The Calm Before the Storm

Well, actually, it’s almost always a wild storm for me, because I have trouble sitting still for days at a time. But, here’s what’s happening: my sister comes to California for our likely-traditional every-five-year road trip; I somehow manage to sell all my furniture and pack all my belongings into my car by the time she leaves; I leave the very next day to drive across the country to my mom’s house in New Jersey, where I’ll stay for the rest of the summer. No sweat.

So, before that happens, I wanted to enjoy my last remaining solo days in LA (for now) by doing whatever seems worthy of my last days. I went for a glorious nature hike at Chantry Flats. Can you believe that such a place exists so close to this gigantic of a city?!

Chantry Flats goats
Chantry Flats

I drove down to Carlsbad to visit with friends, sing karoke, and spend a cloudy morning at the beach testing my new surfing skills. (And noticed they don’t quite hold up to California waves).

Tamarack Beach surfing

I took the Transcendental Meditation course in Los Feliz and had a few days there to explore a new-to-me neighborhood. And eat ice cream every day of that week. I’ll have to keep you posted on how TM differs from the mantra meditations I’ve been practicing daily for almost two years now, but I’m pleased with the results so far.

Los Feliz Los Angeles

The following week, I drove down to Newport Beach to fulfill all my teenage OC TV-show dreams. It’s been nice when the sun finally pokes through the clouds around 2 in the afternoon to combat our month of June Gloom.

Newport Beach

I hosted a see-ya-later bonfire in my backyard [tears]. I wonder if my grandma knew when she gifted me this vintage picnic basket that it would someday become the home of the perfect Pinterest-esque s’mores bar.

Smores bar


Last, but of course not least, friends and I scuttled over into the valley to eat the fluffiest pancakes in the world. These were worth the trek!

Cicis pancakes Tarzana

Later we spent the day climbing over rock beaches near Malibu and shopping at kooky vintage shops in Topanga.

Las Tunas beach

I’m sure going to miss this place!

Beach Cleanup

Although we were busy enjoying the surf lessons and the ocean view from the yoga studio, we couldn’t forget the third part of the Surf Sweat Serve mission. On Tuesday afternoon, we joined students from the local school and a group of girls from the Medusas surf program to clean up the beach areas around the hotel. We brought our own reusable bags from home and gave a short presentation on how to make more conscious choices about using less plastic, recycling whenever possible, and reducing our overall impact on the environment.

I was impressed to find that most of the kids were already aware of what they could do to help stop pollution of our oceans and that most had done beach cleanups before . They were eager to get their hands dirty, and seeing their enthusiasm made me want to do more to make the earth a better place for them and future generations.

Beach clean up Surf Sweat Serve

Over the weekend, we celebrated World Ocean’s Day. After our surf lesson, we did a quick, five-minute sweep of the beach, and all 15 or so of us were able to fill our arms with plastic trash, including silverware, bottle caps, and soles of shoes. I couldn’t help but feel depressed looking at our piles of garbage, knowing that it would probably still end up in a landfill just like the massive ones I’d seen in Nicaragua. The only real way to prevent plastic from destroying our environment is to use less of them.

Oftentimes, travel is not only about the fun you have on the trip, but what you can take away from it when you come back home. I am going to be making a more dedicated effort to observe my consumption habits and figure out changes I can make.

We made it to El Salvador!

We made it to El Salvador this morning, and things are looking bright! I’m going to be here for the week teaching yoga on a retreat with Surf Sweat Serve. Today we’re finalizing the details of the itinerary, getting settled in, and eating lots of yummy fruit for second breakfast.

I’ve already seen chickens wandering in the road and a mid-day parade featuring fireworks, because what else would one expect in Central America? It’s the perfect mix of sun and clouds, humid (how I like it), and gorgeously green!

Puro Surf El Salvador

i can’t wait to see what surf lessons have in store for me!

Manly Beach

Ok, now that we’ve caught up on all the Mexican and wintry romps, it’s time to talk about Australia. Wow! Has it been over here this whole time? Why haven’t we been visiting yearly or monthly or daily? Actually, why don’t we live here?? I haven’t found an answer to that question yet and will continue seeking until I can come up with one, but if I don’t, you might have to come visit me here in a couple of years.

I came to visit a couple of friends and to participate in an Ashtanga/Mysore intensive workshop (which is currently kicking my butt). My family is having trouble keeping track of me, and I am too, because I only decided to come on this trip about a month ago. But when your bff from college is going to be living in Sydney for the next two years, you might as well check the prices of flights. And when some other college comrades are already planning to visit in March to train with a renowned instructor with whom all of your current instructors have studied, you’d better sign up and buy the tickets.

That’s how I got here, at least.

acai bowl

I spent the first weekend in a town called Balgowlah with my friend Amanda who you might remember from our impromptu travels together in Thailand. She’s living her best life with a quick and beautiful coastal walk to the beach from her apartment. If this is the view on your lunch break and you get to swim in the sea every day, I say you’re doing a lot of things right.

Manly Wharf

It was a truly lovely way to get over the jet-lag that I really didn’t have because I am remarkably able to sleep for ten hours of a fifteen hour flight and to adapt to Australia which isn’t really a major achievement because if there’s anything that’s not perfect here, I haven’t come across it yet.

Yoga mats

Bulldogs & Beach Daze

Last weekend, we celebrated a friend’s birthday at a new favorite beach of mine, Point Dume. There were rocky cliffs, turquoise waters, sea lions, and the types of things you might think of when you think of Malibu. Actually, I didn’t see the sea lions or think there were sea lions in Malibu, but I heard and believe they were just around the bend.

Point Dume Malibu, CA

The only small bit of trouble was that we brought one of these girls without knowing about the steep stairs and rocky descent down to the water:

via  Instagram

Fortunately, Cricket loves the beach, so she trooped on out to the ocean and the whole group of us had a very nice day.

I’m still dreaming of a dog of my own, and I hope you’re still heading outside to seek out sights near you!

Manifested Month

I'm happy to tell you that over the past year, basically since going on Echo's yoga retreat in Thailand, I have been able to stick to a daily meditation practice. I've found that it has been immensely helpful in staying connected to my spirit and my intentions and being more mindful throughout the day. Every morning, I wake up and sit for 10-15 minutes as I focus on my breath or a mantra. Sometimes my mind wanders, but lately it's gotten much easier to keep my head clear. 

I've probably told you before, but one of my favorite meditation tools has been the 21-Day Meditation Experience with Oprah and Deepak. I think it's helpful for anyone who is new to mediation, and I love the balance of Oprah's personal stories and Deepak's spiritual wisdom. Even if it's hard for you to stay focused during the ~12 minute mediation section, there are usually 10 minutes in the beginning where you'll learn something important. 

This month's theme focused on the Law of Attraction and what it takes to turn our desires into reality. It felt aligned to my own purpose, because this year I've been seeing more and more of my visions come into being. I remember one of Oprah's stories about growing up in poverty, but choosing to spend her time walking around well-off neighborhoods. She dreamed of living in a house with trees in the backyard, and later as an adult she realized that her own backyard matched what she'd once envisioned.

I particularly noticed happenings like this in my own life when I spent last month living a mile from the beach in Santa Monica. Here are my best tips (really Oprah's best tips) for creating a life that aligns with your dreams:

1. Get clear about what you want: This one is hard for me! I wasn't so sure about exactly what I wanted. I only knew more yoga and more ocean time would be nice. I'm not a great example of this, but bring some clarity to your goals.

2. Visualize yourself where you want to be: When we're manifesting, setting goals, or whatever you want to call it, it's important to really believe that it could happen for you. No problem; imagining life as a yoga beach babe is easy for me! I added some extra oomf with pictures on my vision board: the ocean and a bungalow near the beach.

3. Act as if you've already obtained your desires: Get as close to living out your desires as you can. My first months in LA, I spent a ton of time in Santa Monica. Most of the time, it wasn't intentional. I'd just take a yoga class there and spend the evening waiting out traffic. I have a feeling that spending so much time there made it easy to end up back again. 

4. Don't give up: Sometimes it can take years for our deepest desires to pan out. Sometimes it takes a lot of shaking up to make space for them. Sometimes they show up differently than we ever expected. In June, I had basically given up hope on subletting a place for the next month-- I resigned myself to the ~3 hours of driving back and forth from yoga training. Then I decided to check Craigslist "one last time" and found exactly what I was looking for.

Santa Monica beach

Even if you don't believe in magical manifestations or think the law of attraction is a whole bunch of nonsense, it can be exciting and empowering to set goals (small or large!) for yourself and work your way there. Hope your life is growing closer and closer to all that you've dreamed!

 

*If you're feeling the call towards a Thai yoga retreat this year, Echo & Cole are going back so check it out!

Not-So-Dirty New Jersey

It's nice there! And there aren't many better spots to watch fireworks than a rooftop deck with 360 degree views. I've tried Fourth of July in other areas, but this one seems to be the right choice.

LBI Sunset

It isn't too bad for sunset scoping, either.

I enjoyed a week at the beach with my mom. It was full of celebrations, sun, and swimming, with a couple of friendly visitors dropping by. I'm so glad I had the time to visit and that this place can be a special part of each summer.

LBI New Jersey

Perusing Playas

Hostel life is all free and easy until you are on the bottom bunk and start to hear the sounds of two humans mating above you on the top bunk. This is perhaps not the level of immersion in nature that you were expecting, but I suppose it's good to know that everyone is having fun and getting along.

Playa Maderas

I took the short trip up to Playa Maderas for the better beaches and more mellow (read: old person) scene than San Juan del Sur. The beach was indeed beautiful and less crowded, and there were giant sand dollars floating around the waters. The hostel I stayed in was more like a nice hotel (except that generally in nice hotels people aren't getting it on in the same room as you), which provided a quiet escape from the party vibes of San Juan del Sur, but it felt a little isolating for me since it was a separate resort, and I hadn't been in San Juan long enough to be affected by those vibes. After two nights, I was ready to go back down south to the beach town, but I enjoyed the hostel's offering yoga (and letting me teach it for a free meal!) and having a movie theater.

Selina Maderas

Sun, Sand, San Juan del Sur

I was told to skip right through San Juan del Sur and head to less college-party areas, but whoever told me that must have severely underestimated this girl and her affinity for the vibes of a small beach city town.

San Juan del Sur

I found out where it's at, and it's here. It's been here all along. People are walking around barefoot, riding from beach to beach in the back of pickup trucks, and, yes, occasionally passing out facedown in the street after too much of their famous "Sunday Funday". I was feeling under the weather for the two days here, so I missed out on all of that.

San Juan del Sur

SJdS is like a tiny California with way fewer cars and celebrities. And since the college and college-minded people are getting messed up, there are always good drink specials and cheap tacos. For bonus points, there are also howler monkeys and iguanas. I'm ok with it. 

Sunset San Juan del Sur

There's No Place Like...

Thankfully in my summer planning, I saved the most coveted and anticipated destination for last...

Long Beach Island New Jersey

New Jersey!

I spent a lovely week beaching, yog-ing, shopping, and eating with my mom, then clicked these heels all the way home to NY to watch my friends get married on top of a mountain. The day was perfect, the ceremony was beautiful, and later on there were sparklers and a bonfire. What (s')more can a girl wish for? Congratulations Cait & Jon!

Summer at Hunter Mountain

Thanks to Mom, friends, and my favorite date for an unbeatable week!