The drive to San Diego is beautiful! It is the landscape that usually gets me very relaxed, but I am truly anxious. I am uncomfortable driving into big cities, dealing with parking, and finding my way. It is funny how being alone in the wilderness feels so safe, easy, and relaxing, but being back in civilization makes me nervous.
This is not the first time on my journey that anxiety has crept in due to traveling into the unknown. However, most of the time, that part excites me. I find the only way to deal with fear is by looking at it straight through; so here I am in San Diego!
I am staying at a hostel in the Little Italy neighborhood. It turns out that finding parking around the hostel is not that hard. I just need to be aware of the parking regulations. Oh, good, one less thing to worry about.
I settle down in my room and go for a walk to explore my area and understand my bearings. I like the feel of Little Italy. I sit down for dinner, hoping the knot in my stomach disappears.
What happens next is fantastic. This journey I am on is changing me in so many wonderful ways. I am very aware of the shifts I am going through, which is beautiful and welcomed!
This is not to pat myself on the back, but to show the incredible power of forgiveness and the gift of compassion.
As I walk back to my hostel with my leftovers in my hand, I see a homeless man. In the past, like most of us, I tried to avoid walking by homeless people or ever making eye contact with them. Not anymore. I can truly feel his suffering and go to his level. I am no longer judging. That is not my place. All I can do is show compassion and kindness. We look at each other and smile. He appreciates this kind of acknowledgment. Without thinking much, I hand over my leftover dinner (still warm and delicious). I say, "enjoy" and he replies with a sincere "thank you". This is the second time in less than two weeks that I have extended my heart to a homeless person. I know you don't know me, and I am not here to convince anyone of my kindness. My actions in life show my compassionate heart, but now I have an even higher level of it. It is a true gift! To me and everyone around me, it feels good and right, which is all because I have finally started practicing forgiveness as part of my healing.
It is a beautiful evening, so I sit on the hostel's patio, watching the moon and the stars come to life, while enjoying the breezy night and letting the sounds around me take over. The city's sound is too foreign to my ears, and I am already thirsty for the silence of the wild.
It is not the first time I have stayed in a hostel. I enjoy the camaraderie. I am sharing a room with Exiga from Texas and Serena from Italy. We talk about strength and fear. We all agree that it's the little step further that we take when we get to the breaking point that makes us stronger.
Looking at the weather, I have a beautiful sunny day ahead of me, but rain will be on its way afterward. I start my day early to fit in as much as possible without taking away from my experience.
The knot in my stomach is still nagging at me, and it doesn't let me fully relax, but I push on. My first stop is the San Diego Zoo. Getting to the zoo when it just opened is wonderful. It is almost like I have my private zoo to experience (of course, that didn't last long). As I approach the tiger exhibit to see this magnificent animal, I feel lucky not only to see him up close, but to hear his loud roar, which vibrates through my ears. I can't even imagine experiencing this out in the wild. I do take the tour bus and the Skyfari Aerial Tram as well.
After spending five hours at the zoo, I am driving next door to Balboa Park. I only take a little over an hour to go around and enjoy the park. I do love old cars, so I enter San Diego Automotive Museum. The city of San Diego indeed did an excellent job creating this park. I want to squeeze more into the day, so I drive to Old Town to go back in time, which is something I always enjoy.
By the time I feel I got all I wished from Old Town, it's almost six in the evening. I sit in my car, trying to figure out my next step. I am still struggling with the knot in my stomach, and I know the only way out is not to give up and return to the hostel's safety but to I push myself once more which means I will drive back in the dark. For this knot to completely go away, I need a successful day under my belt.
The skies are the perfect setup for a beautiful sunset, so I am heading to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. As I walk around the cliff's edge, enjoying the landscape around me and having the quiet space in my head, I realize today I did practice being in the moment. I didn't fight the anxious emotions; I let them be and exist. I am slowly learning to respect my feelings and emotions, whatever they are. Pushing myself just a bit in a gentle way without giving up, acknowledging my knot, and letting it be part of my day was powerful. The magic of the sunset let me relax a bit. Now I need to drive back in the dark in a city that still intimidates me, but I feel less overwhelmed. Guess what? I find parking just outside the hostel, and the knot is gone.
I know I will have a rainy day ahead, but I still have an hour or so before it starts, so I drive to walk along Coronado Beach. The good thing about gloomy days on the beach is that you have it to yourself. Somehow my timing is great. By the time the rain started, I am in the lobby of the Hotel del Coronado. I love walking around historic hotels. There is something special about them. You know people had a good time here, and happy memories were created.
Lately, rainy days are library days where I can sit quietly and write in my journal. Coronado Island Library is quite impressive. The sun does come out in the early evening, so after I cook dinner, I walk around Little Italy searching for gelato.
Another day with a chance of rain. Right now, the skies are only full of rain clouds but no action yet. Therefore, I head to Mission Beach. Walking on the beach and listening to the waves crashing into the shore always relaxes me. Half an hour into my walk, the rain forced me back to my car. A glance at the weather app shows me it will pass shortly. The sun is out, so I resume my walk on the beach for a few miles longer.
I only have wonderful things to say about San Diego. It is a fabulous city!
It's easy to get around, with free parking almost everywhere. There is so much to do and see. I know I couldn't do it all. Now I will be more at ease coming back to revisit.
I look forward to spending a few days with Nikki and Barb, but I am stopping at La Jolla Cove before that.