Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Day for Giving Thanks

Today was a cold crisp day in the Northwest, the rain had finally subsided and I could see a spot of blue sky over downtown Seattle. This was my opportunity to see downtown dressed up for the holiday’s before I leave town.

It wasn’t snowing but there was a definate chill in the air. As I walked down the street, people were bundled up in big winter coats; some wore hats and gloves and most were lugging holiday packages. The major department stores are geared up for the Holiday Parade scheduled to hit the streets of downtown Seattle this Friday. All the large picture windows are decorated and lights twinke brightly for as far as the eye can see.

Beyond the beautifully decorated windows and the twinkely lights, I saw a community struggeling to survive. I wasn’t prepared to see large numbers of homeless people standing on street corners holding signs begging people to give. Their eyes spoke volumes of their pain and lonliness. For them, I imagine Christmas is just another day. There will be no tree or presents to buy, no homes to decorate or friends to entertain. I turned the corner and came face to face with a man sitting in a wheel chair. He had no coat just a shirit and torn thin blanket across his lap, his clothes were worn, his hair in tangels. He just held a tin can. No sign. Looking at him said it all. As I walked past him, I turned and looked into his tired crystal blue eyes. Where did he go at night I wondered? Did he have food for tonight? How did his life go so wrong that he ended up on the streets begging for change?

I walked another block and suddenly I realized I had lost my interest in looking in store windows for the beauty of Christmas. 2009 has not been a good year for America. The economy appears to have affected everyone, except maybe the man pulling out of the parking lot of the Rainer Club this afternoon in his new shiny red Porsche.

I walked back to my car and drove home. Coming across the bridge over Lake Washington, I looked south to see Mt. Rainer in all her glory. She was covered in snow surrounded in a light pink hue standing proudly as a symbol of the incredible beauty of this region. The vision was magestic and I began to give thanks for all the positive aspects of my life.

I am thankful I can get in a nice warm car and drive home from the streets of downtown and know that I have a beautiful place to sleep tonight. I am thankful I have food to eat and warm clothes to wear. I am thankful I overcame cancer and had family and friends to take care of me when I was sick. I am thankful God has blessed me with many gifts that give me the ability to earn a living - even during this difficult economy. I am thankful life has not left me jaded and bitter and that I have the capacity to have compassion for others less fortunate. I am thankful I have family and friends who love and support me through the good times and the bad.

This Thanksgiving don’t overlook what you are thankful for.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Power of Place

As the sun sets over the Olympic Mountains I feel the seasons change from fall to winter. The air is brisk across my face as a slow moving wind blows off the waters of Lake Washington. Seattle’s pewter skies cast a dramatic backdrop to the billows of white rolling clouds moving north, blanketing the Olympic penninsula. The peace one feels here is tied to the land, the water and string of islands that line the coast from Seattle to Canada.

Closing my eyes, I hear the whispers of the Indian people whose culture is so connected with the spirit of this country. They understand how to listen to the spirit of nature, allowing it to guide them and embrace the harmony every spirit craves.
Driving out of Los Angeles, I slowly could feel a weight being lifted as I traveled north beyond the intensity of the city and its traffic nightmere. My restless mind could not be satisfied after overcoming my life’s biggest challenge. A cancer diagnosis had ignited my passion to reconnect with who I have become. The need to slow down and no longer take life for granted was impossible surrounded by distraction. Living in the midst of it, life is hard to evaluate when you find yourself in a fish bowl. Lying in bed following my last chemo treatment, I had glimpses of all that my life could be.

Separation from my disconnected life had become a necessity. God had intervened and blessed me with an opportunity to return to the Pacific N.W. to heal and reconnect with my lifes passion. The work I am doing here is valueable and honors a living legend, who at 88 is writing his life story. Our meeting was by chance, yet it has served to reinvigorate my interest in the world.

I have learned life is a delicate balance. The happiness we all seek lies in our ability to reconnect with our spirit. It takes time, commitment and concentration to disconnect from the noise of our world. Without doing so, we are lost. As I prepare to make my journey home, my confidence remains high that I have learned the value of listening to my spirit and to trust my feelings. Contentment is found in nature, in the relationships you value in your life, in carving out time for yourself and in the compassion and love you give to others. This is the power of our humanity – embrace it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How Cancer Changed My Life

Everyone knows at some level that life is finite, but I never thought about it as concretely or as often as after my cancer diagnosis. Cancer survivors are acutely aware of our limited time on earth. It’s a side effect of mortality staring you in the face. Once I crossed that line in the sand, I realized my cancer experience had permanently affected my perception of time. The shift for me began during my second week of a 24-hour a day chemo treatment. Seven days of toxic chemicals corsing through my veins had left me exhausted. I spent my days lying in bed looking out my window, searching for the positive things that would come out of my battle against the dragon. I grew impatient and frustrated over the reality that I had ignored my passions and at mid-life found myself unfulfilled.

Everyday I reaffirmed that many more people today now survive cancer, but the thought that my cancer could be life-threatening rarely left my mind. I had always believed I would live to 85 or beyond and die happily of old age, but now my script could potentially end differently. That was reason enough to re-evaluate priorities. The process forced me to take stock in the friends who were there for me during my darkest hours, to painstakingly evaluate who should receive my time and attention from that day forward, I made a comitment to become actively involved in protecting our environment, and acknowledged the importance of living my dreams now. Starting over would provide the opportunity to redefine who I am. I had overcome the ravages of chemo and radiation and fought my way back to the land of the living. It was in that moment that I knew I could do anything with my life I wanted now that I had clear intention. We each have a purpose here; some of us take longer than others to uncover what that gift is. But once we find it, our souls are challenged to give it back to the world in full measure.

Like many cancer survivors, I am a realist. A year later, I am now in full remission and consider myself one of the “lucky ones.” I move forward with my life harboring the realization that my life could change again in an instant. My cancer could resurface, the battle could begin again, but right now I am cancer-free and there is nothing more important than looking forward to explore the many positives and gifts in my life. Living with purpose gives focus to everything. I have my life, I have my energy back and I conquered the dragon by maintaining a healthy positive perspective and the confidence to no longer settle for less.

No one says, “I’m glad I got cancer.” But almost everyone says “It changed the way I look at my life, my relationships, my career, everything.” Cancer taught me that life is precious and so worth the struggles that cross our path. I realize now the gift I was given was the clarity to see my purpose. Cancer is the most powerful motivator I know. I tell myself everyday that everything in our universe happens for a reason and each event leads me closer to where I am meant to be.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Birthday Reflections

On the heels of a cancer diagnosis, birthday celebrations take on new meaning. Turning another year older today, comes with a badge of honor that at one point felt so fleeting.

I have slayed the dragon and my reward continues to lie just beyond the rainbow arching in brilliant shades of green, yellow and pink, reaching high into the sky outside my window. It is a sign that my challenges will continue to be conquered through mindful exploration and a willingness to embrace the changing seasons of life. The path to the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow will come from the realization that I had the courage to sieze the day, to make a difference in the lives of others and in the process, found peace as my life was restored.

As I celebrate my new found freedom, the realization that I have overlooked the simplicity of life and its many riches seeps into my soul. God is telling me, “Life doesn’t have to be so complicated, take pleasure in the simple things and share that peace with others.” I vow to do this and make it my birthday wish today.

Each of us is given such a short time on earth to make our mark. Finding happiness is always within our grasp. For me, it has become a matter of changing perspectives as I grow older. Looking back on the journey of my youth, my path was thrilling, sometimes heart-breaking, continually full of wonder, and propelled by the freedom that comes from believing life will last forever. I would not change a thing. It was my path that took me to the doors of incredible long-lasting friendships, passionate love and a deep appreciation for the bonds of family. Now in mid-life, time passes more quickly. I am keenly aware I have less of it to make mistakes. I am blessed to harbor the feeling that all is as it should be. I have let go of the goals born in my youth, content now in the path I have chosen. I plot my course with intention, making use of the wisdom that comes with age.

My footprints in the sand may disappear, but my love for those around me will endure forever.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exploring the Emerald City

Returning to the city of my childhood brings with it a sense of wonder. Seattle has changed while I was away, providing me the opportunity to see it again from a new perspective. The Pacific Northwest has always been known to harbor a string of pearls, but it’s Seattle that has grown into its role as crowning jewel of the region.

I return from Southern California after a five year departure, eager to uncover all that once made me feel so connected to this special place. I quickly calculate it’s more than just the changing skyline, crystal clear lakes, extensive hiking trails, diverse neighborhoods, incredible restaurants and eco-friendly mind-set. Nature and a sense of community play key roles in this city’s beauty and culture. Neseled on the shores of Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, Seattle is blessed to have breath-taking views of a chain of emerald islands set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountain range.

An arieal view captures Seattle’s vast web of bridges, and waterways that seem to spread out across the city like legs of an octopus. Each bridge serves as a gateway into a series of culturally diverse neighborhoods full of treasures to explore. Blue waterways are the veins to the region, breathing life into each neighborhood it touches. The beauty of Lake Union in the north section of the city branches out into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut and east into the vast stretches of Lake Washington. To the west, Elliott Bay flows south around Harbor Island, the Port of Seattle and connects into Puget Sounds incredible vistas beyond Alki Point. As if these views aren’t enough to hold you captive, the blues are offset by miles of natural green trees. Many say the eco-movement began here. How could anyone doubt a community surrounded in such beauty would do anything less than start a national movement to preserve what the majority of American cities only aspire to become. For those that live in the N.W. taking care of the environment comes with living your life here.
When searching to find this city’s soul, it is important that one understand the deeply engrained conscienciousness here. It’s about community first, full of people willing to reach out and connect to their neighbors. But it’s also in large measure, all about the weather. Seattlites are very in tune with the rapidly changing atmospheric conditions of their region. The lush green landscape, christened it “the Emerald City” and green equals vast amounts of annual rainfall along with months of pewter skies.

As fall approaches, the local Eddie Bauer store becomes a busy place. Gor-tex can be seen flying off the shelves after just two brief days of rainfall. Wardrobes change quickly here and people seem to embrace any excuse to wear sweaters on chilly evenings. As the leaves begin to change from green to red and a fog bank rolls across Lake Washington in the early morning hours, I remember now why I keep coming back to this magical place.

For all the negative press Seattle gets over its rain, just ask anyone from Seattle in summer, “What is it you love about living here?” The universal response will be, “Just look around and you tell me.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Would You Give to End Cancer Today?

The challenge below is posted this week on the Stand Up 2 Cancer website. In support of this vitally important cause I am posting it here to encourage my readers to take action.

In 1938, the March of Dimes asked everyone to give up ten cents to cure polio. It sounded crazy at the time, but it worked. Now Stand Up 2 Cancer is launching a drive to collect 10,000 five-dollar donations in four weeks, getting us all $50,000 closer to ending cancer. To help spread the word, please embed this donation widget on your blog, share it on your Facebook page, or e-mail it to all your friends. One person's five dollars can make a huge difference. To learn more, visit at the link below.

The day will come when we find a cure to Cancer and the power of it's devastation is eliminated. You have the power to help eliminate this disease by just donating $5.00 today to Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cancer Kills Another Legend

U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy lost his year long battle against brain cancer on August 27, 2009. Kennedy was a recipient of the American Cancer Society’s highest award, Medal of Honor and the National Distinguished Advocacy Award. Senator Kennedy was a passionate advocate for cancer patients and their families, not just in his home state of Massachusetts, but nationwide.

Truly one of the great champions in the battle to fight cancer, Senator Kennedy led a passionate effort against this disease during his more than 40 years in the U.S. Senate, championing health care-related causes from equal access to health care to increased funding for cancer research and screening for early detection.

“Known as the ‘Lion of the Senate,’ Senator Kennedy has fought to bring all the resources of the nation to bear in fighting cancer and other diseases, renewing the war on cancer by introducing a bill to overhaul the 1971 National Cancer Act.
“Senator Kennedy was personally touched by this disease long before his own diagnosis, watching his son, Ted Kennedy, Jr. battle bone cancer as a teen, and daughter Kara Kennedy Allen battle lung cancer in 2003.

Senator Kennedy helped to reign in the tobacco industry with legislation that gives the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, which was signed into law in June. Senator Kennedy also championed the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program with an increase in the tobacco tax.

In July 2009, Senator Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed The Affordable Health Choices Act, landmark legislation that will reduce health costs, protect individuals’ choice in doctors and plans, and assure quality and affordable health care for all Americans.The legislation builds on the existing employer-based system and strengthens it. If people like the health insurance they have, they get to keep it. The bill provides better choices for those with no coverage now, and those for whom coverage is unaffordable. It also gives small businesses better options for high value health coverage.Under the insurance reforms in the bill, no American can be refused health coverage because of a preexisting medical condition, or have that coverage denied when they need it most. No American will ever again be subject to annual or lifetime limits on their coverage, or see it terminated arbitrarily to avoid paying claims.

I didn’t always personally agree with Senator Kennedy’s politics, but I am grateful for his commitment and support of healthcare legislation throughout his career and his courage to bring attention to the nation’s battle against Cancer. Each of us can only hope, that his fierce devotation to healthcare related issues will continue to be fought in the Senate by our representatives on both sides of the isle, until the day comes when we find the cure.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just Threadin the Needle

How many times does it take to get it right?
Precision and focus are needed to win the fight
So many of our threads weave in and out
Threadin’ the Needle leaves no doubt
Our paths cross here and there
Yet I still see you everywhere
I loved you once, I loved you twice
The challenge becomes to avoid the ice
My love flows free, but what would you do if you were me
How is it that we have circled back
I wonder if you are also keeping track
What is the thread of friendship for
If it means forever more

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Healing Power of Nature

The beauty of the lake brings with it a life force all its own. Birch trees hug the shoreline leaving little doubt of the winds direction as their leaves shimmer in the breeze. Looking out from behind my desk, I watch a brilliant orange, pink and purple sunset beyond my unobstructed million dollar view of water, trees, blue sky and range of snow capped mountains. It feels hard to fathom, just ten months ago I was lying in bed fighting the ravages of chemotherapy. It was then that I saw my vision of the Pacific Northwest come alive from the recesses of my childhood.

Nature is the natural order of life and created to reconnect us with spirit. The ocean tides advance and retreat, the sun rises and sets, seasons change offering us the next phase in the cycle of life to embrace. I am relearning the miracle of nature with each deep breath of positive energy I take in. My life perspective changes as I find quiet inspiration from the wonders of nature emanating from this place. I am blessed to have two resident bald eagles living in the tree that hangs just above my room. I have been watching their powerful spirit glide across the lake in search of food and feel blessed to live in harmony among them.

Today I was filled with a fascination that overwhelmed me as I listened to the diversity of sounds surrounding me deep within the forest. I watched the abundance of wildlife go about their business, as if I was not there. It is a world long forgotten in the rush of living my life disconnected. My soul craves the peace I find watching my garden of Dahlias come into bloom. As I write this, the world just outside my window is filled with the beauty of a cold Northwest evening. I watch a rabbit eat berries off the holly bush in front of me and take in the heaven like quality of listening to the rain which has been absent in recent weeks.

Open your eyes and appreciate the power of now. Allow the full impact of your life to be lived in the moment. Life will provide a new perspective as you seek and find joy exploring beyond your world.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah’s Legacy

Farrah Faucett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, it spread to her liver in 2007 and today she lost her three and a half year battle against the disease. Known for her charm and incredible beauty on screen, she would later become known for her brave and indelible spirit as she chronicled her painful struggle in the television documentary “Farrah’s Story.”

“Cancer is a disease that is mysterious, headstrong and makes its own rules,” Fawcett said in the documentary. “And mine, to this date, is incurable. I know that everyone will die eventually, but I do not want to die of this disease.”

Farrah’s willingness to share this private part of her life with the world served to focus our attention on the issues of cancer. Her documentary dealt with the issues surrounding how we each must eventually face our own mortality and the deeper story of watching a cultural icon fight a cancer diagnosis. The transparency of Farrah’s personal story unveiled to the world that if a vibrant celebrity with money and quality healthcare can still suffer and ultimately loose the battle against cancer, then the same can apply to any of us.

I believe Farrah’s inner strength was a beacon to all of us about the immediate necessity to direct our energies toward finding a cure for cancer. It seems almost impossible to me that in America today, with all of the technology and brilliant scientific minds working on finding a cure, our battle against cancer remains elusive. How can it be that the global wide medical community is still unable to find a cure to a disease that has undoubtedly touched at least one person in your life? For detailed information about this specific issue I encourage you to read through the Stand Up to Cancer website at:

Today I read that 47 million people in America still do not have healthcare insurance. I can not begin to imagine having to deal with this issue if I were sick, without health insurance, and facing end of life issues.

Farrah’s long-time friend Alana Stewart was quoted saying, “Her big message to people is don’t give up, no matter what they say to you, keep fighting.” At the conclusion of the documentary, Fawcett was seen shaving off most of her trademark locks before chemotherapy could claim them. Toward the end, she’s seen huddled in bed, barely responding to a visit from her son. But this is not how I will remember Farrah Faucett. NBC estimated the May 15, 2009, broadcast of “Farrah’s Story” drew nearly 9 million viewers. Through all the setbacks in her medical prognosis, Farrah’s story opened our eyes to the need to take action now as we continue our collective hope for a better day. A day when no person will be forced to face a cancer diagnosis.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hope for a Better Day

I remember the moment the doctor told me. I had lunch with a girlfriend after the appointment and asked for her prayers. I knew from the beginning that everything in my life happens for a reason, I just didn’t know what it was.

I filled my mind with positive affirmations, using them as my shield to protect me as I underwent radiation and chemo treatment. God was with me I felt him there and knew I was never alone. My focus was razor sharp from the outset, the mission was to kill my tumor and regain the most important thing in my life -- my health.

Your life may feel overshadowed with fear of the unknown. Much like the ego, cancer has the ability to fill you with doubt. The miracle minded are not naive about darkness; we don’t carry around cans of pink paint and pour it over everything so we can pretend things are fine. Our power comes in facing our fears and believing our minds and our spirit have the power to heal.

Conquering a life threatening illness demands deep self evaluation. Following my second round of chemo when my white blood count had become nonexistent, I was hospitalized in an isolated sterile room. It is during these dark hours you can not afford to question your ability to heal. Now is the time to take stock in your power to slay the dragon.

At that moment my path shifted, my mission was forever changed and the wisdom of the ages became clearer. Marianne Williamson says, “Love is to fear what light is to darkness; in the presence of one, the other disappears.” Looking around me, I saw so many brave and powerful people overcoming life’s greatest health challenges. It was in that moment that I understood love is an ever-renewable spiritual resource. I can give it away and it comes back me in spades.

We each have things we are called to do in this life to fulfill the calling of our souls. It’s a challenge to be the person we’re capable of being in any given moment. In the end, it was my cancer that challenged me to dig deeper and explore who I really am and how I might choose to live differently. My hope for a better day brought me to a place that dissolved my pain and inspired me to never loose sight of my compassion for others.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 7, 2009 - Is National Cancer Survivors Day

The 22nd National Cancer Survivors Day® takes place this Sunday, June 7, 2009. NCSD is the world’s largest and fastest growing cancer survivor event. Having started in the United States, it is now observed in countries as far away as Australia, Italy, and Malaysia.

The event is an annual, worldwide Celebration of Life providing participants the opportunity to come together to celebrate life and to demonstrate to the world that there is hope and quality of life following a cancer diagnosis.

The non-profit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation supports hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations that host National Cancer Survivors Day events in their communities by providing free guidance, education and networking.

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, administrator for the celebration, is encouraging everyone to participate in their community’s event. To locate the one nearest you, check with your local hospital or American Cancer Society office, or call the Foundation at (615) 794-3006 or e-mail

More information on cancer and cancer survivorship:
National Cancer Survivors Day:
National Cancer Institute:
American Society of Clinical Oncology:
American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reflections - One Year Later

One year ago this week I was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. It is the crash landings in life that bring us to the realization that we may need to choose a different course. Reflections of my journey reveal a deeper awareness of who I am and all that I am capable of achieving.
Having now faced the possibility of death intensifies and gives power to the second half of my life. One of the many gifts I received from cancer was the strength to overcome fear. To reevaluate what is important in my life so that when death knocks at my door again, I will move through the tunnel of light with no regrets. Once you fully appreciate that every experience in the material world is finite, you realize how amazing life is. We take for granted things we have no idea are so fleeting. When age forces us to see how much is now gone, we are shaken to realize all the things that are over and will not come again. But then something happens … we come into our own and realize life can be whatever we want it to be. This freedom has allowed me to slow down and give sanction to embracing my dreams. From that has come mental and physical healing.

The lessons to be learned in life have to do with the fragility of the human heart and the graciousness of the human spirit; the suffering involved in simply being human and the struggles to survive the experience; the joy and laughter when our families and friends are well; and the tears and sadness when love and lives are over.

Today, I am challenged by the universe to match my talents with compassion, my intelligence with humility and my intellect with wisdom. The grace period of my youth is over. I am standing at the front of the line, ready to embrace midlife and the wisdom that emanates from it.
At this point, my greatest potential failure isn’t that I won’t move on with my life, it’s that I won’t use the totality of my imagination to empower me to live the most creative and fulfilling life possible.
With this thought my soul continues to expand as I embrace new adventures, love deeper than I thought possible, connect more intently, simplify and surrender the things that no longer matter.

As I move into "Phase 2" of my life, I do so with a happy heart and the confidence that comes from knowing the best part of my journey is yet to come.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Experience the Mountains to Sound Greenway

To many Seattle area locals, the Mountains to Sound Greenway has become one of the crowing jewels of the Pacific Northwest. The “Greenway” as it is lovingly called, stretches over 100 miles along Interstate 90 from the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, over Snoqualmie Pass and into Central Washington. The Greenway encompasses protected and working forests, farms, historic sites, lakes, campgrounds, rivers, trails, wildlife habitat and vibrant communities. Of the 1.4 million acres of land in the Greenway, over 750,000 acres have been preserved and are held by local, state and federal agencies in trust for the public good.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, founded in 1991, is the nonprofit organization founded by Jim Ellis, to help protect these lands and preserve them for public benefit. The Trust works to preserve this land by encouraging public land acquisition and through environmental stewardship and educational activities. They have successfully united hikers, corporate executives, government leaders, environmentalists and community advocates who share a vision of careful planning for growth balanced by preservation of forested open spaces, clean air and water, for ourselves and for future generations.

As many of you are aware, I have been given a unique opportunity to come to Seattle and work with Jim Ellis on his upcoming autobiography. Part of Jim’s exciting life story includes his dedication to preserving The Mountains to Sound Greenway which for him, began as a lifetime labor of love in memory of his brother Bob who passed away fighting in World War II.

Jim and Bob Ellis fell in love with this beautiful country back in
1936, when their father gave the two boys title to land located
adjacent to the Raging River (near the town of Preston seen on the map above). The stipulation was that they work together without their father's help and build a log cabin. Armed with nothing more than a booklet diagramming how to build a log cabin, the two boys went to work. It took them three summers to complete the project and was a monumental feat for two young boys alone in the wilderness with nothing more than a booklet and the grit to get the job done. They met people along the way who cooked them better meals than their provisions offered and a man with a mule who they paid to help them pull the tree logs they had cut down in the woods back to the cabin site. "Hermit Haven" as it was dubbed all those years ago, has stood the test of time and remains in the Ellis family today. Above is a photo of Jim outside his cabin last week.

My trip with Jim included a personal tour of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, with him pointing out key vistas along the way. Photos below show a small portion of the Greenway facing northeast toward Snoqualmie Pass on a beautiful clear day.

Experiencing the beauty of this county first hand guided by the man who has given so much of himself to save it, was a rare opportunity. It is God's country to be sure. Since 1991, the Greenway Trust says that together government and private partners have saved 200,000 acres of forest and farmland through public purchases and conservation easements. The Raging River, a tributary of the Snoqualmie, supports one-fifth of the larger river's chinook runs that have been devastated by logging and building. Jim remains hopeful that the once-plentiful chinook runs will return now under state ownership.

For additional information on the hiking trails throughout the Mountains to Sound Greenway, visit their website at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Break Out of the Fish Bowl

Part of the process of just living life, creates routine. It happens slowly until the day comes when we realize we take the same route to work everyday, we come home and watch too much mind numbing television with no educational value, and go to bed at the same hour each evening. We fill our homes with material things that give us comfort and somewhere along the line, make us feel secure. We dig in and although our lives are “busy” and filled with beautiful things that make us feel life is good, it's all routine.

When I look outside my “fish bowl” thoughts of “what if’s” swirl around in my head. What if I wasn’t so “dug in”? What if I could pick up and go somewhere new to test the waters, fill my days doing what I love the most, and meet new people that could have a profound impact on my life? What would that new perspective and those new friends feel like? I’ve dug deep reaching outside myself to embrace change, moving around more than most and happier for the wisdom and freedom it has given me. In the effort to keep things fresh, I have always been eager to challenge my mind and adapt to changing environments. But it can be so easy to slip back into my routines and wake up feeling locked inside a fish bowl. Harnessing my inner restlessness has given me the power to grow and demand more from myself.

In mid-April it was time for me to break out of the fish bowl once again and expand my life possibilities. My latest need for change has brought me back to the city of my youth, Bellevue, Washington. When I left in 1976, Bellevue was a small sleepy town referred to by Seattleites as the “Eastside”. The downtown core had few office buildings and those that existed were no more than 10 stories high. Bellevue was easy to get around, with little traffic and views of Lake Washington that could take your breath away. I went for a walk yesterday in Bellevue's downtown park and found that growth has not escaped the Eastside; the skyline of Bellevue has changed. A photo of the Bellevue skyline as it is today appears above.

For all the changes that have come about here, it is still a place of beauty. As I write this, a bald eagle appeared just outside the wall of windows of my room, giving me the privilege of watching him glide over the lake as he fished for his lunch. The Pacific Northwest is known for the beauty of its four seasons. I arrived just as spring had sprung. Flowers can be seen popping out of the ground at every turn. This place seems to be blessed with a disproportionate number of flowering cherry trees that are coming into bloom, painting a flurry of pink against the blue sky I seem to have brought with me. I am blessed to experience life in a new and different way.
Since arriving in Seattle, I have met some wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make me feel at home. Life’s perspective has changed once again, all because I dared to pull myself out of my fish bowl and explore the "what if's".

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Moving Beyond My Comfort Zone

Standing on the edge of my comfort zone beckons change from within. Changing my habits, attitudes and expectations doesn’t come easily. Finding the courage to let go and become an option thinker, open to new possibilities has in my past brought much reward and happiness.

Embracing life and expanding my potential is a life-long commitment I made years ago, but it never comes easy to embrace major change. Security and familiarity can become an addicting drug if I allow myself to become too complacent. I keep pushing myself to ask “I wonder what I could become. I wonder what I can do. I wonder where I could go in my life -- if I just let go and am willing to explore a new way.”

Creativity is a gift we each hold in our hearts and minds. Believing in ourselves is the ultimate motivation to achieving our greatest potential in life. My life can become nothing great without a fearless spirit. With the clock ticking, the time to explore and achieve my dreams is now. I believe that God aligns the universe to work in concert with our destiny. Being open and willing to let go sets the process in motion. We meet people who believe in us and have the ability to open doors; our responsibility is to walk through the door and live up to the expectation. The people in our lives are there to teach us lessons about love, compassion and our own immorality. Growth and an inquisitive willing spirit are the result if we are willing to break through our comfort zone.

My next adventure begins in April with a trip back to the city of my childhood, Seattle, Washington. As many of you know, I have made this trek up and down the west coast on several occasions. When I left Seattle for the second time in 2005, the sunny weather of Southern California had called me back and I was fairly confident the N.W. would become just a memory. But as I’ve recently learned, the universe has other plans for me.

The next chapter of my story began in January, when a friend introduced me to a “Snow Bird” from Seattle who had come to Laguna Beach to work on his autobiography. He was in dire need of an editorial assistant to help with his manuscript. I had recently been laid-off from my job and in search of a way to incorporate my passion for writing into my next career. What I soon learned was that this 87-year old man was a long-time environmental activist, and civic leader working on numerous projects throughout Seattle that have served to transform the city into the vibrant community that it is today. His many stories are about stepping out of your comfort zone and how one person can’t achieve great things alone. It is imperative we embrace our friendships along the way, these people who cross our paths -- they have been put there for a reason. It is up to us, to uncover the greatness we can bring about together.

The universe has spoken and so once again, I’m jumping off the edge of my comfort zone and opening myself up to all the possibilities ahead of me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Passing of a Friend

A good friend of mine passed away this week. She was just in her mid-50’s -- too young to go so soon. She had died of a heart attack after complaining of “flu-like” symptoms. How does that happen? Death is a difficult concept to grasp. I received an email from her just last week; we had made plans to get together when I drive through Portland next month. Three days later, Kathy was gone.

In an effort to reconnect, I went to her Facebook profile and left a brief note of farewell. As word has begun to spread of her passing, moving tributes from family and friends have quickly posted for all to read. The reoccurring thread communicates shock and disbelief that someone so warm and vibrant can now be gone. We see it on the news everyday, but until it hits someone close to us we take for granted that it won’t happen to us or those we love. I’ve had enough encounters with death now that it’s beginning to sink in.

I can’t help but think that this subject ties back to my last blog post, where I asked “how many chances do we get to live our best life” before it’s all taken away. This is just another wake-up call that life is fragile and passes by very quickly.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a negative person or someone who looks for the depressing side of life. But a healthy dose of reality can be a good thing. My thought at this point is that I have a responsibility to myself to wake up and smell the coffee. With that comes making every day count for something I value. To look for the good in others, to use my gifts in a way that will help the planet and those around me, to pursue my dreams until my last breath, to make my health a priority, and to find the joy in living every single day. My personal commitment is to come to the end with no regrets.

Isn’t that all we can expect of ourselves? Putting it into action becomes our challenge.

Make it a good day!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How Many Chances Do We Get to Live Our Best Life?

It's an age old question, passed along through the ages ... "How many chances do each of us get to live our best life?" The life we dreamed about as a child, crammed with all those adventures we knew someday would come true. We all have them. Some dreams are nurtured along more than others by our parents, teachers, friends and mentors. Some dreams fall by the way side, quickly replaced by the next passion of the moment and there are some dreams we hold onto and never loose sight of.

What we learn along the way is that life moves at rapid speed and it becomes easy to loose sight of the things that are truly important. Time passes just living day in and day out and we can run out of time to make those dreams become reality. Sometimes we need something to shake us up and force us to re-evaluate where we are on our life path and just how many of those dreams came true.

A life threatening event can serve as a powerful force. It gave me the time I needed to slow down, re-evaluate and think. At the end of all that thinking.... I came to the conclusion that it's really important for me to not come to the "end" and look back on my life with regrets. No, I decided pretty early on in the process that's not going to be how it all goes down for me.

I admit for as much as I'd like to take the credit for my new found wisdom, it didn't all come from my own personal self evaluation. The ongoing pile of books stacked on my night table, surely have contributed new and interesting perspectives. The power of words continue to amaze and delight me. I have also learned valuable lessons from the eye opening wisdom others have shared with me about their journey's. We're all on that path to finding our best life and what I'm learning along the way is, we can't get there without taking chances when we come to a fork in the road.

When it's all said and done, I don't have the answer to "how many chances we get to live our best life." But I'm pretty sure it's not too many. It takes a clear focus to re-evaluate ones life. A positive attitude and belief that everything really does happen for a reason. Unique caring people came into my life during my battle with cancer that have forever changed me. Some of those people were loosing their fight and knew they wouldn't get another chance, others demonstrated what unconditional love and friendship are all about. I learned a few valuable lessons about the importance of reaching out to others for help even when it's difficult to ask for it. To accept love and embrace the joy that comes from giving it back. I learned the only way for me to live my best life, is to stay focused on working toward the things I am absolutely passionate about. It's also just as crutial to move on and be willing to try new things when I begin to feel off course and loose sight of my dreams.

Believe in your dreams, it's up to you to close the deal.