BestThings: Thursday Edition

It's Thursday at the houseboat.  From my perch at the dining table, I can hear the birds and the river lapping gently against the deck, as the houseboat ever so gently moves with the current.  Out the door rests the front edge of a wooden boat, moored at the nearest slip.  At the moment, the birds are the only ones active, the humans have mostly come and gone already.  Here I sit writing, staring at pale blue walls, the table littered with tools of my trade.  My camera, a hat, several notebooks, pens, a blue pottery mug, sunglasses, my phone.  An airplane flies over head, announcing it's going somewhere.  The sun hides behind the clouds.  The air flows cool and sweet, in and out, from back to front, a welcome relief from the wicked temperatures of the last weeks.  

Writing.  There.  That was a writing exercise for me, just describing my surroundings.  Writing is consistently one of the best things in my life.  It keeps me grounded, keeps me sane, and it is my passion.  I'm always scribbling.  I don't feel right if I don't have a pen and notebook with me.  And when I sit down to fill my three morning pages, I now do it with ease.  And if I don't do morning pages, don't blog, my world is not right until I do.  It runs off my excess creative energy, so to speak.  I intend for writing to support me full-time.  Right now I'm building a bridge across the chasm from here to there, to being a full-time paid writer.  My bridge is about 1/3 of the way done, as I see it.  My next huge piece will be to complete my copywriting class I've been putting off, and to get working on my book again.  

Blue Heron.  Yesterday as I headed up the ramp to go for a walk to Oaks Park, a blue heron flew across my path and landed on one of the poles at the end of the dock.  Sometimes I think animals cross our paths to send us messages.  Yea, maybe it's a little weird, but so what.  Here's what a heron might represent: 

It is time to look deeper into aspects of your life that will bring out innate wisdom and show you how to become self-reliant. Are you grounding yourself regularly? Heron teaches that grounding yourself in the earth and your spiritual beliefs will help you discover emotional insights more clearly and more quickly. Alternatively he could be teaching you how how to become comfortable in uncertain situations and to be watchful of opportunities to arise so that you can quickly grasp them and move on.

I'll take it, sounds about exactly right.  I love these majestic birds.


Reading.  I have a ton of books I have not read yet.  I get rid of them and then I buy more, so I might as well simply give in, realize I will probably always have more books than I can read, and just get after reading them.  One of the hallmarks of a writer is that you read.  A lot.  I think of it like the yin/yang, the give and take. Reading is input, writing is output.  Everything you read comes out in your writing in some way or another.  I've been a reader my whole life.  This week, I started reading another Julia Cameron book, "The Right to Write".  I'm also reading Steven King's "On Writing", a book by Neil Gaiman called "Neverwhere" and one by Agatha Christie called "And Then There Were None".  I'm also in process of reading "True Irish Ghost Stories" and "Grimm's Fairy Tales" at home, but I don't have them with me here.  As they are both a collection of short stories, I can start and stop them as I want.  I seem to have to read more than one book at a time, so I don't get bored.  And honestly, I do finish most books I start.  Unless they are books I don't care for, and then I don't waste my time.  One book I recently tried to read was "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon.  I just couldn't seem to get into it.  So I quit trying.  I know tons of people love it, but, not me.  I kind of feel about this book like I did about "50 Shades of Grey".  Maybe some day I'll go back to it, but not right now.

Friends.  Last night I got to spend some time with very good friends of mine.  I had not seen them in almost a month and it was so good to catch up and hang out at their house.  They are not far from the houseboat so it was an easy drive.  I know I say this often, but seriously, I am so blessed with all the relationships I have in my life.

Yoga, Walking and Meditation.  I wrapped these all into one because to me, they seem to represent almost different sides of the same thing.  They give me time to power down, take care of me, get in touch with myself and see what I'm thinking about things.  And they center me.  They work better than almost anything at taking the edge off.  Yesterday I walked down to Oaks Park via the Springwater Trail and Oaks Bottom.  Today maybe I'll walk up to the Puppet Museum and take a look.  For me, these things simply work, so I do my best to incorporate them into my every day routine. 

Today begins my "work week".  I'll login this afternoon to Lyft and see what kind of rides there are to be had.  I do know that I need to add some additional streams of income, so I'll be looking into that.  Maybe Instacart, maybe Wingz, maybe professional housesitting and a freelance copywriting business.  So many things to think about.  Until next time, happy adventuring!  






Awesome.  I haven't blogged for 3 weeks.  Yup.  Apparently I'm on the 3 weeks on-3 weeks off plan.  Kind of like exercise.  Ah well.  Life is always a learning experience, at least for me.  

It seems I've been dealing with resistance with a capital R.  No, I didn't make this up, I borrowed it from Steven Pressfield.  Not working on my book, not blogging.  Not doing much of anything in the writing world except for writing my morning pages.  

Last night I kind of had a mini-break down.  I'm blaming it on the heat, since it has been very warm here in Portland and I was out in the sun all day.  I don't know what it was.  I found myself wallowing in the sea of uncertainty.  What am I doing?  Why am I here?  Am I a loser?  All these ridiculous things.  The back of my neck was sore and I was convinced it was a brain tumor and that it was as I suspected, I am just waiting to die.  All kinds of craziness.  

So, I put myself to bed.  I had to put myself to bed the other night too, after getting home from a great time with my brother in Oakland, CA.  I slept too little the night before my flight and was SUPER grumpy with everyone.  Seems to be the case a lot lately.

Julia Cameron says we start acting out when we aren't creating.  Boy is she right.  That's the problem.  No external writing.  I've been doing a lot of other things though.  I have been on a cleaning rampage.  Now, I am renting a room from a family friend, so I live in about a 12x12 space. It's amazing how much stuff can still accumulate even living so small.  I went back through everything, and I mean everything (clothes, papers, books, etc.) and got everything cleaned and organized.  I'm moving my stuff I've had in storage in my brother's garage to its' own storage unit and getting everything super-tidy.  For what, I'm not sure.  But, maybe this will help me feel lighter.  I've been feeling a little bogged down lately. 

And so I came across a note from my mom while organizing.  The front of the card says this "Do not follow where the path may lead - go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." The inside of the card was handwritten with a lot of advice but she also said this "...a sedentary life will never suit you.  Get rid of the things that limit you - pretty soon you will fly, you are at the edge surveying everything."

Such timely words, even from beyond the grave.  She always had a knack for doing that, timely words of encouragement on notes were her thing.  So maybe this getting rid of things and getting things organized is so I can prepare for flight.  Or something.  I don't know what.  But what it did do is remind me that I'm not crazy.  That sometimes when you make a trail it's messy and dirty, sweaty work because you have to cut down a lot of brush.  And sometimes you don't always see the way clear, but if you keep moving forward, then you don't get stuck and eventually you will break free.  It also shows others there is another different way to go.

See, there.  I feel better already having posted this, EVEN IF NO ONE READS IT.  That's what happens when you do what you are supposed to be doing in this life.  You do the work, and are not responsible for the outcome. You don't do it for success, for fame, even for a paycheck. You do it in service, and because you have to.  And, you get more crazy the longer you don't do it. I learned that from Julia Cameron and Steven Pressfield.  And for me, primarily, I know that work is writing.  I have to share my stories with the world because there is no one who has my voice.  Sometimes it's hard and difficult because I'm cutting a trail for myself that has never existed before.  And it's definitely much easier to follow a well-defined trail. But I just can't.  And so I won't.    

Get Shit Finished.

I made it through Mother's Day.  And the first part of this week.  I've already done a little "Lyfting" this week, 3 rides last night.  I'm steadily building up to working more and more hours and find I love driving for Lyft. In fact, I love driving around the city at night.   I'm also working at Pier 1, around 16-20 hours per week is my average.  In addition to that, I have all sorts of what I call my "creative work".  That means things like this, blogging.  Writing words for my novel.  I'm getting close to approaching 10,000 words, which is good.   And the story keeps coming.

I am also doing some historical research on Portland to make sure some of the details of my story are correct for the time period, so I have a stack of books I need to skim through to get back to the library. I'm working my way through Julia Cameron's second book "Walking In This World", which is the follow-up book to the "Artist's Way".  It's another game changer.  This week she talked about finishing things, in her section "Discovering a Sense of Momentum".  She talks about artists getting blocked not because they have too few ideas, but because they have too many.

Ugh!  I so know what she is talking about.  I either freeze up, or the wheels come off, because there is so much running around inside me.  One thing she recommends is taking a walk, because some of the creative energy needs to be siphoned off.  So true.  This is also something morning pages is really good for.  Siphoning off of some of that creative energy.  But, another part of this is finishing things.  Many times we artists are amazing at starting things...a million different projects going at once.  But the real gold is when we finish.  

This is what Julia says: "A body in motion remains in motion, and nowhere is this law more true than in creative endeavors.  When we want to grease the creative wheels, we do very well to muster a little elbow grease elsewhere.  Mend the trousers.  Hang the curtains.  I do not know why hemming the droopy pant leg gives you the juice to get to the easel, but it does.  I cannot tell you what it is about detoxing the mud closet that makes you see more clearly how to end a short story-or start one-but it does.  Finishing almost anything-sorting your CD collection, pumping up a bike tire, matching and mating your socks-creates both order and an inner order. "Now, start something," finishing something says."

And so for me, I have some finishing to do.  Actually, lots of finishing.  Classes I have purchased but have not taken, books not read, messy piles of paper and things that need to be sorted.  Though right now I occupy a fairly tiny space, you would be surprised at how messy and cluttered this can get.  I cannot create amidst the disorder.  So I've decided to get a binder for those half-finished songs and get them finished.  File my paperwork.  And get those plastic bins under my bed labeled and organized.  Go through my closet, small as it is, and get rid of the things I never wear.  Delete old emails, voicemails and text messages I don't need.  I am a packrat with information.  These are projects I have long put off, but now I need to get this shit finished so I will be clearer about getting other things finished, like my two novels.  I don't know who this guy is yet, but I like this quote.  Let's get epic shit finished!

My Mom WAS the Shit.

I don't like this day.  There, I said it.  A constant reminder of what I don't have, and what everyone else seems to have, their mom.  Now, I know that is not true.  But, on days when pop culture wants to rub it in your face every chance they get, that is exactly what it feels like.  

Now, moving on.  My mom was the shit.  Period.  If I could have had 30 more years with a person half as awesome as she was, I would never trade her.  Not for anything.  She taught me about the most important thing in the world: LOVE.  Not only that, she taught me a lot of other important things too.  So, I'm going to share some with you.

1.  Say sorry.  Even if you have done nothing wrong, sometimes you need to say sorry anyway.  That apology builds a bridge towards the other person.  I experienced her doing that, and watched her do it.  And it worked. 

2.  Find out why someone is reacting the way they do.  A person's reactions are never what they seem to be about on the surface, look a little deeper to find out why.  She did that with us often.  She listened to understand. And again, I watched her do it with others.

3. You may never pass this way again.  One of my favorite things she used to tell me, when trying to figure out if I should do something or not.  And often this helped me make the choice.  If I never could do this thing again, would I regret it?  

4. Jump the fence.  Another gem.  Basically, get through the limits you might have set for yourself and don't be afraid.  Go for it!

5. Do what you have to do, do what you need to do, then you can do what you want to do.  I learned so much about how to prioritize my life this way. Some things we just have to do, so get those out of the way.  And do them well, no matter how small they seem.  Then do what you need to, like laundry or groceries.  And then do what you want.  

6.  Do something you love.  Whenever I was restless, upset, mom always encouraged taking a pause to do something I really enjoyed.  That might be reading, watching a movie, taking a walk.  She taught me the joy of simple pleasures.

7.  Practice your craft.  Every day.  I rarely remember a day going by that she did not play the piano and sing.  Music always filled our home.  She read and she wrote too.  TV was usually reserved for the evening, maybe a few shows.  

8.  Share.  I cannot tell you the amount of people who cycled through our home, and not just our relatives.  She always found a way to share what she had, whether it was food or the space of our home or herself.

9. Start fresh.  We can always start right where we are.  Even if yesterday or 2 minutes ago we messed up, right now, this present moment is new.  I cannot count the amount of times she told me this.

10. How to love.  She was love.  Mom was no regarder of persons.  She didn't care if you were the CEO, or a checker at the grocery store.  I watched her look at people, not through them.  If you met her, you knew she loved you instantly, there was no guile.  She was strong, and never afraid to say what she felt. She loved through difficulties, disagreements, even in spite of her own feelings, still she loved.  I watched her take meals to a homeless man in Grant Park day after day, take care of our neighbors, while never once making us feel neglected.  She gave the best hugs and had the warmest hands.  

Julia Cameron says art alchemizes our lives.  And that is exactly what happened today.  I never know how I am going to feel on Mother's Day.  It started a little rough, so I sat down to do morning pages.  And about half-way through, my attitude shifted, ever so slightly, about this day.  I still don't like it.  But, I choose to write about what mom taught me, and how much I love her.  I am sad that so many never got to be in her presence.  She truly was magic. My hope is that pieces of her live on in me, my brothers, my nephews.  This is how we share her with the world.


Lyft This Shit.

I freaked out for a minute thinking I had not blogged since Monday.  Not true though, phew!  It has been another crazy week!  I'm not even sure where the time goes.  Oh wait, yes I am.  Now that I am back in the work world, that is where the time goes.  I liked not having anyone's schedule but my own.  Alas, I am not yet independently wealthy so I have to find some way to pay rent.  

This week has been super-fun, with some more firsts.  I took my first Lyft passengers out on Wednesday night.  I had logged in to drive after I left Pier 1, and then had got into my pajamas when ding ding ding!  A ride request comes through.  There is a 2-second delay as I freeze, in my boxers, trying to decide if I should accept the ride or not.  I have 15 seconds to decide.  I said yes. I ended up doing one short ride, and one longer ride.  My first ride was also a Lyft virgin, he had downloaded the app minutes before I picked him up when he realized the bus would not be there for an hour.  I took him to the Funhouse Club, realized I had met a friend of his at the Lyft hang-out party, and off I went.  He left me some nice feedback and a $2.00 tip on a $7.00 ride.  Not bad!

I was headed home knowing I had to be at work at 9:15 in the morning, when ding ding ding!  Another ride request came in to pick someone up at the Doug Fir.  I ended up taking him to his apartment up in the West hills, and it ended up that he works for Airbnb, my other dream job.  He asked me why I worked for Lyft, and I told him I wanted to write.  So this would give me the flexibility to do so.  He told me I needed to network, it was not what I knew, but who knew me.  Touche. Valid point.  I am more introverted, so networking is not high on the list of my favorite activities.  But, I conceded his point and decided to that is a skill I can improve upon.  I think working for Lyft will help me with that. 

Last night was 80's prom at McMenamin's Kennedy School.  If you love the 80's but have never been, too bad for you the next prom is not until next year.  The good news is you now have an entire year to plan and get there.  It is so much fun.  My friends and I danced our asses off and ended up hot, sweaty messes and were home by 11:30.  In true prom fashion, we were all sitting in the back of our friends VW van, Lansbury, when the parking lot patrol came around to make sure we weren't drinking alcohol, and to discourage us from "hanging out in our car".  The difference is that now we are adults, and we don't really have to listen, as long as we are not breaking any laws.  I did almost go "tiny death ninja" on the second one because it was so ridiculous. Tiny death ninja translates into "badass short girl".  

Now, I am sitting out in the sunshine sharing my adventure with you.  I tried my best to sleep in today, but finally, around 8am, I decided to get up and take a walk.  I returned some library books, got coffee and wandered around the neighborhood.  I really just needed to be outside.  I sat against an old oak tree in Grant Park and felt a sense of rest restored to my soul.  A squirrel was playing above my head, walkers and joggers were out, some with their dogs.  I met a friendly orange cat on the way to the park so we shared a few minutes of time.  On the way back from my walk someone had set out a bunch of free fiction books, so I came home with five old books, but new to me.  

Today I'm rocking the blue apron and working at Pier 1 from 3-7,  and then I'm going to log in and get some more driving in for Lyft.  It has taken me a long time, but I finally understand the true meaning of crafting a life for yourself.  I spent some time this morning, during my morning pages, dreaming about the future.  Writing a picture of what I intend to have, and seeing myself in it.  The jobs I have now are jobs I have chosen, and jobs that allow me time to write, and do the things I love to do.  And, they get me out into the world, connect me with people I might not have otherwise met.  I am learning new skills all the time, and on top of it, I am getting paid for it!  

I felt a little lonely last night after prom.  Sometimes, only very rarely, do I get that way.  Strangely enough, as I was looking at this picture of me in the van with my friends on our way back to prom, I realized what I had truly done.  As I looked at the vacant seat beside me, I realized I have created room for someone to share my amazing life with me.  So instead of seeing a space that is empty, I see a space waiting to be filled with just the right person.  I trust and believe that when the time is right, he will be there.  Just as everything else in my life as been.  And when I start to think about all the things I am grateful for, well, we could be here all day.  

I'm sharing a video from Julia Cameron talking about morning pages, walks and artist's dates.  I did all of this today, and I did get my problems sorted out.  That little loneliness thing?  During the time I walked it worked itself out after I did these things.  My morning pages helped me visualize the life I intend to create in the future.  And, if you are a creative person and have never been introduced to Julia Cameron, she will change your life.  Happy Saturday!!