So I had a crazy idea.

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I don’t know what came over me. I was walking my dogs over the footbridge that I always do on my way to the fake lake and I suddenly came up with a thought: What if I had a dance party on the footbridge? I know this is a crazy idea because what if we caused an accident on the freeway below when all the cars were distracted by a bunch of weirdos dancing above them. But I didn’t think about that until later when I ran my crazy idea by Payam and he pointed out the danger. So I moved my idea to the beginning of the footbridge where some trees overgrow and the bridge is hidden from the cars below. But still, what a crazy idea, right? The more I thought about it, the more I was in love with it.

I’ve had a few setbacks lately with my creative ideas and I just wanted to do something really fun and cheap. That narrows your options by a lot but photography and dancing are FREE! I was supposed to throw a make-up party at our local hoity-toity mall and it fell through when I realized it would cost me more than it was worth. And the management at the mall kept making me jump through more and more hoops. It just turned into a headache and I had to cancel it even though a lot of people were excited about coming. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. It still might happen but if I’ve learned anything this tax season it’s that I need to stop spending money I don’t have. I always put myself in these ridiculous situations and I need to get better at saying no.

Long story short I had a vision in my mind. We have this portable boombox amp thing that can play music really loud AND it’s cordless. It’s really cool.  It’s made quite a difference in the ambiance of our parties. Why not cart that thing out to the middle of the bridge, I thought? We can bring the dance party with us!

I’ve always loved the footbridge. It’s kind of my own slice of urbanity in the middle of boring snoresville suburbia. I always love walking over the ocean of traffic on my way to a peaceful lake on the other side.  It’s just a really unique spot. When the sun shines across the horizon at sunset it can turn magical. So I strung up some battery operated lights, emailed all my close crazy friends who do silly things like this for me and we set out.

Only problem was I was the only one who could really make this work and that meant I had to be model AND photographer. I wanted to be behind the camera, capturing my vision but nobody was really into dancing like a crazy fool like I was. So I set up my tripod, asked Payam to take a few pictures and then danced my head off. I waved and shouted and kicked my furry unicorn leg warmers (that I borrowed from Joon) in the air and everybody thought I was a big fool.

And I was. I was a big fat sweaty dancing fool. But thankfully the ones who are near and dear to me love me for being a big fool. Even though Bug was probably the most embarrassed of me (purely because of her age and not because we are not kindred spirits in weirdness) she danced with me too. She kept trying to pull me to the side when people walked by, like it pained her to have the general public see me acting this way. I know it was hard for her with her friends being there too. But at the same time who’s going to make her crazy memories if not me? I think kids need to be embarrassed of their parents once in a while. It makes for good stories.

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It IS a good story. But mostly it was a good lesson for me. I did a hard thing and I learned a ton. I organized a spontaneous dance party and really put myself out there. It wasn’t a complete win. I see lots of failure when I look at the photos (the 200 I am not sharing with you.) I see awkwardness. I see myself being vulnerable. I see parts of myself I don’t like seeing. I see others looking at me.

My energy was at a 200 while theirs is barely getting up to 80 which in itself is really cool because they are there and not sitting at home on their couches. I see love. I see my close friends putting themselves out there for me because they love me even when I am silly and weird. I see the light. I see how I didn’t have my camera set properly to catch the light… I have so much to learn. I would love to do it again and apply what I have learned but I’m not sure I could wrangle another crowd together. It’s hard to get people to dance in public!

One of the coolest things that happened was when a woman walked by and started dancing with us. That warmed my heart and made me so happy. A lot of people walked by us and smiled. Some people bobbed their shoulders but this woman woman raised her arms and sashayed in a circle as she walked by us. She even came back for another round and told us that our party made her feel like she was in New Orleans! golden-hour-dance-party-5We were a small bunch. But what a bunch! These are the people who will probably come visit me when I am dying in the hospital. (Well maybe not Bug’s friends but who knows!) These are the people who would come rescue me if I had a flat tire on the side of the road in a rainstorm. These are the people who wear unicorn suits and totally understand me when I have panic attacks.sandra-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerThese are the people I met when I moved to the apartment complex. That apartment complex is kind of known for being a transitional place where people move to when they are in between stage in their life. Lots of single moms. Lots of divorcees. Lots of people who couldn’t afford to live in big houses but it was the nicest place they could afford near a really good school. My heart runs deep for these friends.

maria-and-the-dragon-hunter-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerMy dragon-hunter model who poses for me when I do craft posts for Alphamom now that Bug is too big for little kid crafts…golden-hour-dance-party-photographer

And Neilochka! Neil isn’t from my apartment complex but he was in town and as a fellow photographer (who’s work I adore) I knew he’d be down.

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Bug and her crew of school friends. They think I’m nuts but not too nuts to completely shun. I think they reluctantly admit I have a good idea or two when nothing else better is going on. Emphasis on the latter.

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We danced for forty-five minutes, counting down the last minutes zealously. And then we packed up and went home happy and tired.

I felt insecure about it for days. But now I’m putting it down in the books as a learning curve to help me through the next big idea. I wonder what it will be?!

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens with Sonja

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Last week I tagged along with Payam for a work thing and since it happened to be in my friend Sonja’s neighborhood, I decided to visit my old 7days buddy. It’s been a few since we last hung out, sadly. But you know what makes me happy? She didn’t even mention that I haven’t visited in forever and she took me on a walk with her boys to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens! I LOVE that she thinks nature trails when I come to visit. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

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It was a beautiful spring day, squeezed in between weeks of dreary rainy days so we felt like we won the lottery with the weather. It was so nice! Look at that snow! I’ve been scrolling past post after post of snowmageddon images on Instagram feeling major FOMO so getting a glimpse of snow like this is gleeful. Wee! Snow! If only I owned a cabin and we could pile the dogs in the truck and head up for a day of it. Not gonna happen though. I am on budget-watch 2019 and no trips to the snow are included. Sad face.

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But that’s okay because we have things we can do for free like visit nature trails and look at native plants and art installations…

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This particular installation was so perfect for the gardens. If I was a sculptor making stainless steel origami statues I would definitely want them placed strategically around these gardens. It was wonderful. Walk into a clearing, there stand some iron origami horses. Look sideways into a dark patch of evergreens, there’s a tower of origami cranes. 

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Paper airplanes, floating boats, standing bison, iron eagles… it was very imaginative and fun. Hats off to the artists.

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Of course there were animals to watch too.

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We brought our very own wild animals with us. Just kidding.

Sonja’s boys are not wild animals but they are boys and therefore very different than girls, which is what I’m used to. No chatting about ASMR or singing Ariana Grande songs or whining about who gets to sit in the front on the way back but definitely lots of climbing, stick stealing and rock-throwing… At one point we were by a pond and her boys were throwing big boulders into the pond. Sploosh went the boulders one after another until a woman nearby who was eating her lunch chided them to stop. They stopped and threw little pebbles into the pond instead.

Then later they were sliding down a stone wall next to a staircase and someone piped up that they sure hoped they didn’t get hurt which passive-aggressively meant: please stop doing that. Sonja very kindly informed the woman that the boys were fine and she was keeping an eye on them. I had to admire her parenting because if boys can’t play in a botanic garden full of nature, where can they play? I suppose the commenter preferred they sat quietly on a bench sketching or something but if anyone knows boys, they know that is just silly.

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I supremely enjoyed myself even without any quiet sketching. I could have easily wiled away an hour or two sketching my favorite plants but it was fun to see the park through new eyes. Not just flora and fauna but fun jungle gyms and rock launchers, stinging nettles, noisy palm fronds and which stick would make the best walking stick.

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I suppose this post is going to be pretty boring to most. Except the 2 percent who love native California plants like I do. Hey there 2 percent! Let’s be friends! Happy, sunny black-eyed Susans, curling spindly reddish manzanita…these are a few of my favorite things!

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Don’t hold back on the spikes dudes!

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Before I close up this post I should also mention that they have lovely facilities if anyone wanted to throw a gala event or a wedding. How pretty, right? There were white paper solar powered lanterns everywhere.  I would love to come back at night and see how they glow.

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Very lastly, on the way to the parking lot actually, we visited the nursery. I wanted to take home a few spikey friends but my drive was long and I didn’t really do my research yet on where I should plant them at home so they stayed there. Next time!