So I’ve been silent on this blog ever since my Thanksgiving manifesto declaring my intention to stop being such a narcissist.
But I didn’t say anything about giving up Hedonism, did I?
Hubby and I spent most of this week celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary (and ten years together) at the Four Seasons (Biltmore) in Santa Barbara. It’s one of our favorite places when we decide to indulge a little — even our dog, Tasha, knows it’s far better than any Marriott. Plus, there’s an excellent dog beach right in front:
Sometimes the best breaks are close to home (two hours away in this case). Such trips are generally easier, often cheaper, and usually safer. You may recall that on our original honeymoon in 2004, Hubby and I managed to avoid the tsunami in Phuket by a single day simply because my brother-in-law “happened to” gift us with an extra night in Bangkok on our way there.
Luck was with us on this anniversary trip too.
Since the resort was half empty after Thanksgiving, we were able to upgrade to a suite nearly half the size of our house:
They even gave us welcome champagne and cute little anniversary treats after every meal:
And don’t get me started on the food and wine … Santa Barbara is just far enough north to “get” wine country cuisine. The sea bass at Tydes was divine.
Okay, this is starting to sound like one of those blog posts we’ve all seen too many of: “Look at me … my life is perfect. Don’t you wish you were ME?” (There’s that blowhard narcissist voice again …)
Speaking of which, I actually did have my first ever obligatory SoCal beachfront photo shoot while we were there. And I have to apologize to all the models I’ve ever scoffed at; it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks:
I’m also a little annoyed that I look so short next to Hubby:
(I’m 5’8″ but am used to wearing platform stilettos to get closer to Hubby’s 6’4.”) But I digress yet again.
So why am I writing this? I’ve spent eleven years in California now, and this place is as seductive as ever. I try not to be too shallow. I really do. But sometimes, five star treatment really does feel nurturing and healing. If you fully live in the moment and truly appreciate it, that is. I sometimes have to remind myself that:
More is more, but plenty is more than enough.
A few years ago we met a very rich, very miserable woman on a Crystal Cruise. She actually lived full-time in the boat’s presidential suite, but still kept a penthouse residence at the Four Seasons in Sydney, even though she was never there. In fact, she proudly informed us of the exorbitant amount of money she had once refused when Mick Jagger wanted to rent her home for a week. Whereas many would be happy to rub shoulders with celebrity, all she could do was complain the hotel had deigned to approach her with the offer.
The more some people have, the more they bitch
I’m certainly not exactly low maintenance either, but lately I find myself getting sentimental and tearing up nearly every day over all the beauty in life. All I feel like doing is kissing the earth I walk on and giving thanks. Life isn’t perfect — our kitchen still needs to be renovated, I’m getting more wrinkles, I’m still childless and jobless, the budget isn’t always balanced, I still have MS, my vision is getting worse — but it’s still MY life.
And Life is a Gift.
December 21 is less than three weeks away now. If it really were the End-of-the-World, I could honestly say I’ve lived an exquisitely beautiful life. Indulging in places like the Four Seasons from time to time is not so much what has made this so, but I view such trips as more of an affirmation that life is here to be savored and enjoyed — even if this means stretching the budget sometimes.
In my experience, not all healing is physical.
So the photos are not so much to show you how great my life is, but to document and remind myself of this. The shots I like the best are not even the ones people would call “pretty” but the ones where I just look happy:
You don’t need to stay at the Four Seasons (although I recommend it!) to appreciate the little things in life. (Like those five bottles of L’Occitane verbena lotion I lifted from our suite ...) Notice and give thanks for the big things too:
Like going through life with the person you love.
Hubby probably needed this trip even more than I did. He’s been traveling for 15 weeks straight now, and this is the first truly “low stress” break we’ve had for a long time. So I can’t really blame him for being slightly careless on this trip. When we went to dinner on our last night in Montecito, he accidentally left his front car door wide open the entire time … with his iPad sitting in plain view on the driver’s seat.
This being Oprah’s hometown, no one bothered to steal it. (Or the car, for that matter.)
Only in Montecito.
So, yes, we’re still incredibly lucky. And spoiled. And blessed. And I hope you realize that SO ARE YOU.
Question: What little (or big) indulgences help you to affirm your life is beautiful?