Aren’t vacations grand? The chance to skip away from it all, spend time with friends or family, enjoy nicer weather, do things you’d not normally get the chance to do? Our family just returned from the Bahamas. A hallmark spring break vacation that included my son in college whose spring break dates matched my daughter’s high school schedule. With the likelihood that she’ll be on a senior trip next spring break then off to a college of her own the following, and my son’s school schedule changing from quarters to semesters, it felt like the “last” spring break we’d have together. In truth, I don’t know that it actually matters whether we travel as a family in March, the summer or over Christmas – but this year seemed like a marking of an era coming to an end. “Spring break” no longer holding the definition of sweet anticipation with the cessation of school routines during the dreariness of winter.
So off we went , the four of us, suntan lotion and new beach attire in tow, to an all-inclusive hotel just to the side of Atlantis on Paradise Island. Days wide open for sun, relaxation and togetherness. The first day found me soaking up all that warmth, the sun hot on my eyelids as my toes dug deep into the sand. Then as I settled in without my usual tools of defenses, I noted my over analyzing of my shape beachside while amidst food buffets and messy overworked bar stands. Pushing myself to work out either first thing in the morning or after a long day in the sun to balance out the extra food/drink. Not skipping a beat of family togetherness despite a sore throat, fever, and cough. Adding in extra activities of scuba, Atlantis waterpark, parasailing, and gambling away $80! Indeed, every night a silent urging that you can’t possibly stay IN when food, drink and entertainment are free. For heaven’s sake, that voice seemed to yell, you’re in the BAHAMAS! Go to bed EARLY? And the constant neverending spyglass I have to my insides, consciously aware of how attune I am to everyone’s feelings, molding myself into the various roles in our family. This delightful whirlwind of emotional and physical activity ending with being stuck in Cleveland after missing our connection from a delayed earlier flight. The airline, so booked up with other excited spring breakers, unable to get us home until well into the following work/school week. Renting a car at 6pm to travel 9 hours home to St. Louis – waving hello to Eric’s school in Columbus as we passed, knowing he’d only be traveling back there on his own just 24 hours later.
It’s no doubt that we often need a vacation from our vacation. I wake this morning, Monday, the beacon of “back to the grind” with the rest of the world, feeling achey, tired, and my cold and fever returning with a vengeance. I find that this so typical for me – vacation, weekends, birthdays, holidays – they are the time to let go, go nuts, have fun, throw caution to the wind, get out of your daily boring routines to live it up!! Then finding myself having to pay for that attitude upon the return to my normal life. Whether it’s that excess that I allow over the weekend, or the overstimulation and break from my spiritual routine on vacation, it leaves me feeling depleted and “hung over” at its completion. Coming back to my “daily grind”, my daily routine and discipline of my spiritual practices – though I begrudge the discipline it takes for me to follow it through – I find my soul finds its home here. It aches for that consistency , boredom/lack of excess, solitude. It is here that I find my peace through the ability to listen in to my heart. To my center. To the Source itself that tells me that the vacation is within – not in overstimulation of family vacations. Though balance and family are important, excess and stimulation is not where healing occurs. It’s within this quiet – and yes, that dreaded discipline of routine.
How affirming of that notion to arrive home and be rewarded with the blessing of spring’s colors blooming in my backyard’s canvas. Nature’s paintbrush going wild seemingly overnight to bring in purple redbuds, white cherry blossoms and dogwoods peppering that green understory. This life – in all its simplicity – is a gift. I breathe it in for all it’s healing….and pull the covers over my head as I return to bed to take a nap!