adventure

Sand For Days

As part of my coastal Oregon series, this particular writing is dedicated to the amazing experience I had on the Oregon Sand Dunes. So much fun that I had to write about it in just one post. All by itself.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t visualize the beauty of the dunes or the depth of how far the dunes stretched. I did however catch a glimpse of the dunes roadside where there was an enormous hill of sand with a four wheeler going down it. I silently thought to myself no way. That is way too high for me.

We were lucky to get on the ATV tour as that was the best way to see the shore and the dunes in what I called the safest option for our trio to navigate the dunes as first timers. 30-40 mph on the climbs and the descents were so fast I didn’t even check the speedometer. 26 miles we rode round trip. Nobody flipped. Nobody got stuck. It was a success. This Bay Bridge photo is hard to capture in a photo meaning the in person view seems 1,000 times nicer. 

So much beauty. Such a thrill ride. One of travel buddies said this is definitely a top 10 experience. I would have to agree. I will definitely find my way back to this coast to tackle the dunes again. Not sure when but I will make time for sure.

We had a great guide and we even did some bowl rides at the end. It is hard to explain but you ride the dunes sideways up and down like you were in a bowl. You have to hit the right speed and maintain or your could roll! Just an exhilarating experience. This is also very different from the straight up climb to the straight down descent where you actually can’t see what is ahead of you when you then begin this descent.

This adventure covers the dunes and plenty of play time riding. From the natural bumps or jumps on the main road trail to the coolness of passers by. Everyone added flair to their personal rides with cool flags, political flags, neon lights, and so on.  Our adventure also covered the trip to the ocean to ride along the water. This was another breathtaking sight to see. The large ocean waves were just feet away pounding the shore while you zipped by. There was a fog in the air making the visibility low but the air was cool and crisp off the water. 

This adventure comes with a few $$$ on the review but if you take into account gas prices, the equipment used on the terrain and the guide it is well worth it. The family that owned our rental company was super focused on customer service which I also appreciated.

Can’t wait to come back to this coast and hit more spots along the way. Such a beautiful place to spend some time off the grid.

awareness, challenges

Divorce

The D word. The word many find impolite. The word many hide from talking about. I suppose that is why I decided to blog about the topic.

In life the word divorce comes up a lot. I think the latest stat shows 44% per google for 2022 referring to marriages that end in divorce. Keeping with this it’s healthy to talk about it. It might also take time for those getting divorced to process and work through the life changes.

In any situation many have to weigh pros and cons. Dividing wealth. Separating living spaces. Was infidelity involved? Are kids part of the equation? Was there a trigger that caused the road leading to divorce?

No matter where you start the process. No matter where you end up after the divorce. You will move on. You will prosper in time. You will find your way. You will be able to spread your wings again. I have hope for you. I have hope for your soon to be ex-partner.

Difficult roads are ahead but in time the path will clear for both of you. Strength, resilience, and positive attitudes will help ease the heartaches and headaches as you move through these uncharted grounds.

To all those out there starting this process, amidst the chaos of divorce, living the aftermath, or even co-parenting. I see you pushing forward. I see you making strides. Never give up. There is a place for you in this world even on your darkest day.

Should you know somebody struggling in this area be a good listener. Never cast judgment until you have officially walked a day in their shoes. Which of course is impossible. Be that person they remember that loved them when they didn’t love themselves the way they should.

Make the D word more about your growth than your past. Your past is something you learn from your destiny still lies ahead. The future for you is brighter than you know.

challenges, dare to be different

Don’t Say Gay

“I am not gay!”

…the cry came from behind the swings. Then the young man came streaking across the playground toward the tall trees. “I am NOT gay! I AM NOT GAY!” Screamed with the terror of trying to outrun the boogie man, a cloud of cooties, a wild black bear and the abominable snowman all at once.

This summer, I am teaching third grade students. They are 9 or 10 years old. This is one interaction I witnessed this week on the playground.

I started the calm walk over to talk with him and the other boys who had been taunting him.

“What is going on?” I asked them. The conversation quietly began. One sheepishly admitted to calling another one gay. The one who used the word hung his head as he fessed up.

I hear over and over again that if we talk about gay families or students in elementary school, we are exposing them to this content way too early. Here’s the thing this playground taunt reminded me: THIS SO-CALLED “MATURE CONTENT” IS ALREADY THERE. It is already in our schools.

Some of our students have same-sex parents. They have siblings who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not to mention aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Then there are relationships they see in the media. Some of our elementary students even know they are in one of these groups, even if they don’t have the words for it yet. The vast majority of kids in our schools already know about this through observation and experience, just as they know about heterosexual relationships from a huge variety of sources.

Here’s what I know: if adult professionals in schools avoid talking about this topic at all, it is allowed to run rampant with misconceptions and ignorance. When I told these young men (really, they are boys) that being gay is not an awful thing, it’s just how some people are, their eyes popped and their jaws dropped. I could tell they had not heard that before.

I can’t allow students to run around on playgrounds and call people gay as if that is the worst thing they could be. How would a gay classmate feel, or a classmate with same sex parents?

Is it any wonder the rate of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts is higher among LGBTQ young people if their identity is used as an insult? And adults just stand by and watch it happen?

I get it…It’s not always easy to talk about for people of many ages. One of my daughter’s friends who came out in the past couple of years saw me at a party recently. She said “Miss Beth, you forgot to wish me a Happy Pride Month!” I hugged her and wished her Happy Pride Month with a smile. I love seeing her come into her own and embrace her truth.

Then I showed her my watch face, which made her eyes light up. I have my Apple Watch set on one of the new Pride faces. It may seem little, but even small signals to young people that they are seen, accepted, and embraced for who they are matter. And I will continue to say it and show it in whatever ways I can.

challenges

The Off Season

I am a teacher. I work from 8:00 am (or earlier) until 4:00 pm 190 days a year. During those hours I am a role model for little kids, a good colleague to my co-workers, and so on. What happens when I head out to stores to do errands after school?

As an elementary school teacher, I honestly still watch myself a lot of the time. I know I could look up at a store or restaurant and see little eyes looking up at me with an incredulous squeal: Mom, it’s Dr. Friese!! This has happened many times. For that reason, I can’t be cursing or loading up on margaritas when I am out and about, especially within a certain radius of my school.

This self-censorship of sorts extends to social media. I rarely post anything except for very “innocent” family or fitness updates. I stay out of photos where drinking or other grown-up activities are involved. I don’t post political content as much as I can avoid it. I have just a handful of select parents who can see what I post. Otherwise, I just refuse most of those requests, but I am still aware than many people could be looking. I sit through legal presentations each year that share examples of teachers losing their jobs because they post themselves doing legal, adult things online that a parent used against them. Better safe than sued or jobless is my mindset, I guess.

Some comments lately had me wondering if this is fair…as a teacher, I feel expected to hold up some sort of rated-G moral standard no matter where I am. The other roughly 14 hours a day and 175 days a year I am not at school, I often mentally steer away from situations where I can be captured doing “inappropriate” things. But is it fair to expect that I’ll just be basically angelic most of the time? Is being a teacher what I do or who I am? Who gets to decide?

Others close to me have been in this situation lately as well. A friend who is a nurse had a family member go through a medical crisis. She wasn’t completely happy with the way all the care was going and let the staff know it. She wasn’t ugly or unreasonable as much as firm and inquisitive. She was told she wasn’t being professional. But her role in this situation was that of a family member advocating for her parents’ health. Does she have to be a professional even in her personal life?

What other jobs seem to carry the expectation of acting a certain way 24/7/365… am I always a mother? A father? How about the captain of an athletic team? Do I have to behave “as a captain” even in the off season? What does that mean? If I am a forklift operator or a chef, I don’t have the weight of those jobs following me around all the time. How about an athletic coach to young people? A politician? A priest? A police officer? Why do some jobs or roles become identities and others allow you to clock out and just be who you are?

I don’t have solutions for this. It just troubles me how some jobs or roles are seen as 24/7 while others can be left behind when work is over. It’s not even the highest paid people who can just shed their professions at will. Some onlookers use these roles as a weapon when they don’t like what you are doing. (Heaven forbid you’re a teacher and post something with spelling errors!)

In the end, we are all just human, with likes and dislikes, flaws and foibles and lives outside of our work. Just a few early morning thoughts.

adventure

It’s in the Details

A surprise picnic. The weather wasn’t great. We didn’t even really know the area. The option to hike it in would have been too much to carry.

A friend scouted a park with a pavilion. We wandered in tandem with the vague directions we had, then finally stumbled on the spot.

The coolers, tucked in the back of the jeep for hours, and boxes and bags were ported out. Then the spoiling began.

A white tablecloth was the foundation. Topped by a fall-themed tablecloth with muted hues. Draped with care over the metal picnic table. Then, fancy bamboo plates and utensils. Yellow napkins folded at each place. Then, the finishing touches…jewel-colored velvet pumpkins that later doubled as party favors / remembrances for each of the women there. A fall candle bought brand new for the occasion, glowing and sharing a hint of apple scent. A table worthy of special guests. Even out in the middle of the soccer fields and playgrounds. Then, a build-your-own lunch spread courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Nothing too fussy. Just nibbles to try.

In recent years, I have grown to love surprising people…not in the sense of surprise parties, but more about delighting people with over-the-top unique details. Whether it be decorations, unexpected custom cookies that match their party theme, party favors that make people giggle, artist-created invitations, or a meal fit for a queen, it feeds my soul to make people feel special and make occasions memorable. People are worth celebrating.

This also extends to presents I may drop on porches on a random Tuesday. Life is a challenge for many. Why not make people smile?

I hope when they pull out that pumpkin each fall they smile and remember a great day, and someone who cared about them enough to plan something special. Spoil people a little sometimes. They are worth it.