Shortly after we lost my dad last fall, I felt like I was being called to California. He had planned to spend time teaching there after his so-called retirement this year. So, when I learned about two creative workshops in Berkeley with awesome-blossoms Andrea Scher and Kelly Rae Roberts, I knew it was my cue to head west.

The first two days of my California trip were primarily spent with academics that my dad worked with and loved. I stuck out like a sore thumb, I suspect. I over-shared, I cried a couple of times, and I probably didn’t even use the right fork at meals. But I cherished my time with these professors and researchers as I gather information and contribute to pushing my dad’s vision for Sparks forward. I listened to their stories about him, learned more about their work, and imagined him walking through those campus courtyards and hallways with books under his arm and pens in the pocket of his button-down shirt. I wondered whether he was aware of and okay with my interactions with these scholars, despite me stumbling all over myself.

Next, I flew up to the bay area for the second leg of my trip. On Saturday, the photography workshop with Andrea started at 10am. I just assumed the second workshop, on Sunday, started at the same time. Umm, it did not; turns out I was an hour early. So, I walked to a nearby cafe in Berkeley and began to write down some reflections in my itty bitty notebook. I sat down by the window with my chai latte and had only written about 10 words when my phone rang. It was Suzanne, a friend I’ve mentioned here before who’s a professional intuitive. I answered.

“Where are you?” she asked.

California, I told her. And she proceeded to say she just had to call because she could see me so vividly writing in a quiet place with a little notebook, by the ocean. The closer I am to the ocean, she said, the clearer I am. It’s totally true; I feel more like myself whenever I’m by the sea. I told her I had already spent some time at Santa Monica Beach, but she urged me to find a way to get back to the ocean again before leaving.

And then she said my dad was “with” her, hand over his heart. Saying I did him proud. Saying I did better than he could have {which is so like him}. Saying I brought a modern energy to the work, to the conversations, and that he couldn’t be more proud. In tears, I told Suzanne what he was talking about, that I’d just spent two days with some of his peers talking about sparks. I thanked her for reaching out at the perfect time. Had she called an hour later, I wouldn’t have been available to get that sweet message from my dad.

I walked back to Teahouse Studio, hoping my face wasn’t too blotchy from crying. The place looked magical; I found my seat and saw this beautiful message awaiting me:

It took my breath away. It was such a sweet gesture to lovingly call out my own spark – and extra-meaningful after my experience at the coffee shop. After our workshop, I asked if anyone knew how I could get to the ocean before flying out the next day. Someone suggested a nearby bay, but Andrea stopped them.

“No, you want the real shit, right? Like the ocean ocean.”

EXACTLY! She pointed me to Cliff House in San Francisco – a restaurant perched over Ocean Beach. It wouldn’t be easy to get to and I’d have luggage with me, so she said, “Let’s just manifest a really kind person there who will take care of your bags.” The girl speaks my language. I immediately envisioned it being a total breeze – and I could sense her doing the same for me.

The next morning, rather than navigate the subway and train systems with my suitcase, I splurged and took a cab. I had no idea the ride would be so long, but I was lucky to have a fantastic driver named Ricky. We talked about his background, his dream of becoming a police officer, his love of helping people – essentially, we talked about his spark. He absolutely lit up when I offered suggestions for furthering his dreams.

When we finally arrived at Cliff House, he offered to pick me up later and take me to the airport. I wouldn’t have to worry about calling another taxi. And you guys? He kept my bags while I ate lunch and took pictures along the beach. It was the perfect ending to my trip; another sign from the road that I am always right where I belong.