Honest

it’s not about the breakthrough

I’m starting therapy again this week.

Well, actually I am going to therapy consult, but I’ve filled out the longest intake form of my life and made an appointment and it’s on my calendar.

And I keep forgetting and then I remember and my whole body tenses and I get anxious and I already feel one hundred percent exposed even though I’m not even in the therapist office yet.

I went to therapy from the beginning of 2009 to when I moved away from Orange County before the world race. I went to therapy when I was at my most exhausted, most depressed and with the least ability to take care of myself. I was on antidepressants and had moments of suicidal thoughts and didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to wake up and have to do it again.

I would walk into my therapist small windowless office and sit on the corner of the couch and put a pillow in my lap and be anxious for the first 15 minutes out of our 50 minute session.

That was the same for every single session that I saw him. Sitting in the small windowless room I was safe, but the prospect of combing through the areas of my life that were dark and hard and sad stressed me out.

I’m starting therapy again this week but I am so different from the first time I went to therapy 10 years ago. I’ve discovered so much more about myself and how I work and what I need and I’ve gone places and had hard conversation and sat in rooms filled with anxiety but still manage to function through it.

Therapy did wonders for me ten years ago. It allowed me to open my eyes to myself and see what I needed to do and allowed me to learn how to SIT in my anxiety and feel it.

But, I’m not looking for breakthrough.

I had this realization today that my actual breakthrough is for everyone around me to physically see it on my face and in my decisions but the breakthrough isn’t as important to me. What is important is the novel of experiences and stories and decisions that gets me to the point of outward breakthrough. What is important to me is the heartache and the fear and the ability to knock down walls inside and unpack boxes and throw them in the cardboard crusher.

I decided today that I’m not going to place my hope in the fact that I can get to the next, and that something is coming.

I am going to place my hope in my ability to figure it out.

I’m going to place my hope in my ability to sit with anxiety and fear until it all untangles.
I know it’s all in verbiage. I know that you may hope for breakthrough and to you that means every little thing along the way.

But, I say all this so you remember that when someone HAS a “breakthrough” and it feels like its out of left field, or they make a decision or are suddenly in a relationship that there is more than just the breakthrough.

There’s the anxiety and the fear and all the other damn things that lead to the fireworks.

So, maybe stop praying for breakthrough.
Stop speaking breakthrough into others lives.
Start speaking the untangle.
Start speaking the very next step instead of the horizon.
Offer a shoulder so someone can climb over their walls.
Give a cozy chair to sit in discomfort.

And (pardon the following expletive)
Remind them to keep fucking going.

Because whatever word you wanted to use for it: you can’t have breakthrough or untangling if you don’t keep moving down a path.

I am a person who struggles with anxiety and depression. My brain doesn’t always treat me nicely. I don’t always treat myself nicely.
And while I do pause to look at the horizon, into the hopes and loveliness of the what’s next. I’m still going to dream and find beauty.

I am going to start facing down more walls and giants and unpacking more boxes than I was before.
So, when I hit that place, when I hit the next, when I make decisions that feel rushed and out of the blue I want you to remember that breakthrough is the end of one story and the beginning of another.

Breakthrough is one moment on the timeline-not THE timeline.
Breakthrough is not the answer.
The answer is in the untangle, and the mess.

Breakthrough is in the keeping fucking going.

Honest

There always is an end

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to write about. I’ve started a couple different trains of thought and a couple of different ideas.
And just nothing.

Sometimes its hard to figure out what I want to say.

And yes, I want people to read what I write and I want to connect with people and have an ability for them to understand why I am who I am.
I am careful what I write and how I say it. Not because I’m worried someone will be offended (I’m welllllll past that) or because I’m afraid someone (cough cough my mom) will be worried about me.

I am careful about what I write and how I say it because words matter so much to me. And for as much as I do share so much about myself; I don’t share all of it because some of it is just for me.
But today, right now, the words that truly keep popping into my head are this:

I’m not happy.
And that’s heavy and dark.

And also, probably, a little dramatic.

A couple weeks ago I text my work wife that I felt like I had nothing for myself. That everything I do in some way, shape or form, is for another person. That my life right now is weddings, tiny human observation, tiny human day to day life, finding time to sit, trying to not lose my mind and trying to find pockets of laughter. My life has been a lot of trying to stir joy in the lives of others.

And (please don’t roll your eyes at me) it’s ok.

I have had two panic attacks in the last month or so and I’ve come close to another (in my bosses office) but one foot in front of the other.

You might be wondering why I’m saying all of this and why I’m telling you that I’m not happy.
Because, the tunnel may be so long and so dark, but I always, ALWAYS find the light at the end of it. I know it’s there. I know that I have found it and will find it again.

My light right now is in people. It’s in my roommate sitting across from me, and from going out to lunch after church and laughing. My light is from getting to celebrate those I love getting married and from laughing at the most ridiculous board games known to man.

I’m not happy right now but my life is full of a lot of love. My life is filled to the brim with people that I adore and humans that reminded me who I am daily.

I’m not happy right now but my life still has laughter and the light that is at the end of this tunnel is brighter here and there.

I’m not happy right now but I’m also not sad.

I write this so you know that we can still live in the midst of feeling darkness. That we can still move forward.

That we can still live.

I wrote a blog back when I lived in Spain on “processing”. I had watched people halt their lives for the sake of processing. And it bugged me.
I get it.
I get the stopping and looking at something to figure it out.
I don’t get when someone stops living.

So, I guess I am saying all of this to say; if you aren’t happy, if your life is full of life and people and laughter, but you are still not finding the happiness, I want you to know that there is a light at the end of your tunnel of this season.

And not being happy isn’t the end all be all.

I don’t have all the answers in my life and I don’t expect too. I don’t know what the next year will look like. I may meet a man, I may write a book, I may do a lot of things.

But I do know, that my life will always be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel for myself, for my friends and for those who read this.

The light is coming.

It always is and always will be.

And if you learn nothing from my writing or connect with nothing that’s all I want you to walk away with.

The light is coming.

It always is and always will be.

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, ramblings

It’s time for gold shorts

I have a Bellingham tradition.

It’s a moment every winter. I stare at my pants and socks and boots and layers and I just say screw it.

It happened yesterday.

I was getting ready to leave for a few hours and I was staring at my pants and boots and socks and legging and layers and I saw them. Tucked into my closet, long since worn.

What was it you ask?

Why my gold shorts.

Because even though it was 42 degrees out and there is still snow in my yard that hasn’t had enough concentrated sunshine to melt, I am READY for spring.

It hasn’t been a hard winter beside our snap of snow the last few weeks, but it’s still been winter.

It’s funny because as I sit here I think of how there are SO MANY WAYS that people use the theme of winter in their stories. I mean I’m share I’ve done it numerous times. You can talk about darkness or the lack of light and the absence of movement and things dying away and hibernation and all of those lovely ways you can paint a picture of the season.

And then when spring comes there is new life, rebirth, resurrection, light.

For me?

There are gold shorts.

When I bust out my gold shorts even when I have literally no reason to be wearing them because it’s still actually cold out, I am saying NOPE ALL DONE. I am saying to the world around me, let’s bring the color back, I am saying, let’s move on to the next.

Let’s take a deep breath and go.

I’ve spoken in church the last two weekends. (Insert eye roll here) and I’ve been reminded that I have something to bring to the table. I have words to say and give out and be apart of.

I’m more prone to forget that in winter.

I’m prone to forget to I have purpose and movement and can do more than I am doing.

The winter make us forget. It blankets our brain. It scoops up all the lies we’ve ever heard or been told and pushes them under the doorframe with the cold.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday all the lies crammed under the door and hit me. The anxiety started rolling over me and I felt it. I felt the thoughts pour over me. All the lies and anxieties and life struggles started to aggressively taunt me and remind me of everything I had and hadn’t done.

It was a completely familiar feeling that I’ve experienced so many times before.

I did what I needed to do, I took deep breathes and I laid on the floor and I talked to friends and eventually calmed my body down.

But since then I have been trying to push off shame and figure out why my anxiety has been spiking recently and figuring out what I need to release out of my life.

And then I put on my gold shorts again.

I put on my gold shorts and stood for spring. I stood for light and hope and for the ability to keep moving. I remembered that what I do is important. That I have a voice. A strength. And an ability to make change, bring change and bring peace.

I put on my gold shorts and took a breath because it’s coming. A breath, a push, the wind.

I put on my gold shorts and decided that spring was going to be here.

Spring is not coming, it is here. Spring is inside of us. The ability to make new, to bring light and hope and realness to all that is around us.

I did something I haven’t done in a long while today. I grabbed my bible off of my shelf.

(I know right?)

Anyway, there’s a passage in Nehemiah that came to mind today while I was thinking about things I give space to in my life.

“I am carrying in a great project and can’t go down”

Nehemiah didn’t have space for things. He knew he was carrying on a great project and couldn’t step away.

My anxiety that sprouted this winter isn’t because I can’t control something. It isn’t because I am not trusting God. It’s something that sometimes stirs up more and keeps me up and opens drawers that I try so hard to shut.

And then, then I put my gold shorts on.

And I am reminded that I am carrying on a great project.

That what I am doing is good and meaniful.

That anxiety and winter will come, but they won’t stay.

Did you hear that?

Anxiety and winter will come, but they won’t stay.

So do me a favor.

Put on those (metaphorical or not) gold shorts and show up for Monday.

Show up for Monday and remember you aren’t winter or darkness or anxiety.

You are spring.

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, hope is a verb

Five years of wind and writing on Sundays

I just reread the first piece I posted on this website five years ago.

I can’t help but chuckle at the person who wrote those words. Now not in a bad way, because everything leads us to where we are.

But, even though that girl had more hope, that girl had dreams that hadn’t been left on mountains to be forgotten about, that girl still felt like she had so much more to give, I chuckle because I am so far from her.

And that’s not a bad thing.

And I want to tell you where I am right now to remind you of something very important: it’s ok.

Because the truth is, I feel a little dead inside right now. It’s almost as if I needed New Year’s Eve to actually be two weeks of me being able to take deep cleansing breaths and wash away all the things that piled on from the last few years.

That isn’t life though. That’s not how the world works. So the year went from 18 to 19 and I was just there with a champagne glass and wondering how I was going to brush myself off and keep going.

I got a picture today while I was walking. It was of a parched desert with hard packed dirt. Then the rains came. They came and they came and the water sat on top of the dirt and couldn’t sink in. It found nooks and crannies and valleys but the water had no way of infiltrating the surface. It had no where to go but to flood the life that was already growing.

Hard packed dirt that gets flooded quickly can handle the amount of water that comes. It doesn’t have enough time to saturate or sink in or make mud.

Now, I have some of the most amazing friends who give me love and support and joy and encouragement. I have parents who support me even from two states away.

But, I realized today I’ve been a hard packed desert for awhile.

So all the people in my life who have yet to give up on me I want to say for that I am sorry. I am sorry for an inability to receive goodness and joy and hope. I am sorry to you my friends and to myself.

But the dirt and the soil is hard packed and susceptible to flooding and to killing what is good.

And that’s a little bit how I feel these days.

It’s funny because I think of that girl from 5 years ago and the joy and hope that were running off of her.

And she had seen things and had heartache and hurt. She had felt lost and lost who God was, she had been there and back again.

But then, she got older.

And she questioned more and found new words and lost hope and refound it.

And now, she’s here. She’s me.

She’s a little dead inside, she’s forgotten how to laugh a little, how to smile.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok because it’s a part of moving and growing and living.

It’s not shameful or wrong.

It doesn’t mean I can’t love or give out life or hold space for someone or laugh or smile.

It doesn’t mean I’m not me.

And it doesn’t mean I need rescuing or that I am sending up signal flares.

My word for this year is release.

And among some other things I am choosing to release out of myself words so that you know you aren’t alone.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am in hopes that you will release that it’s ok to not be ok.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am so that you know that you can be not ok and still keep living and showing up in spite of it.

You can still be you.

I am that girl from 5 years ago. Parts of her built who I am today.

I haven’t failed her, I haven’t let go of her.

I’ve just learned a little more. I’ve gotten some rough edges.

I’m a little dead inside.

And that’s ok.

Honest, tiny human teacher

Why peace is like potty training

I was having a text conversation with one my favorite people to converse with via text, my boss/friend Jamie. She, on a daily basis, reminds me that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok to ask for help and that I do in fact know what I am doing.

Tonight we were talking about peace.

One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve received was either from Betsy or Tiffany (why not both) and it was this “follow your peace”. It’s something that gets referenced frequently in my house between Patty and I.

I know what my “peace” feels like. It’s not clean or neat, it doesn’t always evoke peace honestly, but it’s like a compass. My peace points me north. It’s not necessarily based in my faith, some days it is, lately I don’t know if it is.

In this conversation today, I said that finding and following your peace was kind of like potty training.

Explaining to a tiny human what it feels like to need to go to the bathroom is practically impossible. I am of the philosophy that enough accidents and they will figure it out. And once they do, it’s mostly their choice whether or not they listen to their body or just keep playing with the magnet tiles.

But, in that illustration, I realized something: growing up, my body didn’t give me enough warnings that I needed to go to the bathroom. I was on different bladder control medications and wet the bed well into my teens and took said medication for it until my senior year in college. I saw three different urologists as a very young child and had to have procedures and tests done that were not fun in any way, shape or form as a little girl.

I never wanted to sleep over at friend’s houses, not because I was scared of being away from home, but because I was terrified of wetting the bed. I felt shamed multiple times in elementary school when I asked for the bathroom pass and my favorite teachers in junior high and high school were the ones who didn’t make you ask to go to the bathroom.

I felt so incredibly far from normal.

My body never gave me clues. I had to really, really listening to my body as a child before I even knew what that meant. I had to make up my own clues.

And I sit here, shuttering a little from reliving some of those memories, I wonder if right now I am in a season where peace and the ability to follow my peace is a little hazy.

Maybe there isn’t supposed to be peace to follow because we need to fight for it a little bit more.

But, what I do know, is that just like I had to make up my cues for something that was already inside me, I know that the peace is already inside me. That I have a compass, that I’m doing something right, that peace isn’t easy, but it’s probably already there. My peace reminds me to stay, to dig in, to believe, to walk into the mess.

Dear human reading this,

The world outside kind of sucks right now, peace feels fleeting on many different levels. But I want you to know, as cliche as it sounds, you have peace inside of you. It might be old peace, peace you fought for in a story that feels lifetimes ago. It might be borrowed peace, because things don’t make sense, but you need something to grab onto.

You have peace inside of you, I promise. You might call it by a different name, but it’s there.

And it’s needed.

This week, I am going to do my best to remember I have peace inside of me. And if you need the reminder yourself, shoot me a message because I got your back.

Meg

PS. With all that’s going on around us, with the hate, and what seems like the inability to be kind, I also want you to remember this that just like potty training:

Peace is not still.

Peace is not passive.

Peace demands movement.

(And hopefully not like potty training)

Peace can very much be loud.

So, let us be loud as we pass our peace to those who need it.