Take the First Step

Admittedly, I’m kind of floundering today.  Last night, I spent several hours in the ER with my 70+ year old Mom.  She had been in a relatively minor car accident but it was on the freeway and there were three cars involved, the police came, and she was pretty shook up.  She actually called my sister (she was closer to her house) from the freeway.  My dear sister showed up at the accident scene and told my Mom she was completely fine to drive herself home!!!  My sister didn’t even follow her to make sure she got home ok and was comfortably settled.  Mom lives alone.  So, later, when Mom thinks she should be checked out . . . who does she call?  Me.  And who sits with Mom at the ER with all the coughing, vomiting, sniffly people with fevers?  Me.  I don’t at all mind needing to take Mom to the ER.  I was easily able to find the kids a ride home from Scouts (we were on our way to Scouts when Mom called) so, really, it wasn’t an inconvenience.  I’m just mad at my sister for thinking it was ok for Mom to drive home alone.  And Mom’s like, “Oh, don’t get mad at her.  She’s just on a different wavelength than  you are.”  What???

Ok, ok, I’m digressing.

And Mom’s ok.  The x-rays and CT scan all checked out fine.

So its 11:00 and I’ve literally done nothing today besides turn the minis out and get sucked into Hay Day and Facebook.  I decided to write in my journal; that helps me clear my head and get on with my day sometimes.

It led me to again think about what I want to do work-wise.  I really want to build something of my own.  I have ideas for three different on-line businesses that I keep coming back to.  I think they’re good ideas.  People I’ve run them by also think they have potential.  I’ve done some brainstorming, made some lists, put some ideas down on paper.

So . . . now what?  Because of my spectacular history of not following through on my brilliant ideas, Husband isn’t going to be supportive of spending any money on these new bright ideas.  Realistically, I could likely get at least one or two of them off the ground without any money.

So . . . now what?  I keep coming back to these ideas, which tells me I should pay attention to them.  What’s stopping me?  I’m sort of at a place in life where I could launch something new, something that’s my very own thing.  I’m smart.  I can figure stuff out.

My brainstorming keeps coming up with problems . . .  What form would the final product be in?  How would I get paid (PayPal?)?  How much do I charge?  I can’t envision the entire project or process. But that led me to remember one of my favorite quotes (which I’m likely not quoting exactly):  Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the entire staircase.

That’s the point I’m at . . . I can’t see the entire staircase.  But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take the first step.

San Francisco’s 49 Mile Drive (sort of)

We’ve been to San Francisco multiple times.  And we’ve always noticed these little signs here and there around the city.

49 mile drive sign

Last Sunday, we thought we would head to “the city” and take the 49 Mile Scenic Drive.  In looking for a map of the route before we left home, I found this great article:  https://www.tripsavvy.com/49-mile-scenic-drive-4064570

It has a lot of great tips, such as, the cute seagull route markers are only printed on one side, so if you’re hoping to follow the signs, you can only drive the route counter-clockwise.  Good to know!!!

The article also points out that the seagull signs are so cute, they are frequently stolen.  So, really, you can’t depend on the signs at all.  Also good to know!  And, that makes it that much more important that you have an idea of the route before you set off.

We didn’t do the entire 49 miles . . . that’s simply too much to do in one day if you’re going to actually stop and look around at all.  We had a fantastic day, following the route mentioned in the article.  Our dog, Sam, served as our landmark model.

First stop:  The Palace of Fine Arts

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That’s Sam, watching the duck.  It was built for the Panama-Pacific International Expo on 1915 (and later rebuilt – it wasn’t originally built to last this long).  There’s not much to actually do here but stop, stroll around the lovely lake and marvel at the whole thing.

Stop 2:  The Presidio

The Presidio is a sprawling old military area that has been lovingly re-purposed into museums, businesses, and many other things.  There are huge green lawns with lovely views.  The Walt Disney Family Museum is there.  https://www.waltdisney.org/  We haven’t visited the museum but plan to on another day.

Lucas Film is also headquartered in the Presidio.  Just tell the super nice security guard that you want to see the Yoda fountain.

IMG_20200129_182932_308  The reception area for Lucas Film is just behind Sam and the Yoda fountain.  Its closed on the weekends but we peered through the window – it looks cool!!  There’s R2D2, a life-size Darth Vader and all the Oscar awards.  We might have to go back on a weekday.

We wandered through the Presidio but did not stop at the Pet Cemetery.  My daughter said it would be weird to take Sam to a pet cemetery.  Plus, there’s really no where to park right near it.  But, the husband and I did stop there years ago and its worth a quick wander.

We also skipped Fort Point (an old Army fort right under the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Bridge itself.  We’ve been to Fort Point and have walked across the Golden Gate.  However, if you haven’t done those things, you really should!  (It takes longer to walk across the bridge than you would think!  And, its always chilly.  Wear a jacket!!!)

Stop 3:  The Legion of Honor

Basically, its an art museum located in Golden Gate Park.  If you like art museums, then its great.  We don’t.  But, we have been here on school field trips.  Admittedly, the mummy room with actual Egyptian mummies is pretty cool.  We stopped to take Sam’s picture in front of “The Thinker”.

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Stop 4:  Cliff House and Ocean Beach

The Cliff House has a really good Sunday brunch buffet.  https://cliffhouse.com/  We’ve been there numerous times.  The room can get a little crowded but the setting makes it one of my favorite places for brunch.

The ruins of the Sutro Baths are nearby and also worth a stop.  https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/cliff-house-sutro-baths.htm  The setting is gorgeous, right on the edge of land.  There’s a good visitor center.

From the Sutro Baths area, there’s a nice walking / hiking trail that goes along the coast.  It offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge and, along the way, you’ll find some old military batteries to explore.  (Look out for glass – unfortunately, the batteries are littered with glass, trash and graffiti.)  Here’s Sam on the trail, on top of one of the batteries.IMG_20200129_182932_333

Stop 5:  Golden Gate Park

There’s a lot to do and see in the Park.  Its home to everything from the California Academy of Sciences (go see the albino alligator!), a Japanese Tea Garden (super cool bonsai), a herd of buffalo, to a Dutch Windmill.  My favorite is the Conservatory of Flowers.  https://conservatoryofflowers.org/

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We’ve been to the park numerous times and have seen all of the above so we skipped over the Park for the most part, besides just driving through.  If you’ve never been to Golden Gate Park, you could easily spend a day just exploring the park and all it has to offer.

Stop 5:  Haight-Ashbury

What can I say?  The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was the center of the hippie culture in the 1960’s.  Think Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, etc.  Today, its quite the eclectic mix of people and places.  There’s high end sneaker stores – the sneakers were individually shrink-wrapped!!!  My kids knew the brand; I didn’t have a clue.  There are hookah shops, lingerie shops (some “nice”, some “naughty”), thrift stores offering velour jumpsuits, and stores packed to the rafters with things I couldn’t even begin to identify.  The sidewalks are filled with everyday folks, homeless folks, people who are clearly high, people who are talking to invisible people and everyone in between.  Taking a few photos just seemed weird, maybe rude and, either way, too touristy.  So just go and experience it for yourself!

Stop 6:  Twin Peaks

O.k., in all our times in San Francisco, we had never even heard of Twin Peaks.  So we went and oh my gosh, was it worth it!!!!  Twin Peaks offers a spectacular view of the entire city!!!  Its truly stunning (and windy and cold but that’s ok).  IMG_20200129_182932_328

That being said, don’t bother going if its foggy, which San Francisco often is.  You won’t see a thing!  This was one of our last stops so it was late in the day and the fog was rolling in quickly.   There is a viewing area and, despite the tour buses, we didn’t have a problem parking.  This will definitely go on our “place to bring out of town visitors” list.  My daughter noted that, from up there, the city looked “kind of flat”, which it definitely isn’t.

Stop 7:  The Castro

Our first sight in the Castro neighborhood was two older gentlemen, holding hands, dressed in matching jeans, red plaid flannel shirts, and suspenders.  They matched right down to their watches and were, honestly, adorable.   The main street of the area, which is home to the historic Castro Theater, is adorned with rainbow flags and rainbow crosswalks.  Its clean and friendly, but still has the people who are muttering to themselves or talking to invisible others.  (And that, kids, is why you don’t do drugs.)

The day was getting late and we had horses to feed at home so our stop here was fairly short.  But, of course, we took Sam’s picture!

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Oh, if you’re looking for an all-you-can-eat sushi spot for lunch, we recommend Sakana Bune at 5701 Geary Street.  Its one of those places where the little plates of sushi comes around on the boats.

l  For non-sushi eaters (that would be me), they have teriyaki, tempura, etc.

That’s as far as we made it on the 49 Mile Drive.  We’ll have to do the rest another day!

 

 

The Power of Positive

Oh!  I wanted to write a whiny post yesterday.  O.k., I’ve had whiny posts running through my head all week.  I’ve been kind of down about my lack of a job.  Which led me to scroll through Craigslist and Indeed.  Which led me to getting more depressed.

And I haven’t accomplished as much as I had planned so far this week.  Yesterday afternoon I started to have negative thoughts running through my head.  It started with, “I’m not doing very well today.”

But wait!  Stop!!!  I promised myself I wasn’t going to go down the negative road.

So, while prepping dinner, I forced myself to list all the things I had accomplished.

First, I got up on time.  Maybe that sounds silly to list as an “accomplishment” but, hey, you gotta start somewhere.

I got the kids to school (mostly on time).

I trekked out in the near-dark to feed the horses.  I could have waited and fed them when I got back from taking the kids to school but my day goes better when I do it first thing.  Because then, I feel like I’ve done something.  And, it means I can turn them out earlier, which is good for them.

I got some work done on summer trip planning.

I had a difficult conversation with a client, which I had been putting off.  (I do some very, very part-time attorney work.)

And, there I was, at 3:30 in the afternoon, not only with a plan for dinner but actually doing some prep while I helped the 14 year old with homework.  And, I ran Roomba which got some of the dog fur off of the floor.

I felt better after reminding myself of those positive things.  I’m proud of myself for stopping the negative thought process.  It put me on a good path for today.

Positive thinking does work!  And its worth the effort.

 

When Your Kid Chooses a Dangerous Career

As I’m sure many of you are aware, yesterday, an air tanker fighting the fires in Australia, crashed, killing the crew.

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Fly firefighting air tankers is my 16 year old son’s singular goal in life.

I’ve had a lot of family and friends tell me this is a dangerous career.  Yes, I know.  They ask how I feel about his career choice.  I say I’m supportive of it.  They kind of look at me in wonder.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still supportive of his career goals.

But the crash gave me pause.   It hit closer to home for some reason.

Evan has always been interested in aviation.  My Dad is a private pilot and has a plane, so he was exposed to it early.  One late afternoon several years ago, we were on our way to a Scout meeting.  A large fire was raging in neighboring Mendocino County and air tankers were flying in and out of our local Cal Fire Air Attack base.  As we were driving, a huge (and I mean . . . huge) air tanker roared over our head so low, it startled me and I was like, “what the heck was that??” as I stared through my sun roof.

That, Evan said, is what I want to do.  He was hooked.  And has remained so since that day.

So, eventually, he started flying lessons.  In late March, he will finish up his private pilot licenses in both fixed wing (airplanes) and rotary (helicopters).  You think its hard to watch your kid drive off in a car for the first time by themselves?  Yeah, try watching them fly away in an airplane and then a helicopter by themselves for the first time.  He completed his solo flights in both airplanes and helicopters on his 16th birthday, before he got his driver’s license.

The other day I heard a helicopter.  I went outside . . . yep, it was Evan, circling the house.

When Air Tanker 134 crashed yesterday, Evan got a text from a friend, letting him know about the accident.  He’s made a lot of contacts in the industry.  Maybe that’s why it hit close . . . it was clear to me that he’s IN this, he knows people in the industry, he’s already a part of that community.

It was quiet in the car as he texted back, “Any survivors?”.

“No.”

I asked Evan if he was sure that’s what he wanted to do.  Maybe he’d like to find a less dangerous pilot job.  “No way.” he said.  And we talked about it.  “There are many, many air tanker pilots who go their entire careers without crashing or even having some sort of incident” he argued.  I acknowledged that he was correct in that statement.

Aahhhh . . . to be 16 and invincible.

When I tucked him into bed (yep, I still tuck him in most nights), I asked if he was upset about the crash.  “No.  You seem to be way, way more upset about it than I am.” he told me.

Well, he’s certainly right about that.

 

 

How I Found Positive

As I said in my last post, I stopped writing for so long because I was tired of hearing myself whine.  I was in such a negative place – lots of negative self-talk, negative thinking, judgement, and criticism.

No more!

How did I turn things around?  Honestly, I had a good friend send me a very strongly worded email that kicked me in the butt.  And, through her example, I found my faith again.  (Don’t worry . . . not going to get all religious on you here.)

My good friend is VERY strong in her faith.  And me?  I grew up Catholic (Catholic school, mass every Sunday, etc.) but have not gone to church in ummmm . . . forever, and haven’t really thought much about it.  My kids are not baptized, which upset my mother greatly and, on some level, upsets me too.  I’m straying from my point . . .

(Wow, and I do seem to be fond of these three little dots . . . in my writing!)

So my friend writes me this email which basically says, “Suck it up, Buttercup.  God has a plan for you, God loves you and all this negativity is the devil talking.”  Really, that’s what it said in multiple paragraphs.  I was sort of stunned when I read it.  Had to read it a couple of times.  But it struck a chord for me.

I have other friends who are strong in their faith.  I’ve noticed over the years that there’s a serenity about them.  I’ve wished for the same.

So, I set out to change my mindset.  Whenever I felt my stress and / or anxiety rising, I found a quiet spot, took a deep breath, said a Hail Mary and asked for the strength to get through whatever I was facing.  Whenever I started being critical, I stopped and consciously made a decision to look for the good.  Every morning when I walk down my driveway in the near-dark from feeding the horses, I look up at the sky and thank God for the day we’re about to have, the opportunities it will bring us, the strength to face the difficult parts and for His protection.  It starts my day off in a positive mindset.

I settled on four words / intentions to focus on:

Gratitude:  I have A LOT to be thankful for but I’ve spent years only thinking about what I didn’t have.  I’m now stopping to be grateful for what I have.

Patience:  This is a super hard one for me.  I’m not patient with myself or others.  Now I remember to be kind to myself, that I’m doing a lot and that I can give myself some slack.  With others, I remember that they’re not being slow just to bother me; maybe they have an unseen reason for not being as quick as I want them to.

Love:  Often it seems like the world is a pretty angry place these days.  I do my best to not contribute to the anger and to, instead, spread some joy.  Smile at folks, give compliments, offer to help.

Faith:  I have to believe there’s a plan.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not using all of this as an excuse.  I’m not saying, “Oh well, I’m not being successful in my new private practice.  God must not want me to be an attorney.”  (I wish!)  I have to work to make positive things happen in my life.  Returning to my faith has just given me a framework for that and a method for staying focused and positive.

Honestly, this switch from negative to positive has been easier than I anticipated.  I think its because, when I feel myself drifting back towards the dark side, I have a set of tools I can use to immediately stop the negativity.

So, that’s what’s worked for me.  Mind you, I’ve only been at this a few weeks.  So far, its working.  And I have faith that its going to continue to work.

I’m Back! And Why I Left

So . . . its been a super, super long time since I’ve written anything.  Why?  Basically because I was tired of listening to myself whine about the same things.  (And I thought the few of you who were kind enough to read my blog might be tired of listening to my whining as well.)

But I’m back with a new, positive, attitude.  And, since I’ve managed to maintain my positive outlook for nearly a couple of weeks now, I felt ok about writing here again.  My challenge to myself going forward though, is to, well, basically NOT WHINE.  And to write regularly.  But, to only write from a positive frame of mind.  So, if I want to write like two or three days a week, and it has to be from a positive place, then that should help maintain my positive outlook.

Does that all make sense?

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to write about my challenges . . . I am . . . I just am trying really, really hard to face challenges and obstacles from a mindset of positive problem-solving.  We’ll see how this goes.

A lot has happened since I last wrote and we have a few changes coming up.  I lost my great job that I loved back in March.  Since then, I’ve seriously struggled to find something new.  I “failed” out of a couple of jobs and so finally, around October, I declared myself in private practice (I’m an attorney).  That hasn’t gone particularly well.  Need to work on it some more.  I’m sure that will be the subject of some future posts.

Our son is looking at colleges.  He’s a junior in high school.  We’ve settled on three colleges to go visit.  That makes him leaving for college suddenly very real.  I’m not super happy about that.  Again . . . future posts.

Our daughter, who is a high school freshman, is looking at switching high schools next year, from public high school to private, Catholic, high school.  Another big change.

We added a new horse to the barn family.  A happy change!!  I’ll introduce him eventually.

And I’m sure there are other things . . . anyway, I feel good about writing again.  I am confident that it will help me maintain my positive mindset and that will help everything else in my life in turn.

And, for those of you who actually read this . . . thanks for the support!!!

Need a Summer Re-Start

My kids have been out of school for less than a week.  Wait, is that really possible??  (Consulting calendar)  Yes . . . the youngest “graduated” from 8th grade a week ago today and the oldest finished up 10th grade last Thursday.  So we’re just one week into summer break.

And it hasn’t been an easy week.  I’d like to re-wind and start over.

The first weekend of summer (last weekend), we scheduled to have a few of my Scouts “camp” here so they could knock out a bunch of their cooking requirements.  By Saturday afternoon everyone was tired, crabby, hot, and definitely didn’t want to do their required cooking.  By 9:30 Saturday night, we had slogged through the cooking and a few other requirements and kids went home early.  But not before we had tears and me swearing I was done with Scoutmaster-ing.

However, it wound up being a great thing that kids went home early because Sunday morning, we were awoken by our beloved 6 year old, yellow Lab having a full-blown grand mal seizure.  It was terrible.  Absolutely awful and terrifying.  We were all hysterical.  Then, it got worse.  When he stopped seizing, he was completely disoriented, didn’t recognize any of us and became extremely aggressive.  He was snarling, growling, barking and definitely would have bitten.  We finally got him outside without anyone being bitten.  But having their best friend lunge at them sent my kids over the edge.  And left me wondering how on earth I was going to get my snarling dog in a crate and to the vet.

Thankfully, he returned to himself within about 15 minutes, let me put a leash on him, got in a crate (which he never, ever goes in) and off to the emergency vet we went.  Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures.  We followed up with our regular vet yesterday and started medication, which he’ll have to have twice a day for the rest of his life.

The vet said that, should he have another seizure, the extreme aggressiveness will likely be his pattern.  So  now we have a “dog seizure protocol”.  Its been traumatic.

And finally, my oldest has decided to change Scout troops.  This decision has been building for a few weeks and it hasn’t been easy.  We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and last night, there were a lot of tears over it.

So, that’s been our first week of summer.  Fabulous, right?  I suppose it can only get better from here!