Annual Vacation NOT the Same Old Same Old!

Friends, I just came off our annual family lake vacation more energized than ever before! We’ve been driving up to the Alexandria, MN area for 24 years, many of which exhausted me…I usually returned home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation. Does that make sense?

It used to be a crazy week for me when the kiddos were younger, making sure we packed everything, keeping them from drowning or hooking each other with their fishing rods, keeping up with their unlimited energy and filling each moment with unforgettable memories…kind of like being the activities director. I suffered burnout every year. And I’m just going to say that a week is a lot of together time for our tribe!

Luckily, seasons change, kids grow and I wised up.

This year it finally hit me…the only person’s activities I needed to direct were my own, so I aimed a very different direction that made all the difference!

A solo five mile walk around Lake Moses was refreshing. The birds serenaded and the breeze coaxed me forward while the water beckoned…ahhhhh.

A trip into town treated me to a relaxing energy work/intuitive reading/massage session. Another soulful way to spend some me time.

I stopped to enjoy coffee and conversation with someone I heard astounding things about…thanks, Fr. Darin!

I treated myself to a ridiculously expensive, playful dress for my son’s upcoming wedding…a dress that shouts FUN (kind of like me haha)!!!

I took time for the things that feed my soul…catching nearly every awe-inspiring sunrise.

And oh, those sunsets. And while my family continued to do all the things they do on vacation, I set out to try a few new things…like marking SUP yoga off my bucket list with the extraordinary instructor, Karen of Kosha Wellness at the Lake Carlos Marina.

 

That experience only lasted 90 minutes, but it will be etched on my heart forever! Namaste.

 

I’ve never taken time to explore my passions during this annual vacation quite like this year. Do you know what happens when I do? I find fascinating new FIT BFFs that feel like old friends…how amazing to be able to vibe on this tribe! Loved meeting you, Nikki, Siw and Karen; can’t wait to do it again!

Sure, I spent some time with the fam…

But I took things slower, calmer, quieter…

Watching my kids (and soon-to-be daughter-in-law) grow even more independent, yet enjoying the inner child within each of them.

I made the annual F Day dessert to honor the dads in the bunch, while still missing my own dad fiercely.

So much so, I decided to treat my wounded heart to a healing session with Debra at Soul Harvest & Healing.

My time spent with her was the best gift I could’ve given myself. I feel like crying all over again (in a good way) just thinking about what happened in that sacred space.

Before I knew it, the week was over…

It was time for one last paddle around Lake Aaron to bid my beloved playground a fond farewell… reminiscing over a beautiful, wonderful week of new beginnings.

I can’t wait until next year!

Vacation Transformed Part 2

Friends, I’ve been home from Colorado for more than a week and I keep returning to what a memorable success it was. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In that post I mentioned some mindful modifications we’d made to our standard vacation for better outcomes.

That week progressed quite nicely into one of my favorite trips of all times. We continued to venture out of our condo every morning with a new version of the same view…

   

And if that awe-inspiring daily welcome wasn’t enough, we drove all of two miles to enter this phenomenal playground…

Eric, Connor and I spent an afternoon exploring Rocky Mountain’s Bear Lake. Although it was still frozen over, it provided the freshest air, great vibes and opportunity to get lost in it all!

That afternoon beat any video game, thrill ride or entertainment…nature is all we needed!

As the afternoon wound down, it was time to meet up with my college friend, Lynda.

And it’s great we did because she knows that park like the back of her hand…she took us places that blew my mind! Thanks for a spectacular tour and evening, Lynda!!!

If I lived close to this, I would come every single day. I don’t think it could ever get old! This waterfall was both enchanting and mesmerizing.

   

I just couldn’t leave without some more yoga. It just seemed like the right thing to do!

That day’s light, love and energy seeped clear into my bones and soul.

Our week in Estes Park continued to be a challenge for me to eat healthy, but if one looked hard enough, good choices could be found. Take for instance this entree from The Egg and I…LOVED it!

I needed to keep fueled for our last day because I had something important to check off my bucket list. Since the moment I’d seen this place on an episode of Extreme Weightloss, I knew I had to go!

Red Rocks Amphitheater has played host to countless performers and their sold-out concerts on hot summer nights. But in daylight, this venue welcomes those looking for an unforgiving workout. It was exactly what I was hoping for on our final day in Colorado.

Because my knee was less than functional, I had to run/walk, but that didn’t take away from the amazing accomplishment I felt having traveled across each of 69 rows down, then back up again. I logged five miles of harsh slopes and relentless heat.

I was ecstatic too, because although this was likely not on Eric’s bucket list, he got me there and even joined in!

That workout took all I had within me that day…I left it all there! Which turned out to be a good thing because the next day and a half was spent driving home from this astounding vacation.

The drive home was somber, it was tough leaving such beauty behind. I replayed the amazing experiences we’d had over and over again in my mind and heart. That second day on the road, although tiring was an a-okay way to spend my birthday. Why? Because my beloved Pita Pit was only a couple hours from home!

Friends, I think we finally got this vacation balance thing right! I returned home tired but nothing like trips of the past. I’m recharged and ready to work on that bucket list of mine…a list I never bothered dreaming up until my weight loss transformation proved was possible!

 

Vacation Transformed!

With spring break upon us, I’ve thought a lot about what vacations used to look like for my family and me. They consisted of ALL our favorite junk foods, a jam-packed schedule of busyness designed to entertain and engage our kids from morning to night in locales that catered to non-stop fun. We made a million memories, but most of mine were of indigestion, sensory overload and exhaustion. When I look at the photos, I wish I saw the fun and excitement, but I’m brought right back to the overwhelmedness.

I’m happy to realize throughout my weight loss journey, our vacations have transformed as well. I put serious thought into what I wanted out of this spring break, then set some mindful plans into action. We chose a location conducive to well-being as our top priority and hit the open road.

 

Fuel stops found me jumping at the pump and avoiding the endless empty calories I used to gather from gas stations. I was prepared, having packed a jumprope and plenty of healthy snacks.

Upon reaching our destination, I knew we’d made a great choice. Check out the view literally just two steps outside our rental condo…my soul smiled when I saw the exquisite view and heard the playful stream.

Ahhhhh.

I have come to an awareness that vacation can’t mean taking time off from myself. So with that in mind, we made plans to be active. Our first day in Estes Park found us hiking picturesque Lily Mountiain…

I only regret our older son was unable to join us because this would have been right up his alley.

You should know that hiking is my thing!

However, my husband Eric is not at all fond of heights and our younger son Connor is not a fan of hiking. At all. But they both sucked it up to climb the steep two miles; although there were some pretty tense moments scrambling up the final snow-covered section the breathtaking summit was well worth the fear-factor!

 

The view was stunning and unforgettable!

The descent was tougher than I expected, but this was the kind of memory I had hoped we’d make while we were here! I’m so proud of those two!

That hike was one heck of a workout and my knee was not at all happy…traitor! The next morning it was still cranky, but I had some strength training plans!

Thank goodness for a fitness center at the resort! The rest of the day was set aside for some sightseeing, grocery shopping for the right kinds of nourishment, and relaxing.

Although many of my friends chose warmer climates for spring break, imagine my excitement when I woke up to this…

How beautiful is that?!? This Minnesota gal’s heart was warmed waking up to this gorgeous Colorado morn. And because I have goals in place, there was only one thing to do…haul over to the fitness room for some cardio!

 

And after a great sweat sesh of a warm-up, there was only one thing on my mind for a cool-down. Would you like to build a snowman?!?

Why, yes I would! My teenager had zero desire to help me, because he brought his friend named X-box haha!

So there you have it, our transformed vacation! We still have several more days to embrace all Estes Park has to offer. I’m thrilled to report, since making mindful changes to our typical vacation, I’ve yet to experience indigestion, sensory overload or exhausting. Mission accomplished!