Much of my work the past year has consisted of speaking events with National Charity League. I am tremendously grateful for this work, especially since I was in the organization myself. For those of you who are about to google what National Charity League (NCL) is…let me briefly explain. It is a mother daughter organization that offers philanthropic service to the community while integrating leadership and cultural development. In a word, it’s pretty amazing.
For me, it’s been life changing. What started with one chapter asking me to speak has turned into 50 chapters around that country that I’ve been able to speak with and visit. It is rewarding work and I give thanks every day that I get to do it.
But you might have noticed one part of the prior description. NCL is a mother-daughter organization.
What about the dads?
My dad would always say whenever I volunteered with my mom, “What about me?” Fair point, papa. Well for the first time last week I decided to bring my dad along to see what my work is all about. But it turned into so much more than that.
I see my dad pretty sporadically with work and graduate school and I loved how my dad kept saying he couldn’t wait to go on vacation with me. I had been seeing it as work but his different perspective opened my eyes to the trip. He got really into the details of planning…from the restaurants to the driving, he had planned out just about every minute of our road trip.
We started on Thursday by flying to Seattle. I spoke to the Evergreen Chapter that night but thankfully we had some time to explore the area beforehand. I had been to Seattle this past summer so I showed him the local favorites. Pike’s Place, a quaint tea shop, and my most prized ice cream shop in the country. When a parlor that serves red velvet ice cream how can you not love it?
I should note something else. I usually leave my faith out of the blog but I think it’s warranted in this case. I felt like our trip was SO surrounded in prayer the entire time. So thank you to everyone who said a prayer for our safety. Literally everything went perfect and even if it didn’t, we picked right back up. We had perfect sunny 75 degree weather the entire time while exploring the Pacific Northwest (and that is a big blessing in and of itself). We got upgraded for our car rental with only 200 miles on the car and a Sirius radio demo was included (which was great since we were road tripping). Little blessings like these just made the trip that much sweeter.
After I spoke on Thursday, we went to the Pink Door for dinner in Seattle…which happens to be my favorite restaurant in the entire city. A little back alley, one small pink door and suddenly with one swing of the hinges…there you are in a picturesque Italian restaurant with homemade pasta and even flying trapeze artists if you time it right. Thankfully my dad loved the food just as much as I did.
The next morning we went to an idyllic breakfast space…Lola’s. A must if you’re in the city. They’re known for their paper bag shaken, cinnamon-sugar mini beignets that come with homemade jam and mascarpone. I could eat that every day. We also explored the Seattle aquarium and went back to Pike’s Place because it’s just too amazing there. Watching them catch fish, compile tulips, and offer chocolate pasta is too divine to experience only once.
We then ventured to Newport, Oregon where my mom was born. It was a six hour drive from Seattle but the drive was part of the adventure. The greenery in Washington and Oregon is unreal…especially when you’re coming from the California drought. The mossy trees, “babbling brooks” as my dad called them, and the laughs along the way were something to cherish. Nobody can make me laugh like my dad can—that’s one of my favorite things about him.
We stayed at the Hallmark Hotel and we walked right out to the sand from our hotel room. We learned that we gave away our tourist status by saying “Oregon Beach” instead of “Oregon Coast.” Noted. We have never seen winds like that before; the sand skimmed over the surface with such force that not even the birds could fly by. The water was refreshing (no, it was actually ice cold) but hey, you’ve got to dip your toes in the water, right?
After that we headed to Portland. Let the spontaneity ensue. Neither of us had been to Portland and we were a little stumped where to begin. My dad is pretty adventurous so we thought, hey, let’s see if we can kayak. 20 minutes later, with life jackets on, two kayaks, and two paddles later, we were on the water. Two hours past that, we had paddled over four miles around the Willamette River, specifically Ross Island. I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself with my usually spaghetti arms. Kayaking on that open river with the Portland skyline was certainly the highlight of the trip.
Time for more food. Portland is a mecca for gastronomical pursuits and for this reason alone, it’s worth visiting. The hardest part is picking the better choice from the best. We ultimately settled on TILT, a burger, biscuit, pie, tater-tot, every delicious food every created, joint. We waited a half hour because it was so hot and happening there. It was worth the wait.
The next day before my speaking event at the Sunnyside Chapter (love how that is their NCL name!) we thought, hey, why not visit the Portland Zoo? And so we did. Great choice. When people think of zoos they don’t often list this one but it is SO worth it. I’ve seen quite a few zoos in my day (I’d be a zoo keeper in another life) and this one makes the top 5. The landscaping in the park is unparalleled and the lion cubs make it pretty irresistible.
This trip included so many fun memories that I will treasure forever but there was something else that made it remarkable for me. My dad probably won’t like me sharing this…but he was a little bit of a naysayer when I started writing my book. He didn’t think I could do it, and if I did, what would become of it? Some might resent their dads for not supporting them (and I did for a little while) but then I used that skepticism to propel me forward. When someone tells me that I can’t do something or that I’m not strong/smart/good enough to achieve my goal, I work that much harder. I’m thankful for my dad’s critique because it made me work that much harder.
It was thrilling to show my dad that not only did I write my book, I now get to travel every week to speak about it. It was nerve wracking to see him in the audience (I find it easier to speak to strangers) but I was happy to see a grin on his face the whole time. He told me he was proud of me. Every daughter wants to hear that.
Sunday night rolled around and it was time to go home. A cherry on top of the trip was getting upgraded into first class. I looked over and saw a big grin on my dad’s face. He was happy and so was I. All was well in the world and I knew in that moment that no matter what happened in the past or future with my family, everything would be alright and we would be okay. I’m so thankful that I got to spend a few fun-filled days with my dad where we got to laugh and be a father-daughter duo just like in old times. I remember my dad picking me up from school in his truck when I was in elementary school and suddenly I was his little girl again. I always will be that little girl in my dad’s heart…his little princess that he cherishes. I only say that because he tells me so. I hope every father tells their daughter that she is their princess. (Yes, that is one of our favorite movies).
As I go into the world and build my own family, my dad will always be my first hero, protector, and comedian. No one can replace him. Paul Simon sings, “There will never be a father that loves his daughter the way that I love you.” But dad, there will never be a daughter that loves her father more than I love you.