The days in the Caribbean were amazing. The ocean glittered at sunset. There was sand between my toes and the food lit up every taste bud in my mouth. After the kids were sacked out from a fun day docked on shore, they were lulled to by the gentle rocking of the ship and the hum of the engine.
Late at night, I would sneak out onto the veranda to soak up the midnight blue sky backdropping millions of stars — more stars than I had ever seen in a lifetime.
That week on the ocean has like a fast for my mind. I felt strong, whole, healthy and vibrant in the silence and after the rest. I didn’t realize how much I craved the silence and the rest. I woke up each day ready for rest, self-care and family time.
But it didn’t feel that way at first. It felt as if a piece of me was missing when I discovered my phone wouldn’t work for the rest of our vacation unless I wanted to purchase a rather spendy Wi-Fi package, and even then, connecting to the web was akin to the dinosaur beginnings of Internet dialup. It meant our phones were rendered useless.
My teenager was also panicking about the lack of connection. I began to love the freedom from the cyber connection in favor of soul connections on sandy beaches. Of course, taking a mental break is easy when you’re someplace exotic.
I adored the quiet and the moment of being fully at rest. Gone was the humming of doing, hustling, phone calls, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, writing stories, grocery lists, folding laundry and schedules. Instead, there was only time to be fully in the moment, and pieces of those moments slowly built me back to feeling whole.
During our family vacation, I realized I was starving my mind and soul for complete rest. As a recovering over-achieving perfectionist, I have a difficult time hearing myself think. I’d wake up at a frenzied pace, frustrated because no matter how hard I try, I’m already a mile behind and an hour late, never able to find time to re-calibrate.
I’d question whether the demands I placed on my life were priorities. I’d fret that something wasn’t done as well as it could have been or that I could have done better and then worry that there just wasn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all that I wanted or needed to do. All of this takes away from breathing deeply and creating joyful moments.
Now that I’m back home, my phone gets docked on my nightstand and when the world starts to feel noisy and my mind feels full, I retreat to the swing in our backyard.
I close my eyes remembering the beach and the ocean waves, then I begin to pray, thanking God for each and every thing I have to do, for my list, for my kids and even for the laundry.
Here’s the thing I’m learning: Peace isn’t found when I check out of reality on the web or check someone else’s status. It’s found in the quiet.
When the world is noisy and feels as if it’s emptying us, God meets us in the quiet and slowly fills us back up.
This column originally appeared on the Kearney Hub Newspaper. You can read it here.