Tag Archives: Oregon Coast

Good-Bye 2012, It’s Been Real.

So, it’s about that time.

All the cool kids are doing it.

Must post something about 2013. You know, resolutions or something.

To be fair, I DO love resolutions. One of my life goals is to spend every New Year’s Day at the ocean, reflecting. I decided awhile back that it’s a much better way to spend the new year than hung over on the couch.

Not sure I’ll make the ocean part happen this year, we’ll see.

But, before I can look forward, I have to look back.


Struggle and happiness, chaos and peace. Immense gratitude. I learned, a lot. I wrote, a lot. So much stuffed into 12 months. Do I have it all figured out? Not hardly. But, I feel better balanced than ever before. Happy, even. In the spirit of Thankfulness Thursdays, I leave you with my 2012 Gratitude List (and pictures dug out of this year’s blog).


I feel so fortunate to have a teaching job as a new-ish teacher in our current economy. This year was hard, but I became a better teacher one day at a time, and each day I feel a step closer to making this my lifelong work, instead of something I lovingly survive for the time being. So much gratitude.


2012’s valentines to my students, proof my heart is in the right place!

MacBook ad?  More distractions from revisions...

And, can’t complain about my night job. It may not pay the bills (yet) but writing makes me happy.


I was definitely an ADHD reader this year. Still have ten or so titles half finished on my dresser… The book I was most grateful to finish, hands down, Dear Sugar.

Sugar says...

Cheryl Strayed speaks to every human emotion in this book. So real, so touching. She writes with an unabashed openness I strive to emulate…


I’m thankful for the Lumineers’ soulful lyrics set to summer in the backyard with family, our car cruising down the coast, a sea of people at Golden Gate Park…


So much gratitude to live on such a beautiful planet and to have the means to see it even in a year that did not always feel easy.

Union Square at sunrise was not something I ever saw as a child.

San Francisco at sunrise

More gorgeous coast before snorkeling.

Magical Kauai

Goodbye sun.

Oregon Coast sunset

Mom’s Mt. Shasta


More than anything else, I am grateful for the people in my life, friends, family, near and far… Oh yeah, and my dog too, he counts, right?

No greater gratitude than for the people in my life.

No greater gratitude than for the people in my life.


And, not to be forgotten, this was the year I discovered my own power in healing. So thankful.


Yoga, meditation… healing.

Other bloggers:

Even though I started blogging in 2011, my move to WordPress cemented my commitment to putting my words out there and becoming part of a greater community. I am truly grateful for all the connections I have made this year– words of wisdom from every corner of the globe, thank YOU!

So, your turn, what tops your 2012 Gratitude List?

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1,500 words in my extra hour…

I’m back.

That’s not bragging, that’s celebrating. The first few days of NaNoWriMo were off to a slow start. Now I’m excited. Finally get to use those vagabond youth I’ve been stalking since summer. Not to mention my obsession with the ocean and the Oregon Coast. I’m liking this book. It’s fun to spend time camping on the beach with a bunch of young hippies.

Now time for everything else in life– San Francisco friends here we come!

Thank goodness for the end of daylight savings time. That extra hour was always magical to me as a kid. My favorite non-holiday weekend of the entire year. I remember believing you had to find something incredible to do with your extra hour, (thanks to a special episode of Pete & Pete…). I guess I still hold that belief. This year I wrote with mine. What did you do with yours? Hopefully something good!

Happy Sunday.

Slimy inspiration.

This piece of driftwood was easily fifteen feet tall. The power of the ocean is incredible… More inspiration from the sea.


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At Least I’m Good At Cheering Myself Up…

Today a student brought me a note. At first, I barely looked at it, distracted in my attempt to convince the class that listening to the sounds of the ocean while writing is beneficial. Most of my students have never been to the beach, so when our peaceful CD started playing and they looked at me funny, I told them to imagine they were writing in front of the sea. Again, strange looks, until I said I was imagining myself there right then, the sun shining, the waves crashing, with a big old smile on my face. That time, they smiled back and nodded, finally getting the picture.

Then, I remembered to look at the note and realized it was a list of all the things the student likes about me, (much more interesting than the complaints I was expecting to read). See, when she was really upset with me last week, an administrator asked her to make this list. She wasn’t asked to share, so I forgot about it, but today she unexpectedly gave it to me anyway.

My favorite entry:

Mrs. M is good at cheering herself up. 

An astute observation, particularly as I sat there using the ocean to indeed cheer myself up, soaking in a few moments of artificially-created tranquility.

This was followed by:

Mrs. M is good at cheering the class up.

So, as easily as I sometimes fall into a funk, at least I’m good at cheering myself (and others) back up. This is probably the best compliment I’ve received in a long time. Thank you dear, bright, sometimes-angry-but-still-forgiving child.

I leave you with 22 crudely-shot seconds of the glorious Oregon Coast in Bandon from this summer. Maybe it will cheer you up too in its quiet simplicity.

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Seek Out Sunsets

My brother has a ritual.  No matter where he is or what he is doing, he must stop and watch the sunset every single day.  The first couple times I was around for this, I thought, really, we have to wait until it is all the way down?

But then I watched him, sitting on the hillside, the magnificent display of colors in the sky as the sun slipped beneath the coastal mountain range off in the distance, and I understood.  Watching the entire sunset every evening is an act of gratitude to life and this amazing planet we inhabit.  It is so easy to forget to look at the sky, to miss its daily beauty, a show put on for us two times each day in case we miss the first.

This summer, when we were in Kauai, every evening was a celebration of the sinking sun.  Cars and people would stop, where ever they might be, pulling off the road even, to watch the entire show.  As the colors grew more amazing, more people would arrive, and soon there would be an audience of strangers brought together to witness the beauty of the sky, a certain surreal joy felt by locals and tourists alike.

That’s when I decided my brother belonged in Kauai, a place where people stop nightly to watch the setting sun. But, maybe it’s not just my brother that belongs there.  Maybe we all do, or rather we deserve to live a life where there is time and willpower enough to stop and enjoy the show as part of a greater community.

To me, seeking out sunsets is symbolic of something much more profound– it represents a commitment to being present in a world that pulls us all directions at once.  I thank my brother for teaching me this and look forward to tonight’s setting sun spent with family.

One evening in Kauai, we stumbled across this overlook where locals go to watch the sunset from their cars.

Another evening, another Kauai sunset, everyone drawn out onto the golf course to watch the show, children dancing, playing, a heightened sense of presence, alive.

I regret not stopping and taking in every last moment of this gorgeous dropping sun on the Oregon coast.

Last one, my family’s backyard. Proof the sunset is beautiful everywhere, especially at home.

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Farewell Beach: Yoga, Night Walk & Poetry

Today, the last day of my summer travel, I enjoyed two of my favorite beach activities.  I awakened to yoga on the sand and ended the evening with a night walk under the stars.  The perfect farewell.

I know I’ve shared before, but if you practice yoga, I highly recommend purchasing a travel mat– they’re slimmer and easy to pack.  This morning I took my mat out to the beach after my run.  I’ve always preferred taking classes to practicing on my own, but on vacation I make an exception that is well worth it.  Not even a class can beat the feeling of practicing on the beach, staring out at the ocean.  Of course, it works best on unpopulated beaches, like those in Oregon.  Admittedly, I refuse to take out my mat anywhere with an audience.

Post-yoga with my fabulous travel mat.

Always time for one more pose off the beach… I’m telling you, beach yoga rocks, (although I can hear my instructor’s voice telling me I need to kick through this pose before I begin to lean forward… yeah, yeah, I’m working on it!).

Essential beach farewell activity number two was tonight’s walk along the shore under the stars.  Night on the beach is my favorite time, the moonlight bouncing off the sand, creating enough light to see without a flashlight.  Most of all, I enjoy staring off into the waves or up at the stars, I can never pick.  If you visit the beach before I return, do some yoga and walk under the stars for me.

Goodbye Yachats

Goodbye sun.

Farewell Beach

The tide pulls me closer,

The waves and moon magnetic to my soul.

Come closer, still

The ocean calls

One step more,

Just your toes,

Another step–

Come dance with me in the waves,

I’ll keep you safe.

Right, I think.

You’ll just drown me with your violent touch,

Instead I come to say farewell.

But you could stay,

It says.

Give me first your toes,

And then your ankles,

Come closer and we’ll become one with the stars.

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Oregon Coast: The Last Hurrah (For Now)

If you’re sick of me on vacation, stop here, save yourself the irritation.  If you want to be inspired to visit the Oregon Coast, read on.  Personally, I’m trying to hang on to every last second.  My summer vacation ends Tuesday, then it’s back to my classroom, school with the kiddos the following week, and a lot less time to write.

This morning, we left Bandon for a different vacation rental just north of Yachats, which thankfully means sun, and lots of it.  We went from foggy and cold to nearly 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  The microclimates along the coast always amaze me, although I also realize the weather can vary greatly from day to day.

Here was my pelican friend we said goodbye to in Bandon.  He refused to move from the parking lot, poor guy.  He had to be at least three feet tall and had an audience of onlookers.

On our way up to Yachats, we stopped in Florence’s old town, which is easy to miss if your eyes are busy searching for the Pacific.  The old town is tucked away on the other side of 101, along the Siuslaw River and is well worth the stop, with dog friendly shops and restaurants.  Our dog was not with us to enjoy this perk *insert sad face*, but we still had a lot of fun shopping at the farmers’ market, buying Quiddler at the toy store, and visiting our favorite coffee shop, Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters.

See, I’m not the only one in the family with a love for murals!  Here’s my sis in old town Florence.

Check out the little dragon on the Siuslaw River, her name is Susie…

Reaching Yachats, we were not disappointed.  Sunshine and whales just beyond the waves.

If you look closely, you can see two spouts. I drove myself crazy trying to catch them breaching, my camera just wasn’t fast enough, but they put on a show all afternoon.  Funny how special it feels to spot whales, every single time.

The view from our house, and, yes, it looks like my brother is dancing on the beach.

Told you, this song has haunted me for nearly a decade. No, really, that’s not the point of this picture.  The point is that I’m stealing every last second to write in my little notebooks.

Not a bad way to end a great day on the coast, just wish I could slow it all down…

So, what makes the Oregon Coast different than closer options in California?  It’s more rugged, less crowded, and lacks the same pretentious feeling that many California beach towns project. The restaurants and lodging are cheaper, often more basic, but still get the job done, leaving more emphasis on the outdoors, with hikes where the forest meets the sea on jagged cliffs and rocky shores.  To me, the Oregon Coast is magic, something pictures and words cannot capture.

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Staring into the turquoise waters off Kauai, our catamaran bouncing over the waves, I imagined a mermaid swimming alongside us.  She was beautiful but also frightening.  Seducing men, and maybe some women, to follow her beneath the surface.  It was then I decided to attempt my first fantasy story, a dark siren tale of two worlds, one on land, one beneath icy, deep waters.  Not Little Mermaid, or Splash, or anything of the sort.  Something more hypnotic, dangerous.

Nearly a week later, looking out at the Oregon coast, my imagination has already crafted these worlds and its two central characters, notes scribbled throughout pages and pages of my little purple notebook.  The mermaid, above, and a young man, soon to be missing to the human world, just another kid swallowed by the Pacific Northwest, little flyers posted in the towns, asking if anyone has seen him, assuming he ran away or got lost camping, like the others.

What I have learned during recent months, while finishing up Expecting Happiness, is that I have to strike while the iron is hot.  Stories come and go from my mind and in order for them to come to fruition I have to get to work immediately.  I was already researching a mainstream, realistic fiction project with a different twist on the tormented world of human trafficking.  I had it roughly outlined, but then time passed while I finished my first book and now mermaids sound more appealing.

So, even as I finish that last read through my recent rewrites and prepare to send out queries, I’m also writing about mermaids.  I fear that if I wait, this idea will be swallowed up by another.  Besides, staring out at the crashing waves beyond my window, inspiration abounds.  I just wish Expecting Happiness would finish itself, because writing is the fun part, editing/revising, not so much.  I’ll leave you with a small peak at my dark mermaid.


He had watched her every night for nearly a week, unable to take his eyes off her as she swam, naked in the icy ocean.  From the cover of his driftwood structure, he peered out at her, squinting to focus on her smooth skin beneath the moonlight.  The first night, he thought she was a figment of his imagination, the result of shifting light beneath the fast moving clouds.  However, each evening after he put out his campfire and retreated to the make-shift shelter, she returned.

Some nights, he could see her better than others, depending on the moon.  Tonight, the moon was full, its light cascading over the sand, bouncing back toward the sky, a dull glow.  The stars shone bright above the beach, unobscured in a rare, cloudless moment.  Carefully, he pulled himself through the opening of his crude shelter, cautious not to knock over the paddles to his kayak, worried that any noise might scare her back into the water.

He was still uncertain where she came from.  She always appeared from nowhere, as though she climbed out of the sea.  He figured she must be camping up the way, his own small bay the calmest spot to swim.  Even so, he would not get in that water without his kayak, the roiling waves and icy cold too much for most strong swimmers.  He had watched more than one surfer paddle out in a full wet suit just to be pummeled by the waves and head back in.

Still, there she was, naked, riding in on the waves, diving beneath the breaks, emerging with her long, dark hair clinging to her breasts.  She was child-like in her play, alternating between the water and the shore, chasing the waves in and out.  He thought he heard her laughing as she ran, at first quiet like a whisper, then howling, alive and wild.

In truth, he had not emerged from the structure the previous nights because she scared him.  The freedom of her body, the rawness of her loud laughter, almost animal-like.  Eventually, she would disappear, leaving him aching to touch her cold skin…

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Lessons Learned from Three Teachers in a Prius

When I was first invited on a road trip to Olympia and back with three other teachers on my team, I was hesitant.  As much as I hate to admit it, I am particular.  I like to be in charge of trips, I like to control my own time.  Knowing that my travel companions can be more boisterous and free-spirited than I normally am, I worried I might feel out of place.  Thankfully, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone.  Here is what I learned from my adventure:

1.  We all need to get out of our boxes from time to time.  It’s so easy to surround ourselves with people that are like us, which are undoubtedly wonderful people, but it is also important to get out there in this big world and meet others who are different.  Not only did I bond with my team of teachers in an entirely new way, but I also met a lot of travelers whose stories will stick with me.  A woman from Wisconsin with her two dogs and a cat stuffed into her station wagon, the old man by the sea, a transplanted waitress from Placerville now living in Reedsport, a starving young artist selling t-shirts in Portland…  The list goes on, you get the point.  I met a lot of really friendly people wanting to talk.  Some I met because I traveled with a car full of extroverts, some I met just being me.  Their stories were fascinating, my notebook now full of characters.  Nothing sparks the imagination like the half-told stories of strangers.

2.  Sometimes you have to go in circles to get where you’re going.  My mom likes to say I’m a type 3 personality, insinuating that type A isn’t enough to describe me.  Accordingly, I’m usually very impatient with being off-schedule because I try to stuff so many experiences into each day.  However, on this trip, since I was not in charge, I just sat back and let things happen.  Sure we got lost and time disappeared sitting in the car, but that time going in circles ended up holding its own adventures.  At the end of the day, we always ended up where we were trying to go.

3. Laugh, a lot.  Four women in a car for five days makes everything funny.  Never in my life have I laughed so hard or so frequently.  More than anything else from my adventure, I will remember the distinct laughters of my travel companions and the fun we had in every moment, whether it was stuck on a bridge in Portland or waiting for coffee at a Dutch Brothers.  After all, anything in life is better if you keep a good sense of humor.

Our little road family in Waldport, Oregon.

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Oregon Coast: Old Man & The Sea

Yesterday I hiked a ways with an old man.  He had to be in his 80s, at least.  He walked alone with his Bichon Frise, a friendly girl named Maggie.  At first I tried to walk away, to stay up with my group, but he kept talking.  He told me about moving to Alabama during the height of desegregation, how his daughter adapted a Southern accent in just two weeks to fit in, being drafted after high school, wondering what his life would have been like if he had become a vet at UC Davis like he planned instead.  He was a Sacramento transplant living on the Oregon coast.  Life left him alone and he needed to talk.

Riding away in the car after we parted ways, I felt a little sad.  Here all that old man wanted was someone to listen to his story and I was trying to walk faster to keep up with my group. Once I really stopped to listen, I was happy I did– he told some incredible stories, I only wish I got to hear more.

Every time I visit the Oregon Coast I do not want to leave.

Our hike to the sand dunes.

Sunset picnic on the beach.


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