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The Epic American Road Trip

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shutterstock 229434985 300It’s a part of our American culture: loading the kids and all manner of gear into the car and then setting off down the winding road in search of adventure, family memories and hopefully really good ice cream. We succumbed to the madness this year, filling the car’s rooftop cargo carrier so full that our 11-year-old had to sit on it to close it. As if that weren’t enough stuff, we couldn’t see out the back window due to the piles of camping gear. The goal was a 2300-mile loop from Seattle through Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Hells Canyon in Idaho and home again.

We found adventure. We created family memories. We even ate good ice cream. What we didn’t do was have a vacation. By vacation, I mean a time to let go of stress and the chance to rest and rejuvenate. It was quite the opposite, in fact. It was stressful (questioning if the rain flies on the tents would keep out the thunderstorms, a kid throwing up). It was exhausting (sleeping on an air mattress that deflated during the night, snoring neighbors in the campsite next to us). It was draining (hours and hours of driving almost every day). Not to mention all the bickering in the back seat.

I needed a vacation from our vacation when we returned.

Now, before I sound terribly ungrateful for such an opportunity, let me state that there were great times had in the adventure, family time and certainly the ice cream. This is why we go on these epic adventures. If I had the chance to go back and do it over, I might do a few things differently to slow down the pace of our trip. But I would definitely still do it. We gave our kids (and ourselves) the chance to experience a truly awe-inspiring and gorgeous part of our country. Check. We can now cross Yellowstone and surrounds off our list.

What my deeper self is truly craving, however, is peace. Life with two boys is lively and fun—and so very, very busy. My two 20-minute meditations a day aren’t enough to sustain me over the long haul. For me, meditation is a necessary start at achieving balance in everyday life. But every once in a while, I need extended time when I am not responsible for anything or anyone else. In order to regain my inner equilibrium, I need to take a step back, not charge forward. I need to get quiet. Really, really quiet. To be in a place where I can let go and not worry about the next moment. To soak up the beauty of nature, not rush by while snapping pictures out the car window.

Selfish? No. This is self-care. This is the foundation of being able to offer our life’s work. As stated in the Energy Magazine Self-care Tool Kit, “Only when we effectively take care of ourselves can we live a vibrant and joyful life. Filling ourselves up first allows us to fully offer our gifts and talents to the world, creating meaning and a sense of purpose for our lives.” (Find the Self-care Tool Kit in “Downloads” on the menu bar above.)

What I’ve realized is that I need two vacations: the family adventure and a retreat that allows me to rest, rejuvenate and connect with my deeper self. I’ve already started repacking my bag.

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