On a sweet, warm summer day in August I dropped the girls off at camp. On that same summer day Tom dropped the boys off at camp. The two of us, respectively, drove windows down, music up (our music) and sang loudly all the way back home. It has been 14 years since Tom and I have had a week without our kids at home. We had planned to take the week and go on a trip. There was talk of a San Juan biking adventure and a Canadian yoga/hiking get away. As we helped plan and pack the gear for the kids all I could think about was not packing and not planning and simply taking an old fashioned trip HOME. That is what happened. We stayed home for a week in peace and quiet. I actually could hear the appliances hum. The dishwasher and the garbage didn’t fill up in a day and the pantry items remained in their places, unopened.
What happened during those days surprised and humored me. First of all, the whole “to do when kids are GONE” list got thrown out the window. “Good lord, woman!” I thought to myself “this is your time to camp out at home, relax and be free.” Four of our most treasured responsibilities were suddenly not our responsibilities! We opted for freedom from lists, tasks and obligations. We found ourselves willingly and gleefully turning our life upside down. Instead of acting like grown ups with kids, we chose to behave like emerging teenagers, gently yet skillfully pushing our boundaries of the rules of the house. In the evenings we slopped together PBandJ sandwiches and bowls of cereal to munch on while dining on our couch and staying up late watching HBO series. We slept in, stayed in pajamas, read the newspaper, watched more HBO.
One day I went to Seattle without a fixed plan and allowed the moment to inform me of its next manifestation. It was the best day! I attended yoga, ate delicious food, visiting with a friend, walked through the Pike Place Market, enjoyed a spontaneous coffee date with my sister and then sauntered on home to make dinner for Tom and I. The week was an escape from life as usual. But, here is the deal. I didn’t have to escape! I stayed in the seat of my own day to day life. It was as if I just turned things upside down and swapped roles for a week. We lived like we were the kids in the house. We let the summer days unfold without deadlines, meetings or schedules. We ate a kale free diet. We exercised very little. We didn’t do the laundry. Now, you may be thinking aghast – “what lazy slobs!” Nah! I have to admit that when we gave ourselves permission to be relaxed and in the moment life became a real fun adventure.
There was some regret at not having our car packed with kayaks, tent, bikes and gear — albeit even guilt. But once we became our adventure by changing our movement in our regular day to day lives, trippin’ out on the freedom to choose to get in the car or not, freedom to not prepare a healthy meal for the family, freedom to sit on our own couch and read a book for hours uninterrupted, freedom to be open to the call of each moment.
What I learned when we escaped into our own routines and turned things upside down was that it stimulated new ways of seeing myself in the landscape of my own life. I bent the rules a little bit about how things should run to keep a sense of order and routine. The energy at home felt renewed and soulfully charged with fun, connection and ease.
We did happen to get some things done. We got a new car (a favorite pastime of mine — trading cars), we hired some help to put up shelves in bedrooms and managed to squeeze in some organizing of closets and cleaning out the fridge. All in good balance with the fun that we had turning our lives inside out, upside down right here at home.
True adventures begin inside. Yoga is an adventure inside the mind and the body — our human home. You don’t have to travel far or seek beyond one’s own skin to find joy, wonder and a renewed sense of being alive.