How to Find Home Without Looking for It

It has been (approximately) one year since my last blog post, which seems like the perfect time to write another one. 

I extend the warmest of welcome-backs to all seven-ish people who actually read this blog. 

Grab yourself a cup of something and find a comfortable, seated position. 

We have so much catching up to do.

First of all, I want to give a big shout out to myself for creating this space in the digital ethers wherein I get to say whatever I want. Really great move on my part. Well done, Maggie. It’s nice to have this space to come back to when Instagram tells me I’ve exceeded the word limit for a post. 

Other first of all, holy shit you guys- I did it. Like, I did all the things I said I was going to do, and then some. I went on a 10,000 mile road trip around the east side of the States, got on an airplane and flew across the ocean, climbed some mountains, temporarily moved to a different country (New Zealand), and accidentally, but not regrettably, fell in love, quickly and honestly and in a strange and unexpected way that I’ll write about some other day. 

Currently, I am writing this on the bed in the room my lover and I rent out in a suburban area of Queenstown in New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand is as beautiful as any travel brochure claims it to be and yes, there are alot of sheep here. No, we’re not going to throw another shrimp on the barbie- that’s Australia. Yes, New Zealand is a different country. No, I haven’t gone to Hobbiton and I never will. Why?! Because it’s expensive and I don’t care about Lord of the Rings as evidenced by the fact that I’ve never made it through even one of the movies without falling asleep- but I will say that I’ve seen enough of the first one to have an opinion about Orlando Bloom dressed as an elf and the review is overwhelmingly positive. Moving on.

I miss home and I love that feeling and I want to talk about why.

Little Elk Creek, Black Hills, South Dakota

When TJ and I left for our roadtrip in August 2019, we thought being on the road- unemployed and free to wake up and do whatever we wanted- would give us the time to write and sing and make music. But what we forgot, or more than likely had simply never had the opportunity to realize, is that living takes up so much space when you’re forced to be conscious of the act. 

Sure we were free to wake up and do whatever we wanted, but first we had to figure out where we were going to sleep (preferably for free/cheap but also safe/clean), eat (food deserts are very real, especially in the desert) pee (which I have to do every 5 minutes) and get gas. Navigating through and around giant, dangerous summer storm systems in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico in particular, cost us time and energy that we didn’t plan for because, well, we couldn’t.

But we also brought too many things, the car was too full, and finding what we needed when we needed it cost us even more precious, precious time. This might not seem like a big deal, but the true value of time, when you’ve been on the road for ten hours and you can’t imagine being in the car for one more minute, becomes glaringly obvious. Things start to feel heavy and rushed. Five more minutes feels like three hours and you just want to find that goddamn bag of overpriced beef jerky you bought at the last gas station because you’re hungry and there’s nowhere to eat and you’re sure you stashed it somewhere behind the passenger seat but, oh look, here’s a half-empty bag of stale tortilla chips that will have to do for now. 

But while I didn’t have time to write, I also had much less to say than I thought I would; sometimes words just don’t mean as much as we think they will or should; sometimes a sunrise is just a pretty thing to look at. 

I posted the pictures. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets and mountains and rivers and oceans and valleys and lakes- but I was simply too busy living to worry about what it all meant, and once I accepted that, once I got over the fear of missing out on some kind of meaning I was supposed to be getting out of every moment, I was able to experience more moments. By allowing the beautiful things I was experiencing to simply exist, for free, no strings attached, incidentally created a space for meaning to seep in all on its own.

Waking up every day and seeing things I had never seen before was a beautiful gift that added weight to places I had already known: A ring of pines in the backyard of my childhood home, the frozen shoreline of Lake Michigan in the winter, the view of the Black Hills from my balcony at the first apartment building I rented by myself, the herby-earthy-essential-oils scent of the food co-op I used to shop at, TJ’s old apartment where he kissed me for the first time, the bar in Deadwood where I officially met him for the first time, the tavern in Spearfish where I played at an open mic for the first time, every single trail I’ve hiked in South Dakota, watching the sunrise from the top of Black Elk peak with friends, watching the sunset from the top of Flag Mountain, alone, a little lost, crying a bit but mostly hopeful and the front porch of the house I sold, where I left two relationships and learned how to move through the world on my own. 

It took 10,000 miles for me to realize I don’t have to go searching for meaning. It’s right here, in the act of living. 

About 48 hours before our road trip in the States
Flanagan’s, Spearfish, SD, August 2019

Also, I’m not entirely convinced that the “meaning of life” is really what we’re all scrambling about trying to find anyway. 

After living through so many different places in a short amount of time, I feel pretty certain that what we’re all scrambling about trying to find is a way home. 

I think it’s mostly true that home is wherever your people are, being surrounded by family and friends and friends who are family. But that’s also not true at all. I feel at home when I visit my friends and family back in Illinois and Michigan and Wisconsin, but while I feel at home with those people in those places, those places don’t feel like home. I’m not content enough there to create routines, to feel rooted. I think that home is inherently connected to place. No matter how meaningful certain relationships are to me, I could never consider certain places to be home, regardless of who was there. I will always say I am “going home” when I visit Illinois, and I mean it. But I’m not truly home until I’m back in the Black Hills. 

Anyway, my point is that Dorothy was spot fuckin’ on. There really is no place like home.

While standing on mountains here in New Zealand, taking in some of the most beautiful bucket-list-worthy-destination-travel-views, I’ve turned to TJ and said, “I miss South Dakota.” 

Black Elk Peak, Black Hills, South Dakota, April 2019

Home is not just a place and the people in it. 

Home is a feeling and you’ll know it when you get there. 

I wish I could give a clearer explanation, but that’s the best I can do. You have to go out and find Home for yourself, man. 

Also, all of this bullshit about finding home and blah blah blah doesn’t mean I plan on staying in one place forever. It’s just nice to know where my one place is, to have a spot on the map I can point to and say, “That one.” Knowing I have a place to move away from makes the leaving less scary because I know there is always a place to move back to. 

Speaking of moving, several months ago TJ’s friend jokingly asked him to move to Wisconsin, to which he replied while pointing at me, “I’m going wherever she’s going.”

Mt. Roosevelt, Black Hills, South Dakota, June 13, 2019

And that sentiment, my friends, is the most disgustingly beautiful gift I will ever receive because TJ knows full well that I’m not exactly sure where I’m going, but knowing he wants to be wherever that is makes finding that place feel possible, and that is just another thing that feels like home to me.

So maybe you think this is all a bunch of bullshit. I don’t particularly care. I just needed to write about some things that my heart has been dragging around. (Again, nice job starting this blog, Maggie. Good on ya.)

Maybe for you, home really is a place or a person. Maybe you feel I’ve complicated a simple concept or that I’ve been embarrassingly sentimental throughout this entire post, in which case I agree with you but here you are still reading this so the joke is definitely not on me.

Really, though. Whatever or whoever or wherever Home is to you, I hope you find it and I hope you find the courage to leave it once in a while. 

As for me, I’m currently just trying my best to stay aware of my own luck. What a ridiculous amount of privilege I’ve been given to not only have a place to come home to, but to finally know what it means when I get there. 

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

Blue Door Bar, Arrowtown, Otago, New Zealand, last night

Lolitas, Love & Loneliness

I’m back, bitches. I have been working my lil’ ass off to finally finish the third (and hopefully maybe possibly final) draft of my poetry chapbook, Former Lolita, Still. No, it has not been published, but I have italicized it because it exists in the world as a completed, artistic accomplishment whether or not the rest of the world has recognized it as such yet. Also, my hope is that the previous sentence will serve as a reminder to every artist working in the dark that your work matters and is important and exists, even if the only eyes that have seen it are yours.

Anyway.

If you are familiar with the literary masterpiece, Lolita, written by the literary genius, Vladimir Nabokov, it will come as no shock that the poems in my chapbook narrate my experiences as a woman with an affinity for significantly older men and how my life was subsequently defined by those experiences i.e. how I learned to define my life in accordance to my experiences with men.

If you are not familiar with the literary masterpiece, Lolita, or any other works by the literary genius, Vladimir Nabokov, I encourage you to become familiar.

If you don’t give a shit about literature and just prefer to continue reading my blog sans making yourself familiar with some (beautiful) high-brow bullshit written by some (brilliant) Russian dude, well, I admire your commitment to bucking up against the esoteric, elitist world of academia that tells us art is only art whence hailed as such by a bunch of elitist pricks. In which case, don’t you dare even think about picking up some book you don’t give a shit about. You do you. We need your kind to remind the rest of us how full of shit we are.

Anyway.

My point is that I wrote an entire book of poetry on the topic of sleeping with old dudes.

If you know me, this will come as no surprise.

If you don’t know me, well, surprise, I love sleeping with old dudes.

Although, now that the book is finished, I realize it has nothing to do with sleeping with old dudes.

My little book is just a small part of a much, much larger conversation, one about how we (especially women but also humans in general) often find ourselves stuck inside cycles that have been created for us by a world that doesn’t listen to what we have to say- and this happens whether we’re sleeping with old dudes or young dudes or fat dudes or lady dudes or lady ladies.

These cycles are only cursorily related to who is sleeping next to us and have everything to do with how afraid we are supposed to be if waking up alone.

I have been waking up alone for almost a year now, and I gotta tell ya, it was terrifying at first. I couldn’t sleep unless I was wine drunk into oblivion and I couldn’t eat for fear that no one would love me if I was fat (don’t bother unpacking that one for me- I am well aware of my issues) and I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t stop feeling afraid of loneliness and I couldn’t stop thinking that fucking other humans would re-assure me I was pretty enough for the world but I kept moving anyway.

Here is the most recent of 97 (yes, 97) photos from an album in my phone entitled “Before”- the sentiment being that every picture in that album is a picture of what my body looks like before I get it to a point that feels like an “After” which really means I have an entire photo album of pictures of my body taken for the sole-purpose of hating myself. Like, I won’t even wear a fucking bikini to the beach. But that’s fucking stupid and I’m over it. Here is a picture of my body that lives and breathes and let’s me exist in this world in the way that I do. Amen.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I was walking through fire and the only way to keep myself from burning alive was to put one fucking foot in front of the other.

And eventually I started sleeping and I slept alone and I am still alone and I am still afraid but the weight of the world now feels heavy with blessings instead of with the fear they may never come.

You see, there is some kind of collective fucking stuckness I see myself and my friends struggling to escape. Everywhere I look, women are telling the same story about their attempts and failures to find a way out from under all the expectations we are supposed to live up to and give a shit about- all while living in a world that continues to tell us there isn’t one.

Here is a picture of me moving through my shit after I sold my house and moved into my first apartment ALONE. I hated this picture when I took it because of the way the light caught my laugh lines but you know what, I fucking laugh a lot and I am so proud of every moment of this life I have lived that was so hard and here is proof that I made it out alive and laughing.

I think it’s really easy to look around at all your girlfriends and feel like everyone has their shit figured out, because we’re all supposed to pretend like we have our shit figured out, but none of us really have our shit figured out so why do we keep pretending?

I think it’s largely because we’re not talking about it enough.

I used to think our stories were separated by the fact that my friends had their shit together and just eight days ago I tried making chili in the crock-pot with dried beans out of the bag without boiling them first and had to throw it all away when I realized that’s not how beans work, and six days ago I found myself sitting on my kitchen floor, sobbing so loud my neighbors wouldn’t be able to tell whether I was crying or having really great sex or both, and five days ago I told my therapist how alone I feel without having a man or something to fill the void like alcohol did and three days ago I went on a first date, whilst sober, for the first time in my adult life and on the way home I started crying so hard I pulled over in a Safeway parking lot and called my friend and told her the void inside of me is that I don’t have anyone to love and one day ago I realized while writing this rambling blog post via talk to text at 1 AM naked in my bed alone how terribly sad it is that I fill all of the parts of myself with love for men who aren’t willing or able to do the same.

I’ve never given myself the opportunity to fill that space with love for myself.

And I know this is all so very cliché but I don’t give a shit. I think that is what makes it so powerful, actually. This experience is so common it’s almost annoying to hear, which is exactly why we need to keep talking about it.

Shared experiences are shared for a reason. They are a construct of our culture rather than our individual motivations.

So…

This is a big fuck you to the notion that our shared experiences are too common, too confessional, exaggerated, dramatic, that it’s easy to leave bad things, that we should do anything at all instead of could do any number of things for any number of reasons, that things will get better, that we’re not really alone and blah blah blah…

Those sentiments imply that we should talk less or more, that we are failures if we struggle cutting clean ties, that there is a right way to be living, that things will always get better when really sometimes they just get worse, and mostly, that being alone is a very, very bad thing.

Well.

Here’s the fucking thing, you guys.

I am tired of hating myself.

This is a screenshot I took of a recording of myself playing the piano and I hated it when I took it because of the way my forehead wrinkles when I sing but that is like saying I hate the way my face looks when I feel most certain that my hands are doing something that makes them feel whole so fuck that, too.

I am tired of incessantly questioning every move I make.

I am confessional and dramatic. Sometimes I get scared and say nothing. Sometimes I revisit old cycles. Sometimes I live the wrong way. Sometimes things get worse. Sometimes being alone is the only space I want to be in and I’m not ready to move from that space.

I’ve got my head in the clouds and my head up my ass and my head between my fucking knees crying on the kitchen floor and I am not sorry.

I am angry and tired and maybe even a little petulant and I want to stay right here until I’m ready.

I am learning how to move through this world and my hands are starting to feel big enough to hold the good parts of it and I guess my point is that you better watch the fuck out because Hannah Gadsby is right-

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

I don’t even remember why I hated this photo anymore. My boobs look great.

On Changing My Nature

The men I love are living, breathing red flags, blowing in the wind like goddamn beacons for women like myself who believe, for a million reasons and none at all, that they will be able to love them harder and better and longer than the women from their pasts.

I can’t do it anymore.

I won’t.

You guys, I am so tired.

Here is the goddamn fucking thing:

Women like myself do love their partners harder and better and longer because we love with abandon; we love deeply and simply without expectation; we love others without holding them up to the light.

We don’t look for the cracks in the people we allow into our hearts and minds and bodies; we just push our love into the darkness and hope (and believe) it will find the spaces that need filling and that this will be enough.

Spoiler alert: It will never be enough.

No human on this earth can fill up another human who is not willing to do the same in return. You will run out. You will walk away empty. You are not in love, you are trying to survive what you think is love.

People in love fill each other to the brim with the good parts of themselves.

People in love do not hang the bad parts of themselves out to dry and ask their lover to bring them inside.

Selfish assholes do that.

You see, when selfish assholes set unrealistic expectations for other people in their lives, what they are actually doing is the following:

  1. Creating a problem.
  2. Blaming everyone else for it.
  3. Making it impossible to fix.

I am specifically not going to provide a list of examples for what I consider to be “unrealistic expectations” because if you have made it this far into the post and still have no idea what an example of an unrealistic expectation might be for another human, well, then chances are you are a selfish asshole and while I know it has historically been in my nature to help others, to turn the other cheek, to believe and believe and believe and explain and explain and give chances and blah blah blah…well, the point of this post is to write it down and therefore commit to the fact that I have decided to change my nature.

My nature is changed.

If you do not fill up other people with the good parts of yourself, fuck you.

Love will not deplete you.

This post was not brought about by any one specific human or fight or experience.

It was brought to you by the last thirteen years of my life.

The next thirteen will be terribly, wonderfully, different.

That’s all.

I just wanted to put this to paper.

Love always (unless you’re a selfish asshole),

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

Just a random picture of me. I don’t actually even like this picture but I am so happy in it that maybe I kind of like this picture. Black Elk Peak summer 2018. It has nothing to do with this post, really. I just needed a picture, and I wanted a happy one.

On Being Okay

I have some pretty high expectations for myself.

I want to write a book, start a band, be a yoga guru, climb some mountains,  look good in a bikini, rise above my superficial consciousness that tells me it’s important to look good in a bikini, meditate, run everyday, do my dishes as soon as I eat off them, have a minimalist ethically-sourced wardrobe, have a closet overflowing with beautiful high-end dresses and shoes unethically made in sweatshops  and justify it by donating to human rights organizations like the International Labor Rights Forum, stop being the Patron Saint of Drunk Boys, break my own cycles, respect my bloody lady cycle, try mountain cycling, stop worrying about cycles, stop crying in random places for random reasons such as in the checkout line at the grocery store because I’m tired and they are out of my favorite coconut milk yogurt, continue to cry in checkout lines at the grocery store because I am tired of minimizing my feelings even when they’re minimal, be kind, be assertive, etc. etc. et-fucking-cetera. 

But here’s the fucking thing you guys:

I’m fucking tired.

I am constantly doing or trying to do or feeling guilty for not doing every single one of the things I listed above and I just don’t feel like doing anything for the moment.

I don’t feel like trying to become more of some things and less of others.

I just want to be.

So that’s why I haven’t been writing on here or making music or thinking about my next creative endeavor. Lately, I just create when I feel like it and don’t when I don’t. Creativity takes discipline and discipline takes doing and I just don’t feel like doing anything beyond doing okay.

These days I just run around all day doing okay and not striving for anything more or anything less. That’s it. And it’s not great, but it is okay. I’m doing okay, you guys. I have a job that is okay. I eat okay. I am financially okay. I feel okay when I wake up. I sleep okay. Things are a-oh-fuckin-kay. And that’s okay with me. 

Some days being okay means being lazy and binge-watching entire seasons of Charmed on Netflix, wishing I looked like Alyssa Milano in a crop top  then scrolling through my phone to review my hottest nudies, deciding that I’m doing alright, then continuing to shove hoards of blue corn tortilla chips and homemade guacamole into my mouth. 

Some days being okay means being kind of sad so I drive to a sacred hilltop that is exactly one hour and eleven minutes from my home and if it’s a clear night I look at the stars and find constellations with my astronomy app and if it’s a cloudy night I open all my car doors and blare Portishead and Tom Petty and Tash Sultana from my shitty little speakers and dance in the headlights of my shitty little Jeep and feel grateful that I don’t have a shitty taste in music. 

Here’s a little selfie I took a few months ago on my sacred little hilltop, screaming and crying. I didn’t post it anywhere because I thought it made me seem crazy. But here’s the fucking thing you guys- I am fucking crazy. But mostly, I’m okay. 

Some days being okay means I spend hours (literally, hours) intermittently playing the piano, learning the first half of whatever song comes into my head, singing, getting bored and moving through different yoga poses in a half-assed way while staring out the window onto my balcony, watching my Tibetan prayer flags breathing good intentions into the Universe.

My little balcony that I love so much. Even and especially when it’s full of snow.

Some days being okay means I’m really angry and that makes me cry a lot and I allow myself to take huge gulps of air and gasp for breath and wail in a way that would make you believe I am about to throw myself on the funeral pyre of an ex-lover. 

Some days being okay means researching grad schools, deciding I’m going to travel the world instead, saving twenty new recipes on Pinterest, then deciding not to do any of it and watching season 7 of Charmed and ordering sushi.

Being okay just looks different depending on the day.

Being okay just means you are okay with being.

I am tired and sad and happy and angry and confused and lazy and curious and creative and OKAY. 

This year, in a span of five months, I trudged through a breakup, sold my house, got a new job, quit drinking and quit smoking.

This year, I fostered new friendships, ended others, accepted that some will never be the same and rebuilt relationships with people who loved me well even when I did not love them well because I did not love myself.

This year, I became more afraid of what I might miss if I don’t keep growing than what I might lose if I fuck it all up. 

This year, when I first moved into my apartment, my orchid was in a regrowth stage- meaning there were no buds. I had to cut down the stems to encourage new growth. That was back in September. And while I am meticulous and attentive and neurotic about caring for my orchid, I had  been so very, very busy doing and not being the last several months that I missed out on the transformation that was occurring, literally, right before my eyes.

This past week I noticed, for the first time, that there are three long, green, healthy, brand new shoots growing strong from the places I had cut back in September.

Look at this beautiful lil’ biotch.

You guys.

What do you think I did at the sight of this obvious, tangible metaphor staring me right in the face reminding me of the grace this world sometimes bestows on those who shut the fuck up long enough to listen?

Do you think I dropped to my knees and sobbed like a weird little hippy freak, saying thank you to whatever gods I believed in that day?

You bet your sweet ass I did.

In fact, I’m crying a little right now thinking about it. 

I mean COME ON YOU GUYS LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIFUL SHOOTS. 

It is so important to keep moving and removing things in and out and around in our lives. It is so important to ensure we are challenging ourselves to take risks that encourage real, honest change.

But when I saw, reflected in those three little stems, my own newness burgeoning from all the wreckage- I was reminded that true growth happens in the stillness. Real, honest change begins in the resting place that exists between the cutting back and the blossom; in the place where we give ourselves the allowance to just be; when we allow ourselves to just be okay; when we stop demanding more or less or better and accept each moment for whatever it brings. 

And in recent moments, I’m okay. Really, deeply, truly okay. And I hope you are too.

I hope terrible things happened to you this year that made you angry and forced you to search for the grace in the wreckage. I hope you were scared and did things anyway. I hope you cried so hard you eventually laughed. I hope you cried so hard you were afraid you might never laugh again. I hope you laughed your fucking ass off.  I hope you were careless with your words and had the opportunity to say you were sorry. I hope you got a little better at loving. I hope you learned how to suck a little more at holding grudges. I hope you got tired, found a resting place, and allowed yourself to stay there for a bit. But mostly, I just hope that we all keep being okay. And I think we do this by believing in whatever we believe in for however long we can believe in it, because something out there is listening, you guys. 

I promise you that. 

Oh yeah, and have a happy-fucking-whatever-you-believe.

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret 

Talking About Using the Internet Less While Using the Internet: A Millennial’s Tale of Sacrifice

The internet is a beautiful place, a magical place full of YouTube videos of people performing, well, magic and anything else you can thing of. I’m fairly certain it was the internet Jesus was referring to in the biblical quote, “Ask and you shall receive.” I mean, the internet is such a big deal, it’s not even a big deal anymore. On the internet, anything is possible.

You need a chicken noodle soup recipe? Check.

Porn? Check.

Porn about chicken noodle soup? Well, I searched it and all I found was a comedy sketch show that happens to have an episode entitled Porn Star Pete- The Chicken Noodle Soup, which was not porn, but was still deeply satisfying in all the weird, wonderful ways the internet can be. You see? Magic.

Anyway, I’ve decided to take a break from the places in this digitized world wherein I waste the most time, namely, Facebook, Instagram and all forms of online shopping  for TEN WHOLE DAYS. So, why would I do this asks the hypothetical audience in my head? Well, for one, rich and famous people check out from the internet all the time so it must be a good idea. But really, it’s because the internet gives us the power to access seemingly any information, anywhere, anytime and as Spiderman’s wise old Uncle Ben taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility”- and I just used that power to google the phrase “porn about chicken noodle soup” without a second thought.

What a fucking privilege.

Truly.

It is a privilege to act as stupid as I do on the World Wide Interwebs and I want to ensure I remain grateful for that privilege as well as limit the amount of time I spend watching cat videos and comedy sketches about fake porn stars. And thanks to my Catholic upbringing, I know that there is no better way to remain grateful for something than to deprive yourself of it. I’m referring to the ancient ritual of “fasting”.

And while I no longer believe in the Judeo-Christian God I grew up with, I am grateful to my parents for raising me in a faith that reveres the observation of ritualistic worship practices. Various studies in the fields of psychology and anthropology have actually found positive correlations between rituals and healthy brain functioning, specifically in the development of crazy adolescent brains. In college, I wrote a shitty paper about this very notion. But here is a link to a much shorter and more broadly interesting article written by someone with a PhD about how rituals can actually decrease feelings of anxiety, which is one of my least favorite feelings in the world.

So- fasting is a cool ancient ritual and the importance and potentially positive effects of practicing rituals are, like, scientifically proven and shit. Also, rituals don’t have to be religious, they just have to mean something to the observer. Also, contrary to how it might appear on the surface, fasting is not about focusing on the things you’re fasting from, it’s about finding and creating space where the things you’re fasting from used to be and then, most importantly, intentionally filling that space with things that add value and a sense of purpose and meaning to your current state of affairs. And that is why I’m not fasting from the entire internet.

I find many things online that add value and meaning to my life, such as this blog, because I know there are a few people who actually read it. And that fills me with a sense of purpose.

But as for Facebook and Instagram…holy shit can I waste my life on social media. One minute I’m innocently looking at my friend’s wedding photos and the next thing I know four hours have gone by and I can tell you the name, birthday and favorite holiday of my cousin’s best friend’s brother’s veterinarian’s aunt’s cousin. (Elizabeth, born August 17, 1993, Christmas.)

Basically, if I am not intentional about the way I interact with the world digitally, I risk interacting with the world superficially. Although, for the record, interacting with the world on a surface level is abso-fucking-lutely okay sometimes. I fucking love cat videos and creeping on people on my way down the rabbit hole of online social media connections. I can’t get enough, man. In fact, I got so bored within 47 minutes of discontinuing use of my Facebook and Instagram accounts, I decided to check out the ol’ Tinder account I hadn’t used for a couple years and I swear to all gods this is what I found, memorialized in the seedy underbelly of “dating” apps:

spiderman

Yep. There I am. And seeing myself at this level of idiocy that I had completely forgot about brought me the greatest, deepest joy.

I’m not hating on stupid internet shenanigans in the slightest, you guys.

I’m not suggesting we need to examine our lives from every angle at every moment.

But I am suggesting that sometimes it is abso-fucking-lutely necessary to step away from the parts of the world (digital and otherwise) that are constantly asking for our attention without honoring our intention, to think deeply about how we are moving through these spaces, to ensure we are still asking the big, hard, good questions about why we are here and what in the actual fuck we are supposed to be doing with all this Life we’ve been given. And while I don’t expect to ever have a completely satisfying answer to those questions, I do know that asking them always lights up another candle in what can be a very dark, little world.

Here’s to lighting some matches.

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

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The Light in Me is Jealous of the Light in You

Namaste, bitches. That’s what the title to this post means, sort of. The term Namaste has multiple translations, all which basically amount to telling other human souls that you honor and respect their human souls.

And today I want to talk about how I don’t always honor and respect other human souls, and it’s a terrible thing, but it also happens to be terribly human.

Really, you guys.

Sometimes I am so jealous of the goodness and open hearts and creative expressions I see beaming out of other people that I find myself wondering why my light doesn’t shine in the same way or as bright or reach as far as the light emanating from the people I admire. And while this type of jealousy is so very normal and so very human, it’s important to remember that your own light is shining out to others in ways you may not see. Let me tell you a story.

One day, not so long ago, I was walking into a hot yoga class.

Now, to really set the stage, it is necessary to mention how heightened my level of anxiety had been leading up to this day. We’re talking multiple panic attacks on an almost weekly basis due to some issues I was having adjusting to the one million life changes I had made. I felt completely untethered,  like I was floating in space and couldn’t find one single fucking star to guide me. My therapist taught me that people most often develop phobias during times of huge life changes, for example, selling a home and moving, ending a relationship, getting a new job, changing lifestyle routines such as quitting smoking or drinking- all of which I had done within a span of five months. So while I didn’t develop a full-blown phobia of anything, my stressed out brain decided to latch onto and magnify every little fear I had. Here are a few things I became afraid of:

  1. Hiking in an area too high above sea level because my anxiety told me I might run out of oxygen and die.
  2. Riding in an airplane because the air was too thin and I might run out of oxygen and die.
  3. Taking medication because my anxiety told me I might be allergic to an antibiotic and go into anaphylactic shock and, subsequently, run out of oxygen and die.

Yes, I was (am) extremely afraid of running out of oxygen and the resultant death that may occur. This is likely due to the fact that these days I often feel as though I am metaphorically running out of oxygen in my life. Whatever. That’s not the point of this post but now I feel compelled to talk more about it, but later.

The point is, I was going fucking crazy AKA experiencing my somewhat inconceivable propensity to backslide into the swampy mess of mental health issues at a moment’s notice. And it sucked. And since practicing yoga has always made me feel empowered and strong and capable, it was natural for me to turn to it in an attempt to root out my fear and anxiety and cope with the shitty feelings I was feeling.

So. There I am, walking down the sidewalk, mat slung over my shoulder, anxious but convinced I was about to be cured, when I noticed a man walking about twenty feet ahead of me. I noticed him because he was smoking a cigarette, and since I had recently quit, my reaction to the smell or sight of that smoky goodness solicited an almost salacious response from my very nervous nervous system. I started biting my nails and reminding myself that I was way healthier than this dude now that I don’t smoke and how much ass I was about to kick in class. And then, naturally, he flicked his cigarette out on the sidewalk and WALKED INTO THE FUCKING STUDIO.

In this moment, never in my life had I felt more certain that the Universe was sending me a sign that I should not have quit smoking, because yes, I often fabricated reasons to suggest the divine light at the core of all of humanity wanted me to continue smoking, reasons such as, smoking makes me happy and doesn’t the Universe want me to be happy or today is Tuesday.  So I decided I would buy a pack at the cigar bar around the corner on my way out of class.

A few minutes later, sitting on my mat, waiting for everyone to settle into their spaces, I felt my pulse and started doubting my decision to engage in a physical activity that intentionally raises blood pressure, as my anxiety had a habit of convincing me I would pass out and die if my heart started beating too fast.

But it was too late.

I was right in the middle of the room, the heaters were heating away and everyone was breathing and focused and ready to go. Leaving the practice would mean walking around and between what felt like at least 372 other people, interrupting or distracting them from their practice which would result in them thinking about how much of a weird loser I was and when I opened the door it would let in the cool air and ruin everything for everyone everywhere and I would have no choice but to pack all my belongings into my car, drive to Mexico, take a plane directly to Antarctica somehow from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and live out the rest of my days dying a slow and painful shame-induced death.

So I stayed.

And I knew I was going to survive because, just a few feet from me, there was a man who had just smoked a cigarette two minutes before positioning himself with his head south of his heart in an eighty degree room.

In my state of anxiety I was not able to calmly explain to myself that my fear of death was exaggerated and irrational in this setting.

In my state of anxiety I was not able to escape into a meditative place of peace and serenity.

But in my state of anxiety, I could look at the man a few feet from me, moving with grace and certainty through a vinyasa flow, whose lungs had just been filled to the brim with noxious chemicals minutes beforehand, and know that I was going to be okay too. My lungs were clear and open. I could breathe.

So, in conclusion, the light shining out of this man came in the form of a fucking cigarette, you guys. A fucking cigarette, lit up and flicked on the sidewalk SHONE LIGHT INTO MY SOUL.

Which sounds stupid.

Because it is.

It is stupidly human, which I feel okay about.

Our humanness gives us the ability to ascribe meaning to people, places and events, to believe in bigger things, and most importantly, it allows us to recognize the humanness of others reflected in ourselves. I think it’s important to remember that the light we see in other humans comes from their very humanness; the light we see in others is the same kind of light we all possess; our light, our souls, our connection to the divine (whatever you want to call it) exists BECAUSE of our humanness, not despite it.

Let’s all keep being stupid, shining humans.

That’s all.

Love Always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

Positivity Sucks

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self some real shit to help her out I would say the following:

Nothing.

Why  would I do that?

First of all- haven’t you watched The Terminator? Shit seriously goes awry when the future gets all Mcfucked with the past.

Now, of course, writing a letter to your past self can be healing if the intent for said letter is, say, forgiveness or permission to lay some shit to rest already because the past was the past. But to write a letter to yourself, as some kind of a warning, as some kind of a guide to your future self? What is the point of that?

I don’t want my past self to know that everything is going to be okay. I want her to fuck up royally. I want her to know what it feels like to live through terrible, heart-wrenching moments that she really, truly believed were going to last forever. How the fuck else would she ever learn that those moments never, ever actually last forever? How else would she learn that she can always do better?

The truth is that life really, really sucks sometimes and I think our culture has become a bit obsessed with “positivity”. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying we should just downward spiral into our negative or self-destructive behaviors. I think shit like “the power of positive thinking” is super cool and also true. Try meditating. It’s great. Try turning your negative thought patterns into positive ones. Tell people, “Thank you for listening,” instead of, “I’m sorry for bothering you.” Repeat affirmations to yourself until you believe them. Tell yourself you’re funny and hot and smart and just an all around fuckin’ hoot to hang out with. That shit works.

But it’s also important to remember that life is hard, because if you run around like some fairy princess moron pretending like everything is okay all the time, I think somewhere along the way your heart and soul and mind will forget how to respond to disappointment. And then you get petulant whenever some shit doesn’t go as planned. And here’s a fucking spoiler alert you guys: PRETTY MUCH NOTHING EVER GOES AS PLANNED. Learning to bounce back from disappointing shit is exercise for your brain. It teaches you resiliency. In the same way that physical exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, learning to trudge through painful life experiences, learning to sit with your pain or sadness or existential disillusionment of your tiny little meaningless life, forces you to be stronger the next time around, reminds you of what you are capable of and gives you the wisdom of experience.

When shit really sucks, and you live through it, like, really, really force yourself to trudge through all the terrible parts of whatever you’re experiencing, it gives you something metaphorically tangible you can metaphorically hold in your metaphorical hands that you can show yourself the next time life sucks. You can hold it up and say, “Hey, look what we did. Look what we survived. This too shall pass, man. We can do better on the other side.” And in the end you’ll have a beautiful collection of hardships you survived that become like a spank bank for your psychological resiliency.

Yeah, I said that.

So, go forth and do the hard things. (That’s what she said.)

Sit with the terrible things.

Give them names.

Say real things to the people you love that feel like needles on the way out and often end up being vessels for the best kind of medicine.

Be scared of things and admit it. Then do them anyway.

Cry in the checkout line.

Pray to every kind of god you believe in or else create your own.

The only thing you shouldn’t do is wish you could go back and do it all in a different way.

You can’t.

You’re here now.

Act like it.

 

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret Dizzle