Ticket for One – Weekend in the Catskills
Ticket for One – Weekend in the Catskills
I always dreamed about driving away to a cabin by myself for an entire weekend. What would it be like? Would I go totally crazy? Would I be afraid of intruders? Would I find enlightenment? I was still asking myself these questions as my dream finally came true and I made the solo trip to a lovely cabin on a hill in the Catskill Mountains.
The details came together at the last minute. All of the best things in life tend to work out that way, don’t they? In a matter of a couple of days, my best friend lent me her car, an old friend lent me her cabin, and my new friends watched my dog. Filled with gratitude at their generosity, I made the two-and-a-half hour drive through the rain to my destination on a late Friday morning.
I had previously visited the cabin with friends, so I knew what a treat it would be with its giant porch overlooking the valley and the picturesque mountains in the background. It was like living in a painting, and I felt instantly calm as I gazed at the serene landscape. I put away my things, managed to take an excited Instagram selfie with my last bit of internet reception, and prepared myself for a long weekend of book writing.
I spent the first few hours just relaxing and tuning into myself. There was no internet, no cable, and nobody around. Besides some neighbors in the distance that liked to make daily bonfires, the only activity the entire weekend was a handful of cars that drove by. This silence and solitude provided me with an excellent opportunity to focus on my inner body and emotions. It allowed me to experience life without expectation, timelines, or judgement. When I wanted to go for a walk, I walked. When I was hungry, I ate. When I was emotional, I journaled.
But before dark, a text came in that changed my entire weekend. My little brother has been battling cancer, and that evening, he got the news that no one wants to hear – let alone a 29-year-old husband and father of two boys. After six rounds of intense chemo, 25 rounds of radiation, and a stem-cell transplant, Brandon’s cancer was still growing. It was now chemo-resistant. This meant that his aggressive, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was incurable, according to traditional treatment. He was going to need a miracle.
Later, Brandon was enrolled in a clinical trial. We’re currently waiting with hope to see if it works, but at the time that the text came through, the word “incurable” echoed loudly in my mind as I sobbed for the life of my little brother.
Keeping it Real
After the text, my gratitude for this weekend getaway grew immeasurably. I was able to sit in the grass and cry. I journaled to my heart’s content. I took long walks into the woods, had just enough reception to call my mom or my best friend when I needed to talk, and I filled my body with the nutritious and organic fruits, veggies, juices and various protein sources that I had packed for the trip.
As a person who tries to make the best of bad situations, scary news often fuels me to take action. But this was a time when I couldn’t do anything. I could only allow myself to feel my full gamut of emotions. I could try to make some progress on my book. I could journal and try to process the deep sadness. I could care for myself both inside and out so I could be strong for my brother.
So I listened to my needs. I attended to my own cries like a mother with a newborn child. And in the process, I learned to deepen my own sense of self-love, self-care, self-compassion, and personal nurturing in a way that wouldn’t have been possible for me in the busy city.
I returned to the city Monday afternoon after three full nights and days in the mountains alone. Despite the inner turmoil I had experienced, I felt transformed. I managed to permanently embody a small piece of the serenity I felt in the scenery around me. I returned with a deeper understanding of myself, my needs, and my mission in life.
Did I also return with a million ideas of how to try to help my brother? Of course. Did I work on my book? Yep, and I proudly met all my goals. But at the end of the day, I got to know myself better, and the snowball effect that has since taken on my life – on my ability to emotionally regulate, to recognize my own stress signals, and to respond to my body’s needs more efficiently – those newly honed abilities have made me a better friend, a better sister, a better coach, and a happier person.
Do you have a #BeautifulShame Story that you want to share? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that outlines: 1). Your struggle 2). How you’ve used creativity as an outlet to deal with it 3). How you feel now. — Feel free to include photos, videos, music, poetry, or anything else!