California Dreaming, California Healing
For my 28th solar return, I planned a 10 day road trip down the coast of California with my mom - and we haven’t been on a vacation together in over a decade. After having an influential visit to SoCal in June of this year, I felt called to return as soon as possible. This time around, I wanted to share the magic with supportive and loving energy from someone who has witnessed my prior transformations. Going into this experience, I welcomed the opportunity for deep connection and healing.
A few weeks prior to us leaving, I called my mom to have an honest discussion about my self-expression over the years, as my voice is something I have recently reclaimed, with no intention of toning down. At times throughout my youth, I felt I was unable to be my full self. I could say some things, but not everything. I could move my body in some ways, but not all the ways - and only until it became “too much”. I felt that I was unable to fully speak my truth and stand in my power, for fear of either letting someone else down or making someone uncomfortable. As an adult that now regularly devotes herself to practicing mindfulness and self-love, though, I realized that it is not my job to make others feel comfortable. It isn’t. I articulated this to my mother with love in my heart - for her, and for me - understanding that at times, I do believe she was simply trying to protect me. However, I have now realized that the only way for me to be happy and liberated is for me to be authentic. My intention for this conversation was to inform my Cali companion that on our expedition, and going forward, I would not be shrinking myself as I may have done in the past. I am showing up - fully me - and my hope was that she would show up - fully her.
After my seemingly bold declaration of self, I was pleasantly met with calm curiosity and understanding. Like a swimmer testing the temperature before jumping in, I had dipped my toe into a pool of vulnerability and found the waters had warmed up since I last swam. The response from my mom was kind, if not apologetic, and my heart was deeply grateful. Thank you.
This set the tone for our week and a half together.
Views from above ⤴
Our trek started before dawn. I was running on about two hours of sleep from staying out late with a friend the night before. Though I did intend to rest the entire flight, I was fortunate enough to have secured a window seat for our nonstop. Thus, I was perfectly situated to witness the purely majestic dance of our sun chasing us across the country. With what seemed like beautiful, determined patience, she allowed us to take our journey but I was mindful, always, of her presence and power right behind our vessel. Until, finally, day broke and our sun’s unmistakable light enveloped us all in her glow. Admittedly, I did cry on the plane. 🤷🏽♀️ Viewing the various clouds, fields, snowy Rockies, and eventually the Bay from above is a truly overwhelming experience if we take the time to soak it all in. My emotions were also mixed with a future kind of sadness (and eco-anxiety) as I wondered what Earth will look like in the next few years if humans continue to disrupt and extract precious resources. My time in the air allowed for an unexpected reflection that filled my spirit with simultaneous gratitude and grief.
From Baltimore, we flew into San Francisco and the adventure commenced.
Among other things, we hit up Haight-Ashbury (and mom's still raving about her burger), we drove down Lombard Street, bought raspberries and lemons at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, humbled ourselves in Muir Woods, treated myself to decadent french toast and bánh xèo, and toured UC Berkeley before visiting a new friend (and fellow climate champion) of mine. Without a doubt, the best gift during this portion of our journey (aside from having the most delicious lasagna of my life) was visiting the coastal redwoods - the tallest of all living things.
While obviously, all of the trees are gorgeous, when I was in the park, there were two that struck me the most. One was positioned very close to the water, as if she wanted a front-row seat to view the mystical flow of moisture. Her base seemed to be braided into the Earth and was a deeper brown closer to the soil. She was surrounded by admirers - shrubs, shorter redwoods, and firs - and paid them no mind. Standing tall, solid and determined, it would appear she only wanted to soak in Redwood Creek and continue ascending towards the sky.
The other ancestor had been clearly burned - her base was not neatly tied in, but rather looked like nature’s game of tetris. As I got closer, I found myself in greater awe of her existence. There was a distinctly familiar beauty of this being - her strength and vigor obvious even if she had been hurt in the past. I also noticed the delicate balance of tough and tender, as her exterior was protective, but she had her softer sides which felt incredibly comforting to touch. This babe was a true warrior - fiercely loving and tenacious - quietly reminding me that there is so much to be learned in nature.
As our west coast tour continued, my mother and I took a misty drive down Pacific Coast Highway past Big Sur, spent the night in an airstream at a vineyard in Paso Robles, devoured karma asada tacos, visited an old friend in San Luis Obispo, I got a crop top tan at Pismo Beach 🙃, stayed in a Danish-themed Inn in Solvang, had a vegan “munch wrap” for lunch in Santa Barbara and the v-friendly options in Cali just continued to impress!
Morning outside the airstream ⤴
While I eagerly explored each stop with inquisitiveness on Days 1 - 5 of our trip, my heart felt as if she genuinely had returned home on Day 6 when I got back into the City of Angels. Just as I had been in June, I was once again greeted with pure love. Adventures ranged from playing on Santa Monica Beach at sunset; to two rooftop events with a good friend in downtown L.A.; a lovely feminine-empowered birthday brunch in West Hollywood; and waking up each morning surrounded by citrus trees, grape vines, palms, a 100 y/o ficus and lush greenery at a “tree house” in Long Beach. It was divine. Though only a small minority of things actually went as planned, everything worked in our favor. Immense gratitude to my soul family providing us with cautionary tips, gifts, and nourishment. From beginning to end, I felt profoundly supported, protected, and guided in love - even flying out of LAX was simple!
I am so grateful to my mom for saying “yes” to a wild adventure with me in celebration of my birth. Throughout our time together, we were both pushed out of our comfort zones, presented with opportunities for growth, and experimented with seemingly unlimited options of flavorful plant-based cuisine! 😋 It was legitimately one of the best vacations I've been on and I’m thankful to have enjoyed it all in this lifetime.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and explore my site.
May you have the courage to liberate yourself.