My current obsession… PODCASTS

Dear Avery,

Last year I woke up early in my childhood room, well knowing that our family isn’t an early morning family, so I decided to listen to a podcast people had recommended to me. It was Podcastscalled “Serial”, by This American Life. A true story murder mystery that still leaves everyone wondering who did it. One episode in, and I was HOOKED.  And so my love affair with podcasts was born.

From there, I’ve listened to one-on-one interviews style podcasts, slam poetry, motivational speakers, more criminal stories, psychology focused, etc…

I thought I’d share some of my favorite podcasts in different genres:

Crime podcasts

  • Up and Vanished: a true story about a woman who had vanished 10 years ago without a trace, and then a rookie sleuth podcaster decided to investigate — and ends up solving the case! For REAL.
    • Run time: 30-60 mins depending
  • Dirty John: a true story about a crook who finds vulnerable women, poses as the perfect man, but ultimately is a sociopath.
    • Run time: 30-60 mins depending
  • S-Town: Starts off being about a murder in small town, ends up being about SO much more. This one really surprised me.
    • Run time: 60 mins
  • Crimetown: a podcast focused on cities riddled with crime and heavy mob ties. You learn about the inner workings of the mob – the psychology behind it, the in-depth crimes committed, and ultimate tying back to the notion that all anyone wants is belonging.
    • Run time: 60 mins

Motivational podcasts

  • Oprah’s Soulful conversations: One on one conversations with celebrities about living life to the fullest, and understanding our true souls and meaning on earth. I was SO inspired by an episode with Mitch Albom (author of Tuesdays with Morrie) who encouraged listeners to reconnect with a teach or professor that inspired you. So I did — I messaged my college professor and asked her if she’d like to meet for dinner. We met the next night, and had an amazing 3 hour conversation about life, love, grief, careers, and hope. I was so inspired!!!
    • Run time: 30-60 mins depending
  • The Tony Robbins Podcast: This one is similar to Oprah’s – in that there are guest speakers. Tony is probably the most motivational speakers of this generation — so he includes hard topics with solutions. This man is full of gratitude, so I love hearing his views on the world.
    • Run time: 1 hour

Story- telling

  • The Moth: a collection of real life stories told by people all over the world. Sometimes they are: funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, nostalgic, interesting, random, or heartwarming. These are simply incredible. They take you out of your own life — and give you access into other’s views and perspectives. Humanity at its finest!
    • Run time: 30-60 mins depending.
  • The Way I Heard It: Mike Rowe narrates a collection of short stories about famous people — or people you’ve never heard of yet have done something monumental in this world. The twist? You find out at the very END who he is talking about! I love the mystery of it. Often times, I find myself trying to guess the name of the person he is beautifully narrating.
    • Run time: 10 mins – yep! That’s it. Fun short stories.

Psychology

  • Invisibilia: about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Each psychology lesson is sandwiched between two relevant true stories — most of which — never have anything to do with each other — yet paints pictures of the human behavior discussed. The first episode I listened to do was about a man who lived in a coma for 12 years — and was AWAKE during it. He eventually came out of it, and went on to live a full life. The invisible nature of triumph and willingness to survive was unbelievable .
    • Run time: 60 mins.
  • Every Little Thing: a show about the small stuff. I love how she finds the wonder in the small things. She is a great story teller but also fact finder. I put this under the psychology section because you learn something from each episode and it makes you look at the world differently.
    • Run time: 30 mins

These are my favorites among a whole slue of great content out there.

It’s become an escape for me. An educational escape. An escape from screens.  An escape from very day life.

I laugh. I cry. I enjoy.

I hope you enjoy all of these — and I’m also looking for more suggestions!!

With love,

Aunt Megs

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When grief slaps you in the face, and tells you to pay attention

Dear Avery,

When I started seeing a therapist over a year ago (which I highly recommend for anyone), I told her of my experience with infertility and how it broke me. She listened for a few sessions, and then introduced the topic of “Grief”.

“Do you think perhaps you are going through stages of grief right now?”

Natively, I thought: isn’t grief about death? I haven’t lost anyone close to me. Surely this is not that…

Wrong.

She followed it, “Grief can be a death of dream, too.  Realization that what you planned in your mind did not happen. Death of an idea you had for your life.”

Honestly, I could not fully comprehend this for months. It didn’t commute in my head. We worked through it over time.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with what we’ve lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.

Denial? Yep >> This wasn’t happening to me. Can’t possibly happen to me…

Anger? Lots of it. Anger with God (how you could not let this happen for me?), anger that my life wasn’t going to plan.

Bargaining? Ahh, not so much. But grief doesn’t fit in a box. You won’t fit everything in there.

Depression? This is a heavy word, and I probably told myself I wasn’t battling depression. But that is another form of denial. So I’d like to claim spurts of depression.

Acceptance? This comes in waves. There were periods of time where I accepted that I may not be a mother, or this just wasn’t the right time.

OK, so what now? I am going through grief of my own. I started recently reading books, listening to podcasts, taking time to sit with my self in my grief — and look at it in the face, talking to others about THEIR grief. All of it. I was running away from it so long, until it slapped me in the face and told me to pay attention. Feel the sadness. Feel the gratitude. Feel the acceptance of moving on. FEEL THE GRIEF.

Here are the things I’ve learned, and if YOU are feeling grief or a loved one is grieving, here is what I know:

  1. Ask people “How are you doing, TODAY?” not “how are you”? Everyday is different. Treat it as such.
  2. Let the grief come, when it comes.
  3. You can’t put grief in a box (ha! I already said that. But it’s true. Grief does not look the same for everyone)
  4. Sometimes Option A is not available, so kick the shit out of Option B. (Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg for this life lesson)
  5. Post – Traumatic – Growth: happens after trauma, we grow to become more joyful, more appreciative.
  6. We must believe that Option B exists. And in order to move through your grief, go with Option B.

So Avery, know that you will encounter grief of some form in your life. I’ve learned that it comes in different sizes due to different traumas, but none-the-less, it will come.

A wise professor told me, “It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to give yourself the time to sit in the corner and wallow. But after that, you have to pick yourself up and move on.”

Grief is apart of life, and after it comes such gratitude and beauty once the clouds part if you allow yourself to see it.

I may not see or feel the beauty everyday, but everyday I try.

And that’s where I’m at today. Tomorrow — we shall see! And there is such beauty in that.

With love,

Aunt Megs

The Flamingo that followed me

Dear Avery,

Did you know that the flamingo is a pretty bad ass animal? It’s more than the pink tropical bird most people associate it with. It’s much more.

Did you know it can drink boiling hot water, but can also live in below freezing conditions? Stick that bird anywhere, and it will survive. See what I mean? Such a bad ass.

Why does this matter?

Well, you know how I love signs from the universe? One day I was listening to all these fun facts about this extraordinary bird from a podcast called Every Little Thing (a funky little podcast about incredibly random things of this world — always leaves you with a smile — so of course I’d dig it), on my way to a museum with friend and her daughter. After the 25 min podcast, I parked my car… and couldn’t not think about how underestimated the flamingo really is. Why don’t people pay attention to these guys? While walking up to the museum, my friend’s daughter spotted me… ran full sprint towards me to say hello. Gave me a big hug, and showed me her dress: flamingo print dress. Hmmm. What a funny happenstance. Little did I know, this was the first of many flamingo appearances to come.

For the next two weeks, I saw them E V E R Y W H E R E:

  1. Random Social media posts.
  2. The name of restaurant next to a place I ran an errand (which I would not have noticed had the large FLOCK of elderly people in the entrance not moved faster in the parking lot, allowing me to wait patiently for them to cross, giving me the time to recognize the name of the restaurant).
  3. Since this is the summer of pool floats — a huge flamingo was the first float I saw while vacationing with our family in Lake Tahoe (a blog post on that trip to come!). I spotted at least 4 of them over the week’s span.
  4. I continued to see them in Tahoe: on men’s t-shirts, towels, and I even saw one hanging from a gondola wire. Nothing else hanging from this wire but a stuffed animal flamingo<<< whhhhhhhhhhhy?!?

You get the point. It followed me. I told my parents all about this mysterious circumstance, and my dad told me to research the symbolism of it. At first, I was hesitant — kind of like a psychic reading — I didn’t want to know what was to come.  But then, after continuing to see them, I looked it up. I came across the symbolism of having a flamingo visit you in a dream. And THIS is what it came back with:

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I’ve been going through a hard stage in life, and this hit me square in the face.

“Let go of the negatives to build a positive future.”

Sometimes, we just have to let go, so we can begin again. As hard as it is, sometimes we just have to.

So I sent this to your Mom. She responded immediately with positive support. And then a little while later, she sent me this and suggested I get it tattooed. As a symbol of letting go, starting anew, and looking forward.

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Once I get over the inherent fear of permanent tattoos, it’s the best option I’ve seen in a very long time for one. Look at the elegance. The peacefulness. And the breath-taking power of letting go.

Aves — find the symbol that encourages you to let go of things that are not meant for you. Or better yet, it may just find you.

With love,

Aunt Megs

 

 

 

Keep Calm, and Boulder On.

Dear Avery,

This past Memorial day weekend I made a last minute decision to go camping in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park with a group of friends.

Yes, I slept on the ground. No, there wasn’t a flushing toilet. Yes, I stargazed.  No, I wasn’t a huge fan of the very loud bugs. But yes, I’m so glad I went. And, I can’t wait to go back.

This particular season of my life has been harder than most. I’ve felt pretty lost in my marriage, facing challenges with infertility, have been lacking a sense of peace, and struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed. With all of that, I’ve been yearning for a different experience, and looking for something to take myself out of the my normal routine. I’ve been in search of an “ah ha” moment. And this was it.

My friend Cait asked me if I wanted to go for a hike around our campground when I arrived. I agreed, but was confused as she headed toward a boulder formation that had absolutely no trail to it. Just a bunch of boulders… higher and higher they went. Our hike was going to be climbing rocks. I got about 1 minute into it , watched Cait start to climb ahead of me, and said… “Um, I can’t do this.” Her simple response, “Yes, you can.”

Joshua Tree with Cait

I’m not going to lie. I stood there in front of this boulder, and thought: No Way. I’m not a 10 year old kid climbing trees anymore. (Yes, my first thought took me back to climbing Redwood Trees in this beautiful park back home where we’d get lost for hours playing in the branches.) I’m not prepared for this. I’m wearing old tennis shoes, not grippy hiking boots. I’m not strapped to anyone or anything. I repeat: I’m not prepared for this.

No way. I can’t do this. What if I fall? (This was prime time for self doubt. Hit me square in the face).

But then I thought >> Oh, but what if you don’t fall? What if you CAN do it?

And so I did.

I followed Cait’s steps up the rocks. Did my legs shake? Hell yeah they did.

Did my mouth get a little dry from being a little terrified? Absolutely.

Did I keep going? You bet.

When I reached the top, did I laugh at myself for freaking out? Oh yeah.

Joshua Tree Boulders

I enjoyed it so much that throughout our time there, I went “bouldering” a few more times. Even got tossed a beer from the ground level, sat back and enjoyed good conversation, an exquisite view, and a cold brew.

The next day, we took a trip into the Joshua Tree park and found even larger boulders and caves! We were in search of a cave called “Hall of Horrors”. Kinda perfect, huh?

Once we found that cave that you had to climb DOWN into… once again…  my self doubt came into play. “No way. I can’t do that.” But then my friends reached out their hands (thank you, John and Kyle!) and helped me through it. No questions asked. Here is my hand. Take it. And go. Don’t think. Trust. Climb. Conquer. Enjoy.

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This turned out to be my FAVORITE part of the experience. This cave is a long, narrow stretch of pathway in-between huge rocks. Maybe two people wide. And I’m claustrophobic! But I wasn’t in there. I felt a sense of accomplishment. It overcame any sort of fear I would typically endure. And that made all the difference.

So what’s the epiphany here? I literally had a rock standing in my way. I had the choice to let it stay there or climb over it. For me, that rock represented self doubt. I didn’t think I could do it. And then I did. I conquered it.

My hope for you, Aves, is that you know you can conquer any rock in your way. Even if that means grabbing the hands of people around you to make sure you can.

With love,

Aunt Megs

Our newest leading lady, Miss Bayley!

Dear Bayley,

It’s Oscar Sunday, and today you decided to make your grand entrance into the world. You’ve joined a family of movie lovers, so I’d say it’s the perfect day to be born.

The other leading lady in our lives is your big sister, Avery (almost 6yrs old now).

When your Mom called her on the phone to tell her the news of your birth, she heard you crying in the background and said, “Oh no, she is already crying! Is she OK?”. And so the journey of sisterhood starts.

Sisterhood is a funny thing. It’s full of jealously, love/hate, ups and downs, protection, fun, and the occasional bratty fights. But mostly love. Your Mom was much cooler to me than I gave her credit for during our childhood. She took me to her high school and college parties when I was 4 years younger — risking potential “eww, why did you bring your sister!” judgements. She included me anyway. With Avery’s heart for inclusion much like your Mom’s… I’m seeing a future of fun between you girls.

Back to the Oscars that you share your special day with.leading-lady

This year was a fun line up of films. My favorite of all being “La La Land” – a modern day musical set in Southern California where I currently live. A movie about pursuing your passion and stopping at nothing (even love) to reach your goal. I hope that you find something worth pursuing this hard, Bayley. And I also hope you know that I’ll be here to support you through it.

I also enjoyed “Arrival” a movie about aliens coming to earth — how a group of scientists and a language professor make contact. Figuring out a way to communicate in a loving and compassionate fashion was a really cool take on a sci-fi film — with a plot twist that the end that was just BREATH-TAKING! Oh, I love those kinds of movies!

Lastly, “Lion” was a true story about a young boy from India getting separated from his family… and being adopted by a wonderful Australian family. Later in his life, he yearns to meet his biological family to understand more about himself. This film was rich and beautiful and heartbreaking. At the core of life, family really is everything. The need to understand who we are comes from who we are surrounded by.

And so, my little leading lady, I’m happy you’ve joined us. And I can’t wait to meet you.

With love,

Aunt Megs

Women March to be Heard

Dear Avery,

On January 21st, 2017…womens-march People from all around the world took a stand for Women’s rights. They marched, they rallied (even your Mimi!), they held their heads high and let their voices be heard. It was a call to action. Wake up — Women have something to say.

I didn’t get the personal opportunity to march, but I did get to spend the morning with incredible women who are successful, compassionate, and uplifting. Women who support each other, listen to other, and speak highly of each other. I believe that is starts there. A movement starts with people like these. It starts small, but makes such an impact when you treat others with this same respect. The ripple will continue. Be apart of it.

There will be trials in your life, Avery, where someone or some people will make you feel like your opinion isn’t worth being heard. They will make you doubt your self worth. They will say things that will offend you. They will put you down. But when they go low, you must go high (quote from the honorable, First Lady Michelle Obama).

Tough things will happen to you. Whether small or large , it’s how you handle those situations that will shape you.

  • I’ve had a boss tell me that I should stop using smiley faces in emails because I basically wouldn’t be taken seriously >>> my next promotion was given to me mostly based on my personality and drive. Smiley faces and all. And guess what? People tell me the like working with me. Must be those happy faces. 🙂
  • I’ve had a male colleague tell me I didn’t deserve the job I got, but in fact, he deserved it. >> Was I  mad? Hell yes. Did I work harder to prove to MYSELF, that I in fact did deserve it. Hell YES.
  • I had a boy take advantage of me in high school >> did it break me? For a time, yes. But did I lose faith and trust in all other men? No. Did it teach me that I am the owner of my own body — and its MY choice what I will do with it.. and no one ever will take advantage of it again? Yes. (I didn’t feel like I had a true voice at that age, but I do now.)

I have a voice. You have a voice. We all have a voice. We all deserve to be heard.

So today, they marched. Marched against oppression. Marched against sexism. Marched against the idea of a glass ceiling.

But also today, they marched towards love. Marched towards equality. Marched towards unity.

March on with grace, humility, and compassion — and you will change the world. It starts with you.

With love,

Aunt Megs

Hoping for a bright 2017, and experiencing my own “mini Wild”.

Dear Avery,

2016 was a tough one. Lots of turmoil in the world and lots of uncertainty it seems. This was the first year I could remember as a collective human race — most of us are happy to see it end. Me included.

There is something about starting a new year that brings hope and optimism. Which is great, but also, funny. Logistically, it’s just another day. And the following day will happen. But somehow we hope that things will change and become brighter.

A few things that stick out to me in the year of 2016:

  • The dreaded presidential election. Ugh! I’m happy it’s over, but really sad, with the outcome and what has become our of nation. The overwhelming feeling of being so divided is now even more apparent. Just when I felt we were getting somewhere positive. My hope is that by the time you are old enough to understand the perspectives of this world we live in — that it will be fair and just. And that you will play a positive part in making that so.

 

  • The unrealistic pressures we put on ourselves to portray an abundant life on social media. I’m a huge offender of this myself. I am of the notion to spread happy moments, funny thoughts, and touching sentiments on social media — and I still believe that it a true act to keep up with. My goal is spread and share happiness. But since 2016 hasn’t been the happiest of years for me, I’ve made it seem as such. Sort of a false reality, and then most of end up comparing our lives with others — and man, that is not helpful! I think we all need to find a right balance. It’s not a place to air dirty laundry or hateful thoughts, but more about being thoughtful towards your audience situations.

 

  • Being a leader (whether it be in work, friendships, or the President of the United States), is so much harder than it looks. But man, the people that can pull it off and manage to lift people up and encourage them is something that can not be taken for granted. My bosses this year have blown me away with their support, their encouragement, and their non-forceful ways of challenging me. They are incredible! Same goes for President Obama — as his term comes to a close,  I’ve seen him in a new light. I’m legitimately going to miss his presence.  He’s been so poised, respectful, caring, humble, and strong. Whether people agree with his policies or not, I firmly believe his leadership has been incomparable. And I’m thankful I was apart of his 2 terms.

 

  • Love, beauty, and light is really all around. We may have to look a little harder, but it’s always there.

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Moving towards a bright 2017:

I think my friends have the right idea for me. One of my best friends suggested that I should  experience my own “Mini Wild” as she called it. We read the book “Wild” in book club about a woman who was at a crossroad in her life, so she decided to pack up and hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail (California to Washington — she walked it!) wild

While, I am no hiker, I think the theory is still a good one. Taking time out of your regular life to reflect, meditate, discover more about the person you are, and who you are becoming is worth while.

Another best friend suggested experiencing new cultural things around us like museums, plays, art fairs, etc. Finding joy  in our own backyard!

I think both of these suggestions are perfect ways to bring perspective to a new year. Filling up my cup with rich experience is just what is needed.

I hope that in 2017, I will be:

  • More thoughtful
  • More joyful
  • More considerate
  • More complementary of the people around me.
  • Be able to slow life down
  • Learn more about myself
  • Give more of my self to others
  • Be ready for whatever adventure lies ahead

My hope is the same for you (to those of you reading, and to the 5 year old to whom this blog is written to). Cheers to that.

With Love,

Aunt Megs*