"Ok, this is actually your name"
I ask with a smile as I sit down next to Maura Moore at Ella's in Huntington. "Oh yes, this is my name. When I met my husband I shook my head knowing what was going to happen. Now I could have married someone with the last name Less, and that would be way worse," we start off laughing and jump right into the conversation. Maura lives in Maryland but grew up here on Long Island. She found my profile through my post about Hitch (who she has sold through before) and she immediately interacted with my posts. After I wrote about my writer's block she sent me a message asking me if she could make me a Meep, intrigued as to what that was about, we started chatting. Maura is a teacher and Mother of 3, her and her husband spend summers on Long Island with family and I was able to sit down with her before she headed back. It was a fun atmosphere to talk and even more fun to walk around town taking photos right after (this is the first time I did the interview and photos the same day). I really want to write a line saying something like 'let's learn more about Maura' but I guess I will just add this thought line to transition to the next paragraph instead of actually committing...
"I picked up crochet during hall duty,
"-I needed something to do with my hands, my friend was having a baby at the time. I wanted to be the person who made THE blanket, so I learned how to." While a blanket was her motivation, her Meeps are what have her hands busy today. Maura found herself making these emotional support friends when she herself was faced with some personal hardships. She talks about the 'lifey stuff' that happened on a surface level "There are too many parts that just don't have to be highlighted right now" but does mention a separation with her husband. "That's how it started, I made him a 'black hole' to put all of the negative things he was facing into," she offers. Maura's attitude really seems to live within 'don't look back, you're not going that way' and really hits her stride when sharing those triumphant-like messages. That first 'black hole' lead to her making 'sunshines' for some friends and students which soon became the Meeps. These colorful little hackie sack shaped orbs with eyes were named Meeps because of one of her students. This student explained that 'Meep' was a sound her and her Mom would make to find each other at the store, and the metaphor of what once was lost, could now be found, fit in with the Meep's message of giving away your troubles to find your peace again.
The Meep is physically small to hold, but comes with such a big message. Maura dedicates time to making these Meeps because everyone could use a little help sometimes, small but mighty, these little dudes can carry your big things for you. Maura has made them for local NICUs, her students all get a 'Meep of the Week' which makes those kids feel seen, and also gives them something to hold onto through those tough middle school years. When she first caught fire with these (Scary Mommy ran an article on her) she found herself trying to fulfill every request and got burnt out. Now, Maura gives away a humble 100 at the beginning of every month (seriously, 100). It's her 'pay it forward' mission with the universe - any small thing you can do to help someone who needs it.
Meeps are really just a physical reminder that it is going to be ok, even if it looks different. Her children even have their own Meeps and all use them differently. During shutdown Maura found her, her husband and her family growing a deeper connection. They've done projects around their house while she taught virtual school, it was an adjustment but she embraced the fact that she was teaching with a house full of kids and projects going on. Not that any of it was easy, but the Moores got through it. Maura really has put herself in the mindset that things could be crappy now, but it won't be forever. She has spent a lot of time piecing herself together after every hardship, and her Meeps are one small piece that she can give to everyone and anyone that can relate.
Meeting in Huntington was kismet for Maura as we were on her old stomping grounds, and at our chat, she gave me my own Meep. When I was growing up, I had 'worry dolls' and 'worry stones' as physical tools to help me cope with intrusive thoughts and anxiety. This Meep reminded me of those sentiments and really I was so touched when Maura reached out wanting to make me one. The special part of this practice is that someone, with their own hands, made something for you just to hopefully help you through something. Just like when you cook someone a hot meal after a loss, there is a comfort through someone using their efforts just because you could use it. I was truly touched, and realized the deep integrity this woman has - her actions surpass her words - and that is saying something nowadays. If you want a Meep for yourself or someone else find Maura on Facebook (@allyoumeepislove) and watch for her posts on the first of every month. Can I also mention just how lovely it is that she also has the pattern on her website to share? She doesn't even gate-keep her Meeps, she honestly just wants everyone to cope well.