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From the Happy Place Back to Reality

Today is my first day back to work in West Hartford after a nearly two-week beach vacation and, believe it or not, the relaxing feeling is lingering.

By Ronni Newton

Everyone has (or should have) a “happy place” and mine is definitely the beach.

I am extraordinarily lucky that my in-laws live in Nantucket, and that they welcome frequent and lengthy visits from their children and grandchildren all year long, and especially in the summer. Their gray-shingled white-trimmed house is named “Surfside Sanctuary,” and that’s exactly what it is.

I’ve been going to Nantucket for more than three decades now (yes, I realize how lucky I am), and my kids have spent at least a few weeks there every year of their lives. We get to bring our dog on vacation with us. No matter how frustrating the traffic is getting to Hyannis, I know that first “Ahhhh …” moment of sinking my toes into the sand is imminent.

The uncrowded beach that is a six-minute walk from our house is my happy place. Photo credit: Katie Newton

The uncrowded beach that is a six-minute walk from our house is my happy place. Photo credit: Katie Newton

My daughter’s boyfriend’s dad asked her what she does in Nantucket. “Nothing” was her honest answer. She elaborated: “We wake up early, bike to the bakeshop for a doughnut, walk down to our beach, have happy hour [editor/mom’s note: adult beverages only for those who are of age], eat dinner, and then the kids go back down to the beach and stargaze. Then repeat.”

Of course we do some other activities and there are times we vary the routine a bit. We occasionally (rarely) go to a different beach that’s not a six-minute walk from the house. We bike almost everywhere. Once in a while we will go out to eat. Some nights we go to the Juice Bar for ice cream. The adults take turns making daily trips to Stop & Shop and cooking dinner. When the weather isn’t nice enough for the beach we go shopping in town or do jigsaw puzzles.

I read three complete books this year and got halfway through a fourth. I ran on the Surfside bike path at least every other morning, and I did my favorite 8-mile run to Brant Point Lighthouse.

Brant Point Lighthouse. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Brant Point Lighthouse. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

For many years there wasn’t even a single TV in the Nantucket house (pre-cable days) but even my teenage son and nephew now rarely watch more than an occasional baseball game. We have WiFi now, too, but I only turned on my computer twice this year, and once was just to upload the photos from  my camera.

You may think that Nantucket is a place only for the rich and famous, and there’s no denying that much about the island is pricey and exclusive. But it’s also a place where you can drive on the sand and watch the sunset. A place where I never blow dry my hair and rarely wear makeup. And it’s also the only place where I can comfortably chat with a retired Fortune 500 CEO while we are both wearing bathing suits.

Now that I’m back in West Hartford it’s hard to avoid the back-to-school sales. My son has 350 pages left in his summer reading book and has to memorize the periodic table and attend soccer tryouts before school starts next week. I’m writing stories again in between frequent trips to Target helping my daughter prepare to go back to college later this week. I blow dried my hair this morning and am wearing makeup.

Although time or money may keep you from visiting your happy place with as much as you like, I’ve always believed that a true vacation is one where you can completely relax, let your hair down – or in my case eschew the blow dryer and put it up in a pony tail – and refresh your outlook on life. And while your mood may not be as happy on the first day back to work as it was on the last day before vacation, do what you can to keep a little bit of your happy place feeling for as long as possible.

Logistics required my college sophomore daughter and I to travel separately from my husband and son this year. She controlled the music during the drive to Hyannis. This song (Zac Brown Band, featuring Jimmy Buffett) pretty much says it all:

Knee deep in the water somewhere 
Got the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair 
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair 
Sunrise there’s a fire in the sky 
Never been so happy 
Never felt so high 
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise.

I’m not putting away my flip flops any time soon.

My daughter, husband, and dog take a beach walk in Nantucket. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

My daughter, husband, and dog take a beach walk in Nantucket. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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