Photo Daily: Long Beach Christmas Tree

Long Beach Christmas Tree ©2015

Long Beach Christmas Tree ©2015

It’s been a long time, Gentle Readers. Hello again. I’ve said forever that one year I was going to take the month of December off and go somewhere – not cold. And so, greetings from the warm West Coast and the cozy front porch of one of my close friends and her Long Beach Christmas Tree.

This was the second time in my life I’ve found myself in California during the Christmas holidays. It does take some getting used to, walking down the street in shorts and short sleeves, when I know if I were in Chicago, at least most years, I’d be bundled up with a heavy coat, scarf, hat and gloves. But after a few hours, it’s no longer strange. Just oddly pleasant.

I was visiting my best friend Justine, who happens to be one of those people who knows me so well, she knows just went to say, “You’ve had a tough year. Why don’t you come out to LA and maybe find what you’ve been missing.” Not long after she said those words, there I was.

It can be a challenge to arrive in a city where I have many friends. Some I haven’t seen in almost a decade, some not quite so long. But a visit like this, to recharge and find some new inspiration, requires a less is more approach. I didn’t tell anyone in advance I would be there, because I didn’t want to turn my time into a calendar white board. But over the course of the first few days, I’d pick one of my friends I thought I’d like to see that day and send them a text.

Hey, I’m in town for a few weeks. Got any time for a catchup over coffee, lunch or dinner?

And with that, I was able to connect with a small group of lovely people, chosen not entirely at random, but really without any particular rhyme or reason. Simply people who were on my mind for whatever reason that day. Which was perfect. A handful of wonderful conversations were the result. Taking some time to appreciate the good things we have going in our lives, renewing connections with people I care about, when so often, especially during the crush of the holidays, it’s very easy to lose sight of the happy that only we can create for ourselves.

Justine, as she always does, certainly reminded me of that. As did her sister Ryan, whose front porch and Christmas tree are the subject of the photograph above. I did find the something missing about myself in LA. It was there all the time. I just needed a change of scenery and the love and support of dear friends to show it to me again. Thank you for that. I’ll be back soon.

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