If you asked me a week ago where I would be today, I’d tell you, “On the beaches of Aruba, soaking in the sun, working out, resting, swimming, and dancing the night away.” Just the thought of white sand, clear blue water, a warm breeze makes my tense, cold muscles relax. Ahhh….
Unfortunately, that’s not where I am. I’m in the cold northeast, battling below-zero temperatures and frigid winds. It has been so cold, my nose has been permanently red and I think I actually heard my car whimper when I turned the ignition. I would whimper too if someone wanted me to run in 5 degree weather.
So what happened, you may ask? Well, by my late 20s, I realized that the cold, dreary winter takes its toll on my body and mind. I feel sluggish and slow, not to mention that my skin gets pasty white and my shoulders are hunched up to my ears for a solid three months. The Caribbean seemed to be the answer to my winter blues. From the minute the plane lands, I can feel the difference in the air. It actually smells more relaxing. Palm trees welcome me from the airport to my resort. Shirts that would look ridiculous in New York look totally natural on hotel staff. I’m offered a pretty drink and told about the next activity by the pool. Actually, that’s the only decision I care to make on vacation. Do I sit by the beach or the pool?
Growing up in NY and going to the Jersey Shore, I didn’t realize how clear the ocean could be. Standing at the water’s edge, the waves seem to wash away my concerns every time the current pulls at my feet.
Sorry, getting distracted. OK, getting back to the point. I didn’t have many family vacations growing up and it felt like a big step to decide that every winter I would take care of myself by going somewhere warm. Some years I went with my sister, some with a boyfriend, and some on my own. No matter what, I always had adventures and a great tan to show for it.
Five years ago, I met my now-husband, who incidentally, did not make this commitment to himself. Each winter I talked about my desire to escape the NYC winter, but we never seemed to make this happen. To be fair, in these years, the market declined, our incomes went south, we had a wedding (that’s a good thing, but a big expense), we moved, changed jobs. Needless to say, flights to the Caribbean didn’t make the cut.
This year, I decided that we could swing a trip. Nothing too luxurious, but a few days away. I did the research, found a great discount, cashed in my Starwood loyalty points and booked our flights and hotel in Aruba. I was so proud of myself and thought, even though my husband is considering his next career move, we could take a much needed break before we both start working like crazy again. I left him out of the planning and gave him the trip as a holiday gift.
We were both warming up to the idea of getting away when his cell rang. “Can you come in for an interview on Thursday?” Yes, that would be the same day we planned on flying south. “I’m planning on being away. Is there any flexibility in the schedule?” Silence. “Um, no.” “No problem. I’ll be there.” Clearly, Aruba would take a back seat to a long-awaited job interview.
After a few calls with airlines and hotels, we now have credit (minus a few fees) toward future flights. Instead of packing my bikini and sunscreen, I layered on my socks and sweaters. Disappointed. Frustrated. Sad. Yes, felt all of the above.
Then the morning of the interview, they ask him to come in a few hours early. We have a moment of panic and jump into action. We throw out practice questions while picking the right tie. We almost overlook his scuffed shoes and I offer to get them polished while he showers and shaves.
It was actually a blessing to leave the house and take a drive in the sunshine. The roads were quiet after the morning rush and I eventually found myself sitting on a polish-stained chair waiting for his shoes to dry. I couldn’t go anywhere for 15 minutes. So I sat in the small shoemaker’s shop, smelling polish, and soaking in the sun. I guess that’s what I wanted on vacation. To relax my body and mind in the sun. No, it wasn’t the way I wanted. It wasn’t what I planned. But, as I’ve said before, I plan and God laughs. I don’t usually get things in life exactly the way I’d want. Life doesn’t give me a menu and serve me what I choose. It has twists and turns and disappointments and surprises.
“OK. All done!” The shoemaker called out in his Polish accent. He couldn’t have been nicer and clearly appreciated my business. I left feeling lighter and grateful for the problems on my plate. For so many years I was single wondering if I’d find a partner. Now I have one. I would trek around the city (which I miss) but now I have a car to keep me warm. The grey skies depress me, but today the sun is shining.
I don’t know what the future holds. Whether my husband will get this job. Whether we’ll take another trip. But I do know that I can find hope in the little moments of my day.
You may ask what all this has to do with working out. Well I have been thinking that a vacation would re-energize me because honestly, exercising has felt harder in the midst of snow and commuting. Finding peace in my reality means that I can be willing to work out and practice self-care, even when life doesn’t go my way. I can take my own advice: log into GrooveAnywhere and just press Play!