Honest, notes on grief, ramblings

A letter to 36

Dear 36,

I don’t really know what to say to you.

As I look back through memories and pictures and words I’ve already written I’m trying to find kind things to say that aren’t seen through a filter of just trying to see the good in a situation.

About 7 weeks after I turned 36 I got to hug my mom for what I knew in my bones would be the last time.

Soon after that I made a decision out of necessity for my incredibly burned out self that I needed to quit the job I’d been at for a little over 6 years.

About 5 weeks after I started that new job; my mom died.

Now, I can say something about you 36; you set me up to make some choices before I needed to make them.

You pushed me to make some hard decisions I didn’t want to make.

You allowed me to make space before I knew I needed it.

In my letter to 35 I wrote these words

“thirty-five feels like the end of the chapter that leads into an entirely different part of the story”.

And 36 has indeed been an entirely different part of the story.

But to me 36 feels like one of those montages of a movie where life is just happening and you aren’t quite sure what to do.

And then then main character opens the door and gets blinded by the sun and the fact that it’s spring again after what felt like too long of a winter.

36 has felt like winter.

I don’t know if I can say I’m grateful for it.

I’m grateful for the people in my life who have showed up for me in the most beautiful, kind and loving ways and to those humans there is no way I’ll ever be able to repay you for the love and support you’ve given me.

I’m grateful for the bright spurts of joy; like trips with friends, performing on the Lincoln stage for the first time, family shot Friday and the hilariously wonderful humans I work with.

But I can very easily say that I’m ready for a new year of life.

I’m ready for winter to be over.

I’m ready to open the door and be blinded a little bit by the sunshine.

I’m ready for you 37.

Please, be kind.

With love,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb, ramblings

Nice is different than good

I’ve realized that lately I’ve gotten really bothered when people give a situation more credit than it is meant to have.

I’m a words person (obviously) and I believe in the power of assigning meaning to something that doesn’t merit that meaning.

Like chaos. I used to have an assistant in my classroom years ago who would say every moment of every day was chaotic. I finally stopped them and reminded them they needed to change their meaning of chaos or a simple transition gone slightly awry was going to wreck them.

I also realize I have a high capacity for stress (which I understand is not always a beneficial thing) but it’s also helped me realize that frustrating does not equal hard or rough.

I think in the last few years I’ve worked at trying to describe things in such a way that I can understand them.

Giving a blanket statement to something and assigning it a word that has no descriptors isn’t helpful.

(As an example one of my PET PEEVES in working with children is the use of the word “nice”. It means nothing to a a child. Telling a three year old to “be nice” tells them nothing what you want their actions to do.)

When I started pondering these words this morning I had a Sondheim lyric in my head “Nice is different than good”.

A frustrating situation is different than a hard situation.

A stress-filled situation is different than a stressful situation.

Choosing to start to understand what in the situation is actually hindering us instead of just giving a blanket statement and walking away.

It’s work that feels hard.

(And work that feels hard is different than work that feels bad).

I’ve come to a realization that will not be brand new information to anyone that knows me well: but I’ve allowed my capacities for stress and hard work and chaos get so big they very rarely phase me.

And when they do it’s probably already too late.

So, right now, I’m trying to pull my bubble back.

I’m trying to redefine what all those words look like and I’m trying to reframe how I see them for myself.

It’s lot of work and it will involve boundary setting and it will be hard and also good.

(See what I did there?)

So if you needed a reminder that you are allowed to change sometime at almost 37 that you’ve operated in most of your life you are absolutely 100% allowed too.

Deep breathes to your toes 💛

With love,

Meg

Honest, notes on grief

The shame of falling apart

I don’t remember when I told him this but at some point I told my pastor, that my room was a direct reflection of my mental health. And it’s something he remembers and every now and then will ask me how my room is- asking me how I’m doing in a different way.

My room has been in disarray since August.

August was when I came back from first surprising my parents in Kingsburg (I left with a sense of foreboding that it would be the last time I saw my mom alive) and then had been in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding for about a week.

I was emotionally drained and on the edge of absolute physical shutdown. It was during that week in Hawaii that I realized I had to quit my job, I needed to make the leap, move on and try to breathe again.

I needed to try to find myself in what felt like the chaos I created.

I’ve talked about this before, but I started to breathe again.

I emptied my closet out to go through it, I was beginning to piece by piece put myself back together.

Then my mom died and the chaos stayed.

The effort it feels like it’s going to take to put it all back together still sometimes feels absolutely overwhelming.

I feel as if I had a perfect storm of grief, burnout, teaching in a pandemic, anxiety and so many other things. And I have to remember something in all of it:

It’s going to take more than a few months to heal.

Today in church, I was reminded by someone that I was important and that I needed to take care of myself.

Woof.

And right now, all that’s trying to run through my head are the ways I’m horrible at taking care of myself. All the ways I’ve been a bad, absent friend. The giant pile of clothes in the corner of my room, the fact my calendar still says January. The ways I’m incapable of doing enough. How I’m unable to do what people need me to do because I am fearful of crashing again.

But, if I sit I can also see tangible ways that I am taking care of myself and I have to remember that.

The pile of clean clothes means that I am doing laundry.

The plate on my bedside table means I have eaten today.

My cleaned off desk that now houses my vanity and makeup means that I am taking time to sit and do my makeup and I had to buy more moisturizer today because even if I don’t wear makeup, everyday I sit in my chair and put moisturizer on.

I had to scrounge for shampoo because I ran out, so I’m showering.
I had to refill my water bottle because even though I usually suck at it, I am drinking water today.

And the tears currently running down my face remind me that I’m still allowing myself to feel.

I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t take care of myself. I’m well aware that I’ve not been doing well.
I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t feel like I’m showing up for the people around me.

But with all that I have to remember the ways, even in the midst of the bad days where I don’t feel like I’ll ever feel whole again, that I’m still moving forward, I’m still creating habits that take care of myself even in little ways like putting moisturizer on my face or listening to podcasts while I get ready..

I have to remember that it wasn’t just my mom dying. It was also the end of a time of life living in high stress. It was living and teaching kids in a pandemic. It was friendships ending.

It was a lot.

So, if right now, if keeping my bed and my desk clear and my floor mostly clear is all I can do, so be it. If for this season my white board calendar stays on January and I just use my google calendar, so be it. If I mostly eat bagged salads and bagels and frozen things from Trader Joe’s, so be it.

Taking the shame out of the things I don’t feel capable of and putting the focus on doing what I can to be human, to live and to move forward in my day.

This is hard to even say but I think I am actually proud of myself. I’m proud that I show up. I am proud that I’ve realized I actually have to eat in the day.

I’m proud that I’ve found new ways to self care.

I’m proud that I let myself cry,

Because I am important and I need to take care of myself.

Honest, hope is a verb, I choose champagne, ramblings

I don’t actually know how I feel about this

I’ve been battling with technology for about 40 minutes. I’m currently in possession of two computers-one won’t work and the other I can’t find the charger too and then my ipad was refusing to open a new document and I just kind of wanted to give up and go about my day, with some banana bread making, Guinness float drinking and watching “A discovery of witches” season 3.

But then my Microsoft word opened and I realized I probably actually needed to talk about the thing that I’ve been dancing around talking about for a few weeks.

Hope.

I’ve mentioned it here and there. Alluded to it in instagram posts and tried to come to terms with the fact that hope wasn’t going to bite me in the ass.

This morning I wrote the following words while at church and they hit me a bit and came with the footnotes that I needed to chose to have hope in myself again and hope in life.

Hope in its noun definition is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”.

What if hope has been so hard because without realizing it we’ve been so far on the other side of hope that we’ve been hoping for the bad things to happen?

What if we’re so focused on the fact and the truth of life that bad things will happen that we don’t free up any space in our brain for the fact and truth of life that good and beautiful things will happen.

Now, please don’t read that as we are somehow a part of the awful things in our life happening. (Well, we are sometimes but that’s a different story). What I’m trying to say is what if we’re putting our hope in the fact that bad things will happen so might as well not hope for the good and because of that we’re choosing to place our hope in the bad.

I always joke that my brain is so full of children’s worship music and choral music from my whole life that I frequently have a “no room in the inn” sign up.

I think we do that with experiences that prove to us we shouldn’t hope that the good and the beautiful will come.

I started my new job on September 7th last year and 4 weeks later I was starting to feel alive again.

4 weeks and one day later my mom told me she was sick. And five weeks and 3 days after September 7th she was gone.

I had started to feel hope again. Started to feel like I was able to breath. Started to feel like I could focus on things that brought me back to myself.

And then it all came crumbling down.

But, I think that that was a turning point for me.

I could have truly chosen to believe and file that away as another time where hope failed me. Where the good was coming and the. The other shoe dropped and knocked me unconscious.

Where hope looked me in the eye and said “pass”.

I think I’m in a frame of life where I’m desperately trying to change the way I see things about hope. I’m trying to be an active participant in what is looks like to hope for movement and good and things being built and an active participant in showing people that the only person who is fit to walk out their story is themselves. And whatever cards they’ve been handed they can pull something from them if they’re just willing to try to live a life wherein hope is for them too.

I don’t what your level of choosing to be hopeful these days. For me, some days it’s just choosing to hope I won’t wake up at 345 and will be able to go into the day rested.

And I know that the world doesn’t feel hopeful right now. I know that the concept of being hopeful for yourself feels trite and small.

And I know some days it’s a no bones day and hope is not only impossible but unhelpful.

And I know what it’s like to feel like hope hasn’t been in play for awhile.

I just want you to know that I’m here trying to figure it out today.

And if you need to borrow some hope from me; I will willingly share it.

With love,

Meg

back to the barre, Honest

On being an island

I just did a thing where I actually didn’t delete the 400 words I had written to write something new but I opened a new document.

The words I was saying weren’t bad- they just weren’t it.

The 400 words I had typed out were moreso dancing around something that I was trying not to say because even just the thought of saying the thing that’s in my head is currently making me cringe.

Today, I feel rested.

I had a beautiful weekend, that started just sitting and chatting with my best friend at her desk because I wouldn’t see her all weekend and those moments began a weekend where my soul and heart and all the insides of me got rested all the way down to the toes in ways I haven’t been in a while.

(that’s not the thing that makes me feel cringy)

And after I sat and wrote the prior 400 words that were filled with a lot of me stating that I sometimes just want to be an island, I realized that while there was truth in that, it wasn’t thing that I needed to say.

After I wrote the prior 400 words and I realized that they weren’t it; I realized what actually was.

This weekend I found rest, peace, hope, family and light.

And today I realized that all of that reminded that I am a leader in the ability to give those things to others. I am meant to do that in a bigger way than I am now.

And honestly, that terrifies me.

I know that sounds ridiculous. That I should know that. (As my roommate Benjamin would have said to be in a text if I text him that: ThAt Is BrAnD nEw InFoRmAtIoN)

That I’ve done it before.

But this feels bigger. This feels more wobbly and new.

I am the person who is going to nag you into believing in the fact that you have something to say. That someone needs to hear the things you have to say. That regardless of what you believe or who you believe in that you have hope and light and a story that the world needs.

That you are on this earth to connect to even just one other person who needs your story.

That, even if we desperately want to be and even it feels less painful, we are not meant to be islands.

I am not meant to be an island (honestly I hate that sentence).

And honestly, there is still a lot of myself that is the most epic cheerleader because being in the background just works for me.

But I know in my knower that it’s not where I’m supposed to live.

Have you ever had those moments where you come to a moment in time and you know that one day down the road, it’s going to be a defining moment?

Well, this Monday afternoon on my couch just turned into one of those for me.

This weekend I realized that God has been repeatedly telling me not to worry. He’s been reminding me that I have what I need.

He’s been reminding me that I need to look in a mirror when I remind people that they are more than they think they are.

I know there is more to me. I can feel it, beneath the surface. I know that I’ve spurred on a belief in myself by setting boundaries, by choosing my personhood and mental and emotional health over those who would say I didn’t do enough to earn their love. I know there is more because I’ve spent a lot of time making space for it.

I don’t know what is next but damn. Something is.

That’s it.
Well, that’s not it, but it is something.
Here’s to the reminder that we can always find pieces of ourselves when we’ve believed for a long time they are just pieces to give out- not to keep.

(But I will always, ALWAYS, remind you that you are more than you think you are.)

With love,
Meg

Honest, notes on grief

From behind a wall

To actually sit and force myself to write- to just let words flow feels incredibly anxiety-provoking right now. But it also feels like one of those things that if I don’t sit in front of a computer and just let my thoughts out for others to read, I might be stuck on the other side forever.

I don’t want to get stuck, but I feel almost as if I am stuck in a perpetual wheel that causes me to be unable to just write. To pull out thoughts and share them.

Most days, I think, I am doing pretty ok. I am living in this new view of life with a lot of things on my brain- some I don’t really talk about (that’s the 20%) and some I don’t want to talk about because it makes me cry. I am a little bit fearful that this is just how life is now. That I am going to be sad forever and that there isn’t really anything to do to fix it. I know that isn’t the case. I know there isn’t anything to fix.

I know painful things happen and we just must keep walking in the direction that we are meant to walk.

I’m supposed to be writing a piece for the website I write for about the hope I find in choosing to trust my own balance. In choosing to know that I’ve been through some shit and that I am stronger and more capable to withstand things than I think I am.

I’m supposed to be writing about the hope I have in the strength I’ve been given.

You know that word I hate, “resilience”.

 But all I want to do right now is delete the 275 words that came before this sentence.

This though is my reality.

Some days, I am truly ok, some days I’m just not and some days are like a little fruit salad of all of it.

But I don’t want to get stuck with an inability to write down my words.

I know I’ve shared this here before, but when I was little, I was so terrified to confront people when I had hurt feelings or was scared. And I would write my mom notes and tuck them in the chair she was sitting in and run away.

I’ve always used writing to communicate my emotions, articulate what is in my brain and conceptualize the thoughts that are tricky for me to decipher.

I write to untangle.

And currently, I am still actively untangling grief, untangling the relationship I had with my mom, and untangling some things that I don’t necessarily feel ready to communicate.

And I’m grappling with the fact that I don’t feel strong enough or capable enough or old enough to be dealing with any of this.

Normally, at the end of a string of words with a lot of questions, not a ton of answers, and what feels like a lack of hope I’d usually tag a PS to my mom who read every word I wrote, to let her know that I am in fact; ok.

Because at the end of the day, I am. I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living. I’m just a little less than sometimes.

So, Mom, I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living, I’m just a little less than right now.

And that is ok.

With love,

Meg

notes on grief

Beginning notes on grief

I have been wanting to write the last three weeks but if I’m being honest the thought of writing has seemed heavy and has seemed like it would make the world around me more real than I was capable of dealing with.

For those of you only follow me in this corner of the internet I have yet to share this here: three weeks ago my mom died.

She died in her home, the one I grew up in, surrounded by her husband, us three kids and ¾ of her grandkids- one being away at college and a handful of her nieces and nephews. More family came in that night and over the course of the next week or two that lead up to the memorial we had for her last week.

I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about my mom or see the words on a screen but I knew that if I didn’t begin to write something it would get progressively harder to do so.

This morning I opened my journal in church and aggressively wrote out my thoughts on writing before the tears threatened too quickly.  I tend to write around what’s going on in my life. I tend to write to work things out, to untangle them, to remind anyone who might be in the same space as me that they aren’t alone.

I can easily say that of all the grief I’ve ever dealt with or felt I’ve never met this monster in my life. I’m doing my best to be kind to myself, to take help, to ask for hugs, to cry- but it’s really, really hard. Even right now as I write this I’m blinking back tears.

My mom commented on everything I wrote. She would make sure to call and tell me she had read things and I usually got a text after I posted a blog that she “loved my ‘she writes on Sundays’”.

I’m sure I will write more. I will write with tears down my face, I will write through anger and now, I am writing out of exhaustion and the desire to put words on a page.

Grief is a lot. More than any human can actually fully grasp.

I miss my mom a lot. It’s still not real that I won’t be able to hug her or call her or have her nag me to go to the doctor.

But here I am, to the best of my ability, moving,

hope is a verb

Let hope.

Hope seems to be one of my catch phrases right now.

And if I’m being honest, I kind of hate that about myself.

I’m searching, aggressively for hope. Something tangible, something I can hold. Something that might do the job of pulling me out of the pool that seems empty of it.

But, also, here’s the thing: I used to look at the search for hope as finding the end of something. I used to look at hope as the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am finding that it isn’t the case. Hope isn’t the end- it’s the beginning. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s stepping into the tunnel and seeing the light.

At church yesterday I wrote some words that I shared, words that seem to spill out about hope as I tried to roll my eyes and write at the same time.

Hope is here

It’s in the wings

It’s waiting.                     

It doesn’t need a clean spot or for your laundry to be folded.

Hope doesn’t need your calendar to say the right month or for all the cups in your room to be in the dishwasher.

Hope just wants to be invited in.

Hope just wants you to choose it. It doesn’t even care if it’s not the first choice.

Hope stays.

It percolates.

It gets better.

Hope won’t be ignored.

Hope can be built upon the ruins. It WANTS to be built upon the ruins.

It doesn’t need you to have it all together.

Hope just wants you to seep in.

So let it.

Let hope move in.

Let hope fill every corner.

Let hope persist.

Let hope Live.

Let it build on what you thought was ruins.

Let hope move.

Let hope.

Hope is a buzzword for me these days.

And I kind of hate it.

I’m continuing to choose to believe it exists.

I’m choosing to believe it’s for me.

I’m choosing to believe it’s not the end of something but the beginning.

I’m choosing to let hope do the damn thing.

So; watch this space for when I meet hope.

And if you ever forget- hope is for you too.

With love,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb

living again

I got to hug my friend Joanna today for the first time in I don’t know how long and we both cried.

Joanna is someone I’ve known for almost 6 years and she’s a human being that I adore more than I can even describe. Joanna is a friend that is home to me. She tells me hard things, laughs with me and always reminds me of who I am; especially when I forget (this can also be copy/pasted to her husband who I let sit in my personal space today so that says a lot).

Moral of this story is everyone needs a Joanna.

But, the point of this is that I got to hug my friend Joanna, we cried and it reminded me that I’ve missed living.

I wrote the following words while sitting in church today.

It’s been a long time since I’ve lived.

I function. I survive. I move.

I exist.

It’s been a long time since I’ve lived.

I show up. I smile. I laugh.

I am here.

But I’m ready to live again.

I don’t what It looks like or what it feels like. I don’t know what it feels like anymore to live outside of surviving. I don’t know how to be myself outside of aggressive positivity.

I just know that I’m ready to live again.

To take a deep breath.

To try.

To be ok with feeling like I’m failing someone.

To be ok with letting someone down.

To be ok with not being enough for someone.

To be ok with all the things I have no control over.

I am ready to live again.

So that was a big woof.

I know it’s true. Between work and things happening around me and exhaustion and bad dreams I’ve been on autopilot. Attempting to aggressively encourage myself into life.

Knowing that I can, and I will do the damn thing. I will keep showing up.

I will keep moving forward.

But, sometimes, that doesn’t feel like living. Having to amp yourself up to do all the things. Having to push myself to keep my feet moving forward.

Desperately wanting the season I’m in to end so I can just catch my breath.

I’m just honestly tired of having to catch my breath.

I want you to know that living isn’t all flowers and hope and margaritas on a patio.

I want you to know that I know life isn’t always easy.

But, I want you to know that you are allowed to start living again even if you feel, like myself, that you aren’t allowed to do so.

I don’t know if someone has told you that or you have told yourself. I don’t know if you’ve lost the ability to live life each day because everything you must do gets in the way.

I also don’t know what living means to you; or honestly, to myself.

But, I’m going to keep moving forward and picking up the things that bring me hope and joy. I’m going to sit with the people that bring me life and remind me of who I am.

I am going to rest.

I don’t know if you need help living, I don’t know if you get a taste of life and then feel like you aren’t supposed too.

I don’t know if being hopeful terrifies you.

Or if choosing to live terrifies you.

But, I’m here with you. I’m an almost 36 year old who isn’t close to having any answers, but I’m just going to keep trying.

Just take a deep breath, make a list of things that bring you life and go from there.

Let’s show up for ourselves and see what happens.

Honest, hope is a verb

this ends with hope

I’m sitting here on my bed on a cloudy Sunday feeling a little foggy brained. I’m having one of those days in which I feel like I’m between so many thoughts, that I have emails I should answer and should write. I have laundry to do and trash to take out and lesson plans to write.

But I also feel like I have something to say.

It’s something I’ve said before and honestly, it’s something I say quite frequently. I’ve been realizing it more for myself recently and it’s starting to effect how I treat myself.

Here it is:

You matter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: yah so? Or you’re thinking: what does that mean?

I spent a lot of my life/adult life believing the follow ‘truths’:

  1. My emotions aren’t valid.
  2. I could/should handle something on my own.
  3. Someone always has it worse so who was I to grieve or complain.

And if you’ve never lived like this or experienced this I just have to say that it is fricking heavy.

It’s heavy to believe you aren’t allowed to have feelings or that you don’t have space to process through a thing because someone has had a worse life.

Then throw in some incredibly toxic religious gaslighting about depending on God and to put things at foot of the cross and you never feel allowed to struggle.

I remember when I was going through some of the worst depression I ever had been through (About 12 years ago). It was the worst because I had never gone through it and also I believed something was wrong with me because crying at the cross every Sunday and praying for God to take it away wasn’t working.

I felt like there was something wrong with me and I had an inability to make it go away.

And because I had to fake happy and chipper because someone always had something much worse happening.

It was extremely hard for me in all facets of my life to believe that I mattered.

That was exactly what led me in the time frame to contemplate suicide. I felt like a robot. Like, what was the point of doing any of this if I just felt like I was being the shell of the person I was.

What was the point of talking about my feelings if they didn’t seem to matter to others or to God.

What was the point of talking through it if all I heard back was that I just needed to trust God.

What was the point of being alive if I felt that I was just put on the planet to help other people and be a shell of a human?

Thankfully in that season I had an incredibly good therapist who helped me answer some of those questions and gave me tools for battling through when it felt like I didn’t matter.

I have gotten so much better at boundaries and taking time for myself. I don’t do well with guilt, I don’t do well with people telling me to do something or to give something to God and it will go away (because spoiler alert: that’s not how God works).

Honestly, I usually don’t do well with people telling me to pray about something.

Let’s be honest: I can usually feel when I am being ridiculous. There is a twinge in my spirit that tells me “Just stop meg”. I also, thankfully have friends that tell me those things as well.

But the joy of being an elder millennial and an elder millennial who spent years in youth group and at a Christian college is that we spent a lot of time being emotionally manipulated and then told when we had those feelings that they were because we were sinful or had “opened a door” to something.

Essentially, we were told that we as humans, didn’t matter.

And if we don’t believe that we matter, then why should we think other people care or truthfully, why should we think God cares?

And if that’s the case: what’s the point of it all?

Well have no fear because I’m here to tell you some things to end this on.

You fucking matter.

You are loved immensely.

No matter what.

Your emotions are created, not a burden. They are for you but not the manipulation of others.

Your brain can sometimes be a douchebag and that’s not your fault.

You fucking matter.

Your story is needed.

It has a point.

Don’t compare trauma.

Take time to grieve.

And if you are around people who don’t give you space for that?

Leave.

Because, once again, you fucking matter.

And also; less aggressively so:

There is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, hope.

That’s all.

That’s it.

With all the love and belief in your belief in yourself,

Meg