Travel far enough, and you just might meet yourself

Dear Avery,

The first and only time I was in Europe, I was traveling on barge through the countryside of France. At 17, I appreciated the beauty but spent a lot of the time roaming the small towns looking for any food remotely close to American. I found it: Ham and cheese baguette or better known in French, “jambon et fromage”. I literally only ate that. As you can see, I wasn’t terribly adventurous. (But MAN, do I wish I had that opportunity again at the age of 31: sipping wine and enjoying every inch of the countryside. I’ll do it again one day…)

But you know what’s cool? I’m not the same person I was at 17. I’m at a point in my life where I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zones and taking risks. Big and small.

So, with that, I booked a solo trip to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam

I head out to New York City for a work trip, and then hop on over to Europe. With a couple things scheduled like touring Anne Frank’s house, a bike tour around the city, and finding a pub to watch the World Cup… but really, I’ve got nothing major planned.

I’m going to wander.

I’m going to hop on a boat at some point and cruise the canals.

I might catch a train to Belgium.

I’m going to walk around a take a million photos with my canon.

I’m looking forward to finding a random bench along the canal – maybe to write? maybe to sit and be present?

I’m going to find a random street market and roam.

I’m going to take my time.

I’m going to take it all in.

That’s my plan. Or lack thereof. We shall see what comes of this little adventure. I hope to come back to you with various stories: funny stories, stories were I got lost but found my way back, stories about what I’ve learned about myself, awkward tourist stories…

Am I scared? Hell yeah.

Am I anxious? You bet.

But we only get this one life — so fear and anxiety can take a backseat this time around.

Wish me luck.

With love,

Aunt Megs

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A Constant flow of Impermanence

Beautifully honest words.

andrewpreimes

“All conditioned things are impermanent — When one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” -The Buddha

Enso An Enso — A Zen state of mind. Where nothing and everything exists

Every single little action that we create has a cause and effect. That means even something as simple as a single word you say to yourself or to someone else has some sort of signal that’s being sent out into the universe.

But more than words, it’s what you put into action that has the strongest effect for the rest of your life. A lot of people look at change as something that’s so hard to do and I’ve seen a lot of change this past year.

Whether it’s relationships, lifestyle, moving, jobs, I’ve really experienced it all these last couple of years. Maybe some things didn’t work out quite as planned, but I’ve learned that you can’t…

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Show and Tell

Dear Avery,

I came back home to the Bay Area to spend some time with you guys and hang out with your Uncle Andrew before he embarks on his Australian living journey. It just so happened to be the week that you were “Star of the week” in your 1st grade class. And with that week comes your opportunity to bring in a guest for Show and Tell. And you chose me. An honor, that while may sound silly to adults, was very special to me. You’d been asking your Mom for weeks if I could come be apart of that, and with me living 7 hours away, she wasn’t sure that was in the cards. But as fate would have it, that was the week I was here.

We gathered around your classmates. Sat in the important chairs in the front of the class. And started answering some fun questions:

“What is your favorite movie/TV show?”

“What is your favorite part of history?”

“What is your favorite kind of butterfly?”

“What is your favorite time travel?” << This one perplexed me, but I think she was just asking if you could time travel back to any time, what would it be.

“Where is your favorite place to go?”

 

Show and tell

What I love about these questions were the fact that while they aren’t serious questions we usually get asked, like:

“When will you have kids? How many do you want?”

“What is your next step in your career? Are you challenging yourself enough?”

“Are you happy?”

“When will you ________” Fill in the blank.

These types of questions about life can put unnecessary pressure on us at times. They can make us feel either unaccomplished, feeling like we have to rush to the next best thing, or inadequate if your answer isn’t what it should be. (ex: “well actually no, i’m happy at this very moment.”)

So I took this opportunity to be present. To answer the questions as they came. I would like to travel back to the 30’s/40’s wear a flapper dress and dance all night. I would have like to have seen the dinosaurs roam the earth. I like the blue butterflies, but I don’t know what they are called. My favorite Disney movie is “The Lion King”. Some of my favorite TV shows are “The Office” and “Parks and Rec”. My favorite place in the world is Lake Tahoe.

There is simplicity in these questions, and there is an ease to the answers. As there should be.

Avery, your classmates were darling and respectful. Your teacher was magical and lovely. They all clearly enjoyed you, and you showed them kindness back. That was so fun to see!

Thanks for letting me be your show and tell. I’ll cherish that honor for a long time to come.

With love,

Aunt Megs

 

Mindfulness: Where ever you are, be all there.

Dear Avery,

After a stressful week of work, I knew I needed to feed my soul with goodness. After work on Friday, I went to a candlelit yoga session, and the teacher encouraged us to stay for the “Restore Mindfulness” class afterwards. And since I’m on a kick of staying in the moment, and accepting things as they come to me… I absolutely stayed!

I sat for an hour perched up on two yoga blocks with my legs underneath me. Eyes closed. Paying attention to my breath, my body, my coming and going thoughts, and to my instructor’s voice.

Half way through the session, a loud constant noise came from somewhere. Loud air conditioner? Rising the basketball hoops from the court below us? WHATEVER it was, my immediate thoughts were:

Thought 1: How rude!

Thought 2: Don’t they know we are focusing on mindfulness?

Thought 3: Ughhhh. Will someone turn that off? This is so annoying.

Thought 4: I can’t focus.

During my thought process, the instructor said something so profound. She said, “Meet all sounds as they come. While it is easy to immediately judge the sound for interrupting our life, we should in turn adapt to the sound – embrace the way it comes to our ears – and meet it in this space.”

My annoyance immediately floated away. I turned that judgement off. I turned my thoughts into acceptance. I met the sound where it was. Visualized the vibrations going into my ears, and became one with it. The sound went away a few minutes later, and then I welcomed the quiet with the same approach. Ahhhhhhh. So simple. Such a small way to tweak your thinking.

From there, I started thinking:

What if we did that with people?

What if we simply met people where they are – who they are – as they are?

What if we let go of judgments, and embraced people in that exact space?

Lovely thought, right? Starts with each of us. Love and accept people as they are, not what they’ve done or who they were yesterday. Love them for who they are now. Love yourself as you are now.

Where ever you are, be all there.

With love,

Aunt Megs

 

The Bee

Dear Avery,

I had a “me” day, today.

Woke up and read a new book in bed. After that, I stumbled into a new coffee shop. A group of older gentlemen in their 90’s sat around in a circle, laughing out loud and SINGING with each other, and more laughter ensued. This was definitely the reason I walked in today. Walking in to pure joy – plus a french press coffee and a ham and cheese breakfast bagel. < Bliss>

Leaving with a smile on my face, I headed to church. Sat through a message on “Is my good, good enough?” The answer is yes. Your “good”, is good enough for God. You are good enough. PHEW!

Switched gears and went straight for my 2nd favorite place in Orange County: Balboa Island. Walked the perimeter of the island and while listening to one of my favorite podcasts: Invisiliblia. I listened to a story about a couple who’s lively hood was bee-keeping. They built their whole life around it, made a ton of sacrifices for it, and loved these bees like children. Until one day, someone stole them all — a BEE Heist?! What a crazy and random thing to occur. But it happened. The podcast was focused on the psychology of having your lively hood get ripped away  – suddenly. All that you knew, all that you worked for, all that you loved – gone one day. What happens next: Anger. Sadness. Grief. Burden. The anxiety of starting over.

We’ve all been there. Whether on a grand scale, or small. Something or someone you’ve been so used to having: a job, a relationship, a friendship, a home, a pet — one day POOF. Gone.

Now what?

Well, you have a choice. Do you stay in anger and sadness – if so, for how long? Or do you recognize the pain of those bees leaving your life, and start fresh with a new hive? Or do you start a new farm raising llamas? It’s up to you.

I ended my day with a trip to the beach. And given the way the universe likes to give me signs… towards the end of my time there: a single bee landed on my towel near me.

<Of course, right?>

I don’t remember the last time I even noticed a bee. But this one didn’t come near my sunscreen scented skin, this one stayed ahead of me – stopped flying for 30 seconds. Stayed still. I watched it fly away, and from there I noticed a pod of dolphins swimming in the distance.

You should know by now, that I love metaphors — and that little signs in the universe like this bring me joy, and unlocks a understanding that the world is so much bigger than myself. I feel like this bee landed on my towel at the right time. It represented my life changing on a major scale, I sat with it, was still with it, and wasn’t afraid of it — like I usually am when I see bees. And the dolphins were a sign of hope and peace for the future.

Major life changes will happen, Avery, inevitably. Sometimes suddenly. When they do, a range of emotions will occur. I hope you give your self space to understand and own your feelings. I hope you have someone to share them with openly (call me any time!). And I hope that if you ever blame yourself for being the cause of that change, that you’ll be easy on yourself.

Bee brave as you face new changes.

Bee strong with whatever the world throws at you.

Just let it bee.

With love,

Aunt Megs

 

7 & 1 = the right kind of crazy

Dear Avery & Bayley,

Happy birthday week to both of you.

Avery, somehow you are turning 7 — and Bay Bay, you’ve reached 1 full year of life. Insane how the time goes by so fast, but it’s been so fun to watch and be apart of.

I’m sad that I won’t be attendance of your mermaid party today, but I’m glad we got the chance to spend the whole weekend together in Dallas for your God Mama’s wedding. We enjoyed navigating a new, rainy city with huge puddles for me to drive through. We went to the aquarium that housed Flamingos? Because of course it would. Never did I think I’d experience a sea of flamingos in the middle of Texas. We had fun groovin’ on the dance floor, and taking photos in the photo booth wearing panda and shark heads. While I didn’t particularly enjoy sleeping in the same bed with the biggest bed hog of them all, AVERY, it was still fun to annoyingly wake you up both mornings by placing Bayley on your face.

Getting back to your birthdays, I wanted to talk a little bit about each of you, as you are NOW. Because you’ll only be this little for a short time.

Bayley – You are a take-no-shit baby. You are incredibly particular about who you smile at, and who you will allow to hold you. Luckily for me, I’ve passed your test (the photo below mayyyyy say otherwise, but that’s just your resting face). And I’m honored by that. You are a slow to warm up kid, but when you do — you have the best smile and giggle. You make people work for it, and I already admire that about you. I hope that you always hold your ground, and keep that sense of bad-assness. You are already so different than your sister, but I can tell you really love her anyway. Even without speaking yet, I see it.

Bay Bay

 

Avery – You are 7 going on 17. You are intelligent, inquisitive, caring, funny, and full of sass. I could write a book of all the witty things you’ve said. You’ve also become relentless. A trip to Target will always end in you negotiating buying a new toy: “I reach in the way back for the most rare toy, so it’s special.” HOW CAN ANYONE ARGUE WITH THAT LOGIC? You danced until 11:30pm at the wedding because you didn’t want to miss anything — even though your Mom and I were exhausted. So you stayed and danced until the end. You also met my friend’s son who was a couple years older than you. You seemed to really hit it off, talking about science and marvel movies and life in Texas vs California. And when we got in the car — you said, “I don’t really know what he was talking about, but I just listened anyway and nodded my head.” I laughed, but actually really admired that. You could have easily been a 7 year old kid, and thrown more mac and cheese in Bayley’s face at the end of the table. But you sat there, made a new friend, and were really respectful. Wow, am I’m proud of who you are becoming.

Aves and Flamingos

I can’t finish this blog without noting how much of super hero your Mom is. She is grace personified. Having a 7 and 1 year old is a lot to juggle. Dealing with a teething 1 year old who is highly attached to her, while the 7 year old wants to draw and sing and play video games with her… somehow she does it all, with ease. She is incredible at this motherhood thing, and you both are so lucky to have her.

Cracker Barrell

Lastly, I’ve leave you with my favorite thing from last weekend. I realized I told you, Avery, that you were “crazy” multiple times for your funny antics or funny faces you were making. You just smiled and never had anything to say back. Until I told you, “If anyone says ‘You are crazy!” be sure to say back to them “Yeah, just the right amount.” Because we all need a little childlike crazy in our lives. And without a beat, the next time I said “You are cray cray!”… you replied: “Yeah, just the right amount.”

Photobooth

I love you, you little crazy mermaids. Happy birthday(s).

With love,

Aunt Megs

 

My motto for 2018: All is Well.

Dear Avery,

The very last day of 2017, I was hit with a major panic attack. It was as-if the weight of the year for me had waited to show its full strength in the form of taking over my body. It started with a shortness of breath, tightening of my chest, losing feeling in my face and in my fingers. I was grasping the pillow like it was going to save my life. Tears came from every hard moment of the year. Grief sat on my chest, and made itself comfortable for what felt like 15 mins.  Luckily for me, I had one of my best friends holding me through it. Wrapped his arms around me, and let me know he was right there.

Eventually, I came back to reality. I slowed my breath. In and out, in and out – feeling the weight of it. Acknowledging the emotional pain, but also the physical tightness of my entire body. But I got through it.

Hours later, I met up with friends to experience the last beach sunset of 2017, and enjoy the rest of NYE together.

I picked myself up, and I went. No one knew I had experienced that only hours prior. But I went anyway because I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. I needed to push forward, and be surrounded by good people. Ring in the New Year with a positive memory. (At the same point, I’m not dismissing the experience of a panic attack. It happened for a reason. And I am acknowledging and accepting that.)

The next day, I went to the beach alone to watch the first sunset of 2018. As always, I take photos of the ever-changing views. That day was no different. There in the midst of photos, was a Cross of light within the sunset. So clear. So relevant in that moment. I felt a rush of warmth and comfort. With the words “All is Well” that came to my heart. I believed this to be a sign from God that He is with me, and that “All will be well”. It was what I had been seeking: comfort, security, calmness, and peace.

All is Well

To go from a moment in your life where it feels as if the world is emotionally and physically suffocating you, to the very next day feeling peace and comfort, is a bit of a roller coaster….but a worthy one. This life is so beautiful in those fragile moments, and also in the stillness of joy. Finding the balance of the two worlds is what life is about.

I’m choosing to use “All is Well” as my motto for 2018. I know anxiety is a part of my life, and I also know that she’ll come back with vengeance at points throughout the year. And when she comes, I’ll look her straight in the face and tell her: All will be well. Even I have to repeat a thousand times. Because maybe in that moment, it’s not well.  And that’s ok because I know it eventually will be. And that makes all the difference in how we pick ourselves up and go enjoy the next sunset.

With love,

Aunt Megs