Skiing in Squaw Valley

I didn’t think I could enjoy a ski area as much as I’ve enjoyed Mammoth, but, think again, because my dad and I found another outstanding competitor a few weeks ago. Spring skiing in Squaw Valley has made it’s way to the top of the list of best trips ever. I mean, Spring skiing almost anywhere is my favorite kind of skiing—60 degrees, blue skies, and soft ice-free snow—but an early May weekend at Squaw really made me feel spoiled.

Squaw Valley gondola

Ok, this is coming from a mainly Northeastern skiier up until last year, but I was amazed to find that there was still SO MUCH snow! Most of the mountain was open and stayed open until 1pm, when it would get a little too slushy to carry on, but the highest part would remain open until 4pm, i.e. the entire day… in May!

Squaw Valley skiing

The Saturday that we were there was the day before Cinco de Mayo, i.e. Cuatro de Mayo, so there were a lot of other fun happenings going on (like the annual pond skim) and tacos to eat. We were hesitantly ok with calling it quits around 1 o’clock, but it would have been easy to keep going. However, we had to move on to partaking in one of the other benefits of Squaw Valley—its proximity to Lake Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe

Wow, wow, wow! Check out these aprés ski vistas! I’m beginning to think I could consider living in other parts of California besides the southern third.

Lake Tahoe

Birthdays

I turned 31 this month. I know, can you believe it?! Life is always rushing past at full speed, and I’m doing what I can to make the most of all these moments. Since a birthday is really a reason to go BIG if there every was one, I decided to do a very SoCal particular thing and try to ski and visit the beach in the same day. Of course it’s possible, the mountains and the beaches are a little under 3 hours apart, but in reality with LA traffic, you can never be too sure. I had to test it out for myself.

On April 9th, I rose before the sun, tucked my skis into the trunk of my car, and drove up into the mountains. Well, actually drove an hour on the highway and then a steep and windy hour and a half to Big Bear. One of the most important reasons for attempting this feat was that Big Bear Mountain offers a free lift ticket on your birthday. I had a birthday that blissfully coincided with a day off work, so I HAD. TO. GO.

I made it onto the mountain by about 9:30am, minus a brief stop for second breakfast since I’d donated blood for the first time the day before and was feeling a little woozy. There was not a tremendous amount of snow left this late in the season, but there was certainly enough to ski on. I’ve definitely seen less snow on other ski trips in my life.

Big Bear spring skiing
Big Bear Spring skiing

This was my first time going skiing by myself, but iPhone & headphones were there for me, and it was a truly excellent morning. At around 11:30, the snow was getting pretty slushy, so I decided it was an appropriate time to make for the beach.

I stopped for lunch (an egg salad bagel, naturally) from what used to be my favorite bagel place but is now my second favorite bagel place since this one opened a few weeks ago. It’s really kind of unfortunate because the new one is way closer to my house and my bagel intake plus my waistline have probably both quadrupled or more. Anyhow, egg salad in tow I carried on my way.

One of my friends is a high school teacher who had a half-day field trip, so she kindly agreed to meet in Venice to make the day extra special. We grabbed a beer and scurried to the sand as fast as we could. It was still kind of breezy for LA spring, but that didn’t stop us from dunking in the water. I always try to get in the ocean as much as I can whenever I’m near the beach, even if it’s chilly, just so I don’t take it for granted.

Venice beach
Venice boardwalk

My view had changed from snow to sand in a matter of hours. Unreal! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that I seriously live here. I wouldn’t say the ski & sea voyage is completely reasonable for a regular day, unless you feel like LA driving for 6 hours, but for a special occasion with plenty of free time it was perfectly doable.

Ben & Jerry’s must have known it was my birthday, because on the walk back to our cars to try to beat the wild rush hour traffic, they were giving out free ice cream cones for no reason at all!

Ben & Jerrys Venice Beach

What a sweet ending to a perfect day! It was followed by a night of loungey cocktails with lovely friends and then a very satisfying sleep.

Winter Wonderland

If you’re at a standstill wondering if you should go on a ski trip or be practical, stay home, work, and not go on the ski trip, I’m here to tell you that you should most definitely go on the ski trip. Even if you just got back from Mexico City and are leaving three days later for another continent, just go on the ski trip.

I was invited to go skiing with a group of friends last month, and I immediately wanted to go, because Mammoth, of course, and what a dream it was to be there last year. As the trip got closer, I started having doubts because 1.) all this travel means I haven’t really been working (ie. earning money) that much, and 2.) I was feeling wildly disorganized by the lack of time between trips. I couldn’t make up my mind about going, but I guessed that it had been made up for me since we’d already purchased lift tickets and booked the Airbnb.

June Mountain

Then, sort of miraculously, a * normal * person from Craigslist decided to sublet my room for the month. She came on the last day of February—she was the only one I showed the room to and mine was the only room she looked at, but we were both ready and it seemed like a good fit (and still does). Around the same time, I got an offer for a new freelance writing job to bring in a little side income while I flutter around teaching yoga for two hours a day. Two loads off my shoulders. Whew!

(I’m sure many of you who read this wonder how I can afford to do the things I do, and the answer is somewhere between my grandma giving us an early inheritance along with my being a bit reckless and very resourceful when opportunities for adventure present themselves.)

So all that could’ve fallen into place did, and the ski trip was happening. We drove the 5 hour trek up to the snowy mountains (not a problem for Suzie’s Suburu Impreza) , checked into the very 80’s ski condo, and sipped some cocktails, because, well, of course. There were four of us in the first car, waiting until later in the night when the rest of the group would arrive. Once the second car made it to the condo area, they got stuck at the bottom of the hill, and we had a bit of an exciting time putting chains on their tires (ie. me holding my phone flashlight while the guys did the work).

The first day of skiing was hampered by the biggest blizzard I’ve seen in a while, so many of the lifts were closed. We drank Irish coffees in the lodge and almost called it quits, but as we were about to pack it in, we found an open chair with great conditions and did laps there for the rest of the afternoon.

Mammoth Mountain

On Sunday, we decided to avoid the crowds and possible windy conditions and opted to check out June Mountain, which is still as much of a gem as the first time I saw it. What a perfect day!

Anyway, the moral of this story is to stop all of your non-skiing nonsense, expect everything to fall into place, and go on the ski trip.

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What To Do with Parents in LA

Hi! I’ve just freshly landed in Australia, but before we get to that, I better tell you about the time in February (too long ago now) when my mom and stepdad came to visit me in LA. It was kind of “cold” for visitors (ie. it was 60 degrees and I had to wear my ski jacket), but they were en route to Cabo, so I didn’t feel too bad. I almost went to Mexico with them, but the hotel they were staying at only had couple’s suites and that would have been a bit too much togetherness for us all. Instead, we had a few days in LA.

We were able to do a lot of the sightseeing stuff that I’d not gotten to yet. I showed them the worst of traffic—only once! They tried In-N-Out (overrated) and a few of LA’s other most fine and trendy eateries, like Sqirl, Republique, Manuela, and Donut Friend (not overrated).

I’m very into building itineraries, so I packed way too many activities into each day. We sprinted around Huntington Gardens, stopped by the Getty Villa, and ate in the Arts District all in one day, which are all in opposite directions if you didn’t know (hence the traffic).

Huntington Botanical Gardens
Getty Villa

I brought my mom to work (aka yoga and Zumba class in Monterey Park) and was wildly impressed that the Zumba teacher made up a special dance with costumes for Chinese New Year. To be a conscientious teacher like that!

24 Hour Fitness Zumba

We saw the Rose Bowl Stadium, which is kind of just there and you can’t go inside, so maybe strike that one off your list if it’s not football season and you aren’t staying in Pasadena.

Rose Bowl Stadium

We had a very Hollywood day when we took a celebrity van tour—so much fun and you must, must do this when you host visitors or are a visitor to the area, if not for the celebrity homes then for the views and for seeing parts of LA that you wouldn’t normally feel like driving to. Then we went to the Pantages Theatre to see Hello, Dolly! where everyone promptly fell asleep because I didn’t calculate our energy levels when planning the ultimate Los Angeles experience. Oh well.

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Overall, it was an amazing few days and I’m so happy they could make the time to stop here before their beach vacation. I love showing people around as well as finding new fun places for myself, so come visit whenever you can!

Scooters & Sea Lions

If your parents, like my dad, ever get tired of visiting you in the city where you live (and to be fair I cannot blame them for LA is a tiring place), a fun thing to do is to meet them in other places and have an adventure for the both of you. My dad attended a weeklong conference in San Diego for work at the end of last month, and, lucky for me, he decided to tack on a few extra days so that we could explore.

Last year, we spent my 30th birthday trip together at Mammoth Mountain, but this time we took a sunnier route… or we mostly intended to, but it’s actually been pretty dreary and cold down here in SoCal for the past month— it even snowed?!

No matter! We didn’t let the rain or grey skies ruin our plans to go out in the Gaslamp District. I put the cap on sober January when we found a trailer park themed bar, and I lost my favorite ring when I got too enthused about arcade basketball.

Trailer Park After Dark

By day, we rented Bird scooters for dad’s first time and took a pretty long ride (for scooter riders) up the coast to La Jolla. We got up close and personal with sea lions. They’re near enough that you can just about reach out and touch them, if you’re in the business of disturbing nature’s peace, so obviously it was the highlight of the trip, if not my entire life.

Sea lions in La Jolla
La Jolla

After we had scootered back down, we took our chances at spotting some whale migrations at the Cabrillo National Monument. Unfortunately, whales were not in the cards for us this trip, but we still saw some pretty nice views of the city.

Cabrillo National Monument

Whale sightings or not, it was an excellent opportunity to spend a weekend out of town and an easy way to get some dad time in. I’m glad we can always find new ways make the most of our time together! I hope you’re finding some joy in these late winter days, too.

Playing with Pals

Whew, y’all. The late January and early February times have brought an abundance of visitors to the SoCal area, and I can’t help but feel thrilled about it. My best friend, Annie, from college had the chance to come out for a few days, and it was the most perfect timing because her sister is living almost down the street from me and we already hang out all the time! I wish we could permanently add Annie to the neighborhood, but we’ll take a weekend if that’s what we can get.

Last Bookstore record player

It was one of the first opportunities I had to explore LA for visitors and find the fun things to do. We painted pots, strolled the best bookstore, rode swan boats, and celebrated the bulldogs racing in a derby. There was a lot more celebrating than there was actual racing, but what else are sporting events about?

Santa Anita Bulldog Derby
Glaze Fire pottery

One morning, we walked through the Downtown Los Angeles Flower Market, and if you are buying plants, especially succulents, anywhere else, you should really rethink your habits. We showed up towards the end of the morning when a lot of the stalls were already shutting down, but even still, I’ve rarely seen so many beautiful blooms in one place.

Los Angeles Flower Market

The most fun and unbelievable part of all was that Annie is about 5 months pregnant, so we got to see her in her maternity state, and by the next time we’re together again, there will be a little one to welcome into the world! It’s so exciting and surreal to delight in a ten-plus year friendship and to watch a loved one enter a new stage of life. Blessings all around!

Echo Park Lake swan boats

Sunday Special, Vol. 13

Last week, my mom took me to a special wellness retreat in Tuscon, AZ to celebrate my belated 30th birthday. It felt strange to be basking in luxury while giant parts of LA were on fire, but pleasant to reconnect and practice self care. I’m home now, and the smokey air is smelling like campfire, but it’s nothing here in my neighborhood compared to people in Malibu losing their homes and seeing their whole lives go up in flames. This week is heavy hearted, but it’s another chance to witness the power of people and communities coming together.

Canyon Ranch

Health

This had to have been my healthiest vacation ever. Most guests stay at Canyon Ranch to relax, refocus on health, or reconnect with their spirit. Every hour of the day was loaded with fitness classes, lifestyle lectures, spa services, creative classes, and nature activities. Since it was my first time there, my mom and I kept very busy and wanted to try as many different things as possible. We went for morning walks among saguaro cacti. We took yoga classes (of course), Zumba, water aerobics, kettle bells, acrylic painting, and I received a tarot card reading. I’ll have more to details to share later this week, but this getaway really took the idea of healthy living up a few notches. (+)

Family

Getting to spend a week with my mom was nice. I wonder if people whose parents are still together get the same chance to connect with each parent one-on-one. It’s a special thing, and I’m grateful to have had this time. (+)

Friends

When you’re a yoga teacher, it’s hard getting started out with new classes. Sometimes no one shows up or one person comes and you’ve got to give an awkward private session. If you move to a new city, it’s like restarting the entire experience all over in a new place. I am so thankful that I found friends here who have been willing to come to my classes. Friends, please always let me know if you’re starting a new venture and need an extra show of support! (+)

Mission/Work

It was nice to take a few days off from teaching classes to visit Tuscon. I ended up going to quite a few yoga classes anyway, even when I said I’d branch out and try new styles of exercise. But I did end up learning a lot and coming back with fresh ideas to incorporate into my classes. (+)

Finances

Since it was my birthday celebration, I was treated to so much this week! You know I welcomed it with open arms, and that has to be a plus. (+)

Adventure

Canyon Ranch was a totally new experience for me. It was kind of like an all-inclusive vacation mixed with summer camp and a spa and a health club. I wished that we had a tiny bit more time in Tuscon to see life outside the ranch, but I spotted enough saguaros and javelina that I can’t complain. (+)

Hobby

I painted some mountains! And finally finished the bag I’d been crocheting for about a month now. (+)

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Spirituality

It was reassuring to learn that Canyon Ranch doesn’t just focus on restoring fitness and physical beauty. They have really developed a holistic approach that lets visitors focus on what concerns them. I liked that we were able to try some new classes and learn about unfamiliar topics while still getting to enjoy our old favorites. There was plenty of meditation and quiet stillness to go around. (+)

Emotion

What a rollercoaster! I was thrilled to be experiencing a whole new type of vacation and getting away from it all. But news of the shooting and fires in SoCal had me worried about my friends and our city. My mind was definitely in two different places at certain points of the trip. (+/-)

Saguaro cactus

Desert Daze

I’m back from visiting the desert with a bunch of Austin amigos and happy to say we all survived tent camping during THE ONLY time it has rained or stormed in this area since I moved here. That was seven months ago! Of course it would happen on a night we were set to see a favorite band (Tame Impala) and sleep beneath pieces of fabric under the stars. My tent is more of a Central Texas or Southern California, warm, dry weather style, and wasn’t really designed for all-weather conditions, so I was impressed that it held up during a whole night of rain with only one tiny leak.

We made it back to the campsite/car area and sought shelter in the bathroom structure after the Friday night shows were canceled. Luckily, this all happened early in the festival so by Saturday we were feeling much drier and ready to head back out for 2 more days and nights of music and enjoying a festival on the shores of a gosh darn glorious lake. If you haven’t tried it, you probably should.

Desert Daze

Fair Festivities

It’s the middle of September and we’re starting to wake up in the dark. If we were living by the clock of nature, shouldn’t we wait just a little bit until the sun shines through the window and warms us up? I guess we started this whole time thing for farmers and, I know only a little bit about farming, but couldn’t the farmers sleep in a bit, too? I’d be ok with it.

But the last days of summer bring one of my favorite childhood memories: going to the fair! The Dutchess County Fair, our local event back home in New York, is hard to beat. Even the Texas State Fair for the entire state of TEXAS paled in comparison. That’s saying something.

But we’re in California now, and the LA County Fair came through for me. It’s held in a massive Fairplex with two chairlifts to carry non-walking people from end to end. There were your typical treats including rides, games, farm animals, and fried everything. On top of that, there were palm trees, A ZOO, and the aesthetic hanging bistro lights that millennials like me love. I missed pierogi and 4H milkshakes, but they had chicken in a waffle on a stick, so let’s say I did not starve.

There’s still time to check it out if you’re in the area. Otherwise feel free to live vicariously through this picture of me and my chicken waffle below:

Waffle on a stick

Finding My Voice

When was the last time you did something you were really, genuinely afraid to do?

Joshua Tree

That was me last weekend—not for anything actually scary, but in the face of going on stage to sing karaoke… solo! I’ve been to karaoke a lot of times, but I usually watch from the audience, or join a group of at least three friends and stand in the back, far away from the microphone. Then afterwards I dream of choosing my own song and rocking out without caring what anyone thinks of my performance. “Oh well,” I think, “maybe next time.”

Apart from the past few years where I’ve pushed myself hard to step out of my comfort zone, growing up I was actually very shy. I was a hardworking and focused student, but it always made me extremely nervous to ask a question in class, and I think I would rather have died than present in front of a group.

This summer, I went to a friend’s family party and one of our middle school teachers was there. She remembered me— “You were such a good student, but painfully shy!” I’ve been working so hard to be outgoing that I had almost forgotten about those days. Her words reminded me. One year, I even wanted to run for student government but decided against it because I would have had to give a speech.

Somewhere along the way, I found my teaching voice. I still get nervous in front of a class (or recording videos of myself!), but I love the rush of connection so much and find the information so important that I keep stumbling through it. Singing karaoke on my own was another story. I’m always envious of the people with beautiful voices, and even more of those who can get up on stage and put their whole hearts into it when they don’t sound great. Like most humans, I usually want everyone to think that everything I do is excellent. A totally realistic goal, haha! Unfortunately, my singing voice is not one anyone would describe as “excellent” by a long shot.

Last Friday night, my two girlfriends and I sat watching and cheering on the other performers at the Joshua Tree Saloon. I had chosen and practiced a song for days, but I could sense the familiar heart racing, cold sweat feeling that usually keeps me in my seat. I procrastinated, waiting until we ordered drinks (of course!) and looked over the food menu. The crowd was small and friendly, and the performances were sparse since it was early in the evening. Would tonight be my night? I remembered back to a discussion with one of the brave women on our Thailand yoga retreat. She loved singing and did it as much as she could. She’d told us, “We don’t sing because it sounds good, we sing because we have a voice.” I swallowed pride and fear and walked up to put my name in. And when it was time to sing, I sang!

It wasn’t very excellent, and I kind of tried to hide behind the microphone, so stage presence is something to work on for next time, but I sang, by myself and for myself. And as a bonus, my friends and I were so supportive of the other singers that later in the night, we got called back onstage to perform background vocals for another performer. A little hype goes a long way!

Sure, there are truly terrifying things in life—disease, losing a loved one, going skydiving for the first time—but most of the time, what we worry most about are the little things. Should we speak up in a meeting? Can we state our boundaries or ask for what we want? Is it the right time to tell someone we love them? It’s easy to back away from taking risks because, for most of us, life as it is can feel pretty comfortable.

This year, this decade even, for me has been all about breaking through that comfort zone to find out what’s on the other side. Try the skill you’ve been wanting to try. Say the words you’ve been wanting to say. Sing the song you’ve been wanting to sing. Eventually, you might find yourself living the life you want to live.

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!

3 Tips for Solo Camping (as a Lady)

As you know, I’ve now been on a solo camping trip to here, and I’ve returned to share some wisdom of the wilderness. These are not very gender-specific rules, and they might even be helpful for everyone, but I did take being a lady into account when sleeping in the woods alone. And I bet I am not the best person to give this advice since I’ve only done it one time, but I’m obviously very excited about it and have been talking it up a lot, so here’s what I’ve learned:

June Lake Campground
  1. Plan ahead

    It was important to me to pick out my campground ahead of time. Even though my site didn’t end up having the best view, I was glad to be close enough to other campers to feel safe without being overcrowded. Solitude can be sweet, but for my own security, I preferred not to be too isolated. I planned to arrive with plenty of daylight to establish camp and scope out the area before dark. Years ago, I also practiced setting up my tent ahead of time just to get the hang of it.



  2. Do some activities (but not too many)

    I knew I wanted to squeeze some planned activities in—like June Lake Beach and the June Lake Brewing Company—but I also left plenty of time for lounging and breathing. I thought I might get bored in the dark and hit my sleeping bag at 8pm, but my fire kept me interested well into the night, and then I looked up and saw all the stars!

    Also, you should know how to build a fire on your own. It’s pretty easy in a dry climate. The internet has tips. Luckily, I once went on a camping trip in Austin with a mountain man and two bada** ladies who knew what they were doing, so I acted all “Oh yeah, I know about fires, too,” and observed their tricks while pretending to gather sticks and be helpful.



  3. Lie

    Unfortunately, in the life of a lady (or general person) on her own in the world, sometimes bending the truth is required. I made some friends at the brewery who offered an invitation to come out in Mammoth Village with them later that night. They seemed fun and friendly, but I fibbed and told them I had other plans and hadn’t decided where I’d be staying that night. I might have missed out on some good times, but I had a separate date planned with Nature. I think if someone is going to turn into a real friend, they would understand why you couldn’t be completely honest.



Red Rock Canyon

That might be all I learned this trip, besides not to eat too many Hot Cheetos on the drive up. If you can get past the initial scariness, camping on your own can be a wildly empowering experience and a great way to enjoy spending time with yourself.

June Lake

Hi sweet friends!

Last week, I made a spontaneous pilgrimage to NorCal to visit June Lake, one of the places where I skied with my dad this spring. It's crazy how time slips by--I can't believe I've been out here for almost six months already! After seeing June Mountain in the winter, I knew I needed to check out the area in the warmth of summertime. 

June Mountain

Even with the five hour drive up there, the day was full and peaceful. I found a musical road in Lancaster, CA on the way, then spent the afternoon hiking around the campground and lounging at the beach. August had made the grounds hot and dry, but the waters of the lake were perfectly cool and refreshing. And I don't think any trip to June would be complete without a stop at the local brewery

June Lake

I drove around the June Lake Loop whilst eating too many hot Cheetos and scoping out some other more scenic campgrounds. I was pretty happy with the one I chose, but could've used more access to the water (like at nearby Silver Lake in the photo below). Anyway, mine was safe, bear-free, and with bathrooms so I really can't complain.

June Lake Loop

The next day including a brief visit through Yosemite, and I think that deserves a post of its own. I hope you're still out seeking summer adventures wherever in the world you are!

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!

In the Trees

Hi friends! There's a new moon on the horizon, and this week is delivering the excitement of renewed energy and possibilities. How could it not, when it started out like this? (For me, at least!)

Joshua Tree camping

The weekend took me back to Joshua Tree National Park where I camped with a new friend and got to see one of my favorite bands in funky little Pioneertown

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

I have a picture of Georgia, the drummer, on my 2018 vision board and, while I will say that my intention was to play the drums like her, I will accept the universe's offering of getting to see her play the drums in person.

I can tell you that Pappy & Harriet's is a magical venue that is well-worth checking out, and if you happen to be doing so, why not stay at the Black Rock Canyon Campground in Joshua Tree?  It just might be the thing for you.

Hi View Nature Trail Joshua Tree

Guess what? It's gonna be...

Just kidding, y'all. It's already May. But I did go to see Justin Timberlake on April 30th and, if you are asking me, he missed the chance to turn himself on stage into a living meme.

Of course, the show was still rhythmic and smooth, and I got to dance to "Cry Me a River" next to my mom which was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

My aunt and cousin flew down from Portland with a group of their family friends, and we spent a little gals' weekend exploring Pasadena. Pasadena is a good place to go if you like nice things and if you like pretending you live in a quaint small city where you can walk places instead of in one of the most sprawling urban metropolises in the world.

We went to Universal Studios on Saturday, which was how you would expect Universal Studios to be on a Saturday, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It turns out that long lines are a great time for catching up with friends and fam. One of the gift shop employees gave us speed passes for the Harry Potter castle ride which really sent our day at the park above and beyond. Thank you gift shop man! It was so nice to have a whole weekend to relax and reconnect with family and new friends.

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Right Places, Right Times

Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that it makes it impossible for you to doubt any of the steps you've taken to get to the point upon which you're standing in that exact moment. That's how I felt a couple weeks ago when I drove up into the mountains of Malibu for an Earth Day yoga weekend with my friend/teacher/mentor/inspirational goddess, La Mer.

Malibu Mountains

I met Meredith three years ago in Austin through a web of mutual friends and wild women who were drawn to yoga and healing. My friend Beth had asked if I would like to come to a ladies' day of yoga, meditation, and honoring the divine feminine. I was practicing physical yoga regularly; I hadn't gotten into teaching or much of the spiritual side yet, but, yes, of course I would like to participate in a day of ritual practice with flowy women like me. We went to Lauren's house, which was still under construction at the time, but already filling up with cozy magic (and bulldogs). We spent the day moving mindfully, exploring our inner selves, and listening to the rhythm of the rain on the roof. It was one of my first experiences with any type of yoga retreat, sound baths, energy healing, and bringing women together to talk about our femininity in a spiritually attuned way.

sound bath altar

Mer came back to Austin seasonally over the next few years. I got a taste of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter practices and rituals to follow the cycle of a year. I experienced different cycles within myself, too. On that first rainy afternoon in the attic, I asked for guidance growing up. I wanted to step into my role as a woman, but still maintain the childish playfulness that feels like a big part of who I am. In the following sessions, I alternated between feeling enchanted, collapsing into tears about loss and uncertainty, and slowly gaining the confidence to share my voice. I became a teacher and began attempting (I'm still attempting...) to create the safe, open spaces for growth that Mer and all my teachers have provided for me.

In April, Lauren sent out her usual invite that Mer would be coming back to Austin for a Spring women's workshop. I replied that I was disappointed to miss this round, but I knew that Mer lived in LA so I could find her at one of her weekly classes. To my delight, Mer wrote back to me that she would be offering her first retreat in nearby Malibu later that month. I immediately signed up.

Malibu Airbnb

The weekend started with a crawl up into the mountains of Malibu-- I hadn't even known you could go up there!-- to a hillside chateau with the most gorgeous view. I tried not to think of leaving on Sunday and imagined that it would be my home for now and forever. That night, we claimed the space and set our intentions for the weekend. We drew from a deck of goddess cards. I was lead to choose the Mother of Seas, a symbol that offered to help me trust my innate knowledge and claim my role as a healer. I was surprised that Mer remembered my request from our session years ago. I had knelt in the attic in Texas asking to grow up while staying in touch with my inner child, and now in California, in full view of the sea, I drew the mother, a nurturing guide with the wisdom to protect and to teach.

Yoga deck

We spent the rest of the weekend exploring deeper meditation practices and bowing in reverence to our Mother Earth. The six of us formed an intimate group. We were all different-- single ladies charting their paths, mothers reclaiming their bodies, divorcees finding their way back to themselves-- and we were all the same-- lovers of the planet we inhabit and women on a mission to hear our voices ring pure in the world. I had something to learn from all these ladies and the experiences they brought to our altar. I was especially grateful to meet an assortment of ages; most of us were in our 20's-30's, but one older yogini shared the irreplaceable wisdom and humor of her years.

Malibu sunset

We hiked around the property, sang and danced harmoniously (debatable) with hand-painted squash shakers, and capped off each evening with a restful meditation to the sounds of crystal bowls. Our weekend culminated on Sunday when we kayaked out to sea. I'd never been ocean kayaking before, and I am pretty remedial with still-water kayaking, so getting the boat out past the break proved challenging for me. We toppled over a few times and scratched up our legs a bit, but eventually I was able to push our boat onto a more stable surface and flounder aboard. It was such a relief to glide gracefully over the the waves. I worried about making it back to shore, but, when the time was right, the sea guided us gently back in.

What a weekend. I am learning to trust the flow within me and all around me. I know that with all these strong women to guide and support me, I'll always end up in the right place.

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Life in Laguna

Once regret that I will never leave behind (mostly because my dad and uncle will never let me live it down), is that when I was some-age-around-middle-school, my sister and I had the chance to visit Australia and we didn't want to go. I remember being at a party or a picnic where we met some of my dad's IBM colleagues who were living in Australia, and they invited us to come for a visit. Just like a few years earlier when I'd cried about being stuck visiting my uncle in Bermuda and missing the first day of our 5th grade sleep-away field trip, I was not having it. I didn't want to miss school or any chance to be cool around my cool friends, and so I was not about to hop on a 24-hour plane ride to hang out with kangaroos and my dad's work associates. No thank you.

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I am proud to say that my priorities have changed drastically since then. My dad's work associates have given me numerous tips on what to do while traveling the world, and they've taken us skiing or joined us on other adventures. Since I'm a nepotistic girl living in a nepotistic world, I was eventually able to make some global IBM colleagues of my own and visit them in cool places, too. April took me to Laguna Beach to visit my friend Steph, who I met while working in Austin and who was wonderfully hospitable to welcome me into her beautiful beach life.

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We enjoyed some much needed seaside walking and happy hour time as I got to explore another part of this new state. I'm glad I've become much more of a travel "Yes" woman, and I'm grateful for kind coworkers and friendly faces everywhere that have a way of making the whole world feel like home.

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Take a Hike

Did you know I didn't like it here in LA the first time I came? I didn't like it even one bit. That first visit was about 5 years ago, my sister and I were driving around at the end of our full California road trip, and we had no idea where to go. We took the metro to Hollywood with a lot of smelly people. We found Hollywood to be disappointing (or at least I did, but my sister might have been satisfied with seeing the sign and Ellen DeGeneres' star). We spent a day and a half here and the flight home couldn't come soon enough, although we did stay in an adorable Airbnb which provided our safe haven.

Echo Mountain Hike

I certainly didn't think that one day I would wind up living here. Things in the city have changed since our Airbnb hostess told us to only turn left at the end of our street, never right, if we wanted to preserve our safety. I found out that it's full of interesting things to see and do, beyond the star walk and Santa Monica Pier. And there are still plenty of unsettling strangers to yell at you on the sidewalk.

The biggest surprise for me about LA has been the availability of nature and outdoor explorations. I didn't know it during my first visit, or my second or third, but there are a great many hikes to be had around here. While it appears so concrete and traffic ridden to an outsider, the mountains and parks are very accessible once you live here.

Los Liones hike

I've been squeezing in as many hikes as possible during my free hours. It's hard to get myself on the stairclimber at the gym when I know there are such beautiful hills nearby. I'm envisioning myself becoming part of the group of early rising elitists that does a morning hike before the start of the workday, or (more preferably) one that at least breaks up the commute with a climb on the way home.

And for you, wherever you are, I hope it's not snowing and that you are remembering to go outside. <3

Echo Mountain Hike

Pups at the Park

Big news! In the past week, I have found that the best things in life are.... NOT free! They are $46.00 and they are tickets to the annual Pups at the Park night at Dodgers Stadium.

Pups at the Park

Are all baseball teams doing this? I hope so! If not, why not?

Pups at the Park pug

My friend Katherine filled me in just in time. First of all, Dodgers Stadium is a nice place for a ballgame. You can see California palm trees all along the walk in, and sunsets from your seat.

Dodgers Stadium

Second of all, dogs. A lot of them. They're out in public; they're all in one place along the right field fence; and many of them are wearing pet-fitted sports uniforms.

Pups at the Park frenchie

Third of all, there are unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, and peanuts, but you should probably always impose your own limits on these types of food items. I imagine the freebies are due to the potential hassles of wrangling dogs, wallets, and trays of baseball treats, but I didn't ask any questions.

Pups at the Park bulldogs

The girls were a little tired by the 9th inning, not to mention unimpressed with the disappointing 1-9 loss, but I think it's safe to say we got what we came for.

LA Dodgers bulldogs