Honest, it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

shame less

I do not like shame.

I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.

I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.

I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.

So yes, I do not like shame.

I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?

Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.

How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.

You would probably feel ashamed.

Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.

Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?

What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?

Now, picture being a kindergartener.

It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.

The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.

And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.

Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?

That’s not it at all.

I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.

More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.

Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.

Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum

A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.

And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.

We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.

Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.

And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.

Trust me, I know.

(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)

But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?

There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.

There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.

But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.

And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life

if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.

What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?

And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.

What do you think that might do?

Well, personally?

I think it just might change the world.

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, hope is a verb, ramblings, Uncategorized, washington whimsy

But we are here, together.

I’ve been staring at my blank screen for about an hour.

I’ve written three or four different beginnings and deleted them because I had no clue where they were going.

I’ve pulled out my journal and jotted phrases, I’ve pulled from conversations this week that have shaken me and provided me no answers but just the assurance that I’m still going and I’m still here. I’ve pulled from moments of wanting to punch people from their ability to challenge me to my feet.

I don’t think people read my blog for answers.

I think maybe they read it because I flood their newsfeed with links, others read it because they are kind humans, and other read it because hopefully to see if what I am saying is what they are saying too.

I’ve been taking a lot about (or a lot around) God these days.

God and I are currently in a season of life where our relationship doesn’t work the same as it used too. So, we (me) are trying to figure out what it looks like now. In reality I am choosing to believe it’s because it’s deeper than it ever has been.

When I write I try my best to relate to people where they are. I try to use broad terms and illustrations to remind as best I can that we are all human.

I try to make sure that people who read this, be it people who see me on a daily basis or people that have seen me in months or people that have never met me, know that on a basic level, I am always ok.

The ok may be shaken sometimes but it’s always there.

The season/process/chunk of life I’m in right now is definitely a “shaky ok” kind of season. Mainly in terms of my faith, and my relationship with God and my inability to receive beautiful soul-filling words that are currently being said to me.

All the things in my life that used to work aren’t working anymore.

And so, I write for you from the middle.

I write from the middle so that you know that the middle is ok.

That these stories and processes and lives we are a part of creating are good and beautiful even when they feel ugly and hopeless.

I share my stories and my beliefs or lack thereof to show you that we aren’t that different whether you believe in my God or another God or nothing at all.

I don’t know what the answer is for me right now. I chose not to go to church this morning hoping to find some semblance of a response and was met with silence.

But, I know that silence wasn’t actually silence. It was incredibly loud in actuality.

And I say that for this reason: what may feel like silence isn’t. What may feel like the universe or god or whomever isn’t responding isn’t that. There is something there. I swear.

I don’t think people read my blog for answers because I sure as hell don’t have them.

So, whatever you are going through, whatever seems insurmountable, whatever doesn’t seem right or true or hopeful.

Know that you are the thing that is hope.

You are the thing that can get over the mountain.

And maybe, all you need to know, is that we are here, together.

Honest, stateside

Shame is a bitch

An open letter to those who feel like they are stuck in a shame cycle,

I get you.

I get that place you are in that feels like there is nothing new on the horizon.

I get the feeling of standing in the middle of the road while the people with babies and marriages and evolving relationships and new jobs seemingly zoom by.

I get the hopelessness and the desire to not have to make your own magic.

I get that feeling of everything being the same, and not having space to breathe because of the sameness.

I get the pacing and the pondering and the second guessing over and over again.

I get the desire to cut your hair, get a tattoo, move, leave church, change jobs.

I’ve had all of those thoughts in the past month.

I know the feeling of physically carrying burdens and stress and pressure and not knowing how the hell to change it.

I understand what it’s like to not want to put any of that on someone because you don’t want to be that person.

I. Get. You.

But now, I want you to picture yourself standing in the median on a busy freeway. All the cars passing by carry all the labels that you wish you carried.

You’re so focused on those cars that you don’t break eye contact.

And then when you do, you see us.

All of us.

In the same place.

On the median.

We’re all there.

There is a lot of us.

Searching, wanting the answers to jump out of someone else’s story.

Desiring something that in all reality would be a watered down version of what we are truly meant to be in.

There is a lot of us who come and go from that median.

I think that everyone spends some time there, unable to get to the other side as the cars stream past.

Just staring.

I’ve been unable to form words lately, I’ve been afraid to unpack the things I’ve been carrying for fear of what might be at the bottom of the box.

I write this letter to you not to ask for help, but to say you aren’t alone.

There are a lot of us.

Trying to figure out this thing.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) to brush off the shame.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) that shame is a bitch.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down too?

Shame of not being worthy

Shame of not being enough

Shame of falling short

Shame of not hearing god

Shame of being too much

Shame of being alone

So, I write this letter to to you to remind you, right now, in this moment to tell shame to fuck off.

You are so much more than all those things.

And you are not alone.

Sincerely,

Meg

Honest

name your shields

Over the last week I’ve had to mark off “single” on forms and applications and surveys.

And each time I’ve cringed.

Today, sitting in church, about to do communion, I was waiting to hear a phrase I’ve grown to loathe “grab one other person”.

(99% of my friends are attached to one other person).

I am pretty great on my own. I’ve written about being single. I can sit at bars and restaurants by myself. I can travel by myself. I can make my own decisions. I got this.

But, if I’m being honest; being single isn’t a flag I wave.

I wear my singleness as a shield.

I wear my singleness as a shield because if I’m being honest- I’m terrified.

(My head is full of disclaimers right now and I’m choosing not to write them)

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier then having to admit that I still have stuff to deal with in regards to the opposite sex.

I wear my singleness as a shield because I know I’m enough for myself.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s less heartbreaking than feeling left out.

I wear my singleness as shield because I’d rather a shield than shame.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier to use it then have it use me.

The thing about it though is this: I am not the only one.

And it’s not just being single. It’s whatever box you have to tick, identifier that others place on you, comfort blanket you throw on your lap to protect you from what’s happening around you.

While those statements were hard to write, I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not the only one.

I am not the only one who uses something that isn’t a bad thing as a protection.

Hell, there are times in my life that I use my Christianity as a shield.

And I can hear you out there.

Shield does NOT = excuse.

That’s not what this is about.

This is me choosing to tell you that there are things in my life that I am well aware I am doing. There are places that I haven’t gone and walls I haven’t scaled and journeys I haven’t chosen to walk into because I will have to set down that shield (whatever it may be) and be willing to take the arrows.

This is me choosing to tell you for as much as I am “man up or shut up” or “do the damn thing”, that you are not alone in needing to feel defended.

If this was Meghan circa 2012 I’d probably tie this up with a statement about Jesus. I’ve reached the point in my life, to know that Jesus is not the answer to the question.

Meghan of 2018 knows that I’ve been given the tools, the mind, the heart and the spirit to get through and work through the things

I am going to say to you- encourage you, to name your shields.

Name those things you use. Those words, those jobs, those people, those places in your life you need protection,

That’s all I’m encouraging you to do.

Name your shields.

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