50 Days to 50 Years: Day 11, A CAAN surprise and a Road Trip!

21 07 2016

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” — William Feather


Day 11 of 50 Days to 50 Years started with dropping off my Nissan X-Terra to Pep Boys for some servicing in the early AM. You see, the first BIG adventure of my 50 Years is a Food Excursion to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we are heading out today; so I had to make sure the car was in good shape to go the over 800 miles through the deserts of California and Arizona, and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.

The temperature index in Los Angeles is expected to reach 100 degrees, and at 7:30 a.m. it was already 71. So I trundled from Pep Boys down to the local McDonald’s, got a Caramel McCafe, and enjoyed the A/C until the service desk called me to say my car was ready.

And they completed the service in just the right amount of time to keep my 10:00 a.m. appointment with Miriam Smith, Columbia College Chicago’s Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. I have the distinct pleasure of working with Miriam on the CAAN Alumni Board, where she does incredible work and inspires us as we seek to do more for the alumni. I was honored that on her visit to Los Angeles, she wanted to make sure she touched based with me. And even more happy that I had a window of time before we headed out of town.

We went to one of my favorite breakfast spots, The Village Bakery and Cafe on Los Feliz Boulevard. I was actually a few minutes early, and so was Miriam! So that worked out well.

Miriam had the Atwater Village Special, and I had the Village Scramble, both delicious and filling. We had a good talk about my time on the board, and how I’d like to contribute in this next year as the new Southwest Regional Representative! It was a very lovely start to what I was looking forward to being a lovely weekend. We finished breakfast, and Miriam had to jet off to her next meeting. We hugged and looked forward to seeing each other at the CAAN Board retreat in September.

Then it was off home to complete our packing, put it all in the car, and hit the 210 Freeway to the I-15! I do love road trips, and love them even more when someone else is driving. Lynn seems to prefer doing that, so I bow to his road warrior. It is just great to get out of your world, and right now our world is a mixed bag of delight and depression; so for me, getting away from it all has taken on pronounced importance of late.

We got underway around 12:30 p.m., fueled up, and away we went! Save for a rest area or two in between, we made it into Kingman, Arizona around 6:30 p.m., and had our last “official” California meal for the weekend at the quintessential California stop: In-N-Out Burger.

Four hours later, we arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were set to repair for the night. Motel 6 is our inexpensive go-to place on road trips, usually because we have the Bubbas and Bubbette with us, and Motel 6 is not only pet-friendly, but FREE for all pets; no deposit required. But Motel 6 has also been good to us on our little excursions that have spanned, with a few years’ interruption, over the past five years. In terms of brands, if you are good to me, I am often loyal to a fault; so Motel 6 continues to get our loyalty.


They did indeed leave the light on for us! We are checked in, and look forward to a good night’s sleep before taking the additional 430 miles to New Mexico tomorrow.




50 Days to 50 Years: Day 13, morning coffee with Beth Chamberlain, morning Yoga with Ali Jo, and lunch at Auntie Em’s Kitchen with Vicki Schmidt

19 07 2016

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” — Helen Keller

Tuesday was packed to the brim with goodness: the goodness of beautiful lady mentors, beautiful Yoga, and delicious food and drink!

I jetted out the house earlier than usual so that I could meet Dr. Beth Chamberlain at Peet’s Coffee in Pasadena’s South Lake area. Beth is the wife of Pastor Scott Chamberlain, the campus pastor at Montrose Church Pasadena-Bresee. She is a very beautiful soul, with the most gorgeous eyes that drip with awareness and compassion. She is the type of person that I would like to be: someone who has such an incredible weight and presence that you are content to just be around them. I also admire her and Scott because, like Hermione and Samuel, they adopted two children that were not their own. The Chamberlains pastored in Skid Row for many years, and took on the care of two African-American boys connected to their mission, and raised them along with their own two children. That really does take a special kind of heart, and speaks volumes of who Beth and Scott are as people of God, and humans in general.

I wanted to ask Beth some insightful questions to get to know her better, but like the skilled counselor that she is, she turned it around and asked me some very deep and thought-provoking ones. So I talked about everything from my childhood in Chicago to my best and worst birthdays to date.

It was all too short for me, but Beth had to get to her office. So we hugged, took a selfie, and she was off to the rest of her day. It’s been six years since I’ve had a traditional job, and I’m always reminded how blessed I am that I don’t have to do that any more.

Since I was already in Pasadena and had to teach at noon, it only made sense to get in a 9:00 a.m. C-2 with Miss Alexandra Johansen!

Ali Jo is our beautiful, Amazonian, North Los Angeles Lead for several of the CorePower studios, and another exceptional human. I had the opportunity to be a coach in one of the Teacher Trainings she led, and it was one of the best experiences all around. I greatly enjoy Ali Jo’s classes for their complex simplicity, and her phenomenal cues. She is a young lady with a lovely presence and a generous heart. I used to throw an annual tree trimming party around Christmastime, and I asked people to bring an ornament for the tree. Ali Jo not only brought an ornament, but gifts for my dogs! How cool is that?! She is blessed with a gorgeous beau named Dana (of whom I greatly approve—not that it matters) and a cool bulldog named Joe who I would love to steal from her for a play date with my fur babies… One day.

As usual, Ali Jo set my morning off right, and my noon class was exceptionally sweet with focused students and good energy. Then it was off to my afternoon break, where I met Vicki Schmidt at Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock!

I only know Auntie Em’s because they have some slammin’ coffee and great bakery items. I had never sampled their lunch items, but I was happy to have the opportunity to do so with Ms. Vicki.

As I said in Day 16, Vicki has a special needs son named Jimmy. He is actually an adult, but still needs round the clock care for a variety of ailments. So when Vicki is not working, and able to get nursing help, she finds time to be with her friends, of which I am glad to be counted among them.

Vicki attended CCN long before Lynn and I came, but due to needing to care for Jimmy, and her daughter Traci’s illness, she didn’t attend often, so I hadn’t formally met her. For about two years I would hear about this woman named Vicki and her daughter Traci; Traci was often on the prayer list, because she had undergone a bone marrow transplant for a rare lymphoma, and was currently in remission. In my mind, I assumed Vicki was this 30-something mother, and Traci was a little girl. When I finally met Vicki and Traci, I was surprised to find Vicki to be a mature woman in her late 50s, and Traci was the 30-something mother—with kids to boot! We had a good laugh over that.

Vicki has been going through a painful and energy-sucking divorce; yet despite that, and the constant ups and downs with Jimmy’s care, she always bears a beautiful smile, a ready hug, and like Dr. Beth, an exceptional listening ear. She’s also incredibly fun and funny, bearing the cutest giggle when something strikes her as humorous.

Thankfully the ugly heat wave predicted this week had not hit yet, so we sat outside and knoshed on Quiche and a Pulled Pork Sandwich. It was obvious that we were both exceptionally hungry, as neither one of us took a food picture. In between bites of the really good food, we caught up on our lives and mutually encouraged each other. Vicki is also part of that group of CCN friends who have seen Lynn and I through hell and high water, and she is always faithful to check in on how we are really doing, instead of  assuming that just because we don’t have any crises going on that we must be fine.

When we decided to split a Strawberry Creme Bread pudding, and the waitress brought it out, it was a sight to behold—so a picture was not only required, it was an imperative!


Of course, we smashed that too. Auntie Em’s did not disappoint!

Vicki had to get home to Jimmy, and I had to get back to the studio to teach my 5:30 p.m. class; but it was a wonderful completion to a day rich with women of exceptional gifting and generous spirit. A person is fortunate to have one of those in their life, and I am blessed with three.

50 Days to 50 Years: Day 15, The Resilient Life

17 07 2016

“The next time you feel slightly uncomfortable with the pressure in your life, remember no pressure, no diamonds. Pressure is a part of success.” — Eric Thomas


The instructors at the CorePower Hollywood studio were offered a chance to participate in a Myintent.org promotion a few months back. We picked a word and the company engraved it on a bracelet for us. I had totally forgotten about it until this morning, when I went to sub a C-2 class in Hollywood. The lovely Estevan let me know that the bracelets had arrived!

As you can see, the word I chose was “Resilient”, not necessarily as an intention, but as a continual marker for my life. I found this on a site called Wisdom Commons:

“Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience. Resilience means facing life’s difficulties with courage and patience – refusing to give up. It is the quality of character that allows a person or group of people rebound from misfortune, hardships and traumas.

“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.

“Much of our resilience comes from community—from the relationships that allow us to lean on each other for support when we need it.”

There is no way I could have reached 50 years with joy, focus, and success without being resilient. I never really thought about it much of the time, but it is in the looking back that you see the thread that holds things together.

There is also no way that I will continue past 50 without it. As I head to church to worship with my spiritual community, I am grateful for resilience, and the communities of which I am a part who support and encourage it.

50 Days to 50 Years: Day 24, DISH with my Montrose Women’s Bible Study Small Group

8 07 2016

“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.”— Rosalind Russell



I am blessed this Summer in getting to know Jana Benson and Betty Smith, as they both keep expanding my world with new people and experiences. With Summer vacations and kids out of school, we are on break from the Women’s Bible Study, but industrious and spontaneous Betty decided to plan some get togethers for our small group. At first we were going to frolic around her pool, but the weather decided to downshift, so she thought a nice lunch at a local Crescenta Valley haunt would be more appropriate.

So Day 24, started with a great heated Yoga class and an unexpectedly long appointment which made me late. But I came home, showered, and got dolled up to meet the ladies at DISH in La Canada. Save for people who make more money than me, drive nicer cars and have large homes, I knew next to nothing about La Canada-Flintridge. Now I’m spending practically every weekend there!  I take that as a positive sign.

Betty has such great flair, and she brightened our table with my favorite Gerbera daisies (how did she know?!) and lilys, along with some chocolate chips she brought from Trader Joe’s. Wicked—I know what will be in my basket next time I stop by that store.

Not all the ladies could make it, but I got a chance to sit next to sweet Gloria, a powerful prayer warrior who is passionate about her family. She is very inspiring and fun, and it was nice to get a chance to know her better.

Denise Pearson is the co-leader of our small group, and we got to talk in depth as well. She is an Air Force kid, so she has lived all over the U.S. I got some insight on how that shapes your perspective and view of the world. She was fortunate that her dad retired in California, so she got to complete junior high and high school here. She is also passionate about her children (all boys), and is ripe to have fun—as are most of the women in our group. I believe I have found the right crowd!

DISH is insane, but the prices are not! I had a tremendously delicious rare Burger with Tillamook Cheddar and Kennebec Fries for an excellent price. Gloria split a salad with another lady, but the half salad looked like a full one! I appreciate places where they feed you well, and you feel as though you have gotten your money’s worth. Our waitress was a gem.

I will miss our next small group get together due to being out of town, but am once again thankful for the new friends, new community connections and the spaces to play that I am finding this Summer.

50 Days to 50 Years: Day 27, The Oinkster with Nancy Kane

5 07 2016

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Nancy Kane is one of my favorite people, and she is so talented at knowing how to play, that she really should be getting paid for it. Whatever state either one of us might find ourselves in, after a bit of time we end up in laughter and giggles. She is a lot of fun, and someone who embodies what I am striving towards: embracing life to the fullest and not sweating the small stuff.

Nancy was one of my first Yoga teachers and mentors when I started my CorePower journey in 2010, and my teacher training journey in 2011. Her classes embody that sense of play and fun, while still offering challenge and transformation. Nancy’s voice is infectious and light, helping you maintain that ease of playfulness, even when you’re sweating and straining.

The interaction on the Yoga mat translated off the mat as well, and we developed a friendship. She soon found her Sam, and on occasion (too few in my book) me and Lynn get to join them, and we all have fun together.

So of course she was at the top of the list for my 50 Days to 50 Years celebrations. Once she got back from the Live Oak Music Festival (what she affectionately calls her “hippy camping trip”), we made a date to go out and eat; because we both consider eating good food part and parcel of having said fun!

After taking my 12:00 p.m. class in Pasadena, we trotted down to nearby Eagle Rock and took in lunch at The Oinkster, one of my favorite haunts. Over burgers (mine had pastrami—delish!), and piggy fries (because we know how to live), we talked about how Rex (her German Shorthaired Pointer) and Panda (my Tibetian Terrier) did not do well with the 4th of July fireworks, then quickly moved on to Yoga work, finding other work, relationships, and of course, the best places to eat pastrami. Seriously, we really do love food—thank God for hot Yoga!

And thank God for Nancy; I am grateful for her friendship and her talent for play that she shares so freely.



50 Days to 50 Years: Day 32, The Wisdom of Years

30 06 2016

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Age Decades Collage

Today I was confronted with the stark contrast between 20 and 50. While in between classes at the CorePower Hollywood studio, I went to my locker to retrieve an apple, since I hadn’t eaten since that morning. I struck up a conversation with Teresa Michelle, a fellow instructor, about that fact, when one of our young clients—probably no older than 25— chimed in about how she never forgets to eat.

Me: “Neither do I, but the day’s been busy, so I haven’t had opportunity to eat another meal.”

Young Girl: “My grandma forgets to eat, I guess because she doesn’t have an appetite—I don’t understand that either.”

Me: “With age comes a diminishing of smell and taste receptors, major factors in stirring our hunger; hence you don’t have much of an appetite.”

Young Girl: “So what’s the point of growing old? Doesn’t seem to have any benefits!”

Me: “Sure it does: Wisdom. Experience. Confidence. But you’re still young, so you won’t understand it for a while yet.”

I walked out to imbibe my apple, shaking my head at the boneheaded statement that you can only make when you lack the perspective of years. Being 25 (or more) years ahead of that young girl, I had a wealth of perspective to draw from; hard-won, duly earned, with the battle scars to prove it. Having lost friends and loved ones to death way too soon, I can testify to the benefits of growing old. One of them is reinvention: starting over, beginning again, or improving on what you have.

I can also tell you this: I would never want to go back to the yawning insecurity and emotional instability of my 20s. I think it was around 35 that I stopped giving, as the young folks say, “zero fucks” about how I looked, what I ate, what others thought of me, etc., and just lived life and embraced the years with all its permutations and changes. It is indeed a privilege, but in our youth-obsessed, botox- and plastic surgery-enabled culture, it is rarely given a positive mention or the attention it deserves.

As I age gracefully, I’ll work to change that; one benighted 20-something at a time.

50 Days to 50 Years: Day 33, I Got Music

29 06 2016

“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


I am glad this is not the case with me. I stopped “getting ready to live” back in my 30s. Every day is a day to embrace life, and I seek to do this in everything. That life embrace is reflected in my love of music. I come from a family of singers. My oldest sister Adrienne was training to be an opera singer before she heard the call to ministry. I have studied voice for over 15 years now, and have sung in choirs and worship teams since I was 5. So the music is in me, and comes out on a fairly regular basis.

Since I am in between worship ministry and singing gigs, these days I get the most fun playing around with music by creating playlists for my Yoga classes. I created a Summer Solstice playlist for my classes this week, and I received high compliments from my students in every class. It had my usual eclectic flair (I pull from many different music genres and sources), but with a languid feel of ease and heat.

For all my Yogi students and music appreciators, here’s the list:

Summer Solstice Playlist