Thursday, November 26, 2015

How to be thankful.

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So we host this small group on Monday nights at our place. It’s led by two very capable and awesome people that are not me, but Gabe and I provide the spot. After redoing our living room this year, I’m actually pretty jazzed to be in it and invite others into it as well, so three cheers for making your space feel more like your own (and for me that means three cheers for West Elm). This week the ladies in the group were chatting about life and naturally we caught each other up on our plans for tomorrow, which for Gabe and I includes our first attempt at hosting the biggest food holiday of the year. I’m going to get sidetracked here for just a second, but how do people do it? Make ALL of the food AND host AND decorate AND have houseguests staying overnight on top of it? I mean, I thankfully have a lot of willing extra hands who are helping me with side dishes and desserts and things (Gabe is manning the turkey, Godspeed), so I feel like even though we are hosting, we’re not really doing that much. Master hosts and hostesses of the world, I salute you.

I digress.

One of the women in our group brought up the fact that there would probably come a time during dinner in which she would be asked to name something she is thankful for, and that’s when I remembered that I would probably have to do the same.

Digression #2: Let me just get the FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS out of the way now because I know that a lot of what I am about to say is going to sound really stupid when you compare it to all the absolute SHIT going on in the world (some of it inexplicably happening in my own backyard). I get that. I can only talk about what I know, and my personal experience is what I know. That doesn’t mean, however, that I forget to be thankful on a daily basis for the basic needs and comforts that I don’t have to worry about, especially when so many others do. I realize that I don’t really have to worry about being shot while I’m just walking down the street and keeping to myself. The fact that people do have to worry about this, and the fact that the reason they have to is because of their race, absolutely boggles my mind. One, that obviously should never have been nor continue to be a thing someone has to worry about, and, two, IT IS 2015 FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Excuse the language, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. Listen, I could share my opinion about the state of the world, but that’s another post for another day and something I don’t want to get into right now. I think we can all readily agree that it is bleak. Just wanted to put that out there. And now back to my narrow worldview.

I feel worn out lately. Winter is setting in quickly around here, with temps dropping by the day, and so I know that SAD is around the corner too. Plus, it’s the holidays. Happy and yet always tinged with sadness. Here’s another Thanksgiving taking me further away from all the Thanksgivings that included my grandmother. And here’s the first one where my brother will be away from us, celebrating on the opposite side of the country, and I miss him. I miss his fiancée Emily, too. Daytime work is busy, after hours work is busy (I’ve been in an editing cave), sleep is short. Life can really overwhelm you if you let it, you know?

I want to be snarky about this. I want to talk about how pointless it is that we are celebrating a holiday by gluttonously overeating and then trying to murder each other for electronics the next day, although that’s fitting considering that this holiday wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the indigenous Americans we eventually slaughtered. However, the historical significance (or lack thereof) of this holiday aside, sharing a meal with people you love and potentially discussing what makes you grateful is a good thing. It’s a really wonderful thing, in fact. So I am not letting life overwhelm me and I’m reconsidering the awesomeness and beauty that it has to offer.

I wrote a not-exactly-well-worded Instagram post a month ago (hey! kind of like this blog post!), after returning from a trip to Madison, and I thought about it again on Monday. Because although my words came out in a confusing jumble, the sentiment still stands true. I always feel the most thankful when I am paying attention to how great the world looks when I see it through and alongside the people I love. When I can watch my niece’s fascination with the tiniest things because she is 1 and everything is astounding when you’re seeing it for the first time. When I can spend time with two people in love and think about how their relationship started and how they came to find each other and how it’s pretty miraculous that any of us can find people in this world who will tolerate our shenanigans. When I can hear a new baby’s voice and see his smile for the first time. When I get to take pictures of clients as their lives grow and change and realize how incredible it is that they choose me, that they trust me, to capture the biggest days and moments of their lives, sometimes more than once. When I am able to share a meal with any number of friends or family and see them laughing together and enjoying each other’s company…honestly I think that’s one of the most beautiful things there is in life. When I embrace someone that I haven’t seen in ages and I think about how perfect it is just to be able to look at and talk to that person’s face instead of reading their text messages or emails. Basically what I mean is this: people make life worth living. And although that is not news to anyone, it amazes me how easy it is to forget sometimes.

So this is my answer. What am I thankful for? I’m looking around the proverbial Thanksgiving table and saying, over the din of political arguments and discussions about how work is going, “all of you.” Also, green bean casserole. Thank you for making life beautiful for me, for the people you love and for those who love you. I want to join hands with all of you and sing along to Adele.

xo, M.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Things my 20s taught me.

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Well, we are exactly halfway through this good old month of September. Summer 2015 completely slipped through my fingers, which I guess is how it goes when something is your favorite and you live in Minnesota and there are only so many precious days set aside for our fleeting warmth. Even though I was born in September, it’s not why it’s my favorite. It’s such a beautiful mix of the best two seasons — there’s a little of leftover summer to go around, and yet the chill has already set in in the mornings. And every once in a while you catch a few falling leaves here and there, some random bits of trees already lit up in that gorgeous brilliant orange. And you know, seeing as it is Minnesota, it’s been known to snow in October, so. But September still feels safe. Plus you get to bring out your fall jackets and those are the best jackets in my opinion.

Halfway through this month for me means only a couple of weeks left until I exit one decade and enter another. 30. It feels big, as I assume it does for most people, but the truth is that I’ve felt 30 for a long time. I mean, I was married at 22…and marriage is one of those huge, scary and wonderful things that make you grow up in huge, scary and wonderful ways. But even before that, when I was still in college, I don’t know…I think it was when I realized that I would rather stay home and watch something like this than go out to one of Winona’s, ahem, fine watering holes. (true story) Yeah, I felt pretty damn close to 30 then. Have I mentioned that Frasier is one of my very favorite shows to binge watch over and over again? Or that I’ve never had so much to drink that I’ve gotten sick? I don’t know, I heard that’s some sort of collegiate rite of passage or something. I’m pretty sure I missed them all. Hell, I’ve been trying to throw dinner parties since I got my first place. What can I say, I’m a square. Also, notice how I’m using slang that’s approximately 70 years old? Yeah. I’ve had this perpetual Danny Glover feeling for quite a few years I guess.

But although most of my activities would suggest the behavior of someone older than I am, on the inside I’ve still been very much a 20-something. Hitting all those same, familiar beats: feeling like I knew everything, being a bit of a jaded asshole, “finding myself,” constantly worrying about what everyone else was thinking about me, and overreacting about, well, everything. That last bit, I should concede, is not necessarily a characteristic shared by all 20-somethings, but it is DEFINITELY something I am the best at, if I do say so myself. Practice makes perfect.

While I know I am certainly not the only person who ever had this type of experience is her 20s, it struck me pretty early on (probably before I even turned 20) that it was time to accept the fact that I am an old soul. And I say that as neither a compliment or a criticism about myself. It’s just the way of it. I remember the first birthday I celebrated shortly after starting my first job out of college. One of my coworkers, in his early 60s at the time, asked me how old I was. When I told him the answer (22), he responded by telling me that he had “suit coats in his closet older than me.” I laughed it off, as I would for the next few years to come whenever it was my birthday, but comments like that really got under my skin. I wanted so badly to be taken seriously and to be seen as a peer to people who were much older — I hated when my age became a part of the conversation. And since I started school as a 4-year-old, just about to turn 5, I was almost the youngest person in my grade at several different schools. “You’re such a baby!” is something I also got used to hearing, much to my chagrin.

Good grief, it’s stupid to wish time away. Just one of many things I’ve learned over (and over) the past 10 years. I think as a 17-, 18-, 19-year-old I couldn’t see that clearly enough because I was so hell bent on getting older and knowing what it felt like to be an adult. And now I’m here. And yes, it’s pretty awesome that I can buy candy anytime I want to and even have it for dinner if I’m really feeling daring, but there are days when I’d like to give it all away, just so I can go back and remember what it feels like to only have an afternoon nap to contend with for the day. Then again, the tiny shred of wisdom that 30 years on this earth provides can be pretty sweet. The experiences that lead to that wisdom aren’t always that great, but the learning from them is. So here’s what I know.

  • Relax. Seriously, relax. Find the joy in life and stop caring so much about what other people think about you, because they are too busy thinking about everything but. And even if they are thinking about you, who CARES. Do your thing and if people dig it and want to spend time with you, awesome. If not, ditch ’em. Not worth it. It’s ok to let go and move on. In fact, you must. If you don’t, you’ll drown.
  • As the sign above me says, “be faithful to your dreams.” It’s never too late.
  • “Finding yourself” is such a stupid phrase, but the idea behind it is imperative. Keep looking your whole life. If you get to the point where you think you’re done, you’re doing it wrong.
  • On the flip side, deep down there are things about you that will never change. Things that make you who you are. You know what they are, so accept them. This is what you have to work with on your way through this life and nothing will change that, no matter how much the bad days make you wish you could. They are not real. You are. Embrace it. You will fail, but keep trying.
  • It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to take medication if that’s what you need. Chemical imbalances are legit and there is something we can all do about them. Don’t let them get the best of you.
  • Your heart will be broken in a hundred different ways. Lovers, friends, family, circumstances…life will break your heart over and over again. Learn from those heartbreaks and, most of all, own them. Have faith in people, but don’t let them get you down when they disappoint you. It’s inevitable.
  • Sometimes a good, stiff drink really does do the trick.
  • Jazz is incredible. I’ve wasted too much time not listening to it.
  • Tell your people that you love them, regularly. As much as you can. Ask them to tell you their stories. There will come a time when they can no longer remember them or they will be gone and you will regret it. Let these stories become a part of your own history. Tell them to others with a smile on your face (or a tear in your eye, if that’s what it calls for).
  • Treat others with respect. There is no excuse for being a jerk. Ergo, get comfortable with apologizing…it is a valuable skill you’ll need to call on often.
  • No matter what kind of camera you have, take pictures with it. Those images will be all you have to commemorate your very best memories.
  • But, PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE. Just…put it down. Be present for God’s sake.
  • Fat is an ugly word. Skinny is an ugly word. Do not use them. Do not shame people for the way their bodies are made. Be healthy and good to your body, but do not punish it. It is the only one you have. Treat yourself with respect. If someone loves exercising, do not judge. If someone loves not exercising, do not judge. If you are genuinely concerned about someone’s health, speak to them with love. That is the only option.
  • Celebrate life as much as you can. Big moments or small moments, it doesn’t matter. Surprise people. Buy a bottle of the good stuff and drink it because it’s Wednesday. Send someone flowers because they exist. Write someone else a letter and tell them what your favorite thing is about them. TREAT YOURSELF.
  • Being alive can be really freaking awesome if you let it. So let it.

Hey 30, I’m looking at you. Let’s do it.

xo, Meg.

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