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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To Be Seen

I have a confession to make.

I don’t know how to write for myself. I write to be recognized, to be seen. I don’t know how to put my thoughts together in a way that’s coherent that sounds like me. I’m so used to writing to share. I fear that if I were to write for myself, all that would come out would be a scream. It’s very rare that I can unlock myself in my writing. I feel pressure both internal and external to write something good, to write something poetic, something that will change lives. It’s all gotta be good, meaningful, or it means nothing.

At least that’s how it feels, and feelings aren’t always facts. I do know that every time I write for myself – or try to – it comes out horribly sad and ends up hurting more than helping. Does that mean that something inside needs to be fixed? Does that mean that there’s some fear or sadness not addressed? I look back at my journals and I find that the later ones are full of fear and sadness and anger, and they make a bad situation worse because I’m dwelling on the past and being afraid of the future. It’s just bad. I go months feeling okay and wanting to write about happy things to something erupting inside of me and having to fight off armies of flashbacks and wanting to dive headlong into the dark again.

Last night was one of those nights. I tend to get very sad at around 3 PM every day, and things just built up inside me to the point where I started to shake and cry. Why was I crying? It felt like an aerosol can of sour memories burst inside of me. With that came shame, both for what happened and for not being over it when I should have let it go long ago.

I have heard that people are supposed to write clear and deep about what hurts, so I think I’m going to take that advice.

Something about the scene that popped into my head feels dirty and wrong. It was a memory of my ex and me. He was driven primarily by sex, I’ll be entirely honest, and I was a young, desperate Mormon girl. We had talked about threesomes for some time and I have a memory of when he came to Texas and we hung out by that car I used to drive and I remember there was a red haired girl we both thought was cute and we talked about “sharing” people like that. In the moment, it was okay. But in hindsight, it feels as sick as the sun felt that summer. I have a lot of shame surrounding that memory. This was one of the reasons I started to reconsider Mormonism – I had finally started to come to terms that I could be attracted to all people, not just men like the Mormon church encouraged, and once that mental bomb went off, there was no way to clean up the scattered contents. It was this ex of mine that helped me in a sick way to have this realization. When I tried to go back to church, the shame ate at me and I couldn’t reconcile the beliefs I had once loved and the shame I had with the things I now knew about myself. So I decided to ditch the shame and leave, unrepentant.

I hated myself for the longest time for letting that happen to me. The church had lessons on virtue (read: sexual purity until marriage) and I wanted to dodge every single one of those lessons from even before I officially joined. My mind didn’t fit the mold from the beginning, and there was so much shame I carried. I remember mentally eating myself alive even from the time I was small for being attracted to other genders. I remember mentally eating myself alive for having thoughts of sexual attraction at all. After all, they were wrong, right?

I am now realizing that I have spent a ton of time suppressing parts of who I am. I’m getting better at verbalizing what is going on inside of my brain and what I want and need. I am growing and learning and living and loving.

My gender and appearance falls under this category. I have spent so much time hiding and suppressing it. Last November was a turning point in that I found I could no longer ignore my identity. It was a pull unlike any other. I have pretended to be someone I’m not several times, and none of them ended up well and I always ended up in the same place. I was told over and over again that to identify with anything outside female wasn’t me. To those who said these things, who am I, then? Who am I now that you are not here to tell me who I am? The short answer is that you don’t get to tell me who I am. That’s my job. I am smart. I am kind. I am gifted. I am an empath. I am loved. I am a leader. I am a handsome human. I am a light. I am an example. I am a mentor. I am a student. I am a teacher. I am spiritual. I am imperfect. I fall down sometimes. But I am alive, thank God. I sing praise to life for the first time. It’s scary as hell.

Happiness is on my side. And it’s past 3 PM and I haven’t cried. Nobody gets to define me. I am not a reduction to how people see me.

I am alive, I am alive, I am alive, and I breathe like a newborn, screaming. It hurts to see light, but that is temporary. I no longer believe the lies that sadness told me.

Sadness is the liar, not the constant.

I will continue to speak on these topics until I can speak no more.

I will continue to tell myself that I am okay, and I will mean it. There should be no shame in this. The can may have exploded, but there is no need to clean it up. I may not recognize myself in the mirror yet, but I am here and I am seen. I am heard. So are you.

Love,

Meg

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Light Steps

There have been several game changing points in my time of making music. The first game changer was the release of Little Voice by Sara Bareilles. I happened upon that record when I was looking for another song that I had heard in the video game Thrillville. For a kid, that game had a great soundtrack, and I still listen to many of the songs from the soundtrack to this day.

I heard “Love Song”, the album’s main single, first because it was that day’s free download on iTunes waaay back in late 2008. In hindsight, that was a lucky day because it would eventually change the way I think and write musically. Even though I didn’t find the song I was looking for, “Lovesong” by Annie Stela, I did discover Sara Bareilles, and my life changed forever.

A couple months later, I was in a store called Hastings, which sold all kinds of electronics. This included CDs. My Mimi had a tradition of taking my brother and me to Hastings, where we could buy one item and get one drink from the cafe. It was getting late in the day and we’d already been there for an hour or two and I still hadn’t found anything I wanted. Just as we were about to leave, I scanned the tracklist on an album called Little Voice and saw that it had “Love Song” on it, the song that I had played on repeat for the last few months. I snatched it up and bought it with a gift card.

To say that that album was well loved was an understatement. I only liked the opening few tracks at first, but as time went on, I played the album all the way through at least once a day.

I was baffled by the album, especially when I read through the liner notes and found that Sara had had a hand in writing all of the songs on the album! How was that possible?

I asked my mom that same question, and her answer was that songwriting is poetry set to music. I was still baffled until one day I sat down at my keyboard after playing far too many hours of playing the video game Wii Music and the melody of “Ride of the Valkyries” flowed out from under my fingertips. That really threw me through a loop. How had I done that?

That didn’t stop me. I picked out melodies whenever I could, and a few days later, I achieved what I once thought impossible – I wrote a song. I poured my twelve year old soul into a few notes and composed an ode to my first crush. It was a hit among my classmates, and was actually called “Ode”.

Here is the original recording, recorded onto a Creative Zen MP3 player in 2009. I can’t believe I actually found it.

Ode, original recording

The next big leap was when I discovered Pandora Internet Radio.

Pandora fueled the writing of an album, two books, and helped me discover music on my own. I was raised with the music of the ’60s though the ’90s, and listening to modern pop music was discouraged by my dad, who preferred to listen to U2, the Police, REM, and the like. My mom listened to a lot of disco, ’80s pop, and ’70s folk. My dad even went as far as to say that he did not marry my mother for her music taste. Even today, my music taste leans more toward my dad’s, but I did inherit my love of ’80s pop from my mom.

Pandora helped me discover my own styles of music, and eventually they influenced my songwriting and poetry. It took several flops and another year for me to compile an album’s worth of music, and I took to my 100-year old piano to record. It took 3 months and take after take to get some semblance of an album. It was never finished, because a producer took over and turned my happy songs into poppy wonders. I don’t consider them my best work, because my songs aren’t happy as a whole. The Mellon Session, my first album-length recording, spare though it may be, is a better representation of my style and body of work than Sweet Pea (the EP we recorded) is. But it was a start.

The EP dropped in November of 2011, and remained on the Internet for a year until we took it down. It was never rereleased.

My dad died in 2016, and that sparked a whole new level of creativity within me. In many ways, it was the final push I needed to record albums 4-8. Add that to the toxic environment of Idaho school, and the albums flowed fairly quickly.

Candy for Trees is a different story, however. I believe it was in this post that I spoke about how CFT was formed. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring helped my instrumental style come together. In many ways, I feel as though I’m coming out of the melancholy that dominated the last eight vocal-and-instrument albums and entering a new era.

My last release, Light Steps, was me exploring the sounds of my keyboard and creating landscapes with it. It was recorded last night.

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

Synchronicity

My friend called me wise yesterday.

We had been on a call and I told her that I was hungry, so she almost commanded me to go eat. I listened. She would later tell me that as soon as we hung up, her supervisor called and she went on an adventure, for lack of a better word, and seemed to have had a very good time. I didn’t understand why that was wise, but if I had to guess, I think it was because I listened to her. I didn’t intend for there to be any kind of wisdom there, but I suppose by listening, I allowed for it.

I’m a firm believer that there is a plan for everything. A lot of times I have no idea what path my actions will take me down, but I do know that there are certain points – meeting a friend, moving someplace – where a grand plan is more apparent. Others, like being told to end a phone call because I’m hungry and sad, are less obvious, but equally as powerful.

I’ve been seeking to make a change for good recently, and what I seek has also been seeking me. That’s evident now. My Nana calls these moments where everything lines up “synchronicities”, and I’m getting better at noticing them. There are simple actions I take sometimes that cause powerful things to happen.

One snowy night, I was at a birthday party in Rexburg, Idaho, and I was not having a good time. I left early, driving through the snow as carefully as I could. That care didn’t stop me from almost colliding with two other students as I parked. I suck at parking. Everyone was okay, and I recognized one of them, a friend of mine I had made a few weeks back but hadn’t seen in a little while. The other was someone I had never met before. The three of us got to talking, and by the time I left Rexburg, I had gained two true friends who had saved my life a few times. They taught me how to trust again after my last awful relationship, and I am so thankful for them.

One of my strong beliefs is that we’re given the things and people we need in the time we need them. My husband arrived exactly when he needed to, for I needed him when I didn’t yet know it.

He’s taught me so much about how to love and how to be a better human. Marriage is a fun thing, but also very difficult at times. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not super great at working as a team, but I’m learning. It’s like sticking two rocks in a tumbling machine. The rocks lose their jagged edges if all goes well and both become shiny and smooth. That’s our goal.

And all because of a synchronicity.

I’m thankful for God’s (or your own Higher Power’s) wisdom. It’s infinite. They know how to guide our lives and know us better than we know ourselves, and know what’s best for us. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the synchronicities that have led me here.

Until next post,

Meg

Heavy

Hey, gentle readers.

I confess that I’m not doing very well today. I’ve been fighting off the depression side of my mental friend bipolar, and add anxiety and slight dysphoria to that, and you have my current headspace. I’m at the point where I am just waiting for my mind to finish throwing its fit and trying to get on with my day. Work is scaring me even though I know to give myself a break. I don’t want to do anything, you know? Even though there’s stuff to be done. Coffee is brewing, which might wake me up. We’ll see. If this post is pretty short, that’s why.

(I am safe. I’m not at risk of hurting anyone, myself or anyone else. Brain is just being its glitchy self.)

My depression right now feels like everything is heavy. My arms, my heart, my environment. I’m fatigued. I’ve been meaning to make a psych intake appointment for about a month now and the thought of doing so seems more difficult than usual. I don’t want to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”, but everything feels too heavy to want to move. I’ll ask if we can do a phone intake. I hope they say yes.

For once, I want to truly claw my way out of it. I want to actually be happy, and I don’t understand why this depression is happening. But I also know that if I try to do too much, it would be like trying to run on a sprained ankle. I should be putting my “ankle” up and being kind to myself, but instead my inner bully is being hyperactive and I’m criticizing everything I do.

I was given a new idea by a friend who in turn heard it from a friend of theirs. I am going to adapt it to my own imagination. They told me about an exercise wherein they would picture an orb and manipulate it with their imagination and in time with their breathing and the mood they wanted. I want mine to be a crystal spinning. Call me weird, but I think it might work.

I’ve also found that I get sad around a certain time of night both at the house and at work, so I might ask to take my break then. I hope my managers will listen.

Something I’m proud of is that I’ve been blogging for almost three weeks straight, never missing a day, no matter how hard life gets or how stressed I am. It’s refreshing to sit back and just write for an hour or so. I’m taking it one day at a time and consciously making time for it, and I’m applauding myself for it.

About dysphoria, I still want to lop all of my hair off. That’s still here. -sigh-. So I want to grow my hair out and put it in a low ponytail Founding Fathers style, or get rid of it all and go for a Halsey look. I also put on an actual bra on after wearing my binder for a bit and it felt like waking up from one of those really good, really detailed dreams and being disappointed that that wasn’t real life. It sucked, but it was good to take a break. I’ll give it that.

If someone says “you look like a guy” at work if I cut my hair, I will elbow-bump them. Elbow bumping is not a bad thing. It’s our equivalent of a fist bump.

I’ll do better about taking care of my ankle today. May all of your ankles be okay.

Until next post,

Meg

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