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Photo by Tammy Strobel

At the end of September, Logan and his supervisor attended a conference in San Francisco, and I was able to catch a ride with them to the city. I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to tag along on their business trip; it turned into an unexpected mini-conference for me. I did some work, had a lovely lunch with a longtime blog reader, and connected with a fellow blogger. I also ate amazing food, attended an author event, drank way too much coffee, and walked all over the city.

Walking in San Francisco

San Francisco is a walker’s dream. It was easy to navigate the city by foot, and I felt safe. Over the course of three days, I walked roughly 25 miles! I have to say that I’m incredibly grateful because my back is doing great. Being able to walk without pain is amazing, and I don’t take my steps for granted.

Honestly, I can’t believe how much of the city I saw by foot. I walked down the Embarcadero for miles, cut over to the Greenwich Street Stairs, and walked up to the Coit Tower. From there, I walked through the North Beach neighborhood and around Pier 39. I also walked through China Town, the financial district, and did an epic walk on the San Francisco Bay Trail. I picked up the trail at the Golden Gate Welcome Center, ended up in the Mariana District, and walked through the district until I found DAVIDsTEA —it was the perfect spot to rest my feet and do a little bit of work.

My wanderings above happened over a three-day period, and as I walked, I thought about my mom a little bit. She moved from the east coast to San Francisco in her early twenties. She even learned to drive a Volkswagen Beetle in the city (it was a stick shift, too)!

When I caught up with my mom on the phone, I asked her why she moved away from the city. I’ve heard stories about her San Francisco days, and they sounded like so much fun. I wondered why she would leave a city like San Francisco. In short, she married my dad, got pregnant with me, and bought a house all at once. Life changed, and she changed with it. I do think she left a little bit of her heart in San Francisco, though.

I truly loved San Francisco. It’s too bad it’s so expensive to live in the city. Otherwise, I’d move to the Bay Area because it’s walkable, bikeable, has amazing coffee shops, and it’s near the water. I miss living near the water.

Swimming in the Sink

And speaking of water, a few weeks before my trip to the city, I told my swim buddies about Lynn Cox’s new book, Swimming in the Sink. During our conversation, a fellow swimmer told me to check Lynn’s website because she might be speaking in the Bay Area.

Later that day, I navigated my way to Lynn’s website and saw that she was scheduled to speak at the Dolphin Club about her new book. I was beyond excited to see this news! However, I wasn’t sure if the event was open to the public because the Dolphin Club is private.

So, I decided to be brave. I emailed the folks at the Dolphin Club and asked if the event was open to the public and if I could attend. I was thrilled when they responded and said that I could attend the event as a guest. Being inside the Dolphin Club and chatting with some of the members was a treat. Swimmers are a friendly bunch of folks. Also, hearing Lynn speak and answer questions was so cool. She’s one of my swimming heroes, and I adore her writing.

Lynn talked about her swimming adventures and her books, and she shared interesting tidbits about publishing and writing. For example, it took twenty years for Swimming to Antarctica to get published, and then it became a best seller. Also, Swimming in the Sink went through multiple drafts. She wrote two books—and tossed them—before she came to the current iteration. I loved hearing these bits of information because it made my writing process feel normal.

Good Eats and Coffee

I don’t shop for clothes or trinkets when I travel. Instead, I spend my time walking, sightseeing, eating, and drinking way too much coffee. For example, on our first night in the city, Logan and I ate at The Slanted Door. The Slanted Door “is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The Slanted Door didn’t disappoint us. Logan and I shared cellophane noodles, stir-fried wild gulf strip, rice, a pineapple spritzer (which was the best nonalcoholic beverage I’ve ever had), and we topped off dinner with a milk chocolate lime mousse. The food was delicious, and my tummy was very happy. We were fortunate to experience The Slanted Door’s delicious food and incredible views of the bay because we got the last walk-in table.

Another culinary highlight included lunch with a longtime blog reader at Samovar Tea. The food and the view of the Yerba Buena Gardens were incredible, but the conversation was even better. I could have talked with Priti for days.

On my last day in the city, I connected with Cait Flanders. I’ve been following Cait’s writing for a few years, and it was a pleasure meeting her in person. We had a lovely conversation over brunch at the Cliff House, and then we explored a beach cave, Sutra Heights Park, and walked on the beach. It was fun wading into the bay and getting my feet wet. Also, a wave unexpectedly got my pants wet from the knees down. Thankfully, my pants turn into shorts, so I didn’t have to walk around with wet calves for the rest of the day.

More Good Eats and Coffee

If you’re a foodie or coffee hound and plan on visiting San Francisco, I suggest trying:

In a nutshell, that was my trip, and it was an incredible experience. Seeing San Francisco by foot, spending time with amazing people, taking photos, and doing a little bit of work made me feel happy and grateful.

With gratitude,

P. S. I’m still editing images from my trip, so I’ll share a photo roundup with you next week.

{This week: San Francisco, Age is Just a Number, loneliness, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Hi all,

I feel incredibly grateful because I spent part of the week in San Francisco. The trip was a mix of business and pleasure, and it was filled a crazy amount of walking, delightful food, and engaging conversations.

Next week, I’ll share highlights from the trip along with a photo roundup. Until then, below are 10 happy links that I thought were worth sharing this week. I hope you enjoy them!

1. Age is Just a Number by Dara Torres is an inspiring memoir. I especially loved her comments about masters swimming.

2. This was a helpful essay: How to beat loneliness.

3. A fascinating essay about 4-H: Head, heart, hands, and hustle.

4. Offline is the new luxury (Part 4).

5. Sound advice via Melissa Hartwig: Unfollow Friday (Even if it means unfollowing me).

6. A fantastic interview with Instagram founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krueger.

7. Forgive me for indulging in my confirmation bias: 10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner.

8. A touching essay by Dee Williams: What I’ve Come to Know from Tiny House Living.

9. This post is full of goodness: 101 small ways you can improve your city.

10. So good & real: Life After the PCT—Readjusting to the Real World.

If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, share this post with a friend. Thanks for reading!

With gratitude,

{This week: Registration for my online photography course closes tomorrow, how to be a writer, why composition notebooks are popular, and more.}

Photography by Tammy Strobel

Tomorrow—Saturday, September 24, 2016—is the last day to register for my online photography course—Everyday Magic: How to Capture Creative Images with Your Camera. I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming session. Class begins on Monday, September 26th. Read the course description and register here.

Now, onto this week’s happy links. Enjoy!

1. Rebecca Solnit on how to be a writer.

2. Why the basic marble composition notebook is still popular.

3. Inspiring writing quotes via BlankPage.

4. Truth: They were the big things.

5. Magic Lessons episode 207—Living the Dream and Facing the Nightmare—featured Neil Gaiman and it was GOOD! Gaiman’s description of writers as either dolphins or otters made me smile.

6. Last week, the latest issue of SWIMMER arrived in my mailbox. I loved this issue, especially the article about rest and recovery.

7. Simplicity quotes and images to lift you up.

8. Amanda always asks good questions: “…what if life is not this linear progression of events as we might expect?

9. Loved this essay: Talking to strangers.

10. In The Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard was an honest and interesting memoir.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, buy a book or share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

Swimming in the Weeds

Photo by Tammy Strobel

I stood near the edge of Whiskeytown Lake along with 125 fellow swimmers. We were all wearing green swim caps, and everyone seemed excited. My new friend Janette turned to me and said, “Good luck!”

“Have fun!” I replied.

Then, the race director shouted, “Go!” Some swimmers ran into the water, and others walked in leisurely. I dove into the water, started swimming, and immediately noticed the waves we created. Then I felt the weeds tickle my legs. As soon as that happened, my stomach did flip-flops.

Rather than looking at the weeds while my head was underwater, I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see them. Instead, I raised my head more often to site the racecourse buoys and to make sure I wasn’t swimming over another swimmer. Also, my mantra—“plants aren’t predators”—helped me to stay calm.

Eventually, I broke away from the weeds and glided into deep dark blue water. Rays of sunlight reflected off of the water, and as I took deep breaths, I noticed the mountains, the sky, and the kayakers that were part of the water safety crew. As I rounded the second big buoy, I realized that I was halfway through the race. Part of me wanted to stop and tread water because it was so beautiful out in the deep blue water, but I had to keep swimming.

Before I knew it, I was back in the weeds swimming to the shore. As I made my way through the weeds, I thought about my friend Aubrey and how much progress she’s made since her cycling accident. She’s been working hard in physical therapy and with a CrossFit coach, too. I thought to myself, Aubrey is so inspiring. She’s working hard to regain her strength. That is WAY harder than being scared of weeds! Keep swimming, Tammy.

So, I ignored my fear of the weeds, tried to catch the swimmer ahead of me, and thought about how far I’ve come this year.

After a bad back flare up in February, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my lower back and degenerative disc disease. During February, it was difficult for me to do basic things like walking or sitting without experiencing intense pain. At the beginning of the year, I wondered if I’d ever be pain-free again. I felt so tired of dealing with my reoccurring back problems. Thankfully, my doctor referred me to a fantastic physical therapist, and eventually, I found my way back to the water and to a masters swim team. Getting back into the water, and slowly building my strength, helped me get through the weeds in my mind.

Facing my fear of lake weeds last weekend seemed fitting because the experience reminded me to prioritize self-care. For example, I rested and recovered from my race. Resting has never been my strong suit because I just want to keep moving. I’ve learned that rest requires an active commitment, just like writing, photography, or any other type of activity. Plus, if I don’t take care of myself, and ignore the importance of rest, I’ll get stuck in the weeds over and over again.

Serendipitously, the latest issue of SWIMMER arrived in my mailbox last week. One of the featured articles—by Gretchen M. Sanders—is titled “Give It a Rest for Your Best.” Sanders said, “Rest requires commitment—it does not happen by chance. Rest should be as deliberate as putting on a swimsuit. It will take practice for some and come easily for others. Start small by taking a morning off, then a day, then a weekend, then a whole week. With each passing year, our bodies grow older and need more time to recover. Giving your body the rest it craves may just prolong the time you spend enjoying the life-giving sport of swimming.”

Cheers to rest, recovery, good health, and conquering the weeds!

With gratitude,

Photo by Tammy Strobel

{This week: The KittiKubbi, tiny libraries, good reads, friendship, and more.}

Hi all,

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this week. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. Last week, our KittiKubbi arrived in the mail via Amazon.com. It’s a cat bed that’s free from harmful chemicals and synthetic fibers, and it’s 100% wool. The bed can be used as a hideaway, or it can be flattened into a padded mat. Christie and Elaina are obsessed with the KittiKubbi. Usually, they snub cat beds and toys. But not this time! We’ll see if they actually use the bed consistently. I’ll keep you posted.

2. Great tips via Dee—Downsizing My Library for My Tiny House! I loved the article, and it was fun to see my photo included in her post, too.

3. And speaking of books, Zephyr Books & Coffee has a trade credit system at their store. Last week, I traded in a few of my older books and bought Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurzel.

4. I swooned over these memoirs: Swimming in the Sink and Love Warrior.

5. Offline is the new luxury.

6. A beautiful essay about friendship.

7. How Apple changed the camera industry forever.

8. I’ll be in San Francisco at the end of September, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the restaurants and coffee shops in this guide.

9. A powerful post: Pictured / Not pictured.

10. Get out of your head and into your body.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, register for my upcoming photography course or share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

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