I can’t remember the last time I went more than 24 hours without a cell phone. No screens, just waves and stars. No texting, just talking around the campfire. No emails, no work, just rest–pure rest.
Two of my best friends from my San Diego spin days decided it was time we all–The Tripod–reunite at a scenic camping spot somewhat-halfway between our two cities.
We booked our Jalama beach camping site in January, dreaming of beach days and campfire nights away from the city lights. We committed to no electronics (save cameras) and no work talk–it was time to reconnect and give our bones the deep rest they needed. Even while writing this two weeks later, I can nearly feel the longing deep down in my marrow to return to that restful space in time.
How quickly the weekend passed by! Unplugging, even for just a short moment, refreshes in a way nothing else can.
Read on for our photo-journal from the trip >>
It was a short trip, two nights and one long day in between, stretching out its hours between rays of sunshine warm enough we donned bikinis to bask on our “front porch”, the tarp at the front of our tent with a view of the ocean.
Life stories–no work talk allowed–stirred our souls and brought us away from the stress and the hustle (even though we may love what we do!) and reminded us of the things that matter: taking time to connect, to reflect, and to restore balance.
Instead of Netflix marathons we huddled around the fire clutching tin mugs of red wine, fingers sticky with roasted marshmallows and melted chocolate from s’mores. We all agreed we had the best two nights of sleep in a long time in our tent. The ocean hissed and roared in the background, muffled laughter from our campsite neighbors floated down on the breeze and Kona slept cuddled up to our heads.
Our day passed in slow walks along the beach, turning book pages, bottles of wine and burning logs. We took our time cooking meals while grazing on cheese and crackers or brewing French press coffee–everything tastes a little bit better when eaten outdoors.
Our evenings involved tin mugs of wine, cards, and snuggling up on the sand to watch the last bit of sunlight fade away.
I’ll be honest– as someone who believes she is relatively good at unplugging and maintaining a balance between on hours and off hours, I found it somewhat difficult to relax into the slow rhythm of the day.
My mind is conditioned to strive for productivity, to seek what’s next– another project, a few pages of writing or two, cleaning my room and when am I going to work out again?
I found myself needing to pause and grant myself permission to do exactly what I wanted in each moment.
How rare it is we give ourselves these gifts of rest and pure enjoyment. Earlier this year in the thick of my depression, I substituted soulful rest with the numbness of Netflix and used sleep as an escape from anxiety.
Now that I am feeling SO much better and more like myself (praiseJesusHallelujahAMEN), I am realizing I have to continue to shift my focus toward health in the short AND long-term. I still must be gentle with my body. I’m learning to tear away from the glow of screens and plunge myself back into what makes my heart beat: my relationships, an incredible new volunteer opportunity (details to come!) and the work I love–writing.
It seems cheesy to say I had an epiphany there on the beach, but I did, in a way. On Saturday night we wrapped ourselves in Mexican blankets and poured wine from a canteen, put down our cameras and cards and books. Now, I’ve seen sunsets before. I used to wander toward Fletcher’s Cove in Solana Beach nearly every night of the week to say goodbye to the day.
But this time the sky shifted slowly. We watched its transformation from soft blue to pink to vivid yellow and back again. For a pure moment I saw and heard nothing but sky reaching toward infinity yet close enough to touch. Waves reaching forward and back, carrying us along, reminding me each morning is made new. Life carries on. We grow, we move forward.
What isn’t pictured: our perfect day was followed by a torrential downpour on Sunday. After awaking to the sound of raindrops on our tent Sunday morning, we did the quickest camp pack-up I ever did see and high-tailed it into Lompoc for coffee and breakfast before heading our separate ways.
Nothing heals the soul after a season of searching like great times with great friends, great dogs, and the great outdoors. I still can’t wash the scent of campfire out of my hair and clothes–and I don’t hate it.
More photos & Unplugged: Camp Guide coming up next.