Travel

reframing thoughts
Coming Back to a Reframing 768 1024 samantha

Coming Back to a Reframing

Much of this year has been about a reframing of things. A reframing of our thoughts. A reframing of our vision of what we thought this year would look like. A reframing of how we look at everything we’ve gone through in this tumultuous year, and even in our lives.

reframing thoughtsGetting outdoors has been so freeing for me this year. It has filled my cup up more than I know how to express. Being in nature always allows me to pause, to breathe in the little things, to acknowledge life as it is in that moment, and even sometimes to shift my perspective. In those moments when I’m away from the busy routines of everyday life, it feels like a coming home to what really matters most in life. I will look back on this year and know for me it was the year I said yes to every outdoor adventure opportunity that came my way. Next month I officially get my scuba diving license and I was almost convinced to go skydiving. Almost.

Last month I went to Big Sur and camped on a ridge 45 minutes up a mountain, high above the cloud cover. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and I enjoyed every second of that trip. I had been talking about going to Big Sur for years now, and as a California native, I truly have no explanation for why I hadn’t been yet. It was so nice not to have service, to completely disconnect. To make new friends with strangers. To watch the most memorable sunset and have the best sleep in a tent I’ve ever had. I remember we were watching the sunset amongst strangers and everyone was so grateful to be there witnessing nature do her thing. I felt so grateful for life in those moments and so unencumbered by anything else.

But the everyday-ness of our lives sometimes still find ways to seep in during those moments of isolated clarity. Somehow a text from my boss had gotten through the no-service zone. My brain automatically went into stress mode, thinking about anything that might need my attention at work. I didn’t even bring my laptop in the car so that I could properly disconnect. Did I accidentally cause myself more stress by so intentionally disconnecting? By not tuning in to any of my responsibilities on this trip, would it be worse come Monday? Was disconnecting and relaxing actually just avoiding the reality of work and life? But just as quickly as the stress came on, I came back to something so relevant for me this year. A reframing.

Something someone taught me this year that’s been so transformative is how to reframe our thoughts. Instead of me looking at reframing thoughtsmy weekend away as me “disconnecting at first, but only for things to be so hectic come Monday,” I reframed it to: this rest is necessary for me to go back to work fully charged and with energy to begin again.

When I can feel my energy shift, feel the future-stressing creep in, feel that some anxiety is coming on, this reframing perspective has changed the way I look at things. It’s about asking myself: how else can I think about xyz, that still rings true for me?

Reframing is a tool though, not a crutch. And reframing isn’t supposed to take the place of a gut reaction to something you know doesn’t align with your highest good. I can reframe some things that have happened to me this year as necessary for my growth and necessary to level up, instead of a waste of time. Recognizing the positive shift from a negative thought that doesn’t really serve me to a more appropriate thought that feels forward moving is powerful. It’s amazing what you can train your brain to do. But I try to be mindful of that power of shifting thoughts vs. not listening my gut feeling of: this (fill in the blank) really doesn’t feel good to me, but it’s necessary to listen to that gut feeling.

Like I said back in March, life is FOR you. So if I can find a way to reframe things that align with me and that make me feel good, that’s exactly what I’ll do to give it my best efforts to stay present and peaceful.

Soaking Up Your Travel Experience: 5 Ways to Stay in the Moment
Soaking Up Your Travel Experience: 5 Ways to Stay in the Moment 1024 768 samantha

Soaking Up Your Travel Experience: 5 Ways to Stay in the Moment

This past weekend I took a mini-vacation to Newport Beach (about an hour and a half from where I am in LA) and it was much, much needed. It was nice to be so close to home, yet far enough away to feel like I get to explore somewhere new.

Over Thanksgiving just a few days ago, my family and I were talking about how people don’t take the time to be fully present in the experiences they’re in. All too often we see the person in front of us at a concert who won’t put their phone down and just listen. Just take in the moment that they’re in. Taking this little “staycation” was a little reminder to soak up my experiences, even if I’m close to home.

Soaking up Your Travel Experience: 5 Ways to Stay in the Moment

It doesn’t have to be an international vacation to make you stop and notice how great life is. Soak up your friends, the laughter, the music, the sunshine, whatever it is just soak it up.

Here are 5 ways you can stay in the moment and take time to be grateful for this life we have.

  1. Plan ahead. I thought about this and it could go either way. Maybe staying spontaneous makes you feel more free, but my thought is that if you plan ahead you won’t have a need to be on your phone. Let’s face it, we use our phones for everything. We Yelp the best nearby restaurants, we Waze our routes, we Google what to do, etc. Planning ahead could keep your phone in your pocket a little longer.
  2. Put your phone away. You probably saw this one coming. I’m a fan of capturing the moment don’t get me wrong! But snap a picture at the beginning of dinner (or at the end) or get a quick photo of that beautiful sunset and then just take time to actually enjoy it. Just like the concert thing I mentioned above, we get so concerned with showing everyone that we’re watching an amazing sunset, before we know it the sun has set and we can’t recall any of the details.
  3. Inhale positivity, exhale negativity. Focus on the present instead of worrying about the future. Have you ever been somewhere trying to relax and you keep thinking about your to-do list? Or stressing over something that doesn’t matter? I do that a lot. When I’m trying to be in the moment, I have to just take a deep breathe and not care. If it won’t matter in the next 5 years, don’t spend 5 minutes of your life thinking about it.
  4. I know I said plan ahead…but to a certain extent. I’ve found one of the best ways to truly be in the moment and soak up my travel experience is to get lost with the people I’m with doing something really fun and having a great time. Just like when you get lost creating something you love, or how I get lost writing something I get into that flow state and lose track of time. You can still plan ahead what you’ll do but no one needs an itinerary.
  5. Be open to exploration. Not only within the environment you’re in depending where you’ve traveled to, but be open to discovering a side of yourself you didn’t know existed or to doing something you didn’t think you’d want to do. Don’t force anything, but if you have the urge to do zip-lining and it’s available, why not! There’s nothing that forces you into the moment than doing something that scares you just a little.
  6. Okay here’s a bonus one: stop and take it in. An exercise I’ve done for writing in the past is to take a walk up the street and write down every single sound you hear. What’s crazy is you don’t realize all the individual sounds until you list them. The birds chirping, your shoes on the pavement, the leaves in the trees, cars driving down the street, dogs barking in the distance, you get the idea! Try doing this mentally on your next trip. Just stop and list everything you see and hear. It might sound weird but this truly gets you in the moment and I guarantee you’ll be able to go back to that moment in your mind because you were so present and mindful.

What do you find are the best ways to stay present? Tell me in the comments below!

nostalgia and wanderlust
Nostalgia For The Familiar: An Unexpected Gift in the Midst of Wanderlust 1024 768 samantha

Nostalgia For The Familiar: An Unexpected Gift in the Midst of Wanderlust

The first thing that always hits me when I travel back to the south, where my Mom and her family is from, is how much I miss my grandparents. I spend weeks, sometimes even months, preparing for the trip so excited to explore new things and places I hadn’t been to in years past. I gear up knowing it will be a totally different experience now that I’m older each time. And yes it is different, because each time I have a deeper appreciation for my grandparents and family, for the time we did get to spend together when I was younger, and for the foundation they built our family on.

I always expect to miss them when I’m back in the south, especially in South Carolina, but I never realize how much until it smacks me in the face. I thought I was craving adventure and exploration of somewhere new, but when we arrive in their city, in their same home, I don’t realize how much nostalgia I feel for their familiar faces, their voices, their laughter until I’m standing in it.

This time in the midst of exploring a new city, Asheville, I stumbled upon something (or rather someone) so unexpected but so fitting. At the bed and breakfast we stayed at they had “social hour” every evening from 4-6. Usually a good group of visitors would come to mingle and talk with everyone. We ended up meeting this older adorable and super sweet couple from Florida. Their presence was magnetizing because of their love for travel and adventure and because of the visible love they had for each other. In SO many ways, they reminded me of my own grandparents. It’s funny how certain things or people fill the gaps you feel in life sometimes. Nothing will ever replace my own grandparents or their love, but having this couple who was so interested in my life and goals and unbelievably encouraging made me smile.

The takeaway is, it’s funny what we find when we think we’re out there searching for something different. I ended up finding a familiar feeling I missed in an entirely new place.

Thank you for that little surprising gift, world.

wanderlust postcard

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changing leaves in Asheville and Lulu's Cardigan
Changing Leaves in Asheville 1024 768 samantha

Changing Leaves in Asheville

My Mom and I took a southern fall trip back to Columbia, SC to visit my Uncle and then we drove a couple hours to Asheville, NC! I had never been there before and it’s been years since my Mom or Uncle went so we made the drive! We couldn’t wait to see the changing leaves and soak up every moment of the fall season in the south!

First, I will say that I was so happy to experience a crisp fall! It was in the hundreds when we left Los Angeles, so it was drastically different weather haha. Just a week prior in South Carolina it has been so hot though, we actually didn’t think it was going to be cold at all and we were a little bummed. When we got to Asheville though it was only about 50 something degrees! I wished I had packed a few more warmer clothing options but I was so happy it was cold enough to feel all warm and snuggled up.

We only spent 48 hours there and I’d love to do a trip itinerary if you guys are interested! We loved our bed and breakfast that we stayed in and I have so many cute pictures of the place!

Our second day in Asheville, we drove up the Blue Ridge Mountain to see some of the leaves. I’ll be honest with you…it was a little disappointing. The leaves weren’t as popping with color as they’d been in years past and the visitor’s center people confirmed this. They actually said on a scale of 1 to 10 as far as leaf color goes, this year was at a low 3 haha. But I will say, there were patches that we caught along the way driving through the Blue Ridge and it really was breath taking because we just don’t get that color here but it came in waves. The few pictures of the beautiful leaves I got were gorgeous and I wanted to stand there all day looking at the view. When we did get out to take some pictures, it was freezing. My fingers were numb trying to press the button on my camera but it was worth it!

changing leaves in Asheville

changing leaves in Asheville

changing leaves in Asheville

changing leaves in Asheville and Lulu's Cardigan

changing leaves in Asheville

Enjoy the fall leaves and stay tuned for more from this trip!

Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done: Valley Edition
Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done: Valley Edition 1024 819 samantha

Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done: Valley Edition

If you know me, you know that I can’t live without my coffee. I wake up every day and need that cup of Joe to bring me to life. Today I’m talking all about the best LA coffee shops to get work done in the Valley. Honestly, there were too many to choose from in the LA area so I had to break it down. I’m a Valley girl, born and raised, so I’ve gone to my fair share of coffee shops but these are a few of my favorites that I always always return to and I’d love to share so y’all can check them out if you haven’t yet!

 

Simply Coffee – Burbank

I love this hidden little gem! It’s right off Magnolia boulevard, but you probably wouldn’t see it if you were just driving by. This tiny little coffee shop is quaint with only a few tables inside, but it’s perfect for writing without too many distractions. Their pastries are baked fresh every morning, which it makes it pretty hard to resist. That, and all their coffee is Stumptown Coffee. If you’re a coffee lover you know how good Stumptown is. I also love that they support local and have a wall of t-shirts and other things.

Insta worthy: Their tree stump tables and succulent wall outside!

My picks: Nitrogen Brew Coffee on a hot day

 

Aroma Coffee & Tea Company – Studio City

If you’re visiting Aroma during peak hours, you’ll probably see a line of people out the door, but it’s for good reason. This has been my go-to favorite for years now. I love coming to this cozy café (probably because it was originally a house) and it’s the perfect place to claim a corner and get to work or indulge in a little people watching – where else are you supposed to get inspiration from, right?

I used to come here when I was in high school with my friend Lexy for our caffeine fix and to get some writing done. We would always get asked if we were doing “homework” to which we would pass out our “business cards” and say “Nope, we’re writers.” We were definitely 20 years younger than everyone but it makes me laugh looking back, we didn’t care!

After you’re done drooling at their pastries, there’s plenty of options to find a seat and wait for your food, but my favorite spot is out back on the patio. While the servers will bring your food and drinks to your table for you, Aroma doesn’t provide Wifi. This may be a downer to some, but I actually like that it forces you to stay off the internet if you’re coming here to work. Unless I’m working in Final Draft, I usually like to go old school and bring a notebook here. So for me, this is definitely one of the best LA coffee shops to get work done. If you want a cozier option, head inside by the fireplace and settle in. The old hardwood floors give this place such character, making you feel right at home.

Tip before you go: If you’re just ordering a drink or pastry, there is a separate line for that when you walk in. Keep this in mind, it can save you so much time if you’re caught waiting in the popular dinner time line!

My picks: Their salads are HUGE and so good (Kardashian style huge). I’d also go with a hot Vanilla Latte with an Almond Croissant or their Bread Pudding – best I’ve ever had!

 

Romancing The Bean – Burbank

Walking into this romantic little café, you’ll find plenty of people living that laptop lifestyle across the many tables this place offers. I find that to be so helpful, there’s nothing worse than making the trek to a coffee shop to get work done, only to find they only have 4 tables. I love the way this coffee shop is decorated, “modern but romantic” would be a good way to describe the black and white color scheme and the super cool chandeliers in this place. Their organic coffee and teas are so good and I love meeting up for lunch here too!

My pick: Organic drip coffee and try their Famous Chicken Curry Sandwich, it’s so good!

To check out: Mindful, a neighboring store that carries handmade and unique art and artisan gifts

 

Philz Coffee – Pasadena

Yes, I know. Technically this is in the San Gabriel Valley but oh well. There are a few locations around LA but I’ve been to the Pasadena location a couple times to get some work done! Finally this NorCal favorite has made its way down here to SoCal! I love the way that Philz coffee operates – you tell your barista what blend of coffee you like (light, medium, dark) and also how you take your coffee (cream, sugar, etc.) and they make each cup individually for you right there, it’s so cool! They have just a couple tables inside, so you’re better off finding a table outside. My favorite spot is by the fire pit, which is also across from Sunlife and trust me, I know the struggle of wanting to have Acai bowls every day of my life so you might have to pop over there after. There’s also seating along the side of Philz, for a more secluded area if you don’t want to be distracted or you’re introverting and don’t want to have small talk with anyone— we all have those days.

My pick: Tesora blend (Medium) made “Philz Way” which is medium sweet with cream

What I love: This location features a lot of local artists work inside, which is AWESOME!

 

Copa Vida – Pasadena

I’ve been here during the weekdays with my laptop in tow and I love this place! Right off Colorado blvd, it’s quaint enough to where you feel like you found a good hole in the wall, but big enough to where you don’t have to stalk people for seating. Their “Go, Enjoy, Experience” approach to coffee is how they categorize their coffee, with each category representing a different type of coffee bean, pretty cool right? The space is modern and airy which I love, and they offer wifi Monday-Friday. Yes, no wifi Sat-Sun 9am-3pm!

My pick: Vanilla Latte or a regular cup of coffee

For locals or those on-the-go: While we are talking about the best LA coffee shops to get work done, morning rush hour can get hectic when all you want is a cup of coffee. Copa Vida has an amazing “honor bar” for those who don’t want to wait in line. Simply go to the self-service coffee bar, grab your coffee, drop your cash in and you’re good to go! I think it’s pretty cool that they still have faith in humanity to be honest, especially these days you know?

 

Gayle’s Perks – Northridge

This one you’re going to have to trust me on. Tucked away in the corner of a Northridge shopping center, you would never even know this is here! I stumbled across this café when I wanted somewhere else to study other than the library when I was going to college at Cal State Northridge. This little coffee shop is so cozy, it’s the perfect place to get some work done! They have a leave one, take one library and the most amazing crêpes. Out back is a modest cute little patio with tables if you’d rather work outside.

Things to know: You can’t use your card if it’s anything less than $5 so bring cash if all you’re getting is a coffee!

My picks: Peanut butter banana with cinnamon crêpe and a coffee

 

Backdoor Bakery – Sunland

“Where is Sunland?” is the question I get all. The. Time. Off the 210 as if you’re heading to Pasadena, you’ll find Sunland and Backdoor Bakery—a real hole in the wall that will give you reason to return. The pastry selection alone is worth the drive here, with crazy good combinations like their chocolate orange croissant, but it’s the atmosphere that will keep you here. The staff is so welcoming and kind here, and during the week there are plenty of tables to get work done. The chalkboard wall menu adds that hipster-vibe that makes this place pretty cool, along with most of their ingredients being organic and locally sourced.

My tip: The weekends are crazy crowded, especially during breakfast time so try to visit during the week. They sometimes have a 2 for $2 coffee and croissant deal weekday early mornings.

My pick: Scrambled egg breakfast. It’s all organic or house-made including their bread, and organic ketchup!

What I love: They also support artists, from featuring local artwork to open-mic nights.

 

Thanks for reading about the best LA coffee shops to get work done (in my option!) Do you have any favorite LA area coffee shops you like to go to? Tell me in the comments below what part of LA you explore the most and I’ll do my next coffee shop roundup on that side of town!

Want to save this post so you can add these coffee shops to your “must-visit” list? Pin it below!

The must-have list of Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done in The Valley

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