Lake Tahoe


Wanderlust:  a strong desire to travel.

What about when you leave where you traveled and are sad to go home?  What is that called?

Almost like being homesick for somewhere that’s not your home.

Each time we leave a vacation in South Lake Tahoe to go home, I feel sad.

South Lake Tahoe’s community ranges from hippy, to addictively active, and I can find myself within all areas of that spectrum.

I think both my husband and I secretly regret not moving there when our kids were young enough to have not made the awesome community that we have in our home town.  Each year we go there for a family reunion camping trip, and he and I end up talking about how we could actually live there.  There is no other location we’ve ever said that about.

This trip though, the day before we packed up our campsite to head back home, while sitting on my paddle board floating on the lake, I got sad to the point of tears.  As I looked back towards the shore with the mountains in the background, I got that homesick feeling.


Why was this trip so much harder to come back from?  Just to list a few possibilities:

  • An escape from our reality that lately has more challenges than in past years.
  • Bike riding to have Rum Runners at the Beacon in Camp Richardson where the leader of the live band introduced himself before playing during our lunch and letting us know that they were about to “fill up our funk cup.”
  • Spending each day on the beach watching my kids play, as well as myself playing in the water for hours.
  • Mountain bike trails everywhere you look.
  • Hiking trails everywhere you look.
  • My son’s favorite disc golf course.
  • The endless possibilities of opportunities to fill our time.
  • Finding even the scene looking out the window from the coffee shop relaxing and not want to leave:


Not sure which one it was, or a combination of all.

I do know it’s the only place my husband and I have talked about wanting to live other than where we do.  I think I felt more sad because as the years go by, my age goes up.  That whole YOLO, well, when you have 3 kids, a husband, and what has become a small petting zoo of a farm in addition to work and friends and family, you don’t just get to pick up and go.

I get worried that the older we get, if we ever get a chance to live there, we may not be able to do all of the wonderful active things that we could at our age now.

Tahoe is a special place.  I’d love to be a part of it daily.  I know as I was sad driving home I should have had the outlook that I am lucky to get to go there at all.  But that little bit of individuality in me that is still left, which has a bit of selfishness in it, wants more.

As I turned up the beginning drum riff of ‘”Hot for Teacher” to the max volume on the drive home, a thought came to my head.   (I got to ride home in my car by myself due to having to drive extra hours to pick up our new puppy.  It was a slice of heaven.)  The thought was, ‘Well, if I have to wait 10 years until even entertaining the possibility of living in Tahoe, I better work on staying in shape in order to still be able to do the things I love about Tahoe in 10 years.’

And, that right there was enough to get me out of my funk.  It didn’t fill my funk cup up.  No, that requires Rum Runners and a cool Motown/60’s/70’s live band while sitting outside with the lake as the backdrop.  Or at the very least, Rum Runners.  But, my funk was lifted.

Then, on to home, where I was happy and grateful for all that I have.  Yet, the thought of Tahoe living still danced through my head often.  And, come to find out, obviously in my husbands head as well, as he told me about how expensive homes are in South Tahoe on  Oh, I’m sure in 10 years it will be more affordable right?  Ha!

Who knows what life will bring.  Wanderlust may bring me to a day where being homesick for South Lake Tahoe may actually mean being homesick for my actual home.

And here is a moment that was definitely not the reason I was sad to leave Tahoe:


My husband had stitches in his hand and could not empty the trailer.  My one and only time ever.  

There are not enough Clorox Wipes, nor hand sanitizer for the aftermath of this task.


5 Senses; being present in the moment

Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste.  Our bodies are made so that if one of these senses is compromised, others are more fine tuned and sensitive.

I have some things to say about being present in the moment with all five senses within my own life (to come in a moment).  But, where I want to start is with the people that I work with.  I’ve written before that I am a Recreation Therapist, more precisely, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.  I work with people with disabilities in care home settings where I visit and provide services on a quarterly basis.  Many of the people I work with are not responsive to activities that others may be, and that’s where I’ve used Sensory Stimulation.  My definition of Sensory Stimulation is: using activities that rely heavily on the five senses to help create responses or emotions; with people that I work with that at times would not otherwise respond.

I have many, many, stories and experiences I can look back on, but one of my favorites happened over 10 years ago.  There was a man who lived in one of the care homes that I had consulted for who was unresponsive to activities I offered, other than giving eye contact, or at times crying.  During one visit, possibly my 30th time working with him, I placed his feet on a vibrating foot pad.  As I put pressure on the foot pad for the vibrating to be activated, he laughed out loud.  Everyone in the room lit up, staff, other clients, we were all excited to hear him laugh.  He continued to laugh off and on for a few moments, and it was an amazing successful experience.

I saw a video on Facebook last week that just made me smile.  Check it out:

I love this video.  Sound, music, a fathers voice and touch, all produced that amazing smile and dancing.

Therapeutic Recreation is about promoting quality of life through recreation.  I have found that Sensory Stimulation both when used in my profession, as well as personally has absolutely promoted quality of life.

I’ve written before about how music is so powerful, it can send you back to a moment in time, bring out emotions at the first sound of a musical chord or beat.

Sound, it’s powerful.  My husband tells the story often about how when our son was born, and I was still in the hospital with him, my husband came home, and the door made a squeak when he closed it.  He said it sounded like a sound our new baby made, and then opened and shut the door over and over again.

Smell is another powerful sense.  I did a workshop on Sensory Stimulation a few years back.  One of the activities was smelling different items that were in unmarked jars and identifying them.  A colleague of mine smelled the peppermint sample, and said that it brought back an instant memory of Christmas time as a child when her mom used to pull her tights up and accidentally pinch her legs in the process when getting ready for a holiday get together.  She was floored because she hadn’t thought of that memory, yet smelling the peppermint promoted it.

The smell of freshly cut grass, it can bring so many back to the sports of their youth, along with the emotions that are attached it it.

Taste is crazy.  I love my food.  A good friend made a salad dressing that I really liked a few years back.  Whenever I had it, there was a familiar feeling that I couldn’t place with a memory.  After many times having that same dressing in my present day, it finally came to me, it was like a salad dressing that was from a restaurant I would eat lunch at during my early 20’s while I worked at a bank job while going to college.  And now each time I have that, I am brought back to those times, all the feelings of my life at that time, including the insecurities and unsureness of what my future would hold.  Crazy stuff.

I don’t have to explain too much about sight.  You can see something that reminds you of someone or something, and the emotions it can provoke can be so raw.

Here’s my tie back into my own need to incorporate all 5 senses more often:

Multitasking is the norm, for myself, as well as about everyone else I know.  The amount of times I am truly ‘in a moment’ rather than thinking of other things, or what I need to do next, it’s too embarrassing of a number to admit.

I gave this story of my real life experience during my workshop on Sensory Stimulation:

I was sitting in my front yard one late afternoon, in a big chair, with a nice glass of wine.  It was one of those rare moments where (as a mom of three kids with a husband, two dogs, three cats, yet no chickens at the time) no one needed anything.  I sat back, sipping my wine, looking up at the sky.  All of a sudden, all I could hear were birds.  Like some crazy call of the wild, Ace Ventura apartment call type bird sounds everywhere.  It was a bit psychedelic for a moment, as I looked and watched birds fly from nearby trees, making conversation as they went.  I had never paused enough to realize how many flippin’ birds were in my front yard, let alone take a moment to listen to them.  As my family members found me for different levels of need, I pointed out the birds and their sounds.  I think they all thought I had officially lost it as I sat looking and listening to the birds that have always been there.  It just took me until that moment to pause and let my senses bring things to my attention.

Another example, running on the treadmill.  It’s awful, no one ever talks about it being fun.  I turn the TV on, pass the time.  The goal is the workout.  I did a run (I don’t call it a race, because that would be hysterical, I don’t race, I go from point A to B, not too fast) in San Francisco that went from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate a few years back.  Same goal, a workout, fun with friends, but a workout no less.  As I looked over to my right, a pelican speared the water and came up with a fish and flew away.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Same workout, but rather than watching the regurgitated news on TV, I was smelling the sea water, and watching a frickin’ pelican pluck a fish out of the water.  So cool.

I know I need more moments where I take in all that my senses want to give me.  To slow down and truly ‘be in a moment’ like I so want to be more often.  To realize it’s a ‘perfect moment’.

I took a video of this perfect moment from a couple of years ago, because I didn’t want to forget it.  Lake Tahoe, at sunset, my middle daughter hanging on a boogie board in the water, never turning down an invitation to be at the beach.  It was perfect, the sight, the sound, the smell, sipping on a glass of wine, and my feet in the sand.  Here are pictures from that moment:

IMG_2763 IMG_1981


I’m hoping to slow down and pay attention to all 5 senses at once for many more ‘perfect moments’ in 2015.


Snapshot Memories

I have had some wild and fun New Years Eves.  I’ve had some not so notable ones as well.  And lately, the most recent ones result in celebrating the East Coast midnight New Year rather than our West Coast clock three hours later.

Back in 1995, I spent New Years up in Lake Tahoe’s South Shore for the first and only time.

We took the long way around the Lake and stopped at Lakeshore Pizza in Tahoe City before continuing on.

It was there that the best part of New Years happened.  Sitting outside on the deck of the restaurant with lifelong friends and what would become my future husband, we ate some pizza and drank some beer while Van Morrison’s Day’s Like This played through the speakers above.  All this while staring out at Lake Tahoe in all it’s glory with the snowy mountains as a backdrop.  Perfect moment.

I don’t remember that midnight, or many of the details from that trip other than sitting on that deck, listening to the music with special people.  I can picture it so well though.  Like a snapshot.

Here’s to many snapshot memories in 2015!