Here’s The Thing…

It is not that difficult to believe how long it has been since I posted the news of going to LA. The weeks have been zipping by!

As excited as I am about the journey ahead, there is so much to do in preparation before leaving Colorado and arriving in California, and it is daunting.

Sigh.  No, stay up, be positive. 

My sweetheart says people want to read inspiring stories, they don’t want to read downers. He’s right. One of the reasons I haven’t posted daily about my experiences since announcing that I’m going to L.A. is because sometimes I haven’t had the thrilled-to-be-taking-this-incredible-leap-of-faith-excitement, nor the happy-go-lucky-pull-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps-and-face-the-world in me.

Devastating world events have made it even tougher to buck up some days. However, I knew there was something even more personal piercing away at my insides.

It took awhile to understand where the internal pain was coming from.  However, one evening my sweetheart suggested we go get a drink and share some appetizers and that we could take our computers with us so he could work on his script and I could write a blog post.

I began to think about writing and realized I hadn’t done that for awhile. In that moment when I considered if I wanted to write a blog and what I would write about, my brain knew what had been digging at my insides.

I miss Daddy.

I pondered it for a moment, then tried to wave it off. It’s been over a year and a half since Daddy passed away.

I thought to myself, there are horrific events, natural and man-made, happening right now that should be at the forefront of my thoughts.  Yes, I love and miss Daddy but how long do I get to play the ‘I-Miss-Daddy-Card?’

At even the notion of it, I could feel my eyes fill with tears.

But that was only the beginning of what began to circle around in my mind.  Not only do I miss Daddy so much, but I am so sad he isn’t part of this new adventure I am about to embark upon.

And I feel guilty.

I feel guilty for doing something so exciting when Daddy isn’t here to share the journey. Even if it would have been by phone, I could talk to him about the exciting events and the more challenging aspects, and he’d love to confer with me.

As I paused to consider the feelings coming up, I realized that wasn’t even the worst of it.

The deepest of the pain was guilt that I didn’t do this when Daddy was alive. I don’t want him to have died to give me the courage to move to LA and immerse myself in that world. I want to have listened to him years ago, and followed his advice and moved to California back when he was here encouraging it.

I don’t want him to have to be gone before I got the guts to pursue wholeheartedly my life’s passion as a storyteller through film.

I want him to be here for this.

Daddy?!? Daddy? Daddy, I miss you so much. I’m so sorry I didn’t think I had the strength to follow my dream, the strength you always knew was there, when you were here with me full of support. I’m sorry I was a mess of insecurities even as you had faith in me and always told me I was meant for a non-traditional path. Something ‘big’.  You saw something, believed in me, even when I couldn’t.

And I’m so sorry that even now, on these first steps of a exciting journey you always knew was coming, I have any sadness.

In the weeks since making the decision, I’ve considered here and there whether I really should move to Los Angeles at all. And even with an occasional doubt trying to seep in, going ahead with the plan always feels right.

I am excited to have a place to land for two weeks in early November. That is huge. And it would be great to have a crash pad lined up for the two weeks after that in the second part of the month so when I first arrive I can focus on finding production gigs and starting to find an income, then turn my attention to housing, instead of the other way around.

Thank you so much to the people who have been making connections for me in LA, and sending suggestions regarding gigs and housing. I am following up on each and every tip and person.  If you know of any people or opportunities and have not had a chance to let me know, please do. Your assistance really means so much to me.

And the encouragement. Talk about enthusiastic.

Only one person has ever questioned me whether I should really move ahead on this journey to Los Angeles. And though they were coming from a place of love, hopefully after we spoke, though they might still have concern, they are cheering me on along with the many other people who have declared their faith in my decision and believe in me and my abilities to realize my dreams, some with so much faith they are telling me “it’s about time.”

It is about time. Daddy is telling me that from where he is.

WintonWoods.JPG

And missing him isn’t playing a card, it is my reality.

And though it continues to sting so bad at times my heart clenches, my throat tightens, my eyes blur with tears, and I’m going to keep missing him, I’m going to do it the best way I can and get out of bed everyday and be the storyteller he and I know I am.

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California Dreamin’ Is For Losers

As a shy little girl with no friends, I would often ease the pain of loneliness by playing ‘pretend’ alone in my room. I’d play-act characters like those I saw in the westerns and Tarzan movies I’d watch on Saturday afternoons.

The difference between my portrayals and what I saw on TV was that I was never the damsel in distress, never Jane being kidnapped by ferocious animals. I was either part of a team of imaginary heroes, swinging from vine to vine right alongside Tarzan, or I was a tough, dynamic character saving my own skin by tricking the bad guys and tying them up and turning them in to the sheriff. Or sometimes I was the sheriff.

From that young age, I dreamed of being an actor in Hollywood.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I really did anything to learn about acting.  But from the time I auditioned and was cast in my first play, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been in the entertainment industry on and off, mostly on, in some regard whether on stage, in front of the camera for commercials and films, or behind the camera–all bringing me to where I am now.

However, it has been far from a linear journey.

Confidence waning, obstacles dropping on the path in front of me, and constantly appearing ‘crossroad’ situations–do I go left or right?–often drove me to feeling perplexed and frustrated. Not only was I not already in some utopian existence where my whole world was being taken care of for me, that I had ‘made’ it, but I was being forced to make a decision. Being pushed to take responsibility and take on a new unknown, making me feel vulnerable and fearful.

Frustrated, I’d put the question to Daddy. “What should I do with my life?” Quite often Daddy would present me with, “What about L.A.? If you want to make movies that seems like the place to be.”

After giving his suggestion some thought, I’d quickly come up with some excuse as to why that wasn’t feasible. I couldn’t possibly move out of town and miss the Cincinnati fireworks on Labor Day weekend–have I told you how spectacular they are?  Or things were too volatile on the west coast between earthquakes and wildfires.  Or not enough money, never enough saved up.  Or I was too old (tried this excuse even in my 20’s), and I’m sure I came up with a few real doozies to hide the fact that I was simply chicken.

Over the years, I’ve managed to do freelance crew work on commercial and film shoots with some amazing people outside of L.A., primarily in Kentucky and Colorado.  I held roles as varied as production assistant to first and second assistant director, casting to wardrobe to talent wrangler.  And I’ve even had the opportunity to work as a director, producer and writer on independent films, including several of my own. Through them all, I’ve gained know-how in many different departments about making a movie, from beginning to end.

I’ve had some wonderful mentors and invaluable experiences that continue to reinforce that there’s a storyteller inside me with tales to tell.

And I’m good at it!  I believe that.

On paper, I have ‘made’ it.  My life looks great–I have a sweetheart who supports me in every way, I have a job with really nice people and a two-block commute, a powerful short film I made last year instead of just ‘saying’ I was going to do it, good friends to enjoy hanging out with on the weekends and to see movies with, and support from them all with everything I want to do.

However, even with all that, for a while now, something has left me feeling sad, anxious, restless, depressed.

Several close friends point out when I mention the darkness I feel embodying me that I am very much still in grief. I’m not sure why I thought after one year it would lessen, but it feels like I miss Daddy even more now than a year ago.

Through many pity parties and long conversations with my sweetheart, and much meditation and breathing, and ‘talking’ to Daddy, I’ve realized that I am the only one who can really save me. And as real as my grief continues to be, how I contend with it is what makes the difference. I’m not in a trap except that of my own making.

I’m standing at a crossroads and afraid to make a decision which way to turn. Fearful it will be the wrong way, not allowing myself to see that the only wrong decision is to stand in the same spot begging for someone else to come to my rescue.

Or not to make a move at all.

Searching for an answer, I hear Daddy’s voice telling me what it is I should do. I ponder it. Then I hear my sweetheart saying the same thing. Now it is closer to the surface and I can’t push it back down. I know in my heart I’ve made the decision. But it doesn’t feel real until I say it out loud. Until then, I can suppress it, hold it in, stay in denial.

But then something bigger overtakes what I am squelching inside me. That something encourages me to open up, let it out, release and love what I am holding in instead of trying to suffocate it.

Time to own the decision inside me, let it out, and let it live.

With that, I am incredibly excited to share that I AM MOVING TO LOS ANGELES!

Yes, I am going for it.

In October I am packing up my Subaru and hitting the highway headed to the west coast to the unknown.

mllawomanLet’s take a breath together as that news sinks in.

Some of you are likely thinking the same thing as other friends who I’ve told–

“It’s about time.”

“You have to go for your dreams.”

“If you don’t go, you’ll always wonder.”

“You’re going to do great.”

“You always know how to make it work.”

Others of you,  might be thinking those too, but I can also hear you asking–

“Do you have a place to live?!?”

“What about a job?!?”

“Oh my god, MaryLee, do you realize how ridiculously expensive the cost of living is?!?!?”

“How are you going to do this on your own?”

And in reply to the latter group…

In some ways it will be my journey, but I hope to be on this adventure with the support and contributions of anyone who might be in a position to assist me whether with connections, job opportunities, or living quarters, or all of the above.

SOMEWHERE TO HANG MY HAT

Currently I do not have any housing arrangements. I feel like a musician setting up my autumn tour, looking for venues to book, trying to fill out my calendar.  Do you know anyone who might be able to help me out for my initial days or weeks, ’til I get a look-see around, see what opportunities present themselves for housing?  If so, please, let me know. I would be very grateful.

It would be great to find house-sitting and pet-sitting opportunities, particularly in  October, November or December so that I’ll have a roof right as I get started, and will have time to hit the pavement and familiarize myself with the area, and be open to work opportunities as I ‘meet the neighbors’.

After my experience with Daddy in those last eight months of his life, I love the prospect of being a live-in companion to someone who could use another person around the house for security and the company.

I can surf–couch surf, that is. So if you have any friends or family in the L.A. area who has a couch or little spare room you think where they might be so generous to allow me to sleep for a designated number of days, please put me in touch either directly through This Is My 50 or ask for alternative contact information.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES, I’M CALLING

At the moment I do not have a job out there, but the film industry is always hiring crew and production help for new projects.  I am now pursuing, from here, any potential leads I have. With so many people there vying for gigs, I’d like to do as much connecting as I can in the next two months, before I go. So if you know anyone who might be hiring or who could put me in touch with anyone who might be looking to hire for a film or television project, it would mean so much to me if you would please make that connection for me.

It could be a one-day project, a week or a month or more.  I’m an open book at this point.

Yes, I am aware it is incredibly expensive to live in Los Angeles and I know it will be a shock to my pocketbook. But the cost of not going, never trying, always wondering, would be much more costly to my soul–in staggering amounts.

And before you even say it, yes, I realize there are a million people in Hollywood waiting to be handed their big break. But I’m going out west, not only to get something from the motion picture industry, but to share with it my gifts. My talent. I’m bringing with me my personal passion, my own experiences, my individual point of view. So, as many people as there are out there, none of them is me.

To those of you who might be surprised to find out in this way that I am moving, I am sorry I have not had the opportunity to tell you in person. This has been building slowly in my thoughts and in discussions with my sweetheart, and has only in recent weeks come to fruition.

Though I have many beautiful people in my life I can depend on, and Daddy in Heaven looking over me, it’s time I begin taking more responsibility for my own happiness and stop making excuses and stop living in fear. It’s time I step into my light and soar, find my path, be true to myself.

LyndaCarterHero

Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman, posted this recently on Twitter.  How timely!

In her book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, Shonda Rhimes shares a commencement speech she gave at Dartmouth titled DREAMS ARE FOR LOSERS. (In its entirety here and so worth the read, or even better, check out the book!)

Here is an excerpt that didn’t only ‘speak’ to me, it picked me up, it hugged me, it gave me assurance, it threw me in the air with joy and it shouted with glee, “Stop dreaming! Get up and fly!”

“When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.

I think that’s crap.

I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.

The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”

“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”

And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?

No.

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

So, Lesson One, I guess is:

Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.”

Making a decision, putting it in motion, not holding it too tight to my chest, finally having the courage to listen to Daddy’s advice, setting my emotions and soul open to the world, getting my car checked out for the trip ahead, giving notice at a perfectly good job, honoring my passion, shedding the fear and owning that I am the hero of my own life, trusting the universe will provide for me if I do the work, and with the encouragement and support of my sweetheart, and many of you, I’m ‘California Doing’.

/ Well, I just got into town about an hour ago /
/ Took a look around, see which way the wind blow /
/ Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows /
/ Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light /

No more little girl playing pretend. Not a damsel in distress, but an L.A. Woman!

Growing Up

Sunday, July 9. The last day of my San Francisco trip. I’d specifically booked an evening flight so I would have as much time as possible with Courtney, my niece, and her fiancé, Matt.

(We interrupt this program for a You-Learn-Something-New-Everyday Moment…I had no idea that it’s fiancé when you’re referring to the groom-to-be, and fiancée for the bride-to-be. Who knew? Not me!)

Back to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.

…and ohmigod, holy cow!!! that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life.

What? You missed something? I’m teasing. Back to my last day in San Francisco…

After doing so much on Saturday, Sunday was just as fun-filled.

It was a little foggy in the morning, but eventually we headed out with hopes the sky would clear. After all, I had a bridge to see.

As we began our day’s touring, Courtney and Matt had their ‘San Francisco’ legs and I did my best to keep up. I had a moment here and there where I had to stop and catch my breath. But overall, I found the trek exhilarating.

We headed to the Marina and wandered Chestnut Street. There we treated ourselves to coffee from Le Marais bakery, somehow managing to walk away without any of the scrumptious looking treats.

Next, we ventured to the Palace of Fine Arts which was beautiful.

After enjoying the atmosphere there, we made our way to Crissy Field with hopes for a clearer sky. Unfortunately the fog was still hanging, so I only saw the very bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge. But that area was very cool with sand volleyball players on the beach, cyclists, runners, people chilling as they looked out at the bay, and tourists, like me, taking it all in.

I was even able to capture some nice photos with my Pentax film camera. I love this one! Great-looking couple, aren’t they?


We began to get hungry and started thinking about lunch. The three of us got an Uber ride up to the Presidio. Courtney and Matt had described where we were going, and coming upon it, I could see why they picked the Off the Grid Presidio Picnic to eat.

What a cool event the way they create this community picnic on the open grounds.

Surrounded by food trucks, the lush green grass was covered with people on blankets and little tents sprawled everywhere. The DJ spinning upbeat tunes made for a perfect afternoon. Well, it was really, really good. It might have been the lobster roll that put it close to perfect. And getting to spend time hanging out with Courtney and Matt pushed it over the top.

Watching Courtney, and having such an opportunity to spend time with her, and her partner-for-life in the months before their September wedding (which I’m honored to be one of the readers) was a wonderful gift. I’m always in awe when two people who seem so suited to the other, find each other in this big, crazy world.

So it was a special treat to be able to see my goddaughter, all grown up, navigating this city, and taking charge of our sightseeing, so far from her Cincinnati hometown with Matt, side-by-side.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was devastated to discover my boyfriend had cheated on me.  He had been my first real boyfriend of more than a matter of months and I was a mess.

Needing a woman’s support, I’d called Sandy, my sister-in-law and Courtney’s mom, who gave as much support as she could over the phone.

Knowing my sadness and heartache when I showed up at Daddy’s house for the weekly Sunday night family dinner, Daddy and my brother Ron, (Courtney’s Daddy) came out of the house to greet me.

We stood on the front lawn as I cried and they gave me tight, reassuring hugs.

Suddenly, I felt squeezing around my legs. Sandy had brought Courtney, a toddler at the time, out of the house. And there that sweet little tow head stood hugging her Aunt MaryLee.  At her age, she had no idea why I was so sad, but ready with the most pure compassion of a three-year-old, along with Daddy and Ron, she held on tight and let me know I was loved.

When Courtney was little, I spent as much time with her as I could. We did all the girl stuff like playing games, doing each other’s hair, shopping, sleepovers, and I even took her for her first time to the movie theater where we saw Ferngully.

Her little legs couldn’t hold down the foldup seat very well. Before the movie started I would pull her seat down and let go. Her legs would fly up and we would both burst into laughter.

And that was just one wonderful memory among so many that I share with this beautiful woman, (and her sister Paige) though after I moved out of town and she went to school we were less in touch.

Gratitude: Day 18

I am grateful to spend such quality time venturing around the Golden City with this little girl who has become the amazing, strong, still very compassionate woman she is today. And if I’m being honest, I know she has wonderful parents, but I’m honored to think in some tiny way, I might have had something to do with the stunning, tenderhearted person Courtney is. After all, we both believe in the power of hugs.

Give a Bug a Boo

My Aunt Lois, the wife of Daddy’s older brother, Ralph (who died a number of years ago) has joined her husband in heaven.

When I was younger, I was intimidated by Aunt Lois. She was outgoing, confident, boisterous, fun-loving. I was shy, reserved, insecure. I didn’t know anyone like her.

She was a wonderful mother to my cousins Jimmy, Kathy, Johnny, and Terry.

Daddy’s side of the family often enjoyed playing cards, especially Shanghai Rummy. As a kid, I remember how excitable the games could get. I’d usually have my nose in a book upstairs, or sitting next to Daddy, trying to learn.

Every gathering brought with it, the same familiar phrases everyone enjoyed over and over, usually uttered by someone left holding a stack of cards with lots of points at the end of a hand.

“Lord, don’t make him too schmaht,” in an attempted German accent was a popular one.

And others I cannot recall at the moment, except this one.

I’d heard it often, and by everyone I’m sure. However, one night, I was sitting between Daddy and Aunt Lois. Someone, I think it was my Uncle Fritz, laid down their last cards to win the hand.

Aunt Lois turned to me directly and smiled, “Never give a bug a break, give a bug a boo.”

I was caught off guard. She looked right at me as she said it. It might not be a big deal for some, but when I was a kid, I did my best to be invisible to grown-ups especially. I was timid and did not want to bring attention to myself.

Here I was though, sitting next to Daddy, though I was a little bit back from the table. And Aunt Lois wouldn’t let me be invisible.

At first it scared me. But within a moment, I saw her grin as she spoke, and the reassuring twinkle in her eyes made me smile, too.

As I got older and sometimes even joined the card games, we were always cordial and shared pleasantries when we saw each other, but that was about it.

In 2008, Daddy had heart surgery and I was in Ohio with him for several months–before, during, and after. It was during this time I was fortunate to have Aunt Lois as a real go-to. She was incredibly supportive to both Daddy and me.

It surprised me when I realized how much she knew about my life. Where I’d been, what was going on at the time, what my dreams were.

Though I hadn’t known her very well, it turns out, she knew, through Daddy, and remembered, a lot about me.

We spoke often, though usually on the phone. She was constantly concerned how Daddy was doing, but never failed to make sure I was taking care of myself.

I was blessed to have found this connection with Aunt Lois during this difficult time.

I was trying to find a picture of her, but couldn’t. I’ll post one when I do.

Gratitude

I am grateful that I was blessed to get to have a loving bond with Aunt Lois when I needed her most.

Never give a bug a break, Aunt Lois. Give a bug a boo.

Saturday of Love: Haight-Ashbury to Babylon

Saturday, July 8

On Saturday, my fun-filled weekend with my niece Courtney continued.

After strolling down to Trader Joe’s around noon for some groceries, we went to her place and put them away.

Did I say ‘strolling’? Let me correct that–after she speed-walked with me trying to keep up with her, and her long legs that are adapted to the San Francisco hills, we went and put the groceries away.

We had gone back and forth during the week about what we wanted to do Saturday afternoon and both decided on the same thing- we wanted to visit the The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at the deYoung Museum.

A far out time to be in San Francisco, during the “50th anniversary celebration of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967”.

We took an Uber, but the park where the museum is was so crowded and so much traffic, we got out and walked the last part of the way.

Arriving at the deYoung, it was in a beautiful setting and I grew even more excited to see the exhibit.

Standing in line for our tickets we talked about what the Summer of Love actually was. I loved when Courtney timidly asked, “Aunt MaryLee, were you alive then?”

I smiled and told her I was three during this monumental time of revolution!

We both laughed when she responded, “Well, I’m sure you did your part.”

In the exhibit hall, we meandered room to room. One space was covered ceiling to floor in event posters from those summer months. In other areas, photographs of Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and others beckoned from the walls, taking you back to a very different, or not so different, time of unrest.


Descriptions of how the ‘Summer of Love’ came to be and stories of some of the events and people involved were hung in various locations alongside images of the women with flowers in their hair and hippies hanging out in the park and on the front stoops along Haight-Asbury.

In almost every room stood mannequins adorned in the out-of-this-world clothing styles from the time. This has always been my favorite era of fashion. The chunky boots, the floppy hats, the halter dresses, the hip-hugger jeans, flowy skirts. Did I mention the chunky boots?


At one point Courtney and I stepped into a room with no displays. Loud music blared and psychedelic lights spun and flashed throughout. There were bean bag chairs around the room so we plopped down on one and enjoyed the scene. I particularly liked watching the expressions of surprise on people’s faces as they’d walk into the colorful environment. I captured some of it in time-lapse video and as I was filming became elated when I heard Janis’s voice singing Piece of My Heart, a favorite of mine since forever.

The Summer of Love exhibit was an amazing step back into history and I thought it was so cool that Courtney wanted to see it.

Finished at the museum, we went back to the apartment to meet Matt, her fiance, and get ready to go out that evening.

Dinner and a show.

After a Lyft to the North Beach district, we had dinner at a little Italian restaurant. My spinach ravioli in an herb sauce was delicious.


Then we strolled through the neighborhood and decided to stop in Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe for a drink. We shared a bottle of Chianti and chatted with the bartender.

And for our evening entertainment, Matt and Courtney had purchased tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon.  A crazy-fun musical revue. As described on the show’s site, ”Celebrating over 16,000 performances, Beach Blanket Babylon has become a world-renowned record-breaking success. Seen by over six million people from around the world, this internationally acclaimed musical revue continues to delight audiences with its hilarious spoofs of pop culture, spectacular costumes and outrageously gigantic hats!”

Indeed, it was hilarious. And when they say “gigantic hats”, they mean gigantic. A cool thing about the show is that although the general storyline remains the same, the show changes constantly to reflect the world’s current events. So even though Courtney and Matt had seen the show about a year ago, much of it was new and different for them.

If you are ever in San Francisco- see this show!

After the show we wandered out into the neighborhood and made our way down to the renowned Tony’s Coal-fired Pizza and Slice House for a late night slice. We were fortunate to get three of the last slices available before they ran out and closed for the night.

At first I wasn’t going to get anything, but seeing the big cheesy slices on the pan I couldn’t resist! The three of us sat outside in front of Tony’s enjoying our yummy late-night treat, as the crew inside began cleaning up inside and sweeping the walkway around us.


Then we caught an Uber and went home where I washed up and had no trouble falling asleep after all the walking and partaking in more of what San Francisco has to offer.

What a wonderfully full day!

Gratitude, Day 16:
I am grateful for being able to, in one day with Courtney and Matt, get an important view into history at the Summer of Love exhibit, as well as experience a zany, though often true, reflection of our current world at the musical show.

I wonder how the summer of 2017 will be looked back upon in 50 years.

Clams on the Half-Shell and Roller Skates at Church 

Did you think I gave up on my 30 days of gratitude? Oh ye of little faith.

Trust me, I have definitely been meditating on gratitude and have been appreciative for something different everyday. However, I will admit, I was having so much fun, I didn’t take the time to stop and write.

Catch up time!

Right where I left off, Friday, July 7.

Last week, as you know, I was in San Francisco for a work conference.

Tuesday when I arrived, I went for a really long walk from Union Square, up through Chinatown, over to Nob Hill, down through the Tenderloin and back down to my hotel.

Wednesday was spent setting up our booth, which was loaded with t-shirts, mugs, pint glasses, tote bags and tons of other great swag displaying only some of the items stations can purchase from us to have their station logo printed on. This involved considerable lifting and moving and bending and reaching. It took most of the day, but it looked great when we were done.

Wednesday evening, all day Thursday and most of Friday were spent on my feet at the booth, greeting attendees and letting them know about our offerings for gifts for their contributors. The event itself went well and some really good things are sure to come of getting to meet with NPR folks and other public radio station peeps from all over the country.

But come Friday afternoon 4:45pm, it was time to dismantle the entire booth and pack it up to ship back to Colorado on pallets.

No biggie if you are planning on going back to your room whenever packing gets done and order room service and take a nice hot bubble bath.

However, I had other plans.

My niece, Courtney, lives in San Francisco with her fiance, Matt. Not sure what time we’d be done on Friday, we planned on me coming over to their apartment Saturday morning. Mid-week I’d considered whether I might be done early enough to get together with Courtney Friday evening.

I texted her and asked if she wanted to do something if my boxing up was completed at a decent hour. And I put the suggestion of a Girls Night out there in case she was interested. I knew I’d get to spend time with Matt on Saturday and Sunday, but girl time with my niece, who I rarely see, would be precious.

She said Girls Night would be good and we began going back and forth about what we should do.

Originally I’d thought perhaps she’d come in the direction of the hotel while I was finishing up and we’d go sit and have a glass of wine and gab.

But that wasn’t sitting right with me. I wanted this night to be special. I wanted to do something at least a little more unique than cocktails. I commented that I wished I had better dancing shoes. Or that we could go to karaoke, or if there was a cabaret show. Just something that I don’t do often and that would be unique and different from what she usually does.

She sent a link promoting Dueling Pianos at Johnny Foleys just down the street from where I was. That sparked my interest a little. Could be fun.

Before I even had a chance to reply, I received another text from her…

“Would you want to give this place a try!?”

And then a link with a photo. A van in front of a church.

The Church of 8 Wheels.

Yes! Roller skating!

SkateChurchof8Wheels

Sure my legs were tired and aching from standing and walking all week, but as soon as I saw what the place was, I knew that was the perfect place for our Girls Night.

It also was more in tune to the types of fun Courtney and I (and her younger sister, Paige, when she came along) used to partake in when she was little. We had countless adventures together, and crazy fun sleepovers, with tons of laughs and games and girl talk.

And I particularly liked the idea because her next text was that she’d always wanted to go. We were going to experience this cool-looking place for the first time together.

Throughout the day Friday, I tried to stay in the moment and enjoy chatting with various people about public media, and not overthink about packing up all our items, what time we’d get done, and whether I’d be exhausted.

But I couldn’t help it. I was so excited!

As luck would have it, a very neat couple who used to live in Colorado and work where I do now, had moved to San Francisco. And my boss invited them to join us at the booth to help out. The husband had been part of many of these conferences during his years with the company, so when it came time to tear down, he knew exactly what to do.

We finished earlier than I could have hoped.

After saying my good-byes to my colleagues, I went to my room and put my feet up for a half-hour in preparation for the night ahead.

I went on the Lyft app for my first time and arranged a ride. Courtney and I met on Haight Street, which was an area she had yet to explore since moving to the bay area two years ago.

She and I strolled along the sidewalk gabbing and looking at menus in the windows as we considered our dinner options.

We decided on a cute, little sushi place. We sat and each had a Sapporo. We shared unagi and California rolls. Well, I enjoyed the unagi–Courtney wasn’t up for trying eel that day.

After a nice meal and some catching up on wedding plans, we walked up the several blocks to The Church of 8 Wheels.

It is an actual church that has been turned into a fantastic roller skating rink with wood floor, disco lights, and live DJ spinning the hip tracks that make you want to groove and move.

They have lessons on Saturday afternoons and family skate sessions. But Friday evenings are reserved for The Godfather’s Friday Night Roller Disco.  Remember Good Times by Chic? Yeah, it was like that.

Oh what a night! After getting our rental skates, we sat down on a pew against the wall and changed out of our street shoes. We stood up, patiently waited for a lull in the people skating by and slowly pushed off on our skates.

SkateDancingI felt a little unsure for a moment, but soon gained my skating feet. Courtney and I each had moments here and there where we were a little shaky, but we’d quickly regain our balance and roll on.

We skated nonstop (and without a single fall!) the rest of the night. Here I was in this amazing coastal city, San Francisco, at a church converted into a roller rink, roller skating in the disco lights and jamming to awesome songs with one of my most favorite people ever.

Courtney commented something I’d been thinking too. Though most of the songs were great, they hadn’t played anything either of us could just completely get lost in.

The night went on, and we didn’t sit down once. The skating was exhilarating. We even joined in a dance in the center.

The rink was beginning to empty out some. We hadn’t talked about leaving, but it was getting late.

Then Courtney and I both heard it, the opening piano music of ABBA’s Dancing Queen.

The song put smiles on our faces and swooped Courtney and I into its energy. We picked up some speed and skated with a little extra zing in our wheels.

After the final notes, we looked at each other with knowing smiles.

Courtney asked, “Is that a good one to end on or do you want to keep skating?”

We rolled to the side and sat down on the bench, exhilarated as we switched back into our street shoes, a wonderful Girls Night completed!

Gratitude, Day 15:

I am grateful for an especially good time with my beautiful niece, Courtney, with sushi on Haight and roller skating with her to one of my very favorite songs.

A Plethora of Gratitude

Today I was on my feet almost the entire day, talking to people and enjoying meeting some of our clients in person who, until today, I’ve only emailed with or spoken to on the phone.

In the early evening I had a dinner break during which I was able to step outside the hotel and go get a bite to eat with a woman I met last year and with whom I’ve stayed in touch.

After dinner she had leftover pizza and said she was going to share it with a homeless person. As we left the restaurant I pointed out a man sitting hunched over, looking like he could use a warm gesture from someone today. He barely moved when she offered him the bag.  He slowly reached out for the bag.

We then walked back to the hotel and went to the opening reception of our conference, and hung out at the event until it was over, then parted ways for the night.  It was so nice to have made a friend last year at this time, and be able to get together and spend time with each other catching up.

A lo-o-o-o-o-ng day. But a pleasant one. My body is tired and aching.

Day 14:

Today, I am extremely grateful to be able to spend time with a long-distance friend, for small acts of kindness, and now for the comfortable bed I have to get some much-needed sleep.