I gathered my boots and gently folded them into the suitcase. Outfits were laid out all over the bed. I had no idea what to choose, but it didn’t matter as long as I had my boots.
“It will be so nice to get away for a few days”, my husband could sense my anxiety and tried to ease my stress while helping me pack. I knew he and the kids were not coming with me which meant I would be away from them. And the closer the time came to me leaving, the more tense I got.
Grabbing the first three blouses I could reach, I tossed them into the suitcase and zipped it up.
Over the past year, something has changed in me. It has been the hardest, most trying, most stressful year of my life… of our lives. For many of you who have followed along here know the big change we made last year and while it has been the greatest blessing, it has definitely come with it’s trials. I choose to share lighter parts of my life on a daily basis, but please never doubt that there are dark times alongside those happier days. In the midst of all the chaos and heartache this type of year brings, I have found myself clinging tighter and tighter to my home life and the people I share it with. My home has become a sanctuary and my family has become my lifeline. Don’t get me wrong, they always have been, but it’s different now. I am uneasy when I am away from them, I watch the clock until I can get back home to them and I find myself turning down invitations and outings just to be in that sanctuary where I feel most protected and safe. Where I feel most like me. Call it motherhood, call it anxiety, call it solitary, but that gravitational pull towards all things home is a strong one and it has become even more so for me over the past year. The only thing that made it better was knowing that I was headed to our favorite place in the world. We have made so many memories as a family on the SoCal Coast and I couldn’t think of a better place to be away from them then right there.
I woke up the next morning and made sure to be involved with the morning school routine despite still needing to finish packing. For the next four days I would be gone and I didn’t want to miss anything while I was still there. We got the kids off to school and once I finished packing, Jarett loaded my bags into the car and checked everything over once more before I got on the road. I gave a squeeze and a kiss to each of the babies and told them I would see them soon, grabbed my keys and headed out to the garage. A quick kiss from him, a prayer for safe travels and there I was – facing the next five hours on the road that would take me farther from my sanctuary and lifeline than I had been in a very long time.
When I was younger, adventure was all I could think about. Anywhere but where I was – I was in a constant state of wanderlust. I craved new places and new faces. Anywhere I could get to I went and the energy I got throwing myself into new experiences and doing it all on my own was addicting and inspiring. That was a long time ago. And motherhood and adult life can completely change you. I found myself fondly recalling these days as I drove through the Arizona and California desert last week. The entire time I drove, I thought about not stopping until I reached the coast, until I reached the water’s edge and could take a deep breath hoping that it would provide that feeling of comfort. Maybe even the feeling of relief. However, exhaustion is a real thing and it hit me hard the moment I was outside my bubble of daily responsibilities, deadlines and expectations. I found myself in my hotel room by 6:00 PM that first evening and I didn’t wake up until 9:30 AM the next morning. If you are a mother you can imagine that slight twinge of guilt I felt when I rolled over and saw the time on the clock staring back at me. I guess it can’t be helped no matter how far away we find ourselves from home and the responsibility of running a household.
So there it was. A day for me to do anything I wanted and all I wanted was that coastline. I got in the car and drove. I drove with the windows down and I drove until I could smell that salty sea air. I drove until the ocean’s edge danced alongside the Pacific Coast Highway and when I couldn’t go any further, I stopped. I sat for hours watching the water and feeling that ocean breeze on my skin and for those moments I was at peace. There is something about standing on a coastline that is so beautifully overwhelming. I can’t explain it, but I do know that as a creative soul nothing influences me more than my physical surroundings and I find the sea to be one of the most inspiring. Being there fueled energy that I haven’t felt for awhile. It reminded me of my family back home and for a moment I was whole. And it was then I knew I had to let everything else go. All of the stress, the expectations, the worry. All of the guilt, the every day internal chaos and turmoil, the self-deprecation. I knew if I didn’t leave it all there and let the sea swallow it whole, it might have swallowed me whole. And I have so much more to do with my life than let the negative things of this past year chip away at me. So I poured it all out into the sea only to have the waves carry it away. And it was like coming up for air.
For the next three days I threw myself into creativity, into inspiration and enjoyed every single moment I had behind the camera. I drove home that Sunday morning knowing that my sanctuary and family were waiting for me, who loved and needed me. Even the broken parts. And I smiled knowing I was coming back a little more whole then when they last saw me because I had left it all at the water’s edge on the coast to the left…