Juneau, My Two-Faced Love.

Southeast Living, 2018
By Meg Hartley

“Chicken Yard Park,” Meg Hartley 2011

Living in Juneau Alaska is akin to staying in a dysfunctional relationship. Just when you feel alone, neglected, restless, and totally dismayed at the thought of your love; and even start to panic because there is literally no road out – it’ll turn on the charm, totally embodying everything that made you fall in love to being with.

As if Juneau could just sense you thinking about leaving, months of rain-meets-snow that soak to the bone and sting the skin fade away; replaced with sights of sun-soaked stunningly green mountain peaks. After barely catching precious light before darkness poured into your very soul, you are no longer pining for brightness. Now for months your love’s light will never leave your side. Nights once spent binge-watching transform into romantic lakeside cabin adventures, and bonfires on the beach with the amazing personalities that your love attracts when they finally reveal their warmth.

Juneau has always insisted on only showing its achromatic side for half the time you’re together. Grey on the ground as cold as their shoulder, grey in their constantly weeping skies, even grey consuming their majestic peaks, hiding their glory. And just when you start searching for a more suitable life partner – they become a colorful and vivid sight that you can’t stop staring at.

Your love is now a kaleidoscopic projection of various ravishing intrigues; plank-covered hikes through scenery so beautiful it’s surreal, lush forests with bears, meadows filled with wildflowers of every hue, and ferry rides to quirky towns filled with some of your favorite future memories.

All of a sudden there are twice as many people spending time with tuo amore, dousing its once cold shoulder with attention and admiration. As you walk down the familiar Main Street of your love, right into their heart – a floating city of fans loom ahead, filing in. They buy trinkets made in China and poke the loyal locals with unnecessary umbrellas, asking about the elevation when they arrived by boat.

You exchange glances with others who know the complicated nature of this love. You are enamored with Juneau for all that it hides, as well as the things that it boasts. The contrast of your experiences are what make you so close, it’s the kind of love where even if you do leave – you can never quite leave it behind. After all, it’s only when you’ve trudged through the depths of someone’s darkness, that you can truly appreciate their light.

A Step-By-Step Guide For Mapping Out (And Achieving!) Your 2017 Goals

MindBodyGreen, January 6, 2017
By Meg Hartley, mbg Contributor

A Step-By-Step Guide For Mapping Out (And Achieving!) Your 2017 Goals
Photo by Stocksy

Word on the street is that 81 percent of resolutions fail1, and a number of us start losing steam even within the first week of January. One of the main reasons we don’t achieve our goals? We get busy and forget about them! Here’s one foolproof, step-by-step way to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year:

1. First, map out your top goals for your year.

What are the first things you think of, or what have you already written down? If something seems random, note it anyway, as it could be your subconscious peeking out. Then purposefully move on to other “outside” areas: health, hobbies, relationships, love, work, etc.

2. Then it’s time to move on to “the invisible you.”

What qualities would you like to work on cultivating this year? Have you been hearing repetitive feedback from those around you? Maybe it’s time to listen better or to say what you mean. Pick at least one.

3. For each experience or quality that you’re cultivating in 2017, choose an image.

Choose one that makes you think of the idea in a quick glance, ideally that also makes you feel inspired. For example, if it’s listening better, don’t pick an image of someone droning on and another trying to focus, pick one that makes you think of why you want this thing in your world—something that makes you think of harmonious relationships at work and in life.

Then, you’ll write text for each image. In the text for each image remind yourself of why this is a positive addition to your life, “A reliable car that gives me freedom to go wherever I please.” Also, articulate specifics that’ll help you focus over the year, like if you’re working on bringing new relationships into your life, what kind of qualities do you want in them? Warmth, ambition, kindred interest in Star Wars? Yes, get that specific.

4. Set your Pinterest board to private, or keep your board somewhere personal.

It can be easy to account for others’ opinions if you think it’ll be seen, if only unconsciously. This is about your life, your goals; this is about YOU. (Though if you’re involved in a team, this is a great group exercise, too!)

5. As you go about 2017, look at your board at least one time every week.

Assess progress, next actions, and make a plan for the week to take action. Having the ability to look at your vision for the year in a quick and enjoyable way will keep your priorities at the front of your mind, and your focus where it needs to be.

The reason most people didn’t achieve their dreams? They were busy doing other stuff and forgot. This year it’s on you: Don’t forget!

What I learned after 10 months of being sick and stuck in my apartment

SheKnows, AUGUST 4, 2016 AT 8:00AM AM EDT

What I learned after 10 months of being sick and stuck in my apartment

What’s the longest you’ve ever been alone? Last fall, I was diagnosed with an illness that had progressed to the point of absolute debilitation, and I’ve been homebound for the last 10 months. As a result, the longest I’ve been totally alone is around five weeks straight, with about seven brief interruptions by grocery delivery drivers — who’d wind up inching back from me as I babbled away about anything, anything at all.

I’m recovering from severe B12 deficiency, which destroys the protective myelin sheath around my nerves, brain, and spinal cord. This process causes damage all over the body, but the most pertinent symptom here is trouble walking. On bad-ish days, I walk like a pregnant robot, my movements stiff and my legs bowed out.

I live alone at the bottom of a condo complex that slopes down into a gorgeous tree-covered canyon. Peaceful? Oh my goodness, so yes. But also completely inescapable since I can’t drive. The renowned transit was a big reason I moved to Portland, but my bus stop lies at the top of that big ole hill. It might as well be Everest.

More: How a vitamin deficiency nearly paralyzed me

My close local friends are mighty in quality, but very few in quantity — and they have busy lives of their own. I was also in so much pain this winter that I usually didn’t want to see anyone. It just hurt too bad, and I just didn’t have the energy.

Things have been improving lately. I’ve been “able to people” about 15 percent of the time. (Woo!) But since that hill became my peaceful prison nearly a year ago, I’ve been alone more like 95 percent of the time.

It was really difficult. There’s no need to tiptoe around that. Some days I felt abandoned, and rational or not, it felt like I had no one at all — like I had disappeared and the world was just fine and dandy without me. (I’ve definitely decided to put down some real roots when I get out of here.) It was one of the darkest times of my life, and on some days, I honestly didn’t know if I’d get out the other side.

But as I get further away from the dark times, it’s becoming clear that this experience has actually been wildly beneficial. Facing darkness brings truth, and has helped me to see more clearly. I was able to really think about what I want from life and relationships. I made some really solid goals, and I was able to gain a healthier perspective on my past. (Plus, I finally got to grow my eyebrows out to find my “natural arch” sans anyone seeing the furry stage, huzzah.)

Another fun result of all this alone time is a definite increase in silliness. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m talking to myself, giving self-fives (which I realize I stole from Liz Lemon), I’m writing without censor, I’m tanning in my underwear — I’ve actually had some really good days!

But the biggest aspect of it all has been reflection. I’m a spiritual person, a meditator, a writer. I like to reflect. You could even call it a hobby, but this was fucking intense. During the worst times, I was lucky to sit upright for an hour. Sound often irritated me intensely, and I was in too much pain and too weak to even hold up a book. Very literally all I could do was think. (And I took up bird-watching. I’m going to keep it.)

At some point in all the reflection, I realized that I’ve often bounced off of everyone in my life instead of moving from my own center. Other people’s reactions, and more specifically, my fear of them, had taken over my interactions, creating a distance between me and everyone in my life. I saw how this affected my relationships, and I wondered if others struggled with their own version of a similar problem. I mused on the façades we all wear.

Then I wrote a book about it. And I even found an agent, a good one. We’ll see what happens with it all, but I’ve never felt closer to having a work life that satisfies me. My relationships have become much more authentic (for better or worse), and I feel more connected to myself than I ever have.

I don’t recommend that anyone spend 10 months alone in their apartment by choice. It’s not as spectacular as that — but it’s really made me see the value in developing comfort with being alone. I feel like I’m gonna be a force when I finally bust out of here, and it’s exciting indeed.