Last week, I hiked Silver Falls State Park, which is just outside of Salem, Oregon. The park is picturesque and beautiful. There are two main trails that take you from the South Falls to the North Falls and back again, for a total of 8.7 miles.
One trail takes you down into the gorge, and winds you in and out of different smaller trails. Along the way there are 10 different waterfalls you can experience. I managed to see 7 or 8; and, they were stunning.
I started at the South Falls, which is where the largest waterfall is located.
Gorgeous, yes? Yes.
From there it is about a 4 mile hike to the North Falls, and along the way there are some very pretty landscapes and riverscapes.
Here some of the other waterfalls along the way.
Once at the North Falls, I stopped to eat and drink a little. At this point, you can hike up to the Upper North Rim, which adds another .8 miles to the trip. I chose to forgo that portion of the hike, and head back along the rim trail.
About half-way back to the South Falls, I descended again into the gorge. It was such a fun trip. I began the hike at 7:30 am and finished at 11:15 am. When I started there were only a few cars in the parking lot, and when I finished there were only a few parking spaces left.
As I hiked I reflected upon my time growing up in Los Angeles, and the privilege I had as a child, youth, and young adult. Privilege in seeing and experiencing so much diversity. Diversity in landscapes, people, places, well, all of it was diverse. Lovely.
For the past 12 years, I’ve lived in much smaller areas, and I miss diverse people and places. Yet, as I hiked back to the South Falls last week, I was pleasantly surprised by the flood of diverse people coming into the park and on the trails. Yes, I did also get a little anxious. Mainly due to being away from people this past year during the pandemic.
Yet, most of what I felt was the deep connection I always get when I’m around people. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have the ability to feel other people’s emotions deeply, and can get from people, without words, much. Yes, it can be overwhelming, and, yet, it is also deeply profound. A true gift.
Being around so many diverse people excites me even more for my trip to Los Angeles next week, and for the coming trips I’ll take in the next few years.
This past week, I wrote a couple new pieces, one on purpose and one on the new hiking series, called Willamette Wanderings and Wonderings, thanks, Jules, for the cool title idea.
Though I love writing poetry, and will continue to, it was fun to write a few different pieces this week. Both of these posts will be scheduled soon for next week. Awesome.
Instead of two reflections this week, I am going to write a little about two recent collaborations. Here we go.
This week, Amber, of DiosRaw, and I wrote, Remembering The Mirrored Child Within: Amber and Jeff (3). As with both of the previous poems we collaborated on, writing this poem with Amber was lovely. It is quite a magical experience to pick up a set of verses from a fellow poet, and then add to them, and vice versa. Beautiful.
This week also saw the publication of the interview I did with Bella from Thoughtsnlifeblog. The interview is part of Bella’s Let’s Get Inspired Series, which is, well, simply amazing.
You all know, I’ve only been blogging for one year, and Bella’s blog was one of the first blogs I began following and commenting on. Bella’s blog was inspirational for me then, and is inspirational for me now.
If you’ve not checked out Thoughtsnlifeblog or DiosRaw, please do so. Both of these blogs are inspirational, just like their creators.
I received my second vaccination on Friday, and am pleased, and also a little anxious, to report that I’ve booked a trip to Los Angeles to visit my sisters and mother, and to see my niece graduate from High School.
Part of the choice to travel now, is that I have no idea what the next 6 to 12 months will bring, which made the choice to travel now that I am fully vaccinated an easy one.
Sometime last month I celebrated my one year blogging anniversary. It’s been such a joy to meet so many amazing and inspirational people, and to create, create, create. It’s been a blast.
I recently surpassed 400 posts, now have, well, almost 700 followers, 690 as of writing this post; and, the blog has received over 5,000 comments, has had over 32,000 views, and over 13,000 visitors. Amazing.
I want to thank each of you for supporting me; for following, liking, commenting, and collaborating. You are all inspirational, and I appreciate you.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon, well, the last year. Phew. As businesses begin to open up more here across the country, and the vaccine becomes more and more available, it is interesting to ponder where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we are going.
It’s also interesting to ponder and be present to the need to create time for ourselves away from the chaos, so we can just be; and, be in silence.
Before I get to my reflection on silence, however, let’s have a couple reflections on this past week’s posts, and a look at what next week holds.
I spent some more time completing the Leadership Series this week, with the final entry on building high-performance teams, which will publish next Saturday. Now that that series is complete, I will turn some of my attention to a new leadership series, Leading from Within.
I also spent some time this week, writing poetry for future posts. It’s fascinating to me to watch people develop, myself, of course, included. When I look at the first poem I wrote several months ago, to the most recent one, there are similarities, yet they are quite different. Iterative development. Fun.
Alright, here are two reflections from this week’s posts.
The poem Dream was inspired by the WDYS prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.
As I pondered the scenic picture, I reflected upon how we gaze upon nature, and how nature gazes back. It’s all quite lovely. I began with that thought in mind, and then just let the words come. Well, better language would be that the words just came. I don’t have anything to do with the “letting” in this process.
I also reflected upon and played with the concepts of perception, diversity, and the vast ocean of both we have in this lovely world. It is so beautiful to contemplate all that we see within and without, isn’t it? Lovely.
I obviously also played with the concepts of dreaming and reality. For now, I will only say that that is up to the individual. Each of us. What’s a dream to you, and what’s real is for you alone; and, I think it is quite lovely that way.
Ah, the poem Streams was inspired by my childhood in Los Angeles; and, yes, there really was a “river bed” out back. It was the only real river I saw on a regular basis. Know though, that, as kids, we did get to see real streams, yet they were few and far between in the big city in which we lived.
Funnily enough, you don’t actually have to travel far in LA to get to a stream, yet most of the time I spent in water was, as many of you know, at the beach. Love the ocean, always have, always will.
I also played with the concept of existence in this poem. Pointing to a reality only found within. And, lastly I reflected upon dreams and how important it is to have them, tend them well, and to, yes, water them with love and affection. Nurture them, I say, and they will surely manifest for you one day.
As was aforementioned, this week, I finished the Leadership Serieswith a final installment on building high-performance teams. I am amazed, and then not, at how long this series took to complete. Factually, I wanted to write an installment on organizations, yet am going to wait to complete that installment in the Leading from Within series, which I’ve started.
I am also working on new posts on silence, strategic thinking, sleep, and, yep, another post on gardening. Fun.
I’ve also written several more poems this past week, they just came, and am looking forward to sharing those with you in the coming weeks.
I have a lot more ideas, and will let those percolate for a while.
I wrote a poem once on Silence. Actually it was one of the first poems I wrote when first swept away, quite literally, with ideas, images, and language for the poems that have come since that time.
I had a couple of challenging days this past week, and I’ve never in my life been more grateful for the silence that I get to take part in today. Sitting in silence is such a wonder. It is all at once, empty and full of healing beyond a description that any language can conjure.
Suffice to say, or write, rather, as I have before, that if you find yourself overwhelmed with life, emotions, people, places, or events, try to create some silent time for yourself. Away from everything. For it is in the spaces that we create to be silent where the mysteries of this universe become more clear; and, when there is more clarity, there is more space for you to live and to love.
Sitting on the porch, rocking back and forth, I reflect upon the birth of my sons. It feels like yesterday. Just a moment ago. And, then, flash, I am 46, they are 20, and 16. What happened?
Growing up in Los Angeles was for a long time something that I took for granted. I remember the first time I traveled across the country, via car. I said something to my buddy like, wow, it all looks like San Bernardino.
If you’ve been to Southern California, and spent anytime at all in the desert areas, of which San Bernadino is a part, you will get that reference. If not. Well, let’s just say that I had an idea in my head that all places looked like Los Angeles. Not so.
Justin was born in 2000. I was 26. At the time, I remember thinking, jeez, I’m old, better hurry up and have kids, buy a house, live that American Dream everyone’s talking about. Really. WOW. I was young, not old.
We lived in two different apartments when Justin was little. First halloweens, first christmas, first-time parents. Phew. At that time, I worked close. I did work long hours, however, the work was very flexible.
I remember when I got the call. I was on my delivery truck, called my boss and said, Justin’s coming. I’ve got to go. They covered me.
So excited, nervous, anxious, joyful. All at the same time. Justin was born quick. Very, quick.
Bringing him home was so nerve racking. What if I do something wrong? What if something happens? Well, my mother-in-law stayed with us for a week or two, and I called my mom regularly. Drawing upon the support we had. Very lucky to have it.
Anyway, we did end up purchasing a house when Justin was 4. Jason was born shortly thereafter. Only 4 years separate the two boys, and yet, we were completely caught off guard by having another child. Not prepared at all. Phew.
We did like many people do. We moved forward, did the best we could, and loved them both unconditionally.
I loved when they were little. Though I worked a lot, it was so much fun to see them play in the yard, play with our dog.
Build things, tear things apart, be free.
Though we only lived in that house for 4 years, we did so many things together there. My memories of that time are so vivid. Possibly those memories are so vivid, as we were building a life.
Just starting out. Knew very little about what we were doing, yet we drew upon what we were taught, and created the rest. Filled the gaps.
First house, first backyard, first garage, first-time having neighbors in a house. All so new. The house was so small, yet had a huge lot. Was so great for the boys. Tons of space to roam and play.
That house was quite a ways from our extended family. 46 miles. Which, at the time, was like 5,000 miles.
You have to understand that, especially for me, we grew up in families where most people stayed very local.
All good. We took the boys to LA regularly to see their grandparents. We even sent Jenn and the boys to AZ, where her parents lived, so they could also visit them.
I remember the first time I took the Amtrak. What a different experience. Was fun. Back then you could actually smoke on a train. In a smoking car. Yep, they had those then.
When Justin was 5 or so, and Jason was 1 or 2, we decided to sell and move to AZ. It was right before the housing crash. Really. Within two years that house we bought for $150,000 and sold for $370,000, was once again worth $150,000. Crazy.
We bought a house in Surprise AZ, and I went to work for US Foodservice. Huge company. Good training program, lots of work. During this time, Justin was in third grade, and Jason was spending portions of his day at a babysitter. We both worked, did, and still do. Normal.
Third grade was a difficult one for Justin. New school, new kids, new context, new State. Very different from where we were from. As with most things, there were those things we liked about AZ, and those we did not.
Beautiful winters, HOT summers. Still, there is something quite majestic about the desert. Really. If you’ve not spent a lot of time in the desert, check it out.
We were only in that house for 1.5 years. Housing crash. Foreclosure. Emotionally trying. Actually, in every way that time was challenging mentally, physically, and emotionally.
What does it mean to “lose” a home? Difficult. We were, of course, not alone. Many, many, people were in the same position in 2007 and 2008.
The home we ended up renting was only around the corner. Helped, in that Justin could stay in the same school. They both played outside a lot with the neighborhood kids. Fun, and fun to watch.
Well, let’s save that for Part 2. I’ll end with saying that being a father to two beautiful boys has been and is one of the greatest experiences of my life. And, I wouldn’t have shared it with anyone other than Jenn.
Being a father. Beautiful, wonderful, lovely, and hard, frustrating, and scary. Still is. More on that later. 🙂
One year ago today my father passed away. It was sudden. He was 71. There was still a lot of life left in my dad when he died. Today is difficult, and will be even more so for my mother.
I will cry, I am crying now. Yet, what I want to do in this post, is to remember my dad as he lived.
Remember the times that he was there for me. The times that he stood for me, when I was lost. Lost inside of myself, and in the greater world.
The first memories I have of my dad are of him in dress clothes, heading off to work. Work that he liked, and didn’t, yet went anyway, every day, because it was expected and needed. Expected of himself, by himself.
I remember the first time we played catch, which may sound awfully cliche, yet it was an important moment in my life. Knowing that my dad would make time to spend with me, regardless of other pressing priorities, was an important learning for me as a child.
A learning in dedication and love.
He loved movies. I remember watching all kinds of movies with him as a child, teengaer, and adult. Spending time with him. Talking with him about movies that were upcoming, getting excited, and sharing in that joy with him.
And, yes, popcorn. I loved popcorn as a kid. We would also often add powdered parmesan cheese to the popcorn. Loved that.
I remember him bringing me home hot wheels once after work. Oh my. I was so excited.
The idea that he would take time to purchase something for me, think of me like that, made a huge impression on me.
He also loved music. One of the things I miss the most about my dad is hearing him play the guitar. Was lovely. Now, I often listen to the songs that he played most often. I feel very connected to him at these times.
My dad loved people. Loved conversation. I learned so much from him about being with people. Though my dad was an extrovert, like me, he also had a large introvert living inside of him, also like me, and most of us.
He also loved to read. I remember wondering about what he was reading when I was little. I learned later in life that some of his reading included self-development books. Didn’t know that for a long time.
Now his only son’s professional career revolves around personal and professional development. Special.
The holidays were always a special time growing up. I still love them today. And, though he had to work sometimes, especially when my sisters and I were little, he always made time to put a bike together for us, even if that meant staying up super late after working all day.
I learned a lot from my dad about difficult conversations. I didn’t learn until later, that he would strategically engage me in these conversations. Why?
To help me grow and develop.Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, that is what love really looks like.
He also taught me that running from things that make you uncomfortable does no one any good. And, though I hid from that part of myself for a long time, it has resurfaced with wonder. I owe a piece of that part of myself to my dad.
As a teenager, my dad and I didn’t get along all that well. We were at odds often. Yet he was always there. Always. He never wavered in his dedication to his family.
My dad has a huge family, and he deeply loved all of his brothers and sisters, as he did his mother and father. Lots of love.
My dad would often talk about not having much growing up in Los Angeles. Helping me see and understand that appreciating what you have today, in this moment, is super important.
And, that when we want to create a new way forward, we must rely upon ourselves to do so. Though my dad didn’t always language his persistence and grit this way, he didn’t need to. He was a living example.
He also loved cars. Boy, did he. My dad and his brothers, usually his older brother, would go to car shows often. He loved to look at them, hear them, see them run, and to talk about them.
His dedication and love for his family extended to his grandchildren, of which there are several. Our sons loved their grandpa, and they miss him. My dad would always make time to talk with his grandchildren, always. He loved them so much.
There are so many things I miss about my dad. So many. What is written here is but one brushstroke of the many brushstrokes that are a living painting that my dad created with his contributions, time, dedication, persistence, and love for life and his family.
My dad’s sudden death last year reminds me of the necessity for all of us to make sure to tell those people in our life how much they mean to us. To tell them we love them, and value them. And, most importantly to show them that love.
Maybe especially when that love might not look like love to them. Such an important learning from a father to his son. Important.
My dad and I didn’t always get along, even as an adult. Yet, what transcended those disagreements was the love that we shared for each other. A love that for most of my life went unspoken.
However, about two years ago I went through a transformative experience, and during that time I told him and my mother how much I appreciated and loved them. Not something that we really said to each other at all. What did he say?
He said, well, I love you too son. Wow. Was one of the most powerful moments in my life.Why?
Because though I knew that my father loved me, we didn’t really say it. And, I was actually nervous about telling him that I loved him. I am so glad that I made that call. So glad.
Now I am a father to two beautiful boys. I am one of the luckiest people on the planet to have been given this wonderful gift. As my dad was, I am so proud of both of them; and, I see so much of my dad in each of them. I love them more than words can possibly express.
I always miss my dad, and I miss him even more today. For all of those that my dad touched and loved, know that I am thinking about him and all of you today.
That I am with you in kindred spirit through the love that we shared for my father, and the love that he shared with us.
For everyone else reading this, thank you. Thank you for sharing a very special moment with me, on a very difficult day.