On taking calculated risks

So, I married an Eagle Scout. But, in case you didn’t know, I’m the opposite of an outdoors-woman. As a child, I never learned to ride a bike because it was too hot outside and it just didn’t seem that worth it. (It’s okay, I learned to swim. I am not that deprived.)

The thing about the outdoors that I’ve gleaned from the last quarter of my life being with Josh is that the outdoors is only as fun as you make it.

Enjoying the stillness of a campfire and staring out into the stars. Not fun if you are upset about the mosquitoes, but much fun when you are taking in the beauty of nature.

Treading over lightly snow covered banks. Not fun if you’re scared of falling and getting your butt wet, but much more fun when you’re willing to go for it and experience the thrill of a safe fear.

And, that brings us to our visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Essentially, it’s just the desert. Full of cactus, rocks, and Joshua trees (duh.)

Although walking through the desert in such hot, arid weather was bearable. It was much more fun when we got to the huge rock parts where we could climb all over them.

Now, I’m no climber.

But, on this day, I was a climber.

A happy climber.

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But, also, a scared climber.

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It’s funny that when you take a “risk” and nothing bad actually happens, your hindsight bias tells you that it wasn’t actually that “high” or that “hard.” Really, you’re just relieved that the perceived fun experience turned out to actually be fun.

One of my favorite things about actually being in the outdoors and exploring nature is obviously using them as easy metaphors to life. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for adventurous friends who have pushed me into deserts and mountains.

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A change of plans

I love planners. Out of all of my beloved new school supplies each August, picking out a new planner was always my favorite part.

I also love google calendars. Plotting out my weeks and months way ahead of time and mentally readying myself for what is to come relieves my stress.

Planning is my favorite thing. I love spreadsheets, formatting, and documenting what’s about to happen and thinking of all the ways things could happen.

Some things that are planned are events that I’m not looking forward to. So, when it turns out that they are changed – whether ahead of time or in the moment – I welcome that sweet relief of getting out of something you didn’t want to do in the first place.

But, when a change of plans hits my carefully curated google calendar, and it’s definitely not what I had in mind…

Well, you can imagine.

Let’s just say, I’m not as graceful and flexible on the inside as I often try to portray to the outside world.

A change of plans and I, you could say that we aren’t exactly best friends.

I don’t like when things come my way that throw me off.

I don’t like when things happen that I’m not prepared for.

And, depending on how big of a deal it is, it takes me varying amounts of time to adjust my mindset, take a breath, and accept these new plans as my new reality.

Sometimes, I grow to resent it not unlike a small child who just wanted to go eat some ice cream at the shop that is closed.

Sometimes, I can even be a grown human adult and accept it, of course, quickly adding it to my google calendar as if that had been the plan all along.

Either way, I’m thrown off.

And, either way I respond, I know that it’s good for me.

Thus, to this next season of unexpected plans and plans that will change constantly without warning, I’ll try to be slightly more friendly to you and embrace you with a hug.

Changes and I — I think we are going to be okay.

 

An open letter to summertime

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Dear Sweet Summertime,

The ease of waking up and the welcoming presence of a new day give me peace.

The freedom of laying in bed for way longer than necessary and no pressure to get up at a certain time.

The collection of colorful mugs of cold brew each morning, not those evil travel mugs and their symbols of hurry and busyness.

No make up, no hair brushing, and no contacts for as long as I want.

The uncovering of emotions that I forgot I had because it was nestled safely underneath the more glaring issues of children and parents and learning.

The space in you brain to adequately reflect on the other areas of my life, such as the church group I lead.

The slow walks with Franklin and the quiet mornings watching him on the patio bark on birds.

The energy to enter hard conversations and let it take up my entire brain space.

The capacity to love others with greater awareness and intentionality.

The blank white space on my google calendar.

The quiet music playing from speakers filling the living room and dining room with its’ melodies.

Slow and careful handwriting across pages of journals writing whispers of prayers, shouts of joy, hidden dreams, and anything else that I want.

Hot summer afternoons spent by the pool with a good book and the smell of sun screen.

Vacations spent connecting with my husband and the memories to be made.

Sand between my toes, rhythms of ocean waves crashing with no plans of stopping, and a summer rain shower that makes sure you know there’s no such thing as a perfect day–but it was pretty close to perfect.

The constant process of relearning to relax, slow down, be still, and be present in each moment.

Summer, these are the reasons I love you.

But, I know you can’t stay forever.

Just, please go slowly.

 

G is for Generations

G is for the generation of teachers that came before me. They have been more than just mentors and coworkers. Most importantly, they have taught me: 

Why Every 20-something Needs Friends That Are 40-something

I didn’t realize that I had magically warped into an adult until I had my first grown up job and was given an equivalent job description to somebody who could’ve been my own first grade teacher. All of the sudden, the playing field was even and I was considered a peer to the people who very well could have raised, taught, and babysat me.

I didn’t know how to handle this new dynamic. Should I be perpetually intimidated? Do I try to act  just as experienced as them? What do I do with my hands?

Yet, the beauty of a 40-something friend is that they don’t freaking care. They don’t care what I do with my hands or what I think of them or if anybody hates them. They are unashamedly themselves and want me to be the same. They aren’t competing or comparing or keeping up.

I admire that. Because, in many ways, that is the exact opposite of who I am. I care, way too much. I care about what people think about me, and how many people hate me, and how I’m stacking up to everyone else around me.

The ease at which they live their lives shows me what is possible. It is possible to not keep track of what everyone thinks of me. It is possible to not care that somebody is mad, and it’s possible to not take everything so dang seriously. It’s also possible to not take myself so dang seriously.

The decades of life experience that they have has shown me more of who I am, who I can be, and who I will be. These friends and mentors have seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve seen me acting like a capable adult, and also a blithering, crying millennial who just can’t even. They take it all in stride and help me recognize that some days are hard, and that’s just how life goes.

There seems to be comfort in being 40-something. I’m not saying their lives aren’t chaotic, they are. With their adolescent kids causing raucous through their homes and school hallways, they have their fair share of stress. But, I am saying that as far as it comes to being oneself, owning one’s inner strength, and knowing who you are and what you want – they seem to have found comfort in finding that for themselves. And, in each day, I am finding that for myself, too. 

What has shocked me the most is the blessing of the friendship that the decades of life that these coworkers possess have afforded me. Even though I still feel like just a kid to them, never once have they treated me like one. If anything, these people have challenged me to see more in myself and value myself way more than I do. I am forever grateful for the years spent learning alongside them, both as coworkers, and as human beings.

I’ll tuck these life lessons that I gained from them deeply in my heart. Not because they decided that they needed to impart life lessons upon me, but because I simply gained these lessons by watching them.

They may see me as the young, cool, and hip teacher… But, really, I hope that one day I’ll grow up to be as cool as them. Thank you, J & J, for being the first to be these people to me…even for just a short time. 

F is for Faith

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I honestly haven’t written about my faith in a long time. I’m not sure why.

I used to write about it a lot. I used to lead in faith-based organizations in ways that I don’t do anymore. The way I lead used to lead me to write a lot about my own faith. About the ways that the Word of God had been changing me. I haven’t done this as much. And, it’s not for a lack of leading or reading. 

In thinking more about who I am as a writer, I want to take care with which I post about faith. I don’t want to be seen waving a flag that my life doesn’t represent. I don’t want to be braggy or show off. I don’t want to be self righteous or proud. And if we’re being honest, it’s hard for me not to sound that way when putting my faith on public display. 

At the same time, I wonder if these cautions come at a cost. I think that there is power in sharing about one’s faith. There is understanding to be met amongst varying belief systems. There is power in encouraging others with the same beliefs.

I wonder about how much of my silence on my faith in my writing on this blog is helping or hurting. I want to reach a wide audience. I want this to be a place that is welcoming to people of any belief. And, I want this to a safe space.

At the same time, I want to be authentic. Authenticity breeds authenticity. And, if I’m truly being transparent and authentic about who I am, then I would most definitely write of my faith. My faith permeates to all that I think, see, believe, and do. Any writing that I have comes through faith and anything that I share has certainly been effected by my faith.

My faith in God is essential to my being. Jesus as my Savior and all that this means for how I love and live is the essence of who I am. There is no Meagan without Jesus being the pinnacle of my stories. I believe that Jesus is in every single one of the stories that I’ve written. Even the silly ones about my dog or my books, I think Jesus is in each of those.

The question lies in how to be authentic about my identity as a Christian, while still speaking inclusively to a diverse audience. 

How do you handle this in your writing? In your relationships? In your life?