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  • Jenny

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: My Adventure in Solvang

It has been a very long time since I’ve been able to explore anywhere new…at least with the freedom of a true Butterfly Travels-style of self-exploration. I’ve been to a few places over the course of these covid-restricted years, and have enjoyed some new experiences, but this was the first time since my trip to Ireland back in 2019 that I was truly able to open up to an adventure with my whole heart and being.

In another blog, I’ll get into the depths of transformation this year has represented for me. But for now, I’ll just focus on the timing, healing, and lessons that this particular journey brought about.

I had reached an impasse in my life; a definitive fork in the road where I had to choose to hold on, or to finally let go and step back into the truth of my life, my story, and my journey.

Thanks to this impromptu(ish) trip, I was able to finally see clearly and make the best choice for me. I am finally free to step forward. To release a heartbreak. To bless its purpose in driving me forward and profoundly healing me. To accept that it no longer is what I imagined it could be, and that’s okay.

What prompted this little adventure into an unknown territory was the culmination of my daughter’s graduation from high school. The ceremony over, the kids off with their father, the family leaving back to New York—I was left with just me, myself, and I, and endless possibilities. I was originally supposed to spend these precious few days of freedom with someone very special to me; but in his absence, I decided to spend it with someone even more special: myself.

I was debating on taking a trip up to Ojai or Solvang, but as soon as I saw the website and the different, quaint, European-vibe of Solvang, I was sold. Mini-Denmark, here I come.

I love a good road trip. I love the long drives, the music I get to listen to without complaint, the scenery along the way, the carefree nature of the open road. I didn’t mind that it was close to 4 hours away. I needed the quiet and the space to reflect on a lot of recent life changes and quandaries I was facing. Health, love, work, general life situations, returning to my passion.

As I drove up into the town, there was this overwhelming feeling of WONDER. I can’t describe it in words. It was a knowing that I was in the right place at the right time. It was a pleasurable sigh of release that I was successfully escaping to somewhere new, even for the time being. It was the change I craved and the ambiance I didn’t know I deeply needed. This adorable little Danish town awakened my spirits and senses, and I almost forgot I was still in California.

The hotel I booked was this sweet little Inn that boasted charm and comfort. My room wasn’t going to be ready for a few hours, so out I grabbed my journal for some simple reflection in the outdoor lounge area, and then off I went on a walking tour of this gem of a town.

The village was authentically Danish, lined with local shops. I adored walking through the unique experiences. Like a full-fledged fairy shop filled with gloriously intriguing crystals, fairy statues, and tarot cards (and HAD to pick up these perfect hummingbird cards for myself!) An olive oil and vinegar tasting. A year-round Christmas shop. Toys, bakeries, and souvenirs lined the streets with their small town feel, and I was transported to an alternate universe.

It sounded crazy, even to me, but I fell in love with a PLACE—it captured my heart in this fated, whimsical way that drew me into its embrace. And I couldn’t get enough.

I spent hours touring the town. The author in me had to stop by the Hans Christian Andersen Museum to see so many of his wonderful original collections on display. I found myself on a trolley tour of the town, letting the breeze blow through my hair as I took in the history and sights.

I abandoned my keto diet freely to indulge in Danish meatballs and sausage and red cabbage and pastries—oh those amazing pastries!! Not a pang of guilt did I feel as I cherished each bite of baked goodness. I was in absolute heaven, and the day could not have been any more perfect to soothe my confused and tired soul.

I planned on spending the evening journaling and reflecting and designing my new life. But as we all know, life doesn’t exactly go according to our best laid plans.

It all started with a wine tasting. Now for years, I have had issues with wine, feeling like I was allergic to it. I don’t know why, but I thought in that moment, why not give it a little try. If my tongue felt weird, I’d just stop and carry on with my bookworm evening.

But, my tongue was perfectly fine, and thus began the unexpected spiraling of events. The bartender was gracious enough to outline for me and a couple on their honeymoon an itinerary of places to eat and see as part of the very limited nightlife available in Solvang.

I had an amazing dinner at a ramen place, followed by meh music at a tiki bar, and even more meh music at a lounge before I found myself drawn back into the wine tasting place, as I heard the local youth screaming “Let it Go” into the karaoke microphone.

One might say that I was inappropriately out of my element in said wine bar—and they would be right, but I didn’t give a f*$%.

I needed a good night out, so a few drinks in a musical atmosphere wouldn’t hurt. Well, I ended up investing in a bottle of champagne that I drank out of these funnel bongs and was feeling mighty relaxed and open.

Thankfully, some older women more my age entered the bar, and I felt the kindred-ness of their spirits and surprising support as I descended into a reliving of my college years. I have not danced in public in years, but my booty was out there shaking. I even got up on the stage and sang Madonna with no self-consciousness. I donned a really creepy unicorn mask and sparkly boa just because it was there.

I drunk texted that “someone special” I intended to be with that weekend—but in an empowered way that began the process of letting go permanently. I may or may not have been escorted back safely to my room by a youthful man that I kicked out prematurely.

Whatever. I wanted to sleep alone and I didn’t need the promise of breakfast from a (legal) Gen Z-er. TMI, probably. So why share these out of character, overaged, immature details with you?

Because us humans need to remember that mistakes are powerful, not everyone is perfect, and lessons exist in the most embarrassing of stories.

I don’t have a single regret of my atypical evening in a strange town. It was exactly what I needed to wake up in life. I got sick afterwards because the alcohol destroyed my immune system and I’m currently fighting to get healthy again. But that is affording me lots of insight, along with my unorthodox experience. (This girl’s still got it, baby 😉 )

This trjp It helped me to realize I can move on from the past. That anything can happen at any moment—that you can meet people unexpectedly, that life can throw you some important curveballs, and that it all can bring much wisdom in the end.

I found the courage to finally let go of a relationship that no longer belonged in my life. It forced me to remove an obligation my heart hasn’t been into, and I’m grateful that my illness could actually serve as a blessing in that way. I’m reconnecting to my spirit and what matters: my calling to write. To help through my own healing. To relate and share and experience this journey with you all as we figure out this earthly life.

And to keep on transforming as the beautiful butterfly that I am.

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