Healing another piece of my heart

Santa Barbara, CA. A place that dreams are made of … you can see the ocean and the mountains all in one day. It is one of those places along the west coast that is truly magical.

And it was one of the best places Shelby and I ever went on vacation. Seven years ago, I packed Shelby up and we took our first of many “spring break” adventures to Santa Barbara. It was when I really discovered that dogs make the best travel companions. We always had such a great time and Santa Barbara is very pet friendly. Dogs on the beaches, dogs at outdoor cafes, dogs all over.

When I got the dreaded diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma in 2013, I knew Shelby and I would have to go back to Santa Barbara. I cleared it with her doctors, delaying chemo for a couple days, and off we went. I knew deep in my heart it would be our last trip together. It was a bittersweet and painful trip. Here is what I wrote about that trip. https://mom2shelby.tripawds.com/2014/09/25/tbt-our-last-vacation-together/

After Shelby passed, I refused to go anywhere near Santa Barbara. It was simply too painful. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid even driving THROUGH Santa Barbara for fear of an epic meltdown. It broke my heart but I always got that sinking feeling in my gut when thinking about Santa Barbara. Sadness and never joy. No one knew I was actively avoiding the place I loved the most (with Shelby).

Not even my running coach who suggested offhandedly that I run a “one-mile” race up there in June. Now faced with confronting my fears or disappointing him, I really had two choices – well actually just the one – I had to face the fear. Because life is funny like that – you can try and avoid all the crappy stuff but in the end, you really have to face it or it will hold you back forever.

Scrambling, I threw together a Santa Barbara “spring break” getaway for me and Jasper. I knew I wouldn’t do any of the things Shelby and I did (no wineries, not the same hotel, not the same restaurants) and I would create new “joy” and “memories” with Jasper. Easier said than done. As I drove into town last week, I got that sinking feeling in my gut. I started to tear up. I drove faster. I shook it off.

We got to the hotel and it was fancier than Shelby and I had ever stayed (funny how that works now that I have a more ‘grown-up’ job). Right across from the beach and the wharf. And with the first sunset, happy memories were made!

Not to say there weren’t moments of “oh I bet Shelby would have loved this” but there was pure joy. There were no meltdowns. I was brave and happy and I was good with that. You are allowed to be sad and  you are also allowed to be happy (again, wise words from my coach). What’s funny is that I usually use ‘getaways’ to “escape” my reality but this trip was really about confronting my reality and moving forward.

So what did Jasper and I do?! Well, we went to the botanical gardens where we saw BIG squirrels, redwoods, poppies, views of the coast. We hiked in the forest. We played on the beach (side note – Jasper appears to love every beach we go to except the one in her own backyard). We walked through town. Someone called her a chihuahua which I am pretty sure I was more offended by than she was. (no disrespect to chihuahuas but my dog is not one). We saw a pelican up close and personal. We went on a sunset sailboat cruise. We ate great meals. And we ended our vacation with Jasper “free-ish” on the dog beach without me attached to the other end of the leash and she didn’t run off.

It was a great trip! Oh and that one-mile race, yeah, I’ve got this. I ran the course while I was there and I believe I can do it!

Another piece of the heart healed. Shelby loved me SO much and I know she would want me to experience joy. It is why she sent me Jasper. We both had to work for it but it is safe to say, we are pretty bonded and pretty good travel buddies! Now if only we could have no barkies in the hotel room…. ahhhh… a girl can dream!

Till next time Santa Barbara!

Our first trip to Santa Barbara!
Shelby wasn’t a water dog usually but Santa Barbara was a place to play on the beach.
wine tasting!
It’s a dog’s life! Shelby loved the beach and the sea so, so much! She was so happy!
At the botanical gardens (which were 100% dog friendly). I asked her to smile by the poppies!
Cuddles in the forest!
Jasper finding her zen at the beach on my lap!
Jasper’s first time on a sail boat (and probably mine too)… watching the sea lions in the water.
Beach sunsets are the best! Truly heaven on earth.
My girls … the love of my life on the left and the sidekick on the right. I didn’t pose either of them for these photos but I am blessed to have/had curious dogs to travel with. So proud of them both!

Author: mom2shelby

Mom to 13 year old Shelby - Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. A rescue dog that was born in New Orleans. Shelby is a spirited, smart and happy little dog who loves to run, play, go to the beach (we live in LA) and ride in the car! She is my best friend and the true love of my life!

6 thoughts on “Healing another piece of my heart”

  1. I am glad you and JL and had a great time. Sometimes we have to face what we dread. Love all the pictures.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  2. What an amazing trip! It was courageous of you to go back to such a special place, and your courage was rewarded with healing and new joy. I love the way you just struck out and did it, confident that you would be able to face whatever feelings the visit brought up.
    Jasper looks so happy in the botanic garden, and cuddling her Madre in the forest. And I know that Shelby’s spirit was beside you constantly.
    Sending love,
    Meg, Clare and Angel Pie ❤️❤️❤️
    PS Santa Barbara is somewhere I have always wanted to go. It looks quite magical.
    PPS dig the blue hair!

  3. Good job Alison! I knew you could do it….I think all of us in our situations here are stronger than we know. I’m glad you got to discover this, while making wonderful memories with Jasper.

    Paula and Warrior Angel Nitro

  4. Omd Jasper is actually smiling!! Good for you to face some pretty hard core grief and fear. I don’t know you very well but enough to know what a big deal this was. Jasper was absolutely glowing too. I am so glad the getaway was enjoyable and that you were able to give that to Jasper too. (no, not a chi, lol… she is beautiful 🙂 )

  5. Ohhhhhh what a story! What an adventure! What a beautiful way to experience the JOY that Shelby wants for you. YESSS!!!

    You and JL look totally at home, relaxed and beautiful. Congrats on making such a huge leap in life, you DID IT!

  6. Another piece of your heart did heal. And another huge step was made in your Soul’s growth. And another cheer can be heard from the Bridge as Shelby Lynne applaubarked with joy seeing how transformational this vacation has been!!

    Shelby looooves that you continue to honor her memory as you create new ones with Jasper Lily! I’m really glad you went on that Sunset cruise.

    Yes, you can have two great loves (for different reasons) love side by side in your heart.

    You always write with such thought and self-awareness. Being “aware” is one things, but taking action on that awareness takes coursge and a Soul deep determination to grow and learn. Yes, “confronting your reality and moving forward”. Well said Alison!

    I know I speak for all of your tripawd family when I tell you how truly happy we are that this “vacation” was so.lovely for you, for Jasper Lily AND Shelby too!

    I loooooved every single picture you shared. I looooove hownyou intertwined Shelby Lynne in with Jasper’s poctures. And the exclamation point was the photo of Shelby and Jasper “mirroring” each other in that bottom photo. Sweeeet!

    Jasper with her pretty rose flower and the photo of her SMILING at the camer…PREXIOUS 🙂 That ain’t no Chihuahua!! 🙂

    Thank you for always putti g “yourself out there” and sharing so much of your beautiful heart with us.

    Love you my friend,

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *