Off the Grind
Yes, you read that right: Off. The. Grind!
Back in July I took some intentional time OFF from the hustle and grind of daily life. It was a bucket list trip: I drove Route 66 with my youngest son, Benji—and we had the time of our lives!
You see, when I was little, my dad was an over-the-road (long-haul) truck driver, which I thought was the COOLEST thing ever. I would sit in the back of the cab with my stuffed animals and dream of seeing the world from the road. I even got to go on a few trips, which was the best! In my child-heart, there was nothing better than hanging out with my dad on a long drive. And I loved paying it forward with Ben … same experience, but from the driver’s seat. <3
So from Chicago to Los Angeles, in a rented Ford Mustang, over eight states and the course of an entire week, Ben and I traversed the country. We visited the Route 66 Museum, saw a restored gas station, ate at the Cozy Dog (where corn dogs were invented), poked around Pink Elephant Antiques (an old high school turned antique store), saw the St. Louis Arch, and stayed the night at the famous Boots Hotel, just like Clark Gable did.
And that was just the first day!
By the mid-point of the trip, we had also seen Mickey Mantle’s childhood home, had ice cream at the Dairy King (not to be confused with the Dairy Queen, as this is older and apparently superior!), visited the Cadillac Ranch, and ate dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, where we did NOT attempt the 72-ounce steak-eating challenge.
In New Mexico, with Ben’s encouragement, I also faced some fears, including jumping off a small cliff into an 81-foot deep blue hole and swimming in non-pool water—you know, the kind with fish in it! I bravely paddled around the lake water convinced I would die from either touching a fish or ingesting algae, but at least I would die making Benji proud.
As we headed west, we ate green chiles and chorizo, shopped for turquoise, and almost ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. We made new friends at a random sushi place when one of the diners I had scoped out was closed. We visited the Continental Divide, explored the Petrified Forest National Park, and stayed at both the El Rancho Hotel and the Supai Motel. I had plenty of opportunities to try out my rusty Spanish, so now Ben knows how to tell me to hurry up in two languages. Ha!
I’m telling you all of this because if you haven’t planned some time for yourself “off the grind” this year, DO IT. Make the plans. Jump in the water. Eat the chiles.
Whether you get away with your family or a friend, or if you go by yourself, whether it’s one day or one week, you NEED it. Your soul needs to be fulfilled with more than the daily hustle of work. If you’re like me, you love your work—it fuels your spirit—and it can be tough to pull yourself away from the tasks and responsibilities that always feel important. But what’s also important is YOUR well-being. Your family, your relationships, and your own heart need attention. I want you to look back on the time you spent away from work and say, “That was the BEST. I needed that!”
For me, I had to remind myself that I can always work another day and do another load of laundry, but I’ll never get a second chance to have these years with my kids. Carving out this purposeful, planned time to rest and play was special for both of us, to a degree that’s hard to put into words. I hope someday Benji will look back and remember this time as one of the best vacations ever.
2,400 miles on the road,
53 hours of driving in the car,
20+ roadside cafes and gas station snacks,
6 vintage motels,
1 week of truly priceless memories with my boy
It’s something I’ll never forget. Here’s to MORE intentional time off the grind, for all of us.