Tag Archives: travel

It’s Monday ~ A List Of Ten Comforts

After an intensive four days of meetings and travel, it comes as no surprise to me as I hurtle through the sky to my beloved Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary that I yearn for the comforts of our little oasis. With planes to catch and strangers to wrangle it’s the simpler things I seek this Monday and the week before us all.

Even if you’ve been smack dab in the middle of your normal routine, treating yourself to self-care and the goodness that fills your cup is always a good idea. Here are ten of mine:

  1. While eating out is nice and having someone bring our food and clean up afterward is always a treat, going to your own refrigerator and taking out that favorite snack, or better yet, making a home cooked meal is balm for the soul. I lean toward homemade chicken soup. Or scrambled eggs. You choose.
  2. Sometimes I dress for the day based on how much like jammies my outfit feels. Don’t get me wrong, I never wear sweats in public, but a long skirt and a cute jacket are more comfortable than sweats any day.
  3. Every one of us is a creator, an artist. Whether your art is painting, writing or parenting doing something that lights the fires of creativity is good for the soul. It’s good for your family when you’re in that zone and it’s good for the world. Give the world a gift and tap into your creativity.
  4. I mentioned hemp milk lattes didn’t I? Because they are nutty and rich and fluffy. If you want a fluffy drink I recommend this one.
  5. More than anything else, the way our week turns out has to do with how we show up in it. Show up cranky, disappointed and tense and let me know how that works out for you. Show up with your shoulders back and a smile that says to the world, “Bring it!” and I’ll show you a week that’s got super star written all over it.
  6. While I’ve worked the whole weekend and I am a bit weary, there’s no way I’m going to let Monday go by without making at least one step in the direction of what makes me come alive. Whether it’s a book I read or a call I make I will do something… and the Universe will reach up to meet me…
  7. When animals are tired or sick, they naturally take time, hunker down and get the TLC they need. Humans? We’re not that smart. We pretend, we power through and ultimately make a sketch situation worse by denying ourselves basic needs. Me? If I’m tired, I’m going to rest. Seems simple enough.
  8. Perhaps the best way to make ourselves feel good is to feel good. Just do it. Look at the world with childlike wonder and if it takes you all day to find something to be grateful for, spend your entire day looking for it. I guarantee you it will take but a moment to start a list of gratitude, feeling good and childlike wonder.
  9. For me, the best way to start the day out is by saving Facebook for later, email for mid-morning and exercise and meditation for first thing. Try it. You’ll like it.
  10. When my daughter was an intern at Disney World we packed our bags and brought our two youngest boys out to see her and enjoy the Magic Kingdom. Having Zoë there to show us the tricks to make it perfect made all the difference. She coached us through the whole process, pointing out interesting things people don’t see and better ways to use the park. All day and up until the very end she coached us. It was late at night when we got on the tram she gave me my final instructions. “Mom, people are going to rush for a seat, you’ve got to be assertive.” As I went to board the tram she whispered in her best coach’s voice, “Go! Make it your bench.” Yeah. Let’s make this week our bench.

Like, share, comment, tweet and make the world your amusement park.

monday's your bitch

Branded A Terrorist At The Portland Airport… Again

Travel is a fairly consistent part of our life here at the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary. Perhaps it is that we have to travel simply to get organic groceries.

This week we’re taking it further than the normal “40 Minutes From Everywhere” and we’ve crossed the miles to Austin, Texas to attend The Wizard Academy. More on that little detail later.

Though I consider myself somewhat of a seasoned traveler, I am not above the rookie mistake. Worse than Guatemala without a flashlight, I crossed airport etiquette on Tuesday, when I unknowingly left my “Juice” pocketknife in my jaunty mango colored Coach purse.


IMG_3535Lucky for the airport guard and myself, I’d packed quite a few other things in my bigger bag and then tucked, said jaunty purse into that as well. A veritable treasure hunt ensued as we looked through the bags and she pulled out the containers and gadgetry that keep me happy, well-groomed and amused on my explorations.

“I won’t say the T word,” I promised her, meaning terrorist, of course.

“Oh, I thought you were going to say the B word,” she countered.

“Of course I won’t be a bitch,” I said, “You’d be way meaner to me if I did.”

She grinned not at all in the way we’ve begun to think of airport security, and assured me that this is absolutely true.

After we’d found the offending item (this is not the first time I’ve mailed it home from the airport I’m sorry to say), I asked for medium pressure for what I like to think of as a conciliatory airport massage ~ also known as a pat down ~ and soon enough we were on our way.

I met back up with Mr Dreamboat as he finished the mailing process.

“She was nice,” I said and he agreed.

It is a consistent part of my world that people are friendly and kind. Not every time, not in all situations, but almost without exception regardless of my silly mistakes or the varied interactions we have with other human beings, I find there’s never a cause to roll out the B word, and cheerful attitude serves me every time.

I submit to you my airport massage wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if I were a T or a B.

Like, share, comment, tweet, and safe travels, my friends.

One Time I Was Eaten By Wild Dogs… And You Can Too!

feral dogs
Fought ’em off with my bare hands… Yeah… That’s how it happened…

Once I was stalked by a pack of feral dogs. True story. I had traveled to Guatemala with my modicum of Spanish language, voyaged through Guatemala City and lived for two weeks with a family I’d never met before, paying them a measly $125 per week for food and lodging.

It was on my way to school from their house on the outskirts of town when the dogs spied me as an easy mark.

On that same trip I’d gone on an excursion for the weekend, staying in a little hotel on Lago Atitlan that I realized I’d told no one in the world where I was going.

As the lights flickered and the doors, secured with what I thought of as a toilet stall lock, shook and rattled in the wind, I realized that a thoughtful traveler might carry a flashlight and would inform loved ones where their bodies might be found.

Lesson learned.

The end of the story is that I did, as it turns out, survive that trip as well as many others wherein I found myself in equally sketchy circumstances. I tell you not because I am silly ~ though clearly I am ~ but because there are very few mistakes we make in life that will ultimately be fatal.

I submit to you that a trip without feral dogs or sketchy, banging doors isn’t fatal and is, in fact, a learning experience, a risk and ultimately an adventure.

It was Dr. Seuss who said in his classic tale, Oh The Places You’ll Go, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

I have never once regretted the risks I’ve taken. Rather, it’s been the times I chickened out, the events I was too nervous to attend, the chances I didn’t take that have haunted me.

You know. You know what you’re capable of. And if you don’t know you at least suspect what you have hidden inside you.

Take a few chances, they don’t have to be big. Test the water, and find out what you’ve got hidden deep inside that’s just dying to get out.

And if you need a little help, give me a shout. I’ve got your back and experience with wild dogs. We’ve totally got this.

Like, share, comment, tweet and fly your freak flag or at least wear your colorful beanie.

A Girl’s Guide To Profanity & Easy Living

Yesterday afternoon, despite precision planning and casting off the urge to reset my alarm clock for another generous 30 minutes, I nearly missed my flight to Las Vegas.

I am not an infrequent traveler and so this near miss was vexing to me.

My flight was scheduled to leave the haven that is the Portland Airport. I am accustomed to the drive to and from it and so I scheduled a generous amount of time to get there.

As it turns out, I am not in charge of the world and I wasn’t even on my toes as the rerouting of my day took me places I hadn’t planned to go and doing things I hadn’t planned to do.

I was thereby mentally diverted from obligatory tasks that eventually gave me not a slip of room for error as I drove away from the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary.

On a perfect day, on a day with simple rain in it, or say, a few clouds here and there or even a completely overcast sky, no margin for error is fine. But the imps of chance were in full form and wind storms and whimsy were abroad.

rain-drivingFirst, the tiny burg of Battle Ground was a veritable New York City traffic nightmare. Go figure. And not more than five miles down the highway, only a stones throw from the freeway that would, indeed, set me free, a traffic light was out, jamming up traffic to make rush our in L.A. blush.

When I finally made my escape onto the freeway, going against the major traffic of the evening commute, debris littered the road and drivers were nothing short of wonky and irritating. Wait, that last part might have been me.

Finally pulling into the parking garage, I realized Mr Dreamboat’s giant truck parks not a thing like my little, racy car. Turn on a dime? A quarter? A big fat fifty cent piece? No, but not for lack of trying.

The entire, frustrating and possibly profanity strewn drive, I continued to try to regulate my breathing, stop swearing at other drivers and I imagined sliding into my destined seat, neat as you please. No sweat. No problem.

I did in fact make the flight. In fact, as I raced up to the gate the agent took ticket number B29. I was there just in time to hand them my ticket, B30.

All’s well that ends well. Even if I hadn’t made my flight I was certain I could get on one just an hour or so later. And if not, there’s always a bed waiting for me at home.

In the end we’re all going to get where we’re going. It’s simply a matter of how much stress we allow ourselves and how much fun we choose to have along the way. My evening could have been a lot more pleasant with a better attitude, less expletives and an easier attitude. Live and learn, right?

Like, share, comment, tweet and play some slots for me next time you’re in Vegas because I’m not going to while I’m here!

Memoirs Of A Traveler ~ The Chicken Bus Of Life

From high altitudes I write to you today. On my way home from California, I sit near the front of the plane, not much different than a chicken bus if you think about it. Only without the chickens of course.

There are somewhere around 150 passengers on this particular chicken-less airbus. Besides the fact that we are all headed to the same place, without exception each of us has much in common with our entire mobile population.

chicken busThe curious thing, or one of them rather, about human beings is that we tend to separate ourselves. Perhaps we believe by claiming alliance with one organization or another we are safely defined. “I know who I am because I am a ______.” “I know who I am because I do this particular thing, have this particular interest or this specific heritage.”

It’s futile of course. We are all human beings on the philosophical Chicken Bus of life and we are all headed to exactly the same destination. Unlike today’s flight, we don’t get to choose, there is no choice.

Besides the inevitable end of your E-Ticket journey, what strikes me most powerfully is that we all have our scars. We’ve all been around the block a time or two even if that trip was simply childhood. As magical as we all claim it to be, it’s a tough gig and getting through it inescapably provides one scar or another.

No one rides for free.

It’s all quite exquisite if you think about it. Our differences keep things interesting and our similarities keep us related, keep us humble and make us family.

I am quite at ease today as I travel, if not with friends, at least with my human family.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine one’s boss, nemesis or stranger on the street as family. Sure. That’s fair. But I challenge you to give it a try. Sure, it’s the nature of the human beast to feel alone and lonely from time to time, but with a bit of a shift in perspective there is an elegant and simple truth to the idea.

And it’s elegant and it makes me feel comfortable way up here in the sky. Well, as comfortable as anyone feels on a chicken bus.

Like, share, comment, tweet and get to know your neighbors!

What You Don’t Know ~ Michelle Church

The adventure of dating oneself is a journey of twists and turns. It is simultaneously edifying to take the time to know the inner workings of one’s own heart, and it is exhilarating to go out into the world and discover other lives and others’ thoughts without the lens of being with your friends or family.

The solo date is an art and a sacrament.

Over the last week I’ve had more time to date myself than normal and every time I have new zealandhad the luxury of talking with people I will likely never see again. One such encounter was with Carrie, a French café owner who told me, “I thought I knew what green was until I discovered in New Zealand what I had never seen before.”

Another encounter was with Warren, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, who prayed for me and for my family at my favorite supermarket. Still another was Chris, who tutored me on fixing the sticky drawers in my cabinet and regaled me with stories about the 900 odd teenage mothers who passed through her home and into lives they couldn’t have had without the aid that was given to them.

Each one of these interactions, as well as others along the way, has humbled me in a way I never could have imagined without them. I had the fortune to listen to them, be heard by them and to commune in a way that gives meaning to life and depth to living.

We travelers on the lonely path of life are funny creatures. We aver things that can only be guessed at and we make judgments along the way about worthiness and wisdom, our own and that of everybody else. We judge with barely a glance into other people’s lives and psyches. We imagine solutions to problems we’ve barely tried to understand.

I do not know how to solve the problem of believing we know what we cannot possibly know, other than to acknowledge we cannot know. The best we can do is, to imagine love is the solution to all of life’s most complex questions and then to go out and spread that love as liberally and as quickly as is humanly possible.

Warren prayed for me to find joy and to know Jesus. Chris showed me how to do that. And Carrie? She taught me that I think I know the beauty of life, but I can’t know it, not until I can somehow be everywhere and see and do everything.

Until then, I’ll stick with what I learned from Chris and Carrie. And I’ll wonder what I might learn from you if only we had a bit of time together.

Like, share, comment, tweet and be the change you wish to see in the world.

This Is The Point

It is entirely possible and exceptionally likely that I will never become an internationally famous artist. I know. It’s painful to say it. Don’t get me wrong, it could happen. But…

I like having my dreams. I like imagining glamorous travel paid for by adoring patrons. I like believing I am deeply talented and have all sorts of possibilities lying before me on the banquet table of life simply waiting to be picked up and eating with relish. The verb, not the condiment.

daydreamSo too do I enjoy the idea of being a wildly successful blogger, writer, speaker and coach. These are things I love and so I dream of success, and yes, accolades and boatloads of money. Don’t hate. You do it too, or at least you should.

As much as I love my forays into fantasy, they are not the point. I don’t wake up every morning itching to get to the next destination or praying that the phone call will finally come. I’m not sitting and waiting for my ship to dock and whisk me off to success.

The daydreams are a pleasure but the pass times are the point.

I love painting and creating. I love it. I could do it all day every day. I love writing and it is my most distinct pleasure to coach people into their perfect lives. It makes me happy. I don’t have to wait for anything in order to be exactly where I want to be and do exactly what I love doing.

Along the way, I learn about color and light. I learn how to live my own, best life. I become a better writer and from time to time I travel and meet new people and do glamorous things.

I believe with all my heart that whatever you love, you should be doing it. You should do it and without the shackles of believing that one day, you will be good enough to enjoy it.

That day is now. You are here and the whole point of being here is to learn and love and live fully and with all sorts of lessons along the way.

The point is to be the best you. You’ve got this like no one else ever could and the eternities are chanting your name. You’re famous, wildly successful and being on earth is the most glamorous travel ever known.

Like, share, comment, tweet and come visit, since you’re traveling anyway.

God Is In The Chimney ~ Michelle Church

The other night my close friend Melissa invited us over to watch the return of the swifts to the chimney at Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland. It’s nothing short of a grand spectacle to observe nature in her elegant display of tradition and grandeur.

The giant chimney where these birds stop on their yearly migration is no longer used in its traditional role. Shored up by cables – and who knows what else, it’s sole, remaining purpose is to house the migrating, avian visitors.

The Chapman neighborhood is overrun by gawking Portlanders for the two-week stay. Surely this is nothing short of irritating to the neighborhood, but for those of us visiting, it is a stunning affair. Humbling. Awe-inspiring.portland swifts

You don’t need to visit Portland, Oregon to experience these things. You don’t even need to leave your home, truth be told.

This world, I choose to believe, is a creation of magnificence. Nature stands at its head, her displays magnificent at every angle. From the tiniest of creatures to titanic, natural cathedrals, it was made to nurture, teach and regenerate. Each new iteration a thing of brilliance.

Perhaps the most amazing of the Universe’s designs is that of humanity.

I’ve certainly seen humankind in her baseness, but it is also true that I’ve looked into the eyes of God by simply peering into the eyes of our fellow beings. To touch the hand of another traveler, to see unfettered joy and sincere gratitude, these are the money shots. It’s where the heart is. It’s where we connect and it’s where we are the very best of what it means to be human.

As we watched the birds circling and engaging in the ancient traditions of their species, my friend Lisa commented that to see such an exhibition is to see the wonders of God, and I had to agree.

And further still, to watch the ebb and flow of life in those who surround us, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one, the disappointments inherent in day to day living, this too is a grand display of God and nature, humanity and of life. We just have to watch for it.

It’s everywhere. It’s in chimneys and mountaintops. It’s in shanties and mansions.

It is life and it is sacred. It is you.

Like, share, comment, tweet, you know, like the swifts, but you don’t need to go in a chimney to do it.

Practicing Envy ~ Not For The Faint Of Heart

I have experienced the sad sort of aching and loss more times than I like to think about. I have perceived beautiful talents and rare gifts that have made me ache with envy.

I find it ironic that it is not uncommon to see other people’s talents and successes and instead of feeling gratitude for such beauty in the world, we feel slighted somehow, unworthy even.

The other day as I meandered to the beach after a lovely day painting in the sun, I stopped at the notable Lawrence Gallery in Sheridan, Oregon. Tucked away in Oregon’s Yamhill county and wine country, the gallery’s offerings include iconic art and artists at the beginning of their creative journey. All of it inspires.

One such inspiration is a twenty-something artist from Portland whose art is breathtaking. It is alive with color and emotion. The artist, Jennifer Diehl, is young, talented and successful. And I experienced that aching envy I wish upon no one.

Why do we do that? Why is it that we believe someone else has the superior journey? That their gifts are grander than ours? Not just different, but better. Why do I do that? I should know better. I do know better and yet I still do it.

The beauty of being transparent is that in airing these fatal flaws and habits we’re able to make sense of them, or at least begin the work of transformation with the help and insight of others.

“Zoë, I saw this young woman’s art today and I felt so… jealous. I felt cheated for all the years I wasn’t painting.”

Truthfully I can’t remember exactly what she said to comfort/correct me. It was something to the effect that I’m on my own, no less important, path, that I have time and talent and life in which to experiment and grow. It was something about being valid in my own right. It was something about being accepted and acceptable.

jennifer deihl art

I believe that when I look out at life with envy, that I am being ungrateful and dismissive of what I’ve been given. I have been given so much. So many gifts, so many opportunities and yes, many struggles from which my greatest blessings have come.

I am who I am. I am sometimes a force, a talent, and an example. I am sometimes ungrateful and wanting of grace and perspective. If I’m willing to be the bearer of bad news, I would tell you that we are all those things.

I think the goal is to be the former a lot more often than we are the latter. I believe the way to do that is to say it out loud when we’re ungrateful, own what we feel and thoughtfully take ourselves back to the place where we respect and appreciate the unique and brilliant journey that is our own.

Most importantly, it’s a process, a journey, not a destination.

You should definitely check out Jennifer Diehl Art. It will take your breath away.

Like, comment, share, tweet and give your life a great big hug. Because it is yours and because it is life.

Don’t You Wonder When You’ll Get There?

On what turned out to be an extended trip home from San Diego, Mr Dreamboat and I had an interesting discussion with a bright, young pre-med student who promised to read my blog. If Kelsey did, indeed, follow through, I send greetings and thanks for a lovely conversation.

Well, truthfully I am not all that outgoing and it was Mr Dreamboat who started the conversation, as my mind is currently dedicated to yet another Zombie Apocalypse novel. I feel no shame.

Nevertheless, Kelsey was charming and curious and we spent a pleasant hour-long flight talking. I was delighted by her curiosity and ever-so-slightly flummoxed when she asked me, “How did you get here?” (This, after Mr Dreamboat bragged me up and made me sound like a superstar. I pay him good money for that kind of press.)

As I sat in my seat thousands of feet above the earth’s surface, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to explain where I am nor how I got here. The best I could do was hit some of the highlights and talk about a few of the lows that are part and parcel of who I am today.

I tried to make it clear, to myself and to young Kelsey. I tried to understand it even while I said it out loud. But really, the details of where I am and how I got here are far less important than why I am in the position I find myself in today.

I am here, not because I’ve had special breaks or harrowing hardships more difficult than others have had. I am here, because I choose to be happy. And that, too, is where I am. I am happy.

I have opportunities I never thought possible because God and the Universe and life are all good. I have them because while I am permanently flawed and have often failed, every time I choose to stand up. Every day I keep trying and throughout my life I have been preparing. For what, I have no idea.

I just know that if I keep learning and I keep plodding along in what could genuinely be described as dogged determination, somewhere along the way, my preparation will meet up with the right opportunities.

Even as I was asked how I got where I am today, I couldn’t help wonder how you got where you are today. How is it where you live and would you change direction if only you knew how?

I don’t think any of us have arrived at our destination. The path to a new place and peace of mind begins with baby steps and curiosity and most of all gratitude. With all my heart I hope you love your life. And if not, I’d love to help you find a new place of mind.

You know what they say, wherever you go, there you are.

Like, tweet, comment, share and pack your bags for the next big adventure.