The summer after my freshman year in college, I took a road trip – alone – from North Dakota to Rhode Island. It was a perfect vacation. I chose when to eat, what to eat, when to stop, and where to stop.
It was a perfect vacation.
Planning the perfect vacation has become a challenge now that I am a wife and a mother. The planning requires more than choosing a destination. Instead, certain considerations such as educational and fun value as well as distance and cost now have to play into where and when this perfect vacation takes place. And then there are the other people who go on vacation with me – my family, whom I love dearly.
A vacation without an agenda and without others can be a perfect vacation.
Although the first half of my recent vacation on the east coast was filled with family, food, and fun, the second half of it was intentionally a solitary time. I have a hard time balancing everything in my life sometimes, and full hard-stop where I do little but eat, sleep, walk, and think is necessary from time to time. This can be aided with beautiful views, lovely accommodations, and the lack of anyone else I know in a few mile radius. Add in the lack of transportation (intentional) or agenda, and perfection in this type of vacation can be achieved.
I believe that everyone should take the opportunity to have this kind of vacation at least once in their lifetime and more often than that for some…like me…
There are several elements of this trip that were particularly helpful for me to relax and regain some focus about who I am and what I am to do upon my return.
- I was gifted with a place to stay that had only what I needed and nothing that I could have wanted (television, internet access, etc.).
- I had no transportation, and everything (like a restaurant) was at least one mile away. This required me to consider the leaving of the condo in terms of how much I wanted whatever it was and if I was willing to do the walking.
- I thought I had a plan while I was here, but I abandoned that the minute I walked in the door and instead chose to rest.
- I brought my own food, and – though it was the same meal several times – it was something that I liked quite a bit.
- I allowed myself to eat out for one meal and have exactly what I wanted (lobster!).
- I made myself eat at least three servings of fruit and vegetable per day.
- I sat and breathed in the sea air a lot.
Most importantly for me, this trip allowed me to spend endless hours by the sea.
For some reason, my soul is revived with the sounds, smells, and sights of the northern Atlantic Ocean. I cannot explain it, and I think that is the hardest thing for me. I want to be able to articulate this. Perhaps if I could figure out what the sea does for me, then I could replicate it wherever I am and in any circumstance. Instead, when I am away from the sea, I long for the hours that I was blessed to have as I sat on the rocks and watched, smelled, and listened on this vacation.
While I love vacationing with my family – from playing miniature golf to seeing amazing sights such as Niagra Fallls – there are times that I need time to myself. I doubt that I am alone in this. In fact, I spoke with my daughter while away, and she was doing an afternoon of time to herself. Many of us need this, and we feel selfish when we do it. But if this is a need, then we must set aside time for it and make it happen. We will return to our daily lives as much healthier beings.
When we take a bit of time to care for ourselves, we are freed to care for others.
For me, this included some hard conversations with God. There are things right now that I do not understand, and I needed to talk to Him about this. I did not receive any clear answers, but I know that He heard me. I think that is all that I needed. And I needed to have time to say it over and over again without the interruptions that typically find me in daily life. I know He heard. I know He knows. I know He cares.
Like the consistency of the tides, so is God’s love for me. Like the beauty of the sea on a sunny day, so is God’s love for me. Like the comfort of an ocean breeze, so is God’s love for me. Like the protection of the rocks to the coast, so is God’s love for me.
Those thought permeated my perfect vacation from which I hope to return ready to move forward with all that awaits my return.