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You need a vacation! You need to clear your head and to breathe some different air. You want to go to scream in a place where no one knows you.  You decide to plan a trip.  “Where should I go?” you think. Hawaii? Paris? Africa? All of the beautiful scenes from the Discovery Channel and Travel Network begin to race through your mind. You troll Instagram for travel inspiration until you finally pick a spot. Then craziness ensues: When can I go? How much will it cost? Who’ll go with me? When are the kids out of school? Can I take off work? Before you know it, you’re stressed out about a trip you haven’t taken yet!

I’m an over-thinker. I’m even guilty of over-over-thinking! This frustrating habit has eaten up a lot of my energy over the years.  My rationalizations have been the reason, and in some cases, the excuse for not fully living. However, in a quest to live more fully and spend less time ‘thinking’ about doing things and more time doing them, I recently decided to go for it!

In desperate need of a change of scenery, I decided to take a trip.  Being mindful of time, money and responsibilities, I chose a short one along the California coastline, by train.  It was a six-hour trip from home and gave me a chance to see parts of the coast that I’d miss if traveling by car.  California is a large, beautiful state and even though I’m a native, there are places I’ve yet to see.  With this impromptu get away, I could check off a few more.

My journey began early on a Friday morning. I arrived at the train station with one small bag, my camera and a few snacks for the road. I was warmly greeted and told where to find my seat.  My reservation was in business class and even though I didn’t think it would make much of a difference on the train, most of the reviews suggested that it was worth the extra twenty dollars. The reviews were right. It was definitely worth it! Unlike modern-day air travel, the compartment was spacious, very clean and super comfortable. The trip had already started well.

One of my first observations during the excursion was the lack of tension in my neck and shoulders.  To travel in Southern California without tension is winning! In case you didn’t know, California traffic is brutal most hours of the day.  It can be very stressful especially if you hate driving in it as much as I do. Better than any massage, this alone was worth the cost of train fare.  As we traveled north, the experience was different than I expected.  It was slow, quiet and smooth. I took in the panorama from my seat without much distraction.  The train floated past gridlocked freeways like they weren’t even there.  It was amazing.  As the trip continued, scenes from urban to dystopian to suburban, clicked by in what seemed like seconds. There were agricultural stretches of land, some planted and flourishing; others that were already harvested and bare. The scenic ocean views were my favorite. With palm trees peppering parts of them and hillside rock formations opposing them, it was very relaxing. Being a little sleepy but not wanting to miss anything, I tried to capture the scenic beauty in pictures and video to share with friends, but nothing really compares to the real thing.  In what I believed to be a signal from God to just enjoy the experience, I was unable to share what I captured along the most scenic part of the trip because there was no signal.

As we moved along, train’s hum became a soothing white noise. I was able to read without distraction, which was a major accomplishment. By the time this first leg of the trip had ended, my verdict had been rendered. The trip was a success. I Uber’d to the hotel, ordered dinner and crashed. After getting up (too) early the next morning for the trip home, I was psyched to do it all again.

This excursion required little time away, wasn’t expensive or to a far-away locale. It did however, give me a chance to refresh and reset (R&R).  It provided a welcome break from my over-thinking, stress and daily routine.

Self–care is monumentally important but too often neglected. Life will continue to happen no matter what. If you stay home it happens. If you don’t take off work it happens. If money’s tight it still happens. Yes, there are obligations and responsibilities to consider. Just remember to take care of and time for yourself. Don’t let planning or trying to anticipate every possible ‘what if,’ trip you up. Take care of YOU and go anyway.

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