I recently went on what I like to call a "restor-cation". I was feeling tired and burnt out. Pouring from an empty vessel and in need of an escape. Now don't get me wrong. I love my life. I love my husband, I love my kids, and I love my work. I have learned from a very early age that balance of self care and serving is something that need to be in a fair balance in order for me to feel good. Heck, I completely shifted a successful business for the sake of seeking my balance. Why? Because balance is everything and without it we are in danger of becoming slaves to our lives. Not very empowering, in my opinion.
For me, traveling alone to new places is such a soul fulfilling experience that has never failed to bring me balance and joy. From the time I could drive I remember having the wanderlust. I would get in my car and just drive and drive. I enjoyed getting lost on long drives only to discover new places and new people. I would take photos of these adventures and play in the darkroom (remember those?!) developing them for hours, reliving the experience all over again in my mind.
I would actually get in the car and at stop signs choose to go in the direction based off what was playing on the radio. For example, if it was a female singing, I'd turn left. A male singing, I'd go right. It became one of my favorite things to do after school and on the weekends. It's how I found peace from the stresses of my life. I'm sure I worried my poor parents to death but, I guess that's what they get bringing a free spirit into this world.
The exhilaration I would get from feasting my eyes with new scenery was one of the most satisfying experiences for me. This desire for exploration only continued as I got older and went to Europe two summers in a row. I had a base home at my Uncle's in Germany but traveled a ton throughout Europe. I got to visit France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Holland. It was magic. So much beauty and so rich in culture.
My recent trip was extra special because it had been so long since I had followed my wanderlust without my family being with me. I did have the youngest of our little Flowers with me because he is still exclusively nursing but he is the easiest traveler EVER. He doesn't talk yet and doesn't have strong preferences (other than sleeping and nursing) which made it a pleasure to have him aboard.
It all started when I was visiting with a friend one afternoon and I was saying how I was starting to feel burnt out. We were talking about self care and how vital it is to our health. She was telling me what she does for her self care and as I started to share what I do (which is many things), I realized that one of my biggest tools for rejuvenating myself (traveling) has gotten thrown to the side with having a bigger family now.
I started to make a plan. My husband was going to be off of work for several days in a row and my oldest son was going to the farm with my Mom. Everyone was set and taken care of and I made my exit! I put the seats down in the back of the van, threw a tempurpedic mattress pad in there, some food, clothing for me and the baby, and off we went! I wasn't quite sure where we were even going to be honest, but I was feeling pulled to New Engalnd coastal towns. I have never been there so we started out, making our way up North.
We went to Newport, RI. There I met a few lovely Mamas who owned a Bohemian Clothing Boutique and I sat with them one afternoon sipping on some homemade kombucha while Linden crawled around. I discovered a few Herbal Apothecaries which is one of my favorite things to find in new places! We went to the beach and the Cliff Walk (which was beautiful!) and I threw myself into the moment to soak up everything about the place, the experience, and the feeling that came with this freedom that I had been missing.
From there, I drove further North into Cape Cod. We van camped on beaches with the best bedroom views without the cost of luxury hotel prices. I journaled a ton, read, took photos, had quality time with Linden, walked on the beach, ate amazing seafood, ate smoothie bowls at breakfast on the beach (at the most amazing little spot on the Cape, called Bol of Love), and found another Herbal Apothecary (Great Cape Herbs). This one had lovely gardens to roam around with a huge variety of medicinal plants growing, and little benches and tables to sit and enjoy throughout. It was one of my favorite places during our trip.
This trip was exactly what I needed. When we are young we are encouraged to explore, ask big questions, use our imaginations as far as they can take us, reach for the stars, play, and love hard. Somewhere along the way it’s stops being encouraged. We are expected to always live in a world of logic and linear thinking, daily tasks and responsibilities. While these things have their place they don’t typically leave room for our inner child and self care. That time has to be mindfully carved out. I am guilty of forgetting this myself.
Caught up in the daily grind...I was talking with someone before I left for my restor-cation and shared how I was just going to take a week, get in my van and go where ever the wind blows me. She seemed baffled by that. She said, “Well, we aren’t young and free anymore!” I was so sad by this response because so many people think this way. We ARE free...and young is a state of mind. The happiest and healthiest elders I know embrace these aspects of themselves. Maybe that’s why they outlive their peers who don’t?
As long as we are making sure all of our responsibilities are being well cared for, I don’t see anything wrong withtaking the time to embrace u=your inner child and do self care. No matter what that may be for you. In fact I think it makes me better. For me. For my kids. For my husband. And anyone else whose lives I touch. Needless to say, the wind blew me to Cape Cod and it was a beautiful time. Re-inventing myself, reflecting, embracing the parts of me that get pushed aside daily to care for everyone else. I am happy. I am replenished. I am grateful for this time.
On the 6 hour drive home I thought a lot about the things I need to have balance in my life and the best ways to maintain it throughout the year besides my restor-cations. I'm far from perfect and am unable to do them all of the time but my goal is to do them and here's what they are:
Finding Balance in Our Daily Lives
Get your most important task done in the morning- We are allotted a certain amount of will power and it just so happens to dwindle as the day goes on. Therefore, whatever you consider to be your most important thing, make it your first priority. As soon as you finish your "Starting the Day" morning wake up routine (get PDF here) do your most important thing. As the day goes on and your energy gets pulled in various directions, you have at least gotten the important tasks completed and you will feel accomplished because you achieved your goal. This in turn will make you less stressed and able to be more present with the people around you. To read more on this philosophy, check out one of my favorite books that helped me TREMENDOUSLY... here.
Laugh more- This right here is our best medicine in feeling balanced. Laughter is such a vital aspect of being healthy! Research has shown time and time again that laughter reduces stress hormones, keeps us younger, boosts immunity, makes us happier, and improves overall attitude towards life. Sooo, if for some reason nothing in your life brings you laughter, watch a funny movie, listen to a comedian, or contact my husband. He's got a book of some Dad jokes that he thinks are hilarious ; ).
Family dinners at the table- Our lives can be crazy, busy, and scattered between work, kids, home, activities, and whatever else is on our plates. This is why the family table is such an important place to come back to every evening. Make dinners a special event every evening. Treat it as a sacred place where the ones we love most are there to share in a meal with us, share their days and thoughts with us, & listen to us share too. Conversations, laughter, and joy are so important in feeling connected to our family and what better way to acheive that than around the dinner table. I get that it can be tough when you work late and your kids are in sports and everyone is going in a different direction. It's not always possible to do this every night. If that's true for you, make it a priority once or twice a week at least. It can be a time everyone looks forward to being together.
Time for self care before bed- If you are anything like most people, you are exhausted by the end of the day. We are living in an age of fast moving, go go go, stimulation in every direction, and people needing things from us all day long. It's a lot and if we don't pay attention to how it's effecting us, we end up feeling burnt out. That's why it is important to take the time at the end of each day to care for ourselves. If you have young children you may have to wait till you put them to bed but no matter what take this time. Sometimes we can only give 10 minutes to this and other times we can give a whole hour. Read a book for fun, take a bath, give yourself a foot massage, drink a cup of herbal tea, write in your journal, meditate, do a craft you enjoy. The list goes on for the possibilities of what we can do to refuel and replenish ourselves. Maybe its just going right to bed and getting an extra hour of sleep!