Dream Big

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Location: Ohio, United States

I am on a fantastic journey, embracing life with everything I've got!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Mirror

(for Kyle)

Once upon a time, where time is not linear and creation floods forth from the light
Leftover fragments of genius, wisdom, knowledge, and wonder sparked in the air, became whole
So great the power, it could burn up and fade away or propel into greatness
But it was given to the strongest of souls, who knew how to survive and channel it

Words, ideas, images, voices, characters, scenarios, random thoughts, organized thoughts
Forming and reforming, moving through kaleidoscope patterns, formations, designs, and puzzles
Finding their way from your brilliant mind into stories and poems and avenues of release
Words were your armor, covering the stifling and sterile walls that enclosed you

When we were war buddies, citizens of Rome, or two gods on Mount Olympus itself
We held up the mirrors: behold your bravery, behold your beauty, see your divinity shining out
Witness the belief in yourself and feel the key in your hand, run further than you have ever dared
Share this unconditional love, grace, and acceptance…and know that you are never alone

We can never get enough of them, nor always make sense of them
They will make us smile, laugh, cry and rage
We have the power to harness them and watch their energy light up cities and countries

When we sat across the table from each other, everything made sense
The past, the present, the certainty of a glorious future…even while emerging from shadows
Old enough to know better, young enough to learn more, sharing our mistakes and victories
The discovery of knowing one’s own heart, one’s mind…a gift that can never be taken away

As the scent of flowers filled the street and the golden moon brushed the tree tops
There were so many words in my heart, singing loudly, yearning to be heard by you…
But I held them back until I am certain that years mean nothing, time is not linear, and creation will flood forth from the light

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Commissioning

My sister-in-law is one of my favorite massage clients.

These days, she is doing the work of three people. She is working wife, full time mother (it's ALWAYS full time in my opinion, daycare or not), and nursemaid to an invalid husband--my brother. Her life has changed drastically in the last two years since my brother's diagnosis with the fatal MSA (Multiple System Atrophy) She must be made of steel to expend the physical and mental energy that she does every single day, and not wither and crumple from exhaustion. And this is why I love to have her on my table...feel her muscles finally go slack, drink in the healing touch that she never receives anymore, and turn off her mind.

But during this past appointment, right in the middle of her massage, she asked me if I would write her husband's story--complete with interviews and fact gathering--and record it in a book so that her 6 year-old son would have something to remember his father by when my brother is no longer with us. "Just take some time to think about this. I know it will be a lot of work and I'm willing to pay you whatever fee your freelance people charge...but I think with your writing skills, and being his sister, you'd be the best person for this task."

My heart was in my throat. I almost had to stop what I was doing. I was so very honored to be asked to do something like this. I immediately imagined using the Shutterfly book creation as a medium, when I'm all finished writing it. "Can I just tell you yes, right now?" I asked with a smile. She said absolutely.

I am really looking forward to doing this. But it has to be soon. This winter, in fact. Because we're just not sure how long my brother has. One bout with pneumonia or any other respiratory disease easily caught in this season could wipe him out, with his already-weakened lung power and labored breathing.

After Christmas, I will go over and start the first interview. His story will probably begin in our little house in Toledo, long before I was born. I will probably learn things about my brother that I never knew before, so it will be a gift for me as well.

The Universe continues to remind me why it is that I left the beautiful coast of California to return to my hometown, and it continues to take the sting off missing it there.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rebirth ~ My Lomi Lomi Experience

I am in heaven.

No, seriously...Crowded House even said so.

If there is hell on earth
There must be heaven too
All in one place
And not a second to waste

I remember when Lomi Lomi was just some antiquated term I had to memorize on my first test in massage school. We studied the history of massage and all the different types that existed in ancient times. Lomi Lomi belonged to the Polynesians.

But it's not antiquated. It's alive and well; a Hawaiian tradition that's been passed down and just recently experienced a renaissance in spas and other bodywork centers.

Some therapists take the course and incorporate a few of the moves into their general massage. My sister--who NEVER does anything half-assed, took a 2-week course in Hawaii and learned how to do the real, bona fide Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Temple massage. She prices it high, because it's a very involved, labor-intensive treatment, but also so that people will respect its solemnity.

This specialized massage involves setting a prayer intention, Hawaiian chanting, specific music that works with the movement, minimal draping (I would never do this with anyone BUT my sister), and long, fluid, continuous forearm movements up and down the length of the body--using lots and lots of heated oil.

My sister, during her training, was instructed to do a kind of "vision quest" in which something would come to her to use in her own personal practice of this sacred work. A melody came into her head, which later became a Hawaiian lullaby that she would sing on her guitar before each treatment begins. It's a very nurturing and personal type of healing work. A spiritual embrace, if you will. And at the end, the last move is to cover the body completely with a drape, and then "unveil" the person a couple of times. Then oil is wiped off lovingly with a warm towel. I felt like a newborn baby, cleaned up and unveiled for her "new" life. My sister says this treatment is indeed supposed to symbolize a rebirth.

The profound thought that ran through my head (before slipping into Alpha state) was that this woman was always a teacher to me. From the time I was a toddler (she is ten years my senior) she would care for me like a pseudo-mother. She would take me on walks and teach me about birds migrating in the fall. She sang me to sleep with songs played on her guitar, and I later learned to sing from listening to her example. She was my piano teacher. And most importantly, she was my inspiration for following in her massage therapy footsteps. I believe that she will always be a teacher of sorts in this lifetime.

But today, she was my Medicine Woman. And she is the real deal.

The babying continued all the way back to her log cabin out in the country where her wonderful husband had fixed us both a scrumptious dinner, complete with a hearth fire, twinkly Christmas lights & music, and peaceful energy. Later in the evening we enjoyed sitting under the bright starry sky in her new hot tub...with NO light pollution anywhere around us...in the frosty air. Talk about a sensual paradise!

Yes, tonight I am in heaven. And my heart continues to overflow with gratitude.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Rain, Tears, Music and Glory

What an intense week it's been. My god!

For most of November, I was in a cruise mode with lots of new clients calling for appointments and making frequent trips to the bank to deposit checks. It certainly helped that the local newspaper did a self-requested feature on me and my business--bringing world-class spa experience back from California to the people of my hometown. Between that article and Craig's List, my massage office was a hoppin'. My heart soared with gratitude, and I had hope for the future.

Every time my heart started to ache for Santa Barbara, the Universe would send me a reminder of why I came back. One night it was gathering of the wonderful circle of friends I know through my "bff" (heh) Martha. We all had dinner together and laughed and drank wine and toasted our dear departed Zochae by making the " back-hills guy noise" that he always used to do, to make everyone laugh. Martha has been doing pretty good, all things considered, but she has her up days and down days as far as dealing with widowhood. I am so very happy to spend lots of time with her, and bring smiles and laughs to her face. And she certainly brings smiles to mine, especially when she shows me things like Potter Puppet Pals

So this past week, two things happened that suddenly made me cave in on myself: the business slowed WAY down, and the yucky gray-soggy-rainy-barren landscape weather set in. They don't sound too hateful on their own, but mix in some crazy hormone stuff (usually doesn't happen to me during that special time of month, but lately....) and another cold that turned me into a virtual snot factory....and you've got full on implosion.

Never in my life have I related to the song California Dreamin so much (with the exception of the line "...if I was in LA," because...yuck.)!

It really helped to go spend a Saturday with my dear friend Jackie in Columbus (a friend who just dropped into my life like a gift this past summer, and who has turned out to be one of the bestest friends ever). We seem to share many points of view and have many parallels going on in our lives...and could've probably sat and talked for a couple more days without running out of things to say. And she has a very sweet doggie. And some kickass friends!

But once I left her house this morning and drove from Columbus to Cincinnati, the dam just broke and my tears came down with the rain that pelted my car and kept spraying my windshield...and my head ached and my clothes were tight (GOT DAMN weather killing my motivation to exercise, and increasing my motivation to eat comfort food)...and I just didn't want to be here. I wanted to hibernate in a warm cave.

When I got to the church in Cincinnati where my sister Carol was playing piano with a lovely and harmonious choir...my heart just opened up and I had to keep wiping tears from my eyes. The music and harmonies and her lovely piano solos were all so moving, and it was bittersweet because our time together is fleeting. She has just met the man who is most likely (I'm talkin' 99%) the "One" but he lives in Maine. I got to meet him, finally, because he was there visiting. I have never seen my sister look so radiantly happy as she played. I'm happy they crossed paths and fell in love. But she will probably move to Maine sometime next year, and we'll be separated by geography once again. So I savored time with her...in her cozy historical home in Covington with a view of the Cincinnati skyline, and in her warm kitchen with homemade lasagna in the oven, with other family members gathered around.

Once again, the Universe reminded me, "This is the stuff you were missing in Santa Barbara. This was one of your reasons for coming back."

I then went to one more concert, and this one was truly remarkable. My sister Laura joined the Cincinnati Camerata; a body of singers and musicians who perform the most breath-taking, tear-inducing chorales you've ever heard. I was so proud of her up there singing her heart out in her black gown and with her silver-streaked hair done up so pretty. I listened as I sat next to my favorite (and oldest) brother, who also loves chorales, and another sister...and I just let myself be swallowed up by it. Soon, my tears turned into a radiant smile. I was home. I was surrounded by family. I felt the glory of the music and the talent that runs rampant in our genes...and it was all okay.

I arrived safely through the wind and rain, into the warm & cozy home of my childhood where I am currently residing. And yeah, things are scary...my business is new and fragile and unpredictable, the weather and landscape are so much less desirable than where I lived for the past 2 years, but I am among friends and family. My cold isn't lingering and is on its way out. And Christmas is coming.

Christmas decorations, twinkly lights, the smell of pine, carols in the air....and hopefully snow. I would love snow to fall before I visit my dear friend and his new wife in New York City. Together, they are helping me live a life dream of seeing the Big Apple at Christmastime. Complete with Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating in Central Park.

And all is well in my world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Final Days of Barbarianism

I’m still reeling from a major life transition, caught between two worlds and trying to move forward as best I can.

If it hadn’t been for those final days in Santa Barbara…days that were like the rich, sweet, mouth-watering icing on the “cake” that was my life there…perhaps things would be different. But I’m sitting here with the sweet taste still in my mouth, reflecting on what an impact that city had on my life. Especially those wild, spontaneous, final days of unpredictable and unadulterated fun.

Santa Barbara was so many things to me, I don’t even know where to start.

Santa Barbara was healing. When you’re caught between the silent strength of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the unstoppable rhythmic power of the Pacific …you can’t help but feel the energy charge. You feel old wounds slowly begin to heal and disappear. You develop an innate ability to focus on the now, and the endless possibilities in your life.

Santa Barbara is flat-out freakin’ BEAUTIFUL. Wherever you turn, there is a view. The mountains, the palms, the streets canopied with tunnels of Italian pines, the Spanish architecture, the shops and galleries and cafes and fountains…a virtual feast for the senses. A window looking out on State Street is writer’s paradise…between the assortment of people one can watch passing by outside and the colorful conversations going on inside, there is always plenty of fodder for story scenes and ideas.

Santa Barbara makes it easy to stay fit. Between the beach walks, the mountain hiking trails, the ethnic restaurants, and the sparse fast food chains…one can eat healthy, get free exercise, and hardly ever crave the hibernation and comfort food that accompany long periods of cold and gray.

Santa Barbara has a lot going on in the way of theatre, music, yoga, dance classes and other cultural events. However, there are more places in its downtown nightlife that cater to the twenty-somethings and college kids. As a forty year-old woman, I yearned for a man who didn’t need to drink a lot in order to have fun, and who found great value in staying home, snuggling in, cooking dinner and watching funny movies together. I’ll be damned if I didn’t manifest this very man in the eleventh hour.

“Hey Alex, want some apple pie?”

Ah, the question that launched a beautiful friendship. One of the most extraordinary friendships I’ve ever had in my life, actually. I’d just returned from a cross-country flight from Ohio (after a whirlwind tour of NYC, Ohio and North Carolina) and was exhausted. Thank goodness I stopped to check my email before heading to bed, because that’s when he peeked in and saw me home.

“He,” being my handsome, affable neighbor from two doors down. The man who, for the longest time, was known as “cute single dad neighbor.” He’d moved into the complex during the previous winter and often had his eight year-old son living with him there. My first impression when I saw him was “very friendly, very lovable…but wounded heart.” He always had a bright smile and a hello whenever we’d cross paths. Listening to the empathetic and genuinely caring way he talked to his boy, I knew he was a really good dad and therefore possessed a really golden heart. I admired him from a distance until one night, under a lovely full moon, we stopped to talk on our balcony and he shared about his recent divorce. I offered him compassionate words about having been there for siblings when they all went through that sort of heartbreak. I also told him I thought he was doing really well for himself, all things considered.

Later, when spring turned to summer, we met up at the pool a lot and got to know one another. I learned of his very extraordinary (there’s that word again) career that entailed setting up special events at famous places with scenery, balloons, draping and various media. When he wasn’t doing that, he was doing carpentry. Never a dull moment and never a day of cube farm slavery. An artist in his own right, who was not moody—but very grounded, confident, humble and hilarious.

“You whistle a lot, so you must be pretty happy,” I told him one day as we shot each other with squirt guns in the pool.

He just gave me an evil grin and replied, “Or crazy.”

I knew then that we were going to be very good friends. We resonated with one another. I understood his whacked sense of humor, and he understood my appreciation for men who could make me laugh. Our night of apple pie and a long talk until 1 am sealed the deal.

My neighbor has a very unique name, so to protect his anonymity, I will henceforth refer to him as “Mike.” This is what my friend’s son insisted on calling him all day on the 4th of July when we all hung out at the pool. My friend does look a little like a Mike, so it works. He also looks like a brown-eyed, younger version of Chris Isaak…in a small way.

When Mike finally found out that I was leaving for Ohio at the end of summer, alarm registered in his eyes. “You are? Did you tell me that already???”

“It never came up,” I said sheepishly, and with a hint of sadness. I was hearing Alanis Morissette’s Isn’t It Ironic playing in the background of my mind, and it stayed on “repeat” for the next three days. And then I actually met Alanis the following week. Isn’t THAT ironic?

Knowing that we only had a month and a half in which to enjoy one another, Mike and I launched into a blue streak of fun. We took his son hiking up to a local swimming hole in the mountains. We laughed at stand-up comics and old episodes of The Office until our guts hurt and our smile muscles went numb. We watched a couple of movies and took turns falling asleep in the middle of them. He cooked me Chinese dumplings and basmati rice, and I made him veggie wraps and root beer floats. We stole snatches of conversation at the pool in between laughing at his son’s crazy waterbug antics. (His son was adorable and had one of the most amazing personalities I’ve ever seen in an 8-year-old kid).

Mike helped me open myself up to dating fathers again. In a past relationship, my mate was not willing to love me and his child equally (believe me, I know there is no love like a love for one’s child; however, the two kinds of love are apples and oranges and can therefore be shared evenly) and it broke my heart, so I slammed the door on single dads and locked it. Mike and his son showed me how sweet it can be to share a man’s existing family, and next thing I know, the door was unlocked and open again.

Oh, but there was SO much more!

In my final days of Santa Barbara, I became a vampire!

Mike kept a very odd work schedule with self-imposed graveyard shifts. He drank coffee at midnight and went down to his studio by the beach until the sun came up.

Ah, the studio! A magical place, that. It was like a grown-up version of Peewee’s Playhouse. There were all kinds of props and toys and decorations hiding up in the rafters behind tarps. There were rows and rows of boxes holding everything from hardware pieces to toys. Mike had guitars, keyboards, a trumpet and three different kinds of speakers. There was an office in a loft upstairs, and a play area for his son downstairs. Outside the main room was a complete wood shop with sawdust on the floor. To top it all off, there was a killer sound system resounding through the entire side of the warehouse. Everything packed into that studio chronicled his life thus far. And a colorful life it was.

I never tired of hearing his life stories. World-class yapper that I am, it was rather good for me just to listen for a change. He was always amazed that I cared. Mike rarely asked questions about my life, but when I chose to share something he’d listen and make earnest comments that let me know he’d really heard.

There were also times when we shared long periods of silence. With my cup of midnight coffee I would sit on a stool and watch him work. He slapped shelves together like they were Leggos, and it fascinated me. He was so strong and capable and could tackle just about anything. Sometimes in those moments of silence, he’d come out of left field with a very honest and heartfelt observation about himself, relationships, or life. It showed me what a deep thinker he actually was, and what a brilliant and beautiful mind he was hiding behind a mask of nonsense.

My only disappointment with Mike was that he would not let me in. He admitted to always having been that way, and using his incessant humor to keep people at bay. His humor could be wonderful, like an injection of happiness, but it could also be a royal pain in the ass when it didn’t let up in moments of seriousness. That was okay too, because at that point—with the question of him being a future boyfriend moot—I was much better able to accept him exactly as he was.

Every few days I found myself drawn back to the studio, following him around as he excitedly showed me all his toys and projects and plans for renovation. He’d play obscure songs I hadn’t heard since high school (it was so nice having the same love of music and movies in common) and actually turned me on to others that I swore I’d never like (*Kid rock, cough cough*) There was a perfect spot in between all the mounted speakers where you could literally feel the resonance of the music all around you, every note so crisp and sharp.

“I will forever remember my final days in Santa Barbara as a vampire, hanging out with Mike Hemmingway (also changed to protect the guilty).”

Mike just smiled and said something like, “…and I’ll remember hanging out with Alexandra.”

Then came the final night in my beloved American Riviera.

After I’d said goodbye to all my friends, Mike and I went to a diner and had our last face to face heart to heart. When we parted ways, he folded me in his arms and told me, “Anything you decide to do, I’m sure will work out just fine.”

Those words of faith and encouragement and belief in me sank into my heart and have been lodged there ever since.

I am so grateful for my eleventh hour gift of spending time with a guy as intriguing Mike, doing out of the ordinary things, and feeling more alive than ever before. It was a wonderful note on which to end a beautiful chapter.

Sometimes, I feel that “Mike” was the embodiment of everything Santa Barbara was to me. Beautiful, charming, fun, and so easy to be with…but with aspects that discouraged permanency.

I drove away the next morning, down the 101, and left that beautiful paradise behind me. I saw the familiar mountain range grow distant in my rear view mirror. It was so very heartbreaking, and yet I knew it was what I had to do.

And what I’ve learned, two months later, is that it’s still with me. It’s in my heart, it’s in my memories, it is a slideshow of lovely images in my head as I’m going about my work or everyday tasks or just sitting and meditating. Never before has a place gotten so ingrained in my soul. I am truly grateful I had the gift of Santa Barbara in my life, and that I can always use it for my highest good wherever I go and whatever I do.

Getting all this out of my mind and onto a page was absolutely necessary in order for me to keep moving forward…with all endings come new beginnings, and so far this new chapter of my life has worked out well.

In my next entry, I should probably start mentioning all the new victories I have co-created in my life. I swear, life just gets more and more interesting, doesn’t it?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What the FUNK?

What in the WORLD is going on in the cosmos????

I know a handful (a BIG one) of people who are enveloped in one big cloud of funk right now. Coworkers, online friends, family members back home...local friends, and myself. Many of them have the same common denominator.....struggling with the timetable of the emergence of their lifemate. We are all more than ready. We cannot listen to any more New Age bullshit about why this is, about what we're still not doing or trying, about what we're doing too much of, about the kind of signals we may or may not be sending....SHADDUP already. No one knows what it's like to be us, walking in OUR shoes on OUR path. Sometimes, there is no solace until we just get done with the frustration and tears and impatience and continue marching on through our lives that are full and wonderful...but that would be an extra 110% brighter walking beside another.

I still fully believe the law of attraction will bring that "right" person to me...but like I said...struggling with the timetable is the operative phrase.

But there are other issues. Bigger issues. Issues that sort of tie in with this and sort of don't.

Stuff is going on back home in Ohio. Big, bad ugly stuff. My brother's terminal illness is progressing to the point where his slurred speech is getting worse and his volume is getting weaker so that he can't even speak louder in order for people to understand him. His wife was forced to go back to work and cannot even spend as much time (the little they have left) with him, and with their five year-old son. She very humbly reminded family members that visits with Tony cheer him up immensely, and that either his private nurse or she could drive him over to their homes if need be.

OMFG. *flood of tears* This wasn't supposed to be how his retirement years went. He was supposed to be traveling and building his home in Gold Beach, Oregon. He was supposed to be active and healthy and able to take his son out to play ball. His wife was finally able to stay home with her only child...and then couldn't.

At Christmas, I took solace in the fact that Tony was smiling and savoring every second watching his son and enjoying family togetherness. It's what kept me from being a blubbering idiot when I was around him. Dear, loving Tony. How I wish life didn't do this to people I love.

And speaking of that, my best friend's husband is also fighting death. Early thirties, brilliant artist, father of two lovely little boys and wonderful husband....again, it sucks royally when fate deals people like him such a shitty hand. My friend went back to night school to get her MA in healthcare management...so that she can make ends meet if the unthinkable happens. I like to keep holding a vision of him as an old man. One of those rare people on Oprah who says, "they only gave me three months, and here I am. I beat it." Oh, how I want that for my dear friend. She lost her mother to cancer....would lightning really strike TWICE?

And finally...my mother's condition (according to worrisome siblings) is getting to the point where they are trying to gently ease her toward a retirement home.

Goddammit. I so wanted her to be able to finish her days happily in her lovely Dutch Colonial home on a lovely acre of private land in a quiet suburb.

So here is what's been turning around and around in my head for the past three nights, as I lay awake unable to sleep.

Perhaps I do want to go back. Just for awhile. Just to be near all these dear, beloved people who may not be around much longer.

I'm afraid I'll regret it if I don't. But I'm afraid of what life would be like back in a place of dead ends and painful memories. Maybe it won't be so bad after all. Maybe after staying with my mom for awhile, I could eventually move to North Carolina but be close at hand---just in case.

Oh, I just don't know.

I do know what the ideal situation would be. To meet this fantastic, phenomenal, incredibly LUCKY man who will one day be my husband, who just happens to be from back east and who also wants to go back there and get a house. How perfect would THAT be? Because I'm tired of gallivanting and pioneering by myself. It was fun while it lasted, but it's a much richer blessing (to me) to share the chore (and adventure!) of survival with another--who is your best friend and lover. It took one of my sisters three tries to find someone like this--and the third time was a charm. I really am so incredibly tired of going it alone that I feel like lying down and giving up. A sit-down strike to the universe.

I have committed myself, my new business, and this dream of finding publication contacts to one more year here in California. By autumn, perhaps I'll know whether it's time to leap or not.

In the meantime, I keep walking. I keep smiling (even when I sometimes don't feel like it). I keep taking comfort in my very rewarding career and business. I find bliss in continuing to write stories. I feel deep gratitude for all the friends and loved ones in my life--local and far away.

Really, everyone is just a heartbeat away. Even my husband (that lucky, lucky bastard! I wonder if this guy even has any INKLING of how f-ing lucky he's about to become) ; )

It's good to blog again. I won't be in here everyday, but this just HAD to get out.

Namaste, y'all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Dream Journey of the Pacific Northwest

This is a very long travel journal...mainly put here so I can tell dozens of friends and family members about my trip in one central location!

Pacific Northwest Odyssey

Oct 18, 2006

My journey began at Druid Labs West, aka my dear friends’ (Mike and Cathy) home in Port Townsend, Washington. I was feeling refreshed and glowing after a couple of days in their warm, cozy and hospitable nest. They sent me on my way laden with maps and good wishes.

I traveled west along Hwy. 101 toward Olympic Park. The weather was cloudy and drizzly, par for the course in that region, but it didn’t matter. The road was lined with tall evergreens and smatterings of trees with changing colors in brilliant reds, oranges, and golds. It was the first time I’d gotten to experience autumn in two years!

Crescent Lake was the first region I drove through…a very deep lake formed by receding glaciers. It reminded me of scenery in Wales or Scotland. I kept going until I reached my first destination of Marymere Falls.

A short hiking trail through part of the local temperate rainforest led to them. I had never seen such a forest before—huge moss-covered trees, large ferns and other foliage that looked like hobbits and fairies might just pop out from behind a rock. It was truly magical.

The falls were very tall, plummeting to a deep pool below. After snapping some pics and observing a very well-informed field trip going on there, I returned to the highway and kept going until I got to the Sol Duc Hotsprings.

These mineral pools were channeled into swimming pools to maintain the water quality. But they were very soothing on my body which had compiling aches and stiffness from the week’s events. There were interesting people there—a couple from LA with a psychic radio show that airs in Santa Barbara, a really good-looking young guy with a deep voice and southern accent from Lexington, Kentucky. It’s such a small world, sometimes. People from the areas of both my homes!

I had a good chuckle in the Sol Duc gift shop, where a rogue squirrel was brazenly running in and attempting to steal candy bars from the candy rack! The poor clerk was running herself ragged trying to stomp and scare him out of the store.

Just outside Sol Duc was the Salmon Cascades,
where I actually got to see real salmon leaping up the waterfalls! I’d only seen this kind of thing on nature shows all my life, and it was so thrilling to actually see it happening before my eyes. Not only are they beautiful, turning different hues of red and gold, but they’re BIG and STRONG suckers! They muster up all their strength in a pool, then suddenly shoot upward and land on the next rock, wiggling all the while until they’re back in the water again. Sometimes an extra powerful one would make the entire leap from one pool to the next. Wow. Amazing what nature is capable of when it’s taking care of business.

I ended my day in Forks, a tiny little fishing town near the west coast of Washington.

October 19, 2006

I began my day with a massage from a therapist who had her sign painted onto the storefront window on the main drag. I was glad to find someone, since I was pretty achy by this time, but she wasn’t the best therapist in the world (I think she was new) and her music was short and redundant. It was enough for temporary relief, though, and got me ready for my day-long beach tour.

Rialto Beach was my first stop. I heard the thundering waves from behind a tall sand embankment before I even saw the water. But when I got my first glance of the wild, crashing waves I had a sense of déjà vu and coming home. Was I a Quileute Indian in a past life? The ocean was so ruggedly wild and beautiful I nearly got tears in my eyes. I saw warning signs about how dangerous the waves could be, and how “sneaker waves” could hurl big, dangerous drift logs at unsuspecting beach walkers. All the huge trunks littering the beach like a hallowed burial ground told me the signs do NOT lie! This was a very different sort of coast. Much different than anywhere I’d ever been. Rialto was a rocky beach so when the waves receded they raked across the stones and made a babbling, musical sound. I also saw two seals and a sea otter lolling around in the surf. Bliss!

I visited the beach at La Push, a site recommended by a coworker, and enjoyed more views of waves and sea stacks. It wasn’t as great as my coworker made it out to be, but lovely nonetheless.

Ruby Beach, further down the coast, had a longer beach and more sea stacks. I took a long afternoon walk up and down its coast, exploring cliffside caves and taking interesting pictures of sand patterns at low tide. I was glad to get the exercise after spending long hours driving in the car, stuck in one position. The sun decided to break through the hazy clouds in mid afternoon, which transformed the entire landscape for the rest of the day. The bluish hills along the 101 contrasted nicely with coloring trees.

Lake Quinault looked very Scottish and peaceful when I got there in late afternoon. Pink, wet, watercolor clouds swirled around the sky above it, and I made the decision to stop there for the night. The lodge was a tad bit on the expensive side, but I decided it was worth having a warm, cozy place to land rather than uncertainty at sundown. It was very Alpine looking with green moss growing on its roof. Like something straight out of Heidi! I treated myself to a really delicious meal at a restaurant down the road: steak and sautéed scallops with some nice chardonnay and a view of the lake as I journaled!

Back at the lodge I enjoyed my expensive room with a fake fireplace and a balcony overlooking the lawn and lake in the distance. There was no TV, so I read my magazine, did crossword puzzles, wrote postcards, and drank hot chocolate after a hot bubble bath. Although a room like this would’ve been better shared with a romantic partner, I did just fine.

October 20, 2006

Just after sunrise, I made a brief visit to Merriman Falls (down the road). It was so peaceful in the early morning with just me and its sonorous song as it fell down the layers of rocks—and no other people or cars around. A great way to begin the day! I sang an old Appalachian spiritual called Bright Mornin’ Stars and wished two of my sisters were there with me to sing the other harmonies.

Then I jumped back into my little silver Kia Spectra and headed further south down the coast. The morning was so blissful until a cop pulled me over and gave me a speeding ticket!  Only 10 miles over, but I think he was biased against cell phone talkers. Well, in dangerous conditions I usually don’t talk on my cell phone—but it was an empty country highway and my 84 year old mother wanted to know how her baby was doing, damn it! I had to laugh because my father got a speeding ticket on his coastal tour…like father like daughter. I guess it’s just too hard to drive 55 when we’re so used to 65-70. Stupid low speed limit! It HURT!

Cathy (I think) had recommended Pacific Pines State Park on a long peninsula in the very south of Washington. It was a very long, wide, rugged and empty beach with lots of sea grass leading up to it. I ate my lunch there and moved on so I could make Oregon by dusk. I crossed the Columbia River, thought of Lewis and Clark and how they saw all this for the first time and must’ve been SO stoked! I went across the famous long double bridge in Astoria, and landed safely in Oregon!

Tom recommended Cannon Beach, and boy was I glad!!! This was my favorite place yet—tons of stately sea stacks with caves in their sides, miles of beach and other tourists (although not out of control like I’m sure summertime would be) and even horses riding along. I spent a good long time there, listening to the crashing surf, taking dozens of pictures, and writing things in the sand. I thought of Ginger and her Mo, because I saw the first of many restaurants called Mo’s, famous for their clam chowder!

Oregon is just like its license plate. Evergreens and manzanita everywhere! And the air smells so fresh and clean. Ahhh…

As the sun set, I stopped for the night in Lincoln City. There were so many cute mom and pop motels to choose from, but because I was so tired, I just chose the first Motel 6 I came to and settled in.

I watched an awful damn lot of TV on this trip, since there was little to do at night in a motel. Probably more than I have in an entire year! LOL I also began to miss hearing the purr of my cat as I fell asleep. It’s something you get so used to, after having a little furbaby for 4+ years.

October 21, 2006

I was never so bedazzled by the Oregon coast as I was this morning. The 101 took me through one beauty spot after another, winding along coastal evergreen-lined cliffs and winding curves. Morning sun filtered through pine forests and sea mist hung lightly in the sunbeams.

One particular scenic viewpoint charmed the socks of me.
It was a flat piece of grassy land on the top of a cliff with waves pounding the rocks all around it. I took tons of pictures, I called a dear friend to share with him the elation I was feeling. The waves literally sounded like jets ripping through the sky and thunder crashing in the heaviest thunderstorm you can imagine. They swelled up in mammoth proportions, then broke heavily, rumbling the ground all around me. What a charge!

I stopped at three other places…the Devil’s Punchbowl (where water fills a crevasse at high tide), a blow horn (which shot water straight up into the sky when frothing waves filled its tunnel), and the sea lion cliffs/rocks. They were so cute barking and lolling around in the surf. There were so many of them all crowded together on the rocks—babies, adults, brown and black ones--probably helping each other stay warm.

Then I did something I’d been waiting to do the entire trip. I played the classical piece The Moldau as I drove along the scenic seaside cliffs, the ocean aglow and spirited just as it is in the song. I figured my dad would’ve done that, had he the means back in the day, because it was one of his favorite pieces. I listened and was grateful that I could take stock in the things of beauty that he passed on to me, and the inspiration for this trip which came from him.

I then had to make some difficult choices about when to leave the coast and how many inland places I had time to visit. Crater Lake was a must, so I turned eastward and headed for Eugene. Another coworker had suggested this town, and it was indeed very small and cute and cultural, like all good college towns should be. It was also a lot warmer, and I spent time walking around a street fair and buying some really cool tie-dye shirts with glittery designs on them.

I tried to make Crater Lake before sundown, but was caught on the scenic by-way of Rt. 138 as night fell. Little did I know that practically NOTHING was open for the season anymore, and that nothing was up at the same elevation as the state park. Diamond Lake had cabins available, but I blew right past the turnoff and ended up driving around steep, guard rail-less roads in the pitch black. Then a winding mountain road went down the other side toward prospect. Winding and turning and going on forever and ever and ever. I was tired and frustrated and praying for an inn or even some hole-in-the-wall motel. At long last I hit a main road again and went through a tiny town called Prospect. There was indeed an antique country hotel/motel, at which I promptly rented a room and crashed hard.

October 22, 2006

It was so nice to wake up and finally see where the hell I was. In a small town in the middle of an Oregon forest! I backtracked to a country café and had a big breakfast so that I’d have the energy to hike around Crater Lake all day and not have to eat again.

It was freezing cold in the morning as I wandered down a path overlooking the rushing, beautiful Rogue River Gorge.

By the time I got back up the mountain at Crater Lake, it had warmed up and I could take my fleece overshirt off. When I parked at Rim Village and walked to the edge, I was absolutely stunned. A big crater of deep blue water, the hue of which I’d never seen in my life anywhere in nature. It was so still and quiet, save the voices of the tourists who arrived at the same time I did. What a spectacular formation the place was, against the bright blue sky and sunshine.

I drove around most of the perimeter (the East Rim was closed), with a light dusting of snow still on the ground from a recent snow shower, and photographed all the sights out on the lake, such as the Ghost Ship rock formation, Pumice Point and Wizard Island. All of these things cast perfect reflections on the mirror-like lake surface. I saw the surrounding mountains in the distance, most prominently Mt. Thielsen—which is usually photographed snowcapped and behind Diamond Lake in calendars and postcards. “Wow,” I kept murmuring, after each shot. “Wow.”

I was pretty disappointed that they’d closed the part of the road that went down to the lake (at the boat dock) because I wanted to get a close-up shot of that deep, clear blue! Oh well…next time.

Wanting to save time, I only took a driving tour, rather than a hiking trail. I wanted to make it to civilization by the end of that day. This time I took Rt. 138 when I could see all the lovely views along the way. I briefly checked out Diamond Lake and a couple of the waterfalls (Clear Creek and Falls Creek, I believe). I could’ve stayed at Clear Creek Falls all day. It cascaded over several rocks, streaming in many different directions. Sunlight dappled its pools and the stream below. The falls were tucked neatly into a sun strewn woods with fairie plants and trees and a soft forest floor of fallen pine needles and red dirt. It was warm and pretty and peaceful there. But I had to move on. *sigh*

Back in Roseburg, I contemplated maps for a good fifteen minutes before realizing that I wanted more to go back out to the Oregon coast more than I wanted to spend a day going down to Mt. Shasta. It was a difficult choice, but I finally realized that maybe I could take a train up there to visit Michelle sometime in the future and tour the famous mountain then.

So I headed west again and settled for the night in Bandon, Oregon. I’d read all about this spot in my research and was really happy to be there and get off the road for a bit after all that driving around. I totally manifested the place I wanted to stay for the night. “Somewhere with a fitness room so I can exercise, a laundry room so I can wash my clothes, Internet so I can say hi to RPeeps, a nice restaurant so I don’t have to go into town, a hot tub so I can soak my weary bod, and right by the ocean so I can hear waves at night.

Guess what? This all took the form of the nicest Best Western I’ve ever seen! If you’re ever in Bandon, OR you MUST go there. I treated myself to another yummy steak and scallop dinner, and this time the chef made a decorative Halloween witch face out of the steak sauce in one corner of the plate! Awesome!

Oct. 23, 2006

I luxuriated in a long beach walk among the sea stacks once more at the beach in Bandon near my motel. What a great way to start the day! Morning sun streaming down the beach, the sound of waves, the fresh air…ah yes.

I took my freshly laundered clothes and headed south on the 101 once again. There were so many scenic views and vistas along the way – some of which I stopped to photograph – others that I just admired as I passed by.

Gold Beach was a cathartic experience for me. All during my trip I’d had a little black cloud following me around. Something weighing on my mind, even though I was able to take in all the fun and beauty I was experiencing. But there was no holding it at bay this time. Just before leaving on my trip I found out that the nervous disorder (very similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease) he was diagnosed with this year is much worse than they originally said. He is now “terminal.”

Gold Beach is where my brother bought retirement property. He had planned to build a home and retire there. It was hard to deal with as it is, but here in this land that he so loved, the land that he’d never build his house on now, it was suddenly right in my face and I had a meltdown.

I cried and cried as the wind whipped sand around my legs and blew hair into my face, thinking about the happy and peaceful brother who used to meet me in Telluride, Colorado for the annual Bluegrass Festival in the nineties…about the many losses he’d endured in just the last decade…the unfairness of life overwhelms me at times. Especially when it involves a loved one. “What did he ever do to deserve this?” I cried to the wind, knowing that there really was no answer to such a question. I collected sand, snippings of plants and trees, rocks and driftwood from the land to send to him. If he couldn’t come to this healing place, I could send a little back to him in hopes that it might bring a little healing or maybe just a smile.

Once I’d collected myself, I just kept holding an intention of healing for him (what else could I do), that he would be very comfortable and surrounded by love in the coming months. When I got back to the car, a message was waiting on my phone from Tom in Seattle. A loving, cheerful message that came just when I needed it the most. There are no coincidences.

I traveled on. Soon, I was back in California.

Coastal views alternated with little patches of redwood groves. I even stopped to watch a family of elk munching by the side of the highway. The buck had a full rack and quite a family with him.

I turned inland, on a long and twisting and grueling mountain road to get from the 101 to Highway 1 so I could visit some coastal towns. I reached the sea by sunset. Highway 1 is lovely upstate, with lots of sea stacks and sections that run through literal tunnels of trees. Since there were no turnouts, I just took mental pictures.

I stopped for the night in Ft. Bragg. My sister Joan called to see where I was. She joked about me having a GPS system attached to my car so she could track my journey each day!

October 24, 2006

Nearly a week on the road. I couldn’t understand why my dad thought the coastal highway was so terrifying. There were never any steep drop-offs without guardrails that worried me. Maybe my dad was a wimp! Hahaha…

I went to Mendocino early in the morning, and apparently the town doesn’t really wake up until 10am. I walked its quaint streets and saw its Victorian homes and strolled along the wooden sidewalks peering into shop windows and stealing glances into secret herb gardens in the back. It was a charming little place, perched on a rugged cliffside covered with long golden grasses by the ocean. I was waiting for Heathcliff to come running up any time!

I finally had enough of scenic byways and coastal highways. After enduring one last trek across winding mountain roads, I hit the 101 and kept going until I reached San Francisco.

I called my friend Mike to see if he was available for lunch, but he had his parents in town. I also called my friend Ryan, who never answered his phone. Oh well…another time, SF peeps.

I stopped in Santa Cruz, thinking I’d land there for the night. Unable to stand my wild, dried-out summertime hair another minute—I found a good salon and got it cut into long layers. It was a good change.

Then my dear friend David left me a message and invited me to stay at his place (in the Monterey area) for the remainder of my journey. He had been the one to take me to the airport when I left, and he was my welcome when I came back. A perfect circle and wonderful way to end the journey.

The next day I scouted out possible places in which to have a private massage practice in both Monterey and Pacific Grove. If I give California one last chance, that is possibly the area I would choose—especially with its close proximity to Big Sur and San Francisco. There were some nice possibilities.

That evening I helped David celebrate HIS birthday, and it was a wonderful time.

I have now taken the trip I’ve been meaning to take since childhood. I came back renewed, enriched and very glad that my life was full of enough abundance to get me there and back comfortably.

I’m feeling a whole lot o’ grateful!