Except it just doesn’t work that way.

Part of life is death, the inevitable, no one has made it out alive. Humans believe there are certain orders of dying…. grandma, mom, kids – in age order, grand kids and so on and so forth.

Except it just doesn’t work that way.

My brother Paul died when I was 12.  45 years ago.  When I was at the cabin last year I found a box – Paul’s belongings. Medals from the Marines, certificates of achievement, a few small trinkets and pictures. It was emotional to find that box, I enjoyed looking through it and thinking of my brother. Melancholy would be the right word mixed in with a small twinge of sadness for a life not yet completely lived, he was 19.

My sister, Arleen, died on December 1, 2013. Her husband, Aldo, died November 13, 2013.

Yesterday, I picked up my sister Janet at PDX and we drove to Arleen and Aldo’s house. We were meeting with an estate sales company and hoping to get out of there. Except it just doesn’t work that way. We still had to go through the house, do an inventory, ship their daughter’s room to her new home. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. Going through two lives not completely lived, and another life, forever changed.

I dropped off Janet at the airport around 4:00 for her flight home. I drove straight back to the coast, well, almost straight back, I did stop at Dairy Queen and got a medium chocolate shake with whipped cream. The minute I got home, I got into bed and slept 4 hours.

This has been one of the most moving experiences of my life, a roller coaster of emotions, a walk through a life you did not live, you expect it to be a list of tasks, except it just doesn’t work that way.

Cathy

 

Living the life you choose

It is amazing how many people live day to day, unhappy, unfulfilled, wishing their life was different. As we once again enter a new year it is time for renewal, to take the steps to make the changes to live a life fulfilled.

It took a nasty divorce, losing everything, a year of wandering to find my perfect life. 2013 ended totally screwed, I lost my beloved brother-in-law and sister within 3 short weeks of each other. Still, I live a life of my own choosing, volunteering as an Oregon Park Host and working as a Direct Support Professional for developmentally disabled folks. I changed my life from the pursuit of the almighty dollar to pursuit of making other peoples lives better. And I am fulfilled.

My heart, although broken with the losses, is still full. I know time will heal. I drove to Ecola State Park on Christmas Day – a place that fills my soul, stood at the edge of the cliff and gave thanks to the universe for my joy.

In this age of television, telling us what we need, blaring at us what we should look like, demanding that we spend our dollars to stave off aging, it is understandable why so many people feel less than their true worth.

I have been so greatly blessed to enjoy a body that works, a quick mind, a roof, a bed, food….. things that so many on earth do not have…. I am going to start the new year giving thanks for what I have, changing the things that suck and enjoying each day…… Happy New Year!

CathyCathyEdgar at Ecola

Ecola State Park

I am getting really excited, it is almost June – I will be moving to Ecola. My heart absolutely sings every single day at Ecola. I wake up to find this big fellow in my backyard, the Pacific in the background crashing on the rocks.
I set up a bird scope on the main deck and show visitors the thousands of Common Murres on the big rocks, watching their faces as the birds come into focus, and for the first time they see colonies of seabirds nesting.

We walk the road from Ecola Point to Indian Beach, a 3 mile aerobic exercise through old growth forest ending at one of the most beautiful beaches in Oregon. Tide pools filled with starfish and mussels and a beach with razor clams waiting to be dug for dinner. Edgar just loves the beach and is free to run and sniff, Oregon allows dogs on their beaches, unleashed, under voice control. Sometimes we find the beach unoccupied, ours alone to explore…. nirvana.
This year I am planning on taking photos of the big bull Roosevelt Elk that comes into my yard and document his growing antlers in pictures. It is my hope to catch some photos of the calfs as they grow through the summer, the mom elk cows keep them well hidden most of the time.

I am also within walking distance, 3 mile round trip, to Cannon Beach and Pizza a fetta. They sell some of the best pizza on earth, by the slice, a favorite destination. The ice cream shop across the street is a temptation but 3 miles = 1 slice of pizza or 1 ice cream – not both 😦

I just love living on wheels. I can’t imagine being cemented again to a foundation. I also love being an Oregon Park Host, living a life of giving as a volunteer, making the experience of Oregon State Parks the best ever for each and every visitor.

You do indeed reap what you sow… sow happiness and joy and it comes back in multitudes. It is a gorgeous day here, me and Edgar are heading for the bike path for a walk through the shore pines to Nehalem Bay.

CathyImageImage

 

The Complaint Book

As I sat here this morning in my RV watching the hummingbirds six inches out my window, the sun shining, Edgar sleeping, I thought about my “old life”.

I kept a journal called the “Complaint Book”. The two things I did every morning were check my sales numbers from the day before and deal with Customer Complaints. I kept it separate from all my other paperwork and never carried it into a customer’s office, any meeting, it was a handwritten, stand alone, one of a kind living journal for my eyes only.

I believe complaints are the most important factor to happiness for yourself and a happy customer. You know a complaint… any sentence that starts with “This sucks” or your version thereof. Complaints are sacred in sales and life, writing them down gives you a good indicator of how your life, or sales, are going.

Along with customer complaints, I would write down my own daily complaints. When I found myself complaining enough about one certain thing – it was time for a change. If there were enough complaints to fill a book, you really got to look at your life…..

Customer complaints were usually easy to rectify. Some took a good explanation of the realities of supply and demand especially when a customer wanted a small supply of a paper that needed to be ordered by the big expensive case 🙂  I used to order in sample sheets for customers if they needed to do an order of business cards on a specialty sheet – I still hate business cards from a printers and paper suppliers point of view.

So this morning I thought about cleaning out my locker and finding the “Complaint Book” among my stored belongings. I left it at home when I started my journey, it was shredded, along with my other paperwork from xpedx and Clean Copy when the locker was emptied and I moved my entire life into the RV.

I no longer need a “Complaint Book”, I transformed my life into one where each day alive is certainly a good day on earth. Time to wake up Edgar, we are walking to Manzanita – about a 4 mile round trip, to drop off some mail at the post office and grab a nice coffee.

CathyImage

Money is NOT everything!

Well, it has been far too long since my fingers and brain coordinated and decided to sit and write.
I had a really horrible day yesterday, my car needs repairs and, quite frankly, I just don’t know where I am going to find the funds. I cried for a while feeling sorry for myself, if you know me, that didn’t last long 🙂
I decided to take a long walk through the wonderful landscape at Ecola State Park. It is amazing how your perspective can change when you quit dwelling on the bad and dwell on the good.
My view is of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, elk come visit me, sitting in my back yard chewing their cud, grey whales swim by putting on a wonderful display, the pelicans, oyster catchers, puffins, and hundreds of other sea birds entertain me with their comings and goings. I get up every day to a volunteer job that brings me joy, meeting people from all over the world who come here to learn, picnic or just enjoy the view.
My health is terrific, I can easily hike 10 miles and still have the ability to climb steep terrain and scramble over rock and downed trees. Eating and cooking mostly vegetarian for myself and enjoying the simple pleasures of cutting an onion, breaking lettuce adding some seeds and cheese and relishing each bite. Fast food is a thing of the past along with soda, chips and the mindless eating in front of a tv.
The library brings me great pleasures, books about far away lands and times, books about self-improvement and just fun books like Harry Potter.
I have hundreds of friends, some close with who I can discuss my heart, some who engage me in mindful debate, some who drive me crazy. I cherish my family, my nieces, my sisters and brother, and am grateful my mom is in great health and mind at 82 years young.
I don’t have lots of “stuff” or clothes or shoes or all those other things that we are told will make us happy.
What I do have is a wonderful life, my life. It is raining today, and I am going to go out and dance in it!!

Cathy

Unite Against the War on Women

I have not written a blog in several weeks, the reason being, I am angry. As most of my readers know, I write from my heart and my heart has been heavy. It is difficult to put into words my feelings, but I am going to try.

Paying attention to all the reports on different states enacting laws against women’s reproductive freedoms, watching as the proposed budget cuts deepest in social services that support millions of my fellow American women and their children, makes me so upset that I am almost in tears just thinking about it. Every day I wonder, what are these guys thinking?

Why are they attacking the very people who gave them life, nurtured them, taught them right from wrong, cleaned their clothes, washed their little faces and hands, wiped snot from their noses, packed countless lunches, changed countless diapers, cheered at sporting events, stood proudly at every graduation, cried at every nick to their bodies and hearts, why?

I really don’t have an answer, just can’t understand why Women are the focus of so many attacks. Realizing this, I have decided to do something about it and joined Unite Against the War on Women. There is a rally at every State Capitol in the U.S.A., thousands of Women are joining me to protest, thousands of Women are joining to spread the word to Vote against the laws that are marginalizing us, shoving us into corners, telling us to sit down and shut up. NO MORE!!

I truly believe every human being has a right to live the life that they choose, to be a full member of humanity fitting in like puzzle pieces to form a whole. Like a puzzle piece each of us is different, but without each piece, connected to the others, the picture just does not make sense. Trying to shove a piece into a space that does not fit is like trying to shove a person into a place that does not fit for them. Only by each piece taking their place does the color of the puzzle come to life.

Why would anyone try to force their beliefs on another human being, why is our government trying to force their beliefs on our Citizens. Gay people should have the right to marry who they love, Women should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies, Minorities should have the right to equal protection. When you marginalize anyone, you marginalize us all. I do not have to agree with you to allow you your freedom to chose the life you want to live, a life that makes you happy, fulfilled, and at peace with yourself.

If you feel like I do, please join us on April 28th at every State Capitol, now is the time to stand up and fight for freedom and dignity for every American Citizen, we are all in this together, everyone is welcome, join me for a better tomorrow for yourself, your children and this wonderful country we proudly call the United States of America.

Cathy Herman

Anticipation

Driving up the Oregon Coast to visit my friend at Ft.Stevens, I pass Ecola State Park. I am really excited about my 3 month assignment as Park Host this summer.

Thinking about it and realizing that anticipation is one of the best times of life, living in the day, enjoying the thoughts of the future. Good planning is a big part of anticipation, you know it’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and mostly how it’s going to happen, this gives you the freedom to think about what just might happen.

Mom and I went to Egypt several years ago, it took 6 months of planning and each day before the flight I had something to do to make sure the trip was unforgettable, the anticipation builds with planning and the excited feeling we get is sometimes lost in waiting for the event. Living in the moment and enjoying that excitement is what life is all about.

We live in a world of instant gratification, we need it right now. The thing about getting what you want, when you want it, is that you lose the anticipation.

How much sweeter does that award ice cream taste when you wait till Sunday and watch your calories the rest of the week? That A you get in school at the end of the year, you had to work and wait for it, well worth the time and energy spent. The applause at the end of a really good performance, planning, practice and the anticipated pay off, appreciation.

Edgar even enjoys anticipation, I set down a treat, make him wait patiently for it, he can hardly wait to eat that treat and knows waiting pays off.

So next time you have some big life event planned, or even a nice dinner out at the end of a hectic week, enjoy the anticipation, just don’t forget to plan.

Cathy

Inspiration

Writing, for me, is a combination of heart and head put to paper. Finding the right words to express what my heart feels is always a struggle. There are times that the words come freely and easily taking their places on the page, sentences flowing across the sheet creating descriptions that take readers to new places, thoughts, and feelings. Other times the words sit at the spot between heart, head, and fingertips refusing to flow, dammed behind a logjam of unconnected ideas.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of Ecola State Park, my first thought was to write about it, the struggle for words began. How do you possibly describe the beauty of our natural world?

The informational board at Ecola tells us this was once a homestead, donated to the State of Oregon and preserved for all to enjoy. A young boy commented to his Dad he was glad no one lived there, his Dad replying with “it’s sacred” and agreed with his son.

Still at a loss for words, Ecola State Park, in pictures.

Moving an RV

Always get a kind of knot in the pit of my stomach when I have to move the RV. Edgar and I have been living at Ft. Stevens for 4 months. I moved the RV 3 months ago when I took the position as Park Host, but only about 1,000 yards.

This time we have been living in it and I have made a ton of improvements. Framed in the door, replaced shower and kitchen faucets, replaced toilet, replaced 3 blinds with awesome cellular shades that really keep in the warm and made 2 pairs of insulated drapes for the bedroom, replaced all the cabinet inserts, removed old wiring and got all the electrical systems, including changing out the breaker box (which is actually very easy) working. Put up a shelf where there was a hole and had to custom fit some cabinet door hinges to make it work. Painting – I hate painting, I end up with paint all over me, in my hair, but I love color and this place needed a good brightening, I still haven’t finished the ceiling.

So moving, things just don’t go in one direction, when we move, we move, batten down the hatches is no joke. Everything moves, everything, even the structure, that is why I am so nervous. I have glued, nailed, repaired and painted, crossing my fingers it all holds up. I tried to think about the movement when I made the repairs, compensating tight fit for flexibility.

Then there is your stuff in the cupboards, you learn quick when a bottle of olive oil falls over and leaks. I have mats in all the cupboards, but stuff still falls over if it is not stabilized. Everything hanging shifts and things on shelves go flying.

Then there is the hitching up and towing the car thing…but that’s a different story.

Glad we only have to go about 50 miles.

Cathy

Maintenance

I was cleaning and doing a little maintenance on the RV today. We are moving from Ft. Stevens State Park near Astoria, OR to Nehalem Beach State Park near Manzanita, OR. Stopping at Skipanon Marine & RV in Warrenton on the way down to have the hot water heater repaired. Can I tell you how excited I am about having hot water!!!

Anyway, while spraying WD-40 on all the moving parts of the car towing equipment, I thought, if you maintain it, it will last forever. Then I weirded out.

That simple phrase “If you maintain it, it will last forever” applies to so many thing in our lives.

Your relationships – married people who have been together for years, and are still happy, say they take the time for each other. Relationships with customers, how many customers do you lose to price or competition that are really maintained? My guess is none.

Your body – anyone will tell you a few hours of exercise each week keeps you in better maintenance. How about brushing your teeth everyday, skincare, haircare, good food, and required medical exams all to better maintain the body.

Your car and stuff – wear and tear is inevitable, but you can change the oil, paint, clean – maintenance.

Your soul – that needs maintenance too, church, walking in the woods, volunteering at a homeless shelter or food bank, skiing down a mountain or climbing one, we all need to do things that make our souls soar.

Your kids – I don’t have any kids but I see all the time people spend maintaining their kids well being. Then when they have grand kids the maintenance is transferred through generations.

So much maintenance, so little time. We all have to make decisions on what is important enough for us to maintain. How much of our time we are willing to give to ourselves, our businesses, our stuff, our kids and our world. I’m making sure I put the important ones at the top of my list.

Cathy