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Life-Balance Check: Have You Felt The Pulse of Nature Lately?

Just the other day, my wife and I decided to break free of the urban grind and spend some quality time in a mountainous region of Southern California. Before leaving we did a bit of research and discovered that a place called Idyllwild would likely be a relaxing retreat. Idyllwild, CA is an unincorporated mountain town perched some 5,500ft above sea level, resting beneath the daunting peaks of the San Jacinto mountains.

It goes without saying, life in an unincorporated mountain community moves at a much different pace. There is no mad rush and there is no burning desire to be the next best thing since sliced bread. People just kind of come and go as they please, not being overly consumed with personal greatness and oozing adoration from other individuals. Mountain people live a simpler life, not counting every last second like it will be the last of their life – they have a unique and unusual ability to take the day as it comes, feeling satisfied by the day’s end.

The shops are small and the restaurants, far from crowded. There seemed to be a general ease about this town and an accompanying ease of the people. Getting lost is really a non-issue. If you lose your way, it is as easy as asking any keeper at one of the many stores – they are all locals and know the small town like the back of their hand.

Idyllwild, California really is a warm and cozy place to visit. Although the air is thinner, it is also much fresher. Breaths of fresh and clean oxygen are guaranteed to recharge your spirit and clear your mind as you enjoy a care-free day in this little town. If you really want to indulge (as my wife and I did), then drop by Jo-Anne’s for lunch and have a piece of chocolate “suicide” cake to bring your meal to a grand finale and proper end. After your last bite you may feel a nagging feeling of guilt – let this feeling pass and wash down that piece of cake with a frosty beer (a pale ale or Blue Moon will likely do the trick). After basking in your guilt-free indulgence, start thinking about a place to lodge for the evening. There are plenty of quiet Inns that hug the edge of Strawberry Creek.

Idyllwild is littered with pine, cedar and evergreen trees. Make sure to take a moment of your time and admire the beauty and agelessness of these incredible trees – they provided us with countless breaths of life-giving air. Not only are the trees a sight to behold, nature is always scattering about in your peripheral vision.

In particular, Idyllwild is filled to the brim with the California grey squirrel. Strangely, these grey squirrels appear to be unmistakably different than any other grey squirrels I have ever seen. Besides being twice the size of any grey squirrels I have ever seen, they also have the shiniest and fluffiest coats I have ever beset my eyes upon.

Seriously, these squirrels are mutants! You should see how quickly they tear an acorn or nut apart – the outer shells are ablaze as the squirrels chuck them aside while feasting on the innards. These creatures have the art of nut cracking down to a fine science. Really, this is the first time I have compared any squirrel to Rambo! It must just be another testament to the cleanliness and freshness of the mountain air.

There is no need for me to carry on for too long here. I think my message is clear – the squirrels are jacked and they mean business – I know I would not wrestle one of them for a nut placed in fair ground. Just read the “Town Crier” (the local newspaper in Idyllwild), it backs up everything I am saying about these squirrels. In fact, the Town Crier would be my indisputable reference for foolproof evidence of this natural phenomenon.

Moving away from the humorous side of things, there is a main message to this post. The main message is to be aware of your current self. How are you feeling? When you ask yourself this question, what does your gut say? What doesn’t it say? Try not to rationalize every detail of your life. Give yourself a chance to thoughtfully reflect about the many parts of your life. When was the last time you took off for a day? Has it been too long?

You may want to consider Idyllwild, California as a quick life-boosting retreat. Now I have said it, you won’t regret it! Be like the grey squirrel! Run around for awhile, exploring the rejuvenating aspects of the outdoors amidst the simplicities of a mountain town.

Where do you stand? Have you visited a place like Idyllwild, California lately?

Be good to yourself,

Matthew R. Polkinghorne

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