November – Renewal, Part 2

November’s goal was all about “renewing.“  I set out with a list to renew both my body and my car, but stumbled upon some levels of renewal that meant much more.  I took a couple trips including taking the train to Seattle to attend the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar and a ten-day road trip to Monterey Bay near Thanksgiving.

I decided t take the train versus drive!

I decided t take the train versus drive!

Seattle was great.  I was going to drive up the morning of the seminar, but at the last minute I changed my mind to go by train and leave the day prior.  I love the train and how relaxing it is and walking is always my preferred mode of transportation when it works out.  The seminar was amazing and very inspiring covering blogs, podcasts, social media and video making.  I love technology and took avid notes while feeling enlightened by the guest speakers.  Whatever the gals that created Vida Vegan Con do, I am there, as they do it with class, creativity and fun!  The seminar took place at the Seattle Library, an amazing and fun location that in and of itself opens you up to new ways of thinking!

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Seattle Fashion

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Inside the Seattle Library

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Janessa & Jess of Vida Vegan Con (Michelle was busy blogging the event live)

While in Seattle, I also had the great opportunity to reconnect with my friend, Cathy Zaitzow, who shares my exact same birthday and year.  This makes us “Astrological twins” and it is a bit eerie what that can encompass.  We had not talked or seen each other in years.  We had celebrated our 40th birthday together back 15 years ago if that gives you any hints to how long it had been!  The only thing she needed me to know is that she has “gone vegan”…to which I replied, “we have some catching up to do!”  Time collapsed as we talked and shared a vegan meal.  I left wondering why do we not connect more often as it felt so good for both of us.

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Kathy & Cathy

Then mid month I took a ten-day road trip to Monterey to visit family and friends and also do the Big Sur Half Marathon.  What an amazing trip!  I had planned this trip prior to deciding to retire.  My original plans were to fly and do the Half Marathon then take a few vacation days and combine it with Thanksgiving.  After I made that big choice to retire I found myself in the shower thinking, “so now that you don’t have to go back to work, how do you want this vacation to look?”  The next day I got word that a friend from Australia was going to be visiting San Francisco the week prior to Thanksgiving, so a road trip started to form!

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Interstate-5 headed South in the rain

As I hit the road, the rain poured down, Siri helped me find vegan food, and I made it to my first stop in time for dinner with my nephew’s wife, Tonia, and her kids.  It was fun to see their place and share some time together.  It meant a lot that Tonia welcomed me as we just met for the first time last year.  A big shout out to the Axelson’s in Redding, California for the chance to spend time together and a place to stay along the way!  Thank you.

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Axelson’s of Redding

Rain continued to pour as I hit the road the next morning.  Next stop Monterey in time to pick up my race packet for the next day.  My heart was so touched to see my brother, Keith, and his wife, Hillary, welcomed me with open arms.  Hillary had not only bought lots of vegan snacks, my favorite kombucha and researched vegan restaurants, but she also put up a welcome sign in the guest bedroom and she texted me a photo of the vegan snacks waiting for me…much like my Facebook posts of food.  That evening, we shared an amazing dinner at Ambrosia, an Indian restaurant in Monterey that has a vegan menu.

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Vegan treats await you!

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Rolling out the welcome mat!

The next morning Keith and Hillary got up at the crack of dawn to take me to the starting line for the Big Sur Half Marathon.  Weather reports warned of rain, but as luck would have it the skies opened up to sun and great walking weather!  As I walked, I passed by places from my past that caused me to weep.  I saw the house where Jim and Julie lived, Holman’s where my Mom bought me clothes back in grade school, the house that Dave (Myra’s Dad) lived in when we first met, the area near my first college home in Pacific Grove and the pool at Lover’s Point where I learned to jump off the high dive.  The walk went smoothly, but around the 11th mile I began to crave seeing the 12-mile marker.  I was surprised to hear “only 30 seconds left” as I rounded a corner.  Mind you, I am still looking for the 12-mile marker…but I was now at the 13th mile.  Guess they took the 12-mile marker down already.  I decided to kick it into a run and made the finish within the 30 seconds.  My family, Keith, Hillary, my Mom and my Aunt Elaine greeted me.  They were ringing a cowbell and had an awesome sign that brought tears to my eyes.  You see I am not a natural athlete.  It has taken 3 years to work from walking a few miles, getting plantar faciitis, working my way to my first half marathon in 2011, to being able to do 3 half marathons in 2012.  I have crossed a couple of finish lines to be greeted by no one, but to know that victory inside.  But life is about sharing victories with those you love.  That is the hugest part of my “renewal lesson” that unfolded.  Yes, we all know it on a mental level, but this hit my core soul and emotional level.

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Beautiful day unfolds at Monterey

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30 seconds to go

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Tillie Gorts with Hillary, Keith, me & Elaine (Mom was behind the camera)

I’d like to thank Hillary for all her love and care each step of the way to make me feel welcome.  I’d also like to thank her for encouraging my Mom to come to the finish line.  My Mom usually attends church on Sundays and was thrown off by how to get through the crowds to the finish line, so I told her not to worry about it, but Hillary asked her how often has she gotten to see her daughter walk 13 miles and she helped come up with a plan for getting my Mom there.  It is actions like this that cannot be measured, but matter so much!

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Greeted by family with this cool sign

The day after the race I headed up to San Francisco to reunite with friends from my February trip to India.  Tara was flying in from Australia, which prompted a reunion with the 7 who live in SF.  Chandra opened her beautiful home to us.  Tara and I visited Gracias Madres, a famous vegan restaurant in SF for the first time.  We got to tour Veg News magazine headquarters.  We saw the beauty of San Francisco and then went to Millennium Restaurant with Colleen Holland and Joe Connelly from Veg News, making the experience over the top as the chef provided us with multiple dishes to try on the house!  Great food and good friends made for a special night.

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Veg News tour

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Delores Park overlooking SF

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Tara, Amy, Joe, Marc, Me, Kim, Chandra and Colleen from the February India trip

The following day Tara and I joined Amy on a trip to Muir Woods, Mill Valley and the cute town of Bolinas.  The weather was heavy with fog and precipitation, but something about the redwoods, moss and lichen felt very healing to me.

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Magic abounds in the redwoods

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Beauty abounds

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Tara and Amy at lunch

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Fresh salad with pomegranate, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and homemade dressing

I then headed my Mom’s house in Salinas, California.  My Mom lives in the home we had since I was in 2nd grade.  We had fun shopping at a local produce market, making food for Thanksgiving and catching up on our lives.  The eating vegan thing was challenging for my Mom, so I ended up sharing and making some of my favorite recipes for her.  She was open to what I cooked and seemed to enjoy the items we had.  Thanksgiving was spent with my Mom, Keith and Hillary.  We dined on great food and had a nice time around the fire.  I also was able to help my Mom get her photos uploaded to her computer and then to Costco, so she could do her lovely Christmas page she does each year with photos of our family.  I am glad I love technology and can help in that way.  I saw that her page came out great as usual when I opened my mail yesterday.  Thanks Mom for giving me some down time and that special chance to hang out together!

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Mom’s 2012 Christmas Letter photos

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New adventures are available on the path less taken

Next was the trip home, which provided clear skies the whole way.  This was so welcome after driving down in the rain.  One of the biggest things about the trip home was deciding to make a detour.  I usually take Interestate-5 up the whole way, but without the pressure of a job waiting for me, I decided to take a new way.  I made this decision about 20 minutes after I passed the turn off, which required quite the conversation in my head to work through.  I left Mount Shasta and took 97 up through central Oregon instead.  That had me waking up to Mount Shasta, seeing Klamath Falls area, seeing Bend, and ending the day with Mount Hood as I approached home.  What a gorgeous view of so many new sights.  It opened up my heart to the beauty around me and had me stopping to take lots of photos along the way.  I long to return and explore many of the areas in more detail soon.   I am so glad I made the choice to take a new way!

So “renew” now includes connecting at a deeper level with those who are family and friends and allowing them to be there for me.  It also allows me to take detours that might open up my world in unpredictable ways.  These are special gifts that I do not take for granted.  I am a firm believer that we are the authors of our life and I now have these lessons of “renewal” to bring forward in my own journey as it unfolds.

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