A lot happened on my recent trip to New Zealand.

It started out as a vacation – a way to take a little time off while spending time with my daughter who has been living there for the past six months. Of course, a month is a long time. It was scheduled to be a working holiday. That’s the beauty of my business – as long as I have internet, I can work from anywhere. And every Airbnb I booked, it was the first thing I confirmed before I considered staying there.

As I flew in from Portland to Christchurch, the unthinkable happened. I wrote about it here.

It stopped me in my tracks. In sent me inward, in recovery mode, protecting myself and trying to make sense of this great big world.

Halfway through my trip, another event occurred. It was a significant event in my life. An anniversary of sorts.

March 30th was the 25th anniversary of my father’s death.

I can’t believe my dad has been gone for 25 years.

He died when I was still so young. Just starting out in adulthood. Just starting to learn who he was, as a peer, as a friend, beyond all the dad stuff he taught me.

I still remember his laughter. The way he played games. How he loved his garage … his mancave before mancaves were cool.

And yet I have trouble remembering him. The little things you don’t really pay attention to. The day to day things. The stuff you ignore because they are just a part of life.

This is the year I turn the same age as when he died. Fifty-four. That hits me in the gut, in the heart.

I think about who he would have been now, today, if he’d lived. He’d be celebrating his 80th birthday this year.

He never knew his only granddaughter. She was born 11 months after he died. It was thanks to him that she’s here. We’d put off having kids indefinitely. But sitting up all night the few days before his funeral, Andrew and I repeatedly talked about what was most important in his life. He’d hated his job. He was counting down the days to early retirement. But family – yep, I knew he loved me. My sister and I were all he had – we were his most important accomplishments. And that moved me during those few days; I knew I wanted that in my life too.

Throughout my daughter’s life, I’ve looked at her, watching her change and grow.

What would he think of her? How would he have spoiled her? How would he have loved her?

Of course, I know the answer. He would have loved her with all of his heart.

This is the year a lot of things come together. He’s been gone 25 years. I have so much more living to do. But because of his death, it makes me reflect more upon life.

His death no longer makes me sad. Not the way it once did.

Instead, it makes me want to thrive.

I know how short life is. His death is my constant reminder.

And it’s not just that, not anymore. I have events like Christchurch that are my constant reminder.

When I left for my month long adventure in New Zealand, I had several goals:

  • To spend time reconnecting with my daughter.
  • To see the beauty of New Zealand.
  • To grow as a person.

And because it was technically a working holiday, I also had business goals:

  • To keep up with all of my client work.
  • To blog and post on social the entire journey.
  • To write more on my book.
  • To edit the book that just returned from my editors.
  • To rethink my future and shift my goals for the rest of the year.

I know. That’s a heavy load when you’re partially on vacation too. But we set up our business to do it this way. They weren’t far-reaching goals. Yet it all came crashing down as my mind did flipflops with what had happened. And quite unexpectedly, it added to the grief I felt on the 25th anniversary.

So … why am I blogging about this and sharing it with you?

Because that’s the goal of my blog. Candid thoughts on reinventing life to be vibrant, successful, sexy, and alive!

And the only way to get there is to take the good with the bad. The ups with the downs. The expected with the unexpected.

My last week in New Zealand we rented a little Airbnb on the beach. Every morning I would rise and walk a mile up towards town before turning around and coming back. The sound of the waves was soothing – an almost ripple as it washed across the beach before returning out to sea. The shells were as far as the eyes could see – you couldn’t walk without stepping on them.

I walked by myself, thinking. Dreaming. Planning. Living. Breathing.

Sometimes life goes as planned. Sometimes it doesn’t.

And that’s really the true character of who you become and the life you plan for yourself. What do the two mean in your life? How do they motivate you? How do you approach each day with all you have?

I look at all I’ve accomplished in 25 years. I look at what my dad accomplished in his.

I’m turning 54 in just a few short days.

I’m just like him in so many ways. I’m different too. And yet he lives on, because of me, because of my daughter.

I’ll write about my trip more in upcoming posts. I have a lot to say.

But for now, I’m taking things one day at a time. Enjoying every day for what it has to offer.

I wish I could talk with my dad one more time.

And I have, in some ways. Walking along that beach. Picking up seashells. Making my plans for the next 50 years. I know he’s here, guiding me. He’s a part of me; he’s why I’m here.

Rough patches exist. Life is all about ebb and flow. You have to live through the bad to find the good. You have to pause and reflect along the way.

I’m back home, for now. I still walk, the beach has changed back to the river near my home. I use it for thinking. Dreaming. Planning. Living. Breathing.

And accept what happens each day.