On Songwriting

Hello, friends!

I’ve tasked a student of mine with creating a notebook full of ideas that could become seeds of poems. I am starting my notebook today, and the first line I want to stock it with is from the Owl City song “Dreams & Disasters”:

“Think of the sun and the sound of it risin'”.

Owl City, “Dreams and Disasters”

I like this line because the sun doesn’t make a sound as it rises, of course, but it captures instead a different feeling. I tend to like lyrics and lines much like this one that aren’t literal, but instead relate back to mythology, the Bible, and the fanciful. Oftentimes I find those more clever and meaningful. I like the way those phrases can turn.

After I listen to a song a lot or read too much of a certain author, I start to imitate their writing style. I was listening to “You Make Me Smile” by Blue October (below)


when this spilled out:

“Something As Soft”

This is “Something As Soft”, and you might recognize some similarities to “You Make Me Smile” in lyrics and tone. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. It was not a single listen that caused this to spill out, I listened to it maybe 20 times over the course of writing the lyrics.

I have wanted to write an album around this song and others that I recorded that night, but I think I’m afraid to start. I wonder if my sad or even sad-ish songs help people, and that is what has stopped me from recording this type of thing in earnest. I think it’s one of those things where I was told enough times that they didn’t help that I decided to believe the naysayers. I was also annoyed that they didn’t make people get up and dance like I wanted them to and instead made them sleep and relax. I wanted to change my sound and in the process killed it.

I want to record an album again. I want to be able to write an album that sounds like me in the way that Mago did. I get the feeling that it will be raw, but full of joy this time. If this happens, it will have plenty of weird chords and time signatures. I had a producer once record a tiny album with me and we talked about sounding like Radiohead and he said that at some point people might be wondering if Thom Yorke was writing my lyrics. I want to fall somewhere between Hozier and Radiohead, one instrument at a time.

More later, y’all!

Mago

PS., here’s a Gratitude List:

  1. My instruments
  2. My husband
  3. Alaska
  4. COFFEE
  5. Good food in the fridge
  6. That I have a lesson today
  7. Grocery sacks so that I can carry all the groceries in in ONE TRIP
  8. Friends who care
  9. That it’s my birthday week
  10. Rain that makes Alaska green
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The Universe I’m Helpless In

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Hello, all! This song is in my ears as I write this post. I love this song and it fits the vibe I’m going for perfectly. It’s called “Venus” and it’s by Sleeping At Last. One of the commenters on this video put it perfectly:

Everyone else [is] talking about how they want somebody to sing this song to them, but I want to find the person who I will want to sing this to.

CuriousAuthor, Youtube

I discovered it after having a dream about a prince.

This dream took place in October of 2017, nearly a year to the day before I married my husband. In this dream, I was a noblewoman trapped in my room at the hands of my evil guardian. I was given an assistant, an imp named Rose Red, for company, and she was important.

There was a prince who was determined to court me, and I cruelly rebuffed him every time he climbed up to my window. Finally, Rose Red grew fed up with my stubbornness and insisted that I gave him a chance. I caved in and listened, and we fell in love.

I woke the following day to find that I couldn’t shake the dream from my mind, and I thought about it all day. I went to an Al-Anon meeting (more about Al-Anon here) and sat in the car in my yard after it, pondering the dream deeply.

My thoughts were answered in a profound way. A thought that didn’t come from me whispered, “He is out there. Keep working on yourself and he will find you.” It hit me like a tidal wave. I became deeply involved in my spirituality for a time, and that was when I discovered “Venus”, which struck me as a thing my prince would sing to me. In November, my prince appeared. I didn’t know it yet, but come December, I received a follow up impression as I was juggling five crushes at once, confused as hell, referring to them all as Players 1-5. “THE FINAL PLAYER HAS ENTERED THE GAME,” the impression said in a very caps-lock-esque tone. It was like I had placed a phone call and someone picked up on the other line or activated a glow stick. I knew then that the prince was close. It turned out to be my husband. He swept me off my feet, and we were married the following October.

It’s strange how the universe brings me what I need exactly when I need it. It’s a testament to how deeply I am loved. I also find that loving my husband is like the commenter said, not being sung to, but trying to sing to my beloved. And the best songs are when we sing together.

It’s stranger how I knew he was coming, in way. This is an important detail because I was deeply connected at that time and listened. It takes a hefty dose of caffeine to get that much in tune, and I’m fairly certain I had at least 2 shots of espresso and a cold brew AND an Earl Grey lemonade in me at that point. I was vibrating and about to teleport, basically. The caffeine is important to me because it gets my mind tuned to the right frequency, so to speak. I’m thankful for that.

A question remains – how do I remain in tune?

I know part of it is having faith in myself and faith that I am not given more than I can handle (more about that in this post). I find that worry, anger, and fear cloud my spiritual senses. As Frank Herbert wrote in Dune, fear is the mind killer. I think that’s important. I was talking to my friend about starting projects and she asked if I knew why I was hesitant about my projects. We arrived at the same conclusion – I am afraid to start. What would I do if I weren’t afraid of failure? I know I would make a lot of messes, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t be afraid of cleaning them up. I would not lack fear, I would cope with it and manage it, asking it what it needed. I would trust in God and the universe more. I would trust people who matter more. I would not fear making mistakes or failure as much as I do. Failure isn’t a permanent defeat. This thought has kept me going since I thought it; I don’t dwell on death anymore. I don’t fear life anymore and I actually enjoy living nowadays even though it hurts sometimes. I would not shy away from my own worthiness and good destiny. I must remember that I am helpless in the universe in the best way and I trust it.

We are given only what we can handle because God and the universe love us with an infinite love. We are given what we can handle to stimulate us and help us grow, but they don’t leave us stranded. We are also given what we need in the time we need it! I’ve said this before, but my husband is an example of this and so is my lizard baby, Chadwick. We are given a seat at the universe’s table.

I have been doing a lot of reading about affirmations and intentions, so I will leave you with both an affirmation and an intention.

Affirmation: I am a being of great spiritual power. I am capable of doing great things.

Intention: Opportunities to do good are heading my way. The universe is kind and sending me what I need. What I seek is also seeking me.

Love,

MJ

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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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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?

Burning Bright

It’s very rare that I read for pleasure, or even read at all. It’s an even more rare occurrence that I read a book and find myself in the pages.

I read Fahrenheit 451 last night and that was one of those times.

I first picked it up when I was about 13 out of my parents’ book collection. I didn’t have what I needed to completely grasp it, I think. I was a smart kid. I could understand the words and the concepts, but I never finished it because it wasn’t relevant at the time to what I was going through. I didn’t have enough of myself in me to be able to see my reflection in the pages.

I don’t think I would have understood the book in the way I did last night had I even read it a month ago. For the last month – no, several months – I have been learning how to question. Question what was told to me as a child and teen. What was told to me in church. What was told to me in college, all of my colleges. I was taught to question in college, but the lessons always had an undertone of “question the way WE want you to question”, as though they were expecting you to do the opposite of what happened here. I was taught to question growing up, but never in a way that went excessively out of the realm of “reality”.

Reality. Along with truth, everyone has their own version of it, even if two people claim to have the same perception. And so it went – people trying to keep me grounded ultimately became scared of me, I think, and then tried to keep me sane. I felt from around the age that I first picked up Fahrenheit that my emotions had to be convenient to others or else they were strongly encouraged to be managed and damn near suppressed. As the years went on, though, it became apparent that my emotions – specifically anger and sadness – were not convenient, could not be neatly expressed, easily gotten over, or fully escaped. I was not one of those houses in Fahrenheit, fireproof. I was, rather, the fire. I was a destroyer.

As mentioned in a previous post, I saw myself as deserving nothing more than to be labeled as such because I wasn’t “normal”. I wasn’t someone easily handled. Potential romantic partners fled, and that’s when I began to resent myself. I wanted to be like the girls who got that guy, and I asked myself, why did I have to be such a house fire? Why didn’t I give anything to the world? Why did I feel so damn strongly?

In high school, when I asked what I should do to get a guy, the answer in its simplest form was “be less intense.” This usually came with advice such as “don’t answer so many questions in class” and “wear more makeup”.

I tried that for a bit. It was as much a betrayal of myself as it would have I pretended to be someone completely opposite me. So I went back to being myself to the best of my ability.

I think some people were scared of me because of my sadness and anger. As 2016 drew to a close, my anger festered. My dad had died less than a year before, I carried a hated so bright it could be seen from space after the end of a traumatic relationship, and I had just left a college that felt like home for Texas and then Idaho. The environments couldn’t be more different.

I went from questioning books to questioning God, even though that was not the effect that the college wanted. I had learned to some degree how to wrestle with a book, and I supposed wrestling with God would be similar. My anger continued to rot.

It never felt safe to express emotion to some, for their response would be without fail some variation of “are you taking your meds?” or “have you told your therapist about this?” I listened to these people more than others because I felt they knew me. I had hurt them, and I was convinced that only those whom I had wounded truly knew me. So I listened to them forgetting all the while that there was some possibility that I wasn’t crazy, or on the brink of a manic or depressed episode, or even a full on meltdown. In the end, though, they were wrong.

That small motion, the white and red color, a strange fire because it meant a different thing to him. It was not burning, it was warming.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

In the novel, firemen start fires, not stop them. Guy Montag is one such fireman until he meets a girl who starts to make him think. From there the meaning of fire starts to change. It goes from a way of life, the status quo, to a weapon, and finally a source of warmth and salvation.

He hadn’t known fire could look this way. He had never thought in his life that it could give as well as take. Even its smell was different.

Fahrenheit 451

I started to go from wanting to be like one of the fireproof houses in the novel to accepting my role as the fire upon my move to Alaska. My husband changed everything for me.

Towards the beginning of our relationship, I challenged very little of what I had been told about myself. I thought about gender sometimes, but even that was deeply suppressed because how could that possibly be a part of me? I’d been told it wasn’t me when I went through it the first time, and I’d seen enough evidence to know it was correct. But something was still missing, it couldn’t be that? I was just a house fire, right?

No.

It took months into our marriage to start changing my mind. My husband and I talked at length about how I might NOT have bipolar disorder. The doctor upheld the concerns that all of us had about my meds and ordered that I start lowering the dose on one and tapering off another entirely. I learned a few days later that the bipolar disorder diagnosis had been removed. It was some of the best news I had ever heard.

That’s why I love Fahrenheit so much. Montag went from accepting that things are perfect the way they are to learning there is much work to be done for there is nothing okay with the current situation. There are some in the novel that refuse to change and hear the truth, like Montag’s wife, Mildred, in the end:

“Montag, falling flat, going down, saw or felt, or imagined he saw or felt the walls go dark in Millie’s face, heard her screaming, because in the millionth part of time left, she saw her own face reflected there, in a mirror instead of a crystal ball, and it was such a wildly empty face, all by itself in the room, touching nothing, starved and eating of itself, that at last she recognized it as her own…”

Fahrenheit 451

The people in Fahrenheit hide from themselves, the world, and self-awareness. There’s no real external government censorship involved. The citizens have chosen for themselves. Thinking is scary, and those who think for themselves are branded as insane. This is another reason why reading this novel was so vindicating – people who think and are branded as insane are the ones who triumph. And along with them, the meaning of fire changes.

The meaning of my fire has changed. Breaking free from what I have been told, thinking for myself – I’m no ordinary house fire.

I sang once in a song I wrote called “Gone”,

“And the cities we built, they stood for a time, but I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes they left behind.”

“Gone”

I have risen like a phoenix from the ashes I have left behind. Maybe that’s why I write so much about fire.

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

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