I started taking horseback riding lessons last year as a Christmas gift to myself. As a child, I dreamt of having a horse of my own. And having Orelia has definitely amplified my interest in and adoration of all animals.
I tried several stables around the Bay Area over the past year. Miwok Stables is great for trail rides with stunning views of the Marin Headlands, but I wasn’t really feeling the instructors and their style. At the time, I just wanted to enjoy a peaceful trail ride and soak up the beauty of my surroundings. I wasn’t interested in listening to my instructor blather on and on about how he used to work in the tech industry too. (Zzzzzzz. I’m sleeping and riding, sleeping and riding. My bad for not speaking up and asking him to cool the chatter.)
Redwood Ranch over in the Oakland Hills is a beautiful facility, but their rules and instructors were way too rigid for me. I spent the bulk of those lessons grooming the horse rather than learning how to ride the horse. And I really don’t need to be lectured when I accidently put the reigns back on the wrong storage hook.
It wasn’t until I discovered Suzie at Point Reyes Arabian Adventures that I found my horseback riding bliss. Suzie grew up in the English countryside and has one of the loveliest accents. By the time she was 12, her mom had over 35 horses. So she knows what she’s doing. And she’s incredibly down to earth and patient with novice riders like me.
There’s nothing more uplifting than going for a trail ride with her up in Pt. Reyes or taking a private lesson at her gorgeous barn in Petaluma. An afternoon spent riding followed by gnocchi in a creamy gorgonzola walnut sauce and a glass of white wine at Cucina Paradiso in historic downtown Petaluma puts me in a state of bliss that lasts for days. I’m counting the hours until I head back up there on Friday!
Like all good little Southern girls, I was taught to be quiet and polite. Only speak when spoken to. Say yes, m’am and yes, sir. Listen to authority. Be accommodating. Don’t ask for too much. It’s taken me 30+ years to say “no, thanks” to all that nonsense.
I’m gonna to say what’s on my mind. I’m going to speak my truth. Even if it doesn’t come out eloquently and even if others don’t like it. Dare I say it? Even if they hate it. I’m going to say “no” if something doesn’t work for me and walk away with no apologies.
Life is too short for anything else. Orelia clearly agrees as evidenced by the recent fist bump she gave me. I got your back too, Orelia!
The weekend was gloriously relaxing. I actually slept in past 7:30 am on Sunday. Orelia rarely allows me to do this. Good doggie!
I spent countless hours on my couch reading the newspaper and 9 Dragons. And the highlight of the weekend was meeting my BFF for dinner at Benihana. Cheesy? Definitely. But their fried rice and lobster is out of this world.
(Enjoyed lunch in the sun at Alamo Square park on Saturday)
(Painted Ladies along Alamo Square)
(Pretty Victorians along the park)
(Nothing like fresh flowers and a fire to warm up my apartment)
I can’t recall the last time I was more excited that it’s Friday. While my weekend plans don’t include a trip to Hawaii, I’m going to do my best to channel the relaxing vibe in this photo taken on my list visit.
My to do list tonight is full of simple pleasures that will have me feeling relaxed in no time:
- Lavender bubble bath
- Spicy basil chicken from Eliza’s
- Getting lost in Quiet
- Snuggling with Orelia
Wishing everyone an Aloha kind of weekend!
(Photo from www.theeverygirl.com)
Book publishing wasn’t her dream job, so Crystal Gentilello created her own by launching Rue Magazine. With no formal training in design or publishing, she’s built Rue into a successful online design destination with more than 10 million pages views per issue. She even recently partnered with Gap on an advertising campaign.
Crystal’s story proves that passion plus hard work can make beautiful things happen.
(Grace Cathedral – always a soothing place)
I recently felt really stressed on a Sunday afternoon. Nothing specific transpired, but there’s been some transitions going on in my life. Starting two new consulting jobs, going back into an office, and maybe even starting a new relationship. My mind was racing; and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I went for a long walk with Orelia, made a pot of tea and put on some classical music.
Within minutes, I started to feel more like myself. It had been such a long time since I listened to something other than holiday music. I had forgotten the glorious power that music has to transform my mood and even transport me to another place and time. Next time I feel stress coming on, I’ll be pumping up the Mozart.
(Holiday Concert at Grace Cathedral)
(Photo from http://www.sfgate.com)
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. However, I made one last year that drastically transformed my life. It was simply to be more true to myself. Some days that meant small things like staying at home to snuggle on the couch with Orelia rather than going out for cocktails with friends. Other days it led to larger decisions like walking away from a job that no longer felt like a good fit for me.
This year, I’m skipping the resolutions all together. I’ve had enough change to last me for quite a while. Instead, I’m focusing on checking out new places that will thrill and delight me…even if it’s as simple as trying a new restaurant around town.
A few places on the top of my list:
- Churchill – hip cocktail bar in the Castro. I even love the music playing on their website. Hello, Happy Hour!
- State Bird Provisions – oodles of favorable reviews have me dying to try this restaurant down on Fillmore Street.
- Ojai, California – hiking, horseback riding and close to Santa Barbara.
(Photo from www.nytimes.com)(Photo from http://www.kcet.org)