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

But I am grateful for THAT

I am not one to talk about what I am grateful for in the broader sense. I will text friends and write cards and buy coffees and double vodka tonics and constantly try to remind and tell those in my circle that I love them, I am so happy they are in my life, that they’re champions, that I’m proud of them, that I believe in them etc.

But, as I was getting to ready to come and sit and drink a coffee in this bright lovely space today I was thinking about what I really truly am grateful for.

You see, it’s easy for me to be grateful for people and memories and moments and inanimate objects (sparkly water and ice coffee I’m looking at you).

There is something that it is actually incredibly difficult for me to be grateful for:

Myself.

The past month I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up internally. I’ve spent a lot of time negating who I am and what I’ve done and what I believe. I have spent a lot of headspace telling myself I’m not worth a change, or something new, not enough.

I stood on the porch of my house for about 3 minutes debating and wondering if I should actually come write and put words down.
But, I locked the door and I started moving.

Because, when it comes down to it, I am grateful for myself.

I am grateful for the ability to love fiercely, even to the point of exhaustion because I never question my passion for something or someone.
I am grateful for my inability to be confrontational because it means I am constantly learning how to be better at that very thing.
I am grateful for the fact that I am good at my job. Grateful for the knowledge I have and my ability to be able to relate to parents and kids. I am grateful for my desire to ask questions and my ability to ask for help at work.
I am grateful for my ability to be stubborn. I am grateful for the times wherein it hinders me and helps me. I am grateful for it because it always reminds me that I can do hard things.

I am grateful for my relationship with God even in the moments where I didn’t want it. And my ability to be ok with doubt.
I am grateful for my ability to be friends with so many different types of humans.
I am grateful for my singleness because it has taught me constantly that I am my own person. I am grateful for the ache of my singleness because it reminds me that I desire something I might never have, but inspires me to be stronger than I think I can be.
I am grateful for the fact that I’m a basic white girl. That I love avocado toast and cold brew and not disgusting pumpkin spice lattes.
I am grateful for my extra weight and the curves on my body. I am grateful for how it has taught me to dress for who I am and own what I love.

I am grateful that I know what it feels like when I’m about to have a panic attack. I am grateful that my body and I have come to such a place where I know when it’s about to stop working.

I am grateful for the friendships that have come into my life and my ability to realize I need them.
I am grateful for the friendships I’ve lost. Because even though it sometimes still hurts- I will always remember the ways I grew because of them.
I am grateful for my inabilities because they have in more ways than one led me to where I am.

I am grateful for myself.

Now, this list isn’t all of the things I am grateful for inside of myself.

And you’re probably thinking “Meg, some of these aren’t awesome” and you’re right.

Some of these things that I have listed aren’t probably things to be grateful for. Like, maybe I should lose weight, or get more mentally healthy, maybe I should stop being stubborn or be a better friend.

Maybe.

But here’s a real talk moment: This is who I am today and who I will probably be tomorrow.

But each day I chip away at something and change the story.
Like confrontation: still not great at it, but better than I was 5 years ago.

My anxiety? I still have it but each day I learn the signs more and more and learn what I can do to breathe it out.

The more time we spend hating parts of ourselves; the more likely we will just hate all of ourselves.

I have spent a lot of my life thinking I didn’t need to matter- and if I’m being completely and utterly transparent I still have moments where I feel that. The desire to be invisible and just move the pieces for other people. The desire to blend into the scenery and cheer on from the audience.

I still just sometimes want to sink into the actions and deeds I do for others. Because it’s easier than being known and seen. I would still rather feel your feelings than give up my own.

I would still rather hold your purse of problems than let you sift through my own,
BUT
I’m getting better.
I’d still rather spend my time in the background and I would still rather hold my cards close at hand.
But I’m grateful for the growth I’ve made and the stories I’ve shared and the beliefs I’ve changed about myself and the space I inhabit.

I might not say what I’m grateful for or thankful for again this month- I’ll probably still show it in the purchase of coffee or vodka, handwritten notes, and hugs.

But for myself, here it is a reminder that my life is built on stories and pieces of myself that won’t go away just because I dislike them- but will be nurtured if I choose to see what they’ve done for me.

So as a final question: How are you grateful for the parts of yourself that for which you’ve spent a lifetime being not grateful?

 

I choose champagne, it takes a village

Broccoli IS good: words on identity

The concept of identity is so damn weird.
We spend our childhood, for the most part, doing whatever the heck we want. We make choices and we try activities and we more or less do what feels good, fun or what we are forced to do by the adults around us. Through that we begin to find our likes and dislikes, what makes us happy and what we are good at. We little by little find out who we are.
Then, at some point, people start telling us who we are.
And here’s the kicker: we believe them.

We spent how many years of our childhood never believing our parents when they said broccoli was good (it is) and that we’d have fun at school ( for the most part truth), but the minute someone said “You are not…” or “You are too..” it was automatically engrained into our person.

What was I told that I believed?

I was: too sensitive, not normal, a silly talker, too fat, a nerd, four eyes, not cool, not popular, not talented, not worth it.
The list, in this moment, seems endless.
And yet, I didn’t believe that broccoli was good.

Then as we get older and become a teenager and go into high school the voices get louder and louder.
And all we are told is that “sticks and stones make break your bones but words will never hurt you”
Sorry not sorry that’s BS.

I want you to close your eyes for thirty seconds and I bet you can think of AT LEAST 3 phrases that have hurt you. If you can’t that’s great!
And I get the fact that words shouldn’t have power over us. And you give people permission, etc. etc.

But that’s not my point.

My point is that as a child and a teenager we are told a LOT OF WORDS involving our identity.
And really, shouldn’t we be the only ones who decipher who we are?

It reminds me of that scene in Runaway Bride where the main character is figuring out what type of eggs she likes. She’s only ever like the type of eggs that man she is with likes and she doesn’t know that piece of herself.
She’s probably a woman in her mid to late 20s and she doesn’t know what type of eggs she likes because she’s spent the last few years letting other people tell her what she liked.

So here’s my question: why don’t we teach kids how to find who they are? Why don’t we let them explore and fail and not try broccoli, but instead we tell them they’re too loud or too quiet or too sensitive?

Identity is defined as the of being who or what a person or thing is.

The weird part about identity is we are already thing we are supposed to be, but it’s just been bogged down and covered and marred by phrases and traumas and statements that other people believed were true. Just because something is a lie to me doesn’t mean it’s not truth to another person.

Just because something started as a lie to me doesn’t mean it can’t become a truth I walk in.

That’s not great I realize, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen or hasn’t happened.

Identity is weird because AS MUCH as we need people to not tell us who we are, and to not define us, we also need other people to tell us who we are.

We need people to remind us of the beautiful undeniably true things.

Take my work wife Victoria.

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Pure joy of pre summer 2k18

I met her four years ago and we didn’t really become friends til a few months later, but she is without a doubt one of the kindest, giving humans I’ve ever met.
She gives more grace than she believes she is capable of, she loves harder and more authentically than most humans.
Victoria cares so much.
But I don’t think she’d ever say that about herself. So, I make sure to try to tell her and remind her. I am not perfect at it, but I know she doesn’t always believe those things so I just want her to know that I see her and I see her beauty.
Identity is weird because we do sort of need the world to tell us who we are. We need them to see the beauty we are sometimes incapable of seeing and the nooks and crannies we’ve been told so often aren’t there.

Identity is weird because we need to filter what people tell us and toss out what we don’t need and keep what we do.

Identity is weird because we are already who we are- we just have to figure out who that is.

We have to make the choice to believe broccoli is good and what kind of eggs we do or don’t like (like: scrambled, fried, poached, over easy. don’t like: hard boiled, egg salad). We have to reframe things that have become truths in our life or toss them out all together.

And we have to actively remind people of the good in them, because that stirs up the good in us.

About a year ago or so I was in a place where I kind of, sort of, wanted nothing to do with God. But I had made commitments to show up to different things, so I showed up.
One night I went to a prophetic worship night at my church and I 150% didn’t want to participate.
But, one of my humans ask me to go to a certain station to wherein you wrote words for the person in the picture that was covered up by a sheet. For other people, I realized I had beautiful words.
Then it came time to share- and I wasn’t going to and then another one of my humans asked me to (and I did, because it’s who I am to a fault) and then he asked me to take the sheet off the pictures.
(If looks could kill, he might have been dead)

Under the sheet was a mirror.

But, what I realized was I had stirred something up in myself for someone else, the words were clearly for me. Plain as day ( so I wrote them in “I” form- pictured below).

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So, what I want you to do right now is 1 of three things (why not all three?).
1. (The least scary) I want you to write down good, real, true things about yourself.
2. (The next least scary) I want you to text, email, call, carrier pigeon, some words to a human in your life about who they are (look upward at what I said about Victoria- it’s that easy).
3.(The most scary-maybe) Text, email, call, carrior pigeon a friend and ask them if they can tell you three things about who you are as a human. If that feels weird, just say it’s for a job application because they always ask those kind of questions. Or honestly if you are someone that knows me you can 100% text me “Hey Meg, #3 please”

Identity is weird because we get told a whole hell of a lot of things that aren’t true to us but become true.
Identity is weird because we both need and don’t need people to find who we are.
Identity is weird because broccoli is actually good and I’m not too sensitive.

Honest, hope is a verb, it takes a village

How you stand

I write fluffy words a lot.

I write words that ask you, the reader, to step into the next. To be encouraged, to grab onto your own strength.

Sometimes all I want to do is yell and cry.

I had a moment on Friday, during nap time where I just wanted to walk out the doors. The why doesn’t really matter, but just know that I wanted to walk out. Instead I walked into the storage closet and shed a few tears and took a deep breath and walked back out.

Then later that night I had my second panic attack in the last month.

I don’t say this all to say my life is awful or for sympathy (because it’s not and I don’t need it)- I say it to tell you what I did next.

Saturday morning I went out to breakfast and read a book. I opened windows and cleaned my room, I drank a glass of wine and ate bean dip straight from the casserole dish on the floor of my friend’s house.

This morning I slept in and went to a coffee shop and did some prep for a bridal shower.

What I’m trying to say is I kept moving.

Sometimes I have shame that pops up from about ten years ago when I stopped moving. I didn’t go to work and I hid in a hole and my roommates pulled me out of the hole and gave me space all at the same time.

What I am trying to say is keep moving, in some way. Make some brownies or clean or read in a coffee shop or treat yourself to a delicious breakfast sandwich and a good book.

Walk outside, breathe, get vitamin D.

I spend 40+ hrs teaching tiny humans how to listen to their bodies. What it feels like to be mad, sad, happy or when you need to go to the bathroom. But how often do we as adults truly listen to our bodies unless our body is screaming at us?

Self care and soul care is so trendy these days. Not that it’s a bad thing. But what I want to remind you is that self care looks different for everyone. Self care to me is cleaning with my window open. It’s laughing with friends. It’s sitting across from someone at a coffee shop and not speaking.

I have made it a point to keep moving forward. To always show up. And when I don’t want to necessarily leave the house- to do something anyway.

It’s so important how you respond to the lows in your life.

I’ve learned over the last ten years what responses work for me and what responses don’t. What responses give me life and what responses cause me to drown a little more.

It’s an important value in my life to be as honest and open as possible in my writing. There are things I won’t talk about, not for lack of desire but in all honesty it’s just not everyone’s business.

But this, my response to my lows is something I want to share.

Knowing what to do when your body yells is just as important as what you do to not make it yell.

Responding when you fall down reminds you of ways to keep standing.

So to you, my friend reading this, know that it’s 100% ok to fall.

It happens.

But, start noting how you stand up. Note, how you stand up taller than when you fell.

You’ve got this.

Do the damn thing

Honest

2018 was not silent.

To my friends,

We fucking did it.

I wanted to put that more eloquently. I wanted to have a better starter sentence but that’s all that really fits.

And really, truly we did do it.

I wish I could explain to all of you how intensely proud I am of all of us for continually facing what 2k18 brought to our table. Because it seemed every time we got to the place where we thought we’d gotten over that last thing, that last mountain, another one rose up in its place.

2k18 was drenched in our tears and our exhaustion. It was drenched in coffee and tequila and vodka and wine. 2k18 crushed dreams and held devastation and swung wrecking balls of hopelessness.

There was burnout and the feeling of being unable to catch up to life.

The absolute belief that the other shoe was going to drop followed every single moment of joy.

This year has been so packed full of disappointment for some of the humans in my life that the joy hasn’t been loud enough to break through.

And in some cases the lack of anything, joy, goodness caused us the inability to see those things even when they were right in front of our faces.

This year held good things, it really did.

(Like three words: 90’s themed birthday)

But honestly, at the end of the year I can look back and say that we fought. Maybe not all the time, maybe not loudly, maybe we laid our heads down at one point but we are still here.

Every single one of us.

I don’t what 2018 did to you.

I don’t know if you cried more or laughed more. I don’t know if this was the best year of your life or the worst or even in that dead middle where you don’t know tears from smiles. I don’t know if you wanted to give up.

I don’t know if you had sufficient amounts of rage (🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼) or joy (YASSSS QUEEN- never forget that 2k18 we met the FabFive and with them all things just keep getting better). I don’t know if you had love or loss or both.

I just don’t know.

But, my friend…

YOU ARE STILL HERE.

You are still moving and taking deep breathes and showing up for your life (even if you missed a few days here and there).

You may have a few more wrinkles or grey hairs or pounds. You may have given your body a beating this year; but you still did it.

2018 took a lot of my tears. A lot of my friends tears. 2018 tried to rob me of a hell of a lot of my joy. 2018 took some of my faith and replaced it with something different (and that I’m still figuring out).

2018 brought engagements and babies and weddings and friends moving here and there and everywhere in between. 2018 did bring a little bit of hope-but just not how we thought.

2018 was not silent.

But, honestly I don’t think we were either.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring. I can’t promise joy. I can’t promise everything will be fine. I can’t promise people won’t be haters.

But we can do the damn thing.

That I can promise.

I can promise that showing up isn’t always easy, but we can.

Because we have.

My planner is already getting full for 2019. I already have three weddings to go too, one that I am the officiant of honor in. My work life the next two months is going to be insane.

And in the midst of all the the things, that parts that aren’t the best in my life and in the lives of my friends don’t go away with midnight.

The struggles and things that aren’t great in your life won’t go away with midnight.

The battles and all those things don’t disappear from 11:59-12:00.

BUT there is something to it.

Something new, something more. Time to dust off the dirt of it all and step into the new year a little stronger than last. (Or in new Calvin Klein heels).

You can.

You will.

You have.

Let’s do that damn thing.

With love,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb

To just BE (#7)

I had the realization as I was getting ready to come write that this would be my last silent Sunday in the bar as a 32 year old. I’m going to be on a plane next Sunday and then the Friday after that is my birthday.

It’s a bit overwhelming of a feeling for me. I have this wonderful middle of the year birthday. Almost like a new year in the middle of a year. I have a chance to hit refresh and pause and take a deep breath before I dive in to the crazy busy of summer and what feels like a fast forward on an already fast forwarded life.

But, that’s the ahead. Let’s look back instead.

I got a tattoo last week.

I wasn’t planning on it, it was a fleeting thought I mentioned to Victoria on Tuesday. So then, on Wednesday after work I text my roommate Patty and asked her to draw “be” for me. And an hour and 11 little sketches later, I was sitting in the chair at a tattoo parlor.

I am currently reading “Come Matter Here”. It’s a book by the lovely Hannah Brencher and it comes out on May 29. But, as I have been reading this book, I’ve had moments where I’ve thrown the book on the ground, where I have told it to shut up and where I have just started sobbing.

I’ve been reading Hannah’s blog for the last 3 years or so. I read her Monday morning emails as I fill bleach bottles and sort laundry at work. I know her words.

Her words, quite often have been mine.

She writes in “Come Matter Here” about getting a tattoo in the midst of a debilitating season of depression. She gets the word “stay”. Not necessarily in the moment to stay in a place. But to stay in the fight, stay in the struggle.

And as I read those words mere hours after mentioning the word “Be” to Victoria my brain started moving.

To “be” has been incredibly hard for me lately. To BE myself. To BE at peace. To BE present. To BE loved.

And of course, to BE with God.

This past season of my life in regards to God has been one of the most draining that I’ve ever walked through, solely because, I chose to still show up. I still chose to (for the most part) show up and be in the places that felt the most dangerously close to where God was.

I kept and keep showing up even when I don’t believe God himself is showing up.

“I am learning that God doesn’t bring us places to meet our expectations. For him, it’s a lot more about the transformation. He loves who we are, but he will never pass up on the chance to use life events to make us better.”

Come Matter Here*Hannah Brencher*pg71

This last stretch of time, this current moment I am in, has been about choosing to BE. In however that may look. And for me that choice is showing up and choosing to bring who I am to the table.

Because, my last in this list of meanings for a two letter word is this: BE at the table.

This past year I’ve wanted to run. Run fast away from the things inside of me, from the abilities and the pieces that I know I bring to the table, because it was too much.

Because as much as I preach that you have the thing that someone else needs, the responsibility inside of me felt daunting when my inability to believe was shaken.

To BE part of the puzzle was too much, too heavy.

I know, that I don’t have to be all the things. But, the energy to even be some of them was weighing down everything inside of me.

To be known, to be at the table.

To be noticed.

To take up space.

To be loved.

Now, doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?

That I have to coach myself into being ok with being known?

Being known, being seen and being present in that is horrendously scary.

But, as I have been told by multiple people in my life- it’s also my reality.

I am a human who is known. (Even when I think I am really good at not being known)

I am timid to write more declarations about choosing to BE in the year of 33.

But, what I think I can say is this:

I’m learned this year that in the places that I have MOST wanted to run from, the places where I’ve wanted to slip out before the end, the places where I didn’t want to participate or share or give, were in fact the places that I needed to BE the most.

I don’t know what my choice to be will bring me this year.

I just know, believe, choose to remember that the choice to be will bring more to myself than I was yesterday.

As always, deep breathes to the toes my friends.

Let’s be.

Honest

in the midst of it all

I will never forget the moment I became a Christian.

Isn’t that a weird statement? I’m sure though, that there are other moments that people will never forget. It could be the moment they fell in love, or the moment they felt at home or the situation that occurred where they physically felt themselves became an adult.

For me, it was July 3rd, 2000 at a youth conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

Since then my whole life has in some way, shape or form, revolved around the church.

Like, fun fact, did you know that I have a not-yet-completed masters in leadership with an emphasis in spirituality? Or that I was a children’s pastor or that I used to regularly write sermon recaps for my church in Orange County? Or that the world race isn’t the only mission trip I’ve done. OR that I went to a Christian leadership academy in the south of Spain.

I’ve gone through ups and downs in my faith, just like any relationship.

There was the season after my friend Joe died that I had no space to pray, talk to God or even be in a church. I was angry, hurt and alone.

Then there was the time after the world race where I for all purpose fell apart and had no clue what I wanted to believe.

And then, there is now.

Yesterday, I wandered around a bookstore, mainly in the religion section. I perused titles and read the first few pages and tried to find something that matched what I was feeling.

I’ve been unsure lately.

So, I’ve been thinking about all the places I have been solely because I’m a Christian.

There is a lot. I have had a lot of experiences and emotions and adventures because of it.

The timeline of the last 18 years of my life would have looked very different had I not walked up to the stage in the midst of hundreds of high schoolers.

And that’s weird.

My faith and my relationship with God is very different then when I was 14. Then, it was based more on feeling. I felt God. More than I think I realized back then. If I would have gone to a church that focused on spiritual gifts and prophecy, I have no doubt that it is something that would have filled my life. There would be moments when I was leading worship that I would feel what I know now as the spirit moving through what I was singing.

But, why I am saying all these things?

Well, I’m at a place with my faith where I feel as if Jesus and I are on a break. Like we are at that friend level where we sit in room and no one says anything and it feels uncomfortable.

Woof.

I ran out of church today because of it.

I ran out and looked at my calendar and contemplated what it would be to take a break from church.

Here’s the thing: I love my church. I love people and the atmosphere and all of it.

I’m just processing what it would be like to take a break for the self-care.

I’ve been a Christian over half my life now. I’ve had seasons of not going to church and seasons where I worked 6 days a week at one. I’ve held babies on five continents and preached in everywhere from a South African township to a maximum security prison in Peru.

I’ve heard dead on from God from people in bars and spoken words to people about themselves that I have no business knowing.

What I want to say is I’m not breaking up with God.

What I want to say is whatever deity you may believe in find no shame in taking a breath and looking at it all.

What I want to say is that you can believe and question all in the same breath.

So, this is just me, writing on a Sunday, on my second mimosa and just figuring out all the things.

Honest, stateside

Shame is a bitch

An open letter to those who feel like they are stuck in a shame cycle,

I get you.

I get that place you are in that feels like there is nothing new on the horizon.

I get the feeling of standing in the middle of the road while the people with babies and marriages and evolving relationships and new jobs seemingly zoom by.

I get the hopelessness and the desire to not have to make your own magic.

I get that feeling of everything being the same, and not having space to breathe because of the sameness.

I get the pacing and the pondering and the second guessing over and over again.

I get the desire to cut your hair, get a tattoo, move, leave church, change jobs.

I’ve had all of those thoughts in the past month.

I know the feeling of physically carrying burdens and stress and pressure and not knowing how the hell to change it.

I understand what it’s like to not want to put any of that on someone because you don’t want to be that person.

I. Get. You.

But now, I want you to picture yourself standing in the median on a busy freeway. All the cars passing by carry all the labels that you wish you carried.

You’re so focused on those cars that you don’t break eye contact.

And then when you do, you see us.

All of us.

In the same place.

On the median.

We’re all there.

There is a lot of us.

Searching, wanting the answers to jump out of someone else’s story.

Desiring something that in all reality would be a watered down version of what we are truly meant to be in.

There is a lot of us who come and go from that median.

I think that everyone spends some time there, unable to get to the other side as the cars stream past.

Just staring.

I’ve been unable to form words lately, I’ve been afraid to unpack the things I’ve been carrying for fear of what might be at the bottom of the box.

I write this letter to you not to ask for help, but to say you aren’t alone.

There are a lot of us.

Trying to figure out this thing.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) to brush off the shame.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) that shame is a bitch.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down too?

Shame of not being worthy

Shame of not being enough

Shame of falling short

Shame of not hearing god

Shame of being too much

Shame of being alone

So, I write this letter to to you to remind you, right now, in this moment to tell shame to fuck off.

You are so much more than all those things.

And you are not alone.

Sincerely,

Meg