Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

Reminders

super moon portland wftvReminders

It’s been an intense weekend, friends.

The kind of weekend that drives me back to my personal-development focused blog, rather than my writer-focused blog. And how telling is it that I haven’t been here since March?

Ouch.

2017 has been an ouch-y year for a lot of us, of course. I found myself slipping into the restless mindset: “I’ve been in Portland for four years now; I’m probably ready for a change of scenery.”

But that’s all it would have been: a change of scenery without, when what I really wanted was a a change of scenery within.

I’m sort of glad now that I didn’t have the means to travel in 2017. Instead, I moved from the aristocratic lifestyle of 2016 (no job on purpose for a few months, then no job on accident for several months) to the scrambling-for-dollars lifestyle of 2017 where I stressed about spending and was thankful (sort of) for the three jobs I juggled.

One of my life goals for the year was to be more open to things I ‘d been skeptical (or cynical) about: astrology, tarot, and crystals are examples. I started off well, then spiraled right back down into money worries and loneliness and the scarcity mindset. Yes, I still did fun things, but my days were infused with the feeling of mis-fitted-ness: ‘This isn’t how I want my life to look forever.’

Over the summer I worked and fretted, drafting work deadlines only to rewrite and rewrite them, dissatisfied and resentful that others made me change my plans.

Over the autumn I stuck with business goals, devoting time to social media posting, and cultivating local relationships that could be useful in future.

Now it’s almost winter solstice and I realize how distant that open-mindedness goal seems.

So when asked to join a moon circle for the fourth time, I accepted. The timing felt right. Prompted by someone with pink and yellow hair, sitting between a home altar and a cozy fireplace, surrounded by women who threw around words like ‘oracle,’ ‘shamanism,’ ‘releasing,’ and ‘surrender’ as they chatted over herbal tea and chocolate.

I journaled with everyone and shared: loss of confidence, issues with entitlement, difficulty loving and trusting. And I was wowed by the level of genuine sharing, vulnerability, and trust that I witnessed, and that I practiced.

At the beginning I felt alone, walled in the cynicism story I carried about women like this in Portland. Then I looked inside at my scenery. And realized that we are all in the same boat, looking for connection, carrying a light, trying to be our best selves.

I’m not sure what I’ll do to honor this recommitment and reconnection to myself but I do want to celebrate it–this reminder that the moon is always full, it is only that we can not see its beauty all the time.

 

Image via WFTV

Luminaries: Laura

This is the fourth in my 2015 series called Luminaries, about people I’ve met who seem to be guided by their own inner light. I’ve been inspired by them and here relate some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from each one. See Interview 1, Interview 2, and Interview 3.

quasar luminary wiki commons  We have a bit of a switch-up at this juncture!

Laura Stanfill, gracious interviewee #4 for this series, tugs the covers in the complete opposite direction from my other subjects in terms of life path-taking.

If Ward is on one end of the spectrum, with his do-everything curiosity for life, Laura is on the other end, with her insane commitment to being the best writer she can be, no matter the assignment, no matter the time pressure. But let’s start at A Beginning…

Our beginning was at Stumptown Lit 2014, where I was having my first book exhibited as a member of Oregon Writers Colony — so exciting! I was searching for less-cliche, less-network-y ways to engage with people at the event, so when I arrived at the Forest Avenue Press table, I asked Laura, “What made you decide to become a publisher?”

And she had a wonderful, self-aware answer, johnny-on-the-spot. I made a mental note: this gal is the Real Deal. So I was over-the-moon delighted when she agreed to do an interview for Taste Life Twice. I was also delighted to find out that her own publishing career started off with a series of similar interviews with a wide variety of writers in the Pacific Northwest (Brave On The Page).

Coincidence??? I hope not…

laura stanfill pub photo red chairLaura has achieved success in every arena she has entered. That comment I made above, about “no matter the assignment”? She once had a freelance job writing for a school district that needed more funding from the local Board of Supervisors. She turned it into a 296-page school district masterpiece, resulting in the Association of School Business Offices’ Meritorious Budget Award, but more importantly, the first time the schools received what they asked for in recent memory!

When I sat down to pelt Laura with nosey questions last month, I realized that she must possess some sort of crazy magic substance (like lembas) to sustain such a drive for excellence and constant innovating: from overachiever school newspaper editor at Vassar College to Publisher of her own press for the last four years, it’s always been about writing. She neglected to mention a source for the lembas (darn!), but said that she’s been a perfectionist forever, and motivated to exceed people’s expectations since before that.

Thankfully, as a parent, she’s learned to turn on her personal ‘Creativity Valve’ when she has a spare ten minutes in order to edit, write, report, or otherwise grow her business, an effort that has always been about strengthening the literary community here in Portland, her adopted city.

One of the points that some of the other ‘Luminaries’ have expounded upon is the breaking away from other people’s expectations as a break for freedom. For Laura, it seems to be more of a synthesis: when the expectations align with her own desire to write, she puts love into the project, and great things happen.

Lucky duck!

laura stanfill pub photo zany authorOne of the most important questions for Laura was the one about balance: What balances you out in life? At first, she couldn’t think past her perfectionist tendencies. But then the little things, those activities that can seep into the cracks of life, showed themselves. Reading for pleasure. Writing her own fiction. Knitting (in a community of knitters). And oh, what’s this in my back pocket?

That’s right: an annual retreat with a few women writer friends, where they isolate themselves in individual cabins for several days, coming together for lunches and dinners to discuss their current works.

Doesn’t that sound divine? (If you are interested in such a thing, DO NOT HESITATE to contact me. I’m totally starting my own!)

One of my other regular questions is about a defining moment, some memory that points the way to what you know you’re meant to do. For Laura, this occurred very early on, and she had a beautiful anecdote about how her passion was lovingly reinforced:

For a 4th grade writing assignment on an everyday object, she chose a red rubber ball. And what did it do? It went on a journey to the Black Forest of Germany and had adventures. The Schwarzvald, people! The teacher conspired with the school librarian to get the story ‘published’ for the school library.

Ms. Stanfill has been writing ever since.

laura stanfill pub photo blue hat

 

Images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Laura Stanfill

Converted Churches find Inspired Uses

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Luminaries broadcast to bring you this very interesting trend:

Churches Converted for Creative Uses

I haven’t been to any churches lately for the purpose for which they were designed. Mainly because the churches of Portland are NEVER OPEN.

nw trinity church portland oregon

But my all-time favorite, due to geographic location, has to be Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness, Scotland.

leakeys bksp fb page cover

Leakey’s has got it all: bloody history as a witness to the aftermath of Culloden, a roaring fireplace in the middle of millions of fragile pages, and not to be outdone, the best millionaire shortbread I’d ever had, at the cozy, 2nd level cafe.

What if you’re tied down to the East Coast of North America however, but you’d like your own patch of stained-glass sunlight, filtering down to entrance you as you peruse works of art? Never fear. Enter Colouratura, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada:

colouratura art gallery nova scotia

(By the way, I discovered Colouratura on my 2012 road trip to Nova Scotia, which also resulted in a certain Dulci’s Legacy…;-)

But what if you still can’t avail yourself of this pleasure, since you live all the way Out West, perhaps near Portland, OR? A-ha! On a Craigslist run for an armchair one day, I  came across this beauty:

battleground wa coffeehouse and deli

I asked about a casual, local spot, and the folks with the chair directed me toward a bunch of chain restaurants. Then they bethought themselves of one other place that I might like, ‘if I went in for that sort of thing.’ Boy, do I ever!

Let me tell you, their deli sandwiches are delicious, and hearty. And it seems like they’ve got some serious latte art going on, judging by their Facebook page. It was hard to get everything in for an interior shot, but here’s my attempt.

interior battle grounds cafe WA

 

So what do you think- will you be haring off to experience on of these finds What’s the best converted use you’ve seen for a church?

Images via BoomerPDX, Leakey’s Bookshop, Colouratura Gallery, and Taste Life Twice