Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Mantra: Holding on and Letting Go

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: Holding on and letting go: a delicate balance that releases the soul
Photo by LukeSharratt on PicsaStock
I'm a big believer in the idea that everything that has happened up to this very moment in your life has created who you are today, exactly as you should be, wonderful and flawed and perfect in your imperfect ways. I also know there is a time and place to let go of the past and reach out to the future. 

I'm trying very hard to be delicate with this. To be fair to all the moments of my life. I'm carefully examining each tiny piece, deciding where they belong. Which ones I need to keep and what pieces I can let go of - gently, gratefully - knowing they built me into the person I am today. 

For example, when my first marriage ended I tried to get rid of all of my old wedding photos. Pieces of me captured in time. It was a daunting task and I didn't make it very far and, eventually, I forgot all about them. Now that my new (AND LAST - ha! No, but really...) marriage is approaching, I've had to go back and tackle this. It has been tremendously easier, however, I still struggled with deleting some of these captured moments because my people are in them. My friends, my family, my grandmother, who will never be in any picture ever again. I made the decision to keep some of these pieces of me because they have value, regardless of the where and how. These are the pieces of me that matter the most.

All of this - this holding on and letting go - makes me realize we all do this, in one way or another. Often, without even realizing it, we have flipped this process on ourselves. Instead of holding on to the good and letting go of the bad, we hold on to the bad and let go of the good.

 We hold on to fractions of old memories that have no place. Moments that haunt us or frighten us or claim our happiness. We trap them inside ourselves because we don't think we deserve better. As a result, we let go of good things. Our hopes and our dreams and the goals we wrongly decided we couldn't reach. We've held on, backwards, because holding on to the wrong things seemed easier at the time. We let go because letting go also seemed easier than the daunting task of working towards what we wanted.

It's time to re-evaluate ourselves, friends. Each piece of us, the good and the bad and the beautiful and the ugly. It's time to decide what you will hold on to, what you will let go of, and why. Do not be afraid to hold on to a variety of pieces of who you are: the bright, dark, murky, or confusing moments of your life. If there is value in them, they should stay. The things you should let go of are the false identities, the mis-beliefs, the lies you've told yourself. Any and all negativity that will surely, without a doubt, hold you down. Holding on and letting go: Find the balance that releases your soul. 



Friday, July 24, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: This Old, Old Home

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Society6

This Old, Old Home

My home is where my heart is happy,
Heavy-laden some with memories:
Dirty dishes washed together,
Family gathered ‘round for dinner,
Card games at the kitchen table,
Twinkling starlight through the window.
Monsoon storms and snowball fights,
Halloween and Christmas lights,
Long walks ‘round the old, old circle,
Every year, another miracle.
Climbing mountains, getting tangled,
Dreams of everything commingled.
Pinpricks in the walls- so many
From the art work and the silly
Little crafts and hearts and pictures
Only grandparents could treasure.
Funny faces, dressed up moments,
Happy ignorance of grownups,
Everything that made me someone,
Memories that can’t be undone,
All of this, so long now gone
Is trapped inside this old, old home.


Monday, July 20, 2015

All Around the World: NYC and D.C.

Wanderlust: A very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world.
redesignrevolution.com
If you're planning a trip to New York City, I highly recommend expanding it by a couple of days to include Washington D.C. The trip between NYC and D.C. is short and easy if you use the Amtrak train out of Penn Station. Either way, NYC and D.C. have a lot of fun adventures for awaiting you.

New York City
When in NYC, there are obviously a lot of touristy things to do: Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building. If you've never been there and have a lot of time to kill, then yes, do them all. See everything you can possibly see. However, if you're limited on time and need to narrow it down, these are the sites I would see and the places I would most surely eat at.

The World Trade Center Memorial is a must. Be emotionally prepared, however, because the way they chose to display the memorial is both incredibly touching and almost too symbolic of the events of 9/11. In place of the two trade centers are two very deep square holes, each representing one of the towers. I imagine them as monuments designed to replicate the holes in the hearts of those who lived through and lost loved ones that day. As you can see below, water pours over the edge of them, and continues deep down into a second hole in the ground. It's impossible to see how far the water goes, which I also imagine is a replication of how deep the wounds are from this day. I couldn't help but think the water represented all the tears shed, flowing down and down and down, into what looked like a bottomless pit of darkness. The walls themselves are filled with the names of all those who passed away on that terrible day in history.
The One World Trade Center is located right next to the memorial and worth a visit as well.

Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is one of my absolute favorite things to do. The views, both day and night, are extraordinary. In fact, I recommend going both times to see a comparison of the city. If you're debating between this and the Empire State Building, DO THIS. No question about it.


Central Park is a must. It just is. I've never made it through the whole thing, and I doubt I ever will. It. Is. Huge. One day when The Fiancé and I were very, very lost on the metro (which is not at all easy to navigate) an incredibly nice gentleman helped us out and informed us that, while he'd lived his whole life in NYC, he had never seen all of Central Park either. Do your best to make it through the first half of it at least. Also, while I'm on this topic of the friendly stranger who helped us, I want to be super clear that NYC residents have a really bad reputation that is not at all fair. I've been there twice and both times I've only ever met incredibly friendly, helpful, kind people.
ABC City is one of my absolute favorite places because of the artsy-ness of it. I love the graffiti, the way artistic expression is represented - everything. We only got to the edge of it this time and not all the way in because we ran out of time, but I highly recommend it if you're an art lover.



While this next one is pretty touristy, I loved every minute of it and I think it takes priority over other things, like the Statue of Liberty or even Times Square. Times Square is dirty and crowded, but The Brooklyn Bridge is architecturally amazing, open and airy, and it just kind of makes you feel alive to walk across it. The best views happen if you go over to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan. It requires a little maneuvering on the metro, but it's worth it.
As for food, NYC is known for it's restaurants, so narrowing it down can be tricky. Especially if you need gluten free options. If you're looking for a late night, quick, budget friendly meal, check out Uncle Paul's Pizza. While the restaurant is little, it makes up for it's size in sheer awesomeness. Most importantly, of course, the GF pizza is yummy!

This next one not only shares my middle name, but is very gluten free friendly. Also, it is fancy. Fancy-shmancy-fancy. Ohmygoodness, though, is it good. Marea has some amazing gluten free dishes (the seafood pasta was...gah...so good) but don't be like us and walk in there in street clothes and then feel silly the whole time you're eating surrounded by people in clothes that cost more than your house. Dress up a little. Just trust me on this. This Michelin rated restaurant is worth it.

Tre Dici Steak is the third best meal I've ever had in my life. No joke, I would fly to NYC just to eat there if I was all wealthy and fancy like that. Sadly, as I was linking this up I learned that the location had closed. I decided to leave this in here, hoping that this is temporary and that they're moving to a new location. It was seriously amazing and my heart is breaking a little thinking it might be gone forever.

I have to give a special shout out to Jacques Torres Chocolate. While I don't believe anything there is gluten free, the service and friendliness was off the charts. I went in to get my mom some chocolate covered almonds and they gave me a free fresh cookie- just because! See what I mean? NYC people are awesome.

Last, but certainly not least, Risotteria Mellotti. This is a very gluten free friendly restaurant that is super adorable and super delicious. I haven't had calamari in YEARS, but I got to have (seriously) the best calamari ever at this place. The staff is great, the food is amazing, and the atmosphere is charming. Go here for sure!
Since The Fiancé had never been to NYC before, we made sure to fit in a few key places, as you'll see below.
Part of Times Square
View from our Hotel at Club Quarters Grand Central
Me and the Statue of Liberty at FAO Schwartz
Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. gave me far more than I bargained for. First of all, I've never felt so American or so proud to be an American in all of my life. It's something about being surrounded by all of those monuments and the stories they hold that just makes you feel incredibly connected to this country. Not to mention grateful beyond measure to all of the people who fought and died for us.

We first started our D.C. adventure in Georgetown, a must see if you go there. Georgetown is a short metro ride away. Might I mention, the metro itself was incredibly clean. I've never seen an underground system quite so clean, actually. When you've been on as many metro systems and train systems as me, you become very appreciative of the ones that are well taken care of.


Anyway...when in Georgetown, take a stroll around. While the shops are mostly chains, the scenery and set up is very cool. There are a few unique ones that are worth your time. There's also a gluten free crepe place, Crepe-n-Cream, and an Asian fusion restaurant, ShopHouse, that you must check out, which is also gluten friendly. Plus, the people in Georgetown have a good sense of humor and understand the importance of food and human alliances.
Hungry? We'll get you BBQ. Thirsty? We'll get you a drink. Lonely? We'll get you BBQ.
Be sure to walk along the waters edge and, if you're up for an adventure, go for a nice little kayak ride. While we weren't dressed appropriately for the ride, we decided to be adventurers and go anyway- and it was SO WORTH IT. Being out on the water, watching the sunset- magic. Pure magic. Make sure you wear water worthy clothing and carry very little items with you as you'll need to lock them in a tiny storage vault while you're out on the water.

When you're back in the heart of D.C., definitely be sure to check out the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. You can easily see so much more than just these while you're out and about walking to them because most everything is in close range. You can easily plot out a really wonderful self-guided walking tour of all the main attractions in D.C.


Another fun little thing to check out would be the little artsy park right past the Washington Monument in what's called The National Mall. It's an outdoor walking path that leads you to museums, a carousel, and a weird yet very awesome art garden. I call the below piece Pizza Cutter de Resistance.
Last but not least, you must absolutely, positively go the the International Spy Museum. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours to get through the whole thing because it is so, so worth it. It has really great interactive things to do for people of all ages, like testing out how good you would've been as a spy, not to mention all the history of real-life spies. I left this place feeling in awe of the world and all of the sneaky, sneaky things we've done in an attempt to save it.


Some of these pictures are available in my Society6 page and more will be added soon! I'm sure the Pizza Cutter de Resistance will be widely popular. Just kidding.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: We'll All Go Down Together

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
I Left my Roots and Took Off Running
Society6

We'll All Go Down Together

Kill the plants and kill the trees,
Smell the toxins in the breeze,
Believe the life you live is clean-
We’ll all go down together.

Buy the plastic, skip the glass,
Blame it on a life that’s fast,
Realize that the world won’t last-
We’ll all go down together.

One day we will live upon
A plastic island in the sun,
It’s all because of what we’ve done-
We’ll all go down together.

I’m no better, you’re no worse,
This modern life may be a curse,
Too bad we didn’t think that first-
We’ll all go down together.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Proposal

Since I'm still in the "Whoa, I'm engaged!!!" phase, I thought I'd expand the story a bit for you of how this all went down. I've also put together a little picture parade show for your enjoyment in which my hair looks good most of the time. You'll see what I mean later. I promise I'll get back to normal soon. Probably.
_

My sweet, thoughtful, wonderful human being. My person.

He spent a year and a half planning it. He thought out every detail, down to recording the entire event so our friends and family could see the special moment.

It started out like this: Several weeks ago he told me to block off June 27 because he had birthday plans for me. Surprise plans.

On that day, he surprised (and tricked) me by having my friend show up for a girls weekend at our house. I thought that was the end of it. It wasn't. That night, he recreated our third date - my favorite date of ours - with a twist in the form of the proposal at the very end.

All of this, so thoughtful. So sweet.

And so hilarious.

When my friend showed up, I was still getting ready for the day, with one section of hair in a curling iron and the rest of me still in PJs. I was thrilled when I saw her and, not wanting to delay our time together, I quickly threw on some clothes and put my wild hair in a ponytail. I later learned that while she and I were out shopping The Boyfriend practiced the proposal on our dogs, both of whom seemed very moved by it, or so I'm told.

The second part of the day was also planned as a surprise. I knew we were going to do something, but I didn't know what exactly that "something" was. The still-at-this-time Boyfriend told us we'd want to dress up a little bit for where we were going. Keep in mind my hair was a disaster from earlier, so of course now that I really needed to look respectable it was was even less cooperative and more weird. I actually thought to myself, "Oh well. It's not going to matter. It's not like I'm being filmed or anything."

First, we went to dinner at this place I love because they're super allergy food friendly. My salad got seriously stuck in my teeth and I couldn't get one very, very stubborn piece of green out. Where are the toothpicks when you need them, I ask? Where?!?! Again I thought to myself, "Oh well. It's not like a ton of people are going to be looking at me. I'll just keep the smiling to a minimum."

Pfft.

The next surprise was a comedy show at Jester'Z Improv. I LOVE Whose Line Is It Anyway, which is just one reason I LOVE this place. At the show, The Boyfriend's best friend and his wife showed up, another new surprise. Remember how I had convinced myself that not many people would be seeing me and I wouldn't be on film and all that jazz? Yeah, well, I would later learn that his friend was filming the entire proposal and his wife was Skyping with family members so they could see everything happen live.

Lesson Learned: Always assume a camera crew is waiting outside for you. And ensure you have a secret compartment of floss and toothpicks on your person at all times.

We all sat down to watch the comedy act and a third of the way through the host asked for couples who needed "therapy." The Boyfriend's hand shot up and we were whisked to the stage, much to my shock because A) Neither one of us are stage people and we never volunteer for this kind of stuff and B) NO ONE ELSE raised their hands. Of course, I had also been laughing so hard I was crying, so this was the perfect time for me to get on stage in front of a bunch of strangers.

The rest is captured on film here, but here's the back story of what happened on stage that you can't see...

My wonderful man met with the owner/host months in advance and planned the whole thing out. Most of it went as they'd discussed until the end when The Boyfriend thought they were doing one more skit about our future. However, instead of the last skit, the host asked us about our future together and then turned everything over to my soon-to-be fiance, who got thrown off a little bit by this change of plans. He had a deer-in-headlights moment and I had multiple confusing moments, which I've outlined below for your enjoyment.

Him: Um...I hope we're happy...and in the same house...

Me, thinking: Don't talk about the house. We just got on good terms! Do not anger the house. Stupid hair! Why, why couldn't you behave today? WHY?!

Him: ...I think you're smart and beautiful and...

Me, thinking: Is this...is he going to...? Do not fall off this stool, Melia. Do. Not. Fall.

Him: ...I wanted to recreate your favorite date night as a special surprise...

Me, thinking: Calm down, me! This is your birthday surprise. Reminder: Smile less. You probably still have that stupid piece of lettuce in your teeth...

Then he whips out the ring and proposes.

Now I get to call him The Fiance. I like the sound of that.


Since then, we've had a lot of inquires about when the wedding is. Like, A LOT. Within a half hour of the proposal even. Since we don't have a real answer, I've come up with this one for the time being:

We will be married in the fall of 2023 in the Himalayan mountains. The Fiance will parachute out of a helicopter to the base of the mountains where he'll wait for me to arrive via mountain goat that I will be riding bareback. The ceremony will conclude at sunset with the ringing of a bell, and doves carrying glitter bombs in their beaks will be set loose over the skies, releasing both awesomeness and glitter all over the world.

In all seriousness though, this was the best, most thoughtful, most wonderful day ever. I can't get over how much time and effort and care he put into this. I may never find the right words to express just how thankful I am to have him in my life.

Thanks to everyone who helped plan and fulfill his vision of our special night! It was indeed very special and beautiful and wonderful.

And hilarious. Just the way we like things to be.


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Driven

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Street Dancing
Society6

Driven

Ambition.
Driven.
On a mission.
Fusing unmatched parts-
Division.
Scrap it.
Trash it.
Fresh beginning.
Rebuild broken dreams-
No ending.
Make it.
Break it.
Each step stumbling.
Sharing empty moments-
Numbing.
Searching.
Seeking.
Eyes wide open.
Waiting for the one right
Moment.


Monday, July 6, 2015

When You Love Someone


My someone, The Boyfriend, asked me to marry him.

I said yes.

Of course I said yes.



Fade Into You
From the show Nashville - Featuring Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio

If you were the ocean and I was the sun,
If the day made me heavy and gravity won,
If I was the red and you were the blue,
I could just fade into you.

If you were a window and I was the rain,
I'd pour myself out and wash off the pain,
I'd fall like a tear so your light could shine through,
Then I'd just fade into you.

In your heart, in your head, 
In your arms, in your bed, under your skin- 
Til there's no way to know where you end
And where I begin.

If I was a shadow and you were a street, 
The cobblestone midnight is where we'd first meet, 
Til the lights flickered out, we dance with the moon, 
Then I'd just fade into you.

In your heart, in your head, 
In your arms, in your bed, under your skin-
Til there's no way to know where you end
And where I begin.

I wanna melt in, I wanna soak through, 
I only wanna move when you move.
I wanna breathe out when you breathe in,
Then I wanna fade into you.

If I was just ashes and you were the ground, 
And under your willow they laid me down, 
There'll be no trace that one was once two, 
After I fade into you.

Then I just fade into you.

Then I just fade into you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: What Once Was

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Vatican State
Society6

What Once Was

What once was bad is gone, is dead,
For new thoughts bloom within my head.
New thoughts of hope and love and light
Have turned the rust to iron might.
 
Days that never ended did.
Worries came and went and fled.
Nights that stretched for hours passed.
Brighter chances came at last.
 
Old thoughts haunting- nevermore.
Burned the bridges, built some more.
Turned the key and locked the past,
Opened new doors, took a chance.
 
Took the risk to blossom fully
Walked right through the fire’s furry,
Opened my heart, scared but willing-
Onward toward a new beginning.