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, 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, ramblings

a letter to those who have no hope for the holidays

Dear friend, 

I want you to know I get you.I don’t understand or know your circumstances. I don’t know the deep places of your heartache.

But on a soul level; I get you. 

There are a lot of times in life that dealing with a gamut of heartache sucks.

Anxiety, grief, loss, singleness, depression, estrangement.

All of those are magnified during the holiday season.

Even just finding a template for a Christmas card was a glaring reminder of my relationship status. Every template featured a happy couple, a new home, a new baby, a diamond ring.

But, this isn’t a blog about that.

It’s just an example to you.

I get heartache.

On so many levels.

And I know that yours is oh so different. 

Your story, your heartache doesn’t match mine.

And mine doesn’t match yours.

But I guarantee that there are at least two people around the table with you who could say the same thing.

Who get you.

What I am trying to say is that you are not alone.

And I know that’s hard to read without rolling your eyes.

(It’s hard for me to write).

Because when you are physically alone it’s hard to remember. When you feel alone it’s hard to remember that. 

But it’s true. The beautiful thing about humanity is that even if it’s just the person in front of us at the grocery store, or the barista who makes are coffee- we are not alone. We all have stories and frown lines and spots on our pillow from tears.

We just have to fight the battle to remember that.

I have to fight the battle to remember that.

So, here’s the deal: I want to challenge you.

I want to challenge you to find a new way to infuse joy into your holidays. Make a new tradition, revamp an old one.

I want to challenge you to laugh. 

And be ok with laughing.

And lastly, I want to challenge you to be ok with crying. To not feel shame in telling a story around a fire.

To not feel shame in taking moments to yourself or sitting in the dark with just the Christmas tree on.

Because when there is a heartache so great that it comes to you in times of joy, I believe, for the most part, you can find joy on the other end of that heartache.

Don’t put yourself in a box of heartache this holiday season. 

You aren’t defined by that heartache. You aren’t ruled by it. It’s just one of the colors in your picture of life.

It’s not all that you are.

Even if it feels like it.

And if you ever feel alone, just remember me, in rainy, blustery Bellingham. I’m with you.

I’m for you.

This holiday season will be new. It may still have heartache but if you need some I am holding some hope for you (and cinnamon sugar almond bars).

With love,

Meghan 

royal family kids camp

To my Royal family 2017

To my Royal Family,
I put off writing this as long as I could, mainly because I didn’t want to start crying. 

So, obviously writing this on an airplane is something that sounded right.

I’ve been closing my week of royal family out for the last 4-5 years or so with a letter to you, those whose I do the thing with and it’s become one of my favorite writing pieces that I work on.

.family.

I learn something, as we all do, every year at camp.

Day in and day out for the better part of the last 11 years I’ve taken care of tiny humans. Even amidst my travels abroad and the times in between, I’ve found myself filling in at my old preschool, teaching English, babysitting and volunteering at VBS.

I don’t seem to find kids; they seem to find me.

The job that I’ve held for the last two years has been the most exhausting to date. It pulls out of parts of me that have been hard to refill. It’s thrown my life more out of balance than anything I’ve every encountered.

It’s been hard.

And for reasons, some still out of my grasp, I belong there. The people make my heart soar and I’ve adored the families I’ve been privileged to walk alongside of for the last two years.

But, as per usual, camp did something. It reminded me of things I think I’ve tried to bury and shove to the side.

I was pretty busy this week at camp. Moving from an Afro and sequins, to khaki pants and a field guide, to a swimsuit and back again.

#itsbecauseweprayed

I was exhausted.

BUT I wasn’t weary.

These kids get me every year.

It’s in the moment where they comprehend they get birthday presents, or the moment where they hold the slimy sea creatures, or pass the swim test.

It’s in the moment where they understand they are allowed to be a kid.

And especially in the moment that they realize that we believe for their futures.

Some things never change.

Getting to find ways to tell each kiddo that they were meant for more, for greater, that they are allowed to dream.

That gets me.

That got me.

This year, albeit exhausting, I was able to grab some of that for myself. 

I had forgotten or maybe even chosen to push aside the fact that I am meant for more.

I think I’ve had so many unsuccessful feeling days over the last year that I’ve lost that fact that I’m good at what I do.

Camp grants us a week to allow the gifts and talents and abilities inside of ourselves to be used to the fullest potential possible.

We don’t hold back at camp.

This week I was reminded of a few things: I have the ability to find joy in what I do, I miss telling kids about Jesus and lastly, that I shouldn’t hold back, ever.

what happens in drama (doesn’t always) stay in drama

The Sunday after camp I went to NMC, a place that has become my home church in California and Pastor Jordan talked about how Jesus delegates his ministry to the disciples. He used a passage from Mark that always hits me in the eyes:

“He went up in the hillside and called those whom He himself wanted and chose; and they came to Him” (mark 3:13)

I remember when I first heard that verse. It’s an action verse. There is nothing passive in picking up and following Christ. There is nothing passive in choosing to pick up and step into the things that God has given us to use.

LIT partner in crime. And my cousin Terra-cotta

This weekend it reminded me that all the things I use at camp, all the acting, all the leadership, all the yelling and all the love I delve into at camp is with me the other 51 weeks of the year.

And my amazing, breathtakingly awesome royal family: they are all in you too.

So in a month or two, when the thrill of camp is gone, or when you are back in your job, or feel as if you have nothing to give, please remember that camp is always in you.

The love you have to give. The gifts you bring to the table. The silliness to get you through. It’s all in you, each and every day.

You guys inspire me. With you are, what you have and what you bring.

It’s always with you.
It’s not about taking the joy of Christmas with you all year, it’s about taking the joy of camp with you.

On Wednesdays we match

I cannot wait until we can physically do the thing again together, but I know in spirit, spread out from there to here and here to there, we can choose, daily, to bring what we have to camp, to the people in our lives daily.

I love you all so much.

Sincerely,

Dr. Pembroke, Junapera, Coach Sox, Meghan,

Meg.

royal family kids camp, stateside

To my Royal Family

To the fabulous people of the Newport Mesa Royal Family Kids Camp:

Female LIT counselor and our dean (AKA my OC mom)
I’m at my church in Washington right now, holding back tears.

I’m tired, emotionally exhausted, a little beat up-it goes without saying that my heart is broken.

It was a tough week up on the mountain. Every five minutes felt like a battle I wasn’t ready for, every word I said was rememebered, the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the purple people asked me at the church, after all the kids had gone, what my biggest challenge was during the week. I didn’t even have to think about the anwser.

One of the things you should know about me is that I have about ten years of early education under my belt. I never went to school for it, I’ve taken maybe 6 or 7 classes, so most of my knowledge is trial and error. Mainly error.

So when asked what my biggest challenge was–my response was easy. Seeing how the things I know of child development acted out to the extreme. Knowing that structure and rules= love. And knowing that those things will pushed at.

longest tuesday ever NBD
That they were pushed at–all week.

But you keep going. You stay. You remain. Then at the end of the week in the last five minutes the kid who deemed you “mean counselor meg who always says no” runs up to you to give you a hug.

my fellow world traveler
Camp is for the kids. That’s true. If it wasn’t for the kids-I probably wouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be worth it. It certainly doesn’t always feel good, or make sense. But it’s for the kids so at the end of the day it does indeed make sense and is worth it.

But for me camp is also a family business. Coming to camp is coming home, coming to something that feels like the most wacky normal ever. Coming to camp is coming to family.

I was also asked by purple people why in the world I would fly from Washington.

It’s easy. This is the camp my family goes too. It’s my people. My home base.

family.
You guys inspire me. Year after year. I beam thinking about the amazing people that take a week out of their lives to be on a mountain, eating camp food and sleeping on duct tape for a chance to make a kid smile.

I’m grateful to be apart of your family.

Thanks for always welcoming me home.

With love,

Junapera aka mean counselor Meg.
(Special shout-outs to: Michele for my caboodle, Becca, Kim, Tyler and Priscilla for outfitting my room, Kinda for the same and also lanyards, Krystle for helping my dream of being a gospel back-up singer come a little more true, Casey for being Casey, everyone for never making fun of my makeup when I let the kids do my makeup, teen staff for being the best, Sue for regaling me with a story that made me almost fall to the ground in laughter and tears, Brooke for not judging my morning vocabulary, the ladies of Cedar for being the best, Lauren for being a kindred soul at camp, Ryan for not putting me in a headlock, Sarah for being the best surprise buddy a girl could have and for riding the struggle bus, airplane and coaster with me and of course to my second family the Choi’s for letting me out of dog sitting 7 years ago so I could come to camp.)

royal family kids camp, stateside

a letter to my royal family

image

This, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold you’re gold)

gold-britt nicole

I know that for most people the hashtag #themostwonderfultimeofyear is centered around Christmas and Starbucks red cups and all of that kind of stuff.

But if I am being completely honest, my favorite time of year is a span of 6 exhausting days tucked up in the mountains wearing wigs, eating salad, laughing with kiddos and being with one of the most giving group of people I’ve ever encountered.

To my hard-working, incredibly loving, (more than just) sometimes sarcastic Royal Family-

You all are amazing.

I’ve been trying to put it into words over the last twenty-four hours. I was in tears getting on a train traveling away from Orange County today.

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lauren.krystle.vanessa.priscilla. lovely ladies I get to do {camp & real} life with and be a {temporary} buddy for.
My heart swells at the thought of all you. Every single one.

On Sunday while we were running around Pinecrest getting all the things ready; the thought that kept coming into my head was about the importance of changing the connotation of family for the kids coming up the hill the next day. How important the word “family” is. How important our interactions are in front of the kids. The hugs, the inside jokes, the smiles we give each other all week is so important because it shows the kiddos that even though we aren’t related we are indeed FAMILY.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this week the friendships that have formed and grown amidst the 100 counsellors, staff and teen staff showed the kids a picture of Christ. It showed them that family isn’t just what you are born into but it’s also the people you are given.

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photo of {a lovely photographer} Casey taken by {another equally lovely photographer} (and also her mama) Janel. So grateful for these two who catch the joy of the kiddos like photo ninjas.
It’s such a lovely thing. And I know it’s exhausting but man, this royal family needs every part. From the teen staff (who are the most awesome teens ever) to the nurses and staff counsellors, to the deans and directors to the mail ladies, to those of us in chapel to the coaches on the field and the karate instructors on the pavement, to the activity centers, wood shop workers, fantasy corner inhabitants, grandma & grandmas, aunts & uncles to our photographers and videographers. To those who do all the work pre-camp to our birthday party volunteers who come up one day to bring the kiddos so much joy. And last but in no way least; to the counselors who tuck the kids in at night after running around with them all day.

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i’ve gotten to watch these guys do their thing for 4 years and was stoked to get to be apart of the crew this year.
I’ve met a lot of people in this world, a lot running great ministries and doing beautiful work all over the world. But it’s all you guys, all those who head up that mountain for the week that give me hope. All of you show me the love of Christ in such beautiful ways. Because you don’t have too. It’s not your job.

You do it for the kids.

It’s all of you who make it never a sacrifice to come up the hill; but an utter privilege.

I’m so grateful that 6 years ago Kim made me fill out an application to be a counselor instead of just being the person who house sat while they were gone.

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5 year pin. Here’s to 10-15-20-25 more.
Thank you for allowing me to be apart of this family. Thank you for laughing with me (or at me because: Haman.) thank you for encouraging me and hugging me (or putting me in a headlock) and thank you for letting me see pieces of the inner strength you have in you that maybe not many other people see. Thank you for taking the story God gave you and the life you’ve lived and pouring it not only into the kids but into me.

So lastly, this week, as you go about your daily lives I want you to all remember something:

You are so utterly and completely lovedAnd every ounce of love you gave out last week will come back to you.

You are wonderfully, beautifully known and loved.

You are all in my heart and I am so very, very proud to know you.

Can’t wait to see you next year,

With love, blessings and {so much coffee},

Meg

(aka Haman aka Juneapera)

{to learn more about Royal Family Kids Camp or to find one in your area click here)

Honest, Spain g42

Live (in) Lovely

I remember certain months on the World Race last year where I had so much to tell and yet no words to share the chaotic amount of thoughts in my head.

Welcome to my first month in Mijas, Spain. And learning to “live lovely”.

It’s been a busy, crazy July here. We’ve had birthdays, a wedding, 4 weeks of classes, 5 different festivals in the square, the World Cup finals, no fewer than 80 people tromping through Mijouse, we are just wrapping up the inaugural 5 year g42 reunion where 30+ people came from all corners of the globe to remember and celebrate the beautiful things that happened here.

And we’ve danced a lot.

I’ve had multiple glasses of wine with lovely people. I’ve had 3 blue chair sandwiches so far (I promise I’ll do better Mer), I made the prettiest cake for a wedding that I’ve ever had the privilege of baking, I’ve gotten up early mornings to walk with Tiffany and have beautiful conversation, I helped make 600+ tapas for the alumni cocktail party, I’ve begun to dabble in water color, I’ve continued to write a novel and I’ve laughed a bunch.

And I’ve continued to learn what it means to be loved unconditionally.

During worship last week to kick off the reunion I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I won’t begin to even touch on all the lessons and revelations piling up in my head today, but know that there is a lot in there.
So between all the thoughts jumbled inside and the fact that there were 30 extra people in my home I was freaking out a bit.

OK.
I was freaking out a lot.
So I went to the back of the church in an opened space to just breath and look at all these new and old friends in my life.

And I realized something that knocked me off my axis a bit.

They love.
And right as I was twirling into this train of self-doubt, insecurity and unworthiness one of the staff came up to me to tell me that I was appreciated.

(Cue tears.)

I said thank you and promptly turned into the wall away from everyone to stop the tears.

I’ve “stopped” the tears a lot this month.

Because for as much as I’ve been overwhelmed with the reminders of worthiness, acceptance and love I’ve had a voice shouting in my head to retreat, to pull back, that I’m just needed not wanted. It’s a space and place I’ve wrestled with all my life and it is rearing it’s ugly head and I’m having to fight with it as I go through the list of topic sentences that God placed before me.

So there’s that.
It’s not necessarily pretty.
But it is lovely.
And it will be lovely with every step I take down these cobblestone streets. It’s choosing to be present amidst the chaos in my brain, to stand firm in what I DO know, and be ok in questions and not knowing.

That’s all for now. In the next week I’ll be sending out a newsletter with more details of what I am doing and where I am going. But for now scroll through these few pictures of my life here in Mijas and I’ll be back with more soon.
And just as I will, I pray you will continue to be present over perfect and choose to live lovely.

photo 1

(Patty, Whitney and I produced 600+ tapas for the alumni cocktail party)

photo 2

(The wedding cake I made for the wedding that was held at Mijouse the 2nd weekend I was here. 5 layers and raspberry filling!)

photo 4

(my beautiful roommate and friend painted this for me. Many a time have I been given words that say “I’ma bird”)

photo 5

(And last but not least; one of the strongest forces to get me to Spain. Still can’t believe how blessed I am to do more life with her.)