Driving into Death Valley

Whether you are in search of your next vacation adventure or looking to add something to your bucket list, this is it people! Death Valley, California!

Until I began planning our California trip I never really took the time to notice the fact that deserts are cool AF! In fact the Death Valley National Park is the largest National Park in the world, and has the hottest,driest and lowest points in the world as well! Seriously!? So this is a brief recap of our time spent enjoying two full days of seeing the most amazing sights of my life. It was like being on mars. All you Star Wars fans, yes it was filmed there! Oh ya!

Star Wars!

I will finish the series, before I die, and many other movies…

By now we had been driving for what seemed like an hour but was about 3.. There was so much sky above and so much land, with not a single soul. Sadly we saw no authentic tumbleweeds in real life, but the picture is pretty clear. It was miles of no humanity. It was a very real reminder of the fact that the earth is a planet like the rest of them…

It was strange and intoxicating to be in such a quiet, intense place.

Luckily it wasn’t hot, but it does get to about 125 degrees f in the summer months. No that isn’t snow. It’s salt! Crazy right!? So we saw some crazy mountain terrain and rugged hills. We saw colors in the earth that were like cryptonyte, or at least what I picture it looking like. We saw LEGIT purple mountains magesty. This place was incredible!

The one stop we made en route was at this groovy 1940s, perfect place for a murder- serial-killer- sex- trafficker, pit stop. It had all the makings of one of those drive America roadside attractions, with flare!

I must say it was everything I expected and extremely disconcerting. The place had vibes, ghost town vibes, of the west coast gold rush. The sign was cool and for the price of gasoline in the middle of the desert it deserved a photo op. I was also documenting for whoever found my phone when I got kidknapped.

The gentleman who pumped the gas was extremely nice, so I’m sure it wasn’t really thaaat bad. I used the bathroom, let’s just say, it was an experience… it was your standard high school bathroom length, with stalls. Most of them were broken, waterless, brown, or didn’t have toilet paper. I’ll be honest washing my hands was out of the question. Purell or bust around there. It was a sight. As uncomfortable as a woman could feel it still really had a vintage USA freedom vibe that was unmistakable! I mean only in America would a guy have a gas station in the middle of the desert! It’s a pretty good opportunity when you are the only show in town!

We entered into Death Valley proper at dusk, which was pretty incredible!

It was just the most incredible desert highway ever. It really made me want a drag race car, because you could go 200mph and have no chance of hitting anything except a mountain. The majority of the roads were straight-away with smooth turns, basically built for cruising at unreasonably fast speeds.

We passed one other area that seemed to have life, minimum life but I bet they had WiFi! I was certainly preparing for a Wild West adventure at this point. It was so bare, and a saloon would definetly feel right under the circumstances. We did see an opera house, which felt strange, haunted and very out of place. Yet, we later discovered more details of the desert-opera origins, and success!

Just as the sunset, our gps started to pick up the pace, not that it was necessary since we did map out the details in advance. It was reassuring though.

So the sun set.

It was black.

Then we arrived.

It

Was

EXACTLY

what I wanted!

However, because of my scholarly knowledge of hospitality, I found this place to be extremely “corporate” in the sense that it clearly had organization/ sophistication that was surprisingly unexpected. In a place that probably had a multitude of legitimate barriers, the check in desk and hotel room were clean, organized and down right classy for a desert. It was so well designed with photographs and decor that I was impressed. So when we got to the restaraunt naturally I inquired about the way the place is run.

It was basically corperate, so it’s well oiled machine swagger wasn’t a mirage. The staff was brought in like Disney land, seasonal and housed on campus. Weird! They were so nice though! Who knew there was this gypsy hospitality life out in the world. So the bar tenders and wait staff gave us the full run down, perhaps because we were inquisitive or maybe they give the details to everyone. Either way, we were impressed!

So the food was awesome!

The drinks were great!

There was Hollywood memorabilia.

Also! Star Wars!

No that is not a typo! Fun fact: the original name of Return of the Jedi was “Revenge of the Jedi” only 10,000 copies of the movie poster exist and because they filmed it in Death Valley, guess where the staff slept!?

Yes!!!

The story started with this painting, it was covered up and curiously so. I guess kids these days can’t appreciate art. The woman in the painting was said to have a Russian Ballerina who’s car broke down in Death Valley. She came upon the theater and loved it so much she decided to open a world class opera house. It was speculated that she was too burnt out to continue with New York City Ballet so this was in essence her retirement. Luckily she was well connected and folks from all over the world came to enjoy her opera house in the desert.

This was a glorious story… not totally accurate but pretty close! Amargosa Opera House was rented and repaired in by a gal named Marta Becket. She was an exceptionally bad ass lady who had the gumption to put an opera house in the middle of a desert and man did she nail it!

It was a great success, oh she wasn’t Russian, she was a dancer, singer choreographer, actress. She was a radio city music hall ballerina. She also got a flat tire en route somewhere with her husband in the desert when they discovered the then social hall turned opera house.

So basically ballerinas rule the desert!! If you would like to hear how amazing the actual adventures within the glorious Death Valley National Park were stay tuned, the next part is coming soon! Yes we have officially been to the lowest point in the world! It was salty, sandy and literally the most amazing place I’ve ever seen!

So this turned into a two part blog only because there really is so much more to tell!

See y’all soon!

Happy adventuring!

How Do You Define Success?

This thing in life called success is by far the most complex of all adult complexities. Everyone has their own definition. Success is such a personal word, yet we constantly seek validation on our own definition. Why?

I’d like to think that we, as the social human species that we are, want to make sure we aren’t some kind of deviant nut job. Although, I’m sure the first person to seek validation for the tiny house got a lot of side eye. I don’t expect this to resonate with everyone, but for some of us (possibly deviant), there’s something calling us.

My personal definition of success would mean I would have landed the job/ lotto or otherwise level of awesome that is #waterfrontlife. Let me clarify, the ocean not the lake. Once I have achieved the level of awesome in life to live on the coast of a beautiful ocean, I’ve made it!

Here it is the tangent I usually go into when I’m making a pretty clear point… feel free to skip this if you just want to, but it is actually kind of worth reading… It was August 2013. It was a girls night, at the apartment I used to rent in Middletown,CT. It was small, but it had everything we needed. Enough space to spread out but not enough to stay forever. What we loved about this place was that it had a rooftop deck. So we went out to the bar, all 8 of us, and a good friend of mine came out to meet us, he brought with him another friend of his. So we drink, we party, we return to my place. Some people leave, and it’s down to my friend, his friend and myself… Naturally we continue drinking on the rooftop. As we sit their we discussed life, 3:00 am seemed like the perfect time to do so.

I’ll never forget that night. We talked about success. For me, it meant doing better financially than my parents, winning the money race. He agreed. There was a lot of other banter but this stuck out to me. We decided at that moment, money was the definition of success. It was after that, I chased it, and found that it’s not the actual gathering and hoarding of money that really defines success by itself… (tangent complete)

I haven’t always known what success looked like for me. Some people say it’s a title (Doctor Robyn doesn’t sound right), part of my ego thinks that’s true, but no, for me it’s not a title. It’s a place of sheer and utter perfection.

Success has always been a place for me?(I was surprised)! Actually it’s a feeling to me as well, the feeling of being so proud you want to explode!

It wasn’t until recently I realized that what I’d visualized all these years as my #homegoals was actually my definition of success. I was shuffling through my podcast options and I heard the maker of spanx clarify what success meant to her… and no it didn’t mean skinny jeans with no muffin top (but maybe that is success for someone), no it was like a light bulb went off!

Sara Blakely was a woman on a mission to meet Oprah Winfrey(I mean who isn’t right!?). So she spent years trying different strategies in order to meet O. She always visualized this meeting, at each stage of her life, asking herself if whatever she was doing at that time was getting closer to her goal. Oprah’s meeting was the point at which she knew she had “made it”. So meeting with Oprah was her definition of success!

She recalls the visualization of the interview with Oprah, and how it really helped drive her to being an entrepreneur. What I found the most “ah-ha” about this was that, I (not a super billionaire-Forbes-list human) had always had the same experience, from the ripe age of my youth I had a vision of success. I never pictured success to be a vision I guess. I thought of it more of a dollar amount, sailing into the sunset kind of thing. I thought it was a title or a job or a rich snobby lifestyle. I thought it was something but not a place.

I was never a kid who liked to play with baby dolls and thus that meant I would grow up to be a nicu nurse. No I never had that “thing”. I never had an overwhelming desire to be a mother. I was never the best at anything or even the worst. I never really had a “calling”, so I thought. I always had a vision though. I didn’t know it until I realized that is where my mind wondered, that’s where my passion was.

What is the formula? Location of future home =success/ purpose/passion all the other buzzwords that then equal happiness?? Maybe!

So many women have the same sentiment… the when this happens then I’ve made it… I believe even Oprah had this definition at some point in her life. Usually it’s not based on a number in your bank account but rather an experience which makes you fundamentally change. I hope it’s a myth that only the lucky few have always known who they were meant to be. What I’ve seen in my own experience is that we know but then we change course for whatever reason. Maybe we always wanted something, what happens if we get it?

What about after you meet Oprah then what? Life doesn’t stop! I personally have not met the great O but I get the concept. I’ve made goals, hit them and felt kind of “disappointed” once they are over. It’s as if you checked that box, and now, you are ready for the next. This may also be a character flaw but once I make it (insert life goal), then, I’m quickly onto the next thing. For me relishing in achievement doesn’t do anything for me. Some people hold onto these moments for a lifetime, living in that high of life. I picture a shot out, drunken high school jock that never grew up, but remembers the good old days. I almost never look back, unless I’m scared. Which is what success does not look like.

Success is what happens when you are living in the moment.

Okay so back to my vision of success. You know how in movies they replay the same scene of that gorgeous woman opening the French doors with wispy, sheer curtains and a light breeze? Well that’s similar to my vision. Let’s paint the picture…

There isn’t a coco Chanel commercial coming up, in fact there is just me, my love and the beautiful place we live. It’s nautical but not cluttered. Overall it’s pretty simple. There are bookshelves with books, and sea treasures. There is a great big wall of windows, and a white oversized canvas couch. There are cozy blankets and soft colors. It’s calm, light is pouring in. There are whites, creams, beiges, pale sea glass colors and calm blues. The kitchen is opened into the living room and the space is just about medium sized. It’s opened and salt airy. All windows open the doors slide and the air fills the room. Outside you see the seagrass, sand, assorted pebbles. All you can hear is the waves, and wind cooing. The sand is cool and it’s about 6:00pm. The day has been filled with love and calmness. It’s almost time to light a fire and watch the ocean in its mysterious elegance. There are big wine glasses, linen clothes, soft fabrics and simple pleasures. Coffee would always be a ritual experience, outside, with the news or maybe not. The cat would love it too.

The life I picture here by the sea is what therapists ask you to picture when you are anxious. “Your happy place”.

I figured this was the lifestyle of the rich and famous I hoped for someday, but would ultimately never achieve. I realized while listening to this women talking about her ideal meeting with Oprah that in fact If I didn’t make this dream come true. I would never have reached the success I had imagined for myself. I realized success wasn’t a job, or a bank account or hitting the lotto. It was a place.

You can’t get this working for the state… nope you can’t get this being average. You can’t get that life until you are maybe 65 but only after saving your entire life to hopefully get there someday. So I guess in my mind I tabled this idea as something I’ll look into once I’ve figured out the foundation (like what the heck I could do to make the exorbitant amount of money to afford this). I think the reality is I’m not patient, nor am I rational in this vision. I don’t think I need to be. It’s my dream! Right? (Rhetorical)

Living a life filled with passion.

Now that I have put that vision out into the universe it’s important to explain how this actually led me to decide what my “passion” is. I put it in quotations because I feel that my passion is pretty fluid in that I am passionate about many things, not one at a time. So for me the idea of home has always been what I felt the most driven by. Maybe because I always wanted my home to be perfect. I always wanted to enhance the experience for my guests, simply by the way in which my home speaks to them (also because I am a people pleaser). Sounds crazy right? Maybe a little, maybe not.

After getting far enough along my life to see life for the meaning it offers, I have learned that being rich or famous is not success (for me). I finally decided what success means. It means living with purpose, pursuing passion and exploring your own personal journey. Maybe money and material things are a part of that, but it’s not the bottom line.

For me success is living a life, every day with passion, purpose and meaning. My passion is architecture, art, history, music, food, experiences, creating beauty and helping people. For me success will be when I am working for someone using my talents, and helping them achieve their goals. Success will be when I’m watching the light pour in through my sheer curtains on the beach.

I’m always looking for ways to improve, learn and grow and I don’t think there is ever a time that I’ll feel “full” enough to stop. It’s a journey.

Success is a timeless journey.

It is something that mankind has searched for, since the beginning of time. When you have achieved success then you have made yourself proud, you have made a difference in the world, and you’ve offered yourself the gifts only you possess. Success can not be taught. It can not be defined. It is what each of use strive to achieve in the short time we are here on this earth.

We may have many successes. We may have just one that we wish to achieve. Whatever success means, I can not tell you personally, it’s a journey to discovery.

My hope is that like my “ah-ha” moment listening to that podcast, that someone reading this will realize that the picture in their mind, might be more. The vision you have for your life, it might be your definition of success.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your vision is! I’d love to hear your feedback!!

Until next time.

The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.

Adventures in Joshua Tree (Californi-yah part III)

One of the greatest adventures in life is doing things you never pictured yourself doing. When you put yourself outside of what you consider your “comfort zone”, you grow. You also get perspective…

For those who don’t know me well, I am not a full blown snob, but I have pretty high standards for “things”. For example, I like to be at a comfortable temperature, I like fine dining, food for me is not a means for survival but for enjoyment, I appreciate flowers and nature but prefer sleeping indoors. Maybe it’s Goldie Locks syndrome but I believe things should be justttt rightttt … and this experience was a prime example of why you can’t define your fun by an all inclusive Caribbean package of porridge.

Picking up from our dinosaurs we knew that we had to get to our destination before sunset. There were two reasons for this, first because the gps didn’t pick up the actual location of our next Air BnB in the Joshua Tree National Park, and second so we could see a kick ass desert sunset.

We made it just in time to locate our desolate hipster wagon!

It was breathtaking.

Not only was the location prime, but the actual airstream was surprisingly spacious.

I used to romanticize camping as a kid, since my parents never went camping, my friends liked to camp and I had absolutely no idea what camping was. I asked for a tent one year for my birthday and that tent became my permanent fort in the yard. I had tea parties with all my favorite stuffed animals, but never entertained the idea of sleeping inside of it… and as an adult, I still don’t really have any interest in sleeping in a tent. Joseph, my better half, lives to camp in the woods, he goes 4-5 times a year. So, this was my version of camping,

Glamping!!

Before we got there we picked up the essentials at Whole Foods… you know…

Filet mignons, macrons, burrata cheese, craft beer and rosé…. and yes avocados…

It was valentines weekend, don’t judge.

A couple of beers and a thousand glamour shots of the airstream later… the wind picked up…

We bundled up and got settled in. If you are still paying attention, you might be wondering how we came to find this place or why we came at all… It just so happens, we planned this (I hate to use this word but) epic journey through the southern part of California, from LA to San Diego to Palm Springs, this was our next stop on the self-guided tour.

The Goals of Jtree

Each destination had with it a set of hopes, dreams and long winded Wikipedia explanations. I had planned 14 pages (respectively) of careful opportunities to see the most cool shit we could see.

Here are the major take aways…

1. Stargazing- in winter, in the desert, with my love in an airstream.

2. The airstream. (Coolest place I’ve ever slept)

3. National Park touring, Internet research told me it was pretty drivable and we got to see the major highlights without killing the entire day.

We arrived in the evening, set up our camp site. Put some layers on and enjoyed a cozy but pretty brisk dinner ala desert.

It was a pretty fabulous dinner I won’t lie. In fact I think drinking rose out of a tiny mason jar might have made me feel closer to god. Or maybe that was the California vibes… either way it was a rad dinner filled with luxury. Glamping is definitely the only way to go!

We proceeded to lay on the deck with winter jackets on, socks, boots, a comforter, and pillows to look for shooting stars.

We successfully experienced our stargazing glory!

I passed out from a combination of wine, red meat, sugar and overall exhaustion. It really was a rad experience, I highly recommend it!

When I woke up, this was my view, mountains of beautiful Joshua Tree granite and a deserty paradise.

Joshua Tree Mornings

Someone once said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That person must have started with Joshua Tree Coffee.

We ate, collected ourselves and got the final thousand pictures of the airstream, it really was the happiest place on earth.

The most luxurious breakfast in the desert. Made by me, Martha Stewart’s wannabe -child. Avocado toast, fried egg (microwaved because my resources were limited), leftover filet sliced up and topped with tapitito hot sauce.

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

The coffee though, was amazing!!! If anyone is interested, here’s the link to this coffee if the gods Joshua Tree Coffee Co. It was strong, smooth and literally my favorite no nonsense coffee since the amazing bulletproof coffee in LA.

Okay… enough airstream pictures, but do you understand the cool factor? I hope.

National Park virgin no longer!

Joshua Tree being my first, ever experience, in a National Park, was pretty perfect. Mainly because, Joshua Tree is the youngest National Park in the country, established in the 90s just like my cool kid attitude.

We named this first stop: gorilla rock.

This desert playground was not like what I had pictured in my head… no the cacti were stubby and there were Trees!

Joshua Trees are pretty much gods way of saying, ” you might be tripping on peyote”. The feeling here is serreal though, like something out of imagination…

The Joshua Trees came in all shapes and sizes, so many in fact that it was hard to decide which one was our favorite.

They look like pine trees married with palm trees, but yes they are spikey.

I couldn’t help feeling light here, like all the troubles of the world weren’t real, just adventures in the gumdrop forest of Joshua Trees.

Admittedly we didn’t spent as much time as one could while visiting but we had more adventures ahead…

The must see spots:

1. Keys View

2. Skull Rock

3. Cool Joshua Trees

The good news, again, was that the J Tree spots we picked were extremely drivable. The reason we limited our adventures here, is because we had a 5 hour drive to Death Valley thereafter. I could lie and say we started bright and early but we only arrived in the park at about 11:00am. We aren’t morning people.

The sky is so big, and the world is so beautiful. If I were reading this I would be planning my next vacation ASAP!

Site number one: Keys View

This location overlooks all of Coachella valley and I have once again tested my dramatic fear of heights.

This wasn’t a long hike, it was drivable and a short walk to the overlook point. I loved the pictures I saw of these incredible landscapes on Pinterest and on Instagram and all the places I searched prior to arrival. I was so excited to see this point… it was amazing.

Terrifying.

But amazing!!

The smile is hiding my complete concern for falling down into that valley… irrational but possible!

So there are a few more photos from this beautiful experience and then I’ll move on…

The daredevil himself… sitting on the edge of this crazy mountain.

We walked around embracing this larger than life experience, me a little more carefully, than my counterpart. In keeping with my usual attitude in life, risk adverse.

Site number 2: skull rock.

It looks like a skull and…. that’s about it, nothing more to see here!

There are tons of other places to see and go.

We didn’t have a lot of time and honestly had we had more time, there would be way more pictures, and adventures to be had here.

The landscape was just amazing. You ant imagine how peaceful the desert is until you’ve experienced it.

The desert of Joshua Tree is magnetic. Something about the energy is calming for your soul. I absolutely recommend experiencing this incredible place.

See the cactus garden for me!

Next up: Death Valley… and we started on the road to the largest national park in the US.

So long for now Joshua Tree, we will be back!

Hello scary but amazing Death Valley !!!!

A few hundred miles into the wild west we began. It was mid day, with our sites set on adventure….and our eyes on the road ahead.

Palm Springs- Cali forni yahhh!

When you drive into the dessert-y-seemingly uninteresting route for about an hour in the dark, only to come across perfectly placed palm trees, underlit, you enter into the parallel time of 1970s glamorous Palm Springs!!

This place like many others in Cali have this odd nostalgic romantic aura all around. It wasn’t a mirage, it was like Las Vegas, in that it offered a destination in a place that was so unexpected without the strung out Vegas vibe. Surrounded by mountains, this dessert city had so many facets of Americana proper.

Granted we only had a full day of exploration, but we truly loved the time we had.

The must do list:

1. Relax.

It was vacation and yes even the most exciting adventurers were in search of a good soak. It’s actually science.

We soaked in the hot spring fed pools at the Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa. In all honesty it was not the Ritz; the room was dated and there was a plastic spoon behind the night stand that had become part of the rug, but the pools made up for it.

Our room overlooked the courtyard with 8 different pools, with a fake background, I mean mountains in the back (seriously the mountains did look fake!) All of these glorious pools were different temperatures and were heated naturally by underground hot springs. After the previous 2 days of 45,913 steps and plenty of car time, our bodies were in heaven in this little oasis!

I wouldn’t recommend the hotel for a lavish experience, but if you need a good soak after a long journey then it’s 100% the place to stay.

It was cold at night and extremely windy, but once you get in the pools, it’s like warm hug!

Obviously I need a hot tub or at the very least a proper soaking tub… next house goals!

2. Tacos in full color!

….Because obviously my goal was usually tacos. So the next day we planned the day around soaking, lunch, and leisurely shopping. Also, dinosaurs but I’m getting ahead of myself.

After waking up and soaking for a few hours, we checked out and headed to lunch at (in my opinion) the ideal Palm Springs ambiance! It was like where you expect the lucky charms leprechaun to hang out, the skittles commercials to be filmed, the artists to be in their element… etc. It sure was colorful!

Bonus that they had these awesome Barbie (my favorite) modern art displays in their lobby.

What I loved the most about this was the mid-century modern design that was so authentic to the town. It had a certain joie de vivre unlike anywhere else; freedom, excitement and culture! It felt like a place made for tv. I suppose that is why movie stars loved Palm Springs. It’s a strange but comfortable get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

But the tacos….

were fresh!

And so the glorious experience came to an end…but actually just lunch.

3. Vintage shopping

Every Pinterest girl knows, that the best vintage clothes are in California and the capital of vintage shopping is clearly Palm Springs, or at least Pinterest told me (so it must be true)!

I’m going to be honest I was semi-obsessed with this particular location and was thus on a mission to find it. It wasn’t easy, in fact my poor sense of direction and little knowledge of anything in the area didn’t help, but we finally located it, after a little bit of round about walking. I will say I was surprised that there were not rows of glorious vintage charm shops lining the streets but I suppose we all have expectations. This store did not disappoint!!! If you are looking for the most fabulous classic Haute couture peices, at pretty reasonable prices, then The Fine Art Of Design is a must!!!

Did I mention I’m now officially obsessed (moreso than before) with hat boxes. I need to calm down. This place was quintessential vision. I loved it! I didn’t find the “can’t live without item” I was hoping for but in all honesty it was the experience of it that I can wrap myself up in. The pieces were cultivated and chosen with such care as if chosen for a personal closet rather than for resale.

I think I felt so comfortable here because across the street from a French cafe was a Greek cafe and marketplace, and so my Greek and French heritage was finally on the same page, or at least the same street. Everything made sense and all was in alignment…

I could go on and on, but ultimately it was a colorful day full of zest and high fashion vintage and tacos, what else is there?

4. Du du du dinosaurs!

Yes Pee Wee had a big adventure, and so did we!

We really didn’t stay long, because we knew we had to arrive at Joshua Tree for our next destination before dark, as instructed by our Air BnB host. Spoiler: we stayed in an airstream in the desert and it was awesome!

However like the great dinosaurs of Peewee’s Big Adventure we had to go out with a bang, or was it the ice age? It was definetly getting cold…. ( I didn’t see the movie) either way we found our way out of the dinosaurs and into the desert… and onto the next adventure.

So long Palm Springs you sexy dessert flower! Not only was it a cool laid back groovy experience but the dessert of Palm Springs also made clean energy, for all my green friends! These turbines were rad!

Thanks for reading! Hope you liked it! We sure did!

Leave a comment! Send feedback! Definetly check out Palm Springs if you ever get the chance, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, felt or done!

Next up… Joshua Tree!

Life’s Interruption

I have interrupted this (normally super positive)blog to bring you life’s interruption… a little dark cloud that creeps in when you are least expecting it. I promise to return to light hearted travel and journey blogs right after this…

I think I’ve been trying to avoid this topic but in the midst of quite a few close friends (and family)experiencing a loss, I thought it would be appropriate timing.

There really isn’t a good time to talk about it… and if you are someone who has never lost a close relative, or friend, someday this may make sense..

Suddenly in the middle of a perfectly great day, we get interrupted.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not as simple as a customer service call… No, sometimes it’s an important call that sends our whole world into a frenzy. Sometimes it’s just the flashback…of the call, the day or the feeling we had…

I’ll warn you now that if you wanted a light hearted blog this isn’t the one, it gets kind of emotional but very real. So carry on at your own risk.

The call is, never the one you want. It’s never the right time, or the right day or the right weather.

It’s never the right response.

You never get to forget it either.

Every moment during which this call takes place you are actually living in slow motion, but yet you wish it would’ve been over faster. It’s, not the IRS.. (sorry I joke when I’m nervous)no it’s the “something has happened” call…

I’ll tell you, I’ve had a lot of experience with death, and yet it still comes back like acid reflux every time I hear of anyone’s loved one passing… I have been in the trenches of mourning and I have known the loss that few (my age) have known. It’s not a club you want to be in..

My phone call came at approximately 6:25am on a tuesday morning. July 11th 2014. A flash bulb memory…

It’s like how you remember exactly where you were the day you found out about 9/11. What’s weird is at the time of 9/11 I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was, or what was happening. When I got the phone call my dad had suddenly passed away in his sleep, after seeing him less than a week prior, I knew what it meant.

So what happened after the call? I couldn’t breath, or eat or speak. I didn’t cry right away…

In slow motion, I managed to go through the entire week feeling like I got sucker punched… Then for months I relived my sorrow over and over, and while that was happening, so was life… like normal every day things, which was so inconvenient!!

How exactly did I not see this coming? No one did, and for most people death doesn’t work into our plans…

We don’t think about death unless it’s effecting us at that moment. We protect ourselves from this fear and this sadness by avoiding it.

I was fortunate to have my band aid torn off in some ways.

My dad was definitely not the “bed ridden kind”, nor would he be a good candidate for any kind of “treatment” except “special treatment”. He really got out in the best way he could have, really.

My dad lived. He sure did fear death though, as I think we all do. The uncertainty of it makes the concept very scary. That is why many people have faith in god, others in reincarnation but whatever you believe, know that you will some day get a “call”. Maybe not a sudden and severe one, but one that will stay with you. It changes you, and the way you think of things…

It’s not that I want to dwell on death, in fact I try not to be morbid most of the time. I can’t help but know, with such certainty, that life is short. If we have good years in our life than we have lived.

Loss isn’t always the same. However, I’ve found that personally, there have been two distinct experiences that are universal:

1. Sudden and unexpected. Which consists of losing someone as a result of a car accident, an overdose, a health related incident that couldn’t be rectified, a miscarriage, SIDs, military related, gang related… and a million other sudden traumatic losses…

2. Slow, steady decline. Slow is a relative term. The usual example is someone suffering from an illness who is going through treatment, or a grandparent experiencing age related failure.

Each type of loss is equally as traumatic and devastating, I’ve experienced both. Each type comes with their own distinct feelings, as did the relationship with that person. When I lost my dad, I thought of friends I had who had also lost theirs. I instantly felt like now I could relate. Now I knew what they meant when they said things. I never knew the feelings could be so different.

We all feel loss one day, and we can never truly know the feeling until it happens… but we should know how to be there for someone during this horrible time. Whatever you say, don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do”. Make it a point to schedule a coffee date or just say “sorry for your loss”, it’s worse to make empty promises.

When we lose someone we evaluate ourselves.

Just like we evaluate all the company around us, and yet we don’t do this in our day to day. We struggle to make it to the end of the week or just to make enough to get our needs met and yet we forget how important people are. The kindest words, the greatest stories are told to our loved ones at the wake of death. That must change!

Could we be better at telling the stories we love of each other today, instead?

In life we get schedules and routines. We make things important and other things “not so important”. We go so fast, yet so slow, but do we see each other? Do we look past the “good morning” or the “how was your weekend?” Do we care enough? It’s hard to take care of yourself during times of loss, and it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The months that follow…

After the loss, we drift away from the person who has experienced it, knowing we said something, or sent some flowers. We forget that they don’t continue their lives the same way they were before. We assume they say everything is fine and move on, selfishly or consciously but with little consideration of if that is actually true…

The person who has lost their loved one, does not snap back into reality (at least I didn’t). No, they wake up everyday to remember they can’t call their dad or their mom, or their friend and tell them about their day. They won’t see them at their regular holidays. They remember good times, they remember bad times but they know they are lonely. Some people (like myself) don’t like a lot of attention with sad connotations. I’d much rather be happy, don’t we all feel that way!

There is a feeling that no one understands the feelings, or has experienced this specific scenario. The reality is, grief is universally individual. You feel your feelings alone, no hallmark card, or edible arrangement can fix or soften the experience. It’s about being seen. If we can see each other’s needs, care enough to make their day a little easier, it helps. Every little thing helps in a small way, to dig you out of your dark sad space.

Empathy.

See the persons feelings and know that you might not understand, but it’s not your time to. You might know their lossed loved one or you might not. What a grieving friend, coworker, loved one needs, is just to be seen, heard, and held. There is nothing to be said. The less you say the better. You just need to be there.

Something changes after you experience a great loss…

They aren’t the same whole person they started with. In fact, some feel the loss of their loved one forever, and while some say it eases with time, that isn’t true for everyone. That’s okay! The reality is, the way they see the world is now forever changed. It’s not that they will never be “themselves” again, but they might not want what they thought they wanted before.

I’ll give you a personal example. I used to work both a 9-5 and a side job which ranged from 10-20 extra hours sometimes even another 40 additional hours. After my dad passed, I had 2 jobs, a mother who had just been through a psychotic break and was being re-medicated, a serious boyfriend (thank god for him) and we had just made an offer on a house (luckily they turned us down). That was my level of normalcy. Going on full time overdrive, running from one job to the next, not spending time on myself or what I wanted out of life.

When we are young, we think we have forever to live. After my dad’s death and several young classmates sudden deaths, I woke up.

I had never considered what exactly my dad did for my life, since I was (an adult) out of the house. He kepted a careful balance of handling shit, without anyone knowing. We didn’t know what he did behind the scenes (what bills, responsibilities etc.). He had a small business, a commercial building and he loved working, he handled everything. He was the one that instilled a deep sense of pride and work ethic in me. Now it was up to me to fill in the gaps, my mom couldn’t do it, the baton has been passed.

My dad missed dance recitals, piano recitals, Greek school graduation and a bunch of other things I don’t remember. He never packed my lunch or helped me with my homework. I never minded, or felt bad about it, because I knew he was there (supportive, but not present). Maybe that was how I made my peace in the end, but I am digressing .

The point is the man worked a lot.

He obviously was successful in doing so, but yet he missed out (or maybe he didn’t think he did), on life’s precious moments. He was there for milestones, the guy wasn’t a total workaholic, but he did miss some things.

After he passed. I quit my second job, (I still went in from time to time) I stopped doing overtime and I realized all the money I was trying to make, didn’t make me happy!

This moment was so important. I was working because I thought I was supposed to work hard, save money, buy a house and that would make me a successful adult. I clearly learned after dismantling his life in the court of probate that life is more important than work.

Yes money was important, and I didn’t quit my day job. It was an extreme change for me. For my whole college experience, I worked every Saturday, and Sunday. I missed Mother’s Days, I missed Father’s Days I missed these little moments and didn’t think anything of it because I had to work.

In the end we wish we had more time, not money.

We wish we could have spent more time with those people we have lost. We regain a feeling that life is short, and so precious, and can be so easily interrupted.

Death changes life, but it doesn’t stop life from happening, it changes our views of it for a time. We are sad, we are lonely, we feel more easily aggravated, we may be angry, but we wake up in the morning, and we choose to get up and move forward.

Sometimes we are affected but it takes an extreme loss to fundamentally shift the way we think. This is what happened for me. I started to look at life as finite. That isn’t negative, it’s true!

It’s hard. Every single day you miss the person you lost. Every day you think of something that reminds you of them. What we don’t remember to do daily is to check in with someone who has just faced, what we have faced. We assure ourselves that because they have a spouse or someone else that we don’t need to say anything or do anything else…

We forget that they are in the midst of the battle that is grief. Once we have gone through a true loss, we are either afraid forever to face it again, stuck in a state of grief where we seek out others who are also experiencing grief or we simply avoid it all together. We protect our delicate selves in which ever way we know how.

I must remind you though that the person who feels the loss may just need a shoulder. I am writing this blog to remind you that life has interruptions. It’s not always happy, and it’s not always sad. It’s not about how much you work. It’s not about the money or the stuff or the status you have. It’s not about the kids all the time. It’s not about your bosses needs. It’s about love. Life is about how much you love. Let your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your relatives know that you love them. Tell them a story, don’t wait to make the phone call.

Don’t avoid love. Wrap yourself in it. Surround yourself with it and give it. Make love your only priority. Love is forever.

Maya Angelou once said, “people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you made them feel”. I always felt that during my grief, there were certain people that stood out, that listened, and that made me feel seen. There were others that didn’t. It’s okay, not everyone understands, but if you know the feeling, don’t let someone feel lonely. They might need you. You might need them. Even if it’s not convenient.

Life is hard for everyone, but particularly hard when you lose someone who is intricately woven into who you are. You lose yourself for a while, and when you find yourself again. You are changed, you see the world differently, maybe better, maybe worse but you are never the person you were before.

Share this with someone who needs to know you love them. Share it because you want them to know they aren’t alone. Share your thoughts and feelings and don’t be afraid to ask how someone is doing. They might need it. You might need to stop in the middle of life and interrupt yourself to see someone else’s point of view. Interruptions happen, sometimes they are life changing and sometimes they aren’t but know that when you least expect life can throw you a curve ball.

Be kind. Extend a caring heart and don’t forget that life is short! Do yourself a favor and don’t hold a grudge, don’t be mean and listen a little more.

We are only human, and we do the best we can. Thanks for listening and please share with someone who might need it.

(Pictured is the wise, chicken scratch of my late grandmother. She may have been the smartest, most loving woman I have known.)

Let me know what you think, if you can relate (I’m sorry for your loss) and if not that’s okay (just be kind)! I hope someone took something away from my story. I’ll be honest it was a hard one to tell. I look back now, still sad and longing for more time with my dad but so grateful for the time we had. So many people touch our lives and make an impression, as we do theirs and so let’s be better humans and love a little more! Until next time…

(I promise for a happy blog next)

Cali-forni- yahhh part II (Adventures in San Diego)

San Diego

Goals: Art, Tacos & Sea Lions

Picking up from Laguna, we drove right into San Diego. At night it wasn’t much to see, a city with lights, but no wow factors.

It wasn’t “late” but the time was 10:30-11pm which to our east-coast-bodies thought was more like 1-2am. We arrived at our next Air BnB, a bit confused since we were in an area that seemed to be an industrial park…

(Side note: we also had a really hard time finding our first Air BnB in Venice but it was only because we were tired and it was sort of a sneaky gate entrance.)

So we knew this BNB has specific directions from the confirmation email. You had to go into a gated parking garage (with a code) walk to a specific wall, to a lock box (another code), get the key, exit the parking garage, drive down another street to enter the parking garage then find the specific condo # parking spot. At that point we were cranky.

We eventually figured it out… and proceeded to our least exciting Air BnB condo. It was just vanilla. Nothing grand or special; it was clean thoug

We then proceed to pass out (dead) from our long exciting, fun filled day, with the next day’s plan ready to be implemented.

Lesson 1 of San Diego-Leave a trail of bread crumbs when you leave the condo…

First one up gets the coffee, so that was me. I spotted a Starbucks on our way in the night before. I took the key and carefully snuck out because being the good girlfriend that I am I decided I’d surprise Joe wth breakfast and coffee… I proceeded to Starbucks were the gentleman named my cup “Rabbit” because Robyn didn’t register for some reason (haha). If this wasn’t a sign that I’d gone down the rabbit hole I don’t know what was.

So I left, walked around a different path, thinking I was checking out the area. Wrong! So I went back in, swiping the key fob, only to get to the elevator and….no dice. The key fob didn’t work. We were on the 4th floor. So naturally I took the stairs, coffee and breakfast in tow. Once I arrived at the top, I was yet again locked out. Joe was definetly still sleeping, so I couldn’t very well wake him.A gentleman came out to the stairs probably on the same mission I was (caffeine), and had no access to the top floor because he didn’t live there (weird). So smart girl that I am, I returned back to the scene of the crime (the garage from the night before). Upon arriving I get into the nearest elevator (because why would it matt which elevator you take up) key fob still isn’t working. The custodian nicely swiped me in. Finally!

I was en route to eat my yogurt parfait in peace.. I get to the door, insert the key…. yes this was the right room number 407. Insert the key. Nope, said key did not work.

This is the same building I walked into with Joe and used this same key less than 12 hours ago! Now it’s time to wake the bear. What exactly was going on!? I was half-way through my large cold brew and so I know I was fully functional. Did someone send me to the twilight zone!??

I call joe. “I’m at the door can you open it…”

Joe- “ummmm no you aren’t”.

“I was in the parking garage, I took the elevator, I walked down the hallway, I’m at 407, the number is on the door”.

Joe- “uhhh you definetly are not.”

“Ok let’s try this again”….

Down the elevator.

Into the garage.

Around the corner.

Into the courtyard, in through the door I went out originally this morning. The pool was on my left…

Up the elevator. Nope it’s not working again… to the stairs.

Someone is coming out, I go in. Calling Joe-

“okay I’m here, 407, open the door”Joe, “Nope you aren’t, do you want me to come get you”….

“No! I will figure this out…”I finally found our actual room after the 4th or 5th attempt. In doing so I learned the buildings were identical; same numbers and amount of floors, but you each one was actually separate from the rest. That was the reason my key card would only work on one elevator. Extremely stupid.

So we proceed to exit the Air BnB with a scathing review of the insanity we faced both during the light of Day and at night, the rubik’s cube hotel was now behind us. First stop on our Journey through San Diego was La Jolla.

La Jolla

Not to be confused with La-Jol-a. Pronounced La-hoy-ya. (Thanks mom!)

So we arrived early (about 9:30am), we started our walk from children’s pool which was originally created for kids to swim in a protected space, then later became the hot hang out for the Seals.

As you can see the seals were quite happy. There were even babies!!!

We walked from here all the way down to Jim’s Sea Cave!

We walked down the steps to a cool little ocean cave.

From there we continued exploring all the way to Jim’s.

Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave was on the itinerary because it was originally created during the prohibition era. Yes the boardwalk empire on the east coast had some rivals!

145 Steps of man made cave was no small feet back in the day!

So that was pretty cool, a little history a little exercise and a lot of steps!

We definetly worked up an appetite and were ready to tear up some Tacos!

So we opted to walk around a bit and see the shops around La Jolla en route to The Taco Stand.

We have now officially checked off Seals and Art (a little art) from the list….

About the tacos..

Were they the best tacos ever? Maybe! The place was cool, cafeteria style but man were those some good tacos! Also the guacamole was top notch!

We were now off to Balboa Park, but not before stocking up on snacks, water, and miscellaneous items we needed for Joshua Tree- Yosemite. So we stopped to pick that list of stuff up and were on our way!

We had wanted to see a bit more of the gas lamp district and in fact had initially booked our AirBnB right in the center of it, but sadly they cancelled on us last minute…

Balboa Park

As we entered there was a building size pipe organ and a small concert being performed.

The architecture was clearly Spanish and Greco Roman romanticism; I mean look at the detail! So beautiful!

Joe wanted to check out the fine arts museum and I saw Frida hanging on the wall… for those of you you don’t know who Frida is…. she’s a hero. She paved the way for a specific form of art that was self expressive, political and just down right baller. Check out the Frida Kahlo exhibit if it ever comes through your city.

So I went to see Frida.

Second lesson of San Diego– just ask.

We enter the building, pay for our tickets, go through the exhibit listed Frida…

Not. One. Portrait.

So I asked, and as it turns out the tuesday prior they sent the exhibit back to Paris.

Sad, but there was other art so we moved on. The building was incredible and we officially checked art off the “San Diego goal bucket list”.

Next stop Botanical Garden!!

I was on a mission though, Pinterest made me obsessed with these colorful steps. I swear Pinterest is always to blame.

My mission was find the colorful steps in the Spanish Village, which was pretty complicated to find based on the map…but we made it!!

This was kind of a marketplace of goods and art and it was everything I hoped for!!

It basically had hand painted steps. The candy land of America. It was amazing! Simple but effective design.

So we had seen art, the botanicals and the Spanish steps, but that wasn’t all… then we hoped to check out some local breweries since the city is known for their craft brew game. We also had 2 more beaches and at least one coffee shop to check out before heading to our next destination.

We decided coffee first, then we needed to get to the Torrey Pines / Black’s beach at sunset to get the full effect and we were running short on both energy and time.

Landing at the amazing Cafe Bassam we enjoyed European style coffee and flair.

We opted for coffee instead of beer, and we were off, back toward the Coast to finish the day with some amazing views.

We arrived at Torrey pines which on a clear day overlooks Orange County, and all the way down to Tijuana.

This is where some people (not me) paraglide off the high cliffs all the way down to La Jolla proper. It’s pretty spectacular except for those of us who are afraid of heights.

Here you can see a small group of specs near the water, and yes those are people.

We were at least a thousand feet up. Or a million in my scared mind.

On that terrifying cliff there were some pretty spectacular views, although not the most amazing sunset. Still, we closed the day with this grand San Diego cliff and just like that, we had made the most of a beautiful day in San Diego.

6:00 pm we left for our next adventure to the retro- fabulous dessert sanctuary of Palm Springs. There are 9 days total of this glorious Californiadventure and 7 to go…

19,708 Steps

30 flights of stairs

Seals. Tacos and Art.

✌🏻until next time San Diego.

We learned lessons and we had fun, but we didn’t get to check out a brewery or see the Gas Lamp district, so we’ll have to go back someday! The rest of the journey is coming soon! Like, share, comment and follow for more adventures, inspirations and sentiments. Let me know what you think! I love to hear from you!

Next… up Palm Springs!

Ciao!

Cali-forn-yahhhh! Part I

So we recently went on a 9 day journey throughout the southern region of California. To give you an idea of how long this 9 days took to plan, let’s just say we booked the flights in November just before Thanksgiving, then the Air BNB’s after that and didn’t finally finish booking the lodging until the end of December… Mostly we were looking for good deals, but we were also trying to gauge our ability to actually do as much as I had planned for us to do…

We ended up with 7 (ok 10) destinations, 12 pages of itinerary, and a lot of amazing sites to see ahead of us.

I’ll admit, I’ve been reluctant to dive into the experience because (selfishly) I was so overwhelmed with joy while we were there, that I was afraid by sharing it I would lose a piece… but maybe instead this will inspire some new grand tour! I hope so!

So the plan was… to take a rod trip… a fun, carefully planned adventure which I assure you was an eye opener (brilliant and terrifying).

In the process of deciding where we wanted to go we considered Hawaii (flight took too long), Bali (we have a friend there who could tour guide us on a budget, but again the flight problem), Iceland (too cold in February), and finally… it dawned on me… I’ve (I mean we) always wanted to go to California!!

In fact, (my geeky side is showing) on my “5 year plan” (that is actually more of a loose set of hopes for the next 5 years) California is on there! It seems like a logical destination as well, since we wouldn’t need to worry about international barriers.

The good news is I checked off this glorious item from my bucket list. The bad news is, now I want to go back and see everything else!

Considering the length (depth) of the trip I chose to break it down into several blogs. Ready!

Day one….

Los Angeles

Oh yes the city of Angels: traffic, surfing, legal marijuana (which was clear by the clouds), and of course Hollywood. How can you possibly not be excited to brush past some super famous star on your way to get a gluten-free-soy-organic-bone-broth-frappe?

All jokes aside, I hardly pay attention to movie stars, I don’t watch reality shows, and unless it’s Mila Kunis, Ryan Reynolds or like 3 other people I could recognize, I wouldn’t be that excited. So Hollywood, we avoided. Venice beach however, was a totally different vibe.

The beach, was gigantic! It’s like a football field of sand. I guess the East Coast beaches have less girth… it was awesome!

The urban art game was amazing (on fleek)!

Only downside:

I was shocked at the homeless population; but despite their circumstances everyone seemed content, which was another surprise. I didn’t see many people that looked unhappy. It’s hard to pin down but going to a city like New York, people aren’t that outwardly easy to read. It seemed that there was a lot more transparency on the west coast.

So we walked Ocean Ave from our Air BNB to the downtown area of Venice, up the boardwalk and down to Bulletproof which was where my coffee game changed forever.

Clearly I had to bring this recipe to my kitchen because it was literally the best tasting, most energizing coffee I’ve had but without the crash! I should be getting paid for this endorsement, but it’s just true!

There we had brunch and it was still only 9:30 am, thanks to East Coast time for making me a West Coast morning person!

This was a yucca (gluten free potato-like thing) toast with avocado, smoked salmon and some other glorious magic! It was a whole new level of avocado toast.

So we fueled up and headed down route 1, starting out on our epic 9 day journey all around the southern part of California.

But first!

Santa Monica Pier

We would have ridden bikes down to it but it was a bit further than we wanted so we drove about 15 minutes north to check it out!

As we were walking in, a Buddhist monk offered Joe a bracelet saying something that sounded like “Pizza” and we realized he was saying “peace”. He was asking for a donation to help build a temple, so naturally joe offered him $5. But he pointed in his wallet to the $20 and said “noooo peeeaaassa”.

So we gave him a $10 and got two bracelets , wrote our names in his little book and now we can add “getting shaken down by a Buddhist monk for temple money” to our list of random life experiences we never expected!

The place was cute for kids! I think if I were a teenager I’d want my boyfriend to take me here for a date!

There were many people playing instruments and singing and even some jazz flute which made my day!

It was a cool place, but off we went to our next destination(s).

Rodondo Beach

On the list of beaches I wanted to see this one was pretty high, mainly because it’s somewhere in the middle of busy LA life and laid back OC life…

It was a bit overcast but no problem for us since we didn’t plan to actually lay on the beach…

This was the Narragansett of the LA beaches in my opinion. Quaint but upscale and definetly beautiful!

So peaceful and again the beaches were huge in depth!

We then drove down Route 1 through some rough neighborhoods, and some oil rigs, (the Bridgeport of route 1), industrial and not too pretty.

Then we got to the pretty parts:

As we drove down this historic highway 1, I couldn’t help but think how cool it must have been in the 1960s driving a muscle car or a convertible down this route.

It really is the most beautiful after we got out of the city, and refinery area.

I couldn’t believe it was only 2:00pm… we had jammed so much in such a small amount of time but we didn’t feel rushed or tired it was just incredible!

I had an itinerary for each place we went, the LA one was pretty short, since we really only wanted to sleep, see some beaches, eat some tacos and set out our way… but the way down to San Diego had a lot of stops.

Beaches mostly, but the last stop was in Orange County at Laguna beach. Again, not for the reality stars, just for the beaches. I must say, I definitely understand what the hype is about. It’s amazingly beautiful!

We walked the majority of the walk on this walkway which I’m sure was donated by someone or in memory of someone but I didn’t catch the plaque.

So, there were a few different beaches here, the first was Goff’s Island beach.

The next was Treasure Island, where there were sea caves that glow purple and possibly hidden treasure.

As we continued down this path, my ultimate goal beach was Victoria beach and 1000 Steps beach, which were on opposite ends of each other.

Victoria beach was my main interest. The castle-like structure has a conflicting history. Some say it was for pirates, others say it was a light house. What is known for sure, is that the most recent owner was Bette Mitler. It is definetly a staircase, and it is definitely beautiful!

Some history is unknown by me but maybe someone can fill in the blanks. I know at high tide these (foundation looking) pools fill up with water and become warm tide pools!

What is inside? A rusty old spiral staircase. Spoiler!

What a beautiful place though! It really has this enchanting element, doesn’t it?

We got here just in time to realize we only paid for 2 hours of parking and we definetly were going to miss that window… so we scrambled back to the car.

At this point it was about 4:30 almost 5:00 and the sun was going down fast… 1000 Steps beach will be for my next Southern California tour.

We met up with some friends at a rooftop bar in town, called Sky Loft. It was a little swanky but mostly laid back, and the view was amazing!

We had some cocktails and dinner then headed for our final destination…

20,572 steps later….and a couple hundred drivable miles.

San Diego.

Stay tuned to hear about the next step in this 9 day adventure. Fun, fancy free, creative and on a budget!

If you like my blog please leave feedback or share with a friend. Or follow on Instagram! Thanks for reading!

For more information on the details of this trip shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll be happy to give you more info!

Mind Over Your Matters

Have you been paying attention to yourself lately? It’s a funny thing that we constantly put people in our lives ahead of ourselves and wonder why we get headaches, sickness etc. Women are especially guilty of this kind of selfless behavior because of our (maybe natural) inclination toward care-taking. We need to cut ourselves off! If we can’t take care of ourselves, do we expect others to? (We shouldn’t.)

In our world today we face trauma daily; in the news, in our community, maybe at work, definetly on social media, and yet do we know how that affects us? If we have become desensitized to some of the usual broadcasts than what does that mean for our well being? It is a learned condition to be at a heightened awareness during times of danger. Our fight or flight response is both adrenaline with cortisol and ladies it not only makes us fat, but it makes us tired and generally unwell. We need less trauma, and less drama!

So what do you do to lower your stress if you have so much stress!? How can you enjoy the life you have now and not in the rear view…You have to get your mind over your matters.

First things first: look at your day and ask yourself how much time do you spend checking in with yourself? I do it at least 3-4 times a day. I need to. For the time being, I work with a population of people who have emergency after emergency. Maybe they are getting evicted, maybe they lost their job, but whatever the case, by the time they come to see me they are in a desperate situation. It’s not easy to manage other people when you haven’t checked in with yourself. You have to, like they say on a plane, secure your oxygen mask before assisting others.

Which brings me to my second extremely important concept. Breathing. When is the last time you took a full deep breath? It seems silly but when we are stressed we take shorter, lighter breaths and this doesn’t allow your body to flourish. Here are reasons to inhale properly… and trust me when I tell you that you will feel better. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to take a deep breath. If I find myself getting aggressive or irritated I try to check my breathing because it really can realign you. Also the more oxygen the less wrinkles… it’s science.

If someone asks you what brings you joy? Could you answer them?

Take a few minutes and jot down things you like to do… now, make time for them! I say it over and over to everyone I talk to, that you need to have you time! You need to be happy, for your sanity, and for the sake of your loved ones. I’ll give you an example. I went through about 2 and a half years of very dark, very unhappy times. My father died, he left a mess of an estate, my mother was dependant on me, I was balancing my feelings like an iceberg.

It was clear that things needed to change and I knew they would. Sometimes we face trials, and sometimes we create them because we are too wound up. We get ourselves involved and react quickly because we haven’t checked in about why this triggers us? Or maybe we know and yet we are falling into the same negative pattern. Stop this habit.

I know for me, I needed to separate myself from the problems I was facing. I knew when I removed myself, mentally, and didn’t own those issues, I could tackle them more effectively. It’s a neat trick about taking your mind over your matters and realizing that you are not your problems. You are a beautiful human doing what errands life has given you. Some have more to shovel than others.

Build meaningful relationships. If a relationship you have isn’t serving you, why keep nurturing it? I’m not suggesting you tell your friend that, since she’s been busy, we no longer have a friendship. The reality is people are doing the best they can. If you are finding that someone is too needy, or the relationship is strained because they always have to be right, or just generally exhausting, just stop. I see so many wonderful women in my life giving into feeling bad because they can’t do everything in their romantic relationship. Yet, they never question the other party!? I think ladies, if you need a break from feeling exhausted in your friendships, or in your romantic relationship…You don’t need to say it outloud.

You simply need to stop, think about your needs and say, okay I’m going to change something.

Ladies we are all (or at least most of us) guilty of staying in a relationship with someone too long, or letting one surface that we aren’t really sure about. This is selfish, and in a way it’s destructive. We shouldn’t be staying in romantic relationships simply because we are that age, or we want it to work, or it’s gotten better. No! These situations lead down a road of greater unhappiness later.

My example is being in a relationship with someone who checked off all the boxes in my superficial needs list (minus the good looking box)… he bought me presents, he was thoughtful (when he screwed up) and he strung me along. This isn’t love, people. He was not only the wrong partner but he wasn’t even a very good friend. He was jealous, mean, and why did I tolerate that? I was used to it. I didn’t know my worth and I let it go on for too long because it had already gone on for too long. In hindsight I lost a lot of opportunities to grow during that time…. but it was a valuable lesson!

When it finally ended it was like a breath of fresh air, and a relief. Sure I was sad, only because I was used to this person being on call, or checking in or whatever. It was super unhealthy and I know now where I went wrong. I didn’t listen to people who cared about me.

So what’s the point of this story? Don’t date jerks (easier said than done)? More like if you know in the back of your mind it’s not right, you’re right. If your actual friends agree with what you probably already know, then get out! Your life matters, you should be happy, you shouldn’t feel weighed down by the relationships you have, romantic or otherwise. They should be easy.

Not only should you be making meaningful connections in love but also in general. Find people who have good souls, and keep them. I learned this lesson, many times. Sometimes we try to categorize our circle as if we need a reason to be with the people we surround ourselves with. No! We aren’t “the plastics” (‘Mean Girls’ reference) we don’t need to be friends with people because we perceive them as better than we are! We need to be friends with them because they add value to our lives. If they don’t add something… ask yourself why you like them, if they are simply an acquaintance that’s okay! Not everyone needs to be your friend. You can just be friendly!

I find this overarching theme in my life being that I really, genuinely, like a lot of people, and therefore I want to be around them and yet I know I have 3-5 people I could call in the event of an emergency. Being a friend and having friends involves some give and take.

You find out during great times and during terrible times how the people in your life fit. I know now what qualities in people I value and what qualities I’d rather not get involved with. I suppose you learn this as you get older in general. I feel for my poor stupid 12 year old self… (man was she a push over). To a degree you live and you learn. Never compromise on supportive shoes, or friends… because both will be a pain after a while..

I was recommended a podcast by my cousin who is not only one of the healthiest people, but also extremely intelligent and trendy (highest praise)! I’m sharing it because I gave it a try and I was pleasantly surprised. I found out that some of the concepts I’ve been mentioning in the blog are mainstream and relevant (or maybe it just reinforces my general outlook). His show touches upon things such as finding your tribe, getting clear on your purpose, your needs and healthy habits. Life amplified with Dan Mason is the podcast. I found it to be honest, and in line with alot of what I talk about here. Check it out!

Bottom Line(my mom’s favorite line) :

Self care is key. Get yourself to the nearest mirror and ask yourself how you are doing then get your mind over your matters! You have the power to change your mind and your life!

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Find inspiration and then make your own!

Thanks for checking out the latest blog and stay tuned for what’s coming up!!

How to Break Your Stress Cycle… (and other adulting hazards).

When did you decide this was it? Did you wake up today and decide this is exactly what you meant to do? Well from 7:00am-5:30pm, Monday through Friday I do not. Then, after my day is over, I return to what I meant to do with my time. I know what you’re thinking: You’re Batman?! Sadly, no. I’ve managed to micromanage myself into a clear cycle… one which must be broken!

Here we go!

I go home, and proceed with the rituals established when I started a 9-5… (exercise, make dinner…you see where this is going). If you have kids you already know the struggle. Butthis is not a parental story, this is self imposed insanity! Arguably worse because there is no small child to blame for why I am so burnt out. (Sound familiar, friends?) I digress.

On the weekends I have the luxury of relaxing right?

Absolutely not.

I’m cleaning. I’m prepping. Yes, I’m having a little (carefully scheduled) fun. But all the while thinking: “I need to do something productive so I’m not ‘stressed out’ this week.”

Yes some might say this is anxiety in full form; stressing about feeling stressed. I happen to think it’s a condition that being in the modern workforce instills in us. It’s the fear…

What is the fear?

You’re afraid to be late.

You’re afraid you’ll get fired.

You’re afraid you aren’t meeting the goals.

You are afraid that you might derail your diet or whatever limits you’ve placed on yourself.

You’re afraid of drama in the office, or just nervously watching your back because fake-friend-Terry (not a real person) is going to snap at any moment.

Afraid of your boss.

Afraid of offending someone.

Afraid of growing old.

Afraid of being a disappointment or failing your team.

Just plain old strung out and scared for Monday…. All throughout your weekend… as you fly from errand to errand, carefully making sure to stay within your budget, while you grocery shop with the rest of the working class crowd.

Then FOMO (“fear of missing out”: for the real adults) kicks in, and you realize you spent so much time being afraid you only really have 1 day or maybe mearly hours of your weekend left. Those precious hours of recharging or just being “yourself” are quickly evaporating. Now that you’re really triggered, you’re scrambling to make the most of what is now the end of your Sunday. You realize that you still have to return to your daily “grind”…and the fun sizzles right out…

So why are we hard wired with the fear?

In a book I recently read called Tribes it addresses the fear as a manifestation of a “sheepwalking life”. Basically, if you deviate from your self imposed or office imposed “norms” then you get the fear. The fear is not defined in the book but I thought it was valuable to mention.Throughout this book I find it outlandish and yet romanticized to consider changing up the “status quo”, and forge a not-so-cookie-cutter path. However I don’t know when I’ll have time… (But if you are ready to change or or perhaps already have, the book is compelling and worth a look! Back to my point…)

Insert sadness…

Then sadness and reality is the next stage: It’s Sunday. That Friday-feeling has completely turned into your meal prepping Sunday blues…

How do you make a mark on the world with 2 days off (if your job is insignificant) and when 79% of the total 2 days is spent stressing out about the week ahead?

Regret, here it comes people…

It is during this point that you decide to sulk. You have to return to real life and yet you feel that you hardly got started. Suddenly the high school math homework nightmares seem like they really could have been the answer. You should have gone to school for something “better”… and the Monday-dread wouldn’t be this bad. Bargaining with yourself is also a stage of grief… (just saying).

So the cycle continues…

How do you break the cycle of adulting stress? I have a couple of simple solutions to get your needs met and live a little!

1. Make a list of happy wants and needs.

Yes I want to clean out my closet. I do not need to do that to function on Monday. Make your list work for you!

Use categories:

  • Things you want to see this weekend: A movie? An art exhibit? A new park in town? Yes the world exists outside of Facebook, you need to get there!
  • Things you want to do for peace of mind: (see above cleaning of the closet.) There is a lot to be said for good living space vibes and fung shui.
  • Goals are always good. They make us feel like we must pay attention to them. If you need to set goals to see a movie, do it!

2. Make time for yourself ALONE, no social media allowed.

  • The latest Facebook rant can wait for 45 minutes. You need time for you.
  • Find a quiet space and just hang out with your fur baby, or read, or be still. Meditation is an idea but something tells me you aren’t there yet.
  • Gather your thoughts. Focus your attention on what your body is telling you. Maybe you need a pedicure, and it’s clear…
  • Give yourself the break you need, don’t harp on the things that aren’t getting done. You don’t NEED to do everything.

3. Try something new.

  • I promise: It’s hard but it’s rewarding. Try a new route to the grocery store. Try a new recipe. Try to step outside your comfort zone and feel uncomfortable. I assure you it’s a step in the right direction. You need this!
  • Change the routine in a way that allows you to get your needs met and gives you new perspective. Maybe you just needed to do your grocery shopping online for once, from the luxury of your couch. So what if it costs $10 for delivery! You deserve a break!

4. Do something you care about, if you don’t know what that is… take the first step.

  • Maybe you always wanted to learn a language. Try it!
  • Maybe you like to paint or draw or some art inspired thing. Do it!
  • Maybe you really want to give back to your local community.
  • Maybe you just want to spend time looking for ideas for a new project.

Burnout is born when we give up our time for things we don’t care about.

We must actively pay attention to what our thoughts and our body and our lives are telling us. I know personally, I’ve been known to overdo it. I have to check myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed and bring it back to home base.

Perspective is how you look at things, but self reflection is how you choose your path. You can conquer the things you think are looming and have a life! You can look at it as a positive or a negative but you still have to show up on Monday…

Remember! You decide how to spend the time you have. Once you find yourself in the cycle, I hope you dance (I mean stop it from spiraling)! If you need an intervention phone a friend, make a plan, but don’t sit idle and suffer through a weekend of the same stressors. You need to recharge and you don’t need to be everything to everyone!

Now get out there and be free to own your freedom!