Thursday I woke up and like magic, turned 50. Yep, it’s been half a century since I came into this world on a Friday the 13th. When I woke up, I struggled with planning and indulging in a day of self-care. Instead of letting waves of frustration flood me, I paused and thought about the irony. I am a recovering Type A, so it can drive me bonkers when I don’t have at least a vague idea how my day will unwind.
Why is that?
I mean, what is so hard about dedicating a day to myself?!
As a mom, I am used to looking after the well-being of the rest of my family. It’s a difficult mindset shift to focus exclusively on me and my self care. Can you relate?
I had just landed the night before in Orlando, Florida – home to Minnie and Mickey (and beyond). No, Disney wasn’t in the cards — although I briefly flirted with the idea of visiting the Magic Kingdom to view the nightly fireworks.
But it is hot and humid and nothing is more unpleasant than waiting in dastardly long lines for a few seconds of excitement. Nope, that’s just too much ‘foreplay’ to my liking, lol.
Then I floated the idea of a sensory deprivation / flotation tank experience and found a great deal in a nearby salon But I recently tried this on a trip to Toronto. While it was relaxing, being ‘forced’ to relax in a set amount of time can be a bit stressful.
So I relaxed a little longer and took a nice hot shower to wipe away the travel grime. I let the lavender-mint shampoo from Young Living work its magic–that stuff is both invigorating and relaxing.
Back to the drawing board. I was getting hungry and didn’t want to wait too long before crossing the threshold of hungry to hangry, lol. Food options were slim (no pun intended) I craved a healthy meal in a place with a chill vibe.
I Googled ‘relaxing healthy food Orlando’ and found a few options. I felt like my grandmother (may she rest in peace) at Lord & Taylor’s at the discount rack as I combed through the choices. Yep, that sucked up another half hour (maybe longer) while I ran down rabbit holes viewing menus, only to return to my first choice.
The Sanctum, a vegan, no GMOs lots of gluten-free options kinda place is where I landed. My timing was impeccable. I was seated immediately.
The decor reminded me of my mom’s design work – high end, tasteful, but not garish, with a timeless trendy edge to it.
The music, whatever it was, was soothing to the soul and the waitress was kind.
I opted for a Gaia salad (greens, sweet potatoes, avocado, lemon tahini, etc.) and a vegan spin on gumbo soup. Oh, and a number six smoothie with matcha green tea, mango, and I forget what else. Everything was healthy and delicious.
When I left, I realized just how perfect my timing was — the cafe had a long line of folks waiting to be seated!
My next adventure?
It is such a foreign concept being responsible for ensuring my well-being and finding relaxing yet engaging activities to decompress and just chill.
The ‘Beach’ Is Back
I confess. Being a recovering Type A, I had of course done some preliminary research on beaches ‘close’ to Orlando. [Note: Anything more than 10 minutes away is far in my book, having grown up walking distance to the beach. And yes, I am a ‘beach snob.’]
Oh, and that subheading above, pronounce it with a French twist and you’ll have an Elton John song, lol. A nod to my childhood friend’s mom, Thérèse (may she rest in peace), who used to ask us girls, “Do you want to go to the biiiiitch (beach) today?”
Ok, I digress. By since it’s a day of self-care, I have time for that, right?
I opted for New Smyrna beach — favored by locals and not overbuilt. Unlike the Hamptons, there are no beach front mansions or estates. They did have some condominiums (aka villas) in the distance, but New Smyrna has a buffer zone with its protected and beautiful dunes.
The parking lot attendant was very kind – he explained that there was boardwalk access to the beach and that the $10 parking fee entitled me to an ‘in and out’ plus I could park at the lighthouse if I decided to visit it. (When he said there was a boardwalk, I confess, I internally shuddered and prayed that it wasn’t tacky like Asbury Park, New Jersey in the late 1970’s, lol).
As I mentioned abobve, I am the accidental beach snob–this stems in part from growing up in the Hamptons (eastern Long Island, in New York).
Not to brag, but I’ve been blessed with going to some of the best beaches in the world. Flying Point (in the Hamptons), Siesta Key and Lido (Sarasota, Florida), Ishigaki (Japan), Manly and Bondi (Australia), Biarritz (France), plus a gorgeous beach in Encinitas (with a beachside mediation garden to die for!!)
Yes, I am a spoiled rotten as far as my beach experience goes. So the bar was high!
New Smyrna was fabulous. It was quiet. All I saw was a random surfer dude here and there and when they passed me on the boardwalk, they were deferential. Oh, and that boardwalk was delightful. No commercial activity, just a well-maintained boardwalk.
From the moment I took off my sandals and felt the compact, wet sand under my feet, I immediately felt grounded and at ‘home.’ Home is where the heart is and apparently my heart is (in part) at the beach.
Flashbacks to my childhood summers on Flying Point beach. Memories of my mom lying down, watching our stuff, and reading a good book.
I parked my ‘stuff’ and ventured into the water. I don’t remember ever going into the Atlantic Ocean and having the temperature even in the height of summer being so pleasant. It felt almost like Gulf Coast beach water temperatures.
A sign on the boardwalk reminded people to swim near the lifeguards. I ddn’t see any in sight. I opted to prudently dip my toes and legs. Since I wasn’t familiar with the ocean floor terrain, I didn’t want to go in too deep as I didn’t know where it might ‘fall off’ (I am not comfortable swimming where I don’t know if I can touch the ground).
Oh I was prudent – I still remember being knocked around by waves and doing somersaults in the ocean. Easy as a kid, but at 50, I am not testing my flexibilty without a lifeguard in sight!
I saw at least two types of birds – maybe sandpipers – larger and smaller. I didn’t see seagulls. Of course, after doing a Facebook live video later in the day, I saw the lone pelican swoop by. It was majestic! The smaller birds were adorable – they looked like miniature road runners chasing each other on the sand.
I spent several hours at the beach. I wrote in a journal my mom gave me one year for Christmas and reflected on my day.
Had supper in New Smyrna (nothing to write home about, so I will omit that adventure). I used the ‘in and out’ parking privilege and returned to the beach just in time to experience the gorgeous sunset. I applied a blend of essential oil called ‘Envision’ to set my intentions for the start of a new era — 50 and fabulous.
Ok, and remember those fireworks I opted not to see at Disney? Well, nature decided to give me her own fireworks show on the drive back to Orlando. There was a spectacular lightning show for the last half hour of my drive. I focused on the beauty of that when the torrential rains made driving somewhat challenging.