The Non-Definitive Guide To Life

a blog for people who still read

Posts for LIFE UPDATE Category

Vlogmas Burn Out

It’s day 15 of Vlogmas and I’m feeling some burnout. This has been a busy holiday season. One weekend, I was even uploading videos while driving to different holiday gatherings. But, I feel like I have no idea how to make my day to day interesting – am I too self-aware? Perhaps. I’m looking forward to 2017 when I’ll be posting regularly on my channel, but it’s not my day-to-day. This year, I really committed to YouTube in a new way, I attempted to create series and a regular upload schedule. I improved in my editing and hit 100 subscribers!

Last year, I learned a lot about myself while doing Vlogmas. This year, I’m not coming across very many revelations. I’m sort of bopping along making videos, trying to create better stories. Test out different editing techniques. No real direction. Well, not until next year. After Vlogmas will be my time to really stretch my wings and see what I can bring to the platform.

It’s a question I struggle with a lot, what’s YOUR take away? Yes, YOU! The reader, viewer, follower – what do you take away from seeing what I’m thinking, writing, posting, sharing. Let’s just say, I feel like I finally know who I am on the internet, now I just have to make sure you’re happy with the relationship. Although, like even in romantic relationships, please DO NOT make me responsible for your happiness.

Anyways, if you wanted to know how my December has been going – here you go!

Featured photo by Ariel Marte

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October Life Update

October was a crazy month and I didn’t post on my blog nearly as much as I’d want too. If you’re curious as to why it was so crazy, I made a whole life update video! In addition to sharing about the crazy schedule I was living in October, I also did my first YouTube tag. YAY! A YouTube tag is when other YouTubers tag people to create a specific kind of video centered about a challenge or maybe a survey. I’ve done tag videos in the past, but I was never specifically called out to do the tag. It felt special to actually thank a specific person for tagging me.  In November I will be creating a lot more content for Blanket Fort Adventures, so if you have any ideas please share in the comments!

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Coachella Vlogs 7 Months Later

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m on a mission to tie up all the loose ends of my stories and footage. I want to go into 2017 completely fresh and with a blank canvas. So here are my Coachella Vlogs – 7 months later.

For the last 2 years, Dan and I have worked at the Coachella Record Store together. At this point, I’ve been to 4 different Coachellas, one as a festival attendee and three as a working member of the lower level staff. Both experiences are great, but being staff is definitely a different experience with its perks and disadvantages. Obviously, you don’t get to see every act from beginning to end, as your shift might land in the middle of their set. I’m still upset about missing Ghost of Sabertooth Tiger last year because of a freak inventory glitch that was fixed by the time I returned to the record store.

Since I’m really into vlogging now, I thought it would be great to vlog Coachella but weekend 1 I had no strategy for filming. The wind was terrible, destroying any possible audio and I couldn’t just talk to the camera. I stumbled through capturing clips of the day when I could and creating some sort of story structure. The result is a fumbling mess of footage, that even while editing I had a difficult time seeing the creative vision.

However, weekend 2 was a different story. I had created an outline of how I wanted to tell my Coachella story. I no longer wanted to break it up by day, but  break it up by activity. I had more of an idea of the shots I wanted to get and how long to linger on an artist or food item. Then while I edited the footage together I realized it would feel completely unnatural if I didn’t have some sort of voice over describing the scenes. After creating video one, I knew what I wanted to do different in video two. I did my voiceover in one take, I know I flub some words and maybe didn’t fully enunciate – but in all honestly I wanted to finish the story. That’s the thing about working on something 7 months later, it loses its steam. My brain thought it was interesting and wanted to share it, but my heart is thinking about Desert Trip this weekend and strategizing how to film the vlog.

So, what did you learn Dorothy? 

I learned that when you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. Creativity is very spontaneous, but it also flourishes within some sort of structure. Occasionally, there are moments of total creative bliss where things are unplanned and result in a cohesive beautiful piece – but more likely than not, one has to have an idea of what they are doing and can see the final picture. Weekend 2 is a clear result of having an idea of what I wanted to create. Weekend 1 is a total rough draft. Both videos are this clear distinction of progress and growth that can be used for a metaphor for life. I know I see everything as a metaphor for life.

So why don’t you go back and fix Weekend 1? 

One, I just don’t want to spend the time on it.  I don’t want to get lost in the correction and perfection of one video at the expense of new stories. And second, in life, you don’t get to go back into your awkward phase and change it. You have to live through the awkward. I can’t go back to my High School self and tell her that you can get blow dries at the hair salon for $20 bucks on picture day, or that you could pull style inspiration from the sixties and feel way more confident in clothes. Nope, I have to look back and see my poofy hair plus sweatshirt and dixies phase for what it is – uncomfortable and awkward.

Final Summation

I’m so happy these videos are complete. I’m so happy to cross off Coachella vlogs on my list of videos to upload. I’m so happy to see myself moving forward and learning more about storytelling with each video. I’m excited that I’m finding my voice in the void. I’m happy that people are finding me and sticking with me despite my awkward phase. My final summation is that weekend 2 learned from weekend 1 and I strive to always have that awareness throughout my life.

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A Reflection on Japanese American Incarceration : Tule Lake Pilgrimage

The real talk aspect of this blog is about to get REALLY REAL – this is not a happy fun post, but a post that must be written. Thank you in advanced for reading this post, my reflection on Japanese American incarceration. 

On Tuesday, I woke up from a 4 day trip up to Tule Lake, the site of one of the ten Japanese Concentration Camps, and wondered “how do I do life?”

The pilgrimage to Tule Lake was a Christmas present from my mother. Her mother, my Bachan, was incarcerated at Tule Lake and my mom and aunt had attended the pilgrimage a few years ago. She had asked me a little before Christmas of 2015, if I wanted my fiancé and I’s Christmas present to be the Tule Lake pilgrimage and we both gave a resounding yes. On Tuesday when I woke up in my own bed, in my own home, I had this moment of confusion about how to go through my day. The pilgrimage is an intensive workshop of history and community, from the time we boarded the bus at 10:00am on Friday, July 1st.  Upon returning home, I forgot my routine and was filled with reflective thoughts. My eyes new with a changed perspective on life as a whole. If this is what I was experiencing after 4 days, I can only wrap my mind around how the innocent Japanese Americans felt when released, the same way I can wrap my mind around the concept of infinity. It’s feeble and lacking, false by all measure.

Everything was taken from them in an instant, and then 4 years later in a flash they are let back into the world with nothing.  Except for a country that betrayed them and a society manipulated to reject them.

We were surrounded by people who understood the history of Japanese American incarceration during WWII, from the moment we stepped on our respective buses. But maybe not the atrocities that took place at Tule Lake, nor the divide Tule Lake caused with in the Japanese community. And this is what we would learn over the next two days.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

In Japanese culture, you don’t make waves. You don’t speak out against authority, and you respect the establishment to the utmost degree.  So when the American government presented the Japanese American people with a distasteful and deceiving “loyalty agreement”, after already being incarcerated for over a year, those who rebelled against it were sent to Tule Lake. In turn they were seen as “disloyal” to America within the Japanese American community. When in reality, these “disloyals” were really men and women who believed in their civil rights or were infuriated with the country who just incarcerated them when innocent. Basically, flipping them the bird. I come from a lineage of the latter, and I don’t blame my Great Grandfather for his decision to mark No, No.

Tule Lake around 1943 was turned into a segregation camp, sending all those who refused to sign the “loyalty agreement” from the other Japanese American concentration camps to Tule Lake. What I found interesting and heart breaking, was that after the war when the Japanese American community began to rebuild, those who were incarcerated in Tule Lake never shared that information. They didn’t want to be judged by their community and seen as troublemakers or disloyal, so this fraction of the community couldn’t even bond or connect with fellow Japanese Americans about their experience, because they were shamed into silence.

Many of the people who were incarcerated at the Japanese Concentration Camps never talked about their experience there. And everyone on the pilgrimage seemed to be desperate for pieces of the puzzle in order to create a full picture of the Tule Lake experience. The adults who were incarcerated have already passed on, and now we scrape at the memories of those who were teens or children at camp to collect their stories and perspective on the time. Our elders have died with their stories locked behind the doors of trauma, and their children search their own memories for what stories might have slipped.

As I write this I’m conflicted with what I can share and what is left behind closed doors. It is not easy for people to share their trauma and pain, and it is not right for me to exploit those stories for my own readers without their permission. All I can do is paint a picture. Imagine you are told you can only take what you can carry, heirlooms and family pets are left behind. You are trying to figure out what you can sell off for the best price, because you don’t know when you’ll return home, and your customer knows the desperate situation you’re in and does not have a compassionate heart. The plans you had for the future were stolen from you. The family dynamic is dissolved, and you end up living in a barrack with 10 other families. Your bed is merely a cot with a mattress cover you stuff with straw. The holes in the walls bring in dirt and dust from the outside. You’re never clean. You’re never comfortable. You don’t have a home. You’re innocent. You were born in America and have pledge the allegiance during school, “with liberty and justice for all.” But you have yellow skin, almond eyes, and black hair; apparently that excluded you. So you had to board a train to destination unknown and live in a prison for an undetermined amount of time.

On Saturday, the pilgrimage collected in front of the jail that is currently undergoing a restoration at Tule Lake, and held a memorial service for all those who had died and lived through the Japanese Concentration Camp. The pilgrimage hosted a Christian and Buddhist service and the attendees were able to lay down flowers and cranes for our family and fallen. It was a moving service. Later in the day my fiancé and I took a bus tour of the camp, which was massive, and my heart broke for the lack of preservation. An airport runway now runs through Block 25 where my Bachan lived at Tule Lake. The Tule Lake cemetery was turned into a landfill. All but 10 bodies which were unidentified have been returned to the families. And as I sat on the bus with our guide vaguely pointing out where certain buildings of the camp would have been, I looked out onto a neighborhood and a grassy field confused as to what was where, and then just in awe of the size of this camp that held up to 18,000 people. It’s the closest thing to walking a mile in my Bachan’s shoes I could ever get.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

A few of the ‘super seniors’, those who were teens while at Tule Lake shared their stories.  One explained the process of building the jail (can you imagine building a jail to house your own people?) and then the abuse that took place to those who were put behind bars, inside the fence they were already trapped behind. These people further incarcerated, not because of legitimate crimes, but because they were brave enough to talk back and express their freedom of speech or were labeled a “troublemaker”. Another ‘super senior’ shared his story of refusing to answer the loyalty agreement and in turn was sent to a department of justice camp. In the middle of the night he was thrown on his knees in front of a firing squad verbally abused until the guard wanted to let him and his fellow rebels go.

What were the questions he refused to answer that led to this kind of psychological torture.

Question #27 asked:

“Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?”

-Question #28 asked:

“Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”

This same gentlemen had tried to enlist after Pearl Harbor to defend his country, America, but was denied and told he was an enemy alien. Now, he was asked to draft himself again after a year of imprisonment! And how can you forswear allegiance to a country you were never aligned with in the first place? Disgusting.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Both Friday and Saturday night I listened to those who were incarcerated tell their story, and I was moved. I listened to their memories like they were water and I had been thirsty in a desert. Sunday morning, the 450 attendees were divided into smaller groups to reflect on their experience and ask questions to try piece together the past. In the afternoon I watched a talk by Nancy Ukai, Dr. Satsuki Ina, and Dr. Junko Kobayashi on Camp Artifacts: Giving Voice and Bearing Witness. There were 6 other amazing talks going on concurrently, but I had met Nancy in our morning discussion group and was intrigued by the story objects can invoke. Nancy was an integral part in stopping the sale of 450 concentration camp artifacts at a Rago art auction. I wasn’t aware of this when it occurred, but it was announced in the New York Times and quickly there after the Japanese American community did a “hell no!” and a petition circulated effectively stopping the auction. Nancy shared the stories behind three different pieces from the collection that would have been sold, and their connection to Tule Lake. The piece that was most moving was the propaganda photo that was taken to shed a positive light on the Japanese American incarceration of an adorable Japanese boy in a cereal box flower crown. Nancy was able to track down the boy, now a 70 year old man, who shared he did not even remember the photo nor the fabricated fairy tale attached to the photo – that the class was putting on a cheerful Labor Day performance. She opened the discussion with this powerful poem that I think should be kept in mind when viewing any of the photos from that time.

Because my mouth

Is wide with laughter

And my throat

Is deep with song,

You do not think

I suffer after

I have held my pain

So long?

Because my mouth

Is wide with laughter,

You do not hear

My inner cry?

Because my feet

Are gay with dancing,

You do not know

I die?

“Minstrel Man”, Langston Hughes

tule lake pilgrimage

The pilgrimage ended on July 4th, my Bachan’s birthday, and we boarded our buses back to our respective airports or pick up points and said good bye to this moving experience. While headed back to the Sacramento Airport, we shared out thoughts on the pilgrimage and as I shared my feelings I broke into tears. The night before I had sobbed thinking of my Bachan, missing her. On the bus, my tears were for her pain and the anger she held inside. I commented about how my dirty and draining days in the sun at Coachella for two weeks inspires a deep desire for comfort. After the festival I immediately book a shiatsu appointment, manicure, give myself a face mask, and sink into my comfortable bed like a heavenly cloud. This is only after a few days of the elements, and my Bachan experienced the same sun and dirt relentlessly for 4 years. No comfortable bed. No spa like shower. No privacy.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Airport runway now runs between where my Bachan barrack would have been.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

The foundation of the 73rd block latrine.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

An example of what the camp barracks looked like on view at the Tule Lake museum

What I haven’t talked about are the riots, the Marshall Law, the guard abuse, the deaths, the torture, the renouncing of citizenship under collusion, and the endless examples of total civil rights violation. I hope my sharing of the pilgrimage inspires you to search out that information independently. I also hop e my story inspired people to educate themselves and stand up against the fear induced hatred toward any community of innocent people. The people who experienced this are still alive, this is not ancient history, THIS is living history. We must hold onto our stories and history in order to keep it from ever happening again. Refuse to become complacent.

When I think of my Bachan and what she endured, I am humbled. My troubles become trivial, and I tell myself I come from good stock. I was born with a strength inside of me to persevere, to move forward and thrive. If my Bachan can live in a concentration camp for 4 years and go on to see me born, love me, and make me feel like I am supremely special – then I will not disrespect her belief in me by not believing in myself.

Thank you for reading my story and following my journey to #knowbachan

Bachan - June Ritsu Murakami

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Unfocused February

Bowerbird’s real name is Dan, Bowerbird is a nickname he picked up in his early twenties playing with bands. When I was first dating Dan, he asked not to be named so I started saying Bowerbird and find it fun to call him Bowerbird on the internet. But for this story I will call my fiancé by his real name.

It’s time for some real talk because at the end of January I was focused and ready to post multiple times a week, grow my YouTube channel, and take Blanket Fort Adventures to the next level! Now, February is almost over and I don’t know what happened to this month. As I was explaining to Dan, our expectations for the month weren’t just thrown out the window but were shoved down a t-shirt cannon and launched off the freeway going 60 miles per hour.

The day after my birthday, Dan and I had planned a fun day trip to Big Bear. Usually we like to start our adventures as early in the day as possible, but I had a last minute client project that I had to finish before we left. So we weren’t ready to head out the door until 11:00 am and just as we were about to drive away I noticed I hadn’t flossed. I had every intention of vlogging the day trip, so I ran back inside to quickly floss and hop in the car, that’s when I saw a 714 number appear on my phone. At the moment, I’m without 95% of my contacts in my phone so I figured it might be a cousin calling me to wish me a belated birthday. Instead, I heard the sad voice of my future sister-in-law, Dan’s father had passed away. My heart dropped and I handed the phone to Dan. We were with his family for the rest of the day. I can’t express enough how much I love and adore the family I will be marrying into. Right when Dan and I started dating his father had a terrible stroke that left his mind confused. It worsened over the years, but I’ll never forget he had a faint idea who I was during Christmas after meeting me at Thanksgiving.  I know he liked me and I’m really happy I was able to show him that we were engaged, even if he didn’t fully understand who I was.  I’ve tried to be here for Dan as much as possible and we are riding the waves of emotion the best way we know how.

This month we also had scheduled our floors to be redone. So my office and our bedroom has over flowed into the other parts of the house, leaving me to work from the kitchen table and have minor anxiety attacks realizing the amount of junk I possess. Basically, we have no homeostasis! And it’s been a rollercoaster of emotional anxieties. Now, I don’t want to first world problem myself into oblivion because we have immense blessings and are free from severe worries. I just did my “fake” taxes and discovered I have enough to pay the IRS, woot woot, first year of being a sole proprietor. So, even though our expectations were shredded like a beehive in the same radius of a honey badger, our life is still filled with love and support.

I also volunteered to take photos at the LA Marathon this month for Students Run LA, which was an incredibly moving experience, and was a completely new adventure to partake in. And this weekend I am helping out one of my best friends at her first bridal expo, she’s a wonderful bridal photographer who sadly will be in my wedding and not shooting it.  Planning the wedding, yeah that’s stressful.

Anyways, I have had no direction or focus this month. I feel more forgetful than usual and I’m just trying to keep my head above the proverbial water. Now, like I said I realize my issue are trivial and there are so many more terrible and important things going on in the world than my unfocused month or jumbled up expectations and loss of direction. But I felt I should share where I’m at, so I can lay a foundation for where I’m going – which is more frequent blog posts, youtube videos, and any other content you want to throw at me. Give me an idea and let’s roll with it. Life is an adventure, let’s explore. (( PG-13 style ))

One thing I have been doing consistently this month is my new Little Things series, I’d love if you would check it out and subscribe!

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The Story of Loulou Edie Reed – Dog Adoption

The story of Loulou Edie Reed is filled with suspense, drama, and lots of love. A Yorkshire terrier with a full name and mysterious background, she waltzed into my (our) life when the last thing on my mind was adopting a new dog. But like most of the pets my family has acquired, we don’t pick the time for a dog- the dog picks us.

On February 5th, 2015 I was working in my home office that faces out into the front yard. It’s not rare to see a stray cat wandering outside and using the brick wall that separates my house from the neighbors as a highway; so when I saw a small black body pass my window I assumed it was a black cat. It wasn’t until the animal waked away that I noticed it was a dog. Usually, I am the first one to jump into action when it comes to a stray dog; but on this day I had a meeting in North Hollywood with a potential client. In forty-five minutes I was supposed to jump on the freeway and charm a cosmetic company into hiring me as their social media manager. So, I decided to leave my interview clothing intact and to continue to prep for this client, leaving the dog to another Good Samaritan as the neighborhood is filled with retirees and stay at home moms.

Well, the universe and Lou had a different idea, because she came back to my yard after a five minute hiatus. Taking the hint, I threw on jeans and a ratty t-shirt and went to my front yard to find the dog. I called out for the puppy and found her hiding behind my car. She jumped into the flowerbed and army crawled all the way to me, making it very easy to pick her up and secure her in our dog runner. She was the friendliest dog I had caught since my baby Blondie who had come into my life 15 years prior and passed away 4 years ago. There was so much about this little dog that reminded me of Blondie, I swear she was our other dog incarnate, but I refused to get attached. We (my fiancé and I) were not looking for a dog.

I changed back into my interview clothes and drove to the client, who I also secured for 2015. When I returned home I figured out next steps; wash the dog, get a collar in order to control her when dropping her off at the pound tomorrow, put out a request for dog rescues on Facebook*, and contact my aunt to see if she would be open to adopting this new found dog. Since I have an older dog, Mystie, and we didn’t know what this stray might have, Lou slept outside with lots of blankets, food and water. She cried a little bit, but her temperament was always pleasant and sweet.

Stay Dog_ Loulou Edie Reed

The next day I took her to our local shelter, the place I knew any family who would be missing her would search, and found out she wasn’t chipped. The receptionist was a capital B. When we found out Lou wasn’t chipped I was ready to bring her home and set up a rescue situation, but the shelter said it was policy that she remain at the shelter for 5 days in order for the rightful owners to locate her. I felt so incredibly guilty and sad for letting this darling dog into the hands of the shelter and beat myself up for days. Since I work from home I visited her every day I could, twice a day, petting her through the cold bars. The pound was heartbreaking and I even tried to push the other jailed pups onto friends that were interested in Lou. My name was first on the adopt list from day one, but by day three of my morning and night devotion, Bowerbird and I decided to adopt Lou.

On the second to last day before I could break her out, I received a call from the pound informing me someone was claiming Lou was their dog, my heart dropped. I was excited if it really was their dog, but I found it odd it took so long for someone to come forward. I know if I lost Lou, I’d be all over every website and shelter; I’d likely get a vinyl banner made to hang across Main Street. Fortunately by the end of the day the shelter called and informed me the dog did not belong to those claiming her. They didn’t give me any specifics, but they do request evidence from those claiming a shelter dog to prove ownership. I was ecstatic and now my anxiety shot up fearing I’d have to face a confrontation with the false owner.

I couldn’t sleep that night, I was terrified I’d oversleep, miss my alarm and the other people would come and swoop up Lou. I was at the shelter right when it opened to sign the adoption papers and with a swipe of my credit card, Lou was mine (ours). We took her out of the jail cell and into the gated play area outside. I was so happy she was finally able to be in the sun.

Dog in a Birthday Hat

As we were playing with Lou in the shelter yard, a man was lingering by his car and watching us the entire time. Eventually, he asked the shelter worker if he could see the dog. I knew it was the “other family” my heart started racing and I pretended to be ignorant of the situation. The shelter worker said no, as I had just adopted the dog. The man then went into a long story about how his puppy had been stolen a year ago. When the shelter worker asked if the dog was chipped or had received shots, the man said no because the dog was too young. It was a tense twenty minutes, but the shelter worker was a strong advocate for me and eventually the man drove off. After playing with Lou for a solid hour, she had to go back to the shelter for one more night in order to get all her shots. The next day when it was finally time for her to come home with us, the receptionist left her file open on the desk and I could see notes on the person claiming it was their dog. I quickly snapped a photo of her file like Nancy Drew when the receptionist went to retrieve Lou. The notes said that Lou was too young to be the dog they were claiming had been stolen. They also didn’t have any medical records or photos of their dog. Since, the total cost to adopt Lou was around $160, it’s no wonder these people were trying to nab Lou for free. Apparently, Yorkshire terriers are premium dogs in the shelter world.

I believe that Lou ended up with the right people, those people being Bowerbird and I, because she had a lot of medical expenses post adoption that the sneaky people may not have invested in. She had caught kennel cough, had worms, and still needed to be spade. We were making weekly visits to the vet for about a month and I officially capped off the cost of this new pup around $400.

Loulou at Shelter

Lou was just a hardcore street dog that managed to survive as a stray. We still see her habits of from days on the street. She likes to sleep under things and in tight spaces, her favorite place to hang out is under the bed. When we would take her for walks, she’d always want to rest under cars. She also knew how to drink out of a water bottle. We suspect that she had been the dog of a homeless person. It makes me sad thinking that they might have lost her, but maybe she lost them. She is incredibly friendly and sweet. I’ve never seen her snap or growl at a person and I’ve only seen her show teeth to another dog once, because she had just been bullied by a large-breed puppy.

I named Lou after Lou Reed the first day I found her. I had just given her a bath and was thinking of names. At first I thought Nico, since I was going through a Velvet Underground phase but remembered my friend Nima’s dog was named Nico. Then I thought of Lou Reed, I called out to her with the name Lou and it seemed to fit. I had also been reading Edie at the time, about Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick. I thought Loulou Edie Reed has a delightful ring to it and that’s why my dog has a full name.

WOAH this is over 1,500 words! If you read to the end I commend you. As a bonus I’ve included a playlist to a few of my favorite Lou Reed and Velvet Underground songs. Enjoy!

Do you think the “other family” was actually Loulou’s owners or trying to pull a fast one?

First Night At Home

First night at home ♥

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Top 5 Moments of 2015

Now that all my Christmas cards have been sent out, I feel like I can share with you my top 5 moments from 2015. Since I included a little insert into the Christmas Card of Bowerbird and I’s favorite moments, I felt this moral obligation to send those out before I actually blogged about them.

It’s no surprise (to me) that most of my top moments have already been recorded on my blog or in a vlog. Memorable moments would be documented by a compulsive over-sharer. And that reminds me of something my niece said when we took her to the American Girl Doll Store, while we sat down in the café for our very fancy lunch there were conversation cards on the table. One of the cards asked, “what’s your favorite childhood memory?” and she said, “It’s happening right now.” I guess my blog posts are a metaphorical conversation card recording my favorite memories as they happen.

In no particular order:

1) Going to Austin for SXSW!
A three / four post series, going to Austin was really spontaneous. Bowerbird was playing a SXSW showcase plus Pow Wow had collaborated with SXSW for an awesome mural project. Itching to get out of state and take advantage of both great events, I pulled the trigger and bought a Jet Blue ticket. I’ll be paying off the trip for a year or more, but now have a lifetime of memories. Check out the posts, here/day one, here/ day two, here/day three pt.1, and here/ day three pt. 2…oh and Pow Wow here.

Top 5 Moments of 2015 - SXSW

2) Spending our anniversary in Laguna Beach and being invited to press night of Pageant of the Masters.
In June I was sent an invite to attend the press night of Pageant of the Masters and RSVP’d yes. My insecurities rang out wondering why me? But I silenced those and took advantage of the exclusive night, getting a taste of influencer perks. Bowerbird was my ‘assistant’ and actually really did help me in holding my camera and taking notes while we toward the back stage area. A few of my favorite photos from the entire year are in that post, check it out here.
Since the press night was the same day as our anniversary, we decided to be opportunistic and book a room in Laguna to enjoy a beautiful (gloomy) few days in South Orange County.

3) Adopting Loulou Edie Reed, our Yorkie mutt.
Named after Lou Reed and Edie Sedgewick our little hipster mutt has flooded our life with so much joy. Waking up to her playful smile and picture perfect paws, we both get a serious case of cute aggression in the presence of Lou. I had every intention of writing her origin story when she was first adopted but never got around to it. This year for her first birthday with us, I’ll finally post about the saga that is Loulou Edie Reed – the dog with a full name.

Top 5 Moments of 2015


4) Climbing Mt. Ellinor in the Olympic National Forest, it has an elevation of 5,951 ft.
This hike kicked out ass! Bowerbird and I were sore for days post hike but it was incredibly fulfilling. Not only were the views gazing down on the Olympics breathtaking, but the incline and rocky terrain really tested my stamina. Both Bowerbird and my friend Jalissa, were telling me we could turn around at any time but I pushed forward. Looking back on the year I see 2015 was all about not letting myself down. And in the midst of that difficult trail, not wanting to let myself down is what pushed me forward. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other! I haven’t posted about the trail yet, but when I do it will be linked here.

5) Getting engaged at Hearst Castle!
Well duh!! I had to add my new relationship status to the list of favorite moments from 2015. Before meeting Bowerbird I was becoming more comfortable with the idea I’d settle into my adult life with a herd of bunnies in a cottage somewhere. I still want that cottage, but maybe only one bunny. Ironically, my mother gave me a handful of dating books only a week or so before Bowerbird asked me out. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime to navigate the game of life. Read all about our engagement here.

Engaged at Hearst Castle

Here’s to more opportunities to create epic and wonderful memories in 2016!

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I’ve been consistently uploading to YouTube for a year now. I had dabbled in it before, but this was the year I really wanted to make it an active hobby in my life. But, I never committed to a regular upload schedule either. So, I’d periodically throw up a vlog or two and then get distracted by life. So, this month I decided to join in a festive YouTube activity called Vlogmas, where a person vlogs or records a video diary every day till Christmas. It’s a demanding, time-consuming project that I felt inspired to participate in. Surprisingly, I learned a lot about myself while doing it and I wanted to share my lessons with you.


My first vlogmas video was a double whammy of eye-opening revelations, the first being the audio comma. I can’t explain the sheer embarrassment one feels when editing themselves, but imagine it’s like salt to a wound when you’re editing “likes”, “you knows”, and “uhs”. I cringed hearing myself sound like a teenage girl. I noticed I’d use the above phrases as breaks between thoughts, instead of just being silent. Giving my voice a break, a pause. Those words are my audio commas, paragraphs, and triple periods.  While I continued to vlog throughout the month I allowed myself to pause between thoughts. Embrace the silence between one idea and the other. Not only was this easier for editing later, but I felt more eloquent and confident with my speech pattern.


The second lesson I learned after vlogmas day one was, I’m pretty confident. The first day I vlogged, I didn’t do my hair or makeup and was in workout clothes all day. It was a go day, where I basically went from bed to my home office and never took a break in between. When I went to edit the video at night, I looked at my crazy hair and acne scarred face with tinge of disgust, but mostly a heart full of forgiveness. You have to understand, growing up I had a lot of negative self-talk and self-hatred for my looks. So, being able to not only see myself disheveled but then having the confidence to share it with the internet, shows how far I’ve come as a person. I know I’m more than my appearance. Although, doing Vlogmas gave me a reason to dress up and play with my makeup. I had fun getting ready for the day! Since I knew I’d be recording myself and my appearance would be shared, it forced me to not look like the work from home cliché. I want to continue dressing up and having fun with my style, so I have another idea in the works to hold myself accountable…more on that later. But whether I’m a mess or polished to a T, I’m awesome and I love me!


The beauty about vlogging, is you’re the editor of your own reality show. We aren’t all Miss Congeniality 100% of the time and where reality stars get painted as villains because of a producer’s desire to get ratings; I can remove the scene where my ‘bitch’ came out. In Vlogmas Day 3; Bowerbird and I went down to San Diego. We had an amazing time and the ‘scene’ I’m referencing was no more than a minute long and I had to remind Bowerbird of it the next day when I apologized. The scene: I had put my camera on record as we were in front of a hotel we had stayed at previously. Bowerbird had remarked how he would love to get breakfast at this restaurant we went to the last time we were in San Diego and I flippantly replied, “yeah, but we’re not spending the night here.” Even typing it I’m ashamed of myself. I wasn’t even listening to him because I was more focused on what I wanted to say, what I wanted to record. When I saw that clip my heart sank, it was a harsh mirror being held up to my character flaw. When Bowerbird came home from work that night I apologized and since then have made more of an effort to actually listen to him.


NEWS FLASH, most days are boring. Even during the most festive and fun time of year, the day to day is still the day to day. I struggled from Vlogmas Day 13 to Day 18 to find anything interesting about my day; but I vlogged and I did my best. It made me appreciate the little things, like a coffee run on a beautiful day or getting to watch the Walking Dead with Bowerbird.  Although not every day is interesting, there is something interesting about your day; especially if paired with the right music. I also went through an emotional rollercoaster this month. I found out an acquaintance from my past had passed away, someone I was rooting for as I followed him on social media. And Bowerbird received some difficult news, that I knew couldn’t make better. With both incidents the world just turned gray, but I tried to find the sparkle in our day anyways. Because as long as there is air in my lungs and the opportunity to find joy, I’ll try to find the sparkle.


I’m not a quitter, but it can take me FOREVER to finish something. I don’t walk away until I know something is done/over. The difficulty of a project or activity or career path never scares me, because I have this sense it will all happen in due time. As long as I keep at it. This is wonderfully optimistic, but completely inefficient. I have been doing the same 8-week fitness app for 12 months. It’s improved my stamina, I can now jog for 20 minutes, but I haven’t completed it yet. I don’t have enough appendages on me to count the amount of ‘pending’ projects I have to post/edit/create. So, when I did Vlogmas and completed it in a timely manner – that’s a huge win for me. Admittedly, I did get behind there for a while, because I still have a job and I got sick; but I did it and it’s all done. My dedication to Vlogmas and making it a priority helped me to realize how I could use my time. It showed me I’m capable of sticking to a more regimented schedule and I won’t always let myself down when it comes to my own projects. I’m an awesome employee because I have someone to answer to, when I answer to myself I let myself down. Here’s to 2016 being different and treating myself more like a boss!

I can’t promise I’ll do Vlogmas next year, but I’d really like too. Plus, since I was posting consistently I was actually receiving comments and had fun replying back. My goal was to get 100 subscribers by the new year. I don’t know how that will happen, but hopefully I’ll have 100 by the end of January.

Who is your favorite YouTuber that did Vlogmas?

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Agenda, Artichokes, and Adventures!

hello friends artichokes, agenda, and adventures

Hello Friends, 

Tonight, I steamed artichokes for the first time and purchased a lovely new agenda at Paper Source. The agenda came before the artichokes and both were an adventure to acquire. I raced to Paper Source after work, barely making it to the store before it closed, and it took 20 minutes just to figure out how I would steam the artichokes. As I type this there are pots on every surface of my kitchen. But I needed to accomplish both missions tonight. Not wanting the artichokes to go bad as we had purchased them on Sunday at a cool farm north of Monterey, they had to be cooked. And the agenda was necessary to help keep me riding this inspiration wave.  

Currently, I’m feeling very inspired and motivated to get more on top of my life. My time management and organization skills are not as type-A as I’d like them to be; but suddenly I’ve been feeling this sense of clarity, like being able to see the pathways to how I’ll get everything I want to do accomplished. Since returning from the PNW road trip, Bowerbird and I have been waking up when our alarm goes off and not hitting snooze. We linger in bed and play with Loulou for about 15 minutes before actually moving out from under the covers, but none the less we are awake. I have this laser focus when it comes to my freelance work, that I think was triggered by the fact I HAD to complete certain projects before the trip. I’m trying to develop a healthy relationship with my freelance lifestyle, stepping away from work by a certain time and allowing time for my personal projects during “non-office” hours. Stepping away from my computer at a reasonable time and removing my eyes from screens for at least an hour before bed. I’m hoping I’ll be able to hold on to all this focus and motivation, devote more time to consistent content creation for personal projects.  

I have so many adventures and thoughts to share. I’m an oversharer. I’ve accepted myself for my oversharing needs. So the agenda is here to help me organize the stories I’ll be publishing on this blog, videos I’ll upload to YouTube, and articles I want to submit to other websites. I’ve had so many wonderful friends send me writing leads, but I haven’t followed up because I’ve felt too disorganized and incapable of finding the time to devote to another outlet. But as the sun sets and rises, tomorrow is a new day to do something different – you just have to do it.  

I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how I should publish content. Now that I’ve gone on my second road trip, how do I organize stories from #ontheroad1014 and #ontheroad1015? Should I post #ontheroad1014 stories on Tuesdays and #ontheroad1015 stories on Thursdays? All other days can be a mixture of content; from a story on me throwing away my old car seat covers or an interview with another creative person. Does it matter? I don’t want to get hung up on perfection. But if you have any thoughts on how stories should be posted, feel free to leave a comment. 

I’m off to begin my bedtime routine, which I’m loving, and need to stop looking at screens. Thank you for reading my letter to you guys and I’ll be writing about that awesome artichoke farm tomorrow, so come back Friday for the post. Hopefully, we can get into a routine together, even though I’m really bad at routines. Although when I find the groove of a routine, I really like it there. 

blanket fort adventures

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A Love Story At The Castle In The Sky – Hearst Castle

On top of San Siemon rests the most gorgeous home in the world, Hearst Castle. As art and words inspire my life, Hearst Castle is like two passions coming together in an architectural dream. I’ve been in love with this castle in the sky since I was a child and visited it with my mom and sister. I took Bowerbird to it for the first time 2 and half years ago. We had been dating for 9 months and wanted a romantic Monterey getaway, so Hearst was on the way. Now we are on our third road trip, this time dedicated to the Pacific North West, and stopped at Hearst yesterday. If I’m going on the 1, you know I’m stopping at my favorite place, it’s better than Disneyland!! Now this dream place is deeply intertwined into my own dreamy romance, as Bowerbird proposed to me on top of a high balcony peak overlooking the ocean.

When we first were dropped off at the top of the hill it started to rain, Bowerbird was majorly bummed out as the little drops of water came sprinkling down a top of our head. We went on our tour of the upstairs suites where Hearst has a library that would make Bell blush. Yes, I’m referencing that amazing scene in Beauty and the Beast where the Beast give bell the most beautiful library in animated history. But once the tour was over, the sky was bright blue and sun shining!  It wasn’t very busy yesterday and I was able to take dozens of pictures with no other tourist in site. We explored the side of one of the guest cottages and I could feel Bowerbird’s energy shift. He was getting anxious and looking around us trying to find the perfect spot. Every time he tried to get extra romantic it seemed another tourist popped up, like they were all swarming to this side of the property at once.We kept climbing stairs to another empty spot and then another group of tourist came up. This is what led us to the very highest point on the side of one of the Hearst cottages. It was an area that one would have to make an extra effort to find and Bowerbird was making a very private romantic effort.

He pulled me in tight and remarked how this had been the best three years of his life. Then as he placed his hand in his pocket and pulled out my *Bachan’s ring, he got on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said “of course,” because I’ve known Bowerbird is the man I would marry after only three months of dating. After our first date, I thought he could be the one. Our love story has always been about timing and his timing couldn’t be more perfect.

I then overheard a tour guide explaining how couples get engaged. As we were on the balcony of the cottage, a tour group was inside exploring one of the rooms and as they passed by on the other side of a screen door – they clapped and said congratulations.

Now we’re off to San Fransico today and I begin my first full day as an engaged woman! I couldn’t be happier as we go on to our next adventure in our life together.

Hearst Castle Engagement

Hearst Castle Engagement

Engagement at Hearst Castle

Stairway to heaven!

Bowerbird and I are on a road trip across the Pacific North West, follow our adventure on instagram or twitter!  #ontheroad1015

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