans over two days (Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20). Participants who take on the challenge will be required to finish one event per day.
First event on: Saturday, May 19 - Events include the 5K or 8K starting at 8am at Public Square.
Second event on: Sunday, May 20 - Events include the full marathon, half marathon or 10K starting at 7:00 a.m. at Quicken Loans Arena and finishing at Superior Avenue and W. 3rd Street, just east of Public Square! ALSO means that I get to give away a FREE race entry to any race, even the series!!! 

How do you enter to win?  Pretty easy!

1. Follow me on twitter @bluemeg1981
2. Follow me on instagram @mflanigan_b.l.u.e._
3. Follow my facebook page, B.L.U.E. 
4. Leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog post.   

You have until 11:59pm Sunday April 8th to enter!  

P.S., if you don't win the free entry, it's all can still use my code: MFCLE10 for 10% off registration.  

See you at the finish line!  

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


If you have been following me online and reading my blog posts you have a small understanding of the things I have been through over the many years since I started this blog.  I don't want to take up time reliving everything so if you aren't caught up but are interested, read all the blog posts.

At this moment, I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed.  My life has slowly been getting better.  Last year things would get better, then I would get knocked on my ass again, and repeat, and repeat....Since I started yoga teacher training in January of this year things started to get better slowly and I had some setbacks.  However, as of late, I am overwhelmed with how quickly everything has been falling into place, in a positive way!  I'm a little freaked out.  I suddenly noticed that my life has been consistently been moving forward in a positive direction and almost simultaneously good shit started happening and pieces I have been missing all of my life have been falling into place.  It's crazy.  I may be jinxing myself by acknowledging this awesomeness in writing but I don't give a shit.  I am enjoying it and I am soaking it all in.  In the past when I felt so up, good, and happy it's been because of an outside factor like,  I have a crush on a dude and want to impress him, blah blah blah.  Not this time.  This time is legit all on me.  I understand my past so much more.

What on earth am I talking about?  A combination of things that have resulted in me finding my voice, being ME, and not letting insecurities like poor body image ,anxiety, fear, uncertainty,depression getting in the way.  I'm so excited right now I had to write a blog post to announce this joy.  I'm overwhelmed and not quite sure how to articulate everything at the moment because it's in all aspects of my life and I'd like to address each reason on a separate blog post.  It's important for me to keep up on my blog posting and sharing and I personally enjoy looking back on blog posts to see how far I have come.  I also need to work on my writing skills and creativity for future projects.

I'm going to need some time to gather my thoughts and develop the best way to share them but I had to share something about the awesomeness in my life.  If I tried to illustrate, explain and tell the story of this year thus far I would ramble, it would not flow, and it would leave readers possibly confused and I want readers to feel what I am feeling.   So, follow my blog, follow my page "B.L.U.E.", shit follow me in is good.  Life is amazing. See, I'm already starting to ramble. Stay tuned and check back for all the details.  I promise I will find the words to articulate it all.  If you are a long time follower, I LOVE you and THANK YOU!  Send me an email at  and let me know you have been a long time reader.  I love hearing from you and I appreciate your feedback.

p.s. if you are going through hell, hang on...please, hang on....and Believe, Love, Understand, and Empower.  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Winter? What Winter?

This winter has been moving quickly, even though I'm not moving quickly.  It's still cold and dreary but I cannot believe it is already March!  Eeek! 

I've kept myself busy with yoga teacher training, six sigma training,  yoga practices, circuit/HIIT training, working on my Reiki level 1 attunement and practicing, and doing a lot of personal and intuitive development.  My busy schedule has helped pass the dreaded winter.  

I decided to pass on the Malachi 5miler this year.  My hip is still super cranky from January and I didn't want to push it and make things worse.  I got back on the indoor bike and checked out Harness Cycle in Ohio City.  I've been enjoying time exploring Cleveland on the weekends from spinning at Harness, breakfast at Townhall, goodies at the West Side Market, and yoga downtown at Inner Bliss.   It's a nice change of pace and scenery. 

I'm looking forward to heading back to Miami, FL in April! I may run a 10k while I am in there; though, I won't know until it gets closer.  A 10k used to be easy peasy for me, too bad our bodies don't pick up where we left off! 

What's new? 
I am part of the NOOMA sweat squad!  If you have never tried NOOMA and are interested, send me an

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Time to be Still

I've been feeling all sorts of feelings lately.  Eager, lost, lonely, sad, anxious, excited, ready, stagnant, uncertain, awake, ready for what's next, longing for more, desperate for connection and for name a few.  I've been embracing the concept that answers come in stillness, when the mind is quiet.  The challenge is to quiet the mind and to just be still, to be like water, to be. 

I came home, thought about going to yoga but needed something more.  I ate, turned on the news and felt kind of gross listening to the news.  I tried to find some mindless tv show that would allow me to escape reality but was turned off but everything.   I decided to turn everything off, head to my spare room (my meditation/yoga/reading room), and turned on some guided meditation via the app, insight timer.  I listened to a few guided meditations and let myself just be...for an hour. 

When we feel the need to escape via tv, running, socializing, addictions, quick fixes, or to feel numb...our body, mind, and soul are hungry for stillness.  These are the times when we should seriously take the time to just be.  Turn everything off and tune into oneself, to connect with oneself. 

We are so overloaded and overstimulated by tv, social media, constant distraction and noise that we lose track and lose sight of what's important and we lose ourselves.  I'm loving my meditation practice and am listening closely to what my mind, body, and soul are saying.   Today they were screaming for me to be still. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tropical 5k Miami, Florida

I thought 2017 would be a great come back year for my racing.  Alas, I was wrong.  I didn't realize how difficult starting over would be.  I ran only 2 races and though I did well, I injured my hips on the last race.  I wrapped up 2017 continuing HIIT and circuit training with my trainer (Jake from Cleveland FitShop).  I stepped back on my mat and into my yoga practice.

The cold weather and snow have been less than motivating thus far in 2018.  I'm keeping up with my HIIT and circuit training and yoga.  I also began Yoga Teacher Training last weekend.  YTT (Yoga Teacher Training is amazing, I'm learning so much about myself and finding connection with others).  If I'm not learning something new, not growing personally and professionally, and staying stagnant in life, I'm miserable.  I'm not meant for a repetitive desk job all day with no growth and so I continuously look for ways to challenge myself mentally, physically, and spiritually.  The YTT is the perfect challenge for me right now and I'm loving every minute.

A few months ago, I jumped the gun (again) and thought I would be half marathon ready by January 2018 so I signed up for the Miami Half Marathon.  Weather got cold, holidays came, and I just did not work on my endurance.  January arrived and I panicked.  Flights were booked, hotels booked, and I was feeling like a failure again.  I came across the Tropical 5k in Miami on Saturday (the prelude to the Half and Full Marathon).   So, I signed up!  I am so glad that I did.

Miami is full of energy and fresh, ocean air.   We arrived Thursday morning and I headed to the beach after checking into the hotel.  There were gayle winds and I was getting pelted with sand but I didn't care, it was the beach and it was still warm!  Friday, I picked up my packet and again headed back to soak up the sunshine.  After some day drinking, relaxing, yoga, reiki, a nap, and a massage I headed to bed early.   

 Saturday morning was perfect running weather (some weirdos may have said it was too warm, not me!).  I did not PR my time but my pace was about 30 seconds faster than the 2 races in 2017, so that works for me!  We ran across the bridge next to the ocean and finished at Nikki Beach.  Rather than take a cab back to the hotel I walked the 2 miles on the beach back to the hotel.  I relaxed by the pool the rest of the day, soaking up the sun!  The remaining time was spent exploring Miami Beach and the surrounding area with amazing cocktails and food, time in the sun, time by the ocean, and also a trip to Lock and Load Miami (   Miami was a success and I still started my race season earlier than usual! 

I am not only super pumped for 2018 in general, I am so excited to be an ambassador for the 2018 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My discount code is MFCLE10. Recieve a 10% off discount at registration for any distance!

Believe Love Understand Empower!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

To my younger self...

  • I wish I could go back in time and give this innocent girl a big hug.  I'd wrap her in my arms and  repeat, "believe, love, understand, empower".  I'd tell her, "you are going to go through some tough times, your heart will break and it will feel like it gets ripped out of you, more times than you can count.   You are going to feel things that most don't understand because you feel and understand so deeply.  You will be misunderstood but it's ok, you're different.  Go to nature when you need to feel alive and take time to reflect and meditate because rest, nature, and silence heals you, strengthens you, and makes you better and stronger.  You will know things, feel things, and be driven by things out of the blue, trust your intuition for it will guide you.  You will want to work and give so much that it consumes you, be sure to take care of yourself because always giving to others without giving to yourself will drain you. Speak your truth and be true to yourself, always. You will absorb others emotional pains and feelings and will want to please everyone and you will lose yourself trying to understand and trying to please others.  You will lose yourself, many times.    It's going to take so much pain and negative experiences but you will eventually find your voice and you will find yourself. When you find you and your voice, let it be heard loud and clear. Help others find their voice and find themselves.    Learn and grow from the pain, that is why there is pain.  Megan, whatever you do in life just believe, love, understand, and empower....You got this and I love you absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt because you are badass."  Then I would give her a big hug and a kiss on the forehead and say, "You don't quit, you endure, and you grow.  When your lonliness feels overwhelming, and it will feel so overwhelming and so common, just look within and give yourself a big hug and repeat, believe, love, understand, empower.  When you feel like quitting, you brace yourself, and breathe, and hold on even tighter because it will be ok. " If you could go back in time and talk to your younger you, what would you say?  Why not look in the mirror now and say it now, YOU need to hear it.  Find a pic of your younger self and talk to it, talk to your younger self, and then follow through.  It's never too late. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October getaway to the mountains!

I love the water.  Like all humans I cannot breathe underwater (it would be so rad if I could!).  Life for me feels like I’m underwater.  Sometimes I’m in murky water with unknown threats, sometimes it’s clear water with fascinating scenery and I move through in awe.  Sometimes it feels like an unknown sea creature is pulling me down as I struggle to reach the surface for air….to take a breath.  When I start to feel like the latter, I retreat to nature.  Sometimes in a walk, sometimes for several days away secluded from others.  When I am in nature it feels like I broke free from the sea creature pulling me down, reached the surface, and took a huge breath of fresh air.  It's like when you hold your breath for as long as you can but you reach the point where you are struggling and need to breathe in…. stepping into nature reminds me of that feeling, I can take a deep breath when I’m in nature.  
For as long as I can remember I have been alone, awkward, desperate to be understood.  For years these feelings led me to seek approval, false friendships, and attention from anyone willing to give it.  This led to heartbreaks, painful violations and traumas, and disappointment after disappointment.   I thought that something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I didn’t deserve anything good.   I reached a point where I needed to change.  Through self-driven explorations, desperation, and curiosity, I began to look within.  I reached a point where I realized that I cannot rely on anyone else for anything and I needed to take matters into my own hands.  I started working out with a trainer, running, triathlon, then yoga.  Through these activities I was learning how to breathe, how to reach goals, rely on myself, conquer personal challenges, and gain self-confidence.  I learned how to be self-sufficient.
I quickly realized that I am worthy, nothing is wrong with me, and I deserve all the good and happiness that comes my way and most importantly…I learned I have total control over my life and my future.  Instead of dwelling on the bad and having regrets I changed my internal dialogue from “Why is this happening to me”, “What is wrong with me”, etc. to “How can I learn from this”, “How can I change?”, “How can I grow mentally, physically, spiritually”.  My life has always been spent asking, "why?".  I want to know causes.  Why do people behave the way they do? Why do people do the things they do,? Why do people get sick?  Why do we do this that, that, or the other in manufacturing? Why can't we do this and why can't we do that?  I want to know how people work, how machines work, and how most importantly I want to know how I work. 
Alas, time spent in nature continues to heal me, comfort me, and provide me with inspirations and insights that are life changing.  Nature is a warm, sincere hug, a shoulder to cry on, an impeccable listener, and a guide in life.  Nature provides depth in an often shallow world.  Nature is a big breath of fresh air after being under water for too long. 

Over the summer, I was finally able to get away and disconnect for the first time since before taking office as Mayor.  I documented my experience at the time; but, it is stuck on my Microsoft Surface ...damn technology.    Hopefully I can figure out how to transfer it and post it.  During that time I gave my explanation and need for getting away and disconnecting as well as kept a journal of my activities. 
In short, it is crucial for me to get away in nature and to completely disconnect from all social media, tv, radio, phone, etc.  I stay in a condo at a ski resort and then drive 30minutes to Ohiopyle or other various parks, such as Laurel Highlands, Forbes State park, and others for some hardcore physical activity and connection.   I continuously strive to be a better person mentally, physically, and spiritually and disconnecting helps me be that person.   I can easily stay connected and be distracted 100% of the time, with my phone in front of my face,  and still perform average and complete all tasks, easy peasy: But, that is not and has never been my goal.  I also feel that being connected all the time is inefficient on all levels.  My goal is to go above and beyond, to surpass average and above average.  My goal is to be the BEST that I can be mentally, physically, spiritually, and in career, life, relationships, etc. and then to keep striving and improving.    In my opinion it’s easy to be connected to email, social media, blah blah blah…but it’s neither efficient nor effective to the degree that I strive for, in my opinion.   
So, I am here for my 2nd time this year.  The first time (over the summer) my goal was to not think of work, life, goals, etc, it was to just be and to heal…  This time around I am disconnecting and exploring nature in order to define goals and create plans.  After all, vision is just a dream without details. Vision cannot be effective nor efficient without the details and planning.  In order to make a dream or vision come true, details and planning must occur.  People say, “you are either a visionary or a detailed person”.  I feel that I have become both.  I’m not sure how it started.  As a reflect back, I believe it developed with my physical training for triathlons, half marathons, a full marathon and a half ironman triathlon.   

During my college years my dream was to graduate on time with my bachelor’s degree.  Then, it was my master’s degree.   I don’t remember my plans back then…I think I shot from the hip and just made it happen, mostly on lots of coffee and all nighters writing last minute papers.  My 2nd master’s degree took much longer to earn due to my work schedule at the time as well as the class schedule, but I still feel that I was shooting from the hip.   After I began training for my first half marathon I realized that I couldn’t train last minute with lots of coffee.  I couldn’t pull an all nighter and complete a long distance endurance event.  I had to train over a period of time.  I trained with a detailed plan.  And so forth with my first half ironman in 2011.  During this time I began to understand that dreams and visions don’t happen by shooting from the hip, they take planning, short term goals, and execution.  In 2011 I decided to run for the office of Mayor.  Looking back I can say without a doubt after having that vision and wanting to make it a reality I knew that I needed to pay attention to details and achieve short term goals.  As a result, I won by a landslide. 

With that said,  I think that I started with having vision.  The physical feats illustrated the need for attention to details and planning in order to be successful.  I now treat my life and my goals like I’m training for a big race.  I come up with a vision and then I lay out small goals, I lay out the details and planning to reach those small goals, then I accomplish the big goal.  I take time away, without distraction, to think about goals and layout the plans for reaching those goals.  And so here I am. 
Day 1 Wednesday
I deactivated my facebook after obsessively checking it first thing in the morning per usual while rolling my eyes and shaking my head at my newsfeed.  I love being able to connect with great people; but, good grief everything has become so negative and self-righteous.  Anyway…I had to make a trip to the dentist this morning before heading out, not only was I overdue for a cleaning but I was having issues.  Long story short because of my long term teeth grinding (mostly when I sleep, ugh) my teeth/enamels are super thin.  Over the last few days (not sure when) my front teeth enamel “burst” …I can’t remember how my dentist explained it.   At any rate, the issue can be solved and it’s ok to go away for a few days, I will live.  
I finally got packed up, thankfully I got groceries the night before per my brilliant mother’s suggestion.  I loaded up the car and headed for the mountains.  With no stops, beautiful weather, and 3 hours later I arrived to my special place.  I unpacked the necessities, texted and phoned my parents to let them know all was well and I made it, walked Bruiser, put my phone on airplane mode, turned off my phone, and walked across the road to grab a bite to eat and some drinks.  I hung out on the patio by myself, with no phone, and an amazing view.  It was so great and refreshing.
I recognized the view from the patio.  Throw back to the mid 90's....this hill used to be for snow tubing. Back in the day Mom, Bro, Sis, and I went tubing and decided to connect our tubes to go was lots of fun! So, when dad joined us the next time, he played along. Apparently adding that additional person to our snow tubing train wrecked havoc. We snow tubed out of control, gaining so much speed that we hit the creek.... Katie landed unharmed on a flat rock, mom, bro and I tipped over into the creek, and dad hit a rock to his side. He broke ribs and punctured a lung and did some other damage. It was chaotic, I remember reacting without hesitation or fear and ran up that big ass hill screaming for help and 911....I think this is where my dislike for hills began. People didn't realize what had happened and looked at me funny. I think that was the 1st time I dropped "f bombs" towards adults, to get their attention. Dad was life-flighted. I remember waiting for my grandparents at the hospital to take us kids home and my dad's doctor being extremely gorgeous. I also remember my dad finally coming home and I remember not being allowed near him because I laugh when I get nervous.... and then he would laugh, and it would hurt him. He healed and we all survived. I often wonder what that doctor is doing these he single? Does he remember me? Sigh. I still hate hills.  The tubing area has since moved....and is much more safe.

I wrote a bit, outlined my goals and “to do” for my trip, sipped some vodka with soda and ate a delish burger with no bun.  It was relaxing! When was the last time you just sat and ate in peace in quiet?   On the first day of disconnecting, it doesn’t really sink in that I’m disconnected.  I find myself checking my phone then remembering it is off and being relieved. Upon returning from dinner I finished unpacking, walked Bruiser, and soaked in the Jacuzzi with Epsom salts and essential oils.  Ahhhh, relief.  My tub at home is standard and doesn’t cover all my parts.  I may or may not have stripped down naked and danced around the porch before soaking in the Jacuzzi.  When you’re alone on the mountain, in total darkness, with one else get the urge to dance around naked, outside.  It's totally normal……. And I'm sure it was more satisfying than sliding around the kitchen floor in a button down and tighty whiteys like Tom Cruise. 

I don't understand why my family thinks I over-pack.  Better to be prepared! I'm super picky and need my own stuff from blankets to my own organic food when I travel, plus security, and supplies in case I get lost on the woods or if there is a zombie apocalypse. 

Since I'm super organic and like my own products, I brought all the necessities from Sage and Spice botanical tea (I love her teas <3) to my CBD oil, adrenal tonic, mushroom drinks, Ghee butter, spirilina energy tablets, NUUN hydration and more.   

Day 1 complete.

Day 2 Thursday
After the usual meditation, Bruiser walk, and yoga, I headed out.  Today’s mission was Mount Davis.  I printed out maps ahead of time so that I wouldn’t  have to “connect” and rely on my phone.  Traveling to this location was stunning.  Radio off, jaw dropped, and curiosity heightened.  I traveled back country roads and was stunned to see so many beautiful houses as well as decrepit houses in the middle of nowhere.  There were private drives marked as such by signs and the houses were not in sight.  There were a lot of farm houses and land as well as Amish.  I was excitedly curious.  It was illustrative of a self-reliant, self-sustainable lifestyle that I see in my dreams.  It must be so quiet and peaceful, especially at night. As an empath I pick up on the energy from everyone around me and it gets overwhelming.  I often can't differentiate from my own feelings to those around me; therefore it's a huge relief when I'm not around people.  I can feel how I feel and not pick up on the anxiety, stresses, and negative energy that others  posses.   

However, when I visit the mountains, I don’t dare drive at night.  I think I would get lost or drive off a cliff.  I’m always in well before the sun goes down.  There was a small detour that I didn’t plan for on my printed map but I adjusted and figured it out, no need for siri and the internet…..I was old school, like the days before cell phones, we just figured it out, used our brains.  I finally found Mount Davis.  I parked at the picnic area and checked out the map.  No one was in sight, it was awesome.  I headed out for the hike to the fire tower.  It started out easy but then the trail became incredibly rocky.  I ended up getting a little bit lost and had a full blown panic attack for some reason. But no worries and certainly no need to turn on the phone and do a “search” or to call for help.  I can get through it and figure it out.   I’m not sure what triggered the panic attack.  I’ve been having panic attacks sporadically since high school as a result of a trauma.  I’ve had them so much that over time and experience I’ve been able to develop my own plan of what to do when it occurs.  I followed my plan and was able to “talk” myself down.  Nothing worse than having a panic attack in the middle of nowhere in unknown territory.  I love a challenge!  Alas,  I ended up making it to the fire tower.  My plan was to go up the fire tower and check out the view.  I made it up 2 levels and chickened out.  I am terrified of heights.  No one was around and I thought of my mother.  I didn’t want to push through only to get to the top and then not be able to make it down.  So, I bailed.  Ah well.  It happens.  I hiked back and recognized how I got lost.  I headed back “home” but decided to take a little detour through Rockport, PA, a stop along the Great Allegheny Passage.  It’s a quaint town. I stopped for a bite to eat and enjoyed people watching.  I headed back “home” but took several unnecessary detours to check out Forbes State Forest, a dirt road near where I was staying, and other areas.  I was curious where this road led and where that road led.  There are so many parks and back roads here, it’s overwhelming.  I was sure to make mental note of road names and direction so I didn’t get lost.  I finally got home and took the bruiser for a walk and enjoyed a refreshing shower, reading, and early bed. 

Day 3 Friday

I didn’t sleep well at all.  It’s not as cold as I planned.  I need outside temps to be below 55 degrees to sleep.  Though I had the windows open, there was no air flow/ ceiling fan, and I just couldn’t get comfy.  I was also getting a sore throat.  I kept trying to sleep it off.  In a moment of panic I did a full body search for signs of tick bites- from what I could see I was in the clear.  I felt like the sore throat was from the nasal congestion so I stopped worrying an applied my  essential oils for relief.  I slept until afternoon and felt bummed on missing out on a days worth of hiking and outdoors!  I sucked it up and decided to head out for some easy stuff.  I checked out Laurel Hill State Park Scenic Overlook (which is not in the park but rather off back roads).  I parked my car at the gate and hiked the short distance to what looks like a little hut on stairs.  Fortunately it was a height that was manageable.  The views were breathtaking and human pollution was nowhere to be seen or heard, it was perfect. 

I left the overlook and headed to Confluence, PA.  The first full weekend in October is Pumpkinfest in Confluence.  It’s a festival that benefits their volunteer fire and ems department.  Before stopping at the festival I drove around in search of Youghigheny River Lake.  I’ve been on the river several times kayaking and white water rafting but never knew where the lake was located.  I wanted to find it because it's on Flanigan Road and because I want to explore it next summer via kayak and SUP.  After driving around I found, Flanigan Road!  I drove up the short road where a park office was located.  Looking like a tourist, I got out, looked around, checked out the road that went across the dam.  I didn’t get very far due to the height and turned around and stopped to talk to a ranger.  He informed me that you drive across the dam to get to the beach and then explained the dimensions and provided helpful information about the lake.  I took mental note of the details and grabbed brochures for next summer’s trip!    I headed back into the town and walked around Pumpkinfest, picked up some BBQ from a place in Farmington, and some hot chocolate.  It’s nice to walk around a town and have conversations with people that do not know you, pre-judge you based on biased news reportings, or that only talk to you because they are looking for a donation from your family.  It’s nice to be unknown and not used.  Before heading home I drove to a local grocer and picked up some Epsom salts, cough drops, and Tylenol.  Next mission…..sweat and soak this bug out.  Upon returning,  I took Bruiser for a pleasant walk around our area then soaked away my crud. 

Day 4 Saturday

Still not feeling 100% and still not sleeping well (I’m such a picky sleeper), I woke up determined to carry out my next mission…Ohiopyle and hiking the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  After the usual morning routine, I headed out fairly early.  The weekends in Ohiopyle are incredibly busy, I wanted to beat the rush.   I got there in time and checked out Cucumber falls (again), walked around but noticed most of the shops were still closed.  I parked at the LHHT parking lot, checked out the posted map, finally figured out where the trail was located and starting hiking up, up, up, and up.  I headed out planning to do an hour out and then back.  It was beautiful.  I started to get to some serious incline.  The incline became super narrow and on the edge of the mountain, I later found out that this is one of the most difficult sections of the 70mile long LHHT.  I kept going thinking "I want to see what is at the top of this thing".  I came to a scenic overlook that was breath taking and incredibly frightening for my height fearing senses.  But, I kept wanting to see what was next.  This is what makes out and backs in new areas so challenging for me, I want to keep going to see what is next but often forget that however far I go out, I have to come back.  I made it past the scary part, kept going, and just soaked in the scenery like a bonafide tourist but also like a bonafide explorer.  It felt like Christmas and I was a young kid unwrapping present after present with excitement and anticipation.  I kept going, crossed some dirt road, hiked down the mountain (Shit, I know that I’m going to have to hike that up on the way back), heard water, and decided to keep hiking.  I reached the water source, a small, flowing creek, and I crossed it for a short time then looked at the time and my water supply and reluctantly but intelligently decided to turn back.  

I wish that I had a computer connected to my brain when hiking, I create amazing poems, stories, and reach epiphanies, and discover insights that need to be recorded.   I hiked back, saw a few other hikers, passed the scenic overlook which is a flat rock over looking death’s drop and there are 5 hikers just chillin’ on the very edge, snacking away on their snacks, and having non nonchalant conversation as I quietly hug the mountain side and waddle by while breathing heavily and sweating profusely.   Just looking at them out there on the edge made my woozy.  Crazy people! I continued my descent and notice a black furry creature within the trees. Me to me, “shit, a fucking bear.  Do I play dead or act like a big threat and makes lots of noise?” Me to me, "Oh, it’s a cute, black dog with a male companion…..and a female companion following close behind."  For fuck’s sake, what are you people doing out here with a black dog that resembles a black bear from a distance while dehydrated?!  I called out in relief, “Oh, that’s a dog, I thought it was a black bear”.  He laughed, she laughed,  I laughed with giddiness and goofiness from exhaustion and relief.  I continue to truck on down the mountain and then stop in horror as I see a long black slithery devil’s creation…a snake!  Shit!  I do what anyone would do in this day and age and drop my backpack, grab the camera (my phone is in airplane mode but the camera still works) and take a quick picture.  The creepy freak looked back at me.  I snapped the pic and darted off as fast as I could.  Today I was faster than a snake.  I finished the dart off with a little “oh my god, a snake, I’m so creeped out” dance.  Shake it off.  I continue on. I met a couple on my final descent that was from the Akron area.  I was wearing my Akron ½ mary long sleeve shirt and they were like, “Oh, hey are you from Akron?”  Me, “Nope, the Cleveland area”, insert small talk that I cannot remember because I just defied death by snake.  I eventually made it back to Ohiopyle and searched for a diet coke like I imagine Lewis and Clark searched for water.  I do not condone drinking pop of any kind but when faced with death several times by heights, snakes, and lack of water, I deserve that freaking diet coke. 

By this time Ohiopyle was packed with people coming to see nature through the lens of their phone cameras.  (People in parks should be ticketed for walking/ hiking while staring at their phone).  WTF people!  (I’m all for the Instagram pics but not obsessively face deep in your phone while walking/ hiking…you’re going to miss the good stuff.  Stop and take a pic once in a while, the views are amazing I understand but for fucks sake be in the present).  I managed to make it to a local store for some pop and then got an amazing buffalo chicken wrap with hot sauce.  It was the best wrap ever.  I sat at a picnic table and stuffed my face while people walked by with their phones in front of their faces.  The "always connected, snap chat,  and Instagram every step you take" culture isn’t my thing.  I don’t get it.  One of the many reasons I disconnect is to not become like them.  Honestly, I think a lot of our problems as a society are a  result of this always connected, instant gratification culture. 
cucumber falls!

The overlook from LHHT at Ohiopyle.......breath taking and side of the mountain grabbing! 

I headed back to the condo and took in the scenic drive.  I am a pro at downshifting now.  I honestly didn’t know what it was until after my 2nd white water rafting trip.  We were on the bus and the raft leaders were talking about downshifting and making jokes about vehicles from out of state piling up at the end of the mountain because brakes went out.  That made me think and look at my car differently.  Then I noticed the different gears and was like, “oh shit, duh!” .  
Here I am, wrapping up another disconnected trip to the mountains.  Next time I make it here the ski resort will be open and there will be skiers and snow!  I’m so thankful to have a home away from home.  I’m especially thankful to have the ability and courage to get away.  I’m such a homebody and when I’m stressed I retreat to the confines of my home which isn’t always healthy.  A change of pace, scenery, and connection is refreshing, inspiring, and good for the mind, body, and soul!  I learned a lot this trip.  Though I disconnected, I spent a lot of time planning and strategizing.  I learned that I can still be self- reliant when it comes to panic attacks, getting lost, and getting sick.  I feel that as a single 36 year old woman I need to be more self reliant and putting myself in situations that are outside my comfort zone will only help me grow and be more self-reliant. I learned that I love nature even more, Bruiser is my best friend, and I’m lucky enough to get away to discover these things!   

Another successful trip to the mountains!