Shopping Your Closet: Winter Boho


I hope this post won’t come across as overly light. Especially as compared to the one that I wrote at the beginning of this week. It has been another hard week. There have been more hardships at school, but I am going to return to this topic when I have renewed energy and time to go about giving the topic of school safety the effort and investment it deserves.

The highlights of this week included beginning to read The Hobbit with my boys. Yes, I am a J.R.R. Tolkien geek. Just reading “An Unexpected Party” made me smile so many times, I couldn’t help but be transported to the house Under Hill with the round green door. We had some DELICIOUS family dinners including a Korean Rice Bowl with Kimchi and Cucumbers from The Scramble, and a warm, filling, creamy, clam chowder (I based mine off of these two recipes: Eating Well, and Food Network). My six-year-old requested, “Mom, will you write that recipe down for me so that I can make it when I’m in college?”

Warms my mama-heart to have him ask such things, and I readily agreed to do so. Both boys have been practicing their music daily, and it makes for another highlight. Though there are definitely moments of struggle, for the most part they are enjoying the piano and drum respectively.

My husband has been a champion beyond all others. This week alone he cleaned the house from top to bottom, covered dish duty multiple evenings in a row, made sure that the boys were ready for school with multiple costumes for my first grader whose class celebrated Dr. Seuss this week in anticipation of Seuss’ birthday today. Perry made sure that pajamas, blue hair, and a complete Sam I Am costume were in order. I simply could not be more grateful to him for how much he juggles both in terms of work, home-life, and still manages to take a few ski turns in the back country every weekend!

We have more new snow as of tonight, and I really have appreciated this second gasp that winter has gifted us. It simply felt so… wrong that winter had not yet really come to these mountains. To be honest, there is so much less snow than we have experienced since our move here almost seven years ago it has been a surprise.

In terms of the NNTC I have really enjoyed shopping my closet these past few months. One of the reasons that term has come to mean more to me is that I am trying to learn and to recognize that new does not determine any part of my worth. In other words, I don’t need new things to make me feel good about myself. My worth is not in what I wear. I can still fully enjoy the expression of style and fashion without constant closet updates.

Case in point, this outfit. Yes I realize this rig borders on Indian Jones, but this casual boho look really fit how I felt in this moment. Ripped jeans are a weekend favorite for me, as I try to look more polished and professional in my day job. The silk broderie top is over six years old. Wearing these pieces that have become classic, and timeless, at least for my closet feels like a win! Plus, most of them are still on point, in terms of current fashion.

Try this at home! Take a look at your closet. Are there pieces there that you maybe haven’t combined in the past. Lay out three outfits that you might not have worn (in terms of the specific combination) before. Pick your favorite. Put it on. Rock your day!

I hope that all of you have a wonderful and restful weekend. I’m going to eat my weight in sushi, read more of Bilbo Baggin’s adventures to my littles, and enjoy a date with my sweet man. Sending you love and good vibes wherever you are!

XX, Megan


Jacket: Gap (similar), Shirt: J.Crew (similar), Jeans: Madewell, Boots: J.Crew (similar), Bag: Madewell, Hat: Brixton, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Scarf: Madewell

My Turn: Student Safety and Gun Safety


Image: Ginger Williams Cook

I want to take you all with me on my journey last week. It is a road that I should have foreseen when I took a job as a teacher, when I turned my education into educating. But I have to be frank, and tell you that I did not clearly see that I would one day be communicating a classroom plan to each and every one of my students as to how we would “Run, Hide, Fight”– the mantra of school shooting safety.

I want you as fellow parents, and grandparents, and citizens, and teachers, and administrators, and police officers, and lobbyists, and politicians to know what it felt like to stand in front of a classroom of students and tell them that what I want most for them when they come to school is their safety and their continued ability to earn an education that will carry them into the world as thoughtful, hard-working, problem-solving, critical reasoning, readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers who are career and college ready.

I want you to know that I saw both depth of understanding and depth of fear, both depth of care and depth of concern, both the need to be loved and the need to show love, both the desire to be safe and the desire to ensure the safety of others in my students’ eyes as we spoke. If you were standing next to me in my classroom this week, your faith in humanity would have grown three sizes those days.

I hope it won’t surprise you that not one of my students rolled their eyes when we talked about our classroom safety plan. Not one of them asked why we had to engage in such a boring assignment, or if they could take a nap, or if we could talk about something else. None of the usual millennial stereotypes we place on this generation of youth. Yes, I get all of these non-plused reactions to the daily English concepts, learning assignments, creative activities, and formative assessments I give in my classroom. I’m not offended by this in the least. I teach high school English. It’s not everyone’s favorite subject, and six hours in a school desk could put anyone on the verge of a needing a nap. But not one mention of an out, an alternative, an apathetic reply shows you how important this topic is to our youth.

My students were keenly listening, hyper aware, compellingly conversational, profoundly questioning, solution creating, statistic gathering. I know one thing for sure– after this week-and-a-half spent discussing the ways we could best hide in silence, with cell-phones off, not a word uttered, backpacks filled with computers and books placed over our hearts as a best defense against bullets– my students want to live.

But listening to the rhetoric and the maligning of the essential questions about gun control, mental health, and school safety in our country I really have had to ask myself, “Do we want the same thing for them? Do we want my students to live?” Your faith in humanity may have shrunk a bit too at the apathetic responses from representatives, politicians, and spokespersons who upheld the status quo so unmoved by the honest expressions and questions of grief from our youth and their parents.

Why can my students see that the conversation does not logically need go to the extreme of revoking the Second Amendment, but that it would be reasonable for us to speak about universal background checks, and cooling-off periods, and training for the opportunity to buy a firearm? Why does the conversation become the fact that more people die in cars than by gun-shot wounds before we talk about banning assault weapons and making bump stocks illegal?

Why does the conversation become the idea that if guns are regulated they will no longer be available to citizens but only to criminals rather than discussing common sense methods of mental health screenings for those who want to purchase firearms? Why does the conversation become arming teachers and other militant policies that include more guns rather than examining societal support of those who struggle with conditions of mental illness? Do we worship the Second Amendment and its economic and political gains more than the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because from my vantage point this week, we do.

Because if all I have in my tool-kit is to continue to train students to duck low and move swiftly to the back of the room. That I will look out into the hall to bring passing students into our classroom the way Scott Beigel did when he was shot. That I will lock and barricade the door with a tall wooden pallet that ironically bears a peace sign. That we will break the glass in the window, hurling desks at it if need be, and exit out as swiftly as we can toward the street. That they need to run as fast as they can to the road without stopping. It feels akin to telling students to “duck and cover” in the event of an atomic bomb, with the full knowledge that all that will be left is their nuclear shadow as a reminder of their existence.

I want you to know these details because I want you to know that I want each and every child in my classroom to live. We talked in specifics. But are we as a society going to work together to ensure that safety? Now is the time that will tell. “Would you carry a gun, Mrs. Dickson?” my students asked, his hazel eyes serious, his mouth poised in a firm straight line once the question exited his mouth. He wanted to know if I would carry a weapon at school, if I would get a concealed carry permit to bring a weapon into my classroom. He didn’t ask in rancor or in pleading. He simply wanted to know what I would do to save him and his classmates in the event of a mass shooting.

What would I do? I had already asked myself this question many, many, many times from the day that the massacre happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to the day that a student threatened the school I teach in on social media. What would I do to keep my students safe?

It was one of those moments where time took on an eternal quality– still, gaping, telescoping toward my need to answer him. “I didn’t take this job to be in law enforcement, or to carry a gun,” I replied. “You have asked me a deep and philosophical question. I do not believe in guns for the taking of human life. You want to know if I would carry a gun to protect you, but I want to know why [a teacher] carrying a gun would be our first line of defense on your behalf?”

Perhaps it felt like a dodging, ducking, pivot, a non-answer like the many politicians and spokespersons we’ve heard from this week.  Maybe it felt to him like I fractured that student’s trust. My students, who will have to trust in my coping mechanisms in the event that a deleterious person plans our death, deserve answers. But I do know my answer to his question. “No.” No, I will not carry a weapon on a high school campus.

The words Alfonso Calderon, survivor of Parkland’s school shooting, rang in my ears, “That’s a terrible idea… As far as I am aware, teachers are meant to be educators. They are meant to teach young minds how to work in the real world. They are not meant to know how to carry AR 15s, they are not meant to know how to put on kevlar vests for other students or for themselves. This is not what we stand for. We stand for small policy changes, and possibly big ones in the future. Because right now I am pretty sick of talking about teachers being armed. That is not even a possibility in my mind. I would never want to see that and neither do they want to do that.”

I care about each and every one of my students deeply. Yet when an administrator asks me “How are your kids?” like Rebecca Berlin Field, I immediately jump into my role as mother to two young boys at an elementary school that seems impossibly far, and feels unpredictably vulnerable and reply, “I was so grateful for the Principal and over thirty staff and faculty who welcomed each and every student to school today. They were standing on the curb in six degree weather when my husband dropped my boys off.” Then realizing my mistake, I quickly say, “Oh, you mean my students. They are scared.” Because this question reaches further than the doors of my high school onto elementary campuses where tiny humans go to learn and to be safe, too.

How will we protect those young students like those in Sandy Hook? I realized this week that it is my turn. If I believe that laws should change, or that monies should be appropriated in a different or particular way, or that students should be protected it is my turn to step up and voice these opinions.

It is my turn to stand beside these brave students from my high school who are looking for real and actionable change to come from the debates surrounding the Parkland, FL shooting. Small changes in national policy can lead to big changes in the safety that exists (or doesn’t) in our schools. It is my turn to be part of solutions that keep my children safe every day at school. The debate doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive, citizens can and do have the right to bear arms, alongside more reasonable regulation of these weapons. We can allocate funds for more sustained support of the mentally ill. We don’t have to throw our hands up in defeat simply because we’ve been asked to do something difficult. If I tell my students every day that they can do hard things, then I should be able to do hard things too. I hope as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, an administrator or a concerned citizen you’ll consider speaking out on these matters.



The Last Sweater: My Year of No Shopping

Dickson Family 2017-111

Wherever you stand on resolutions (you love them, you pooh-pooh them, you think they may be an impetus for change, you don’t subscribe because you don’t see any value), I think that there is merit in examining your life periodically, and setting goals and intentions which move you forward as an individual.

This year I have one main goal I am focusing on. I am setting out on a year of not buying clothing. There are many who have trod this path before me: Colleen Bordeaux, Ann Patchett, James Clear, Cait Flanders, and more. Each one of these individuals had their own structure and set of rules for their shopping furlough. For me, this quest is one I’ve toyed with for a very long time. So why now?

I have enough clothes

I have pursued style and fashion for the better part of my life. While I don’t see anything inherently negative about this, I haven’t been as careful about cultivating my personal relationship with money as I have my wardrobe. In short, I have enough clothing. I want to take a year to evaluate my wardrobe.

Shopping mindlessly wastes time and money

I can’t tell you how much time and money I’ve spent shopping, but I can tell you that it has been a lot. One thing that Ann Patchett found during her year of no shopping was that she had time for other more important and even pressing activities. One of the reasons I initially began blogging was to spend more time writing. Yes, I did write more than I otherwise would have in the last two years if I did not run a blog, but I also used the fact that one of my intended focuses was “style” to shop– a lot.

I want to take a break from the online marketing circus. Constant shopping and buying in the realm of clothing drives the machine of wasteful fashion, one of the world’s largest polluters. The industry is all built on the backs of underpaid, often over-worked people in third world countries. I hope to take this year to evaluate my approach to buying, spending. I really need and want to learn to spend more thoughtfully and responsibly.

I want to realign my relationship with my money

In all honesty I have next to no understanding of money. I have jokingly explained my relationship as one where when the water is running (the money is flowing, there is cash in the bank) then I feel free to spend until the water runs dry. Dry would obviously mean that the money has been spent, the cash is gone. I have never used a budget, and I have certainly never examined how my money could be working for me, i.e. in investments, savings, and other forms of return.

I have to say that this is one of the hardest posts I have written. Not because I am not looking forward to the challenge of “no new things”, but because I am a person that does not like to set goals and then fail and I am a bit afraid of failing this challenge!

I’ll have more of my “rules” and some updates on this first month soon! Have a beautiful Thursday!



Dickson Family 2017-367

Holiday Party Wear: Your Vote!

Look 1 : Velvet Camisole, Black Denim, Gray Cardigan, Leopard Flats, Gold Drop Hoops

This may have been one of my most fun social media interactions to date. On Thursday I asked my friends and followers on Instagram and Facebook which outfit they would choose for an upcoming holiday party I was dressing for.

The first look is linked above, the second look is linked below. In the end, I wore a combination of your comments, suggestions, and votes. I can’t lie, crowd sourcing made dressing for this soiree so much more enjoyable! I didn’t have any qualms choosing my outfit. Do you crowd source your looks? Come on, please tell me that you have called your sister, your best friend, your mother, or even pinged your partner to find out what to wear.

Look 2: Sequin Top, Mid-Rise Jeans, Nude Sandals, Pearl Studs

The winner! This is what I wore to our holiday party– sequin top, dark rinse jeans, leopard heels, black topcoat, pearl earrings, and red cross-body purse. I had so much fun asking you all what I should wear, that I’ll probably do it again!

I posted these looks to share my holiday dressing inspiration– from me to you and you to me. Thank you for liking, sharing, commenting, voting, and following Refined + Rugged. What other content would you like to see in the coming year? I’d love to know, so feel free to comment below or post your thoughts to Instagram or Facebook. Have a wonderful Wednesday and a bright and beautiful holiday season!



Bike Commuting: 7 Facts


Image by LL Creative

Twenty-five days. This is the number of days I’ve commuted by bike. Far fewer than some, and perhaps more than most. This journey has been a cleansing one for me. Each morning I get the chance to send my gratitude out into the world as I roll along. Each afternoon, I have a moment to reflect on my work day and prepare for a good evening at home.

Even these small moments of meditation have added to the power of my zen. I thank bike commuting for this. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband for enabling this great adventure. He chose the perfect bike, got me set with panniers and lights, and has generally championed this enterprise from the very beginning.

After an exciting, and rather frozen, entrance into bike-commuting (my second ride began at 16 degrees), I thought a post about some of the myths and truths of using two wheels as a viable form of transportation was in order. If my skeleton doesn’t end up looking like the Victorian cyclist specimen below, I’m going to be glad I began this journey.

Image via The Victorian Cyclist

True: Bike Commuting Takes Planning

One of the very first and most obvious facts about bike commuting is that it does take additional planning. My planning usually begins every evening when I set out my gear, prep my panniers, and make sure that I have all the things I need for the following work day in their proper place. The reason that planning is the key to success is that once you get where you’re going, you probably won’t have time to return to where you’ve been (ostensibly to pick up something you’ve forgotten).

However, I want to emphasize that planning, in and of itself, isn’t a negative! In fact, I’ve eaten more healthy meals, been more on-time to my job, been more happy to return home to see my kiddos, more active physically, and more balanced emotionally since beginning to bike commute.

There have also been a couple of uncomfortable moments due to my poor planning. Like the day when I forgot my pants at home. Yes, I said pants. Add to this the fact that I was being evaluated by my administrator later that afternoon! (Insert laugh-crying emoji here). The crisp white tuxedo shirt, black thermal biking spandex, and mid-ankle duck boots was a fun look, for sure. But my husband saved me from evaluation embarrassment by bringing my pants to me after first hour class.

Bekka Wright, a long time bike commuter in Boston, MA, sums up what bike planning sometimes looks like at my house below– DO I HAVE IT ALLLLLLL? Her bike comics can be found on her website, , and she’s become a real inspiration as my commuting continues. The important part of planning is that you will get into a groove. You will get better and better at prepping for your day. You WILL remember your pants (most of the time), and you entire day will be better because you rode your bike!


Image via Bikeyface

False: Bike Commuting is Impossibly Difficult

I realize that bike commuting seems fraught with difficulty to the outside observer. There are a lot of working parts to get this baby rolling. First there’s the mechanical aspect of the bike– tires, chain, pedals, seat, derailer, etc. Then there is a fair amount of gear– helmet, shoes, Lycra, gloves, work clothes, panniers, toiletries, etc. But the goal is not to over complicate something that can become a habit, and really just a way of life.

I shrugged bike commuting of as inconvenient, difficult, and even untenable after we moved farther from my work. I let fear of mechanical difficulties keep me from bike commuting for a long, long time. I’m the first to admit that I really don’t do a good job changing a bike tire. Heck, I’ll be honest that I also didn’t want to show up at work a hot sweaty mess, and never be able to recover my composure.

I also have to come clean that in the mechanical realm, I have a fall back– my husband. Any of you who know Perry, know that he is a bicycle guru. If I’m in a bind, I know that I can call on him at any moment. Additionally, I have a co-worker who has agreed to be my emergency contact at work. She has said that she’ll pick me up and get me to my classroom on time.


Image via Bikeyface

True: Bike Commuting Brings You Health

Cruising on the interwebs a few days ago, I saw an article in the New York Times that listed a nine ways to make 2018 your most healthy year-to-date. One of the items listed there was “Bike to Work.” There are scads of articles that support this finding– bike commuting will make you a happier (we’ll talk about that below) and healthier person.

Honestly, how could it not?!? I went from working out sum 0, to instantly incorporating 50 minutes of ride time: read work out time into my day. If you read my article “New Balance” you know that I was really struggling to find the time to work out. Now I am feeling fit and sassy once again. I cannot praise and preach enough about how this one simple change in my life had brought me a new level of health and wellness.

False: Bike Commuting Takes Too Much Time

For me, this was one of the greatest factors that kept me from bike commuting in the first place. I told myself over and over that I was a busy human. I had commitments to fulfill and schedules to keep and things to do, and biking to work was not one of them.

I really felt as though I would be taking way too much time out of my day. But here is the math. It takes me 25 minutes to bike to work. It takes me 10 minutes to drive. BUT it also takes me two minutes to park, plus a couple minutes to warm up the car in the morning. I have to haul all of my stuff out of my car and into my classroom if I drive, and I often don’t take the time to pack a lunch so I am leaving campus to grab food in the middle of the day.

The truth is, it really does take almost as long for me to get to work in my car as it does on my bike. Yes, I have to build in a little extra time to get to work. Yes, I do have to make sure I have time to get dressed when I arrive at work. Yes, there are times when the unforeseen has made being on a bicycle a little bit inconvenient. But I find that driving my car can actually be pretty inconvenient, too!

True: Cars Do Not See You

When I began bike commuting, my sons also began riding their bikes to school more frequently. Partially this grew out of moving a little bit closer to their school, but it also did feel as though our commitment to bike was a family affair!

I’ll never forget the first time I felt like a car was actually going to hit me. I was turning left out of the school parking lot. A driver was turning left into that lot. They didn’t have their blinker on, didn’t move into the turn lane, didn’t see me until my front tire had nearly met theirs. Scared me half to death.

Cars simply don’t see bicycles. Most drivers didn’t grow up accustomed to watching for cyclists, and I would say that only in the last ten years has bike commuting taken off (but I haven’t done a lot of research to this effect, so that may turn into a future post). Every morning that our boys take off for school my husband reminds them, “Be careful. Cars don’t see you.”

The reality is that as a cyclist you need to ride defensively at all times. I’ve caught myself daydreaming more than once on my bike, and then I am pushed back into reality by a car that comes far too close behind me after I’ve crossed an intersection, etc. The point here is that as a cyclist, I try to be hyper-aware of the vehicles around me. I have lights, and bright clothing, and  a really loud orange bike. But sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough. I hope I never have to face a bike accident caused by a car. In fact, one of my constant prayers is that cyclist won’t get hit by cars. Period.


Image via Bike Boom

False: Bike Commuting Is Dangerous

Now beyond the fact that bicyclists are hard to see from larger vehicles, I also have come to the conclusion that bicycling to work is NOT the most dangerous choice you could make. I am pretty sure that you are more likely to be in a car accident than you are a bicycling accident.

Heavens, you’re probably more likely to step off of a curb and spiral fracture your ankle than you are to be in a bicycling accident. Dave Walker’s cartoon really made me smile as he supports this claim. Almost everything we do has an inherent risk. So I’ll take the risks associated with biking if it means I might poke my ear (or even my eye) when putting on my sun glasses (see below).

Practically all of us crazy homo sapiens live, and love, and have joy despite the fact that we will drop dead at some point along our journey. So instead of hiding from death, which not a lot of us are afraid of, let’s live and celebrate life with each breath.


Image via Dave Walker

True: Bike Commuting Makes You Happier

I can speak to the happiness that bike commuting brings like a trumpet! I have absolutely, positively LOVED commuting on bike to work for this past few months. I know that I still have a long way to go to make those 1,000 decisions, properly made, that Specialized Sequoia’s encourage. But I have been uplifted, lightened, zenned by bike commuting.

Image via Bike Radar and Bikeyface

So I don’t have much more to say than, keep bringing on the zen! A huge shout out to my hubby who really gave me the push that got me out on the road, and to our lovely local bike shop– Slim and Knobby’s— who has taken such good care of me every pedal stroke along the way!! I hope you have a fabulous Friday, and a gorgeous weekend. What are your thoughts on bike commuting? I’d love to know! You can comment below, or give me a shout out on Facebook, or head over to Instagram to see more of my pictures and posts.




Image via With All I Have