I had an amazing summer, full of travel, which I always love. Yet these particular trips and all that they encompassed made the past few months truly special. They contained beauty and connection and chaos and peace…some of my favorite things!

My first trip was to Kauai in June with my extended family…thirteen of us together for the week…hence the chaos. But it was a wonderful chaos, the kind I love. People coming and going and talking and eating…so much exuberant energy…an extrovert’s delight! I loved being with my family for a week, connecting more deeply with one person on a hike, another person in the waves, another over dinner, another as we played our twentieth board game.

And above all…the beauty. I must have said “Oh my god, this is beautiful!” a dozen times a day…it became my own running joke how many times I said it. I couldn’t help myself because it was overwhelmingly true every time it poured out of my mouth. The Na Pali Coast is breathtaking. Hanalei Bay is stunning. Waimea Canyon is remarkable.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I was in Lake Tahoe, back to my beauty mantra because once again I can’t be in this place and not name the gorgeousness. It is beautiful, and so I said it again and again and again. I’ve been there a million times and still it inspires reverence and awe.

Cousins Week (a LaBarbera annual tradition) is typically filled with connection, as we gather together with some people we see regularly and others we see more rarely. There is always fun and games and laughter and talking. This year, though, was extra special for me because it was the first time in many years that all three of my boys could join us for the week, so that filled my heart up right there. Plus, Christopher brought his girlfriend for us to meet, and it was wonderful to connect with a new person who added fun and joy and genuine caring kindness (and makes my boy happy!).

I was home again briefly to work (right, I do still need to work), then off to New York, which I wrote about in my last blog. The time spent with my college pals particularly pertains to today’s topic. Yet most of my week in New York was visiting my mom and her partner upstate, in the beautiful Catskill mountains. You caught that, right? The beauty part again. And, yes, I said it a few more times because, oh my god, it was beautiful!

It was also nice to spend time with my mom and Peter, a vacation with a very different vibe from the others, filled with calm, quiet relaxation. Hiking or walking in the mornings, reading in the afternoons, wine and cheese before dinner, and a movie at night. Ahh…peace.

And yet, there was peace everywhere. Watching the rain and waterfalls from our porch one morning in Hanalei, sitting on the empty beach another early morning. Kayaking at DL Bliss in Tahoe. Paddleboarding at Sand Harbor.

I want it all! I want the chaos and connection from people and New York City and the peace and beauty of the mountains and the beach.

This summer I got it all, and I am filled with gratitude and joy. And because I’m me, I’m also thinking about what comes next!