Tuesday, October 2, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Refueling My Wells

Normally a glass half full personality, I recently found myself feeling like my glass was broken. My emotional well was flooded with feelings of failure, feelings of inadequacy. My mental well was depleted. My physical well was exhausted. My creative well, empty.

I was so far down that instead of looking forward to our upcoming vacation, I was dreading it. Who does that?

During the long drive from Illinois to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, a vacation we’d been planning for over a year, I had a lot of time to think. You’ve heard of the sandwich generation? Well, I’m the very thinly spread mayo of the sandwich. My daughter suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety and depression. My mom leans on me after losing my dad just before Valentine’s Day this year. She is struggling without her life partner – emotionally and financially. And here I am, the mayo, trying very hard to keep the family together.

I know there are many people much worse off, and I’m not complaining – not really. I love my family. But on the drive west I realized I’ve been so busy trying to be strong for everyone else that I haven’t been taking care of myself. The anxious weight of responsibilities, real and imagined, has been heavy on my shoulders.

A few hours into the drive, I could feel the tension easing out of my body. Physically leaving it all behind meant the various family members would need to reach out to their other supporters. As much as I want to, I can’t. Fix. Everything. Not now, and probably not ever.

I NEEDED that vacation. Two weeks for me, myself, and I. Well, and my hubby too. I prayed. I started taking in the beautiful scenery and letting it flow over me. We played the license plate game as we drove, and I felt like a kid again. I felt free.

Photo by HiDee Ekstrom 2018The Badlands are beautiful but stark. We drove through Badlands National Park and hiked some of the trails. We saw prairie dogs, mule deer and bighorn sheep. Forced to be mostly disconnected due to spotty cell phone reception, I found myself relaxing even more.

Two days later we moved to the Black Hills. Still beautiful but very different scenery. Cell reception improved but Wi-fi was iffy, even in our campground. I was starting to embrace the forced disconnection. For ten days, we camped – er, glamped. I really like having my own bathroom and a real bed. We took day trips to hike, view magnificent scenery, and look for wildlife. My photographer self was in love with the land and the photo opportunities there. We saw more prairie dogs, coyotes, wild turkeys, pronghorn, and lots of buffalo. We visited a wild horse sanctuary – be still my heart! We even saw a rattlesnake but thankfully he was on the road and NOT on one of our trails.

I was breathing deeply of fresh, pine scented air with no pollens irritating my allergies. I was hiking and observing breathtaking views, filled with awe at the sights so different from those at home. Evenings were spent sitting around my own Survivor-like tiki torches when we couldn’t have a fire, star-gazing and just being in the moment. On the few nights we were able to have a fire, I sat staring into the flames; listening to the sounds of the night, emptying my head of endless thoughts, and letting the breeze carry my worries away.

Photo by HiDee Ekstrom 2018Relaxing. Refueling my wells. Rebuilding myself. 

A week after returning home, my glass is glued back together. My emotional well feels strong. My mental well feels capable and in control once again. My physical well feels rested and refreshed. And best of all, my creative well is overflowing! 

I hope I learned from this experience how important it is to take care of myself.

What do you do to refuel your well-being? Please share.



Angela Adams said...

When I need to "refuel," I often simply take a long walk. Usually take whatever book I'm reading with me, stop for a coffee, and read for a while. Glad you allowed yourself to have some "me time.

Lynn said...

Sounds like a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing.

HiDee said...

Great idea Angela! I do try to walk every day but I never thought of it in those terms. Lynn, vacation was awesome! I highly recommend it! :)

Unknown said...

Your trip sounds lovely. I am having a different problem-the major sources of stress in my life, my job and my mom, have gone away, leaving an empty well to fill. Not sure what to do about it though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

HiDee said...

I'm glad you have less stress but I'm sure those changes are difficult, too. I hope you are able to find some positives you enjoy to fill the well!

RT Wolfe said...

Slow down to go fast. :)
Miss you!
-R.T. Wolfe

Kathleen Rowland said...

I enjoyed reading your heartfelt post and can only imagine the stress of "being the mayo" in a sandwich generation. It's great to hear your vacation in the Badlands revived and restored you.
Writing is good therapy for those of us who are authors, but we can sit way too long. I swim laps most days and also walk with my husband. Getting out of the chair is the hardest thing sometimes!