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If you’d asked me a year ago what I thought about spending a long weekend in Santa Monica, California, I probably wouldn’t have been very excited. I grew up in the LA area, and going back as a tourist has never made my list. Anything can change with the right enticement, however.
For me, that enticement was Denise Duffield-Thomas. During the dark, early days of my divorce, as I was wondering how in the world I’d figure things out on my own for the first time in 18 years, I read her book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch* . I’ve read it several more times since then, and have felt some pretty big shifts in how I relate to money.
Denise has been such an inspiration to me over these last few years, and I was beyond excited when I learned she was holding a few live events in the US. Even better, one of my friends was interested in attending. I loved the thought of adding an abundant girls’ weekend in California to this year’s travel plans, and soon we had our tickets.
Jennifer picked the hotel, which was the lush Le Meriden* in Santa Monica. Given that abundance was the focus of our trip, this was the perfect spot. The hotel was beautiful, the staff was helpful, and they offered nice touches like a courtesy car and free lattes in the morning. Plus, who can resist a glass of champagne when you check in?
We spent our first day exploring the area, including a nice long walk on the beach. It was a bright, gorgeous day, with the perfect breeze to keep us cool. The waves sparkled in the sun, and in the mood I was in, reminded me of diamonds. I can never resist the call of the ocean, so I rolled up my pants and waded in as far as I dared. Aside from a few photos, I completely unplugged and let myself enjoy a few hours of bliss.
During our walk we saw signs for Venice Beach. The next day we decided to head there, much to the consternation of the staff at our posh hotel. Assuring them that we really, really wanted to go, we headed off. Venice Beach is almost the exact opposite of Santa Monica, even though they are just a few miles apart. It was artsy, eclectic, funky, and a lot less polished, but vibrant and full of life.
During our walk, I enjoyed the street art, graffiti, and real life all around us. We found some fabulous ice cream with honeycomb, that I think I’ll dream about for a long time. Since Denise’s tribe refers to themselves as “lucky bees,” it felt like the perfect accent to our day.
Santa Monica reminds me of a film set – not surprising, since they were filming even when we were there. It didn’t feel quite real to me, while Venice was definitely real, even a bit gritty. It was sobering to see an almost literal dividing line between the very wealthy on one beach and the people who were sleeping on the street on the next beach over.
That night we went to hear Denise talk, and it was good to get an extra boost of her abundance mindset. She encourages women to find their voice and be as wealthy as they want to be, which are both messages I needed to hear again. She was amazingly nice, and when I went to get a picture with her we had a brief moment about how few other Denises we both meet. If you have the opportunity to see her live, I definitely recommend it.
I had Friday to myself while Jennifer went for Denise’s day-long business class. This seemed like the perfect time to practice feeling like an abundant entrepreneur who travels and works from anywhere. I picked up my complimentary latte and made one of the poolside cabanas my office for the day. It was much more enjoyable than hiding in my hotel room all day. Later, I met up with Jennifer for drinks, dinner, and one last stroll along the beach.
Saturday arrived all too soon, and we had to head home that evening. We’d discussed heading to the beach for a swim and some sunshine, but decided not to rush too much. We had a leisurely morning, including brunch at Blue Daisy, which was amazing. I had the Florentine Benedict, which had spinach and mushrooms instead of ham. It also came with these light and crispy zucchini “hashbrowns” laced with dill, which were the best part of the meal. This was easily the best meal we had during the trip, and I only wish we’d discovered it sooner.
The weekend hit so many of the perfect notes for me – talking about abundance and looking down to find a $20 bill, “lucky bee” ice cream, working on my business dreams, sunshine and beautiful beaches, great company. This is exactly what I want to have more of in my life. So even though Santa Monica wasn’t on my list of places to see, this visit stands out in my memory as one of the highlights of this year.