Middle O’ Montecito

It’s a quiet night here in Middle O’ Montecito.

The perfect time to begin my little travel blog.



Montecito is a lovely, little SoCal town with one of the best juice bars I’ve ever found.

The oh-so-ahh-mazing juice bar is hidden away in the Pierre LaFond market in Montecito’s quaint “Upper Village”.  Ask for a Lulu’s Special.  Add beet.


(This is the pharmacy.  Pierre LaFond is across the street to the right…)

I’m going to detour now for a few details:

My name is Kayse.  And this post is hopefully the first of many I’ll write to document the incredible, somewhat accidental sabbatical I’ve been on for the past 15 months.  Montecito = stop number 15.  Besides being a quirky traveler and newbie blogger, I’m also a holistic physician who previously was from Tucson, AZ for six long, (rather hot, but enjoyable) stable years.  In Tucson I had a whimsical healing center/art gallery and also occasionally taught integrative medicine classes for the University of Arizona Medical School.  I decided to move to Hawaii in July of 2012 in order to live (and work) in paradise, or so I thought…But, rather than stay there, I simply kept moving.  And, I’ve been on the road since.

Why I didn’t stay in Hawaii is definitely a whole post of its own.  I will get to that.  Let me just briefly state that it’s not that it isn’t paradise.  It is.  It just is a special kind of adventure, gift, and compromise to actually permanently move to Hawaii.  And, I suppose I really just wasn’t ready.  Yet.  Now that eight months have passed since I left, I am just about ready to try it again.  Just.  About.  But not quite.

It would have been nice if I could have started this blog on month one of my journey, but I was definitely not that organized. So, I’ll do a little back-tracking to cover previous locations when I can, including my incredible seven months in Hawaii.  For now… I’ll start with the present.


I’m here in Montecito for a month, a month that ends in three days.  One of my best experiences of my month in this town has been a lovely interaction with one of the women who works at the juice bar.  Being quite to very fond of juice, especially from this juice bar, I’ve gone to get a juice about 3 times a week throughout my stay.  I’ve learned that one woman, in particular, seems to make the best juices.  After a month of requesting her as my juice-crafter, I explained (yesterday) that I’d be leaving soon and might not see her again.  We’d never really introduced ourselves, but we definitely had a relationship.  It was touching… and curious.  There was a beautiful moment of heart-felt goodbye, without there really ever being a hello.  I sat in the little park out in front of the market and pondered for a moment.  It’s interesting that sometimes, as a traveler, the closest friend you may make in a new town could be the clerk at the nearest market.


I do love juice.

I am a holistic physician, but specifically, I’m a holistic psychiatrist.  I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to naturally boost your mood is to drink lots of fresh squeezed veggie juice.  Daily is best.  Weekly, at a minimum.  Add a chili-chocolate truffle, also available at Pierre LaFond, if you are in Montecito, and double your bliss.  If you aren’t in Montecito, you can simply add dark chocolate or (even better) RAW chocolate.  (Don’t literally add it TO the juice.  Just eat it WITH the juice.)  Cacao boosts PEA, a brain chemical that supports bliss states.  The combination of cacao + chili is an ancient one.  The Mayans used to use it for sacred cacao healing rituals and ceremonies.

If you try it, you’ll understand…

Speaking of bliss, Montecito itself would probably qualify as a legitimate trigger.  It is peaceful.  It smells incredible (Thank you eucalyptus trees!).  It is safe and beautiful.  I am especially fond of the quiet side streets and big brown rocks that poke out of the nearby mountains.  They remind me a little of Tucson, I think–minus, of course, the heat.  You can almost see those rocks I really like–poking out in the distance to the left of the tower in the photo above.  Montecito has some really amazing architecture, by the way.  If you’d like to feel kind of like you are in Europe–Spain, especially, or maybe Italy–this is your place!
Despite having an all-together blissful month, I probably do not think Montecito is the right place for me to live full-time.  I can’t say why exactly, as it is wonderful in so many ways.  It just seems that I’m seeking some kind of mysterious, resounding “YES” from the place (or from myself within the place) where I will finally stay.  And I just did not get it in Montecito.  But, I did get many blissful moments and the opportunity to see an exceptionally beautiful property…  It was up in the foothills between Santa Barbara and Montecito.  Definitely a place I would consider myself blessed to live…at least for a few months.  But it was very small inside (a guest house to a larger main house), and the landlord was looking for a year’s lease.  So, I took a few days to think about it, and when I was just about ready to compromise, it was gone…I trust that it wasn’t meant to be my home (if it had been, I’d be there), though I was truly grateful to have gotten to see it…even for a moment….
There’s some kind of mysterious
Recipe I’m seeking…
For a magical home
In a dream I’m dreaming….
Nature and people
And beauty and climate.
Work prospects, culture,
Politics, excitement.
There are so many elements
I want to consider
When planning for home
In hither or thither
I no longer believe
That perfection exists.
Everywhere has compromise;
Reality persists.
I’m really not sure
Which conditions I’ll choose,
But I must find home soon…
I can sure feel the fuse
Lit in my heart,
Burning through my body…
“Make a choice now,” it says,
Or your dreams will get soggy.
OKay.  Poetic interlude.  Back to the story…


One really enjoyable excursion in Montecito is to jog to Butterfly Beach (or drive there).  It’s lovely beach with beautiful polished rocks, views of the Channel Islands, and few people.  Sometimes it is visited by dolphins…Butterfly Beach is especially lovely at sunset on a full moon.  Marvelous.  Peaceful.  Enchanting.  If you have the time and like “upscale” kinds of outings, consider having lunch on the patio at the Four Seasons Biltmore hotel.  It’s across the street from the beach.  The view from the patio is wonderful.  And the hotel itself is like something you would see in Europe.  Beautiful Spanish stucco buildings with red tiled roofs, elaborate gardens, colorful tilework, fountains, etc.


And the lunch is really pretty reasonably priced, considering the view:


Montecito has a lovely yoga studio called Montecito Yoga or “MoYo”.  I went there one of my first nights in town to see a group of musicians perform.  Led by Sean Johnson, the band called themselves the “Wild Lotus Band”.  They were incredible.  The vibe was devotional–part kirtan (a traditional call and repeat style of music common in yoga circles), part concert.  My favorite song was “UNITY”.  I’ll post a link to a recording of this song on YouTube.  This recording is from the band’s home yoga studio in New Orleans.  It’s a little slow at the beginning, but stick with it.  It is uplifting and intoxicating almost with a surprisingly beautiful spoken-word segment in the middle.  I am a yoga instructor myself, so that helped me relate, as I was familiar with the Sanscrit chant that forms the base of the song.  Basically, it is a prayer for peace and harmony.


Montecito is home to many lovely hikes and beautiful views, but I have to say mostly my experience here was about “going within”.  I have been traveling for 15 months now.  I am a bit weary and actually will be pretty excited when I finally do find the right place to land.  In Montecito I rented a charming little guest house/cottage with a small, scenic patio-garden.  I spent most of the month resting, reading, sitting/meditating, and writing (in my journal and for my other blog).  I also work from home as a psychotherapist (via online video conferencing and phone).  So, I only have a few days a week free to truly explore.  Sometimes, especially when I’m in a peaceful place (physically), my inner topography is much more compelling than the outer…

One of my favorite discoveries in Montecito was a patch of yellow ginger growing literally a few doors down from me.  Yellow ginger is a beautiful, very fragrant flower typically found in Hawaii.  I miss Hawaii very much, and as I mentioned above, I have been intermittently to continuously considering making it my permanent home…for probably the past 7 years.  So, finding the yellow ginger was both surprising and soothing to me.  It made me feel at home here, but I also wondered if it was a “sign” of some kind calling me back to Hawaii.


These yellow gingers happened to be growing underneath my favorite SoCal tree–the pepper tree.  You would definitely not be likely to see that combination growing together in Hawaii.  (Pepper tree is visible in the picture below.)


To say “I love flowers” would be an enormous understatement.  Even “I adore flowers” is a bit weak.  I really do not know how to appropriately express my feelings about them.  Flowers are a central organizing factor for my life.  Plants, too.  I am an herbalist.  And a gardener (when I stay put long enough).  I love all of the natural world.   But, I am most passionate about flowers.


(These cheerful friends were also on my street…)

I’ll leave you with this little tidbit:

For me, every flower has a subtly different “feeling tone” or energy.  (Really, everything in nature and in the material world, too, can be thought of this way.)  If you spend time near a variety of flowers, you will feel slightly different around each unique type.  I love to go to gardens and sit in sequentially different patches of flowers, noting how I feel, what I think about, etc…I try to empty my head, if I can, and simply … meditate, connecting with the sweet and gentle energy of each different flower.  If I was having a bit of a frustration earlier in the day, it almost certainly will lift after just a few moments in a patch of flowers.  (The photo below is a wonderful place to do that experiment:  The Alice P. Keck Gardens in Santa Barbara.)  IMG_3636

Some flowers feel joyful, some feel soulful, some feel happy, some feel soothing….And on.  And on.

Try it…


Yet another opportunity for bliss…

Thank you flowers.

And thank you Montecito!