He Could Not Tell A Lie

Today would have been my Dad’s, aka Neil’s, 82nd birthday. But before I go any further, I should explain why I (and everyone else) called Neil by his first name. See, when he married my mom, my sisters were 11 and 15, so they naturally called him Neil as their stepdad. Then when I came along, like with many other things, I followed their lead.

An equally big reason for Universal Neil was that he was not into pet names. Period. My mom, his mom, neighbor kids, dogs, cats horses and grandchildren all called him Neil. Apparently, I tried calling him “Daddy Boy” for a short stint when I was two, but that didn’t take.

Neil and I before the short lived “Daddy Boy” phase.

Neil and I before the short lived “Daddy Boy” phase.

So, Neil it was. For everyone. Forever.

Neil passed away about ten months ago, and was honestly gone several years before, lost in the crazy haze of Alzheimer’s. Mostly, I find joy in his memory instead of sadness because he was such a kind, quietly funny, honest man.

Actually, honest is an understatement. If there was a rule, Neil followed it. If there wasn’t, he made one. His moral compass was so strong, it reset other moral compasses in his general area. So in honor of his birthday, here is my favorite story of the man who once built a perfect, small scale replica of a spiral staircase before he actually constructed the real thing.

But that’s another story, maybe for next year’s birthday. This one is about hay.

When we had horses on our property, Neil would drive over Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum, a farming town, to get hay. He went to get it himself for two reasons – Neil knew the guy who sold the hay, and most importantly, Neil was frugal and it saved money over having it delivered.

So about every six months, Neil woud make the trip over. He’d leave first thing in the morning, drive the 1 ½ hours to Cle Elum with the Ford F-250 pickup truck and an empty 2-horse trailer In tow, load up the truck bed and the trailer to full capacity, and then drive back home. The elaborate system of tarps and bungie cords to secure the hay was always strong enough to keep those bales in place through gale force winds or an invasion of alien hay snatchers, and he never lost a single one. He also usually unloaded the whole two-ish tons of hay in the same day. One of the many reasons why the man still had six pack abs into his late 70’s.

On one of these trips, Neil really loaded up- probably more than he should have, but he wanted to make that tank of gas earn its keep! Driving back home, about a mile from our exit, Neil saw the weigh station coming up alongside I-90. The weigh station, I should add, where commercial long-haul truckers are required to pull off and weigh their loads.

So, little old Neil, in his Ford F-250 and 2-horse trailer loaded down with fresh timothy hay, puts on his blinker and pulls off at the weigh station, coasting his truck and trailer right onto the scales. Of course, the weight of the hay far exceeded the gross vehicle weight allowed on the truck and trailer. So the state patrolman came out of his shack, surveyed the situation and happily wrote Neil a hefty ticket.

I have to believe that story is told at State Patrol gatherings and Elks lodges around the greater Seattle area to this day.

Neil got home, madder than hell that he had gotten a fine. My mom pointed out that those scales aren’t even intended for personal vehicles, but Neil would have none of it. 

“IT SAID WEIGH STATION OPEN!” he argued with his signature flared nostrils and emphatic hand gestures.


That was my dad. Hard working, exacting, generous of his time. And so damn honest, he pulled himself over and gave himself a ticket.

I love you Neil. Happy Birthday.

Update Your Bio, Change the World. (At least a little.)

Wanna give yourself a kick in the butt? Update your bio.

Not because you have to for a pitch or your website or to impress the people you’re going to see at your high school reunion who still remember you primarily for the Skirt Tucked Into Your Underwear Incident from freshman year.

Nope, you should update your bio for yourself. For the simple reason that it forces you to take stock of what you’ve accomplished so far (insert back pat) and what would make you proud to be able say you’ve done in the future (insert butt-kick.)

Bios are notoriously hard to write. Even for writers. It’s like crafting an elevator pitch about yourself combined with your own, brief eulogy to date. It’s an Elevator Eulogy! Only not sad.

Going up? Why yes, I am.

Going up? Why yes, I am.

When writing your Unsad Elevator Eulogy, it’s important to capture your biggest relevant accomplishments. This is not a time to be humble. (Modest, mostly women friends, I’m talking to you.) This is also not a time to list every honorable mention you’ve ever received or claim you invented #throwbackthursday or micheladas (People who lie in their bios, I’m talking to you.)

You want to seem focused, yet well-rounded. Impressive without seeming blow hardy. You want to gather your accomplishments together with a nod towards something bigger. And that’s where (at least for me) it got profound. It’s easy to list the accounts you’ve worked on, the companies you’ve worked for, the things you’ve contributed to. But what can you claim that’s truly impactful? What have you done to make a difference?

And by “you” I mean “me”.

Revising my bio made my consider - what have I done that’s beyond the normal industry successes of awards and years under my belt and account experience? What have I made my mission? And under that mission, what have I truly led? What do I want to be known for, aside from writing well and having a positive attitude and being a working mom/grown-ass woman who still considers horseback riding a legitimate hobby?

Maybe I’m alone in having a miniature mid-life crisis/epiphany over updating three lines in my bio. But I doubt it. Because it feels like a lot of us are searching for a way to do what we love in a way that’s inspiring and contagious and legacy-making. To have a bigger positive impact on the world. Cause the world really needs it right now.

So, I updated my bio. And then I wrote another version - the bio I want to want to have a year from now. It’s not drastically different. It doesn’t contain any fancy titles, global accounts or appearances on Shark Tank. But it’s different enough that it makes me excited to meet the person I’m going to have to become to get there.

I’m hoping to bump into her on an elevator.

Holy Crap, Obituaries Are Expensive.

My father would be really proud that I was economical with his "official" obit in the newspaper. But he deserves far more than two column inches. So here's what I REALLY wanted to say about my dad.


Neil Russel Meyer of Issaquah, WA passed away peacefully, (but at least 6 hours later than we expected to prove how strong he still was) on March 11, 2018.  Neil, as he was known by everyone including grandchildren and pets, was born in Springfield Ohio in 1937. He grew up in St. Paris, Ohio, where he graduated high school. After two years in the Navy, Neil went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Montana.

Neil is survived by his wife Nancy, daughter Jennie and husband Dave, step-daughter Bambi and husband Kim, step-daughter Nancy and fiancé Jeff, along with grandchildren Brooke, Forrest, Chace, Sydney, Sam, Cassidy, Carson, and great-grandson Brayden. Neil is also survived by his brother David, wife Jane, and nephew Derek. Neil was predeceased by his parents, Rose A. and Elwood H. Meyer and many dogs, cats, horses and goats who he had a love/hate relationship with. Especially the Tennessee Walking horse who knocked his front teeth out as a child, and that one goat who chewed a hole in his underwear.

Neil had an impressive, 37-year career with Weyerhaeuser, working his way up from a “choker” in the woods to a Plywood Plant manager in Snoqualmie and White River, and later a Systems Management consultant throughout the Northwest. In the mid 80’s, Neil moved with Nancy to Sabah, East Malaysia for five years to manage the building and running of a Plywood Plant just outside Lahad Datu. Daughter Jennie attended school in Singapore during this time, sparing Neil lots of teen hormones and eye rolling.  As a manager, (and in life) Neil was honest, kind, incredibly detail oriented, and so safe he was dangerous, always wearing his hard hat at a signature, jaunty angle.

Being from the forest industry, Neil. Loved. Wood. Which is evident from the temple of cedar home he built with Nancy, the two barns he built with Nancy supervising, and the neatly stacked piles of firewood, in descending order of size, everywhere around the property.

In his younger years, Neil spent his free time playing tennis, up-keeping the property, helping care for Jennie’s horses, swearing under his breath at Jennie’s horses, and going fishing. (But not nearly enough.) He could make a mean Margarita, a meaner Manhattan and a perfectly sweet Shirley Temple. Neil could also be found on rainy weekends puttering around the basement, organizing bolts and screws into an elaborate system of empty Beer Nuts cans.

After retirement, Neil devoted himself to cooking delicious, but eyebrow-singeingly spicy food, wine-making, fence and paddock repairs and keeping mice out of the horse feed.

Neil was a sweetheart of a man, and a loving husband and father with a sharp wit as dry as melba toast.  He saved his occasional lectures accompanied by an impressive nose flare for his family, but to his friends and acquaintances, he was always kind, quietly funny, and incredibly polite. He will be remembered with love and missed by all.

A celebration for Neil featuring good, but reasonably-priced, wine is being planned for late May. In remembrance, please donate to Alzheimer’s research at alz.org.