All I See Are Explosions Anyway

Hello, friends!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Meg

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To Be 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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A celebration, part two

Hello, all! I may sound like a wacko during this post.

Yesterday I spoke about my identity as an agender person and how I am proud of that. I thought about that post all day and grappled with how I would explain it to someone who is unfamiliar with the term agender and is as such confused by it. I learned last night that to some agender and other labels for ourselves can be seen as jargon and that most of these people know what we’re talking about, they just need to hear it a different way.

The way my husband understands it is that I am becoming acquainted with myself and that myself is not aligned with any concept with any traditional idea of masculinity or femininity. I am, simply, me. It was the label that threw him.

There’s more to it than alignments or even what I would call gender, there’s an element of the sacred. I was mid phone call with one of my dearest friends when I had a major realization. Perhaps when I am being my true self, I am able to connect with the spiritual far easier than if I were fighting myself. I’m hesitant to say that the windows of Heaven open when this happens, but all of this poking of “I hear you” begins to mean something greater. He sees me as who I am when I’m aligned, and so do I. In that way, knowing who I am as a person is a crucial element in my communication with God. When I’m in that state, everything I do feels like a prayer and my prayers themselves are amplified.

When I’m in my prayer state, I am given courage, and courage with wisdom comes power to be used in the correct times and places and not abused. I keep getting poked with another impression:

“Write. Speak up. You’re in a place where people will listen, and if not now, when? You’ve been given power, use it.”

It’s strange because I keep remembering a more hidden goal of mine to become so meshed with the spiritual and with God that people feel connected just by being around me. Something tells me that it will turn into that if I keep going down this path.

I won’t ever become or claim to be a speaker for anyone but myself since most of my impressions deal with becoming who I am supposed to be, but I will use the wisdom I receive and share with y’all.

I’m becoming deeply proud of who I am and am celebrating these discoveries. Thank you so much for coming along with me so far!

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

The Power Of Music

Hello, friends!

Music has been a huge part of my life ever since I was small. My mom could sing, my dad was tone deaf. But both of them loved music and had it playing constantly. As a result, I learned to sing before I could talk. Music has been inescapable since. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to music now.

I grew up listening to disco and the music of the 70s through my mom. My dad hated most 70s music – especially disco – and tried to keep me from blasting it at full volume throughout the day and into the night (understandably, in some ways).

My dad brought the sounds of the Police, U2, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and other bands into my life practically from infancy. In fact, the first concert I ever saw was Toad the Wet Sprocket on 1 August 2014. He bought me tickets for my birthday. Don’t ask me how in the world I remember that specific date, because I have no clue, either.

Music was already one of my biggest influences in my life by the time I turned 12, and the chance discovery of Pandora Radio turned my world upside down. I rediscovered my first songwriting love, Sara Bareilles, and making a radio station from her music led to me discovering a whole host of other artists that I also grew to love. I wrote my first song when I was eleven and thought I was done after that. Little did I know that that was not to be. Because of these artists, writing and music became a sanctuary that I turned to when I was feeling overwhelming emotions. Most of my songs were very, very sad. From the beginning, I’ve always found it difficult to write a happy song, much less a happy song one that I will be proud of sometime in the future. The way I relate to happy songs changes, whereas I can almost always go back to a sad song of mine and experience the emotion in the way it was originally intended to be felt. It’s sad.

Now that I’m married, it’s a bit better, though my happy poems “stick” better than happy songs. I think that what I feel when I listen to a happy song I no longer relate to is something close to shame and regret. I kick myself in the heart for being so stupid and for getting my hopes up. In reality, though I did get my hopes up in some cases, I was not stupid for feeling. I don’t consider that enough. With the songs I’ve written for my husband, the regret is not there, but I do feel stupid because they are a bit over-the-top gushy.

I think that it’s similar to killing my happiness because I think it’s too extreme. I suppose the term I would use for the songs is “cringey”, but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate them. I still feel in much same way as I did when I wrote my album The Places We Come Home To back in late January for my husband’s Valentine’s Day present. We’ve come more out of the fairytale phase and the love has matured a bit, but we’re still crazy for each other. Perhaps I judge myself for Places because I wrote it while in the thick of the fairytale phase, which I’m no longer in quite as much. It just seems sickly sweet.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen to happy songs start aren’t my own. There are certain bands and songs I can’t hear unless I’m in a certain mood, or just can’t hear in general. They seem too schmaltzy. I have a happy songs playlist on Spotify for when I do need a pick me up, but for the most part I steer clear of the sap unless I’m in that mood where I want to skip through a meadow with flowers in my hair. I do get in that mood. That wasn’t a joke entirely. Right now I’m listening to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, which could be sappy. I just love David Bowie.

Music for me contains immense power. It makes me feel connected to something higher and is one of my favorite ways to talk to God. I get a specific song stuck in my head when I’m doing spiritual things, “CS Lewis Song” by Brooke Fraser. Instrumental and choral pieces being me closer to God, too. I walked down the aisle at my wedding to a song by Explosions in the Sky called “First Breath After Coma”, which gives me chills every time.

But nothing compares to composing my own music or making a piece truly my own, in my opinion. My first album was like a cry of pain preserved in song. My favorite tracks on this album are “Gone“, an original, and “Drowning Man“, a cover of my dad’s favorite U2 song. I felt immense power and connection when recording this album. “Gone” was pure energy and pain. “Drowning Man” was me talking to my dad. Writing and arranging songs gives me catharsis. It doesn’t matter what the song is about or the feeling that the song conveys at the time. At the best moments, it’s just the music and me. A perfect connection. My seventh album is like that for me in its entirety. We’ve covered some of it, but I want to go through the whole album with you piece by piece. Come along!

Until next post,

Meg

Why I would get socked at the Council of Nicaea…

Hello again, fine friends!

I was on the fence about taking time out of every day to write this blog, but yesterday’s post really cemented in my mind that this was something that needs to happen. It was cathartic. It was fun. It was almost like meditation.

Something that I’ve wanted to write about since founding this blog is my stance on religion and spirituality. While I wouldn’t call it unique, it’s a blend of some of my Mormon beliefs from my adolescence with other things I’ve picked up over time. In short, I’m a Christian, but one who would probably get punched in the face by some future saint at the Council of Nicaea and run out of town. All parts of my faith are important to me, and I try to follow them. I fall short a lot (read: always), but I believe that God hears me and steers me back to where he needs me to go. Here are some of my beliefs…

Mormon Stuff

I believe that families and people who love each other will be together forever if they so choose. Mormons hold that people need to be sealed in the temple for this to happen, but I believe that I’ll see my dad, my husband, my grandmother, uncle, and more when I get to wherever I land. I don’t think it would be only exclusive to faithful Mormons. Since leaving the Church last year, that was something I grappled with, but when my then-future husband came down to Texas last May from Alaska to where I lived in Texas, I asked him out of the blue whether he believed we would be together after death. The answer from both of us was a resounding yes. I also hold to Mormon beliefs that there was a spirit world before Earth and some of us meet each other here and just know we have met before somehow. My friend Amy is one such example. Over the course of a four hour car ride, we just clicked and I’ve always felt like I’d known her before that time.

Another belief I hold strongly to is that the souls of the dead don’t ever truly leave us. I have felt my dad’s influence strongly after he died in 2016, and it has gotten stronger in recent times. My husband and I came to the conclusion that we were brought together by my dad nudging my husband to talk to me again after six whole years of no contact between us.

Other things:

I believe that there is a plan for everything. Sometimes it seems senseless, but I think there is nothing that is entirely good or entirely evil. Good things can come from bad things, and vice versa.

I also believe that God is love and that everything we need comes from him in the times that we need it.

Faith and life’s journey are intensely personal in my mind, and nobody should force their faith on another. That kills the personal nature of it. If I want to teach someone, it’s only because they want to hear it, not because I’m trying to proselytize. I was once a proselytizer, and I think I was annoying. I want to preach by actions, and not by telling everyone I love Jesus and then doing nothing about it. I believe that if one is living the word they adhere to, they will shine and people will be curious about how they get their strength and joy. I’m not there yet.

Things that baffle me

I don’t understand heaven. I know it’s a thing that people want and supposedly it’s a place of rest and happiness forever. I can see how people would desire to live there. But the thing that catches me is that if you’re happy forever and there is nothing to contrast that happiness, how on Earth do you know you’re eternally happy?

The only way I have seen it that I like is the Mormon take on Heaven. The afterlife is a place of progression where souls learn things they could not have learned on Earth. I like that. I don’t see the point in sitting around being eternally joyful. There has to be a catch somewhere.

It baffles me as well that some people believe that Heaven will only house Christians. What about all of the other good people in the world? And what about all of the bad Christians? I would rather live next to a Muslim who lives their faith well than a Christian who steps on others. Faith without deeds is dead. Controversial opinion: I don’t think Jesus would be pleased with the people who claim to know and love him and then do the opposite of what he taught in his name.

So where does that put me?

I know Heaven is a thing. I just don’t want to participate. It doesn’t sound pleasant or even restful. Frankly, it sounds like oblivion. I may change my mind, and there ARE people I want to see again. Maybe I’m speaking too much from years of depression, but I honestly don’t want to exist for longer than I have to.

Hell is a different matter. It doesn’t scare me. There are days here that could very well rival it, and Shakespeare put it best:

Hell is empty, all the devils are here.
Don’t get me wrong on all of this, I want to live on. I want to live on in the form of memories people have of me, in my future children, in the legacy I will leave. But if I say that I would brave an afterlife for someone, I mean that and I don’t say that lightly.  Call it depressing, but it’s my story.

Things that I wish people would accept

God hears and loves everyone. He gives everyone good gifts, whether they deserve them or not. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t deserve them. I mess up all the time. I can be mean. I can be selfish. I can be vengeful. But I am still loved, and so are you, dear readers. It doesn’t matter who you are. You are special in the eyes of your Higher Power.

Everyone includes your grumpy sibling, the ex who abused and abandoned you, the lesbians next door, the protesters down the road whom you call snowflakes. God loves them and they have a path, too. I am thankful for the people who hurt me, for they opened the door to better things. I do my best to forgive them, for in that way I am giving myself a precious gift. I am giving myself freedom.

It’s so hard, especially if you’ve been deeply wounded. Take your time in forgiving them. You need time to heal, and part of this healing can very well be wrath. But when you can, leave it up to God or your Higher Power. And sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself. God will take care of the rest.

Also, God loves you. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you’ve done. I speak especially to the LGBT community. I speak especially to those with mental or physical illnesses. I speak especially to you. You are loved and important. You are not a mistake. You are meant to be where you are, doing the good you are doing. Don’t be afraid. It’s easier said than done, but you are powerful. You are made to do great things. Your body is yours, not anyone else’s. I wish everyone could understand that.

That’s my piece.

Until next time,

Meg