Honest

name your shields

Over the last week I’ve had to mark off “single” on forms and applications and surveys.

And each time I’ve cringed.

Today, sitting in church, about to do communion, I was waiting to hear a phrase I’ve grown to loathe “grab one other person”.

(99% of my friends are attached to one other person).

I am pretty great on my own. I’ve written about being single. I can sit at bars and restaurants by myself. I can travel by myself. I can make my own decisions. I got this.

But, if I’m being honest; being single isn’t a flag I wave.

I wear my singleness as a shield.

I wear my singleness as a shield because if I’m being honest- I’m terrified.

(My head is full of disclaimers right now and I’m choosing not to write them)

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier then having to admit that I still have stuff to deal with in regards to the opposite sex.

I wear my singleness as a shield because I know I’m enough for myself.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s less heartbreaking than feeling left out.

I wear my singleness as shield because I’d rather a shield than shame.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier to use it then have it use me.

The thing about it though is this: I am not the only one.

And it’s not just being single. It’s whatever box you have to tick, identifier that others place on you, comfort blanket you throw on your lap to protect you from what’s happening around you.

While those statements were hard to write, I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not the only one.

I am not the only one who uses something that isn’t a bad thing as a protection.

Hell, there are times in my life that I use my Christianity as a shield.

And I can hear you out there.

Shield does NOT = excuse.

That’s not what this is about.

This is me choosing to tell you that there are things in my life that I am well aware I am doing. There are places that I haven’t gone and walls I haven’t scaled and journeys I haven’t chosen to walk into because I will have to set down that shield (whatever it may be) and be willing to take the arrows.

This is me choosing to tell you for as much as I am “man up or shut up” or “do the damn thing”, that you are not alone in needing to feel defended.

If this was Meghan circa 2012 I’d probably tie this up with a statement about Jesus. I’ve reached the point in my life, to know that Jesus is not the answer to the question.

Meghan of 2018 knows that I’ve been given the tools, the mind, the heart and the spirit to get through and work through the things

I am going to say to you- encourage you, to name your shields.

Name those things you use. Those words, those jobs, those people, those places in your life you need protection,

That’s all I’m encouraging you to do.

Name your shields.

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

I met shame in 6th grade

My roommate has a now infamous grad teaching she did in Spain. –well, infamous in the yellow house.

She talked about decisions, not having a bad day, living above the fog.

When I feel like a bad human, I give it a relisten. When I am leaning less on my ice cold brain and more on my ping-ponging red hot heart. It doesn’t happen a lot these days. It’s actually harder for me now to give grace to my emotions then ever before.

I stop my emotional output more often then not because I choose to believe that I am not ruled by how I feel and others should not have to deal with that.

I thought I was a horrible human last week. I was tired, grumpy, lazy. All the things. I couldn’t look at God. So, in church today hike everyone around me was  singing the words “your praise will ever be on my lips”, shame came. 

It overwhelmed me. 

I’m one of the first to speak shame off of someone, it’s like I have a tiny shame alarm that pings when someone is speaking shame over themselves. I actually never thought I dealt with shame as a big theme. A lot of other heavy, messy words–but not shame.

I’m reading “Scary Close” right now. It’s shocking to me how many statements hit home. But, it was the brief chapter on shame that nestled into my being to be saved for later.
Like I said, I felt like a horrible human last week. I broke down twice- once in my bosses office and then with my roommate. And on Saturday I had a grumpy hangover–this feeling where all the joy has been taken out of your world and you no longer no how to exist in said world (no drinking involved). I was beating myself up about my lack of humanness. I couldn’t even sit with myself.

Then I read the chapter on shame.

Donald Miller talked about doing an exercise in which he pinpointed the moment shame stepped into his life and oddly enough I thought his moment might be similar to mine. But no heart-tug, nothing jumped out at me. But I didn’t go any deeper. I shut the book and moved on to Netflix.

So, when shame walked in this morning and weaseled his way next to me, it shocked me that all of a sudden I remembered where he came from.

I was in sixth grade when shame sauntered into my life.

Sixth grade was the year the girls got mean.

I remember this specific morning that I got to school and plopped my backpack down by my class and walked over to the middle of the yard to find my friends.

I looked all around for them. In the corner of the play hard I saw a wall of kids all standing in a line and looking forward laughing and avoiding eye contact with me. I would come to find out they were doing that to hide all the girls I was looking for. They were crouched down and hiding from me. They were giggling and laughing.

They didn’t want me to see them.

All the reasons flooded into my being. I talked funny, I was too fat, I wasn’t enough.

I was too much. I didn’t cry, I just laughed it off and walked away, tears bringing at my eyes. 

I made a new friend that day: shame.

He now wheedles his way into a lot of places.
When I feel not enough, or too much, or like I am being too sensitive.

Last week I felt all those things. Felt like a failure. Inadequate, not enough. 

Left behind.

And because of that, shame snuck into my house over the last 5 days. He took out his paint and painted the walls a disgusting green.

So all the things, the words, the actions, all the everything that I felt I was doing to counteract the bad days got colored in shame.

The emotions, the venting, the deep breaths were now ways I was communicating to myself I was not enough. That I was inadequate.

So now, I am sitting here with all these thoughts and realizations and have no clue what to do with them. I have no way to tie up this blog in a neat package.

And that’s ok. 

I’m not going to dwell on the not knowing and I’m going to (try) not to beat myself up.

And I’m going to remember that I am a good human even when I have what seems like 100 reasons that I’m not.

Because it changes things, when you realize how shame first walked in the door.

washington whimsy

A letter to creatives

To my dear creatives,

I know you are probably sitting in front of a blank slate right now.

I know you believe with every passing moment that words don’t form in a sentence or you aren’t able to mix colors just right on a pallet or your cake falls flat for the third time that you are no longer creative. That something inside you isn’t working right anymore.

And I know that the shame piles on from there. 

Man, does it hit you like a wrecking ball. Each time you say you are going to do this or that and come up empty. Each day you set aside time to practice or write or sculpt or cook and you end up cleaning the house or reorganizing your coffee cup collections for the fifth time.

You don’t know how to sit with yourself and not feel the shame pile on, not feel the guilt or the all of the “I told you so..” about your creativity.

And I know you probably feel if you have to call the creativity out of yourself that something in that isn’t natural.

But sometimes, my friend, we have to call out to our creative spirit. We have to yell at it and tell it that it needs to come to the table and do some work. We have to remind it that there are nuggets and truth and whimsy below the surface and sometimes we can’t wait for it to just be there, sometimes we have to ask it to show up.

So, my dear creative friend, to you, I say first: shame off. You are no less on the days when you feel incapable of creating then in the days when you write the great American novel.

And second, on days where you feel the furthest from the creative that you are take a deep breath and choose to call the creativity out of yourself. 

Tonight, amidst yawns and back pain and exhaustion that’s what I needed. I chose to, in any way shape or form, find a way to put words on a page and realize that the shame creeping in wasn’t mine to grab onto.

So third, please remember this:
You don’t have to always create be a creative. 

You are creative because it’s who you are, not what you do.

It’s in you, down to your tiptoes and it pours out of your finger tips.

You are still creative even when you feel incapable of creating.

With love,

A writer who doesn’t always feel like a writer but knows forever she will be a writer.