My 35th Birthday Sonoma Trip

It’s no secret that travel has been a balm to my soul since losing my mom. (In fact, I even wrote an article on grief travel, or a griefcation, as I call it.)

Santa Monica Beach

But California’s been particularly good to my soul.

So, facing both my 35th birthday and my first birthday without my mom all in one…I got the hell out of NYC and flew to California with friends.

I love wine (and lamp), so we started the trip in Sonoma. I’d been there for a friend’s wedding almost five years ago now (time is weird, guys, I don’t get how that was five years ago), and I fell in love. Off to wine country it was!

There were four of us, and we stayed in this cute little Airbnb. ($20 off your first Airbnb stay with this link.) It was a few miles out of town, so it was spacious but a relatively reasonable price.

We didn’t get up to wine country until after 1, and so we went straight for a lovely lunch at Farmstead in St. Helena…

Before the big event of the day: a tasting at Domaine Carneros, thanks to my dear friend Blake who knows everyone and got us hooked up!

Domaine Carneros

It’s a shame it’s not prettier there.

And that the wine isn’t better. Ugh.

Dinner was at Girl and the Fig, which came highly recommended. It was…fine? Maybe I was just exhausted, but I thought it was a little overrated.

Girl and the Fig Sonoma

Other than the birthday treat.

Thankfully (?), I never adjusted to the time change and was up super early the next day, the first one in the house…as per usual.

Sonoma Sunrise

#worthit

The last time I went to Sonoma, we went to the Sunflower Caffe, and I, no joke, have been dreaming about this place for five years. Everything was just so fresh and good, ESPECIALLY the avocados and sourdough toast. There I go, salivating again…

Sunflower Caffe

Is it not adorable, though?

Sunflower Caffe

Unfortunately, the service was a bit slow, so we had to take the food in the car with us. I like my Sunflower here or there, I like it anywhere.

We ended up hiring a driver for the day so that none of us had to be DD, and it was a worthy investment. (About $100/person.)

Iron Horse Wine

Our first tasting of the day was at Iron Horse. They’re known for their sparkling, and my favorite was their Wedding Cuvee, which was originally made for a family wedding but has now become their signature wine.

La Crema Wine

And then it was off to the mother ship, La Crema!!!! Their chardonnay is what turned me from a chardonnay hater to a chardonnay lover! I have a friend who works for them, and she hooked us up with a tasting, too.

I felt super special that they printed menus up for us…at my favorite place!

I’d already bought two bottles at Domaine Carneros so at this point I was thinking about my little carryon and getting wine home… I bought the Saralee’s Vineyard Chadonnay, which was rich and delicious.

I was in heaven.

La Crema Gifts

I also have no idea how I managed to restrain myself to not buy out the whole gift shop…

Our last vineyard of the day was Hook and Ladder. Can’t say I was crazy about that one…will just leave it at that.

We’d had several fancy dinner reservations for that night…but after a day of wine tastings in the sunshine…

We stopped for a pizza snack in the Sonoma square, and decided to bring pizza back to the house and drink wine there in our PJs. Zero regrets, and truly #thisis35.

Champagne Sabering

There was also sabering and prosecco pong…

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Why I Share My Mental Health Challenges

If you follow me on Instagram stories (or read my last post), you know I have been in a dark place the past few weeks or so.

To be incredibly honest, I felt really hopeless about my current station in life and didn’t see it getting better. I can usually dig deep and see some light; I saw none. Where things *should* have been light, I could only see darkness, and that made me even more frustrated.

For example, we had a Junior League wellness day and there was an incredibly inspiring panel of female wellness entrepreneurs. This should have been my JAM. And it was, sort of. I sat there in awe of these badass women…but immediately went to feeling frustrated I haven’t accomplished more in my own life. One negative thought led to another, and I found myself sitting on my couch an hour later sobbing with my shades down, wrapped in my favorite blanket. I felt like I was dropping the ball on…everything because I couldn’t motivate.

I was feeling so many physical signs too: fatigue, headaches, jaw pain from grinding my teeth, poor digestion.

Finally, frustrated, I made an appointment with my doctor. “You’ve been talking about not feeling [your own level of] functional since before your mom died. You don’t need to feel this way.” And so we made a med change. I hope I don’t have to take an additional med forever, but if it keeps these feelings of hopelessness away, it’s worth it.

I went to BlogHer Health the other day (thank you, Chase, for the ticket) and was thrilled to see a panel on mental health and media representation on the schedule, talking about the importance of sharing mental health information. There was an exhibit called Be Vocal, Speak Up for Mental Health — its goal is to portray honestly and accurately people living with mental health challenges. It’s showing that it’s not just the overdramatized images we see in the media; it’s also people like me who can (for the most part?) hold down a job, get dressed in the morning and get out of the house. People who put a smile on despite the pain in their hearts. But people who have so much going on that you don’t see.

And that’s why I share. If you didn’t read my blog or follow me on social media, you’d have no idea that I have faced depression and anxiety. You’d just see the races, the dinners out, the trips. You’d just see my highlight reel, like most people’s.

Preppy Runner Ali on the Run Show Theodora Blanchfield

I had the opportunity to be on my friend Ali’s podcast!!!! I’ve listened to it since Day 1, and so it was an honor to be on it (even if I was a little demanding and basically dictated to Ali what I wanted in the show notes.)

I talked really honestly about my career, losing my mom, therapy, etc., and I got so many amazing messages from people thanking me for my honesty or telling me their stories of how they’ve overcome similar or just telling me they’re thinking of me.

And that’s why I share — grief, anxiety and depression can all make you feel so, so alone. (Even though I know I have amazing friends and family.) If I pretend I’m OK (when I’m sure as hell not), nobody else will know how I’m feeling, so then I’ll really feel alone.

By opening up, I realize I’m not alone. So yes, I open up sometimes for selfish reasons, but also because I hope that by showing that when you’re honest is when you realize you’re not at all alone.

You’re never alone, I promise. I’m always here via email [theodora at preppyrunner dot com] or via IG DM [@theodorable], and the Crisis Text Line is always there for text or online chat. You don’t even need to pick up the phone.