Be kind (to yourself)

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I’ve wanted to write a New Year, 2019, post all January. I want to talk about what I am pledging to do with my time this year, and I want to find out what you have set as your goals or resolutions for 2019. I am realizing that there are many reasons that folks don’t subscribe to the January goal setting frenzy, but I think that because it’s my birthday month I feel additionally on-board with the resolution setting set.

If you abhor resolutions that center around an arbitrary date of the year you may consider this post alternatively titled “Lessons from Dedicating 30 Days to Yoga.” You see, I began this year with many intentions– like bringing more peace and patience into my life, and renewing my commitment to not buying new things. For reference, that didn’t really work out for me as a year-long endeavor. Mostly because I came to the project grossly underprepared to support myself. More on that later.

But this year, I am still evaluating and cornering my spending habits, I’m still seeking to be a parent that speaks more peace to my children, and I’m still trying to be a human that is more patient with her fellow humans at large– in the classroom, on the road, at the grocery store, on the news, and on and on.

Instead of putting immense pressure on myself to be all that I wanted to be on January 1, I decided that I would first engage in a yoga practice that lasts the entire month of January. This was one of the best moves I’ve made in terms of beginning a New Year, and I hope I’ll remember how cleansing, enlightening, grounding, and opening this journey has been.

One of these personal revelations is a two-part story with yet another alternative post title: “The difference between being hard on yourself and kind to yourself (even honest with yourself) is not that you need to stop being too easy on yourself.”

Allow me to explain. Four nights ago I was doing Adriene’s (Yoga with Adriene) Dedicate 30 Day Yoga Journey. Nearing the end of her practice we were lying in a final Shavasana. The practice had been about sweetness and Adrienne was saying, “Sometimes it’s not only about WHAT we do but HOW we do it. Consider that.” Now this is an idea that I subscribe to. We should all think about what we are doing. Why we are doing it, how we are doing it are keys to the ‘what’. Adriene went on, “Are you more in the habit of being hard on yourself or can you get more in the habit…”

My video stopped streaming at this exact moment. And I was left trying to figure out what Adriene was going to say next. The truth is that when I finished her statement the only thing that I could come up with was, “Or are you in habit of being too easy on yourself. Do you need to push yourself harder?” In other words, do you cut yourself a break too often, are you lazy, apathetic, flawed? And on and on and on with the self-denigrating comments. I was ready to get on the wagon and stone myself for being a push over. Why didn’t I see that this was the same thing as being TOO HARD ON MYSELF?

My video eventually reloaded and Adriene said, “Are you more in the habit of being hard on yourself, or can you get more in the habit of finding practices that help you, get you, in the habit of being sweet to yourself. EVEN WHEN YOU MESS UP.”

Stunned silence from my mat.

Can you be kind to yourself? Even when you mess up? Can you? Can I?

This brings me to my next story. Hang with me here. There was once a girl who couldn’t spell. That girl was me, I’m still that girl. And I don’t know when I began to believe or it was pointed out to me that I could not spell. (I hope at this point you are already seeing the irony of this reality as I am an English teacher. An English teacher who can’t spell.) Apparently, not even being a school Spelling Bee champion served to solve this self-image notion.

But this not-being-able-to-spell thing has been something that has haunted me for my entire life. Not just academically, but not being able to spell became something of a self-forecast for all of my failings, all the stuff I couldn’t do. It became a sign that I wasn’t cut out for success.

Well from this girl– me– came a sweet little boy– P. As it turns out, he showed some of the same phonetic unawareness that his mom had/has. That mom– me– told this little boy– my son– that he “could not spell.” Just like that, “You can’t spell.” Just like I had been told.

Now I tried to forecast some solutions to this problem by explaining that he could memorize words and thereby overcome his failing. “We can’t spell.” I kept telling him, like we were rowing this boat called “Can’t Spell” together. Fast forward to Parent-Teacher-Student conferences 2019.

As we concluded our meeting, my son’s sweet teacher asked if I had any questions for her and I felt that this would be a great time to bring up the spelling thing. I explained, “I can’t spell. And I’m worried that this might be the case for my son. It appears that he doesn’t have phonetic awareness.”

His teacher stoped me in my tracks and said, “Oh! That sounds just like me! Your son can spell, he just needs to practice with different variations of each phonemic pairing. It wasn’t until I was a teacher that I  realized there were certain vowels and sounds that were patterned through language. But you know what? (She turns to my son.) For every one of these patterns there are times when the rules apply and there are times when the English language breaks those rules! You CAN spell!” She declared with certainty.

Just like that. “YOU CAN SPELL!” With all of the vigor and certainty of a seasoned educator who knows that as she bolsters students to believe in themselves they will fulfill those prophecies and SPELL.

I was stunned into silence again. Here I had been telling myself (for years) that I couldn’t spell. I had been telling my son that he couldn’t spell. I had been practicing this can’t over and over and over. My son’s teacher continued, “The wonderful thing about spelling is that you do need to memorize how to spell words. Once you can recognize different patterns like ‘r’ controlled vowels– er, ur, ir, or– then you can begin to memorize which words use which patterns.”

I nearly fell off my chair. More than that, I was ashamed for telling my boy that he couldn’t, that he didn’t, that he wasn’t able to. Nothing better than strapping yourself to your failings and then just clinging to them! In that moment I remembered my yoga, the moment that I was so certain that my instructor was going to tell me that perhaps if yoga wasn’t working for me or working a change on or in me I was being too easy on myself.

I realized that I am constantly falling into this belief that if I will just push harder, do more, press into my present with more resolve, then– and only then– will I come out conqueror. But in those moments, on that mat and in that classroom, I realized that I need to be a whole lot kinder to myself and to those around me.

You, my beautiful friend, thank you for reading this post. I’m learning, slowly and steadily, to pass on the power of believing in yourself to my kids and to my deeper self. You, me, we all need to be more kind to ourselves. Happy 2019!

XX,
Megan

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Back to School Stripes

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With all of the back to school excitement happening around our house– mom going to school, little brother going to school, big brother going to school– I couldn’t help but post my Back to School outfit.

I don’t know that I’ll be wearing this on my first day back with students, but gosh I love a good stripe, and this dress is just about as perfect as they come! I’ve shopped a few similar striped dresses below.

The addition of a leopard accessory, oversized sunnies, and a red lip only serve to increase outfit interest. If you’re in a wardrobe bind or stuck in an outfit rut, I’m telling you, pick up a striped dress in your favorite silhouette and you’ll have many happy returns.

Have a rad Wednesday, friends!

XX, Megan

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Dress: Kate Spade (this season’s version on sale!, similarsteal, splurge, love), Bag: J.Crew, Shoes: J.Crew, Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Necklace: Nadri, Lips: Troi Olivvierre in George

The Greatest (Unlooked For) Endeavor of my Life

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Change. Change is not a concept I am ever fond of or comfortable with. I’d generalize and say that “no one likes change”, but my partner seems to thrive on the stuff so I can’t pen sweeping falsities as per a marriage to a living, breathing human who jams on just that– change. If I have learned anything from my time on planet earth it is that CHANGE is a near constant and there is no perfect, or un-messy, or manageable way to transition with every change.

We are about to experience some real CHANGE around these parts as I go to work full-time. This change has me feeling all of the feels– I’m up, I’m down, I’m excited, I’m sad. There are reasonable explanations and scenarios for every one of these emotions, and then there is the reality that this transition is simply emotional for me. I have spent the last eight years at home with my babies. It has been this golden, magical, building, difficult, taxing, head-tripping, sanity-questioning, constantly self-examining experience. In the end, it has been the hardest, best thing I have ever done.

I have wanted to write a magnum opus to motherhood, if you will, since realizing the enormity of the changecomingatuslikeafreighttrain. A celebration of the JOY, the LIGHT, the LOVE I have found in this job called Mom that I did not look for when I planned my life. A space and a time that I didn’t know I wanted, or needed, or would treasure so deeply. I have wanted to share the gift, the fulfillment, and the hardship of primary parenting for a while now on the blog. But I haven’t found a profound, or extraordinary way to do it.

Of course there are already beautiful things written about the goodness and the difficulty of trying to be a stay-at-home parent and juggle career and creativity. One of the best was penned by Rufi Thorpe for Vela Mag, “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid”. I could not say AMEN enough times as I read this piece. The struggle to create, to think, to ponder, to write, to reach into those deep wells of art and creativity– it seems almost impossible to tap those beautiful places as a mother and home-front warrior.

Let me rewind for a moment. If you had asked me 10 years ago what my life goals were– parenting, child rearing, mothering– would not, not have likely made the list or crossed my lips. Let me be clear that I did want to have children “someday”. I did want to get married “someday”. I always hoped to find another human who would journey this life with me, and that our love would bring children into that journey, that life.

But I felt as though wishing, and hoping, and dreaming of becoming a wife and mother was a waste of precious time. After all, I only had one life to live, I only had one opportunity to enrich and and educate and increase my understanding of the entire universe this ONE precious time– my life. And no one could give me a time, or a date, or a place, or description of how this would all happen or take place. And so I felt that I would do best to put goals that were tangible, concrete, and achievable in my scope. It doesn’t bode well in my book to put “Get Married” on a to-do list.

However, I was never closed to finding my person. I was never opposed to having children. I wasn’t numb to being in love. In fact, on the precipice of my transition to graduate school I met THE ONE. He was dark and dashing, and I fell hard. When my life story– my goals, and decisions, and career framework– met the river of my love story– my care, my heart, my deep desire for companionship, and the person I had hoped for– the confluence brought me such elation and excitement.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found my husband, my partner. That confluence quickly brought us our fist child. The I, me, my became we, us, ours. I’ve often felt as though that meeting of my rivers, the joining of my two stories came at the PERFECT moment. Don’t misread, we were still young, broke, and clinging to finishing a master’s degree and finding gainful employment in economically hard times– it was the height of the housing and banking crises in 2008 when we said I do.

The gift of our hardship, at the time, was that when we found out we were pregnant we knew we didn’t have the means to afford day care. If I had already been working rather than going to school, I am certain I would have stayed in the work-force as my children were born. Instead, because we lived in a very expensive area, it made sense for me to stay at home. Let me also be clear that I understand very clearly that financial hardship can cause a family and partnership to make the decision that BOTH parents MUST work. In other words. I also realize my relative privilege in staying home.

That gift– the gift of my being able to stay home– is one that has rolled forward into our home and family life for eight years now. My greatest endeavor, my greatest work has become this thing called family. If you could hear me weeping NOW at the opportunity to meal plan, and clean toilets, and BE with my children during their formative years, you’d think I had longed, and yearned, and KNOWN that I wanted to be a MOM for my entire existence.

Instead I can now sweetly, tenderly celebrate the opportunity to be a mother. I can see the greatness, the privilege, the importance and being with my children and family in this roll. I can say that it has been the greatest calling of my life.

However, as with all gifts there was a cost. The cost was the burden of our financial care and providing fell squarely and solely on the shoulders of my partner. My husband found a good job. He is the type of individual that poured time, and effort, and constant energy into making his work great. But that didn’t mean that every day he felt like smiling like Ward Cleaver as he went off to work. Our world looked very traditional, but there were costs that he bore directly.

The burden of providing is no small weight. It is stressful, and care-fraught, and tiresome, and endless. I know this because I have SEEN the gray hairs on my husband’s head multiply, I have sat in an emergency room while he vomited because of the skull crushing migraines he was afflicted with, I have watched as he has navigated and negotiated the corporate world for nearly 9 years now and it has proven to be unending, exhausting, often thankless, stress-filled work– day after day, year after year. I honor and reverence his sacrifice.

There were also these wildly frenzied moments of what-the-hell-have-I-done, I’ve thrown my career to the wind and I will never be able to recover it. There were flashes when I saw myself as the counter-feminist trope I so loathed: barefoot, pregnant, jobless, taken care of by my man. My mirror image did nothing to impress me, or convince me that I was undertaking greatness.

Here’s where the confluence of motherhood (or primary parenting because it is not always the woman who stays home with infant and toddler children) and career path hit some Class Five rapids for for me and for every other woman who has fought against the reality of a glass ceiling including unequal pay, lower promotional chances, and diminished leadership opportunities in the work force.

My sacrifice was also real. There is NO WAY to do both– to be at home with your children and continue to rise in your career. The two are almost completely conflicting goals. I hope there is no mistake that I am not advocating one way or another in this sacrifice. How could I choose for someone else what is right for them and for their family? I cannot.

And I have seen the reality of so many of these situations– both parents working full-time, single mother working two jobs, mother as the primary provider, families whose children are enrolled in all-day day care, couples who can afford a live-in caregiver, and so many more! But here, now, in this moment on the day I begin my job, I know that FOR US we did what we felt was right. It is that choice to stay home (that I also realize many people do not have) that I am deeply grateful for RIGHT NOW. I would not trade that time for the world.

Last night the tears flowed. Long and hard and sobbing, I mourned all that this change means for me. Maybe that was selfish but I am going to miss my boys SO MUCH. My husband held me, and told me that everything would be alright. I know it will. But there will be some things now that I won’t be a part of, some moments I will never have.

I will miss morning conversations over breakfast, and taking my baby to his first day of kindergarten. I will miss being a homeroom mom and volunteering at my boys’ school. I will miss being the one they need to call if a tooth is lost, or an owie needs tending, or one of them throws up at school. I will miss being the parent on point. I will miss being THE ONE.

My partner has never been on the outskirts of raising our boys, he is present and prepared. But he has been the sole provider for the past eight years and our roles were very firm. Now there will be more flexibility, now I pray to be malleable. I pray for life to delicately throw a bubble over my babies, but I know that doesn’t really happen. It will still be me.

I will still be their mother, no matter what. Maybe more tears will fall, but today I am ready to begin this new adventure as a working mom. I will still be their mom. I will still need to kiss their owie, and check on the status of their school day, and help out with homework, and pack lunches, and kiss cheeks, and be their mom. And I guess this change is teaching me that I really can do BOTH.

XX, Megan

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All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography

 

Transitions in Cashmere

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That’s me relaxing, just kicking back and doing nothing before I begin work on Monday. NOT!!! As my husband quipped, “Aw, you’re nesting!” And he is right. I’m reverse nesting. I have gone nuts on cleaning my house at the prospect of taking flight into the work world. I am preening and plucking and rearranging every stick and bundle of dry grass in my nest before I leave.

Another task on my to-do list is to bring up my winter boxes of clothing from the basement. Yep, it’s time to pull out the fall and winter wear. Normally I wouldn’t do this until late September, but I need to tap into long pants and long sleeves for my new job. So transition we will.

The truth is that all of these seasonal transitions take time. Sometimes they take a very long time! Going from Spring to Summer this year seemed to take FOREVER. So while you’re waiting for and anticipating fall, or praying for more warm weather and hoping that summer will linger it’s always fun to pull together some unlikely wardrobe mixes. A cashmere sweater and shorts, for example.

This is something I’m sure I’ll find myself wearing after school on the daily. Decorum and air-conditioning will keep me from wearing anything nearly this short in the classroom, but it’s always good to remember that there is no rule that your summer and winter separates can’t meet in the middle for a bit!

Not only are we trying to pack in all of the cleaning of things here at casa Refined + Rugged, we’re also trying to take advantage of the last vestiges of Summer fun! Today we’re heading to the river, tomorrow our favorite night-spot the local farmer’s market, and the rodeo on Friday. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

XX, Megan

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Sweater: J.Crew, Shorts: Old Navy, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Earrings: J.Crew, Ring: Madewell, Sandals: J.Crew Factory, Bag: Madewell (not pictured), Lips: Mac Angel

Milkshake It Off: A July Spin Set

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I’ll be up with the sun today (5:30 a.m. where’s the grab your cheeks oh-wow-I-am-not-a-morning-person emoji when you need it?), as some friends and I are headed out on an uber early ride. I had some really wonderful road rides in June and July. True to my summer-self I have let holidays and vacation eating get the best of me.

Sometimes I just don’t want to say no to just one more cookie, or cake, or milkshake!! So the time has come to Shake. It. OFF!!! I’m getting my groove on and spinning it down over here. The workout below can be used on a bicycle trainer at home, a stationary bike or spin bike at your favorite gym, or really any gym equipment where you can easily adjust your exertion levels to suit the workout.

Without further ado. Milkshake It Off–

The entire premise of this workout is that you can find a gear or a setting on your stationary bike that is in the middle to heavy resistance range and then YOU create the contrast or the change in exertion level. The workout is divided into 4  x 9 minute sets each consisting of three, three minute intervals.

The first three minute interval is your seated climb. You should try to keep your RPMs between 65 and 70. This is the three minute lead up to the more heart-pumping sweat inducing second and third intervals in your nine minute set.

The second three minute interval is a standing climb. If you have any back issues or knee and joint pain, you can simply do another seated climb and raise your RPMs by 10 pedal strokes. So your RPMs should reach between 70 and 75.

The third interval is a seated PUSH. I hesitate to call this interval a sprint because a three minute sprint is not conducive to good training practices most of the time. However, you need to really push the RPMs in this set. RPMs could raise to 80 or eve 90 if you have picked a resistance that is not TOO high so that you can really give it what for during this interval.

I hope you feel like the biking fool below when you are finished! ROCK STAR! (Breakdown below.)

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Milkshake It Off

5 minute stretch

3 minute pick-ups– 30 seconds push, 30 seconds rest

4 minutes raising your resistance to its highest level (this is not the resistance level you are going to work at). At the end of the 4 minutes readjust your resistance to that which you will ride for the rest of your entire ride.

If you want to, you can do one entire nine minute set at 70% as a warm up. 3, 3, 3.

Or if you’re warm, hit that first 9 minute interval hard.

3 minute seated climb, 3 minute standing climb, 3 minute seated PUSH done four times!

You’re done, home, finished, success! Cool down, then stretch. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.

XX, Megan

*This workout, like any other, should be done under the direction of your doctor or health care professional.

 

Bell (Sleeve) Of the Ball

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Hello! And Happy Thursday! We’ve had the best time in CA so thank you for all of your care and comments. I’ll be posting a little Island guide to Alameda next week, so stay tuned.

As summer winds down I find myself reaching for two types of clothing. First is the “beat the heat” variety. These last few weeks of summer can be really unbearable, depending on where you live. So I opt for the lightest things in my closet. Second, now is the time of year when I am looking toward fall, so sometimes I try our pieces that can be worn now in the heat, and later when the leaves turn and the crisp air picks up.

This shirt is one of those perfect transition pieces. Easily worn with shorts and sandals, nicely transitions into fall with jeans or pants.

What are your Thursday plans? Any weekend adventures you’re excited about? Thank you for making Refined + Rugged a stop on your “errands” on the inter-webs! 🙂

XX, Megan

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Shirt: J.Crew (current version) Shorts: Gap (similar, similar, similar), Sandals: Madewell, Crossbody: J.Crew (similar, similar, swoon worthy), Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Earrings: Jax Kelly, Cuffs: Vintage, Watch: DKNY, Lips: NARS Heat Wave

My Beach Bag Essentials

Beach Bag Essentials 2016Pouch, Hat, Aloe, Body Oil, Spritz, Lip Balm, Sunscreen, Water Bottle, SunglassesBronzer

When headed to the beach, especially with kids, it’s important to keep your stuff to a minimum. Well, mostly to a minimum, because it is also important that you carry the all the essentials with you so that you won’t have to pack up and leave the moment your people get thirsty, hungry, or have some extended time in the sunshine.

So the first tip I can offer you when it comes to beach days is to bring an oversized bag. Let’s be honest, this bag can also double as an everyday adventure keeper if you’re headed to the mountains, lake, skate park, etc.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Above is a collection of some of the actual items in my beach bag. We are all fair-skinned in this family, so sunscreen is a must. I always bring a hat and sunglasses to beat the rays, and I always carry plenty of water. A bottle for each of us, if we’re keeping tabs.

I’ve also found that packing cards, money, or your entire wallet and other valuables in a pouch or a clutch is very practical. That way you can pull them out of the never-ending recesses of your bag more easily, and hit up that street vendor for an icee!

My all-time favorite day bag is this weekender from Baggu. Yes, it’s true, it’s takes a weekender to hold our daytime activity gear, but this particular canvas beauty is sturdy, wicks sand, and can hold everything.WKB2_BLCK_0000_01_PROD_0000_ce4fe2a0-d8fa-4541-953e-8feafa7b8afe_1024x1024Then you are going to need to remember towels. You can shop a variety HERE in my post from my trip Scottsdale, AZ. These are still some of my very favorites.

Beach Towel 2016

Whether you are hitting the beach this fine  Friday, settling in for some good family time, headed out on a date with your love, or exploring another piece of this beautiful globe, I hope you have a glorious weekend!!!

XX, Megan

Packing (for the Beach): 5 Real Life Tips

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Packing has never been something I look forward to, per se. But I have to admit that the chance to project forward a few days and style up what I’ll be wearing has become more enjoyable for me as I have traveled more in general.

However, if you’re not keen on packing here are some of my tips for keeping it easy and stress-free! Beach, mountains, plains, metropolitan area, or small town– your trip could be long or short. If you stick these 5 easy tips I think it takes some of the pain out of packing.

  1. Pack in advance. 
  2. Make real outfits. 
  3. Choose a neutral color palate. 
  4. Don’t forget your non-clothing items. 
  5. Always go light on the shoes.

Let’s break some of these tips and tricks down a little further.

Pack in Advance

Sometimes I pack up to a week in advance if I already know what I am going to wear. I understand that you packing this far ahead can lead to clothing wrinkle, so you do have to think about that. But I have found that if I pack in advance then I tend not to forget things.

It is on those trips where I have tried to throw everything into my carry-on late the night before that I wind up forgetting my pajamas, swimsuit, underwear, or my toothbrush! Life is busy, at the very least, pack the day before!

Make Real Outfits

This one is relatively new to me, but it has probably been the biggest packing game-changer for me personally. Have you ever shown up to a business trip and somehow ended up packing casual wear rather than the needed business attire? I have.

Have you ever gone on vacation and realized that all those pretty dresses you brought are simply WAY. TOO. DRESSY for the beach house you rented or the resort you’re staying at? I have. Have you gotten to your parent’s house with a HUGE BAG and somehow the random collection of crap that you shoved into that enormous duffle just doesn’t seem to go together?!? I have.

Solution: make real outfits when you pack. This top with this bottom, etc. This dress with these flats. Mix and match to save space all you want, but really try to image the actual outfit you’ll be wearing.

Choose a Neutral Color Palate

Now my tip here is the choose a neutral color palate because neutrals are so easy to mix and match. I really am going to pack black and white and denim for my trip to California, but if you don’t love neutrals you can CHOOSE ANY COLOR PALATE!!!

Do you love blues and greens? Then pack in primarily those colors. Do you favor red or have an abundance of green in your wardrobe? Pack those colors. Choosing a color palate simply helps you to narrow down your choices beforehand. Check and check!

Don’t Forget Non-clothing Items

I no so very guilty of this, but I have a very close friend who happens to be the wife of a dentist who perpetually forgets her toothbrush! The irony is real. However, I have gotten somewhere and realized that if I had done a little prior planning I would have brought my own sunscreen, or I would have made sure to have facial cleansing wipes.

It is these items you would do well to think about in advance. Plus, don’t forget sunglasses, a good book, jewelry (if you wear any), electronic devices and their chargers, and any bags you might need to have when you arrive at your destination. For example, I am heading to the beach, I am going to bring a beach bag with me because I don’t need to buy one once I get there.

Always Go Light on the Shoes

I love shoes. I have many pairs, but when it comes to packing- EVEN IF YOU ARE ROAD TRIPPING- leave the majority of your shoe closet where it is. The main reason being that shoes are bulky, they take up a lot of space, and really how many shoes do you REALLY wear during a weeks’ time?

Ditch the stilettos, sub in your favorite espadrilles, and don’t forget to bring your running shoes!

There you have it. Five friendly packing tips that have made my experiences packing a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. Wishing you safe travels and happy trails wherever your suitcase, carry-on, duffle, or weekender takes you!

XX, Megan

Links: Sweaters Summerstich Pullover, Black and White Boatneck, Summer Beach Sweater; Leopard Crossbody; Shoes Lace-up Sandals, Espadrilles, Birkenstocks (not pictured); Blouses 1, 2, 3, 4; Tees 1, 2, 3; Shorts 1, 2, 3, 4; Pants 1, 2; Swimsuits 1, 2; Hat 1, 2 (not pictured); Dress 1 (not pictured);

Love and Hate

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Image: Banksy; an article about this graffiti artist here.

0b715c2b18dbf66cc3882907b6cc2297.jpgSometimes the hate of one brings out all the scars of the hate that has been with humanity from the beginning as it did in the Orlando shooting earlier this month. The discrimination, the disenfranchisement, the objectification, the religious rifts, the haves and the have nots. All of these age old faults glowed red-hot, hurting, aching, displayed by the senseless terror of one gunman opening fire on an entire frenzy of living, breathing, loving, loved, and beloved human beings.

It’s all buzz right now. The re-ringing in our ears of the recent attack at the airport in Turkey. 42 more human lives gone. The shouting blonde, Tomi Lahren, on The Blaze, telling the President of the United States that he is an idiot for not labeling this act radical Islamic terrorism. The derision and hatred carried in her bitter blue eyes as she excoriated President Obama and Muslims generally parallels the hatred of that act– cold, intolerant, killer.

The southern black writer, Kiese Laymon, who capsules Mateen as a radical American homophobe in his fearless piece about America’s complicity in violence and continued violence by scape-goating radical movements rather than addressing the unique American-ness of this act. The dangerous complications of our time-honored traditional culture of big gun boasting, small gun possession, which allows semi-automatic weapons to be brandished in public places.

Laymon writes, “We need the American media to tell its citizens the truth. Omar Mateen was a 29 year old radical American homophobe with a history of domestic abuse, who likely found some fertile ground for his American homophobia, misogyny and abusiveness in Isis propaganda.”

I understand the direct importance, immediacy, and need for us to find out who this man is– Omar Mateen. To know and to label him. We try to climb inside his mind and parse out all the evil pieces. Maybe Omar Mateen is all of these things– Islamic radical, radical American homophobe, homosexual who found self-loathing in the intolerance he faced on every side– religiously, societally, internally.

Maybe he is every one of them all rolled into one. I do not dismiss the importance of naming his hate, calling on it and calling it out. We may never know the true hybrid of his evil, we are only left with the wake of its bloody hell. But does this mean that we stand by powerless at crimes against all of humanity, crimes filled with the deepest hatred? I believe we are not powerless, we are called upon to love harder, love more deeply, love with vehement care for others, the other.

We live in a time where the faces of those killed– shot down, mowed down, exploded indiscriminately– are juxtaposed directly next to those of their killers. Selfies of a man in NYPD tourist shirts taken in the green light of his home bathroom, or shadowy figures running with a semi-automatic weapon away from a security guard before detonating a suicide bomb. It makes the horror seem that much closer, that much more real.

The horror was real for those in Orlando that night, one son hiding in a bathroom and texting his mother for help. That horror continues for their loved ones, families, and friends left behind in the wake of a hate so raw, enraged, and consuming. The horror was real at the Ataturk airport when gunman opened fire on the entrance and then detonated bombs that killed 42 people and counting, and wounded over 239.

It’s in the eyes. That’s where you see the humanity, the love, the life, the joy, the light, the kindness, the yearning, the family, the friends, the potential, the soul, the heart, the hope. The eyes that are forever closed now. I see it all in the eyes of the victims of Orlando and Istanbul, humanity’s struggle for peace.

Tributes of love, honor, grief, suffering, terror, and utter despondency wrap around us on our Facebook feeds. What will we do with these poems of life and loss? How can we turn their lives into an energy that gives rise to new waves of care and compassion?

We need to reach and grapple with the patterns of love and empathy we find lacking within ourselves. Or we will continue to reach and grasp at straws of understanding trying to grapple with a hate that will never sustain us. “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” There is nothing to understand in hate, we must only fight to keep it from normalizing within us.

In the heart-rending words of Micah Player whose art piece mourning for Turkey is also linked below,

“With so many horrific attacks stacked on top of one another, again and again and again… I confess to the horrible sense that my heart is growing numb. I cannot allow that to happen. This cannot ever be normal. It will never be another day.

Horror, blood, hate, mindlessness. That is not the world I will ever accept as the one I live in. Love and sorrow for the courageous people of Turkey, shattered and murdered yesterday. Peace for us all. Someday.”

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These acts of aggression, and hatred, and bloodshed cannot ever be seen as normal– cannot ever cause us to be numbed to the senseless acts of death, destruction, and terror.

Let the tears flow. Let the prayers ascend. Let the fires of remembrance be lit, and never let to rest.

Let the world of loving, understanding, empathetic, charitable, caring, giving, nurturing, uplifting, and enlightened men and women ban together in solidarity against this kind of hatred.

Let us value the beauty of one another and fill up our cups with the reality of each other. May they run over with love– our cups of life. May we let care for our fellow brothers and sisters of every gender, race, creed, sexuality, political persuasion, and religion be alive in us.

Please, let us be advocates for life, for civil discussion, for the pursuit of joy and peace for those around us, for love, for tolerance, and for the end of hatred and bloodshed across our nation and world.

Love. Please, love.

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