South Lake Tahoe, A Love Letter

Dear South Lake Tahoe,

I didn’t want to meet you. I thought the timing of this trip couldn’t have been worse with so much going on in my life. I just knew that my absence from my regular life would be detrimental TO THE ENTIRE WORLD. I may have over estimated my importance a little, maybe. Surprisingly, the people in my life survived without me and had I not gone, I would never have experienced the splendor of your beauty.

As it turned out, this trip came at the exact right time. While it was a work related trip, I feel as though it was a gift to me for so many reasons. It coincided with a time that my soul needed something. It’s a different kind of hunger when it comes from my soul. I truthfully had no idea what I needed. Maybe a reminder. A reminder of who I am.  A reminder that no matter who or what surrounds me, I am grounded, I am centered and I know what is true. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day and I forget the big picture of my life.

Off I went. Slim Jim’s, check. Playlist, check. Stress, check!

I arrived not knowing what was in store, but boy did you feed my soul.

The last hour of the drive to meet you was worth the trip alone. Oh, hello trees. There are so many of you, you are so green and happy. Why wouldn’t you be? You are hugged every day by beautiful mountains with surprise waterfalls that pour with delight at the chance to nourish you. Lest I forget the streams. They flowed in a way that told me I was headed to a place where peace would abound. Yes, please. That’s one thing I wanted for sure, peace.

My Buddhist tendencies keep me from going into new situations with expectations and I found it quite easy to just take the experience for what it was and be grateful.

Something I’m adamant about when traveling is walking as much as possible. Not only is it great after sitting in a car for so long, but for me it’s a better way to get a feel for my new surroundings.

I learned a few things about myself while in this gorgeous place…

One, I LOVE to travel alone. Being able to explore whatever I wanted and not having to consult another living soul was liberating. I loved driving through the mountains and performing the most amazing car karaoke that the world will never have the pleasure of witnessing. (Some gifts aren’t meant to be shared)

Two, I adore me. I thoroughly enjoy my own company. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with me. I’m adventurous, fun and might I add, a little easy on the eyes most days. My inner monologue keeps me highly entertained and I am one of the funniest people I know. Did I mention I’m also humble?

Three, the older I get, the more I talk to myself. Not a low mumble, but like regular conversation level volume talk to myself. I think the people in my life have gotten used to it, but go to a new place and all of a sudden you’re “the weird girl who wanders and has an imaginary friend”. All I have to say to that is, DROP DEAD FRED!

Let me take you through a bit of my journey..

Day one, meeting the lake.

Sunshine, but only 83°. It was 106° back home so enjoying the warmth of the sun without feeling like it was trying to murder me was fantastic.

The bluest lake I’ve ever seen..

IMG_20170709_191721_148Music is life. I feel like every situation can only get better when you have some good tunes.

Since I love music so much, I was naturally drawn to the center of town where live bands seemed to be everywhere. I listened to three different bands at various venues. All of them were great. There’s something about live music that makes me surrender to the moment.

I crossed over to the Nevada side for a bit, not as fun in my opinion, but cool nonetheless. I spent so much time walking and exploring the town that I forgot to eat dinner so I grabbed a tasty pizza from Vinny’s on my way back to the hotel. I washed it down with a Tallboy Bud Light because I am nothing, if not classy.

Day two…

Work obligations took half of the day. However, my coworker/friend and I accomplished our goal and graduated from a program we’ve been working on for a couple of years so yay to that!

We also got to enjoy lunch at Heaven’s Little Cafe which was indeed heavenly. The fish tacos were amaaaazing.

With responsibility out of the way, I ran back to the hotel to change and I was gone. I did a little Googling earlier in the day and read about Emerald Bay. I can’t explain it, but I knew I had to go. I wanted to see that view for myself. I just needed to be there so up the mountain I drove.

Along the way I saw 2 beautiful Ravens which I took as a good omen. Most of you probably know that my left wrist is adorned with one of these beauties.

My love of birds has been with me since I was a child. Yes, my last name is Nightengale. No, not like the bird and no, that’s not why.

My Mother always called me a night owl because I never wanted to go to sleep at night. Side Note: I only ever got spanked once as a child because I didn’t want to put on underwear. I guess not much has changed. I still like to be up late and still hate underwear…and pants for that matter.

I think I was a bird in a past life. Imagine the freedom of flying and being able to take a crap on whoever you want. Amazing.

I digress….so back to the trip up the mountain. I made it to Emerald Bay and it was breathtaking.

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The presence of other humans was a minor annoyance, but I had plenty of solitude and my earphones so all was well. I think that was exactly the point you were making to me, all is well. There are small matters; stress, conflicts and people who will try to rob me of my joy and peace, but at the end of the day all is well with my soul. I have what matters most in life and I am grateful.

A few fun facts..

Emerald Bay is home to the one and only Island in Lake Tahoe.

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Fannette Island

There are days I would like to be air lifted to this Island so no one can talk to me. I could send a Raven with a message should anything of importance arise, but otherwise I should be left alone.

Then there is this gem. Captain Richard “Dick” Barter made his way to Lake Tahoe in the 1860’s. He was quite the character and would row his dinghy into town to visit the saloons. Captain Dick had a proclivity for Whiskey which only makes him more lovable. There’s a story about him amputating his own toes and showing them to visitors, but we’ll just focus on the positive here.

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Just to confirm that the birds love me right back..

He was just a little shy.

 

The biggest challenge I face is being present in the moment and enjoying myself when all of the small stuff in life tries to get in the way. It was easy to do when I was with you, none of those things existed. I messaged a friend who frequently visits you and asked him, “Is this heaven?” He replied, “Of course it is”. And that was that.

I may have found my heaven on Earth. I think you’ve stolen my heart from the Ocean who I still hold in high regard and will always visit. However, nothing can compete with the clarity I feel standing under your giant trees and looking at the majestic view of your water and mountains.

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At Inspiration Point

 

Day three, a sad goodbye..

I will miss you. I debated going back to the lake one more time, but since a 5 hour energy drink was already going to be required for the trip home I decided to get on the road.

Not to worry, I safely drove while the phone was stationary and capturing a bit of my drive. I could drive this road every day and never tire of it.

Until we meet again, South Lake Tahoe. Thank you for the reminders. Thank you for being so welcoming and thank you for the quiet.

There is value is saying nothing at all, in quiet reflection and in a little soul searching.

 

Let That Shit Go

Staring at the blinking cursor on my computer screen I think, is it possible to have so many things to say that you can say nothing at all? Because I think that’s where I am. Not just in this moment, but in life.

Where do you begin when everything is coming at you from different directions? You don’t. You don’t begin, you stop.

Remove yourself from the chaos and adjust your circle of concern. Sometimes doing nothing and having no response is the best response. The noise of the world has gotten ridiculous and I’m tired of contributing to it.

After seeing a few friends remove themselves from social media and hearing their reasons why, I get it. Opinions are everywhere, judgment is plentiful and it’s usually those with nothing of value to say who talk the most. It’s a constant noise and never ending.

 I find that I am most at peace when I am simply quiet. It’s amazing the things you can see when you quietly observe the habits of others. It’s interesting the way people feel the need to speak about others and render opinions, forgetting their own flaws. It seems to be the human condition to do so. I’m guilty of it, as are you, but I’m also sick to death of it.

I find myself fascinating so I think it’s great when others do too, but just a reminder..

Bad Boys

Bad boys.

While listening to Miranda Lambert’s latest album, I came across this song and it sparked a conversation.

My girlfriends and I have been discussing the topic and I love the feedback so here goes.

Most of us girls have fallen weak in the knees a time or two for this brand of man child. First, a few questions…

What constitutes a “Bad boy”?

Is it a style?

 Is it the vice/vices they have?

 Is it a “don’t give a shit” attitude and/or disregard for the law?

I think there’s something intriguing about a guy who seems as though he can never be fully attained. Maybe it’s the idea that they save their softer side for only you…or at least you hope it’s only for you. Maybe it’s the challenge or the idea that we can “save” them.

One friend said she used to be into the brooding musician types and once fell hard for a gorgeous guy who was dark and moody.  Unfortunately, that dark side led to him being a cheater and the moody side ended up being a serious drug addiction.

And because Lana is a bad ass.

Sometimes we only see the good and don’t see the bad until we’re already in too deep. Oops. Our bad.

Carrie may have warned us, but we don’t always listen..

I’ve seen some bad boys turn into good men, usually after years of the Peter Pan Syndrome and the love of an incredibly patient woman.  However, guess whose patience has worn thin after 36 years on this planet? This bitch!

I’ve spent some time being attracted to men who had an air of mystery about them, rebels with absolutely no cause, but as time has passed it seems less attractive. A tough exterior, swagger and street smarts are the only qualities these bad boys may possess that I still think are attractive.  Outside of that, I’m pretty much done with this brand of male.

Some men grow up and outgrow the more immature aspects of the bad boy persona, leaving behind the destructive behaviors that ruin relationships and kudos to them. Some can never get past idea that they have to be accountable to another human being and that means not doing whatever the fuck you want whenever you want; but guess what? If you want a loving, lasting relationship with someone you can count on, you kind of have to grow up. Shocking, I know.

You know what I find attractive? Manners, respect, being consistent, having priorities and life goals. A man who is tough when he needs to be and is always protective of his lady is a keeper in my book as well.

Another one of my lady friends said that while she is still attracted to the bad boy type, her older and wiser self prefers a good guy that is hard working and family oriented. She still wants him to be able to whoop some ass and stay street wise though.

Amen, sister!

The next bit of input comes from the person who brought this to us this morning…

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She said, “I like boys…good boys, bad boys, funny boys, rich, poor…if you show me attention I will probably fall in love with you. I’m a sucker thanks to my self-esteem. Unless you have a man bun, then you’re out.”

She is obviously my favorite human today and not just because she shares my hate of man buns or because she gifted me with a giant zucchini, but because she’s so honest and knows how to laugh at herself.

Another said, “I think I’m attracted to narcissists. I like super confident guys and then I realize they are way more in love with themselves and not so into me.”

 

On relationships in general…

In the end, we fall for who we fall for and love who we love. Every relationship is different and no matter what it looks like from the outside, only those two people know what’s what. We’re all loving flawed human beings and hoping for the best.

Ladies, we’re a hot mess too. We analyze, then discuss with each other, over think and then discuss some more. Sometimes we are fuel to each other’s fires and make things worse, but I’m so glad we have each other to bitch to about guys and relationships, and most importantly thank God we have each other to laugh with. It saves us.

Guys, don’t be a dick just because you have one. Know what you have when you have it because I guarantee you that someone will appreciate what you take for granted and every girl has an ex that wants to make it right for the 89th time. Instead of being a bad boy, be a bad ass man who has self-respect and does right by the people who love you.

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And scene.

Accepting What Is

I think I have some pretty good friends, but then I see a reflection of myself in a door and notice a piece of my wild, curly hair sticking straight up and realize that I have no friends at all. Thanks a heap, guys. I can’t wait until you have something stuck in between your teeth so I can carry on a long conversation with you, then simply walk away with the satisfaction of knowing I’ve sentenced you to death by embarrassment.

Anywho, I have been listening to a weird sounding German/Canadian man talk to me about The Power of Now and it may be changing my life. Yes, I’m aware it’s very “New Age” and spiritually out there, but if you know me at all then this should be no surprise. Please withhold your judgment. In fact, just pack it away in the box of Hopes and Dreams stored in your parent’s attic. I’m gonna keep listening and then read it old school style, so deal with it. And for the love of God, why does the “Insert” button on the keyboard even exist? WHO is using this button?! And for what purpose? Please don’t answer, I’ve already stopped caring.

As I am attempting not to be so concerned about the future (which is going not great so far by the way), I find myself becoming much more self-aware which actually is great. Sometimes, I think God said, “give Melissa feelings, give her ALL the feelings” and then He did.

I’ve accepted that I just feel things deeper than most people. I know that’s a strange statement coming from me. I’m the sarcastic girl, the anti-social one who would rather talk to your dog than you, but alas I have tear ducts after all. Truthfully, once you’re in my circle of concern, my love knows no bounds. My capacity to forgive is damn near endless (not always a great thing), my loyalty is fierce and I will protect you with everything I have. There is a downside. Sometimes, that same love, loyalty and forgiveness is not returned. Fortunately, I can count on one hand how many times that’s been the case and I have gained wisdom from that pain.

Speaking of pain, let’s get back to The Power of Now. Mind you, I am only a third of the way through and my pal has promised me a book club type of discussion after I read the entire book (which he will soon regret), but I’ve already had some “AHA” moments. One is about pain so here we go…

“The pain you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is.”

Wait, humans are resistant to change and things they don’t want? Whaaa? Just kidding and that may seem like a no brainer, but really think about it. When something we don’t want to happen happens, we don’t tend to be passive and just let it be. We fight. We fight for all kinds of reasons. Maybe it’s a painful change, maybe it’s not what we want and maybe it feels unfair or unjust.

What does our non-acceptance and resistance do though? Does it change the circumstance? Does it change the person? No, it changes nothing. It does however cause a great amount of anxiety, stress, unhappiness and disappointment. Yet still, we resist. I don’t even think it’s on a conscious level, it’s reactionary and illogical. I’m so very guilty of this and believe me; it will take quite some time to kick this habit. However, I will try.

I’m aware of the connection between our minds and our reality. I understand the importance of perspective and what we think, but sometimes I still have trouble accepting what is. Damn my humanness.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

That’s a tall order, Tolle…but I will try because it all makes so much sense to me. It speaks to me on the deepest level. The place where my soul is at peace and I know what is true.

Everyone’s truth is different and I’m no expert, but I do know myself very well and I know what I need. The hardest thing for me has always been to stop overthinking and listen to that part inside of me that knows exactly what to do. Call it intuition, God, your subconscious, the Universe…all I know is it’s the truest part of me and the best guide I have.

Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..”

“Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events” – Dalai Lama

No matter what you believe, I think most of us can agree that our thoughts have a great influence over our lives. Those who don’t agree are most likely mouth breathers. Anyway, if you find yourself in a church pew on Sunday mornings, then more power to you and I hope it feeds your soul. You may want to avoid this one though because I’m still confused.

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I never feel the need to explain my beliefs, but when someone is genuinely interested, I do and I’m grateful for the conversation that led me to this book. I’m grateful for people who are open minded and enlightened. I’m grateful every day that I’m alive and have an opportunity to evolve even more. I am far from perfect, but I never want to stop learning or challenging myself and I’ll always be weird so deal with that too.

I’m also grateful for sunshine and music. This gem is from Emeli Sande’s latest album and if you’ve followed my blog, you know I adore her. I love how vulnerable she allows herself to be and the poetic nature of her lyrics. Ok, I’ll stop. Just listen..

I love how much she craves a deeper meaning and connection. I get that, I crave it too. I love that some people are just drawn to one another. It can’t be explained, it just is.

I get that some events and pain are unavoidable and unpredictable, but if there is some pain that we can lessen or avoid by accepting and not resisting what is, I think it’s worth a try. Also, underneath it all I absolutely believe that what’s for me will always be for me.

Wherever your journey takes you, I hope you find what’s meant for you. Choose your humans well.

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Just a tip though, it will never be a pair of Crocs or a man bun. Those aren’t meant for anyone.

The Fierceness of a Woman

I began writing this a couple of days ago. Then, yesterday I learned about a terrible loss. A loss so enormous that everything else seems trivial. There aren’t any words adequate enough nor would they be words for me to say so I will leave it there.

Pain can and will rock all of our worlds at one point or another. I have seen very recently that when it does, we women need to rally around each other. There is a bond, a sisterhood that only exists between women.

A close friend and I were discussing how rare it is to find new friends as women in our 30’s especially because we don’t particularly like many people at all. Actual friends; people you can trust, who you have fun with, who you don’t feel judged by and who will be there when you need them are rare.

There are so many people out there acting like douche canoes that it makes us lose our faith in humanity.

Strength of character, real love, loyalty and trustworthiness seem to be non-existent at times. As I think about the events that have taken place around me and to me over the last several months, I could easily feel defeated, but I don’t. In fact, I am encouraged and inspired.

My faith in God and deciding to have hope has played a tremendous part, but so have the incredible women around me.

Some of us are raising children, pets or both. Some are working full time outside of the home and some are managing a home and family full time. I’ve done both, and believe me, both are full time jobs.

Some are working on relationships, some are flying solo and some are learning how to adjust from one to the other which is no easy feat.

We are all uncertain about what the future holds, but what I see persist in each of us is determination. We have the determination to continue, to get up every day and handle shit. What I have loved most is seeing us protect each other, listen to each other and love each other without judgment. This is who women are.

Don’t get me wrong, I could teach a class titled Petty Bitch 101 and if you cross me or harm anyone I love, you will see that skill set…but that only has to emerge when absolutely necessary. Most of the time, I will simply say a prayer for you; thank the good Lord above that I’m not you and carry on with my happiness.

People will wrong us; treating us unfairly and downright terribly at times. What matters is how we react and that we put ourselves back together in the way that works for us. Sometimes, people take what they want as they tornado through our lives, not thinking for a second or caring about the damage they leave behind. Sometimes, life happens and there is no one to blame.

When a loss is so great or a betrayal so big, you need your people. The people who will stand by you and who will love you through what might be the most difficult thing you’ve ever faced.

And, a note from my Petty Bitch 101 class…you need your people to hate the same people you hate because dammit, they deserve it.

Maybe you need to pack up your ex’s clothes in garbage bags and pour glitter all over them. (The genius behind that one will remain nameless, but is one of my absolute favorite people and should be an inspiration to us all.)

We get hurt, we fall apart and we are entitled to a few cocktails, lots of anger and sadness, but then what?

After that comes the most important part, putting ourselves back together and there is no “right way” to do that.

When someone breaks you or life happens and you fall apart, no one and I mean no one can tell you how to begin again. Only you know what you need and you may not know right away, but one day you will get up and start over. You will laugh again, you will feel inspired again, you will try new things and you will feel genuinely happy again.

I look back at my life and the things I’ve overcome, some things I never thought I would be able to handle or survive and I realize that I am stronger than I ever knew I would have to be.

We will all undoubtedly face even greater challenges and loss, but be encouraged sisters because everything you are surviving now is preparing you and equipping you to overcome anything that is thrown in your path later in life.

As the great Tina Fey said…

I for one am grateful and feel empowered to know that we are not alone and that I am surrounded by amazingly strong women who will continue to get up every day and handle shit. You are doing it with grace, sass and a little kick ass. Whether you are fueled by caffeine, wine, music, vodka, sunshine or all of the above…carry on, ladies.

Let’s encourage each other..

Support each other

Compliment one another

Inspire each other

Make each other laugh

Stand up for each other

And don’t ever lose your fight.

xoxo

You’re Doing it Wrong

Did you know that you’re actually supposed to peel a banana from the bottom? Like so…

If you’ve been peeling it from the stem, you’re doing it wrong.

This way is much easier and apparently the proper way. You’re welcome.
 

Hey, guys hitting on another man’s girlfriend when he gets up to go to the bathroom, you’re doing it wrong. 

Unbeknownst to you, our love is deep and the loyalty is real. 

We are joined together by inside jokes, epic dance off competitions, laughter, tears, beach trips, all night conversations, terrible Netflix movies and the smell of his farts. 

Do you really think that’s a bond you can break in the 2 minutes you have until he returns? Not happening.

So…how do you hit on another man’s girlfriend? You don’t, dipshit.

People parking in the “Burrito Loading Zone” at Chipotle, but actually eating lunch at Eureka, you’re doing it wrong. 

Evidently, Chipotle workers are very protective of these parking spots.

Prius drivers who are angry, you’re doing it wrong. 

You drive a Prius. You are a gentle giant, a friend to all, a keeper of peace. You are not the guy yelling at the Chipotle employee because you parked in the Burrito Loading Zone and loaded no burritos. I mean, there are rules here. This isn’t Vietnam.

 Anti-Social 

I may or may not be a little anti-social, and by that I mean, I am. Long ago I learned that people are annoying and most lack common sense. 

I was a painfully shy child which I now realize was just me choosing to be quiet rather than tell everyone how stupid they were.

Somewhere in my late teens, I decided that I didn’t have to pretend to like everyone. Nor did I have to pretend that they were even somewhat tolerable. This often translated into me being called “stuck up” or a bitch. I didn’t put bitch in quotations because that’s actually true, but I’m not “stuck up” at all.

I don’t think I’m better than others,  I just don’t like them. Maybe you’re somebody else’s cup of tea, but not mine. Although, I would bet that some of you aren’t even a person’s (who is dying of thirst) drop of water because you’re awful.

Some people like to go through life thinking that humans are mostly good and that’s peachy, but not smart. I think humans are always human which means they can be lovely or terrible, fun or dangerous, intelligent or stupid…it’s a gamble. The truth is you just don’t know until you get to know them a little and that’s where you lose me. 

I don’t really want to get to know them. I’ve got plenty of great friends and my family is the most amazing so, no thanks. 

Please don’t sit near me. Please don’t make small talk with me, I’m not even listening. If I avoid eye contact with you, let it go. This girl doesn’t want to chat. 

As DJ Khaled said, “No New Friends”. 

Also, as the great (and sometimes seizure prone) Lil Wayne said, “I’m too old for new friends, but never too rich for new money”.

There you have it. Maybe I’m not anti-social, but selectively social.

Plus, you probably wouldn’t like me anyway. 

Just kidding, I’m the shit.

By the way, that corner used to be occupied by another interesting character. I’m pretty sure she took over after beating him in a dance off competition. 

P.S. Hugs not Drugs.