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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