Greetings Family and Friends,
I started writing a yearly Christmas Letter some years back. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean that my life is one rosy picture. It is, however, a reminder (to myself) that at the end of the day (and year), it is important to focus on the good with gratitude and thankfulness. When it comes down to it, in the overall scheme of life, I am blessed
When 2017 began, I had one main goal (outside of traveling) for the year. That was to finish the anthology, which is called The Outpouring. It was completed, and we had a book launch party for it in February. I am very proud of it. I learned a lot after Illuminations was published, and I think The Outpouring reflects it. Both are available on Amazon or through me. I am very thankful to those friends and family who took the time to support me and the other writers.
For my yearly “big” trip, I went to New Zealand (Christchurch and Queenstown, plus some day trips around the areas) and Australia (Perth and some day trips around the area). I was in New Zealand for nine nights and Perth for six nights. The weather was super nice in both places, though warmer in Australia. I loved the beauty of New Zealand. The further south I went, the more enchanting it was. For a small country, there is so much to see. What I saw is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. In case you missed it, here is the first entry.
Trip Highlights (in order of appearance – sort of):
- The best part of any trip is the wonderful people you encounter along the way. And even if I never see them again, they are a vivid speck in my memory bank.
- I stayed at an Airbnb in Christchurch and enjoyed meeting my host, Miliana, and my housemate, Johannes. Both very good people.
- I enjoyed reluctantly hiking to Taylor’s Mistake and then purposefully hiking Godley Head.
- I spent a lovely day driving to Akaroa and back with Johannes. We stopped for many pictures on the way there and back. It was just so beautiful. It was hard to take a bad picture. I enjoyed walking around Akaroa with Johannes complete with a nice picnic lunch.
- I had a surprisingly lovely time walking around Mona Vale, a garden in Christchurch. I also enjoyed Riccarton Bush because it felt like I was in a forest.
- Queenstown was absolutely beautiful as well. Despite it being busier, I still felt relaxed while I was there. Water and mountains. How could you go wrong?
- Milford Sound is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been, period. The boat ride to the mouth of the Tasman Sea was too perfect for words.
- It was awesome to visit Gabriela in Perth and have conversations with her about life and relationships. I enjoyed our walks and our dinners. I was also inspired to make some moves when I got back that I normally would not have done.
- Spending the day in Freemantle with Gabriela, her sister Carla and Carla’s family was awesome. I thought Freemantle had a great heartbeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the home cooked meal Carla prepared for us and meeting her family. I loved the market there and met someone who is selling his art, which inspired me.
- Seeing a humpback whale on the boat ride to Rottnest Island and seeing the Port of Freemantle up close and personal on the boat ride to and from this island.
- I loved the central location of where I stayed in the cities I visited. It made it so easy to get around.
- Each trip has a song that connects to it. This trip the song is a toss-up between “The Misty Mountains Cold” and “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” from the Hobbit. Because, let’s face it, I was in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit country.
- And of course just walking around each city is always fun. You never know what is around the corner, and it is always fun to chat up other tourists.
I remain grateful for the gift of travel. It is a reminder that regardless of race, politics, religion, etc. the majority of people pretty much want the same thing.
For more pictures, visit my Shutterfly page.
Password is: italia
I did a few smaller trips as well. In March, I took a quick trip to Long Beach for my job. I got to see my buddies from other port cities, so it is a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and exhausting but fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met in the port industry. I also had a chance to hang out with Samarah and Mary for a minute.
I was able to go to Victoria to see Alice over Memorial Day Weekend and again in August. I am glad to have her back in North America, though I would love to visit her in Hong Kong again. Alas, I discovered Legos while visiting her. I have yet to take the plunge, but they are calling me. Victoria is just a great place to go for a quick weekend getaway.
I was able to go to Los Angeles during Labor Day weekend and that was super fun. I had not been to Los Angeles in a long time. I was able to stay with Samarah and had a chance to visit with Mary and her family. I saw Mary three times this year. Twice in Southern Cal and once here. I particularly enjoyed visiting Venice Beach and the flea market in Melrose. It was inspiring to see people pursuing their passion. I made the goal of getting out more in Seattle. So far I have done two First Thursdays and a First Wednesday. I also want to hit up some markets when the weather gets better.
I even did a day trip to Leavenworth.
The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues. I am at the point where I am trying to maintain. I was able to get off of blood pressure meds last year and that has been sustained. I did three 5Ks in 2017. In February, I did my first Mardi Gras 5K with Erica. In March, I did my sixth St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which is a 5K, with Kim and Katherine. In April, I did my first Brunch Run 5K, with Kim and Katherine. Let me say that is the best race ever! In June, I walked my fifth half-marathon (the Rock N Roll Seattle), and in November, I walked my sixth (the Seattle Marathon). The route for the Seattle was changed, and I am still complaining loudly about it. Too hilly. I would still love to do the Rock N Roll in Lisbon, Madrid, Dublin or Las Vegas.
I also went on my first hike at Rattlesnake Ledge.
It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 17th year! Where did the time go? As I mentioned before, I am so excited that the second anthology was published. Writing is something I need to do more of. Writing has always helped me focus. It is something I am passionate about, and it is something that I have been gifted in. The time is there, I just need to use it. It just seems like there is always something there to distract me. I need to focus. I have more writing goals for 2018.
I continue to try to fight the power through words. I am not impressed by what I see happening in Washington. I am very troubled by what I consider to be the silence of “friends” on issues.
I general, my prayer for 2018 is that I spend less time thinking about/talking about what I am going to do or want to do and spend more time just doing.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!
love. hug. xoxo.