11.15.18

What I’ve been up to: 

A quick trip to Morocco and Barcelona were unquestionably the highlights this month (especially in comparison to coming down with a cold). I wandered medinas and came across all sorts of treasures, saw snake charmers and hawkers, rode in a hot air balloon, rode a camel (again), visited ancient tanneries, bought a carpet, saw the blue city and ate so many amazing tagines and couscous.

Barcelona was super nice to revisit as well and meeting up with Matt, we visited the Sagrada Familia again, went to some of our favorite tapas spots and took in a couple of flamenco shows.

Earlier we also had the opportunity to see Barbara Kingsolver in conversation at Seattle Arts & Lectures and I was (as always), charged up and inspired by her quiet politics and extraordinary storytelling. I love this quote from the program:

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do it live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides”

And finally, US elections happened while we were away and so we were keeping a very close eye on that.

What was beautiful:

Morocco was as amazingly beautiful as I ever dreamt it would be.



Barcelona also had plenty of moments.

 

What made me laugh: 

Some of the crazy dreams I’ve had lately, dog antics and lost of good laughs with Mateo (as we call him in Spain).

What I’m reading and listening to:

Finally watched The English Patient and Lawrence of Arabia to ease myself out of the desert.

How to Live a Good Life

The Rodeo Queens of Mexico

Raving as a Stress Reliever

How to just pick something (the Scientific Method)

How a human chain of helpers moved a bookstore

I have kind of an obsession with Gable Stones and House Insignia

2018 Women of the Year Honorees

Are you too sensitive?

05.27.18

What was Beautiful:

The tropical lushness, turquoise seas, and volcanic activity of Hawaii.

My new Triumph T-120 motorcycle.

My garden bursting with food and flowers.

What I’ve been up to: 

Wrapped up my project at work and headed to Oregon for Flock to the Rock, but then lost my wallet so turned around and headed home. The next week I went to Hawaii for my yoga retreat, except that the retreat part of it was cancelled so I rented a motorcycle and rode around, did yoga at the beach and went diving. It was alright but I need community and connection more than I need a tropical location and so it proved to be an exercise in discipline and letting go more than a holiday. Next was the purchase of a new motorcycle that I had been considering for the past year and the requisite, immediate road trip to break it in. Looking forward to summer.

What made me Laugh: 

Not much lately, honestly. I have small moments of joy but they are easily overshadowed by the larger anxieties. Still, I delight in the dogs playing in the yard, having dinner with friends and making light of occasional absurdities.

What I’m reading and listening to:

On TRAVEL –

Why we travel.

 

On RELATIONSHIPS –

Psychological Tips to Make Your Marriage Happier

 

On WORK –

Why it’s ok to be bored at work. Boredom is trying to tell you something.

How to keep your bad mood from affecting your work.

How to ramp up quickly

How to handle negative situations at work

A hilarious bonus episode of Revisionist History where Malcolm Gladwell debates Adam Grant loosely about organizational psychology

Walt Disney on how to truly love what you do

 

On MOTORCYCLES –

The Happiness of the Motorcycle

 

On BEING BETTER –

The cure for an anxious, sucky life

A depressive’s guide to microdosing

Why Are we Getting More Depressed?

Being Bored is Good

Redefining Work, Love and Play – find people who want to color outside the lines

Happiness is tangible – “The goal with simple joys is not to crowd or rush them, not to chase or exhaust ourselves or make ourselves sick in overindulgence, but to enjoy them gently — to drink them in fully, but then just as gently put them away.”

5 Ways to Have a Good Life – “You have to commit yourself entirely. You can’t love people half way. You can’t leave important business unfinished. You can’t deliberately half-ass your job or your relationship or any other area of your life because you feel more comfortable when you have one foot out the door. You have to decide what you’re in for and then go all the way with it. You have to realize the freedom and possibility that exists within commitment…Be braver than you feel. Achievement doesn’t come with ease or comfort.”

Being Sober for 21 Days Has Improved My Life

How Social Media Impacts Our Reality

On Midlife – “Midlife is not about the fear of death. Midlife is death. Tearing down the walls that we spent our entire life building is death. Like it or not, at some point during midlife, you’re going down, and after that, there are only two choices: staying down or enduring rebirth.”

Fuck where you see yourself in 3 yearsapropos, as I write my 3-year letter

The new prime suspect for Depression – Ketamine could be our best lead in the hunt for depression.

The power of emotional decision making

It’ll work out for you

 

On FEMINISM –

There are no Safe Spaces for Women

 

On AMERICA –

Why America is the World’s Most Uniquely Cruelest Society – “America is the most cruel nation among its peers — even among most poor countries todayIt is something like a new Rome. It has little, if any, functioning healthcare, education, transport, media, no safety nets, no stability, security. The middle class is collapsing, and life expectancy is falling.Young people die for a lack of insulin they cannot crowdfund. Elderly middle-class people live and die in their cars. Kids massacre each other in schools — when they’re not self-medicating the pain of it all away. The combination of these pathologies happens nowhere else — not a single place — in the world. Not even Pakistan, Costa Rica, or Rwanda. Hence, the world is aghast daily at the depths of American cruelty — yet somehow, they seem bottomless.”

The birth of a new American Aristocracy  – “Family, friends, social networks, personal health, culture, education, and even location are all ways of being rich, too. These nonfinancial forms of wealth, as it turns out, aren’t simply perks of membership in our aristocracy. They define us.”

 

On Writing –

How to be successful

2017

I love the yearly recap so much, and I love how hard it is to choose only as many adventures as will fit in a 3×3 grid! Last year was tough in a lot of ways but mind-blowingly amazing more often than not and I accomplished a lot of life list items that I will spend this year – going to be a quiet one – mulling over. Before all of the excitement happened, things were just a little bit shitty. My office closed down and most of my team was laid off, but I was kept on and had the privilege of working from home all winter / heading to LA every 6 weeks or so.

That was fun until my dog, Tyler, had to go through two ACL surgeries on his back legs, complete with PTO exercises and weekly water treadmills. And then I crashed my motorcycle, and while I escaped with only a busted finger and damaged knee, it meant that I was sitting out of most of my winter sports and activities.

But! Then I quit my job and went to India, by way of Vancouver (to visit my mom and sister and to check out some new cocktail bars), Montreal (to visit my friends), Ottawa (to do some business at the embassy), Toronto (to visit more friends), and finally London (to wander the British Museum and leave my computer at my UK office).

India is a place I have been wanting to visit for a long time but have listened as so many people tried (and succeeded!) to dissuade me. This time even I wasn’t sure I was going because I had my bag packed but I still didn’t have the India portion booked (and was still working remotely) when I was 3 weeks into being on the road.

India did not disappoint. Random people approached me daily to tell me that I have a good heart and that I’m a lucky one – don’t I know it! I was able to spend the day with an elephant and fed her banana sandwiches to her heart’s content, rode a camel who tried to still a kiss while I got a selfie, showed videos of my dog playing in the snow to young boys in the desert while we drank chai and listened to the sand blow around outside, wandered down to the “back” end of the Taj Mahal where I hung out with security guards / ate free dinner at a temple and was ultimately coaxed out into the boat that takes women home from the temple, so I could see the Taj Mahal at sunset from the water (stunning but even better were my new friends who chatted with me as if we spoke the same language and hugged and kissed me like we were old friends after a crossing that maybe took 8 minutes). And then in Varanasi I met a friend who, after the mother Ganges festival, took me on a tour of the “hidden” places – an ashram of gurus, a secret temple to Durga and finally a “ruined” temple in the abandoned palace that looks over the Ganges which one will find (after crawling through the broken door and through corridors I wouldn’t have attempted on my own) is still very much in use and has regular visitors. Plus so many other amazing bits that will stay with me always.

For the rest of the summer, I spent as many days in the garden or outside with the dogs as I could before I headed out again for about 5 weeks, riding my motorcycle through Washington, Oregon and BC (Cascadia, yo!) and then Arkansas (!!!), visiting friends and family. And only then did I tuck in and start looking for a job, landing at Nordstrom just before it was time to back up again and head to Ecuador (a trip booked a loooooong time ago) where I rode a motocycle through the Andes, dove with marine iguanas, hammerhead sharks, and Mola mola, then camped out in the Amazon for almost a week with monkeys and giant river otters and an insane amount of tropical birds.

Wishing you all the best and lots of love to you and yours for the next roll around the arbitrary calendar! 😘 Happy New Year!

29.12.17

Missed a few due to being on an incredible adventure in Ecuador, so in turn, this is going to be a bit of a massive update (and at the same time just the tip of the iceberg).

What was Beautiful:

Just before we left, my Flamenco teacher organized a studio show to showcase her students. I was grateful to be part of it but the advanced students blew my mind with their grace and skill.

Then we flew to Quito and drank in the colonial architecture – including a Gothic cathedral with Ecuadorian armadillos, marine iguanas, crocodiles, pumas and monkeys in place of gargoyles and a Jesuit church basically covered in gold – sat in the square, surrounded on all sides by mountains – drinking mochaccinos and people-watching. In a way, it doesn’t feel new because I’ve been to quite a few Latin capitals at this point but it really gives you the opportunity to dig into the details and difference and I love that.

Our hotel was an old school hacienda with a well (!!!) in the courtyard outside our room and beautiful wooden beams throughout, local handicrafts put in use / displayed everywhere.

From there we rented bikes and I found out upon arrival that I had been upgraded to a Husquavarna 701 – truly a beautiful machine. I wasn’t all that worried about not being able to touch the ground until much later when I ended up stalled in a steep uphill curve (in sneakers, in the rain 🙄) but the combination of grace and power in that motorcycle is something I personally aspire to.

The Galapagos islands were as amazing as promised and I delighted in my first sightings of Mola Mola sunfish and playing with marine iguanas in the surf, as well as spending more time with hammerheads and various other sharks.

And finally, we headed down river to Napo Wildlife Center in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This was an add-on leg and neither of us expected it to be the highlight but we loved the Kichwa Anangu community, the incredible diversity of the plants / animals / insects, etc. , a chance to practice different camera techniques and learning about all the various species in the area.

We brought the audio recorder to Ecuador so even when it wasn’t in use I was on the lookout for new sounds and that made me experience the boat, the rainforest and even the airport hotel in a new way.

The full list of wildlife sightings is:

  • Frigatebird Various Finches
  • Blue-footed Boobies
  • Red-footed boobies
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Flightless Cormorant
  • Agamie Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Black Vulture
  • Snail Kite
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Hoatzin – beautiful, but very common where we were
  • Greater Ani
  • Short-Tailed Swift
  • Neotropical Palm Swift
  • Ringed Kingfisher
  • White-throated Toucan
  • Grey Antbird
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Crested Oropendola – beautiful song and neat nests
  • Yellow-Rumped Cacique
  • Blue-grey Taninger
  • Brown-Black Grosbeak
  • Common Squirrel Monkey – had a neat interaction with this one
  • White-fronted Capuchin
  • Black Cayman
  • Sea lions
  • Mola mola (!!!!!)
  • Scalloped Hammerheads (!!!!!)
  • Galapagos Shark
  • Silky Shark
  • Galapagos Bullhead Shark – found only in the Galapagos
  • Torpedo Ray – rare, and found only in the Galapagos
  • Eagle Ray
  • Stingray
  • Marine Iguanas (!!!!!) – found only on one side of one island in the Galapagos
  • Yellow puffer
  • Box puffer
  • Mexican hogfish
  • Harlequin Wrasse
  • Parrotfish
  • Barberfish
  • Sea turtle
  • Common Dolphin
  • Red-lipped batfish
  • Octopus
  • Spotted Moray Eel
  • Shrimp
  • Nudibranch
  • Crabs
  • Line-spotted fish
  • Damselfish

What I’m Grateful for:
My amazing flamenco teacher, Ana Montes, who has suffered through trying to teach me how to clap and walk, amongst other basic things that have suddenly become important.

Being on this Trip of a Lifetime to explore Quito, Otavalo, volcanoes, the Galapagos and a bit of the Amazon.

My new job, that has paid me for all of this vacationing, even though I’ve only just started.

What made me Laugh:
Pictures of (my) dogs, children in the market, children at the flamenco afternoon, river otters, monkeys, my own dog and cat monkeys being super excited to have us home.

What I’ve been up to:
Dancing, travelling through Ecuador, crossing the equator!, trying to remember my Spanish, holding space.

What I’m reading this week:

Radio Handbook Manifesto, to try and learn a bit about podcasting.

Celebrate your accomplishments. Remember to look back as well as forward.

How American Women Helped Win World War II in the Wake of Pearl Harbor

Using star maps to identify whale sharks.

Patagonia and REI have posted about Trump’s decision to reduce the size of the public land allocation in Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante parks. Tragic stuff but it feels like just another drip in the ocean during this administration.

And speaking of lost land, Ecuador is drilling for oil on edge of the pristine rainforest in Yasuni. At the Guardian. 😩

And speaking of the Amazon, I fell into several rabbit holes learning about the people; Uncontacted tribes of the AmazonAmazon AwakeningInto the Amazon (a photo essay) and what felt like all of Wade Davis‘ writings and half of Wikipedia. 400 indigenous groups live here.

Why Birds Matter also proved more interesting to me after looking at birds for a week.

Plus two actual books that were incredible; Yiddish for Pirates and the Orenda, and a LOT of poetry.

and Watching:

Islands of Change Galapagos. My dive master is featured in this episode as he is one of the local success stories of a fisherman converted to ecotourism and guiding.

and Listening to

What “namaste” really means. At the Allusionist podcast.

 

25.11.18


What was Beautiful:

Grey sky stretching out to grey waves crashing against grey sand beaches… it’s weather that only a Pacific Nor’wester family could love but we do. So much.

What I’m Grateful for:

This is a big one since it was Thanksgiving weekend in the United States but for me not a tough one. I am grateful every day for these dogs that get me up in the morning, get me walking even on rainy days, get a laugh out of me even when I feel like I could clobber them….but also my sister who is the most amazing person I know, and our proximity to the sea, our ability to come down here once or twice a year and re-connect to our souls (human program) and / or to our joy (dog program).

Additionally this year I am grateful that I have started a new job at Nordstrom, and in spite of now working in the retail industry, they were gracious enough to gift me this time off as well as for our upcoming trip to Ecuador.  And I am especially grateful that when Tyler decided to bolt down the beach, some combination of my being able to keep up with him in Wellies and he stopping to smell the dead sea creatures meant that he didn’t run all the way to California.

What made me Laugh:

Fawlty Towers is the easy one, as my sister and I watched almost the whole season last night and found ourselves holding our guts pretty frequently, but also dogs running on the beach for all they’re worth.

What I’m creating and doing:

Before we left for the weekend, I started a new job at Nordstrom, made a coffee scrub and a couple of face spritzers, bathed the dogs, ordered a bunch of stuff for various parts of our upcoming expedition and then got us all to a place of resting and not thinking so much.

What I’m reading this week:

I picked up 2 volumes of “Whiskey Words & a Shovel” poetry by r.h.Sin as well as Felicity by Mary Oliver and while I didn’t get through all of them it was the perfect pile to leaf through while curled up on the couch at the cabin, raindrops pelting the windows and the sea crashing, continuously,  just a little ways off.

Travel planning and Traipsing through Canada

Current status: hanging out with Kim Crawford on the couch, listening to Spotify and mucking about on the internet. Not all that different from a typical Tuesday night except that I am in an Airbnb in Ottawa and there are no dogs.

I’ve quit facebook, quit my job and taken leave of my husband and animals and home to travel to India and Nepal but I lined up a bit of “practice” traveling, wrapping up work remotely and visiting friends. The day before I left a friend told someone I was off to India the next day and I had to explain a bit ruefully that I wasn’t going to be in India for a little while still. Leg #1 was Seattle to White Rock, leg #2 was to Vancouver, leg #3 Montreal, leg #4 Ottawa, leg #5 Toronto, leg #6 London (with a layover in Iceland) and then Mumbai from where I will make my way north to Delhi (as well as east and west and a bit farther north, and finally home through Hong Kong. I can write that now because although I’ve been on the road for 10 days, I only just booked my flight home.

It’s kind of exciting, really. As a project manager and therefore usually a super-planner. I often make reservations months in advance but this trip I am kind of making things up as I go along and that has meant some scrambling (for visas, passport renewal, giving my company enough notice, figuring out outfits that will work across cultures and climates and landscapes, etc.) but it turns out that most of these things can be done in a rush and / or online – something that I am finding out at a whole new level now that I have lost my wallet.

New credit and debit cards overnighted to me? Don’t mind if I do. New green card and Nexus rushed to me so I can get back in the country later? Yes please.

I’m consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler so this is an embarrassing and rookie mistake but I had an errand at the embassy where they require you to bring no bags, sunnies or cell phones so I was literally carrying everything in my pockets, in the pouring rain, in a country that I feel safe in so I wasn’t really on my guard. And so I’m grateful for these weeks of practice travel while I ramp up and get my sh– together.

One gets old and set in one’s ways and even in my home town I was glad of free public Wifi, Google maps and friendly bartenders. In Montreal even more so. as I spent a good portion of the week dealing with rudeness, apathy and ineptitude as they tried to fix my notebook. In Ottawa the response to me losing my wallet was “not my problem” or “I need to get paid” but I’m sure it will not be long in India before I’m laughing at how infuriated I have been about the noise and construction and lack of WiFi, customer service and kindness. It’s tough out here in the world.

Travel is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. That is how we grow.

Instead of grumbling, here are some of the many new and / or cherished experiences I’ve had this week:

VANCOUVER:
Sorting through all kinds of old nostalgia and photos with my mom, a great sleep with her tiny dog curled up in my armpit (as compared with my mediocre sleep most nights cramming between my two enormous, snoring bulldogs), a ride to the bus stop on the corner (literally 3 blocks away) so she could see me off, the ahhhh-mazing Apple customer service and quality program fixing my laptop on the road – for free, high quality delicious and sustainable sushi at Hapa Izakaya, inventive vegetarian Chinese comfort food at Bao Bei, delicious and creative cocktails in beautiful rooms at Nightingale and The Botanist, and finally a ride to the airport from my sister.

MONTREAL:
Being met at the airport by my lovely friend who I’ve not seen in a while, who fed me all kinds of delicious food and wine, snuggles and kisses and playtime with the second loaner dog of the trip, happening across an amazing Chagall exhibit at the art gallery and another Amazonian one at the archeology museum, surprising sunshine allowing for wine and burrata on a terasse with a good book, more wine and deliciousness at Vin Papillon, and then even more wine and more deliciousness at Nora Grey, teaching the loaner dog to waltz, brunch at the spectacular Satay Bros. and finally coming across an urban “cabane à sucre” in a park.

OTTAWA:
Arriving at my Airbnb to find it so charming and lovely and heart-warming that I didn’t even want to leave – and that was before I saw that my hostess had left me some chocolate, ducking in out of the rain at a cosy pub to have some seriously good pizza and beer.

TORONTO:
Having said credit cards arrive over night – with a photo that my husband had included of him and all of our animals, catching up with more good friends I haven’t seen in a while, delicious cocktails and dinner at Byblos, mind-blowingly amazing peach beer at Momofuku (and lunch to go with), the availability and ease of hailing cabs, interesting and sumptuous flavours at Banu Iranian restaurant and cafes with good coffee that haven’t minded me hiding out from hours from the rain. And tomorrow we dance! I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.

I am feeling very loved, cared for and connected…and this is another reason one must travel – so that we can spend time connecting with people in person. As I have learned from working from home this winter, video chat and IM just don’t cut it.

Finally, being away from home is an opportunity to appreciate the things one normally takes for granted. I am so happy to have my high quality pack / boots / Goretex with me, my Canadian passport, to be free of allergies and allergies and have a relatively good ability to adapt, to be hosted by so many lovely people (both because it helps my travel budget but also because it’s a new perspective on how others live, not to mention extra time to catch up). Conversely I have loved and needed the downtime in between staying with friends, appreciated the flexibility to work remotely…and of course to have enough health and wealth and courage to be able to take this trip in the first place.

Next stop: Londontown.

City of Angels

Los Angeles

I’ve been down to LA a few times this year and seems like I’ll probably be back again. At first I was dismayed but I have found myself loving it. It’s a cool city.


Chicago!

Steller 2

For my birthday, I was trying to find the balance of a place my friends to come to to celebrate with me, and a place I hadn’t been to yet. After much waffling, I picked Chicago and figured we would dine at Alinea. That didn’t turn out and it ended up being only myself, my sister Stacie, our friend Farren and my husband Matt but also – the best birthday trip ever. I can’t wait to go back.


I’m going to Memphis! (and Nashville)

Junkyard 2

I put together a Steller story Stacie’s and my trip to Tennessee. It’s impossible to capture how much trouble many adventures we can get into in photographs but needless to say – memories were made, adventures were had, we’ll probably have to go back at some point and we will definitely have to go on another motorcycle trip. That was super fun.