Happy Birthday Dad.

Today is my dad's birthday.  In honor of you Dad, I intend to consume a slice of carrot cake and a tall glass of cold milk.  My brother Benj thought we should write you letters and mail them to you for your birthday but of course I did not get it done.  And I decided it would be better to post it publicly on my blog.  It is my first blog in over 7 months and I can think of no better way to get started again than to say "Thank You" to you Dad and wish you a very public "Happy Birthday"

Keith Urban sings a song, "Song For Dad", off his "Golden Road" album.  I heard it again a few weeks ago and it hit me.  One of the lines reads "he did the best he could".  As children I used to think you and mom were superheroes.  And of course, I know now that is not true.  But it takes a long time to recognize that as a child.

One of my very first memories with you was when we went to the fireworks in Seaside, probably with Grandma and Grandpa. I may have been anywhere from 2-3 years old, I am not entirely sure.  I hid in your chest and I remember feeling safe as you gathered me in your arms and shielded me from the loud and scary sounds and lights.  Now I love fireworks!  

I remember when you guys took me to get my first bike and Jason got his first Big Wheel and mine was a bright shiny red Schwinn.  I was so excited!  It took me forever to learn to ride, but I did.  We lived in Astoria and about the same time you had this old motorcycle that never worked but you would give us rides around the yard and try to get it started by running it down the big hill in our back yard of the house on Grand Avenue.  It never worked, of course.  You and mom and Uncle Pat and Aunt Linda would play Millebornes and one of my favorite Christmases ever was in that house.  Mom made candy and I got fashion plates.  

We had the real 8-track tapes and vinyl and you let me listen to classic rock bands like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Doobie Brothers.  You had this album of Cat Stevens and it fascinated me.  I would spend what seemed like hours looking at it mainly because there was some sort of spider on it.  We moved up to Forest Grove and then Banks after a series of logging accidents forced you to train for a new career.  You had been going to school during the week and then coming home on the weekends.  Honestly, I don't know how you did it. 

I started playing t-ball and softball and was so excited for my new cleats I ran back and forth outside Grandpa's apartment in Forest Grove the night I got them just to prove my cleats made me run faster.  We moved to Banks and I played softball and then volleyball and then we moved on to Portland because you had to move into the city because you started working for the city.  I really, really wanted to go to Grant High School because I had met some guys who went to Grant that came to wrestle at Banks Jr. High. One weekend, my parents blindfolded my brother Jason and I and drove us through the Portland to show us where our new house was.  2 blocks from Grant High School.

I could go on and on with memories and I think what I am trying to say is even through all the difficulties, and there are lots, I would not trade you for anyone else.  I can honestly say I love you with all my heart.  Last summer we had such a great time with you and I miss you!  I felt sad when you left and I can't tell you how many times when I'm driving I'm looking for places you could move to so you could be closer.  Benj and I have even talked about coming to visit you in Montana.  And if you ever do want to move, you know you already have a moving crew.  

I am proud of the way you have persevered, if I can say that, and I just want you to know that.  I have so many good memories and you taught me so many good things.  My love of music, the written word, teaching me to be independent, my quirky sense of humor, my heritage and I am proud to say I am your daughter.  So watch this video, and listen to this song, and though he talks about being a son or man,  you can insert daughter or woman in there.  Happy Birthday Dad, I love you so much!

How Do You Answer the Big Question?

What would you do if you could do anything? I often like to ask people this question.  And this is the question we get asked periodically at different times during our lives.  Most of the time I never knew what to say.  I would be envious of those who seemed to know exactly what they wanted from their life and marched after it.  They knew what they would do, and they were doing it.  

I never knew I could create my own life.  For a long time I had no idea I actually could design my very own custom life.  Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.  I took things as they came to me, and lived a lot on auto-pilot.  But all along, things were stirring.  I remember watching the first Lord of the Rings movie in 2001, sitting in my cubicle thinking and knowing there had to be more but I had no idea what or how.  

It is not for the faint of heart.  From that point on, my life took me on an incredible journey.  And now, through more than a few years of deep self-work and excavation, I am doing it.  I am creating and designing a life I love.  Filling it with people I love, and things I love, and finding out what my interests and passions are.  I don't know if there is one true passion.  I guess the thing I think about most is writing.  That is the place where I go deep inside and lose myself.  But I am sure interested in a bunch of other things, like photography, traveling, history, languages, music .  

This life I have chosen is not easy.  In fact, it's damn hard sometimes.  Living with people, scrambling to come up with rent, patching together odd jobs.  But I learned something.  Well, a few things.  40 hours a week working for someone else does not leave me with the energy I need to create.  And writing is that sweet spot, where my dreams touch the Earth.  Now that I have found it, I am not about to give it up.  So I do whatever is necessary to protect it and nurture it.  Quite frankly, I don't want life to be "easy".  I want to always be growing, learning, changing and evolving.  

There is no retirement.  I hope I'm still writing and traveling when I'm 90.  I use that because that is how old my maternal grandmother is, and she just got her first cell phone.  I think the myth of retirement is that, a myth.  We wait and we wait and we wait and sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn't.  I refuse to believe the best thing I can hope for is to work some job with great benefits and hope I have enough energy left to do things when I'm 65 or 70.  Who knows if I'll make it that far, or my pension, 401k or Social Security will.  I don't want to "retire".  I intend to live a full, vibrant life.  If I have learned anything, as cliche as it is, there are no guarantees.  

GO!!!  One of my very best friends frequently posts this on my Facebook status updates.  And notice, it is an action word.  So go!!! Go towards your dreams, whatever they are.  Cultivate those ideas whispered in your dreams.  Pay attention and say yes.  I promise, you life will take a magical turn.  But be warned, once you open that door and go, there is no going back.  


BestThings: Late Friday Morning Edition

It's Friday!! Woooo!!!!  For me that means my work week is getting started.  And that's okay.  If I can get away with working Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun and bring in the money I need and then some, not a bad gig.  This is my morning part 2 again today.  I got up at 4:30 to take some neighbors to the airport in lieu of a cab, made a quick $20, and back to sleep I went.  Again.  Finally.  At 6 am, after dozing through two catch up meditations.  Speaking of that...yesterday's round-up of best things goes like this:

Meditation.  Every 3 months or so Oprah and Deepak Chopra offer a 21-day free meditation program.  I always try to catch these.  I have been a few days behind, but I am now caught up as of today.  This series theme is on grace, stemming from gratitude.  My life always significantly changes when I do these, so do yourself a favor and sign up here:  https://chopracentermeditation.com.  I don't think you will regret it.

Errands.  Yesterday I got so many things done!  I took boxes to my storage unit, mailed a box of stuff to my brother in Oakland, got laundry put away, and got my life tidied back up.  I guess now it takes me about two days to get all caught up after traveling on an extensive trip.  The Rollerskate (my car) is clean and shiny and open for business.  

Happy Hour.  My housemate and I went to Salty's on the Columbia yesterday afternoon for happy hour.  We sat outside on the upper deck and watched the sailboats on the river while enjoying coconut shrimp, calamari and some dirty fries.  We went inside where I had a Baked Alaska (a first for me).  It was a beautiful evening and Kelly treated me for my birthday.  I forget what an amazing restaurant this is.  One of these sunny afternoons go check it out.  Happy Hour is from 3-6.  

I think that's it for now.  But we will see what adventures are to be had today. It is entirely possible I may be having the best summer of my entire adult life, and I am loving every minute of it.  Oh!  Tonight and tomorrow there's a little super-cool music festival in Canby, Oregon called Harefest.  If you love ACDC, BonJovi, Led Zeppelin, Guns n' Roses, Journey, to name a few....get yourself there.  


BestThings: Monday Edition

I messed up yesterday on my title.  Yesterday should have been "BestThings: Sunday Edition".  Kind of like the Sunday paper.  Today is ACTUALLY the Monday edition, because it is all the best things that happened on Monday, yesterday.

I Lyfted! I drove for Lyft yesterday for the first time.  Driving time was 3 hours and 53 minutes, I gave 7 rides and pulled in just over $100.  Not bad for 4 hours of work.  I know without a doubt my decision to go with Lyft as my only job is the right one.  All the pressure from having to be dependent on someone else dictating my time evaporated.  I got up, did morning pages and yoga, tended my money garden.  I drove for a few hours, came home and took a break for a few hours, then went back out in the road.  Making my own schedule is AWESOME.

The House of Reptiles.  And, I learned something really interesting.  There is a place called the "House of Reptiles" out in Tigard.  It includes a "venomous snake" museum.  A couple I gave a ride to that were here from Roseburg specifically went to check that out.  Who knew?  People are definitely keeping this area weird.  The location was in a strip mall.  Go figure.

Lunch.  Oh, you thought this was about lunch yesterday.  Nah.  I made lunch plans to see a very dear friend of mine today (Tuesday) who is in town from Denver.  I am super-excited to see her AND we are going to one of my favorite places in town, Jade Teahouse & Patisserie in Sellwood.  Yum!!! 

Dinner.  I ended up meeting friends for dinner at Cha Cha Cha in Sellwood before going to Open Mic.  I'll get to that in a minute.  I've been spending a lot of time at Cha Cha Cha.  For whatever reason, I love Mexican food in the heat.  And, sitting out on the patio is super-fun.  

Open Mic. Most every Monday night my very good friends host an open mic at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Sellwood.  Yes, I know.  A lot of my time is spent eating and drinking while socializing.  This open mic is an amazing community of gifted artists, mainly poets and musicians, who often come every Monday night to share their talents.  Even I will get up and read poetry sometimes, and have been known to perform a song.  It gives me a shot of inspiration every time I go.  And some great friendships have come out of this. My friends Chris and Jen built an amazing community of performers.

So there you have it.  My BestThings from yesterday.  Oh!  One more thing.  One of my Facebook friends posted this on my wall "

I blame u for this.  you're adventurous spirit consumed me. 

Made me realize I need to live life.. happy.

Adore u n miss u.

If I can inspire even one person to live life happy, on their terms, I feel like my job is done.