Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pretty Thoughts

Ojai, pretty town, pretty inn, pretty flowers, pretty day all help one have pretty thoughts. -- Photo credit: Sylvia Cary

Ojai, Califoria: Spending a pretty day, in a pretty town, in a pretty inn, in a pretty garden,  taking pictures of pretty flowers, all helped bring on prettier thoughts on this first anniversary of my husband’s death.                 Photo credits: Sylvia Cary

I once asked an art museum guard what he did with his mind all day while standing tall in a doorway, watching people look at  statues and paintings.

“I think pretty thoughts,” he said.

I didn’t press him further, but I got the point. He focused on pretty thoughts to get his mind off what might have been unwanted thoughts –boredom, perhaps, or resentment, physical discomfort, emotional pain, or even grief.

A Lavender Getaway

Basically, I did the same thing last week when I escaped from Los Angeles on the first anniversary of the death of husband, Lance. Lung cancer got him sometime after midnight on January 2nd, 2013, so on New Year’s Day I drove up the coast along the Pacific Ocean and then up a road into the mountains to Ojai where I had a reservation at The Lavender Inn.

The Labender Inn in Ojai. I knew just from the name I'd love it.

The Lavender Inn in Ojai, California. I knew just from the name I’d love it.

I spent the next 24-hours soaking up every corner of this lovely place, sitting in garden chairs, writing, taking pictures, and filling my mind with pretty thoughts instead of ruminating over memories of Lance’s miserable last weeks in an LA area hospital ICU, and the picture I have trapped in my head of him dead.

I sat in the garden and got a little writing done.

I sat in the garden and got a little writing done, and emailed photos to my daughters .

My favorite chairs - Adirondack chairs in all colors.

My favorite chairs – Adirondack chairs in all colors.

I sat by the fire in the living room, reading a novel, which I rarely do. I'm usually a non-fiction gal .

I sat by the fire in the living room, reading a novel. I rarely read novels. I’m a non-fiction gal . But this one drew me in. “You’ve outlasted the log,” the Inn’s owner laughed when I finally went up to bed.

Red Room

I crept into bed at 7:30 and read until after midnight, finishing the novel, realizing that it was not "The Day," January 2nd, the day Lance died. I pulled the blankets up over me and fell asleep.

I crept into bed at 7:30 pm and read until after midnight., finishing the novel, then realizing that it was now “The Day,” January 2nd, the day Lance died. I pulled the blankets up over me and fell asleep, missing him, a sad thought creeping in.

The next morning I went out on my balcony and looked down at the beautiful garden and another sparkling California day. In other parts of the country snowstorms were raging with record-breaking cold.

The next morning I went out on the balcony and looked down at the garden, and couldn't help but notice all the different chair arrangements that were set up for couples.

Looking down into the garden from my balcony I couldn’t help but notice all the different chair arrangements that were set up for couples. I took more pictures of the chairs instead of thinking about them.

Then it was downstairs for my favorite meal of the day, breakfast.

Then it was downstairs for my favorite meal of the day –breakfast. Delicious, healthy, and pretty.

Guests sat out on the porch for breakfast. I walked around and took more picture, more chairs in different light. Everything looked photogenic.

Guests sat out on the porch for breakfast. I walked around and took more pictures of things in the morning light. Everything looked photogenic.

I was blown away by this painting of a painting on the garden wall.

Lavender Fields

Lavender Fields

Back inside the inn I stopped in what they call the "media room" and saw this wonderful old typewriter. They say Mark Twain bought a typewriter and hated it so much he exchanged it for a buggy whip.

Back inside the inn I stopped in what they call the “media room” and saw this wonderful old typewriter, along with books, magazines, local newspapers, and the inn’s only visible TV . They say Mark Twain once bought a typewriter and hated it so much he exchanged it for a buggy whip.

I went from the typewriter back upstairs to my room where I had my laptop set up and I spent one hour working on an adaptation of a screenplay I wrote years ago, thinking about turning into a novel. I've never written a novel, but the one I'd just read inspired me. I practiced writing from the main character's point of view -- in the first person. It opened up new ideas to write in the first person instead of "she" did this or said that.  Then it was getting to be check-out time.

Leaving the typewriter behind, I went back upstairs to my room where I’d optimistically set up my laptop intending to get more work down than I actually did!

Tempus fugit. It was check-out time already. I packed and went downstairs to pay. I bought a coffee mug with “The Lavender Inn” and picture of a lavender Adirondack chair on it.  I’ve used it every day since I got home.

I hadn’t told anybody at the inn why I was there, but I did write in the guest book that I’d came to honor the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death. I had hoped for a lovely, quiet, peaceful and pretty place. I was not disappointed. It was perfect.

After I checked out, I did a bit of sight-seeing.  I walked around town and then was lured into a tiny restaurant by the smell of quiche lorraine. I ordered it.

I sat by the window and looked acorss the street at the well-known spa, The Oaks. I'd already taken a bite of my quiche before it occurred to me to take a picture of it. It was pretty, too! Here it is with a part missing.

I sat by the window and looked across the street at the well-known spa, The Oaks. I’d already taken a bite of my quiche before it even occurred to me to take a picture of it. It was pretty. I don’t like cooking, but I love pictures of food. So here is my lunch with a little piece of it missing. It would never make the cover of a cooking magazine.

Bye-Bye Ojai

There’s something about getting away, even if only for a day, that can open up the brain and let some new, even pretty, thoughts in. So when you’re trying to fend off unpretty thoughts, the ones that are like bees around a bee-keeper, just skip town. Drive north, south, east or west.  An hour or two. You are sure to see something pretty. It will make you feel better.

I had to stop to take one more photo in a shop window.

Bye-bye, Ojai

On the way out of Ojai, I stopped to take just one more picture in a shop window. It made me smile. It was cute. Maybe that’s the kind of thing that museum guard enjoyed thinking about.

(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT

All photos in the post by Sylvia Cary

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