Vacations Don't Always Require a Suitcase

"I need a vacation."

"Man, I'd love to get the heck out of here."

"I'd be so happy if I were on a beach somewhere right now sipping a piña colada without a care in the world."

I honestly can't tell you how often one of those sentences or something similar goes through my mind as of late. Maybe it's because leaf peeping season is coming to a close and the weather is getting chillier -- and the temperatures will only continue to drop from here on out. Or perhaps it's because I've been going through a bit of a stressful time and I'm looking for a way to run away from it all -- so taking a getaway to clear my head and refocus my energy sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

Whatever the case, it's pretty clear that my fight or flight response to things happening in my life has been favoring the flight side -- something which I became very aware of when I took a drive down to the southern part of Connecticut this weekend.

For those of you who are familiar with this wonderful little state, the pic above was taken at the Essex town docks, right along the Connecticut river. Ever since I was a senior in high school, this has been a spot I tend to "run" to whenever I'm feeling down, confused, lost, or just need a moment or two of quiet and calm to take a deep breath and remember that tough times never last, and that everything is going to be ok.

And I guess that's kinda what happened to me yesterday. I only stood there for about five minutes, and as I turned to walk back towards the picturesque little town, I felt a sense of peace and renewal. And that's when it hit me. Without hopping on a plane or even riding in the car for a few hours -- I'd managed to take that much needed escape I've been yearning for, and I didn't even have to pack a suitcase to do it.

As I strolled back through the village of Essex towards my car, I made it a point to stop along the way to really take in the scenery -- and as cheesy as it sounds, somehow I managed to live in the moment and appreciate where I was instead of dreaming about being somewhere else.

Let's be honest -- we're all guilty of failing to see what's right in front of us, and often times we don't appreciate what we have, or where we are at any given point in time. Instead of focusing on what is readily available to us, we spend our time thinking about being somewhere else or doing something else -- and that stops us from soaking up the little moments along the way that make life special and remind us that there is good all around us, if only we choose to see it.

So in keeping with focusing on the good, I'm going to try my very hardest to stop wishing I was somewhere else 99 percent of the time. I'm going to take these little mini-vacations whenever I need them -- even if that means not setting foot outside of Connecticut and simply exploring corners of the state I haven't seen before, and also returning to places I've been a hundred times because they never fail to put a smile on my face.

No matter where you live, I know you have those magical spots too. The ones that make you breathe a little easier. The ones that instantly center you and put things back into perspective. The ones that make you look around and think, "hey, this really isn't so bad."

Let's all make a pledge to try and embrace these places -- wherever they may be for each and every one of us -- in the hopes that they'll help make the chilly, dark, not-so-perfect days ahead just a little bit easier.


About: Mary Hawkins
Mary J. Hawkins is an accomplished editor, writer, and social media enthusiast who has been working in the digital media space since 2009. In a former life, she was the author and owner of The Mommyologist, a humor blog centered around the changes that happen after kids arrive on the scene. She is currently the full-time Senior Editor of Audience Development for CafeMom, and has been a part of their team for the past 5 years.  Mary also recently launched a lifestyle and travel blog called “Catching the Next Wave,” which centers around the new phase of life she’s navigating as a recently divorced single mom of one charismatic 10-year-old and a pint-sized Shih-Tzu.  When she manages to find time to detach herself from her laptop, Mary leads an active lifestyle. She has a strong passion for travel and welcomes every opportunity to explore new places and experience new adventures. She is also a huge fan of Pilates and Yoga – though she doesn’t get to class quite as often as she’d like.  Mary lives in a small town in the middle of Connecticut, though she’d rather live in the city, on the coast, or a combination of both.