Happiness = sun, sand, book and bocce.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a real vacation, I think since college. The week-long trip to Florida during Spring Break my senior year of college was my last real week-long no stress vacation.

When I started working at the News-Herald, I had to earn vacation time (like you do at any full-time job). However, I had no chance to use it for a while, as the editor left not long after I started the job. The next year, though, my parents said they would be going to Orlando for a week and that I should fly down for a few days. I had to plan it around the deadlines of the paper, but it worked out. I left on a Tuesday night and came back on a Saturday. It was nice, but the whole time, I was thinking about what was going on back at the paper.

Same with my other short vacation that summer – I went to Jackson, TN and stayed with Sammi for five days. We went to the 7th Harry Potter book release and Graceland. It was great, but like the other trip, I thought about stuff at home a lot. Not because of anything about the trip (either one) but because of the way I am. I get stressed a lot, I worry a lot, especially when I have a lot going on at home, it stays on my mind.

So, last fall, my parents started talking about going to Myrtle Beach this June. I haven’t been to Myrtle Beach for SEVEN years. Needless to say, I was ready. I knew I’d have the vacation time and I hadn’t even had a short break since the trip to Jackson/Memphis. I had a few days off around the time my grandpa passed away and when I got strep throat earlier this year and had to take furloughs, I got a few more days off.

I am a busy girl these days. I work at a newspaper, I work as a server on the weekends and I help out as a leader for my church’s youth group. All of them make me happy, but the beach sounded like it’d definitely be a great way to relax and just not live by my planner! I love everything I do, but it all keeps me busy. I looked very much forward to a week of nothing but the beach and relaxation.

So on July 26, we left for Myrtle Beach – my mom, dad, sisters, Chuckie and my aunt and uncle and cousin and her friend. We got 11.5 hours into the 12-hour drive and my car stopped working. Literally. In the middle of stop and go traffic, my car wouldn’t work anymore. We got it to a gas station where we left it for the weekend for someone to look at on Monday. I panicked at first and was upset that it would ruin my/our trip and worried a lot about how I was going to come up with the money to fix it.

But here’s where my belief in everything happening for a reason was proven. My aunt wasn’t with us – she was taking my other cousin to GSP, so there were two free seats in my uncle’s car. Which worked out because we had to all load my car into my parents’ car and my uncle’s car and needed a place for me and Sami and Rachel and Chuckie to sit. Mom and Dad had two open seats and Tony had two as well. Otherwise, they would have had to drive the 30 miles and unload and come back and get the rest of us.

By Monday I had almost forgotten about the car. Dad and Chuckie were looking up information online about what had happened, to see if others had experienced the problem and what could be done about it. LUCKILY, they found a recall. It was a fuel intake valve on the fuel pump (which costs BIG BUCKS to replace) that was causing the problem. If you got it fixed within 10 years of the car being made (my focus is an ’01) you got it fixed for free under the warranty. So that’s what we did. A bad situation turned out pretty awesome. Free fuel pump. YES!

So, back to the beach. Myrtle Beach was one of the best trips ever…it was so much fun and so relaxing. All we had to worry about all day every day was staying on the beach with a book and some sunscreen. It’s the first time I’ve been to the beach and not really gotten a sunburn! I got a tan! I re-applied sunscreen several times and stayed in the shade when I needed to. It was so nice to not have to deal with applying aloe all week and staying inside or under an umbrella the whole time. I finished one bok and started another and didn’t think about anything but what was going on that day – something I need to learn to do more of. I need to take it one day at a time instead of thinking “This is what I have to do tomorrow, and the next day, and this weekend..” And the week at the beach helped me learn that. I woke up at 8ish, put on sunscreen, went to the beach, read a book, swam in the ocean and just relaxed and had fun.

We went out to eat a couple times, we walked down the beach at night (one of my favorite things to do, ever) and then got ice cream at the Yum Yum Shop. We went shopping and played cards and board games. We also played Bocce, one of my new favorite games and something my family needs to play every time we go to the beach from now on.

Plus to be with my family, who I see a lot – but not as much as I used to, living at home last summer – but don’t get to spend every day with, was awesome. My family is so much fun and just so great to be around..it was an awesome, awesome vacation. And, it was the beginning of a two-week vacation that left me relaxed, happy and with a little bit of a different outlook on a few things.

Stay tuned for the next post, coming soon – about my week as a chaperone for a youth trip to Jamaica!

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