Santa Barbara Kills Stress

I'm sitting here wishing I was back in Santa Barbara and I'm wondering why I don't drive up there more often than I do. It's only about 80 miles away, and it happens to be one of my favorite places because it's breathtakingly beautiful and seriously relaxing. And I have needed help relaxing a LOT lately. If you put my stress level as of late on a scale with 1 being not stressed and 10 being I think my head may explode because I'm so stressed, well, I've easily been at a 9 or 10 over the past few days.

Why so stressed out?

Eh, I'd rather not get into it. Even describing all the drama makes my right eyelid twitch uncontrollably. But I was really feeling the need to step back so I could see the whole picture, so since state testing is over, I pulled my kids out of school and drove up the coast.

A few bits of low clouds and morning fog remained as we drove north up the 101 Freeway. I love the views just north of Ventura where you see mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It's absolutely gorgeous:

Thirty minutes later when we stopped off at Butterfly Beach in Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara, most of the clouds had burned away and the sky was a gorgeous blue. The beach was almost completely deserted and even though it was incredibly windy and a bit chilly, It was so peaceful to just walk in the water and feel the waves crashing across my feet:

My kids collected sea shells and chased each other across the sand while I snapped pictures and thought about how there is so much uncertainty in this world. There's always uncertainty, sure, but it feels like more uncertainty than ever is going on. Yeah, nationally and internationally things are still in total turmoil. And on top of my own personal worries, in my own six degrees of separation, pretty much everybody I know is going through a challenging time in their lives: serious illness, relationship problems, marriages on the rocks, job turmoil, serious debts, deaths in the family, unplanned pregnancy, mental illness, loneliness, weight issues, depression and addiction issues.

You ever meet people who are so bitter and angry at the world that you wonder what the heck happened to them? Of course you have. They're everywhere, and I don't want to be one of those people. I am increasingly convinced that the difference between the people who have overcome adversity and still live their lives no matter what and the people who go around totally negative, pessimistic and with their face twisted up into a grimace is the way they dealt with key challenges at critical points in their lives.

I don't want to be bitter and living on regrets. I don't want my children growing up with memories of their mommy seeming like she wasn't herself. You know?

So, after leaving Butterfly Beach, I headed a few minutes north to Santa Barbara and watched my five year-old do his thing at a skate park called Skater's Point:
He was the youngest skater there, and, quite frankly, his fearlessness inspires me. He has no voice inside him saying, "What are you thinking? You can't do it!" Nope, he's out there skating his butt off, believing in himself. And I know at his age I already did not believe in myself. I already had a lot of fears about life, and did not have even half the confidence he does. In some ways, I still don't, and I know that really hurts me in so many areas of my life.

But when I'm around such beauty, it's easy to forget that.

Alas, I'm home in Los Angeles, and all the things I didn't have to think about while I was getting away are still sitting on my doorstep. But it's nice to have a clearer head, a more balanced outlook, and a reminder that there is still beauty and goodness in this world. I should go back soon... it is only 80 miles away.


Daniel said…
Los Angelista,
Well said. In a few, concise words.
I know completely the bitter people you speak about. Refuse to be one. No matter the level of crap that swirls around your personal life, firmly made a conscious decision to not be made bitter. I did much of that by always being involved, by still living each day. Of all things, the simple activities of my running and cycling gave respite to much of the pain. No, they are by no means “answers” to the problems faced (because mostly, when we are very honest with ourselves, they’re simply aren’t many answers), but they helped avoid disintegration into the non-involvement of not actively living each day. Ever notice how bitter people don’t really do much? They are not involved any longer in their own existence. I feel that’s why people that stay fully active in life, in caring for family, working in a productive manner, physically active (whether hiking, biking, skateboarding, dancing, running, whatever), and finally, remain spiritually aware, though parts of their lives can stink too, they don’t succumb to the bitter hopelessness that results in wasting your existence; you got stuff to do, lol.
You also may find some level of self-confidence in this coming weekend. That you CAN do what you set your mind too, you ARE capable of what you might not of expected. You can overcome. Fear does have it’s place in life, usually as a self-protective mechanism (like when I’m under the 110/105 interchange: I gotta keep my eyes open, lol), but don’t let it get in the way of accomplishing things. All of us live with and accomplish things, all the while having fear and anxiety about it. But it can’t stop you; you do what you gotta do, even when afraid. Done that one a lot in life, lol. Really, I’ve never accomplished anything worthwhile that didn’t have its own levels of fear and trepidation.
You run a steady pace now. Don’t get sucked into the “crowd” and go too fast the first 3 - 4 miles, set your pace – stick to it. Drink a little always before you are thirsty. But not too much (the sloshing in the stomach can be awful), little bits often. And hit those porta-potty’s early! And often. Before you start. Good Luck!
Remnants of U said…
Wow! Santa Barbara is beautiful, thanks for sharing the pictures. I am sorry to hear that you are having challenges. I too was recently talking to someone & saying that I don't want to be that bitter always negative individual.

Besides the pictures, you have brightened my day with some of your Twitter comments & observations. I hope that everything works out for you & that when needed you drive that 80 miles for the breath of fresh air.
I hope the troubles resolve quickly and exactly as you would have them do. You have a good instinct for finding an oasis of peace in the midst of turmoil, and it will carry you through.

I would also love to be as brave as your five-year old - he will succeed in life because he has no idea anything else is possible. It would be worth a few more scrapes and bruises to have his self-confidence and I hope he never loses it.

Blessings on you and your home, Liz.
Jameil said…
you rock liztastic. don't forget it. bring SB back with you until the next time. i love the beach. every time i go, i fall in love a little more.
liz I so know what you mean. I was turning into one of those bitter people and it wasn't pretty.

Good for you taking the time out to go to SB. It's such a beautiful area.

I hope things get better soon.
nick said…
Looks like that was a very revitalising trip, with time to reflect on things and get a calmer perspective. I was wondering myself why some people get so bitter and twisted while others seem to sail through life on a wave of optimism. I think a lot of it goes back to childhood and what your parents passed on to you. Some people have been nasty their whole life....
1969 said…
I so know what you mean about stress and needing a break. Unfortunately, as women and mothers, we tend to put our needs on the backburner to make sure everyone else is taken care of.

Make small time for yourself and your mental state Liz. You don't have to drive 80 miles away (although SB is breathtaking). Make a little special time for yourself to regroup. Bookstore, walking the aisles of Target, a trip out for a latte and then sitting somewhere and sipping it slowly...carve out time for your thoughts.

Hope a clear path opens up to a solution very soon. Love ya!
Anonymous said…
"I am increasingly convinced that the difference between the people who have overcome adversity and still live their lives no matter what and the people who go around totally negative, pessimistic and with their face twisted up into a grimace is the way they dealt with key challenges at critical points in their lives."

I think you are exactly on target.
Shiona said…
It's amazing how you can just click on something and realize it's bad but not that bad.

Thanks for this post. I too find that I am falling into the bitter hole you are talking about and realize that I have better things to do with my time than be stressedout. It's time to face matters head on and go about making some changes.

I am really not trying to be dramatic but this post is pretty inspiring. And the beach...just am added bonus.
Lola Gets said…
Off-Topic: I took a "What Female Grease Character Are You?" quiz on Facebook, and I was designated Cha Cha DiGreggorio. Hmpf. I wanted Rizzo.

sippinwineman said…
ONLY in California can the clouds be "burned away". lol. Good post, darlin.
Katy said…
I love driving out to Santa Barbara. I don't think we do it enough. I think my favorite thing to do is just sit and watch the waves. Well, that and let the dog play on the beach (he hates water, but loves the beach once he gets into it).

I'm thinking that this weekend might require some beach time. And wine. I think wine would be good too ;-)
Jen said…
I'm glad you got a head-clearing break.

I may have to remember that for myself.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thanks y'all for weighing in on this... I have been bad at replying to comments these past few days. But I appreciate you all so much. XOXOs.

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