On my way to meet Jane Fonda,  It was August 1987, I was with my mom in a little Dodge Horizon driving from Golden, Colorado to Santa Barbara, California. Hotter than hell with no air conditioning, I was amazed my mom was game for the road trip. Together we headed toward a new chapter in my life.  Little did I know back then, I would reside in Los Angeles for the next thirty years and still counting.  My new job was working for the queen of aerobics, the one and only, Jane Fonda. She hired me to run the exercise training program and oversee the weekly routines for guests who would come to her new Laurel Springs Retreat.  My first visit to Laurel Springs was the interview with the Oscar award winning actress however, this time I was moving in.

You can’t imagine how nervous I was arriving at Laurel Springs ranch coming to meet Jane Fonda for the first time.

My home for a bit, the Hill House.

Shortly, after my mom left and my workout clothes were tucked neatly into the dresser it was time to explore.  In total there were three master suites in the Hill House as Jane called it and I had the attic. A spacious loft with a window where I could peak down at the Pacific Ocean.  With only three visitors per week, this was a very intimate retreat.

Surprisingly, my first assignment was doing something I never imagined.  Wait, what?  You need me to go undercover to the Golden Door and learn why they are (and continue to be) the best spa in the country!  Instantly, I questioned what is a spa? Silly me I thought it was called a spa because it had a hot tub LOL!  Originally from Michigan, two years out of college, the late 80’s…I had no idea what I was in for.

Next thing I knew I was in Escondido, California at the most serene, quiet, picturesque place I’d ever been to. My memory of the total experience is somewhat cloudy however, a few things stuck with me for good.

  1. Everyone got up at 6am for a hike.  You could choose a hike that was long, short, hilly or flat.  It was invigorating and who knew hiking was such great exercise.
  2. Mid morning veggie broth with crudite and an afternoon protein drink for sustenance in between meals.
  3. Sitting poolside next to Nancy G. Brinker, Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, she shared her sister’s tragic story and how after her passing got October to be regarded as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  4. No phones and no tv in the rooms.  A lovely concept.

The Golden Door labyrinth.

I left the Door with oodles of notes, ideas, plans, inspiration and dedication to my new job.  I spent months hiking and biking  in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains with fun guests like Ally Sheedy, Rue McClananhan, Melanie Griffith, Pamela Des Barres, and a few others.  However, Jane’s life took a turn eastward and she moved to Atlanta prompting the quick closure of Laurel Springs Retreat and me out of a job.

Yes I was mountain bike riding in the snow that fell in the Santa Ynez mountains a few miles from Jane’s place.

An excerpt from Pamela Des Barres book I’m with the Band.

A sweat session at Laurel Springs Retreat.

Melanie Griffith, me and Pamela Des Barres getting ready for a workout session. LOL!

As Jane began a new chapter in her life, I was about to take off on my fitness journey, a journey I never dreamed would be a career let alone a lifetime passion of teaching exercise, wellness and healthy stories.

Last week I had the pleasure of retuning to the Golden Door. I’m still pinching myself about the opportunity to revisit the place which had such a profound effect upon me thirty years ago.  As I walked across the bridge we stopped and paused.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath, my hostess whispered quietly.  Leave the noise of your life behind, as you cross the bridge you will enter a place to refresh, renew and rejuvenate yourself.  This is your time to give care and love to your body and the time begins now.

The infamous bridge at the Golden Door.

Is this when I got permission to be lazy?  As a mom I know I use the word lazy negatively.  You aren’t being productive, get up and do something, don’t just sit around.  Oh my God I can just hear myself. Personally, I have been very lazy for a long time. Partially due to my surgeries and recovery, partially due to menopause and mostly due to being 50+ and figuring out the “what the hell do I do next?”. Let’s become clear on what lazy can mean and then you decide if laziness can fit into your life.  The adjective lazy is thought to come from the Low German lasich, meaning “idle or languid.”  Ok, well idle is what I am feeling in this transitional period of my life and it is also what I felt at the Golden Door.  At the Door the rush of life was instantly put into idle.  I wasn’t driving, shopping, surfing, working, cooking, cleaning or anything else that fills the day.  I was idle, lazy and doing glorious activities that one might feel guilty about doing, but I didn’t.

What I was doing was eating a civilized breakfast.  Siting down with a cloth napkin on my lap. I read the paper.  I talked to people, not just hello how are you but really talked. I closed my eyes in the sun.  I swam in the pool in the rain.  I played Bingo.  I was mesmerized by a 90 year guest who knocked my socks off as she and I put one foot in front of the other on a two mile walk.

My civilized breakfast. So simply and yet stunningly beautiful.

Urban dictionary describes lazy this way.  “A movement founded by myself, promoting conservation of energy, in an effort to postpone entropy.  I love conservation of energy, as I feel our lives zap it from us. Yet my week at the Golden Door was filled from 6am until 8pm and my tank was brimming to the point of energy overflow. How is that?  Can being lazy actually be good for us. It can make you more innovative by letting the mind wander which can promote creative thinking.  Being lazy can help you focus because your mind is occupied with vital information instead of tedious errands.  The way to focus on a task is to simplify how many you have.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Golden Door.

A magical moment walking in the woods at the Golden Door.

Vintage swimming class at the Golden Door.

The secret gardens that abound on the Golden Door property.

A bird’s eye view through one of the Japanese art pieces scattered throughout the property.

Laziness I believe is more about attitude.  Keep your mind fresh and rested you have a better chance at productivity.  Like everything in life moderation is key.  Dark chocolate, wine, social media, exercise, shopping, politics…be lazy once in a while.   It’s good for you.  Now, I make sure some of my Golden Door routine sneaks into my day, everyday!

Thank you for reading my Healthy Stories.