I Win Or I Learn

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Hello, all!

Sometimes the universe grants me joy in providing me something or someone to care for. I was given one such opportunity two days ago.

This is Chadwick.

He’s our itty bitty bearded dragon baby.

He is the most inquisitive baby I have ever seen and he is so precious while he is at it! My husband and I have wanted a bearded dragon of our very own for awhile now, and so we got Chadwick on 1 June after I pulled the birthday gift card. My birthday is on 16 June, so it’s a bit early, but he is my second best birthday gift.

My actual best birthday gift was given to me last year on 16 June proper. My husband proposed to me on my birthday and I said yes! Because of that choice, we are where we are today and I think we’re both better for it.

This is a special time for me as I look back on my 21st year and what all I have learned and done from last year to this one. It is becoming apparent that I am probably the luckiest human I know. I am living my dream here in Alaska, with the man of my dreams (more on that next post), a beautiful reptile baby, doing what I love. I am a happy human.

If I’m honest, I’ve kicked and screamed my way here. I’m a fighter who fights the wrong things. I’m stubborn and reckless and impatient. I am blessed and grateful beyond measure by and for a patient husband and patient friends and family who refuse to give up on me. I continually seem to be surrounded by those more patient than I am. It’s been a winding path getting here and I have waged many useless wars on myself and on others. And as I have said before, the universe and God have placed things in my path to care for and learn from.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this very thing and she said that we aren’t given anything we can’t handle. It was interesting to hear it from the mouth of a friend, for I had read about it before. It was a good confirmation for me, and we talked about it for a bit. To me, this is proof that I am known and loved by the divine. I have seen enough of it in my life to believe it for myself. If we weren’t loved, trials and lessons would be sent to us to destroy us, not help us grow. I imagine it like being a rock put in a tumbler with a bunch of other rocks and tumbled over and over for weeks. This rock would start off ragged and raw and come out smooth due to contact with other rocks. Without contact with these other “rocks”, hardships, experiences both good and bad, mistakes made, I would not be where I am today.

I see all over Pinterest the phrase “I win or I learn.” It pops up in a lot of the motivational quotes in my feed, and I think it’s a thing I need to learn, think, and write on. I see life in terms of winning and losing most of the time, and that’s not where my head should be at. I have written here before that failure isn’t a permanent defeat, it only is if you give up. The fruit of failure is experience, oftentimes valuable experience. I take my experiences with failure and try to apply them properly, but sometimes one failure can make me afraid to try again. Here’s a story of when I took my experiences a little too far.

I was in Idaho school. I had trust issues and enough baggage to fill an entire apartment complex, and the lesson I had to learn at the time was trust. I was afraid to try again after a series of failed relationships and friendships, leaving me with the sour taste of “people always leave” in my mouth. My friends went about trying to change that way of thinking. I remember talking to one of my friends about predicting the end of a situation before anything had happened with it based entirely off of past experience and my friend shot that down quickly. “Meg,” he said, “You can’t assume everyone is like the people who hurt you. Quit using the precedent set by the past to assume the outcome of the future.”

That struck me. Perhaps I had learned the lesson of distrust a bit too much. My friends continued to prove their trustworthiness, and a year and some later, I found someone whom I can trust for the rest of my life, and I married him. I had been seeking him for years without knowing it, and we found each other again. What I sought was also seeking me, and we found each other when both of us were able to be vulnerable with each other. When we both were ready, we found each other. Overcoming experience can be just as important as gaining it. When I stopped assuming that he was inevitably going to hurt me, things changed.

I learned, and in the process I won. So perhaps I would alter that statement – I win because I learn. It’s rare for raw talent to get me to any kind of finish line, and without any kind of learning, drive, or innovation, I stagnate. I win because I learn to adapt, because I learn to overcome challenges, because I learn to persevere. The list goes on. All of these are wins.

These lessons are placed in my path by a loving God and universe. Chadwick will surely present lessons, just as marriage has. Marriage is a lesson I would not trade for anything. So even though I have come here kicking and screaming, I am here. I am alive. I am a student of the universe and of life. I am thankful for all of you!

Love,

MJ

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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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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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A sunset

I was listening to this song on repeat last night as I was creating a video for Instagram. Even though it’s in Russian, it had meaning for me. I’ve been feeling off for about the last day and a half, and it was the perfect soundtrack to the gloom.

There are things that stick with me. I don’t know if it’s a mental illness thing or a normal thing. One of the things that keeps coming back to me is the dread that comes on still, humid nights.

Growing up in one of the biggest metropolitan areas in Texas, I saw orange skies at night quite frequently. Light pollution is a problem, and there is only a handful of stars visible. It’s worse on cloudy nights. Add humidity and no wind and you get this persistent feeling of dread, like something horrible is about to happen and you know it will.

I remember Christmas Eve of 2016 was like that. I was hanging out with my aunt’s house. I had written a poem that morning, and I read it to my aunt. I couldn’t shake the feeling of foreboding.

there are no words to find here

in this hollow town of memories

that aren’t mine

except a sunset I’m halfway convinced

I’ve imagined

but the sensation of the world turning

time slipping through my fingers

is all too real.

that’s all I have.

I had a lot to learn here. I was about to head to Idaho for school after attending one of the most liberal colleges in the nation. The school in Idaho was the direct opposite of my school in Maryland – conservative, encouraging of homogeneity, and highly religious. I didn’t know that on Christmas Eve of 2016. I thought I’d fit in there and be fine. I was wrong. I stuck out like a sore thumb. My experiences there called everything into question. I asked these questions and got some answers. Not all of them.

The half-imagined sunset was something I wouldn’t get over for awhile, either. I had a ton of baggage, and the flashbacks that came with it took a long time to even start to get over. The friends I made there got me to start trusting again, and I started to recover. Some things – like my gender – took a longer while to discover. And rediscover.

This discovery/recovery process is something important to me. It takes me from still, humid nights to dawn on the other side of the world. I believe that self discovery is an important part of growth and recovery. I’m continually reinventing myself, trying to find the best version of me. One that feels like home.

So if you are experiencing an ominous calm night, it gets better. Keep reinventing yourself.

Love,

Meg

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