Sisters in California: The rest!

I’m sorry to tell you, but most of the glorious highlights of our trip stopped after Yosemite. It was a boring drive back on the 5, however we adjusted the plan and went west to Santa Monica so we could at least enjoy a bit of beach time and our last donuts (some of my all-time favorites). After that, it was hard to keep my mind off the cross-country move that would be taking place TWO DAYS LATER. I forced Elayne to come with me to get my oil changed, which she did not really enjoy, but we did try a yummy coffee shop in Atwater Village. But then we walked over a mile in sweaty summer LA sunshine, so win some, lose some, ya know?

We tried to go bowling, and unfortunately there was a two hour wait, so we could only eat tacos. (Note to self: reserve your spot for the bowling before getting the tacos.) Then that was that. I brought Elayne to the airport and packed my car up to leave the very next day.

What a trip, though! I’m glad we could pack so many awesome activities (and donuts) into our week together. Until next time… maybe in another five years?

Sentinel Dome trail

Sisters in California: Day 3

It’s nice to have a visitor in LA, so that you can do all sorts of touristy activities that you might not necessarily do on a normal day. Like take a Warner Bros. studio tour:

Warner Bros studio tour

And hang out around Batmobiles:

Warner bros studio tour

I think this was the day we made waffles for breakfast at home using my mini waffle maker. And went to yoga. And were there donuts, too? There probably were.

Bird scooter LA

At night, we met a few friends for dinner at Grand Central Market, a good option for visitors since it’s casual and everyone can get something different. We opted for mango beers and Thai food. Elayne rode a Bird scooter for the first time. Then it was time to get home and rest up for our big weekend adventure…

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Sisters in California: Day 2

Wednesday had to be one of the best California days I’ve had yet! We woke up early to eat breakfast at my number one neighborhood haunt, Kitchen Mouse. Then we hiked up to a secret swing in Elysian Park.

Elysian Park swing

I think we must have had donuts, too, since that seemed to be the theme of our trip.

After that, it was time to get ready for the wine safari. You heard that right. In Malibu, you can visit a farm/winery where they will drive you around in a safari bus to visit a giraffe, zebras, alpacas, etc.

Malibu Wine Safari

Of course we paid extra for a meet and greet with Stanley the Giraffe. It was the highlight of our trip.

Stanley the Giraffe

Look at that tongue! I think the animals are more of the draw than the wine at this particular wine safari, but the grounds are lovely to walk and ride around. And the sun came out exactly at the start of our tour.

Malibu Wine Safari zebras
Malibu Wine Safari

When the tour was over, we likely needed something to absorb the booze, so we decided to revisit one of the stops from our first California sister’s road trip five years ago, Neptune’s Net. It was just as good as we remembered, though we probably didn’t need to eat this entire plate of fried seafood right before dinner, but we’re on vacation, right?

Neptunes Net Malibu CA

We stopped at Point Dume on the way back to take in some gorgeous views of the coast. Then it was back into the city for dinner. I wasn’t doing it intentionally, but I realized I’d added mainly vegan restaurants to the itinerary. My sister and I aren’t vegan, but the options here are just that delicious!

Point Dume

Oh yeah, of course while we were in WeHo, we had to stop and see some more “famous walls of LA”. Here’s the one whose fame shocks me the most. But, when touristing, you gotta do what you gotta do!

LA Pink wall
Malibu Wine Safari

Sisters in California: Day 1

My sister, Elayne, landed at 10am last Tuesday, so, most appropriately, I met her at the airport with donuts and immediately brought her to take pictures in front of all the fancy, brightly-colored walls in Los Angeles. Just kidding, but not really

Venice Flake

We ate breakfast at my favorite Venice breakfast place, and I thought we would spend the day at the beach because I forgot it was still June and how LA gets very sad, cloudy, and rainy at this time of year. It was too cold and not exactly sunny vacation weather, but no matter; we strolled around to the Venice canals instead.

Venice Canals

Yup. Did you know that Venice has peaceful little canals just like Italy? They don’t have any gondolas to hire, but apparently you can bring your own paddle boat or stand-up paddle board and use it at your leisure.

Venice Canals

We walked the boardwalk after that and saw a pretty OK but also pretty drawn out street performance. It was still too chilly to enjoy the beach, so we had a snack and took a pretty nice and necessary yoga class to work off the donuts and said snack before dinner.

Dinner was at THE BEST RESTAURANT, The Butcher’s Daughter. Have you been there yet? They have one on the east coast and the west coast, so New York or California, no excuses. You have to go!

love wall Venice

Although it was a little chilly to our liking—especially since Elayne has been working in a hectic veterinary internship all year and hasn’t seen the sun or light of day in a while—we made the most of things and had ourselves a nice west side day. Nevertheless, we were still crossing our fingers for some sunshine later in the trip.

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!

Finding Your Tribe

I was sad to leave El Salvador and all of the adventurous, chill, and fun people I met on the retreat. Lucky for me, a lot of them live in LA, so I was already able to get ice cream with my new friend, Teri, and do more Buti yoga with Pixie. However, I’m a little bummed to feel like I’m finding my tribe in this city right as I’m about to leave again… [*life update here].

Surf Sweat Serve El Salvador

It’s been so fulfilling to find other people who want to build their lives into a grand adventure and who aren’t afraid to try something new on their own. I feel complemented and supported by others who aren’t cool with the, “Grow up and settle down” message in our society and who want to grow up and live their dreams while maintaining the playfulness and curiosity of childhood.

When I got back to LA, I spontaneously made a trip down to San Diego to see my friend Sara. We spent Saturday night singing karaoke songs in her living room and Sunday at the beach testing out our surf skills. We got tumbled by some waves, but that was OK. We were doing what we’ve always wanted to do and having a great time doing it.

Tamarack Beach

On the drive home, I got a message from my friend inviting me to a PRIDE dinner party at her house. Everyone was requested to bring rainbow foods or drink to celebrate the opportunity to be oneself and the gift of love for everyone. I wasn’t planning to go home or to the grocery store; I had brunch plans with another friend. What do you know, during brunch that friend told me she had a collection of rainbow superfood powders and we could definitely put together a rainbow menu item. We spent the afternoon making colorful tie-dye waffles (she also happened to have a peace sign mini waffle maker!) and I had the perfect thing to bring to the party.

rainbow waffles

I’m going to miss all of these people so much! But if there’s anything I’ve learned from living in different places, it’s that your tribe doesn’t die when you leave. Sometimes it gets even stronger as it spreads out and new members are added. And then you end up feeling like you can land anywhere and find a sense of belonging.

Surf Sweat Serve

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.

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!

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

This Year So Far

Where have I been? Maybe you are wondering.

Everywhere, it feels like!

Something about January has felt powerfully rejuvenating, but in the way that I want to stay introverted and careful about letting the heat leak out from within me. So I’ve been in my room, working on projects and experiencing what it’s like to plant my feet back in this new home. At the end of December, I really was everywhere. I took the most successful red-eye flight yet to New York to have a full day in NYC with my sister.

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We saw the tree and ate some yummy brunch foods. What more can you hope to get out of a wintry day in Manhattan?

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I didn’t get much recovery time, because the next day my dad drove us up to Vermont for a beautiful day of skiing. It was sunny and warm and everything ideal for a now-turned-California girl returning to the East Coast in December! Of course, we included our usual stop at the Vermont Country Store. I showed that I haven’t grown up all that much over the years— I ate all the free samples and a whole bag of assorted candy!

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The rest of the week at home in New York was refreshing and full of fun and family. I was so grateful to be home this year because, if you remember, last year was a little lonely for me in another country. But I’ll take a Christmas wherever I can get it!

Then it was back to NYC for a full family fun day. Big aLICe Brewing kept us all happy and getting along, in spite of conflicting opinions about how we should spend the day. I’m glad my sister got to take charge and show us around her part of the city a little bit.

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I returned to LA with a few days left of 2018 to spend enjoying the beach. I definitely wanted to close out the year with the ocean, taking some time to reflect on the big move out here and how I never have any idea where it will all go from here!

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Sunday Special, Vol. 15

Happy belated Turkey Day y’all! I am thankful to you for being here and reading the things that I write. I hope you enjoyed a tasty feast and some time with your loved ones.

I was hanging out with this crew all week while their parents were out of town:

English bulldogs

Health

It was Thanksgiving, so I am not even going to go here… but my belly was happy and everything was delicious! (-)

Family

I missed my fam around the holiday, but I had looked up plane tickets to fly to see my mom in Savannah for Thanksgiving, and they were $860. No thanks! I’ll be looking forward to going home for Christmas. (-)

Friends

I got to experience my first LA Friendsgiving events and they were such a treat! I’m grateful to everyone who checked in on me to invite me to their homes or to make sure I had somewhere to go. I feel very taken care of. (+)

Mission/Work

I had a much needed small pause from teaching this week, because most of my usual classes were canceled at the gym. I did pick up a few subbing opportunities here and there, so I didn’t completely turn into a melted puddle of mush watching Netflix on the couch. There was just the right amount of balance. (+)

Finances

A financial tip for you: if you stay in your house every day nesting and resting, you are way less likely to spend money on stuff out in the world! That worked for me over the long weekend. However I was susceptible to some Black Friday/Cyber Monday email temptations. It feels like the deals have spread from one day into a two week shopping spree! Yikes! (+)

Adventure

Not too much, unless you count binge-watching a new show as an adventure… I did have some fun explorations going out in Hollywood during my time off, though. Glad for new friends who like going out on the town. (+)

Hobby

My crochet skills have progressed from bags to bathing suits and I made a cute little bikini with cactus appliqués. I don’t think it can be worn in the water, unfortunately, so it may just be a suit for show. (+)

Spirituality

As I get deeper into teaching and my schedule of classes has been filling in, I realize that it’s hard to practice yoga on your own when you’re also teaching 2-3 times a day! Especially when you’re teaching at different studios and driving all over the dang place. On Thanksgiving Day I went back to one of my favorite neighborhood studios (Namaste Highland Park) and took an amazing class that helped me to reconnect with my practice. It’s important for me to experience my own practice outside of teaching, and I am glad to have room in my life to do that. (+)

Emotion

Delighted! This week/weekend was the perfect amount of time to recharge, hang out with friends, enjoy yummy food, crochet, and chill. I feel prepared to be productive this week and (hopefully) to eat not quite so many carbs. (+)

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

Midsummer Music

I'm calling it midsummer here because, really, what good could come of admitting that it is anything else but that? And also, does summer ever end in Southern California? I will keep you posted.

This time of year has been good for me and the music scene. I got to see a best band play a best show at the Ace Hotel Theater in Downtown, LA. It was the night before my yoga teacher training and a last minute decision that I'll stand by for all of time. 

Ace Hotel Theatre, Los Angeles

The next week, another best band played a pretty wild and unexpected show at the Hollywood Bowl. There were new songs and dancers and it was something good for me to see.

Also major thumbs up for having found friends here who are into similar music, which is a positive contributor to my not having to be the lonesome girl who just wants to enjoy a show, but I have sometimes been that girl and it was quite alright.

Hollywood Bowl

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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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

New Neighborhoods

Yesterday I intentionally left my phone at home while I walked the mile each way to the yoga studio. I said good morning to every single person I passed, and to some animals, too. “Good morning businessman in your suit!” “Good morning potentially homeless woman carrying many bags!” “Good morning husky dogs on your stoop!” “Good morning hipster guy talking creatively to yourself!” “Good morning asexual-looking transgender couple!” “Good morning Outdoor Voices-clad mat-toting yoga girl who’s just like me!” I'm disconnected and engaged with my environment. I pass the local elementary school and two boys flag me down to retrieve their soccer ball from across the street. I toss it over the fence and trot along on my merry way.

I feel like I’m in a movie. It’s the one about another white girl (woman!) coming in to gentrify a historically Hispanic neighborhood. I speak Spanish, though, so at least we can talk about it? Does it count as gentrification if I have to live with three housemates and couldn’t afford to live anywhere else? I try to eat at the Antigua bakery and the Viva Azteca taco truck, but I’ve also visited the new bookstore/record store/barbershop and the fancy coffee shop where the lattes come standard with almond milk. What a luxury!

Anyway, I'm glad to be here with the grassy slopes, sweet little bungalows, fruit trees, and all the yoga. Lots of love.

Aerial Yoga at Kinship Yoga