Honest

We are more than summer

I think, currently, my life is full of a lot of boxes of “things I shouldn’t talk about”.

My brain and heart feel empty and full all at the same time.

Last week, one of the father figures in my life was in town and as I walked up to him to hug him I automatically felt the need to put on one of the many cloaks in my life. This one was the “it’s fine, everything is fine” cloak. I had enough concealer on my face to cover up the bags under my eyes and the lines on my face and the wrinkles from stress.

(The fact that I didn’t automatically burst into tears when he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek said enough for my ability to hold it together).

A little later when I was talking to him, he mentioned something he always mentions (if you know who I am talking about you know what it was: “where are all the men?!” 😂😂)

And I responded, “yes, but I am good. Sometimes it’s harder, but I’m good”.

And he responded how he always does with me, “I know”.

But then, he told me I looked stronger.

He didn’t mean physically, I haven’t been pumping iron (just throwing axes, but like that’s another story). I didn’t tell him much in our short conversation, but basically just said that I’ve been wrestling with some things.

I think, well, I know, the reason I haven’t written much this year at all, actually hasn’t been because I haven’t had words. I believe I have.

And it’s for this reason: I am not solely the things I am wrestling with, stressed about, struggling with, dealing with.

I am not just a preschool teacher.

I am not just a single female.

I am not just a Christian.

I am a hell of a lot more than all of that.

I am a person who truly, truly desires to speak things out, to pour out what is happening in my life to support and encourage others.

I honestly just want you to know that you matter and you aren’t alone and above all that you are allowed to take up space.

I want you to know that it’s ok not to talk about things.

It’s ok to have anxiety walking into a church, or meeting with a mentor.

It’s ok to say no to friends, and cry or just not want to talk about it.

It’s ok to not want to be put in a box.

But please, at some point, choose to become stronger, take up the damn space and move.

I think this fall will be me choosing to have conversations with people who know more than I do. It will be choosing to sit and rest more actively than I have and it will be making decisions I don’t necessarily want too.

This summer hasn’t been the best.

And that’s fine.

We are more than one season of our lives.

We are more than our jobs even if it’s all we talk about.

We are more than our relationship status even if it the first question on a form.

We are more than the boxes we can talk about and the ones we can.

You are more than summer.

You matter.

So, let’s do the damn thing, however that looks.

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.

I choose champagne, To dream, washington whimsy

at some point, ice has to melt.

I am sitting here for one last silent Sunday of the year at my favorite bar. I sit here as many Sundays as I can, at the table in the corner by the window (and the outlet) and drink 1 or 2 or 3 grapefruit mimosas and I write.

Sometimes other people join me in silence, but most of the time I just sit by myself attempting to verbalize thoughts in my head. This has become one of my most favorite times of the week. Without the people around me knowing it; this bar has become a part of my church. It’s become a safe place for me to choke back tears and form thoughts and have weighty realizations.

So, tonight, I’m sitting here and thinking about all that 2017 was. It was a lot. I’ve been trying to separate the good and the bad. The ugly and the uglier. The places of heartbreak and the places where my heart hasn’t even gotten the chance to break.

Many things stand out here and there, so many people and places and events.

June is a big one. In June I turned 32, I had about 32 people that I adore here in Bellingham over to my house for tacos and laughter and love. In June I ended my time with the two year olds and turned 3. In June I felt betrayal and hurt that I can’t match to any other time in my life.

In June I went to my other home for camp and was reminded that I can take joy in what I do.

If I am being honest- a lot of other things feel like an immense blur.

I want so badly to say that this year was good. I want so desperately to say that this year redeemed the year before it. But it didn’t

I want to say that I found ways this year to be who I am. I want to say that I’ve learned to apologize less and to not second guess.

I want to say that my heartaches less and that I am 100% happy in my own skin. That needing a space for one has gotten easier.

I want to say that I’ve been brave.

I want to say all of those things.

But, I’m just not sure I can.

It’s funny. I spend 40 hours a week telling tiny humans that they need to use their words. I hold their hands and look them in the eyes and take deep breaths with them. I say, “I understand that you are feeling frustrated. I understand that your body feels upset. But what I need you to do is take some deep breaths and tell me with your words whats wrong.”

I felt a lot of things this year. I felt lonely, I felt pain and anguish for myself and on behalf of those around me. I felt joy. I felt love that I can’t really articulate. I felt every single damn day for the 18 tiny humans who are on my class list.

But, ask me to articulate what I was feeling on behalf of my own self and I was never quite sure.

I don’t think I was the only one with that problem this year.

A lot of things happened this year. Things in our control or out of it. Things that impacted us or our neighbor. There was anger and hate and laugher from disbelief. It spilled into everything. Every aspect of our lives were impacted whether we wanted them to be or not.

I don’t have the words to describe all the things.

But, I think what I can say, is that in spite of all the things, in spite of the loneliness and the betrayal and the hurt I didn’t give up. In spite of my inability to use my words, I didn’t stop trying.

In spite of all the things, there was still joy.

And there it is my friends.

In spite of all the things- there is still joy.

There are still moments of joy.

I tried, so incredibly hard, in the midst of all things to find joy.

I think we all did. If we really searched through our memories, we tried this year to balance all the things with joy.

I was and still am numb to this year. I’m numb to the things that made me feel less like the person I know I am. I am numb to the things that added to my character.

But, at some point, ice has to melt. At some point an asleep leg has to wake up.

So, to 2017 I say this,

Thank you for the people in my life.

Thank you for my roommate.

Thank you for my work wife.

For my bosses and my coworkers and all those I would never know without the Y.

Thank you for my church, for the people who are scattered in the rows around me, who are family.

Thank you for my forever best friend.

Thank you for my OCfamily and that little blue house in Irvine.

Thank you for my family whom I grow to appreciate with every passing year.

Thank you for opportunities to speak and space to give love and be love.

And to 2018 I saw this:

Let’s thaw out the numbness and find places each day to wake our words up a little more.

Dear 2018,

Please, I beg of you.

Use your words.

With love,

Meghan

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

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 

Honest

please stop calling my singleness brave 

A friend sent me a blog to read last week that was a letter to single Christian women.

I’m going to be honest, I almost didn’t read it.

But I thought, maybe this one won’t tell me that when I least expect it the “right one” will come along.

Maybe it won’t tell me my singleness is brave.

Maybe.

Or maybe not.

I have been, for the past couple of days, trying to figure out why I get so up in arms when I read these blogs or books or hear podcasts on the topic.

But I guess, what it is, is that I am only not ok with being single in the moments where I feel like my singleness is a disease. And, if I am being honest, when I read those very lovely, well-meaning blogs about “being brave” and listing a lot of rules for being single, I feel less whole than I should.

When I get told to “live in spite of” I feel as if there is something wrong with having lived without thinking of the fact that I am single.

And it’s funny because I know that this isn’t just a single-married person thing, it’s a kids-no kids, run of the mill job-dream job thing. I get that.

But today, for me, it’s a single person thing. Specifically, a single Christian woman thing.

Being single in the church is not easy.

Sometimes it seems as if we are standing on one side of the street waiting to cross over. Staring at the party on the other side where couples do couple things and get to minister together and have a partner in crime and go to marriage classes and double date.

Then, there are all of us singles. Male and female, watching, living life.

Just on the opposite side of the street.

It’s quiet on this side.

Trying our best to not be defined by something that most in our culture define as being “not quite there”.

So what do we do?

We read the blogs and books and we listen to the podcasts and we join the small groups.

And we don’t feel better.

There are over 2,000 books on Amazon when you type the words “single Christian woman”.

2,000.

That’s a lot of words and thoughts and ideas and advice that people have given and put out into the world.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We are meant to learn from each other’s stories. And take pieces for ourself and figure it all out as we go.

But just like married humans can never fully be prepared for every possible emotion and feeling they will have in that phase of life, us single humans can say the same thing.

Because we could be single the rest of our lives.

I could be a single Christian woman for the rest of my life.

And it won’t mean I am brave. I’m brave for many reasons, and one of them is not for being single.

I am grateful for those around me in relationships that I trust. That I can talk to about these things.

But most of them will never know what it is to be a 32 year old Christian single woman and all of the connotations that brings. I am talking about contemplating owning a home by myself, being an island of a human making decisions by myself and pondering about the moral implications and qualms I have about sex outside of being married.

And I wouldn’t know right know what it’s like to manage a budget with two people in my late twenties or make decisions as a whole or decide on birth control or no birth control.
Neither thing is lesser.

Neither thing is brave.

It’s life.

Let’s save brave for actually brave things.

Let’s encourage people in the paths of life they ARE going down, not where they are lacking, or moreso where we BELIEVE they are lacking.

Let’s not create story for poeple.

Or give them false hope.

Because spoiler alert: I don’t neccesarily want to be single.

But I am choosing to keep walking out my life as who I am.

And that’s not brave.

It’s just exactly who I am.

A mimosa-drinking, tiny human wrangling, story-telling, cake-baking human.

Not brave. Just me.

Honest, I choose champagne

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

I’ve been in Bellingham for two years this weekend.

That’s insane. I kind of can’t even fathom it. That I’ve been here for two years with all the ups and downs and tantrums (by myself and by toddlers). I’ve learned more here then I can articulate. 

The main thing being, I am very, very glad I have decided to the best of my ability to not just “get through” this season.

It was something I noticed being the two year old room. The two year olds were rough. I would find myself counting down the moments til nap and then the moments til three pm.

Trying to force yourself through moments, trying to just get through days is not a way to live.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t want to sleep at night because I didn’t want the sun to come up. I was working in a pretty hostile classroom and I was in an incredibly deep dark well of depression. I would stay up ‘til one or two in the morning just to have more hours in the day to myself.

If I slept then I would have to do all the things again. 

I remember hitting my breaking point, knowing that for myself and for those around me I could no longer just “fake it ‘til I make it”. Something had to give. I couldn’t just put my head down and try to get through.

It wasn’t working.

So, I made changes, I moved out the classroom, I started therapy, I went on antidepressants.

I tried to find joy again and I worked really hard to do so.

There are times, chunks of the last two years, when I know in my knower that I was sitting in a pit of depression. That I didn’t want to go to sleep at night because then the day would come again. 

And I would have to do all the things.

I’m thankful for the people around me who remind me to be present and for the tiny humans who demand it.

I don’t know what this third year in Bellingham holds and I don’t know how many years will follow it; but I’m going to choose, still, to the best of my ability to be present. I’m going to choose to try not to live of faking it ‘til I make it. 

I have parts of my life that I can say without out a doubt that I’m trying to get through. I’m pretty sure most of us would be lying if we said we weren’t trying to get through something.

A season in a city, a season of singleness, a season before marriage, a season of a job.

Days, weeks, months that we are so desperately trying to get past, to get to the next season.

But why?

Why do we deem these moments less important than the ones we are trying to get through? Who are we to decide what moments we can learn from?

If I allow myself, I can learn from everyday. I can learn from the tantrums and the laughter and moments when I feel less than myself. 

But the instance I put my mind in forward, the instance I decide that minute I want ahead of me is less important than the minute I am in, is the instant I decide that my present doesn’t matter

During one of my object lessons I did at camp a couple weeks ago I talked about how there is a plan and a purpose for our lives. There are big, awesome things ahead.

That’s hard to stomach sometimes.

More, is hard to stomach.

But, this minute you are in right now? The one in which you’ve decided to read this collection of words?  

This is a part of your more.

And so is the next and the next.

Let’s start with tomorrow. Let’s start with not getting through tomorrow, but for living every moment of it.

Let’s create joy and growth and hope and light.

So, when we get to the next day and the day after that, we won’t have moments lost in the abyss, but days we can build upon.

Let’s do the damn thing each and every day.

And when we need to- take a deep breath to our toes, and dive back in.