Resolutions: Eighteen in ’18

1) See the peaks of Torres del Paine in Patagonia from the back of a horse.

The pull of Torres del Paine was magnetic when I first saw images of that majestic massif. I dreamed of a week-long journey on horseback, and began taking riding lessons to prepare. Before I had a chance to plan a trip, I felt an even stronger call. Antarctica. I leave from Chile, so for now, I’ll settle for an afternoon ride and a day-long hike. But the pull? I anticipate it will grow stronger with the taste of this too-brief stay.

2) Form a snowball in Antarctica. Throw it as far as my arm will allow.

A snowball, and most certainly a snow angel.

3) Get a photo (or dozens) of frolicking penguins.

If I’m lucky, I’ll have the opportunity to see the Adélie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo Penguins in Antarctica, and the King, Gentoo, and Magellanic Penguins of Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego. We’ll see how many I can check off my list.

4) Cross the Drake Passage in a sailboat. See Ushuaia, Argentina come in to view as a changed person.

With every journey, I’ve changed. Grown. With this expedition, I anticipate a seismic shift. I’ve never been somewhere so desolate and wild. To experience the vast expanse of ice and sea, with no visible land for days … how can I possibly remain unchanged? I’m eager to discover what this voyage reveals.

5) Stargaze in Zion and Bryce National Parks.

In August, I’m spending a week stargazing in Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce National Parks. I’ll stay in places far from the city lights. Orion’s Belt … the Big Dipper … the Milky Way. I remember how small I felt under the star-filled sky when I was a child. I hope to recapture a small measure of that wonder, if only for a moment.

6) Celebrate 55 by running the Yosemite Half Marathon. Get a PR.

My last half marathon was in September of 2014. That year, I did three. To celebrate my 55th birthday, I’m going to run again. My fourteenth race. I’m a slow runner. You could call it a wog, a slog, or a really fast amble. But I get there, eventually. My best time for the 13.1 is two hours and 58 minutes. My goal is to beat that. At least by a minute.

7) Write. Every, single damn day. Aim for an hour, settle for a half.

Writing is a discipline. And one of the qualities I do not possess is discipline. I want to write a book. And I’m going to need to find discipline. At my desk, in front of my keyboard. Every. Single. Day.

8) Ride in the Bike MS. Ride both days; minimum 126 miles.

The greatest distance I’ve ridden in the Bike MS is 67 miles. Life (and travel) has gotten in the way, year after year. This year, this summer, I’m going to ride. And ride and ride and ride. And work towards hitting my goal of 126 miles. I know I can do it … I’ve done the STP, for crying out loud. But it’s going to take some time in the saddle to get back there. So, watch out, Shane Train, I’m saddlin’ up. Pedal, pedal, pedal, repeat.

9) Do a “52 Weeks of Photo Inspiration Challenge”. Use each photo as inspiration for a weekly blog post.

Two skills I have been interested in honing are writing and photography. This resolution serves both. I recently found a 52-week Photo Inspiration Challenge, with subjects ranging from passion to silhouette; from movement to high heels. I love the idea of seeking out an image that represents the subject so fully that it inspires me to write.

10) Read. At least a book a month. The kind of book that makes you think.

I have bookcases, and stacks, and piles of books. I love words, and sentences, and paragraphs. Words, sentences, and paragraphs that evoke emotion. I typically have four or five books at varying stages of completion. This year, each month, I am going to pick one. One that is hard work … whether the subject matter is politics, creativity, or a biography. Each month, I am going to start it, and I am going to finish it. And learn …

11) Enable my 401k Auto-Increase. Retirement is not so far away …

It is far too easy to find ways to spend money. Travel, books, travel, new shoes. And travel. But the closer I get to 55, and then to 60, the more I realize I want to fund my retirement in a way that I can continue to travel. I’m gonna need that trailer. And that dog. The 401k auto-increase is a painless way to gain some ground.

12) Get out of bed each weekday morning and get to the gym. Appreciate the ability to make that choice.

I love having coffee in bed in the morning. And I struggle to feel motivated to get to the gym. This year, I vow to remember the Harborview ICU. Remember Overlake Hospital. Remember there are people who would give anything for the privilege to move their body. Remember.

13) Go camping. At least once.

In a tent. With a campfire. And s’mores.

14) See Hamilton!

This one’s easy. And just damn fun. I’ve got tickets and three good friends to join me.

15) Get Kermit the Kayak out on the water at least every other week from June through August.

I bought Kermit to train for my Galapagos trip. The Galapagos trip is now a fond memory, so kayaking now serves only as fun with a side of fitness.  I loved getting Kermit out on the water, but barely got her wet last year. This year, Kermit’s gonna get busy.

16) Take a memoir writing class at Hugo House.

We are so lucky in Seattle to have such a place as Hugo House. I have so many stories to tell, and Hugo House will walk with me on that journey.

17) Send hand-written birthday cards and thank-you notes.

I have a neighbor that writes thank-you notes. Beautifully handwritten notes. The notes are specific. She writes why she is thankful. She writes what your gift, or act, means to her. She writes these notes even though her home stands just behind mine. She takes the time to buy the card, write her carefully-considered words, seal and stamp the envelope, and send it. These notes … they mean so very much.

18) Make my den the most comfortable, welcoming room in the house. Call it a studio. Write there.

I have some ideas about how to do this. The bay window in my office looks out on to an umbrella-shaped tree. A well-stocked hummingbird feeder keeps my favorite bird dancing just outside the window. My father’s typewriter sits atop my desk. The room is bright in the afternoon light. I need a new chair. A chair that invites me to appreciate the tree, the birds, the warm afternoon light. I need to organize, remove the clutter. A fresh coat of paint, maybe, and an ottoman. And some antique letters, above that bay window: “Deb’s Studio” . Where magic happens.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018 …




I’ve been single for eight years. Up until I decided to spend some time alone, I chose the wrong men. Unavailable men. Selfish men. Cruel men. Over and over, I made bad decisions. Until the day I decided I was incapable of making a good one. So I chose to be alone.

Achingly alone.

Since that day, I’ve lived life fast and hard. I go out too much, spend too much, drink too much. I run. Like I still have the fire and frenetic energy of the fourteen-year old runaway I once was. Like I’m being chased by a predator. If I stop, if I breathe, I feel. So I keep running.

Last night, I saw a photo of an infinity pool overlooking a beach, with two beers in a bucket in the foreground. The photo shattered me for what it implied. Two people will share that view of the beach. Two people will meld their bodies and drink a beer together. Two people. The image triggered the kind of deep, empty sadness that makes it hard to breathe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about solitude; what it feels like to be solely responsible for every household or life decision, every hardship, and every joy. To feel the vacuum of a joke without an audience. Does a solitary path still feel solid under my feet? The walls I have built to protect myself have become a prison, and I’m starting to believe they no longer serve me. I can’t run fast enough to escape my history. There are remnants of my past that push the notion that I am not good enough, or pretty enough, or worthy of a healthy relationship. It’s hard work to counter those thoughts. But I’m trying.

This time of year is predictably more difficult than the long, warm days of summer. For me, the expansive hours of darkness feel oppressive, and the loneliness cuts deep. I have no need to be rescued. For years, I’ve proven to myself that I am strong and capable. But I feel a growing yearning to share my life, to share adventures. And tell someone my damn jokes. My resolve is softening; my commitment to living a solo life is slowly crumbling. There are good men out there. Kind men. Compassionate, ethical, honest men. I know there are, because I know some of them.

These thoughts scare me. A lot. So … baby steps. Beginning with saying out loud what my heart has been whispering. To quote Forrest Gump, “And just like that, my runnin’ days was over.”

The seed of an idea …

The seed of an idea, to move from being a sporadic, informal storyteller to putting my thoughts on a more formal platform, took root long ago. The birth of that idea will take me another step further. I’ve gotten past the first stage, where I didn’t speak it out loud. It was too fragile. I lacked confidence. I wasn’t sure my voice had that much value. Now, I’m in my first trimester. I’m settling in to the idea. I’m getting excited about it. Some of the stories I’ve told have encouraged meaningful conversations … with my friends, with my family. But it still feels tenuous.

There are details in the evolution … the business side of it, the marketing; getting the word out. I created a new Instagram account. Added a link to my blog. And I’m on Twitter! But I have not mastered that. This will continue to be an interesting learning process.

But it’s not the heart or soul of my journey.

I’ve thought a lot about inspiration recently. Things need to happen in order to have something to write about. They can be little things … the beauty of the season’s first snowfall. Or they can be epic, like sailing around the Antarctic Peninsula. But mostly, they’re somewhere in between. For me, inspiration can come in many forms. But, travel. Wanderlust. When I’m planning a trip, remembering a place, reminiscing over photos, talking about where I’m going, or where I’ve been, I can feel the vibration in my bones.

Four years ago yesterday, I was with my sister on a trip to Thailand and China. Two years later, I buckled up and headed to Africa. Yesterday, I got my pre-departure briefing for Antarctica. In between, I felt the sand in my toes in the Galapagos Islands. I kissed the Blarney Stone.


I often wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t tiptoed along the edge of the brink. If I’d never felt an invasive ventilator pumping life-giving air in to my lungs. What if I never observed the relief and joy of my family as I responded after a night of being told I wasn’t going survive? Would I have tried to see so much of the world? Maybe, but likely not with the same sense of urgency. Those things did happen, though, and it gave my life fire. Turns out, the chance to start over was the very best kind of gift. One I won’t ever take for granted.

The seed of an idea … I think there’s a book in that.


Wanderer …

Someone asked me the other day if, after visiting Antarctica, I will have seen all of the world’s oceans. Not even done with my first goal of seeing all the continents, and this question had me plotting the next. After I sail among the icebergs of the Southern Ocean, I will have one remaining: the Arctic Ocean. I was close when I visited Iceland, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Arctic Ocean seems a little daunting to get to, but is bordered by Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Norway, so I have options. Spitsbergen, Norway, perhaps?

This discussion got me thinking about destinations. There is a thought-provoking reporting tool in the admin section of my WordPress site. The report lists the countries of the people that have landed on my blog. Today, it stands at 65, from Israel to Saudi Arabia, to Slovenia and Nicaragua. It is such a compelling list … my imagination ran wild. Which post did the person from Algeria read? What keyword was searched from the Czech Republic? Someone from Mauritius found me. Seeing the Underwater Waterfall there has been on my bucket list for years.


This list of sixty-five diverse countries fascinated me. So I broke it down. Out of the sixty-five, how many countries have I been? Fourteen. Places I want to go? Twenty-eight. Airplane tickets in hand? Two. Which places do I not know enough about to put it in any of the categories? Twenty-one. I’m eager to put some time in to learning about these far-flung locations. I imagine some of them may go in the “no chance in hell” bucket, but others stand a good chance of being the next grand adventure.

What a world we live in. In some ways, it feels so small. In other ways, it feels overwhelmingly vast. There are cultures to experience, wildlife to revere, history to study. To stand before a majestic mountain range inspires genuine awe, as does the expanse of an open sea.

While there are 65 counties on my WordPress report, there are 196 countries in the world. I’ve seen a mere 20. Girl, you need to get busy.

Dreams and crossroads …

My mom and I had lunch with an old friend yesterday. One we hadn’t seen for a very long time. Sylvia had been cleaning out her house, and came across a couple of old memories. It was so fun to dust them off, and remember …

One of the things she had was a design board I made for her when she bought her home. Along with the design board was a folder that held concepts for color, furniture, and seating. We were sitting in the room I had helped her design. I looked around, looked back at the folder, and looked around the room again. The layout, color, and texture of the room reflected so many of the ideas I had presented to her more than a decade before. Her room was lovely, and it withstood the test of time.


Just before I worked with Sylvia on the room, I had been working at a telecom company for seven years. I was the thirty-third employee in ‘96, and rode the wave as the company grew, went public, and eventually failed. The late 90s were a wild ride as the dot-com bubble grew and grew, and finally burst. My career had evolved from a temporary receptionist to an executive assistant, and eventually a business manager. The company was closing, though, and I didn’t want to do that anymore.

So I went to design school.

My mind was on fire. My homework kept me awake at night in the best possible way. I dreamed about color and form, and I had never felt so alive. I spent hours with drawings and textiles and flooring and color. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to immerse myself in ideas and innovation. I wanted to create.

And then, I got a call.

My previous boss had joined a new company, and offered me a job. It was a good offer. I was a single mom; a responsible mom. I was standing at a crossroad. I loved what I was doing. But it was risky. Being a business manager was reliable. Sensible. Being a designer inspired passion, but felt frivolous against the safety of the known. I felt heavy as I accepted the offer.

Since then, I’ve been a business manager, a logistics manager, a project manager, and a business analyst. I have a lot to be thankful for. My career has paid the bills. I was able to raise my boy in reasonable comfort. It has allowed travel to places I might never have been able to afford. But what if I would have rolled the dice and stuck with my passion? Seeing that design board brought my hunger for creativity back in a rush.


I feel like I’m standing at a crossroad again. Create. My dream at this juncture in the road is to travel, photograph, and write. But this time, there is a lesser sense of urgency. I have time to plan. In the meantime, I will be reliable. I will be sensible. And I will prepare to be frivolous.

Because this time, it’s gonna stick.



I donated blood a couple of days ago. Once the bloodletting was complete, I did my obligatory time at the cookie and juice table. Per standard protocol, I was temporarily incarcerated by the snack lady.

This particular volunteer was so enthusiastic about human blood, I was fairly certain she was part vampire. And platelets! Oh, what there was to learn about platelets. She held me hostage for about twenty minutes educating me about platelets. Apparently, they’re important because of their short shelf life, and how frequently they’re needed by cancer patients, particularly children with leukemia.

She asked why I donated. It’s funny how a well-timed, simple question can bring intense memories to the fore. Certain events can be resurrected and remembered like they happened yesterday. Why do I donate? Because my son nearly bled out following a near-fatal car accident. Because I watched him visibly come back to life as the doctors filled his depleted veins with bags of blood. Bags of blood that were filled by people like me. Like you.

I kind of hate doing it. It’s hard to spend thirty minutes or so, wide awake, lying down. I’m not crazy about the needle stick, either. Plus, bags of blood are a little gross. The colorful wrap you get to sport all day is kind of cool, though … a badge of honor. I usually pick pink. I think a lot about Justin as I recline, squeezing the stress ball every ten seconds. The dull ache in my arm is nothing compared to what he went through that day.

So, I’ll keep donating every couple of months. It’s not every day you get to do something that may save someone’s life. And hey … go platelets! The snack lady says so.

A wild retirement ride …

I turn 55 next year. All of a sudden, my future plans seem not so distant. I’m ready to construct the foundation for what I hope is going to be a wild retirement ride. So I made a list. The list had two columns: “what makes you feel good?” and “what makes you feel bad?”. Walking outside with a good camera feels good. Playing games on my phone feels bad. Yoga feels good. Drinking too much wine feels bad. Hiking feels good. To become immersed in the comment section of a political Facebook post feels bad. And so on. To do more of the former and less of the latter will, inch by inch, get me closer to my goals. It will bring me closer to being the person I want to be.

Travel, write, photograph, repeat.

That’s what I want retirement to look like. To do this, I need to be financially sound. I need to be healthy; to be able to move my body with ease. I need to be strong; to be able to hoist my kayak and make good use of my hiking boots. Balance, strength, and stamina came without effort in my twenties, thirties, and forties. The fifties? Not so much. It’s gonna take some work.

So, I tackled the feel bad line item “too much TV” this week. Often, I don’t fully engage in a program when it is on. It’s just background noise. A distraction. So I approached “too much TV” in the same way I approached my list. What feels good? What feels bad? “This is Us” feels good. “Real Housewives of Orange County” feels bad. So I pulled up the Scheduled tab On Demand, and started deleting. Instead of “The Voice”, I will prepare a good meal. Instead of “Chicago Fire”, I will go to a yoga class. Instead of “Below Deck”, I will go photograph some fall color. I’ll call a friend. I’ll explore an idea by writing about it. I’ll investigate some local hikes and lace up my hiking boots. The possibilities are endless.

Do more of what feels good. Do less of what feels bad. Now, this is something I can get behind.