thankful thursday 20

1413 utah salt flats

I feel like I start every conversation with “It’s been crazy.” And I actually do feel like it’s been crazy in the moment. But as I’m sitting here now, I know some of those moments I just got caught up in life without truly reflecting on what was actually going on. I wonder how many opportunities I missed starting conversations with “I’m so thankful for my life. It may be crazy but I have so much to thank God for.” As I settle in to married life and a new city, it’s easy to brush off new experiences as crazy when instead I’d like to reflect more on the beauty of it all.

So today I’d like to spend some time sharing what I’m thankful for…

TIME. Even though I can’t seem to keep track of where my day’s gone, in truth, I have time.  Twenty-four hours of it.  I have time to live out my life.  I have time to eat yogurt with honey and granola in the morning.  I have time to spend my evenings with my husband.  Every morning I’m blessed with a new day.  So I’m thankful for my time. Instead of complaining of how little time I have, I want to appreciate how much time I actually do have. You never know when your life will be cut short, so why not embrace the time and soak in the quiet moments.

FAMILY. For the first time in my life, I live in a different state as my family.  I know exactly when I’ll see them next and sadly it’s not any time soon. But I’m slowly learning how to love and appreciate them in new ways that I never did before. I love that I’m learning to text and email and call them more.  I love that I now savor every little exchange with them.  It was easy to take them all for granted when I saw them all the time.  Now it’s all much more precious, and I’m so thankful for this new appreciation of them.

CONNECTIONS. Coming back from Alt Summit, I feel so energized about the connections I made.  I can’t describe how safe and warm it feels to make real connections with ladies who are passionate, fearless hustlers.  They reminded me how invaluable a creative community is and how much I need to seek it out in Birmingham.  Making friends here has been slow, but I’m so encouraged by the locals here who are slowly becoming my “tribe”.  I am so thankful God is providing me with such sweet, likeminded people.

FAITH. That’s a doozy. I know faith means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but for me when I think of faith I think of Hebrews 11:1–“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  I am reminded that I’ve put my trust in a God who is always faithful.  A father who has a plan for me, guiding me through life.  When my mom passed away my faith is what brought me through her passing.  I knew I believed in Father who ached with me.  My God, who gave me peace through it all, is the source of my happiness.  And as I face loss again, I know that He will continue to be faithful.  I know that I can depend on Him, and I’m so thankful for that.

As I return back to my work, I’m encouraged to reach out to those I love, to appreciate these small moments, and most importantly, to love unabashedly.

 

Cedar Mountains Wild Horse Range, Utah.  January 25, 2015 | Fuji x100s

 

my favorite camera bag

1411 ona bags
Whoa. The last week’s been a blur. Last night I returned from Salt Lake City, Utah where I spoke at Alt Summit, a conference for creatives and bloggers.  I connected with some amazing women & brands and learned a lot.  The highlight of the conference, though, was teaching my very own class!  I taught editing and how to find your voice.  I nearly fell apart when I realized one of the bloggers I admire (and have a girl crush on) attended the class and loved it!

I’ll talk some more about the class in another post, but first I wanted to thank ONA who graciously gave all my students a discount code for their new website! When I found out I’d be a speaker, I immediately reached out to ONA.  I love their bags.  They are the perfect blend of purse and camera bag.  And I refuse to use those ugly, generic camera bags that shout “I’m a camera bag. Come mug Meg! She has a camera!”  More than often, people compliment me on my bag, then swoon when I tell them it’s actually my camera bag.  These bags are made of quality leather and materials.  They’re durable and distribute the camera weight amazingly. Check out my feature on their blog from my Ireland trip!

So… I’d love to extend my coupon code to you! Use MEGANALT10 before January 31, 2015 to receive 10% anything in their shop.  My bag is the leather Bowery.  I’ll be likely buying the Prince.  And the ONA insert is good for anyone who’d like to protect their gear in their own suitcase, messenger bag or tote!

 

Downtown Salt Lake City. January 24, 2015 | iphone 6

boba time.

Boba Guys

Before I got married, I made my list of things to do in the Bay Area before the end of the year.  Boba was a big priority, knowing very well that it’d be hard to find in Birmingham.  When Lance visited me in California for Thanksgiving, we were exploring the mission when we came across Boba Guys! I’d been wanting to try Boba Guys for a looooooong time, and it was on my list, so I was so excited/happy/overjoyed to try it.  Lance had the horchata with boba, and I had the slow milk lychee green tea from the with almond jelly and boba.  Oh how yummy it was.  Oh man. But “yummy” doesn’t even really measure up to its tastiness.  The teas are sooooo well made and the boba has a subtle flavor that’s just sooooooo good.

Lance and I drank a lot of boba when he visited, but Boba Guys really is hands-down the best boba and milk tea I’ve ever had.  When I was getting my dress fittings I realized another Boba Guys location was along my bus route from the bridal store back to bart.  So every week for three weeks after my fittings I got some boba at the Stockton location.  As wedding planning and work got crazy I didn’t get a chance to go again.  And sadly, I think those were the last times I had boba before I left.

In preparation of my move, Lance found a Chinese market for us to shop at.  We just went last night and discovered we could buy boba and milk tea ingredients! I’m so excited to do some experimenting to make us some boba drinks at home. woot.

Boba Guys Boba Guys Boba Guys Boba Guys Boba Guys Boba Guys Boba Guys

 

 

Boba Guys. 3491 19th Street, San Francisco, CA. November 28, 2014 | Fuji x100s

dorm life

1409 muir woods01

This really should be a post from 2003 because freshman year in college should have been the only time I lived in a dorm.  But alas it’s 2014, I’m 30, newly married and I live on the ground floor of a freshman woman’s residence hall.  I’m living the life, as you can tell.  But really, I kind of love it.

Lance is the Residence Life Coordinator at a private university, and one of the many perks is that we get to live on campus! It’s really such a blessing to be able to start off our life in a furnished apartment.  We live in a cozy little apartment with high ceilings and  northern light.  What a deal, right?  Lance oversees freshman housing, so that’s why we’re living in the freshman residence halls.  Sometimes I wonder if I blend in with the young’ns.

Some fun things to note about living on campus…
– Starbucks & the US Post office are in the building right next to us.
– The internet is super fast. What used to take me hours to upload now takes minutes.
– There’s beautiful buildings everywhere.
– We always have hot water.
– I can take long showers and keep the heat on all day.
– I feel very safe. There’s security 24 hours a day.
– Lance can just walk to work.
– I’m doing well on my step-count on my fitbit.

All in all dorm life is pretty good. My roommate does snore, though, but I think I’ll keep him.  Follow our adventures on instagram at #theBirminghands

 

Muir Woods. March 2, 2014 | Fuji x100s

transition

1408 birmingham

When Lance scored this job in Alabama back in July I didn’t know how to react.  I was excited we could get engaged because of this new job, but Alabama was literally the last state I’d choose to live in.  What I heard and imagined of Alabama was only bad. Racism. The middle of nowhere. Nothing worth interesting.  It didn’t help that shortly after Lance’s move to Birmingham I watched a long CNN documentary on the civil rights movement in Alabama.  I remember sitting with my dad, horrified by the cruel and heartless actions of people.  I couldn’t imagine the degree of hatred that possess someone to attack and kill because of race.  Even if blatant racism experienced during the civil rights movement wasn’t prevalent anymore, I had heard just enough ignorant comments to know that ignorance was still broadly accepted where we’d be living.  I cried that night thinking of all the potential hate that might still remain and the racism I might encounter.  I feared what life would be like as an Asian woman in a city with so much history of racism.  I got myself so worked up it was just all too much to bear at the time, and I broke down.

Over the months leading up to our wedding, with Lance’s constant assurances I slowly opened up to this beautiful city.  And now I feel even more comfortable now that I’m living here permanently.  I see that it’s not nearly as bad as I imagined, and the things I feared aren’t nearly as prevalent as I expected.  We watched the movie “Selma” the other night, and I was just in awe in the fact that we were watching it in Alabama where it all happened.  It’s was hard to imagine how different my new home was just a handful of years ago.  But these issues are real, and many people sacrificed their lives to give me the peaceful home I live in today.  As we walked out of the theater we got to talking to an older white couple, and the woman mentioned how she was from Selma and remembered that awful first march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  She was in high school at the time but was moved to tears telling us she couldn’t believe everything that happened.  As we parted I got to thinking that I’ve been left surrounded by people like her; people who see injustice in racism and wish to mend the wounds of the past.  And I felt at peace knowing that.

The most common question I heard during my engagement was “How are you going to handle moving away and living in Alabama?”  Thankfully the transition’s been pretty good.  We live in a beautiful suburb of Birmingham.  We’re in the hills surrounded by trees, and I’m constantly telling Lance how much I love all the trees everywhere.  We do live in a very wealthy area that’s predominantly white, but because we do live at a university, people are more diverse in their backgrounds here. We’re discovering our own little spots as we settle in as newlyweds.  And I’m so thankful for my past experiences which prepared me for this big transition: all my southern friends who exposed me in to southern culture, living in SLO where it was also predominantly white and all my travel that’s prepared me to be away from my family. I’m happy to embrace our life here.

Married life has it’s challenges and logistical problems (I have too many clothes for our closet). But I’m so happy that God is starting off our marriage here.  We’re right where we’re supposed to be.

 

Homewood, Alabama. January 10, 2015 | iphone 6

bun mee

San Francisco Pacific Heights Lifestyle Photographer

I’m freezing my butt off here. Who knew the south could get this cold.  Last night it was 0 degrees, “feels like -12 degrees”, and all I’ve been dreaming about is hot pho and won ton soup.  Living here reminds me a lot of living in SLO.  I’m surrounded by mostly white people, and good asian food is almost nonexistent.  I remember the drives from SLO home, anxious for some dim sum and cha siu baos.  I’m hoping… praying I can find some decent asian food around here. I met an asian guy who was born and raised in Birmingham, so surely he must know of something yums here.  In the meantime I’ll salivate over the vietnamese sandwiches I’d eat on Fillmore Street in San Francisco.  After my shoots in Pacific Heights I’d walk down the street and have lunch (then visit paper source.)

Bun Mee isn’t the most authentic Vietnamese food, but it sure hit the spot after mornings of shooting.

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p.s. If you were wondering… I can’t even make won ton from scratch because I can’t find ground pork anywhere. I forgot from my SLO days that it was an asian thing.

San Francisco Pacific Heights Lifestyle Photographer San Francisco Pacific Heights Lifestyle Photographer San Francisco Pacific Heights Lifestyle Photographer San Francisco Pacific Heights Lifestyle Photographer

 

 

Bun Mee, 2015 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115. November 21, 2014 | Canon 5d markii, 50mm 1.2L

a new year. a new beginning.

1404 the Birminghands

Happy New Year!  Whoa it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.  I got married. Went on a honeymoon. Packed up my life (in a single day). And moved to Alabama from California!

Today my computer arrived from California.  The UHaul crate with all my stuff won’t be here for another couple of weeks, but I feel like I can finally settle in now that my big computer is here and I can start working. We mailed my computer so it’d arrive sooner.  Super yay to FedEx for sending my computer safely in five days (for $68 no less). woot.

So in honor of this new beginning and the fact that my beloved computer made it safely here, a delayed post about my New Year’s Resolutions. (Because I’ll use any excuse to make a list.)

1. To read everyday. I won’t put a lot of pressure on myself to designate an amount of reading, but I do want to read everyday. This doesn’t include online article reading or my devotions, though.  Real, happy by-myself-for-pleasure-reading.

2. To explore. I’m in a new place.  Whoa. It’s kind of crazy. I’ve never lived on my own. Maybe a little bit if you count college.  But I’m excited to take advantage of this new change and make Birmingham my home.

3. To hustle. Living in a new place with a husband creates plenty of challenges I never imagined as a single person. I know that between my schedule & Lance’s and all the traveling we’ll have to do (check out 2015… that’s not even all of it!), I’ll have to really work on getting work done in timely manner as I won’t have a lot of time to be in work-mode (editing alone in a room for days upon end. oh single life.)

4. To be open.  I want to be open to new experiences, to new people and to new ideas. I don’t want to succumb to the fear of change, which I am often susceptible to. I want to be willing to change my way of doing things and be more mutable in my lifestyle.

5. To wake up early. So far I’ve been waking up early everyday.  You’d think that moving from the PST to CST would make me sleep in, but I’ve been waking up early every day since arriving here.  Nearly every morning I wake up when Lance goes to work.  I start my days early cleaning up the day before and tackling my daily task list.  It’s been wonderful waking up early, so I hope to keep this up as long as I can.

 

 

 My nightstand in our new home.  January 7, 2015 | Fuji x100s

a letter to my married self

Santa Cruz Highway 17

The day is quickly approaching.  Twelve days to be exact.  I’m in a glass case of emotion.  Stress mixing with happiness coupled with excitement heightened with craziness.  I can’t believe my wedding day is so close.  My days in California are numbered.  My days as a “single” person are disappearing.  It feels like the last three months have been crazier than I’ve ever experienced. Nothing really prepared me for this engagement period.  I was thrown into this crazy, but joyous, time while struggling to balance wedding planning, work and packing, only exasperated by travel and holidays.  For the most part I’ve loved being engaged.  Trust me. It’s been incredibly difficult, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. I’ve loved this time to savor my relationships with friends and family.  Nothing really pulls people together like a wedding, something I couldn’t fully realize until now.  Well, even now, I probably won’t even really understand it until my actual wedding day.  But I have to be thankful for encouragement from my friends and family, patience from my clients and an ever endless supply of love and support from Lance.

The majority of the past five years I was coming into my own and learning how to become a better person.  Year after year I grew to appreciate my singleness, which strangely culminates in being married and losing my singleness altogether.  So as I make this huge transition to marriage and Alabama (#theBirminghands), I want to remind my future married self of a few things…..

.   .   .   .   .

To my dear married self,

Please don’t forget there was good & bad to being single.  Singleness certainly had its perks.  You loved traveling whenever you wanted and spending money however you wanted.  And when you’re married and you don’t have those freedoms, remember the new freedoms you gained.  You have a wonderful husband who will help you whenever you need.  You have a partner to tackle the world with when you’re too scared to do it on your.  You’re still that independent woman, but you’re no longer alone.  And a lot of the time, as a single person you didn’t like being alone.  Remember that the grass is not always greener, and while singleness was fun, don’t dwell in the life you used to have.  Your married life is going to be different.  Embrace it.  Don’t be scared.  Relish in this new life for all its joys and challenges.

Please keep up your friendships.  Work for your relationships outside of your marriage.  Remember when you were single and you grew apart from your married friends? Don’t let that happen.  Your friendships will have to evolve now that you’re married.  You won’t have the same amount time or flexibility, but pursue those friends.  Fill your conversations with purpose and care.  Remind them how much you value them.  And most of all, you’ll need them more than ever now that you’re married.

Please be mindful of people who are single.  Don’t bring your husband on girls’ night out.  Don’t bring him to a lunch date with your girlfriend when she needs to confide in you.  Don’t go on and on and on about your marriage.  Don’t tell her she’ll find a husband someday… because really you have no idea what her future will be.  Remember all those times you felt ostracized because you were single.  It was awful.

Please continue to learn how to depend on your husband.  You’ve spent the last 30 years learning to depend only on yourself.  I know it’s hard to change, but you’ve got to do it.  It’s okay to depend on him.  It doesn’t mean you’re incapable or weak.  Depending on your husband shows him that you trust and respect him and therefore showing him love.  Now, of course, that doesn’t mean you must be needy or helpless or lose your independence.  It’s just a means by which you can be vulnerable and grow closer to him.

Please make your marriage a priority.  Be purposeful in your life to work on your marriage.  Have date nights.  Have deep conversations. Have silly conversations.  Care for your marriage. You don’t always have to choose Lance over everyone else, but you do have to choose the health of your marriage over everything else.  If something is bad for your marriage, get rid of it immediately. Protect your heart and marriage and constantly seek out God.

Finally, please cherish your husband.  I know you’ll get to a point when you’ll forget what it’s like to show up to a wedding alone and not know anyone.  You might forget all the times you had to be the fifth wheel.  And you may start to take your husband for granted.  Don’t.  He loves you relentlessly.  Remember to show him that you appreciate, respect and love him.  Remember how much value he adds to your life and constantly pursue a close relationship with him.  Invite him into your life each and every day.  Listen to him even when you’re tired.  Help him even when you’re busy.  Love him even when he may not deserve it.  Make sure he always knows just how much you love him.

Love,
your unmarried self

 

Highway 17 to Santa Cruz. November 29, 2014 | Fuji x100s