Tag Archives: Happy Birthday

You Still Make The Cake …

30 Jan

I woke up knowing he’d be the first thing on my mind.

Brown eyes, black and silver wavy hair, usually covered by a hat. The very same blue Dodgers hat I wore all day today. Go Blue.

Tired and exhausted from the night before, the night of thinking of tomorrows and tomorrow already here, as evidenced by the sun peeking through the blinds. Staring at the ceiling, knowing that the closest I’d ever get to him today was just a memory or two. Pictures, left over voicemails, hats hanging on hooks, shirts folded in the closet, and half a bottle of Jovan Musk  in the cabinet. They were all waiting for me this morning, like every morning.

But today was different.

Today was his 69th birthday and the cologne smelled a little different. I think it was losing its strength, but I could still smell that aftershave scent. It still lingers in the air, reminding me of how I wished I had more memories.

It’s always a tough day, knowing someone isn’t going to blow out the candles anymore. But you still make the cake, you make it anyway. Today I made it with my daughter, who’s named after him. Listening to jazz as we measured and stirred the flour and sugar, dancing to his favorite tunes in our aprons as the smell of chocolate filled our small kitchen, I smiled. I thought he’d be watching and smiling as we twirled around to his favorite trumpet and piano tunes.

Jazz was on all day today. Running through the park this morning. At the stoplight. In the kitchen. And as I write this piece. His calming happy music surrounded me as I remembered him driving his silver Toyota Tacoma, with the station tuned into KJAZZ and him strumming his fingers on the steering wheel.

Yup. It was on all day. Reminding me, giving  this purpose, making the baking experience a little better.

And for some reason, during the taste-testing process perhaps, we didn’t have enough frosting to cover the entire cake this year, and that was O.K. It wasn’t a disaster. We made a head pastry chef decision and thought layers upon layers of frosting would be just fine. Like a chic bakery.

He’d probably get a kick out of it, and we’d make our own story about it. In fact we probably already did. I’ll probably think back , when all my hair has that silvery fox color, and remember how we baked the chocolaty chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chopped almonds, how we danced in the kitchen thinking about my Dad turning 69 and how he’d enjoy a piece of cake, or two, along with a cup of coffee.

We took our picnic and visited him. I told stories as my daughter had one piece and my son two. Large cups of milk, and one cup of coffee for pops. Sitting there talking about life and wishing he was there to blow out the candles and make one more wish.

My Dad … the Dreamer, the Adventure Seeker, my HBO-Watching-Buddy, the Owner of Over 70 Baseball Caps, the Jazz-Listening-Beep-Bopper, Pay-It-Forward-Patron, Awesome-Date-to-Opening-Plays at the local theater, Spirit of My Spirit, Heart of my Heart, Laugher of My Jokes, and friend … turned 69 today. I wish him well, send him light, love, and laughter.

And I miss him.

 

Dad

My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.

 

 

 

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Looking Through The Right Lens …

29 Jul

Turning the corner feels so good, when the day before seemed like such a nightmare.

I was secretly hoping things were going to get better but I didn’t want to jinx myself. It’s weird when people think like that, I know. But I was just hoping for a little luck from the universe, and it turns out, the universe was definitely conspiring with me that day.

Even though we had to cancel our Bucket List Adventures that day, turning 41 ended up being pretty good. I found so many tiny blessings that added up to such a cool day, small moments to be super grateful for, and if I hadn’t been looking, my perspective would have been so different. So glad I was looking through the right lens …

beach

🙂

 

101-degree fevers and vomit gone …

No traffic on the way and Flock of Seagulls on the radio …

Realizing it’s 99 degrees where you live but a cool 77 on your beach spot …

Warm sand, low tide, cool waters, and no beach space invaders …

Catching some awesome boogie board waves that make you feel like you’re on a the Travel Channel Special, in slow motion, and Morgan Freeman is narrating  …

Great picnic with no sand in the sandwiches …

Splashing in the waves, hearing my kids laugh, hearing my own laugh …

Relaxing on a Tommy Bahama Beach Chair and taking a moment, a couple actually, to check out the peaceful scene …

Driving out for an early dinner and not getting lost on the way …

Eating the best fish tacos I’ve had in 12 years … Duuuuude.

Driving home, in traffic, but kids watching Despicable Me and I’m bopping my head to The Boss, The Zac Brown Band, The Rolling Stones,Tears for Fears, The Beastie Boys, New Edition, and La Pollera Colorada … ahhh best mixed tape ever …

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, flan, triple chocolate mousse, one candle, a happy birthday song, and a great wish waiting for me at home …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

The Guat Makes It To 40 … Smiling

27 Jul

I knew I’d be scared. I knew I’d be nervous.

But it was going to happen anyway.

Regardless.

It had to, there was no turning back. My life had taken a step forward and I had to follow, whether I was ready to or not. Just had to be done. So I thought I’d do something scarier than turning 40 on my 40th birthday. Something to start off this decade in a way that would change my perspective on life moving forward.

You see I wasn’t having a big party, and I wasn’t taking a great vacation somewhere. I wasn’t doing any of the awesome things that people do when they turn 40. I wasn’t able to, but I told myself I still needed to do something, something just for me, something to make me forget that I had a really tough month. Something that was bigger than 40, but something I’d always remember doing when I turned 40. Something I’d be grateful for and something that would change me. Something off The Bucket List.

And so … I went skydiving.

I didn’t tell too many people my plans, wasn’t sure if things were going to pan out, considering the personal drama I was undergoing that week and the fact that I had a vacancy in the best friend department that left me having many conversations with myself in an attempt to make sense of it all. And even though the week, or the month, didn’t go as I imagined it to be, this day did.

This day turned out exactly the way it was supposed to … and that made me smile, that made my heart feel good, the kind of good you get when someone who loves you gives you a strong hug, and holds you a little bit longer. That’s the kind of feeling I got. I had a moment that lasted the whole day. I had a Super Soul Sunday moment myself and it happened at 10,000 feet.

Perspective, passion, happiness, gratitude, inner peace, strength, vitality, amazement, and reaching Zen happens all at once.

It doesn’t hit you when you’re approaching the Pacific Coast Skydiving hanger, or when they’re strapping on the harness and belts. It doesn’t hit you when you get into the plane, or when you’re flying over the California coast and can see the Pacific Ocean. No. It happens after you face the scariest part.

The door opens and he says scoot over.

Dude.

I felt my heart drop.

There I was, my legs dangling over the edge and an inch of my butt barely touching the door frame of the plane.

sky3

There I am the most scared I’d ever been in a long time and there’s Tom, skydiving master extraordinaire … smiling.

Holy crap.

This is it. I mean I know it’s it. That’s why I flew up here. For the “it” moment. My heart started beating faster, and the nervousness was building into anxiety and fear.

This is it.

This is really it.

“Ready? I’m gonna say one, two, three,” Tom said smiling.

One … I closed my eyes.

Two … I took a deep breath.

Thr–You know, I don’t remember him saying three, I just remember opening my eyes as he pushed us forward and out of the plane.

sky5

I hate taking selfies and usually want no part in them, but having Tom take one at this point in the adventure was an awesome exception.

I screamed.

I laughed.

And then I screamed and laughed some more.

I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it.

The feeling made me forget about everything crappy that happened during the week. It made me forget about cold feet before 40, made me forget about losing a friend, made me forget about my writer’s block, made me forget gray hairs and anti-aging creams, made me forget the stress in my life and the wrongs that were in it.

It made me present in the moment, the most present I’d probably ever been.

I don’t know how long I was free-falling, I just remember how it made me feel and how glad I was for feeling it.

Then the parachute deployed, the straps tightened, and I eased my way down to the field below, but not before Tom, my skydiving partner who was keeping me alive, did some stuntman swirlee-twirlee tricks reminding me why I don’t get on the Scrambler Zero Gravity carnival rides. I laughed and screamed through that and then we landed safely.

I high-fived Tom and smiled.

sky10

I made it. I had done it and it was an awesome way to start the morning of my 40th Birthday.

40 felt good then.

.

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Winning Moments …

25 Jul

Tomorrow’s the day …

 

 

39 years ago at some God-forsaken hour I took my first breath and set my sights on big dreams.

I’ll still be dreaming about some of them tomorrow. In fact probably the next day too, because am I where I’d thought I’d be at 39?

No.

Not really.

But then again I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at 38 and I’m still standing today. Chocolate, laughter, and comedy have played a big part in my life so far and I’m grateful for that, I couldn’t have gotten far without it.

But my Happiness Projects, Bucket Lists, Misadventures, Sandbox Adventure Lists, races, meditation challenges, Super Soul Sunday Moments, the Clear-Eyes-Full-Hearts-Coach-Taylor-Moments, and the 10-Day-Mental Diet trials have also played an important role in getting me back on track. They kept me from jumping over the ledge really, and that’s a big thing. I’m grateful for the change in perspective, for the life and vitality they bring back to the George Costanza phase of my life, for the reminder that any day above ground is a good day, and all I’m trying to do is win little victories.

A friend recently told me … “win moments and they become hours and they become days…”

That’s great advice that I’ll be sticking to at 39, hopefully it’ll get me to 40. If not … there’s always Ben & Jerry’s

 

 

It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be

30 Jan

It’s the one day a year I drink a cup of coffee and try to remember what his laugh sounds like.

I’m a tea drinker, and probably the only person on Earth that doesn’t stop by at Starbucks in the morning for a cup of coffee, but thought it might help jog the memory.

I don’t have it.

There’s evidence of it in plenty of Kodak moments and Polaroids, and I can picture it in my head. But I can’t hear it. I think it’s one of things I miss most about him. I miss hearing him crack up at one of my jokes, or at my awesome dance moves.

I can’t remember what his laugh sounds like. That’s sort of an important thing to someone like me.

I’m lucky though I still know what his voice sounds like. I turn to my 2004 Panasonic cordless phone answering machine from Costco. It has 11 messages, 9 are from him. Eight of them are calling to say hi, the ninth one is him calling from the hospital asking me when I’d be showing up. I hear the messages over and over again just trying to get his voice to stay in the room and maybe it will jog my memory to the sound of his voice when he laughed and how it changed.

No such luck today.

But I still remember what he smelled like. I have his last two bottles of Jovan Musk aftershave. I open them up in the morning and after I put the kids to sleep. Just sat there in the closet surrounded by all his white shirts, pants, and polos, smelling the aftershave.

But no laughter.

I still remember what was close to his heart. I have the black Samsonite work briefcase he carried with him at all times — the one I thought carried contracts, shipping orders and important payroll and tax papers for the poultry shop. We realized after his passing that it wasn’t filled with those things, but with the birthday cards and Father’s Day Cards we had given him throughout the years. But he had no pictures of himself in there.

 

My dad at work, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

My dad in his prime at one of his first jobs, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

 

So I took to the 1970s and 80s photo albums in the closet and checked out my dad in his prime. I searched my computer for some of my favorite pics. The ones with Hawaiian shirts. The ones of my childhood. The ones where I can feel him cracking up. And it makes me remember of an instance where he cracked up so hard he cried. Unfortunately I had no camera then. There were a few instances like that, but this one in particular happened in Guatemala and it involved a water slide.

Water slides do that sort of thing to you. They bring out the smile, the laughter and the fun. They bring out your inner pirate. They juice up your existence.

Doesn’t matter what age, that water raft spinning and swirling, swooshing and splashing you has that you-crack-me-up effect. Maybe it’s the fast-paced slide or the not knowing when a wave is going to splash you, or perhaps it was the height of the slope we swooshed down on, maybe it was a combination of all those things and the fact that my cousin was freaking out that made us laugh.

Whatever it was that was one of the times my dad laughed so hard he cried. That Guatemalan Raging Waters experience was memorable and I was glad to have been part of that. I was glad to have been part of one of his stories that begins with ‘you remember the time we …’

It was a good laugh. It had to be because I’ve spent all day trying to hear it.

It was important to try to hear it today because he would have been 66 years old today.

But even though I may not have seen it on videos, because he was always the cinematographer of the family back when VHS existed, always behind the scenes, I was still able to find glimpses of his laughter through old family pictures.

 

On a Bucket List Adventure.

On a Bucket List Adventure … in Guatemala

 

So I go to bed feeling a little better.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you. Hope you liked your cake this year. I made it from scratch. German Chocolate. I had a big piece.

 

6

Hanging out with my dad back in the day.