I just returned from a restorative vacation with my family, visiting some friends in California who have been inviting us for over a decade to come visit. I'm struggling a bit with the re-entry this time, more so than usual. We had amazing excursions in places of pure, natural wonder.

We had the privilege to stay in Santa Cruz, a place of immense beauty where cliffs meet the sea, colorful sea stars and anemones can be found clinging to rocks during low tide, playful sea lions call to one another and sun themselves on the pier, and a rich culture of eccentricities is summed up in the motto of "Keep Santa Cruz Weird". 

Vegetarian diners are designed to fool the tourist, with window displays advertising "burgers, fries, and shakes" and looking like something out of the 50's. Vegetarian fare is just fine, as long as that's what you're expecting. If not, then it's just pretty dang funny when you suddenly notice that the word "chicken" is in quotes and there are a lot of potato entrees. The food at the Saturn Cafe is delicious, by the way, in case you're ever in the area.

We also visited Monterey and Point Lobos, where words really do fail to describe this paradise...

Point Lobos

We drove to San Francisco for an evening meal at Fisherman's Wharf and watched the sun set over the bay. We drove to Muir Woods on a treacherous, curvy mountain road in the fog, where I'm pretty sure we could see the back of our car on those sharp turns, but not much else. We were enchanted by the ancient redwoods and immersed ourselves in the magical feel of the forest there, so green and lush. 

Muir magical!

Vacations always bring me new insights, and this one was no different. I felt as if I watched the world with new eyes this week - everything was different, new, magical, and filling every one of my senses as I slowed down and integrated everything around me. I appreciated the breathtaking flow of the waves crashing on the shore, I giggled at the conversation of the sea lions, and lingered in the refreshing scent of the eucalyptus groves. I watched delight cross the faces of my family as we saw redwoods bigger than we could put our arms around. We laughed together at the snorting and belching sounds of elephant seals, and we felt our muscles strengthen as we climbed the many hills on our adventures. We indulged in the companionship of long-term friends and met some new ones. Life was truly full and luscious.

I feel like I had a glorious, rejuvenating time with my family, and yet came back with some "homework", so to speak, which is making re-entry into my life space a little on the rough side.

On our flight out, we had a layover in Chicago. The sight of the smog over the city as we came in to the airport was ominous. I had no idea it was that bad. On the way home as we flew into Philadelphia, there was smog as well. I had not seen this in my trips over the past few years. I was sadly unaware. <grimace>

We stayed in our friend's gorgeous, clutter-free condo. It was so refreshing to be in that beautiful space with only what we needed and no excess. It made me painfully aware that we need to do some decluttering in our own home.

We didn't expect to encounter the large homeless population in Santa Cruz, and I recognized how much we take food for granted. Our hosts would often get boxes to take home any leftover restaurant food, with some of it being a small amount that I would have not even bothered taking with me. They explained that they sometimes just hand it to a street person on their way home, and in fact, we had the opportunity to witness that. It really made me think, as this is not something I see so openly where I live. Out of sight, out of mind. But our hosts regularly provide small miracles by giving someone a meal they wouldn't have otherwise had. It humbled me. (My own attempt to give away my fresh hot coffee proved unfruitful, as the person I tried to give it to was only interested in something he needed for his bong, which I didn't see as I approached him, and surely couldn't provide. He loudly and emphatically declared, "Then you're no good to me!" I guess I need more practice at this sort of thing.)

The other thing that was prevalent was notices about water being a precious resource, as California is a dry state. This again, is something most of us take for granted, as we feel that we have an ample supply of water coming from our pipes. We tend to think of water as a renewable resource, when that's not really the case. There's a finite amount of freshwater on the planet, and when that's no longer viable, that's it. I've become more aware of water myself over this past year, especially after spending time with the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers who spoke about using Earth's resources wisely. They believe that the next war will be over water, for there are already many people who are struggling for access to clean water, and the problem is getting worse. I hold out hope that we can be more wise.

So I have some things to think about and take action on...the food consumption and waste of my own family, the homeless people in our local area, improving our use of water, and some decluttering, for starters. 

There's also the recognition that I want to live every day as a vacation day, and in order to do that, I need to make some changes, at least in my perspective. I should love what I'm doing and where I'm living. I should allow my senses to fill completely with the simple delights and miracles of every day, and count every blessing and lesson. I shouldn't have to leave my home and "get away from it all". I should want all of my life...every last, juicy bit of it. If not, then something needs to change. A vacation should be a time to explore new places and do new things. If I feel the need to take a break from my life, then I'm out of alignment somewhere. 

This vacation has reminded me of what's truly important. I've lost sight of my priorities at times in the tumultuous seas of daily living, where it's so easy to get caught in the rhythmic waves of routine. I'm craving more simplicity and freedom, and want to step away from what I once thought of as abundance. An abundance of things you don't need is simply clutter.

I want my home and life filled with only the people, things, and work that matter most to me. I am so grateful that I have a wonderful family and friends and work that I love. I still have things I need to release though, to make room for the new amazing things I want to bring into my life.

I guess it is time for spring cleaning. :)

Here's hoping you get the chance to witness the little miracles that arrive each day. And may you become aware of what you no longer need and have the courage to release it.

Love & Light,


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