Yes, I know, I am entirely bonkers. Yesterday, I woke up, and as I looked outside my window, where my view was a forest of dreamy oak and sycamore trees, my first thought was, 'I miss living in The Valley.' The Valley, for all that don't know, is The San Fernando Valley, located in Los Angeles County.

'WHAT? The Valley? Where when it's hot, it's hotter than Hades and when it's cold, it feels like the Antarctic? And chaos runs rampant? ' Yes, The Valley.

Most people would tell me, 'You live in one of the most beautiful, astounding places. You

have peace and seclusion. The Valley is far from the storybook place where you live now.' And I would agree.

However, I first arrived in The Valley in my 20's, stayed till my 30's, and for a gal who grew up in WASP-ish Orange County (OC) during the late 60's and 70's, where OC-eans shunned most of L.A., The Valley is where I felt most like the character, Alice in Wonderland. You see, Wonderland was not a dreamy, safe place, where all your wishes came true. It was, as author, Lewis Carroll explains, "a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger."

But like Alice, it was the place where I first began to discover my Self through adversity and struggle. This alien place where I had no parents, longtime friends, or trusted companion, when I first arrived, forced me to be assertive, survive, and ultimately grow up, just like Alice.

The Valley contained a motley crew of characters: the good, bad, and the gnarly; yet, there were also sages who helped me make sense of the world. I met people from all over the globe who were drawn to L.A., whom I referred to as orphans since they had no family in L.A. either, and we became orphan souls together. I got to work in the Hollyweird industry, literally rubbed elbows with legends and celebrities. As a child, growing up, I never imagined, I'd ever have such experiences.

Yet, those experiences also led me to dark moments. Sometimes I'm in awe of how I survived

certain predicaments. Nevertheless, those situations taught me how to think on my feet. I not only had to be book smart - I had to be street smart.

Winemakers will tell you the best wines come from tress that experience stress (notice, that's stress, not starvation). They advise that trees not be fed too frequently because it has to learn how to struggle, in order to survive. It's no different for people. As a psychologist who works with children and their parents, I've noticed that when a parent gives a child EVERYTHING they want, when a child is not allowed to experience conflict, painful emotional feelings (by rescuing them), or consequences for their actions, the result is often disastrous. The only way we can reach individuation is through personal struggle.

I've left The Valley behind so long ago, and my adventures now are different. However, what I miss most are those days when I didn't know what my future would hold; When I had to learn about imagination because oftentimes, as Carroll states, "it truly is the only weapon in the war against reality;" When my best friends were the crazy ones, but I've learned we're all crazy...and some of the best people really are (also notice, I said crazy, not psychopaths); When I had to learn about affirmations and restructuring my thinking...or die! And death was not and is not an option; When everything was nonsense and nothing was what it seemed; and when I proved those wrong who told me that I will never or will not be able to ...And I said, "I CAN," and I DID!

Yes, Mr. Carroll, you're right, "It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then," but sometimes, I miss that person and I miss that place of mystery, wonder, and most of all epic adventure with wild abandon!

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