Just One Toe In the Water

It’s easy to pack your suitcase for the family vacation, family reunion, family graduation out of town and all of the work travel that’s required. Where most of us as women fall short is packing a suitcase and going someplace just for ourselves. We have plenty of “I don’t have time” reasons, and of course no money reasons. I also don’t want to forget the “who will do ALL the stuff while I’m gone” reason. I’m not saying all of these are not valid reasons not to take a self-full vacation by yourself. My list is filled with the same, if not longer. But while we know taking care of ourselves should be our number one priority, we still can’t seem to do it in the way that we know will truly fill our cups. We will take ourselves to lunch, give ourselves a spa day and even bring a few girlfriends along, but we just can’t mentally fathom a true only you vacation. There is a fear there. A fear not only that your world will fall apart if you step away from it but also a fear of possibly finding out just how much you needed it. A fear that you will see the places in your life where you are not honoring who you are. Those places where you knew you needed to stop and take care of you, but you kept going. Maybe the fear is that every “thing” and every one will be just fine without you. The house will be clean, the groceries will be bought, the bed linens will be changed, the meals will be cooked, the projects will be completed, and the deadlines will be met. The world, as we know it, will continue to evolve.

Well, I used to be like that, but not anymore. About six years ago, my new husband (at the time) saw me running all over the place. He saw me saying yes to our youngest daughter, yes to church functions, raising my hand and taking on more and more at work. What he didn’t see was me doing anything for me. We had moved to Colorado about 2 years earlier, so he prodded me to visit back home. Nope, too much to do. He asked me to connect with a girlfriend and meet someplace out of town. Impossible, things would fall behind and apart here our daughter needs me.

Finally, he couldn’t watch this train running wild anymore. He booked me a weekend stay at a hotel on the other side of town. He took me out there and literally dropped me and my bag off. I walked in, settled into my room and just sat there. After an hour, I realized I was hungry but couldn’t even decide what I, just me and no one else, wanted to eat. It was at that moment I started crying because I realized just how unconnected I had become from myself. I didn’t realize just how much of my plate I had filled with everyone and everything except with myself.

Here is the thing, I believed that I was taking care of myself. I went on walks for hours. I took myself to lunch, the movies and even happy hour. I gave myself hours of doing nothing but sitting in the park. I laughed at funny at my favorite television shows and empathized with sad episodes before I changed the channel. According to all the articles and books I read I was taking care of me. The part that I didn’t realize until sitting in that hotel room, you know I had my planner with me, was that I was taking care of me within pockets of the schedule. If my husband had a late meeting, then I took myself to lunch. If my daughter had track practice or a track meet, I had five hours to do something while I waited. I finished early with all my errands, I would go to the park until the next time slot event started. So sure, I was taking care of myself but only when time allowed. It’s definitely hard to see the trees when you are in the middle of the forest.

I share my story to challenge you to take the baby step that I did (well I was pushed into it) but to take a vacation just for yourself. Finding a hotel outside of your normal path of errands and spending the weekend by yourself. It will diminish the fear that you can’t. It will help you to cleanse from your routine this idea that you can only fit into the small white spaces of your planner. It will ignite in you the space to do a vacation with yourself at least once a year.  A time you are giving yourself love and care with no time restrictions.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash