London…I love you.

London exceeded every expectation.  To be fair, I had no expectations, so it was a low bar.  I am not a fan of Christmas and some lovely friends offered me a place to hide out alone for a week or so over the holidays and I jumped at the chance to get away from the pressures of the holidays at home.  Little did I know that it would be a grand adventure.  I fell head over heels in love with that bloody town.

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I packed in seven full days of exploring…and three of those days were holidays with tons of things closed.  It’s a bonus in traveling alone that no one has to keep up with you, and you only need to stop when you’re hungry or have to use the bathroom…and I always push it.  One day I walked 16 miles, including stomping up the 500+ steps to the top of St. Paul’s to see the view of the city.  I lost my fitbit a couple days later, but my guesstimate is that I walked 100 miles over the week.  I never wanted to take the underground, I always wanted to soak in all of the gorgeous buildings. Over the week I saw the Tower of London, had an insanely expensive cocktail at the American Bar at the Savoy, visited the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Gallery, gawked at Big Ben, gazed at Trafalgar Square, shopped at Old Spitalfield’s Market, looked around Liberty, saw street performers at Covent Garden, and wandered through the Winter Wonderland carnival.  I even saw the Changing of the Guard (which was something I personally found overrated and a little boring.)

It’s really hard to choose what my favorite moments are out of all my exploring, but here’s an attempt at a top five (in no particular order.)

Themed Neighborhood Christmas Lights

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Oxford street, Marleybone, Regent’s Street, Carnaby Street and more.  London neighborhoods, you really know how to do Christmas lights.  Thank you for taking my grinchiness away for the first time in many years.  It was truly delightful taking in the displays.  I loved walking through the streets at night and watching the themes change from peacock feathers to snowflakes to whatever the next set would be.  It made me so happy to be surrounded by Christmas spirit in such a fun way. The windows at Selfridges were also incredibly amazing, and deserve a hat tip.

Christmas Tapas

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I ate shrimp and liked it.  That’s just crazy.  I stumbled into this crazy Spanish place on Christmas Day when everything else was closed.  I had already stocked up on food to cook at the flat the day before, but was so ecstatic to have a place to spend 3 hours dining on a set menu of delectable treats and sangria instead of eating my frozen pizza.  Often when I travel, I usually have a memorable moment that revolves around food — from the tomato soup in Amsterdam to my steak at 11pm in the east village of New York city.  I will remember this meal for the rest of my life.  (A close second food memory is the Sunday roast I had at a little tiny bar around the corner from where I was staying after the end of a long day.  It paired perfectly with a couple of pints of cider.)

Stonehenge

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The tour was billed as a 10 hour day that started with Windsor Castle and ended at Oxford…but I only cared about the middle.  Windsor castle was unimpressive, crowded with people listening to the audio guide about 100 patterns of gifted china and blocking the pathways.  It’s a castle.  Big whoop.  It was a stressful morning, and a long bus ride, but finally when we got to Stonehenge, everything melted away.  It was a bucket list moment.  It was magical.  I walked around and around, looking at it from every angle.  It hailed a little.  The skies were epic.  My heart was full.  I am eternally grateful that I got to stand on that ground in that place and see those stones.  You can see my whole album here.

Street Art Exploring in East London

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So when I found out that I could walk around and see real Shepard Fairey pieces, I might have squeed with delight…but never expected to run into one of those pieces in a random alley when I wasn’t looking.  Street art is one of my most favorite things to seek out in any city I visit and London is one of the world meccas for it.  Why should I spend a day in a stuffy museum when I could walk the miles around East London and see hundreds of unique and original pieces of art?  I took hundreds of pictures and got lost over and over again without a care.  I’d walk down an alley and turn a corner and walk 3 blocks back in a circle because I would see something in the distance that caught my eye.  I recognized pieces by the same artists all over London, and even found art from people who I had seen in San Francisco and Paris.  I couldn’t believe how amazing and inspiring the work was.  You can see my whole album here.

WICKED WITH ENGLISH ACCENTS?!

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The last night I was there, I saw Wicked for the 5th time…but omg, it was in London and with English accents.  It was amazing.  It was also some of the best vocals I’ve seen in any of the performances I’ve attended. I was so exhausted after walking around all day and almost left at intermission, but when the finale came, I cried and stood and clapped and whistled.  It was a tremendous event to end the trip on.  For a trip that was about Defying Gravity, I don’t think I could have seen any other show.

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I am so grateful for a life that allowed this adventure.  It’s amazing to me that I found this group of friends a decade ago that has become my musical family, and that has given me these friends that mailed me the keys to their home and gave me a safe base for my adventures. Thank you so much Danny & Jes. Thank you for sharing your home, your town, and your friendship.

It was also pretty great to have so many world traveled friends with so many tips about the best places to go!  Thank you for everyone weighing in with your travel advice and helping me build out the ultimate itinerary.

I am also grateful for all of the people that cheered me on and encouraged me through this adventure, especially when I really needed them the last night.  Technology is a magical thing – and I felt like I never was really alone, and loved sharing my moments with people back home.  While I navigate North American adventures pretty well on my own, this was a bit outside my solo travel comfort zone.  The trip had moments that truly tested my ability to deal with crowds, be alone in crowded places and deal with some truly challenging situations all alone.  I’m incredibly proud that I was able to go on this adventure by myself and it has built a ton of confidence for future adventures!

Want to see more?  All of my London pictures can be found here.

 

I’m afraid to die.

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Someone I met once passed away this week.  He was younger than me.  He was brilliant.  He was one of those giant personalities that I endlessly admire.  He created something amazing with a piece of software I spent more than a third of my life promoting.  Watching him was like watching a composer. He was fluid, he was magical. His time here was short but he made something out of it. Something people fell in love with.  And now he’s gone and there is a little less light in this world.  And I’m sad.

It isn’t that I knew him very well.  It is just a reminder that death happens.  And I’m afraid to die.  It’s something I don’t talk about very much, but it’s always there under the surface for me.  When I thought I was going to lose my dad and started seeing a grief counselor, we talked endlessly about my fears and how much I don’t really even understand the concept of people not being there anymore.  I’ve lost exactly 4 people close to me in my life, including two great grandparents, and gone to just one funeral.  I just don’t have a lot of experience with death – other than the constant threat that my dad was not going to be here at some point, and that feels like the end of my world.  He’s my most favorite person in the world…how could he not be here at some point?  When an accused murderer tried to push his way into my living room, I thought for weeks “what if that had been it for me?”  My fear of dying is deeply rooted in not living enough.  Not seeing enough.  Not saying enough.  Not finding the love of my life and being a mom.  Not having as many experiences as I’d like to have before all of a sudden there is no more me.  Or what if something happens and I can’t fly or walk or gallivant all over cities like I want because I’m not healthy enough?  It scares me horribly.  And then, what is left when I’m gone?  Did I make a difference in this world?  Will people remember me?  Will they grieve and then move on and then as months and years go by it was like I was never even on this planet?  That’s terrifying.

I never really wanted to be famous, but I do want to be remembered.  I do want to make a difference and leave behind something in this world.  I do want people to know that I love them, appreciate them, that they made a difference to my life.  It’s funny because that’s actually why I started this blog.  I wanted to document my life.  I wanted to thank people and revel in gratitude.  I wanted there to be answers to any questions about who I really am.  I wanted to show that I was living.  I want to use this place to show that I am real, that I have emotions, and that I am trying to be a part of this world in a big way.  It’s a horribly vain and selfish thing for someone who really isn’t that way much at all.

I am trying to live my life.  I have lots of amazingly inspirational people around me that travel and go and do to big degrees.  It makes me want to have more and more experiences.  It also makes me hope that maybe in a little way, sharing my doing also is inspiring other people to go and do in the same way others inspire me. I figure that being afraid to die is better than being afraid to live. Sometimes I have to do things alone, but I would rather do by myself than not do them at all. What if I don’t get another chance?

I know that this post doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but I’m feeling off in a big way the last couple of days and the only thing that felt right to do today was write about it.

I do want to say this…If I am hit by a bus tomorrow:  I love you.  I love this world and think being in it is amazing.  Every single roller coaster second.  It is amazing to be a human.  There is something completely magical about the fact that all of these molecules came together to make me, a thinking, breathing, feeling human being…and not a rock.  I am so incredibly grateful for every moment, hug, conversation, encouragement, ass-kicking, and sunset.  I love being alive.  And I hope I am for a very, very long time.

Books I Finished in 2014

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Damn.  I really wanted to beat last year’s 16 books finished by 1, but at least I tied it.  I’m about 1/2 way through 3-4 books right now though, so I’m hoping that 2015 will be a record year. This year was filled with books that didn’t have a lot of substance – random mysteries and crime thriller series, plus a few fantasy/Sci-Fi thrown in. But hey, it’s still TV I wasn’t watching…though there was another 3 month gap where I didn’t finish any books, and in 2015 I’d like to at least finish a book in every month.

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 #1)
Meyer, Scott
Date Finished: Dec 21, 2014

Obsessed (Lizzy Gardner #4)
Ragan, T.R.
Date Finished: Nov 24, 2014

A Dark Mind (Lizzy Gardner #3)
Ragan, T.R.
Date Finished: Nov 02, 2014

Vanished (Mason Callahan, #1)
Elliot, Kendra
Date Finished: Jul 20, 2014

Dead Weight (Lizzy Gardner #2)
Ragan, T.R.
Date Finished: Jul 19, 2014

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)
Harkness, Deborah
Date Finished: Jul 18, 2014

Tell No One
Coben, Harlan
Date Finished: Jul 15, 2014

Abducted
Ragan, T.R.
Date Finished: Jul 14, 2014

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q, #1)
Adler-Olsen, Jussi
Date Finished: Jul 13, 2014

The Circle
Eggers, Dave
Date Finished: Jun 21, 2014

The Cairo Affair
Steinhauer, Olen
Date Finished: May 30, 2014

The Husband’s Secret
Moriarty, Liane
Date Finished: May 04, 2014

Influx
Suarez, Daniel
Date Finished: Apr 20, 2014

City of Lost Dreams (City of Dark Magic, #2)
Flyte, Magnus
Date Finished: Mar 14, 2014

City of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic, #1)
Flyte, Magnus
Date Finished: Feb 04, 2014

The Leopard (Harry Hole #8)
Nesbø, Jo
Date Finished: Jan 24, 2014

“You are a force…”

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It’s always so interesting sitting down to write these flashback posts. My general feeling about 2014 is that it wasn’t a great year. I wasn’t very happy for most of it, it was a year of a lot of change in the beginning, a bit of instability and insecurity and an overall lack of satisfaction with where I am in my life. But when I started to make the list of things I wanted to summarize here, I started to realize that on top of everything that I was feeling at times, there were so many incredible moments that tie 2014 together. How can you complain about a life that contains ALL OF THIS? Not just trips and events, but all of these people and all of this love and support? This is truly an amazing life.

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If there is a theme to 2014, it was celebration. I rang in New Years last year with people that are more family than friends. I grew closer to an amazing group of women, and we continued our bi-annual tradition of vision board parties fueled by wine and laughter. There were work parties and happy hours with coworkers that have become best friends. I had my Mimosa Mardi Gras housewarming party, Helyn had her housewarming party, and Art & Kathryn had their housewarming/anniversary party. I was there to watch Jen turn 40, Michi turn 50, flew all the way to the OC to sample beer while Mike rang in another year in his 30’s, BBQ’d for Rathmann, and toasted to more of Sheela’s 20’s. Friends joined me for hot springs camping for my birthday, and we all gathered at the wonderful Fernwood for another year camping for Helyn’s birthday. The goddesses spent another year at Sunny Cove toasting Beltane. One of my dearest friends Maria got married, and I spent a weekend at Lake Arrowhead celebrating with wonderful people. We sent Jen off to Austin in style, with a hilarious night of dancing. There was a Bacon & Vodka party, a Bunny Bar hop and a Trifecta Tasting of Wine, Cheese and Chocolate. I also had my first summer backyard picnic with my yard crammed full of so many special people…which hopefully becomes an annual event, so I have an excuse to make that sangria again. I baked brownies to celebrate the birth of a special man, we carved pumpkins and stomped through a rainy Halloween downtown, I cooked us a vegetarian Thanksgiving, we decorated a gingerbread house, hung ornaments on my Christmas tree and watched fireworks over the Santa Cruz clocktower to end a full year.

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It was also a year of change and momentum. I picked up my keys to my new home on the first and moved just a few days later. I said goodbye to the city that had been my home for 17 years and headed “over the hill” to save my sanity from a grinding commute. It’s been hard to adjust to San Jose, but I feel like I’ve kept Santa Cruz close enough to my heart and been able to spend enough time by the ocean to stay recharged. I love this home. It is everything I wanted when I was looking. I bought my first couch that only I’ve owned, got blisters from assembling IKEA furniture and got my first Christmas tree in more than 5 years. Bella and I appreciate and enjoy every minute of this place. I loved having a garden that I didn’t have to drive to this year, and spent so much time playing in dirt in pots and trying to keep them alive in the drought. It is truly a home, and after so long feeling unsafe in my apartment, it has been incredible to come home to this space. It wouldn’t be possible without the job where I truly found my footing this year. I started the year in stride, turning my 90 days in January, and ending the year as Employee of the Year. I feel like I’ve earned my place, learned a ton and taken every opportunity to contribute that I’ve been given. I helped launch a new brand, organized a team to cycle in Tour de Cure (which as a bonus I got to do with my fellow Squid), get a bunch of us to pound the pavement for the Giants race, gather us to have a presence at the Mountain View Live street fair all summer, and help raise a ton of money for Second Harvest Food Bank over the holidays.

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It didn’t seem like a busy year, but wow, there was a lot of adventure. There was photo missions to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the San Jose Rose Garden, hunting street art in San Francisco, a drive through the Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Park, and a spontaneous road trip to Nevada City to capture fall color. I also spent a lot of time on the coast in Santa Cruz walking for enjoyment and then trekking across town in Wharf to Wharf for my 4th time, this time joined by a lovely friend. There was a lazy week spent in Cancun with Lisa, drinking cocktails in a cabana and marveling at the blue of the water. I went to Austin to see my musical boyfriend Ryan Adams for the first time in a couple of years (in one of the best venues ever), but got to enjoy a few more days with Lisa, get some quality time with Jen in her new home and go on a street art adventure that made me glow. I got to see Ryan two more times, once in San Francisco and once flying all the way to San Diego for 14 hours just to see him again. I also got to go to Paul Simon & Sting with one of my oldest friends, see Tim Flannery and Jeff Berkely in Los Gatos, dance the night away with Tony at Tom Petty, and rock out to Black Keys with Rob. Matt and I saw Cirque twice, capturing Amaluna at the start of the year and Kurios at the end. Kim and I finally got to see Book of Mormon and proved why we are best friends when we spent the entire car ride home tearing it apart in our mutual distaste for something that everyone else seemed to love. There was a SF Giants & SD Padres game with friends, a (forever infamous) SF Giants game in the corporate seats with coworkers, the annual celebration of one of my favorite munchkins at the 4th of July weekend San Jose Giants game, and RAD seats for a really exciting SJ Sharks & STL Blues hockey game with a very lovely lady. I got to visit my parents for a day, experience Holi, see incredible bellydancing, and attend the GLOW festival in Santa Cruz. And then there was an amazing Christmas in London, but a whole separate love letter is due just for that.

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There was also finding yoga. I gained 40 pounds in 2014 and while most of the people in my life have been sweet enough to say “what?! no way”, as a woman who has struggled with body image issues and anorexia, it has been devastating. I just let things get out of control, and part of me thinks I was looking for a scapegoat reason why I couldn’t find love. But now there is yoga…and it has been an amazing force in my life. I did yoga 30 times in 40 days in September and October. And since 2015 is a year of taking care of me, and putting myself and my health first, I feel like things will quickly turn around. I think I need to focus on loving myself instead of loving people that can’t love me back.

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And then there were the moments that don’t fit in any big category. Playing on the floor with Kim’s littles and hoping some day I can be half the mom she is. Grilled cheese date with my goddesses. Lunch with Lisa. Cocktails with Sheela. Awesome date nights of miniature golf, cuddling, endless standup comedy specials, Penny Dreadful, and so much pizza and mexican food…and always dessert (especially Carvel cake.) Vive Sol lunches with my work bestie. Another year of unconditional love from my furry munchkin best friend. Solo mimosa brunches at Opa and the Campbell Farmer’s market.  It goes on and on.

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And so, so much support from the amazing people in my life.  I spent a large part of my 20’s feeling alone…but my 30’s have me knowing the true support for me in this world.  There were so many surprise private message and emails, facebook posts and comments that reflected back to me something that I don’t always see in myself.  All of those times people reached out to me, or told me I was worth something, are held in my heart forever.  I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am comfortable alone.  I have embraced my introvert side, claimed my lunch times for swinging on swing sets and laying in the park, and found myself absolutely fine “wasting” a whole weekend on my couch with my cat.  I may have some issues with my body, and I’m going to work on those, but I really love who I am.  That is continuously validated on a daily basis by some pretty quality people I’ve managed to attract to my life.  In one of the weakest moments of my year, hearing the phrase “you are a force…” from a woman I admire brought tears to my already weepy eyes.  People are proud of me.  I am proud of me.  I am grateful every day that they see something in me of value, and want to spend time with me…and I like spending time with me.  I am excited for this year.  I think it’s going to be a really important year in my life.  Getting out of debt, paying off my student loans, building on the base of this year and diving into unknown adventures.  I can’t even guess where 2015 is going to take me…

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Happy New Year…Thanks for being in this world with me…let’s have awesome adventures together this next year.

Love you lots.

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400 miles of music…

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The playlist for my spontaneous adventure yesterday – most recent first.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot Pat Benatar The Rolling Stone Women In Rock Collection [Disc 2]
Symphony 9 & the Sunshine Emily Wells The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties
Milo Matt The Electrician Made For Working
Girl Is On My Mind The Black Keys Rubber Factory
The Next Episode In The Thrift Shop (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz vs. Dr. Dre & Rasmus Hedegaard) Abader000 Best of Bootie 2013
Sit In With The Band Hayes Carll Little Rock
Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well Mike Doughty Haughty Melodic
She Believes In Me Me First And The Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country
Apple Tree Erykah Badu Live
Get ‘Em Outta Here Sprung Monkey Mr Funny Face [Bonus Tracks]
You May Be Right Billy Joel Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1978-1985) [Disc 2]
Skyfuckingline Of Toronto The Rugburns Mommy I’m Sorry
Burritos & Doritos The Rugburns Lick Her Shoes
A Pirate Looks At Forty Jimmy Buffett You Had To Be There [Live] [Disc 2]
The Banana Song The Rugburns Yo! Baby Dolls! Chill Your Minds!
Chin Up, Cheer Up Ryan Adams Demolition
Blink 182 – What’s My Age Again
Train Matt The Electrician Matt The Electrician Is Alive
Good Hearted Woman Toby Keith & Willie Nelson Stars & Guitars [Live]
Sugar Boogers Steve Poltz 2003-09-13 – Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club
Gold’s Gym Guy The Rugburns The Real World
Enjoy Yourself Todd Snider East Nashville Skyline
Crucify Tori Amos Little Earthquakes
Heigh-Ho The Dwarf Chorus Classic Disney Volume II
Fat Lip Sum 41 Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 8
Conjunction Junction Better Than Ezra School House Rock! Rocks
Keep Off The Grass Todd Snider Happy To Be Here
Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing Chris Isaak Eyes Wide Shut
Man In Black Devil Doll The Return Of Eve
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head Patrick&Eugene Postcards From Summer Isle
Dancing With Myself Billy Idol & Generation X Party Central
Closer To Fine Indigo Girls Retrospective
Notice The Head Steve Poltz Live At Largo
Your Hair Sucks Steve Poltz Live At Largo
Rose Tint My World Peter Hinwood, Barry Bostwick, Little Nell & Susan Sarandon The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Graceland Paul Simon Concert In The Park, August 15, 1991 [Disc 2]
Crash On The Barrelhead Old 97’s Fight Songs
Got Your Back Matt The Electrician Matt The Electrician Is Alive
Grapefruit – Juicy Fruit Jimmy Buffett Songs You Know By Heart
Love Is Strange Mickey & Sylvia Dirty Dancing
Too Much Dave Matthews Band
09 09 09 09 09 09 09 09 09 rugburns2 rugburns 2004-12-31 – Belly Up Tavern
Come Baby Come K7 Strip Jointz 2: More Hot Songs For Sexy Dancers
Nothin’ N.O.R.E. Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 11
Rowing Song Patty Griffin Impossible Dream
House In The Woods Tom Petty Wildflowers
House Back Steve Poltz 2013-03-19 Austin, TX
Postcard Of A Painting Maxïmo Park A Certain Trigger
Train – Meet Virginia
So Alive Ryan Adams Rock N Roll
B-Rock & The Bizz – My Baby Daddy B-Rock & The Bizz Pure Dance 1998
Why Do They Leave? Ryan Adams Heartbreaker
Get Out The Map Indigo Girls Retrospective
Get It On At Le Disko (T.Rex vs. Shiny Toy Guns)-The Illuminoids The Illuminoids
If You Want To Sing Out (Cat Stevens) Steve Poltz Get Covered
On The Radar Matt The Electrician One Thing Right
Survivor Destiny’s Child Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 7
King Of New York Newsies Newsies
Blurred Ice (Vanilla Ice vs. Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell Williams & T.I.) Ed Home Best of Bootie 2013
All For You Janet Jackson Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 7
Cheeseburger In Paradise Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads [Disc 2]
Stronger Enough (Kelly Clarkson vs. Michael Jackson) Lobsterdust Best of Bootie 2012
Wonderwall Like You (Oasis vs. Adele) DJ Axcess DJ Axcess Mashup
Bootie Intro 2013 Entyme Best of Bootie 2013
If Only You Were Lonely Steve Poltz 2003-09-13 – Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club
B.O.B. Outkast Stankonia
Shoop Salt-N-Pepa The Rolling Stone Women In Rock Collection: Vol. 3 1987-1997 [Disc 3]
Stormy Tim Easton Porcupine
Cabin Down Below Tom Petty Wildflowers
Sparkling Diamonds Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Mendoza, Lara Mulcahy & Caroline O’Connor Moulin Rouge
spoltz2003-03-07d1t28 Steve Poltz
Track 14 Rugburns & Guests New Years Eve 2008/2009 Sound board Disc 1
Something There Paige O’Hara And Robby Benson Classic Disney Volume II
Gypsy Bitch Devil Doll The Return Of Eve
Busted The Black Keys The Big Come Up
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes Dirty Dancing
When The Lights Go Out The Black Keys Rubber Factory
Serve Me My Food Steve Poltz Traveling
Down South Tom Petty Highway Companion
You Oughta Know Alanis Morissette 1996 Grammy Nominees
I’ve Done Everything For You Rick Springfield More Pure 80’s
Pearls On A String Ryan Adams
Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett Meet Me In Margaritaville: The Ultimate Collection
Joy To The World Three Dog Night Forrest Gump [Disc 2]
JoJo Sprung Monkey Mr Funny Face [Bonus Tracks]
Steve Poltz – spoltz2004-01-31d2t01 Steve Poltz 1/31/2004
spoltz2004-02-15t13 Steve Poltz
Can’t Get Enough Patty Loveless Classics

Grateful.

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It’s maybe time to revel in this place in a little…

I am thankful for my path as a human.  I say that jokingly a lot, but I think being alive and experiencing this world is a pretty magical thing.  All the extremes of emotions that can be felt as a person, all the experiences that can happen are amazing to me.  I sit in awe sometimes at how truly marvelous the world can be.  My life hasn’t been without challenges, but in a spectrum of existence, I know that I’m extremely lucky with the way my fate has played out thus far.  I am a lucky person that I have the ability to live the lifestyle I do and have the experiences I want.  I want to believe that there is a bigger plan in this universe, and that the things that I feel are missing my life are keeping space for adventures that are meant to be instead.  This is not a bad life and I am filled with gratitude that it’s mine.

The people in my life are inspiring.  I am not sure how I got so lucky to have the most amazing support network that a person could ask for, but I’m filled with gratitude that I’ve been able to nurture such deep relationships with such a broad range of people, especially over the last decade.  When I step back and look at the various families that I have added to my own, I’m humbled.  My Poser people, the Poltz cult, the Schmeers, my college crew, and everyone I’ve met since…you all make me feel like I belong to something.  I’ve reached this place in my life where I feel like it’s okay to be myself most of the time.  I feel like I’m accepted, validated and supported by some pretty incredible people.  To reject their praise and wallow in self-doubt is to deny their ability to select quality humans to surround themselves with right?  The same way I expect someone to believe me when I tell them they’re awesome, I need to not feel so uncomfortable with hearing the validation I so desperately seek.  So somehow, all of these people choose to love me and it’s amazing.  They guide me, inspire me, listen, offer patience and advice.  I feel like it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to be weak sometimes, and I feel like there is a line of people willing to put their arms around me and remind me I’m not alone.  I maybe discount that too often, but it’s a damn special thing.  I am so grateful that I’m not alone in this world and have such a diverse group of resourceful, caring people to reach out to.

I’m grateful for my career.  Maybe it’s luck, or chance that I got a temp job that put me on the path to be a marketer, but I love what I do.  I might or might not have loved being a teacher, but I am grateful my life took this pivot.  I really love evangelizing consumer products that people can be enthusiastic about.  I love finding new ways to bring awareness to tools that allow people to live their lives more creatively.  I am so blessed that my hard work has paid off and that I am recognized for my success.  I am well paid, appreciated, work with great people, and frankly, I am damn good at what I do.  It’s fantastic that I found something that pays me to do something I excel at.  I am so lucky that I’ve had so many wonderful, patient people to guide and teach me how to navigate the business world.  I have learned tons of lessons, been allowed to experiment and take chances, and given responsibility that helped me grow.  Being someone that gets so much of my self worth from my job, I revel in gratitude for all of the things that make such a major chunk of my life so pleasant.

It’s important for me to remember these things.  To be in this place instead of the darker place in my head where I feel like a rejected impostor, wallowing in what I’m lacking instead of what is thriving in front of me.  I need to do more writing like this.

Yoga and Body Image

You can’t.  You don’t belong.  Look at you.  Everyone must be looking at you and wondering why you are even here.  Why are you here?  See you couldn’t do that pose either…you should stop coming to these classes. 

Oh voice in my head…you suck.  You always suck.

Thanks to a Groupon, I have been doing “Corepower Yoga” for just over 3 weeks now.  I’ve gone 13 times in 23 days.  I have not been this consistently active since I was working out at 5:30am multiple times a week in my 20’s, even though I had a gym membership for over a decade.  Not even when I was training for half marathons, not even when I was training for my cycling century did I work out 4 times a week.  This should be an accomplishment.  This should be something awesome that I’m proud of.  I’m doing something great.  But no, the voice in my head just wants to use it as a podium to remind me that I’m not good enough.

Contrasting the idea that I think I can’t do something and the fact that I’ve run 13.1 miles multiple times and pedaled myself 100 miles around Lake Tahoe is sort of hilarious, but it’s a example of my true Gemini dual-identity and the constant struggle I have with how I see myself.

Let’s back up.  I have gained 30 pounds in the last 6 months.  After spending a large part of my life trying to find a consistent weight and battling anorexia, I have spent a good 5 years solid within a few pounds without much effort.  I make fairly good choices about what I eat, and I do crazy things like join Team in Training to keep me moving.  I’m aware of my triggers that make me skip meals, and I have an awesome support network that I reach out to when I notice I’m slipping.  Apparently in the last year between the change of job, the move and turning 36, something broke my groove.

Looking in the mirror lately crushes me.  I mean, it’s always been that way.  I have never been okay with how I look at the moment.  Even when I was 120 pounds, I wanted to be skinnier.  It took a lot of therapy to realize I wasn’t suddenly going to wake up and look like a playboy model with flowing curly hair, a perfect ass and ample boobs.  I finally got comfortable in a place where I felt “healthy”.  I was in a great relationship with someone who appreciated my body and was mostly validating.  (He clearly wished I had bigger boobs, but that’s another story.  The only win in being heavier is suddenly having boobs for the first time in my life.)  But really, even when I was knocking out things like the century, I was feeling that I hated my legs.  It’s weird to look back at pictures of me younger and think “damn, I was freaking hot…what happened?”  I try and remind myself that when I’m 40, I’ll probably look back and be thankful for the looks of my 30’s too…but I just can’t get to a place where I’m okay with my body.

It already doesn’t help that I’m not stylish or fashionable, but going up two full sizes in half a year hasn’t helped me feel comfortable getting dressed in the morning.  There hasn’t been one attractive picture taken of me all year, and that’s kind of a problem since I work for a company in the photography industry where everyone is ALWAYS taking pictures of you, and I’m dating again without a way to confidently market myself.  The funniest part is that as much as I give myself so much grief about everything about my looks, I don’t care enough to change anything.  You’d think with as much brain power as I spent wishing I could put together an outfit or accessorize, I’d actually put some effort into learning make-up techniques or shop somewhere other than Old Navy or buy something other than jeans.  But no, I use the more logical part of my brain to remind myself that someone will love me exactly how I am, exactly how I dress.  I’m lovable for who I am, not what I look like.  Then why can’t I love myself that way?

So back to yoga.

I royally screwed my hips overdoing it when I was running a few years ago, and I can’t even walk 3 miles these days without causing some pretty severe pain on my left side.  I want yoga to be the thing that gradually strengthens my hips and my core.  I need something that I can feel active in again that doesn’t wreck my body.  I need a “thing” to distract me from the challenges in my life.  I want this in my life.  But my hips continue to be a challenge and the voice in my head is being a bitch.

I really love this yoga studio.  A lot.  The teachers are amazing and supportive.  The classes are totally my style.  It’s sweaty.  There’s music.  I know it’s supposed to be a practice.  It’s not a competition.  I’m doing something good for myself.  But throughout the class I find myself in the frustrating situation where not only do I feel like everyone but me is an expert yogi, I am also limited by the lack of strength in my hips.  My left side isn’t willing to bear the weight of a simple tree pose, and sometimes I feel like doing one more crescent lunge will break me.  Then there’s the fact that it feels like everyone looks like a ballet dancer and I feel like a giant beast in XXL spandex.  (And why don’t these girls sweat like I do – it’s 100 freaking degrees in the room?!)  I may not be able to balance but I’m flexible.  There’s moments when a teacher will comment on how far I can stretch or bend and I’m so proud.  I have never had arm strength, so my feeble attempts at chataranga don’t bother me that much and the fact that I am able to plank at all, or keep my thighs off the ground when I’m in upward facing dog is a win.  When I walk out of class, no matter how much I struggled, I feel amazing.  But every day when I think about heading to class, I start to doubt myself all over again.

I’m realizing that yoga has come to my life at the perfect time.  I need a new testing ground for battling the voice in my head.  I am in need of a place to practice for an hour telling my inner critic to fuck off.  I think that’s what running and cycling were as well.  Physical challenge is a place where I can work out the larger battle I have in my daily life.  I need a routine.  (Something I’ve been lacking and searching for since I uprooted my entire life cycle of a decade earlier this year.)  Maybe through this practice I can learn to find silence in my mind outside of the mirrored room.  I need this class.

I have to find acceptance for my limits, but not let them make me quit.  I have to keep myself within the four corners of my mat, not looking at myself through the eyes of anyone else, including that brat that lives between my ears.  I have to silence the voice that tells me I can’t and focus on what I can.  I am showing up.  I am “lapping everyone at home on the couch.”  I am doing just fine.

Shut up bitch.  I can do this.

The Books I Finished in 2013

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16 books finished in 2013!  That beats the books I read in 2012 by four, my goal for this year by three, and included a couple long stretches without reading at all.  In fact, in order to meet my goal, I’ve read 8 books since the start of November!  I clearly found a few authors I liked and repeated my success with them over and over.  I went on a dystopian & young adult tear, but have been having more and more trouble finding books lately with plots that interest me.  I also started a couple of books that were too painfully awful to make myself finish.  I still have a bunch of non-fiction I can’t bring myself to finish (or even start.)  Maybe that should be my goal in 2014?  Proud of this effort!

The Handmaid’s Tale
Atwood, Margaret
Date Finished: Dec 29, 2013

The Snowman (Harry Hole, #7)
Nesbø, Jo
Date Finished: Dec 18, 2013

The Redeemer: A Harry Hole Novel (4)
Nesbø, Jo
Date Finished: Dec 05, 2013

The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3)
Dashner, James
Date Finished: Nov 30, 2013

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)
Dashner, James
Date Finished: Nov 25, 2013

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)
Roth, Veronica
Nov 22, 2013

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)
Dashner, James
Date Finished: Nov 09, 2013

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Roth, Veronica
Date Finished: Nov 04, 2013

Incendiary
Cleave, Chris
Date Finished: Oct 25, 2013

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)
O’Malley, Daniel
Date Finished: Oct 23, 2013

Kill Decision
Suarez, Daniel
Date Finished: Jul 09, 2013

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)
Harkness, Deborah
Date Finished: Jun 16, 2013

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living 
Pema Chödrön 
Date Finished: April 26, 2013

Freedom™
Suarez, Daniel
Date Finished: Apr 24, 2013

Daemon (Daemon, #1)
Suarez, Daniel
Date Finished: Apr 21, 2013

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
Harkness, Deborah
Date Finished: Apr 19, 2013

What have you been reading? Have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below, or find me on Goodreads.com!

2013: A Year of ‘Yes’ & Awesome.

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“I’m gonna make some things happen. You just watch.”

When I turned 30, I did 30 things I’d never done before in an effort to start living my life as big and loudly as I could. I often say that’s my favorite year alive so far. Not that the years since haven’t been filled with awesome, but there was something so memorable about the fullness of that year, of stepping outside my comfort zone so often. This being one of those “multiple of 5” years for me, I wanted to try and find that same fullness.

This year had a weird start. I ended 2012 with an unexpected, but totally expected breakup with a man that I was prepared to be my husband and I had spent more than 3 years waiting on to get his shit together. It needed to happen, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, and that change wasn’t hard. I had given so much, to lose it all. I needed to reclaim my life and be selfish again. I started calling 2013 the year of me. I knew that this year was going to be amazing…I don’t think I could have predicted how much awesome would come though.

In January, I talked about how I was going to say “yes” this year. Starting with the fact that I had found myself saying yes to cycling 100 freaking miles around Lake Tahoe. Training for that event ended up being the hardest, most amazing four months of my life, and my greatest accomplishment so far on this planet. Not only (with the help of my very amazing friends and family) did I raise over $3000 for one of the greatest causes out there, but I rode a bicycle 100 miles. Every week for that four months I wanted to quit. Every week I cried, I complained, and I ached. I felt like the problem child. I was on the slowest “short bus” team. It was so.hard. But in the end of every ride, I found myself realizing what I had accomplished that day. That I could do it. I did it. I proved so many things to myself, but I also found the depth of my cheering section. The people that were there cheering me through every ride, both virtually and in person, made me realize how truly supported I am. Every message, every Facebook like…it went miles. The friends that camped out an entire weekend to hug me for 2 minutes during that ride…priceless.

983739_10151717763534924_867080747_n One of the best things to come out of the Team in Training adventure is “the cycling kids.” Something about crying and sweating together for 16 weeks bonds you to people. I made a lot of friends on the team, but there’s something special about a few of them that has created an amazing friendship that I adore dearly. It led to pint nights, a drunken day at beer fest, and me almost drowning during my first drunken tubing adventure on the American River. (The team is really alcoholics with a cycling problem. You spend 16 weeks really training on how to re-hydrate your depleted body with beer. When the season was over, we just kept up our training…) I’m so grateful that they don’t care that I’m old and let me hang out with them. 😉

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Even with all the cycling, I still found time to participate in a few foot driven events. I did the Electric Run 5k, the Color Run 5k, the She.Is.Beautiful 10k and Wharf to Wharf for my 3rd time. In October I bought new running shoes, and hope to find my way back to a half marathon in 2014. (I know I said I was going for a 26.2, but I don’t know anymore that I need that on my bucket list, and think I should start back with a smaller goal.)

It was actually a great year for friends. I started my year surrounded by my favorite musicians and best friends rocking out with Steve Poltz, the Rugburns, Matt the Electrician and my fellow cult members at the Casbah. I said yes to speed dating with an awesome girlfriend, and then we found ourselves giggling and sneaking out before it even started. I took a wilderness skills class with some of my favorite family. The afternoon I spent with them just as valuable as the skills of fire starting and shelter making that I learned. I also had the most amazing garden party mimosa brunch birthday ever, with tons of my favoritest people at one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz. I made it camping with my girls once, even if it meant throwing my tent into the car unpacked on a Monday morning and driving straight to work. I also finally got to use my wine tasting passport again, spending a day in July gallivanting in the Santa Cruz mountains with two of my favorite guys. It was a precious year for spending time with people.

I squeezed in a trip to San Diego, and got to visit my parents and my old stomping grounds…which basically meant going from rolled tacos at Taco Surf to coffee at 976 before I trudged up to the mountains to see my family. I got to see my brother for the first time in many years. I also scored a few hours alone with my Dad, which was long overdue.

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I made vision boards twice, and I think helped me channel what I was looking for. I tried to dress cuter for work, I got the BIG change I was looking for, and found myself kissing a few boys along the way. (I even found a pretty cute one that I kept around for a while.) I remember being bold and putting both Mexico and Hawaii on the board in January, and I’m proud to say I made them both happen. I found myself back in Puerto Vallarta in April, watching whales leap in the ocean in front of me as I sipped cocktails by the pool. In October, I went on the most splurgey, most fantastic vacation of a lifetime to Maui. I zip-lined, para-sailed, biked down the volcano after sunrise,  went to a luau and consumed massive quantities of Mai Tais and pints of Maui Brewing Company beer. It was amazing.

601514_10151570601689924_629024609_nI finally found myself at SXSW Interactive this year, soaking up information like a sponge and finding myself more inspired to be a better marketer. (I also found myself consuming a lot of tequila and tacos.) It was a really awesome year in the work department for me. For three quarters as a Director at Smith Micro, I feel like I truly grew into my own. I rocked my programs, owned my numbers, held my own in the boys club and knocked things out of the park. The little girl that started her career at as a temp was finally a big girl. Such a big girl in fact, it was finally time to leave the nest and try my wings at a new adventure. 2 months in a new position in a new industry, I am finally able to say that I’m not just good at the products I hawked for 13 years, I’m a good marketer who knows what I’m doing. I’m really proud of my career and what I’ve been able to make of it this year. I really love my new job, and am glad that I have found a place to learn and grow while showing off my strengths.

At the end of June, I went to St. Louis to celebrate my Grandma’s 90th birthday 6 months early in form of a family reunion with my birth father’s family that brought people from all over the country that I hadn’t met or seen in a decade. I also got to surprise my mom’s side of the family too, which was super-duper awesome. There is not a trip in the last decade where I’ve driven away from my Mammaw’s little house on the corner and haven’t wanted to turn around and never leave. I even got to visit with my oldest friend, who I may only see every few years and yet it’s like we saw each other yesterday. It was one of those trips that reminded me who I am, made me feel like I belong, and recharged my heart and soul full up.

1174980_10151920629144924_2102651728_nThe travel didn’t stop there. After a 5 year hiatus, I returned to the Black Rock desert for Burning Man. I found myself realizing that the attraction to me is similar to the draw to endurance sports. There is something about being forced to survive, to prepare to go the distance. It is about the solitude in a sea of strangers. The art is amazing, the community indescribable, but I could do without the parties and the man exploding. For me, it is about spending a week camping with my friends, having communal meals and sharing everything we have. It is about riding my bike topless across an ancient lake bed without anyone giving me a second look. It is about the temple. It is about finding myself lost in the dust, away from a computer, disconnected and truly in my head finding who I am. I am so grateful for those 10 days. I had forgotten how much that city meant to me. PLUS, I finally got to get the giant Connect Four board made that I’ve been wanting for years. SCORE.

There wasn’t a ton of time left for live music this year, but I did see AJ Croce at the Catalyst Atrium, Matt the Electrician at Don Quioxte’s and go to Live 105’s Not so Silent Night, experiencing a bunch of new bands for the first time.

This year wasn’t without its stress, and I was lucky to spend so much time getting massages. In my commitment to say yes to self-care to keep my sanity, I discovered my favoritest massage therapist in the whole wide world who became a crucial part of my routine throughout my adventures. I’m so lucky to have found her and I’m going to miss her when I move.

That’s right, after 17 years in Santa Cruz, and 10 years in my apartment, swearing you couldn’t drive me away from the coast unless it was being consumed by a monsoon or falling off due to an earthquake…I’m moving. The stress of living in a town that’s trying to find its way, combined with up to 3 hours each day in a car, led me to search. Setting my standards high, I plowed through listing after listing until I finally hit the jackpot. Living in a sea of boxes for the holidays is a worthwhile trade to know that in just a few days, I will have a fantastic little duplex with 2 bedrooms, a garage, a yard, a dishwasher, and a fireplace. I’ll also have new places to discover, be closer to so many of my friends without a mountain between us, and hopefully a new chance at finding a partner to be my husband and make babies with at some point in the future.

2013 was amazing. Ah-MAZING. It was filled with tons of up, plenty of down, but always always always adventure and lessons. Everyone in my family survived another year and my furry munchkin was always there for me when I got home from my adventures.  So many reasons to be grateful.  This entire year was a big gift, even if I forgot that in moments.  I feel so lucky to have so many amazing, supportive, precious people in my life.   I love being physically, emotionally and financially capable to live my life in a full and adventurous way, often pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.  (Even if it happens in inches, instead of feet sometimes.)  Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride.  Your enthusiasm, companionship and patience are more valued than you could ever know.

Here’s to an even more awesome 2014!

A Giant Leap.

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I said this would be the year of me. I said this would be the year of saying yes. I had no idea what that would mean months later.

13 years ago, I was 23. I had just graduated college a few months before, and had just ended my summer stint at the UCSC conference office. I was preparing to enter the Teach for America program as a Special Ed teacher in New Orleans. I needed a job to get me through until the program started, so I took the typing test at the Hall Kinion temp agency. My second assignment landed me 3 blocks from my house at a little tiny office of 15 or so people who had just rescued a product they had worked for years on from a company that had closed it’s doors. That moment changed my entire path forever.

That company was Curious Labs. I was a customer service person for a product that wasn’t being sold at the time. 6 months later, Steve Cooper bought out my temp contract, I resigned from Teach for America, and I never looked back. In standard start-up situation, my role grew, changed, morphed, shrank, flipped around and then grew some more.

I will never forget sitting in my tiny apartment living room on September 11th, with my coworkers crowded around my TV.

Then we were sold to e frontier, and I was given a choice to become a product manager or run an online store. Steve Yatson and Rylan Hazelton convinced me to join their Content Paradise project and again, a pivotal point on my path came. Again, the scope of that role changed so many times I lost count, and again, 5 years ago, we were sold to Smith Micro.

At Smith Micro, under the mentorship of Lin Petrucci, I felt like I was given a real chance to thrive. These last 5 years have been an amazing adventure, and I’ve felt like I’ve been able to directly contribute to the growth of this business. When Lin left in January, Steve Yatson took the helm and once again gave me a chance to shine. The professional growth I have felt come into my life in the last year alone has been phenomenal.

My job has been my life. Possibly way too much of my personal validation comes from selling consumer products that I love to a community of ARTISTS that are amazing, made by a team I am proud of. I love marketing. I will never forget when Steve Cooper sat me down and said “I see you in marketing.”

These people are honestly my whole world. At my 30th birthday party, 90% of the table was friends I had made from this job, the other few were from college. This job gave me my goddesses, Burning Man and my passport. I call them my family. I have spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them more than once. It has given me 13 YEARS of an amazing run at my first job out of college. It has given me the title of “longest running employee” on this team that has seen so much change. (See, people like to leave, but like the mob, no one really gets out, they all come back.) This place is my home.

I have changed a lot in the last 13 years and now it’s time for some really big changes to reflect all that other change. It’s time for a new microscope, a new way to validate and analyze if I’m really as good as I think. On Friday, I was offered an opportunity of a lifetime and I’ve accepted. In two weeks, I will be leaving my family at Smith Micro. I will leave the products that I love, the community I helped build and the office that I adore. But I am not leaving for just another job. I am leaving for a a perfect fit. I will joining the fantastic marketing team of Eye-Fi (currently makers of wireless SD cards and apps). As a side bonus, I get to leave the town that is giving me so much heartache. A town I’ve lived in for 17 years, and an apartment I’ve lived in for 10 years…so lots of BIG change happening right now. I get to be a part of the “other side of the hill”. I get to do the same scope of the job that I love so dearly for a product that I own and love, and bond with another creative community. It’s a dream come true. I get to work with amazing NEW mentors who will share all their brilliant tips and tricks and hopefully I’ll be able to prove that I really am as good as I think at demand generation. I need this. I want this. But at the same time, I am so very sad to leave the place that has made me the person and professional that I am.

This is one of the hardest and scariest steps I have ever made in my life. But it’s one of the few times in life that you will ever hear me say this: I AM SO PROUD OF ME! I DID IT! I DESERVE THIS. WOOOOOOOO!