What I learned from Rancho Mirage




You may have noticed that my previous posts were chock-a-block full with content about the various topics I chose to write about. For example,  transitioning to new beginnings, getting organized and dealing with change. This week’s post will be a bit “lighter”, as I reflect on the learnings I had at a recent trip to the Palm Springs area with my partner and daughter. We went to Rancho Mirage for a quick trip away, looking for some sun which had eluded us the past 6 months in Vancouver.  As you probably know, the Palm Springs area is known for it’s vacation land look. Before it started attracting tourists from around the world – mainly for it’s climate and golf – it was the playground for the rich and famous who were looking to escape nearby L.A.


I had not taken any time away from work for quite some time, so I was very ready for this getaway. On the surface, a location like this may feel a bit superficial.  After all, this is a place where a good number of people go to escape their realities back home. A lot of the area has a bit of a surreal “dreamy pseudo reality” feel to it, where people indulge in frivolous activities like golf, tennis, shopping and going out for dinner, getting their nails done.  That kind of thing.  Maybe a part of me did feel a bit guilty to be feeding into this lifestyle as well. Because it kind of feels like a splurge? Not as meaningful compared to what I spend my “work hours” on. Right?


I was wrong


Okay, what is also worth mentioning is that we had not TV or internet where we stayed. And we knew this in advance. And aside from the obvious challenges this would bring (not having answers to questions like “What’s the weather going to be today?” or “Is the outdoor museum open on Mondays?”), it was actually very freeing.  It created a really refreshing sense of space and opened up time. It was an interesting self-experiment for the whole family – that’s what you get for going on vacation with a psychologist, honey!


What does the thought of not having internet or TV evoke in you?





Okay, so there was some risk involved.  But no pain no gain, right? It ended up being a learning, growing, bonding, in the moment, rich and light experience for all of us. We played in the sun. We picked lemons and grapefruit from the trees where we lived. We ate breakfast on the patio overlooking a fountain in a lake. We explored the animal kingdom of an outdoor museum called The Living Desert. We drove a winding road from the hot dessert to alpine pine forests in the snow. We swam outdoors. We played. We went out for most meals and did none of the usual “household” chores. We window shopped on El Paseo (the Rodeo Drive of the area). We sipped iced coffee on a patio.  We wore shorts and flip flops. Drove in a convertible down a Palm tree lined road.  We saw a hummingbird nest. We connected with old friends. We sat in a hot tub under the full moon light sipping prosecco. We swam among Palm Trees in the warm water of an amazing outdoor pool. We saw salamanders and road runners rushing about the dried purple, red Bougainvillea flowers on the ground. AND went back home with a new perspective. One we intuitively knew but had slipped from the foreground of our awareness.



Is it not funny, that sometimes all we need is some distance, to make sense of your life?


No doubt, you have experienced this yourself.  It makes me think of a line of the song “Let it go” from the Disney movie Frozen. If you have a pre-school aged child, you’ll know it.  As instructed by my daughter, I sing it diligently at bed time to her.  Thankfully, she does not care what I sound like when I sing (well, for now at least).


“Funny how some distance makes everything seem small.

And the thoughts which ones controlled me,

can’t get to me at all.”


Fitting, right?




Okay, so without further ado – and in no particular order – my list of what I learned from our little family vacation in the land of Palm Trees and Arnold Palmer ice teas:

  1. Keep (shit) simple
  2. Love each other
  3. Cut out the distractions and …
  4. Focus on what is really important
  5. Live in the moment
  6. Feel the sun on your body
  7. Lie in a lounge chair ….. and do nothing
  8. Let others spoil you
  9. Try new foods
  10. Have conversations with new people (especially those you appear to have nothing in common with)
  11. Try new experiences. Need an example? Take part of Taco Tuesday Karaoke night with a room full of well natured, happy seniors enjoying themselves. And nothing to prove. (BTW: expect dinner to start around 4:30 PM. After all, folks are playing golf and tennis by 6 AM the next day)
  12. Rollerblading is not the same as ice skating
  13. And for those planners among you, don’t underestimate the power of NOT making any plans. See what happens. Or does not. And be good either way.



On a last note: Beware if your 4 year old is anything like mine, because while you briefly look away, she may decide that the sand trap on the golf course beside your patio is an excellent place to make a snow angel. Without clothes on.


What have you learned about life and/or yourself when you took some time off? Please leave your comments below! And if you have not done this in a long time, I want to challenge you to make plans to do so NOW! You won’t regret it.




To finish, I’d like to quote another favorite line from the same song:


“I want to see what I can do.

To push the limit and break through.

No right now wrong, no rules for me. I’m free!”


YOUR TURN, let’s do this!


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