Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Lesson of the Paddle Board

Of course there are no pictures to accompany this post because I was too busy having fun. Paddle Boarding awed me today. I began learning on the calm of the river that met the sea. So serene, calm and reflective. I thought..."I could do this every day and smile brighter than before" Seriously, I felt so small and serene at the same time.

Then, I tried to paddle in the ocean. This was much more difficult, yet rewarding. I remembered trying to learn how to surf years ago with my friends in San Diego. I was a failure. I could barely carry the board and trying to stand was a feat! However, once I paddled past the breaks, I found myself in a calmer more forgiving ocean.

I liken this to life...sometimes we just need to paddle past the breaks to be okay. I was standing in the ocean on a board, watching the fish and seals swim past me...AMAZING!!! Then, a wave came and knocked me off my board. I did a free fall into the ocean, but somehow found myself back on the board paddling and laughing with exhilaration! Again, I can liken this to life which has thrown me some ferocious curve balls, but I somehow find myself standing back up and smiling and sometimes, if I am lucky, laughing!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Discovering Morro Bay

Wanderlust has been rearing its head lately, but vacation time just doesn't seem to accumulate as fast as I'd like. Therefore, I have resorted to day trips and what a delight they can be. Recently, I visited Morro Bay on the perfect weekend to visit. The Morro Bay Harbor festival, Woodie Car Show and Farmer's Market were all ready to welcome me! The day was spent sipping wine and beer, eating oysters and watching seals.

Friday, October 7, 2011

For Melanie

In 1998, I met a vivacious redhead named Melanie. She was beautiful, funny and had bright red hair down the middle of her back. You couldn't help but notice when she walked into a room. I was intimidated by her at first. She seemed mysterious, strong and fierce. I couldn't wait to become her friend.

Our friendship started in English class, my first year in college. She was my writing partner. Our duty was to critique each other's writing to help bring out our inner creativity. We both loved writing and had fun reading what we would create each week. One week, Melanie wrote a story that shocked and saddened me. It was a personal story about her battle with a disease I had never heard of, Lupus.

I immediately looked up Lupus and read many facts and was relieved when I saw that it is rarely fatal. Our friendship became closer the more she opened up about her struggle and from her I learned that vulnerability can be quite lovely. She was sick often and I would go over to her house and watch terrible movies or just sit and talk. She never really did seem to have an appetite, but coffee was a common interest. So, over many cups of coffee (with Hazelnut creamer), I learned how a disease can control your life.

See, Melanie had one of the most aggressive forms of Lupus, where every part of her was attacked. I learned she had a kidney transplant in her teens (thanks to her mother), her heart was weak and she thought her kidney was giving out again. She lived with pain. I have no idea how she functioned and maintained her smile. She RARELY complained and the only reason she even talked about Lupus was because of all my questions.

Melanie dated, danced and drank a little. But her illness never let her forget it was in control. She was in and out of the hospital frequently and missed many classes and events. I remember visiting with her during dialysis and although she was tired and drained, she joked and smiled through it all. One day, she became so ill, she ended up staying in the hospital for months. When she was released, she moved a hospital bed to her parents home where she could recoup with their help and love.

One day, her mom couldn't wake her up. Melanie had started slipping away and 911 was called. Her final days were spent in ICU. I visited her and realized that my friend's vivacious, bright soul was ready to leave. She was tired and fought as hard as possible to stay alive. I remember tears running down her cheeks and trying to smooth her hair because she never wanted to look disheveled. She passed surrounded by her family and friends. She was 31, much too young.

Meeting Melanie and watching her fight so hard to live changed my life. She was one of the strongest people I know. She never wanted to give off the sick vibe, she didn't want people to worry about her. Her final request was to donate her body to UCSF for Lupus research to help find a cure.

I will be participating in a walk to help fund Lupus research. Please join me or donate in Melanie's honor to help fund research. Please visit my Alliance for Lupus Research Walk page to donate.

Thank you

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Central Coast Living

Living on the Central Coast has its ups and downs. Since moving here in December, I have found that it takes 7 hours to drive home to see my family, 3-4 hours to get to an airport and 6 hours to reach the bottom of my territory. While it takes forever to get here and airports are not nearby, I have tried my best to make a list of some of the perks of living in a remote area on California's coast.

The first being wine country. This is the reason I moved down here. I have learned so much about the geography of California working in the wine industry. Sometimes I am amazed that I have lived here all my life and failed to explore this region until my job sent me down here. There are amazing wine regions in the Central Coast ranging from hot, coastal, mountains and winding valleys.
Then, there are the many beaches to explore that make my heart smile. I can walk around my neighborhood and find at least 5 stairways to beaches that beckon me to descend to their sandy playgrounds. The most magnificent thing about the beach--it is ever changing.
Then, there are quirky coffee shops where I can read, write, work and think. This one is my favorite. It reminds me of what it would look like if my brain had a living room...lots of books, quotes, a conglomerate of art, mismatched comfy chairs and a menu where each dish is named after a famous author.
There are also wine bars galore. In wine country, it is pretty hard to go a couple blocks without seeing one. I have found my favorite while wandering in downtown San Luis Obispo one day. It has a European feel and Nutella on the menu. They have my loyalty for sure.
The people who make the Central Coast are my kind of folk. Artists, writers, winemakers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, students and sufers all create the laid back community that I have grown to adore. Each person I have met has a fascinating story, especially the ones who came from cities or far away...they just wanted to relax and live a simpler life. I can totally relate to that vibe and resonate with so many ideals here.
Finally, the ultimate perk is peace. I have the opportunity to sit by the ocean and allow the waves to lull me to my peaceful place. Contemplation and awe have been a constant for me since my move. Being so close to the ocean does not allow me to forget how fortunate I am to visit it each day. When I move, I will always remember this time by the ocean with wonder and appreciation.