The Memoir Coach Blog

I May Have Missed It…

Yesterday I witnessed the most beautiful thing.  There in the hard ground springing forth were two little flowers blooming ever so slightly.

I have never really noticed “spring” before.  Not that I wasn’t observant, but living in a sunny climate for the last 10 years I saw flowers throughout the whole year.

Moving up to the Great Northwest just two months ago I have witnessed many changes, but perhaps the biggest change has happened inside of me.

Appreciation for the raindrops that fall from the sky making this part of the world beautiful shades of green.  Appreciation for the snow flakes that float down covering the earth with a beautiful white blanket.

Spending time with my granddaughter and watching her grow and change each week.

Taking the ferry across to my island home where I look out upon the waters from my desk as I write this.

I couldn’t have imagined a life like this a year or two ago.  Surrounded by love and beauty each day.  I always knew that 2017 would be an amazing year if I just opened my heart for new adventure.  So here I am, in a new place that I call home realizing that I am grateful for what I witness and observe.

And just as those flowers broke through and strived to live, I am like that flower, growing and blooming where I have been planted.

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And then it hits you…

Don’t you love it when you get those aha moments in your life?  I just had one such moment, when I was doing laundry of all things!  As I was putting the clothes into the dryer I realized that I was now doing it exactly the way Melitas showed me how to do it.  Yep, just like my driving I guess I never knew how to do laundry either until she showed me.  I would just transfer the clothes into the dryer in one big clump and turn on the dryer and go about my business.

It worked for all these years and I didn’t see a problem, no one complained, my clothes were always just as clean as the next person…the problem came several years ago when I was the Jr. Deputy at Casa Agave.  It was December of 2011, the warden was off having a great time with family and Melitas and I were enjoying our week together and then….(dramatic music playing) I started my laundry.  As soon as I took my laundry into the laundry room I hear Melitas come in behind me.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I am just going to do my laundry real quickly, you go sit down and relax, I can figure out the machine.

Melitas: You know I used to own a fluff and fold, remember?

Me: Yep, that must have been a lot of laundry (me throwing things in…)

Melitas: Hold up, that’s not how you do it, fill the machine with water and the suds first before you add your clothes.

Me: Does it really make a difference to do it that way?

Melitas: See this shirt?  I have had this since 1963, the year before you were born, it wouldn’t look this way if I did the wash the way you are doing it.  How old is that shirt you are wearing?

Me: Ummm, I don’t know a year maybe?

Melitas: Looks like it will be ready for the rag pile if you keep it up.

[Melitas scoots me over and begins the process of adding the detergent, then some dreft, then something else I can’t quite remember.  Then placing what would have been one load into two and sorts them by color.  I keep trying to say, it is ok, I can do it.  But no use. I have to just let her finish]

30 Minutes later Melitas is on her computer across from me on my computer and the washer stops, I get up to go put my clothes in the dryer and I turn around and before I make it to the laundry room door there she is breathing down my back.

Me: Melitas, I am just going to put them in the dryer, I can do this part. (Feeling nervous but knowing I can’t get it wrong just putting the clothes in the dryer, how hard can that be?).

Melitas: Hold up….that’s not how you put the clothes in the dryer!  You can’t just throw them in like you are doing, now step aside.

Me: (I have learned by now it is Melitas’ way or no way)

Melitas: Listen kid, you take one piece at a time and shake it out and then put it in the dryer.  It saves energy and your clothes will dry faster.

Me: Awww, yes,  I see. (looking at my watch knowing what would have taken me 2 minutes we are still in the laundry room 10 minutes later).


To be honest with you, the next 6 plus years I did laundry my way.  I was just too darn busy to sort and shake and whatever else she did.  But today I noticed I no longer am in a hurry.  I take each piece out of the washer and shake it out before putting it in the dryer.

I know that Melitas, if she is looking down at me is smiling at me and saying:” It’s about time, kid!  I knew one day you would know I was right!”

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I woke up this morning reflecting on another month ending.  Just last month I started the journey of leaving Baja, a place I called home for 2 years.  I gave away most of my things (again)…I said my good-byes and traveled north.  As I traveled north on the roads I regretted that this was the first time of driving through Baja, each time Bruce and I traveled it was by the 90 minute flight.  The terrain was beautiful and the 2 day trek allowed my mind to be grateful for the world that I live in.

As each mile passed I smiled and thanked the universe for the past and welcomed the future.

As I write this I am looking out from a very different window than I was last year.  The trees are covered in snow hanging down so majestically.  The fire is blazing and my little dog is laying next to me, I swear he looks like he is smiling in his sleep!

I can’t imagine being happier than I am at this moment and yet I know I will be happier next week, next month, next year.  That is life, choosing to live life to the fullest, but it is a choice.  I didn’t just fall into this life I lead, I worked and struggled and achieved what I wanted.  Is life perfect?  Of course not, but that is what makes the journey so exhilarating.

Last month brought me up the Baja, through California, Oregon and now Washington.  I get to spend time with my granddaughter every week.  I am now a part of her life, not just someone who comes to visit.

I reflect and am grateful for the journey and the path I get to walk each day.  And the best part….I have this little pumpkin to show me the way!

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Reflections of past years…

The beauty of blogging is the simple archive that keeps all your thoughts in one place.  I spent this morning looking back at past musings over the last 5 plus years.  I miss the Mondays with Melitas and let’s face it, I miss Melitas!

I could always count on Melitas to be honest with me about my life, my business and whenever I needed advice, she was the wise one I would go to.

Her spirit lives on in the blogs on this site and in her book and in her many hundreds of entries in her journals.

At this time of year reflection is a natural process of remembering those who have passed on, reflecting on what we remember most.

Meeting Melitas has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.  Whether we were watching football, or her Lakers play or one of the Olympic games or just sitting across from each other, both of us on our computers there was definitely a love between us.

I loved sharing her last Laker’s game with her next to her on her bed.  I had a feeling this was the last game we would enjoy together.  She watched as much as she could even tapping her two index fingers together like a small clap when the Lakers would score.  I asked Melitas if she remembered that we watched Kobe’s last game together.  She nodded in remembrance and then she said…”we both cried.”  I said, “yep, we sure did.”  And as she closed her eyes to rest I cried.

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The Best Christmas Meal Ever

I was just leaving the upscale restaurant in La Paz after a wonderful dinner with friends when I passed the man on the corner selling tamales. Seeing the huge pots of steaming corn wrapped in husks brought me back to a memory of my first Christmas in Baja just two years earlier.

It was just two years ago on Christmas morning that I was walking my dog Bruce through the neighborhood of Loreto Bay in Baja. It had only been 3 weeks since I had moved here and didn’t really know anyone. I had a budget of 1,000 pesos a month to spend on food (which broke down to about $20 U.S. dollars a week).

The week before I had made my first trip to the grocery store and spent nearly all my allotted money for the month of December since I also had to buy laundry soap and cleaning supplies as well as groceries. As I was walking Bruce, my mind wandered to Christmas’s past. I thought about times spent with my children when they were little running to see what Santa had brought them, spending the day with family and lots of wonderful food. I didn’t realize how lonely I was until the tears started falling down my cheeks.

I was lost in thought and didn’t hear the old pickup truck pull up beside me. The wife rolled down her window and spoke to me in some English but mostly spanish.

“Senora, would you like to buy Christmas tamales to take home to your family?”

She was probably my age, but due to living a hard life she appeared much older.

“No, gracias, lo siento, no pesos.” I replied, afraid to even ask how much one tamale would cost.

“Senora, I made these myself, you can’t have Christmas dinner without tamales.”

In my broken English I told her I was alone for Christmas but maybe I could find the money and buy one tamale.

I looked at her and her husband in their old beat up truck which seemed like it should have been in a junk yard and not on the side of the road looking for people to buy their tamales.

I saw the hard work and knew that no matter how poor I was, I didn’t know what poor really was. I knew that my pesos would help support them and their family.

“Un momento,” I said, “let me go to my casa and find some pesos, I will buy one.”

I walked down about a hundred yards to my casa and started looking for some change. I remembered I had a few pesos left from the shopping trip the day before. I looked for change and grabbed what I had, even if I didn’t have enough for a tamale I wanted to give the money to them.

It probably took me 15 minutes to find the money and return and as I walked around the corner they were still there waiting. I wondered to myself how long they would have waited, but then I remembered I gave them my word that I would be back and your word is your promise in the Mexican culture. They smiled when they saw me and I showed them the only money I had left in my hand.

They opened up the back of their pickup truck and inside a large beat up silver pot were stacks of tamales. At that moment I wish I would have had money to buy them all from them so they could go back and celebrate Christmas with their family.

I handed the man the money and he said, “gracias, senora, Feliz Navidad, now you will have the best Christmas ever.”

The wife put two tamales in the little plastic bag and gave me a hug.

“One for you and one for your perro, Feliz Navidad!”

I walked away from that experience a changed person. I had little to give to someone who had even less.

Their faces may have been worn and tired but their spirit was alive and shown through their eyes.

When I returned back to my casa I put the Tamales on a plate and Bruce and I had the best meal we both have ever eaten.




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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.