End of an Era

The time has come to find a new owner for my home in Moraga. This is the home I poured by heart and soul into for eighteen years. We bought it when I was just six weeks pregnant with Siena and Paris was one. The original owner had lived here for thirty years and raised her four children here as well.

The house has always had its own personality. Beautiful, warm and elegant. In the winter there are separate furnaces that heat up the rooms on each level before the coffee is made. In summer, the trees and creek side location keep the rooms cool. When the kids were little they would walk home after school with their friends and I would often have a dozen kids in my pool. In those days, I had a second refrigerator dedicated solely to drinks, popsicles, and ice cream sandwiches.

When the girls became teenagers, the five bedrooms came in handy. With many places to sleep I often wake up with five or six house guests who have stayed over night.

A neighbor left me a message today calling the house a monument. From the day we moved in the neighborhood had an opinion about the house from the color paint we chose to the way we decorated for Christmas.

My late husband decided to paint the house brown. I have no idea why I agreed to this, but I did. When the paint went up the neighbors didn’t like it. We painted over it within days returning it to the original creamy vanilla. We painted the front door five different shades of red, but after much discussion returned it to black.

The first year we lived here I was told I needed two Christmas trees as the previous owner had one in each street facing bay window for thirty years. Many of my neighbors grew up here, and I heard this so many times, I finally acquiescenced and it became a tradition in our family.

My father was military, so I grew up in Europe, Boston, Chicago, and Washington DC. Then, my parents retired to a horse ranch in Oregon. I went to Oregon State and lived in London before moving to San Francisco. I had never had the kind of roots that I’ve given my children. It has been my fondest hope and dream that they would have lifelong friendships and the stability of a home and family steeped in tradition.

Today, my sorority sister Susan was here. She’s been a part of my life since I was eighteen years old. She too recently dismantled her family home. We sat in my kitchen talking about being mothers and wives and what the future holds for us.

Soon, I’ll be moving on to my next chapter, but I am grateful for the time I’ve had here. I’ve loved our beautiful house, and our kind and loving neighbors, and the many traditions we together hold dear. To say it’s been wonderful would be an understatement. I’m excited for the next family who will live here. I’m sure they will make it their own, but I do hope they have two Christmas trees.

Love and blessings to all.

Mothers & Daughters

The cool night air in Tahoe over the weekend alerted me to the changing seasons. I went home, packed up, and now I sit in a hotel room in Los Angeles, California.

I’m here to drop my daughter off at college and to attend meetings for my company Ocean SF.

On my last night with my daughter she told me I was the love of her life. I think there are some unusually companionable mother-daughter pairs and we are among them.

My younger daughter and I have a similar relationship, but together we are more like water. We rarely disagree and she infuses even the most mundane situation with her charming and unusual sense of humor. My older daughter and I are fire and ice. We test each other. We debate. Then, come back together stronger than before. Her teenage years were difficult, but I can already see in her the woman she will become. Strong, intelligent and confident, I can’t imagine what she will do. I know the experiences of my own life limit my vision for her. She will do things that I don’t now know exist.

Recently, I’ve been very thankful for the women who have shaped me. My stunning mother Joan, and my grandmother Nellie Cody Burke. I can now appreciate their courage, their deep love, and the lessons they imparted as I too have now raised a daughter.

I strolled through the bookstore on campus before I left. The shelves were lined with so many books that I have already read, but many more are left to read. There is always so much more to learn.

After checking out, the love of my life hugged me in the warm sunshine, and I turned and walked away. It seems impossible that I could leave someone I love so much behind. Yet, it is necessary that we both turn the crisp white page to a new chapter.

Love and blessings to all.

Kris Carlson, Friends & Synchronicities

On a random Sunday, I was at home trying to decide if I wanted to attend a party up the street in my neighborhood. In recent months, I’ve sworn off anything that makes me feel uncomfortable or brings me back to the past. I dislike attending parties alone and events that pull me from my present back into my past are now typically avoided as I feel I cannot move forward while clinging to the past. Therefore, I’ve made a concerted effort to look forward, try new things, meet new people, and embrace my future.

This event would bring me back into the heart of my former life. I remember the day I met the hostess Dana Windat Dowell. My children were tiny, perhaps two and four. I was talking to Dana at Rancho Laguna Park, and when she took off her sunglasses she revealed the most stunning green eyes I had ever seen. Beautiful inside and out, we’ve stayed in touch over the years as we’ve raised our kids, and I would often attend her yoga classes. Dana is also the author of Yoga Girl, a Children’s book.

My schedule has been very busy. I’ve been working my side hustles, picked up some consulting work, and I’m doing the due diligence for my clothing apparel line. It’s been an intense period of my life, I recognize it won’t last forever, but I need to pace myself and I now literally have to schedule time to stay home to rest.

It’s also summertime, and I’ve had a good deal of social obligations and milestone birthday parties to attend, so I decided I would skip it.

As my girls headed out the door, they said, “You really should go to Dana’s. You love Dana.”

I went outside and watered my flowers and thought about it. It was a beautiful night and I could be there in five minutes and be home in the same amount of time if I was uncomfortable or tired. So, in the end I went.

From the moment I saw Dana I knew it was the right decision. She greeted me with open arms and poured me a beautiful glass of wine in her gorgeous kitchen. As we were talking we were asked to come outside because Kristine Carlson was speaking. Kristine is a powerful speaker and you could have heard a pin drop as she spoke.

If you live in Lamorinda it’s likely you’ve heard of Kristine Carlson. Best selling author, wife of the late, Dr. Richard Carlson and extraordinary friend and mother.

Kristine and I have several mutual friends, so I knew it was just a matter of time before I met her. It was absolutely worth the wait. She gave me a signed copy of her new book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy. I took it home and started reading it. It was full of wisdom and held many answers to my most pressing questions.

Yesterday, I was able to meet with Kris in Walnut Creek. It was miraculous to talk to the author about what she wrote about in her book. In particular unlikely coincidences.

Over the past few years I’ve experienced synchronicities. Most recently, in one day, I had a lunch date with a man named Chris, but my truck wouldn’t start. Chris from road side assistance called to tell me he was on his way. This was confusing because I thought it was the former Chris who I had just spoken to. Later that same day, I attended a party in San Francisco and the home was owned by a man named Chris and the chef was also named Chris. When I broke my arm my orthopedic doctor was named Chris. Then, I meet Kris Carlson. When I told her this story she laughed and said the Universe was playing with me. This was good to know, as I thought I was just going crazy.

I will write more about her book when I’ve finished it. Until then, happy summer.

Love and blessings to all.

“Carlson is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and leader in the field of transformation. After collaborating with her late husband Dr. Richard Carlson to create a publishing industry phenomenon with the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series—selling more than 25 million copies worldwide—today, Kris is emerging as a profound teacher in the areas that matter most to the human heart: how to heal and how to love.

She has been featured on national radio and television, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Kris’ books, include Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love; Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women; Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms; An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever; and Heartbroken-Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self Discovery. In her forthcoming book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy.”

Building A Business

I’ve been watching people read my sleeping blog. A place I poured my heart into for two years while building Oceans SF.

I broke my arm a few days after announcing I would no longer write my blog. I’ve been working for other entrepreneurs and dating and as temping as it was/is to write about these endeavors it’s not really ethical. Plus, after the break I couldn’t type at all.

My attorney tells me my friends and family know I’m a lifestyle writer so they are aware they can land on my pages at any time. I always read my posts to my kids before publishing, and ask their permission first and in every way try to be considerate of the privacy of others while maintaining my own authenticity.

For my friends and business associates as forewarned as they are, I am as cognizant of the power of my words, and understand when you have 80,000 hits in 72 countries what you say has meaning.

Recently, I’ve watched my analytics with interest; Canada, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Spain, Australia and can’t believe I’ve given up something I’ve loved so dearly. What’s nice about my website is I can pick it up whenever I choose because it’s something I’ve built and own.

I love writing my 24/680 News Column as well, but I do have editors and they choose my titles and weigh in on my content, but mostly are my biggest fans.

Ocean SF has recently been funded, due to investors who found my company through my writing and hard work in promoting my company and brand day in and day out for the last several years. I’m busy working behind the scenes with some amazing people on that. Ocean SF is also something I’ve built and can cultivate as I choose.

I saw off my friends to the Pacific Cup Race to Hawaii at the St. Francis Yacht Club last week. They took my apparel to really prove it at sea. It’s been sold into some of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world now and I’m excited to have my products in stores this fall. It’s also gratifying after so much hard work, time and energy to finally have my company up and running.

I’ve also picked up some independent consulting work as I roll off of my enjoyable, but seasonal catering side hustle. It was a gift to learn from so many hard working and dedicated entrepreneurs. It takes commitment and dedication to be successful and I will implement what I’ve learned over the past six months as I continue to build my brand, business, and team.

It’s interesting that my most popular post recently has been Love & Money as I feel that to be truly successful one must have love and this is in direct proportion to the monetary rewards of life. This is just my own observation of course, but I’ve noticed that loving your life, the people around you, and being both generous and kind brings countless blessings and rewards, many of them financial.

I’ve certainly found this to be true recently as I’ve decided to center my attention on my family, friends and the work and people I love most.

I’ve had some hard lessons this summer. My business had some ups and downs and I almost gave up on it. I broke my arm for the second year in a row on Father’s Day and have been in a good deal of pain. I compounded this by dropping an iron umbrella stand on my other hand.

Yet, my friends and family have surrounded me with love and I’ve truly surrendered to my circumstances and because of this, I’ve actually had a really wonderful summer with the added bonus of some spectacular business success.

From working in the kitchen at the catering company I’ve developed an interest in making cakes. I’m a horrendous baker historically, but I actually adore making birthday cakes. I’ve made four over the past few weeks for milestone birthdays and just ordered my professional baking supplies so I can make bigger and better cakes in the future. I absolutely love doing this for the people I love.

As I’ve said before, it’s not what I would have expected, but nevertheless joy.

Love and blessings to all.

Kids, Love & Food

I have a bad habit of spoiling the ones I love. I do this in many ways, but in no way is it more obvious then in how I cook for the people I absolutley adore.

No matter how tired I am, or what I am doing, I always find time to drop everything and make something amazing for one or the other of my daughters. All they have to do is look at me and tell me they’re hungry and I go running off to the kitchen like they were four years old (I once did this for my late husband as well).

Today, felt like a Sunday, and we had all eaten a very late lunch, so no one was interested in dinner, my older daughter went out, but as eight o’clock rolled around my younger daughter, who had been studying all day for the SAT gave me that sad look and told me she was hungry.

I’ve made these little pizza’s before and they are a favorite. So, this is what I made for her. I took the picture above and wanted to share this very easy and quick recipe with you.

Mediterranean Pizza

1 pita

1 onze pesto (this was actually a chimichurri sauce, but I’ve used both)

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup mixed spinach, chard and kale

5 kalamata olives

2 cherry tomatoes halved

Salt and pepper

The first thing you do is pull out a frozen pita (Costco) and put it immediately in the oven on the rack with a cookie sheet under it at 400 degrees. This helps it defrost. Then I put a pan on the stove to preheat turning it on high (my stove is slow to heat up so adjust as needed). I use a nonstick pan. I gather the other ingredients while everything is heating up.

Then, I pull the pita out of the oven and spread the pesto lightly. I always do sauces on the light side, but give the kids some on the side for dipping. I then add the cheese and let the cheese melt. I usually cut up some fruit at this time because it’s a good time to get, said child, to actually eat it.

I know she’s seventeen, but I still care and worry about her. So, tonight she had strawberries and ate them all.

While the cheese in melting, and before the pan gets too hot, I add the eggs and cook them over easy. I make one for the dog (I can’t help it I love the dog as well) and the dog is now eleven so what is the harm at this point in giving her people food?

I keep an eye on the bread and when the cheese has melted (7-10 minutes depending on your oven) I pull it out. At this point I cut it into four triangles for ease in eating. I put the salad mixture on top, add the olives and tomatoes and top with the egg. I always plate with salt and pepper, but not all humans like this I’ve found, so do what works for your loved ones.

This process literally takes so little time and it delights my children beyond what you might expect. I also make it with fig jam, Brie and arugula which with friends over is a very welcome snack.

Love and blessings to all.

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Dedication, Hard Work & Commitment

I love Maya Angelou for her wisdom and many fine quotes like this one. As an entrepreneur and having worked in many start ups and entrepreneurial ventures I can attest to the truth of her words.

Starting companies like all good adventures are enjoyable at the start. There are lots of meetings and brainstorming sessions and excitement, but meetings are not the real work of a company. They are just a small part. For Ocean SF the real work is behind the scenes. Buying the thread, reinforcing the pockets, shipping the merchandise, making the labels, driving to the bank and depositing money to keep the website up, managing the invoices and finances, working on the nonprofit, showing up to pick up garbage with twenty other people on a Saturday morning and taking 2,000 photos in the freezing cold to get that one great shot. Or, having hard conversations with co-workers, suppliers and contractors that make you unpopular. We can’t always be liked in business. Sometimes it’s necessary to be direct and factual to get things done. Yes, everyone wants to always be the nice guy, but this can be an expensive luxury.

Having a solid work ethic and showing up is 90% of being successful. Without the hard work, dedication and commitment it is only talk.

Another favorite quote of mine from Maya Angelou is, “When people show you who they are listen.”

Love and blessings to all.

Commitment Is Freedom

I’ve had a stressful week with the news of my Ocean SF partner resigning on Tuesday, but luckily it’s been another peaceful weekend.

I love living in the Bay Area. There is nothing more beautiful than San Francisco Bay. The azure water, the beautiful San Francisco skyline, and the many Islands and coves from Richmond to Redwood City never cease to fascinate me.

The way the sunlight plays on the water, the combination of the working harbor, and the recreational sailboats that go by proves the multi-cultured diverse ecosystem that is my home.

I spend a great deal of time on the Bay and recently on Treasure Island, but it is ever changing and never the same from one day to the next. It is always a different experience due to the dramatic role the weather plays.

Being on the water for the Friday Night sailboat races and then on Treasure Island for the Treasure Festival is in my opinion the epitome of bliss.

I especially enjoy spending time with my Treasure Festival boss Chaz. It was nice to have another entrepreneur to talk with about Ocean SF and the challenges ahead. Plus, I am treated so well there. I came home with arm loads of flowers, desserts and more food than I can eat in a week.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about commitment. As someone who values freedom above all else this is an unusual train of thought for me.

For many years of married life I found this deep commitment liberating, because I could focus on my career, and other interests knowing I had support and love to back me up every step of the way. My late husband supported everything I did. It made going out into the world that much easier.

It was during this time that I was the most successful in my career, my watercolor paintings hung in galleries, and he constantly encouraged me to write. He read everything I wrote and would tell me that if he could write like I could that he wouldn’t do anything else (he was a very fine writer as well I might add).

Because of this idea, I committed to Ocean SF 100% from the start. It’s been my baby and number one priority apart from my kids for the past two years. I’ve literally loved it into existence. Now, even people I don’t know have heard of Ocean SF. I’ve devoted myself 100% to promoting it on all platforms and it’s starting to pay off.

I feel so blessed to have had the resources to commit to Ocean SF full time for so long. I look forward to working with others who have deep roots and decades of experience in the retail industry who have committed to helping me to finally bring my vision to fruition.

Today, I committed to staying at my side hustle for an entire year, the last weekend of every month. My boss and I will meet monthly and talk about entrepreneurship and my Ocean SF progress. These conversations which will include all of the details of the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur will make a wonderful book for other entrepreneurs to learn from.

Commitment is freedom.

Love and blessings to all.

Action Is the Alchemy

Action is the alchemy of success. Recently, I’ve been out earning money to support my kids and further my company Ocean SF. There are easier ways to do this than the road I’ve taken, but I get so much out of working with other entrepreneurs that it has been well worth the effort.

From this experience, and others, I can tell you that nothing trumps hard work.

I’ve recently realized that a good idea supported by actionable steps, careful planning and execution, but specifically hard work is better than any brilliant idea.

Everyone has great ideas, but without the hard work they are only wishes.

Yesterday, I worked for six and a half hours on a catering team. Our small group worked diligently, heads down, and with very little talking. The owner was scrubbing a pan with steel wool. The company prepares meals for private jets among other things. No one works harder than those in the kitchens of the food industry.

The day before, I spent three hours driving to pick up and drop off the graphics for our sailboat and the nonprofit I am sponsoring. I had to make time to do this, and yes it was inconvenient, and I had to pay for it too, and it wasn’t cheap. But, this is what you have to do to be successful. Next, I will scrub the sails, and help afix the one foot logos to the mainsails of our sailboats. Soon, my Ocean SF logo will be on the Ocean SF sailboat, Solana and on the Sailing Initiative sailboat, Chomp and it will be due to my efforts, the efforts of the Chomp team, and our hard work.

After working in the kitchen, I went home and wanted to stay there, but I had promised to help with the Berkeley Yacht Club Race Committee, so I made a coffee and went. It’s important to show up, and not disappoint other people. It’s easy to get involved in our own personal issues and not realize how we impact and burden other people. I didn’t want my friend to not have an extra set of hands when he set the marks for the sailboat race, so I showed up, even though I was tired.

Today, I was at the Treasure Festival working for my friend Chazz. I love working there, a family run business, where all the kids show up and help. At one time, this festival was just an idea. Now, it’s an enterprise that supports a family.

Action and hard work are the Alchemy of success. There is no substitute for putting in the time and working hard.

Ideas without action are just wishful thinking, they do not bring into existence thriving companies or monthly festivals with 180 vendors and 20 food trucks. And guess what? The food on those trucks doesn’t cook itself.

If you want to make an impact on the universe, get on it.

Love and blessings to all.

Quitting

As we begin we never believe quitting is an option. My former Ocean SF business partner, Andrew Lacenere, has resigned due to heath reasons.

I’m not surprised as being an entrepreneur is stressful and start ups invariably take an enormous toll on our heath and nervous system. When things go right it’s amazing, but as things go counter to expectations it is the opposite.

New enterprises are comprised of both the high and low.

When we started this, I had worked for four tech start ups and only one over time proved successful, so I knew the challenges that awaited.

Regardless, I still believe in my initial premise; sustainable, beautiful, performance based apparel.

Luckily, as always, I’ve had a little help from my friends.

Love and blessings to all.

The Silent Snow Fall

img_7522Recently, I was at my second home in Tahoe. It and the many friends that came with it comprise some of my most treasured memories. It is one of my many, many blessings and I am deeply grateful that I have it. It is one thing that I never take for granted.

We bought the home in May of 2007. It was the same month we got delivery of our beloved golden doodle named Polly as in the movie, Along Came Polly.  I haven’t been there for a while, but every time I am there I get the same feeling of happiness, peace and joy.  How I can forget how much I love it there I do not know.

I arrived in the afternoon, and visited with my wonderful neighbors. My dog Polly is not one to wait to be invited in, but just runs into the open doors of the neighbors and finds them in their homes to say hello. This is usually how they know we’ve arrived and they will come out and say hello while I’m outside unloading the car. This is our habit, and then we will text and take the dogs out for hikes or other excursions in the days that follow.

Before going to dinner with my dear friends Susan and Fred, I took Polly for a walk along the path that runs from my house to the top of Northstar Resort. Northstar is the mountain we skied every winter when the kids were growing up. It is also the place of our most cherished family memories. I know that I was fortunate to have an entire family that would ski or snowboard all day long without complaint or boredom. I always thought at some point the kids would go and ski with their friends, but they never did, we always skied together as a family, all four of us on the chair lift together with our friends and houseguests. Sometimes there would be three or four other families with us.

It’s almost painful to remember those many days and how the things I worried about most were so mundane, like what to make everyone for lunch, or who to invite up for New Years Eve. Things have changed so much and grown so complex.

My favorite days in Tahoe were the days when the storms would come closing the pass to the bay area. We would be trapped there with the roads closed in all directions. There is a silence in that valley that is like nowhere else. It is almost like waking up in a dream.

One year my friend Barb and I took the kids up to ski. I called her and told her we have to leave right now. There is a big storm coming and we have to outrun it. I immediately left and she wasn’t far behind. These were the days when I was very unpopular at the grade school because I would pull my kids out of school to ski. The school secretary did not like it when I arrived in snow boots and a parka saying both my children had dental appointments (I said this so the school would not be penalized by an unexcused absence).

I got a great deal of judgement for this at the time, as many of my friends believed that school, grades and being focused on college in grade school was a good thing. After everything that has happened, I now have absolutely no regrets, as the mountain has lessons that no school can teach.

Luckily, Barb is as adventurous as I am and had no problem driving straight into a snowstorm. She was the last car allowed over the pass before it closed. We skied that afternoon as the snow fell and the next day we woke to six feet of fresh powder. There was almost no one else on the mountain and we skied all day long with the kids.

Other days, I would wake up and the pass would be closed and the snow would be falling.  Silent. White. Pure. Peaceful.

My days now are complicated and full of endless obligations, responsibilities and duties. Yet, the memories of those days are lodged deep inside my mind. When I get stressed or anxious all I have to do is think of those moments. Below zero, my breath visible in the air, and the snow falling softly all around me.

Love and blessings to all.