A version of this article was originally published in the Love of Dixie Magazine.
A series of extremely unfortunate events, leading to a therapeutic separation for my husband and me, forced the cancellation of our 30th-anniversary dream trip to New Zealand. The tickets were non-refundable and non-transferable, so my husband thought.
I knew I didn’t want to sit around sulking for two weeks when I should have been celebrating in a beautiful country I love so I called the airline and explained the situation. A kind lady on the other end said, in her amazing Kiwi accent I should add, “Yes, I can help you but let’s get this done quickly, shall we? I’m a very emotional person and this is making me cry.”
She was able to split our tickets, give me credit for mine and to go anywhere the airline flew before a certain date. I would only need to pay the transfer fee and any additional ticket fee if the flight I chose cost more.
“Let’s do it!” I said. “Before we both cry.”
I looked at their destination to see where I could go. I paused at Melbourne, Australia. I had fond memories of a short weekend spent in Perth but had never been to Melbourne. I needed new. The trip would be hard enough but going to New Zealand, or anywhere else my husband and I had previously been, would be too triggering.
Everyone should have a travel buddy. (You know, the person who you can call and say, “Hey, do you want to go to …?” And they say, “Yes! Let’s do it!”) My travel buddy is one of my sisters. We’re both empty nesters who love adventure and can generally plan something at a moment’s notice. After decades of sharing a room as children, we respect each other’s boundaries and have learned how to play nice. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and travel really well together.
After hanging up the phone with the kind and empathetic Kiwi service rep, I immediately texted my sister and asked her if she would be interested in going to Australia with me for my 30th-anniversary trip. As expected, she said, “YES!”, and the planning began.
Throughout my healing journey from childhood and marriage betrayal trauma, I have learned a few things.
- Having something planned to look forward to is good for me.
- I need to be mindful to not run away from pain but run toward inner healing.
- Breaking out of my routine offers a refreshing perspective.
- Making new memories helps me remember the good in my old memories.
- Traveling with a trusted friend (or sister) is an inconceivable gift.
- The rewards of an adventure far outweigh potential anxiety.
- Joy is an antidote to pain.
- I can do hard things.
So often in my travels, maybe always, I gain a refreshing view of my bigger story – much like stepping back from a stained-glass masterpiece. When you’re up too close you see all the broken bits. When you step back, you can take in the entire story the Creator has masterfully pieced together.
While on our trip, we passed a site offering scenic helicopter tours of the island which boasted a “once in a lifetime experience.” The forecast predicted rain but, for now, the skies were perfectly blue. With a quick “do you want to?” glance at each other, we pulled in and went for it. It did not disappoint! Just before we hovered up for takeoff, we looked at one another inside the chopper and simultaneously exclaimed, “We’re in a helicopter in Australia!!” While it may have been a once in a lifetime experience, it gave us a memory for a lifetime. We still, over a year later, randomly text one another saying, “Hey, remember that time we rode in a helicopter in Australia??!!” Laughter, or loads of smiling in this case, was most definitely good medicine.
Some may see my adventurous lifestyle as a “highlight reel”, but for me, my travels are my “life reel.” Travel is a part of who I am and has been critically important to my healing journey. It goes back to my oft-repeated mantra, “Know what you need. Do what you need.” Understand that needing isn’t the same as wanting. Often, what I want, what I really really want, is unwise and unhealthy. Having boundaries for myself and with myself, for my safety and health, is imperative. Knowing what I need and doing what I need to become the healthiest version of me is what helps me feel alive when everything else seems lifeless.
Maybe you can’t go to Australia or Paris (which is where my sister and I are headed next) but what can you plan? What adventure can you take? What would bring life to your soul? I encourage you to get something on the calendar soon to look forward to. Something that will help you heal. Something that will bring you joy.
Then go! Go make some lemonade. And enjoy every. single. sip!!
“Today’s ‘first lesson’ was in these little mountain paths. I followed mine only a few yards further this morning and such an outburst of beauty came. You can never tell to what untold glories a little humble path may lead, if you follow far enough.” ~Lilias Trotter 13 August 1899