“Dear Me: A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self”

5 12 2011

On a recent flight on Southwest Airlines, I came across a feature in their Spirit magazine.   A book was just published calledDear Me: A Letter to my Sixteen Year Old Self’, edited by Joseph Galliano, which is a collection of 75 different letters by a variety of different celebrities (actors, comedians, writers, etc) writing their own version of a letter to their sixteen year old selves.  I have to admit, it caught my attention and made me remember all of those times I was young and told myself, ‘when I have kids, I will never do …..’.  To this day, I have no idea what any of those things were, I just know that my eight, ten, twelve, sixteen year old self made a mental note.

I’ve always been a huge supporter of journaling and reflecting on my day-to-day life, not only to sort out the troubling times but also to keep those exciting, adrenaline rush memories alive.   And, most importantly, to get to those ‘AHA!’ moments; because, if you write just to write, whatever you are feeling, without judgment, and with the expectation that not even you will be reading what ends up on the page, you WILL get an ‘AHA!’ moment.

The idea of writing a letter to your former teenage self is such a unique way to reflect on what was most likely a time of self doubt and self-absorption and reflect on all of the lessons you’ve learned since then.

So here is my version of ‘Dear Me:  A Letter to my Sixteen Year Old Self’:

'Six Year Old Traci' - Read this in 10 years - it will be waiting for you!

 Dear Traci,

 You have curly hair!  You have to stop fighting it and accept it.  Yes, it may take you until you are 25 to be able to figure out how to style your hair, but you do finally figure it out, and everyone is jealous of your curls (you even learn how to blow it straight!).  You will one day find your hair stylist soul mate who knows exactly what to do with your mane, and despite what you think now, a ‘wash and wear’ hairstyle that does not require any blow drying will never work for you.  

 It is okay if it doesn’t seem like you have found your clique of friends yet.  Your best friendships are yet to come.  You will have great friends in life.  Friends that know exactly what cartoon bird video to put on to make you feel better, friends that you will stay up all night with for no reason at all except that the conversation never stops.  Friends that encourage you to follow your passion and friends that encourage you to leave your comfort zone, but are protective enough to say, ‘make good choices’ before you embark on a new adventure.

 You will discover that school and grades are not everything.  Yes, you will have a fluke genius moment and get 100% on your first calculus test when you were sure that you had no idea what you were doing.  (It was short-lived and lasted only for that one test).  It is not so much what you are learning, but the work ethic that you learn from your dedication to school and extra curricular activities that keeps you moving forward and rising to the top; and, ultimately allows you to enjoy life to its fullest. 

 Don’t worry.  You end up doing so much more than you ever thought you would.  You do not take the traditional route that you think you are destined for.  You discover a fork in the road that you did not even know existed, and for your willingness to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you and your commitment to take a chance on the unknown, you are rewarded with a career filled with travel, excitement, and a sense of confidence in your abilities that will stay with you always.  Trust your instincts because they have proven to be trustworthy and make sure you take risks, because they always seem to put you in the right place at the right time.

 And boyfriends?  It’s okay that you’ve only had one boyfriend back in 7th grade (there is another one in your future before you graduate).  You are picky, and you don’t waste your time on crushes.  You like who you like, and if you aren’t absolutely positive that you like him, it means that you don’t.   Unfortunately, you will experience heartbreak but you will also experience a love and companionship that still surprises you.  It’s supposed to be easy, and when you find the right person, it is.  And guess what?  He’s American!

 Love Always,

28 year old Traci

28 Year Old Traci

 I am so glad that I came across the excerpt from this collection of letters.  Feeling a bit of writer’s block lately, this inspired me so much that I felt the need to take out my laptop and write this 35,000 ft in the air somewhere between Denver and LA.  It’s nice to know that with all of the pop-culture, media-diluted content out there, that these pieces are finding their way to people and that a few words from the heart can still make such an impact.

**  This post was Freshly Pressed on December 13, 2011 **


Unexpected Adventures

26 10 2011

On a random Wednesday we found ourselves asking, ‘What is there to do in Gallup, NM?’  If that place sounds familiar, it’s because it’s in that Route 66 song:

“Now you go through saint looey 
Joplin, missouri, 
And oklahoma city is mighty pretty. 
You see amarillo, 
Gallup, new mexico, 
Flagstaff, arizona. 
Don’t forget winona, 
Kingman, barstow, san bernandino.” 

That’s all the prodding we needed to head out for an adventure.  We heard about this place called Fire and Ice that was about 70 miles away which allowed you to hike up to the rim of a volcano and down into an old lava tube that was a natural ice cave and stayed 31 degrees F all year around.  So, we packed up our waters, dried apple slices, beef jerky, and of course, our camera.

About 50 miles down the road we came across El Morro National Monument.  It looked pretty impressive standing there amidst the desert brush and flatlands, especially with the bright blue sky and zig zagging jet streams as a backdrop.

At first it seemed like a drive by experience, but we found our way to the visitor’s center set back from the main road.  Turns out, this was a pretty big deal.  The Visitor’s Center was equipped with a museum, a store filled with books on the local area and a Park Ranger that handed us a trail guide, pointed us in the right direction and told us the 2 mile loop should take us about an hour to hike.

At the bottom of this sandstone cliff was a pool of water that existed solely from rain water and snow melt.  Apparently it has never gone dry and people have been stopping by this pool since before the 1600’s.   Right along the pool of water there are petroglyphs and messages etched into the sandstone.  The things these people could do with some sandstone and a knife makes me think we’ve lost the art of script.

Considering we at first thought this was nothing more than a cool thing to take photos of as we drove past it slowly, the fact that we were walking along the face of this monument and then were able to hike up 200 feet in elevation to walk along the top of it to the old ruins was pretty cool.  And with the fall colours, the dark blue sky, and the fact that we had the trail to ourselves, we couldn’t get enough of the scenery.

Needless to say, we did not finish the 2 mile hike in the recommended hour. 2 1/2 hours later, we finally made it back on the road to continue our adventure for the day.

Fire and Ice:

First we hiked up a hill of volcanic rock to see the opening of an old volcano.  Although interesting to say you are standing where a volcano erupted 10,000 years ago, there really wasn’t much to see.  It kind of felt like we had paid $10 each for a gym membership – steep incline on a slippery volcanic rock surface is a pretty good workout.

We finished up our hike by heading to the natural ice cave.  As soon as you hit the stairs down into it you can feel the temperature decreasing.

Who would think in the middle of the desert in New Mexico you would find a wall of ice.

All in all, a great day of exploring the natural landscape.  I woke up that morning thinking we were going to drive to Phoenix, AZ and instead, we ended up hiking the same paths as the Spaniards from the 1600’s, climbing a volcano and feeling a bone chilling 31 degrees in the middle of the desert.

** This post was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on November 17, 2011**


We Found Them!

5 10 2011

Who would think that you could go to Albuquerque, NM on the first day of the Balloon Fiesta and not see a single hot air balloon?  The live news reports showed balloon after balloon being launched at 7am and an estimated 600+ balloons participating in the Mass Ascension.

It’s simple really.  All you have to do is head down to Albuquerque around 11am, when the temperature is rising and all of the balloons have landed and been scooped up by their Chase Crews already.

So you can imagine my skepticism when we planned on heading down to the Balloon Fiesta the second day to watch the Morning Glow and Mass Ascension.  On the drive we joked about there being a conspiracy and that the news coverage was actually from past years.   Even when we arrived on the festival grounds, in the dark, I still wasn’t sure what to expect since there were only one or two balloons being inflated.

Yes, I clapped like crazy when the 10 Dawn Patrol balloons lit up and launched to start the day off.  But this in no way prepared me for the next two hours.

Row after row of ‘sleeping giants’ started to appear out of no where.

These balloons are huge.  It doesn’t seem possible that they can creep up on you, but they do.  And it doesn’t seem like you should be able to have free reign to walk around while all of this is happening.  But this is a full participation event.  You can walk around the balloons as they are being inflated, look straight inside the balloons, help hold down the basket before it launches, get shoo’d aside by the “Zebra” (balloon launching official), and pretty much stand in awe as balloon after balloon launch in all directions right beside you and right over your head.  I even had a balloon lean on me as it was being inflated.

As each balloon launched in front of me I felt it my duty to clap, yell, and wave at the pilot and crew as they floated overhead.  It was almost sensory overload and after 2 hours, we decided to head out and try to find a viewing spot to see the balloons dip down to skim the surface of the Rio Grande River.

Although we weren’t able to get to the exact spot the balloons were touching down (it’s hard to predict the whims of the wind), the further we got from the actual event grounds, the more surreal the hundreds of balloons in the sky looked.

This post was “Freshly Pressed” on October 6, 2011.