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True life: 90s Diet Culture

I am a child of 90s diet culture.

Atkins, weight watchers, Tae Bo VHS. I took step aerobics classes and played sports and constantly felt like I was supposed to be losing weight.

Foods were morally good and evil. I felt shame for eating chips and hid to eat an entire bag of popcorn. At friend’s houses I wouldn’t finish food because no one else was.

I remember once in 6th grade I competed in a poetry festival, and I got too small of a size because I had no concept of my body.

7th and 8th grade I was in school musicals and remember the costumer eyeing me up and down- unsure of what they were supposed to do with me.

(Though, thank god for choir robes).

Going into high school and playing tennis and short skirts and trying to find prom and formal dresses in plus sizes that weren’t grandma style.

(I dreamed of the day to shop in the same stores as my friends).

It just seemed that whatever I did nothing worked and none of the weight stayed off.

Everything felt worse. The doctor felt terrifying (honestly still) because it felt as if every single one of my problems would have been solved if I lost weight.

Shopping for clothes was absolutely no fun. Trying piece after piece on because plus size clothing in the late 90s/Early 2000’s was atrocious (on top of women’s sizing being a dumpster fire).

Looking back on my life from 5th grade to graduating high school, I realized that there are very few moments where I felt strong, powerful, beautiful. The ones that come to mind right away are all from my senior year of high school.

As I went to college, I realized that something had to change. Maybe I had to change? Maybe I needed to be a different person? Maybe I was just boring as my own self? Maybe I just needed to come out of my shell?

So, I tried.

I ended up living with beautiful women, who had all the boys coming at them and quickly fell into step as the fat friend who constantly felt like a third wheel.

I was just never enough. Not talented enough of a singer, not funny enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough.

Not enough coupled with a helper personality trait led me to try to earn love and friendship and honestly probably be used for my kindness more than I like to admit.

And then, I remember stepping on a scale somehow the end of my first semester junior year.

I hated the number I saw.

I hated myself a lot.

When I came back from winter break, I went head on into losing weight.

Aggressively.

I burned every single calorie that went into my mouth and then some. If I could go back and find calorie counts I’m sure what I would find was that on a normal average day I was only allowing myself maybe 1,000 calories. I was tracking everything I ate. I was starving myself. I was working out at least twice a day and if I didn’t work out-I didn’t eat.

Because I was 19-20 I obviously lost weight.

I continued over the summer and when my senior year in college started, I was the thinnest I had ever been (and have ever been).

And I started to take up some space.

I hated it.

I had spent the entirety of my life being told to not take up space. To make myself as small as possible. Every time I had taken up space in my big, oversized body throughout my life it had ended in tragedy. It had ended in me being made fun of, or being less than, being not picked, not enough, still being too big.

Since my senior year in college, which was at this point 14 years ago, I’ve gone up and down in my weight. I’ve lost weight traveling and living internationally. I’ve gained weight through stress and moves and *cough cough* pandemics.

But now, I’m realizing it’s not about good and bad food. It’s not about fat= not healthy.

It’s about knowing who you are and what you need to do for your own self.

(and honestly what I usually need for myself is to actually eat food.)

It’s still a journey. I’m still not the best at it. But I’m learning. I’m also learning to eat what I want to eat. Like tonight I had a salad in a mixing bowl and two pieces of toast and now I’m eating green olives and drinking a glass of wine.

I don’t currently have a scale. I’m still a little terrified of going to the doctor. I’m still affected by fat shaming.

But if something doesn’t fit- it doesn’t fit.

If I want to eat chips- I’m probably going to eat them.

If I am not feeling beautiful- I try to realize why.

If I want to buy the damn two piece or short skirt…I buy it.

It’s still a journey. I still have food anxiety and have to remember not to call food good and bad.

But I’m learning.

That’s it.

Bottom line:

I am a child of the 90s diet culture and I am still learning.

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I’m not doing well.

I wasn’t going to write today.

I didn’t want to stare at a blank screen and try to figure out something motivational or hopeful to say. I didn’t want to try to make everything work together when it doesn’t feel like it’s going too.

I’m really, really tired. They are currently tears streaming down my face and I had to breath myself out of a full blown anxiety attack.

I wasn’t going to write today and say all these things because it feels as if right now I have nothing hopeful or helpful to say.

I feel like an incredibly heavy stress ball of a burden to everyone in my life and I am trying to figure out ways to actively change that.

I just want to give up and quit and all of the talk in my head is just telling me I’m not strong enough.

I wasn’t going to write because I didn’t want to push all this out into the world.

But not saying them doesn’t make them any less true.

Not admitting that my heart is feeling heavy and broken and “faking it til I make it” doesn’t change the fact that I’m drained.

(And this I guess is were it turns hopeful- because even though my roommate is across the world I can still see the look on his face when he read the words “I have nothing hopeful to say”)

Writing as tears fall down my face and out of exhaustion is absolutely ok. Sharing a part of who I am that feels ugly or messy or what have you is ok.

The pieces of us that feels the most covered in muck are usually the ones where we are going to find our strength and power.

I always want to write from whatever place I’m in to remind myself that my words are there- even if they are buried deep down at the bottom of tears and exhaustion.

I have my own hope that I can use in my life, I just have to state the things that are getting in the way so I can clear them out.

I’ve been told from so many different facets of life that my emotions aren’t valid. That I’m too sensitive. That what I feel doesn’t matter.

Now, what I feel isn’t everything. It’s not what I should base all decisions off of and I shouldn’t live in them.

But, man sometimes we just need another person to say “It’s ok”.

So, that’s what I’m here to do today.

I have tear-stained cheeks and I napped too long and the thought of work this week makes me want o crawl in a hole.

BUT

I took this span of time to write these 500 words and remember that in spite of it all I still have hope for myself.

And that’s why I chose share all the things that felt ugly today.

I still have hope. I still have the ability to realize all the ugly things aren’t me.

You aren’t all the ugly things.

You aren’t too much.

You aren’t weak.

It’s hard to read and to say; but it’s true.

We’ve got this.

With love,

Meg

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When God drinks scotch

I’ve started writing about 5 different things at this point and I don’t feel settled in any of them. I’ve deleted a lot of words and backspaced and ate queso and pondered and stared at people as they walk around downtown and wished words might just come flowing out and inspiration might hit me.

But as I sit here and write that sentence- why the hell would it?

Why would the perfect topic, or statement or thought process suddenly become so tangible and real?

Writing has not felt like myself these days. It hasn’t felt as it used too, it hasn’t felt like a place where I meet God and flesh out whatever thing is going in my head.

It’s felt more like I’m staring at a screen and some form of God is sitting across from me drinking a scotch (it seems right) and every time I think I’m onto something I pass them the computer and they gently shrug their shoulders and go “if that’s where you want to go”. Normally they sort of look bored and usually attempt to steal whatever snack I’m eating.

So the process starts again and they shrug again.

Sometimes I just say screw it and post words that still hit me between the eyes but don’t necessarily go all the way down to my toes.

And then they just say “it’s a piece of it”.

Because that’s true- it is a piece of it. It is SOME of it.

It’s not all of it.

I look at them at that point and say “Of course it’s a piece of it. It can’t be all of it”.

There’s always an eyebrow raise and then I want to cry because that seems like the only reasonable response to whatever is happening.

Not that I don’t want to deal with all it. I do and I am. But it’s not time yet.

It’s kind of like I’m completing one of the puzzles in my classroom with the kids. We have some that have the picture on the back of them and some that don’t and those ones are sometimes tricky to decide which frame it is. And sometimes when all the puzzle pieces have gotten put in a basket (I learned I have a new pet peeve this week) and I have to put them all back together; I don’t always choose the right puzzle frame the first time because they are just close enough and I get almost all the way through before I realize that I am putting the puzzle in the wrong frame. And then I have to restart it.

I feel like I’ve been using the wrong puzzle frame lately. Like I’ve been putting everything in what I thought it was supposed to be in.

So, the picture is right, but I didn’t give myself enough room.

I don’t have the space for all the pieces.

So, when I sit here, across from God, them drinking their scotch and stealing my queso and me drinking some champagne-based cocktail, we usually have a stare down.

And as much as I’m stubborn and could very easily win the stare down (I know, I couldn’t whatever), I realize that all the God sitting across from me wants is for me to take my space I’m supposed to take.

And choose the things that bring me life in that space.

And until I do that, they are going to sit across from me drinking scotch and wondering why I keep typing things that I don’t need to type.

Sometimes, I will start those words and then usually throw my hands up and just say “I can’t”.

And they take a sip and say “I know”.

And we stare a little more.

At this point for the 20th time in this writing process I usually ask, “So, what should I write about?”

Normally they shrug and say “Just the piece of it”.

Or “Not that.”

It could end with me slamming my computer and just dealing with the fact that I have “nothing to say” or deleted all the words.

Or, like today. Sitting in the discomfort of knowing that this is just a piece of it. That it’s just a puzzle piece I’m choosing to move into the frame that’s big enough for it. And that singular piece looks small and insignificant.

 But it’s not.

My story. All of the little pieces that I have to flesh out, all the things that feel messy or small or even seemingly unimportant are not.

I’m not.

Then I take a deep breath and finish the rest of my mimosa and God looks at me and finishes their scotch.

“How do you feel?”

I ponder it for a moment.

I’m always afraid of the words I write on Sunday because without fail they show up through the rest of the week, as if they are trying to remind me all week what I said.

“It’s gonna be ok”

They raise their glass for me to clink.

“Well, tell them.”

This is for you. This somewhat messy stream of conscious weird conversation I have with God while writing is for you. It’s to know that wherever you’ve been, wherever you are going, whatever you’ve done or haven’t done- you are existing in your story.

And sometimes you just need a bigger puzzle frame.

If you’re feeling small right now in the space you’re in or you are absolutely like too much, it’s probably a reminder that you need to be in a different space.

The space doesn’t tell you who you are- you tell the space who you are.

Right now, that’s where I’m living. I understand I am being absolutely defined by the spaces I am in to a point where that’s all I’m defined by.

If you need a new space than go find it.

I can tell you right now that there is a space and a place and home that is absolutely waiting for you to bring all that you are into it.

And if no one has told you lately- you are enough for those spaces. Not too much, not too small.

Just enough.

With love,

Meg

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thank you thirty-five

Oh man.

Thirty-five.

I’ve been pondering the words that might spill out of my brain for a week or so now. I sat in a cabana during a storm in the Bahamas last week wondering what I might say.

I’ve also ran away from the words that I might want to type.

I’ve chosen to not think of them or write them down.

Thirty-five feels like nothing and also everything at the same time.

Thirty-five feels the end of the chapter that leads into an entirely different part of the story.

(I cannot tell a lie; I didn’t know that sentence was going where it was going and then it did.)

Thirty-five feels like a year wherein I have chosen to let things fall off because I just couldn’t allow them to be a part of who I am anymore.

Thirty-five feels like a year wherein I chose to believe for myself and not let go of beliefs because of others.

And also, honestly, thirty-five feels exhausting.

I think I ran from a lot in thirty-five. And those around me, who love and care for me, let me, to a point run.

Then they cornered me in an RV or yelled things up the stairs at me until I listened.

And I knew.

I knew what I was doing.

At the end of it; a week out from thirty-six, I don’t regret those choices. I don’t regret all the times I chose to run.

I don’t regret all the times I got called out on the church livestream and chose to plug my ears or all the times I threw something at Benjamin as he poked his head in my doorway.

I don’t regret all the times where I had something to say and didn’t.

Why?

Because what’s the use of regret.

I have chosen to learn from thirty-five.

I have chosen to wear two piece bathing suits.

I have chosen to donate to political campaigns and write letters to politicians.

I have to chosen to speak, even when my voice shakes.

I have chosen to- although begrudgingly at times, realize and understand that I have Holy Spirit that resides in me.  (10/10 that line made me gag).

Thirty-five has caused me to believe that I am more than I think I am.

I am worth more.

(also made me gag- it’s fine.)

Benjamin- also known as the person that I want to throw stuff at the most, has in the last week telling me that my train needs to leave the station.

That I’ve been waiting long enough.

And damn it, he’s right.

Thirty-five has reminded me that I used to not be afraid to jump.

Thirty-five has reminded me that I am not over yet.

Because…I’m not.

So, that being said:

Thank you thirty-five.

Thank you for your anxiety.

Thank you for your darkness.

Thank you for reminding me that I have a heart.

Thank you for reminding me I have the ability to be angry and shake my fist.

Thank you for reminding me that I have other passions and hopes and dreams.

Thank you for showing me that hope isn’t easy.

Thank you for all the tears I cried and all the times I laid on the floor and sat in the kitchen with a shot glass.

Thank you for all the times I didn’t eat until 4pm and for all the judgemental looks I got from the living room while I scavenged for food.

Thank you for two pieces and clothes that make me feel like a bad ass bitch.

Thank you for theme parties and friends who’s carpet I’ve laid on.

Thank you for gin.

Thank you for the discovery plus app and food network.

Thank you for hype women.

Thank you for parents who have grown with me.

Thank you for friends separated by a pandemic who got closer in spite of it.

Thank you for random 2 hour conversation in the kitchen with my two guy roommates.

Thank you for people who believe in me.

Thank you for words.

Thank you for walking me through trauma I didn’t realize I had in order to walk into a human I didn’t know I could be.

Thirty-five; thank you for being another year in which I added to who I was.

Really, I mean it.

Thank you.

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it’s not a participation trophy.

I’ve lived most of my life thinking that I am too much.

That I am too sensitive.

That I am too much of a burden.

That I take up too much space.

That I talk too much.

That I’m around too much.

That I’m needy.

The list goes on and on.

It’s an aggressively hard thing to balance.

Being too much and also being not enough. That feeling that being who you are is too much for another human and that at the same time also not being enough to measure up to whatever hypothetical thing they have in their heads about who you should be.

I’m pretty proud of the woman I’m becoming. I speak my mind, I am a good friend, I can be slightly terrifying, I’m a hard worker and I’m constantly in the process of expanding who I am and what I believe.

But lately it seems like every corner of the world is responding back to my actions with either “You are too much” or “You are not enough.”

And if I’m being honest; I’m getting damn exhausted from it.

I know that there are probably some of you reading these words and maybe, just maybe, want to tell me that Christ should be enough. Or try to tell me that I am enough.

Or you’re reading this and you want to tell those who communicate to me that I am not enough to fuck off.

It’s not that simple.

We currently live in a world of boxes. Boxes we do or don’t fit into too. Molds that aren’t accessible.

To do lists that will never be fully checked off in a 24-hour period.

Jobs that can never be put to bed.

Shame that is so subtle no one would ever know it’s shame.

Constant reminders that rest and vacations cause problems and working 40 hours a week isn’t enough.

And guilt that we aren’t allowed to stop.

I guess I wanted to write all these words on a page to feel less crazy. Not that I want to give the voice in my brain power to continually tell me these things, not that I want to sit in that emotion.

I want to say them, type them because I know (beyond a shadow of a doubt), that I am not the only one that feels this way. I know that I am not the only one who feels like they have to shrink down sometimes or who feels as if they will never be enough to get into the secret club.

I want to type them out, for you, whomever you are, to remember that you are not alone.

That you ARE enough.

And that you are exactly you are supposed to be.

And that sadly to some, you are too much, and you aren’t enough.

But, that’s a them problem, not a you problem.

And if right now, in this moment, you don’t feel enough for yourself I want you to write 5 things you like about yourself.

Here; I’ll go first:

  1. I love really well.
  2. I’m a caring teacher.
  3. I’m an epic cheerleader of the humans in my life.
  4. I’m a hard worker.
  5. I’m flexible.

See. That was only slightly cringe inducing for me; but I did it.

So please, write a list. If you know me and need to share said list with someone- send it to me.

If you need a reminder that other people don’t define your enough-ness or aren’t in charge of the space you take up- holler at me.

This isn’t about participation trophies and getting accolades. This is about walking in exactly who we are- whomever that may be. And choosing to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are that person for a reason.

That’s it.

That’s all.

With love and an aggressive attitude towards your belief in yourself and your self worth,

Meg

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faith is not ikea furniture

I’m currently working on a fiction story.

I’ve been working on it since 2014 when my faith and the church around me felt like it was crumbling.

I had just come home from the World Race which was this intense year of life where I pushed through things that I probably shouldn’t have just pushed through. I was carrying stories in my backpack that I didn’t need to be carrying.

I didn’t know how to start processing through the things I was carrying. I didn’t know what I felt.

All I knew is that my faith felt broken and I needed to figure out what to do about that.

So, I started writing.

My story begins with the end. It begins with the main character Vera, walking away from the church. Filling up boxes and moving away from a life that she had always lived because she realized that all it had done was hurt her.

She packed things up though because she wasn’t throwing everything away. She knew that there were parts of her that had been made with that life that she didn’t want to get rid of. She wasn’t going to throw the baby out with the bath water, but she was going to for sure change the water.

I wrote that story more throughout my time in Spain and over the years I’ve revisited it here and there.

This past three weeks I’ve worked on it every single day.

And it’s been bringing up stuff that I didn’t realize I held onto.

Here’s the bottom line: I didn’t realize the depths of my church/religious trauma.

Because this is the thing about writing fiction (at least for me); the story comes from the places deep inside that need to be made sense of. They come from the places that are twisty and the only way in which I can untwist them is to put them outside of myself and start writing.

Then, like the lights that you put on your Christmas tree, they slowly start to become a string of lights and not a tangled mess.

And you begin to see what lights are out from the last Christmas, places where the garland wouldn’t untangle or even maybe remnants of last year’s tree.

You can’t discover those things unless you sufficiently detangle the lights.

Sometimes you don’t realize something is broken until you put it next to something that isn’t broken.

Sometimes you don’t realize something hurt you until you start talking about it in a fictional sense and realize that you feel deeper about it.

When the storytelling begins to not be storytelling anymore.

I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do with the stories I have that feel heavy or who I might need to talk to.

I know I have situations and people from my past that I need to let go of. I know there are people I need to write letters to that I will never send.

I know that there are spaces where I was told to be quiet and I was and I still am.

There are things that I believed to be true, that aren’t.

There are words that have shamed me into believing I wasn’t enough that are all the way from when I was a teenager in high school youth group.

Or moments where they sat high schoolers in a room and had them watch a terrfying movie about “the rapture” so we lived in fear of not living up to a standard that was even there.

There are farfetched relationship ideals that I don’t believe I can ever reach too.

There are intense shameful parameters around sex that have warped my brain.

There has been church leadership that never supported me and told me to just listen to God.

Spiritual “authorities” that told me my depression was sinful and that I didn’t trust enough.

Men who told me I shouldn’t speak, or that I didn’t hear from God and that I should just stay in women’s ministry or children’s ministry.

And sometimes these things make me angry. Not all the time, just sometimes and in very specific instances.

But I’m choosing, as I chose for my main character, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I just need fresh water.

Because there are things that I want to keep and hold.

And things I just don’t need anymore.

So Vera and I are walking this together. When I write out a scene I go back later and meet with it.

I see if we have anything in common. I see if it hits me between the eyes. And if it does? I sit with it. If it doesn’t? I still sit with it because it came from somewhere.

So that’s where I am today. I wrote this at the end of watching church from couch and I currently have worship music playing and it isn’t causing a reaction within me.

Do I still ferociously scroll past jesus tiktok? Yes. Do I swipe away from men who talk about ‘Jesus’ in their dating profile?

Also yes.

My faith has dramatically changed since Meghan the high schooler who sang on the worship team and went to youth group every Sunday night and went on mission trips to Mexico on spring break, and attending Christian concerts and music festivals.

I’ve been on mission trips to 13 countries and attending a Christian university, I’ve worked at three churches at one time.

And even though parts of those things hurt me and changed pieces of me in ways I might not get back, there are moments that I don’t want to give away either.

The beautiful thing about something breaking is that when you put it back together again you can choose different.

You can choose to see the pieces in a different way and create something new.

Faith is not a piece of Ikea furniture.

You can get creative.

So, this is where I live now. Continuing to write a fiction story that is helping me unearth and replant things, that’s help me to clean up and see the beauty in certain places.

Emptying my head of the Christmas lights to find out which are broken and deciding which strands can be fixed and which need to be tossed.

If you’re on this journey and need to throw all the lights out and start fresh- do it. If you need to be like me and replace the broken bulbs with new ones- do it.

There isn’t a science to building up what was broken.

Once again; faith is not a piece of Ikea furniture.

Be creative and kind to yourself.

With love,

Meg

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a slightly aggressive love letter

I have to admit when I got this idea this morning I internally rolled my eyes. Because as a single human on Valentine’s day it feels incredibly cliché.

But, sometimes the most clich’ things are the most true things so like…here we go.

A love letter to myself.

To the badass that is Meg Reeve,

Wow, honestly wow. I am having trouble articulating how far you’ve come, how much more comfortable you are in your own skin.

How, shockingly so, the last year has been a game changer.

I know you’re sitting there, alone, in your cozy chair with a mimosa that holds a half a bottle of champagne and you’re contemplating what takeout you’re going to treat yourself to, as you ponder the words you’re saying to yourself.

But man, look at you.

You’ve come a long from the girl who didn’t really know who she was in college, who was constantly questioning her worth inwardly, who just didn’t really know how the fierceness she held.

And I know. I know that comparison is a rough game. I know it pops up more than you’d like it to. I know sometimes that the comparison game hurts your soul.

But, man. You’re doing it.

I know that your closet is filled with clothes you’d never even thought yourself capable of wearing. You have own more two piece bathing suits then one pieces.

You are truly living up to the “wear what makes you feel good” mantra you came into all those years ago.

You’ve surrounded yourself with people who never cease to hype you up and cause you to be the self you never thought capable of being.

I’m proud of you.

And I adore the woman you’re becoming.

I know you’ve spent a lot of years saying you don’t need xyz, but not truly believing it. I know you’ve spent a lot of years choosing to be stronger than you have the capacity to be.

And even though you are still rolling your eyes at typing these words out something in you is so hoping that they won’t just be for you but for someone else who needs hyping up and a reminder that they are all they need.

You’ve taken a long time to come to that headspace. You aren’t perfect at it (but who is).  You’ve had points in your life that have hindered who you are and you’ve been fighting to get those pieces back.

I know that it hasn’t been easy. You’ve had to prove to yourself that you’re worth getting those things back.

Spoiler alert: you still are worth getting those things back.

So keep fucking going.

That’s all.

I love you more than I can say.

(and I know that hasn’t always been the case)

Now order yourself some fancy take out and watch the third “To all the boys I’ve loved” while curled up in your bed.

With love.

Always,

Meg

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This is who I am.

Sometimes being a single mid-thirties woman is really, really hard.

It’s funny. Before I could even type that sentence, I had to scroll back through my previous words and make sure that this is something I hadn’t said recently.

Because to talk about being single as a single person, is sort of taboo.

You can be seen as complaining or whining. People have all sorts of advice if you talk about it ever. They tell you all the things you should try (even though, they as a married human they might not have had to try said things to find their human).

Or they tell you that you are so lucky that you get to be single and wow look at all the things you can do.

Sometimes, (more than sometimes in my case) they tell you to lose weight and maybe that will help.

Or you get the person that tells you to trust Jesus more.

Or to not be so picky.

What I’m trying to say is that people have opinions.

And I’ve been realizing how much those opinions have caused me doubt and caused me to not believe in my self and caused me to step away from parts of who I am because it felt like too much.

Do I believe that there is a man out there for me who is going to open my doors because he knows it pisses me off and is going to force me to drink water and actually eat food because he loves me?

Yes. Absolutely.

But, if for some reason I don’t meet him for another ten years am I going to be ok?

Yes. Absolutely.

I’ve spent most of my adult life on the outskirts of other people’s relationships. Combined over the course of the last 14 years I have probably spent an entire wedding budget on weddings and baby showers.

I’ve dealt with, re-dealt with and dealt with again that currently I am no one’s first choice (this isn’t a bash to me, it’s just what it is.)

I’ve been hurt by men, I’ve been stood up, walked away from, made fun of.

I haven’t always been able to trust.

(I still don’t super trust, but those are other words for another day).

I am a self proclaimed strong independent woman who don’t need no man.

Yes, this seems like a stereotype and maybe it is. Maybe I come across as closed off and unwilling to get hurt again.

Maybe.

But it’s also just who I am. Not single, not out on a man hunt, but just a woman who gets up each day and takes care of herself and when her head hits the pillow she gets to lay across the whole bed and use all the blankets.

I’m grateful for the humans in my life who walk with me. For the ones that continually build me up. For the ones that remind me who I am despite how I sometimes speak to myself.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to an Instagram account called “The Naked Pastor” and he’s been talking about singleness in the church and one of his posts was about microagressions directed at single women. And one of them hit me in the eyes:

instagram: @nakedpastor

And I’ve realized how frequently in “the church” or in ministries I’ve been involved in that my singleness was because I was too much. I was too independent, too heavy, too busy. I’ve been told that I am/was single because I am too caring. That I give too much.

I’ve been told I was single because I don’t need to be in a relationship (and well, yes, that’s true- it’s just not up to someone else to decide that.).

I understand that this isn’t the only phase of life where people have opinions. Marriage, houses, babies. But, this is the one that I can obviously commentate on, so here I am.

I want to ask you that if you’ve ever told someone one of those things, it’s ok. If you’ve ever told me one of those things, or given me your opinion on my singleness: it’s ok.

We’re all human, we all at some part of our being just care.

And if you are a single 30-something women (or man), I want you to know I see you. I raise a glass to you.

You’re doing the damn thing.

PS: To everyone out there, please, for the love of God- don’t call my singleness brave.

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You did it.

I had an entire collection of words about why I am currently crying. There are a lot of reasons; heartache, missed moments, missed hugs, missed curtain calls, missed Junapera.

But, I realized something: right now, the overwhelming emotions and feels I have are not actually sadness.

They might be a little bit of grief, a little heartache.

You know, 2020 norm.

The words though that are filling my brain and growing larger and larger so to be seen and heard are as follows:

Hope and strength.

Woof.

My bestie Tori said something back in the 5th or 6th month of March that comes back into my brain frequently. She said that hope feels dangerous.

And as we start to step into the next calendar year with the knowledge that nothing will really change when the clock strikes midnight I need to choose more than I believe I have the ability to do so: to hope anyway.

I need to choose hope and be active in believing that good things will happen.

That good is still true.

I have the knowledge that wishing for good doesn’t mean that not good won’t happen: but choosing to believe that good is still true is choosing to believe that it can happen in the same span of time. That things that don’t feel good aren’t forever and that things that are good can still come.

And the second I feel is this: strong.

If you know me, you know that I detest the world resilient.  Mostly in regards to children and to how much they are capable of withstanding. But, that’s some other words for another day.

I’ve realized that I am strong and resilient, and I can handle disappointment and sadness and do hard things in spite of how my insides feel.

I can function with high amounts of anxiety and I can keep fucking going even when all I want to do is stop.

I garnered strength for myself, for my people, for my tiny humans this year. I also borrowed strength from all of them as well.   

But I cannot walk out of 2020 without admitting to the fact that I am stronger.

And I think that’s what I want to leave you with: you are stronger. You might not feel it. You might not be able to pinpoint the moments, but damn it, you are.

You might feel as if this year chewed you up and spit you out. You might have lost a lot. You might have quit here or there.

You might have drank too much, or ate too much, or binged watched.

You might feel like you failed (trust me, I know the feeling), but I want to remind you that you are stronger.

At the beginning of this year I referenced “The Labyrinth” (yes with David Bowie) and this is what I said:

“The road to worthy is like the movie The Labyrinth. It’s speckled with twists and turns and things and people and creatures trying to move you off course. There’s the little wormy things trying to invite in you in for tea so you forget that you are trying to save your baby brother and in all reality save yourself.

This season terrifies me a little. Just like David Bowie terrified in the Labyrinth.
I was freaked out and given the heebies jeebies by the weird 80s vibes of the Labyrinth- but I had to keep watching.
I’m a little weirded out by the creatures I might find along the way. The words, thoughts, and emotions that have and will distracted me and led me off my path because they did and still do feel right.
This next year freaks me out because, in all reality, this momentary lapse of crazy in referencing the Labyrinth has just cemented the fact that this year is about movement.
You can’t get through a maze if you don’t keep fucking going.”

I want you to remember that you can’t get through a maze unless you keep going.

And guess what? No matter how you feel you did, or what you did or didn’t accomplish, you got through this Labyrinth that is 2020.

You are stronger. And you know you can do it.

Because you did.

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But, I am a teacher.

Almost two years ago now I wrote a piece called “Don’t call it daycare”. It outlined my day, everything I do and how I am in fact a teacher.

This year, over the course of this pandemic, I’ve been told by all the world outside of my little classroom bubble a lot of mixed messages.

My center has been open the entirety of 2020. Our class sizes have ebbed and flowed, our bleach usage has gone up and we had a glorious season of time where we had turkey burgers and chicken nuggets at lunch.

We’ve been told we’re essential, we’ve been told we’re needed, we’ve been told they couldn’t do it without us.

We’ve been told to try to social distance three-year olds and to not hug them when they fall. We’ve been wearing cloth masks (that I now own about 12-15 of) and doing circle time, singing songs and telling stories.

We’ve watched parents cry before they pick up their kids, we’ve seen kids have tantrums they haven’t ever had, and we’ve missed out on the lives of those who haven’t come back.

But then we were told we were germ factories, we were told we weren’t teachers, we shouldn’t have opinions, we were called daycare over and over.

And then teachers didn’t want to come back to school without all the proper PPE (which rightly so), but then I saw post after post about “daycares” being open so why couldn’t schools.

And more than I ever have in my life, I’ve been told that I am not a teacher.

We’ve been doing a really damn hard thing since March.

And I’m not at all disregarding the hard things K-12 teachers have been doing. I’ve sent venmo’s to friends who are teachers and donated from their amazon lists and sent them coffee cards.

What I am saying is that I applied for a new job in July and was so excited to no longer in be in a profession where I felt so underappreciated by the outside world.

And when they came back after a preliminary phone interview and said thanks but no thanks, I was crushed.

I was crushed for a lot of reasons: it was a writing job that used my child development knowledge, it was remote, and, in all honesty, it would have been a needed change.

But apparently it wasn’t where my 2020 story was supposed to go.

I am so grateful that in the story of 2020 in the lives of so many of my families I will have a bookmarked spot. As hard as it has been, mostly mental health wise, I know that I am a human that can do hard things like I did and am doing and that I am a constant stability in the lives of my tiny humans. I am grateful for our families and for my boss and that we’ve done this together to the best of our abilities as we too have been building the plane as we flew it.

But the inability to feel as if I am a teacher is really damn hard. To feel that I don’t have a voice regarding being a teacher and in feeling like what I do isn’t enough.

I’m not writing all of this to get accolades or to blame.

I’m writing it because it makes me sad, angry and everything emotion in between.

I’m writing it because I’m not the only one who feels this way.

And I’m writing it because early learning teachers deserve better.

That’s all.