Category Archives: Musings

Happy 1st Birthday, Shutter Force Photography

This February marks an exciting month for Shutter Force Photography. It’s our birthday! James and I started dabbling with the idea of starting a travel and adventure photography company back in 2013, but officially launched our website in February 2014.

www.shutterforcephotography.com

We can hardly believe a year’s gone by already. This first year has been all about developing our skills and style (as well as the constant work on confidence). We changed our weekend priorities, setting our alarm clocks pre-dawn to go chase the light around our home island of O’ahu. We plan our activities around sunsets and we have been exploring our backyard like never before. There’s few things more exciting than discovering new locations to shoot that are only a few minutes from your bed! (Hawai’i never ceases to deliver great subject matter! We are incredibly lucky to call it home.)

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A Year to Learn & Grow

James traveled to the Big Island in October to learn and shoot with landscape photography magnates Colby Brown and Jay and Varina Patel. While his talent as a landscape artist truly emerged after this workshop, what excites me most is his passion for the craft. He has really taken to post-processing, and he produces work that is very distinctly “James Brogan.” He’s really coming into his own as a photographer and it’s evident in everything from how he sets up to shoot something at a location, to his composition, to his post-processing and then finally, in how he shares it. Speaking of sharing, James has really hit his stride with marketing on Google+. For the first year on G+, sharing rather intermittently, James managed to accumulate just about 1 million views on his profile, and averaged approx. 50-75 likes per post. Then, in January, something magical happened. With one photo, his cool shot of the beach dunes on the Oregon coastline (see below), he managed to pull in over 2,500 “likes” and –get this- saw his profile count jump to FOUR MILLION in THREE DAYS.

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Needless to say, we were both freaking out. Since then, he has been stream-rolling along and, as of my earlier check today, his Google+ page has been viewed 14,049,528 times.

Wowzers.

It’s been a real delight to grow into photographers together over this past year. We love shooting together, although by now we’ve figured out that we can’t shoot the same subjects anymore. This means we go get coffee together before the sun comes up, we drive to a location together, and then we don’t see much of one another until after the dawn light is zapped and then we come back together to share LCD screens. James is totally a “big picture man.” Landscape shots, often the wider the better. I’m finding my favorite things to shoot are detail, or people, and most definitely animals. However, we do both have a similar obsession with shooting the milky way. We like to watch photography tutorials together. We share inspirational photos with one another daily.

On To 2015

This next year will be a new adventure for us, as we seek to turn our goals toward production, publication and paying gigs. We’re going to be stepping out of our comfort zones and putting ourselves out there like never before. Oh, and we’ll be doing a LOT more shooting. And traveling. Our next location lined up in Colorado in a few weeks for a totally awesome wedding, and we have our sights set on shooting in Norway and London later this year. We’ve still never been to Molokai or Lanai and the Napali coastline hike is still on the bucket list. So here’s to our second year at Shutter Force, and thanks for all the support for our first!

Thank You

Thank you to JeIMG_0345.JPGssica Neubert for her creation of our epic new logo that we are so excited about. She is such a natural talent, and knew exactly what we were looking for!

Thanks to SmugMug for hosting our site for the first year (and kicking off our second), as well as helping us celebrate our first birthday! Thanks for making our photos look gorgeous!IMG_0339.JPG

We also want to thank Pat Corlin Photography, Colby Brown & Jay and Varina Patel for all their inspiration and guidance. Love also to the Corlins, the Brogans and the Haughs for their support and putting up with us and our insatiable shooting.

I’ll be posting a gallery shortly here on Meagzpeditions of our 20 favorite shots from the firstear of Shutter Force. We hope you enjoy. Aloha!

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It’s Time to Take Back Valentine’s Day – for all of us!

Valentine’s Day. It’s coming this Saturday whether you like it or not. Such a peculiar holiday, one that seems to draw lines in the sand between the supporters and haters. Each year I hear echoes of naysayers, “It’s a made up holiday by the greeting card companies…” Despite this, I still appreciate the holiday. The idea that, for one day a year, everyone thinks about love. Even when people condemn having a designated day about love as stupid, their thoughts are still focused on love. And what’s wrong with that? Here are some common arguments against V-tine Day and why they just don’t cut the mustard.

It’s commercial.
Yes, yes it is. But this point is but moot compared to every other holiday. Name one other holiday that isn’t tainted by the almighty hunt for the buck. In our capitalist society it only follows that if there’s a market with a demand, there will be a supply. If it bothers you, find a way around it. Make something, go rogue with no gift and create a memory instead. Hike, watch a sunset, play in the snow. But by George, for this girl, there will be chocolate on Valentine’s Day (except Hershey’s. The punks) and there will be a lot of it. I will regret nothing.

Forcing love to happen
I ask again, what’s wrong with carving out a day a year just to celebrate love? Remember that it is your choice how you commemorate it. If you treat the day as a commercial nightmare then that is exactly what it will be for you. Putting a price tag on a holiday does not invalidate it. If you’re with someone who demands a giant bear/flowers/gift/spendy dinner/etc. and wouldn’t appreciate a handmade card from the heart and a homecooked dinner, that’s your struggle. Don’t blame Valentine’s Day. And express those feelings to this person you are supposed to love. If they don’t see eye to eye, maybe you need a new partner. Love takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re trying too hard, you might be doing it wrong.

Reminding people of their loneliness
Lonely people do not feel more lonely on Valentine’s Day. This is some weird myth floating around that people persist on believing. Hollywood and television help to ram this idea down all our throats, typically because playing to stereotypes means the plot and writing can lapse. The truth is, lonely people are going to be lonely until they find someone, or at least start putting themselves out there. Doing a quick search online leads to singles events at restaurants, libraries, and Meetups. Follow the advice of Theresa Christine from Tremendous Times and choose from 5 Kickass Alternative Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day. Take this day and seize it. I can’t think of a better time for a lonely person to get out there and look for friendship than this day of the year. (Love doesn’t happen in a day. Make a friend and maybe you’ll fall in love someday). The couples out there celebrating their togetherness should be a confidence boost. “If they can find love so can I.” Let’s face it, there are some really strange people out there finding happiness with another. Embrace this day and find a way to meet someone new. When love is on the mind and in the air, the odds of finding someone special just might be better on this day than any other all year long.

Be Mine – Be Ours
My favorite part of any holiday are the traditions that come with it. The big ones like lighting the Menorah, hanging the stockings, dressing like ghouls and goblins, fireworks, etc. are all wonderful. But the traditions that mean the most to me are the little things, like getting to open one (and only one) gift under the tree with family on Christmas Eve. Like screaming the countdown of the last seconds of the year across our neighborhood from one house to another. Devouring my Mama Peg’s twice-baked po-date-ahs (potatoes, for the rest of you) at Thanksgiving. So, what about Valentine’s Day? The only two I can think of personally are my Dad always sending his girls a card, and my husband and I dining out to celebrate our engagement anniversary. What else do people do to celebrate this holiday and make it special? Maybe that’s why there’s resistance against it, there aren’t enough ways to make it ours. It’s time to put more traditions in place to effectively take back the holiday from the commercial death grip that leaves a storm cloud hanging over it every year. Let’s put an end to the feeling that this isn’t a “real holiday” and make it just that.

This Valentine’s Day, make a new tradition that’s special to you and share it with your friends and family. Do it every year. Oh, and tell me about it too, I can’t wait to make it one of mine. I’ll share one I come up too. In time, this holiday might finally feel like it’s worthy of all its potential. Here’s to our Valentine’s Day!

Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.

My blogging assignment this week: write an open letter. This week I’ve been heated about The Hershey Company and their most recent bogus moves, so I chose to focus this assignment on them. Bear with me, this isn’t my usual area of expertise. Here goes nothin’.

Dear Hershey Company: It’s over. And it’s not me, it’s you.

The Hershey Company,

Today, we’re officially over. It’s true we’ve been on-again, off-again for years now, but I’m breaking up with you for real this time. I gave up Hershey Bars in my s’mores years ago, thanks to my introduction to Cadbury Dairy Milk on a visit to my sister in Vienna, Austria. However, after the recent announcement of your scandalous lawsuit, I’m upping the ante. I’ve purchased my last package of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I will seek out an alternative candy to replace my Rolo pretzel bite recipe as my go-to Potluck dessert. There will be no more Reece’s Pieces purchased at the movie theater to add the sweet to my salty popcorn. We’re done.

You, the corporate king of candy, have decided it would be in your best interest to prevent your oversees competitors at British Cadbury from distributing their products here in the United States. You sued, and we all got the news that you won earlier this week. Your excuse was that the product packaging was too confusing to consumers. I can’t help but be offended. Rebecca Orchant in her post on the HuffPost Blog explains it perfectly: “That’s right, they are actually saying out loud to our faces that they are protecting us from being too stupid to know which chocolates we are buying.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, The Hershey Company. But wait, hold the phone. While making claims of consumer confusion, you are actually counting on us to not know where the candy is coming from, because now YOU are going to be the producers of Cadbury candies, with your own inferior formula taking the place of the British Cadbury product. But these products will be branded as Cadbury. I see what you went and did there. How disgustingly deceitful, and such a double standard!

This lawsuit is a prime example of your desire to create a monopolistic stranglehold on this country’s chocolate candy supply. It hurts specialized American candy store owners by limiting their product variety and reducing their ability to compete with giant retailers. “I don’t know how we’ll survive,” says Nicky Perry, a chocolatier interviewed in the NY Times article After a Deal, British Chocolates Won’t Cross the Pond. Don’t think this means these little stores are going to bow down and cave in to selling your products instead. Not when they taste like the crap they do.

And then there’s all the other dirt about you, The Hershey Company. One doesn’t have to dig very far before uncovering a whole lot of question marks involving your potential child labor violations. Well, those do remain to be proven, since you’d been so swell at suppressing any and all information about your history of child labor and fair trade practices. Until the 2014 lawsuit forced you to open your records to your shareholders. Not to us, the public, the consumers, but at least to the people most closely invested in your company can have a look and help you figure out what best to bury for the biggest buck. Well played, my chocolate adversary. You win again.

Personally, I have a particular bone to pick with you because of what you have done to my favorite candy. Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai candies entered into my life on a Costco run, and my return trips there regularly involve at least one bag of them. Well, until two weeks ago, when upon opening the bag of deliciousness (our housemates all lovingly refer to them as “crackberries”), we discovered that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The “crackberries” didn’t squish the way they used to. They didn’t stick in my teeth the way they used to. They are almost chalky to taste compared to the juiciness of the before. And lo, right on the package, a new word glares out at us: FLAVORS. This candy used to be made with real fruit pieces. That was the appeal. That’s why I would pay more than $10.00 a bag for them. That’s what I used to justify them to myself when I ate way more than I should. Now they do not only taste weird, they’re made with even more artificial ingredients than before. A Google search led me to the reason why the “crackberries” have turned into “crapberries.” The reason, Hershey’s, is YOU. You bought out Brookside and ruined a perfectly wonderful product. You took out the real fruit and put in artificial flavoring and continue to market it at the obscene price it was offered for when it was actually worth it.

By writing this letter to you I’m not only declaring my own personal distaste for your abhorrent business practices, but also for your far inferior products. The most recent fight banning imported competition is in the process of blowing up in your face, as hundreds of thousands of consumers out there are learning more about your products than you ever wanted them to know. I hope it leads to more discerning chocolate lovers finding domestic producers with integrity and quality. And more trips to Europe to get a chance at the real Cadbury. Because we real chocolate lovers, thanks to the combination of your expensive legal team and dubious practices, won’t be able to get them here at home anymore.

So goodbye, Hershey’s. Don’t call me. And don’t even think about sending chocolate to apologize.

Meagz

There’s a whole lot of newness happening ’round here!

Aloha friends!
Exciting things happening around here. I’m currently enrolled in two classes offered through the awesome magazine Creative Nonfiction. (Check them out here!) One of these classes is called “Blogging for the Writer.” This means that you can expect to see a lot of fresh posts on Meagzpeditions again, and possibly hear more about a new blog launching in the near future. We’re going to be writing across a lot of spectrums so some of the material may be untraditional for me, but it’s time to step out of the box. Hopefully, it will prove enjoyable reading for my friends and followers. Also, I have updated the web address for this blog so you may need to find me through http://www.meagzpeditions.com if a previous link isn’t working for you! There’s the update, you may now resume your normal programming. 🙂
Mahalo,
Meagz

 

Words for Maya Angelou

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Maya Angelou over the past 30 hours or so since I read the report on her passing.

For some of us, there can be a desire within us to pay tribute to someone who influenced our lives, even if it is after the fact or something we fear will never reach the ears of those its meant for.

I choose to write of her, and for her, as my tribute to a life well-lived.

I grew up in a small New Hampshire town, fortunate in my family and finances. No sob story of any magnitude to be found in my childhood. No background of struggle that would lend to identifying with a life so affected by adversity and pain. So what happened when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Did I complain about it being boring required reading? Put up a fight that it was outdated or dull? Nope. Not once. I was blown away. I was moved. I was furious, hurt and scared. I was proud and then I was empowered. I connected with young Maya, with our shared love of the power of words and I felt her pain. I felt her anguish. How could I possibly feel that I could see so clearly through the eyes of someone so removed from my own life experiences? What right had I to feel like I could understand? Me, with my so-called-life and her, a vision of courage and strength?

Herein then lies, for me, the magic of Ms. Maya Angelou. She possessed the incredible ability to reach through the circumstances of anyone’s life, grab them by the heart and pull them directly into her writing. It didn’t matter where I came from, or what color my skin was, whether I was a boy or a girl or an adult. The burning desire of freedom from injustice can be felt by any human; if one can manage to pull back the curtain of differences that separate us and get right to the heart of it.

We are more alike, than unalike.

What is most often remembered about any incredibly influential author are the soundbites, the short quips and quotes that define a legacy. Ms. Angelou has hundreds, shared and re-shared across social media like wildfire over the past two days. And yet, are these the most profound words ever written? Maybe, but maybe not. Do they dazzle with complexity and mastery of language? Actually, they don’t. They are simple. Some of them are quite raw. But these words contain more power than literary prowess.

Maya Angelou understood how to turn her words into a mirror, so that each sentence became a reflection of your own knowledge. She could reveal to the reader truths held as self-evident, merely dormant, waiting to be uncovered.

A quick Google search presents two of her most oft-quoted idioms:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

I find it difficult not to clench a fist and exult an emphatic “YES!” after reading these sentences. Because I understand them in my heart to be true. I’ve always known them to be true. Ms. Angelou reveals to us the wisdom we hold in our own hearts and allows us to move into the space to embrace these truths and apply them to live a path we are proud of.

I have always respected Maya Angelou for her courage. I respect her for her wisdom. For her passion. But what I appreciate now is how much she has influenced my life, helping me find my strength as a woman, teaching me to ignore the comments of others seeking to belittle my choices. What I have come to know is how she believed in me. She believed that a little girl in a small town could understand the adversity she faced throughout her life, regardless of the perceived gap between us. She believed that I would find her messages reflected in my own heart and use them to shape my journey through my own life.

I remember reading her poetry aloud in a middle school performance, clad as Harriet Tubman, in unison with girl friends of mine filling the roles of other notable women through history.

I am a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman,
that’s me.

I have learned much from this sage author, and I continue to find truth in her words today. I’m sure I always will. Her wisdom in words have been a gift to me, and the only way I feel I can show my gratitude is to continue in her medium. Ms. Angelou: Here are some of my own words to interpret one of your lessons.

To know another person’s struggle separates you from the person you are, thus revealing the path to the person you’re meant to be.

Thank you for the guiding light: past, present and future.

-Meagz

Thanks Goodreads.com!

If you love to read, Goodreads.com and their subsequent App will be a remarkable discovery. It is an incredible tool to sort your literary chaos. You can sort books into categories of your choosing, rate and rank and recommend. Use the scan feature on the App on your smart phone to instantly add books to your virtual library. Anytime a book is recommended to me, or I discover something I desire to read (usually while listening to NPR), it goes right onto my To-Read “shelf.”

I enjoy using the site to connect with friends and send my recommendations to them after I’ve finished something I really liked and know they will enjoy. And then there’s the reading challenge. At the start of 2014 I committed to read 60 books in the course of the year, and Goodreads tracks my progress. It even gives me updates on my progress and lets me know if I am on schedule to finish before the end of the year. After hitting 60 last year, I’m bumping it up for 80 this year. Thank goodness for the library (because buying 80 books in the year would get expensive and my husband my kill me for adding 80 books to our already-crammed shelves, and for Goodreads in helping me achieve this feat!

 

Palpable Magic

My previous post covered how fun the wedding was, and I’m still aghast that it lasted less than an hour. What powerful emotion can emanate from such a blip in our lifetime! Now I’ve had time to process the events that came after the ceremony, it’s time to try to put into words what happened next. We had a little interlude between the ceremony and the reception, some rum punch and steel drums to fill the ‘tween time. Lots of pictures and hugs from our guests, James and I took a turn on the steel drums and Max told me (after some confidence nudging from his mom) that I “looked pretty.” My feet floating on air had been touch and go until this moment. I was now positively airborne. What followed next was really nothing short of the best party ever.

The path to the beach reception was lit with luminaries and the guests made their way to the site while James and I hung back for our grand introduction. It was even more exciting because we hadn’t seen the set up and Nadia had been hinting about all kinds of surprises in store for us. The wedding party was introduced and James and I snuck around the back end of the beach where an awesome set of stone steps afforded us a secret entrance to take all the guests by surprise when we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Brogan. Awaiting our debut, this was the first moment when it was just the two of us for more than a day and words can’t express the wonder with which we stood and stared at each other for a solid three minutes of silent expression. We were speechless as we beheld this beautiful beach that held the most incredible group of people, all of whom came together for us. The silent electricity passing between us grew as we stood there on the bluff hand-in-hand, already aware this night was the best of our lives to date, and reeling from the knowledge that it was just about to get better. That moment hangs suspended in time for us, and then the snowball began to gather speed. Next thing we knew we were arm in arm down the steps, surprising the guests, hugging everyone, dancing to the full steel drum band and then whoa, it was time for dinner!

The food was incredibly good, all full of caribbean flavor like I hoped it would be. I ate until I was beyond stuffed, but the genius of the corset dress worked its magic. Shortly following dinner it was time for speeches, and to cut the cake. Truthfully, the night was such a blur the order of events is slightly fuzzy. At least I think we did the speeches first, so as to let our Best Man get his over with. Unbeknownst to me, our Kyle (always the life of the party) is deathly afraid of speaking in public, and hadn’t been eating for the two days leading up to the wedding. Good heavens. We’d only asked him to say a few things and make a toast, but facing his fear like a true hero, he went above and beyond and shared wonderful words of friendship that brought laughter and smiles and a thunderous round of applause. My sister Laura was genuine and loving and the tears were welling up before she finished her first sentence. Then Matthew and Laura sang a duet for all of us and the well of tears overflowed. Years of adoration and love tumbled out of our eyes as we all realized this was a moment we’d talked about since we were young and green. “Someday we’ll sing at your wedding” they used to say, and this was it. My wedding!

I was as full as I could possibly be, both in my soul and my stomach. Time to cut the cake. It’s a god thing I have a dessert shelf, because that cake was magnificent. So beautiful to behold, even more incredible to indulge. James behaved himself and didn’t cover me in cake, so I followed suit, if only to make sure no bit of that deliciousness was wasted. Hit fast forward again because my next fragmented memory is Matthew calling us to the dance floor for our first dance. This was a particular delight for me, as James had been alluding for months how much he was dreading it. The first dance song we managed to keep a secret from all but each other and I wish I’d looked around to see everyone’s reaction to our choice, but when I heard Jason Mraz’s voice begin our anthem I Won’t Give Up, all I saw was James.

The song seemed to last forever and yet I feared not blink to miss it. It wasn’t until after our dance that I discovered how many of our dear friends were brought to happy tears watching us share that moment. Then James and his wonderful mother Ada danced to Rascal Flatt’s My Wish and my father and I had a medley of songs special to us ending with John Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith. The moments were so special and kept bringing us higher and higher. The dance floor opened up to some fierce dancing, and many drinks imbibed. Matthew and I devised the signature drink for the evening: a blue curaco, coconut rum and pineapple masterpiece Matthew dubbed: “I’m Ruined.” It was a huge hit and cups of blue surrounded us all evening.

A particular favorite dance floor moment was James and my dedication to all the couples there for the evening, our unusual rendition of (of all choices) Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, performed quite romatically by Boyce Avenue. I have snapshots in my memory of our three honeymoon couples Jenny & Trevor and Matt & Callie and Laura &Gary holding each other close and all of us singing aloud with the utmost joy. Oh what a night it was!

The excitement continued with great music, fun dance antics, more drinks and plenty of cake. But the night still hadn’t reach a pinnacle until it was time for the favors to be released. James and I first released floating wish lanterns in Thailand and we found the experience so moving and romantic, we knew we wanted a part of our day. We managed to find 100% biodegradable white lanterns and had them shipped to St. Lucia. They’d already traveled the world before they made their way to our beach, having bounced around cargo bays throughout the US before heading south to Central and South America, then Turks and Caicos and finally St. Lucia. Just in time for us to send them on their final voyage.

We knew they’d be beautiful, but we could never have predicted just how much all of our guests loved the releasing of the lanterns. There is no word in any language that can capture the joy in each of the faces as they watched their lantern soar and join the others in the night. Decades fell off of faces, as each was filled with delight and rapture. The magic of these moments was palpable, we held real magic in our hands and then sent it aloft. We were a swirl of carefree believers, a community of dreamers that just watched dreams we didn’t even know we had take flight. Very few words were exchanged between the exclamations of happiness but I know this experience made the greatest impact of the evening for all. Epic joy, true love and real magic are the three ingredients for our greatest adventure yet.

Why I’ve failed at blogging

On a daily basis I find I myself asking why, with every passion in the world to write, did my attempt to blog fail so grandly? I’m haunted firstly by the clichés: All the best laid plans… Every good intention… etcera and so forth. Easy excuses come instantly to mind and sound so easy rolling off the tongue: “I got a big girl job.” “Work was so demanding.” “I live in Hawaii, I should be at the beach, not at the computer.” “I wasn’t generating enough readers.” All the excuses boil down to the next level of realization: self-depreciation: “I’m lazy.” “I have trouble committing myself.” “I’m overwhelmed.” “I’m a procrastinator with ADD and no follow-through.” “I suck at this.” “What was I thinking?” “I can’t.” It’s endless rounds of mentally punching yourself in the ear.

Then you just feel shitty about the whole attempt and try to think about anything else.

Weeks went by without a post, then months, and lo, for no real good reason whatsoever, I had today. And today, I had a need to write. This post spilled out of the ashes of the blog bust, and something true has begun to emerge. A new vision; a new passion is germinating. These stirrings echo my initial intentions of blogging glory, but ring with a wisdom and an insight that none but time, experience, and yes, utter failure can bolster. Here I sit, after a grueling day at work, facing a grandiose void of 10 months between my last post and this, my staggering lack of successful attempts and still, I’m writing. The gaping void allowed me to analyze myself and see something real, something solid. I have burrowed to the roots of my failure. The rest of the excuses were merely symptoms.

There are two root causes of the epic blog fail:

1. I ignored the cardinal rule of blogging: to just WRITE. All the time. The End.

2. I stopped reading other blogs.

There they are. I’ve said them aloud. And what’s better: I’ve published them. No longer in denial: check. They say that’s the first step toward progress.

Why these two reasons? It is only through failure I have been able to recognize and understand them.

1. I’ve read a hundred blogs about how to be a successful blogger. They always have a common thread: just WRITE. They warn you, the words don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written. A blogger’s life expectancy is judged first on quantity, then quality narrows the field to what’s worth reading. I found myself trapped by an obsession with content and a determination that every piece must fit narrowly in my genre. I was my own worst enemy, letting the lack of an exciting subject or a need to produce something awesome every entry bog me down until I was subconsciously keeping myself from writing anything. No, I’m not a successful blogger. Not yet anyway. But I know how true the wisdom of those that are impart on us that aren’t (yet). Whatever you do, just write. Every. Damn. Day. It’s the only way to even start to ripple in this realm.

2. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. When I stopped reading other blogs regularly, I lost my inspiration/motivation/the spark/competitiveness/determination to succeed. There’s nothing more powerful a motivator than seeing someone you can relate to accomplish exactly what you desire. How can one emulate success when you lose the lodestar that launched you on your adventure in the first place?

So here we go. As with every good education, it all begins with reading and writing. Now that I’ve written, I’m off to read.

-M

Want to join me? I’m going here now: http://www.candicedoestheworld.com/

…back! (Part Vier- 4 of 4)

On your marks, get set… GO NYC!

Thursday: More butts off at the Works, this time with Laura too! Melissa was tough on the three of us and we were a little nervous for our immediate departure to Connecticut from the gym to board the train for Grand Central in glorious NYC! With plans to stretch it all out on the train we showered and piled in, ready for the most ridiculous 28 hours of the trip to date. Made it to CT, caught the train and dumped out at Grand Central- how fun to finally see the legend! (Strange how many trips to NYC never led me there until now). I have to say, THIS part of the trip, the NYC whirlwind was my surprise gift from Laura-Li and Mumusmurf. Not only did they book the three of us a SUITE at the St. Giles-The Court Hotel (sharp!), but the reason for the trip was a Friday morning appointment at none other than the world’s largest and most famous bridal salon: KLEINFELD’S! (Of TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ fame). While getting ready for dinner, the man of hour arrived to meet us: my best friend and creative director Matthew G! We had drinks in the lobby bar downstairs (LEX) then went off to dinner at Rare. Matthew flew off to work at Industry, where he’s the lead bartender. We headed to a convenience store where Laura marched up to the counter and demanded two AA batteries and an Aquafresh (toothpaste). Then it’s off to Industry where the night is a bit of a blur between the crowd, the drinks, the drag show, the shots bought for us by the leading queen in New York, the man from Morocco, ENOUGH!, looking at pictures of the bouncer’s wedding on his phone (Randy’s the best!), faces down in the bed at 2 a.m. with Laura viciously grunting to set the alarm for 8:45 a.m. with a mouthful of feather pillow. I’m surprised the front desk didn’t call to ask us to settle down as we laughed hysterically for goodness-knows how long.

Fast forward 6 hours of sleeping like dead women… to 9 a.m. AWAKE! KLEINFELD’S DAY! Got dolled up and cabbed our way to the grand doorway, the excitement rising to giddy levels as we approached the reception desk. The lobby was crowded with anxious brides and entourages and seating was scarce. Not to worry, it gave me the chance to have a corner vantage point to take in the bridal madness. Before long, my consultant came over and introduced herself and swept us to our room to begin the appointment. There was a certain level of nervousness lurking behind my confident smile when I was introduced to Christiane, my personal dress consultant. I can’t give out too many details about the whole event (James does read these posts after all) but I can say that I am officially a Kleinfeld bride. We had not intended to find the dress of my dreams, just wanted to experience the legend of the world’s largest bridal salon and get swept up in the bridal planning… but I also hadn’t planned on meeting the perfect person to find me the perfect dress. I’ve bought a lot of gowns in my day, and have never been welcomed so warmly and made to feel like my happiness was the only thing that mattered in the whole world. Not just by my team, but everyone in the shop. It didn’t matter that they see 90 appointments a day, they made me feel like I was the only one in their world. I was listened to-really listened to-and Christiane used her skills of finding exactly what I described to her. Not only did she take the time to totally understand my vision of the dress and whole theme of the wedding, she took the time to get to know US, and when I left I felt like we’d been friends for a long time. She told me I was one of the most interesting brides she’d ever met and that I shouldn’t be surprised if I find her lurking in the bushes in St. Lucia during the ceremony. HAH. She won’t need to lurk in the bushes if I just send her an invitation! She made such an impact that we may do just that. I’m sure she’ll be a hoot on the dance floor too, and that’s really what it’s all about anyway. In addition to the true love stuff. Ah, Kleinfeld’s. I would recommend it to any and all and it’s worth the trip to NYC, even if you are only there for 28 hours.

Departed NYC for a long but wonderfully happy ride home, changed out the bag and then it’s straight to the marina at Lake Winnipesaukee for a long overdue weekend of REST. Well, as much rest as one can get when hanging with the redneck yacht club on the WAM’s Gold Coast…

I DID get to sleep late on Sat and Sun and indulged in breakfast ala Scrappy and Chuck (which means an epic omelet bar and even custom-made pancakes for the non-egg eater=me). My incredibly awesome cousins Scott, Michelle (and husband Eric:) and even Mama Peg (my grandmother, but don’t let her hear anyone call her that) arrived for a glorious day on the lake complete with laughter, summer drinks and a Pole-ish Horseshoes tourney. Next time Scotty, we’ll get ’em next time.

Another epic day of boating was the hilarious day spent at Braun Bay, where boat after boat anchor up close to each other and engage in water sports, eating and drinking in the sun all day. It was a very crowded scene and I was exhausted by the revelry and the sun so I laid down on the bow to take a nap. I awoke with a start, thinking it must have been the world’s longest nap because suddenly before my eyes: spring break was in full swing. There were boats blasting thumping beats, girls selling fluorescent Braun Bay t-shirts from floaty rafts and an enormous custom crafted water slide boat. Literally, it was a modified pontoon boat with a bar with bar stools and a giant pool slide perched atop. The throttle was built into the side of the bar and it somehow has a license to drive around Lake Winni. Go figure. Polish horseshoes continued to entertain, groups of guys were doing beer bongs out of a hollowed-out flamingo, and the area around our boat was jammed up with rafts, floating coolers, beer pong tables and scantily clad college-aged party animals. What the heck….? Cabo in New Hampshire? There was little to do… but have a drink and go down the slide! Woohoo!

Wrapped up at the marina and headed home to pack for Vienna. Whoa. It’s a little hard to conceive, but that’s the rundown of my trip for just the first TWO WEEKS. You may have just aged a little if you made it to the end of these four posts, but I’m grateful that you made it through. Maybe you’ll have a better understanding of what I mean when I say the trip was crazy-wonderful-quick. I brought you up to the point of our departure to Europe, but that’s an entirely significant series of posts and I’m going to break that up with some reviews and Great Eight listings. So bless you for following my adventures, and here’s to the next! Love also to all my family and friends that made my time on the mainland such a treasure trove of memories.

-Meagz

…She’s back! (Part Drei- 3 of 4)

Continued…

Laura and Gary are in the Corlin homestead and we’ve had the fun reunion of family and animals. Tuesday arrives and Mom and I head to the gym to work those butts off, Laura scoots to the dentist and then we reconvene at the house to put on some PanAm faces. Yup, Laura and I donned the fantastic uniforms and jetted over to Concord Airport for a photo shoot with the real PanAm pilot, Miles (captain hat and all!), with Mom working magic behind the lens and Stacy keeping our smiles wide and genuine. Go for liftoff, it’s time to head to Portsmouth for the night.

Catching up with old friends and coworkers at RiRa Portsmouth, Laura and Gary were the talk of the town and the main event upon arrival. We grabbed a few Guinness and Magner’s there after a glorious dinner and killer Yuzu Caipirinhas at Brazo. On our way out, we stopped into Fat Belly’s where we ran into DANIELLE and Laura and I screamed and did some reunion hugging and hopping, to the embarrasment of Danielle’s friends and the Irishman. Good times and good friends in one of the best towns on the planet… made me miss living on the seacoast quite a bit.

Wednesday: back to Boston by way of Newburyport, MA for an adventurous breakfast with the most wonderful Sonja J. Never underestimate the power a short visit with the people you care the most about can have when you miss them so much. Especially the people who never let time or distance come between your friendship. Love you Sonja-hope you’re getting more beans for breakfast! Depart Newburyport for Boston and the very first bridal boutique experience as a bride to be. Priscilla of Boston. Fancy. Stunning. Spendy. Laura and Mom got a little sniffly and we found a few beautiful frocks, but not the proverbial “one.” It was a lovely introduction to what I believed was going to be the most arduous part of planning the wedding… finding the dress.

We rendezvous with Gary who’d gone off to haunt an internet cafe while we went off the girly deep end; jumped back into the car just in time to make a late lunch with Mama Peg and Auntie Peggy at the Irish Rose in Burlington, MA. Got back to NH and then made our return to P-town for laughter on the decks at Poco’s, and back to RiRa for Murphy’s 50th birthday toast at midnight. So much fun with miss Alana traversing memory lane and plotting for the wedding! When did I get any sleep on this trip?? Oh wait, that’s right, I didn’t.

I apologize for the installments, but I need to eat something again, and the Thursday/Friday trip to NYC is a doozy. Stay tuned!