Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall 2015: A Time for Fun and Travel!

My Friend's Pond in Nevada City, California
Hello everyone in Blogland! I thought I would write a little about what I have been doing lately. On Saturday, September 26, I and two young men from my writing group went to an afternoon writers retreat in Nevada City. The retreat was next to the pond on a friend's property. We had a potluck, played some games and did some writing. One of the games we played was similar to a cross between charades and telephone tag. It starts out with a line of people all facing one way. The person at the end of the line taps the shoulder of the next person in the line, who turns around. The first person acts out the situation without speaking. (Everyone else still has their backs turned until each, in turn, is tapped on the shoulder.) The second person taps the shoulder of the third person and acts out what he or she got from the first person. The game continues this way on down the line, until the last person acts out the situation for the whole group and tries to guess what the original situation is. If the last person does not correctly identify the situation, the rest of the people attending the retreat tried to guess the situation.  It was a kick!  We also had two clipboards that circulated. Most of what was on the clipboard was covered, and we all added a few sentences and covered up most of what was above what each of us wrote. The the leader read our "stories." That was really funny!

Everyone brought some good vegetarian food, which was great for me because I often have nothing to eat at potlucks, unless it is something I bring.

The trip would have been worth the nearly four hours of driving (complete with road construction) if we did only those things at the retreat, but there were two things that really made the day special for me. We were given an hour to go off by ourselves, for nature to inspire us. We were to find a place of our own where we could think or write or whatever we were moved to do. There were some stand up paddleboards we could use to go out to the middle of the pond, or we could walk or hike to somewhere else. I chose a stool in some trees across the pond from where we gathered together. (If you look across the pond in the photo, you will see some Adirondack chairs. I was about 30 feet or so to the left and up the hill a bit.) I listened to the stream bubble and drip its way toward the pond. It reminded me of survival. If you ever get lost, all you need to do is follow a stream to civilization. Streams and ponds and rivers and lakes and oceans - water - is necessary for our very survival and for the planet's survival. I won't get into all the metaphysical and symbolic meanings, but it's very healing all the way around, for all the senses.

We were told to bring something special to read, whether we wrote it ourselves, or if it was written by someone else. I chose a passage from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, my favorite book. The first time I read the passage, while reading the novel, I cried. I was moved so wholly, in mind and spirit. We each read our chosen passages at the end of the retreat. That really capped off the experience for me, as each person who read had an emotional connection to what they read.  One read part of her novel, that I cannot wait to read. There was a humorous element that makes me want to print a t-shirt with what her character said. I left with a feeling of completeness and peace. My companions and I had a wonderful day!

This past weekend, on Saturday, October 3, was our local Relay for Life, a yearly event to collect donations to kick cancer's ass. Every year, for the past five or six, my business, Awareness Village, has participated with my friend Rhonda's business, Bar Bar Bar. My husband, George, walks the Survivor Walk every year, gets a free dinner, and a swag bag with a free, survivor's t-shirt and fun things like water bottles, sunscreen, pens, first aid kits, lip balm, that type of thing. He looks forward to taking the walk every year, and I look forward to helping collect what I can for the cause. Every year I teach a yoga class or two, for donations. Additionally, Rhonda has a booth with carnival games, and sell water, cookies, and pizza, with which I help her. All our proceeds go to American Cancer Society.

This year we had a special game, Bra Pong. The object of Bra Pong is to toss ping pong balls toward the board of bras, using all your skill and tossing prowess to land a ball in a bra cup. Each contestant was given three balls for $1. If the contestant got a ball in a bra, he or she won a prize. If all three balls landed well, the contestant won a special prize. No one won a special prize, but all enjoyed playing. Some enjoyed just looking at the bras. One person had to go to each bra, guess the size and check the actual size. George enjoyed practicing his tossing prowess, and he got six balls in cups. He was so happy! LOL

This year Sunshine Bakery provided dinner of lasagna (even vegetarian), salad, garlic bread, and the choice of a raspberry or apricot bar for dessert. YUMMY! I haven't had the dinner in past years; it's free for survivors, but $10 for regular folk like me. In the past, there was no sort of vegetarian option, so it wasn't worth my money.

Last night, George and I went to the Incline Village theater to see The Martian. I fully recommend seeing the movie! I won't say any more about it, other than the screenplay was wonderfully written, and the cinematography and acting were superb. My emotions were tugged and I refused to get up and I suffered until the end before going to the bathroom. The no bathroom "thing" is the hallmark of a really great movie, don't you think? Other bonuses include a great soundtrack (which I have to have) and this is possibly the only movie I have seen in which Sean Bean's character doesn't die. I like Sean Bean, so that's a big deal.  Here is a my favorite official trailer.

I have been working with Dog Day in the Park to fund the building of a dog park in Tahoe Vista, California, a neighboring community, as well as help provide for local animal rescue, and help fund food and veterinary care for local pets in need. It just so happens that, after four years of hard work, the dog park is having its grand opening celebration on Sunday, October 18. What a joy it will be to see the dogs, including ours, enjoying the dog park! We will be opening the first phase only right now, but more is forthcoming. The first phase is the separately fenced small dog and large dog areas. I am proud to say that the two priests from the Buddhist temple I attend will be there, along with a Methodist minister and a Rabbi, to bless the park. The north shore of Tahoe has needed this park for so long.

Also in October, we will celebrate with our group, Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters, the group's 10th Anniversary. Isn't that awesome! We have been in the group for at least the last five of those years.  There is more in October, but I may post some photos later when I share about that. In November, at the very least, we will be going to New Orleans with my cousin and her husband. While we are there, it just so happens a friend will also be there with his girlfriend. I was tickled pink when I found out we would see them while we were there. My friend and his girlfriend live in Washington and Oregon, so we don't get to see them very often.

So, you see, this Fall season has been very full indeed!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015: The Julie Project

Hello dear friends,

I like to take stock of my life at the end of the year.  I name the year/give it a theme and ask myself some important questions.  I want to know I have made progress in my life in the direction of my hopes and dreams.  I have named 2015 The Julie Project.  I have so much I want to accomplish this year.  It is going to be so freakin' awesome!  Here are some of the questions I ask myself and how I answered them this year.  I am not going to list everything, just the things that may be interesting to you or are more general and will serve as an example.  

What am I grateful for?
1. My loving husband, George.
2. My babies (dogs), Sarge, Pearl and Mitra.
3. Friends and family.
4. My health, the good and bad of it all.
5. My ability to read, which enriches my life more than I can say.
What did I accomplish in 2014?
1. I did a 15-day juice fast in May.  It was not easy, but it let me know I can be disciplined when I want to be disciplined.  I can’t use the excuse, “I don’t have any discipline,” any more.  I know better!  Damn.  That makes life a little more liberating and a little more scary.  LOL
2. I wrote a novel in November.  Last year I found out about National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) where participants write the first draft of a novel in 30 days, and I wanted to participate.  I finished on November 29.  Whew!  I can’t wait to finish editing the novel and I plan to participate again this year.
3. I finished 4 extensive knitting projects, three of which involved many skeins of yarn, and one of which required only two skeins, but involved lace and took many hours to complete.
What can I improve upon in 2015?
1.  My sleeping habits:  I don’t get enough sleep because I go to bed too late and still get up early most of the time.  I will have less Fibromyalgia pain, more energy and will be more productive if I get 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night, instead of 6-7.
2. My eating habits:  I haven’t been eating enough greens or fresh fruits and veggies. If I eat better I will have less pain and more energy, and will likely lose some more weight. Yes, it will take more planning, I won’t be able to just find something in the cupboard.  I will eat six or more servings of fruits and veggies a day. The benefits will outweigh my love of laziness.  LOL
3. Clutter in my house:  My house isn’t my sanctuary right now, it is a bit of a mess. When my house is tidy again, it will better serve me and my needs.  I will be able to work more easily, will be more productive, and my home will be easier to clean.  Above all, I will enjoy my home more.
What are some steps I can take right now to help myself meet my objectives.
1. I can ask a friend of mine to help me with accountability.  I asked one of my girlfriends to do “Integrity Day” with me. This is where you schedule a day, or even a few hours, to check in with each other every hour.  During the check-ins, you say what you did the last hour and what you plan to do the upcoming hour, and so on each of the next hours planned.  It creates accountability and you end up getting more done.  This is something for once a week or less often, and is used to help you finish up projects or things you have procrastinated on, not normally for day-to-day tasks, but it is up to you.
2. I signed up for a food-related challenge. January 5 through 25 I will eat one raw vegan meal a day.
3. I hired a professional organizer.  We started on January 8.  My house is already so much better!  All my out-of-season clothes are stored away, I donated a bunch of clothes and some kitchen items, and my pantry is cleaned out and organized.  I have been doing my yoga and meditation practice in the space I designated for that years ago, but that had gotten cluttered.  Not anymore!  That is a huge thing for me!  Doing my yoga and meditation practice in that space is making a big difference in my life.  I am writing more in my practice journal and I am doing more yoga.  I often did my own practice at my yoga studio, but I am not there every day.  Being able to get up and do my practice in my home increases the time and benefits of my practice.
These are just some of the questions I like to ask myself at the beginning of the year.  I focus on the positive, on gratitude, why I am proud of myself, what I can change and why, and how I will change the changeable.  I find this helps me more than focusing on the past and what was wrong.  I like to come from a place of love for myself and my life, and a potential for joy. These are the things that change my life for the better and that will, ultimately, cause the least amount of stress. With all this in mind, what will you change and how will you love yourself more this year?
May 2015 bring you joy, love and peace.
Many blessings,

Friday, October 24, 2014

Have I Finally Lost It?

It's possible that I have lost my mind.  We all have our idiosyncrasies.  I know I'm not alone in this; I have seen it.  Some of us always wear red to business meetings; only read audiobooks or in one certain chair and with pencil, not a pen, in mouth; put the toothbrush on the right-most hook, even when there are never used hooks; must have the toilet roll facing the same way; check the stove twice before leaving the house; whatever it may be. There are some things that make me a little weird and I'm okay with that.  I revel in my little bit of weirdness.  It makes me unique, one-of-a-kind, it makes me "me."  And I love "me."  One friend told me I am the most courageous person she knows.  Others have told me that they admire me for my ability to try to do (and sometimes succeed in) things no one else would try to do.  I am good with this.  I am even good with the not-as-desired parts of me, like the night person me who has a hell of a time getting up, is forever in a rush, and sometimes leaves the house with no makeup and maybe even spilled dog water on her pants because she has no time to change; or the me who has way more projects than time; and even the me whose house gets cluttered because I only want to do the things I enjoy and then don't have the energy to put everything away (I admit, I am a piler-but I am not dirty, big difference).  I especially love the continually learning me, the adrenaline junkie me, and the me that will try anything that has to do with adventure and travel and doing new, different or difficult things.  I love the me that will wholeheartedly jump in with both feet.
I have bungee-jumped, walked on fire, hiked the Incan Trail, moved away from everyone and everthing I knew and still love, walked the 3-day breast cancer walk, and have run in the rain and gotten soaking wet just for fun, giggling in joy the whole time.  There are many more things I have done that many people wouldn't do.  But this time I may have actually lost my mind.  I am going to try something crazy and wild and totally something I would do.  I am going to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Yep, 30 days.  I am committed.  Maybe I am committable.  I am going to NaNoWriMo; National Novel Writing Month is November every year.  This year I am joining the thousands of other insane people around the world who endeavor to do this crazy noveling thing.   I am taking the month of November off from everything but the novel and my business.  It will be the only way I can write 1700, minimum, words a day...every day.   My biggest challenge will be keeping it up during four days in San Francisco.  I am going to a business women's retreat/workshop.
I have a great story of adventure and thrills with some love and self-discovery thrown in.  I can only hope to do it justice.  My goal is to have a workable draft at the end of the thirty days.  I have a basic outline prepared and am excited to start writing.  The story is about a woman I dreamed up during my daily writing practice.  I am so in love with this character I can't wait to tell her story.  I have been writing about her for months, but have stopped writing about her the past few weeks since I made my decision, other than the outline and some notes.  I don't want to start writing the book ahead of time.  I want to do the true challenge.  Cara is inside me, she is part and part of me, she is the crazy me that would do this write-a-novel-in-a-month thing.  We are quite a bit alike, and yet we are not.
I am still doing my daily writing practice and have discovered another story to write.  It is a time-travel story about the "evils" of, and the addiction to, technology.  I don't have the same passion for this story yet, but it is growing and it will be told.
I am still working on my non-fiction book about fibromyalgia, which is nearly complete, except for some interviews, photos and editing.  I have started on the workbook that will accompany the main book, too.  I feel like there is a bit more to add.  I still need to hear more from other people to know what they want to know, and how they deal with fibromyalgia.  Ah, more craziness has shown its face.  I work on a gazillion projects at once.  I have the writing projects, the knitting projects (currently, five), the embroidery (two of those), the scrapbooking, the etc. etc.  LOL  I guess I haven't really lost my mind at all!
I am excited to take on this challenge!  I thank you all for your support of this and the rest of my craziness, good and "bad."
Cheers, blessings and only good crazies to you all!
P.S. Just so I don't feel so nuts, leave a comment about your own craziness.  Please?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Recognizing Me

Hi Everyone!  I hope this post finds all of you well and happy.  I have been concentrating most of my energy on my business and writing, in many places and for many reasons, my book, blog posts on my different sites, writing prompts and with my writing group.  Mom has been here for nearly three months now, getting her health in order and feeling better.  It has been a good summer, overall.  I will be sad to see it go.  As I do most summers, I don't feel I got in enough hiking or camping.

As many of you know, I am forever on a quest to learn more about myself and others, and investigate what makes people tick.  What is "normal," in whatever way that exists, for myself and other people? I have been reading an interesting book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey, about the rituals and routines of famous artists of different types, writers, composers, painters and the like.  I mostly see similarities among all people, with some definite eccentricities thrown in here and there, and some things I think artists more than others share.

There are some known eccentricities.  Mark Twain designed his own shirts with buttons down the back.  Emily Dickinson only wore white and would not expose her handwriting, having her sister address letters.  Poe wore only black.

Some artists are very disciplined and work(ed) only during specific times or in specific places.  Some are very spontaneous and/or superstitious. Some work best in the early morning, though some get up early and some stay up all night and sleep during the day.  Some are very religious and some not at all.  In this way artists are no different than the rest of the world's population.

Artists enjoy working in their art and many have to work other jobs to support their passion, at least until their passions support them.  I think one who knows his or her passion and is working toward achieving support with that work is a very lucky person.  Toiling away resentfully will never a happy person make.  I don't think everyone can see that work and play can be the same.  I know it can be and there is not much that can compare!  I am living a dream, teaching yoga and meditation and living in a beautiful place.  It will be nice when it becomes more profitable, but I can be patient.

I also see, through the profiles in the book, that many artists, like me, need a great deal of alone time. Though many do enjoy a rich social life, it must be balanced with that alone time.  But, of course, that only makes sense to me.  It is difficult to create a work of art, or to write book or a symphony when one is with others.  It is also difficult for me, and many others, to restore my well in the presence of others with whom I have to engage, even though that doesn't always mean I must be alone. Reading a book or knitting in a somewhat noisy coffeehouse can sometimes work wonders.

I can see myself in many of the artists profiled in the book, but today I read about Tchaikovsky.  I like his compositions, though I know from experience that they aren't the easiest to play on a piano. I like him even more since reading about him.  We kept a similar schedule, starting work at 10:00 a.m. is the best time for me, too.  He wrote about how it felt when he was walking (he walked for two hours every day) and inspiration hit him.  "It would be futile for me to try and express to you in words the boundless bliss of that feeling which envelopes you when the main idea has appeared, and when it begins to take different forms.  You forget everything, you are almost insane, everything inside you trembles and writhes, you scarcely manage to set down sketches, one idea presses upon another."  That, I recognize in me.

May boundless bliss envelope you.

Love and blessings,

Monday, June 23, 2014

Maybe I'm Amazed...

On June 4 I finished a 15 day juice fast. YAAAAY!  There are a few things about this that I still can't believe, things that amaze me about me.  The first thing that amazes me is that I chose such a long fast.  I could have chosen a 3 day, a 5 day, or a 10 day fast.  But no.  I chose the 15 day fast.  The second thing that amazes me is that I did it!  I was almost completely perfect during the fast.  I never cheated and then said to myself that the whole day was blown, nor did I just stop the fast altogether.  That is, perhaps, the most amazing thing of all.  Altogether I lost 13 pounds.  I have kept off all but two of those pounds, and that is after going on vacation!
So, how did I cheat?  They are all related to having taken antibiotics while on the fast.  The antibiotics made me sick to my stomach, very sick.  One day I had two Taco Bell bean burritos without sauce or cheese, just onion, beans and tortilla.  The second and third times I had rice noodles in my clear broth.  The fact that I jumped back onto the plan, without berating myself or thinking all was lost is amazing.  I have never done that before!
There are also situations where I amazed myself by saying "no" to something I really wanted.  Numerous times at Starbucks I said "no" to my soy chai latte and breakfast sandwich or a scone, instead having tea.  (I love those scones!)  One of the biggest things was not eating cherry pie after my writer's group meeting.  It was my first time with the group and meeting the hostess.  I turned down her cherry pie.  Cherry pie is my favorite dessert of all!   But, I turned down an offer of food at the home of a person I just met, pushing aside all worries of being polite and doing what was best for me.  Amazing.  I have grown.
I have always said I lack all discipine.  Well, when I look at situations like this, it blows my definition of myself as a person without discipline right out of the water!  I DO have discipline.  I just don't always use my ability to discipline myself in the situations that might be helpful to me.  I need to think more on that and figure out why that is.
So, on the whole, how was the 15 day juice fast?  It was okay.  My energy level waned significantly during the time I was on antibiotics, but overall my energy was fine due to the greens, I imagine.  I had a few days of detoxing which gave me a headache and made me dizzy.  I slept well during the fast.  If I am really hungry, I can't sleep.  I felt hungry the first few days, but not super hungry the rest of the fast.  On some days, I felt a like there was a hole in the pit of my stomach to be filled, which I knew was hunger for food, but it wasn't uncomfortable and didn't take up all my mental or emotional space.
I think one of the biggest benefits of the fast, other than losing 13 pounds (YAAAAY!!!), are the facts that: #1 never again can I say I don't have discipline, that crutch is gone, and #2 I am now more aware of my food related desires and my actual needs.  I have always been pretty mindful and aware of myself, I am pretty self observant, but I am now aware at a new level.  I will be using my new self awareness in my daily life.
The third benefit, and definitly a big benefit, is that I hurt so much less.  Fibromyalgia pain is always present.  It never goes away, ever.  To hurt less is a gift!  I had that same gift when I was a raw vegan.  This tells me, and it is part of my new self awareness, that I am not eating as many raw fruits and veggies as I need to eat.  I have been complacent.   I will take better care of my nutrition in the future.  I will also do mini-fasts in the future on a regular basis.  I might do a 3-day fast every month, for example.  I will also be juicing every day.  You can actually feel a bit of a buzz when you drink a good green juice, a bonus.
If you want some information about the juice fast, leave me a comment.  I welcome comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts.
Now, go get yourself a juicer!  LOL
All the best to you and yours.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How Julie Andrews Saved My Life

Julie Andrews saved my life, super indirectly.  More accurately, it is optimism that has saved my life.  Optimism is what Julie Andrews portrayed as Maria in Sound of Music.  I really love the whole movie, but one of my favorite parts is when she sings My Favorite Things.  I woke up this morning with the song in my head and found the scene on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IagRZBvLtw

Let's face it.  Life isn't fair. There are times when life just sucks, no doubt about it!  But we can look to the good in life and know that things aren't always shitty and at some point you will smile again, even if things aren't going along swimmingly.

One of the worst times in my life was when I first got fibromyalgia.  I. Was. Miserable!  Lying in bed all the time because you are too tired and in too much pain to move is more than miserable. I had no pain medication at that time and had no idea for months what was wrong with me.  The doctor I had at the time ordered blood test after blood test, $15,000 worth of them.  I had no insurance and had to run up the balance on my credit card.  I also did not have a steady job.  I had been trying to build my life coaching business and had been doing some freelance paralegal work on the side, along with giving some Reiki treatments.  I had little money coming in and the work I did have to do was grueling just because I was exhausted and in unrelenting pain.  I was scared, too, because the doctor was testing for all kinds of cancers and diseases to find out what was wrong.  She wouldn't give me any pain meds because she didn't know what was wrong and she was afraid I would get addicted. I told her I was willing to take the chance, but she let me down, big time!!!

I could have willed myself to death, which I tried off and on when the pain was at its most unbearable, but I kept my wits about me, as difficult as it was.  Thinking about better times (i.e. My Favorite Things) and reading Buddhist books about courage and staying in the moment kept me alive, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Now, I am not saying that all you need is optimism and all will be candy and roses.  Nope.  Sorry.  It isn't always easy to change your attitude.  I have been in some dark places, the type that need medication.  (If you need medication GET IT!)  Fibromyalgia and depression go hand in hand, and I had been depressed even before fibro came into my life.  I've made friends with depression out of necessity.  Chronic pain or illness of any kind is depressing.  You can't help but feel it every now and then.  What I am saying is that you can enjoy your life more by doing your best to concentrate on the good in your life, right now in this moment.  If you can't find any good, think of the past or imagine your happy future.  There were days I had to start small.  I was grateful because I had clothes to wear and a car.  My electricity was on and I had a TV I could watch.  I had more than one pair of shoes.  We are so much more fortunate than we realize!  If you aren't naturally optimistic, or even if you are, begin keeping a gratitude journal to get in the habit of recognizing what you are grateful for each day.

So next time you are at the bottom of a hell hole.  Think of your favorite things, sing the song, celebrate the moments in your life, get yourself out of your prison.  Find your joy and live it.

'Til next time...What are your favorite things?  Tell me about them in the comments below.


My top 10 favorite things, in no particular order:
1. My family and friends (husband and dogs naturally included!)
2. My body (it is AMAZING how it does so much for me!)
3. Being outside and doing outside things like hiking and sitting on a rock in the sun
4. Reading and Writing (too intertwined to not be the same)
5. Reading/learning more about Buddha and Buddhism and applying it to my own life
6. Knitting and other crafts
7. Travel
8. Our RV
9. Ghost hunting
10.The sun and seeing how it lights everything up and feels so nice and warm all at the same time
11. How the seasons change and express themselves (Could not keep it to 10 things!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad

Hello blogland peeps!  I actually started this post on March 4, my dad's actual birthday, but there were things I wanted to say that I hadn't yet written.  The post didn't feel quite "right."

March 4 would have been my dad's 79th birthday.  He left this world in 1995, at the age of 60, way too soon.  I miss him every day, and talk to him all the time. Of course, I don't recieve much in the way of words in return, but the feeling of his presence is enough.  It's enough because I know he is in a good place, and not the sick body he left on this earth.

Me and Dad at Hoover Dam 1965
My dad loved the outdoors, especially wildlife, and volunteered building habitat for bighorn sheep; music, big band, country, classic rock, jazz and blues; laughing, he loved the show Laugh-In and the Smothers Brothers; work; and he loved his family.  He was proud of his family and what he, and we, accomplished.  He was also a person who wanted to be in control of things, yet he had no control over much of anything, not even himself or his own body, the last four years of his life.

In those last four years,  he was almost completely blind and wasn't well.  He couldn't drive or do the things most of us take for granted.  He wasn't the muscular, strapping young man my mom married, nor was he the strong, able man that I had known most of my life, he had wasted away to no more than what looked like 100 pounds.  His 5'10" frame had shrunk to no taller than 5'8".  He looked nothing like himself.  He was too sick to enjoy his life.  I'm sure he had moments of happiness, but I feel like the joy in life was sucked out of him (and literally, while he was having dialysis).   His last years were filled with diabetes, blindness, kidney failure and 3 times a week dialysis, mini-strokes, etc. He put on a brave face and made the best of things, as was his nature, but it was nothing but a shitty existence, not a life.  He was forced to let go of much of what defined him as a man, to people he knew and to himself.

One day in August 1995, Dad took control and decided no more.  He said "no" when his doctor told him he needed a new shunt for the dialysis; the old one wasn't going to work much longer. My dad got his affairs in order and let go of his earthly existence in September.  Once he made his decision, he became himself again.  It had been years since I had seen him happy and at peace.  He wasn't afraid.  I think he was actually a better version of his old self, the self he was meant to be.  It felt like he was free, liberated from concern of the worldly crap in which we can all get trapped.  I felt like he was more interested in things I think he would have been interested in had he not been so involved in work all the time.  It isn't that I don't understand why he was at work all the time, but I wish he would have had more balance in his life.  I think he would have been healthier and could have been here now had he instead taken better care of himself.   I always imagined he would enjoy reading more, something he did very seldom, except for the Sunday newspaper and a little National Geographic, and more traveling, because he was so curious.  During the last conversations we had, he asked me about some of the things I had read and studied. He took the time to ask me what I thought about things other than my job.  He wanted to know about the things that made my life worth living.

His memorial service was very well attended and I learned some things about my dad that I wish HE had told me, things he did in his life, awards he had earned, and jobs he had had.  Days after the service,  I heard that some people were upset because my brother and I weren't upset enough at his passing, not crying and such.  We were smiling and happy because, for one reason, so many people had come to say goodbye to our father. That said a great deal about who he was and how well- loved and respected he was.  Secondly, Dad was free and at peace!  He chose what he wanted on his own terms and we (or at least I, I can't really speak for my brother, but I think I know him well enough to do so in this case) were happy for him being out of the crappy body that had been his prison on this earth, the body that had left him a shell of the man he once was.  He chose to die with dignity.  He did things his way.  For once in a long time he was back in control.
If I were him, I would have done the same thing.  I would not want to continue like he had continued.  Existence isn't a life.  I know that things can really go wrong with our bodies and our minds, and accidents happen.  It is important that we tell the people we love that we love them, to not take others for granted, to not leave things unsaid and unforgiven, and we have to LIVE every day.  None of us want to simply exist, that really isn't a life.

When I think of my dad I think of the good things.  We were a great deal alike, both of us brave and optimistic.  One day we went up to the mountains for a picnic and it started raining. Dad suggested we have our picnic in the car.  There was no disappointment, no feeling that the day was ruined.  We still had our picnic.  We both loved the outdoors, camping, hiking and being in the wild.  I would have loved to share my home in Tahoe with him.  He would have loved it!  We might have camped and gone out on a boat, which he liked to do.  (He would have marveled at the extent of my camping equipment, nearly every comfort of home including a propane shower.)  I would have loved to tell him about our trip to Peru, hiking the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu, and all the places I will go and things I will do in the future.

I remember lying on the floor in front of the stereo and enjoying music together.  I was daddy's girl, but I was still very independent.  I still am!  He told me I could do whatever I wanted to do and be whatever I wanted to be.  I felt I could have confidence in myself and my abilities.  Even now, nothing really worries me, but I know he worried and never expressed it.  That was the biggest difference between us, he worried and did not express his feelings, except for love for his family.  He might have been healthier if he would have had faith that everything would be okay and had talked about his feelings, but nothing can be done about that now.

There are things Dad did of which I am in total awe!  He was an Eagle Scout, and I am sure that accomplishment was well deserved.  Out in nature, I never saw him afraid of anything, not even rattlesnakes.  When he was in college and on summer breaks, he collected Grand Canyon's rattlesnakes, for Northern Arizona University, to be milked for venom.  People survived rattlesnake bites because my dad collected those snakes and NAU made antivenom. That's pretty cool!  He was also a survival trainer, teaching people how to survive on Wheeler Mountain in New Mexico.  He was a determined man, building a family business that allowed him to be a good provider for our family, even after he passed.

His love of animals showed when one day he brought home a 6-month old puppy.  The little dog, a black and white peekapoo we named Pepper, was pregnant.  He had a job installing insulation at the animal shelter and Pepper was to be euthanized that day.  Nobody wanted a pregnant little dog, but he could not let her die.  (My grandparents and Dad's sister's family took the puppies.)  Pepper was the sweetest thing and a member of our family for about 15 years.  Even though all of us were allergic to her and she shed all over the place, she lived in the house where she belonged.  For her to live outside would have been cruel.  All dogs, and little dogs, especially, need to be inside with their family. 
We also had a black and tan hound, Pete, that the landlord would not let us keep at the house we rented.  Dad took him to the family business and he was a guard dog.  I'm not sure how good a guard dog Pete was.  He probably wouldn't have done much but lick someone to death. Dad built Pete a good-sized, insulated house with a heater for the winter and a nice fan installed for the summer, it even had a porch overhang so he would always have access to shade. I know Dad would have rather had Pete home with us.  One summer our family went away for the weekend and Dad put his manager in charge of feeding and caring for Pete while we were gone.  The dumbass (the absolute kindest name I have for this scum of the earth), locked Pete, who was now old and deaf, outside the office yard. Giving him food and water for a couple days was, apparently, asking too much.  He was fired immediately!  (YAY, but that wasn't enough punishment for me!)  We never saw Pete again and, to this day, I wonder what happened to the sweet, old boy.  As I write this I have tears in my eyes. That was about 35 years ago.
One night we went out looking for a Siamese cat someone had abandoned in the desert. Dad had seen her that day and knew she needed a home.  All four of us crowded onto the seat of the pickup and rode across the desert until we found her, brought her home and named her Duchess. She was skittish at first and was an ankle-biter, but when you give an animal a home, it becomes a member of your family, forever.   The ankle-biting faded out eventually, and she was just a sweet kitty.  We found out we were all allergic to cats, too!  Duchess was really full of love and followed me to the bus stop every day, and even watched over Pepper when she got spayed.  She wanted to be a mostly outside cat, but she came inside whenever she wanted to. We always had animals, including dogs, cats, fish, and gerbils.
Like my dad, I am determined.  I also love my family, animals, the outdoors and doing things that other people would think very brave, or even insane. Like Dad, I measure the risks against my abilities and how likely the risks are to cause a problem. I am a responsible adrenalin junkee!

Dad would have been proud of my brother for the man he has become, and of me, too.  He would have been happy for us and our happiness in life.  Knowing that makes me happy.  He knew my husband, George, when we were kids and I know he would have loved and respected the man George became.  He would have laughed with and loved my brother's wife, and her, and now my brother's, child. He would have delighted in being a grandfather and would have wanted to play and have fun with his grandkids.

I don't really have much of a point to this post, like I often do with my other posts.  I was just thinking of my dad during his birthday month and wanted to share about him from my perspective.  I hope you enjoyed the post and it gives you the incentive to hug your parents and let them know how you feel about them, and work out anything that you need to work out.  (I do realize that isn't always possible!)  Take the time to laugh with them and share some quality moments.  Once they are gone, a part of you goes with them, and a part of them stays with you. Hm.  I guess I found a point to, probably, the longest blog post I've ever written!

Love and blessings to you all!
P.S. I don't know why Blogger wouldn't let me caption the second photo, but it is me and my brother, with Duchess and Pepper, Christmas 1975.  I also tried to add another photo, a family picnic in the desert from 1965.  Go figure. :)