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.'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.

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.


3 Things I Do Every Day to Keep My Shit Straight.

I posted a blog a few weeks ago, "7 things on my Shit List".  You can get it under the "Traveler" section of my site,  Yes, I am referencing my own website.  But hey, I can do whatever I want, it is my page.  It was so well received I thought perhaps I would share 3 things I have now built into my daily routine that help me keep my shit straight.  Having lots of free time, that is important right now.

1.  Meditation. I recently completed a 21-day meditation program geared specifically toward writers via AWAI. I have been meditating morning and night, sleeping better and generally feeling more at peace within myself.  I'm starting another 21-day meditation challenge via Oprah and Deepak Chopra. This one just started today, called "Manifesting True Success".  You might even still be able to join, if you like.  I'm not a super meditator, or anything like that.  I feel like about 20 minutes regularly in the morning helps me keep my head straight for the rest of the day, helps me keep my energy to myself, and keeps me more sane than without it.

2.  Morning pages. I talk about these so frequently, it is kind of disgusting.  I thought someone might be asking, "exactly what are you talking about with these pages?"  Every single morning, I write three pages.  Well, maybe not every morning, sometimes I do miss them.  Or sometimes they turn into afternoon pages, or evening pages.  The point is, I am writing.  If you want to be a writer, you have to, well, write.  I use these as a check in with myself, somewhere I can bitch about things bothering me so no one else has to hear about it and a place to dream.  If I do not do these, my soul gets restless.  I have been doing them about a year now, all based on the recommendation of Julia Cameron, in "The Artist's Way".  That woman knows what she is talking about.  I do not feel right if I do not get them done.

3. Cuppa tea. I love coffee, but it does all sorts of strange things to me, so I opt instead for tea.  But not just any tea, Irish Breakfast tea, with a bit of milk and more than a bit of sugar.  This might have a tiny bit to do with spending a month in Ireland earlier this year.  A good, strong dose of black tea gets me going without so much jitter as coffee gives me.  And, most often no heartburn either.  My tummy tends to be a little sensitive, so I like to avoid it first thing.  Just works better for me.  

People are so interested in the process, trusting the process, and enjoying the process.  They want to know about your "process".  I am not sure who "they" are, but they must be out there somewhere.  I am not saying this is what you should do, or what would work for anyone else.  But, I know if I want to keep my shit straight and do more epic shit, this is part of my process.  

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.