Heat Wave

Hello, friends!

Image: Medium length Space binder in Retro Galaxy
The style of binder I got, courtesy of Shapeshifters.co.

It’s been in the mid 80s Fahrenheit these last few days here where I live in Alaska. I got my new chest binder yesterday during the hottest day yet, and before yesterday I have never been able to say that I have fought cloth before. Luckily I won the battle.

For those of you who don’t know what a chest binder is, it’s a special undergarment used by people who wish to make their chests appear more flat in a manner that is more safe than, say, Ace bandages, which will end up hurting you in many ways. Ace bandages get tighter with movement, and they can end up messing with your chest and even end up cracking your ribs! Not a good time.

I will likely not wear my new binder for a very long time today just because of how hot it is for me. An extra layer in this weather is very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. I keep remembering the scene from the first Pirates of the Caribbean where Keira Knightley’s character goes outside in Caribbean summer weather dressed in 29427525 layers and passes out.

****

Soooo I got sidetracked taking pictures of the random beautiful things that grow in our yard and twisted my ankle coming up the driveway yet again. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, I swear. I got some really cool pictures of the lilac bushes that line the driveway, though.

The flowers are starting to die, but smelling them as I came up the driveway is one of the highlights of this summer. I also made a sweet discovery with the help of my husband and our roommate:

Rhubarb.

The picture is kind of terrible, but this is a rhubarb plant. The stalks turn red and you can make all sorts of tasty treats out of them. Mixed with sugar, rhubarb tastes like a Smarties candy. It was around midnight when we harvested a stalk and I stewed it in sugar and ate it ALL without giving anyone else the chance to try….whoops. I will definitely make more and possibly give others a chance to eat it before I gobble it all up for myself. It was delicious.

Now I’m sitting in bed with my ankle up while my husband naps next to me. It’s hot, it’s almost two in the afternoon. Many Latin American countries take afternoon naps around this time, so what he’s doing definitely makes sense to me. I might join him when my caffeine wears off. It will do so shortly.

You can feel free to call me a wuss for melting in 80 degree F/20 c weather, but when it comes to cold and anyone from Arizona comes up here in the winter freezing their buns off, I will say “I’m sorry, welcome to Alaska.” I am so glad I live up here. I have always wanted to live someplace as cold as this, and Idaho school was my training ground for that.

I am very, very excited for winter, mainly for two reasons. The sun is more reasonable in the winter in my opinion, and I can wear all of my long sleeved button downs AND my favorite coat without melting. I have a favorite coat, you probably have seen it if you have been following B+BD for awhile.

Here it is again. I love this coat so much. I always wanted a coat like that, and I got one this past winter. I cannot wait to wear it again. We got it from Burlington Coat Factory.

I suppose that if I had to pick a defined topic for today’s post, it would be something along the lines of “things I love” or “things I’m grateful for”. Those are always good things to write about.

I’ve found myself getting caught up in sad things again recently and have been operating from a place of frustration, not of wonder. I’ve been super jaded and frustrated. I have been thinking that the universe isn’t out to help me anymore, it’s been out to punish and to harm. I’ve been losing that sense of hope, if I’m honest, and I feel mentally like I’m back in this past December. I worry that I don’t do enough, that I’m not learning fast enough, that I don’t deserve to be happy, that I’m a failure, that I’m unlovable, that, at the end, there’s no hope for me. My husband got frustrated with me today because he notices things I don’t and made an observation that I was sad because I wasn’t doing anything. Not that I wasn’t being helpful or wasn’t being happy or productive, it was the absence of doing that was hurting me. I was not even being. I was existing at best, and my mind had already set off on some pretty dark paths.

A note: Dear friends, although I was (and kind of still am) very sad, I am safe from harm of any kind.

Both of us have noticed that the absence or presence of doing is the deciding factor as to whether I am being or existing. A lot of the time, being leads to thriving, and most of the time thriving means happiness.

I’m very scared about how sad I have been, and like we have been saying, it’s tied to the act of doing, doing something, anything, regardless of how enjoyable it is. I don’t think that doing is an act of distraction, it’s more an act of self care and at times, catharsis. I am the kind of person that does not do well with excessive free time. Take this with kindness, God and universe, take it and run: I want to be busy, busy to the point (especially with my tutoring) that I am stressed in a good way, that I’m motivated to get out of bed early, that I don’t get to spend a lot of time letting my mind run free into dark places. My husband is the hardest worker I know. I want to work as hard as he does on my various projects.

I define good stress as a stress that motivates and doesn’t shut me down. It’s a sign that I have things that are good in my life that require work to turn out well. It’s not a sign that I have too much on my plate like I once believed, it’s not a sign of burnout, it’s not a sign of “OMG, I’m going crazy.” It’s not that at all. So long as it’s healthy, it’s a sign that I have things that I’m looking forward to that require effort. I’m coming to realize that effort is a wonderful thing. It leads to rich results.

Speaking of all this effort business, I’m going to be hovering around the blog for a bit building some history pages. Here’s the first one. One on Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia will be up shortly!

Much love,

Mago

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All I See Are Explosions Anyway

Hello, friends!!

Lately it’s been like an archaeological dig in my brain. If you’ve been following the blog at all, you’ll find that there have been many discoveries made in the last few days. It’s been an awesome experience, but there are still some things to be desired.

I pray a lot in my own way, and sometimes people think I do it wrong. I have problems praying aloud and instead carry prayers like feelings close to my heart soundlessly. It’s kind of like meditation mixed with prayer, and it helps me a lot. It may be “the wrong way” to pray, but I am firmly of the belief that people can pray however they want so long as they aren’t hurting themselves or other people. There is a time and place for praying aloud and a time and place for praying silently. I’m in the time for praying silently right now.

My friend Laurie talks a lot about there being seasons for things. It was a bit odd to hear that language at first, but now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. There was a time and a season where I was a Mormon girl, there was a time and a season when I was an agnostic, there was a time an a season when I identified as male. This is a growing and harvesting season. This is a season of freedom.

The title of this post comes from none other than a poem I wrote that talked about my old school in Maryland. There was a line in there that talked about the only true semblance of prayer I had in those days was when I looked through a telescope and all I saw were explosions of galaxies anyway, not any kind of real answer. In those days, it was hard to be close to God and the universe. I was going through a lot.

Returning to the topic of seasons, there are seasons when I am not close to God and the universe. It’s totally fair and valid if you aren’t close to them right now, in the future, or ever. Your journey is yours, not mine, your best friend’s, or that neighbor down the road that demands an expectation from you and doesn’t deserve one. There will days when you see in perfect clarity, there will be others when all you will see are explosions. You are loved constantly and eternally. That is the great constant.

As I go deeper into this digging phase, this season, the more I learn. Having a seat at the table means more to me than just having an equal chance at life as everyone else. It means being given the same gift of hope and the capacity to dream, be validated, and live fully, not just exist.

I remember bursting into tears at Maryland college after seeing a sign saying “no one deserves just a friendship of utility.” It was advertising a workshop on how to be a good friend. The school was dedicated to the study of philosophy, and a friendship of utility in the texts was a friendship for a purpose, not just for friendship’s sake, not so different from using someone. I was hurting and felt broken and wanted my friends to save me. Not surprisingly, the more desperate I became, the more they pulled away. I was wanting as much of a friendship of utility as that sign was warning against. Nobody could save me but me in the end. It took believing in myself to even feel saved. Nothing, not even believing in God or the universe, would make me feel secure until I started this journey to believe in myself. I may have been broken, but nobody but me could fix me.

My aunt always quotes the safety demonstrations at the beginnings of airplane flights when they say “you need to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting with someone else’s, even if it’s your kids needing help.” My aunt is a wise woman, and there’s much truth in that. There are a lot of ways one can seek truth. You can try and find truth in books, friends, God. A lot of them are ways you can try and avoid who you are. You can believe in and put trust in anything you want, but if it doesn’t help you trust yourself in a deep and lasting way, perhaps it’s not worth pursuing long term. Faith and relationships should give you inner peace and help pass that peace to others, not spread you thin. It’s difficult to help others when you yourself are breaking inside. That’s not to say that you don’t need others to help you get to where you’re peaceful; I’m far from it and I am constantly being filled by the people around me. But I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now without realizing I had it in myself to be where I am now. Because I have people who are willing to be in my life as I transform and encourage that transformation, I am able to become me and who I am meant to be in this moment. I’m beginning to believe in myself and have faith in that seat at that table. I see more than an explosion in things now, myself included.

After all of this, how can I believe in myself, you may ask?

I try not to pretend to know others’ lives, only my own. So here’s what has worked for me.

I’m learning in my life about what I call the great constant – that I am loved at all times, no matter how much I feel I have failed or fallen short.

I am also learning about what I am worth as a human being and child of the universe.

Put those together and I find that I am worth indescribable amounts and so are you. You are given a seat at the universe’s table simply because you are here and you are existing, experiencing this crazy thing called Living. You are loved regardless of where you have come from, who you are, and what you have done.

It takes work and a lot of faith. What really helps is to think back on what I have learned when I’m faced with a setback or a personal failure and present myself with mercy instead of condemnation. Because I know I am worthy and loved, I am allowed to continue trying. Just because I make mistakes doesn’t mean I am a permanent failure. The aftermath of a mistake is an opportunity for improvement, to strive to do better next time and the times after that.

I believe that the moment you start to present yourself with mercy in failure is when you start to believe in yourself. From there, your self talk begins to change and you will work towards being able to see that you are loved in infinite ways and the cycle repeats itself.

I’ll never be perfect, and there is always something new to learn. That’s something that also takes learning. Thank you for learning with me.

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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A Seat At the Table

I don’t know if I have exhausted the topic of happiness. I was doing some reading on writer’s block and the author thought it came down to fear – being afraid to write something and pushing through the fear, breaking it down.

I know I’m afraid of a few things. But in that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a dream I had last night.

In this dream, I knew myself and knew how much I was worth as a human being. It was simple and profound as I saw all of the roads that opened up to me because of it. I was worth more than to just be a memory. I was worthy to be given a chance, to be heard, to be cherished and loved. In that dream, I didn’t see myself as a burden. I didn’t see myself as unlovable, I didn’t see myself as unworthy of…anything. I had a shot equal to anyone else to get what I wanted. I was not guaranteed what I desired, but the universe dealt me a fair hand. I was not worth more than other human beings, but I was not worth less. I was given a seat at the table, and I made my voice heard.

I had power. I wrote a few lines this morning:


I still do have this power. I am not made less because of how I see myself. I have an equal opportunity to receive happiness. It was an incredibly enlightening dream.

Fear holds me back a lot. All of this got started because I don’t often believe I have a chance to win any contests or be heard by anyone with a large social reach. I don’t quite see myself as likely or able to get that chance. Then something clicked
in my brain and I had the thought of, and pardon my French, “fuck it, I have a chance, as good as anyone’s. Let’s do it” as I was contemplating writing to someone about my music. So I did it, then had that dream.

I have heard a phrase over and over again that’s just now getting stuck in my head –

“What you seek is also seeking you.”
I’m not sure who said that, but I know it is real based off of what I have been seeing in my life as of late. I know nothing can come from nothing, so there must be something good about what I’m doing and I should honor that.


I wrote this a few nights ago as I was falling asleep. We are made of starstuff, as I believe Carl Sagan put it.  I believe it.

So it seems that the spot at the table is still open. It is up to me – and to you – to take it.

And to the person wondering what they are worth –

You, too are offered a seat at the table. Your worth is infinite. You have a voice. You have a heart that is special and your desires are valid. Speak up. You are loved. I want to hear what you have to say. Who knows who else you can touch with your words and your actions! You are also a star.

And to you, dear star, I say – shine.


Love,

Meg

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Happy

“i’m afraid
i don’t want to be out of control
what if happiness scares me?
she follows me like a shadow
found in drumbeats and embraces and the feeling of
pushing forward
the song i’m listening to flutters
i have fluttered before
i will flutter again
i don’t like it because my happiness comes
out loud
shout it to the heavens
i’m happy and i don’t know why”

For some reason, people have always said I’m resilient, as if that’s something I want. All it meant to me was that I didn’t kill myself when my dad died, when XYZ happened, etc., that plodding on should be applauded. It didn’t mean that I was going anywhere. It didn’t mean I was proud of myself or living for anything.

When I met my husband, all of that began to change. I was living, at the very least, to be able to spend time with him and make sure he was happy. Even when I wanted to blot myself off the face of the Earth, he was there.

When I moved to Alaska, things changed even more. As mentioned previously, two psychiatric professionals took down the notion that I needed to be on hundreds of milligrams of meds a day, allowing me to cut back on my unnecessarily doses. He was the one who set all of this in motion. He was the first one actively involved in my care to challenge the idea that I could be crazy.

With all of these changes, I feel more energetic, hopeful, and happy. The happiness baffles me. It now rents out the space where sadness used to be, and it is almost persistent in its pursuit of me. It’s wild, loud, and feels dangerous. I still don’t trust it, and still confuse it with going crazy. It involves a lot of shouting for joy.

It can be compared to the end of a hero’s journey story where the hero arrives at the same place they started, but changed. It’s like, this is new, what do I do now?

I’ve been throwing myself wholeheartedly into my tutoring, which is awesome. Lots of new music has been made, and this long overdue thing is in the works…

People have been wanting to read my poems in a book for a bit, so I will make it happen.

If you’re happy and you know it, what do you do?

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

Proud

Hey, adventurers!

I’m back again, and today we’re gonna talk about being proud.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not usually proud of who I am. There are a few instances where I am, but they don’t come terribly often. My sense of worth generally comes from what the people closest to me think of me. I know that’s not good.

I believe, consciously or not, that only those whom I have hurt truly know me, and that anyone else only knows me on the surface. I suppose by that logic I truly know myself, because I self-sabotage often enough to qualify for it being classified as hurting myself. We all know that that’s not true. Not yet, at least.

I can remember the second to last time I was proud of myself. It was on the shooting range last Sunday. I don’t remember if I wrote about it or not, but I began shooting in the same spot over and over. As I may have written, that’s a big step in the direction of becoming a good shot. I was proud of myself for that.

The most recent time was this morning. I abandoned all social media except for the blog and told my friends to text me rather than message me on social media. I’ve known social media has been hurting me for awhile. I also know I spend far too much time on it. After I announced my decision to my friends, I received a slew of messages asking if I was okay. I explained to everyone that I simply need a break. I do need a break. And I’m proud of myself for making this decision. It will help me spend more time in the “real world”, as real as my world can be. It might also inspire me to dive back into the fictional world of my stories and to compose more music. I’ve needed that for awhile.

I think it’s the little things that stack up in one way or another that determine my confidence level. What have I done, no matter how small, that helped someone today? What have I done that has helped me grow? What have I done that will push me towards being the best self I can be in this moment?

I am glad for this social media break because it will give me time to grow. I am often tugged around by my Facebook feed, half of which is very liberal, with the other half being very conservative. It’s scary and often makes me wonder how long it will be before humanity implodes. This is not a good train of thought to take.

I was inspired to take this break by this piece from Longreads. It backs up the opinions of my husband and family, saying things that they have been saying for years. Although social media has been very inspiring and enlightening, especially when it comes to my identity. I didn’t know what nonbinary gender identities were until a Facebook friend invited me to a nonbinary group and I found that a lot of what people were going through I related to, also. That would have taken a long time to discover were it not for Facebook! I’m thankful for that.

I’m also reminded of a hashtag I used to document an important time of my life – #TheGrandAdventure2015. I made it to try and feel better about a string of hard days and months. It worked. I think it can be applied to now in this period of self-discovery. I’m still on an adventure, and I’m proud of it.

I’m proud of my identity.

I’m proud of my ability to overcome the challenges I’ve been faced with.

I’m proud that I’m here today on this fabulous Agender Adventure.

Thank you for reading, as always!

Until next post,

-Meg

PS. If you feel so inclined to look/buy, I made Agender Adventurer stickers. See below!

Agender Adventurer Sticker

A die cut sticker with the colors of the Agender pride flag with two triangles that reads "Agender Adventurer."

$5.00