Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad

I lost my dad tragically to alcoholism when I was 26 and he was 55. Alcoholism devastated the last few years of his life and severed our relationship. I was devastated and ashamed by the way he died and how he lived his life in his final years. I was young and naïve and I didn’t know how to help him. I deeply regret that we weren't able to have a relationship in his final years.

I stuffed the pain of his passing for years – 13 in fact. To aid in my healing, a wise healer/therapist (thank you Sadee) encouraged me to ask friends and family to recall fond memories of my dad.
Indeed there were MANY from my childhood. He was an amazingly kind, giving, hardworking, caring dad. He supported everything my sister and I did. I have especially fond memories of soccer games and practices and attending sporting events with him. But I had stuffed those memories, buried them in fact.
The work continues – and I know it will be a lifelong journey for me. I’m learning a lot about how our stories shape our lives through an online workshop I’m taking with vulnerability guru Brené Brown and truth- teller Glennon Doyle Miller. The course is called The Wisdom of Story and is about how to harness the power of story so we can own our experiences, be brave, and rise strong.
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the
bravest thing that we will ever do."
- Brené Brown

I’m feeling brave and vulnerable, and I’m learning that “owning” my story and sharing it I will help me continue to heal, and hopefully help reduce some stigmas about the challenges we all face in this beautiful thing we call life and being human!

Today on what would have been my dad’s 74th birthday, I’m honoring him by sharing a few of the memories people shared with me.

“Your Dad always being there, participating and contributing to your lives. He seemed to care about me more than just a kid next door. He was always kind. He was level headed around me. I have all positive memories of your Dad when growing up. I always felt welcome at your house. After thinking about all those memories, it really paints a picture that your parents worked hard to raise you and Jill in a healthy and supportive environment.” – Scott, childhood/lifelong friend


“What I remember most about Roger was that he was so kind, and would do anything for you.  I also remember him cheering us on at soccer games, and camping with us at Indian Princesses.” – Amee, childhood/lifelong friend


Roger, the first thing that comes to mind is his laugh. He had a great laugh and he laughed a lot, especially when he was teasing you. I think you have him to be thankful for when it comes to that "tom boy" side that few know about. What I mean by that is that you are an athlete that strives to succeed. Roger got a kick out of sports and getting you girls to be tough on the field. Your dad loved you girls more than anything in the world, literally. Your dad was on your team in every sense of the word.” Lara, childhood/lifelong friend


“Good sport – didn’t get upset easily, could laugh at himself. Easy going. Nice to be around. Liked practical jokes (not to hurt others, just for fun). Your dad was very supportive of your activities. He enjoyed taking family trips. He wanted the best for his family. He always listened to football on the radio in the car.  In my mind, I can see your whole family driving in the blue Bug with the top down, smiling, and your dad wearing a plaid shirt!” – Marli, childhood/lifelong friend


“Our memories of your dad go back to times when he and Darlene were dating in college.  From the very first time we met, his smile and gentle manner were obvious. That carried throughout the years we spent time together. He was a person full of love for family, for special holidays and for enjoying life. He was a fun guy who had pride in his family and was attentive to his family's needs.” – Uncle Dick and Auntie Janet
“What I loved about Dad: He was such an unselfish person. Coming home from work with jokes to share. His genuine laughter. Long drives in the car and dates to the farmers market. Watching baseball at the park. Being tickled on the floor. His smile. He was so smart, I could ask him anything and he would know the answer. He sang in the church choir. He was a good friend. His homemade pizza. His unconditional love.” – Jill, sister


This is one of my favorite memories of my dad on a family vacation on Maui. He took me to dinner at one of the fancy hotels on the island. Boy, were we tan! One of his favorite quotes was: “You have to burn to tan!”


My sister told me she is honoring our dad today by making polish sausage and sauerkraut for dinner – one of his favorite meals. That’s a sweet memory too!

Cheers dad! I love you and miss you every day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Colors of Fall

Happy fall friends! It's quintessentially fall in Seattle today: the sun is out but there's a chill in the air. It's starting to look, feel and smell like fall.

One of the things I love about fall are the rich, beautiful colors. Dahlias seem to bridge the gap between summer and fall with colors ranging from cheery yellow and pink to deep orange, red and fuchsia. 

To me this is nature at her best. Each blossom is so uniquely beautiful and colorful.

Without further ado, here is my annual dahlia post starring the gorgeous blooms from the Volunteer Park Dahlia Garden. 

What's your favorite thing about fall?    

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Savoring Summer

It feels like summer has come to a screeching halt. I have to admit I'm not ready for fall and school and homework and routine. It feels like this was the fastest summer on record. I'm not ready for it to be over. 

But instead of wallowing I'm going to savor the many wonderful memories and experiences from summer 2016. I got this idea from one of my "gurus." Patricia Moreno wrote this on her blog

"Savoring is a great way to look back and actually re-experience those yummy moments and anchor them in your heart, body and mind." 

At the beginning of the summer, I ordered a pair of espadrilles from Soludos. Nothing screams summer and carefree days like a new pair of espadrilles. The above postcard came with my package and I kept it in the middle of my kitchen island all summer. It was my summer "vision board." I didn't plan to go surfing or skateboarding, but the images on this postcard set the mood for my summer. 

In June, I also set my intentions for summer 2016: be "fun mom"; be peaceful; be joyful; be spontaneous; take time for myself every day.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 memories from summer 2016 that I will savor well into the crisp fall months ahead.

1. Tahoe with Friends 
We were fortunate again this year to book-end our summer with visits to Lake Tahoe aka our "happy place." It's a great way to set the tone for the summer!

2. Summer Reading 
You can tell a lot about a person by what they're reading. Here's my summer reading list:
3. Cousin Camp
My sister's kids, Lilly and River, spent a few days with us in mid-July. It was such a joy to be with them and to see Sofia connecting with her sweet cousins in what I hope is the first of many cousin camps!

4. Gehrings' Visit
Heather, Chance, Zane and Olive - the newest furry member of the Gehring family - visited us from Hood River in July. It was a quick trip but very fun and memorable!

5. Happy Hours with Geoff
Geoff and I had a standing date every Wednesday at 5:30 for happy hour on our patio aka our oasis. It was a great way to connect and relax together. I think we'll try to keep this alive throughout the year. 

6. Riding my Bike
Between June 10 and August 10, I logged more than 450 miles in preparation for Obliteride. Long story short, I had an injury 2 days before Obliteride and I was only able to ride the 25-mile route instead of 50 miles I had trained for. But it was still a blast and very rewarding. I'm still recovering from a disc/nerve issue in my back, but I hope to be back on my bike soon. 

7. Portland Weekend
We spent the last weekend of July exploring Portland, OR, aka Portlandia. Geoff and I rode 20 miles on rented orange "social bikes;" we toasted a good friend's birthday; we ate at food carts (a very Portland thing to do); and Sofia went to the Oregon coast and had a sleepover with her cousins. 

8. Fun on the Lake
We swam, paddle boarded and boated on Lake Union with friends. Beauty abounds on these sparkling waters. 

9. Obliteride
Read all about it here!

10. Tahoe with Family 
At the end of August, we found ourselves back in paradise. It was nice to unwind after a fun and busy summer. 

What special moments will you savor from summer 2016?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Obliteride 2016 was AMAZING*

Obliteride is like a big group hug.

It's the culmination of everything I work for professionally, personally, physically and emotionally all year long.

It's where all of my worlds collide once a year. Best friends from childhood, high school and college; family; colleagues; the cancer community. It's where I honor, grieve and remember my friend Scott. And where I find hope, love and community. 

This was a banner year for me. Together Geoff and I raised more than we ever have for cancer research. Almost $6,000 and counting. Thank you generous friends and family! And I trained more than I ever have. I fell in love with cycling! 

In a nutshell, it's a HUGE part of my life. 

*When I almost wasn't able to ride because of a pinched nerve in my back I was devastated. 

As it turns out, I got in to see an acupuncturist on Saturday and I was able to ride on Sunday. I had trained to ride 50 miles, but because of this setback I wasn't able to. I ended up riding the 25-mile route with one of my best friends, Megan. We wore rainbow tutus and had a blast!! 


Obliteride is so much more than a bike ride.

It's FABULOUS FOOD. Hello Tom Douglas grilling his mouth-wathering salmon.

It's FUN & FESTIVE. Great bands all weekend.



It gives me HOPE.

It's ORANGE! My favorite color. 


THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me on this ride.




Monday, July 18, 2016

A Love Letter to Tahoe

In the summer of 1992, Geoff invited me to Lake Tahoe for what would become known as our “5-day date.” We had only been dating a few weeks and my mom was shocked that I accepted the invitation. I found an airplane ticket for around $120 RT (my whole savings!) and I booked my trip. Little did I know at the time that I was falling in love with my future husband, and my love affair with Lake Tahoe was beginning as well.

Five years later, we were married on the edge of this glorious lake. We printed this quote in our save the date card for our wedding.

"It's where the water is clearer than the air
and the air is the air that angels breath."
- Mark Twain about Lake Tahoe

Today as I reflect on my 24-year relationship with Tahoe aka my “happy place” and our vacation there a couple of weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about its gleaming turquoise waters, bird blue sky and emerald green forests. It’s truly a feast for the eyes and it hits all senses. As I was biking, hiking, swimming and just being, I kept thinking “I can’t get enough of this place.”

Then I read this quote in the Squaw Valley magazine and I realized, I need this beauty like I need food.


On one of my solo hikes in Tahoe the old church hymn It Is Well With My Soul was running through my head. I found this beautiful version on YouTube. It made me cry it's so beautiful! Have a listen.

I’d like to thank my in-laws for generously sharing their place with us and for keeping the lights on and the bears out – hopefully! We are so grateful that Sofia gets to grow up in this glorious playground.

Tahoe – I love you! You feed my soul.

Where is your happy place? Leave a comment below and let me know!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Re-charged. Re-entry. Re-ality.

We are just back from a wonderful week in "the desert" for Spring Break. 
It was JUST what we needed after the long, cold, and wettest winter on record in Seattle. We stayed at the Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage and almost didn't need to leave except to see some good friends from Seattle. The resort was very family-friendly and provided just what we needed to unwind and re-charge. I am so grateful for this family time and can't wait to go back.
We spent hours in the lazy river and on the water slides - a huge hit for all of us. 


We exercised together - which was awesome!
We read a lot!

We played with friends. We planned a surprise play date for Sofia and one of her BFs, Ava. Their shock and excitement were priceless.

We hiked with friends!

We hung out at this swanky pad where our friends were staying. See pics here. Amazing!

We relaxed.

Thank you, Palm Springs. Until next time!


Re-entry is never easy. The emails, the laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning and prep, 6 a.m. alarms, homework... LIFE. I'm still digging out.

Upon re-entry on Sunday, life hit me hard. First with this this blog about the prognosis of a little girl with Leukemia who I know through Obliteride. No words....

Then more heartbreaking news about a mom of young children and communications professional who I also met through Obliteride. She lost her battle on Sunday night. Heartbreaking.... Again, no words.

Then my client at Obliteride asked me to review this blog post she wrote about her encounters over Spring Break that re-ignited her passion and urgency to help raise as much as we can to help cure cancer faster. 

Of course this all makes me think of my friend Scott - I will always ride for Scott.


Re-ality sets in quickly.

Life - and death - hit me hard upon re-entry and have inspired me to work harder, play harder, pray harder, ride harder, love harder, hug harder.

On vacation, I read a great book: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. In a nutshell, it urges us to simplify and focus on what matters most by asking yourself ONE important question:

"What's the ONE thing I can do today such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
On Monday, my ONE thing was to go for a bike ride. I rode hard and fast for Abby (the mom mentioned above).

On Tuesday, my ONE thing was to meditate. If you're looking for a great guided meditation, I highly recommend this Loving Kindness meditation.                             

Today, my ONE thing is to publish this blog post.

Of course, I'm not just doing ONE thing every day. I still have work, family, life. But by prioritizing my ONE most important thing, I'm feeling more grounded and focused.

Orange = HOPE!

I want to leave you on a positive note with this beautiful orange poppy I saw on my walk this morning.

Please consider making a donation to my Obliteride this August to help further cures at Fred Hutch. They can't happen fast enough. We are losing best friends, children, and young mothers to this horrid disease.

Thanks for reading friends.