My Dad

One of my best friends asked what my favorite memory was of my dad. I couldn’t think of just one.  He gave me so many and so much more than memories—he significantly shaped who I am today. From my favorite sports team, to my pride, and to my love. He also gave me his patience, which is slim to none, and the ability to cry during every pre-dinner prayer.

Dad and me

There are those memories that stand out though, from small moments to large experiences.

I remember my dad, me and my brother in the barn, we must have just got done helping mom feed the horses, and he was giving us pointers on how to protect ourselves. I must have been seven or eight. Telling us to punch with our wrists straight and go for soft spots on people. There were the games of “HORSE and PIG” the three of us would play, because there was no concrete surrounding our lone basketball hoop on the side of shed to play a real game of basketball. Dad won most of those games, Erik some, and me probably none. The laughs and jokes we shared during these moments will last forever.

I remember the excitement of watching the Saints with him. There was more than football during these moments. These were experiences that bonded my dad and I. We would cheer and cuss together and share dad’s homemade guacamole dip. When the Saints kicked that field goal to go to the Super Bowl we called each other and cried together.

There were countless good times with my dad.

  • The parties we would have when dad came back from a trip across the Atlantic—the grill, the music, the land, friends and family, all coming together to have a toast to dad and his crew for making it back safe.
  • Driving the golf cart when I tagged along to go golfing with him and his buddies.
  • Busting our buts down bust you but falls in North Carolina.
  • Dad standing on the sideline during my horse shows.
  • Driving dad to and from Ft. Desoto when he had pilotage jobs – I was so proud of him in those moments. He was sought out by the coast guard to get on another man’s ship and pilot them into the Tampa Bay…..He was the Captain among Captains.
  • His stops in Tallahassee on his way from Tampa to Orange Beach or vice versa.
  • The times when I asked him a history question and he responded with a full answer—he was a man of books, always striving to learn more.

He had an infectious smile and warm hug, a favorite among my friends. Even making an appearance in his whitie tighties once or twice on his way to make coffee in the morning when my girlfriends would spend the night. That was always a conversation piece.

I am so proud to call Captain Mark Anderson my dad. He lived an extraordinary life: a resilient child, world traveler, excelling to the top of his profession, and always being a father to the children he loved so much.  He shaped me by not only his strengths but weaknesses. Love is not perfect because people are not perfect, but I know my dad’s love was deep, true and powerful, just as he was.


Living My Dream

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.
Denis Waitley

My move to Denver is more than a geographic change — it is a personal and professional one.  I have wonderful, inspiring and supportive friends, colleagues and family in Florida — and they shinned so bright as I was departing from Tallahassee.

My mom and me in Dillon, CO. She helped me moved and was so supportive.

My mom and me in Dillon, CO. She helped me move and was so supportive.

A part of me is homesick, feeling a little exposed and raw in this new, vibrant city. My people, my comfort, are not here….but I knew this going into it, and am taking these growing pains in stride. I am putting one foot in front of the other and establishing my life here. Moving to a big city, building my brand and living on my own as a young professional with a bright future — that is living my dream.

Living my dream doesn’t mean I have arrived at heart of it yet, but rather is the daily acts of taking the steps to get there. I am not yet Helen Hunt’s character from What Women Want (only my love interest will not be with someone like Mel Gibson) — but moving, literally, outside of my comfort zone and walking toward my dream IS living it.

Earlier in 2012, I blogged about creating something and building a life that doesn’t involve two weeks of vacation to escape from “reality.” I am making a life built on experiences and personal and professional growth. This year I am walking the walk and embracing the unknown and unexpected — as we all know those are always the brightest, most powerful sparks.


Today I received a hand written letter from my dad. My roommate checked the mail before I got home and when I got home I saw my dad’s handwriting sitting on the dining room table. My eyes lit up – I couldn’t wait to read it. My dad and I have struggled to have a real conversation for a long time. We have not actually talked in years. Words have been spoken, but never communicated. I miss him, and I knew in that letter would be words from dad, true words.

Since I can remember, my dad would write me letters on my birthday, most of the time from sea. The letters had titles like “In the middle of the Gulf” and “Somewhere in the Atlantic.” He was a tug boat captain when I was growing up, so often times he was at sea on my birthdays. We always celebrated when he got back though, usually with a trip to Outback Steak House indulging in a Sinful Sundae.

Reading the letter today with the title “26 days” brought back fond memories and was the start of us reconnecting again. May dad has shaped my life countless ways and has left many sparks burning brightly, and so many more to come.

Living Underneath the Surface of Life

I recently returned from a last minute trip to New Orleans for the celebration of my grandmother’s 85th and aunt’s 60th birthday. I wasn’t going to make the trip because of all the time I had off from my trip to Bali, but was able to remain connected to work during the day and spend quality time with my family at night. Boy, I am glad I made the trip. I am truly lucky to have such a diverse and connected family. We are not perfect and all have our intricate issues, but when we are together, I can see the memories and stories of the past connecting us.

A simple moment of my aunt rubbing my dad’s back during the birthday dinner showed more than her support for him during the most difficult time in his life. That action was the vivid representation of the memories they have shared together from early childhood to El Salvador, living together in the 17th Street Canal area of New Orleans, to California and to Tampa where they each raised their families. It showed the bond between an older sister and younger brother that doesn’t fade with age, but grows stronger with each year and life story told.

My Uncle Scott is the one of the three siblings that never left Louisiana, and he wears it well. He is the funniest person to have around at a party and the best to watch or join on the dance floor. He has season tickets to the New Orleans Saints and was the first person to call me when one of my favorite players, Jeremy Shockey left the team. Every time I visit my uncle, we always find a moment during the visit to spend quality time together. This time we found our moment as we walked back to the apartment from two hours on Bourbon Street with three of our family friends. We had time to talk about the year past, moments in our childhoods that are less favored and the relationship we have with our siblings. I can always count on Uncle Scott to speak about life on a level far beyond the surface, and I value the time spent with him.

Uncle Scott and me during the Superbowl 2010

My grandmother was ecstatic about all of the family and friends in town for her party. She has always been a  social butterfly and values her family  more than anything. She is still the lone Republican, clinging to her love for Ronald Reagan. I have to admit, I respect her for her strong hold to her beliefs, especially in a family where being a Republican is not easy. She has always been strong and innovative. Her children call her their rock growing up. When she got divorced at a late age, she started her own business, Chevere. It is still open today, under a new name, Rollick, and managed by her granddaughter, Anika, in Atlanta.

Grandma blowing out her candles

The day after the birthday dinner was held, Aunt Kris, Anika, my dad and I went up to the jacuzzi on the roof of the apartment building. It was probably 60 degrees outside and we just dangled our lower legs in the water. It was so amazing. I find a similar peace being above the noise of a city and being on top of a quiet mountain. What I found during this moment was a pause in the lives my family has lived and embraced the moment we were in. My dad had a look of clarity in his eyes that I have not seen in a while. It was as if he was above more than the noise of the city, but above the weight of life. I cherish that moment of clarity, that spark.

My dad above the noise of the city

New Orleans will always be one of the largest sparks in my life, ignited by more than the sounds of the street car, the French Quarter, live music and the Who Dat Nation. My spark is also ignited by what was already created before I was born, through the lives of my family.

Journey with my Soul Sista

There are people in our lives that we connect with on a soulful level. Sometimes the person is only in our lives for a short time and sometimes they are with us for the long haul. These people spark us into turning new leaves and allow us to connect with life on a deeper level.  My cousin and I have had many soulful moments during our trip to Bali. I think the atmosphere of being so far away from our day-to-day lives in the States and the current stages our lives are in have allowed us to reconnect.  We are soul sistas!

A couple of days ago we set out to find a few resort type hotels we researched in the countryside of the Ubud area. We are staying in a great location, but wanted to spoil ourselves with a kick ass view for a night or two. We set out on our motor bikes, which is freeing in of itself. We cruised past seas of green, consisting of rice fields, Alang Alang (the grass thatched roofs are made out of) and palm trees. We traveled down back roads in search of the resorts on our list, but Google maps aren’t very accurate here. When we couldn’t find one of the resorts on our list, we stopped at Kupu Kupu Barong Villas and Tree Spa. When we arrived we were taken back by the beauty of this place.

Entrance to Spa at Kupu Kupu

We immediately saw the spa was by L’occitane and knew we were out of our league with price as we walked into the lobby to confirm our suspicion. We were correct. Kupu Kupu was about $350.00 USD above our budget. However, the view from the lobby was the most breath taking view I have ever seen. A table for two was surrounded by water encompassed in dark tile, placed on the edge of a ridge overlooking the Ayung River Valley. The staff let us stay for 15 minutes as we took in the beauty of the location.

Picture does not do this view at Kupu Kupu justice

We set off to find Bali Rich Villas, but found them with no luck. As we were driving back toward the center of Ubud, the sky opened up. We pulled over and put our ponchos on. We wanted to get off of the road, so we followed signs to Rijasa Agung. When we entered the lobby we were giddy with excitement as we saw the view.

Pool View at Rijsa

It was breath taking even though it was raining. The price of the room was in our budget too! We decided to stay for a late lunch at their restaurant, Sayong Ayung. Our pasta was delicious. We talked for over an hour about the events in our lives and what may be to come. As the rain died down we headed back to our hotel, Panorama. We hope to stay at Rijasa one night before I leave, but it depends on business activities for Rollick that need completion. Even if we do not end up staying there during this trip, the memories of the journey with my soul sister that day will last a lifetime.

The Day I Went to Uluwatu

Before my aunt and cousin went out shopping for the day, they rode into the city to find a driver to take me to Uluwatu. They found Ketut, a tall local man who said he would be my driver for three hours for the cost of 250,000 rupiah (approx. $30.00 USD). He had a skater style with a full sleeve of tattoos and many other random tattoos covering his body. I did not see the tatted chest though.

I felt silly for not speaking any Indonesian during the trip. All we had to work with was his minimal English vocabulary which was difficult to understand.  As we struggled through conversation we discovered a lot of commonalities among each other, such as our age, how we prefer the countryside over the club AND, of course, how we both have Facebook accounts. We have completely different backgrounds, but as young and hip adults, we were similar in many ways.

The drive was about 45 minutes to the temple in Uluwatu. When we arrived, we had to place yellow and purple fabric around our waists as skirts. This is etiquette for the Hindu religion. As we entered the path to the temple, we were surrounded by monkeys! There were families of them, little babies and all.

We were not allowed to enter the temple, but walked the path surrounding it and edging around the island. I wanted a picture of both of us, because I thought Ketut was cool and I wanted to document the person who I spent a lot of my day with. He, however, pulled me in for a close picture and tried to hold my hand as we walked the path. If you think this is awkward when you speak the same language as someone pulling something like this, think about how awkward it is when you don’t speak the language. He was pretty cool once I pulled my hand away, but I was not expecting him to go for it with me. Makes for an interesting story though. 🙂

After reflecting over the trip with my cousin later that night we spoke about how minimalized communication can be with someone who speaks a different language than you. Questions are shortened to “You like?” and “You want go?” As Americans, we do not have to interact with people who speak a completely different language than us every day in order to make a living. And if these people do speak a different language, they usually know a decent amount of English to get by, unlike myself who depend on the Balinese to know a little English to help me get by.

Bali’s economic engine is tourism. Tourists come from all over; Australia, America, Japan, China and Europe. I can’t imagine struggling to make conversation with the people I do business with or serve on a daily basis. The Balinese achieve this with such patience. As I returned to our hotel in Seminyak, I felt reviled to carry on a conversation with my family in my own language. We were able to converse about everything under the sun, something I have not appreciated until my trip to Uluwatu.

Uluwatu resembles a place that I have only previously seen in Hollywood movies. As I was thinking about where I was on the map as I was looking at the Indian Ocean from the cliff, I was taken aback by the beauty the earth has to offer. I yearned to sit on the edge and listen to the waves crashing on the rocky earth for hours. It is amazing that this little island offers home to its people and its visitors and ends in such a beautiful way as it hits the ocean. I can’t imagine a better place for a temple to be located. A higher power sure shines with the view offered in Uluwatu.

21 Airtime Hours Later

As I type this I am sitting in a thatched roof covered bed by the pool in Seminyak, Bali. My aunt and cousin have left on the moped to do more shopping for their store, Rollick, in Atlanta. I, however, haven’t braved driving in the streets yet. There literally are no rules of the road, everyone honks and I am certain driving on the left hand side of the road will throw me for a loop. I will rent a moped when we get to Ubud, a less busy village on Monday. Listening to the pool’s waterfall and the wind from the storm rolling in blow through the elephant ears and palm trees offer the peace I am seeking at this moment.


Poolside in Seminyak

The first day (yesterday, January 6) we walked and shopped for seven hours straight.  I have never seen such incredible stitch work and creative design in apparel before.  Despite the runway designed clothing, the combination of the Bali heat, sore tailbones from the airplane and seven hours on our feet in sandals kicked us right into bed at 6:00 p.m.

Busy Streets of Seminyak:

We awoke at 12:45 a.m. and had an insightful conversation on our balcony that I am certain was fueled by the environment and the company. We spoke about the sparkle we have already ignited in our lives, such as our ability to embrace emotion. After all, what is living without feeling ALL of it, the pain and the joy?

We also conversed about the sparkle we wish to ignite in our lives such as the ability stop and allow ourselves perspective and insight among life’s clutter, or as I refer to it, life’s camouflage. Perspective and insight are nearly impossible to obtain in the fast pace life the three of us live without consciously hitting the pause button.

Last night’s spark – “Stopping and allowing myself the time to develop my own philosophies and embrace the energy around me is necessary for a bright existence.”

Preview of my next blog, my visit to Uluwatu – This is where I wish I could hit the pause button everyday: