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Episode #15: All the Social Media Hype to Be on Vacation/Away from Home

We’re half-way through Summer 2021 and I chose this topic for today’s Audacious Freedom, the podcast episode because it’s that time of year when social media is on fire with vacation posts. Even last year – the first summer of the pandemic – people were posting beach and poolside pictures. People I know well were posting, people I DON’T know very well were posting as were the famous people I follow on social media. NORMALLY, my daughter and I would do a beach trip or two each summer with different friends and last summer was a little different because we only did ONE short beach trip – just a couple of nights – at the very KIND invitation of a sweet friend. We had to wear masks in the common areas of the condo resort in Delaware and at restaurants until we sat down at our tables. It was the first summer when my daughter put her foot down and said there was NO WAY she wanted to go ON the beach – she HATED the sand. She agreed to the pool and I watched her swim with my friend’s youngest kids and my friend and I chatted a bit. I felt out of sorts because here we were at one of my favorite places any time of year – at a BEACH! – and it was awkward for me as a mom and for me as a friend, to have accepted this sweet and very generous invitation and to have been given a bedroom to ourselves, having displaced two of my friend’s children to less-desirable sleeping arrangements, which might have been on the living room sofa bed – and my daughter didn’t want to be on the beach and, while she WAS in the pool, even the pool seemed to be losing its appeal to her. Maybe it’s because my daughter was 10, almost 11, and her body was changing. Maybe it’s because she’s very sensitive to the heat – she has ALWAYS been – and she’d rather be inside the comfort of air conditioning. OFFICIALLY, the pediatrician describes her sensitivity to the heat as HEAT EXHAUSTION and it can happen after only a couple hours of EXPOSURE to the heat.

She can AT BEST feel nauseous for the next 12 plus hours OR she can at WORST throw up. Maybe just FEELING nauseous without the relief of throwing up is actually worse for her than throwing up itself. At least after throwing up – which is almost always in the middle of the night – my daughter feels better and she rests the next day to fully recover. It sounds very dramatic and over-the-top, I know, especially for someone like me who loves the beach. I don’t LOVE extreme heat and humidity when there is no relief FROM it in the ocean or in a pool, but the beach is the best place for me during the summer. Maybe last summer really having to face that my kid is not a beach person bummed me out. Bummed me out that my friend so generously invited us along on her family’s vacation and my kid wasn’t fully appreciating or thriving in the environment that brings my friend, her kids and me such joy. I love early morning walks on the beach by myself – I always have. Walking along the ocean at dawn makes me feel so small in the universe and yet connected to the earth at the same time. I do some of my best thinking and almost kind of meditations on those walks. Whatever I might wish could be better in my life seems to go away because I am but a drop in the universe’s existence. I’m just one little person here in the world for such a relatively short period of time. I’m bummed that my kid is not a beach person and that she is not a morning person to share any of those morning walks with me, even though I love that time alone. I’m bummed that the days are over of posting photos of my kid playing in the sand or in the ocean with her friends and that because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to go to NYC to visit our friends and my daughter’s father as we typically would. NYC was a ghost town last summer – nothing was open and it didn’t feel safe. We DID go for one other get away last summer – I offered to take my daughter and her best friend to Philadelphia for a couple of nights. The girls were excited and mapped out a few sights they would like to see and I was happy to be able to walk around a city and to try new restaurants. Did I REALLY want to do that for my daughter, her friend and me – or was that just to “KEEP UP” with people on social media? Honestly, we could have done the same damn thing without even getting in the car, save being able to walk to the Liberty Bell, which was a hot, long walk for the girls and I was surprised to see the bell is now INSIDE A BUILDING and it looked especially small as we could only briefly admire it from OUTSIDE, through a window. We could have instead stayed in our little suburban community less than 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., where we are just steps away from wonderful restaurants – seafood, Spanish, pubs, American, Bistro, TexMex, winery – you name it! – and a staycation – which I indulge in every week and weekend anyway – right here in our backyard all year round. I think I was trying to give my daughter – and myself – something to say when people would ask, “Where did you go this summer, what did you do?” The simple truth was, we had a couple nights at the beach with friends – THE BEST parts of which for me were the walks on the beach, and in the evenings when I could treat everyone to a lovely dinner out, and when we would take the kids after for ice cream and souvenir shopping on the boardwalk; then we had a couple of nights in Philadelphia and the best parts for me THERE were when the girls were happy back in the hotel room with take-out lunch or dinner and dessert, and I was sitting outside by myself at a local restaurant, sipping on wine and eating a fresh meal. The girls had their independence and I had mine. And then we were back HOME, my favorite place. I can’t wait to be back home to launder everything and put all our stuff back in place, including our car in the garage for the next several days. Anything I really want to do can be done on foot, especially getting a couple of drinks and a meal out. My daughter is happy at home, too, and she doesn’t feel pressure to go out of town, even though she knows that’s what many of her friends do. They go to the beach, to visit family out of state, to Disney. We’ve done that, too, and while the social media posts show the best of those vacations and time with our friends and family, they don’t show th waiting in the airports, the long lines, the delays, the hunger, the sleepiness, the motion-sickness – yes, my daughter not only suffers from HEAT EXHAUSTION, but also from motion sickness. I have been THROWN UP ON in taxis – MANY taxis in NYC – and on the way to airports. I have led my daughter to the bathroom on trains to throw up, I have taught her how to throw up into a plastic bag – or into a BUCKET as we would later learn was much easier to deal with than a plastic bag. A plastic bag we’d have to tie off and pray it didn’t have a hole in it and that we could soon throw it away. A BUCKET was like an old large yogurt container with a lid, that was sure not to leak and whose contents could be dumped into a toiled and the BUCKET could be washed out and re-used. Every time I travel with my daughter, I worry about her motion sickness. We’ve tried everything over the years to prevent it – dramamine, some kind of acupressure bracelet thingy, sitting in the middle of the back seat of a car to look out the front windshield and nothing has seemed to rid her of nausea. Hard candy or lollipops can help – maybe it’s just the treat of having sugar and unlimited candy that helps and yet she has thrown up so many times traveling to so many places that I can still feel the shaking of my hands and my concentration to help her catch the vomit and to dispose of it. LOVELY conversation, isn’t this? Sorry. This has been the reality of travel for us – the behind-the-scenes parts no one wants to talk about. For ME, it’s not that different than all the business travel I ever did. What good is it to say I was traveling for work to San Francisco or Los Angeles or Chicago or Boston or Montrel or Tampa or Dallas or Phoenix or wherever else when mostly what I was seeing was airports, hotel rooms and conference rooms. Yeah, sometimes I’d also get to see friends and family in the area and there could be nice bonding time with colleagues, but mostly I couldn’t wait to get back home and settled. I still feel that way and so does my daughter. I offered her multiple time THIS summer the option to go away for a few days – anywhere. I didn’t offer her the beach because that doesn’t suit her now, and I’m fine not going. I suggested some places that would be cooler weather-wise and that wouldn’t involve standing in long hot lines like we stood in at Disneyland and Disney World a few years back. “What about Canada or Alaska even?”, I offered, even though – Alaska especially isn’t a place I’ve been particularly interested in going to. I would DO it for my kid, if she thought she would enjoy it though I would not have minded going to Toronto or Montreal – places I’d been to for work previously and which I would like to explore more than conference rooms and dinners with colleagues. “No thanks,” my kid said to any of the offers. “Alright”, I thought, at least I asked and she couldn’t put it on me that we didn’t go anywhere. I hope this means that my daughter is comfortable in her life, in that we might be different than her friends, that we don’t take annual vacations to see family. That’s the two of us, plus Bogie, not a family of 4 – two kids, a mom and a dad who take and post pics of themselves on social media. My daughter seems to WANT to be different than everyone else in the OUTFITS she chooses for herself, the things that others would NOT put together, liked striped knee socks, striped shorts and a striped T-shirt – all purposely mis-matching. She’s already 11 now, about to be 12, and she’s not remotely interested in being GIRLY or into MAKE-UP, like some girls her age are. And I’m glad for us both that she doesn’t feel like she needs to – THAT WE NEED TO – go anywhere this summer. WE both know the STRAIN of travel – with her motion sickness and with travel fatigue, in general – there really is a very STRESSFUL part of being away from home. Even when we get to our destination THEN there is coordinating with our family or friends about WHAT to do, WHEN to do it – WHERE and WHAT TIME TO EAT and all the UNGLAMOROUS parts about co-existing with other people, if only for a short time. There’s also that PRE-TRAVEL CRUNCH – when you try to get ALL your work done to be able to to away for a week, where you squeeze in all your errands and packing for the vacation the next week, when you CAN’T accept any social invitations because you’re SO busy. And then there’s the POST-travel crunch, when you are being PUNISHED for having been away for a week and when it takes you ANOTHER full week to unpack and to get settled – and don’t forget to get to the GROCERY store because there’s no food in your house. WAIT – that pre- and post- travel really doesn’t apply to us any more. It’s been YEARS – AT LEAST 6 – since we have been away for more than 3 or 4 nights because I DON’T like that stress that makes the trip ALMOST not worth it. I have learned to prevent any kind of drama in my life and it really DOES feel like UNNECESSARY DRAMA to be too busy before a trip, too busy after a trip and then planning for THE NEXT trip. I’d like to get to where my daughter and I could get away for ENTIRE summers – while I work remotely on my passion projects reading the works of inspiring story-tellers and recording podcast episodes and connecting with my listeners and people whom I inspire – and my daughter gets to rest and sleep in and we LIVE for the summer in a new place or two that we really get to explore on our own. MAYBE CERTAIN friends or family come visit us for a few days here or there. And it’s most likely in another country – Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, I don’t know. Somewhere that we can – at least I can because my daughter is NOT yet adventurous with food – explore the local cuisine and adult beverages, where we can see how the local people live. It’s the kind of time away that most people don’t take – at least not Americans – and it’s CALM and PEACEFUL, NOT frenetic and it’s BEING somewhere and getting to know it. It’s NOT about moving and how many miles you log, it’s how much TIME on the ground in ONE place that you log – for at least a few weeks in one place. It’s going to bed and waking up in the SAME place for an EXTENDED period. It’s NOT for social media posts – it’s for a NEW PERSPECTIVE on the world and for INSPIRATION and REFLECTION. It’s for SETTLING IN for a similar routine as the one at home – morning coffee and quiet for me, meditating, reading, writing, recording podcast episodes, a couple of STRENGTH-TRAINING workouts at home and lots and lots of STRETCHING; then finding, as my REWARD, a lovely spot for wine and lunch, then a NAP back at home and time with my daughter, then reading before bed. The same routing as at home, but with a new background and places nearby to discover and explore. The pace is calm and slow, peaceful and energizing. It’s SPONTANEOUS and PURPOSEFUL at the same time. Spontaneous in that I can – WE CAN – decide to go anywhere at any time at the spur of the moment, based on the weather or how I’m feeling about my passion projects. And it’s PURPOSEFUL in that I’m there – we’re there – to slow down AND to be open in a new setting, in a different way of living. When people ask what we did over a summer like THIS, we can say, “We relaxed over the summer. What did you do?”

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