Picasso Inspirations

I began this journey, inspired by many of my favorite bloggers. Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl, Dana at Phat Duck in the Pastry Department (now over at Tasting Menu), Heidi with her fabulous 101 Cookbooks...I could go on and on.

My dear friend Shauna said it took more than a month to find her voice.

For me, it's taking much longer.

And since I was under the influence of some fabulous food bloggers, originally, I started to head down that path. Yes, I've got backdoor access to some fabulous professional kitchens. And I like to cook. But that's not the sum total of my parts.

When I write, the culmination of me comes along for the ride. And I am so much more than the food hobby that's recently taken over my life. So, dear reader, if you came here to read about food blogging, I'm sorry. That's just one aspect of my life, which is shrinking as we speak. (Don't fret. I'm not giving it up...just exploring other interests as well...art, literature, music, travel, etc.)

Of course people evolve.

Perhaps that explains why I'm unable to make a definitive statement about myself. Just as soon as I become comfortable with one label, I'm off exploring something completely unrelated. While others note their lives in chapters, mine is a series of vignettes. Beautiful, short, and oh-so-fleeting...

I think about Picasso.

As an artist, he evolved with such distinct styles...that his career is marked in circa form. "And here we have the blue period, then the rose period, followed by the cubist period (a pioneering art style, radical during its time, now highly distinct and identifiable)....next is the war period..."

I'm more like Picasso than Degas.

Do you know Degas? For a career that spans over 50 years, he is known as the "Painter of Dancers" and more specifically, ballet dancers. Of course he dabbled in other things, but over his lifetime, dancers figure prominently (over 1,500 completed pieces).

I'm so NOT like Degas. I have no singular focus.

Recently I was reading this manifesto on "How to Be Creative." It's a fabulous read...highly recommended. The takeaway for me was: don't follow the crowd. In fact, if you want to be creative, ignore the crowd. Develop your own style.

A Picasso always looks like a Picasso....and no other.

This is true.

No matter what style his work manifests, it always looks like a Picasso.

So here and now, I'm giving myself permission to carve out my own story.

To be sure, it's a lengthy work in progress.

I wish I liked outlines more...and could give you an insight where I'm going, but the truth is, I have no idea.

I've got one eye on those folks who live deeply entrenched with a plan and a knowing order to their lives.

That's not me.

While perception makes me think...it must be a relief...to have a plan...and live an ordered route on the roadmap of life. But I think that's a wish from my festering, restless soul. Some days, my soul just needs some quiet time. Unforgiving, my incessant thoughts roll on, without relief.

The truth is, no matter how much I admire those folks with a need for order, most of the time...I find them BORING AS HELL!

Auntie Mame and I have more in common.

In the movie, she reaches her head back and shouts, "I want to live, live, LIVE!"

I know what she means. As much as I wrestle with living an ordinary life, I must concede....I'm in step with a different drummer.

In sum, I'm on a life long journey of exploration.

That's all I can say.

The fragmented pieces of my life may never land me a book deal, but every day, I'm stretching in an attempt to live the best life I know how.

As luck would have it, in spite of a lack of labels, that life has become something truly extraordinary.

And it's getting better every day.

Those who know me well, have heard more than once: "When I'm old and grey, sitting around telling tales to anyone who will listen...I want to have the BEST stories!" It's true. That's my quest.

This chapter in my evolution will be known as: The Seattle Period. It's been hedonistically rich with experiences...and I am drunk with gratitude. No doubt.

If I were a tree, you'd see...this period has been marked by explosive growth. It is the time where my limbs stretched towards the heavens. My roots are digging deep into the ground, searching for new sources of nutrients...while simultaneously providing an anchor to weather the storms.

Perhaps one day, someone will want to climb among the branches...or even build a tree house, but for now, all of the energy is being concentrated....

...for she is about to bloom, again.

The Power of Attraction

My friend Elizabeth is a hopeless romantic. Mention two people together in the same story...and things come to a grinding halt. "Wait! How did they meet?"

I had no idea.

Then one weekend, Elizabeth and I took a road trip. We gabbed the entire way...burning up the highway miles with hours and hours of conversation. When we arrived at our destination, I spilled out of the car, my head pulsing from the constant talking. Definitely a girl's trip. And during the drive, I must have heard it a hundred times...."How did they meet????"

I laugh a little now...because I've adopted the same fascination.

Two people, walking down the street. One is late for work, the other is lost. Neither of them is supposed to be there at that moment...and suddenly...they connect.

I'm intrigued by the randomness....

Why here?

Why now?

Why you?


I spend my life making strategic connections. So when the people in my world meet...it's anything but random.

But every now and then...the unexpected happens.

Two people connect.

And when it happens to me?

I am deeply humbled.


Flashback, two years ago.

I'm standing in the kitchen.

At a hostel.

While nursing my first cup of coffee, I watch this guy make a waffle. Since I've never made a waffle before, I asked him how it works.


That's how we met.

I'm in Tucson for a wedding; he'd been in town all week for a conference. As luck would have it, we both picked the same day to see the city. Since he knew the lay of the land and I had a rental car, we joined forces.

It started amicably.

He showed me where the old city district was, pointed out a few highlights and then we drove out to the newer side of town. Consulting my guide book, we found a place to have lunch. Detouring on the way back, we found this amazing piñata shop...with an Easter bunny piñata as tall as him!

We had Seattle in common. He lived here as a university student...and left the same year I arrived.

That evening, wedding festivities kicked in and I was expected to be at the rehearsal dinner/bbq. Since it was an informal affair, I asked if I could bring a guest. (My friend Pete still teases me about finding a date at the hostel!) We had a lovely time together but it was short lived. He was flying out the next day.

By day 2, over coffee and waffles...I could barely contain my grin.

We made plans to see an outdoor art show, and then I would take him to the airport. But I when joined him to head out for the day, he had a surprise...

"Do you want me to stay?"

My inner voice shouted from the rooftops, YES!!! But logic prevailed, "What about your conference in San Francisco?"

While I was getting ready, he'd planned an alternative. There were no other flights leaving for San Francisco that day, but if he took a late night bus, he could catch an early flight from Phoenix. This way, he could go to the wedding with me, and still make it to the conference.

I was deliriously happy.

We headed out for the art show and with crystal clear skies, he brought an umbrella. I thought it was strange, but soon forgot about it. Then, as the midday sun grew stronger, I figured out what the umbrella was for. He brought it to shield my fair Irish skin from the sun.

Until that day, I swear, I'd never met a more thoughtful man.

Pete's wedding was a costumed 1920's affair. With feathers flying from my pink boa, we danced to the full brass band. I felt a little like Cinderella when the time arrived...and I needed to take him to the bus. It was inevitable. We'd delayed his departure as long as possible.

I saw him once more just a few weeks later. On a long layover in Seattle, we met at the airport.

In quick succession...there were too many good byes....

Eventually, life returned to normal. His hectic work in Switzerland, mixed with an erratic international travel schedule. And for me? An equally crazy schedule and a new career. Not exactly an ideal match.

Before long, our time together in Arizona slipped into a fond memory....

Then, a couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail. He was coming to Seattle...and would I join him for dinner? It had been two years since I last saw him. This was probably just a friendly dinner. Maybe he was seeing someone....A thousand thoughts raced through my head.

The day arrived and I drove to our agreed upon location. He stepped out of his car, wearing a smile that was positively electric! Without hesitation, he leaned in and kissed me.

We went to dinner and it was that delirious kind of evening where...we didn't care what we ate...or where we went. Easy conversation quickly fell into place and we talked well into the night.

As we walked the city streets, a light rain began to fall. He pulled out an umbrella and we huddled underneath it. I had to smile. There he was....shielding me, again.

What does the rest of the story hold?

I don't know.

But Elizabeth, if you're reading this...your hopeless romantic heart is well-placed. And this one, I can answer:

We met. Over waffles. At a hostel. In Tucson, Arizona.

(To be continued....)


Today I ended up in the most random place--a teriyaki joint north of Seattle...all decked out in Sumo icons. Sitting at the counter, looking out on newspaper boxes and wayward shopping carts, I giggled a little when I took this shot. Sumo wrestlers in my rice bowl...oh my!

Adorning the walls are framed months from a calendar...and the images center on...post-sumo employment. Seriously!

Pardon the glare...but I just HAD to share this with you. This was one of my favorite career options:

Sumo stripper anyone?

The Secret

"You were my secret hero."

I stood in the grocery store, reading a magazine article in the check out line. Tears threatened to roll down my face. Had I not closed the page, the article surely would have turned me into a blubbering mess.

I've hit that stage in my life.

I'm acutely aware of the people in my world...and exactly how much they mean to me. Each one, in their own special way...has left an indelible footprint.

And I am forever grateful.

Perhaps it's because I never expected to live this long.

For reasons I can't quite explain...I never expected to live past 25. As the days mounted and the birthdays followed suit, you can imagine my surprise when I hit 30!

Somewhere between 25 and 30, with my self-fulfilling prophecy failing...I realized that if I was going to be on this planet, I better get my $%#& together. And since I never expected to live even this long...today, I live like I'm on borrowed time (just in case the prophecy had a margin of error).

Like weeding through your closets before moving day, I laid out the elements of my life before me...and started cleaning house. That longtime relationship that was broken beyond repair? It quickly went in the junk pile. Dysfunctional job? Gone. The friend who languished in the corner with the occasional coffee dates...the one who thought I was fabulous and gave me the biggest hugs? I finally realized its value. That got elevated status...and was enrobed with my best bubble wrap.

While I divvied up my past into heaping piles of treasure and trash...I was overcome by what laid before me. I hate to acknowledge it, but the trash pile was HUGE!

Echoing in the distance, I could hear, "Yes, Traca. This, this is YOUR LIFE."

I know.
After cleaning house, it's not uncommon to think, "How did I accumulate so much junk?" The question was especially difficult when I had to admit...yes, this IS my life.
Frankly, I needed a garage sale...ASAP!

Without dwelling too much on why my life was in that state, instead, I focused repairing things. And I was determined to build up the treasure pile.

Over the past few years, I'm happy to say that the treasure pile has grown significantly. Luckily, I now find myself surrounded by a slew of people I respect and admire. In fact, these days...my treasure pile makes Mount Everest look like a speed bump!

And the trash pile? After all the time and effort it took to remove that pile of junk, I keep a vigilant watch. Life is short, and I simply don't have time for junk anymore.

"You were my secret hero."

Standing in the grocery store, I was moved beyond belief...reading a story about a girl who had died. Post-mortem, her friends finally acknowledged how much she meant to them.

Reading that article, I realized:

1) I've built myself a fantastic life (disregard any opinions held by financial planners)

2) More importantly....I never want to say that about my friends.

My thought is this: I want the people in my life to know how much I love them...without a shaddow of a doubt. Cards, letters, voicemails, care packages, and plain ole' face-to-face, I make a habit of saying, "I love you." It's a small gesture, but in the end, hopefully it will make a difference.
Folks, there are secrets you keep...and others you don't. If you love someone, let them know.

Moments of regret come all too easily...

Spotlight: NuNomad

Like any new venture, it pays to do your research.

This weekend I've been looking into round the world options and work abroad. While I've worked as a waitress and bartender, I'd rather not got back to it...even if I was on a beach in some tropical isle. I'm looking for something more substantial...and well...different.

One of my favorite sayings is, "While you're thinking about it...someone else is doing it."

The trick is to find out...who?

Today, I stumbled on NuNomad. The site is run by executives and consultants who travel around the world...working from a laptop and an international phone. What's the difference between my office in Seattle and a beach in Indonesia? With the advancing technology...not much.

NuNomad covers vital topics like passport assistance, finding the right global phone, and a laptop that will work anywhere. I've got much more research to do, but this is an excellent start.

Living the dream life? These NuNomads are making it happen.