I Guess We’ll Have To See

Hello, friends!

I have been giving the concept of a heaven some thought recently and I am still on the fence on it. All the Christians talk about it being a place of rest, but I don’t see the point of a resting place where I’m surrounded by only people of my same faith. In the past, I have been far more in favor of something where our souls take on a different form of energy rather than being transported to a resting place. The only place I run into a snag with that is when I think about never seeing my dad again, or never being able to hold my husband when both of us eventually pass. He wants to poke me, that is what he is looking forward to. If there were any other workaround to that that held some shred of proof of possibility, I would go for that. I suppose there isn’t much tangible proof for a heaven, either, so we’re in this eternal spot of “oh, guess we’ll have to see”. I’m an impatient person, so this bothers me. I want my answers and I wanted them yesterday.

I bring this up because the artist Avicii is (posthumously) releasing a new album called Tim. I was confused because I thought he had died back in 2018, and that appeared to still hold true. The thing that really got me thinking was that they had turned his website into a vibrant memory board where people from around the world can post messages about the memories they had with him and his music. This got me thinking about my aspirations for my soul – to do enough good to be remembered fondly on Earth without much care for heavenly things.

As with the Avicii memory board, I have seen many signs pointing to the restful side of the quandary I’ve been facing, the side where I will get to see the people I love again. I have this one aunt that I have felt connected to since I first saw an image of her. Her name is Florence and it is believed that she died of the Spanish flu before 1920. I saw a picture of her and it was like there was an understanding between us that we knew each other at some point and will see each other again. Even if there is no heaven in the traditional sense, I hope we come into contact with one another again somehow. I believe that she is a guardian angel of mine. After reading about how she threw parties in her hometown newspaper, I have no doubt that she does it well.

This is Florence.

I have heard several of my Mormon friends talk about those who are dying being greeted by those they love who have preceded them in death. Some would also call these beings angels. That’s something I have never seen personally, but have felt. As my dad was in his last days, I felt presences that weren’t physically there. None of them ever made a move to speak or touch any of us. If anything, it was a feeling of comfort that we weren’t alone as we held my dad’s hand and sang to him. If that’s heaven, I wouldn’t mind that.

There are times I feel close to the more afterlife-related areas of God and the Universe, like with the examples of Aunt Florence and my dad. I also meet people whom I feel I have known before this life, and I know that if there are to be future lifetimes, there are a few people I’m damn near certain I will find again and again. My husband and my best friend Lindsey are some examples of this. I also know that I have more people to meet. There is a purpose to everything and God is everywhere. That keeps me going when there’s hardly anything left. I don’t always remember that perfectly, but just because I don’t remember it doesn’t make it untrue.

Do you have any thoughts on heaven? Let me know in the comments!

-Mago

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I Win Or I Learn

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Hello, all!

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

This is Chadwick.

He’s our itty bitty bearded dragon baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

MJ

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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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On Your Parade

I’m sitting here on the couch and it’s raining.

I remember in Texas there was a terrible drought the summer before I really got to know my husband, the summer of 2011. My friend Amy was spending the night in the middle of it and I remember dying laughing because a guy texted her asking when she thought it was going to rain again and Amy replied, “on your parade.” We were fourteen and we thought that was pretty damn funny. It didn’t rain again for several months and we were one day shy of breaking the record for most consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in one day. We were on track to beat it when a rain shower hit and cooled things off to 70 degrees on the very last day necessary. Whether that was on that unfortunate fellow’s parade or not, we may never know.

Sometimes things happen like that. I think I’m so close to something, yet I’m so very far away. Sometimes the drought is broken and I should have been hoping for that, yet I was hoping for the wrong thing. The universe has a way of correcting my course. The things I want aren’t always the things I need, and I know that.

There have been many things I have wanted that would have compromised my happiness in the long term – bad relationships, sour friendships, things that would have been good options but not the best ones, etc.. The universe/God knows what’s best for me and everyone else around me, and I’m thankful for that. Sometimes my world needs readjusting.

I’m a horribly impatient person, and I think the lesson I am being taught over and over is to have patience. One of my favorite quotes, oddly enough, is about patience. It’s from a poem by Rumi, “Craftsmanship and Emptiness”:

“Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates that you haven’t been patient.”

Rumi

I’m impatient in nearly every sense – if something isn’t happening my way, I get very anxious and on edge. There’s a reason I show up an hour early to everything – you don’t have to be stuck in traffic and nervous if you’re already there and nervous! I have a very, very strong tendency to dominate conversations, I’m an awful listener. I rely on brute force to do nearly everything in my life, and it’s only half worked. I get what I want, but only after bridges are burned and tears are shed. I have never been observant or even really logical in my doings, and that has been costly, especially lately. I’m not less of a person for needing to work on patience; this is a project, not a permanent failure.

It’s going to be a learning process for me because all of the things I’ve been discovering at once are piling up and not falling into place immediately like I would like for them to (see: impatience!). I have a lot to process and parse, and it’s a bit overwhelming to keep track of it all. It’s not that the rules are changing constantly, I’m in a new headspace and there are new rules because of it. I can’t come screaming into a shop and buy all the things I want because I’m happy and I have a fear of missing out, for example, I have to bide my time and wait until it’s actually wise to buy the things I want. This goes back to the point on brute force. It also goes back to fear.

As I have been saying a lot lately, I’m afraid of a lot. I’m afraid nothing will come of my life, I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck in sadness again, I’m afraid that my projects won’t ever get accomplished, I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to make any kind of lasting life changes to become a better person. It all comes down to one thing, really – fear of failure. I’m afraid to be left out, so I barge into every conversation. I’m afraid of being forgotten, so I want a lot of attention. I am afraid of being disliked, so I try and ultimately fail at muting myself. The failing is the interesting part. Is failing so bad? I rarely get embarrassed, what am I so afraid of?

I’m insecure. It’s the same inner bully that drove me before rearing its ugly head. It’s the part of me that would have me deny the seat I have at the table, to shrink into obscurity and be forgotten. It’s a strange clashing – the wanting to be forgotten and the fear of it. It’s easier to be forgotten, isn’t it? It’s easier to never take a stand, to never use my voice. It’s easier to give up. It’s easier to plunge into despair and be sad all the time. It’s easier to live beneath the shadow of death than to rise out from under it. The inner bully wants me to give up, to be insecure, to render myself unable to sit at the table. It’s the one that feeds me lies, says I am nothing.

It’s wrong.

There is such a thing as failure, but it’s not an ultimate defeat. I will be judged, especially by those who don’t understand. Unless I’m truly in the wrong, that sounds like their problem. There will be humiliating times. There will be times of loss and of sorrow. But those times are not the end. If the world will have you believe your life is over, it’s wrong. As long as you’re alive, you have hope and a potential. You have a place at the table. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

I’m still working on my own fear and impatience. I’m scared of many things that I haven’t even encountered yet. I’m worried about things that are irrational, especially those that are irrational. It’s going to be a long and hard road. It will be so worth it, though! If it rains on your parade, it’s not over. Sometimes it’s just the drought breaking.

Love,

Meg

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