Honest, ramblings

Practicing my practice

It’s an interesting place to be in when you sit still for the first time in awhile.

Not on my bed, or in front of Netflix or paperwork or a project. But just sitting, still, with nothing in front of you but space.

I have a new tradition in my life that may sound sad, but really, it’s not.

The new tradition is this: every Friday I have to change into my bathing suit to go swimming with my tiny humans. It’s normal at about 9:30 and I take my coffee into my storage closet and close the door.

But, I don’t turn on the light. I stand, in pitch blackness for at least two minutes. Breathing in and out and drinking my coffee. I did this for the first time on accident. I shut the door without turning the light on and was quickly enveloped in darkness and an intense sigh escaped my body.

The absence of light brought me completely relief.

That sentence sounds like a conundrum really. But in my overly sensory laden environment I’m in every day, being in a pitch black room is heaven.

I’ve been sitting here, at redlight, for over an hour. I’ve started numerous different blogs, I’ve started text conversations, I’ve only had one mimosas and I’ve stared a blank screen.

But now, I came back to this one, these first words I wrote.

Here’s what it is: I’m struggling with depression right now. Depression, coupled with anxiety, with some winter blues to mix it all up.

I don’t like to talk about depression and anxiety because people have opinions.

(Including myself)

There are so many schools of thought on depression and anxiety. So many books and methodologies and experts.

Now, as a human who lived with two people who were in grad programs for clinical psychology (shoutout to A3), I know that there is hope and help and all the things dealing with depression.

But, that doesn’t make me any less prone to talk about it.

There a few types of seasons that come up in my life that cause me to want to shut my mouth.

Because I’ve been through it before, because people have helped me before, because shouldn’t I be able to solve my own problems.

We live in a society that tells us to figure out our own issues.

Fake it til you make it.

There is a time and a place for faking it til you make it.

Because, yes, we just have to get through the day. I have tiny humans who need me to show up for them each day. Routines and a schedule and transitions that have to happen every day.

But, what are you going to do when you stop?

I binged watched a show on Friday. I haven’t done that for awhile. I watched the entirety of the first season of the reboot of Queer Eye. (No but really watch it)

And I cried.

It was the loveliest reminder of what it looks like to care for ourselves. To do things that bring us life. To take time to fill ourselves up. To take time to live.

I am a human, who has for the past 10-12 years, struggled with depression and anxiety.

I’m not defined by it.

It’s not who I am.

It’s just something that rears it’s head in some seasons more than others.

The things that pop up here and there don’t define us. They don’t hold us.

We are still us.

Honest, I choose champagne

2016.2017.2018. Let’s just be who we are.

I am sitting in my favorite bar, as it becomes increasingly more crowded than normal on a Sunday early evening. Most are in pairs, or groups. I’m the sole solitary human, sitting at my favorite table tucked in the corner. My back is against the window and I am directly next to an outlet and the exposed brick.

I am pretty comfortable sitting by myself in most places. I am fine shopping by myself, I’ve traveled across an ocean and been alone in the Istanbul airport more than any other airport in the world.

I almost always get slight amounts of anxiety right before going somewhere by myself or to an event with a large amount of people. But here, and a smattering of coffee shops, public transport and airplanes- I am always good.

This year, I believe, has been about being as home as I possible can be in my own skin, in my own identity. It’s been about being where my feet are.

I don’t always do well at this.

But, I am trying.

And now, it’s the end of the year. Now, for me personally, 2017 has been eons better than 2016. But, as my work wife has pointed out, 2017 hasn’t been all confetti, champagne and sunshine.

In reality, I said the F word more times this year than last. I lost more faith in people than I ever have. I have had more anxiety and more moments of being alone.

I haven’t been as constantly exhausted but I for sure have hit more walls of “all done friends”. My schedule has been more busy than I think it has been in a long time.

And that isn’t going change when the clock strikes midnight and turns the year to 2018. Last year, I remember sitting, shortly after midnight, in my sparkly gold dress, barefooted, on the porch of my friend’s house, watching the snow fall with a glass of champagne that slowly became mixed with the tears falling down my cheeks. All I wanted was for the world around me to feel different.

I tried to believe it did- but it didn’t.

So I became busy in 2017. I did a lot of things. I rarely had a week go by that didn’t involve at least 3/5ths of the weekdays being filled with something, be it working at my church, hanging out with someone or having an event or organized group situation.

I think part of my reasoning for becoming busy was that busy equaled full. That my life could be classified as full because it was busy.

I could say that my life was full because my laundry had piled up to overflowing in my closet and didn’t even care that there were dishes in the sink.

Busy meant not being able to stop to hear what I needed to hear.

Back in August, a part time job popped up at a different church. It would have been 10-20 extra hours a week being a children’s director of a local churches smaller downtown campus.

It would mean a lot of things: extra income, no free time, getting paid to do something I know I love (and am good at), having no social life and not getting to go to the church I adore.

But, I had done that exact same thing before so I knew I was capable of that schedule.

I had a random day off in August, the day after the ad had been discovered. I had coffee with a good friend, lunch with my roommate and obviously talked to both about it. I headed for home to work on my cover letter and resume.

Because of applying for this job, I ended up having a very honest conversation with one of the pastors at my church. Through the conversation we had, I realized that I was running from being known. She, of course, called me on all these things, as she should.

I didn’t end up interviewing for the job. In all reality, though I want a job like that, but working 60 hours a week and moving from the two places where I feel like myself in Bellingham was not the best idea.

In reality, most of this year I’ve been running. I’ve been running from stopping, from thinking and from pushing in.

I have in certain places and situations. There are friends in my life with whom I can never run from my problems around. But I have reached that place here in Bellingham where I am known and that’s terrifying.

So, why have I said all of this?

It’s simple actually.

I want to encourage you not to make resolutions.

(What?)

I just want to encourage you to step more into who you are everyday. No matter what.

I spent this year trying to busy everything so far away, in the name of my resolutions that I forgot parts of who I was. When those parts were awakened they felt like hope, when in reality they should have just felt like me.

December 31rst and January 1 are no different from today and tomorrow.

There is symbolism in the changing of the year. It is a new book in your life. But it’s not a separate book. It’s a continuation.

So, as the holidays kick in full force and as my kitchen get covered in flour and coconut sugar. As we celebrate the year, the now and the yet to come, I want to remind you that the changing of a calendar doesn’t change who you are.

I want to encourage you to hope for more, but not put the more on a new year.

Don’t run from who you’ve become in all the things. Grab who all the things have made you.

Right now. Today.

Here, in this bar, where I am the only solitary human, I am being where my feet are more than I have in a long time.

Right now. Today

Honest, ramblings

I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes

All I wanted to do today was sit in my favorite bar and write about how I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes. I wanted to write about not liking them and fall and the darkness that it brings.

I wanted to write about the changing of seasons.

But, all I can think about right now is the bridge I have in my written words.

I’ve learned a lot in my life from mentors and fatherly figures. I have nuggets and advice and wisdom that cycle through my brain.

I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am incredibly fortunate to have people who choose to make space in their lives to speak into mine.

One of those I reference often is Andrew.

Before I met Andrew I was slightly terrified of him. For multiple reasons, but one main being I didn’t used to/still don’t sometimes, feel comfortable around men in authority.

The first time I met him, a story I’ve told many times in writing, was in a pub in Mijas, watching a World Cup game. I was alive with nerves to start my first day of class and the last thing I wanted to do was meet this man.

But my friend Tiffany made me.

And the first words Andrew ever uttered to me were “Welcome home”.

I say this because I had chosen to trust Andrew because Tiffany did. I borrowed some trust from her just to get to Spain.

Andrew has since then given me a lot of wisdom and even more so he’s given me love.

He taught me a lesson in trust that has stuck with me for a long while. Trust is a bridge. Some hold more weight. Some hold less. But they still hold something.
I had to build a lot of trust in Spain. I had to learn how to trust men in authority. I had to learn how to trust my voice and myself. I chose to trust people that I didn’t think I would and those humans have made my life more full than I could have imagined.

But, the thing about bridges is that they need maintenance.

I was having a conversation with my friend Krys in a loud, karaoke-filled, restaurant about my ability to trust people.

And I have come to realize that I’ve let my bridges get pretty threadbare.

Vulnerability and trust take more practice and maintenance than I have been giving them

I’m not saying I don’t trust people.

What I am saying is that I struggling lately to extend my ability to trust.

I am great at borrowing trust. I am capable of trusting humans because someone I trust, trusts them. Hell, the sole reason I am in Bellingham is because people I trust, trust the people here.

I think the problem is I’ve been living on borrowed trust.

I’ve been building bridges on top of other people’s already built bridges because that, my friends, is the easiest way to not get hurt. I am pretty discerning about who NOT to trust. I know when not to share.

But, that moment where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I need to share a little more, be a little more, give a little more, I know that I am not walking on the bridge that is built.

When you are in a season of building something, be it muscle, or skills for one thing or another, you can’t just keep doing the same thing. You can’t do the same exercise for weeks on end and expect a different result.

You have to find ways to stretch yourself.

You have to push your comfort zone and create new ones along the way.

And believe me, I know it’s hard.

I’ve been in more anxiety filled conversations than I’d like to admit these days, I’ve been in situations where I push past the curl up in a ball feeling to be present.

I WANT to trust.

I want to build bridges and practice vulnerability.

I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes. That’s surprising to some. It’s surprising that I, Meg, one of the most basic white girls some people know, doesn’t like the most basic beverage of all.

And it’s surprising to some that I walk in anxiety, and a lack of vulnerability.

But, I’m working on it. Again, still, probably always.

I am not working on liking pumpkin spice lattes though.

It’s not going to happen.

Honest

But what else is in the waiting?

The last time I felt anger was the middle of June when I shouted the F word multiple times in my work wife’s car. The emotion of anger hides hurt and confusion and usually, disbelief.

This morning in church I felt anger. It wasn’t the anger of June. It was the anger that I felt in Spain. A very specific type.
It was the week Ferg was teaching. He was leading us through some visuals and I remember there came a moment where to me, everyone was wrong. He was talking about the flowers we saw in our brains meant hope and light and a lot of other fluffy words.

I went up to talk to him after, because he was wrong and I was angry. The flowers in my field brought anxiety, depression and a whole hell of a lot of others things.

Yes, in reality I was just angry at the words he was speaking. The words being spoken were knocking against what I found to be true.

Ferg gave me wisdom that week (well, he gave me a LOT of wisdom that week). He reminded me, over and over again, that my words had power, and if the color of the flowers were bringing me anxiety than I could just change them.

I try to use that wisdom in my life a lot “change the color of your flowers”. If you don’t like something, you have the power to change it.

But today.

Today, the anger at words came and I had no ability to change them.

I was in church and I was asking God for wisdom for a friend of mine. Really, I was asking for hope.

And then we sang a song called “Take Courage”. It’s a song that holds hope.

Exactly what I was asking for right?

The lyrics read:

take Courage my heart.

Stay steadfast my soul.

He’s in the waiting,

he’s in the waiting.

Hold onto your hope

 as your triumph unfolds

He’s never failing,

He’s never failing”
That’s great right? A reminder that He is there. The God I believe and have followed and loved, is in the waiting.

And as I sang the words I reached for my journal to write and I realized something:

I don’t think I believe that promise.

And then?

Then I got kind of angry inside.

It feels as if I have a group of humans who are on the edge of something. They might be doing beautifully living life, being present, moving their worlds forward; but regardless, they are waiting for the next thing.

And in the quiet, calm, empty places of their lives, they are reminded: waiting.

I believe waiting is active. I think most of our lives, even rest, are actually verbs. Even in rest we are moving forward. Because rest brings us fullness and fullness brings the ability to become more than we were the day before.

But, active waiting, going about all the things, with all that you are, knowing that it’s been days, months, years, waiting for the job, the person, the epiphany and choosing to believe that after days, months, years, believing that God has been there becomes hard.

Sometimes, I do admit, that disbelief is comparison. Comparing stories and lives and truth. Sometimes the disbelief, is just a plain desire to choose not to believe (which I stubbornly live in occasionally).

Today, though, my anger came from “this, again?”

I was angry for myself and for my friend and for the long list of humans I know that are waiting.

I’m not asking for instant gratification. Please don’t hear that.

I think, I might even know, that my anger is probably not even directed at the God that is supposed to be in the waiting.

My anger is directed at the shame.

Shame is powerful.

There is so much shame in the waiting.

It lives there, ready to pounce. Ready to remind you that you are waiting because you aren’t enough. It’s in the shadows of the waiting. Trying to drag you in. Trying to tell you that you are waiting because you are lacking.

That whatever God, deity, higher power you serve, has decided you aren’t worth it because of xyz that you have done.

It’s just not fucking true.

(I only use the F word when I’m mad and I find myself in a bar sipping a mimosa getting progressively angry at shame).

Shame hides in my waiting. It tells me that I am too much, I am too heavy, I am not personable, I don’t belong.

It creates a long laundry list.

And in the nights of sleeplessness or in the days (I.e. Last Thursday) where I feel not good at what I do, incapable of figuring out behavior of tiny humans, incapable of engaging them. In the nights where I feel like I don’t have a person, Shame waltzes in to leave a note in my room that reminds me that all of those are the reasons that I am “in the waiting”.

This morning, without knowing it, I got angry at a God who is apparently in the same waiting that the shame is.

That’s a lot to take in.

And really, I don’t feel that aggressive about my own waiting right now. I feel aggressive for the humans around me, who feel as if they are in a pause, a waiting.

And I can’t change the color of their flowers.

But what I can do, is try my best, to remember that shame has no place in my waiting. To speak out the shame occurring in others.

And to make space to find God.

Because I still don’t know if I believe he is there.

And as per my mantra.

That’s ok.

(And it’s ok for you too.)

Honest, washington whimsy

Fact: it’s not 2009 

I think part of the reason it’s been so hard for me to write the past few weeks is because my words feel incredibly familiar.If I am being completely and utterly honest–these words feel like 2009.

And I don’t know what to do with that
I’ve tried to make some strides. I’ve emailed mentors and (maybe) started looking for a therapist.

I have tried to remember.

I’ve tried to remember that I am different. 

This season is different. 

That I am not the same human as I was in 2009.

I have lived since then.

But that’s the thing about familiar grounds isn’t it?

When we return to a familiar place it can suck all the new life out of us and place us right back where started from.

Situations that reoccur are the same. 

Whenever my mom goes into the hospital–it’s 2009 all over again and I am sitting on my bed in my old apartment. I’ve done that feeling more times then I want too. Or when July 7th hits. It doesn’t sting as bad anymore. It’s a dull, faint ache. But it’s there.

And then there is when the emptiness hits. The empty before caused me to need drugs and therapy and to cry on the floor. The emptiness that caused me to not show up.
Here’s the thing:

This year has been a struggle and there are moments where it feels an awful lot like 2009.

I have wanted to run. I have wanted to stay in bed and not show up.

I have erased more words then I care to admit because they sounded ugly and devoid of hope and whiny. I have erased words out of fear that they will speak that I am back to that.

When you’ve done what I have done, and gone through what I have it’s hard sometimes to admit that you need help. It’s hard to admit you’ve reached something rocky.

Because it was already rocky and you already asked for help.

I have cried a lot the past three weeks (read: I have cried a lot in 2016) I have felt crazy, unstable, inconsistent and a host of other things.

But here’s a fact I know to be true: it’s not 2009. I have been through things. I have faced down giants that I stared at most of my life. I’ve gone around the world and I’ve felt things I didn’t even know were things.

So, right now, I feel empty. I haven’t really known what to do. I have begun to hate the word fine. 
But goodness, at the bottom of it all, the bottom of the tears and the confusion, at the bottom of the bevy of all of things I would like to do (run away, not be present), at the bottom is a beautifully tiled foundation that wasn’t there before.

There is a moment from my second term in Spain that feels like a hug; a moment that is apart of that foundation. I was standing in the Mijouse living room amidst so many people and Andrew came up and put his arm around me and asked me how I was. 

I said I was good.

And I wasn’t lying. I was good. I was stressed and felt a lot of heavy feelings. 

But I knew I was finally in a place where I could figure out how to live through the situation I was in.

And then he looked me in the eye and repeated the question (which meant he was asking as a father). And I said I was ok, I was figuring it out, I would get through it and come out the other side.

To which he replied, “Of course you are good babe, you have Christ inside of you”.

I didn’t hear that as belittling. Because it wasn’t. 

It wasn’t brushing my feelings or emotions under the rug. It’s wasn’t “faking it til I make it”. It was choosing to know that I would come out the other side. It was choosing to know that I had the tools and the people and the heart to move through it. It was choosing to know that doing dirty, messy soul work wouldn’t stop me from living.

I have trouble sometimes ( a lot of the time) asking for help. I have trouble verbalizing in the midst of something. I have gotten better. I have learned and grown and expanded my emotional vocabulary.

So when it feels like 2009. When it feels like a mishmash of emotions.

When I feel like a burden for opening my mouth-I am still able to show up.

 I know that something doesn’t need to feel true to be true.

 I know (so much more of) who I am.

I’m choosing to keep showing up for my life. I’m choosing to ask questions.

I’m trying hard to have grace for myself and to rest. 

I’m choosing to allow myself to cry.

Because it’s not the same mountain. 

There is a different horizon I’m looking upon.

It’s not 2009.

And there is so much more.

Honest, ramblings, stateside

RIP rearview smolder

I’ve gotten really good at celebrating “the last time”. I think it’s because I have lived a life (especially the last couple years) where I have HAD to celebrate those milestones in order to give closure to short chunks of seasons in my life.

I can tell you about the last optional chicken sandwich Friday in Malaysia with the 112 or the last time Veracity ate breakfast at Ana’s table in Ecuador.

I can tell you about the last time I took a bucket shower or hand washed my clothes (both in Cambodia).

The last coffee I had from Maria’s or the last time I watched the sun come up over the Mediterranean.

I can even tell you about the last time I sang together with the Vanguard Women’s Chorus. And that was almost ten years ago.

I love celebrating last times. Closing chapters, turning pages. Making an end. Telling people what they mean to me and telling them thank you.

And that’s how I know how it ends.

But what if you don’t know something is the last time?

Like, for instance, I didn’t know that the last time I took the bus to Fuengeriola and the hot bus driver was our driver (his name is Miguel) that it would be the last time I got a little rearview smolder.

Or that the last time I went to Starbucks with Joe would be the last time I ever went to Starbucks with Joe. And I didn’t know the next time I would see his face would be on a program for his funeral.

It’s crazy when you hit this moment and look back and realize that something was the last time and you didn’t get a chance to treat it like that.

The past three weeks I’ve been working at the preschool. I’ve had a lot of amazing conversations, gotten to hug the necks of a lot of moms whom I adore, and gotten to see how their adorable kiddos have grown. It was a whirlwind as I’d only been home from Spain for 2 weeks when I started.

There was all the normal questions, “What are you doing next” “Where have you been?” “Are you staying?” and of course “Can you babysit?”.

But the one question I got from close friends and people whom I trust was this: “Are you going to go see Sam?”

Sam (whose name ISN’T Sam, I just changed it) was my therapist. I saw Sam regularly from February 2009 to December 2012. I sat on the couch in his office week in and week out. I didn’t cry much, but I did fight a lot of battles in that tiny room. He walked me through a lot of hell, and when it comes down to it was probably one of the first men I ever allowed myself to place trust.

When I got home from the World Race I freaked out. I had a slight panic attack seeing all of the things that had changed. My world had shifted and moved and I didn’t know how to deal. So I grasped at the one thing in that space that I knew to grasp.

I made an appointment to see Sam.

Did I really need to see him?

Probably yes. I needed something to ground me. And for 4 years that space and that place had grounded me. And it did help; momentarily. It reminded me of where I had come from.

When I got back from Spain, I assumed a little bit that I might need to go see him. That I would need that affirmation or even need to tell him I was good.

To tell him I TRUSTED.

But as more and more people would ask if I was going to I realized I was ok.

More then ok actually.

I knew what to grasp at.

I KNOW what to grasp at. And it isn’t even like I’m having to consistently grasp. I’m more or less just steady. But when I do need to grasp; I know where to go.

When I happened upon that revelation, that I didn’t need to see him I had another revelation. The last time I saw him was the last time I would sit on that couch. The last time I would sit slightly anxious with a pillow in my lap.

And since I didn’t know it was the last time: I have never told him thank you.

And though he may never ever read this I just have to say:

Thank you.

Thank you for helping me walk through some of the most treacherous four years of my life. Thank you for talking me off of a ledge metaphorically and literally. Thank you for helping me laugh through tears and helping me realizing what my story actually meant. Thank you for being the beginning steps for me to show up to my life.

And thank you for following up my email with a phone call back in February 2009.

We don’t always know when something is the last time. And that’s ok. I’m not saying to live every moment like it’s your last because then honestly we get into this crazy, sometimes irresponsible mindset. But I am saying this:

Write. Document. Know. Make MEMORIES.

Show up to your life.

You will never have to live in regret or wishing you hadn’t done or said something. You can find ways to say them or you can know in some way you already did.