Shaken & Stirred: A Vacation Gone…Different

Oct 04, 2021
Photographs by Lea Haas

When best laid plans (or vacations) go off course, we are left with a choice: resist or reroute

Vacations are “supposed” to be one thing that they rarely are, and often turn out to be another. Perhaps it’s because along with our bathing suits we pack a bunch of expectations into our suitcases. We set ourselves up thinking things are supposed to be a certain way — especially when we are returning to places we’ve been before.

Guilty as charged.

It’s always wonderful to be reunited with memories and traditions, but what happens when things don’t go as planned and you hit a few detours?

As my loving community knows, I recently took my annual beloved post-hustle and bustle, Labor Day trip to the beaches of Ocean City; a place where I decompress and take time to be more playful than usual with my daughter, True. Card games, beach walks, and carnival snacks along the boardwalk — we indulge in our creature comforts, outdoor showers, sun-kissed skin and the beautiful family home of a friend. 

Each year as the trip approaches, I feel the anticipation beginning to well up within me and I can’t wait to go — planning what I’m going to bring and do once there. This year was no different…until it was. Until True got a cold, until it rained, until spasms took ahold of my hip making it incredibly painful to even walk, until some ghosts in the house were being a bit mischievous disrupting our sleep each night and until a swarm of black flies (biting ones at that) descended upon us making it nearly impossible to be outside. I kid you not! Supposedly, the flies are a phenomenon that happens every few years. 

These situations started to pile up and mount. Hey, get out of here. This is my vacation and it’s not the way it was supposed to be! Or was it? 


While we did get to indulge in our favorite things — beach walks, foods, a few rides in the amusement park and sea breezes…this trip called for real “down time”. One afternoon as True napped, I glanced over to the bag of books I had brought along (literally 10-12 books, hey, a girl needs choices!).

I realized when getting ready for the trip, I had abandoned parts of myself this past year — my love of reading, especially morning reading with my tea was one of the casualties. 

I spent much of last year, like many, reacting to all that has been unfolding around me — continuous shifts, changes, mandates — worrying about my business, my staff, food deliveries and my customers. Rituals of self-care and nourishment fell by the wayside.

But there’s nothing like a few detours and a bag of great books to remind one that we can rectify that problem at any point we choose to. I wasn’t going anywhere with my pained back, so I grabbed my pile of book companions and cozied into my favorite sofa on the porch…for hours reconnecting to down time, my passion for reading and decompressing. Aaaah.

Immediately I fell into their embrace and felt transported. I am literally one of those people who gets lost in a book…the kind you can speak to and I won’t hear you if I’m reading. As I spent hours engrossed in my books between naps, my spirit started to lift. This was exactly what the doctor ordered. I didn’t find it on the beach or in a shop or restaurant…I found it connecting back to myself and making time for things that quieted me.

As the entire trip took on a new pace and routine, I allowed it to unfold and trusted it.

I found myself going to sleep early and rising earlier than usual. One day I realized, though only walking distance from the beach — I had never risen to witness the sunrise. The moment I thought about it was the moment I realized she was calling to me. 

I’ve always had a connection to the ocean. As a young girl growing up on the beaches of Long Island, if I was sick my mother would send me to the beach to sun my chest. “Go get some sunshine healing,” she would say. She never gave me cough medicine or pills, just a prescription of warm sunshine and rest. And those ocean breezes…oh, how invigorating they are for our bodies and souls. 

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this before, but I awakened in time to sit on the beach in darkness before the sun rose one morning. Grabbing a warm wrap, some coffee in a thermos and a book, I quietly headed to the beach illuminated by a night sky.

As I sat upon the beach staring out to the horizon, I realized there was actually a great deal to see; flickering light in the sky, reflections and silver tips on the ocean waves, a slight halo of light emerging. As the waves crashed to shore, I began to witness a meditative humming within me. Medicine. This is what I had come for. 

And like an eager child waiting for the curtain to rise, the glorious sun began to peak through shrouded in the most glorious cloak of color…so glorious that it made me want to cry. 

Sometimes in life we are shaken and stirred to remind ourselves that we need a recalibration, we are not paying attention to something…that we need to listen to ourselves.

No one likes to feel rattled, or ill, or off their game. We like when things just go the way they are “supposed” to…but that’s just life. I try to remind myself that when I feel shaken or stirred, I am actually just being redirected…what are you trying to reveal to me?  

No, this vacation didn’t play out as those of the past…and that is OK (more than OK). If I hadn’t gone with the flow of it, I likely wouldn’t have experienced this divine slice of morning grace or reconnected to my love of my sacred morning reading time…and self.

All this to say, the next time you feel off your game (even if on vacation), reroute and trust that it is working on your behalf. Just ask it what it is trying to tell you.

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Café Woodstock


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