Palm Springs Getaway and learning some stuff

by Matt on September 30, 2011

If you tried texting, calling or emailing me last week chances are you a) never heard back from me or b) reached my voicemail. This was fully intentional as I took some time to head to Palm Springs with the hubby and 3 of the world’s greatest women who just also happen to be our best friends. I purposely unplugged as much as possible, recharged my spirit and spent 5 days just being a lazysonofagun. It’s been exactly 1 year ago since the last time I did anything like this, and I’m continually amazed how a few days with people you love – I mean truly madly love – can erase the crazy from 12 months of everyday life.

Something magical happened when we were together. While my housemates all happen to be powerhouses of blogging and writing, there was an effort made to relax and have fun. We fell into a very relaxed vibe that touched on shoptalk, motivation, sharing dreams and experiences, and aligning goals for the future. No, this wasn’t the booze talking, quite the opposite. We were in a space where dreams were allowed to bubble up to the surface, a place where ideas intersected and became actions. In a sense, we created a salon, to borrow the lovely Brooke Burton’s idea of what our trip became. It also involved wigs. But more on that much later :)

My re-entry into reality was not only smooth but welcomed, and that’s how you know it went well. I felt as if I learned about my friends and myself this past week as new ideas swirling around and found a home.  As I began to assemble my photo collage I thought I would share the things I learned and am still learning. While it’s not exactly food related I still think it’s worth sharing. I hope you agree!

10.  Have your own salon
While you’re correct in thinking curlers and perms, I’m referring to the old 17th century term as an event where people gathered to learn more about each other. Sure, they were fussy and ornate and a tad pretentious, but no other word seemed to come to mind for our trip, and trust me, there was nothing fussy nor pretentious about our gathering. But it made me realize how wonderful it felt to be with other food bloggers discussing our craft without limits– no tracks, no panel on ethics or paid posts, no corporate sponsors, no seminars or entry fees. It was a good old-fashioned get-together, something I think should happen much more often. Go for it, I say. Call up your friends and enjoy each other. You’ll learn so much.

9. Silliness Is An Asset
I’m the first to admit I’m silly, loud, obnoxious. But there’s something so refreshing, so liberating about being able to just be silly with your friends. There’s photographic evidence that will most likely surface one day, but here’s an example.

Kids shouldn’t be the only ones who get to play dress up. Are you with me?

8. Make A Non-Agenda. Let it Be.
Step back and take a look at how micro-managed our lives are. Playdates, meetings, errands, deadlines, conferences, book proposals, travel, 9-to-5’s, I could go on. And while we need structure to keep things orderly we can certainly unplug from that grid now and then. And when we do it’s miraculous. Restorative. So give yourself a day, an hour, whatever you can spare to do nothing, to just be. Do that with friends and family and it gets even better.

7. Cooking Together Strengthens You. It Saves Your Wallet.
When you put people that love to cook in one house for a few days you’re bound to create some memorable meals. And we did, all for a significant amount cheaper than dining out. And it was natural, fun, easy, but bonding in a way I wasn’t expecting. I cannot wait to cook again with my friends!

6. Laugh As If Your Life Depends On It. Cuz It Does.
We all know laughing is good for our bodies. And while this does relate to #2 it also goes much further. We laughed until we were cried and melted away the stress of everyday life. Easing blood pressure, increasing brain activity, boosting immunity, releasing endorphins, there’s a reason why they say laughter is the best medicine.

5. Wear Sunscreen
As a child of the 70s (we had bain de soleil commercials, for pete’s sake!) who is now on the precipice of middle age, I’m allowed to wave the finger and tell you to wear sunscreen. No, there are no exceptions. A little sun is fine  but too much? No bueno. Wear it.

4. Appreciate The Silence.
You’d think with all the laughing and silliness that there’d be no moment for peace and stillness. Not the case. You know you are in stellar company when you can just sit with others and read, play on a laptop, stare at the mountains, etc., all in silence. It’s pretty powerful.

3. Tell Your Friends How Much They Matter. Do It Now.
If you are reading this I’m issuing you an order: send an email, make a phone call, text a message, write a postcard — whatever! — to a friend and let them know how important they are to you. Without being morose let me just say that there have been plenty of great people around me lately who have left this planet for brighter pastures and yes, it’s inevitable. It’s life. Please don’t wait to tell someone what they mean to you. Do it today.

2. Close The Laptop. Play A Game.
Curiously enough, the internet went out the last day of our mini-vacation. For a group of connected bloggers this surely spelled frustration but you know what? We were fine. Totally fine. Because a) we had our phones which were mini-computers anyway and b) we made an effort to not spend so much time plastered to an LCD screen. We made sure to bring tons of games (Uno, anyone?) and realized two things:

1. Gaby Dalkin completely turns into an astute, savvy, and competitive card player you’ll be intimidated by. You’ve been warned.

2. No amount of tweeting, facebooking, or checking in will ever compare to sitting face to face at a table with people. Never. Ever. And I’m a social media hound so trust me when I say this. I mean it.

1. Cherish Your Friends. Most Importantly, Be A Friend.
I’ve already begged you to call someone and tell them you love them. But I’m closing out my list because I realized one little thing: to have friends you must be a friend. Make yourself available, listen, look into the eyes of your friend, and be there. Truly be there. You don’t have to say a word, just lend a hand and an ear. Quit talking about yourself, what you’re doing, where you’re going, how “blessed and honored and humbled” you are* and just be there for someone. The rewards are greater than anything else in this world.

*yes, I’m guilty of all of the above.