I enjoy receiving inspiration and noticing the spiritual bread crumbs that come from surprising and yet, ordinary places. An advertisement/invite arrived in the mail the other day from the local Tommy Bahama store kicking off their Spring Collection. Ciao Italia!

It was just an over-sized postcard with a picture and a few words ….the way postcards are supposed to be; Compact, specific and quick.

Hey! I’m thinking of you and I’m someplace Fabulous!

I like Tommy Bahama as a brand. The stores are interesting, they normally smell good and make me dream of being someplace distant, relaxing and lavish. They sell us on ‘the dream’ and I appreciate that. I enjoy feeling transported if only for a short time.

This particular spring collection is based on a trip to Italy. Beautiful linen fabrics, casual elegance, easy style. What really hit me was the phrase they used on the postcard: il dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

Talk about transporting…immediately the phrase conjured images of lounging in a lovely resort (wearing beautiful clothes of course), strolling through cobblestone streets, sipping wine, watching beautiful sunsets, or chatting with friends and having no plans for days.

As an accomplishment driven, responsibility-phile, solo entrepreneur, I sometimes dream of doing nothing and how sweet that would feel, and then I immediately dismiss the notion. When I was younger with less responsibilities and more years ahead of me than behind me, I would actually allow myself time to do nothing. Now I even limit my naps to 20 minutes!

I know… intellectually… that life is short and there is validity in doing nothing. Experts agree it is extremely productive and necessary to recharge and refuel our minds and bodies by having fun and just relaxing.We come back to our tasks more focused, alert and creative.

Wow….Somewhere along the adulthood path I got caught in the “doing” cycle and became…dare I say it…task oriented and un-fun.

The Italians have the right idea….long lunches, naps every day and knowing summers are for a long lazy holiday.

Planning nothing into our daily or weekly schedules should be a priority. It should also be taught in school along with other real life skills (but that’s a whole other blog post).

Unlearning habits such as overworking and constant doing are important, as is learning to set boundaries. We (okay, me) must begin to ignore the voice of Mr. Guilt and instead embrace our Italian friend’s mantra,” il dolce far niente.”

After all, why should we only look relaxed and fabulous while on holiday? Why should we only enjoy the sweetness of nothing while on vacation?

Send yourself a postcard. A quick, compact reminder that now is the time to enjoy some sweet nothing time. Pull out your Tommy Bahama ‘vacation’ clothes, do nothing, have some fun and say Ciao Italia!

To the sweet life!

My husband and I feed the birds in our backyard. We have hummingbirds, gold finches, house finches, doves, black birds (many varieties), robins and other various “brown” birds. We are easily entertained watching their activity and marvel at how fascinated we are at something as simple as backyard birding.

Of course it isn’t inexpensive to feed them as they are hungry little things. I read somewhere a long time ago that birds eat at least 10 times their weight every day. I believe it! And then there is the issue of the pigeons that want to take part in the feeding frenzy and are messy, noisy and most unwelcome. Did I mention the neighbor’s cat that became an excellent hunter and took great sport in targeting “our” birds? Thank goodness he seems to have moved on, he brought out my mean mama self, bad language and all. Oh and the bird pooh and seed residual that surround the feeding areas are not aromatic at all. Lastly, we also have a few casualties that smash into the windows in their gluttonous confusion. Hence, the little birdie graveyard by the small maple tree. Mother Mary oversees the sacred ground.

There is always a price to be paid. No free lunch and all that. The fact is it is worth it. We enjoy them and they enjoy the dining sanctuary (minus the cat and windows). Our fountains in the backyard are as much for them as us, and they take full advantage by drinking and bathing constantly. The Robin likes to get totally soaked to the point I doubt he will be able to fly. The little house finches are like motor boats as they work to clean themselves. The doves are timid, the hummers are brave and the pigeons a nuisance.

Some like to eat off the finch socks, others are ground feeders and the hummers have their own liquid feeders. A year ago I decided I wanted to call in the Orioles. My brother has them in his yard about ten miles away. I am a bit competitive. Orioles are very pretty. I thought if he has them I should be able to bring them to my yard. I researched what they like to eat; oranges and sugar-water similar to hummingbird food. They make feeders specifically for Orioles that have a wider opening to drink the nectar. I bought one, made the nectar and put it out. Nothing all summer. Well, that isn’t true. The hummers loved it. Okay, so, all was not lost at least the hummers have another feeder.

I kept thinking how do I get the word out to all the Orioles that I know are out there, but I just don’t see? I sent them telepathic messages. No response. I kept the food out all year. I thought about them, read about them on my Android’s bird app. I played their songs from my phone app. I waited.

I noticed early this spring that some of the little brown birds started drinking from one of my hummingbird feeders. Interesting. Sugar addicts? Hmmm. Then a couple of weeks later I heard an unusual chatter and there was a female Oriole brazing her way to the feeder! She was noisy, on alert, and claiming her space. She is a little skittish but she drinks her dinner.

It took a year but it worked! We now have the male and the female Oriole dining with us. They aren’t the same variety that my brother has…so you know my work here is not done. My friend gave me a new Oriole feeder for my birthday this week. You place oranges on it and hang it in the backyard. I am fairly certain the ants and wasps will love it but I am also hopeful it will call in those beautiful black and orange Orioles my brother has in his yard. I may have to employ my patience as it could take another year to get the message out…Oranges at the Joiners!

I have begun to identify the birds by their songs and chatter. The Red-Winged Black birds have a whistle that is alluring. The long-tailed black birds come in loud like a motorcycle gang. The little brown birds come in gangs and are loud and noisy as they feed their young. The Goldfinches have a sweeter song and are quiet in comparison. The hummers click and buzz. The Mourning Doves coo their soft song as they sit and watch the activity. The Robins sing every morning during the spring and summer. I call them Morning Birds. Before sunrise they call up the sun….loud, clear and resonate. It works…that sun comes up every single morning. It makes me smile.

 

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Over the past few weeks I have spoken with both friends and family who have travel plans in place over the next couple of months. Some are going to exotic places like South Africa, India, Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Thailand. Others have Hawaii, Italy and Cabo San Lucas on their schedules. I enjoy hearing of their plans and the excitement that lights up their face as they share the details and research of their trip. I also love to hear about their trip upon their return home. The images they paint from their stories I find as interesting as their photos. Don’t get me wrong the photos are cool but the stories are their experiences!

Some are going in groups, others with friends or family, and others as a “single” while participating in a group tour. I know folks who like to bike or hike through regions of Europe, others who like to take River Cruises and others Motor Coach Tours. I admire them all. It takes planning, tenacity and an adventurous spirit to travel.

I think there is a difference between vacationing and traveling. Vacationing to me is about relaxing somewhere, playing and being in safe and reliable environs. This takes on many vistas…camping for some, at the beach for others or perhaps Disneyland. Traveling on the other hand is stretching our boundaries, seeing new vistas, meeting new people and exposing ourselves to different cultures. It can also be immersing ourselves in history, art, spiritual/religious pilgrimages or researching our family’s ancestry. While we certainly can use vacation time to travel and we can have fun and play while traveling, there is a different energy around travel than there is vacationing. I think both are necessary to feed and renew the soul.

Travel gives us an education unlike any other and helps us to be better citizens of the world and to appreciate home. As I see it, when we travel we become guests of the countries, cities and regions that we visit. We observe the culture, landscape, architecture and people and experience life from their point of view and existence. There are colors, smells, tastes, sounds and climates that are specific to each place we visit and we bring the memory of these back home with us. Travel of any kind expands our minds and opens our thinking, our compassion and personal insights. We are different when we come home, our life experience has changed and grown. We begin to frame how we live in the world differently.

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Vacationing also changes us. It renews us, gives us new vitality and resets our fun meters. It reconnects us with our inner selves and with our family or friends we might be traveling with. Vacationing gives us time to vacate the stale and stagnant mindsets and physical weariness we have fallen into through everyday life. It mixes things up and lets us enjoy different foods and drink. It gives us time to rest and be “on vacation.”

Most people find planning the travel as enjoyable as the actual going. We set our itineraries, begin to make arrangements and reservations while engaging our travel or vacation mindset months in advance. The planning is fun, gives us something to look forward to and offers interesting conversation with those that have already explored our travel destination.

Planning and traveling are exciting but what I try to remind myself of everyday is to pay attention to the beauty of where I live. It is easy to forget or not see the beauty of our own backyard (literally and figuratively). I know the sunsets in Hawaii are exquisite but so are the ones outside my home. The wildflowers blooming in the fields, the trees beginning to blossom, the rolling green hills and the clouds hovering over the foothills are just as pretty here as they are in Europe.

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Living in Northern California I consider myself extremely lucky. People pay thousands of dollars to come visit our area from all over the world and I live with its beauty and bounty every day. I bet wherever you live, you could say the same thing. And, while we all enjoy travel and vacation the simple truth is there is no place like home.

2d5e15dda3fee4120d88db625acfd38cHappy trails!

Let’s talk eyeglasses. I am a single lens girl. That holds true for both my vision and my focus.  I admire people who can wear bifocals or trifocals or those who can listen to music, watch television and read or work at the same time. I just can’t do it. I can get away with bifocals for certain situations but overall I am a single lens, single focus girl.

As I have aged this eyeglass situation has led to other areas of change in my life. For instance, I used to carry a small purse. I liked the shoulder bag style that had a wallet included and allowed for efficient organization of my essentials. Now that I carry an arsenal of eye ware with me, I have adapted to a larger bag.  It is cumbersome, heavy and feels a bit conspicuous. Actually, it feels like my grandmother’s purse. I am just not used to carrying a large bag. Shopping for a new purse is also a chore. I take out all of the filler paper and make sure there is room for my three to four sets of glasses, wallet and other female necessities.  Yes, necessities.  No longer do I have a cute compact to check my make-up. Instead I carry a 10X magnifying mirror (a whole other subject to write about another day), so I can check my lipstick and make sure I have no food in my teeth. I seem to have become more conscious of my appearance as I have aged. As they say, this aging thing isn’t for wimps especially when magnified 10X!

When I am out shopping I wear my prescription sunglasses for as long as possible. They are big, have my distance prescription in them and offer me the best vision experience. The problem is they are dark and not suited for most indoor lighting. This means I eventually need to switch to either my bifocals or my distance glasses and my computer/reading glasses. Walking with the bifocals can be a problem and switching back and forth between distance and reading is a hassle.  My hands, pockets and purse are full of eyeglasses. I can make myself nauseous fairly quickly with all the back and forth.

I have to say it is exhausting. If you can’t see clearly your brain just doesn’t work as well and you can become tired fairly quickly. I can also get confused as to which pair I have on until I realize everything is a blur! I can even panic as I head back outside when I can’t find my sunglasses, until I realize they are on top of my head! My husband once took a picture of me with my sunglasses on the top of my head, my reading glasses on and my distance glasses on my chin as I was looking at purses!

My dining out experience has also changed. I sit down and promptly pull out my eyeglasses and place them on the table. Reading the menu and eating requires one set, looking around the restaurant another set, looking across the table can sometimes be a third set. Getting it right isn’t easy. I go back and forth during the entire meal.  Without clear vision my brain fades pretty fast which has nothing to do with the glass of wine I am drinking! 

Another issue with all of these different pairs of glasses is expense… and fashion. It would be great to change my eye glasses to fit my different attire. This is cost prohibitive. When I was younger and all I needed were reading glasses I could have an upstairs pair, downstairs pair and pair for my purse and it was somewhat affordable. Now that I need 3 different pairs with different lenses I can no longer justify upstairs, downstairs and purse options.  So, you make a choice based on how you are feeling the day you pick out your glasses and then have to live with the darn things for a year or more.

I have only owned a couple of pairs I really loved. One got broken and scratched fairly early on and the others I lost while on vacation.  My husband has also lost and broken several pair. They are fragile little beauties that tempt you with their beckoning to be removed and placed down in the most inauspicious of places.

I rarely look at myself with my glasses on, and I don’t like my picture taken with my glasses on. On the rare occasions that I do see myself with my glasses on I exclaim “Oh what the hell was I thinking when I picked these out!” Of course, I feel guilty about the money spent on the darn things, so I just keep wearing them even though I might look like a fashion “don’t.”

Now, I don’t want to sound unappreciative. I am very grateful for the ability to see because of all these spectacles. However, I wish I didn’t need them, but since I do, I wish I was one of those people who looked great in glasses. I would love to be able to wear progressive trifocals or contact lenses and be tres chic. Instead it all just feels like I am a spectacle.

I recently read a blog post from Matthew Taylor at Theflyblog.com regarding mentors. His post asked the question “Where are the Mentors?” Initially, my reaction to his post and to most reader comments posted was agreement with their position: Mentors are difficult to find and seem to have a bit of an attitude. I still don’t disagree but upon further reflection, I agree differently.

As a good post will do, it made me think about the subject. I pondered the different mentors I have had in my life. There were those that I entered into a student/mentor relationship with formally and there were those that probably had no idea they were a mentor to me.

The latter group, were people I admired, looked up to and who seemed to be successful in their life or career path. I observed them, emulated them and learned from their actions and behavior. I analyzed their decisions and tried to understand their thought processes. They taught me many lessons and gave me good tools. I liked them and enjoyed being around them.

My formal mentors were very different. I had to prove to them my ability or skill, that I was willing to do the homework they assigned, that I was committed to the work itself, genuine in my desire and willing to invest in the process. This meant there was an exchange of either money or work for their knowledge and time. That is the rub for most students. The exchange rate may be too high.

My mentors shared with me their information, skills, strengths, beliefs and stories of success and failure. I also experienced their weaknesses, vulnerabilities, flaws and bad behavior. They put me through my paces, made high demands and at times gave little guidance. All of these things taught me immeasurable lessons and gave me real tools to work with. They weren’t easy lessons to learn but I was a willing student. It was worth every cent I paid and sacrifice I made.

Good mentors have strong boundaries and are successful, busy people. They are also some of the most giving folks I know. They get asked constantly to give of their time, talent and treasure and they do so willingly. They are passionate about their success and love to share their passion with others.

They also get asked all the time about how they achieved their success. Just like the author Matthew Taylor mentions at the beginning of his article who was asked, “How do you get a book published?” Her response was not well received by the hopeful new authors in the audience. It was, “Write the best book you can and get an agent.”

The author’s response was succinct and accurate. Did she offer up her agent’s number or tell the audience the secret to getting published? No, but in her response is the answer. It is hard work, perseverance, commitment and determination.

My father in law is a highly successful businessman. People ask him all the time how he became so successful. He willingly tells them. When asked why he gives the information so freely, he offers up this response: Very, very few will act on the information. Even fewer are willing to take the risks necessary to succeed.

As humans in this rat race of a world, we are all looking for the magic formula, the easy way to accomplish a goal, or the key that will unlock our instant success. Perhaps life teaches us that the magic is in the process. So maybe a better question might be; are you willing to take a risk, invest in your work and be a dedicated student? The old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” I believe to be true.

Pilgrimage: Journey to a sacred place.

I was inspired by an email message I received from Kayleen Asbro, about a pilgrimage she was embarking on to the caves of La Baume, France to finish her dissertation on Mary Magdalene. Kayleen’s in depth research and teachings on Mary Magdalene are extraordinary, enlightening and life altering. They are, in themselves a pilgrimage.

Being a pilgrim, we travel to a place where we are unfamiliar and face aspects of ourselves that can be uncomfortable for us.  On a pilgrimage we can also be brought home to our soul or discover unanswered questions that move us ever foreward. We can gather information about the world, each other and ourselves and process that information in new ways that both stretch us and identify us.  We embody the information from the geographical and spiritual experiences and they shift us. We begin to see differently, hear differently and when we look upon the familiar it seems somewhat unfamiliar. We have gained wisdom, understanding and have expanded ourselves.

When was the last time you took a pilgrimage? Perhaps, as Kayleen suggested in her email, it is more about our attitude about a trip than the actual trip. She asks, when you travel do you go on a vacation or a pilgrimage?  Even going to the grocery store can be a pilgrimage when we go with a different mindset or outlook, it can create an entirely different experience. There are times when a good book, movie or TV program can take you on an unexpected pilgrimage. Places of self-discovery are all around us, if only we allow ourselves to hear and answer the call.

My husband and I are currently watching the popular TV program Downton Abbey. This has been a pilgrimage of sorts for us, both to our own individual English Ancestry and to the aspects of human nature in all of its complexity. We seem, with each episode, to delve deeper into the foundations of the characters, resonating with the time, place and cultural carryover that flows through our own family history. Strong, stoic people who have a deep responsibility to the land, family and community whom experience embattled relationships that shift and change through the course of life. These are all uncomfortably and beautifully demonstrated and experienced as we journey with them, reviewing and stirring over our own families, responsibilities and choices. It is the long view that makes the journey bearable.

Next month my husband and I will be vacationing with friends. We will visit a new place with an open mind and fresh set of eyes. It will also be a pilgrimage. A time of rediscovering our relaxed selves, our playful sides, our friends and our relationship with sea, sand and stars. Ahh, my body takes a deep sigh and says yes. That is definitely a sacred journey.

For the traveler by John O’Donohue (Irish poet)

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

Argo Inspiration

I went to see the movie Argo last night with my husband. It was a high quality film all the way around the acting, directing, cinematography, casting were all great. It had me on the edge of my seat most of the movie.  It was intense and real.

I was 23 when this hostage crisis happened. I lived in a small apartment with my son and had a great job. Overall life was good for me. I remember the gas crunch and having to slow down to 55 miles per hour on the highway and being asked to turn our thermostats down or up depending on the season. I also remember watching on television about the hostages and becoming truly aware for the first time as an adult about foreign political policy.

As I was watching the movie I realized my memories of the news reports and outcomes of the crisis had faded and I found myself anxious. I looked at the cars, clothing, hairstyles and yellow ribbons and my memories began to stir. I realized that as an observer of the crisis watching on a tiny 12” television from my little apartment, the magnitude of the crisis didn’t always translate. Still, I considered myself a concerned citizen and I fully remember having discussions with family and friends about world politics. This crisis led me to vote for the first time in a national election. I have voted ever since.

Yesterday watching the movie and witnessing on the big screen the out of control mobs, the hunting down of US Citizens and those that would help them ,how the  hostages were treated, the courage, bravery, and fear of so many people who were involved, rattled me.  It is so very easy to stir up a mob and create irrational, reactionary, impassioned acts against others.

In a very small way, yet with similar mob mentality, I watch this happen frequently on Social Media sites. People make statements or claims without having facts or make accusations or attack someone online for a different opinion or view. You can feel the venomous angry words as they were typed, shouting down those they disagree with. Others just outright lie and put out erroneous information looking to stir up a mob of angry followers to promote their own agenda.

Here in the US, we live in a society of acceptance and open debate with law-abiding citizens. Are we perfect? No. However by our definition as a nation we are supposed to be indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. When we allow anyone to begin to divide us by religion, economic status, ethnicity, ideology or demand that others think as we do or else, then we have become nothing more than angry mob makers, pawns to those that seek to divide in order to conquer and grab power or at the minimum squelch the opposition.

I believe there was something good about saying the Pledge of Allegiance everyday when we went to school. It was a reminder of whom we are as a nation and how we pledge our allegiance to not just the flag as a symbol of our country but to the principles and ideals on which this country was founded and the people who inhabit our country and make it great. We are citizens who are responsible to ourselves, each other and our country. It is our responsibility to remember that we are one nation and that division only empowers those that seek to diminish others for their own empowerment. Responsibility takes effort, constant effort but the results are very worthwhile. The results are our children’s children will inherit a free land filled with a responsible citizenry.

It is time to stop being lazy in our thinking, in our actions, in our relationships and with our words. The world is a fragile and turbulent place and freedom should not be taken for granted but rather should be cherished, protected and given our allegiance.

Perhaps it is time to get back to basics and the Golden Rule. It is time to begin again to respect and honor our differences, but also remember our shared vision of freedom and love of country. I know that this is a bit like Pollyanna in my thinking but I am willing to try. As Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I am willing to be mindful and to exercise mindfulness towards our freedoms as I go through my days.

Bravo to all involved in Argo. You inspired me and made me remember my life is very good. I am grateful and lucky to be here.

Okay, I am going to tell you right up front that I am middle-aged (55) and am at that place I never thought I would be…starting to act and (Oh My God!) think like my parents! I find myself thinking about how life used to be and making comparisons to today’s world. Yep, I am getting older.

On my Facebook page yesterday someone posted the video clip of the new Carl’s Jr. Pulled Pork Burger commercial.  I call it Burger Porn.  Now, I am not saying it is a bad commercial but I think it is rather lazy and inappropriate. Not much cleverness to it at all.

To summarize, two young, very attractive, scantily clad women are grilling food and making what I will call “soft porn moves” both towards one another and with the food they are cooking, while two young men (who are fully dressed) are watching from across the way. Is it offensive?  Yes. Does it get your attention?  Yes. Did I remember the brand? Yes. So, on an advertising level it works. However, mothers and wives are not going to be happy and will probably go else where when choosing where to spend their fast food dollars. (As a matter a fact the Facebook posting was from a mom who wanted to boycott Carl’s Jr.) Young teen girls and older girls will want to emulate these seductive lasses so they can get their fair attention from young men.  Not such a great way for young women to get attention, at least in my book.

It also says a lot about our culture and just how low companies will go to get their market share of the fast burger buck. Overall it is offensive and at the very least inappropriate for a TV ad. Parents try to monitor what programming their kids watch and now they have to start filtering commercials, as if the job of parenting isn’t difficult enough. Don’t get me wrong I know that there are probably more offensive content out there on video games, movies, high school locker rooms and cable TV. I am just amazed that this commercial was pitched to a board of directors and executives who probably have kids of their own and all of them said; “Yeah!  This is a great ad!  Put it out there and let’s make some money!”  How very disappointing.

Right now there is the AT&T commercial on TV where the goat kicks the guy’s lunch over the cliff and his friends catch it on video via their cell phones.  I think this ad is very funny.  It makes me laugh for no good reason. Having said that, I couldn’t remember the brand or what they were trying to sell.  My son, who is in his thirties, doesn’t like the ad. He did remember the brand and what they were trying to sell though, (a cell phone that does video and can take a still picture at the same time).  My guess, I wasn’t their demographic.  So for the right demographic it was effective even if they don’t like the commercial. At least it wasn’t offensive or pornographic.

Now is when I am going to sound like my parents….When I was younger, there used to be something called a jingle (a good slogan or tag line also works), it went along with the radio or television ad and stuck in your head…forever!  I can still tell you the product associated with jingles and slogans from my childhood.  The jingles live on even after some of the products are no longer in existence.  Tried and true the jingle/slogan works.  Call them old-fashioned, corny or goofy but damn, they are effective! Quite frankly, I don’t mind goofy and most of these ads make us feel good or comforted and not dirty like we were watching something we weren’t suppose to see.

I appreciate when an ad or commercial is clever, can pull at my heart-strings, make me laugh or sing its jingle. I think at that point the ad people have done a great job.  I can say that I also appreciate a comedian that makes me laugh by being clever, witty, causes me to think and doesn’t use foul language.  I think using foul language as a comedian and using sex to sell products is just sheer laziness. Come on folks!  Get creative. Create something that inspires multiple generations to purchase your product don’t just sell sex to teenagers. That’s easy.

A trip down memory lane:

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz oh what a relief it is…..Alka Seltzer to the rescue!

My bologna has a first name its OSCAR…..

Double your pleasure, Double your fun, Double mint, Double mint Double mint Gum….

444-5555, That’s the number to the Classified…..

I’d walk a mile for a Camel…

Have it your way…at Burger King?

Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onion on a sesame seed bun.

10/2 & 4….Dr. Pepper…

Be a Pepper….Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?

You deserve a break today….At McDonald’s

If I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener…

I’d like to buy the world a Coke….

American Express: Don’t leave home without it.

M&M’s melt in your mouth not in your hands.

Got Milk?

Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best.

Calgon….take me away!

Please don’t squeeze the Charmin

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow

You’re in Good Hands with Allstate

Budweiser King of Beers (Love these commercials! Some of my all time fav’s)

Recently, my husband and I went to San Diego for a short business trip. He was there for a conference and I tagged along because San Diego is always a great place to visit and I had a free airline ticket. We were staying across from the convention center in the Gaslamp Quarter. I camped out in our hotel room most of the time working on my book.

When it was time for a break or something to eat I would venture out for a walk. On the back side of the convention center is the Marina District with a view of Coronado Island and the surrounding waterways. A slight breeze, eighty degree weather and boats on the water combined together for the perfect formula to set me into a meditative trance state. It was deliciously relaxing watching all the marina activity. My focus turned to the yachts that were just below my perch from the upper outdoor deck of the convention center. Galileo, Oberon and two others were spectacular sea faring crafts busy with maintenance activity. They sparked my interest enough to drag my husband back later that day to show him.

The Galileo was beautiful, sleek and navy blue. The crew was working to stow their “toys” below deck. They were wiping down all the equipment and then brought a crane up from below to help lift and maneuver the smaller crafts into position for storage. Other crew members were polishing the railing on the aft deck. The ship was flying the flag of Great Britain but all three seemed to be registered in the Cayman Islands.

When I looked up the Galileo online I discovered that according to the website SuperYachtTimes.com……the Picchiotti Galileo G from the Vitruvius series has been designed and built according to Ice Class classification rules for navigation along the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago….Now there is something I had never considered. A private vessel purchased and used to go through the Northwest Passage.

I am a land dweller and come from generations of farmers living in the valley flat lands. I love to look at bodies of water (rivers, lakes and oceans) and enjoy being on the water, but to sail around the world or live on a boat (not at dock in a Marina, but on the sea) is a very different concept to me. Okay there is also the piece about affording this type of vessel that I was trying to wrap my brain around as well. This was all very interesting to me and I was intrigued. Sure, lots of folks have boats they take out for a day, a weekend or short vacation and skip around coastal communities but this is very different from that.

Two yachts down from the Galileo G was the Oberon. This ship looked to me like it was a science oriented craft. It was also beautiful but utilitarian in feel. You could tell this was a work boat. Upon looking the Oberon up online I found this from CharterWorld.com… Oberon is a 50-metre vessel that was built to provide round-the-clock service and support for super yachts and is capable of traveling comfortably at high speeds in almost any sea state, which is possible due to the patented design of her Axe Bow.

Yes, you read that right, this is the support vessel for other big yachts! It carries the food, fuel, toys, other boats and extra crew. My understanding is it can quickly (up to 28 knots) go into port from anywhere and get restocked in any type of waters and hurry on back to the main yacht. Or perhaps if there are repairs that need to be made they are there to support those repairs. It also houses the additional crew members so they can rotate through shifts.

Again, as a land dweller this is not something I had considered. If you are out living on the ocean and traveling around the world you do need additional shifts of crew and tons of supplies. How cool to have your own mini fleet! This vessel is your support and safety net. So not only do you have to be able to afford the first vessel but also the second one and maintenance on them both. I am impressed.

I must admit there is a part of this lifestyle that appeals to me. Not so much being out in the middle of sea during a storm, but seeing the world and all the beautiful coastlines from a ship’s deck, that appeals. Having access to places and scenery that few get to see would be amazing. This type of life takes a special calling, adventurous spirit and skill. I appreciate that there are those that can afford it and those willing to do the work.

I have always loved being exposed to new and different ways of living in the world. This lifestyle and the industry surrounding it are one I had never thought too much about. Seeing these ships on the water, all the activity in the bay and marina and then looking up specifics online gave me a glimpse of a life outside my normal realm.

Our world is amazing, filled with different economies, different peoples with different drives and lifestyles. The boat, sailboat, yacht and super yacht communities provide an industry of ship building, products, jobs, dock locations, storage, transportation and so much more. Because it is out of my sphere I recognize I see it through romantic eyes and have a sense of wonder, awe and appreciation around it. I imagine it can be a difficult life just like any other and as with anything, I know there are trade offs to being on the water. Though, for those that are not land dwellers, it is their home. They accept those trade offs and relish their floating vessels and the bodies of water they float on.

It would be my guess that many visiting the San Diego Marina district experience that same sense of awe. Perhaps like me, they leave with a piqued interest and perhaps a secret dream to be aboard one of these great vessels sailing the seas and exploring exotic locales. Or maybe the lure is just that it is such a different lifestyle than our own and a perception of wealth and the ever elusive easeful life. You know, the grass is always greener and the ocean bluer… In any case, I am grateful for these people, their yachts and the possibility of living a different life and the fact that someone is actually doing it! Bravo!

A few weeks ago my husband and I headed out on a small vacation.  Mercury was retrograde, offering up delays and problems with our travel from the get go.  Between traffic issues getting to the airport and extremely long lines going through airport security, we arrived at the gate with minutes to spare, only to be told our seats had been given away.  This set in motion a day of stand by travel that was tiring and stressful.

Our first stop took us to Los Angeles International Airport. Upon arrival at LAX, I decided to use the lady’s room before we began the next leg of our stand by challenge.  There in the stall, sitting on top of the paper dispenser was a hard bound book.  I took the book outside with me and looked inside to see if the owner had her contact information listed.  It was there, along with her used boarding passes.  Los Angeles was her destination on this part of her journey and she had already left the airport. I left her a phone message and offered to send her the book upon my return home.  I also offered to read her the itinerary and phone numbers she had hand written on a sheet of paper, if she needed them. I could tell by her name, hand writing and information that she was an older lady and it seemed she had traveled to Los Angeles to attend a family wedding. I didn’t want her to stress over the loss of the book or information.

The book traveled with us and as our long day unfolded it was taken in and out of my carry on several times. It struck me that had we not been detoured at the beginning of our trip I would not have found the book.  I knew it was Kismet. Then it occurred to me to document the book’s journey, so when I did return it to the owner, I could include that story along with the book.

The following is the letter I sent along with the book to its owner:

Dear Ruth,

Enclosed is your book, “Heading Out to Wonderful.”  The title seems appropriate since you were heading out to a wonderful wedding in Los Angeles and my husband and I were heading out on a wonderful vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Finding your book in the Los Angeles airport was fortuitous.  We were not supposed to be in Los Angeles that day at all, but circumstances threw our travel plans into disarray. Instead of a quick one stop flight from Sacramento to Albuquerque, we went on an all day, multi airport, multi flight, stand-by adventure that included finding your book.

I have no idea the subject matter of your book, but the title “Heading out to Wonderful” leads one to form optimistic conclusions of life’s journeys.  I can tell you heading out to wonderful and encountering it can be two different things. Life can give us twists and turns that takes us down different roads (or airports) and heads us out in different directions than our original destination or intent. Sometimes this is a great adventure, and other times only a detour that, for whatever reason slows us down and eats our time.

After realizing that you had already left the airport in Los Angeles and that the book would be traveling with us on our journey, I decided to document some of the book’s travels and make it a bit of fun.  Perhaps, the book itself had its own idea of what “Heading out to Wonderful” looked like. Maybe it was adverse to Southern California or knew this was its only chance to see some of our great land. Just in airports alone, it saw Greensboro, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Diego and Sacramento. Then it went via land to Santa Fe, The Puye Cliff Dwellings, Taos, Red River and back to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It visited museums, art galleries, churches, pueblos, shops and restaurants.  It was on the Old Santa Fe Trail and the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. I didn’t photograph it everywhere but took a few pictures so you would have a sense of its travels.

The book has been waiting patiently with us here in Lincoln, California to head back home to you. My husband hit the ground running with his work when we returned home and it took him a few days to get the photos printed from our trip.  I apologize for the delay.

I look at the book’s title as it sits here on my coffee table waiting to make the return trip home. “Heading Out to Wonderful” I think is a great place to start, no mater what the outcome, if we set our intention to head there we should find a bit of wonderful everywhere.

I hope you enjoy finish reading the book and the subsequent discussion with your book group. Perhaps the group’s discussion of the book’s travels will be a sweet departure from the actual fictional journey covered within its pages.

Happy Trails!

A few weeks later my husband brought in the mail and handed me a package.  I opened it up and there was the book!  Heading Out to Wonderful!  Inside was a lovely note from Ruth thanking me, money to cover the postage of “Wonderful’s” initial return to her and conversation about the book’s adventures, her book club discussion and her granddaughters wedding.  The book was now mine for keeping or passing on as I see fit. I will of course read it and pass it on.  Travel seems to be part of the books destiny.

I was touched. A little bit of humanity along with some old-fashioned kindness and communication all from the hand of  Mercury Retrograde.  No matter where our journey is taking us we should remember we are always Heading out to Wonderful, wherever that may be!

Heading Out to Wonderful is a book by Robert Goolrick

Lisa Joiner

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© Lisa Joiner and HighRoadpost, 2014 Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Joiner and HighRoadPost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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