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The Power of a Change of Scenery

· DYP,oral cancer survivor,motivational speaker,DYP Emergency Kit,cancer journey

I have a confession to make. About a month ago I did something naughty. Well…it wasn’t exactly naughty, but it felt kind of wrong but also kind of right. My teenage daughters and I packed our bags and drove 3 hours south for a 2-night getaway to San Diego Mission Bay. Whoa!!! Way to live on the edge, Joana. Right? I know I’m making light of it, but in these pandemic times, the decision was not made lightly. After much research and deliberation, we gave ourselves the green light and YOLO’d it. Armed with cleaning spray in one hand and tanning spray in the other, our sense of adventure and a serious case of cabin fever double-dared us to go for it.

We had the BEST TIME EVER!!! Was it because of the ocean breeze, or perhaps the warmth of the sand under our feet, or maybe the gentle lapping of water on our toes as we paddleboard? Yes, yes, and yes. But the best part was the view outside the window of our hotel room, framing something new and different after 3 months of quarantine. To be honest, we could have been visiting a hotel down the street from my home, and I would have been equally elated.

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I’m reminded of the celebratory New York trip my family took six months after I completed treatment for my third cancer diagnosis. It was a long weekend, but with an inch of newly sprouted hair on my head, a few extra pounds on my too-thin frame, and a hard-earned time out from a 3-year sentence of doctor appointments, surgeries, treatment, and lying in bed, I was game for anything. We took Manhattan by storm. On our first night, with our bellies filled from a fabulous meal, we headed back to our hotel in Times Squares. As we were about to call it a night, the lights, the smells, and the buzz reminded me why the Big Apple is the city that never sleeps, and I wasn’t quite ready to either. Pizza…I needed pizza, RIGHT NOW! My family looked at me like I was nuts, and I’m pretty sure I was. Deliriously happy, we dove head-first into a sea of jumbotrons, billboards, people, and dizzying lights. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the grease, the hotdog and pretzel stands, perspiration and the stench. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ve never felt so alive.

The travel bug bit me at a young age, and I’m fortunate to have traveled all over the world from sleeping in a Turkish cave to hiking the Swiss Alps to coming face to face with the Moai statues on Easter Island. The temptation of new thrills, flavors, smells, history, adventure, culture, and people enticed me to discover all corners of the map. However, of all the trips I’ve experienced, my recent trip to San Diego and the weekend in New York are among my most memorable.

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Have you ever been on a flight and for unknown reasons you’re stuck at the gate and they won’t let you off the plane? You’re tired and cranky, you smell funky and you can’t even stand your own breath. No matter how hard you stare down the front of the plane, you and your fellow inmates are going nowhere. Minutes feel like hours, and all you think about is getting off that frigging plane, going home, taking a shower, and sleeping. The containment makes you restless and irritable. Finally, they open the doors, you spill out, followed by a deep breath of freedom.

These two trips were freedom; the freedom from being cooped up for too long from cancer, from the pandemic, from the fear. The freedom to hear new sounds, to see new faces, and to be surrounded by four new and unfamiliar walls. With a change of scenery, my exhaustion got a reboot with a much-needed shot of adrenaline. The rush of something new energized me in an unexplainable way.

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I recognize that not everyone is ready, able, or even wants to leave their home for a host of reasons. There are people out there who might think my actions are irresponsible. We all need to do what’s best for ourselves. Maybe a trip is not in your future, but maybe a change of scenery looks like a picnic at the park, a drive to the beach, ordering take-out for the first time, planning a social distancing get together in a friend’s backyard. It took baby steps for me to go away…first meeting my parents and sisters at a parking lot just to see their faces, next a drive to pick up donuts, a social distancing cocktail hour with friends in our garden, blueberry picking with my girls. Every outing accompanied by low-grade anxiety.

My husband and I are in the process of planning a family vacation. I’m mentally packing my bags with a bathing suit, sunscreen, and hiking shoes next to masks, disinfectants, and gloves. Traveling feels a little bit different right now, but the anticipation and excitement of getting away and a change of scenery hasn’t changed one bit.

What would a change of scenery look or feel like for you?

I DYP – Discovering My Power, My Way with a Change of Scenery. Could the power of a Change of Scenery work for you?

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