Well, I'm going to fully disclose right off-the-bat that the pictures I'm posting here are NOT pics I took of Mendocino. They're from that awesome photographer called Google Images. Have you met him? He's cool. I'll introduce you next time we're at a party.
Anyhow. Mr. Images is supplying the pics these days because, though I did bring my camera to Mendo, it never made it out of my bag. I was too distracted, I guess, by the TOWERING REDWOODS next to the ocean. Oh, sweet Northern California. Thank God the rest of California (or country) hasn't gotten the memo that you absolutely rock and are amazing. Because then everyone would move there and spoil your loveliness.
So my dear friend Michaela's family lives in Mendo, and she convinced me (it wasn't hard) to take an extended weekend and go up with her. Since it's a long, 8-hour drive from SLO, I split up the trip by spending the night in Woodside, with dear family friends, so it was all together a lovely deal.
The whole weekend was pretty much surreal. Her dad manages this ranch for a billionaire (that's not a Joanna exaggeration, BTW. The dude has. enough. millions. to. be. billions). The "caretaker house" where her family lives is top-notch. Viking Stove in a caretaker house? Why not? That kind of thing. Oh, and they have great views of the coast.
The 500-acre ranch is filled with horses, a barn chock-full of 4-wheelers (you know, to buzz around on in case the guest-house guests get bored), guns to shoot, and so on.
So Michaela and I, being the tomboys that we are, were in heaven.
Found a cool mt bike trail in the redwood-y forest to explore. Rode our bikes. Got lost. Story of my life. But it was cool.
Shot skeet and targets.
Rode 4-wheelers around the ranch. Tried to see how fast we could make them go without flipping them.
Groomed and saddled some horses for her dad.
Got up at 5:30, drove to private beach her dad has access to, scrambled/rappelled down (through poison oak*, just saying'), and picked our limit of GIANT abalone off the beach.
Rode horses around ranch.
Trailered horses out to Kris Kristofferson's more-beautiful-ocean-view ranch and rode horses there, too.
The weekend, more than anything, was a wake-up call to me. I love being outside. Being dirty all day and forgetting to eat and shower because I'm doing physical labor and moving a lot are pretty much the best things ever.
I grew up around horses and open space, and it was a nice reminder of how good it feels to ride, go exploring, and not worry about email and clients, and the generally nonsensical preoccupations that take up most of my day.
I LOVE my job. I do. I'm my own boss, and I'm grateful, every day, for the opportunity I have to work for myself. But it's also very easy to let work consume my life and my perspective. I forget to look around. I forget to take deep breaths. I forget to delight in just being.
The other wake-up call was that it took me 70 hours of work in 4 days to leave town for a 3-day weekend. So I started to think that maybe I should stop taking on so many projects and cap my new clients. It's a hard balance, though, when you're in business for yourself, to know when it's okay to let up on the gas.
I discovered, though, in those few days, that life is blowing by, in the form of a computer, and I'd rather see more redwoods, have dirt under my fingernails, and feel more breeze in my face than I have been lately.
So I'm trying to slow down a bit and take a breather. I'm going to try and head up to Woodside for a week every month and work up there. There's something about redwood forest, singletrack, and the peacefulness of woods and childhood memories that erase my stress and inclination to stuff so much productivity into every waking second.
And I miss this, blogging. I miss pausing and taking stock of where I'm at and why I'm here. So, anyhow, for what it's worth, my recent lesson was perspective. Get away occasionally. Re-prioritize, on a regular basis. That kind of thing.
* Guess what!? I have poison oak! Again! I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it's going to cover me for the next five months or so.**
** Funny story. I keep Calamine Lotion by my bed now (it's a lonely existence, what can I say). I now just dump it on me in the middle of the night when things get itchy. Can you guess what color my sheets are these days? Hint: starts with a "p" and rhymes with "rink."