Samhain

I am not entirely sure what this blog will end up being about.  I just know I haven't written in 3 weeks and I am itching to do so now.  This happens to me when I am taking on something new.  I use the majority of my energy learning new things, so sometimes the other things in my life (writing) suffer.   Once I've got it sorted out, then I get back to a more normal routine.  In this case, it happens to be a new job, working at Voicebox in SE Portland.  If you have no idea what Voicebox is, take a peek at our site.  A "private-suite" karaoke lounge, the only one of its' kind in our fair city.  I make reservations over the phone for people to come in and sing their hearts out in the privacy of their own rooms.  We also have a full bar, and tasty food options.  Pretty cool.  For the first time in maybe my whole entire life, I am working at jobs I enjoy.  

For a long, long time, I didn't realize you could create a life you love.  I didn't realize I had the choice to make my life exactly as I wanted it.  I took what was offered, having little in the way of knowledge about who I was and what my heart desired.  It's taken some time.  Years, honestly, for me to figure this out.  I still don't have it totally figured out, but I've got a lot of it figured out.  At least some of the parts of what I want to spend my life doing.  

Tomorrow, for the first time in over a year, I will be working an 8-hour day.  That in itself is something for me to celebrate.  I technically work three jobs, part-time.  Lyft, Uber and now Voicebox.  I tend to count Lyft and Uber as the same job though.  So in truth it is only two.  And then there's the writing.  That is not something I have figured out how to monetize.  Once I get my Voicebox training and schedule down, and my driving schedule down, I will shift my focus to what my writing career is going to look like.  I don't know if I can ever go back to a 40-hour work week.  I love this freedom too much.

We all have dreams.  Some of us figure out we can live our dreams, and some are buried deep, and some rise to the surface by an unexpected turn this way or that.  Whatever the case, the last year has been incredible for me.  And I intend my life to keep going in this trajectory, upwards.  Maybe not in the ways you think.  Not in terms of promotions, or a fancier car, or a bigger place.  But in the ways that count to me.  Finishing my books.  Working on my original music.  Refinishing furniture.  Taking more photographs.  Traveling to even more places.  

I learned recently, from Felicity Hayes-McCoy, that for pagan Celts, November 1st was the beginning of their year, Samhain.  Felicity is the writer of "House on an Irish Hillside", a book I picked up at a bookstore in Dingle while I was in Ireland.  I was lucky enough to get a signed copy!  Samhain is still the Irish word for November, and the pagan Celts started their new year in winter, rather than spring, as "their world-view celebrated dark times, recognising that life itself comes from darkness and a dormant seed." Our Halloween "is an echo of the ancient Celtic belief that on Oíche Shaman (Samhain or Halloween Night as we know it) the spirits of the dead returned to the homes they'd once lived in. People believed that - provided the living recognised and respected their ancestors' presence - the dead would protect them. So each year the dead were welcomed with food, fires, music and dancing. That way they they wouldn't get offended. And get nasty."  

Samhain is a time of transition, and this time of year I always seem to be in that transition period. This year, I started a new job, and I will be on the move again.  I've spent the better part of this year living in NE Portland, renting a room from a long-time friend of my family.  Now, I will be relocating to Sellwood, in the SE part of Portland, and renting a room from good friends of mine.  


It's been an interesting journey over the last year.  I have revisited a lot of the places where old wounds needed to be healed.  Kind of like a do-over for me.  It's like all of the circles are closing, healing over.  NE is where my parents lived, where I spent my teenage and young adult years.  I'm not going to go into all the stories, but this and many other locations held painful memories for me, and now they have been replaced with good memories. I went back to Montana to see my Dad.  I went back to work for a company that let me go some years ago.  I guess perhaps Sellwood is my last "do-over".  I am very excited about this new chapter in my life.  And, many of the most important things and people in my life are in that area of town.   So here's to the transition times, to Samhain, to death and rebirth and the life that comes from a darkness and the dormant seeds within us all.  Perhaps next year I will celebrate Samhain in Ireland.  

BestThings: Late Sunday Edition

I'm writing this morning...well, really it's afternoon here...from Homedale, ID.  I'm off on my 10-day adventure around Idaho and Montana, coming back home probably on the 13th or 14th.  I slept in and so here we are.  I hope everyone had a good Independence Day, whatever you may have done.  I chose to celebrate my independence by driving to Idaho. 

Driving.  I love driving.  I do it for a job, and I do it for fun.  I never feel more free than when on a road trip because I am on my own schedule.  Even with planes or trains or buses, you are at the mercy of their schedule.  I like to make my own rules.  I had a pretty easy 7 hour drive over here.  I was proud of myself because I did not use AC for 5 hours.  But, once I hit Baker City and the temperature hit 100 degrees, I decided it was time to turn it on.

Family. I wasn't with my blood family on this holiday, but family comes in all different forms.  I spent it with my best friend, her daughter, boyfriend, mom, step-dad and various other assorted people.  These guys are like family to me.  Chris is the sister I never had biologically, and her mom, Linda, and Dave, her step-dad, are like second parents to me.  Linda put on an incredible spread, with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads (including potato) and even made a watermelon/cool whip cake and gluten-free brownies for me.  It was delicious!  Chris and I played a lengthy game of pool downstairs and we made about one shot in for every 5 shots we took.  Eventually Chris won.

Home. Dave and Linda moved into a new house in the Boise area a few months ago, and from their upper deck we had a view of the entire Treasure Valley, from Boise all the way South.  We could see fireworks for miles!  It was awesome, and a beautiful night to watch.  Their home is beautiful, and perfectly suits them. I am so happy for them in their new place, and so happy that I got to visit and see it.  This is the first summer they have not worked in I don't know how many years. 

Last 4th of July I was working for Dave and Linda at their blackberry-packing plant, and I don't even remember the day.  I think I might have actually just gone home and gone to bed. All I craved was sleep.  It was hard work. 33 days straight last year.  I was a zombie.  I never want to experience that again.  But, it got me to where I am today, which is in a place to take off for a 10-day open-ended road trip with no one waiting on my return. And now here I was, celebrating Independence Day with Dave and Linda in Idaho when we were all eyeballs deep in blackberries last year.  Crazy how things can change so much in a year, but they always do.  I feel so blessed, every day.  Which is why I write these "best things", to reflect on the goodness in my life and the abundance I live in. 

Top 5 "BestThings" of last week:

1. I got asked out for a beer by a super-cute Lyft passenger.  

2. I took off on a road trip for Boise and Montana.

3. I received this awesome feedback from a Friday Lyft passenger: 

★★★★★ Top review

“Jennifer is amazing, and her infectious laugh is sublime. Thanks for the welcome to portland and ride to the airport!”

4. I spent the 4th with one of my best friends.

5. I had lunch with one of my friends in town from Denver that I have not seen in a year.


BestThings: Thursday Edition

Friday.  I woke up excited today because tomorrow I'm leaving on another road trip.  So there will be some travel blogging coming up too.  I'll be heading to Idaho for the 4th and then on to Montana next week to see my Dad.  I am so happy to be getting on the road again! But first, pesky things like packing and laundry.  I intend to be up very early tomorrow so I can get the bulk of my journey done before it gets ridiculously hot.  Wait...it's been ridiculously hot already. 

Friends. I spent a good amount of time talking to my best friend yesterday morning.  I'm going to visit her in Idaho.  As we were talking, we came up with a new plan for part of time in Idaho.  We are going up to the Stanley area to camp out for a few days before I head on to Montana.  Her boyfriend works up there on a road crew so we will get to spend some time together in the camper.  AND we are going to visit a ghost town!  Super-excited and I see some photo opportunities coming up.  Time to get out my Road Atlas and figure out the route from there to Missoula.  

Routines.  It took me all morning, but I did morning pages, blogged and did my morning yoga routine.  Sometimes it's just like that.  I spent some time talking to my brother too, down in Oakland.  As a result of getting up late and doodling all morning, I did not get logged in to Lyft until early afternoon. 

Lyft. I picked up a few passengers in the afternoon, then decided to come home and take a break.  I do not always like driving in the heat of the afternoon.  It works better if I drive in the morning, then login and drive around 6pm to 9 or 10.  And that's what I did yesterday.  I took more than a few people down to NW.  So busy!  I decided I like picking up on the East side and doing most of my work over there.  I do not enjoy driving downtown much.  And good God!  Pedestrians are so dumb sometimes.  Luckily no mishaps.  When I'm driving, I gear down mentally and chill out, concerned only with getting my passenger(s) safely to where I am taking them.  I had come home and was just about to logout when I got a ride request from around the corner.  So, I took my last guy down to NW Portland.  He was super-nice, a great ride to end the night with.  Earlier I had picked up several youngsters who were clearly high and guess where I ended up taking them?  Not Taco Bell, but close.  Stella Taco on Alberta.  I got in the car to take my next ride and thought, "Whoa!"  If I could smell the weed, I'm certain my next passenger could.  Always an adventure.  We had a very long conversation the whole ride with one of the girls who was having a very hard time figuring out how the billing for Lyft worked.  Finally I think they got it sorted out.  Lord!  

Sunset.  There is nothing more beautiful than driving across the Broadway bridge while the sun is setting.  It was incredibly beautiful last night.  I only wished I could have stopped and captured the image on film.  The sun framed behind the Fremont bridge is something to behold indeed. And at that time, the world is lit with the golden light of the fading sun.  I wished I could stop on the bridge and absorb the view.  Maybe tonight I'll figure out where I can park and walk out and snap some photos.  I am blessed to live in an incredibly beautiful city, and sunset is one of my favorite times to drive.  It always feels like magic, the time between times.  And I fell asleep to the light of the nearly full moon.  So much beauty awaits you if you simply pause to take it in.



Keep Moving Forward.

Writer's Digest just emailed me to let me know my short story didn't win anything.  But this is not really about that.  It's been almost 2 weeks since I blogged, which is not acceptable for a writer, so I need to get a blog post published.  I have so much swirling around in my mind, always.  I do write every day, using morning pages, but that is not something I share with the public at large.  But the blog is.  So here I am.

My distant traveling adventures are over, at least for now.  My path is wide open as to what I want to do with myself.  I have lots of options, and sometimes that is the problem.  It is kind of frightening, but awesome at the same time.  I remember on my birthday, almost 2 years ago, I took the day off.  I imagined what my day would be like if I did not have to work a "full-time" job.  If I was a freelancer, and could set my own schedule for the day.  So now, here I am.

It is crazy when you get what you asked for.  A clear schedule, money in the bank, living in a place that inspires my creativity.  I have been very specific about crafting a life that would allow me to have the freedom to do what I love.  Part of what I love is traveling and taking pictures.  Bringing people pieces of the world they may never see.  Another part of that is writing.  Poems, books, short stories, novels.  

Sometimes I get scared of my own creativity.  Feeling like if I let the torrent flow, I may never get all of it, may never capture it all and it will all go to waste.  So sometimes I prefer to keep the faucet off.  What happens then is the pressure gets so great, I have to release some pressure.  So here I am today, sharing my thoughts, because I can do little else.

But here's one thing I do know - I can never go back.  No matter how difficult this present course could be, it is exactly what I want, what I have asked for.  And honestly, I have moments of difficulties, but never days, or even hours.  Moments, like clouds moving across the sky and blocking the sun.  A moment of darkness, but then it's gone.  

I don't know what the future holds.  How can any of us? But, the beauty of letting go of all my "certainty" is that I have become very comfortable with all that is seemingly so uncertain right now.  The fact of the matter is this - even those of us who think we are so certain in everything we are doing, there is NOTHING certain about anything.  Instead of being fearful about the future, I choose to look at it as an adventure, most of the time.  

I guess what this post is becoming about is embracing uncertainty.  Giving in to creativity.  Honoring yourself and the things that truly matter to you.  Quit honoring fear. While I was in Ireland, I was in a constant state of uncertainty.  I didn't know where things were, didn't know how to get around, couldn't have even explained where I was on a map at first.  But then, as I took each day moment by moment, my fear of the unknown evaporated.  All of a sudden, I was navigating around Ireland with nothing but a map and it was an amazing adventure!  I quit thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and instead would keep moving forward towards my destination.  One kilometer at a time. 

And so that's my lesson.  To myself, and to all of you.  Keep moving forward.  Whether it is one foot, one inch, one mile, one kilometer.  One tiny thing, no matter how small, can keep us on track.  When I would be driving in Ireland, I would pick my final destination, the route to get there, and what would be the very next place I needed to get to.  Once I got to that next place, I would pull over, figure out the next road I needed to take to the next destination.  And it was in this fashion I ended up driving almost 2000 miles in Ireland all by myself, and made it to all of my destinations without much mishap at all.  Everywhere I decided I wanted to go, I made it.  Kilometer by kilometer, village by village.  If I made a mistake, I simply backtracked and got on the right path.  But, I was still moving forward.  

So keep moving forward!  No matter how small the step, take it.  Even if it looks like you are going nowhere, you are.  And, eventually, you will find yourself on the top of that mountain, or at that beach, or in that job you want, or the relationship you dream about.  One small step at a time.