I Found My Heart in San Francisco

This land is your land, this land is my land…

Pandora just happened to settle on these words chirped by Elizabeth Mitchell as we drove from Sausalito to San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge catches my breath every time I see it. At first just peeking over Victorian rooftops and then, in plain, awe-inspiring site. We rented a convertible, because why not on a 24-hour surprise birthday trip to San Francisco with no kids?

Looking up to see nothing but blue sky and “international orange” felt like a mix between Full House dreams and a rollercoaster to freedom. Ryan reached cruising speed and my hands caught the wind above. I was completely overcome by the near perfection of the moment.

The extreme joy I felt, coalesced with an extreme fullness of my dad. Then, a deep longing to have him there with me. To experience joy with him one more time.

If I closed my eyes under the warm sun, I could almost feel him right there next to me. He always said yes to a spontaneous trip. No questions asked, other than, “When are we going?”. Windows down, one hand on the steering wheel and his elbow resting on the side of the car. A baseball cap, Oakley sunglasses, chewing Trident gum, while giving me a half smile that perfectly said, “It doesn’t get much better than this.”

I felt my dad the whole trip. Ryan said he did too. On the flights as my calming voice: “It’s going to be okay. Just enjoy it”. In the butterfly that greeted us halfway up a long hill on our hike in Marin. In the solo mountain biker cruising amidst the expanse of empty trails. In a juicy orange. In the fog horn and the ocean bell.

It’s amazing that my dad was in San Francisco. It confirmed that inkling, that he’s in me. He’s in all of us. He’s everywhere.

So, listen to the songs he loved.
Go to the places he loved to go.
Travel 500 miles away and feel him.
But also, just be. He’s right here.


When I was little I collected erasers. Not just any ordinary erasers, but really neat erasers that were shaped like animals, shoes, lipstick and people. I would play with my eraser collection for hours like each little rubbery item had a pulse.  I would make up stories, sort them in a special order, and never, ever use them for their actual purpose.

I collected baseball cards and barbies (whom I played with until I was much older than the socially acceptable age to do so).

We collect and sort and organize things to feel comfortable, to make sense of what we see and to find order in the chaos. Collections give us a sense of ownership and pride. They make us feel uncommon.

I now collect things that I can’t hold in my hands; love, acceptance, experiences and time. Sometimes they are overflowing, other times, scarce.

One day I will pass along my eraser collection to my daughters, like my mom did for us with with her tiny plastic knick-knack collection.  I hope to also pass along the magnanimous gifts of my soul collection – that transcend both my small grasp and also this lifetime.

I hope they see how hard I am working on this unique collection. That they are moved by the brightness of what they have inherited over the years and have compassion for the rough edges that are still a work in progress.



Lessons from the Desert

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

One saguaro, two saguaro, three saguaro, ten. Hundreds more lifelike cacti appeared as we made our way into the Sonoran Desert, away from the sunset, away from home.

The darkness was more comforting than usual as I lay my head against the cool glass of the car window.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the night sky that looked less like a thin blanket scattered with holes and more like a thick, itchy wool one spangled with stars; the constellations drawn with light. 

There’s something about the desert that feels reliable while I’m unraveling. It’s resilient and can be held accountable. It’s consistent, tried and true. It knows all of the secrets.

Maybe that’s also why I can never seem to get away from it fast enough.

I’m not sure where postpartum ends and grief begins. Entangled ribbons of depression and anxiety. Words that sometimes feel too big and not enough. Words that grow in size when I say them out loud. 

Grief seems to amplify everything. Those uncomfortable particles of myself, old thought patterns and coping habits all come bubbling to the surface.

Those parts I dislike about myself seem to be readily available. But the parts I love, a little more hidden. Where am I amidst the brokenness?

I feel so much less understood in the world without my dad here.  He knew me and respected me; he was like me. We could relate to each other on a soul level.  He was someone who would genuinely listen to my travel itinerary or the intricacies of my work or other important things that many people would lose interest in. Without him here, it feels like one less person who is a mirror to my true self.

My acupuncturist reminded me today that brokenness is actually just a way for the light to come in. In Japanese culture, when a piece of pottery breaks, they seal it with gold in a process called Kintsugi, so that it’s actually worth more than before. Breakage is a part of the history of the object, not something to disguise. 

I like to think I’m being patched up with gold. That all of the light from the stars, all of the love from here and there is all slowly helping me put the pieces back together.

Someday I will feel as light as a road runner across the desert sand. I will feel as sturdy and confident as the Saguaro cactus. An arm here, a nub there, unflappable in harsh conditions…simply unbothered.