Growing up, vacations were few and far between. I can only remember one long vacation when my parents were married and that was a god-awful trip to Ohio. We basically visited all of my dad’s childhood friends which, for a nine- and ten-year-old isn’t very fun. And there was a lot of fighting on that trip, which was my parents’ usual M/O. (I do remember some kick-ass games of Sorry! with my aunt, though.)
When I was in middle school, my mom, brother, and I accompanied my grandparents and twin cousins on a week-long road trip to Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia where we visited family and my brother and I skiied for the first time ever. That was probably one of my favorite vacations, mainly for the family aspect and being some place completely different.
There have been weekend trips to Orlando and a few week-long stays on the beach throughout the years but last year was the first time my mom and I took a Big Vacation. It was my first time on a cruise ship, my first long vacation, and my first time leaving the United States.
And it was the first time I realized what a gift traveling is. I had some of the most incredible experiences through that cruise – snorkeling in crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, kissing sting rays, touring ancient Mayan ruins – that I began to realize why people develop a passion for traveling. And I definitely developed a passion for cruising. While maybe I don’t get to spend a ton of time in a new country or get to feel the truly authentic way of life of the place I’m in, cruising allows me to travel to different countries in the span of a few days and get just a taste of the flavor of that country.
My second cruise was just as amazing – if not more – than my first one. It was filled with meeting new people, having incredible experiences in different countries of the Caribbean, and perhaps doing my fair share of kissing. (More on that later…) There’s something about looking out my window and seeing nothing but deep blue ocean that opens up a part of me I’ve kept locked up inside for the past year. It shows me that I do have the courage to try new things. I do have a spirit of bravery and I can try things other people are too scared to try to do. And that I need to grab hold of that spirit and take it with me into other areas of my life.
When my mom and I began looking for another cruise to do last year, I knew I wanted to travel to Jamaica. I’m not sure why the country appealed to me so much but it did. There’s something about the untamed wildness and lazy island feel that called to me. And we found a cruise ship that would travel to Ochos Rios, Jamaica. The views were breathtaking. The tour guide sang to us while taking us to our destination. The people we met were open and happy and in love with what they were doing.
Well, I guess *I* would be in love with what I did if my job was to zip line through a rain forest in Jamaica…
There’s something about being completely away from the reality of every day life that refreshes a person. It felt completely natural to be disconnected, away from the pressures of blogging and work and social media. I was so ready for this vacation. So ready to connect with myself again. I’ve been so busy lately, keeping up with work projects and Bible studies and blogging schedules and crazy health challenges that I barely have time to just be. To fall completely in the moment and not let myself get caught up in what’s happening next.
It’s so easy to get caught up in real life. It happens. There’s nothing wrong with being busy. There’s nothing wrong with getting caught up in all we have to do. But I think we always need to make sure we’re taking steps back. Re-evaluating. Making sure we’re living in the moment – even when that moment may not be as amazing as moments are during vacation. It’s very easy to be in the moment on vacation, not so easy when we’re fraught with stress from real life.
All this to say, my vacation was amazing. It was such a great getaway, something I absolutely needed. I plan on fully writing about my time in the different stops, as well as my time on the ship. But I learned a lot about what I crave from life from this trip. What I need to fully live out my passions. I learned about how overwhelming it can be to be around loud extroverts and how I can easily make conversation in a small setting but get lost in the shuffle in a larger setting. I learned I’ll never be a late-night owl – not even on vacation. (I stayed up until 1am one night and was super proud of staying up that late! I had a pair of tablemates who stayed out until 4am on a regular basis. So. Not. Me.) And I learned that I may be twenty-four, but going on vacation with my mom is still incredibly special and memories I will cherish forever.
And I’ve now done things other people think are crazy. I’ve kissed a sting ray, let one eat calimari from my hand, danced with a dolphin, snorkled in the deep ocean of the Caribbean, zip-lined through a rain forest, rode a bob-sled, flirted with a Jamaican, and survived two attacks by pirates.
OK. Maybe the last one isn’t true. But almost!
I want to take this crazy attitude into other parts of my life. I want to do crazy things, outside of vacations. It’s so easy to be crazy on vacation. But it’s even more important to be crazy and brave in our everyday life. I’ve been living life small. I’ve been scared to take chances, so terrified what will happen if I put my heart on the line. I’m slowly learning that in order to live the life I love, chances have to be taken. I have to jump off mountains, soar off cliffs, stop staring over that ledge and backing away.
It’s time to start putting those crazy plans in place. I’m ready to start jumping.