In response to my asking her repeated questions about where to indulge my rekindled interest in hiking, my friend Ashley bought me a day hike book for Ventura County. I was stunned at the number of trails in the area that had gone unnoticed by me. I’ve always been the kind of person that slows down, looks around, and smells the flowers, so I was surprised that I really hadn’t known that there’s a waterfall in Santa Paula, an oak forest in Point Mugu, and a seal sanctuary, a mere 12 miles north of me in Carpinteria. It dawned on me that somewhere along the way I had ceased to stop looking around my environment and had been missing all these things right under my nose. I would imagine it’s because I was busy looking at other things, as we tend to see what we are looking for, and don’t see what we are NOT looking for.

The irony is that this comes after a long week of debating a potential move to one of four places: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, or Boston. I’ve been feeling very restless and have wanted to live in a bigger city for awhile now, even though I know I’m a small-ish town girl at heart. I’ve done my thing in, and am done with,  New York City and Denver, but these other places have always had a certain appeal to me. As it stands now, I have a strong employment prospect in Boston. An old company I did much work for in the past, has now spun off into a newer company that is doing quite well, and they contacted me and dangled a carrot. At first, I nearly said “yes” without much consideration, but then I realized two things. First, I love the work I’m doing now and second, I love the west coast. I’ve been signed up for job ads for Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco for years, but the right job never came along that could lure me from this community I’ve called “home” for 15 years. Pretty unbelievable considering I was the girl who never planned on settling down anywhere. But the magic of this place has slowly been subsiding for me over the last few years…that is until I started exploring the world around me again.

So, will a waterfall, some oak trees, and a nearby seal sanctuary be enough to keep me here forever? Probably not. But then again, the grass always seems greener somewhere else. All I know is that my happiness needs to come from inside me, and has nothing to do with where I am physically located on this planet. So, in addition to exploring the world around me more, I’ve also started exploring those things that truly make me happy from the inside out. Like taking photos of this mom seal cautiously guarding her pup, and watching my dog leap ecstatically through a field of flowers after tiny creatures. I can’t predict my future, but now that my eyes are wide open, and I’m seeing what I’ve been missing – I’m on a mission to explore as much as possible. As a result, I’m looking at the world as if for the first time and I’m excited by all there is to see.

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