Simply Amazing

The last couple of weeks have been full of highs and lows, hard work and rewards. On Memorial Day weekend Sarah and I moved our stuff and Radar and Chaplin to a new home.  We moved from a single-family house in Tahoe Park to an apartment in Selby Ranch.  It is very close to the American River and has lovely mature trees.  It is considerably smaller and we are now sharing a bedroom.  This is all part of the plan:  this will be Sarah and Marcos' home when they get married next March, and I am saving money and getting ready for my next Chapter April 2013.

I had no idea how discombobulating moving can be.  It really hit me this time.  I am struggling to establish a new routine and to just find myself.  Add in the amount of cleaning that has to be done to the old place, and the packing and unpacking and another week was gone.

Then we all went to San Francisco.  Sarah and Marcos were visiting Tevis and going to a concert at the Fillmore.  I was meeting up with UK Sarah (also known as Sarah Clare).  Sarah is my kindred spirit from Auckland, though originally from the UK.  She was flying back to NZ from London and stopped over in San Francisco so we could spend some time together.

We had an amazing weekend.  The weather was fine and we didn't stop our conversation from the time I picked her up at the airport on Friday until I dropped her at SFO on Sunday.  It was lovely.  We are both so thankful for our friendship and that we had this time together (thanks for suggesting it Roy!).  Hopefully we will next meet up in Auckland.

The Monday after we returned from San Francisco I was physically worn out.  In addition, Chaplin has to be an indoor only cat and one of the cat litter brands we tried was so heavily perfumed that it made me sick.  Once I put two and two together and replaced the cat litter with Tidy Cat, I felt better, but another week was gone.

This Friday I packed up my suitcase and my computer and headed to Half Moon Bay.  My CTI Leadership pal Connie and I have been planning a retreat for our Panther Tribe since January.  Shortly after I returned from NZ I went to her house for the weekend.  One of the things I had been thinking about since the flight home was that maybe this unplanned window of time in NorCal was an opportunity to gather our Tribe together to reconnect.  I shared with Connie and she had been thinking about the same thing!  We committed to co-leading a weekend retreat at her home and since it is so hard for everyone to get there physically (from NYC, Toronto, Vancouver, Minneapolis, etc.) that we would also use Google+ technology and Facebook to connect everyone.  We also wanted to lead from a place of ease and enthusiasm.

I am happy to say that it never became a chore.  Once when it threatened to do so, we caught ourselves and recovered.  Six Panthers and a spouse made it to Connie's in person.  In the hangouts leading up to the Panther Retreat 6.0 we connected with many more Panthers.  And on Saturday 10 Panthers were on the Google+ hangout together, with more participating in writing.  It was so much fun to see the event come together and so rewarding for Connie and me.  We finally called it a night at midnight on Saturday and I went to bed and slept the deep sleep of the truly satisfied event planner.

Here is a sample of Panthers:

On Sunday Connie and I intended to relax and debrief.  She had a contractor coming over to talk about a project at 10.  I asked to borrow a bike and headed towards Mavericks.  I have wanted to see the world famous surf for several years.  Everytime Connie and I tried to go there we were distracted or thwarted in our attempt.  As soon as I hit the bike trail along the amazing Pacific Coast I felt so happy.  For me the Pacific Ocean is the biggest, baddest ocean on the planet.  I find it endlessly fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful.  And Sunday was a treasure.  As I pedaled I began to feel the benefits of "bike brain."  (I relax and breath more deeply.  I smile more and my thinking slows.)  As I approached the marina in El Granada I saw a crowd gathered on the low bluff above the beach.  Surfers and dog walkers were all looking down at the beach.  At first I was going to ride by without stopping because my goal was set for Mavericks.  Something pulled me to a stop.  And I backed up and looked down at the beach.

It was a penguin!!! It was a fabulous penguin!!!! What is up?  Here the poor little guy was standing staring at the bluff in all of his awesomeness.  Not good for him.  A real gift to me from God.  I love penguins.  And when I was in New Zealand I began learning more about them because penguins evolved in Aotearoa and there are many kinds still living there.  I still plan to write a travel guide for viewing penguins in New Zealand.  Plus I made my heroine in my mystery novel a penguin scientist!  This little guy's misadventure was my amazing reward.  And a sign to me to hang on to my desire to live awhile longer in New Zealand.

Hopefully you can see him in this photo (standing about 8 feet to the right of the family on the beach):

It was not easy to leave the bluff and continue on my way, but the good Samaritans there had already called wildlife rescue and so I pedaled on to Pillar Point.  I rode my bike out to the Point and then walked on to the rocks and tide pools.  The tide was out and the surf was still impressive.  I made an acquaintance of a woman who had a dog named Willy who looked like a miniature Radar.  She was a photographer and very knowledgeable about the Mavericks surf.  It is another 3/4 of a mile out beyond these rocks.  The waves at the first breakpoint can be 30 to 60 feet high.  Because it is in a marine sanctuary you have to paddle out to the waves.  Like a black diamond ski run, this is not for the inexperienced.  There is a contest every year called Mavericks Big Wave Invitational.  This year the weather and surf did not cooperate.  Typically, the 24 best big wave surfers in the world are invited to compete.

It was so refreshing to spend time on the beach.  Then Connie called and said her contractor was done and she was going to bike to Princeton Landing and meet me.  We ate a yummy lunch at Ketch Joanne's and then cycled back to Half Moon Bay.  We did our debrief in Connie's living room looking out at the ocean.  Finally, I had to tear myself away so I could head home.  On the way home I stopped to see Auntie Jeanette and April and the kids.  We enjoyed a warm Petaluma summer evening supper and then I pointed my Passat to Sacramento.

Simply amazing.