The kids are already teasing me about my sappy end of vacation post(s). Am I THAT obvious?!?! ???????????? 
When I was a little girl (4-7 years old), we had an International Scout. After the twins were born, the backseat was full with two car seats and my older sister in the middle, my (biological) parents of course in the front, so my father would pack (Sis has (and exceeded) his packing skills) the back in a semicircle and then place my toys on the inside of the circle, and then make a pallet in the very center. This was the 70s so the fact that I was packed in the middle of luggage in the rear of a tin box with no seatbelt was a-okay (don’t say I haven’t lived on the wild side). ????????????  I was probably born a great traveler, but environment contributed as well so clearly the wanderlust in me runs deep. I still like to be snuggled in like a sardine in a car, plane, boat, hotel room, hostel room, etc. Pack me in and tuck me in; I’m good. ???? I like adventure and new views, roadside dives, sleeping on the move, and stamps on my passport or shells from a new beach or photos I have taken along the way; whatever “marker” of/for the travel works. I like plans and also freedom from plans; I am a walking conundrum that way. I’m always looking to the next getaway (small or large). Always in prep mode and struggling to BE in the moment or season of my present. 
This is me.
Except…we can change.
I love my family. I adore them (truth be told). Having been born into (and out of) a family that has burst into flames time and time again over mine and my Sis’ lifetime, I see our united little family of six as a Phoenix rising from the ashes (of sorts). We aren’t as big as the kids want us to be and certainly there are obvious (and less obvious) missing pieces for each of us, but we rise…day after day we RISE up and fight for our little family, for each other. We love hard and fight fair and laugh like hyenas. In some freakishly weird way - we are a (unique/new) blended American family. (I just laughed out loud. ????)
Last year we fought for the time and saved our money and searched multiple spots in search of somewhere we could have a family beach vacation. We had a great time (hence round two this summer), but in some ways we landed there (maybe just me) sliding and crawling and clawing our way to some down time. It was beautiful and perfect, but there was something missing (again maybe just me).
So much has changed this past year, yet three weeks ago, it was a calendar announcement/challenge from my counselor that shook me out of a fog and got me moving again. The more I moved, the more a-has I had…and I realized I wanted more from our vacation this year…I wanted more FROM me FOR my family. I arrived at this vacation rested and ready. Now as we start winding down from it, I am proud to say I gave this time with my family All. I. Had. in the tank (and then some). I played hard, beached hard, slept hard, and gave all. Frankly, I am in awe of ALL of us because I feel like we got 27 hours out of every 24 hour day. It has been AMAZING! ☺️ I have also read and written like my pen was on fire (used up two of them). True rest helped me listen to my spirit again…and my mind - the creative part that never gets to play in my normal life full of leading and decisions and numbers and strategy. I am already plotting how to hold onto that creative energy because I love that part mostest about myself (if I am truly honest). 
To know me well is to know that one of my very favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. I re-read it again this past week. As cheesy as it may sound to some, for me showing up at the arena this week has looked like being fully present and all-in with my family at the beach. I believe I did…including the facedown part…literally (beach volleyball found me diving and landing facedown in the sand…A. Lot. ????) and it was AMAZING. Truly. 
In Brene Brown’s book “Rising Strong” (which I re-read this past week) she writes that we don’t have enough “honest conversation about the hard work that takes us from laying facedown in the arena to rising strong…” and I agree with her. Everyone wants to tell and live the being brave part, but who really wants to share how many mouths of sand, bruises, and foolish-looking moves you have to survive in order to rise? Anybody? The truth is we need more people showing us how to both be brave AND how to feel our way back up. 
This morning a friend and I were texting about an idea we have…we had lunch together a few months back and it sorta flowed out of our mouths. I was scared into silence. Literally. How could we? I? Do this thing? I texted her 36 hours ago and said, “I’m ready.” Somewhere between the arena of this week at the beach and a world in pain, I heard God so clearly…this idea isn’t necessary or perfect because you two know what you are doing…it is perfect because you don’t; others need your willingness to walk out how to stumble through this…feel your way through it. I wept. 
Maybe the world doesn’t need more people to be brave as much it needs more of us to be transparent about what being brave looks like on the other side. 
So you were brave and went to Haiti…but what happened when you got back?
So you were brave and started a business…but what happened when you made mistakes, cash got tight, employees acted out, or ideas failed?
So you were brave and put on the workout gear and walked a couple of miles in front of people…but what happened when you got halfway through that first mile? First week?
So you were brave…
…what happened next? What happened when you failed? How did you get up and do it again?
So what did I learn on my summer vacation?
Above all else I learned that the “arena” truly looks like many things…but this past week it looked like a beach vacation with my family where I was active and present…where I played and competed….where I listened and observed - where I didn’t die when my Fitbit registered 12,000+/day - where owning my body and my age felt like an afterthought instead of frontal-lobe concern - where I was able to experience my childhood memories as just that, memories. 
Which reminds me…I love to play. I really do. I want the ball. I am a born competitor. I am curious. I am, in many ways, still that girl in the back of the Scout - packed in for the ride - except…for the very, very first time in a long, long time, I remember that young girl’s ability to be present and enjoy where she was at and make her own play - even if it was a make-shift playroom on a five hour drive to Memphis to visit relatives. I have missed her.
Now to integrate her into my every day life. 
Counseling starts back up Tuesday. Game on.
Swoosh - just passed a sign - Playground Ahead ❤️☀️