January 1, 2017

The time in-between

There's a lot of buzz about why 2016 was such a hard year, just overall it feels like a lot of people went through some really tough things this year. And in so many ways it started as one of the harder years for me as well. But as the year went on, it became one of the most significant years of my life. The beginning of the year led me into this season that I'm now in, and referring to as "the time in-between," Shauna Niquist talks about it as a "season of becoming." So I'll begin with what started this whole transition season, and then tell you where God is leading me in 2017!

The start of 2016

In January of 2016 I started off the year with a lot of weddings and a lot of flowers, and very involved with various ministries at my church. I was living at home and trying to make every effort to still see my friends often so I wasn't just working all the time, and I was also still in the process of finishing my masters at APU. My days were scheduled out with work -- friends -- class -- family -- work -- homework -- church -- etc. My mind felt like a million bouncy balls that represented what I needed for all my various roles; creativity, logic, faith, wedding details, humor, intellect, music, organization, love, floral skills, passion, and so on, and I was constantly reaching with my eyes closed, hoping to retrieve the right one when necessary. 

I knew how to turn on wedding planner Megan, friend Megan, florist Megan, church choir director Megan, daughter Megan, sister Megan, aunt Megan, and student Megan, but at the end of the day, I didn't want to journal anymore. I didn't want to read for fun. I didn't know how to do anything for me, and I kept getting frustrated about things that usually wouldn't effect me. So all of this extreme overload led me to making the best choice -- I started going to therapy. *insert praise hands*

Therapy was incredible. I went to Restoration Counseling Center in Redlands and would highly recommend to anyone who wants to go to therapy, or anyone who is in denial about needing therapy, I pray that you will give in eventually ;) That little waiting room became a haven, a place of deep breaths, ready to go in and learn more about God and myself and who he created me to be. I went once a week for a few months and learned a lot, but these are two major things that stood out:

  1. How to say "no", so there is room to say "yes" to the right things
  2. How to truly spend on me, and what it means to actually spend time sitting with God

Saying no...

One of my first opportunities to practice this was stepping out of the ministries I was involved in at my church. It was my home church I had grown up in, and I knew that I needed to step out of the commitments there. Being totally honest, they were completely being done out of obligation on my end, not a passion or desire to serve. As I stepped out of those, new opportunities there started to come up, because there I had become known as a "yes" person, and that is on me. I realized that church had become a place of performance, of always being on and always saying yes, and I needed to get back to learning what it means to love church and to love serving, and being authentic throughout. God brought me to Fellowship Monrovia to find that. Not because of anything wrong with my home church, but I needed to go somewhere that I wasn't known as a "yes" person, so I could fall in love with the church in a new way on my own.

Saying no and stepping out of the different roles I had at my home church was really terrifying for me, more-so than I thought it would be. And then an amazing thing happened... Everything was fine. I said no, I left, and no one died. It wasn't even that big of a deal, which was one of the most exhilarating things! Learning how to say no has taught me this (which sounds kind of harsh): in many cases, I am replaceable. Not that there is anyone who is exactly like me or exactly like you, but if I need to say no somewhere, there are other people who can fill the gaps. Maybe not in the exact same way, but the important thing is that I need to be where God is calling me. Not staying in a place I think I need to be because I am the only one who can plan a wedding/direct a choir/make a bouquet/____ (whatever it may be for you).

Once I started saying no in various areas, I began learning how to carve out time to reflect on my life. Spending time sitting with God, really thinking about scripture, reading a book by Brené Brown and a devotional my Shauna Niquest, and that did two things. First of all, I wanted to quit everything and just try to be friends with Brené and Shauna, but more importantly, I realized how much time I spend focusing on others to avoid myself. There's a difference between putting others first and serving others out of an overflow of your heart and because of your wonderful relationship with the Lord, and doing it to fill your time and avoid being alone with yourself. And there's a big difference between performing and trying to be perfect, and being present. I was sad to sit in those thoughts and realize that I was really living in the former of both statements. It was a harsh but good reality to see, and I knew I needed to make some changes.

Summer of 2016

I moved into a house I had lived in before, in the lovely city of Duarte, with a few wonderful friends. At this point I had finished my masters, stepped out of my commitments at church, and finished going to therapy. It was a fresh new season. I had recently gone to a workshop in Seattle with the amazing Sinclair and Moore (you can read my earlier post see a little about what that experience was like), and it inspired me to do what it would take to grow my business to the next level. I came back so inspired and ready to jump into work! Over the summer I had a few weddings each month and was doing the flowers for most of them. I had a weekend with two weddings, one wedding in Hawaii on Friday and an LA wedding on Sunday, everything was a rush of excitement and overwhelming gratitude for the work that was coming my way! But I was also really confused and struggling with not feeling peace in the things I was doing. It just felt like something was missing and I wasn't sure what. But I was excited for some new opportunities coming in the fall, and I thought maybe the new things would help me stop feeling so antsy! 

Fall of 2016

I started teaching at APU in the fall, a class called First Year Seminar that all freshman had to take, and I had a class of 24 freshman business students. It was just twice a week at 8:10 AM, so my students were always PSYCHED to see me in the morning haha. To be honest the class curriculum was pretty strange and not my favorite, but I really loved the students and some of the relationships I was able to establish there. All in all, I think I like teaching if I'm able to teach a course I'm passionate about. But going to APU twice a week for that felt more like a step back rather than forward, and I still was feeling unsettled.

I had events almost every weekend in September, and one double wedding weekend. Then one of my best friends, Jennifer, got married in October, and I had another wedding that month too. Then two weddings in November, and I spent a weekend in Chicago visiting my brother at Wheaton. It was a busy fall, filled with things I loved, but I was still searching. In the beginning of October I started to really think through everything I was doing. Sitting with God and asking for direction, was I in the right place? Doing the right job? Should I not be teaching or wedding planning or doing florals? 

Something new...

I went to dinner with my friend Ann and was sharing my anxious feelings with her. Feeling trapped in all the things I'm doing but not sure what the solution was. Craving something new, different, and adventure, something that wasn't what currently was. I have been to Seattle many times for various reasons and have fallen in love with it more and more on each visit. And when I was talking to Ann the words flew out of my mouth without even realizing it, "I wish I could just pick up and move to Seattle." Now sure, we say things like this sometimes when we feel burnt out, or we have random desires to try new things, but this felt different. It felt like my answer. I didn't tell anyone else about this for a while, I wanted to sit with it, pray about it, and make sure it was something I was actually considering before sharing it with my people. But the more I sat with it, I thought through the desires God has put on my heart. Why am I not chasing after them? Wedding planning and running my business had been the desire for a long time, but throughout 2016 it shifted. Not my passion for events and my love of planning, but just the way I'm currently doing it. I don't have to be running my own business to do this job, and I also don't have to be in Southern California. In addition to always thinking it would be fun to live in Seattle, I've also always thought it would be amazing to travel to Europe. But I haven't ever felt like I could move because of running the business here and being in school and so on, and I've never had enough free time to go to Europe (also because of work and school). So the planning began.

I had gone to the Yellow Conference in August and received a book from the Yellow Collective group I joined that was written by one of the speakers, Elle Luna. The book is called The Crossroads of Should and Must, and it came in the mail a week after I had had started thinking all these thoughts of moving and trips and what not. She talks a lot about finding your calling, the thing that makes you, you. And the more I read it, the more I realized a couple of things about myself that I wasn't giving the accurate space for.

I have this desire to go on more adventures, to travel more, to try new things, and I'm living in the same cities I've lived in my whole life and I have never been outside of the US. *insert saddest crying emoji*
Also I found that I really have more of a passion for event coordinating, planning, and design, than floral designing. I love the big picture, and the logistic details of events. I thrive off of that. I could sit at my computer going over details for events for hours and it would be a lovely day in my book. Not that I don't enjoy arranging flowers, but it's definitely not what brings me the most excitement or fulfillment in my busy work days, that would definitely be the planning.
This one doesn't have to do with my big realizations for the year, but I also realized through this book that God made me with a spirit that needs to sing and dance, and whether it's in my car or with some of my friends, I need to give space for that piece of me, to feel fully me! 

All of these things were just more confirmations of moving, starting something new, and trying new things. By the end of October I knew that I was booked with weddings through May of 2017, so I decided I would stop taking events starting June 1 to prepare for my new adventure! 

Plans for 2017

I have 7 wonderful events on my calendar for the spring (and could still take a few more if the dates are available!), and I'm excited to put my all into these, especially knowing it's the end of an era in some ways. Then in June I'll be going on a trip to England, France, and Ireland, and then come end of June I'll be heading up to Seattle! Do I know where I'll work yet? Nope. Where I'll live? Not yet. *but I'm really excited to have my own little apartment for the first time!* Will I be there for one year or ten years or forever? Absolutely no clue. Thus the title, the time in-between. It's far enough away to where I can't start throwing out my resume into the interwebs quite yet, but the unknown of what life for me will look like up there is following me around like a very loyal dog. But even though the unknown can at times be a little annoying, it's exciting! I love dogs, so the loyal dog comment just means it's always there, not that I hate the unknown or that I'm dying for the answer right now. I have so much peace that it's where God wants me to go, that I'm sure within the next six months, throughout this time in-between, something will come about. Whether it's from a connection I have or a connection someone else has for me, or if it's from emailing my resume as a hopeful applicant or sending an email as a shot in the dark. Whether it's my dream job and I'm thrilled, or if it's a starter job that I take in hopes of something else coming once I'm there, I know that Seattle is where I'm supposed to plant my feet for this next piece of my life.

I'm thankful for this time in-between. Time to practice being present and to love on the people in my life who are geographically close to me right now. Time to keep learning how to be still with God, living with open hands to him, willing to change my plans for his timing and his will, which is so much greater than anything I could ever put together. I plan to blog more throughout these months. Share some wedding and events stories, some of my journey of running a small business, and some of the things God has taught me, and things I've been confused about when it comes to being a single Christian woman in my mid-twenties who is trying to take on life one day at a time! So keep an eye out for that if you're at all interested to read along :) I am still around though for the next six months, and my weekdays will be really open and flexible most of the time, and coffee is basically my love language, so anyone who wants to get together throughout these months, let me know! I love the people who have been my community here, and I know that will be the hardest part as the time comes close for me to go.

If you've read this far, thank you for caring! And cheers to 2017, to a year of new adventures and turning new leaves.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Philippians 4:6-8

Thanks @damericano for the photos!

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