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: Monday Edition

I have been remiss on posting blogs of late.  But, now I'm back at it.  I worked a fair amount this weekend (15 hours to be exact) and so that probably threw me off a little bit.  

50th Wedding Anniversary.  Every once in awhile you get to be part of something really special.  More special than the usual stuff.  Yesterday afternoon/evening I was part of celebrating some good friends' 50th Wedding Anniversary.  50TH!!!!!!  In a time when people can barely stay together for a few years, that is a milestone indeed.  So here's to John and Lois, whom I love dearly.  I was incredibly honored to be invited to be part of this celebration. That was certainly the capper for my weekend (photo cred goes to Tony Goodloe, I totally stole the photos below from him). It was good to reconnect with some folks, and especially good to see Tony and Debbie, John & Lois' kids.  Such a beautiful, beautiful time.

Lyft.  I spent a lot of the weekend driving for Lyft.  I did one ride on Thursday, so that doesn't really count.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday I was substantially busier.  That may account for why no blogs were written.  I got logged in by 8am on Saturday, nothing too eventful happened.  Saturday night I did two rides.  The last ride did me in.  First, they made me wait for several minutes before they all finally got out.  And it was a car full of dudes.  One, then a few more and then the car was full.  Quite frankly, they were more "bros" than dudes.  Asking to play a song, trying to go for old school rap.  Talking about girls, who's getting laid.  And several stops, including one at a mini-mart for some beer.  I finally got them dropped off at their "house-party".  I felt like I was driving around several 17-year olds.  After that, I was done for the night.  And, to top it off no tip for all their extra nonsense.  Now they might have moved into the "douche" category.  

Sunday I logged in at 10am, nothing too eventful there either except for again, my last ride.  Taking a few ladies over to the Pabst Music Festival.  We get almost there and one of them forgot her ID.  So, we get to go all the way back to North Portland, then go all the way back to the festival.  But hey, I don't care.  That particular ride was over $50.  Cha-ching!  They tipped me and didn't have to.  Definitely NOT in the douche category.  

Houseboating.  My very good friends Jen and Patrick are off on an adventure to Turkey.  And so, I get to spend the next two weeks on their houseboat on the Willamette River, just South of the Sellwood bridge.  I'm contemplating going to dip my toes in on the public dock even now.  It is a delicious thought, even if I don't do it.  Last night I took a glass of wine out to the dock and sat by the river under the stars, listening to the gentle swish of the water lapping against the wood.  I watched the headlights of the cars across the river and enjoyed the peaceful night. God, it was beautiful.  This morning, as I wrote my morning pages, at the dining table, two swallows flew in and then right straight through and back out the deck doors.  It kind of scared me, and was kind of magical, all at the same time.  

Life.  Often, probably daily, I am reminded of and grateful for the adventurous, beautiful life I live.  Not for the ease of it, because sometimes it's downright scary.  But for the fact that it is my life, and I am creating it.  No longer on auto-pilot, I am now fully awake and crafting a life that supports the things I love to do: travel, write, take photos and be with those I love.  And not just for my own gain, but thinking about what gifts do I have that can be used in service to the world at large. Working for Lyft, I am back in service to others.  I used to feel less than because I wasn't making more money or doing something more amazing with my life.  But a life in service to others, whatever that looks like, might be the best gift of all.  And guess what?  Most people think I live a pretty amazing life.  Sometimes I don't even know how this happened.  

I spent a lot of time saying no, so I could learn to define my own boundaries.  I suffered a significant amount of emotional trauma after my mom's death, and it took me a long time to come back from that.  Saying no helped me figure out what was important to me.  It also showed me I was not just loved for what I could give to people but for who I am.  Now, if I can, I say yes as much as possible because every acceptance, every yes, expands the boundaries of my own life and every "yes" almost certainly brings some new magic with it.  Yes also breeds trust, trust in me to know what I need and want, and trust in the Great Creator or the Universe or whatever to always support me and bring me unexpected blessings.  It is a funny thing when you let go of certainty and embrace uncertainty how much life expands and how you end up living the life you dreamed of.  At least for me, that's how I see it.  It takes some courage and some resiliency to do it, but I find when I make uncertainty my friend, life is more beautiful than I could ever imagine.  Often all I do is show up, and then the magic happens.  I don't know how it works, but it does.  Simple as that.  Try letting go.  Grab those dreams by the tail and hold on.  The sky is the limit, so plan accordingly.

BestThings: Tuesday Edition

I'm headed back to Portland today.  Getting everything all packed up (which takes about 10 minutes), grabbing some coffee, saying bye to Dad and hitting the road.  I've got a good amount of driving to do today (550 miles to be exact) but I know I am equal to the task.  Besides, I can always stop if I get too tired.  Or get a Rockstar.

Roadtrip.  This trip has been one of the best things I've done in awhile.  Spending time with Chris and her family, visiting parts of Idaho I have never been to,  seeing my Dad and Montana after nine years, and making new memories.  Yesterday Dad told me I spent my first birthday in Montana, in Libby.  Maybe that's why I feel so at home here.

Blue Mountain Recreation Area.  Montana is known for its' outdoors, if nothing else.  We took a little trip yesterday afternoon up here, found tons of hiking trails and a really cool access point to the Bitterroot River Dad can visit anytime he wants. And it is only about 15-20 minutes from his house.

Montana Antique Mall.  Four floors of amazing antiques!  Dad and I kicked around here yesterday morning and I did not buy one single thing.  Not one.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  Dad found some cool things he wants to start getting for his place, so that's awesome.

Uptown Diner.  This place was such a great lunch spot.  I had a grilled cheese (they had gluten-free bread!) and their homemade tomato soup.  Oh, and a huckleberry milkshake.  Delicious.  Total old diner feel, all decorated in greens and pinks.  Delicious lunch!



Dad.  We were supposed to go to a baseball game last night, but it got postponed due to thunderstorms and rained.  So Dad and I hung out at his place, binge watching this show I like and eating ice cream.  I cannot tell you how fun it has been to hang out with my Dad.  It feels like things are a little more right in my world now.  We've gone out and done some fun things too, found some new things, made some new memories.  It has been awesome.

I will miss Montana and Idaho.  The awesome thing is I can come back anytime I want.  And, for me, I hope it is sooner than later.  This has been an amazing and extraordinary trip, and as always, I am opened up a little bit more to the world, usually in ways I did not foresee.  Time to hit the road.