On the first trip we made after the year in isolation, we went to the beach. Fortunately for us it was just a little under two hours away but it might as well have been to a tropical destination at a five star resort for all our excitement. It was however just a two day short trip in a basic hotel that had a deal on an ocean view room. We planned it for a Wednesday night through Friday even to avoid the weekend chaos. It felt like we were new explorers going into unchartered territory.
We had made a couple day trips to the beach in the year. Our state has some wonderful state parks and some happen to be at the beach. It was necessary and a treat to get a day away from the house. Away from the stress and just out of the house! We always felt good afterwards and it made the isolation a little less straining. We had a good day and made it work.
Now though after more than a year of no travel, we were venturing out for a 2 night stay at a nearby hotel. Our son was so excited he packed himself 3 days before we even left. When I asked him what he packed he said 2 of everything! I was impressed with his thoroughness of remembering even a light jacket in case it got chilly at night. We had bought new sand buckets and shovels the weekend prior at the dollar store too. Even though he’s older now, we wanted to play, relax and just be with the sand and water.
Prior to the isolation year, yes this is what I call all of 2020, we had made a few trips regularly. We tried to take a regular family vacation each year and some smaller long weekend trips scattered throughout the year. It wasn’t always easy getting away but it was something we enjoyed doing whenever we had the chance. We are not a big budget vacation family so our vacations were more like going somewhere in nature, destinations filled with enrichment and memories made outside. We haven’t ever taken our son to Disney because well it isn’t something we can afford and when we ask him where he wants to go on vacation he says things like Hawaii, Alaska, Texas and more.
So on this first trip out of the house we each packed a small bag. We also packed up the dog and brought her. It was a full family outing! We had no plans and the only reservation was the modest hotel. I never expected how overwhelmingly happy this would make us feel. I honestly felt light headed at the experience because it was such a taboo thing to travel anymore. It felt like travel had become this far fetched thing where you needed a vaccine passport, anal probe and blood of a fresh sacrifice blessed by a shama on top of the expensive tickets and crammed seating. That wasn’t for me. I don’t know when I will ever be on another plane as a result.
I realized there is so much normalcy in the simple trips. It was now a luxury to take a short couple day trip to our local beaches. It was simple joy though that came through all of us in appreciation. We had been so fortunate during the year of isolation that I had been able to continue working and none of us had gotten sick. There was food on our table and toilet paper in our closet. We were alright and these things were blessings. Now though we also felt the blessing of a regular short trip still in our home state. It had been so long and so foreign that we felt like explorers coming to a new land.
It has been a few weeks since we took this trip and I have been thinking of it non-stop. It wasn’t our fanciest or most expensive trip but it was one of the more pleasant and meaningful. It restored our hope normal could happen again. It reminded me of what it means to enjoy the simple means of making memories with my family. There was a soothing of our souls by being with nature as close as we could be for a couple days that felt like a hug from a friend we had not seen in a long time.
At one point I was sitting in my chair watching my son and dog play thinking how wonderful it is to be here. Not working, not stressing out about the latest concern at work but being here. Enjoying the moment and being a part of something that means something in life. We so often let life take over every aspect of our life that we forget what it feels like to just be. At the time my job was not going well, it was a slow month in Dragonspit Apothecary and I was feeling stressed out. In fact I had told my husband over the prior weekend I felt like a truck had hit me with how much stress I felt moving around in my body. Here now though I could breathe, deeply and intently without the panic of holding it in.
That’s the thing about the wealth we find in normal life. It is always there either beating us down or releasing us from the strain. Too often we get caught in the waves constantly crashing down on us and we can’t seem to get our footing. It takes a simple trip or step away from it to remind us how to reclaim our own being. For many of us the stress of the year in isolation meant job losses, unpaid bills, lack of food and more. Those stressors are real and they twist us up in all kinds of worry, pain and frustration. It is difficult to see past those problems at something that makes us feel good even for a moment.
I am totally guilty of letting life get to me. My job particularly is the area where it hits me the hardest because well it is super important to our family’s livelihood. Yet I know logically jobs are the least dependable aspect of my life and they have proven time and again to be something I shouldn’t rely on. That was why I started my own business as an eventual safeguard but it is still necessary for me to work at a job for now. Many of us are in this same situation and we don’t know how else to lessen that dependency. We let the stress of our jobs consume us and it is hard to reset when we are not at work. That is where the wealth of a simple trip comes in.
It was something I always knew but for some reason it just never seems easy to do in the moment. The best advice I can give anyone is to literally step away from it. Take a walk, visit a park, go outside. Remove yourself physically from the environment even for just a little bit and go until you can breathe again. When I felt that breath finally from a few hours playing on the beach on this very simple and modest family get-away I knew just how much the stress had been building up and eating me for the last year. It felt like I needed to stay at that beach for at least 6 months to recover too.
The year of isolation took so much from us, including most peoples reasonableness; in how to respond to a virus. As a result our bodies, minds and spirits are deflated, burned out and filled with numbness from stress and anxiety. It is time for a healing. Rather than some exotic pre-planned everything that costs a lot, my recommendation is to return to simplicity and leave the world behind a moment. Capture the moment of smiling and realizing you are still you and there is a reclaiming of that person possible from under this bundle of nerves. Ease back into living in the real world with simple things that feed our soul and give us back our desire to live well naturally.
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