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runyon5

Smoggy view from halfway up the trail

Runyon Canyon is no secret gem of Hollywood. In fact, if you live in Hollywood you have either been to Runyon, been invited to Runyon, done a boot camp at Runyon, gone on a date to Runyon, done yoga in Runyon, or avoided Runyon because everyone you know has talked about it and you are the type of person who likes to avoid all things trendy and faddish. So, no, I am not revealing some hidden treasure that is known only to me and the coolest kids in town; but none the less, I am compelled to write about my rekindled love for this often overrated Hollywood hiking trail.

I have to admit, I have not always been a steadfast lover of Runyon Canyon. In fact, I stopped going altogether a couple years back because I just didn’t find it to be that enjoyable of an experience. First of all, parking anywhere near the park is RIDICULOUS! You’ll circle around for at least 30 minutes before you can find a spot and even then there is no guarantee that you are not missing some “no parking” sign that is going to leave you with a ticket when you return from your adventures. Secondly, everyone and their dog (literally…every dog in Hollywood) is there and don’t even bother trying to go on a weekend. Thirdly, everyone runs around the trail like they are auditioning for their next big break; guys with their shirts off, overly tanned and oiled, girls wearing as little clothing as they can possibly get away with in public, everyone in Ray-Bans, and everyone looking as if they spent hours trying to look like they didn’t try at all. It’s all a little silly to be honest, but, hey, we’re in Hollywood right?! Needless to say, I stopped going and I didn’t miss it at all!

But then I got Nina…well, and moved close enough to walk there!

runyon2

Look at that face!

The thing about Runyon Canyon is that it is one of the few, if not only, hiking trails in the area that is not just dog friendly but off-leash. This means that my sweet little Nina puppy can run around to her hearts content without having to be confined to her slow and often breathless mommy. It wasn’t until I had a dog of my own that I realized what a joy this is, not just for the pup, but for the owner as well (and I know those of you who don’t have a dog are rolling your eyes at me…I get it, I used to be you). Nina looks so happy prancing around with her tongue hanging out, fetching sticks, running all over the place and sometimes playing with other dogs (she’s a little anti-social, not sure where she gets that from…) And I get to enjoy some fresh air and exercise and some of the greatest views in town.

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Now that I am walking distance from the canyon, I don’t have to deal with the issue of trying to park, which honestly makes a HUGE difference. Also, I will usually go at around 10 or 11am on a weekday because this tends to be a less busy time to go. (Except for today, today was SUPER BUSY! Doesn’t anyone work in this town?!) And with a sweet thing like Nina as my companion, I pay less attention to all the “beautiful people” walking the trail and more attention on her cuteness! The best part about it is that Nina gets herself so nice and worn-out that she will happily sleep for the rest of the day.

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So, my love for Runyon Canyon has been reignited but only under these specific criteria. If you don’t have a dog or are not a dog lover and you don’t live close enough to walk there, I would say you shouldn’t even bother. There are plenty of prettier, quieter, and less trendy places to enjoy a little outdoor workout. Or, you can always stop by mine and come along with Nina and me!

runyon1

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I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions and I find myself nauseated by the onslaught of what seem to be overly dramatic New Year’s related posts as I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed. I don’t always enjoy all the “Best of 2012” articles or “My Year in Review” summaries, but maybe I’m just grumpy. However, on this first day of another year ahead, I can’t help but sit and reflect on where I am in my life, the things accomplished, and the dreams for the future. I can’t say that I know what to expect in this coming year but I do know that I am hopeful, optimistic, and excited about where my adventures are headed. This past year hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, things didn’t always turn out as I had hoped, I have had some real lows and a few painful disappointments, but in the words of my father-in-law, “It’s life.” You get the good with the bad, it’s a package deal, and I don’t expect anything less in this coming year.

One thing I know for sure is that I am blessed. And I actually mean it. I’m not trying to be cliché or trite or grossly sentimental. I am a very lucky girl! I have so many things to be thankful for and so many things to rejoice about. My life is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but perfectly imperfect in so many ways and I am grateful. I do not wish to recap my whole year with you today nor do I want to give you a list of my accomplishments. I’m also not all that interested in sharing with you a bunch of resolutions I intend to keep in the new year. Instead, I want to share with you a few moments from the past few weeks that I am looking back on with a grateful heart…

Hard at work

Hard at work!

I spent an entire day in the kitchen, baking Christmas cookies with my mom. I love Christmastime, always have, always will, and nothing else marks the start of Christmas for me like holiday baking. My mom and I have always made Christmas goodies together, as far back as I can remember, and it’s one of my favorite traditions. We don’t always make the same recipes, it’s not always just the two of us, and sometimes scheduling can seem daunting but we always seem to work it out. This year especially, I cherished the quiet calm of just mom and me, baking dozens of cookies, trying to remember old recipes and looking up new ones (sampling as we went along), chatting about all the happenings of our lives, and sharing a moment in time together…then, watching my dad gobble up some of our bounty when he made it home from work!

Sweet Ashlyn Grace

Sweet Ashlyn Grace

I got to crawl around the floor, play in the snow, and chase my beautiful niece, Ashlyn, around my parents’ living room on Christmas day and for two days after! I don’t get to spend as much time with this sweet girl as I would like to and sometimes I get sad to think she doesn’t know her Auntie as well as she should. But for a few days, during my favorite time of year, we played together. She laughed and squealed and giggled, ran around in circles, had moments of total seriousness, played catch with my sweet puppy Nina, let me hug and kiss her, and I was in heaven.  She loved the little wagon we got her for Christmas and I watched her push it around with delight… it doesn’t get much cooler than that!

For New Year’s Eve this year, I spent the day doing some of my favorite things. I went up to Runyon Canyon with Eddie and Nina in the morning for some fresh air, exercise, and quality puppy time. Then, Eddie and I went to the movies and watched “This is 40” which made me literally laugh out loud (embarrassingly) more times than I can count. And instead of going out to some club or party for NYE festivities, we went to my in-laws’ house where we ate a home-cooked Mexican feast and then enjoyed our food coma, snuggled up by the fireplace. We “camped” with our nephews, sang at the top of our lungs, played the “quiet game” and “Simon says”, and laughed until we cried. At midnight, we shared big hugs and sent all the kids running to wish their parents a Happy New Year! Best. New Years. Ever!

NYE

These are the things I am remembering today, with a smile and a heart full or joy, and these are the things that will help me get through some of the harder moments. Like I said, I am a VERY lucky girl.

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Photo credit: Eddie Martin

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A touch of beauty in my day

Me

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