10 Things I’ve Learned: Meg
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Happy Sunday, friends! We’re finally back with another post in our “10 Things I’ve Learned” series. And I’m happy that our guest-poster today is my lovely, long-time friend, Meg.
I actually met this pretty girl back in the year 2000, when my high school boyfriend took me to his “cool friend, Meg’s” house for a party after prom. I instantly saw a spark of a kindred spirit in this artsy, people-loving, deep-question-asking, song-writing, faith-seeking, life-celebrating girl. And as luck would have it, our paths crossed again for a year attending the same small liberal arts college and we became friends. Then our paths crossed again while doing an AmeriCorps stint in Dallas. And now, she is one of the friends I rearrange my schedule to make sure that I see anytime we’re both in Wichita with our families over the holidays, with hopefully a road trip to visit one another at least once a year in between when we can stay up for hours and hours talking just like in college and also make sweet treats like these. So yep, 14 years of friendship in, I’d say she’s a keeper. :)
Back in college, Meg had big dreams of moving to Portland and “making it” as a successful designer. But then a cute Oklahoma farmboy came into the picture and swept her off her feet. (Sound like any other blogger you know?) And now life finds the two of them living in a tiny farmhouse in rural Oklahoma, with Meg spending her days raising a cute toddler, preparing for a baby brother to join him any day now, making everything you can imagine “homemade”, and running a successful design business and lifestyle blog called Bringing Design Home. To say that her life took a different course than planned is an understatement, and letting go of some of those dreams hasn’t always been easy, which she discusses below. But with her trademark strength and creativity and bravery and general awesomeness, she has come to fully embrace her modern farm life story, and is now positively thriving.
I like to tell people that she’s the girl who actually lives out all of those cool things you see on Pinterest. Whether that means learning how to do everything naturally and homemade (she’s the queen of canning), investing deeply in relationships within her community, remodeling her current farmhouse and working with her architect-husband to design and build the modern farmhouse of their dreams (themselves, of course), creating a little nook in the blogosophere that feels like “home”, constantly pushing herself to learn more about the design world she loves, and cultivating a marriage and a family that’s overflowing with love and joy and generosity — yeah, this girl is leaving a pretty incredible legacy in this world.
I definitely have learned a lot from her over the years. So I’m stoked that she has taken the time to share 10 of those things here with you today. You won’t want to miss them.
So coming to you live from Oklahoma, here’s Meg… :)
1. It’s ok to cut corners.
There are days where being a mom, wife, designer, and blogger is very overwhelming. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to cut corners, and for me, that comes in the form of eating our weeknight meals on paper plates! It’s not always about the cheapest thing, but money is time and time is money. At our house we don’t have a dishwasher. I’d rather use the time I would spend cleaning dishes snuggled with my boys reading another bedtime story, getting an extra 20 minutes to connect with my spouse, or working on a project I’m really passionate about… like eating brownies and watching the latest Sherlock episode on Netflix.
2. Not to settle.
Sometimes you just want the good stuff. A REAL Oreo Cookie, now that’s the good stuff! When Cale was in college and we were newly engaged, he got sick with some sort of 24-hour flu bug. I was determined to take care of him and quickly ran to the store to pick up some medicine and a few of his favorite things. One of those things was a bag of Oreo Cookies, except, in a last-minute attempt to be “healthy”, I grabbed the Reduced Fat kind. :) Needless to say the trip was a little disappointing… I think his exact words were; “Like eating cardboard”.
Sometimes you want what you want, and that’s ok! Waiting for the real thing is always better than settling for something cheap and mediocre. Cale has taught me that although he loves the bargain hunter in me, and appreciates the things I do to keep our family healthy, that it’s ok to splurge here and there for the real deal. Not settling daily can be as simple as picking up a bag of REAL Oreos, and as difficult as having the patience to save for life’s bigger desires.
P.S. You can apply this same tactic to shopping for Oreos, a car, shoes, and even a mate! :)
3. We all have boogers on our lenses.
Whether we want to admit it or not we all grow up with a certain set of standards that ultimately define how we see the world. Regardless of whether you had a wonderful childhood or a horrible one, we all have boogers on our lenses. They determine if we see the glass half full vs. half empty, choose to forgive vs. hold on to hate, and can naturally make us respond in anger instead of love. I wish there was a magic solution that would wipe all of our boogers away, but it’s not always that easy. We have to dig deep and choose to be aware of our issues and how they affect our relationships, how we see the world around us, how we think people perceive us, and even how we see ourselves.
Over time I’ve been able to wipe off some of my own boogers, while others have been a little harder to remove. It always easier to see other people’s problems vs. your own, but being aware of my own strengths and weaknesses—no matter how hard—has made me a better professional, friend, lover, and mother.
4. Don’t skip the process.
I love fresh blackberries! I will plan all year long for a 2-3 week window where we will pick enough berries to last us the entire year. Preserving my precious berries always seems worth it when I can make fresh cobbler in the dead of winter, but in order to do that I can’t skip the work it takes to get them in my bucket!
If I want loads of free and fresh blackberries I have to dress up in a long shirt and jeans during the hottest part of the summer, wade through thorny bushes that make my wrists look like I have a serious problem, pluck ticks from areas of my body I didn’t know existed, and compete with snakes and wasps who have made my precious berry bush their home.
Getting to cobbler and fresh blackberries smoothies takes work, but I’ve learned to love the process. It really is about the journey; racing against the sunset to see who can fill up their bucket the fastest, to discussing life’s deep questions while huddled under big brimmed hats and purple stained palms. The whole process of picking my own berries has made me truly appreciate each and every hand selected berry—all six cups it takes to make one stinkin’ cobbler!
5. The best gift is to be a giver.
Cale and I believe whole-heartedly that giving up our time and finances is the best thing we can do to love on our friends, family, and the community around us. There have been times where giving money wasn’t an option, but we have always been able to give our time with anything from helping a friend move to watching their kids. Giving comes in all shapes and sizes, but as we’ve poured into others, we’ve seen a constant overabundance in our life of genuine love and favors returned, and even additional finances in the most unexpected ways. It’s the way we want to live our life regardless of how big or small our paycheck maybe, and the kind of servant heart we hope to instill in our children.
6. Never take family for granted.
The older I get, and the more children we have, the more I realize what a true gift family is. My father died when I was eight, and Cale’s dad passed away a few years ago. Death has been a harsh reality check for the both of us, but one that has made us appreciate every moment we get with the people we care about the most. Life is short, family is messy, and yet there are people who would give anything just to know what having a real family is like. Cherish each moment, forgive, and let go. I guarantee you the things that drive you crazy about that aunt, cousin, grandma, or dad will be some of the things you’ll miss the most when they are gone.
7. To go with the flow.
Growing up I never envisioned my life as a housewife or mom. It’s not that thought being a mom was bad, but I didn’t want to spend my life waiting for something that may never happen. I dreamed, I planned, I got the degree I needed to get me where I wanted to be… but then, meeting Cale changed how I had envisioned all that working out. Just ask any of my friends and I think they’ve all been surprised to see that, instead of the West Coast, I landed in a little old farmhouse in Oklahoma! My days now are spent blogging, designing, folding laundry, making homemade jams and jellies, raising two awesome boys, and loving every minute of it. When I think about the life I would have missed because it wasn’t going the way I had originally planned, it scares me. But I’ve learned that it’s ok to have dreams and visions of what you hope your life will look like, and if on your way there life throws you a curve ball, go with the flow! You might find yourself in a place you never knew you wanted to be.
8. Find out who you are and be that person.
Finding out who you are is not something you check off your to do list, it’s something you rehash daily. When I first met Cale, I knew exactly who I was in that place and time of my life. The beauty of that season couldn’t help but ooze out of everything I touched, sang, and breathed on. Getting married, commuting two hours a day for my first job out of college, gaining weight, and taking on the full-time responsibilities of adulthood began to weigh heavy on my heart. The daily grind was slowly grinding down my soul and suddenly I found myself questioning who I was, what I was doing, and what I truly had to offer.
It was during this time that I had to go through yet another season of revaluating my goals, my dreams, and myself. Ultimately I had to be reminded again that the world doesn’t define me. It’s about me looking at myself, and to God, and saying this is who I am… this is who I want to be, and going out and being that person 110%.
9. You have to meet fear head on.
Fear stops everything. It’s the most selfish emotion you can ever feel because it is completely about you. Fear will make you run away from the people you love, and make you do things that hurt others just to protect yourself.
In order to pursue our dreams of family and design we’ve had to meet fear head on. For us, conquering fear is the process of embracing life’s adventures, living with a “why not” attitude, and surrounding ourselves with people who push us out of our box. Sometimes that comes in the form of climbing mountains and jumping off bridges, eating healthier, pushing through a deadline, getting off Facebook so that we can engage in real conversations, and choosing joy even when we don’t feel it. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to conquer fear in your own heart, and meeting it head on often kills it at it’s root.
10. To celebrate other people’s success.
In any profession it can be hard to see other colleagues and friends break thru the gap and “make it”. Suddenly their blog is getting slammed with comments, they are taking on bigger clients and sponsors, and getting that book deal they’ve always wanted. It’s easy to feel jealous and start making excuses for their sudden success. Suddenly you are questioning all that you are, and have been doing, and you find yourself stuck in the downward spiral of constant comparison.
When you can genuinely be excited for other people, I’ve found that their success creates a momentum of inspiration for your own journey. If you make their moment about you, it looses any and all growth potential. Truth is, at the end of the day, you’ll want those same people standing there just as excited for you when you reach your dreams. Learning how to celebrate others’ successes frees you up to be ok with your own process; even it looks different or is exactly the same!