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Nature’s Perspective

9 Jan

It just felt like the right place to start something, to catapult the new year. Not a huge dynamic turn of events, but a small shift that helped steer things in a new direction for positive change.

The Great Outdoors brings on a surge of rejuvenation and hope and so I thought climbing the tippiest of the top would be an inspiring goal for our little family. We are usually beach people and head to the warm sand and big waves with our boogie boards. We love how the ocean makes us new again.

But we tried something a little different this time.

We explored a different part of nature. It’s nothing we haven’t done before, we’ve been hiking. It’s just a new mountain and a new path.

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I thought it would be best to tackle something with a beautiful view and we could still see the ocean if the air was clear enough. It wasn’t the most excruciating uphill battle but it wasn’t easy either. Still a challenge for my little ones, but they were up for it. I was proud that they made it to the top. Not many kids enjoy climbing long windy roads, but they felt like reaching their goal was an important way to start 2019. They pushed themselves and raced the last 20 yards.

The view put things in perspective … there’s always something out there bigger than yourself, and it’s calming when you’re that far away. You see the beautiful that you can’t focus on when you’re up close.

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I’m not an avid hiker, but I enjoyed this adventure. Being out there and knowing we were starting the new year together felt good. Something to think about and smile when they got older … remember the time we hiked to the sign with mom? I’d like to think they’d call each other when they’re older and talk about it. It was easy hanging out with them. No pressure. No rushing. No arguing. Just hanging out, admiring the view, and appreciating the company.  The calm in-between conversations was a reassuring silence.

Everyone was out there that day, from big group of tourists, to a few friends, to couples, and dog lovers. We all had the same idea for this new 2019 beginning. Perspective from the tippy top to help our own state of mind. Nature is powerful in that way.

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Recovery Mode

17 Dec

I knew exactly what he meant … it clicked without having to wait that moment that thoughts need to take in order to register.

It was instant.

I had it.

“We recover the person we were intended to be … ” Russel Brand.

Nuggets of enlightenment just headed my way through the airwaves of a random podcast and knowledge being dropped by an unexpected dude. I’m not a huge fan but I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was pretty funny. Other than that I didn’t really  know much. I don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip. That kind of useless stuff irritates me. So when I heard this life quote I stopped and had to listen to the rest. This was going to be about substance, not fluff.

The topic was addiction but the information was about life.

I was glad to have found it.

I needed that little push.

You see, these multiple sabbaticals during the last couple of months bring about different perspectives on creativity. I mean after a crazy number of rejections in such a short amount of time a moment of unintended pause takes place. Weariness begins to sit heavy on my mind when thinking about pushing forward on this yellow-brick road and wondering about the journey.

But when I wake up in the morning I think … I have another day, another chance. I just have to find strength to push passed the tiredness. Everyone stumbles, Just have to hit that reset button and remember that I woke up with purpose, and not on accident as Mr. Thomas once said. And then I wake up knowing I’ll recover. I’ll recover.

And so remembering that conversation with Brand and his story about the seed stuck with me the entire day. You see, the seed has an intention and destiny to grow into a tree but it may be impeded by constraints or bad circumstances, whatever they may be, preventing it from becoming what it was intended to be … but that doesn’t have to happen to you.

That reminder came at a most needed time.

And so I held onto it and thought I’d spread the information just in case there was someone else out there stuck in a moment they couldn’t get out of … just stuck.

There’s a way to recover.

There’s a way to return to the person we intended to be … one step at a time.

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🙂

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Nature’s Hideouts

13 Oct
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During a hike I had to take a minute and appreciate nature’s hideouts.

The rejuvenating powers of nature work its magic when you’re hiking, biking, or running the trails. Probably why I’m a big fan of Bear Grylls and his adventures. They inspire the exploration of the Great Outdoors.

Granted you don’t have to jump out of helicopters or rappel down cliffs as Grylls does to appreciate the beauty and magnitudal effect nature can have on you.

Living in the city, I’m still able to find nature’s hideouts and be wowed by its effect.

Sometimes the experience is so great that I end up in the moment and forget to snap the shot. Other times I catch up and I’m lucky enough to remember.

Photographer Louie Schwartzberg’s short Tedx Talk Gratitude speaks about his project Gratitude Revealed. He captures these breathtaking shots of nature as well as the connection and gratitude he feels being surrounded by it. These time lapse captures took time and patience. When he put them together in the film with the older gentleman’s narrative  the reaction, including my own, was a collective appreciation of the day and its possibilities.

It connected you with parts of the world that made you mindful that you’re part of something much bigger. Reminding you of the blessings that come with the day was the backdrop of the landscape.

Living in a big city, it’s important to find nature’s hideouts and escape in the early morning before I tackle the day. Watching Schwartzberg’s talk reminds me of the importance of mindfulness and the place that helps me get to that frame of mind faster is within nature and any of its hideouts within the city.

 

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

Writer Wednesday’s: Storytellers at Their Best

10 Oct

The good ones are found in the nooks and crannies if you look hard enough, and I found one today. A good one.

You see most people think they can tell a story, and some can. But only a few are really good storytellers, the kind you get curious about, the kind you want to get to know. Chris Stapleton for instance. He hit the country scene a few years ago and people were wowed with his songs and ability to tell it with heart and soul. Paulo Cohelo and Laura Esquivel weaved journeys into epic stories that captured my attention and inspired. Kurt Sutter with his Sons of Anarchy and Vince Gillian with Breaking Bad imagined worlds with deep, complex, strong and flawed characters in powerful stories that humbled me as a writer.

You get stories in songs, books, TV shows, and movies every one of them requires a special something. I like it when I discover or remember one. I see them and it inspires me to get off my ass and be better.

And that’s what happened today.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently was gifted a Hulu subscription, and found a new treasure chest of stories. Some good, others not really my style. And in this search to find the good I rediscovered my interest in documentaries. I watched a couple great ones, but the one that stood out today was Page One: Inside the The New York Times. I imagine it may be similar to the one I have yet to see, The Fourth Estate, but focuses on different parts of the journalistic world.

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Page One: Inside the New York Times

In this story I found the great storyteller I had forgotten about I had lost. David Carr is a gritty, humble, and staunch defender of journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press. But beyond that he was a great storyteller, based in truth, and I was reminded of that after watching the film, and inspired to continue my journey no matter how difficult it may be at times.

It’s a difficult period for the press, especially when it’s being attacked by people who don’t like being called out on their lies and who fail to take responsibility for their actions in addition to those complicit in their behavior or cover-up. The press, when it’s at its best, acts as a mirror and uncovers the truth behind the dark corners of what people are hiding. Some people confuse news stories with columnists and that at times is the problem. There is a difference. One is news, one is opinion. People forget. The press itself  is a good check and balance for those in power. And I’m glad that this documentary reveals the hard work that goes into being a reporter.

I especially admired Carr, who at one point in his life hit the ultimate low personally and professionally, but was able to turn the corner and find something he was passionate about: storytelling. He not only asked questions, but he asked the right questions. And that’s when you know you have a good one, because not only are they passionately curious and smart, but they’re in this invested in this quest for truth.

When you witness someone bring that sense of integrity and honesty to storytelling, it gut-checks you and makes you wonder, where’s your story?

And so I find myself getting back to it.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Finding Your Ninja Warrior Strength

5 Oct

You ever feel like that slow-motion action sequence in a film, where there is impending danger and the camera takes it frame by frame to capture your reaction and record your sense of urgency that equals the speed of an explosive Bourne Identity car chase?

Yeah. I had that moment today.

Now I normally don’t get lit up with anger by other kids at an elementary school pickup. Most of the time I’m just annoyed with the moms who show up an hour early to take up all the parking, leaving me to park two football-field-lengths away. But anger was a good description for today. You see, when one kid decides to grab my daughter by the shirt with a kung fu grip as she’s minding her business playing hide and seek with her other friend, I got a little fiery.

However by the time I walked over there, the kid had disappeared into the crowd of blue and yellow shirts, and I was left with a confused 7-year old wondering why this kid scrunched up her Ninja Warrior shirt.

Maybe as some people would put it, he’s just a kid, messing around, he doesn’t know better. Maybe he didn’t like Ninjas. I don’t know, if you’re old enough to play Fortnite or use Pokemon strategies to earn more cards, I think you know better, you just don’t do better. Otherwise he wouldn’t have run away.

But regardless, I’m not in the habit of having my kid be messed around with in that manner no matter what the reason. I’m in the habit of teaching my daughter that no one puts their hands on her. So, I investigated the situation. Apparently she stopped her hide-and-seek play to stare at the kids wrestling by the tree. Some kids don’t like being stared at I guess, thus the unnecessary roughness and my quest to find the offender.

I didn’t find the kid or his mother, but when I asked my daughter if she would be able to  remember what he looked like, she told me if she saw him on Monday she’d point him out. And so I would have words with this kid’s mom. Lots of them.

But what I didn’t understand was how my very vocal daughter who defends her Legos to the death remained silent as this transpired. She didn’t yell. She didn’t push him off.  She didn’t punch him. She stood still. Quiet. Looking confused.

I was like … what happened to you?

Surprised. She said she was surprised, sort of shocked that someone would do that. She didn’t expect it. She didn’t know the kids and she says she was staring at him because they were wrestling. And that’s when the kid stood up and grabbed her by the shirt ready to rumble.

So I wondered where that confident girl who spoke out at home against the injustice of losing in Connect 4 or Battleship had disappeared to … the girl that likes Muay Thai boxing and is fearless on adventures … I was like what happened? Were you scared?

I was just surprised. Maybe embarrassed.

That’s what she kept saying.

I explained to my daughter that sometimes you’re shocked when people behave aggressively or in an abnormal fashion. But she needed to snap out of the shock as quickly as she could so that she could defend herself and not let anyone hurt or disrespect her again. She had nothing to be embarrassed about, the boy was the one in the wrong and there was no way this kid was going to turn this around and play the victim.

As a mother you don’t want your kids getting roughed up, or worse, beat up, or assaulted, and you want them to set boundaries and find a balance. You want to make sure they stand strong and find courage, when someone is trying to hurt them, demean them, or make them feel weak.

I wanted to make sure my daughter knew that she didn’t do anything wrong and that the kid shouldn’t have done what he did, and that this boys-will-be-boys mentality is a cheap excuse that will never be a justifiable reason for misbehavior. Ever.

Speaking up is not tattle-telling, especially when someone is getting hurt.

She was worried that if she defended herself, his mom would get mad or yell at her. I was like you Rocky Balboa your way out of that situation any time and I will handle who ever comes your way. No one has the right to put their hands on you. Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be strong.

Who are people you think are strong?

She answered … Ninja Warriors.

So then Ninja-Warrior yourself, I said to her.

She smiled and we hugged it out.

Now even though she left feeling like she could conquer Stage 4 of the most Ninja-est obstacle courses I was still on a mission to find this kid and his mom. Don’t know if I’ll find them on Monday, but at least my daughter is better prepared for this kid if he tries anything again.

 

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

 

Feel Good Friday

28 Sep

I didn’t expect this Polaroid moment from my youth to bring about the Feelgoods on a Friday.

During an after-dinner walk with the kids I discovered a small comic book shop my son wanted to explore. We cruised the scene and then at the end of our looky-loo session, I discovered the back room which was a quaint little take-you-back-in-time place featuring Star Wars, Wonder Woman, and Batman goodies. And in an unassuming corner of the room, there it was … a piece of cool … waiting for me to claim it.

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The awesomeness of Bruce

I was having a John Cusack-High Fidelity moment and enjoying the rediscovery of records.

You see,  I was one of those kids loving the Glory Days and Dancing in the Dark, trying to record the Top 40 Countdown on my boombox and make an awesome mixed tape without being interrupted by Casey Kasem.

I remembered my Trapper Keeper, locker days, and the Jake Ryan of my life. I remember my Uncle Erick’s record player and hearing the vinyls on Friday nights, sitting on my brown shaggy rug, with headphones. I remembered a piece of my childhood I had tucked in a corner and it made me smile.

Bruce was a good find and I think I’ll be visiting my secret record finding place next week, just to see what else is waiting for me.

Buen Camino my friends!

I Found My Little Moment With Anthony and Korean BBQ Tacos

26 Sep

So during my unintended hiatus I rediscovered my checks and balances, as in what I needed to do in order to turn things around for my own peace and sanity after a tough day of parenthood, rejection letters, or run-ins with everyday jackasses. I rediscovered the limits of my tolerance level for elementary school-parent drama, or people trying to take the spring out of my step.

Aside from my need of morning runs, walks, or swims to attain a Zen-like state of my mind, I found that hanging out with Anthony helped me remember. You see during this hiatus I caught up on some storytelling and was able to catch Anthony Bourdain’s travels new and old. His fearless spirit for journeys through Parts Unknown was a great way to connect with people and their stories. He did it through food and the awesome way in which he weaved words together in order to make a connection, to help you gain perspective of other worlds.

And so when I ran into one of the culinary discoveries he had featured, I felt the need to dive right into the cultural fusion. Most people might have just seen a good meal, but for some reason I felt the connection to this amazing world traveler and discoverer, who ultimately lost his battle with depression this year.

Storytellers are complicated people, filled with layers of emotions and when you can find a moment of Zen, of peace, even in a simple meal you should take a moment to appreciate it and enjoy the feeling and so I did, as he did many times on his show.

I found my moment with Korean BBQ tacos in the middle of the city, and I sat there enjoying the fusion of flavors between two cultures.

 

I sat remembering the story of this chef and how he got started, and of Bourdain’s interview and the spotlight he shown on the possibilities of a vision, of what can happen when you believe in an idea that nobody else thought of and you go for it. I remembered my spotlight. I re

I sat there, eating my tacos, feeling glad to have found that Anthony Bourdain episode during my sabbatical, feeling glad that I had found my little moment of the day, feeling glad that those tacos were so good, soooooooo good. I felt so filled with Zen that I had enough good vibes to lift me up until the stars came out at night.

Here’s hoping you have your own little moment.

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Accidental Sabbaticals, Broken Chains, and Storytelling Comebacks …

19 Sep

I broke the chain.

One day became two, then three, then four, then it was two weeks. You write everyday and you end up building links that connect, and at the end of the month you have this long chain of events that contributed to the creative spark that fuels your storytelling nature. You build something and every time you log onto your computer or tap away at your typewriter, you add another link to your creative works chain.

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But I broke the link. And now I have to start over.

I didn’t think I’d be one of those Missing In Action writers as I tend to roll on in consistently, but it completely snowballed here in sunny California. I fell off the creative wagon for a bit there to churn out some grant-writing pages and the energy for anything creative slowly drifted away as my head hit the pillow and snored away until the next morning. Now I don’t know if they’ve gotten the funds yet, but I sure hope they do.

But while I was testing out the philanthropic waters and trying to do good for others, I lost my mojo there for a bit. I lost my juice. But I’m working my way back. Bit by bit, one day at a time.

It’s not a big deal, as the world of blogging continues to spin and people keep moving forward, and discovering new sites as old ones fizzle out, but for those wondering about my accidental sabbatical … it’s over for now. I hope to not have another repeat. Someone told me it’s good to step away for a bit and recharge your battery, even if it wasn’t intentional, it’s still good to gain new perspective on your storytelling ways. I’ll find out if that’s true.

In the meantime, I’m still finding the funny in the not-so-funny situations, or at least I’m trying to, and I’m weaving experiences into the best kind of stories I know how to tell. Like with my washer ordeal and the battle with Sears and their Customer Service department and how Sebastian over there is not in favor of customers or service, or warranties. I relied on comedic moments to help me return to a state of Zen.

And while on this unintentional break, I did have something good happen. A couple actually, but I’ll save one for the Friday Feel Good Post. This one is reserved for recharging batteries. And I found that being surrounded by good music, good food, and people that make you laugh works its magic like chocolate.

I hadn’t on a Girls’ Night Out in probably a year, there really hadn’t been one. Everybody has been so busy with life. So when I got invited to go to an outdoor concert, I wanted to go, but paused for a minute as sometimes I fall into the … “man that’s too far, or parking is gonna be a nightmare, or I’m just too exhausted from parenting to go,” categories. In fact sometimes I just don’t feeeeeel like going. But I remember getting the invite and then remember an old Jim Carrey movie where he ends up saying yes to everything, and all these experiences take him on a new journey to a new self, a new perspective. They help him find his way, even though he gets lost somewhere in the middle, all those yeses leaded to something good in the end.

And so … I said yes. I said yes to Los Tigres del Norte.

And I found something good in the end. I found something in the accordion playing, the brass of the trumpets, in the strumming of the guitars under the starry night sky, in the gritos of the crowd cheering for more from this legendary group.

I found the good of the night and gratitude for the yes, and for the enjoyment.

Something about hanging out and getting good vibes made me smile and jump on in feet first. There were a few ladies I wished had been able to make it out there, but I was still very much in good spirits and feeling  the vibes of the outdoor amphitheater and the contagious laughter that comes about when people get together.

I was recharged, for my storytelling comeback, and I’m hoping to keep the chain strong this time.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Sunsets, Sunrises, and Sprinkles of Enjoyment

19 Aug

I wanted to watch the sunset and feel that moment of exhale marking the end of the day.  I wanted to see the sun in the early morning and feel the tranquility of the quiet among the warmth and nature.

And the Grand Canyon gave it to me in the best way.

After our little adventure in Radiator Springs we took the train to the Grand Canyon and that was the second part of our adventure. The kids hadn’t ridden the train before and it was a great way for them to travel and see the landscape. Now there was a mix-up with the reservations, and in truth, that burned me out. They gave us the wrong car, when we had actually paid more to be in a different car, but the kids didn’t seem to mind, and in the end we were reimbursed and our reservations on the return trip were secured. Those small details were just that … small. The kids were busy enjoying the ride itself, the thought of being on vacation,  on a train, and the adventure of travel.

And so to break away from the mood, I looked out the window and got lost in the scenery. It’s a good way to travel, especially with kids, and especially after the long drive to across state lines.

 

When the train pulled up to the station and we walked onto the platform being there, knowing that we had made it, felt good. We roamed around a bit before heading toward a viewpoint … an amazingly breathtaking viewpoint cast with clouds and shadows and the cool sprinkles of monsoon season.

Experiencing the Canyon during rain and lightning is a pretty amazing way to meet nature. It was a welcomed change from the 100-degree heat I was experiencing.  So I was one of the few people standing out in the rain, letting the drops hit me, checking out the Canyon, and breathing in the fresh air.

Now when the lightning began to pick up every few minutes, I thought it would be safer to catch that show from the safety of the bus, as did my kids, and the rest of the family. We cruised through the Rim of the Canyon and made it to the cabin to relax a bit before dinner and sunset watch. The rain was only supposed to last few hours so the sunset would still be an awesome moment for us.

And I don’t know what it is about sunsets that makes me find Zen in them, they happen every day. Maybe it’s the fact that all kinds of pinks, purples, and orange shades fill the sky and enhance your surroundings. It’s a call for the end of the day and for things to wind down. It’s a call to remember that the day is done, and now you take a moment for gratitude.

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Just amazing…

So we sat there at the edge, overlooking the Canyon, watching the sun go down, taking our pictures and having a moment worthy of the Awesome Jar. We walked through the trail to the outdoor amphitheater and listened to one of the Nightly Nature Ranger Talks. That night we learned about the amazing vertical leap and long jump capabilities of the the Mountain Lion. Even if you think you’re far enough or high enough … you’re not. That Mountain Lion will catch you if it wants to … luckily most times it doesn’t want to.

Now I really enjoyed the sunset and evening lecture, but I was looking forward to the early morning run along the Rim. Being up that early, surrounded by the quiet, and awesomeness of the Canyon filled me with peace and awe. It was the kind of morning where nature and the Great Outdoors affects you, where if you’re feeling a little lost you manage to find your way, where you realize things are possible.  It tells you that today was no accident, today there was a purpose.

I found gratitude during moments of sunset and sunrise and that helped set the tone for the rest of the adventure. The days were filled with hikes, fossil walks, Native American Dancing, visiting landmarks, getting Junior Ranger badges, purchasing souvenirs, and exploring the rest of The Canyon.

It was a good adventure, the kind of good you needed because it was missing for a little bit, the kind of good you still feel after you’ve left someplace because that someplace still gives you peace during chaos, the kind of good that leaves sprinkles of enjoyment throughout the rest of the month when you close your eyes and remember.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

Shark Week Welcomes 43

29 Jul

I don’t know how you could forget, but apparently it happens.

I didn’t do anything extraordinary on the last day of 42, wish I had but it sort of snuck up on me … I wasn’t paying attention to time and before I knew it, there it was … the last 24 hours of being 42. Even though I didn’t wine and dine myself, I did take a moment to pause at the end of the night and breathe in moments of gratitude throughout the day. Hanging out with a friend who made me smile … that was something to be grateful for and binge watching episodes of Shark Week? Dude. C’mon! The fact that Shark Week landed on the week of my birthday?! That was adventure enough.

I love Shark Week. It infuses a great sense of curiosity and admiration for all the great whites, hammerheads, tiger sharks, blue sharks, makos … all of them out there. It’s an appreciation for the adventurous marine biologists, shark experts, and camera people swimming out in the deep trying to capture the breach or tag and track and discover other amazing facts about this animal.  I love the excitement of it all and the intensity of the powerful and beautiful shark.

Plus I always love the metaphor about life that often comes during this time …

 

 

I enjoy hanging out and watching this every year with my kids. So on the eve of my birthday I sharked out! The next morning we took a staycation to the beach and checked off another bucket list adventure. My kids and I had been wanting to do for a while and seeing how it was Shark Week, I felt it was totally fitting in with the theme. Plus can’t go wrong going to the beach during Shark Week. It’s definitely meant to happen.

Standup Paddleboarding.

Considering that it’s been in the 100-degree-heat range in my neck of the woods, the early morning cool cloudy vibe at the beach was a welcomed site. But I just didn’t want to relax and hit the boogie board, I wanted a little something extra and so I booked a little hour and change adventure that even my daughter would enjoy. Standup Paddleboarding was something my son and I always wanted to try, but we just never got around to it, or my daughter quickly vetoed the idea.

But we found a way to make it happen this year and it was a good way to start the birthday morning. The fact that the waters were calm and we saw two giant seals swimming alongside made for an even better outing. We couldn’t believe how close we were to these huge animals and the thought of them bumping the board or flipping over didn’t occur to me until my daughter mentioned it. But I assured her that they were on their way and we were on ours and everybody would be fine. Everyone’s just enjoying the ocean. There was balance.

And finding balance was key that day, and I was glad that we made it out to the ocean that day, glad that my feet felt the cool water on the board and I wiggled my toes, glad that I found peace in a cloudy morning, glad for my kids mastering that boogie board in the afternoon, glad for the Happy Birthday song my kids sang to me, glad for the crunchy fish tacos for dinner, glad for the awesome DJ skills I had and the feel-good-songs that infused me with positivity and nostalgia on the long drive home, and glad for the chocolate cupcakes I baked for myself and the birthday wish that went along with it. Glad that I found the moments that day, moments that made me live like it was Shark Week. 43 …  Shark Week welcomes 43.

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Nice view on a birthday during Shark Week …

 

Buen Camino my friends!