Posts tagged ‘Vacation’

I feel like I haven’t had a vacation in years.  Actually, the last “vacation” I had was in 2008, and I didn’t even take a whole week, so I don’t know if that even counts (although I did do an entire scrapbook about our four days in Missouri, so I guess that makes it official).  Prior to that was Florida in 2003, but that’s another story.  Anyway, back in 2008, our whole family (and then some) went to Missouri for four days, and it was pleasant, but looking back it seems like we were “doing” every day, and I really didn’t take time to relax.  Since then, I have only taken a couple of days here and there and we have not taken any trips.  All of that is about to change.

As a rule, I don’t recommend “separate” vacations, but I am going to take a week off and leave my husband at home alone.  The teens will stay with their mother for the week, and I am taking the toddler with me.  I will be going “on vacation”, but by virtue of being home alone to do whatever he pleases for 7 whole days, so will my husband.  The trade-off is I will be travelling with my mother and my 97-year-old grandmother.  No sightseeing, no plans, just a week at the lake, relaxing, reading, swimming and eating ice cream.  I am really looking forward to the trip since I am sure we will be building some memories that will last the rest of my life, but it will be somewhat bittersweet.  After all, this will probably be the last vacation my grandmother ever takes.  The fact that I will be able to accompany her on this trip is truly a blessing.  I am planning on taking a ton of pictures so that, in years to come, the 3-year-old will be able to look back at the pictures and try to remember his great-grandmother.  And I do have some very specific plans regarding what I want to “do” on this trip.

I want to read and swim and teach my child about feeling the “stuff” between your toes when you swim in nature’s pool.  It may sound somewhat sadistic, but I want to see his reaction the first time the tiny little fish nibble at the ends of his toes while he is dangling his feet in the water from the dock.  I want to see how he behaves in a boat that he can see both the front and back of at the same time.  I want him to understand the greater cosmic meaning of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and truly wonder “where you are”.  I want to sit and just “be” with no expectations and no deadlines (Mother suggested bringing a clock with us, as there is not one at the cabin, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why).  I am so close in my mind to this vacation that I can smell the scent of the pine trees, feel the dappled sun on my face and hear the loons calling to one another in the twilight.  The countdown has begun.

I am home from my mini-vacation.  I didn’t think it was possible, but I now understand how some of these “Reality TV” shows do what they do.  I am talking about the ones where the celebrity/host shows up at the target’s home and gives them a week to change their life.  Whether it is how much stuff they have, their diet and exercise program, the spending/hoarding issues, or the horrible decorating, these professionals can create change in one week.  In my naiveté, I assumed that the unseen production crew and army of assistants did most of the heavy lifting in these situations, and the hapless family just stood by and watched their lives being completely rearranged to the extent that, when they are finally returned to their homes, they have no option but to accept the changes that have been wrought on their behalf.  I know now that the changes are not that drastic – it just takes the proper approach and presentation.

Specifically, I am talking about my own personal diet, and the eating habits of my family.  For too long, we have been in a rut of greasy burgers and fries and pizza and fat and calories.  While I know I may not be able to change my family overnight, or even in a week, I am slowly going to shift their consciousness toward eating a healthier diet.  I came to this place after spending only a few days away from home, but the important part was where I spent it.  I was in  a place where no less that three organic grocery stores were competing with no less than three traditional grocery stores for the healthy food dollar of the local consumer.  And all of this was in a town of only 55,000 people.  Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s were literally one block apart, and yet both stores were doing brisk business while I was there.  Fruits and vegetables were plentiful and tasty.  My diet for the weekend included almost no beef or pork, just a little chicken, and the rest was a composite of grains and produce, with some pasta for variety.  Lots of water (love the water!) and juice and tea.  When I had dessert, it seemed almost too much, rather than the satisfaction of the chocolate cravings I have been so familiar with in the past.  In short, spending just a few days in a “healthy-eating” environment changed how I think about my own eating habits.
Now that I am home, I am determined to keep up with these changes.  I have been paying more attention to what I am putting into my mouth and what I am serving my family.  The boys were resistant, but my husband willingly tried the rice-quinoa pilaf I served with dinner the other night.  Big salads are becoming common, whether they are fruit or vegetable.  Yogurt is a must.  And I am finding that the better I am eating, the less I am craving those desserts.  The other night, I had a slice of triple chocolate cheesecake after dinner, and just felt terrible afterward.  Talk about a sign of the times!  One co-worker told me she was giving me a week before I revert to my old habits.  My husband said two.  But I am going to prove them wrong.  And if I happen to loose a few pounds along the way, I will accept that as one of those happy fringe benefits.  Look out summer, here I come!

Find a place that makes you happy and go there.

Years ago, I bought a poster with this quote on it and hung it in my bedroom.  I thought the quote was pithy.  It had a picture of a quiet lane in a forest heading toward nowhere in particular.  As I got a little older, I began to feel that the quote was trite, overrated and cliché. I left the poster up because I liked the picture, but the quote no longer had any meaning for me.  I would look at it and think, “Yeah, whatever.”  I wasn’t old enough to appreciate what real happiness was or what it meant when you found it.  I certainly had never had the experience of “finding” a happy place, either within or without.  I was a stupid teenager and didn’t think about much other than the fun I would be having in the coming weekend.  When I left for college, I packed up my room.  I took the poster down, probably intending to hang it in my dorm room, but somewhere along the line, the poster disappeared.  I have looked for that poster since, and have found a few that have the same quote, but not THE poster.  But I also discovered I didn’t need to have the poster hanging on my wall to be happy.

This quote came to mind last night as I was driving home.  Not my house where I live with my family, but my “home”.  I am “on vacation” in North Carolina and I could feel it as I crossed the state line.  The tension began to drain from my body as came down through the mountains onto the piedmont.  My senses came alive as I drove through Winston-Salem and drank in the sweet, sticky aroma of the cut tobacco.  I was cruising along at 70 mph, crooning to Trace Adkins and felt that wave of joy wash over me.  I thought about the quote, and actually had tears come to my eyes.  Apparently, as I get older, I am becoming a sentimental old fool, but so be it.  Seeing the Carolina pines swaying in the morning breeze cements it.  I am here.

As I write this, I am sitting in my friend’s guest house, watching a deer graze outside the living room window.  He bends down, nibbles at the grass, looks up and sees me watching him.  I reach for my camera, and he freezes.  Our eyes lock, and I focus.  He stares straight at me, daring me to take his picture, and I do.  I get ready to take another and he breaks our gaze, looks around, looks back at me as if to say, “I don’t think so, you’ve had your chance for today,” and gracefully turns and lopes back into the wood.  In a little while, the rest of the world will be waking up and my activities for the day will begin, but for the next two minute and fifteen seconds, I am going to sit and listen to Dean Martin singing “Carolina In The Morning”.  Welcome Home.