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

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To not be okay

Hello, all.

I’m currently hanging out in a store while my husband geeks out.

He’s adorable.

I don’t have much to do here but think, and the thought I posed to Instagram is that it is okay to not be okay.

I knew I’ve expressed this thought before here, but it’s important to reiterate often.

I go through a series of bad days at times that often stem from me being cruel to myself. I beat the daylights out of myself for not being perfectly calm all of the time, for not being perfectly here all the time, for not being…perfect. I feel like a horrible wife, friend, and person at times just because I fall short and have bad times. I’m coming to learn that self acceptance is important. I worry that I keep making a massive fool of music on social media. I worry that all my efforts are for nothing. But mistakes will be made. It’s important to know and accept that.

This realization is especially important in my relationships and in running my Golden Apple projects. My husband mentioned today that I’m spreading myself too thin over all of my promotion efforts and that I don’t NEED six million Instagram accounts to promote all of my projects individually. It’s a waste of time. So I have started to unite all of the projects under one big Golden Apple banner with this blog as a hub. This should make me less stressed.

The key mission of the Golden Apple Projects is to help people in as many ways as I possibly can. With all of the promotion I’m throwing out into the world, it’s not going very far and I’m not helping people. I actually feel like I reach the most people through my tutoring, and I want to take that approach – getting to know people individually – and use it with my other projects. I don’t want to just have people who interact with me on a business level, I want to have relationships with them. That would be really cool.

I really want to buy a pair of my own Martin boots that I’ve designed and wear them around town. That would be awesome, especially if I find a place I can make friends. Maybe keep a spare pair in the back of my car.

Things to think about…

Love,

Meg

The Golden Apple Projects:

Music: http://candyfortrees.bandcamp.com

Tutoring: http://wyzant.com/tutors/historynmore

Shoes:

http://goldenapple.shoes

The best instruments ever

Hello, fine friends! I’m here today to talk about musical composition and how it affects my life. Before we begin, though, here are some tracks for your listening pleasure.

The first, “Your Mind is the Plane”, was recorded in my dorm room with Stephen, my concert uke.

The second, “Five”, was recorded with my beautiful baritone uke, Berri, whose name is a Basque language pun.

The third was recorded on piano in my favorite environment ever, a three story concrete atrium. This is a cover of Civil Twilight’s “Letters from the Sky”. Here they are.

It took awhile to pick which songs to share, but these are some of my all time favorites. “Five” is a nod to my husband. It’s one of his favorite songs of mine. Places, my eighth album, is about us.

Each of these songs represents a different musical language for me. Piano is my first instrumental “language”. It came almost as naturally as singing, and while it took years to get where I am, it flows more easily.

Learning Stephen took far longer, partially because I had to learn uke upside down due to a stroke I had when I was a baby. After a long while, it finally clicked and I was jamming hard the point that my thumbs were bleeding at times.

I picked Berri up in Rexburg, and she was probably the easiest to learn due to my time with Stephen. I’m still learning all three, and it’s frustrating because I have very limited use of my left hand, but I am getting there.

The coolest part about composing and performing for long periods of time is that the songs evolve and sometimes hop from instrument to instrument. Another favorite of mine, “My Island”, started like this:

and is currently sounding something like this:

I also have a bass, but I haven’t done much work with her yet. I primarily sing with my instruments and I want to learn to sing with her, too, but I’m not the best at practicing regularly. I plan on moving her downstairs close to my writing spot.

Music is one of the best forms of worship I have. I feel close to the spiritual when everything connects, and it’s a glorious time. I think things started to connect when I started to know my songs forward and backward and began to record these semi spontaneous moments where I just sat down and captured things perfectly in one take. “Letters from the Sky” is one such example. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they are pure magic. I can’t force music, ever.

My best albums take shape late at night and are powered by Mountain Dew. Mago, Primrose Path, and stay are great examples. I don’t think I’ve talked about stay yet. Anyway, I wish I had a piano here, but Stephen, Berri, and Athena (the bass) are a great crew to have. I need Dew, stat!

I hope you enjoyed this musical extravaganza!

Until next post,

Meg

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Looking back

“I am soft on the ground and rare as Vegas rain”, I once sang. “I wish I had a home like I wish I had a self.” The third song off of Mago, “Vegas Rain”,  is arguably the song that expresses the most confusion on the entire album.

Gentle readers, I’m not here to praise the past, but to set it to rest, and there is something surreal about picking my past apart in a pubic forum in order to link it to happy-ending hopes for the future. It’s not a bad thing. It forces me to put my thoughts into perspective, which is incredibly valuable for both my progress and myself as a human. So we will do just that with that line from “Vegas Rain”.

It’s definitely a piece where I can look back and see how far I’ve come. When I wrote it, I felt completely lost with nothing to cling to. It felt like every “persona” I had adopted was fake, as I would later explain in the verses. I felt that same lost feeling in different forms until I reached two turning points, meeting my husband and starting this blog. Even though I only started blogging a month ago, it’s done more for me than most things ever have.

I had been talking with my then-future husband for about a month when the topic of conversation turned to other halves. I scoffed at the idea, saying that a mate or another person should never have to complete me. In reality, though, I was afraid. I didn’t want another person to leave. I was not secure in my own skin, and I knew my own ways a little too well. I was always afraid of smothering him or driving him away. I wanted an other half, I wanted an other half desperately – yes, desperately. But I knew in one way or another that I’d have to become better acquainted with myself for this to work, that my self esteem could not be permanently tied to the attentions of someone else.

My lack of self -knowledge and self-love had led me into some horrible situations by that point, and I viewed myself as utterly broken. The thing about this man, though, is that he showed me by his actions and words that he didn’t mind that I was a work in progress. There was no need for anything but me.

I was so scared because of my past that I only loved him because he gave me attention, but our bond proved me wrong. He was my other half, even though I was broken, and he was allowing and encouraging me to be myself and was willing to help me when I got lost. I loved – and still do love – him for his sharp intelligence, the way he operates, the way he thinks, and the way he loves. He is home in a human. I now need to find myself.

I’ve been writing here for 26 days now, thank you, handy WordPress counter, and it has been helping me do just that. I’ve always found writing to be an incredibly useful tool for introspection, but this is working better than any journal I’ve ever kept. Here, I’ve learned that I can’t kill my bipolar disorder, that I am heard, that I can give myself permissions, and other things.

While I would love to go back to instruct past me about these things, I know that they wouldn’t take my advice, because, well, it’s me…

Until next post!

Meg

See (Mago track 1)

Good morning, friends!

That’s exactly what this song is about. From the opening line of “good morning, my dearest”, “See” is about new beginnings and the fairytale phase of love. It’s about feeling comfortable in my own skin in that moment.

I’ve thought a bit about how I’m going to approach this song and this topic. I want this post to be less of an admonition and more of a tale of personal experience. So here we go.

I’m not an “expert” on the fairytale phase, but I do know a bit about it. When it worked and I was in it, it was awesome. That’s what “See” is about.

I would call it a false high. When I wrote this song, I was feeling euphoric. The euphoria would later come crashing down, and I knew it would. So I was determined to cling to the high for as long as possible.

With it came a massive creative surge, and I wanted to cling to that, as well. This might be a bipolar thing, and like nearly all of my creative endeavors, I beat myself up for pursuing it. I’m glad I didn’t kill it – the lines in Mago and in “See” are priceless.

“See” is also about feeling complete and accepted in love and in life. I wrote one of my favorite lyric stanzas of all time here:

“I’ve been through people, people have been through me, but in translucency I am whole, and in this time I am complete”.

I felt worn through and hoped that I could finally rest with the person whom I felt completed me.

Why not end the album there, or put it at the end instead of the beginning, you may ask?

The answer is that it IS the beginning. It sets the stage for a tumultuous, open ended story. And it’s also a breaking point and the beginning of a descent. You know how a protagonist is living their life when along comes a knock on the door and their world is changed in an instant?

This is The World Before, where everything is settled. But it’s also false and subject to violent change.

I say “violent change” because there will be a breaking point later on when I discover that I’m really NOT comfortable in my own skin.

After my dad died, I ran towards anything that would give me emotional shelter and latched myself onto it. It took me awhile to learn that that was bad. I felt comfortable and beautiful and safe for a time, but when things inevitably went south, my self esteem plummeted. My mental health plummeted. Whether it was me or thing or person that I clung to that ended my clinging, it turned into a form of self harm in hindsight. Especially when I would kill it on purpose. Eventually it stopped hurting as badly as it should have, but I developed an unhealthy fear of rejection. My relationships with friends and family weren’t healthy, my mind wasn’t healthy.

I was terrified of being alone. As a result, nothing grew in a healthy manner because I was so afraid of losing it. I couldn’t be by myself for more than three or four hours, and if I was, my mind began to tear itself apart. But I didn’t know what was even going on until after I started writing Mago. I had a hunch in the writing process, but nothing would happen until I met my husband (who accepts me in my entirety) , and it took starting this blog to begin accepting myself. It’s a wonderful thing.

The time which inspired “See” went south. But it was the beginning of a journey. Setting this down in song was a powerful experience and kicked Mago into high gear. It is also one of my only love songs that I still love after a year and some. Plus, it’s beautiful! Take a listen here.

Until next time,

Meg