this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

One of the things that most frustrates me about myself, and humanity at large, is our seemingly constant and often rash judgements (of situations, people, actions, ideas, beliefs). Sure, there are some things that most people will agree are bad… murder, rape, racism.  And I don’t disagree. But too many judgements are made based on ignorance, misunderstanding, a cultural norm, or excessive pride. So many people have been hurt in the name of “goodness”… But if it causes that much hurt, how good can it actually be?

Example:

When you think of the words ‘witchcraft’ or ‘wiccan’ what comes to mind?

Some people would say spells, potions, magic, evil, or Satan.  But where have you gotten these ideas from?  Do you know if they are accurate? Have you researched these things for yourself before making a judgment about them?

I use this example particularly because of my own experience.  Being raised in the Christian tradition, the primary information I had about witches, wiccans, and paganism was incredibly biased and vague. In general the sense that I got was that these practices were evil, dangerous, and from the devil. However, I recently was doing some of my own research (all the while feeling embarrassed for my curiosity, ashamed for my interest, and fearful of judgment if my husband, family, church members, or peers found out.)  But the things that I found were so incredibly different from what I expected.  Take this YouTube video for example (skip to 2:55 for the start of the list):

All this isn’t to say that I am now a practicing Wiccan or anything… it’s just showing a pretty stark example of my assumptions having been based on the views of other people/institutions.  How many of my other beliefs and assumptions have I just absorbed and integrated into my life without checking their validity?

Another example along the same vein is the practice of tarot card readings.  Have you ever participated in a tarot card reading?  Do you simply view them as erroneous attempts at “fortune telling”? Consider these quotes:

“Tarot cards do not tell the future; rather, tarot is a tool for spiritual guidance and enables the person receiving the reading to connect to his or her inner wisdom,” she told INSIDER. “Tarot readings help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation. Decks are best used as a tool of inner wisdom and guidance, as readings give a person insight to past, current and future events based on the person’s current path at the time of the reading. The cards do not necessarily reveal what will happen, but instead, allow a person to gain an understanding of a situation and determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.”  (source, emphasis added)


Tarot is a divination method. It’s like a tool for your intuition; it doesn’t just say something on its own. It just helps you reframe a problem and see it from a new perspective.” (@1:56)


“Contrary to what the uninitiated might think, the meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of individual users.” (source)
So based on these definitions, saying that tarot cards are dangerous is about the same as saying that listening to one’s own intuition and insight is dangerous.

So What?

So, let’s take another specific example: I hate when I see my own tendency to judge and yet I never feel better when I judge myself for how judgmental I am being.  In fact, even as I write this I am making a judgement. I am saying that one way of interacting with the world and people around me is better than another way. (An open-minded, intentional, grace-filled approach toward the world is, in my opinion, inherently better than a close-minded, rash, judgmental approach.)

And yet I am open to the idea that I may be wrong in this… and I would love to have a calm respectful conversation about it with anyone who is willing.

And I guess that’s my point.  At the end of the day, I think most of this comes down to a difference in values.  Something that is not going to be easily “fixed” or reconciled.  Something that takes time, honesty, and a willingness to journey into the uncomfortable.

Perhaps more empathy can be gained by thinking about the situation in terms of personal values:  If one person’s highest values are authenticity and personal freedom they are going to deem different things and ways of being as ‘good.’  (For example, freedom of speech, regardless of its potential impact on others.)  If someone else values interpersonal harmony above all else, they will be more likely to desire restrictions to personal freedom for the sake of getting along. Others may value commitment, patriotism, sacrifice, equality, efficiency, etc. And all of these impact their views of what is right, good, and desirable.  (Another post I wrote about a similar topic of ‘what is classified as a good reason?’ can be found here.)  Not to mention that all of these things are parts of a greater system running… You don’t just come out of the womb with these values.  There are so many things at play in every situation, that have brought us to where we are in this moment.  If you really understood all of those factors (from inborn temperament to family structure to childhood experiences to past relationships (see articles/books/podcasts on systems thinking for more info)) do you think there would still be room for judgment?  Or would we all be able to give each other (and ourselves) a little more grace?

And the thing is, I don’t see what harm could possibly come from this openness to conversation.  Especially given the fact that gentleness and acceptance and a desire to dig deeper don’t mean I am/you are necessarily condoning the behavior. What they do often point to is a preservation of humanity and a desire to understand. And it’s in these spaces of love, acceptance, grace, humility, and connection that we can move toward true goodness (whatever that may be).


Some Questions to Consider

🔸 What things are you judging because you don’t understand them? Or because they threaten your way of being? Or because someone else told you they are bad/wrong?

🔸Do you find yourself using the words ‘weird’ or ‘normal’?  What can that show you about the judgments you are making?

🔸What things in your life do you tend to feel judged about? Your way of parenting? Clothing choices? Career path? Aspects of your personality?

🔸Where are the spaces that you feel the least amount of judgment?  Are you cultivating those spaces in your own life and with the people around you?  

 

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this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

1 of 30

General Ramblings

Who do you want to be?
How do you want to be?

I want to be able to write a blog post without second guessing every word and sentence that I type.    I want to be thoughtful and intentional, but and confident and full of self love.  I want to be logical and full of faith. I want to have mystical experiences and a healthy amount of doubt. I want to follow through on the things that I begin.  I want to be calm about life in general, and passionate about things that I think matter, and intensely emotional sometimes, because that’s life and living and being human.  I want to do what I love but not at the expense of the planet or my family or our financial security. Or maybe I am okay risking my financial security.  I don’t know.

Maybe that’s my motto: I don’t know.  One time someone pointed out to me that I say that a lot. Other people use umm and like (and I use those too, I’m sure), but they pointed out that one of my fillers is definitely ‘I don’t know.’  Which is fascinating the more that I think about it… Am I that lacking in confidence that even when I am just talking about my own opinion I feel like I need to express my lack of certainty?  Is there a degree to which that could be healthy?  Humble? Or is it a lack of self-esteem?

Do my constant questions get annoying?  Maybe in addition to writing a blog post a day for a month I should have some additional side quests.  Like writing a whole post without any hypothetical questions or questions in general.  Creating a ‘visual storytelling’ post (see an awesome example here).

What I really would love is some clarity.  Like, what am I doing with this life?  Am I living it in a way that on my deathbed I won’t look back filled with regrets? What are the things I care about and are they incorporated into my daily life?  Am I making responsible choices?  Am I positively impacting the world and lives around me?  Am I growing? Am I healthy (emotionally, physically, spiritually, and anything that I forgot)? What have I always wanted to do or improve at that I have been too afraid to actually pursue/try?  (skydiving, check.  not killing my houseplants, NOT check.)

I think part of why I feel like I keep writing these same posts over and over again of: this time is different! here are my goals! new years resolutions! is because, I think, humans are BY NATURE forgetful.  We constantly have to be reminded of things.  Especially in a world where our attention is being pulled so many directions all day long.  And I have found that especially without much routine that I have a definite issue forming new habits and reaching goals.  I mean, I did write, illustrate and publish my children’s book… So I guess I need to not be so hard on myself… But I feel like I have been struggling to get motivated about something new and so I guess this is my attempt at re-centering myself.


Letter to Myself

Dear Megan,

If you are reading this, that means that you are struggling to write a blog post.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Be gentle with yourself.  No sense beating yourself up because that only causes shame and a loss of self esteem and more money spent on Leinenkugel’s.
  2. Let’s be honest.  You aren’t some big lifestyle blogger or something, so if you post something that isn’t remarkably stellar it really isn’t that big of a deal!  The people who genuinely love you will have grace for occasional mediocrity and the other people have 82 bajillion other blogs they could read (like this one or this one or this one) if your blog doesn’t pique their interest anymore.  AND THAT’S OKAY.
  3. What is it that your ‘welcome‘ page says?

    “glad to have you here in my little space of thought and processing.  pardon the mess.  that’s just the way life goes around here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you ask me.”

    This is the CONTEXT for this ENTIRE BLOG.  If people want perfection, the internet provides plenty of sites that offer pristine kitchen photos and make-up tutorials (not hating on those, just saying that’s not why I am here) Plus, you’re working on your other “more professional” site that can be as professional/perfect as you want it to be.

  4. This is about knowing that you are capable of meeting the goals that you set for yourself.  This is about empowerment. This is about commitments and positive life changes.
  5. Here are some ideas in case you’re still stuck:  review a book you read, post art you made, update your Blacksburg walking progress, thoughts on a recent podcast you listened to, things to do with kids, Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app review with all of those screenshots you have been taking, a hope, a fear, a question, a myth, something that is often misunderstood about personality typology, a yummy new recipe….

This is about to be corny as hell, but don’t cringe and just go with it: Past Megan believes in you, Future Megan.  You got this.  (also, totally thinking about a time in freshmen year when we made time capsules and someone-who-I-will-not-name joked about peppy self-letters filled with corny encouragement just like this. lol You know who you are… ;) )

Sincerely,

Yourself

1 of 30

Unfinished

Her signature unknowingly picked up the gauntlet
that he unknowingly dropped.
And this unknown challenge was both imaginary and impossible:
there were no rules and all the rules,
nothing was defined and everything was.
With no weapons and all the weapons,
it was all and nothing

Like the space between walls

that we call rooms

And the pauses between words

that we call necessary

But his homelessness felt all too familiar
Longing for the lives and places that were no longer his
Now existing in an obsession with isolated oscillation
A mouthful
Of memories
Creating the pieces she held between her fingers, trying to place
Because she was accustomed to the lonely company of puzzles
Wanting their wholeness for their own sake
For she imagined she knew what it felt like to be shattered into 1,000 pieces and placed in a box on a shelf for a rainy day

But this one,

this one was like the one at Goodwill –
Where she was startled by the violent eye contact made across the room
While standing in the checkout line
And he walked in through the door
And neither knew what the rulebook had to say about this
So he disappeared amongst the shelves
And she out the door.
But now every time she goes back
She can’t help but feel her stomach drop out of her torso
Like it did in that moment
In the store with the puzzle himself –
Who never gave her the satisfaction of having all the pieces

So instead of admiring the whole
It’s the gap that holds her attention,
The emptiness that drives her insane
As she sits still trying to determine if anyone won
Amidst all the losing.

Unfinished

TERRIFIED.

Hey friends.

I have a confession to make.

Perhaps you already know this, perhaps you don’t care, perhaps this will shock you…regardless, I need to say it:

I am terrified.

I am terrified of failure.  I am terrified of disappointing people.  I am terrified of the unknown and of death.  I am terrified of terrorism, of losing my loved ones, of looking stupid in social situations, of being called dumb, and of public speaking.  I am terrified of getting into a car accident or of being on the phone with someone when they do. I am terrified of people thinking I am selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of being selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of wearing my heart on my sleeve, of putting myself out there for everyone to see.  I am terrified to share my writing and my thoughts with people who may not receive them well.  I am terrified of being judged and of being judgemental, of becoming an alcoholic, of being fat, of being a lousy wife, or someday a bad mother. I am terrified of making new friends and of losing old ones.  I am terrified of meaninglessness and of that feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me that I am not unique, not special, not important.  I am terrified of the darkness that creeps into my head, twists my thoughts, grabs me by the wrists and pulls me down. I am terrified by my doubts but also terrified by blind faith.

I am terrified of being anonymous but equally as terrified of being known.  I am terrified of the prospect of trying to start a business…for I am just as scared to fail as I am to succeed. I am terrified of dying, but I am also terrified of living.

There you have it: I am a repetitive scaredy cat.

I live in constant fear of what people think of me, of wasting my life, of denying who I am, of not knowing what that even means.  I feel like I am constantly fighting, swimming upstream against all of these fears…the ceaseless voices in my head warning me of all the ways everything could go up in flames.

But here’s the thing.  I am not going to stop swimming.  In fact, as I continue to identify all these things that I am afraid of, I feel as though I am slowly getting more equipment, increasing my ability to swim.  The more I study the flow of the water, the currents, the jagged rocks…the more I am able to avoid the things I should be afraid of and ignore the others. That doesn’t make the water flow less, but it makes my muscles grow.

Okay…enough of that long, rambling (kind of dumb) metaphor.

The point is: I want to keep taking steps to face these fears.  I want to identify the things I desire to be true of my life and actually go after them.  For basically my whole life my goal has been college.  And I thought at the end of it, I would be done searching… that I would know my “life path.”  Funny thing is: I’m here now, at life post-college, and I think I know less about this path than I did going in!  On one hand that terrifies me, but on the other it gets me so dang excited!  And some days I think it only terrifies me because of the way other people react when they hear that I am not getting a full-time architecture office job straight out of college.  (Yes, I am appreciative of my college education.  No, I don’t think contemplating altering my career path makes it a waste of five years.  No, I don’t intend to just be a lazy bum mooching off of my husband.  No, I am not worried about how this time spent nannying will look to future potential employers.)  At the end of the day it is not them who has to live with my choices and decisions (to get a job I resent, to chase my dreams, to take time off), it is me.  (well…. and my husband…who is wonderfully supportive!)

So this post is for two reasons:

#1  –  I have been afraid to really mention my blog on Facebook much at all, for Facebook contains high school friends, old teachers, relatives, parents, fellow church members… a whole host of people who may not necessarily react well to all of the things on this blog.  Because this blog is one of the most honest and vulnerable places in my life.  Here I feel free to doubt, to wrestle, to share.  I am terrified of how people could respond… If I share that I am wrestling through doubts about my faith, my biggest fear is that people will turn me into “a project”…or that I will perceive it that way.  But by not even giving other the chance to enter into the conversation, to see the real, authentic, vulnerable me I am not helping anybody.  Are other people in my life asking similar questions?  Do they desire community as much as I do? Are there others who wish they had a group of artists to paint with, open-minded thinkers to chat with, nature-lovers to stargaze with? I’ll never know unless I push past those fears and insecurities holding me back.

#2  –  And secondly, today is Day 1 for me of the Life is Messy Challenge by Mayi Carles. You can accept this challenge too if you want to!  What I hope to gain from these five life is messy challengedays is some sense of where I want to begin heading.  I am not thinking that by the end of this I will suddenly have my life “figured out.”  I am not even really hoping to have any semblance of a business plan.  All I know is I need to start somewhere and this seems as good a place as any!  Plus I have really loved getting to know Mayi’s site better and it seems like she really knows what she is doing!  (and who doesn’t love the adorably cute illustrations?!) So here was the assignment for day 1:

 

Super Power Finder1

I was tasked with listing out things I love to do, things I am praised for, and thing clients will buy.  Things I love to do was easy.  Obviously I know what I love.  However the other ones were harder.  After some thought and sifting through memories I was able to pull out things I have been praised for over the years.  But that last one… man, that last one is the hard one!  Things clients will buy?  I don’t know what people will buy!  If I did, I wouldn’t be doing this! haha  But I took a stab at it… based on some of the things that have been purchased from my Etsy shop.  (If you are reading this and have suggestions or comments… pleaseee put them in the comment section below!  I would LOVE some honest feedback.)  In conclusion, pottery and kids seemed to be things in the overlaps.  With art/collages/cards floating somewhere near the middle.  So I guess we’ll see where Mayi takes me tomorrow!

Well, anyway… that’s all for now. To those of you new to my blog: Welcome.  For those of you who have already been walking with me through this roller coaster of philosophical-existential-poetic-rambling-mundane-art-filled journey of mine….thanks for hanging in there.

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[…and now back to our regularly scheduled program…]

TERRIFIED.