More Livable, More Lovable.

Peace Walk Lodi Arch

On Saturday morning, our local Sikh, Muslim, Christian, & Atheist groups organized the second annual Lodi Peace Walk from Veteran’s Plaza to the Poplar Mosque to celebrate & promote peace in our community. I was surprised and excited to find something like this happening and couldn’t resist being a part of it. I admit that I had planned to drive & just take pictures but the energy of the small gathering overwhelmed me. I marched happily amidst a rainbow of Lodians, most of whom I don’t have the pleasure of rubbing elbows with very often. For two miles every conversation I overheard was positive and plunged below the surface. There was so much niceness in the air, I almost cried at least once. Thankfully, I was soon to have some kind of pudding forced upon me by an elderly Sikh man who, when I asked what it was, just said, “Sweet!” and walked away.

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The whirlwind of food and kids and dogs once we landed at Blakely Park was overwhelming in a good way. The organizers, in addition to Mayor Doug & Chief Patterson, gave kind and inspiring speeches. In each one, our slogan “Livable, Lovable, Lodi” was repeated with gusto. Turns out, Lodi is more livable when we interact in peace and more lovable once we get out there and do it. I feel proud to live in a town where things like this happen and can’t wait to see this little walk grow into a big one. Maybe someday it will be a real parade! A girl can dream.

Be like me and push past your anxieties over a bowl of mysterious pudding. Next time, I might even drink the Koolaid. Live in peace, Lodians!

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Hot, hot, hot!

Holy cow, it’s hot out there! Are you ready for summer in Lodi BECAUSE I AM NOT.  While this heat wave promises to be short, my recent switch to natural deodorant is being tested in a very real way this week. Thankfully I am in good standing with someone who has a pool AND a shade-filled canopy. Looks like it’s time to start buttering her up!

In preparation for a world filled with mosquitoes and sunshine, here’s my go-to recipe for cooling bug spray that will leave you smelling fresh AND feeling fine plus NO CHEMICALS!

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Cooling Critter Spray

You need: Spray Bottle (8oz), Witch Hazel, Distilled Water, Essential Oils: Citronella, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Lavender, & Peppermint. I highly recommend Edens Garden essential oils. They’re a woman-owned company in California with free US shipping, what more can you want?

  1. Fill spray bottle half full with distilled water
  2. Add witch hazel up to about an inch from the top, leaving room for oils.
  3. Add 10 drops of each essential oil (total 50 drops).
  4. Shake to mix & SPRAY ON! Store in the fridge for that extra chill.

While you’re out enjoying your freedom from chemicals and mosquitoes, don’t forget to drink lots of water, protect your skin, and stay cautious around our rivers this weekend! That Sierra snow melt means business. Be safe out there, folks!

Stuck in Lodi, So What?

I have the distinct pleasure of working in the Lodi housing industry. Last week, a new client admitted that he’d been visiting Lodi on a lark, fell in love with an old Victorian, and promptly uprooted his young family from San Francisco. He said he wanted to give his daughter the slow, safe life he remembered as a kid in the 1970’s and that Lodi was the place to do it.

Our little town is special and in the past few years it’s more than just us Lodians who know it.  My Sacramento-born friends joke that “downtown Lodi” is actually in the middle of a vineyard. They’re not completely wrong. Lodi has a reputation as a backward place to get stuck where nothing happens ever to anyone and that’s just fine with us. When asked about the famous nod from CCR’s 1969 hit “Stuck in Lodi”, Lodians have been known to say things like, “Whatever, we like it here. It’s boring but it’s a good kind of boring.” And it is.

I feel lucky to live in such a “boring” place.  Last month marked two years since I moved home and well-being is the name of the game. There’s something magic about being nestled in this peaceful town full of friends and family.  Life can be violent and charge ahead of you at break-neck speeds if you let it. DON’T LET IT. Time is precious and we have a truly golden opportunity as Lodians to enjoy the slow lane. Be like my client and take back the slow life you deserve!! Even better, take this pretty weekend and rent a Kayak on Lodi Lake or throw all caution to the wind (literally) and GO SKYDIVING or watch the divers from the safety of the Airport Cafe. Get out there and have fun, folks!

Weekend Trip: Big Sur

If you’ve got a three day weekend, there’s more than enough time to escape down Highway 1 toward Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named for the adventurous and kind-hearted daughter of Big Sur’s first wave of Homesteaders. I recommend taking the Slow Coast from San Francisco to Monterey before you rush off to Big Sur. Take your time! You can even stop for Taco Bell on the beach in Pacifica and sleep affordably at The Otter Inn on Cannery Row. We needed a mid-trip break from sleeping in the car and this little hotel with an ocean view saved our lives. Ditch the hotel coffee and run full speed to Bright Coffee on Lighthouse Avenue for quality beverages and some very very tempting artisan home goods browsing.

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Of all the spots to love in Big Sur, my favorite is the Henry Miller Memorial Library. It’s “the place where nothing happens” and where I always take advantage of a little time alone on the porch with the cats. This trip, I didn’t even make it inside! The library is a sanctuary. I use my time there to breathe, reflect, and reset. It feels safe, like home, and I don’t visit half as often as my soul requires. The library is a bookstore, performance venue, and art center devoted to the memory  and spirit of Henry Miller, an American upstart and resident of Big Sur. You don’t need to know anything about him or the story of the library to enjoy it but it definitely helps. Take a moment, donate generously, and have a good sit. Pet a kitty, take a load off, and find a bit of peace.

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The brightest thing I have learned from my travels is that wide open space and the marvel of nature have authentic restorative powers. It’s best not to waste them. When you’re driving around town, plan ahead and take the country route. Roll down the windows and take a look around. Even a short drive down a pretty road can do wonders. Quiet your mind and indulge in the moment as often as you can.

Until next time!

Slow Down, Stay Loose

 

The only time I’ve had my Tarot read was in a dark corner of a company Christmas party last year. The first card she drew was The Hermit, no surprise. The Hermit card represents a conscious choice to separate yourself from others “for a certain purpose where being alone is instrumental.” I have always been drawn to lonely stretches of highway and had fantasies about fully giving in to a life of contemplation. If allowed, I could retreat into myself for years on any number of Big Sur cliffsides like so many slow-rolling, adventurous folks have done before me.

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The days of my most recent roadtrip down the Slow Coast to Big Sur all blend together in the best way. Luckily, the storm took a short break. Mudslides kept us sequestered above Lucia and forced to go slow. I don’t know how many times we drove back and forth throughout the day within the same 18 miles of cliffs, looking for bits of sunshine in which to warm up. I learned that bringing some groceries and a camping grill really can turn a roadtrip around when you wake up too early for anything to be open and want to watch the sun come up with a grilled cheese.

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Here are a few of the rules that help us slow our roll and get in roadtrip mode:

  1. No Bad Days. Bad days are a waste of time on the road. Leave that shit at home and go with the flow. Don’t let life’s little problems get in the way of your appreciation of the journey. Invest in yourself, take a deep breath, and move on.
  2. Chase the view. Most of our driving hours are spent chasing the prettiest view of the sun going up or down. I have yet to capture a decent photo of it and so in these moments I put the camera down and pause to breath, think, and focus.
  3. Be safe. Nature can be a cruel mistress, it is best to listen to her. Don’t get cocky. Along the way we stopped to watch the sunset and sleep. After the sunset, chit-chatting in the cold darkness, we heard a handful of rocks fall down from above. Time to move. The most beautiful places are often the most dangerous. Make sure you’ve got solid footing. This is true on cliffs and in life, so be careful out there folks.
  4. Drink water. You may have to peeside seaside but your body will thank you for staying hydrated. Sunlight and excitement are taxing on the body. Take care of yourself. Like the ocean, you are mostly water so drink up!

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It’s Always Time to Celebrate

The only paid job I had while “living” in New Orleans was a one-night gig for a band I’d met earlier that day. For three hours and the promise of sixty dollars I yelled FANCY MUSIC, FANCY DRINKS, COME ON IN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN over and over. At the end of the night after getting stiffed half the pay and charged for drinks, I left the barking industry with a small shred of dignity. I know I was avoiding life by running into the arms of the Crescent City and I have no shame or regret about that. The short time I spent in New Orleans taught me many things about myself and the world but most of all about celebrating the experience of life no matter how hard that can be. The strength of the human spirit is alive and well in New Orleans along with many pieces of my trumpet-loving heart.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Carnival and I am sad to be in California. Carnival in New Orleans is a magical month that drags you into it no matter who you are. The spirit of the city is always alive but never like it is from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras and for at least a month after. During this time of year, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than crowded behind a barrier, rushing out into the street between floats to hoard parade swag.  And yet, here I am in Lodi sorting through pictures and overplaying (if it’s possible) the Mardi Gras playlist I made to get in the spirit of things.

In honor of the season, here’s some of my favorite Mardi Gras-related(ish) music to keep you dancing through the day. Slow down, stay loose!

Bring it on, 2017.

Happy New Year!  As we chug forward planning our wedding, recovering from the holidays, and crack open fresh new planners (my favorite) the itch to hit the road and leave it all behind (at least for a few days) is ever-present. Sometimes you just need to go on an adventure like, right now. This time, we trekked up Hwy 4 to celebrate the new year in a cabin full of dogs.

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2016 was a whirlwind of a year; I turned 30, got a puppy who is now all grown up, and became engaged to the best human I have ever met. I’ve lived in the same apartment for over a year and am thriving in a new career job, holy cow! For me, sitting still is hard. Living in the same place or having the same job for too long has, in the past, driven me to violently break the shackles of my life and hit the road with no concrete plans or money. These days, the prospect of cultivating the life I have holds so much more excitement and adventure than living solo life on the road, waiting for my moment. The moment is now!

This year, I’m digging in deep and I hope you are too. Let’s take it up a notch, 2017.

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Weekend Trip: Santa Cruz

In 2009 I moved to the beach with $800. I shared a dingy room with a girl who only bathed with coconut oil and would have sex with foreign visitors while I was trying to sleep. BUT I LIVED AT THE BEACH. For three years I walked over train tracks in heels, brought my own beer to the boardwalk to play arcade games, and sang good music with good people in good places. In honor of my 30th birthday, I returned to my beloved beach trash city for a walkabout and more sober activities. While I refuse to give away all my spots, the following few should keep you busy for at least a whole weekend.

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I don’t like to spend a lot of money, even if I have it. When planning a vacation, it’s always better to find a great place to walk around and see pretty things for free than to spend a lot of money on activities. We sprung for a room at the Chaminade Resort & Spa just a short jump away from beach-side Santa Cruz.  Dinner & drinks at the hotel was our most expensive venture at eighty dollars but the hilltop ocean view made it all worthwhile. Since check-in on Saturday wasn’t until 4p, we drove in early and went adventuring before brunch at my favorite breakfast haunt, The Walnut Cafe. If you bring your dog to breakfast, ask for the doggie menu!

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Natural Bridges State Beach is a great first stop in Santa Cruz. The beach is nestled at the end of  West Cliff Drive, a slow winding road with cliff-side views good enough to welcome yourself to the Pacific Ocean in style. At the end of the road, the beach! You can pay to park up near picnic tables on the hill or park for free just before the entrance and give yourself some exercise. The only downside is that the beach doesn’t allow dogs but that’s what Mitchell’s Cove is for. Tidepools and a nice long beach full of dogs makes Mitchell’s Cove the best beach for everyone in my humble opinion.danger-oceandanger-ocean

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Living a life of adventure isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, your battle to get a good picture of waves up close means there is sand and sea in your boots even though you were smart enough to wear rubber boots this time. Thankfully, I had $40 and thought ahead. We booked a tub at an excellent tea house that has saved my beach-cold life many times. A Well Within is nestled in downtown Santa Cruz, just a short walk from pizza-by-the-slice at The Catalyst and the rabbit-hole of book shopping that is Logos Books & Records. Each tub comes equipped with a shower, towels, hot tea, and ice water. I recommend the outdoor experience for that beachy breeze! An hour is more than enough time for R&R between activities.

In Santa Cruz, I always find myself taking a drive. When Seabright and West Cliff are too busy, California Highway 1 is arguably the best stretch of road for beach-view driving. The detour up Mission Boulevard from downtown Santa Cruz is worth the trek to Davenport. On Sunday we hiked around the cliff and GOT ENGAGED. Here’s to adventure & the future! Take my advice and stop for a second to enjoy the scenery. You won’t regret it.

Until next time!

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Team Addison

There’s a magical little lady here in Lodi that I am proud to call my niece. Addison is a powerhouse and a damn inspiration. When she had surgery for Brain Cancer at only a month old, the doctors told us she wouldn’t survive the year. Today, she turns SIX YEARS OLD. There are many diagnoses to describe her but the best words are the ones that describe her character traits. Addison is a wild, emotionally intelligent, strong little girl. When Epilepsy got her down last year, the non-functioning half of her brain was removed. It is incredible to me that medicine has progressed this far and that Addison’s crippling, all-day seizures stopped. She began making memories again and really blossoming into the grown-up girl she is today.

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While our initial fears regarding Addison’s life have been relieved, our worries about her physical and emotional safety still command daily life. When strangers ask, “What happened to your hand?” or “Why do you wear a brace on your leg?” Addison has been coached to kindly explain that the braces help her walk and play (though she would rather run full speed away from you than actually give an explanation). In honor of my little girl, here are a lucky six things you can do to make folks like Addison with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities like Autism feel welcome in your space:

1. Stop Saying The Word “Retarded”. It’s not funny and it doesn’t make you seem very bright. When persons with disabilities are referred to as “retarded”, it bundles them up in the old-time idea that disabled people are a worthless burden on society. Calling your friend a “retard” is unoriginal and insulting to vulnerable members of our society. It is hard to change language that is so deeply ingrained but you have to try.

2. Judge People Less. Is there a child screaming on the ground of your local grocery store or a little girl that stands too close and is introducing herself over and over? Might be an Autism Moment. A creative mother made these cards to  dole out to folks who may have witnessed her child’s behavior:

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3. Go With The Flow. Living with Addison has taught me that anything can happen at any time and probably will. You really never know what kind of situation you might find yourself in. Be fluid. Be steady. Be ready to rock ‘n roll.

4. Cherish The Moment. Every moment is precious. It is not always easy to remember that but there is too much to lose if we forget it. Don’t spend your time worrying. Take a deep breath and move on to something real.

5. Be Happy. This is a general rule but more on topic, many people with Autism either have trouble reading social cues or pick up too much emotion from others. Keep it positive. Negative reinforcement don’t do nobody no good. Smile, it’s good exercise for your mood and your face!

6. Never Give Up. If there’s one thing Addison has taught me (and chanted over and over and over) is to “Never give up!!”. She takes it all in stride. She is a little bundle of energy that never stops moving and barely sleeps. I don’t know how she does it. It’s a hell of an act to follow.

If you would like to know more about a few of Addison’s diagnoses, these links are quite helpful!

The Brain Recovery Project

Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association

Pediatric Hydrocephalus, Columbia University

Communicating and Interacting with Autism