Celebrating One Year in Southern California

segerstrom center for the arts

It’s been a year since we moved back to California. Our anniversary is this month. We could have chosen anywhere in the world to live and southern California was our first choice. We’re often asked if we’ll ever return home, to eastern Canada, but our answer is consistently the same – this is our home now. SoCal has so much to offer. Its beauty is undeniable and the opportunities are even more prevalent. I love to travel and it will always be as much a part of me as family and friends but it’s never discouraging to return home. As an anniversary celebration to California, I attended The American Ballet Theatre’s world premiere of The Sleeping Beauty. The world is at our doorstep in California; living in Orange County is like awaking from a long sleep and opening my eyes to a handsome dream prince and a castle of possibilities.

ABT The Sleeping Beauty - photo by Doug Gifford

Attending a world premiere was a beautiful reminder of why I moved here in the first place. I didn’t even attend a professional ballet production until I was 21 years old. It just wasn’t available in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Now, I just experienced one of the technical, visually stunning performances and on opening night.

ABT The Sleeping Beauty

Alexei Ratmansky’s new staging of The Sleeping Beauty took place at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The evening’s cast included Principal Dancers Diana Vishneva as Princess Aurora and Marcelo Gomes as Prince Désiré, as well as over 350 lavish costumes designed by Richard Hudson inspired by Léon Bakst’s designs for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The beloved score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was performed live by Pacific Symphony.

ABT The Sleeping Beauty - photo by Doug Gifford

As Princess Aurora danced with her suitors on her sixteenth birthday, two uplifting thoughts ran through my mind. The first and most obvious thought was that Diana Vishneva was flawless. I was transfixed at her arabesque body position as she greeted the suitors. I’ve attended dozens of ballet performances with the top dancers in the world yet I never felt so mesmerized by a dancer. That moment made me reach the other beautiful realization. With all that California has to offer, that could be Athena on stage. I’m not saying that I will force her to be a ballerina or a dancer or a musician or a singer or anything else, but the opportunities are available to her. Equally fantastic opportunities are available in education and sports. The possibilities are endless.

I was swept away by Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes. It was a world premiere event and I didn’t need to travel half way around the world to attend. California put it all within reach.

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35 thoughts on “Celebrating One Year in Southern California

    • Definitely! We love Florida as well and I can see why you’re proud to call it home.

      I loved growing up in eastern Canada and I’m grateful that I had the experiences that I did. My grandparents, who lived there their entire life, are two of the greats people in the world and I admire them more than anyone. I see different opportunities here in California that weren’t available to me as a child and I’m glad to say that Athena will have those opportunities if she wants them. I suppose you can find the best parts of anywhere in the world. We have such beautiful choices.

      What’s your favorite thing about Florida?

      Les

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    • I was raised in Florida still reside in Florida and will NEVER leave Florida. If the Atlantic Ocean was your back yard would you ever leave? Not a chance. I have been to Nova Scotia Lesley and love it (I even have relatives living there)! Yes, any doors can open for Athena that is the American Dream

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  1. I’m so happy you’re enjoying my Orange County. 🙂 I grew up in Orange County and still love it but it’s so much harder to live there than when I was a kid. We’ve also lived in Florida and Las Vegas and couldn’t live in California again. We’ve gotten used to living in a nice, affordable home in less crowded areas, which works for us, especially as we age. Enjoy!

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  2. Lesley,
    You would love to come and see the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House with me, so weird to hear the sound of the wooden points on the stage and to squeeze into the tiny little stalls! But Covent Garden is fantastic 🙂

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      • Hi Lesley,
        Covent Garden is amazing in itself. I’m 48 and have lived near London all my life. It has soul this place. The Royal Opera House is beautiful and soooo English! Just sit yourself down on one of the side streets in summer at a little cafe and watch the world go by over a cuppa, one of the most fascinating things I have done in my life. People watching is so much fun. I’ll show you where if you ever come over. 🙂

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  3. Your blogs are always positive and I understand the reason for that! I enjoy them immensely, by the way. I am a long term So. Cal. resident since 1973. Originally from central Idaho, Salmon River country. I do get homesick, but not enough to leave. Southern California has an old ad campaign that claims you can surf, ride your dirt bike, go 4 wheeling, water and snow ski, all in the same day! I am not a surfer, but you can actually do all of the above. I hope you blog more about So. Cal.. I need to enjoy it through a fresh perspective. Try not to make it sound too much like a commercial.

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  4. I know you are so busy but I sent you a message a few months back. I am going to Kona in a few weeks and wanted your opinion on MUST SEE places. This is my first trip to Hawaii ever. Thank you so much,
    Maryam

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  5. I often wondered how you enjoyed your move. I remember reading the post when you moved way back and you talked about why you had done it. Good to know that things worked out well. California does have its perks and I’m sure Athena will love the adventurous lifestyle of her mom. I know you’ve inspired me…going skydiving in San Diego this year, you said you’d give me the name of the place. So know that your influence is definitely felt. And So glad to know that The Arts were able to bring everything in full circle for you.

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  6. It is nice to hear that you like California and see everything that it can offer. Although I’m so ashamed to say that I haven’t taken the time to know and explore the city where I live, not even the neighborhood and I have lived in the same place for a long time; but hopefully that will change this year.

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  7. With the weather in the East now, I’m sure SoCal is a relief for you all Leslie. Right now I would love to find a nice, warm beach somewhere and just camp there until spring melt. We just don’t have weather like this in Kentucky, so the world is all turned upside down. Happy anniversary on your move to warmer climates.

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  8. I escaped the hustle and bustle of California for our quiet five acres in the woods of Southern Oregon, Leslie. It would be hard to pull me out. 🙂 I am in Sacramento today for a book signing where I see more cars in ten minutes than I normally do in a week. –Curt

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  9. Dear Lesley, I love all of your blog posts. You are living proof that fortune favors the bold. You took a big gamble moving from Atlantic to Pacific, and you won big! The night at the ballet is the icing on the cake. : ) You are a great role model for young women wanting to make changes in their lifestyle, and maybe they are too afraid or cautious to take the first step. I love supporting people when they make exciting life changes! Can’t wait to see your upcoming adventures and travels!

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  10. Somehow I never saw Sleeping Beauty. I’ve seen all of the other classics at some point, and most I saw while living in Southern California. All of the great companies come through Orange County. Swan Lake is still my all-time fave.

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  11. Love the ballet and love the desert of the southwestern U.S. It’s a huge, amazing continent and that’s what allows so many of us to live in our own Paradise! I’ve lived in 14 states and there is just nothing that compares – in my heart – to the Pac NW. I have enjoyed seeing the ways you soak up SoCal, and I know if I lived there I would seek the same things. I didn’t know you are from Canada – welcome to the U.S. and happy anniversary. So glad to have you here. 🙂

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