48 Hours in Santa Monica

I’m really missing sunny California after last week! It’s been cold and rainy in NYC…and in my heart.

Depression and grief are so incredibly frustrating in that I’m doing everything I can that I know of to help: meds, therapy, exercise, eating well, journaling, etc etc etc…but it just feels like it doesn’t matter and I’ll feel this way forever. Even writing that out, I know that’s not true, but it’s hard to not feel that way often, to be honest.

Before I tell you more about LA, two random questions:

1. Any home refresh tips? Or ideas? 🙂 I’m trying to brighten/freshen up my apartment to make it feel a bit cheerier and to change my surroundings a bit. I moved in here almost two years ago, so save for those four months my mom was in remission, I don’t have many positive memories associated with the physicality of my apartment.

2. Related-ish: any ideas of fun activities or things I can do to disrupt my routine a bit? Hobbies I should take up?

But back to sunny California…

Santa Monica

I have some flexibility in my schedule right now, so I decided to tack a few days in LA onto my Sonoma trip. I have a lot of friends in LA now, and it brought me so much peace the last time I was there, I thought it was worth a return trip.

As soon as I picked up the rental car, I went straight to the House of Intuition to satisfy my crystal needs. Yup, zero shame here, people. Crystals bring me some sort of comfort.

santa monica beach

Oh hello, happiness.

ferris wheel santa monica

I actually really wanted to go on the ferris wheel, just for shits and giggles, but they wouldn’t let singles go up! #howrude

Happiest on the beach.

santa monica sunset

Look at this magical sunset.

I never really got on west coast time…which worked well for coming back to NYC and for catching some excellent sunrises.

I really only had one full day in Santa Monica, but it was probably one of the most healing days since losing my mom.

I had a cold the whole time I was out there, so I was a little lethargic, so didn’t really have it in me for a run, so I just went for a long walk along the beach, snapping some pics with my phone in airplane mode.

claire bidwell smith

And then I had the opportunity to meet Claire Bidwell Smith. I’ve been thinking about this for a week, and I still can’t even really put into words how helpful her work has been to this stupid grief journey I’m on. One of you recommended her books to me, and that recommendation was truly life-changing. She lost her mom at 18 and her dad by 25, and then became a grief therapist/author. After devouring all of her work, I saw on Instagram that she was offering special rates on therapy, and so I’ve been doing a few sessions with her. Since I was going to be in LA, I booked an in-person session with her and am SO glad I did. As a fellow only child who’s been through grief, she just gets it. And  Also, we sat on the balcony of my hotel room overlooking the beach. Beats the NYC shared office space therapy situations I’ve had 🙂

Ceremony Meditation

From there…I went to Ceremony Meditation for a crystal healing meditation class. (Yes, full on LA woo-woo, thank you for asking.)

I’m a little frustrated that I fell asleep during the meditation and don’t remember a ton of it! But we pulled crystal tarot cards first, and then we laid down and a crystal was placed on our foreheads. We meditated on the chakras and their colors…and that’s about all I can tell you. Whatever happened, I felt very much at peace after, and that’s all I was really looking for, so…

I’d gone there last summer and had a really emotional and spiritual experience and felt really connected with my mom’s spirit, so it was really important to me to return. Anyone know of a similar place in NYC? Mndfl (but sorry, buy a vowel?) and Inscape are great, but I’m looking for a meditation experience that’s a bit more spiritual.

And then I went hiking with Amy, and we had an amazing discussion about life, career, etc.

Preppy Runner

To be really honest, I’m not crazy about my body/appearance right now, but I was at peace and feelin’ myself on this particular day.

And then I had dinner with my good friends Meggie and Emily, and it was an excellent way to cap the day…despite the LA traffic that took me 1.5 hours to drive eight miles.

santa monica run

And then I did feel better the next morning, and went for a run to Venice and back and felt SO SO HAPPY.

venice street art

Definitely have a new appreciation for street art after the tour I went on in Bogota!

OK people — tell me your fave places in LA.

18 comments on “48 Hours in Santa Monica

  1. Pingback: 48 Hours in Santa Monica - Weight loss blog

  2. Amy

    Re: Fun Activities to change things up: bake cookies (or another sweet treat) and then spend the day walking around town and delivering them to friends. (Download a fun new podcast or peppy music as background noise to your activity). Essentially, reverse trick or treating. Your friends will likely appreciate the thoughtful little surprise and hopefully you’ll find some momentary joy from giving it to them. Also- I realize that suggesting a lady bake may come off old fashioned or outdated in a gender-stereotype way- and this is totally NOT my intention. Just a fun little (delicious) thing I do on occasion to surprise and delight some friends, so thought I’d share. Plus- I get to eat a cookie to “make sure they are ok” before delivery, without having a dozen sitting around for me to scarf down all week.

  3. Ash Diamond

    So my friend Robin had a similar experience in Washington, DC and she decided last year to choose 2 hobbies – 1 that helped her meet new people and 1 that true joy to her life. She joined a tennis team again in DC (meet people, exercise, joy) and then also started exploring one new thing in her city each month – walking tour, new restaurant, etc that helped her appreciate and discover new things.

  4. Rebecca

    Well, I live in la so I have a lot of recommendations. I love Sage Vegan restaurant (in super hipster echo park). Get the buffalo cauliflower. After you eat there you can walk to echo park lake and rent a paddle boat and enjoy the scenery. (Bring a friend, I think you need at least two people to rent a boat.)

    I also recommend Griffith observatory and hiking in Griffith park in general (you can even hike up behind the Hollywood sign). Los Feliz is the neighborhood nearest to the park, and it’s a cool area to explore – good restaurants, fish tacos, churros, etc. and one of la’s best bookstores: skylight books. Oh and there is a jeni’s ice cream shop there which is a must-visit! (I get up in Ohio, where jeni’s is from, so I have a soft spot for it. There are also a few other locations in la.)

    I also like downtown, which often gets overlooked! To see some historic la, go to union station and check out the awesome architecture, then across the street to Olvera street, which is like a miniature trip to Mexico. Philippe’s is nearby, which is a very famous place that purportedly created the French dip sandwich.

    There’s still a lot more to downtown. I like the contemporary art museum, LACMA. If you can manage to reserve (free) tickets way in advance, the Broad museum is spectacular. You could also go to Chinatown or little Tokyo or check out grand central market for good eats. For other restaurants downtown, I like bacö Mercat, mas malo, although there are many others, too!

    Another cool area is Little Osaka, which is another Japanese area of town, full of all the ramen shops you’d expect, but it’s closer to the west side, on sawtelle.

    Anyway, feel free to hit me up on instagram if you’re you want more info or recommendations – @origamipapercrane. I’m always happy to help people enjoy my favorite city.

    As for hobbies, I love fiber craft. I knit and crochet (mostly crochet) and it has helped me so much by calming me down, helping with anxiety, giving me a sense of accomplishment and pride in my work. You have the lion brand yarn studio in NYC which would be a great starting point if you want to take lessons. 🙂

  5. Anne

    Something that really helped me through some very challenging episodes in my life was yoga. And I mean like really getting into yoga as a whole body meditation, spiritual type of thing, not just “how hard can I push myself in this hot yoga class; oh I am secretly competing with the woman next to me,” which was my previous NYC yoga-mode.

    I also took an 8-week mindfulness-based stress relief class, which I found here. They have spots around the city. It was good to meet other people and really dedicate myself to a mindfulness practice, rather than just randomly meditating here and there.

    Hobbies suggestions: cooking (Natural Gourmet Institute has some really great, diverse, healthy classes), knitting/crochet or cross-stitch (Purl Soho, Brooklyn Craft Company, and many other neighborhood shops have classes, supplies, and community drop-in hours to get some help), a new language (Idlewild Books offers great classes, among many other options), photography, painting/drawing, etc., etc., etc.!

    What did you like to do for fun when you were 10? That’s always a good place to start. And your hobbies might sound super weird and out there to other people. (I love cross-stitch. It’s not the 1800s. I’m okay with it. I have a friend who loves to paint little figurines of dragons and other fantasy creatures/characters. I don’t get it but he it’s their bliss.)

  6. Kaelin

    Maybe instead of new throw pillows, you need a whole new space?? LA looks good on you 🙂 And it seems you found your happy place.

      1. Alison

        @Theodora Blanchfield: I agree with this! I have been wondering if you were at all interested in a move to LA (because it’s a thing I do, making life plans for strangers I see on the internet). I was going through a bad time and decided to make a temporary move — I sublet my apartment in NYC and moved to FL for 6 months. It was easier than I thought (even though I actually had to relearn to drive before I moved) and sooo worth it!

        Also, I know you asked about hobbies but I also had a thought — have you considered doing some volunteering? Something that feels positive and enjoyable, maybe a regular weekly or monthly thing…there are so many great organizations that need all kinds of volunteers. This is something that I’ve experienced myself and have also seen in others: even when life is shitty, there is something very powerful (and empowering) when you realize that you have the ability to make things better for other people or make the world a little bit of a better place.

        1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

          Ooh! That’s great to hear. Are you still in FL? I am definitely considering at least a sublet 🙂

          And re:volunteering – yes! Thinking about that too 🙂 In the less immediate term, I’m definitely going to do a community placement (i.e. direct volunteering) with Junior League next year rather than the more behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve been doing.

  7. katie

    I haven’t done LA! So if you can give me a cool spot that has lots of walkable stuff and/or cheap lyfts I am all ears!! As for new hobbies, I’m going to take guitar lessons this spring. I would also like to attend a spiritual retreat of some kind, but haven’t found the experience. finally….HOW RUDE! on the ferris wheel not allowing single riders.

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  9. Delia

    Have followed you off & on for years; just dropping in to say hang in there. Grief is not linear; I remember feeling like I would always be sad during a tough season of my life, and trying to do all the “healing/recovery” things, and wanting time to pass faster. Then little by little, you find moments of pure happiness, like on your LA trip. More of those will come & the good feelings start replacing a greater percentage of your time. Your writing is still so funny; maybe you should try writing for a magazine or other blog? I second Yoga! Gardening & making jewelry are 2 of my fave hobbies. Maybe a community garden plot could give you a renewed sense of purpose/new community/challenge?!


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