Train to Portland for WDS

This weekend I set out on a terrific adventure to WDS, the World Domination Summit, in Portland. Here I am living in Seattle, with a bunch of options to get to the event. I can catch a plane, which is quick, but means standing around in airports. I could drive, but wouldn’t be able to read a book or write along the way. A train seemed like the best choice. It took only 4 hours, and is one of the best ways to see the water on the way down to Portland. The tracks are, in some places, only fifteen to twenty feet from the shore. I traveled business class to ensure I could plug in my laptop (a Surface Pro). There is a piece of fiction I’ve been working on, and the characters were calling for my attention.

On the train

On the train

Views on the way

Views on the way

Arriving at King Street Station, I stood in a modest line, only 5 people, to wait for the conductor. I had my e-ticket in hand. He let me know to go to the ticket office for seat assignment. Another short line, only two this time, later, I had a single seat and a coupon for a three dollar discount at the bistro car. All aboard carriage one, and quickly settled down to enjoy the experience. One of the most relaxing things about trains is the rocking rhythm, together with the speed. We had a few stops along the way to wait for freight trains, but none of them too long. We arrived at Union Station in Portland right on time. A quick ride later had me at the Hotel Modera, close to where the WDS events would be held. Close, I found in Portland, was a relative term. It was about nine blocks, and flat shoes were a good thing to have packed.

Hotel Modera view

Hotel Modera view

The summit was a melange of interesting people, great presentations on the main stage, and meetups that were put together by participants. Those were one of my favorite parts of the event, the people. I met folks from different countries, had a wonderful lunch of fresh seasonal foods, visited the farmer’s market. Best breakfast ever. Fresh biscuits with brown mushroom gravy and a fried egg. Delicious. And there was a bunch of walking. Portland is a city for pedestrians. There’s a lovely green belt on SW Park Street, that ribbons down, cooler than the surrounding streets, to Director Park. That was essential this weekend as the weather turned up the heat to the 90’s. Still, we kept hydrated, met loads of excited entrepreneurs, artists, writers and performers, all making the most of the weather and the chance to swap stories. I went to parties, acquired a temporary tattoo, and ate pie at Petunia’s Pies. On Saturday evening I celebrated the full moon with cocktails at the Nines, meeting some women with wonderful creative projects, and got to brainstorm book ideas with some great folks caring for animals.

Potatoes with beet salad

Potatoes with beet salad

The food in Portland is amazing. Fresh. Seasonal. Well prepared and delicious. Can’t wait to make another train trip with my sweetie to enjoy it again.

I am already planning to go to WDS next year, and am grateful to Lawrence and Sameer for recommending the experience. Also much gratitude to Chris and all the ambassadors for making it a memorable occasion. Thanks guys!

WDS has already been a success for me. I just finished the last 5,000 words of my novel and put it in the hands of my alpha reader today for feedback. Props to the summit for getting me unblocked. Don’t know how 5,000 words happened along with everything else, but am all fired up to continue on to the next book in the series. Now on to the next thing cousins. One step at a time.

Hope everyone else had a great time. I did. Will be reaching out to folks I met and chatted with over the next few days. There is at least one collaboration I’m excited about, and likely more.

Movies that make me happy

I get my love of movies from my parents. When I was a sprat, I’d try all kinds of strategies to stay up later and watch movies with my parents. They liked musicals and westerns, dramas and comedies, love stories and tales of swashbuckling pirates. It often surprises me how much we talked about the stories, and about the books that inspired them. Years later, what I remember most is the movies that were just about feeling good. Some were diversions created to boost morale during the Second World War; others were pure entertainment created in the era of the Hollywood studio machine. As a family, we loved the classics best.

Harvey – about a six foot tall white invisible phouka called Harvey, and his gently alcoholic and pleasant human companion, Elwood P Dowd, or is that vice versa? I loved this tale at the time, and it continues to be one of my favorite movies of all time.

Mary Poppins – I loved the books, the stage play is terrific, and the Disney movie is a lot of fun too. The wind changes, and blows in a new nanny for the children of this family. Mary Poppins is part fairy, part witch, and all about improbable circumstances. Whimsical and serious by turns, it features Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, and Dick Van Dyke in a range of roles.

Auntie Mame – Who wouldn’t want an Aunt like Mame? Eccentric, bohemian, extravagant and devoted to her nephew. Another wonderful musical.

Singing in the Rain– One of many great Gene Kelly dance movies.One of my first leading men, I fell for his charm, his smile, and the way he was comfortable in his body, a wonderful choreographer and dancer. Another favorite with him as leading man was For Me and My Gal.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown – A wonderful tale of an indominatable woman who was rescued from a river as a child, grew into a tomboy determined to marry a rich man, and who was brassy, bold and determined to live the good life. Through various trials and tribulations, adulation and rejection, she found her way into people’s hearts as a hero who saved people from a sinking ship, the Titanic. The critics didn’t always love this movie, but we did. It’s outrageous, over the top, and delightful.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Being passionate

I just found this terrific quote about love and passion, and about how passion ignites our imagination, from Joss Whedon, and it inspired me to think about what passion means to me. It is red. Passion is sex and creativity, energy and vitality. It is about being alive, about all the brain cells firing…feelings running wild like lightning, inspiring us to move, move move. To me it is that voice in the back of my brain saying “do something, do something”, anything. Make stuff. Make love. Make art. Make connections.

Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank… – Joss Whedon

I cannot imagine life without connection, without passionate, committed opinions about things. I am a definite kind of person; guess I have been for as long as I can remember, even as a little girl. Almost especially as a little girl. I love storytellers and tales about heroes, and I love the story about the young person making their way in the world, growing into it, becoming someone unexpected. All of these tales have, as part of them, people who are willing to put their feelings on the line, to tell it like it is, to stand up for what they believe in. For me, that is one of the core things about happiness and love. For me, you are as defined by those things you stand against, as by those things you stand for. Standing against injustice, standing for honor and honesty and the struggle to be real. Those are the beginning of the things I care about.

And I care about the little stuff, because there is, in a sense, no little stuff. Being mean is not an option. One of my favorite movies is “Harvey”, and the character of Elwood P. Dowd. He says at one point that his mother had given him advice about there being two kinds of people in the world, ones who were oh so pleasant, and ones who were oh so clever. And he said he’d tried both, and preferred the former. I have a terrific friend who reminds me very much of this character. While she is wicked smart, she prefers to be pleasant. And that makes her great to be around. At the same time, she is very passionate about life, people and books. And that makes her even more fun.

Any time you can share praise, give honest appreciation, be kind to someone, you’re making another connection in the world, becoming a more passionate and connected person. I believe that to love deeply, it is important to be passionate, enthusiastic, and caring about the people you interact with in the world. Be passionate. Anything else lacks conviction.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Attitudes of gratitude

There’s a fabulous book about gratitude by M J Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude. I like it so much, I give copies to friends, recommend it, and keep a lending copy on hand as well. Go buy it. One of her first quotes is from Milton Erickson. He was an amazing M.D. who worked out useful things about how people think, and applied that knowledge to helping people make changes in their lives.

  • Life will bring you pain all by itself.
  • Your responsibility is to create joy.

She goes through the book giving examples of how to give and receive joy every day of your life. She talks about ways that gratitude erases worry, increases health, and enhances relationships, and it in this relationship area I want to focus today.

For years, my sweetie has put out vitamins for me in the morning, knowing that I stumble around for the first half hour, and likely would not open all the bottles to make decisions about what to take. This act of service, of thoughtfulness, tells me every day how much I am appreciated. It makes me grateful for the care, and the love in the gesture, especially as it is not something I take for granted. Every day, I walk to the same place in the kitchen and put on some tea, and right there is a dish (usually a pretty glass one) with my vitamins in it. it feels like am embrace; every day it makes me smile. Once I’ve taken the vitamins, I can go to my desk, and drink the tea while it is still hot.

During the day, we send notes in email, sometimes a picture or a link to a fun article. These are all ways of showing our appreciation for each other’s time. That way, when we see each other, we can be in the moment, and present.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Feeding your love

I feel such gratitude that my love has dinner for me when I get in at night. He works at home, and this is one of the way he takes care of me. Sometimes he gets us take-out from a local restaurant, and other times I arrive home to the delicious scent of roasting potatoes and onions, baked in the oven. He is terrific at making chili, pasta and scrambling up cheesy eggs. These may seem like simple foods, yet they are spiced with love, stirred in as they are made.

I want to also show my love by cooking, however, work and time is against me in this desire. I love being in the kitchen, measuring, making sauces, the smell of baking. Adding love to the alchemy of making a meal is one of my favorite things. I tend to save my cooking efforts for the weekends, where I can surprise him with hot cornbread, home-made french toast with nutmeg and cream. We love to work together and chop vegetables for a big stew we can eat during the week, or make various kinds of curry.

Love is what nourishes me, and simple comfort foods tell me that all is well with my world.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Generosity in relationships

Generosity is one of the more significant things we can bring to our relationships. What we give to others willingly lets our partners, our children, or our friends, know that we value them. There are so many ways we can give of ourselves, whether that is in terms of time, of helping each other out, of being present and listening to each other.

My wonderful spouse and I like to find each other small gifts that the other will appreciate; a book, a perfect leaf, a movie, a scented rose, love notes or music, gifts of service or help with a project, comfy socks or gloves. Truly, the list is endless, but that’s not the bit that matters. The important thing about these small gifts is that it tells us that we are in each other’s minds and hearts as we move through our day, and through the world.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved