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 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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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

Stronger

Sometimes I find it hard to write when I’m away from my writing spot, and I sure am feeling the resistance today.

I’m sitting in my car in Anchorage and the sun hasn’t risen yet. It’s around 7:30 and will likely be around 8:30 by the time I finish this post. I’ve got at least two shots of espresso in me and still all I want to do is sleep. I would sleep soundly.

I think I am afraid to write outside of my usual spot in the basement because I now have bad associations with writing in the car. The last time I wrote in the car was when I wrote the the post about “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie in the parking lot at my old work. Here I am in a parking lot once again, it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m waiting for a friend to call, and I feel hollow.

I’m not yet hollow enough to cry, but I’m getting there. I think parking lots before sunrise are some of the loneliest places I can imagine.

The sky is turning dark blue, the world keeps turning somehow. I want to stop being so scared and be stronger, but my heart is still breaking from yesterday even though I don’t quite remember why my heart was breaking in the first place. I keep telling myself that I should be stronger than I am and beating the shit out of myself when I fall short of my own unrealistic expectations.

I want to leave Anchorage and go back home to the valley where I live, but that’s a long drive and I am not in a headspace where that’s safe. I don’t know how to calm down. I feel a great desire to be stronger than I am, as I have said before.

I beat myself up almost daily for quitting my old job. I feel I should have been able to handle it and I shame myself for not being able to.

I beat myself up for not being able to accomplish simple tasks that take 10-15 minutes for a healthy person to finish. I want to do things, it just hurts in my brain to even make myself move.

I beat myself up for being sad.

I beat myself up for still having waves of debilitating grief over my dad.

I beat myself up for oversleeping or sleeping too little.

I beat myself up for little things that I would give my best friend care and compassion for.

If she or my husband were hurting like this, I would do everything in my power to hear them out and encourage them to take it easy one day at a time. I would encourage them to talk it out with me and tell them to do only what they can and then help when I am needed or wanted. I would make sure that I hear them and make sure they didn’t think they were alone. I would be by their side.

It’s important to me that they are open with what’s going on because sometimes I can’t read them. My best friend is physically far away and sometimes my husband manifests pain differently than I do. So in the same way I want them to tell me what’s going on and keep me informed, perhaps I should listen to what my brain and body need. I need to rest, I know that for certain. I need to be easier on myself. Most of the people around me don’t expect of me what I expect of myself.

I was speaking with a friend of mine who understands what I’m going through. She gave me words of encouragement and said essentially that I’m okay to be where I’m at. I lost my dad three years ago, which is relatively recent. She understands the feeling of it being difficult to accomplish things that are simple to most. She understands me, and that is so important. She makes me feel heard.

So maybe I am strong even though I struggle. I would most certainly think a friend would be were they in the same situation. So why not me?.

Until next post,

Meg

PS. Happy Valentine’s Day. Treat yourself.

My Best

Hello, gentle readers!

I confess that the last few days have been very hard for me in my brain. I’ve felt useless and inept at work and anxious beforehand. I worry that nobody there likes me or even tolerates me, even though that is untrue and is just anxiety talking. I’m able to get people to laugh some now, and I hope I’m making friends. I like the crew a lot, but I worry more that the managers just flat out despise me.

I had a thought last night that so long as I’m doing my best, I’m okay and I shouldn’t worry about being popular or the managers’ pet. I do want to be liked by as many people as possible, but not everyone will like me. And that’s fine. I just need to be myself and bring my best to the table, whatever those are. And perhaps I don’t want to work in management, I’m undecided about that.

I know what I do want to do – continue to use my writing to help others feel like they aren’t alone. If this venture gets big, it gets big. It’s a piece of my heart, and I am grateful that at least one person is feeling it. That’s all I need – one person. That’s a Mormon thing I hang onto. There’s a powerful Mormon story that, in short, talks about how when one person’s life is changed, that person can in turn change the lives of hundreds. Or just have a better day or have a smile on their face for a little while. I want to make an impact, no matter how small it seems at first. It may be bigger than I think it is. Even if all I can do is make a person feel less alone in the world.

My brain keeps lobbing thoughts of that nature at me. I’ve been contemplating going full agender and encouraging people to use they/them pronouns for me, chopping my messy mop of hair off, and becoming more open about my identity, both gender and otherwise. Part of me wants to remain timid and not rock the boat, but then there’s another part of me that wants to make my gender very apparent and be open about it so that there’s no confusion about who I am and what I stand for. I need to keep it on the quieter side at work, of course, but in other public spots I can be flashy. I want to make one person feel less alone and more free to be themselves.

I heard a saying once that the first follower makes the lone nut into a leader. I’ve been thinking about that. I want to make someone feel less alone in public in a way that they can point at me and say to themselves, “I like this human’s style, and I’ve been wanting to look and feel that way for a long time. Maybe it’s okay to be myself.

Well, dear someone, it is okay to shine. I’m going to prove it to you. I’m going to show you that it’s okay to feel good in your own skin, however that may look for you. Others will judge, but that’s their choice. Don’t listen to them, you are doing well as yourself. I’ll meet you and show you how to be who you are as I’m learning how to be who I am.

I can’t wait to meet you. We’re forces of nature.

I love you all, gentle readers. I hope I touched one of you. Until next post,

Meg

My heretical impressions of James Chapter 1, part the first

Hello, gentle readers!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and write about religion again. As you may know from a previous post, I’m religious. But my religion is kind of unorthodox. I don’t go to church, large groups of Christians make me uncomfortable, the concept of heaven bothers me, people who don’t try to live their religion bother me more. This includes myself, and I can do way better about this. In short, my religion is trying to adhere to two big rules: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. I’m not great at loving myself 99% of the time, and my inner bully is especially active right now. I hope I do better at loving my neighbor. The book of James in the New Testament was a game changer for me, and I keep going back to it.

Coming from the Mormon Church, organic religion and spirituality are freeing. If the Mormon Church works for you, I’m just as proud of you as I am of those who have left. I want everyone to experience faith and religion (or lack thereof!) on their terms, not mine or anyone else’s. Fear is not a good reason to practice faith, at least to me. The book of James, especially the whirlwind that is the first chapter, captured my heart and set me more free in a way. I got so much out of it, and I continue to do so! That was organic faith. I truly stumbled upon it by chance, read it, and it resonated with me. Enough talk. Let’s jump in.

I use the Passion Translation wherever I can, it speaks to me the most.


“My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested, it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.”

This is James 1, verses 2-4. It packs a punch. A really big punch. The word “joy” can also be rendered from the Greek as “calm delight”. Some people think “OMG, you can’t do anything worldly” in order to experience this kind of joy, and there’s something to be said for that if that’s your style. I’d argue, however, that some days you’ve done all you can and joy for you is simply coping – petting a dog, taking a hot bath, etc..

For me, I’ve found that unless depression is crippling, forcing myself to get something done, no matter how small, starts a snowball effect that makes me feel a bit better. Usually I call a friend or a family member to get this snowball rolling. Self-care, to me, is another form of calm delight, or joy.

I’m not an optimist by nature, and I tend to dwell in the past and hurt myself in that way. This throws me into depression most of the time. My mind needs to be kept busy. My form of self care is doing things and keeping my mind active, like blogging daily or keeping in touch with people I love. I think I endure that way, too. Coping is also another form of enduring. It makes me stronger, and I’m proud of you for making it here to read this post. That means you’re getting stronger, too.

Healing isn’t linear, I need to remind myself of that often. But the bad days are teaching me how to handle the good days, and vice versa. My bipolar brain is sometimes glitchy and forgets the good times when I’m in a dark place. Remembering good times or planning for them are other forms of joy to me.


And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.[d] Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable.[e] Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?

Gaining wisdom is something I long for. My dad was what I’d call a Christian zen master towards the end of his life, and I want to imitate that. People say that I give good advice, but I don’t take it for myself. I don’t like that about myself, but I’m never sure how to change this trait.

Lately I’ve started to simply ask friends and family to listen to me because I have all of the “therapist answers” somewhere inside my messy brain. Talking my problems out helps me find them. I’m thankful for everyone who listens.

I hope I’d be a lot more calm if I at least took my own advice. I think that owning who I am and being better at taking good advice will help me become a Christian zen master myself. I’m adding that to the list of things I need to do to make a home within myself.

Also, I get from this that God gives me what I need in the times that I need it, and I’m given the tools to process my gifts somehow. I have managed to hold onto the most precious things in my life, just as they hold onto me. I think it’s some variant of the phrase “the things you seek are also seeking you”. It took years of trying to calm down before I was given the love of my life, and he was indeed seeking me for awhile while I was seeking him and we reconnected. I did doubt – I doubted a lot, wondering if he was right for me, how in the world he could love me like he does, how I deserved such a marvelous human in my life, picturing all of the scenarios in which I could accidentally kill things, the whole nine yards. He stayed. He stayed. I am given what (or who) I need in the time I need it, even if there’s no rhyme or reason why I should be blessed with it.

I don’t deserve the things and people I am given. But differently than the love people show to one another, God sees me differently than anyone else, and loves me for – not in spite of – who I am. I will do better with being gentle to myself and others, because one of the pieces of my personal faith is to love others as I love myself. Some days I can do more than others. Others all I can do is ride out the storm. I need to stay strong. I’m loved, so are you.

Until next post,

Meg