All in How to Really

How to Really Not Look Away from Current Events

I’ve spent essentially my entire life in the American Midwest, a region primarily defined as the expanse that exists between places where things actually happen. We experience the bulk of the Midwest through the windows of cars and airplanes, a blurry procession of trees and fields, with a gas station sprinkled here and there for variety. At a glance, it’s as homogenized and mellow as the milk its dairy lands produce.

How to Really Love a Mom in Your Life

When I was in college, I acquired the nickname “Mama Megs,” and it stuck. Maybe it was my propensity for oldest-child-syndrome-bossiness or my ability to wrangle up a gaggle of silly ladies as we tried to get out the door for dinner. Perhaps it was my love of baking, or maybe even my height (I’m tall, so if you need a hug that makes you feel like a tiny, tiny child, bring it in). Whatever the case, this weird little nickname has become a sort of prophetic word over my life.

How to Really (Not) Suck at Lent

I suck at Lent.

I first caught whiff of Lent’s existence sometime in prepubescence—the exact source of which I’m unable to recall. I didn’t recognize it as a special season on the Christian calendar, a forty-day period of preparing for Easter with focused fasting, praying, and generous giving. I understood it purely as a game to be played, a gimmick by which to be amused, a gauntlet to be picked up in order to impress myself and others and maybe God by temporarily cutting out (cutting back on, tbh) candy and cussing.

How to Really Be Present

I have a love-hate relationship with social media and the digital world. The majority of my work happens online, and some of my closest friends began as social media buddies. My husband and I reconnected through LinkedIn and flirted via Twitter. When we eloped, we streamed our dive-bar wedding online so our family could be with us, and my maid of honor was a friend I made in the blogosphere. Some of the dearest people in my life are women I met in a Facebook group.

As We Live and Tweet: How to Really Be a Social Media Activist

Hopeful activism online is hard. Our words and sentences (even our emoji) can’t accurately capture the complexity of our emotions, our longings, or our dreams. And depending on how it’s communicated, a perspective of hope can come across as naive, ignorant, or even insensitive to the hardship of others. If we’re not indignant, we’re presumed to be indifferent, and if we’re blatantly positive, we must be absolutely nuts. It seems there’s no way to be on the fringe of the political discussion anymore.

How to Really Beat Anxiety

When I tell people I have anxiety, I always feel like I have to qualify it: it’s not a stomach-in-knots, sweaty-palmed flavor of worry that comes and goes in stressful circumstances. To me, that’s run-of-the-mill stress: a normal (albeit uncomfortable) response to the difficulties we encounter.

How to Really Care for a Loved One with Seasonal Affective Disorder

On the coldest winter mornings, we often experience a physical taxation: our feet flinch on the hardwoods, our legs move a bit arthritically, and as we enter the day, we notice an overall slowing of body. Even the young are impeded by their marshmallow coats. For some people, the season pries its way past a regular chill of the bones, and they find their very dispositions are caught adrift. Both my husband and my dad can identify with this, and through the years my problem-solving self has been frustrated at how hard it can be to help. 

How to Really Plant Roots

Remember that brief phase in the mid-2000s where it was cool to buy jeans with holes already manufactured into them? It’s still a thing, but we’re kind of over its being a thing? My Grandpa Roger, who is seriously the Frank Sinatra of class, had a few words on that. 

How to Really Be Grateful

Rain falls outside--thin, clear confetti on a thirsty earth. The plainest dirt ever known to man is transformed into a hundred mirrors, reflecting the gray sky, the shifting trees, and the dying light of the day. I am standing in it, experiencing the inconvenient drops of water, small but many, determined to change my dry clothes into clinging, wet versions of what they used to be. Right in this moment, I am thankful for the rain. 

How to Really Write While Mothering: Five Tips for Aspiring Writers in a Season When Writing Comes Second

"It's too early to be up." "It's quiet time, and Mama is working."  I've said both of these phrases more times than I'd like to count to one of the three tiny boys that reside in my house. I send the older boys back to their dump trucks, lay the toddler down with his favorite blanket, and sneak back to the computer to type a few more words, edit a blog post, or sketch out a painting.

How to Really Be Friends With Your Sibling

My sister came over for dinner the other night. I sautéed the greens while she rolled Play-doh pancakes with my daughter. We talked about applying for a new job (me), where to find the most colorful donuts (her), and how miserable it is to wake up in the dog days of summer as we were beginning to dream of autumn.

How to Really Thrive as an Expat

I should have known better. On the cusp of turning twenty-six, with a year of motherhood and a second international move under my belt, I should have braced myself for cancelled plans and hard days. But I had grand ideas of sitting in an American-run salon getting my hair highlighted with an old friend while pretending injustice doesn’t live outside my gate.