In Disassembly

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It’s nighttime here, yet night has not entirely fallen. It’s this kind of eerie twilight where day desperately tries to linger.

Here’s a graph from timeanddate.com showing the daylight times for my hometown here in Alaska. As you can see, we’re getting ready to receive the most amount of daylight we will get all year on 21 June. I think it’s safe to say that this extreme influx of daylight has been messing with my sleep schedule. For example, it’s 11:35 PM and every damn human in this house is awake and alive. My husband and I live with two roommates who are basically family to us.

My husband is a few feet away from me playing some kind of first person shooter game. I have Lana Del Rey in my ears and so I can’t hear what he or his friends in his ears are saying. I’m caffeinated up and ready to rumble on my own projects.

My cousin said that she admired how I could set my mind on things and just do them. I released the first full length Candy For Trees album and shared with the news with her. I would argue that I’m the opposite of what she said. Everything creative just happens to me and the hardest work I do is assemble the miscellany I have created, sometimes from over the course of years. I lack discipline, and I’m not fond of that about myself. This blog is one of my greatest feats of consistency I have ever accomplished, and even then I am not perfect at it.

My biggest feat of consistency is the time I wrote 365 poems in a year. I wrote every day for the act of writing, and my work SUCKED. But because I put myself through those paces, my work got so much better. I was able to look back on the project and see that I honestly didn’t like the schmaltzy rhyming poetry I had written and that breaking free of the rhyme was essential to progressing in my craft. This honesty with myself allowed me to continue and get better, honing my own style rather than imitating the Romantic poets I so admired. In disassembling what I had made simply for the act of doing it, I was able to get farther than I would have otherwise.

I also think that Byzantines and Button Downs has made me a better writer, and being semi-consistent with it has been beneficial beyond measure, both with regards to practicing my craft and in terms of self discovery. I try to write something – anything – every day, whether it is poetry, one of my many stories, or blog posts.

Why don’t I write every day consistently, you may ask?

I think it’s because I’m afraid of failing, writing something that -gasp- sucks. I forget so easily how writing just for the act of doing it improved my skills and how I can always revisit the crappy writing later and build on it.

Here is an example of one such reconstruction:

The original.
The rework, 2015.

The theme remains the same, but they are quite different stylistically. There are pros and cons to each, but in the end it’s up to personal preference.

In the end, it comes down to self improvement, dedication, and perseverance. I don’t have those down yet and I was a lot better at them when I was younger, but that doesn’t mean that I am a failure. I just have stuff to work on.

So if you feel like you are stuck in the first assembly phase, you aren’t alone. I think we all should take it one day at a time (seriously, that’s some of the best advice I have ever heard) and do what we can today, in this time. In my limited experience, I’ve found that it’s about making time for consistency, not necessarily having it already on hand.

What are you working on? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Meg

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Off the Mic

Hello, friends!

I have a confession to make.

I am not a very good listener. I like to talk more than I like to listen and wait for my turn to talk rather than processing what the other person has to say and offer.

This prevents me from gaining a lot of  wisdom that I could have captured more easily had I listened. This goes for all things. Spiritual things have to hit me like a freight train in order for me to even notice them, making a still, small voice out of the question for me. I miss out on a lot of good insights in group discussions because I’m waiting to prove my point. I don’t pay attention to nature or my surroundings because my head is in the clouds constantly. I’m not grounded in “reality”, I have no patience for it, and as such I miss the magic of the everyday.

My dad didn’t miss the magic of the everyday, he reveled in it. One of my favorite things he said was that after he prayed, he had to stop talking, take his thumb off the mic and listen. A lot of the time, there would be an answer there somewhere in his thoughts or in his surroundings. This reminds me of something that happened in 2017.

I was at an Al-Anon (the organization for families of alcoholics) meeting place waiting for the meeting to begin. I was an hour early and I started missing my dad and crying and praying. As I was praying, I saw a cat appear out of some bushes, climb up on the bench where I was sitting, and sleep next to me.


This is the cat, and to this day I don’t know his or her name. Regardless of this, this cat was the blessing I needed in that moment. I took my thumb off the mic and I listened. The universe spoke.

I’m not here to say that I should be completely silent all the time, but when the time comes, I should not check out and instead be present. A lot of the time, my own mental noise drowns out a message quicker than the noise around me. I need to work on quieting my mind and being here. It’s not easy being here, and sometimes it’s easier to just check out, especially if it’s a hard conversation. But I think the hard conversations are the ones that need presence the most. This ties into my forgetfulness, I think. If I were more present, I’d remember more.

I’m not a failure for forgetting things, I must keep telling myself. I’m where I am now, and I must keep going. I haven’t come this far just to stop. Someday I will look back on the journey I have taken and think to myself, “that’s a long path, but it was so worth it. I have learned so much. I have been though hard times, but I have risen above what was expected of me, both by myself and by others. I am unapologetically myself. Nobody can take that from me.”

I thank the universe and God for bringing me to where I am. I am here in this moment, in this meditative time. I am a channel for goodness and hope. I am a child of God and the universe, and I am worthy of a seat at the table. Time to take my thumb off the mic and listen.

Love,

Meg

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Love Notes

Hi, friends!

My seat at the table was nearly denied, seeing as I nearly kicked one of the chairs at our dining room table down the basement stairs.

That would have sucked, seeing as my husband is sleeping upstairs and would have likely woken up and come running. Not fun..

I’m also listening to the music I listened to most on Spotify, which is an interesting walk down memory lane.

“Feel” by Sleeping With Sirens is on, and I remember listening to that a lot at Maryland college. What a throwback!

Some throwbacks aren’t pleasant, though. I deal with flashbacks sometimes. Some days and even weeks or months are filled with them, even haunting me in my sleep and I get angry and sad and end up breaking down sometimes. If I listen to certain songs, those are guaranteed nightmares right there.

I have a tendency to minimize my experiences because they aren’t as bad/traumatic as those of others, and I have a message for you if you do that, friends.

Stop it.

Your experiences are valid. It’s like somebody breaking their arm and you losing your dad. Pain is pain, and experiences are experiences. Though the worst pain you may have experienced is not as “significant” as someone else’s doesn’t mean you didn’t experience it. It’s real. You are here. The seat at the table is still yours.

My flashbacks are profound to me, and sometimes they are debilitating. The most profound reliving of my trauma is through nightmares. I go hours without sleeping because I fear what sleep will bring.

Then there are times I go months without a single flashback. I feel great, like I can take on the world and am okay. Those are the times when I feel most worthy to sit at the table.

When the flashbacks return, however, I fear that I am less than because I am sad yet again. Have I regressed permanently?

The answer to that is no. An ebb and flow of good times is normal. There will be hard times again, and that is as normal as life and death.

My mom unearthed an email my dad wrote to me shortly before he died.

Part of it reads:

Meg,
Just got through reading your letter.  Sorry for the delay.  I wanted to address one point before debating about Greek myths.
I understand your fear of my departure, and it scares me to an extent myself.  One of the things that I can’t recall telling you is the order that all of the things that have occurred to me have seemed to be an order that has been used to teach me.
My parent’s divorce.
Your illness that put you in the hospital
The death of my brother
My first brain tumor
Your difficulties
My bad habits
My second brain tumor
Missing you at college
These are all life changing things.  Some include death.  But what I haven’t listed there, and what many people fail to include in life changing things are stuff like (I’ll use myself):
Graduations
Learning
Laughing
Friends
Marriage
Recovery
Surviving that first tumor
Sending you to college, etc.
So many of the good things outweigh the bad things, and certainly the list would be much longer if I spent more than three minutes coming up with what I did.  The bad stuff sticks out because things like that suck.  They hurt, they heal, they leave scars.  We live in fear that they will occur again, and sometimes they do, but our experience with the first time stops them quickly.

I like what he said in the final paragraph –

So many of the good things outweigh the bad things, and certainly the list would be much longer if I spent more than three minutes coming up with what I did.  The bad stuff sticks out because things like that suck.  They hurt, they heal, they leave scars.  We live in fear that they will occur again, and sometimes they do, but our experience with the first time stops them quickly.
My dad was the wisest man I have ever known and he had a lot of life experiences packed into him in the span of just under 50 years. He makes a lot of points in just a few paragraphs, and the takeaway I get from it as a whole is that we can’t live in fear of bad things when they’re a natural rhythm of life and oftentimes we have seen them before.

I also like how he said that all of the things in his life have been placed in an order to teach him something. This, to me, further serves as evidence that there’s a plan for everything.

As I have mentioned previously, we’re loved infinitely, in all times and places. This is the great constant and it has held true for my entire life, even when I didn’t see it at times.  Somewhere in this infinite love, there was a purpose in my dad dying. This aspect has finally been puzzling me after three years of security with the fact that it happened. I understand why he left (he was no longer functioning, the brain tumor was killing him), but I have been looking for a kind of silver lining, a higher purpose as to why he was taken at that time. Why that at that time?

The one explanation I have for it is that he had work to do as an angel elsewhere, like bringing my soulmate, my husband, back into my life. We both believe he was the architect of that.

I’m thankful for my husband and that he loves me even though I did eat an entire pack of his pepper jack cheese slices in my haste to eat.

The universe seems to back up this theory, with little love notes scattered here and there. I feel him close sometimes – more often than before I left Texas, and I actually think he had a hand in my love’s hunch that I was overmedicated and misdiagnosed. It would make sense if the logic holds that he brought my love back to me. My love is wise like him and he listens. He is more than a note, he’s a novel or a care package. He’s in tune even if he may not realize it.

Friends, if you’re struggling, look for love notes from the universe. They are here and they give my life meaning. I love you all.

Meg

If this helped, buy me a coffee here and help fuel the blog!


My dad was the wisest man I have ever known and he had a lot of life experiences packed into him in the span of just under 50 years. He makes a lot of points in just a few paragraphs, and the takeaway I get from it as a whole is that we can’t live in fear of bad things when they’re a natural rhythm of life and oftentimes we have seen them before.

I also like how he said that all of the things in his life have been placed in an order to teach him something. This, to me, further serves as evidence that there’s a plan for everything.

As I have mentioned previously, we’re loved infinitely, in all times and places. This is the great constant and it has held true for my entire life, even when I didn’t see it at times.  Somewhere in this infinite love, there was a purpose in my dad dying. This aspect has finally been puzzling me after three years of security with the fact that it happened. I understand why he left (he was no longer functioning, the brain tumor was killing him), but I have been looking for a kind of silver lining, a higher purpose as to why he was taken at that time. Why that at that time?

The one explanation I have for it is that he had work to do as an angel elsewhere, like bringing my soulmate, my husband, back into my life. We both believe he was the architect of that.

I’m thankful for my husband and that he loves me even though I did eat an entire pack of his pepper jack cheese slices in my haste to eat.

The universe seems to back up this theory, with little love notes scattered here and there. I feel him close sometimes – more often than before I left Texas, and I actually think he had a hand in my love’s hunch that I was overmedicated and misdiagnosed. It would make sense if the logic holds that he brought my love back to me. My love is wise like him and he listens. He is more than a note, he’s a novel or a care package. He’s in tune even if he may not realize it.

Friends, if you’re struggling, look for love notes from the universe. They are here and they give my life meaning. I love you all.

Meg

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The Great Constant


Hello!

Today is a new day, even though it is a bit young for me. I woke up at 12:30 PM and am kind of regretting my life decisions. So I have camped out in a super hip coffee shop and am just enjoying life for now.

There’s something I don’t think about often but am thinking about now. I don’t usually like getting out of bed nowadays unless there’s something that’s making me leap out of bed at 6 AM. That’s usually a lesson, to be honest. I like getting up at 6 AM, but there’s not been much getting me awake and alive. I am quick to blame that on my surroundings and lack of events in my life, but I honestly am not feeling super motivated internally and that is why it’s harder to get up and move, I think.

I’m not feeling depressed, is the weird thing. I am perfectly happy when I get up, I just feel unmotivated, like there’s not much to look forward to in that moment. In other words, I think that my reason why I’m doing things, why I am living and not just surviving, why I am happy, even, isn’t big enough. I have big dreams, but I don’t honestly believe in myself enough for them to motivate me. It’s not that they’re small, it’s my lack of faith in myself.

It’s funny that I feel this way, especially after I have discovered that I have a seat at the universe’s table and have a voice. I should be living this discovery, right? How can I use my voice? How could I possibly be bored with my life?

I find during these “boring” days that I overlook the little things that make me happy and make waking up worthwhile. One of my favorite little things is when my roommate leaves fresh coffee grounds in the coffee machine to be made in the morning. It saves me a step and I am always thankful for it.

I’ve got coffee in hand and I’m thankful for that, too. I used to make long lists of what I was thankful for in a day, and that got me through the final stages of my husband’s and my long-distance phase. I nearly filled up a journal with these thoughts. I keep thinking that I should do them again, but never get around to it. I make note of the bigger little things, but I need to actually write them down and properly thank God and the universe for these little gifts.

I was reading a book called Captivating, which is a Christian book. One of the chapters spoke about God-as-lover and elaborated more on how God shows people love in small (and big) things, like a gorgeous sunset, or for me, the entire state of Alaska. I see God a lot in nature and in the people I meet. I definitely need to do better at recognizing that facet of God.

It’s interesting to me that I generally learn about God and the universe one little bit at a time in the times when I need that facet. I didn’t believe in a God who could personally love me until I started thinking a lot about the process and practice of gratitude. When I started to take note of these things, my perspective shifted. YES, I was loved! Yes, I was protected! It made so much sense.

One of the things I struggle with in my journey with God and universe is that some things need to be taken on faith and that I don’t have to understand everything. I think of my journey with happiness, for example – a lot of the time I am happy and I don’t know why. I don’t always need a reason to have happiness as my default state. It just is sometimes, and that is that. I am a child of God, I am a child of the universe, their love is constant and a given. I am carried on their shoulders. So are you.

“Meg! What does it mean to be carried on the shoulders of God and the universe?” you might be asking.

Well, it means different things to different people. For me, it’s kind of like standing on the shoulders of giants, you can see more than an ordinary being. But it also bears a connotation of a child being carried on a parent’s shoulders. I am supported and seen, is what it means to me. I am loved.

Knowing I am loved is a powerful thing. Knowing that God and the universe watch over me and guide my path as I listen is a wonderful feeling. They are everywhere. I miss my dad, but he is always watching, too, but in a different way than he could when he was here in this plane. I don’t entirely know what the purpose was in him dying, but I know he was needed elsewhere. Some have said that he gave my husband the nudge he needed to talk to me again so that our journey could begin. That would make a lot of sense seeing how similar they are. I know my dad loves me. I know my husband loves me. I know that my husband came back into my life at the exact right time. God and the universe, in their infinite wisdom, knew what to do. I will always be mistaken in thinking that my life is boring.

I am needed and I am in need. It’s strange to think that we are never truly static, there is always something changing, constantly putting us in need of help or in a position to help others. We receive gifts and are gifts to others.

I have said it before and will say it again, we are given what we need in the times that we need it. We are loved spiritually, that is the great constant. Nothing we can say or do will change that, it was so from the beginning and will always be. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are given an equal chance and a seat at the table. Be seated! The meal is coming.

Love,

Meg

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On Your Parade

I’m sitting here on the couch and it’s raining.

I remember in Texas there was a terrible drought the summer before I really got to know my husband, the summer of 2011. My friend Amy was spending the night in the middle of it and I remember dying laughing because a guy texted her asking when she thought it was going to rain again and Amy replied, “on your parade.” We were fourteen and we thought that was pretty damn funny. It didn’t rain again for several months and we were one day shy of breaking the record for most consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in one day. We were on track to beat it when a rain shower hit and cooled things off to 70 degrees on the very last day necessary. Whether that was on that unfortunate fellow’s parade or not, we may never know.

Sometimes things happen like that. I think I’m so close to something, yet I’m so very far away. Sometimes the drought is broken and I should have been hoping for that, yet I was hoping for the wrong thing. The universe has a way of correcting my course. The things I want aren’t always the things I need, and I know that.

There have been many things I have wanted that would have compromised my happiness in the long term – bad relationships, sour friendships, things that would have been good options but not the best ones, etc.. The universe/God knows what’s best for me and everyone else around me, and I’m thankful for that. Sometimes my world needs readjusting.

I’m a horribly impatient person, and I think the lesson I am being taught over and over is to have patience. One of my favorite quotes, oddly enough, is about patience. It’s from a poem by Rumi, “Craftsmanship and Emptiness”:

“Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates that you haven’t been patient.”

Rumi

I’m impatient in nearly every sense – if something isn’t happening my way, I get very anxious and on edge. There’s a reason I show up an hour early to everything – you don’t have to be stuck in traffic and nervous if you’re already there and nervous! I have a very, very strong tendency to dominate conversations, I’m an awful listener. I rely on brute force to do nearly everything in my life, and it’s only half worked. I get what I want, but only after bridges are burned and tears are shed. I have never been observant or even really logical in my doings, and that has been costly, especially lately. I’m not less of a person for needing to work on patience; this is a project, not a permanent failure.

It’s going to be a learning process for me because all of the things I’ve been discovering at once are piling up and not falling into place immediately like I would like for them to (see: impatience!). I have a lot to process and parse, and it’s a bit overwhelming to keep track of it all. It’s not that the rules are changing constantly, I’m in a new headspace and there are new rules because of it. I can’t come screaming into a shop and buy all the things I want because I’m happy and I have a fear of missing out, for example, I have to bide my time and wait until it’s actually wise to buy the things I want. This goes back to the point on brute force. It also goes back to fear.

As I have been saying a lot lately, I’m afraid of a lot. I’m afraid nothing will come of my life, I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck in sadness again, I’m afraid that my projects won’t ever get accomplished, I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to make any kind of lasting life changes to become a better person. It all comes down to one thing, really – fear of failure. I’m afraid to be left out, so I barge into every conversation. I’m afraid of being forgotten, so I want a lot of attention. I am afraid of being disliked, so I try and ultimately fail at muting myself. The failing is the interesting part. Is failing so bad? I rarely get embarrassed, what am I so afraid of?

I’m insecure. It’s the same inner bully that drove me before rearing its ugly head. It’s the part of me that would have me deny the seat I have at the table, to shrink into obscurity and be forgotten. It’s a strange clashing – the wanting to be forgotten and the fear of it. It’s easier to be forgotten, isn’t it? It’s easier to never take a stand, to never use my voice. It’s easier to give up. It’s easier to plunge into despair and be sad all the time. It’s easier to live beneath the shadow of death than to rise out from under it. The inner bully wants me to give up, to be insecure, to render myself unable to sit at the table. It’s the one that feeds me lies, says I am nothing.

It’s wrong.

There is such a thing as failure, but it’s not an ultimate defeat. I will be judged, especially by those who don’t understand. Unless I’m truly in the wrong, that sounds like their problem. There will be humiliating times. There will be times of loss and of sorrow. But those times are not the end. If the world will have you believe your life is over, it’s wrong. As long as you’re alive, you have hope and a potential. You have a place at the table. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

I’m still working on my own fear and impatience. I’m scared of many things that I haven’t even encountered yet. I’m worried about things that are irrational, especially those that are irrational. It’s going to be a long and hard road. It will be so worth it, though! If it rains on your parade, it’s not over. Sometimes it’s just the drought breaking.

Love,

Meg

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To Be Happy (And Sad)

Hello, friends!

In the same vein as yesterday, I would like to pose a question:

Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time?

To me, at least, the answer is yes.

I watched this TED talk

by Emily Esfahani Smith when I came here to Alaska and it blew my mind. I had struggled up to that point on that trip and with my concept of happiness as a whole because that trip wasn’t an extended period of happiness. It was hard at times, it had bumps.

After talking to my husband, however, he explained that long stretches of happiness aren’t normal and that it’s possible to find happiness in moments, not just in long stretches. These moments are to be cherished as much as the long periods. That blew my mind, and that was one of the beginning steps towards the unraveling of the old normal that I experienced back in Texas. It goes perfectly with the TED talk.

The overall message I took away from the talk is that happiness is fleeting, but meaning will sustain me when times get hard and I won’t feel as lost. That talk was a gift from the universe/God right there. It came to me at the exact right time, right when I needed it. It’s gifts like this that give my life a sense of meaning. I said in the previous post that there are things that come to me exactly when I need them. I’ll give them a name – spiritual love notes. They make up the core of my belief that there is a plan for everything. This also helps give my life a sense of meaning.

Perhaps my happiness-throughout-sadness is me finding meaning in my life. I hope I can bring meaning to the lives of others, too. These little loving synchronicities are proof to me that everything is here for a purpose and that God is in everything. My husband is my biggest source of meaning. Writing is a close second, my friends and students are third.

I find happiness throughout sadness – and vice versa – throughout my days. Tutoring has slowed way down as summer break arrives for those in the United States. School is out for kids in my town already, and I have far too much time on my hands. I will spend more time on writing, definitely.

Happiness has taken me completely by surprise, and there are still smatterings of darkness. I don’t think they should be eliminated, but they should be managed and noted.

I’m currently in a sad spot, but I’m writing to manage it. I feel better. This blog is a gift and a godsend. So are the people in my life. I’m glad that I don’t confuse happiness for mania anymore and can start to recognize it for what it is.

Maybe this is what everyone was talking about when they spoke about contentment – that calm assurance. Maybe that’s what I feel when I recognize meaning in my life. That would be awesome.

Go watch the talk! I’ll be around.

Love, Meg

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Icarus, my love

Hello!

This poetrygram was written when I didn’t have much confidence in myself.

I never expected to have confidence in myself at all. I thought for a long time that life was just a matter of existing, not living. It seemed like I had no purpose – that I was only living to keep others happy and to keep them from imploding were I to die or mentally check out for an extended period of time. I wondered if there was anything more to life than just to count the sunsets and hang on, waiting for something to happen.

I was waiting for life to happen to me. I was experiencing it passively. I didn’t take full part in it. I wasn’t an active participant in my own existence. Everything began to change when I started going down on my meds. My friends started to say that I had life in my eyes again, and that meant a lot to me. I took this selfie

awhile back and there’s so much light in my frickin’ eyes, it’s crazy. I was the most overjoyed of people. I can’t look at this picture and not smile. I had spent so long in an overmedicated haze that I didn’t know what it was like to have that kind of light there and it kind of scared me at first. But then I realized that I have a right to that light and that I was worthy to have it.

The poetrygram refers to Icarus, the boy with wax wings that flew too close to the sun and my husband both. It’s is about both of us being flawed, but in a way where both of us are able to heal from the sun and the damage that life and time have dealt to us. He’s rebuilding his wings, and my burns are healing. He is very observant and he was able to see that I was in the haze and took steps to bring me out of it.

So now my husband is beside me playing a video game and I’m taking today to plan and write the next week’s blog posts so that I’m ahead of the game. It’s gonna be difficult, but so worth it.

In the same vein of worth it, here’s another poetrygram.

I wrote this one a bit before the other one. I had even less confidence then than with the other one, and that says a lot about where I was. I thought that people needed metaphorical safety suits to deal with me, but my husband and friends have always proved me wrong. For years, I have found that the universe/God sends me people whom I need in my life or who need me. Many times it’s both. It simply goes to show that we’re all worth it.

All of us. No matter what we’re going through or how small we think we are, we are worth it. We are worth love and care and kindness, nurturing and compassion. We make an impact, whether we see it or not. Nothing happens by accident.

I’m sitting here listening to Japanese city pop as I write this and it’s damn good. Youtube brings me the best recommendations. It’s a rainy day and I think I’m letting go of my expectations for this time. I wanted to barbecue with friends, but if that doesn’t happen due to this rainstorm, I’ll be okay. I am making my own fun.

There are going to be times when I feel like Icarus, flying too close to the sun. The sea could cool me off, but then there are times I must heal, wandering around with stubs of wings and finding love and healing.

There will be times when I feel like people around me need to wear safety suits, there will be times when I get all suited up for myself and go out into the moonscape and explore. Exploring is the best.

It feels wonderful to be an active participant in my own existence. As stated above, exploring is great, and I feel like I have much exploring to do now that I’m coming out of my haze. My mental home is in serious need of redecorating, as well.

I am happy to have light back. I have heard it said that darkness can’t exist where light is, and my mind is slowly lighting up.

So to you, dear reader –

If you’re new to being happy, do your best to embrace it. You may have a long way to go until you fully can, but it will be so worth it. You are a being of infinite worth and you are so loved. Keep being bright.

Is it okay to be sad, though, especially when I’ve been happy for so long? More about that next time!

Love, Meg

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