a letter to my married self

Santa Cruz Highway 17 The day is quickly approaching.  Twelve days to be exact.  I'm in a glass case of emotion.  Stress mixing with happiness coupled with excitement heightened with craziness.  I can't believe my wedding day is so close.  My days in California are numbered.  My days as a "single" person are disappearing.  It feels like the last three months have been crazier than I've ever experienced. Nothing really prepared me for this engagement period.  I was thrown into this crazy, but joyous, time while struggling to balance wedding planning, work and packing, only exasperated by travel and holidays.  For the most part I've loved being engaged.  Trust me. It's been incredibly difficult, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. I've loved this time to savor my relationships with friends and family.  Nothing really pulls people together like a wedding, something I couldn't fully realize until now.  Well, even now, I probably won't even really understand it until my actual wedding day.  But I have to be thankful for encouragement from my friends and family, patience from my clients and an ever endless supply of love and support from Lance.

The majority of the past five years I was coming into my own and learning how to become a better person.  Year after year I grew to appreciate my singleness, which strangely culminates in being married and losing my singleness altogether.  So as I make this huge transition to marriage and Alabama (#theBirminghands), I want to remind my future married self of a few things…..

.   .   .   .   .

To my dear married self,

Please don't forget there was good & bad to being single.  Singleness certainly had its perks.  You loved traveling whenever you wanted and spending money however you wanted.  And when you're married and you don't have those freedoms, remember the new freedoms you gained.  You have a wonderful husband who will help you whenever you need.  You have a partner to tackle the world with when you're too scared to do it on your.  You're still that independent woman, but you're no longer alone.  And a lot of the time, as a single person you didn't like being alone.  Remember that the grass is not always greener, and while singleness was fun, don't dwell in the life you used to have.  Your married life is going to be different.  Embrace it.  Don't be scared.  Relish in this new life for all its joys and challenges.

Please keep up your friendships.  Work for your relationships outside of your marriage.  Remember when you were single and you grew apart from your married friends? Don't let that happen.  Your friendships will have to evolve now that you're married.  You won't have the same amount time or flexibility, but pursue those friends.  Fill your conversations with purpose and care.  Remind them how much you value them.  And most of all, you'll need them more than ever now that you're married.

Please be mindful of people who are single.  Don't bring your husband on girls' night out.  Don't bring him to a lunch date with your girlfriend when she needs to confide in you.  Don't go on and on and on about your marriage.  Don't tell her she'll find a husband someday… because really you have no idea what her future will be.  Remember all those times you felt ostracized because you were single.  It was awful.

Please continue to learn how to depend on your husband.  You've spent the last 30 years learning to depend only on yourself.  I know it's hard to change, but you've got to do it.  It's okay to depend on him.  It doesn't mean you're incapable or weak.  Depending on your husband shows him that you trust and respect him and therefore showing him love.  Now, of course, that doesn't mean you must be needy or helpless or lose your independence.  It's just a means by which you can be vulnerable and grow closer to him.

Please make your marriage a priority.  Be purposeful in your life to work on your marriage.  Have date nights.  Have deep conversations. Have silly conversations.  Care for your marriage. You don't always have to choose Lance over everyone else, but you do have to choose the health of your marriage over everything else.  If something is bad for your marriage, get rid of it immediately. Protect your heart and marriage and constantly seek out God.

Finally, please cherish your husband.  I know you'll get to a point when you'll forget what it's like to show up to a wedding alone and not know anyone.  You might forget all the times you had to be the fifth wheel.  And you may start to take your husband for granted.  Don't.  He loves you relentlessly.  Remember to show him that you appreciate, respect and love him.  Remember how much value he adds to your life and constantly pursue a close relationship with him.  Invite him into your life each and every day.  Listen to him even when you're tired.  Help him even when you're busy.  Love him even when he may not deserve it.  Make sure he always knows just how much you love him.

Love, your unmarried self


Highway 17 to Santa Cruz. November 29, 2014 | Fuji x100s


Yosemite Family Portrait Photographer Since my mom passed away, I think a lot about the relationship between mothers and their children.  I wonder what it is to have this deep bond with this little person who's wholly depending on you.  This little creature pops out of you and you love it. What's that like?

When I went to hawaii with my family I spent about ten days with my two nieces, and when I got home I experienced an unfamiliar sense of sadness.  I missed my nieces.  In truth, I've never missed a little person.  They're little.  It's not like I have deep heart to heart conversations with them.  I wouldn't describe myself as a kid person.  Sure I love babies but that's just because they're cute.  It was strange to say the least.

Nowadays most of my girlfriends are on their second babies.  Their families are growing, and it's incredible to watch.  It's crazy to see these women whom I've known for so long transition into these new roles as moms.  They're doing an amazing job.  And I admire them for this new outpouring of love that I see in them.

I love seeings moms with their little people. It certainly melts my heart. I'm looking forward to the day when I have some babies of my own.  It's not going to happen any time soon, but it makes me happy to imagine it in the horizon.

Yosemite Family Portrait Photographer

Vir & Karis. Yosemite. October 25, 2014 | Fuji x100s

14 before 15

Kailua Lifestyle Photographer So I'm getting married in less than 50 days. Yikes! And the kind of crazy thing is I'm also going to move across the country soon after the wedding.

For the past two years I've been making lists to finish off the years with (2012 & 2013).  With this big change coming in the new year, I thought this year's list deserved some extra oomph. (Btw.. I had no idea oomph was a real word. #mindblown) Anyway, this list is kind of my California, single-life bucket list.  Anyone want to help me tackle awesome?!

My 14 things to do before 2015.

1. Visit all my Boba places - Purple Cow - Boba Guys - Sweet Booth - Tea Era - Plentea

2. Visit my fave coffee shops and try the new ones. - The Mill SF - Zocalo - Coffee Scout - Bright Coffee - Sextant Coffee Roasters - Pinhole Coffee - Ritual Coffee Roasters (Valencia & Hill) - Saint Frank Coffee - Craftsman & Wolves - Beacon Coffee & Pantry - Front Cafe

3. Hike Lands End and have brunch at the Cliff House.

4. Pack! - PURGE! - Put everything in boxes. - Figure out a "Capsule Wardrobe" - do the "Throw Out 100 Things Challenge" - Sell stuff on eBay - Donate more stuff!

5. Marry my best friend.

6. Take lots of pictures of family members and friends.

7. Explore Big Sur.

8. Go exploring and eating. - The Stable Cafe - The General Store - Duende - Unami - Mission Cheese - In 'n Out - sushi - Korean food! - dim sum. - shabu shabu - Snowflake shaved ice!!

9. Read three books.

10. Finish all my many wedding craft projects. - escort cards - favors - scrapbook guestbook - prisms, himelis and diamonds, oh my! - decorations! - programs!

11. Spend time with my dear friends.

12. Knit something. Or at least, start to knit something awesome!

13. Celebrate my last days as a Tsang!

14. Watch a movie in a theater. Because I love watching movies in theaters.



Kailua. Oahu, Hawaii. October 2014 | Fuji x100s


1400 precita park cafe1 This is the cute little brunch, coffee shop spot Lance took me to the day he proposed. I just love it so much.  It's bright and cheery and has lots of personality.  The food was really tasty.  Lance and I both got breakfast sandwiches and pear juice.

I'm so happy to have these pictures.  I remember how I felt so happy to be with Lance not knowing the ring was in his pocket or that later that day he'd be proposing.  He'd been so thoughtful in choosing a brunch place that he knew I'd love.  He really knows me so well.  I love him for that.  He remembers what I like and takes note of it for future gifts and surprises.  He's just so sweet like that.


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Precita Park Cafe 500 Precita Ave San Francisco, CA 94110


San Francisco. August 30, 2014 | Fuji x100s


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So hey. I'm engaged.  It's kind of crazy to say. But yet. I'm engaged. woot. so crazy.

Here's just a little (long) story about our engagement and what lead up to it…..

He was the one. 

Lance is just so good for me.  We have so much in common, and we really balance out each other's strengths and weaknesses.  Early on in our relationship I knew Lance was the one.  When I realized I loved him I just knew that it'd either be him or no one at all. So much so that the first time he flew out here he met my family… all fourteen of them. Yikes. Poor guy.  But he did really well, and that just kind of sealed it for me.

Leading up to the engagement.  

We knew we were getting married, but we just had to work out one minor detail.  We'd been dating for almost a year, with the entirety of it long distance. So for us to get engaged, we had to be in the same place.  In July I had visited Lance right before he moved to Alabama to start his new job.  We were hoping to get married in December so that didn't leave us a lot of time.  To top it off, it wasn't in the cards for me to visit Lance in August since I had just gone in July for almost two weeks.  For my work, I had to be in California in August.  September and October would be crazy busy with weddings, editing and travel.  On top of that, early fall is crazy busy for Lance.  So even though August was "light" for me, it was hectic for Lance.  So it was decided Lance would visit Labor Day weekend.  And at that point I was hoping/expecting him to propose that weekend.  In fact I had my heart set on it.

I was very persistent in my questioning.  Are you going to propose? Do you have the ring? Are we getting married? What's going to happen? What's your plan?  My questions were endless. I'm horrible, I know.  But Lance, of course, was great.  He doesn't lie, so from the get-go he was very consistent in not answering my questions. He'd field my questions with "don't ask me's" or "let's talk about something else's" and other clever responses.  So that left me not knowing whether or not he'd propose…. basically really confused.

Labor Day Weekend is here!

Lance was going to fly in on Friday, August 29 in the evening.  I'd become even more persistent in my questioning, and Lance continued to be a fortress of secrets.  I really wasn't sure Lance would propose, but it seemed like a very logical assumption.  After all, we didn't see each other all the time.  But, still, I wanted to be prepared.  Friday afternoon I got a manicure. Of course.

With fresh polish I headed to SFO and met Lance at the airport.  Because we're long distance, meeting each other at the airport is always very special to me.  There's no feeling that compares to see him emerge from behind security.  It's just great.  I was sooo excited just to see him!

We were at baggage claim when I asked Lance which company he was picking his car up from. He pulled up his email on his phone to look for the reservation, and I glanced over. Immediately I saw the names Johnny & Terrysue, my brother-in-law and sister, in his inbox. For a moment I recalled my memory wondering if I had sent my family and Lance an email.  I quickly realized I hadn't, and you can't mistake the name Terrysue.  Then I had an asthma attack.  He was going to propose. I knew it!!

But then, Lance, being the leveled headed guy he was (and wanting me to enjoy the surprise) said, "Meg, you don't know what that email was. I don't want you to be disappointed.  Don't have high expectations. You don't even know if I've asked your Dad for his blessing yet."


So that was it. I was duped.  At that point I told myself I didn't need a proposal that weekend.  I remembered that I was just happy to be with Lance.  I knew I'd knew it was going to be a great weekend with or without a proposal.

Unbeknownst to me...

Lance already had the ring and my dad's blessing. That morning I had actually gone to bed at 9am and talked to Lance before I went to bed.  At that point Lance knew it'd be long before I'd wake up, so he took that opportunity to call my dad.  They talked for an hour.  Lance asked for my dad's blessing.  My dad asked him lots of questions and ultimately gave his blessing.

And he had been scheming with my sister-in-law, Alison.  AND he had organized a dinner with all my family to celebrate the engagement.  So everyone knew but me!

Back to the story...

When Lance visits I usually have a lot of ideas and suggestions and let him choose.  He'd been working a lot so before he arrived he had asked that I leave our plans open.  So that Friday night I asked what he wanted to do on Saturday.  He said he had a plan and insisted we started the date early.  I thought that was really weird that he was so specific about leaving at 9am.  When I got home I called him up to ask what we were doing so I'd know what to wear.  If we were going hiking or doing something active I wanted to make sure I was wearing appropriate clothing.  He didn't want to tell me what we were doing, but he did tell me what he was wearing.  And let me tell you this, his outfit was what I call his "fancy" outfit.   Granted, he usually dresses pretty well, this outfit in particular is his outfit he wears when he wants to wear something nicer.  So I thought…oh I'd better wear a dress.

Meanwhile… I'm still incredibly confused.  It seems like he's going to propose, but I didn't want to get my hopes up because it also seemed like he wasn't.  And I was actually leaning more towards that he wasn't.

The big day comes!

Lance calls me up early Saturday morning to ask me to bring my camera so I can take head shots of him for his Linkedin Profile. Then he tells me he wants them at Bernal Heights Park.  First I think, that's not a good place to take head shots.  Then I think, "Hey, that's we he told me he loved me." When I asked if he remembered he said, "Oh yeah."


Anyway he picks me up and we embark on our trip to Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco. (Which, by the way I thought it was strange he wanted to go to San Francisco.  He'd told me he was tired and wanted to take it easy on this trip and driving in San Francisco is not relaxing at all, especially for someone who doesn't live here.)

I had just had a photo shoot at Treasure Island, so since it was on the way I suggested we check it out.  We park and take in the views of San Francisco.  There's a vendor setting up his food cart, so Lance decides he wants a churro.  The churro guy actually takes forever, and I'm actually getting annoyed with how long he's taking when I see the cooked churro sitting right there.  Finally the guy gives Lance his churro.  At that point I'm thinking we should hit the road.  I'm the kind of person that once someone tells me a plan, I want to make it happen.  But Lance wanted to continue soaking in the view and eat his churro.

(He was actually stalling because Alison, who was going to take pictures of the proposal, couldn't get to the park until the afternoon.)

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Finally we get back on the road.  My navigation is giving us directions to the park, and we're a couple blocks away when Lance suggests we have brunch first.  I'm growing impatient because I want to get to the park already.  I have no idea that Lance has a plan, bless his heart.  He's in a real good mood and just kind of going with the flow of everything.

We get to the brunch place and it's simply adorable.  Totally the kind of place I like.  It's actually a spot I'd been wanting to try.  He just melts my heart.  He found such a cute little brunch, coffee shop. Yay.

(p.s. turns out I was hangry.  Once I got some food in my belly I was a lot less crazy.)

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While we're eating our yummy food he suggests we head to the De Young Museum.  We tried to go one time, but it was closed.  So I thought I thought a museum visit was a splendid idea.  The only thing was, he wanted to be at the park by 2pm and at that point it was already around noon.  I didn't think it'd be enough time because the museum was 20-30 minutes from where we were, which was only a few minutes from the park.  But he insisted that he wanted time to wander around the park.  We were heading to church in San Jose at 5pm, so he wanted enough time to see the park, make a boba stop and get to church on time.  Three hours was a lot of cushion time so I thought that was weird.  But I went with it.

Even though it took forever finding parking, we're making good time as we wander around the museum.  I love museums.  While we were checking out the exhibits, Alison texted asking what we were up to.  I told her we were at the De Young and put out feelers, "We're leaving soon.  What are you up to?"  To which, she responded, "Oh it's about time to put the kids down for their nap."  Nuts. Alison doesn't lie.  I thought maybe she and my family would be at Bernal Heights Park waiting for us.  I thought, "Oh well for that." Anyway at the De Young there's a courtyard that has this really beautiful underground cave thing that I wanted to show Lance before we left.  As we're walking to the cave we hear music.  We come to find out there's an a cappella quartet singing love songs. I'm thinking, "Woah. This is great. How beautiful."  He's thinking, "How sweet is this that they're singing love songs, and I'm proposing to Meg today!"

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Bernal Heights Park. 

We're driving to the park and Lance is texting or something on his phone.  He was doing a lot of that at brunch and the museum.  I thought this was weird.  I didn't connect any dots really but I did think it was odd.  When I asked, he told me he'd been texting his brother and looking up the score for the Georgia football game.  Which I thought was strange, because even though he loves the Georgia dogs, he's not the biggest sports fan.  Oh well.  (He was coordinating with Alison who was already at the park.)

I decide to play the "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" soundtrack because we both loved the music and movie.  I play the first song, "Step Out" by Jose Gonzalez, and Lance asks to put it on repeat.  It's a really great, epic song.  Lance is thinking, "This song is getting me amped to propose!"  I just liked the song. haha.

All day I was analyzing Lance's pockets for a ring box with no avail.  So when we were getting out of the car I watched him to see if he'd get something out of his backpack.  He didn't.  So I thought, "Oh he's really not going to propose.  Oh man. It's been a really great day. I just have to focus on enjoying my time with Lance."

We walk up the hill to the main part of the park where you overlook the city.  There's a bench where Lance told me he loved me that Lance wanted us to sit on, but two girls were sitting there.  He seemed a little annoyed that we couldn't sit there. I suggested sitting on a flat rock, but he insisted on sitting on a metal fence thing.  When we sat down he continued doing something on his phone and looking around.  So I looked around to, kind of hoping to see someone I'd know, but I didn't so took pictures of stuff with my camera.

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At some point Lance throws his phone on the ground and asks me if I want some gum.  Strange.  I take the gum and see a little cloth in the gum pack.  I recognize the cloth, it's similar to the cloths I use to clean my lenses.  My heart starts racing, and I start to wonder if that's where he kept the ring.  He takes my hand and tells me he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

Then I black out.

I don't remember anything he says at that point.  I hear a camera shutter and turn around and it's Alison.  Lance tells me I kept saying, "What's going on? What are you doing?"  He's so sweet. He got down on one knee and proposed! (But I didn't even remember saying yes.)

He definitely surprised me.  All day I thought he was acting strange, but I never really connected the dots.  He did a great job planning out this proposal. It was so beautiful how it all happened.  And I'm just so blessed to have such a thoughtful and caring future husband!


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And here's a fun video from Alison right after Lance proposed.


Bernal Heights Park. August 30, 2014 | iPhone, Fuji x100s & my sister-in-law's camera