work & travel

Mobile Travel PhotographyMobile Travel Photography HP x360 Computer

Now that I’m married I seem to be traveling even more than before.  I still have a lot of work trips that I’ll have to travel to alone, but I love those rare trips that Lance and I can go together.  Most recently Lance’s job took us to Mobile, Alabama, which turned out, to my surprise, to be a beautiful city.  I was expecting a built-up urban area but discovered instead some very charming spots.  I snuck out one afternoon to explore the area around our hotel, but for the most part I spent the trip working while Lance was at his conference.

As I get older and more set in my routines, I have to find a certain sweet spot to get work done, and usually that means routine and familiarity.  And as you guessed, those are hard to find while traveling.  In partnership with HP and the Meghan Trainor, “That Bass Tour” I wanted to share…

My 4 Tips to Working While Traveling

1. Make sure you have everything you need.  On this trip I had a lot of editing to do.  So I took my HP x360, my external hard drive and a power strip.  (I always bring a small, universal power strip wherever I go.  It really helps my popularity at airports when there are never enough ports.)  The HP x360 was great to have.  It’s much lighter than my Powerbook and has a touch screen that I utilized while I edited.  It’s really revolutionary to be able to edit an image directly on the screen.  The HP x360 also has four different modes. I generally use the tablet and laptop modes when I’m working and the tent and stand modes for watching videos and using the internet. It’s a lightweight, versatile computer for travel. You can see more about HP’s new x360 computer on Twitter or Instagram with #BendTheRules.

2. Dedicate time in your day to sit down and work and stick with it.  Wake up at the same time you would if you were home.  This way you can utilize the early mornings for work and be out the door by 10am to explore. Keeping up a routine keeps those boundaries you had when you were working at home, even if it’s for a day.

3. Find a coffee shop to focus and get you out of your hotel room.  It’s hard not to sleep in a hotel room with plush pillows, a comfy bed and blackout curtains.  Trust me, I could sleep for days in hotel rooms.  But you have to work, so if you’re like me and the temptation to sleep is too much, get some fresh air and walk to a local coffee shop.  The coffee and buzz of the shop could help you with the focus you might need.

4. Take small breaks.  I usually read to recharge. Sometimes you sit in front of your computer for so long you start to lose momentum.  Get up and stretch your legs or get a snack. Whatever it is, allow yourself a couple minutes to disconnect.

 

Mobile Travel Photography HP x360 Computer HP x360 ComputerHP x360 Computer

In the spirit of bending the rules, HP has partnered with Meghan Trainor to document her first-ever tour with “All About That Tour,” a six episode documentary of the “That Bass” Tour. In each episode, they’ll offer a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes–focusing on everything from tour life to the tour’s costumes.

Mobile Travel PhotographyHP x360 Computer

This post was sponsored by HP & the Meghan Trainor “That Bass Tour” and HP gave me the HP x360 but all the opinions are my own. 
Thank you, Lauren, Lauren & Molly for your help being my models!

 

Mobile, Alabama. February 25, 2015 | Fuji x100s & iPhone 6

Pottery Barn x Handmade Charlotte

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I’m so excited to be a part of Pottery Barn Kids‘ launch of Handmade Charlotte‘s new craft kits. They’re coming out with four crafts which I find absolutely adorable. I can imagine my nieces loving the pom pom owl, and all little ones would love to dress up and pretend with these  hero masks. I especially love the lace-up little boy & little girl kits, which remind me of the crafts I used to do as a kid.

As part of this new launch, I’ll be hosting an in-store craft event on Saturday, March 7, at the Upper East Side Pottery Barn Kids store during my upcoming trip to New York.  We’ll be making a choice of superhero cuffs or an owl habitat that will compliment the Handmade Charlotte DIY kits available at the store.

Here are the details:
location: East 69th Street and 2nd Avenue
cost: free
day: Saturday, March 7
time: 11:00 – 11:30am or 11:30am-12:00pm
who: You! Each session has 11 spots, so grab your spot soon!
how: reserve a spot by calling (212) 879-4746

Come by and make a craft with me!  And if you’re not in New York, don’t worry.  These craft events are happening at every Pottery Barn Kids store across the country.  Even if you’re not local to my area, click here to find a store near you!

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balance

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Balance. Do you got it?  I sure don’t.

When I was single I was always seeking a balance between friends/family and work.  Being introverted my default was always to be alone.  I’d wake up, start working then work until I went to bed.  Exciting, no?  I loved it, though.  My work hours were erratic and certainly not the regular 9 to 5, but I loved working nonstop, uninterrupted for hours on end.  I thank my years in architecture school for that.  During these last six years of entrepreneurship/singleness I intentionally scheduled time with people otherwise I’d allow myself to be a hermit.  I’d say the single me found a pretty happy medium… and it worked for six years.

Then there was this thing called “wedding planning”. Just a month ago I was struggling.  I didn’t know how to manage all the different aspects of my life.  I was planning a wedding, packing up my life, and trying to work/editing/shoot all in the throes of the holidays.  And I got the flu for a couple of weeks.  (Woe is me, right?  For reals.)  It was hard, real hard, and I totally failed at it.  I think there should be group counseling for brides planning their wedding.  Wedding planning put me at a stress level I’d never known so during that time, you’d better believe finding balance was a far off fairy tale.  Thankfully I’m so happy I got through that time, slightly less sane, but through it nonetheless.  And marrying Lance was the best happy ending.

But aside from that four month blip of wedding planning, I always sought to find balance in my life.  Being married put a new perspective on it all.

I love being married, and I especially love Lance & my setup.  Most mornings as Lance leaves for work, I muster some energy to pull myself out of bed and get ready for the day.  I’ll go around tidying the house and doing laundry.  (We have an insane amount of laundry… or rather, I have an insane amount of clothes.) Then I’ll sit down with my hot beverage and morning yogurt and start working.  I love that we live on campus where Lance works so we get to eat our lunches and dinners together. Yay. Even though Lance accommodates me whenever I need to work at night or on weekends, I try for the most part to be present and turn off work-Meg when he’s home.  It’s been nice to create some boundaries between work and home.

But I encountered a dilemma.  I basically work when Lance works, which added up to 40-50 hours a week, even though when we weren’t married I worked 80-90 hours a week.  So how would I fit in those extra 40 hours of work?  I presented this dilemma to a friend, who was a mom of three young kids and also an entrepreneur, and her response was hopeful and encouraging.  She said, “As you move through these life stages and feel like you have less and less time to work, you’ll learn to adjust.  You’ll learn to finish tasks so quickly you’ll question why it took you so long in the first place.  You learn to hustle.” Upon hearing that I felt so much peace.  She reminded me I didn’t have to have everything figured out right now, but over time I’d get my bearings.  So that’s it. I haven’t found the perfect balance between work and life as a wife, yet, but I will. woot.

p.s. Married life is awesome.

 

Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. January 24, 2015. | Fuji x100s

thankful thursday 20

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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

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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.

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

dorm life

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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

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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