royal family kids camp

To my Royal family: 1+1+1=1

To my Royal family,

I started writing this on Friday in the gazebo around 7am which turned out to be a horrible idea as I swatted away multiple mosquitoes (I rounded out at 19 bug bites).

Before I get into it I want you reading this to take a deep breath with me and say the following statement (which you can obviously edit if you don’t like my word choice):

“We did the damn thing”

I don’t know about you but this was my most exhausting year at camp. It’s Sunday and I barely did anything yesterday and I might feel rested now. Maybe.

Since Friday morning I’ve been contemplating what I learned this year from the kids and from you guys. I’ve been trying to think about what my first thoughts of take away are from this year.

Every year there is a small piece of me that thinks I might hit a point where the magic wears off. Where my love for this kids and this camp won’t be enough to push through. I came into this year of camp probably at the lowest I ever have. I’m pretty burned out, fresh out of ideas for things happening in my own classroom and just plain tired.

I wrote about this at the beginning of the week but the moment I got out of the car at Pinecrest I felt new again.

And then the week began.

And as I am every year- I am amazed by the way all of you love and serve the kids.

Obviously we aren’t all perfect and there are things that happen that I don’t agree with and that frustrates me, but it’s those moments that you all think no one sees. It’s when you bend down to listen to a tinier camper or when you give an older, tougher boy a chance to be a kid.

It’s when you get into the pool with the kids and see the look on their faces that you would get in the water. Or when you get up on stage to dance and it lights up their faces.

The thing about a week at camp is that the effects last a lifetime. Five days can change the course of everything.

Even just one of those five days.

I think we know that, somewhere deep inside, but I think sometimes we forget that each year of camp changes us and leaves a mark on us.

This year camp changed me more than others. And even as I sit here on Sunday morning I’m overwhelmed with just how much I love those kids. Even more than I thought possible.

I’m not quite sure how it changed me yet if I’m being honest, but this year left a mark on me (and not just the bug bites and the two bruises I got in the pool). I’m not ready to go back to life yet, I’m not ready to leave and I’m not sure how to take what I have now into my life.

But, in that, I want to remind you to take a moment or two or three, today and next week and the week after and jot some things down about camp. What you learned, what you didn’t want to learn and what you are holding on to. I want you to shake off things you don’t need and place things at His feet that you don’t need to carry.

I want you to remember that you are amazing. Whether you are a teen staff, a counselor, a staff member stationed at activities or a staff that was constantly moving locations, a grandma or grandpa, aunt, uncle or a dean. If you are someone who can’t come to camp but in hours with quilting or fundraising or the birthday party. If you were my team coach or work with the LIT. If you were one of our amazing staff counselors or last but certainly not least- if you are Becca or Susan:

You are amazing and out of this world.

Every year I am blessed, excited and beyond words with getting to work with, laugh with, and say all the words or no words with.

We did the damn thing for the kids.

We learned what worked. (The pool system)

We learned what didn’t go well ( #ripvarietyshow2k19)

And we on top of all of the that: we loved, we WERE love and I think we received more love than we can comprehend.

Every year I’m in awe of the kids and every year I’m in awe of you guys.

Another year in the books.

So let’s take a breath, write some reminders for next year and take what we learned into Monday and see how we can bring a little bit of camp to ourselves each day.

I love you all.

Until next year,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb, it takes a village

How you stand

I write fluffy words a lot.

I write words that ask you, the reader, to step into the next. To be encouraged, to grab onto your own strength.

Sometimes all I want to do is yell and cry.

I had a moment on Friday, during nap time where I just wanted to walk out the doors. The why doesn’t really matter, but just know that I wanted to walk out. Instead I walked into the storage closet and shed a few tears and took a deep breath and walked back out.

Then later that night I had my second panic attack in the last month.

I don’t say this all to say my life is awful or for sympathy (because it’s not and I don’t need it)- I say it to tell you what I did next.

Saturday morning I went out to breakfast and read a book. I opened windows and cleaned my room, I drank a glass of wine and ate bean dip straight from the casserole dish on the floor of my friend’s house.

This morning I slept in and went to a coffee shop and did some prep for a bridal shower.

What I’m trying to say is I kept moving.

Sometimes I have shame that pops up from about ten years ago when I stopped moving. I didn’t go to work and I hid in a hole and my roommates pulled me out of the hole and gave me space all at the same time.

What I am trying to say is keep moving, in some way. Make some brownies or clean or read in a coffee shop or treat yourself to a delicious breakfast sandwich and a good book.

Walk outside, breathe, get vitamin D.

I spend 40+ hrs teaching tiny humans how to listen to their bodies. What it feels like to be mad, sad, happy or when you need to go to the bathroom. But how often do we as adults truly listen to our bodies unless our body is screaming at us?

Self care and soul care is so trendy these days. Not that it’s a bad thing. But what I want to remind you is that self care looks different for everyone. Self care to me is cleaning with my window open. It’s laughing with friends. It’s sitting across from someone at a coffee shop and not speaking.

I have made it a point to keep moving forward. To always show up. And when I don’t want to necessarily leave the house- to do something anyway.

It’s so important how you respond to the lows in your life.

I’ve learned over the last ten years what responses work for me and what responses don’t. What responses give me life and what responses cause me to drown a little more.

It’s an important value in my life to be as honest and open as possible in my writing. There are things I won’t talk about, not for lack of desire but in all honesty it’s just not everyone’s business.

But this, my response to my lows is something I want to share.

Knowing what to do when your body yells is just as important as what you do to not make it yell.

Responding when you fall down reminds you of ways to keep standing.

So to you, my friend reading this, know that it’s 100% ok to fall.

It happens.

But, start noting how you stand up. Note, how you stand up taller than when you fell.

You’ve got this.

Do the damn thing

Honest, preschool, tiny human teacher

The other b word.

Fun fact ahead: I have an almost masters. I finished most of the components of a Masters in Leadership with an emphasis in spirituality.

I started the masters at a time in my life where I was desperate for something new but didn’t know what I wanted in my life. I was on a higher dosage anti-depressants that had at first just wanted me to be all done with everything and even though I was slowly learning through therapy- I didn’t really know how to feel better.

I had been working since with kids full time for only about two and a half years (little did i know). But between family illness and mental illness and volunteering and working in more than one place, I was running out of steam incredibly fast.

And I am going to be honest-back then I very much hesitated to say I was tired or busy or depressed.

I just would shut down when I was in a place that I didn’t have to people. I would go numb.

I didn’t have space for my own emotions or to say no to people around me. And I didn’t know who the hell I was.

So being in a masters program that involved pastoral leadership was a great choice.

(That was sarcasm).

Now even though I didn’t finish, it wasn’t because I completely crashed and burned. I learned a lot, about my passions, what I was good at, that I had a voice, that I had things I disagreed with, people I disagreed with.

I recognize now what that season was in the midst of it all.

So, why do I bring this all up 10 years later?

Because, my friends, burnout is a bitch.

I am so apprehensive to be technically a “millennial” (I’m a different type of millennial because of when I was born in the 80s but like we won’t get into that) who is writing about being burned out.

I am apprehensive to be writing about being burned out as a person from a culture who is supposed to be “full in Christ”.

The reason I wanted to talk about being burned out wasn’t to get pity or 15 comments to take care of myself or that I “can’t pour from an empty cup” (sorry not sorry friends, I can and I do).

But it’s to tell you this:

Burnout will steal and take your joy. Even if you have a little joy in what you do or who you are, it will squelch it. Burnout will make you feel crazy. And you aren’t less than because of it.

This weekend I volunteered here and there at a conference at my church. When I got in my friend Patrick’s car when I got off work on Friday I was exhausted and numb. The absolute last thing I wanted to be doing was getting in a car with Patrick going to church to volunteer.

But I said I would so I did. (I’m a 2 on the enneagram just FYI)

A part of what I was doing on Friday was speaking out what wholeness is to me with some of my talented words friends.

When I wrote my simple sentence out about wholeness I showed it to my friend Romay. And then she responded with telling me she hoped no one ever tried to change me, that no institution tried to change me.

And I held it in. I held it in through actually saying the words on a microphone, I held it in until I got to Shawn and Victoria’s house and I looked at Victoria and she hugged me and I cried.

Not a lot, because no one as time for that. But a moment of tears and the realization that I am closer to the edge than I thought I was.

A moment of tears and a realization that it doesn’t make me weak or lazy or stupid to be burned out.

I had a moment of tears and realization that burnout is taking from me.

Burnout takes from you.

It takes pieces and you don’t know they’re gone until you search.

Being burned out causes you to question who you are and what you are doing and why you are doing it.

And if you are feeling burned out I want you to know YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

You are not less than.

You can still be moving forward.

And there is still hope.

(I need you to know how hard that sentence was for me to write.)

That’s all I really wanted to get across.

Being burned out doesn’t always look the same.

It can still be showing up for your damn life because people need you and you need people.

It can be going until you collapse on Friday.

And if you just scrolled to the bottom of this because you didn’t want to read the whole thing:

Dear burnout,

You are not a badge of honor, even when the world and workplaces tell us you are.

You are not a badge of honor even when we choose to wear you like one.

You are not needed.

And you are taking pieces of us we didn’t give you.

You come because we expect more of ourselves than we have to give.

And yet we give it anyway because maybe someone or something needs what we have more than we do.

But, burnout, you will not win.

We will not let you.

We will take back what you have stolen.

We will regain pieces we have lost.

We will be whole.

We will keep moving forward.

We will find hope.

Peace.

Laughter.

Life.

Dear burnout,

You are a bitch and you will not win.

Sincerely,

Us

{if you are on the verge of burnout or are already there I’d love to hear your story. My Instagram and twitter handles are both @megmagnolia )

Honest

2018 was not silent.

To my friends,

We fucking did it.

I wanted to put that more eloquently. I wanted to have a better starter sentence but that’s all that really fits.

And really, truly we did do it.

I wish I could explain to all of you how intensely proud I am of all of us for continually facing what 2k18 brought to our table. Because it seemed every time we got to the place where we thought we’d gotten over that last thing, that last mountain, another one rose up in its place.

2k18 was drenched in our tears and our exhaustion. It was drenched in coffee and tequila and vodka and wine. 2k18 crushed dreams and held devastation and swung wrecking balls of hopelessness.

There was burnout and the feeling of being unable to catch up to life.

The absolute belief that the other shoe was going to drop followed every single moment of joy.

This year has been so packed full of disappointment for some of the humans in my life that the joy hasn’t been loud enough to break through.

And in some cases the lack of anything, joy, goodness caused us the inability to see those things even when they were right in front of our faces.

This year held good things, it really did.

(Like three words: 90’s themed birthday)

But honestly, at the end of the year I can look back and say that we fought. Maybe not all the time, maybe not loudly, maybe we laid our heads down at one point but we are still here.

Every single one of us.

I don’t what 2018 did to you.

I don’t know if you cried more or laughed more. I don’t know if this was the best year of your life or the worst or even in that dead middle where you don’t know tears from smiles. I don’t know if you wanted to give up.

I don’t know if you had sufficient amounts of rage (🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼) or joy (YASSSS QUEEN- never forget that 2k18 we met the FabFive and with them all things just keep getting better). I don’t know if you had love or loss or both.

I just don’t know.

But, my friend…

YOU ARE STILL HERE.

You are still moving and taking deep breathes and showing up for your life (even if you missed a few days here and there).

You may have a few more wrinkles or grey hairs or pounds. You may have given your body a beating this year; but you still did it.

2018 took a lot of my tears. A lot of my friends tears. 2018 tried to rob me of a hell of a lot of my joy. 2018 took some of my faith and replaced it with something different (and that I’m still figuring out).

2018 brought engagements and babies and weddings and friends moving here and there and everywhere in between. 2018 did bring a little bit of hope-but just not how we thought.

2018 was not silent.

But, honestly I don’t think we were either.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring. I can’t promise joy. I can’t promise everything will be fine. I can’t promise people won’t be haters.

But we can do the damn thing.

That I can promise.

I can promise that showing up isn’t always easy, but we can.

Because we have.

My planner is already getting full for 2019. I already have three weddings to go too, one that I am the officiant of honor in. My work life the next two months is going to be insane.

And in the midst of all the the things, that parts that aren’t the best in my life and in the lives of my friends don’t go away with midnight.

The struggles and things that aren’t great in your life won’t go away with midnight.

The battles and all those things don’t disappear from 11:59-12:00.

BUT there is something to it.

Something new, something more. Time to dust off the dirt of it all and step into the new year a little stronger than last. (Or in new Calvin Klein heels).

You can.

You will.

You have.

Let’s do that damn thing.

With love,

Meg

Honest, ramblings

words about my ever-changing faith

Six years ago I was returning home from training camp for the world race.

World race training camp 2012

It’s funny because at that point my world had been turned upside down multiple times and at training camp it was turned upside down again.

I didn’t know a lot about God then even though I’d been a Christian for 14 years at that point and went to a Christian university.

But it seems that the more “Christian” things I’ve been apart of the more changes I’ve seen happen in myself in regards to my faith and identity.

I don’t think anything I’ve been a part of is bad: It hasn’t in any way, shape or form caused me to want to not believe God or run from the faith I have.

If anything what it’s done is cause me to settle even more into finding who I am outside of the church and christianity. It’s been more about finding who God says I am by the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

It’s more about finding out who I am not, through the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

When I came home from the world race I was a wreck. Well, I became a wreck about a couple months later. Then, I went to Spain and it was better.

And then I came to Bellingham and the wrecking ball came again.

It’s not even that I have doubted more, because I’ve definitely had times that I’ve doubted more than the last three years.

I think, that my faith and my life, since doing all these “Christian things” has been more about the realization that God, faith, all of those things are so much bigger than people give them credit for.

I don’t make decisions based on my faith, or the fact that I’m a Christian, or my conscious or whatever else you may call it.

I make decisions based on who I am.

And who I am changes. Not because I’m reinventing myself but because I am learning more about myself each day.

Yep folks, each day.

So it makes sense that my faith would turn and grow and change.

I want to take the shame out of reframing your mind. Letting your faith be shaken, walking away for a moment to figure something out.

I know not everyone agrees with me on that.

But, walking away from something doesn’t mean you are running away.

Sometimes, walking away is the only way to guarantee that you are going to stay.

Today, in church, I realized that I have some pillars in my life that hold up the makeshift house of my faith that aren’t necessarily super sturdy.

In non-Christian verbiage, I realized today, that there are pieces of myself, pieces of my identity that I think are major parts of myself that actually aren’t.

I realized today that my identity isn’t based on my faith. And the more I learn about myself, the more I realize that my faith doesn’t make me who I am.

I think my faith allows me to look at things through a different lens just as any set of beliefs would.

My faith does add to who I am, but it’s not the only thing.

And it’s ok if it changes and evolves.

You aren’t less of a human if your mind changes, if you find out more information, if something doesn’t settle with you.

You aren’t less of a human if you allow yourself to grow.

My faith has grown, been stretched, fallen away, come back again and evolved over the past 10 years immensely.

I think in this time in our world it’s more important than ever to listen to what’s happening around you. Listening to your faith, or spirit or whatever and know that we can’t change anything if we don’t allowing ourselves to change.

And know that it’s ok to change.

As humans we grow and change and collect more data every day.

But, even in that and with that I will always be me.

And you, my friend, will always be you.

Honest

We are more than summer

I think, currently, my life is full of a lot of boxes of “things I shouldn’t talk about”.

My brain and heart feel empty and full all at the same time.

Last week, one of the father figures in my life was in town and as I walked up to him to hug him I automatically felt the need to put on one of the many cloaks in my life. This one was the “it’s fine, everything is fine” cloak. I had enough concealer on my face to cover up the bags under my eyes and the lines on my face and the wrinkles from stress.

(The fact that I didn’t automatically burst into tears when he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek said enough for my ability to hold it together).

A little later when I was talking to him, he mentioned something he always mentions (if you know who I am talking about you know what it was: “where are all the men?!” 😂😂)

And I responded, “yes, but I am good. Sometimes it’s harder, but I’m good”.

And he responded how he always does with me, “I know”.

But then, he told me I looked stronger.

He didn’t mean physically, I haven’t been pumping iron (just throwing axes, but like that’s another story). I didn’t tell him much in our short conversation, but basically just said that I’ve been wrestling with some things.

I think, well, I know, the reason I haven’t written much this year at all, actually hasn’t been because I haven’t had words. I believe I have.

And it’s for this reason: I am not solely the things I am wrestling with, stressed about, struggling with, dealing with.

I am not just a preschool teacher.

I am not just a single female.

I am not just a Christian.

I am a hell of a lot more than all of that.

I am a person who truly, truly desires to speak things out, to pour out what is happening in my life to support and encourage others.

I honestly just want you to know that you matter and you aren’t alone and above all that you are allowed to take up space.

I want you to know that it’s ok not to talk about things.

It’s ok to have anxiety walking into a church, or meeting with a mentor.

It’s ok to say no to friends, and cry or just not want to talk about it.

It’s ok to not want to be put in a box.

But please, at some point, choose to become stronger, take up the damn space and move.

I think this fall will be me choosing to have conversations with people who know more than I do. It will be choosing to sit and rest more actively than I have and it will be making decisions I don’t necessarily want too.

This summer hasn’t been the best.

And that’s fine.

We are more than one season of our lives.

We are more than our jobs even if it’s all we talk about.

We are more than our relationship status even if it the first question on a form.

We are more than the boxes we can talk about and the ones we can.

You are more than summer.

You matter.

So, let’s do the damn thing, however that looks.

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.