On Goals

Hello, all!

I don’t have many qualms with the world at present or much to say that immediately comes to mind, but I do want to write. I hope you’ll come along for this freewrite!

2000-P Maryland Statehood Quarter

I remember looking at a coin once that had a building I had never seen on it when I was very small. I asked my grandmother (who was with me at the time) where that building was. This turned out to be the Maryland state quarter, so she explained that this building was in Maryland. I asked her if I’d ever get to see it, and her answer was something to the effect of “maybe”. I tucked that memory away, not quite remembering it, not quite forgetting it for the next 15 and some years. It came to my attention one afternoon when I was walking around Annapolis, Maryland and I looked up at the State House. In that brief moment I realized that I was seeing the building I had wanted to see when I was small that day with the coin.

Image result for unalaska on map
Unalaska, the town in question.

A few years later, I was fed up with the Texas heat and craving wintertime, so I announced to my family that I was moving to Alaska as soon as I could. I had a town picked out and everything. I was pumped. Those dreams fell by the wayside about a year after that after I really went to school and focused on other dreams, like songwriting, which I would discover a year or two afterwards.

That was over a decade ago. I also realized today that I have been songwriting for a decade. That mark passed last month (May). I wrote my first song to get even remotely popular in May of 2009. This also means I have been playing piano for ten years, as well. I remember that because I wrote that first “good” song a week after sitting down at my aging keyboard and finding I could play what I heard. One of the loops on GarageBand at the time got stuck in my head, so I sounded it out on piano and sang along with the notes. This is the original recording, also the first “good” recording I ever made. I didn’t look back, and I still record everything.

When I was 12, I made a goal to record an album in a studio in much the same way my idol Sara Bareilles did. I ended up achieving that goal by the time I was 14, along with my other goal of writing a book. So for a time, I thought I had accomplished everything I needed to accomplish in life and that therefore it was okay to drift aimlessly. I didn’t want to make any concrete plans because I was afraid they would get thwarted and ultimately abandoned. I was afraid of failure so I failed to start. What I didn’t realize at the time (and didn’t realize until recently) is that a lot of time, goals can take a long time to take shape and that’s okay. Goals can take even longer to be achieved, and that is still okay. My goal at one point was to graduate college in Maryland. After that was a mystery. I had no other plans. It took finding my husband to finally get kicked in the butt hard enough to make some solid goals. These goals have led me away from my original goal of graduating college for now, but they have instead led to some better goals – having a good marriage, running and building my tutoring service, losing weight, and raising our lizard baby.

It takes time for things to fall into place. If I can get anything across today, it’s that. I left Maryland and its goals in favor of bigger things in Alaska, but I didn’t know that upon leaving. All I saw was that moment.

We are given what we need in the times that we need it, and dreams really do come true. Be patient with yourself, others, and the universe.

Love,

Mago

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On Productivity

Hello, friends!

I hopped on the scale and apparently I have lost 9 pounds in about a week! That’s more than a little crazy to me, but according to everyone I have spoken to, that’s just water weight and should come off fairly easily.

I’ve had people rag on me for my weight, with some even going as far as to say that in order for me to love myself, I must lose weight. That comment makes no sense. I mean, that can help, but that’s not everything there is to it! I started on the journey towards loving myself long before I decided to lose weight AND hated myself even when I was thin. I’ve gotten a lot of conflicting messages about weight and appearance, both from media of all kinds, from the people around me, and even from myself. I used to be deathly afraid of having a double chin, and look what happened! I have one now. Do I hate myself for it? It’s kind of a nuisance, but no! It’s part of what I look like right now. Am I working to change that? Yes. This is not something to hate myself over.

My double chin.

The message I have gotten over the years (as evidenced by my fear of having a double chin) is that being fat makes me worth less than a skinny human and as such should be avoided at all costs, even if it means depriving oneself for extended periods of time. Not okay. I went through a lot of shame before realizing that there’s more to one’s worth than how much they weigh, how closely they follow time honored traditions, or how much they live up to others’ expectations. I am loved constantly and consistently.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the same ideas go for being productive, as well. If you aren’t accomplishing X amount of things during the day/week/month, you’re a failure. This pressure to constantly be doing something can lead to burnout, at least according to this awesome Buzzfeed News article. It specifically talks about millennials, but I think that anyone can suffer from burnout.

It makes some interesting points about how millennials were told from a young age that if they go to college and get a good job, they’ll have it made like the generations before them. But financial disaster struck, rendering their hard work somewhat useless. Being told to work, work, work their whole lives, they overwork themselves in this environment that is different from what they were promised in their childhood. This leads to a culture wherein many burn out and crave more than the hand they were dealt.

I’ve seen this come true with my husband more than for me. Both of us were born at the oft-reorganized tail end of the millennial generation, with him born in 1996 and me in 1997. I don’t want to be lumped in with those who eat Tide Pods, so I tend to call myself a millennial. He has worked very, VERY hard for the things he has accomplished, even going past burnout. He never went to college, and has gained a ton of wisdom and knowledge through work and life experience alone. He’s a hard worker, no matter how much he hates the job or how difficult it gets. It’s what he does. He is the most determined, productive individual I have ever met.

I, however, am just getting started on my adulthood journey and I find it difficult to stay committed to things when the going gets rough. The exception to this is my husband. I am determined to stick with him to the end, no matter how hard it gets or how much we annoy the crap out of each other. He is the biggest help on the adulting journey and he constantly pushes me to do better. One of the things he said to me yesterday was that my best is not what I am doing. I challenged that, saying that he could not determine my best since he isn’t me. He then gave examples, giving evidence that he had pushed me and I had done better than I had done before.

My clean kitchen!

At the same time, is it imperative that we are productive and improving all the time? I see posts on self care, but many of the items described involve distracting oneself, which I find does not help me. I find that the best thing I can do for my mental health when I am sad is to actually get up and do things. As described in my post Wholesome, I find that smashing my daily to-do list gives me more satisfaction than actually taking an off day. I wonder how to fill the time when it’s not structured, and rattling around in the empty time often leads to extra stress and sadness that should not have been there. But then there come the times when I just…can’t do anything.

A lot of times recently have been because of nausea and cramps (I appear to be in that time again) that make it difficult to even move and I’m not able to achieve my fitness goal for that day. Other times I’m just feeling sad and the work doesn’t help at all. Then there are the times where my mind throws such a hissy fit that it’s difficult to even move. Those are the times when I think it’s important for me to take a break – when nothing else will help and both my body and mind need a rest. It’s important to push myself and push myself hard, sometimes past the point where I feel I will break (I get past this most of the time), but it’s important to also stop and rest when I need to. If the stomach pain gets bad enough, my husband makes me draw a bath and sit in it until I feel better. And it helps. Sometimes I need someone else to get me to chill the heck out, listen, or redirect.

Today’s to do list in the process of being smashed.

I believe that my need to accomplish things comes from having far too much time on my hands rather than too little. As with the weight loss, I’ve been taking steps to fill my time and improve. Too much is too much, though. I need to be careful not to actually break myself, like I need to be careful to not undereat or hurt myself exercising. I have a tendency to get overzealous and do too much at once if I get passionate about something, never to pick it up again. Because of my struggle with moderation, I also think it’s important to remember that I am not a failure if I don’t accomplish much one day. There’s a next day so long as I’m alive. There’s never a need for shame and rarely a need for guilt so long as I – we – are improving.

With that, I leave y’all.

Love,

-Mago

Blog post and gratitude list = SMASHED

OH, QUICK, 10 THINGS I’M THANKFUL FOR:

  1. Beautiful Alaskan weather.
  2. Finally feeling motivated today.
  3. Friends who accept me.
  4. That I’m successfully losing weight.
  5. That I’m not melting in Texas right now.
  6. My wonderful husband.
  7. The way the air smells here.
  8. Remembering to do things on my list.
  9. That I’m able to get up and move around today.
  10. That ice cream exists. (what?? I’m not eating ice cream today???)

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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

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

Live in Color

I might start just writing in verse every Thursday. Verse Thursday.

I.

Starting new is the strangest

thing –

double spaced becomes something

different to me

“we won’t have to be scared”

is that really a quote, or

something closer to something

everyone screams in their lifetime?

everything revolved around college

for a time –

how’s it going?

people would ask and i would frown

wishing they would be quiet and

leave me be for once


but now things are different

i wish i had read more about

attrition rates before even going

all of my friends are graduating

and while i don’t feel left behind,

it’s something like that.

II.

here comes the rain –

it’s something we expect but aren’t

hoping for

I trust the sky a bit too much

I don’t trust the ground

I’m too afraid of it falling out from

underneath me

why am i living in the same color

green as Alaska in spring?

why is everything blooming?


if there’s spring in a place that most

would deem unfit to have one

why can’t there be spring in me?

am i forbidden from blooming?

must i understand the happiness

within me?

I wish I could help the people who

need to bloom.

my husband is in his jail of an office

doing far too much tech support work

than any human should.

he’s a bud who has been in the dark

for too long

and he needs to come into the light.



III.

I am neon pink

coming from black and white

I don’t deserve to be shot in grays

I need to live aloud,

live in color

Your Empire

Hey, all! I’m double dipping today. I’d like to talk about a poem that is very special to me. It’s called “Your Empire”. I wrote it two years ago. It opens like so:

you are more than a princess, darling girl -you are a queen – an empress

and you are loved more than you know

there will be times when you’ll be 

punched in the gut

kicked in the ribs

tossed aside

but your true wisdom comes in

knowing whether to form a fist or

extend your hand…

First lines of “Your Empire”, written 3/6/17

I love this poem because it’s what I wish I could have believed about myself at that time and what I don’t want anyone to forget, no matter their gender or age.

I owe the empire theme to my obsession with the Byzantine Empire, which is still an obsession of mine, hence my blog title. My favorite historical character of all time is the Byzantine Empress Theodora. Someone once said I was like her, and that was probably the biggest compliment I have ever received. This poem is me telling anyone who needs it that they are noble and deserving of that title. That includes myself. It continues:

…because some battles that need to be fought

are ignored

and some battles that are fought

need to be ignored

and a true empress – like you – knows which is which

and what to do. 

“where is my empire?”

you may ask.

I will place my hand over my heart

and say, “darling, every time you are knocked

over and you stand up again, think of that as a conquest.”

“Your Empire”

At this time in my life, I was in Idaho college and I needed some encouragement. The environment was becoming toxic to me and I wanted to feel okay again. This was one of the ways I helped myself. I also sent this and other poems to friends who seemed to be in need of them. This one is by far my favorite of the bunch.

I definitely need to listen to myself in the lines about conquest. I don’t take my own advice well enough. It’s true, I am conquering. I am ruling. I am becoming more and more involved in my own life. That’s important. A ruler wouldn’t let things just…happen to them, would they? No, they wouldn’t.

Planning is hard for me, though. It’s hard for me to get up and say, “I’m gonna do XYZ today”, even when I am happy. I tend to let the day just pass without making plans. It’s important to remember that part of owning my life and empire is to plan for the future.

With my tutoring, I don’t schedule very far in advance since I’m a hired gun that gets requests usually only a few hours before the student wants to meet. I’m surprised nobody has wanted to meet in the middle of the night yet! As a result, my days are fairly open. I have my to do lists, but I need to make an actual schedule.

Part of me thinks, “Oh, but it’s a struggle to get out of bed early!” Then there’s another part that’s like, “Fortify yourself, dammit. You won’t get anywhere with that attitude. Do you want to build your empire, or not?”

Okay, okay. I’m gonna fortify myself. Let’s continue with the poem.

every good thing you do, every struggle that you

overcome, every person you make smile –

oh, my dear, those are conquests. and in the end,

the biggest conquest you can make

is learning to love yourself

and others even though they –

and their empires – are imperfect.

I am learning that hard things are essential for growth and that I can’t quit if I want to make it in life, in anything. I can’t quit on myself, either. Like the last lines of the poem say, “the biggest conquest you can make is learning to love yourself and others even though they – and their empires – are imperfect.” Self sabotage gets me nowhere. Learning to love myself is important. It’s an important step towards progress. It will require much self-fortification. It takes strength to love oneself, I am finding. Also, I feel so much happier after being off social media all day. 10/10 so far, will continue.

Update: I have actually composed music today! Yes!

Would you like for me to write YOU a song, poem, or even an album? Got a special occasion coming up? I’m on WhatsApp, so if you shoot me a message there, we can start a conversation!

Love,

Meg

The top

Hello!

Good evening, good afternoon, good morning to you wherever you are!

I have a question for you this fine day.

What would you do if you had nothing in your way? What would you do if you found out that the mountains you have been climbing were just bumps in the road? What would you do if you didn’t fear judgment? What would you do if you were unstoppable?

Unstoppable is a big word.

I don’t know about you, but I associate this big word with freedom, and I associate feeling free with running, singing, or dancing. You know the feeling where are all of your cares and worries fade into the background and it’s just you and the music? Yeah. That one.

There was one night when I was in Maryland where I grew very sad. I just took off running. I ran and ran, leaving the town behind. When I looked behind me, I saw the Maryland State House, which normally loomed above me, reduced to a tiny point on the horizon, three miles away. I had covered three miles. I felt free. It was almost a symbol of leaving my problems behind.

You might be asking, “why do you like to run? Running’s hard.”

The answer is that I like the satisfaction of having traveled a long (or somewhat long) distance and being able to see where I have gone and how far I’ve come. The truth also is that I can’t flat out run for more than probably fifty feet without stopping.

I could surely get discouraged that I can’t run more than 50 feet without the need to lose consciousness. Here’s what I do instead.

I set a goal. Something like “run to this next street corner”, and if I can successfully run to the next street corner from my current position, I pat myself on the back, walk a bit, then set another goal and achieve it.

I don’t tell myself I’m gonna run 4 miles nonstop. I’m not there yet. Instead, I do what I can. That makes me feel unstoppable. I’m not a wrecking ball or a bullet – I’m a slow, steady, consistent unstoppable. Things like this are just as powerful as bullets and wrecking balls. There’s power in consistency.

Another image I can give you is hiking. I’ve gone on since nice hikes. In Texas, my family and I hiked a short, scrubby mountain just for the hell of it. We were seriously like, “oooh, trailhead” and then found ourselves up a mountain before we knew it.

I was thirteen and terrified of heights. (I still am terrified of heights.) This climb was incredibly scary for me, and I wanted to turn back several times. But I didn’t stop. We were richly rewarded for it. The view was incredible. We could see the entire valley laid out before us. We could even see our campsite! This was one of the best views of my life.

In 2013, I fell into depression. It seemed like nothing helped. I wanted to give up many times. I kept going. Throughout that time, everything felt gray. I kept going. There were times when it felt like there was nothing to live for. It hurt. I kept going.

Eventually things got better, and I saw a purpose in what I had gone through. I am able to help others who are going through the same thing. I went (and am still going, to some extent) through it again when my dad died. That’s a tool to help that I wish I hadn’t gained, but there’s a reason behind it somehow. I don’t entirely know why I lost him, but good things have come along with the bad. That’s why I keep going.

No matter how far I go, I often lose track of the good things in my life because my inner bully/critic convinces me that there’s nothing but darkness. Sound familiar at all?

The only thing I can do here is what I can. The to do lists I make are good at helping me stay productive when I don’t want to do anything. They help me keep moving, to keep climbing. There are few things more satisfying to me than being able to cross things off my to do list. Anything to do to keep moving.

There are these incredible moments when I have a good day, or I get a bunch of stuff done, I learn a new skill, or I get a really interesting spiritual impression.

These are the views that are worth climbing for.

These are the rewards that are worth the run.

I don’t know exactly what’s going through your head and in your life. Nobody is the exact same. But if you’re anything like me, I want to encourage you to keep climbing, though. The view is incredible at the top.

Love,

Meg

My Projects

To not be okay

Hello, all.

I’m currently hanging out in a store while my husband geeks out.

He’s adorable.

I don’t have much to do here but think, and the thought I posed to Instagram is that it is okay to not be okay.

I knew I’ve expressed this thought before here, but it’s important to reiterate often.

I go through a series of bad days at times that often stem from me being cruel to myself. I beat the daylights out of myself for not being perfectly calm all of the time, for not being perfectly here all the time, for not being…perfect. I feel like a horrible wife, friend, and person at times just because I fall short and have bad times. I’m coming to learn that self acceptance is important. I worry that I keep making a massive fool of music on social media. I worry that all my efforts are for nothing. But mistakes will be made. It’s important to know and accept that.

This realization is especially important in my relationships and in running my Golden Apple projects. My husband mentioned today that I’m spreading myself too thin over all of my promotion efforts and that I don’t NEED six million Instagram accounts to promote all of my projects individually. It’s a waste of time. So I have started to unite all of the projects under one big Golden Apple banner with this blog as a hub. This should make me less stressed.

The key mission of the Golden Apple Projects is to help people in as many ways as I possibly can. With all of the promotion I’m throwing out into the world, it’s not going very far and I’m not helping people. I actually feel like I reach the most people through my tutoring, and I want to take that approach – getting to know people individually – and use it with my other projects. I don’t want to just have people who interact with me on a business level, I want to have relationships with them. That would be really cool.

I really want to buy a pair of my own Martin boots that I’ve designed and wear them around town. That would be awesome, especially if I find a place I can make friends. Maybe keep a spare pair in the back of my car.

Things to think about…

Love,

Meg

The Golden Apple Projects:

Music: http://candyfortrees.bandcamp.com

Tutoring: http://wyzant.com/tutors/historynmore

Shoes:

http://goldenapple.shoes