In my last post I talked about my first solo trip since losing Spence and how empowering it felt to reconnect with my love of travel and regain the confidence to do it alone.
The winter of 2018 seemed longer, colder and drearier than any in the past. Spurred on by the successful trip to Scottsdale I asked myself “where next?”
My next hurdle was to return to a place where Spence and I had many fun times, Laughlin Nevada. I needed find out if I could go back and create new memories.
By now, I’d passed the one year mark since my loss, had one solo trip under my belt and knew that the time was right. I felt Spence’s presence at every turn as though he was sending me good luck.
Just a few of my slot winnings over the course of my stay!
Situated along the Colorado River with Bullhead City Arizona across the way, Laughlin was a balmy and beautiful respite from the cold and snow I’d left behind. The hotel pool and the riverwalk were perfect breaks from the casino as was a spa day at Laughlin Ranch.
Of course I had to post a few fine dining photos……
They say “you can’t go home again”. They would be wrong – my trip to Laughlin made me realize that it’s all about timing, readiness and a desire to reclaim my happiness.
Having been with Spence for 26 years, it was a shock to the system to find myself alone. It’s taken a lot of time to figure out who I am without him. Part of self care involves getting comfortable with navigating all aspects of life successfully by yourself.
I took my first of two solo vacations in early 2018. Travel was a passion for Spence and I whether a spontaneous road trip or an international vacation, we were utterly simpatico. I needed to know that could travel alone and find myself along the way.
For the first trip I chose Scottsdale, somewhere I’d never been. I stayed at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia. It was a magical escape from the bitter cold Michigan winter, with daily spa treatments, fabulous meals, hikes and a few visits to a nearby casino. I had nothing but time to be alone and reflect on my life. The true test was the last night which fell on Valentine’s Day. I’d thought I might be sad seeing happy couples celebrating over dinner and considered ordering room service. Instead I put on a pretty dress, jewelry and makeup and went to their fanciest restaurant where I enjoyed an amazing meal and attentive service. I took a long walk after dinner, enjoying the beauty surrounding me and realized, I was okay. In fact, I felt happy. It was empowering to feel that spark reignite.
A few scenes from the resort and spa.
This hike was on a warm, breezy day and allowed me to immerse myself in new surroundings, nature, silence and reflect on all the good things in my life.
Long before I started blogging, I was photographing (and journaling about) food. Spence always found this funny and would title our trips, “Laura’s Eating and Drinking Vacations”. That said, I had to include a few pics of the delicious food and adult beverages I enjoyed on this first solo vacation.
It’s human nature, for women in particular, to be harder on ourselves than others. With family and friends, we support their choices and are non-judgmental of their mistakes. We accept their imperfections because we know their worth, in other words we provide unconditional love.
In contrast, we hold ourselves to higher standards and our inner voice can tear us down if we don’t manage its volume.
Self care isn’t just about getting through a crisis – it’s an ongoing awareness of our inner critic who makes us feel we’re not meeting every self-imposed expectation. Call it changing the lens or flipping the script and try to imagine that same internal voice consistently offering up positive affirmations and encouragement instead.
There was a moment during my journey that stands out, what Oprah would call an “aha!” moment.
It came from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network.
For months I hadn’t been able to focus on a book, movie or tv show. I had no appetite nor interest in food or cooking which had been passions of mine.
I’d lost my mojo.
Enter The Barefoot Contessa. I’d tuned into her show out of a need to fill the silence with a familiar voice but then found myself engaging. Ina’s on-screen warmth drew me in and whatever she was cooking (though I can’t recall what it was) had my full attention. Her joy of cooking ignited a spark in me and at that moment I felt a shift as my inner foodie began reconnecting with my heart. It was a big step forward. Though she’ll never know, just by being herself, Ina Garten helped me on the path to healing myself.
Making yourself a priority is something everyone can benefit from. Whether dealing with loss, trauma, stress or life in general, it’s important to do something just for you, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Tune into what you need and take a self care break.
None of us knows how long we have, treat every day as a gift, make it count.