By definition a haven is a refuge. My home is my haven. It’s the place where I live, love and do lots of my work. I am not a traveler, except for my work, and most of my excitement comes from my brain when I create, or my senses when I process the world around me. People stimulate me: I enjoy talking to them and hearing their stories. Ultimately, that helps me be more understanding and compassionate. This process has helped me create Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick- A Survivor’s Guide To Relationships and continues to feed my creativity.

Once or twice a year, my brain begins to talk to me, reminding me that it’s time to take a break, even from doing what I love. That’s when Sal and I pack up a few things, leave Emma Sue, the tail wager, with her good friend Sparkle and Sparkle’s mom, and head up to Santa Barbara.

Why Santa Barbara?

  1. It’s close by, about 90 miles by car.
  2. Comfort. We stay at the charming Upham hotel in a snug, clean little bungalow, surrounded by greenery, complete with a fountain outside our window conducive to meditation, a fireplace inside our room to set the scene for romance and comfortable bed to lull us into restful sleep. It’s relaxing, mostly quiet, walking distance to State Street shops and restaurants, three fabulous parks and the ocean. And the staff, headed by the gracious manager Jan, is accommodating and always makes each guest feel welcome.
  3. Quiet Relaxation. I enjoy walking and in Santa Barbara I can walk to three wonderful parks and listen to children playing, see mothers watch their children in awe as they discover the turtles in the pond, and sit in silent reflection and allow the Intuitive thoughts to give me guidance and hope.
  4. Delicious food and great coffee. Both my husband and I have some specific culinary needs and, of course, those needs are totally different. Yet we have managed to find two outstanding restaurants that not only fulfill our dining needs; but, do so with imaginative, nutritious dishes. We eat two meals out each day when we’re in Santa Barbara.

Brunch or lunch is at the Savoy, a great little casual dinette that has delicious, nutritious freshly made eclectic salads ranging from quinoa and mango to a salad and soup bar that provides something for any dietary need. Paul, the owner and host makes sure everything is fresh, local and made the way the customers like it. The staff is friendly and go out of their way to please.

The Opal restaurant is where we dine for dinner. We’ve been enjoying their excellent and varied cuisine for over ten years and have come to know the gracious and accommodating owners Tina and Richard and many of the staff, most of whom, like Lisa, have been part of the Opal family for over 15 years. Ted, the new manager, is friendly and fits in as if he’d been part of the Opal for years. Everyone working there goes out of they’re way to make their guests feel welcome. Having a meal there is so much more than eating delicious food; it’s a memorable dining experience. The palate is excited by taste sensations, the mind is stimulated by meaningful conversations that range from food to art to problem solving in the community to family, and the spirit is uplifted by the sincerity and care from that comes naturally from the service.

  1. Freedom. We have all the comforts of home without any of the responsibilities. No cooking, cleaning, meetings. No dog to walk (as much as I love her, Emma Sue gets a break and spends time with her friend Sparkle Dog). No schedule. Just doing what we want when we want to do it.

What’s really remarkable is that because we’ve been going to Santa Barbara for about 15 years and have gone to the places we like repeatedly, we’ve formed friendships. The people I’ve mentioned have listened to me share about projects and have seen them developing over the years. They seem genuinely interested in the progress I’ve made with Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick-A Survivor’s Guide To Relationships and the Communication With Care Workshop and Voices For Fun. Sal and I truly enjoy hearing about what’s going on with them: new restaurants and dishes in the making, news of their families and plans their making, Paul’s new wine tasting shop, Lisa’s jewelry. All of it! These are not just conversations, they are moments in time that connect us, inspire us, instill in us hope and joy.

When I come back home I am refreshed, recharged and regenerated. Ready to reach out and share the treasures I’ve found and the insights I’ve discovered.

If you have a story you’d like to share about the places you go to get restored, please write a line or two here. We learn from each other.