travel blog

Golden Times

I’m here in Morro Bay this week as part of my Year by the Water. I am filled with sweet and bittersweet memories. This is the where my mom and dad lived – actually nearby Los Osos - for the last years of their life. pelican fly bys golden hour morro rock

I remember holiday family reunions at their home, where my brother, sister and I returned as adults to gather around the table and go down Memory Row. For example, “Remember the Christmas Mom and Dad gave Dave a horse, and they got creative and placed some horse manure in a beautifully wrapped box to surprise him?"

I can picture it as if it were yesterday. Our entire extended family sat in a circle, each of us opening one present at a time. As soon as Dave unwrapped his gift, he knew what it meant. He threw the box up in the air and ran outside. Unfortunately, there was … gravity ... and the manure rained down on Mom’s beautiful red wool knit Christmas outfit.

One year, Dad (aka Warren Reed) rented ten horses and we made like Lawrence of Arabia and went riding over the sand dunes pictured in the background of this photo. What fun we had.

Dad also rented a large red canoe that held all ten of us and we paddled around the bay, getting up close to the herons, otters, seals, sailboats and pelicans.

As the Director of Vocational Ag Education for the State of California, Dad spent twenty years and thousands of hours driving around the state, visiting schools, county and state fairs, advising teachers and Future Farmers of America students on their projects.

Within weeks of retiring, he set off on a long-deferred dream to drive across America and visit all the national parks. It was something he’d always wanted to do – but had never had time due to his 7-day a week dedication to his job and serving others.

A week after setting off on his grand adventure, Dad had a stroke. Thankfully, he recovered, but he never did fulfill his life-long dream to see all those national parks.

A couple months after Dad had his stroke, I visited him from Hawaii and we went for a hike at nearby Montana Del Oro State Park. If you’ve been in this area, you know it’s a magnificent golden plateau with a trail that winds along dramatic sea cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great place to watch humpback whales, bask in the sun and sea breeze, and marvel at the foamy waves crashing on the shore below.

You know how you keep your head down when you’re hiking on uneven ground? Well, Dad and I were walking along with our eyes focused on the trail, when a premonition prompted us to look up.

There, fifty yards away, was a full-sized buck with an impressive rack of antlers. We had no idea where he came from or how he got there. There was no tall brush or trees, just an open field. the buck gazed at us without an ounce of fear. We gazed back at him.

If you live in California, you know that bucks simply don’t come out in the open. Even when it’s not hunting season, they usually head the other direction as soon as they get a whiff of human beings. This was so unusual, we both understood it was a gift, a blessing.

And so it is that I feel full-circle blessed experiencing this golden hour at Morro Rock. I am here with my sister and we too are going down Memory Row. Yes, we’re getting caught up on business, but we’ll also looking up in wonderment every once in a while as we marvel at our life-long journey together.

Cheri’s daughter is working in her business and helping with mine. Cheri is so grateful that Christina values what she does and has elected to learn the business and honor what she’s created. We talk about Andrew and Miki getting engaged, and Tom and Patty loving their son Mateo, and marvel that it seems like a few months ago we were riding horses over the dunes in Morro Bay.

midnight in parisAs part of my 60th birthday weekend in Washington DC, my family, friends and I saw Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris.” In that movie, the lead character, Owen Wilson, longs to go back to the era when Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali and Gertrude Stein hung out in Paris together. Through film-making magic and suspension of disbelief, Owen’s character gets his wish and gets to go back in time and kibbitz with these creative geniuses at the height of their powers.

Toward the end of the movie, a woman finds out “Owen” has time-traveled and begs him to share the magic and make it happen for her. Her dream is to go back to the age of the Renaissance and meet Rembrandt, Monet and Matisse.

Owen takes her by the shoulders and beseeches her, implores her to understand what he's discovered, “No, THESE are the golden days, THESE are the golden times.” She doesn’t listen to him. She’s convinced the grass is greener somewhere, sometime, else.

I knew it then and I know it now.

Anytime we are fortunate to be with people we love, THOSE are the golden times. Every day we are blessed with health, THOSE are the golden days. Every moment we get to explore this incredible country of ours and experience her natural wonders, THOSE are the golden moments. Every hour we get to do work we love that matters with people we enjoy and respect, THOSE are the golden hours.

So, here’s to the golden times, the golden days, the golden moments, the golden hours. May we steep ourselves in these blessings, imprint and appreciate them - right here, right now.

Abandon Absolutes

Several years ago, my friend Mary LoVerde (Oprah favorite and author of The Invitation) gave me a gift.


She took a week to work with me to feng shui my home, and in doing so, feng shui'd my life.

You may be familiar with Maria Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That’s what Mary did for me. It was indeed a life-changing experience.

Here is just one of the metaphorical insights of those eye-opening days.

For anyone who knows me, it’s no surprise to learn I used to live neck-up. I lived in my brain, not my body. Material things didn’t matter much to me.

My bedroom faced Lake Audubon. Because it looked out on trees (not people’s houses) I didn’t have drapes on the windows so nothing obstructed my gaze outside.

Mary said, “Want to try some sheers on those windows?”

I stated rather unequivocally, ”Why? We can’t improve on Mother Nature.”

Mary smiled and said in her inimitably gentle way, “Well, let’s experiment. We can always take them back.”

So, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, my first trip ever to this domestic emporium.

I don’t know what came over me. I made my way to the curtain department, spied some diaphanous sheers with a delicate design, walked over, put my arms around them and said, “These.” We added some gold tassels, made some other purchases and headed home.

As soon as Mary put up the sheers, their sublime combination with the windows settled in my soul. I realized how RIGHT they were together.

What an epiphany. We can improve on Mother Nature. Water, trees and exquisite beauty weren’t an either/or … they were the best of BOTH worlds.

It made me wonder, “Where ELSE in my world was I making absolutes I should revisit? Where else had I reached unequivocal, either/or, right/wrong conclusions that were … wrong?”

One of the absolutes I decided to revisit was the promise I made to myself years ago to never read books in my genre.

This originated because of something that happened early in my career. A man came up to me after a Tongue Fu! workshop and said, “You must have read a lot of Tony Robbins. Your work is a lot like his.”

Maybe he meant it as a compliment, but it came across as if he thought I’d copied Tony’s work. I knew Tony (a little). He had been gracious enough to endorse myTongue Fu! book, and I could understand there might be some similarities in our approaches; but I certainly hadn’t ripped off his techniques and it bothered me that someone might think I had.

I realized I couldn’t control what other people thought; but I could be sure I wasn’t cribbing peers’ work by not reading their books. So, for years, I watchedCBS Sunday Morning, read newspapers and magazines and referenced people outside our industry; but was careful not to read peers’ work.

These last few months on my Year by the Water, I decided it was time to revisit that absolute. I started listening to and reading Elon Musk, Gloria Steinem, Cheryl Strayed, Mindy Kaling and Paulo Coehlo.

And, after the owner of the Stinson Beach book store recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book EAT PRAY LOVE... MADE ME DO ITI found myself inspired by the stories of individuals who had been moved to make changes because her book inspired them to realize, “Life doesn’t have to look like this.”

I know I’m getting ahead of myself, and realize this may sound rather grandiose  because the first book YEAR BY THE WATER hasn’t even come out yet.

However, I hope that someday there will be a follow-up book called YEAR BY THE WATER ... MADE ME DO IT.

The good news is, I’m already hearing inspiring stories of people who have been motivated to jump off their aircraft carrier career and explore other parts of the ocean.

I’m already hearing what’s happened as a result of someone putting a date on the calendar.

I’m already hearing how people are leaving room for whimsputting themselves in their own story, and seeing life as an open (not empty) nest.

So, here’s my request.

If any of these posts resonate with you and inspire you to do something different – whether it’s to appreciate your freedom of movement or to not wait for work you love – will you let me know?

With your permission, I’ll share your story with other people following this adventure.

Maybe your story will be the one that strikes a chord.

Maybe your tale of how you were motivated to abandon an absolute will be the one that shows them life doesn’t have to look like this and they choose to change things up (I love that phrase).

I look forward to hearing from you – as do others.