“You are crazy”.. the usual response I receive when friends and family hear I’m driving back and forth from Vegas to NJ. AGAIN. Though the one time, very planned, cross country road trip sounds intriguing and adventurous to many, driving 2400 miles several times a year on the fly seems just bat shit crazy.. but let me explain.
For several years I had spent almost half my life flying for work... sometimes four flights a day. I would fly from meeting to meeting, living out of a suitcase, hotels and restaurants. Sounds glamorous to some I'm sure.. but for someone who fears turbulence, gains weight from just looking at a bread basket, needs hot yoga and an infrared sauna on the reg, it was absolutely daunting. I was always on the go. Never stopping. I could actually feel my body breaking down..and more importantly my mind..
At least I had my little furry man Biggie, my ESA dog for flying. He flew everywhere with me,but when furry bundle of joy number 2 was rescued, flying became close to impossible and constantly leaving them was unfair.
About one year ago while out for lunch I was planning a west coast work tour. Flying from state to state with my 2 dogs was just not an option and honestly I was so beaten down by all of the airports, security lines, and the several anti anxiety glasses of wine before take off, that there was only one option. So I left the lunch with the suitcase I always had packed for last minute travel, put my dogs in the car and started driving.
In the last year I have made that trip eight times. Yes eight.. and every time I love it more and more. I mix it up by taking the northern route in the warmer months and the southern during winter.
Freeing is an understatement. I get to wear the same clothes, messy hair and no makeup for days in a row. I couldn’t imagine walking to my local coffee shop not showered and covered in dog hair, smiling and saying hello to everyone I see. But that is exactly what I do driving through middle America. Oh I forgot to mention that I don’t shower because I don’t stay in hotels. I park in front of a well lit rest stop, put my seat back, grab a blanket and get some z’s. I’m sure that sounds uncomfortable to most of you, but alone with my ringer off and no wifi, with just my dogs, is all the comfort I need.
And the people.. I love the people. When I’m in line at a rest stop market, I look at everyone’s hands. I know the eyes can tell you a lot about where a person has been but the hands can usually tell you how they got there.
I love smiling and telling them to have a great life. Why just a great day if I know I'll never get a chance to say it again? So have a great life seems like a more proper send off and their reaction and double take is heart warming.
It’s also my balance. It’s where I sort out all of my ego driven drama. Driving the open roads, watching sunrise and sunset reminds me how much more to life there is to live... the windmills, how much more there is to create... the landscape, how much more there is to dream... and the people, how much more there is to love.
All of my life I have raced to the finished line. I couldn’t wait to graduate culinary school or to get my esthetician license, or my health coach certificate or to become a registered yoga teacher or building the next best engagement software. I was so consumed by the thought of getting it done that I missed all the special moments that made it happen. I was so busy DOING that I didn't take the time of just being.... I didn't take the time to enjoy what I actually love.
I DIDN'T TAKE THE TIME TO ENJOY WHAT I ACTUALLY LOVE.
When the realization of that statement set in, it took me down like a ton of bricks and held me under.. I couldn’t breathe. I looked at my life and all of my “accomplishments” and asked myself "where did it really get me"? Reaching a destination without paying attention to the journey is like shopping in a busy mall for hours to only find out you forgot ur wallet. You will leave without the very reason in which you came.
But all was not lost. During these eight road trips in twelve months, I reflected on all of my journeys. I thought of all the people I met, my teachers, friends, coworkers, and family. I smiled and felt gratitude to each and every person, animal, and experience. Especially the hard ones as they were my greatest lessons. But most of all I learned. I learned how to take my time, how to not answer the phone, not send emails, and not stress. I have learned that regardless of where I am going there is so much beauty in where I already am.
I pay attention and appreciate the journey. Even when it’s long, dirty and uncomfortable. I find the joy.
Happy Road Tripping - Donna