Let's talk about something else for a change... vacation. I hadn't been on one in God knows how long; my only trips in the last seven years were obligatory -- either to visit family or for business. This was the first time my husband and I took a trip just for us, just with us, and to do just what we wanted to do. Holy crap, I can't tell you how much we needed this. I knew I needed it prior to the trip, but I didn't know how desperately I did until I was there. We went to California for our honeymoon from which we recently returned, hence my absence from my blog. This trip was not only fun, but medicinal, therapeutic, and healing as well.
Hopping on a plane and staying in new places whisked me away from my daily, typical environment. It forced me to break free from the prison of familiarity that I hadn't even realized I had built for myself. I had so easily ventured into and clung to my well-known comforts unknowingly, believing they were my happiness. Well, being away from these comforts made me realize my life had become stagnant, and I was merely existing. Being away allowed me to rediscover my adventurer spirit, the curious explorer within, my fun lover-of-life side.
We went to sunny California to escape the dark, cold of winter here in Chicago temporarily. My mental and emotional health benefits greatly from warmth, sunshine, and the ocean. Palm trees and greenery resided in every space possible, which meant life was pulsating everywhere. Everything felt so alive, and it was as though our environment made us breathe more deeply, more clearly, more fully.
Walking the beaches in southern California, watching the waves crash the coastline, witnessing the water frothing and dancing on the sand was one of the most deliciously calming things I've ever experienced. I say delicious because I felt like I was drinking it in, and it satisfied me beyond the ability of any food. It satiated my soul.
This trip made me feel joy again. I hadn't felt a sense of joy in a long time, and feeling it again was like being reintroduced to a person I forgot I ever met. Most of my emotions on this trip ranged from deep contentment to intense exuberance. My husband and I drove up the coast to Northern California, and the views were spectacular. We saw the most picturesque sights we've ever seen thanks to the ocean's show of strength and intangible beauty on one side of the road and the rolling mountains and hillsides on the other. The way the sunlight hit the water and the cliffs, the way it colored the clouds -- well, it looked like a painting. It just didn't seem real. One of my favorite moments of the entire trip was when my husband turned to me, smiled, and said, "I feel so alive." Every time I think about that, my soul smiles.
However, the idea of coming back to reality sucked for me deeply, so much so that I cried on our last night of the trip. I didn't want to leave the sunshine, the warmth, or the ocean, but I also didn't want to part from getting to be with my husband 24/7. I feared the calm I gained on the trip would disappear once I came home. I lamented the notion that all the joy I had learned would easily fade away.
My husband told me the lyrics to a Zac Brown Band song called Toes to help me cope with returning from paradise. In the first paragraph below, Zac sings of his joy while being on a trip. In the second paragraph, he sings of his experience being home.
ZAC WHILE ON VACATION:
"I got my toes in the water,
ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today. Life is good today..."
THEN UPON HIS RETURN HOME:
"With my ass in a lawn chair
And toes in the clay
Not a worry in the world, a PBR on the way
Life is good today. Life is good today"
-- Zac Brown Band
These words reflect the idea that though the experiences we have while on vacation and at home are different, we can still make them all great. I realized that the best souvenir I brought home was my husband. My goal now is to make it feel like our honeymoon all the time, to enjoy every minute together, make dinner while listening to music, drink wine, make the normally mundane fun, and spend as much time with him as possible.
These lyrics discuss how Zac Brown took the calm he learned while being away from reality and brought it to his real life. He turned his reality into an at-home vacation in a sense, refusing to lose the contentment he felt while away. He still chooses to enjoy, live in the present moment, and be calm and happy. That's what I want to do and need to do. I want to relive the calm and joy I felt on vacation, and use that as fuel for my daily life. Vacations remind us what life should feel like, what it should be about. I don't want to forget it.
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To see some of my California restaurant reviews, see my YouTube channel above. I'm drunk in most of them. Cheers!