Happy Holiday Season! ~ It's hard to believe the end of the year is quickly approaching.  People have commented to me that I must be glad to be leaving 2022 behind.  Actually, it's quite the contrary.  Leaving behind the year in which my husband died means that it gets pushed further into the past.  In 2023 I'll have to say, my husband died last year, and that just seems so far away.  It will feel like I've been without him so much longer.  But in spite of 2022 holding the saddist event of my life, life continued to hold me up in new and unexpected ways for which I am very grateful.

On a lighter note, girls weekend 2022 happened.  This is an annual tradition for me and my friend Nicola that we have been doing for about 20 years now.  We've missed a few due to Covid but we're back!  It's our time to Reflect, Release and Renew.  This is the first year we decided to do it on Catalina Island. 26 miles across the sea, as the song says, from the Port of San Pedro, CA. 

If you've never done this practice, either with a friend or partner, or by yourself, I really encourage you to try it.  Look through your calendar, reflect on your year, and really notice how you spent your time.  Acknowledge your accomplishments.  So often we just look at what went wrong, when we need to also look at what went right.  Then decide what you will be bringing into 2023 with you, and what you will leave behind.  I plan to leave behind a few lbs. of grief fat. 😝  

Neuroscience has proven that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.  It's so easy to get swept up in the day to day minutia of life, so write down the life you want to live and then live to create that life.  When you commit to something or agree to something, whether it's work or play,  run it through this simple filter, if it's not a hell yeah, then it should be a definite no.  This is the beauty of getting older, we get to answer to ourselves instead of everyone else.

We stayed in the cutest little hotel called the Bellencia and our room was right off the roof deck, so everyone who walked up the steps looked in and there we were on the bed with our journals, and people waved at us, it was so funny.  Also a little weird.  We finally closed the shade.  It's off season now in Catalina so it was not crowded, a bit cold, and really pretty decorated for the holiday season.  

We arrived on Saturday morning just in time for a fabulous breakfast at the Pancake Cottage.  Then did some browsing, checked into our hotel, and hung out on the roof deck.  I brought us some homemade guacamole and other healthy treats.  We had dinner at the Naughty Fox, which was part of our hotel, outside looking at the ocean under a very toasty warm heat lamp.  Then back to our room for more of our reflecting and planning.  The hotel has complementary bikes and we planned to ride first thing in the morning but woke up to rain.  It was fun being on the island in the rain, although bike riding was out.  

Had another great breakfast at Original Jacks Country Kitchen.  Then we decided to rent a golf cart, yes, in the rain.  The golf carts are the best way to get round on Catalina to see all the fabulous views.  Cars are not allowed on the island.  We joked at the cart rental because clearly we were the only ones renting a golf cart in the rain.  But hey, they have a roof top, so why not.  As we started on the path along the ocean and up into the hills the rain stopped and the sun came out.  We kidded around that it was Mike taking care of us, odd things like that pop up in my life all the time now that I attribute to him.  We were talking about him when we stopped for a view picture.  On the right was the ocean, but I looked left, and I had never noticed this before, (and I've been to Catalina a lot over the years), there is an old pet cemetery.  I took a picture but didn't notice anything strange until I got home Sunday night and went through the pictures.  On the retaining wall of the pet cemetery it said Mike L,  L is the first initial of My Mikes middle name and under that was the word Stay.  See the picture below.  Insert chills.  Also, is it just me or do you see the little man in sunglasses popping through the ground?

After our ride, we had lunch at Maggie's Blue Rose, a great Mexican restaurant and then off to a spa called  A Touch of Heaven Day Spa located in the Hotel Metopole.  Most of the spas were closed due to it being off season, and we were lucky to get last minute appointments. 

 It was a small spa and so we were in different spaces.  She was in the building, and I was led to a tent on the roof.  I was a bit skeptical as the woman unzipped it. (Am I really going in there?!)  But wow, to my surprise it was a beautiful sanctuary inside.  It was warm, had a big Buddha, lots of candles, twinkly lights, twigs and aroma therapy.  Did you know the word Spa is derived from the word Ah, as in Spaaaaaa?  OK, I made that up.  But really, it takes so little to make me happy.

After the spa we found out that all the boats that day had been cancelled due to the storm, but our boat, leaving at 6 PM, luckily was still on.  Did it occur to either of us that a boat after a storm could be a challenge?  Nope, it did not.  In fact we had even been in a drug store earlier but did it occur to either of us to get some Dramamine?  Nope, it did not.  

From the minute that boat took off, after the captain braced us for swells up to 6 ft, we were tossed around like salad.  The ships crew started passing out plastic bags 5 minutes in and people were already throwing up.  Nicola was super nauseous.  I felt so bad for her.  I was better.  I knew I wasn't going throw up, but I was scared.  It was like bad turbulence on an airplane but you're in the cold, dark, freezing ocean.  Where are the life jackets again?!?  45 minutes later, we pulled into the port of San Pedro and the Captain came on and broke the silence by saying "well, that was fun".  Gotta appreciate a good sense of humor. 

      Beautiful Avalon Harbor 


View from the hotel roof deck.
Breakfast is always a good idea.
The cutest couple.
These pictures are not filtered, it's just that pretty.
Here is the Pet Cemetery I mentioned, see the "Mike L Stay" in the lower right, and the little man with sunglasses popping up in the foreground?
The entrance to the Wrigly mansion.
My favorite house on the island.
Endless views.
Entrance to the Bell Tower.
The Casino which is no longer a casino, but a place for entertainment, including a movie theater, was built in 1929.
The Casino lit up for Christmas.
The sky was putting on a dramatic show all day.
The Catalina Express about to toss us around like salad for 45 minutes. 😳 In spite of that, another great annual girls weekend on the books.