Honest, hope is a verb, I choose champagne, To dream

33: a bit about me and a bit about you

I’ve become really good at writing short, quirky bios about myself. It’s fun to try to condense who I am into a small amount of words.

But, isn’t that an interesting concept? Condensing who you are into a small amount of words.

About four years ago at the end of my g42 term during graduation festivities one of the prophecies I received from one of the staff at the time was this, “Meg, don’t diminish yourself or shrink back or hide to make the people around you feel comfortable but just unfurl yourself to the fullness of who you are and force them to catch up.”

What’s funny is I haven’t thought about those words in a couple years. But today, in this moment, thinking about writing more than 140 characters about who I am feels overwhelming. Who I am feels like too much to describe.

We are each amazing, beautiful, individual humans. We have stories and experiences, we’ve gone on adventures and traveled through darkness and been on mountain tops and everything in between.

We should share with each other who we are and where we’ve been.

So, without further ado, here is a little bit about me, the “she” who writes on Sundays.

My name is Meghan. I go by Meghan, Meg, Megs, Teacher Meg, Miss Meg, Nina, Aunt Mega, Meglyn, Sox, Moses (it’s a good story, you can ask me later) and in a few weeks, once again, Junapera.

I am 33 and I’ve taught preschool in some way, shape or form since 2007. I’ve been to 15 countries and if around it enough I can speak Spanish pretty well. I have a BA in English, a minor in music and I’ve been singing since the 2nd grade and was the president of my University Women’s choir my senior year in college.

I’m a Southern California girl from a small central California town who lives in Bellingham, Washington.

I love my people.

My favorite week of the year is the last week in June up on the mountain in Southern California with Royal Family Kids.

I love beverages (of the bubbly variety especially).

I love avocado.

I love a really good croissant.

And tacos.

I’m a feeler. A 2 on the enneagram.

And the place where I feel the most peace is when I am sitting in front of blank screen.

I believe everyone has a story. Everyone has dark and light intermixed. Everyone has something for someone else.

I believe we need each other.

Everything I do in life or try to do in life or sometimes succeed at is about making connections. From the tiny humans to people I meet once, twice or see every day.

I went through a season, maybe I’m still in it a little where I didn’t want to believe that I mattered. I physically didn’t want to matter.

Mattering is heavy.

I honestly just wanted to be in the background. I wanted to move people along, lift people up and teach them.

I want control over my spotlight.

But, I think what I’ve learned this year is that sometimes someone else needs us to be in the spotlight for them. We need to say the words, or do the things or be put in the hot seat so that someone else finds what they need.

What I am trying to say is that it’s not all about you even when it seems to be just that.

So, I say all this, I give you a small glimpse into who I am, what I believe, to say that in my year of 33 I am going to try to be better at remembering I have things to give that push me to the edge of anxiety, that make me feel slightly uncomfortable, but those things are worth it.

On the other side of me wanting to shrink away or hide, there is someone who needs something I’ve been given.

AHEM.

On the other side of you wanting to shrink away or hide or think you aren’t enough, there is someone who needs what you’ve been given.

Honest, I choose champagne

32: damn

Normally when I write a blog about a year in my life I go back over blogs and pictures and try to think of events and different highlights of the last 12 months in my life.

32 feels a bit like a blur of emotions.

It’s funny because big things happened. Good things, not so good things. Friendships dropped off, some became stronger.

I developed new traditions and became more rooted.

But, to me, if I had to think of a theme of this year I believe it is a theme of wrestling with God and myself.

32 was about working on healing from events that completely changed parts of myself. 32 was about wrestling with the desire to run. The desire to step away from being known. 32 has been about truly realizing who I am in spite of who I think I am.

I had a lot of hard conversations in 32. In all the areas of my life.

I had to come to terms (and I still am doing so) of being known. I had to come to terms with being good at what I do.

I had to come to terms that my relationship with God is directly correlated with how I view myself.

I don’t have a lot of answers at the end of 32.

I have a lot of tired. A lot of beverages. A lot of laughter. A lot of friends.

And I think, maybe, I have a lot of hope.

This one is short and sweet, because life seems more ongoing then it ever has and this season I’m living in feels very in the midst of and less at an actually end.

So. I guess all there is to say is this:

Thank you.

Thank you to all those this year who have given me space.

To all those this year who have NOT given me space.

To those I’ve split bottles of wine with.

(Or done shots of tequila with)

To those who have entrusted me with their tiny humans.

To those I share sacred space with.

Thank you to those who know my 20%.

To those who have listened to be ramble

And to those who have allowed me to listen to theirs.

Thank you to my people.

You know who you are.

Dear 32,

Damn.

Always,

Meghan

I choose champagne, To dream, washington whimsy

at some point, ice has to melt.

I am sitting here for one last silent Sunday of the year at my favorite bar. I sit here as many Sundays as I can, at the table in the corner by the window (and the outlet) and drink 1 or 2 or 3 grapefruit mimosas and I write.

Sometimes other people join me in silence, but most of the time I just sit by myself attempting to verbalize thoughts in my head. This has become one of my most favorite times of the week. Without the people around me knowing it; this bar has become a part of my church. It’s become a safe place for me to choke back tears and form thoughts and have weighty realizations.

So, tonight, I’m sitting here and thinking about all that 2017 was. It was a lot. I’ve been trying to separate the good and the bad. The ugly and the uglier. The places of heartbreak and the places where my heart hasn’t even gotten the chance to break.

Many things stand out here and there, so many people and places and events.

June is a big one. In June I turned 32, I had about 32 people that I adore here in Bellingham over to my house for tacos and laughter and love. In June I ended my time with the two year olds and turned 3. In June I felt betrayal and hurt that I can’t match to any other time in my life.

In June I went to my other home for camp and was reminded that I can take joy in what I do.

If I am being honest- a lot of other things feel like an immense blur.

I want so badly to say that this year was good. I want so desperately to say that this year redeemed the year before it. But it didn’t

I want to say that I found ways this year to be who I am. I want to say that I’ve learned to apologize less and to not second guess.

I want to say that my heartaches less and that I am 100% happy in my own skin. That needing a space for one has gotten easier.

I want to say that I’ve been brave.

I want to say all of those things.

But, I’m just not sure I can.

It’s funny. I spend 40 hours a week telling tiny humans that they need to use their words. I hold their hands and look them in the eyes and take deep breaths with them. I say, “I understand that you are feeling frustrated. I understand that your body feels upset. But what I need you to do is take some deep breaths and tell me with your words whats wrong.”

I felt a lot of things this year. I felt lonely, I felt pain and anguish for myself and on behalf of those around me. I felt joy. I felt love that I can’t really articulate. I felt every single damn day for the 18 tiny humans who are on my class list.

But, ask me to articulate what I was feeling on behalf of my own self and I was never quite sure.

I don’t think I was the only one with that problem this year.

A lot of things happened this year. Things in our control or out of it. Things that impacted us or our neighbor. There was anger and hate and laugher from disbelief. It spilled into everything. Every aspect of our lives were impacted whether we wanted them to be or not.

I don’t have the words to describe all the things.

But, I think what I can say, is that in spite of all the things, in spite of the loneliness and the betrayal and the hurt I didn’t give up. In spite of my inability to use my words, I didn’t stop trying.

In spite of all the things, there was still joy.

And there it is my friends.

In spite of all the things- there is still joy.

There are still moments of joy.

I tried, so incredibly hard, in the midst of all things to find joy.

I think we all did. If we really searched through our memories, we tried this year to balance all the things with joy.

I was and still am numb to this year. I’m numb to the things that made me feel less like the person I know I am. I am numb to the things that added to my character.

But, at some point, ice has to melt. At some point an asleep leg has to wake up.

So, to 2017 I say this,

Thank you for the people in my life.

Thank you for my roommate.

Thank you for my work wife.

For my bosses and my coworkers and all those I would never know without the Y.

Thank you for my church, for the people who are scattered in the rows around me, who are family.

Thank you for my forever best friend.

Thank you for my OCfamily and that little blue house in Irvine.

Thank you for my family whom I grow to appreciate with every passing year.

Thank you for opportunities to speak and space to give love and be love.

And to 2018 I saw this:

Let’s thaw out the numbness and find places each day to wake our words up a little more.

Dear 2018,

Please, I beg of you.

Use your words.

With love,

Meghan

Honest, I choose champagne

2016.2017.2018. Let’s just be who we are.

I am sitting in my favorite bar, as it becomes increasingly more crowded than normal on a Sunday early evening. Most are in pairs, or groups. I’m the sole solitary human, sitting at my favorite table tucked in the corner. My back is against the window and I am directly next to an outlet and the exposed brick.

I am pretty comfortable sitting by myself in most places. I am fine shopping by myself, I’ve traveled across an ocean and been alone in the Istanbul airport more than any other airport in the world.

I almost always get slight amounts of anxiety right before going somewhere by myself or to an event with a large amount of people. But here, and a smattering of coffee shops, public transport and airplanes- I am always good.

This year, I believe, has been about being as home as I possible can be in my own skin, in my own identity. It’s been about being where my feet are.

I don’t always do well at this.

But, I am trying.

And now, it’s the end of the year. Now, for me personally, 2017 has been eons better than 2016. But, as my work wife has pointed out, 2017 hasn’t been all confetti, champagne and sunshine.

In reality, I said the F word more times this year than last. I lost more faith in people than I ever have. I have had more anxiety and more moments of being alone.

I haven’t been as constantly exhausted but I for sure have hit more walls of “all done friends”. My schedule has been more busy than I think it has been in a long time.

And that isn’t going change when the clock strikes midnight and turns the year to 2018. Last year, I remember sitting, shortly after midnight, in my sparkly gold dress, barefooted, on the porch of my friend’s house, watching the snow fall with a glass of champagne that slowly became mixed with the tears falling down my cheeks. All I wanted was for the world around me to feel different.

I tried to believe it did- but it didn’t.

So I became busy in 2017. I did a lot of things. I rarely had a week go by that didn’t involve at least 3/5ths of the weekdays being filled with something, be it working at my church, hanging out with someone or having an event or organized group situation.

I think part of my reasoning for becoming busy was that busy equaled full. That my life could be classified as full because it was busy.

I could say that my life was full because my laundry had piled up to overflowing in my closet and didn’t even care that there were dishes in the sink.

Busy meant not being able to stop to hear what I needed to hear.

Back in August, a part time job popped up at a different church. It would have been 10-20 extra hours a week being a children’s director of a local churches smaller downtown campus.

It would mean a lot of things: extra income, no free time, getting paid to do something I know I love (and am good at), having no social life and not getting to go to the church I adore.

But, I had done that exact same thing before so I knew I was capable of that schedule.

I had a random day off in August, the day after the ad had been discovered. I had coffee with a good friend, lunch with my roommate and obviously talked to both about it. I headed for home to work on my cover letter and resume.

Because of applying for this job, I ended up having a very honest conversation with one of the pastors at my church. Through the conversation we had, I realized that I was running from being known. She, of course, called me on all these things, as she should.

I didn’t end up interviewing for the job. In all reality, though I want a job like that, but working 60 hours a week and moving from the two places where I feel like myself in Bellingham was not the best idea.

In reality, most of this year I’ve been running. I’ve been running from stopping, from thinking and from pushing in.

I have in certain places and situations. There are friends in my life with whom I can never run from my problems around. But I have reached that place here in Bellingham where I am known and that’s terrifying.

So, why have I said all of this?

It’s simple actually.

I want to encourage you not to make resolutions.

(What?)

I just want to encourage you to step more into who you are everyday. No matter what.

I spent this year trying to busy everything so far away, in the name of my resolutions that I forgot parts of who I was. When those parts were awakened they felt like hope, when in reality they should have just felt like me.

December 31rst and January 1 are no different from today and tomorrow.

There is symbolism in the changing of the year. It is a new book in your life. But it’s not a separate book. It’s a continuation.

So, as the holidays kick in full force and as my kitchen get covered in flour and coconut sugar. As we celebrate the year, the now and the yet to come, I want to remind you that the changing of a calendar doesn’t change who you are.

I want to encourage you to hope for more, but not put the more on a new year.

Don’t run from who you’ve become in all the things. Grab who all the things have made you.

Right now. Today.

Here, in this bar, where I am the only solitary human, I am being where my feet are more than I have in a long time.

Right now. Today

Honest, I choose champagne

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

I’ve been in Bellingham for two years this weekend.

That’s insane. I kind of can’t even fathom it. That I’ve been here for two years with all the ups and downs and tantrums (by myself and by toddlers). I’ve learned more here then I can articulate. 

The main thing being, I am very, very glad I have decided to the best of my ability to not just “get through” this season.

It was something I noticed being the two year old room. The two year olds were rough. I would find myself counting down the moments til nap and then the moments til three pm.

Trying to force yourself through moments, trying to just get through days is not a way to live.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t want to sleep at night because I didn’t want the sun to come up. I was working in a pretty hostile classroom and I was in an incredibly deep dark well of depression. I would stay up ‘til one or two in the morning just to have more hours in the day to myself.

If I slept then I would have to do all the things again. 

I remember hitting my breaking point, knowing that for myself and for those around me I could no longer just “fake it ‘til I make it”. Something had to give. I couldn’t just put my head down and try to get through.

It wasn’t working.

So, I made changes, I moved out the classroom, I started therapy, I went on antidepressants.

I tried to find joy again and I worked really hard to do so.

There are times, chunks of the last two years, when I know in my knower that I was sitting in a pit of depression. That I didn’t want to go to sleep at night because then the day would come again. 

And I would have to do all the things.

I’m thankful for the people around me who remind me to be present and for the tiny humans who demand it.

I don’t know what this third year in Bellingham holds and I don’t know how many years will follow it; but I’m going to choose, still, to the best of my ability to be present. I’m going to choose to try not to live of faking it ‘til I make it. 

I have parts of my life that I can say without out a doubt that I’m trying to get through. I’m pretty sure most of us would be lying if we said we weren’t trying to get through something.

A season in a city, a season of singleness, a season before marriage, a season of a job.

Days, weeks, months that we are so desperately trying to get past, to get to the next season.

But why?

Why do we deem these moments less important than the ones we are trying to get through? Who are we to decide what moments we can learn from?

If I allow myself, I can learn from everyday. I can learn from the tantrums and the laughter and moments when I feel less than myself. 

But the instance I put my mind in forward, the instance I decide that minute I want ahead of me is less important than the minute I am in, is the instant I decide that my present doesn’t matter

During one of my object lessons I did at camp a couple weeks ago I talked about how there is a plan and a purpose for our lives. There are big, awesome things ahead.

That’s hard to stomach sometimes.

More, is hard to stomach.

But, this minute you are in right now? The one in which you’ve decided to read this collection of words?  

This is a part of your more.

And so is the next and the next.

Let’s start with tomorrow. Let’s start with not getting through tomorrow, but for living every moment of it.

Let’s create joy and growth and hope and light.

So, when we get to the next day and the day after that, we won’t have moments lost in the abyss, but days we can build upon.

Let’s do the damn thing each and every day.

And when we need to- take a deep breath to our toes, and dive back in.

 

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

But first, celebrate.

About two months ago I had this outlandish idea. For my birthday, all I wanted to do was construct a big table, cook a bunch of food and combine all of my Bellingham friend groups.
Combining friend groups is tricky. Mixing and mingling between multiple groups of humans where, for the most part, you’re the only bridge.

that one time I combined multiple friend groups in the OC before I left the country.

Here in Bellingham I have those I’ve met at A Life and those I’ve met at the Y.

They are the both eclectic, diverse and weird groups of humans.

So, I found tables, asked people to bring chairs and (mostly) sparkly beverages. I bought 25 lbs of chicken. I borrowed crockpots and my neighbor’s kitchen space. My roommate decorated and I scrubbed our back porch with bleach.

And I cooked and chopped and sliced.

And then when people started showing up, I put them to work. 

I wish I had taken a picture, but I will have to settle for a mental image. Friends, from two different parts of my life, shredding chicken, cutting watermelon, mixing coleslaw, hauling chairs, setting up tables, sprinkling confetti. Friends who have spent time in my house separately, grabbing cups out of the cupboard and ice out of the freezer and knowing where the forks live.

At about 7:35, when all the food was out, when everyone had a beverage and was laughing and talking, I paused.

See, I was celebrating my birthday. That’s true.

But really, I was celebrating my people. My community.

I wanted to build a table, so that my people could bring some chairs to it and we could laugh and talk and eat.

It wasn’t perfect.

Everyone I wanted to be there couldn’t.

But there was no shame.

Only celebration.

My table, my heart and my life in that moment, was full.

The thing that I love about the people in my life, whether here, in Irvine, in Kingsburg, or scattered around the world is that when the time and the space happens where we can sit around a table it’s normally for one specific reason. 

To celebrate.

When I finally get to see people in my life that I never see, we don’t tend to jump straight into serious conversation. I spent an entire day sitting in silence with my friend Tiffany even though I hadn’t seen her for well over a year. She didn’t have the time to hang out and talk as she was studying for the GMAT, but I just wanted to be in her space.

Jess, my best friend of about twenty-eight years, and I, see each other so infrequently, but we always take time to laugh, reminisce and drink Dutch Brothers.

The crew of humans I will be seeing in about three weeks, I see most of them once a year. And we will spend a lot of our week at a table, eating bad camp food and being tired.

But we will show up and we will laugh. And celebrate. (And drink A LOT of coffee)

Community has become such a buzzword lately. It feels as if it’s binding. And serious.

But, it’s not.

There is a time and a place and a sacred circle. 

But we need to make time, more time, to celebrate. The more we choose to celebrate, the more foundation we have to stand on for those more serious hard moments.

The more we celebrate, the better position we are in to grieve with and console.

The more we sit and celebrate, the more space we have in someone else’s life.  

Community, establishing it, living in it, being a part of more then one, is gritty. Sometimes you only come to them once a year, sometimes once a week. Sometimes someone can’t come, but now, you just have an open seat.

I came to Bellingham to be a part of a church.


I got so much more.

I got so many more people then I could have even fathomed. 

When you make showing up your norm, when you meet people where they are, when you don’t shame the ones who aren’t capable of showing up, you clean out the clutter and you are left with celebration.

My birthday dinner taught me a lot of things: I am loved, I can cook for thirty people stateside, I am loved, I have hysterical friends, I am known and when you lead with celebration at the table, people will come to it.

Let’s build our lives on celebration and joy, so that when the dark and the hard and sad comes, we will have a foundation to sit with each other and the space to do so.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

Bookmark the positive

I can tell you the month and the year (if not the date) of every tragic, hard thing that has happened in my life. I can tell you where I was, what I was doing. I can tell you the emotion I felt prior to the other shoe dropping.
I think that’s sad.
It is also slightly the world we live in.

Even in my job. I rarely hear amazing things before 8 in the morning. It’s mainly a run down of bad things, a run down of things that might make the day harder, a run down of things I did wrong yesterday, a rundown of who won’t be there.

We don’t stop for the positive.

Sure, we celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. We honor achievement. We lift up notable advancements.

But, what would happen if, as often as we said “that was a long week” or “today, was such a Thursday” if we also said, “Today was kick ass!”

If you haven’t noticed, for me, 2017 is about adding positive words in the atmosphere.

Because I sucked at it last year.

Now, I am not saying this is a rose-colored glasses situation. Because there will be hard days and long weeks and tragic moments and unspeakable things occurring in our world. I am not even saying to “find the positive”, even though that’s great.

I’m deciding, that when it’s a good day, I am going to say just that.

So….

Today was a great day.

The sun was shining, the kids were in great moods. We went on a long walk and made people smile. I didn’t get slapped. The kids slept for a long time. We took silly pictures while we made no bake cookies. I went and said hi to the smiley babies. I had a beautiful conversation with some grandparents who thanked me for taking care of their grand baby. I laughed in the office and was productive when I needed to be.

And then my work wife got off early and we got to hang out. And not just an out of exhaustion need someone to lean on but a happy, lighthearted afternoon.

Today was a great day.

And maybe, a year or two from now, I will see this post on my time hop and I will remember the feeling before the great day started. Maybe February 2nd will be this day I remember from now on.

Or maybe it won’t be.

And I know, that I will probably still bookmark the tragic. It will just happen. Because most tragic is also a remembrance of what was and what is about to be.

But, I do know, that I am going to make room for good days. I am going to make room in my life and in my vocabulary.

Let’s choose to bookmark the positive. To dogear that page so we can remember the feeling and the actual-not-from-exhaustion but joyful laughter.

Today was a good day.

I didn’t even have to use my AK.
PS and as a favor can we all please agree to let frozen go away and please play this song on repeat.