It flows. And I embrace it.
Last spring I wrote a post on gratitude, a quality I feel more intensely each year as dear ones pass and our children approach the day in which their wings will take them away from our nest, a thought I having been trying to avoid since their infancy.
Yes, my husband and children come first and foremost on my gratitude list. But if we were to observe our lives as spectators, we would discover much more for which to be thankful. From the moment I began to study architecture, I have devoted the better part of my career to fulfilling my passion to create. Today I am beholden to the many opportunities which have allowed me to pursue that very passion, and I am cognizant of the fact that such freedom is a fortuitous gift.
As an admirer of beauty, I feel particularly blessed to live and work in two of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Also referred to as the American Riviera, this enchanting small city or large town (my husband and I see it differently) is a designer's paradise rife with breathtaking Spanish architecture, stunning palm tree lined beaches, and a year-round temperate climate, ideal for outdoor dining, sports, beach/poolside living, and fruitful gardens like the one we nurtured while living there.
It is a haven to raise a family here, especially for those with active children who need to be shuffled everywhere. Any spot in the city can be reached within twenty minutes (and usually far less,) increasing the amount of time one is not behind the wheel.
Unlike most small communities, Santa Barbara, which raises the bar on relaxed sophistication, enjoys a variety of offerings most commonly found in larger cities such as world class restaurants, a funk zone chock-full of wine tasting and live music, the International Film Festival, theatres presenting direct from Broadway hits, and an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts featuring the likes of Sting, Katy Perry, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, New Kids on the Block, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Wonder and the list goes on. So addicting is the lifestyle, in fact, that most locals choose not to travel in summer delving instead into the city's abundance.
Santa Barbara stole my heart sixteen years ago and she is now the very essence of my soul. Thankful? Endlessly.
San Francisco is exactly what you would expect it to be: a vibrant, forward thinking city where one feels equally at home in a Chanel suit, t-shirt and jeans, or yoga attire. Fillmore street is one of my preferred shopping destinations with wonderfully curated boutiques like Curve and my favorite, Elizabeth Charles. But there is no need to stop there for you will find new ones sprouting throughout the city as though they were marigold like Marni, Isabel Marant and many more on the horizon. The restaurant scene with hot spots like SPQR, Coqueta, Farina, Petite Crenn, and Kokkari, to name a few favorites, is nothing short of superb. One could easily dine out seven nights a week and never fall short of a new discovery.
I love my morning walk from Pacific Heights to my children's school and exercise class in Cow Hollow. The sailboat drenched bay in bewitching hues of blue mesmerizes, and for me it is simply impossible not to "smell the roses" each and every day.
Paris of the West? Maybe. But the picturesque sight (and sound) of the city's graceful cable car flanked between harmonious rows of Victorian and Edwardian architecture within seven square miles of hilly terrain...well that can only be San Francisco.
My heart overflows with gratitude for so many blessings, not least having the opportunity to live in both of these magnificent places.
Photo credits: Santa Barbara skyline: abcnews.com, San Francisco cable car: thebeautyoftravel.com, all others images are property of Alina de Albergaria and designsbyalina.com