Big shout out to Kia Motors USA for sponsoring this fantastic trip. All words, thoughts and feels below are 100% Dani
Growing up I hated doing the dishes. I would honestly prefer cleaning a bathroom to doing a sinkload of dirty dishes. (We were forced to do them by hand, while the empty dishwasher sat there, unused, mocking us.) I’m sure it was some character-building exercise in my parents’ minds, but all it did for me was cement a hatred for dish-washing in my psyche.
Fast forward to the present. I haven’t touched a dirty dish (to put into the dishwasher, mind you) in months! After going back and forth about dishes with my husband and doing the whole married “compromise” of alternate day dish-washing, etc. He just started doing the dishwasher every. single. night. out of nowhere. And I couldn’t love him more for it. Seriously. Dude climbed up like 17 rungs on the love ladder from that alone.
It’s the little things. They truly mean so much. (Plus, acts of service is my love language so…there’s that.)
This past week I was in California with Kia. FYI I am coming to learn so much about cars (who am I?!) due to this brand and also somehow, more about myself through each event I do with them. Anyhow, we were in Santa Barbara for an event highlighting the Cadenza and Optima, and I was reminded about how much the little things mean.
Our itinerary sounded amazing when we received the email: Drive up the coast from LAX to Santa Barbara, Elegant Dinner, Enjoy a Spa Day, Winery Vinyard Tours, Have a Cave Kayaking Adventure, Dinner Cruise and another Drive back down to LAX. Four Days of luxury, adventure, new experiences, and fun, with time to reflect and rejuvenate!
Now, as a coach, I speak to women almost daily about wellness, self-care, and tactics they can use to prioritize them and their health and well-being. Before this trip, I honestly thought I was doing a decent job of it myself. I know I could’ve been more of a guardian of my “me time” but I let it slide since I wanted to first and foremost be an “on purpose, intentional Mommy.” This trip helped me realize that in order to be the best mommy, I need to remember, truly remember, and fully own that I am WOMAN FIRST and mommy second.
Driving up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) with my new friend Meredith was a treat. I’d never seen this bit of Cali except on TV. Kia stocked the car with snacks, water, and (my fave) a Starbucks gift card for each of us so we could make a pit stop on our two-hour scenic drive. It’s the little things! Meredith drove the entire way, and I honestly was so grateful to just be able to zone out and look out the window when we weren’t chatting. Nice to not be the one “in charge” for a bit.
The hotel Belmond El Encanto is gorgeous (peep the FB Live Room and Grounds Tour) and I almost didn’t want to get out of the well-appointed room to go chat with everyone after checking in.
That night we were treated to a delicious multi-course meal that ended with squid ink seafood paella…I legit had like 17 servings. Grateful for the positive vibe of everyone in attendance, and the “mom” label loosening as I just interacted with adults, without having to wipe a mouth, cut up food, or count to 10 for someone to swallow. I was just a woman out to dinner. I got a chance to learn so much about my dinner companions over that meal…and that wine!
So, I cried this morning. My gratitude list was hella long, and my room was so quiet and peaceful, it just hit me at once. I woke up and meditated without the lingering anxiety of someone barging into the room with a “Mommy can I have…” or a “Babe, where is the….” Then I journaled and ate my room service breakfast in complete silence. I haven’t had a morning completely to myself in a very long time. All the trips I do are so scheduled to the max. This was such a gift.
I was able to take a quiet soak in the huge tub before going to yoga class (which was just me and the instructor for about 20 minutes before one other person arrived). Then I went for my spa treatment, a Swedish massage that, coupled with the soak and yoga, left me feeling like overcooked spaghetti. I dunno how I made it to the relaxing room after, I must have floated.
The morning was so absolutely perfect, and such a needed break. I didn’t do any work, I didn’t do any momming, I was just a woman enjoying some time to (and for) herself.
We enjoyed lunch as a group and then went winery hopping! I had never been to a winery or vineyard before so it was great learning all about it. Tasting the differences in the wine was interesting. I didn’t realize I would. I thought I would just be like… umm. grape?…grape!…grape?
We had a cooking class at the second winery (yes, they gave the drunk wine-os sharp knives and told them to dice veggies lol — don’t worry. No fingertips were harmed.) Africa Miranda gave a photo posing seminar for my friends Alice, Ari and I. It was a great reminder to keep my brand on my mind no matter what. I was able to chat a little with some of the group that I hadn’t met (in person) before. It was a lovely day overall.
Adventure day. We woke up early and hopped in the Cadenza for the drive to the pier. A smooth ride in luxurious comfort. This was the day we were to kayak in the caves around the channel islands. I was shitting a brick all morning. I just knew I was going to tip over.
We got the most terrifying safety briefing ever in the history of kayaking, and then were sent out on the water to lose our lives. I asked for a solo kayak so I wouldn’t kill anyone beside myself, and the instructor said no. I asked if I could be his partner. No, again. ::sigh:: My partner, sweet Cacinda, was sentenced to death. Sorry.
We frantically paddled our way through caves large and small (the width of our kayak), high and low (we had to lean way back to get under it) and somehow made it out alive…and without tipping over! Though, it was dicey at some points! We had to hold on to seaweed to keep ourselves from floating away, and one of the instructors had to tow us back to the group….twice….because we suck just that bad at kayaking. I was shook from start to finish. I don’t think I smiled until I was back on dry land. But afterward, I was overcome with pride. I had never kayaked before, even in a lake, but I just did it in the freaking pacific ocean! There’s sharks in there, b!
The boat ride to and from the channel islands where we kayaked was about 1.5 hours, and for most of that time cell service didn’t work. This forced us to unplug, relax, watch the waves on the horizon and just be. (Little things)
We went back to the hotel for a quick change and headed right back out for our farewell dinner, which was a dinner cruise. (yes!) I couldn’t help but notice how easy it is to get showered and changed quickly when I don’t have 2 littles and a husband to get ready as well.
We ate, we drank, we chatted. (Repeat, repeat…) It was the first time I felt a little queasy on a boat. Well, it could’ve been the cocktails, not sure. I tried to chat with folks I hadn’t gotten a chance to speak with, but ended up in a fun convo with Africa, Ari and Josh for most of the night instead. I love learning about people’s stories.
I had another peaceful, silent morning. I was grateful to start the trip and end the trip the same way. I feel like something shifted for me. I filled so many pages in my journal and idea notebook. I had a silent, easy, meditation. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the patio with just birds chirping and the sound of the fresh breeze in the tree leaves. It was glorious. I missed yoga since my soak had me dozing off a lilbit.
Then, I got a real Californian experience… We got stuck in L.A. traffic on the 405 on the way to the airport! I gotta say, I’m so glad I was stuck in the Cadenza because it made the experience a little better. As I sat, knot in my belly about possibly missing my flight, I was able to tinker with all the features and appreciate all the little things in the car that made it extra thoughtful.
I loved that the seats were air conditioned so my stress sweat didn’t get the best of me, and the driver seat was the most comfortable and customizeable I’d ever been in. The sunroof is basically the size of the entire roof of the car, and the backup camera has all these different angles you can choose from, even an overhead view of how your car is situated. That is so helpful!
If we’re friends on facebook you know about my bathroom i.d. incident…. I made my flight though! I got the life story of the people I sat with on each leg, as per usual. I must have a “talk to me about your problems” sign on my forehead. But, I finally made it to Ft. Lauderdale where my husband was waiting for me….at 12:30am.
We drove home (I missed the Cadenza immediately), with him listening to my excited rambling recap of the entire trip and how I am going to prioritize self care and stop putting off getting massages each month…etc.
When we reached home, I was spent and plopped into bed, My sweet husband kissed me goodnight and went to go load up the dishwasher before joining me. I’m such a lucky girl.