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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

How a Cruise Helped Me Reconnect With What Matters Most

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It’s amazing how much a media detox can do to recharge your soul. With a 7 day cruise ahead, I had plenty of time to focus on myself and to practice being more present. Yada yada... You can say the words, but what do they really mean if you don’t really mean it.

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“I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time. Taking time to be more fully present. “ If you’ve listened to Super Soul conversations podcast you already know this little piece of wisdom Oprah shares.

When we set sail I thought I’d spend the week catching up on work. Because that’s what vacations are for, right? Then maybe I'd take some time for myself.

Somewhere along the way I had an aha moment that changed my course. I looked around at the people on our cruise and noticed that mostly they were a bit more mature in age and all had one thing in common: They were in no hurry.

I watched them read books and play card games, sit and talk with each other for hours. They lingered after meals, laughed loudly at jokes and told stories. They sat at the bar and sipped cocktails in the sun. They napped!

I thought about how carefree and relaxed they were and how unfamiliar that feeling is to me, to my generation. And how practically nonexistent it is for my child’s.

We’re all so busy, racing the clock, trying to stretch the days. Somewhere along the way I lost step with myself and ever since I’ve felt like I’m always just behind her. Catchup, catchup! There’s always something unfinished, something more to do. At work, at home, every second is accounted for. For my husband, for my child, for family and friends and people who just need a few minutes to talk about nothing....

One day I’ll read books, I tell myself. I used to love them. Someday I’ll have time for the things that make me feel alive. But not today. Today I need to catchup. Like Alice and the white rabbit. I’m late for something, always. There’s never enough time.

And as impossible as it seems to find the time, it was actually as simple as cutting the cord. Powering off that little piece of glass that’s become an extension of me, like a third hand.

We set sail and I let my phone die. No calls, no messages, no emails, no internet.

I’ll admit, at the end of the first day I felt a little wave of panic at the thought of disconnecting. What if someone needed me? By day three that fear had completely faded away and I surrendered to my new, devil may care attitude. And it felt so good.

With no news updates I stopped worrying about the world and found quiet spaces in my head to fill with more enjoyable things. Like sunsets that stretched across the ocean. And conversation over frozen drinks with strangers about life and love and wrinkles.

I found that it was completely possible to enjoy the company of my husband again, once you remove the stress of schedules and our daily scorecard. I realized that much of my mindless mental chatter spills over on him every day and that I wage small wars over laundry, money and the DVR merely to feel a little more in control. I mark my mental scorecard every time he does or doesn’t do the right or wrong thing. I’ve forgotten how to talk to him about anything except times, numbers, checks and balances. Because our lives are so busy and often I honestly don’t know why or for what reason. But it’s too big a thought and there’s never time to discuss how we got here.

Sometimes I wonder. Was this really the plan? Was this what we wanted, what we worked so hard for? So that we can all sit in the same room and ignore each other while we scroll through other people’s lives on our phone. Feeling more and more alone, together. And then we could have a child and one day when we’re bored with him we’ll hand him one too! The circle of life, connected by blood and cellular contracts with unlimited data.

I never imagined a week of cruising would honestly do anymore than give me a sunburn and a few extra pounds to complain about. Turns out I took away more from those 7 days of sailing than I planned.

I learned how to play Yahtzee. How to make a “damn good mojito” the way Hemingway liked them. How to turn up the volume on my marriage that’s been muted by babies & bills & big little things. How to knock the dust off your soul by standing against the wind and letting the ocean breeze whip your hair while your child laughs hysterically. How to savor a warm meal, sitting down. How to kiss a stranger who shares your same last name.

And most of all I learned that the most valuable gift you can give yourself is Time. Time to be more fully present.

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