Travel Back in Time
I had no idea when I ventured out on my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure, that I would be traveling back in time. This trip is a real time warp when it comes to revisiting the 60’s and 70’s. I anticipated the beautiful scenery, the windy mountainous road, and the desert coastal vegetation, but the retro feel of the canyon was a darling surprise.
Flowers in your hair are optional, but as my car meandered towards the ocean, I felt convinced I would land at the doorstep of The Monkee’s beach house. My research actually revealed that The Monkees did live in the canyon during its heyday. I knew it! I still like to wear flowers in my hair.
Entering Topanga Canyon
Topanga Cayon is located in western Los Angels County, in the Santa Monica Mountains. Families can enter the canyon from Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Malibu or off the Ventura Freeway (101), exiting Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. There are no gas stations in the canyon and local food is a delicious option since there are no fast food joints to be found. This all evokes feelings of a time gone by.
No matter from what direction you enter Topanga Canyon, however, the road is windy. So, for those of you who have little ones, and maybe even for some of the older “kids” along for the ride, consider taking the curves a bit slower. You want to be prepared for….well, you know. I want your Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure to be connecting and comfortable.
History of Topanga Canyon
Topanga Canyon was named for the original peoples who inhabited the area, the Tongva tribe (a place above). Topanga Canyon began to lure, up and coming artists to its steep, shady slopes, providing much-appreciated privacy. Since the canyon is so close to the heart of the music industry, many musicians made Topanga Canyon their home. The Topanga Corral nightclub was the hottest spot in town for years but sadly did not survive two canyon fires.
As you wander through the various hang-outs in Topanga Canyon, it is easy to imagine you are sharing the same watering holes where stars of yesterday gathered. Who knows, you may even run into ghosts from residents past like Jim Morrison, Bob Denver or Woodie Guthrie. More recently, the canyon has been home to performers including Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Mick Fleetwood and Marvin Gaye. Rumor has it that Linda Ronstadt has been spotted hiking through the canyon. I’m not so sure about the barefoot with her guitar part.
There is a more insidious side to canyon lore. For further details regarding the famous and infamous history of Topanga Canyon, feel free to visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topanga,_California.
Topanga Canyon Culture
The essence of the canyon has a Bohemian feel to it. Free spirits will feel quite at home here. The culture in Topanga Canyon evolved from a rich history of various Hollywood stars and artists settling in the area. In the 20’s era, Topanga Canyon was also a watering hole for actors from the silent movie scene. I get the sense that anyone who was anyone in the industry, ventured down into Topanga Canyon to experience a “happening.”
It was advantageous that I coincidentally took my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure on the same weekend as the annual Reggae on the Mountain Music Festival. The festival Goers gave Topanga Canyon even more of a cool, hippy feeling. I heard the music was fabulous and the festival might be something to check out in the future. Numerous other festivals are celebrated in Topanga Canyon, including the Topanga Days Country Fair, the Topanga Earth Day Festival, and the Topanga Film Festival.
Connected Famly Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon-What to do?
Topanga Canyon Boutiques
I wish that I had more time to spend in Topanga Canyon. There is much more to do there than meets the eye. Of course, there is loads of shopping. It is fun to stop along your path at various shops and boutiques. I had the most fun at Topanga Pine Tree Circle Village. I spent most of my time in the Hidden Treasure Vintage Shop. My pictures speak more than words about the good kind of shenanigans entered into here. This is a must see!
There are so many more fun things for families to do in Topanga Canyon. Here is a list of 13 more activities to help plan your adventure: http://www.welikela.com/fun-things-to-do-topanga-canyon/.
Topanga State Park
Topanga State Park sounds marvelous. I am sorry that I did not have time to visit this park on my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure. This is a must-see for next time. Topanga State Park offers beautiful hiking trails including wondrous views of the Pacific Ocean, boulder-lined paths, cliff gardens, beautiful waterfalls, sandstone formations, marine fossils, volcanic intrusions, earthquake faults and California’s beautiful live oak and sycamore trees.
Visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=629, to gather more detailed information about planning your visit to Topanga State Park.
Listening to Your Children:
As parents, we often believe that we know what is best for our children. Surprisingly, this may not always be the case. As human beings, we all have our own lens through which we see the world, including assumptions we make about our kids. One of the best ways to connect with children is to listen to them with new-found ears; ears that don’t jump to conclusions.
On this Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure, you can create opportunities to move your listening skills from good to amazing. Take some time as you travel through the canyon in the car or as you walk through the vintage shopping areas to ask your kids questions. What do they think about everything they are seeing on this voyage back in time? When they answer, really listen with the goal of getting to know more about how your kids think. Greater understanding brings families closer together.
Dr. Laura Markman, the author of “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids,” gives some great ideas about how to use your listening skills to focus on strengthening family bonds.
- After asking open-ended questions, stay silent. Let your child talk as you give nudges for them to continue like, “hmmm” or “what happened next?”
- Look into your child’s eyes (if you are not driving). Kneel down to eye-level if necessary. When kids really feel seen, they are more likely to attach.
- Notice the little openings in starting a conversation. They are there more often than you think.
- Be fully present. This is not the time to educate or to share your own wealth of knowledge, which can actually make kids feel less confident and disconnected.
- Consciously acknowledge and reflect your child’s feelings. This is also known as active listening. Encourage them by saying, “It seems like you are feeling…..”
- Don’t jump in with solutions and advice. This is a time to absorb the essence of who your child is at this moment in time. Enjoy them.
- Keep the conversation safe. If your child starts to get agitated about something, back up and reconnect.
- Manage your own emotions. Should your child tell share something that upsets you, keep calm. They need to know you can handle it. This will make you more of an askable parent when trouble hits in the future.
When you really listen without judgment, trust and security are strengthened between you and your child. This stronger bond creates a fertile parent-child connection that models a healthy emotional life and builds emotional intelligence.
Don’t let your “Trust Bank” Run Empty:
As you focus on listening with new ears, you will get the benefit of adding currency to your “Trust Bank.” Karen Purvis and David Cross, authors of “The Connected Child” developed the idea of a Trust Bank. They are founders of the parenting model I use when working with children from hard places and in my Post-Adoption Family Therapy.
A Trust Bank is helpful if you have children who have been harmed or if your child rides on anxiety. When you reach out and connect with your child, unconditionally, you are depositing trust into the bank. To practice unconditional positive regard on your Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure, I suggest venturing into Hidden Treasures Vintage Shop. This is one of the most fun costume shops in LA. Hidden Treasures is definitely a “happening.” From the pirate ship entrance to the platform shoes, there is something inside to tickle everyone’s fancy.
As you produce your own “red carpet” event, laughing with each costume change, let your child know how much fun you are having. Make eye-contact, put your arm around your child, give a hug. Make comments like, “I’m having a blast with you. You make our family outings so much fun.” This is called unconditional nurturing praise and it is essential for a child’s sense of safety, value, and well-being. As Karen Purvis reminds us, genuine praise and affection just for “being” adds credit to the Trust Bank you have with your child. The goal is for every child to truly know their own preciousness. When a child feels valued, they feel more connected.
Helping families feel connected is at the core of my Family Therapy practice. Therefore, should you feel like your family might benefit from family therapy to increase your family connections and decrease family conflicts, then please contact me.
You can learn more about Me, my Family Therapy Practice, my Credentials, Services, and Rates on my website. I have a sub-specialty in Post-Adoption Family Therapy and offer an option for In-Home Family Therapy. Click here, to contact me via email, or feel free to give me a call at (626) 755-4059. I offer a FREE 20-minute, Initial Phone Consultation. Let’s connect!