Category Archives: travel

Maui Dreams…

Napili Bay

 

For the past week, almost every night, I have been dreaming about being in Maui. I went, for the first time, back in November. The funny part is, it wasn’t even my big dream to go there- it was something my daughter wanted to do, and I just wanted to make it happen for her. I thought it would be cool, for her 18th birthday, to take her on her dream trip. I had never jumped on the Hawaii band wagon, probably because it was so crowded- the same reason it took me so long to read Harry Potter. I was so sick of hearing how great it was from everyone else that it killed my desire. Also, I am kind of a contrary person. I’m not bragging. This character defect of mine makes life mighty difficult sometimes.

Anyway, so Hawaii wasn’t about me. It was about Aisley, and making her happy, and getting to reconnect with her. It also didn’t suck to be able to talk about my upcoming trip, as I felt really grown up about taking an actual vacation. “Oh my God!” everyone sighed as we talked about it, “I am so jealous!” Or “Just wait until you get there…the air…it’s perfect…it’s life changing” and on & on. I was like, “yeah, I’ll bet.” and tried not to roll my eyes.

Well, silly me. I can’t count the many ways that I was wrong. From the minute I got off the plane, I knew the stories to be fact. The air really was special…I know, I know…how the fuck can air be special, right? But it IS. The smell, and the warmth, and the way it is always, like, the perfect temperature. How the heck is that even possible? I don’t know, but it is. I just felt like, the minute we landed, and that air touched me, tension I didn’t even know I was holding left me. There was nothing about Maui that I didn’t like. Except leaving. I really didn’t like leaving.

And ever since I have been home, I want to be back there. This past week, my subconscious has been putting on a show for me, every time I close my eyes and slip off into sleep. And when I wake up, I am homesick for a place I have only visited once, for a week. So I have done what anyone who listens to her dreams would do- I got online, I looked at jobs, I looked at houses, I discussed the possibility of moving, with everyone I know. I took a poll on Facebook.

What I noticed was, the more I thought about it, the more stressed out I was. What if I was making a mistake? What if I got there and hated it? What if the job I got there didn’t work out, and then I had left my great job here and couldn’t go back? What if the schools really suck, and the locals pick on Camryn? What if I RUIN MY LIFE and can NEVER FIX IT?! Dear God, by this morning, I was a total mess with the what-ifs and the imagined bullying of my poor kindergartner.  So I changed my mind. I thought- “what if I just stayed here, right here, for a while?” And all of the tension left my body like a fat breath of Maui air had just entered my lungs.

I’m not giving up on the idea that Maui might be someplace I call home someday. What I am giving up on is the idea that it is time for me to upend my life just as I have found some order and routine- this is something I am very good at robbing myself of. See, I don’t know what this is all about, but I can tell you that there is a pattern I can see to my life where I work like hell to create some safety and sanity in my life, to give myself a sanctuary somewhere…and then, the minute I can finally relax, I start tearing it all down again. I don’t know what that is all about, but I don’t think it’s really about me being bored. I suspect it may have something to do with me avoiding some scary truths about myself. And I KNOW that if I don’t allow those things to see the light of day, I will keep right on doing what I do, which, if I’m being honest, looks an awful lot like running, an awful lot like creating diversions.

What I am going to do is stay here, in my awesome little house, in my beautiful little town, and I am going to hang out with myself for a while longer. I am not going to make any big and life altering decisions until I am sure I can trust that I am making them with a sound mind, for the right reasons. And, in the meantime, another visit or two might be in order. Because that place really is Magical. What? It IS.

Almost Half-Way Check In ( 40 Things in my 40th Year Update)

So, I sat down this morning to check out my progress on the whole “40 things in my 40th year” list…and discovered, much to my horror, that A) I haven’t written a blog in TWO MONTHS?! I knew it had been a while, but not two months! That is really, really bad. I don’t even have an excuse. I just haven’t been writing. Lame. B) That October is five months since my birthday, which means almost HALF my year is gone! Holy Shit! Where the hell does time go? and C), worst of all…I haven’t done nearly as much from the list as I thought I had.

There is some good news though! I have actually accomplished a few of the things on my list, and several more are on the horizon. Let’s run through the list real quick like, shall we? Okay, here goes:

1.) Stop being so lazy: I think I may have actually overcome this life long demon of mine. Look, I will never be the most clean, neatest of the neat, girl on the planet. That just isn’t who I am. But I have made some real strides. I also got a roommate who does dishes, so this helps. But my overall laziness does seem to have improved, judging by the way I seem to run my ass off from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I collapse into bed every night, anyway.

2.) Makeover, as in, get one: I can’t decide if I did this or not. Technically, I did not get a makeover. I did, however, have some extremely awesome pictures of me taken that make it LOOK as if I did have a makeover, so I feel as if I satisfied that requirement. If the opportunity comes up for me to have a real makeover, I will jump on it. If it does not, I am not going to worry about it.

3.) Essay published in the Sun: This one would be so much easier to accomplish if I were actually writing. Which I am, right now, obviously, but this is the first time in a good, sad, while.

4.) Mud Run: I am doing this next weekend. I am so excited! If you have a second, check it out- it’s called the “MS Muck Fest” and it is a huge, muddy, fun obstacle course! Yay!

5.) Meet Justin:  Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to meet Justin…and his lovely new girlfriend, LOL. And I would LOVE to go to Canada. But this has fallen lower on my priority list. You know how it goes.

6.) Get a literary agent:  Sigh…again, I am so removed from my writing right now. I have had so much work to do in other areas, but I need to make time for this. It’s what feeds my soul.

7.) Go to a literary convention: I’m sensing a theme, here.

8.) Visit Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg: I actually  did this one! Can I just tell you something? That beach is TINY. The glass is incredible, but the beach is the size of a large-ish living room, and it is FULL of people. I didn’t find one memorable piece of glass there, sadly enough. I would still go back, but definitely NOT on a weekend. 🙂 Done, and DONE.

9.) Alcatraz:, 10.) Dance Lessons, 11.) Passport: Not Yet, Nope, and NO.

12.) Finish all Twelve Steps: I am still on step one. But I am working on it!

13.) Foodie Event, 14.) proposal for non-fiction book, 15.) hypnotism, 16.) writing class, 17.) jewelry class, 18.) hike soberanes, 19.) surf, and 20.) Hot springs : Nope, not even close, still possible, no, looked into it, but class was full, totally going to happen, not yet, and totally forgot about this, respectively.

21.) Camping, 22.) quilting: No to camping, and it doesn’t look too good at this point. And quilting? Hey, that is still possible!

23.) Leave California Twice, preferably from different directions: Well, I am going to Hawaii next month, so that is one. I just need to squeeze in one more trip, which shouldn’t be too hard!  Maybe I will finally make it to Oregon to see my buddy Brian.

24.) Ferry Ride: How hard could this be? If I can’t get this done in the next seven months, I am truly hopeless.

25.) Attend a live sporting event: I don’t even know why I added this one to the list. I don’t care about sports at all…although, honestly? I wish I did.

26.) Meditation: I have improved leaps and bounds in this one. I am so comfortable with meditation now, and can see the difference in my life when I am doing it consistently. However, this being a “practice”, not sure how I can ever complete it. Lets say my goal, while ongoing, has been a success!

27:) Treat my body kindly: Well…tomorrow, I will have not smoked a cigarette in 100 days! And I am watching what I eat, and I hired a personal trainer. I meet with him weekly, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week. I am weight lifting, and doing something active almost every single day. So, yes, while I have a ways to go, still, I am definitely doing what I set out to do here. Mission accomplished!

28.) Going outside in inside clothes: I have tried, I really have. But I am not going to lie…I am that girl. I will go to Save Mart in the clothes I slept in if I am out of coffee mate. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Sorry, Holly. 😦

29.) Go to Gilroy Gardens: Okay, so I totally did this, AND I bought season passes, thinking I would be saving big. The only problem is, I only went once. I Still have a month left on my passes, but next year? Yeah, I’ll just pay as I go (if I do…it really is pretty great, though. And beautiful!)

30.) Halloween Tour at Point Sur Lighthouse: I forgot that I wanted to do this, and I am going to look into it right now! So excited!

31.) Five Museums:  This is still going to happen.

32.) Write EVERY DAY: OKAY, ALREADY. Listen, it is just stupid that I am not doing this. I really can’t get around it. The remainder of this year, my writing will be first and foremost. It may not all be occurring here, but it will be occurring, this I swear.

33.) Connect with family: This is a funny goal, not very specific. I will tell you this- the work I have been doing on myself has allowed me to make great strides in my relationships with the people closest to me. Especially my mother and my older daughter. I am experiencing much less friction in my relationships with the people who know and love me most, and that is huge. Perhaps now the circle can begin to widen.

34.) Kindness, Empathy, Non-judgement:  I am getting better. This will be a life long effort. I am good with that.

35.) Garden: There is still time. I didn’t hit it last spring, but I can do it next one…and I will!

36.) Make my Home look Inviting and Good:  I would say that, yes, this has happened. Did I mention I got a roommate who does dishes? She’s amazing! The house looks great!

38.) Have a party!: This happened. Last weekend. And it was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself. I had at least 30 people here, not counting kids. It was a blast. 🙂

39.) Learn to BBQ: I am beginning to lose hope, you guys. I mean, I am a native Californian, who lives by the beach, no less, and not only do I not know how to BBQ, I don’t even own a grill. I feel like my card is going to be revoked.

40.) Say Yes More: I am not sure in what way I meant this when I wrote it originally. But knowing me, I meant saying YES to life, and to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Saying yes to vitality and joy. Yes, Yes, Yes! And you know what? I think this has been a wonderful year for all of those things so far.

So, this is where I am so far. I hope to keep plowing through. I hope that I can mark them all off…but even if I can’t? Hey, at least I am working towards a life filled with great experiences. At least my mind is working on some goals.  And knowing where I am now, I can really fine tune and focus on what is ahead!

I hope to see myself here much, much sooner…it’s been too long! Have a wonderful Sunday

The Other 20!

Life-is-pure-adventure

Good morning! I am back with the other twenty things I feel compelled to accomplish while the age of 40. It occurs to me that this would have been an easier task had I started at 20 rather than 40, but then I may not have as many things to put on my list, right? As it stands, the ideas are coming at me so fast now that twenty more seems rather paltry. However, I have to keep in mind that most of the things on my list are going to take time and planning- marking them all off my list is going to take a lot of (fun) work!

I’m just going to jump right in! Here goes:

21) go on a camping trip that doesn’t totally suck. We’ll see if this is even possible.

22) learn how to make a quilt

23) leave the state of California at least twice, preferably in a different direction each time.

24) ride a ferry to an island

25) attend a live sporting event.

26) really fine tune my meditation practice

27) treat my body as kindly as it has treated me all these years.

28) never go to a public place in private clothes (ie, pajamas), not even once (this one is for Holly Nutt. LOL)

29) Go to Gilroy Gardens ( writing Holly’s name made me think of this one)

30) Do the Halloween tour at the Big Sur Lighthouse!

31) Visit no less than five museums

32) Write every single day for no less than 30 minutes.

33) Make a solid effort to connect more with my family, the ones who DON’T live with me.

34) Practice kindness, empathy, and non-judgement every single day.

35) Plant a garden in my huge, awesome, back yard.

36) Do my very best to make my home feel inviting and look good

37) Get rid of the clothes that do not fit me.

38) Have at least one party- this is a total phobia of mine, and it is HIGH TIME I get over it

39) Buy, and learn to use, a barbecue. You are 40, for the love of God.

40.) Say yes as often as I can- I am not getting any younger!

Oh my gosh, I am just so excited about the direction my life is going. I will definitely be keeping you all posted on where I am at with my list. Wish me luck. The clock is ticking!

Have a beautiful, wonderful, exciting, lovely day. 🙂

Back to Reality

RealityIt is five thirty in the morning on Thursday, and it is almost time for me to start getting ready for work. My vacation is officially over. The past few days- since Monday, I guess, I haven’t really done anything special, at least not the way most of us would view things. But to me, these hours have been the most important of my vacation. I have gotten to write every single day. I worked on my book, and this is my fourth blog in as many days. You probably have no idea how big of a deal that is to me, so let me just tell you- it is HUGE.

I feel like a real asshole when I complain about my “real” job, because it has allowed me to have the life I dreamed of just a few short years ago, when I was still living in a shitty apartment in Sparks, Nevada, trying to figure out how in the hell I would survive from one paycheck to the next. At that time, all I wanted in the world was to make enough money to stop the fear that was constantly gnawing at me, enough money to put some space between me and those freaking bill collectors so that I could stop having an anxiety attack every time the phone rang. All I wanted back then was that, and to be able to move home. I was so tired of the high desert and the lack of green, so tired of all that open space.

One by one, I crossed each of those things off my “must-have” lists. For the longest time, I was happier than I had ever been just to pay my bills and still be able to fill up my grocery cart with anything I wanted at the store and not have to keep a running tally in my head to avoid embarrassment at the register. Today, my life is good. I live in a place so beautiful that people come from all over the world to visit here. Sure, my house is pretty run down, but I have it at a bargain price (for this area, anyway) and both my daughters have their own rooms. I am a five minute stroll from the beach. I am not rich, by any means- that child I added to the mix, not to mention the dog and the three cats- have sucked up quite a bit of my money…But still. There are women who would love to have the life I have. Shoot, I love to have the life I have!

The funny thing about dreams, though, is that they change. Once you get to where you want to be, if you are anything like me, you immediately start looking for the next level. That is where I find myself today. I will get up in a few minutes, get in the shower, get myself to the job that helped me make all this possible, and I will try to do my best, and to have gratitude for all of my blessings.  I know, though, that this is not how I want my forever, the rest of MY ride, to go.

When I sit down here, at my little tile topped table that my mom loaned me a gazillion years ago, in this little breakfast nook, surrounded by windows and skylights letting in the light of the new day…this is my favorite time, place, and thing in the world. When I pass four hours writing, like I got to the other day, it feels like half an hour. Four hours at my “real” job can sometimes feel like twice as much. I feel so guilty saying this, because I owe my employer so much for giving me the means to a better life, but sometimes it feels like torture. Like eight hours of absolute torture. And that makes me feel really sad.

Still, I am one of the lucky ones. Some people feel exactly as I do, only they don’t know what else they want to do. They don’t have that one thing that makes four hours fly by in the blink of an eye. They haven’t yet uncovered what they are passionate about. They may have the same dreams of buying a big old house and restoring it from top to bottom, of long, unhurried vacations with their kids, of travelling the world, but they have no idea how they will get there. Because I have this thing inside of me, this imagination and these stories and this need to let them out…it’s almost like I have a bridge between me and everything I want. Or, at least, all of the tools and supplies to build that bridge. It is up to me whether or not I will put in the effort to do it. Hmm…I never thought of it like that before.

I am going to go to work now, back to my reality. I am going to have a great attitude, and show my gratitude by being the best employee I can be. But I am going to be back here, right here in this spot, tomorrow and everyday after that, working on that bridge. That, I can promise you.

Have a wonderful day.

The Envelope, Please…

Beautiful-EnvelopesI know what you must be thinking- ‘Another post? So soon? How did we get so lucky?’

Well, let me tell you how- this is what I was wanting to write about yesterday, but the whole thing about my vacation came out instead. So, when I woke up this morning, I thought I would try to get back to this topic. “Yes, well, what IS the topic?” You may be asking yourself. Well, I am trying to get to it! Give me a break! It’s, like, 4:16 in the morning, for God’s sake. I am doing the best I can.

Okay, okay…so, as I mentioned in my previous blog, we just got back from vacation. Within the course of this vacation, I wound up doing several things that were on my list of things I always wanted to do- what some people may call a “Bucket List”.  But you see, for me, these things were very small, and I feel like only MAJOR things should be on my bucket list. Things like going to London, or going to Hawaii, or even my gigantasaurus goal of writing the next colossal best seller, which then becomes a series, which then becomes a movie, which then enables me to buy a massive old Craftsman or Victorian home in Santa Cruz, which I then  get to completely refurbish to my heart’s desire while simultaneously never ever having to work a “regular” job, ever again.  THAT sort of thing seems “Bucket List” worthy. Oh, yes, just envisioning it gives me more butterflies than my first love did…

Compared to those big ticket items, eating at Pea Soup Andersen’s seems pretty unimpressive, doesn’t it? But that was also a  dream, albeit tiny, of mine, and it is now one that I have achieved. Another was driving through all of the Southern California beach towns on Highway One, or the PCH, as it is called. Again, small, but accomplished, at least thoroughly enough to satisfy me.

So, while I don’t think these little dreams can hold their own in a “Bucket” such as mine, I certainly still enjoy fulfilling them. And while I still wish to keep my large dreams alive, I think they do deserve a place of honor, separate from the smaller ones. The solution I have come up with is this- keep the big dreams in the bucket, and the small ones in an envelope. Envelopes are small and portable, and you can keep them in your glove box, your purse, or even folded up, in your pocket. They are easy to carry around with you, anywhere you go, and the contents are still capable of astounding and delighting you- ever gotten an unexpected check for a large-ish sum of money? Well, then, you know what I mean.

On my “Envelope List” for now are several small, achievable, wonderful things- I want to go on a whale watching trip. I want to get my nose pierced. I want to go to Ft.Bragg and look for sea glass. These are just a few of the things…that’s the cool thing about Envelope Items; They are so little, you may not think of them all the time, but when one of them pops up, you realize “HEY! I have ALWAYS wanted to do that.”, and that is when you ought to take action.

Life is short, people. The older you get, the more clear this will become to you. It is your duty and responsibility to fill it with as much joy and happiness and LIFE as you can, right now. The beauty of these little Envelope Lists is that they get you in the habit of achieving your dreams, so that you begin to see how do-able reaching your goals really is. Don’t put it off any longer, guys. Make a commitment to yourself to start doing it TODAY, whatever “it” may be.  You cannot fail, you can only gain experience and wisdom along the way-you owe it to yourself to start inviting happiness in and living the life you always thought that you would. The best way to get there is to start DOING something you always wanted to do. TODAY. RIGHT NOW.

And, the envelope, please….

What is in your envelope? I am super interested, please let me know! Maybe I will borrow some of your Envelope Ideas!

Vacationer In Training

summer vacation I am what you might call a vacationer in training…I just got home from my first “Training Vacation” with my kids, to Disneyland. I have to say, for a newbie, I did pretty well. As I sit here, writing this, I have on a long, black, stretchy dress that I also wore several times over the past few days. It is not clean. I probably have reached the threshold of my deodorants efficacy. I don’t know what is going on with my hair, but it isn’t good. And I am thoroughly exhausted. But dammit, I had a good time!

The reason I consider myself a trainee is because, (duh!), I am really new at all of this stuff. I have never, ever, ever in my life before, planned a full on vacation in advance and actually followed through. I do a lot of dreaming, a lot of looking online, and then something inevitably happens which makes it impossible to do. A lot of the time, I just tell myself I can’t afford it “right now” and put it on my “someday” calendar, which, of course, is a time that does not exist and is therefore a safe but useless place to store daydreams.

Well, no more. My oldest daughter is on the verge of turning sixteen and already dancing away from me. In all of these years, you would think I could have scraped up enough time, money, and courage (because it really does take a little courage to plan a vacation, at least, this time. Maybe it gets easier. I’ll let you know.) to do something memorable, fun, and…overnight, I guess. Because we have done some stuff- we’ve gone to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, and Great America. We’ve gone camping and stuff. But nothing BIG, and more importantly, nothing of my own devising.

I don’t know what changed, but something did. A couple of months ago, I just made up my mind that when I went on vacation in June, we were going to Disneyland. I turned to Facebook and the advice of friends for tips on where to stay and how to go about the whole thing, I searched the internet to check out rooms, and did the best I could. I knew that it would be a learning experience- that I would figure out stuff while I was there that would not benefit me until the NEXT time I was there, and I was okay with that. I kept my eyes and ears open, and I asked a LOT of questions, ranging from the cashier at the hotel gift shop (I LOVED her, she was sweet as could be.) to the cashier at the frozen apple juice kiosk in Storybook Land. Here is a tip- never, ever, ask the kiosk person if working at the park has ruined the magic for them. They may tell the truth.

I learned a lot. I learned that I chose the right hotel, because it had a water park for the little kids and a pool for the big kids, which made it easy to fill up the time we weren’t at Disneyland. Also, it was literally a five minute walk from the park entrance, which means that once my car was parked, I never had to move it again. So THAT was awesome. I learned that everything within a stones throw from Disneyland is about 30% more expensive than normal- even McDonalds! So you may as well plan on that, OR, you can do what we did, and venture away for dinner once or twice. We went to this big chain pizza buffet place that doesn’t exist where I live, so that was fun, and a bargain at ten bucks a head. I also learned FOR SURE that the next time I go, I will be getting a two or three day park hopper pass, and I will be going during the week. There’s a reason they have those things! I was bummed to not go to Disney’s California Adventure, and I can’t wait to go back to see it.

Aside from the things I learned about this vacation, I learned MY personal vacation style is to totally let go. Even though my tendency is to sit down for a meal in a restaurant and then feel myself getting tense as I think about what we are spending, what feels much better is to say “Yes. We are on vacation, get whatever you want.” So that is what I did. Every time, every meal.  I took the long way home, yesterday, also, which is something I have always wanted to do…I had to keep reminding myself of this when we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in Santa Monica and my car started overheating, and we had to pull over in the parking lot of a restaurant full of rich people and celebrities, while we  were looking like trailer trash that took a wrong turn. Oh, well.  And, last night, when I saw the sign for Pea Soup Andersen’s, a place I have always wanted to eat, I thought, “Why the heck not?”, so, off we went. After dinner, I was too exhausted to drive another several hours, so I rented a room at the Pea Soup Andersen Inn. Yes, I did. Okay, so the power went out (there, and in 145,000 other places around there.) and the phone went dead, and it felt a little like a night in the Bates Motel…but SO WHAT? I woke up, didn’t I? I was on the road, feeling rested, before six in the morning, and at seven something, I was standing on the pier at Pismo Beach, thinking how great it would be to spend a few days there.

So, if I had to grade myself on the overall success of my trip, I think I would give myself a B+, maybe an A- if I were being really generous. I did most of it right, but there were a few snags. Like, I overestimated my toddler’s ability to maintain sanity in the face of overwhelming stimulation, and wound up spending an entire hour listening to her scream that she wanted “to go home, mommy.” as we waited for the Disneyland Express train, sat on the train, sat through every endless STOP on the train…yeah, that sucked. But, overall, we made it home alive, happy, and still speaking to each other. Most importantly, I made it home already planning my next trip…which means it must have been okay!