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  • Writer's pictureAnd She Writes

Samantha's Monday Musings: A Trip We Needed

A change in scenery feeds my soul. I often appreciate its inspiration and motivation once I return home and spend time in reflection. This last month I’ve been contemplating our family's trip earlier this summer; one that provided much needed re-centering and relaxation.

In early June, my family returned home after a two- week visit with my parents at their home in Southwest Florida. It was a trip we never knew we all needed. As the country shut down in March due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, our family was preparing to visit my parents. Like most spring break travelers, we had to cancel our plans. Days later, my work office moved to our dining room and my children began distance learning from home.

My daughters and I spent more than 10 weeks in our house--leaving only to participate in outdoor activities like walking, bike riding and sidewalk chalking. All while my husband’s job became increasingly demanding. He went to the office everyday--working longer hours and extended work weeks.

During this three-month window, I worked full-time from home, oversaw my children’s distance learning and spent long stretches of time parenting alone. My husband and I were, and still are, fortunate to both have jobs. But like so many other families around the world, I felt like I was doing it all at once--working professional, teacher, IT support, cook, housekeeper and a referee when the bickering and fighting broke out. It was exhausting.

My work phone still rang throughout the day and I continued to have meetings (now on Zoom). My children had their own schedules, which included Zoom and Google Hangout classes, homework, endless bouts of printing, scanning/photographing assignments, virtual dance classes and music lessons, and much more. Our home was busy and we rarely left it. My husband did what he could--he oversaw grocery ordering and delivery, which was a part-time job in those months as it was hard to find items like meat, flour, cleaning products (and who can forget toilet paper?)! He also helped with schoolwork in the evenings.

By the time May rolled around, I could sense that we all needed something different. We hadn’t personally interacted with anyone other than neighbors since March. As regions of the country started to open up, I felt like we should take the opportunity to unwind away from home. Plus, we desperately wanted to see my parents. Our FaceTime calls with them were uplifting but also left us feeling a bit melancholy.

Confident that we needed time away after finishing the school year, my husband and I scheduled a visit to Florida for my daughters and me. Admittedly, I was anxious to visit airports and ride in airplanes that could be germ-infested. Although the news reported that the airports were slow and flights were nearly empty, I didn’t sleep the two nights before we left. I worried we would contract COVID-19 in our travels and bring it to my parents who are part of a vulnerable population.

Upon arriving at the airport, I was pleased to see for myself that the airport and airlines did a thorough job of cleaning and took appropriate precautions for social distancing. I finally relaxed when I boarded the plane. What a blessing it was to give myself permission to enjoy the next two weeks and to quit fretting about the possibility of Coronavirus exposure. Although air travel has increased since our trip, at the time I felt we were just as likely to contract it at a the grocery store as during our travels.

Florida was healing. The warm sunshine and occasional rain showers filled our hearts with joy and hope. The beautiful palm trees, bright tropical flowers and lush landscape had a way of easing all worries. I worked remotely a few days of our trip, but it didn’t stop any of us from enjoying my parents’ swimming pool, fishing in a neighborhood pond and enjoying golf cart rides in the evening. We ventured to the beach in the evening and in the middle of the week when there wasn’t much of a crowd. The warm Gulf waters were mesmerizing and soothing. As I sat on the beach one day, I felt my shoulders finally relax after what felt like months of tension. And as it turned out, my husband’s work schedule loosened some and he was able to join us for the second half of our visit.

Fishing in the pond.

The humidity couldn’t dampen our moods as we spent most of our days outside. We loved laughing, reminiscing, singing and dancing. We painted canvases and tie-dyed shirts to serve as our souvenirs. Our inside activities consisted of preparing delicious meals and baking treats.

After feeling depleted and defeated from living in crisis-control mode for months, I felt re-centered during my time away and since my return. I savored those days with my parents -- spending quality time with so many I love while thinking ahead to the future with hope. Although the immediate future is full of uncertainty, particularly what the upcoming school year will look like for our children, I'm thankful I had this opportunity to restore positive energy into my life. This summer I've been trying to focus on the small things I can control like our outdoor adventures around town, family movie nights, new books to read (for fun and for summer school assignments), visits to the swimming pool and trying new recipes. I'm reflecting on the past and vowing to do things differently in the future. Moreover, this trip provided clarity as I formulated my thoughts and plan for Fay and my new creative adventure-- And She Writes!

The Gulf of Mexico.

My heart is full and my soul is fed. I can’t adequately express how grateful I felt watching my daughters and parents spend countless hours together after months of isolation. The slowing down of life, as inconvenient as it has been, has quenched my deep thirst for more time to live in the present, plan for a future and learn from the past.

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