In December my sister gave me a Christmas gift and at the time, I was unsure if I would ever be able to enjoy it. Inside a beautiful box with a designer passport holder was an all-expense paid vacation. This included first-class round trip flights, ground transportation to the resort and then a WEEK at Beaches in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Part of me was excited the other part, well, you know… Anxious. In December I didn’t think much about it because I was focusing on my health. Then, I had my surgery and the reality set in that my health was improving and I could start to get excited.

The truth is, I have never taken a vacation for this length of time. Even when I went to Bali, I spent just as much time in travel as I did vacationing – so this was new to me. I am one of those people who takes a 4 day weekend and feels guilty for missing work or not being home to cook. Let’s not even get into the anxiety I had over leaving my dog behind. That is a whole other blog.

My sister, Tracey, travels for a living and I am behind a computer. She spends half her life in airports and hotels. I commute to work for 7 minutes and when there is a “traffic jam” and it takes more than 9 minutes to get home, I get all kinds of frazzled. Tracey lives in a big house that I call “the museum” because everything has a place and no matter what time of day or night you are there – everything is in its designated place. That means 23 (I counted) pillows on her bed, just for show. They’re fluffed to perfection. Every bed made, every single day (even the 8-year-olds!). Beautiful décor and straight lines, color schemes and luxury. My house is a bit more… Modest. A simple sofa and TV, a “living” room with no furniture at all… Cabinets are full of reusable containers from take-out, unlike hers that have glass doors so everyone can see how perfectly she stacks her plates. Her garbage is in a secret drawer that nobody can ever find, unlike mine. You can always find three containers, right off the kitchen for GLASS/PLASTIC, CARDBOARD/PAPER, and TRASH.

I am not saying either of us lives better than the other, just different. I knew that this vacation wasn’t going to be like the vacations I plan. The typical Dee-Dee vacation is a trip to Miami, my favorite place on the planet. We take the cheapest flights in coach, carry-on only (so pack light), I even hit up the grocery store for snacks and drinks. We will usually stay at a nice Art Deco Hotel, mid-range, off the Ocean and away from the madness of South Beach. If you see me posting about a vacation, I can assure you, this is the standard. AND I LOVE IT! Well, not Tracey, we are talking Premier check-in, Group A boarding, big seats with free in-flight food and drinks. When she says all-inclusive, it is no joke. There was 24/7 concierge service, romantic white glove dinner on the beach, swim-up bars, water sports, kids clubs, teens clubs, walk-out to Ocean, and… YOU COULDN’T EVEN TIP! I was looking forward to trying something different and enjoying time with my sister, daughter and 2 nieces.

First off, Jamaica is beautiful. When you are approaching the airport from above, all you see is blue-green water. If you haven’t been there – go. If you are a cautious traveler, like me, the resort was great. The people were so kind, there was no shortage of things to do and most importantly, I didn’t get sick from the food or water. That was probably my biggest fear after the trip I call “Nightmare in Puerto Vallarta”.

In brief, I got the ol’ Montezuma’s Revenge. When I called the front desk to find out where there was a doctor, they told me to stay in my room and sent a nice woman who was wearing a white lab coat. No name, no ID, just her and her tackle box. (I shit you not, it was a fisherman’s tackle box) She pulled out some vials and mixed a concoction in a needle and stuck it in my ass cheek. She was gone as fast as she arrived. I paid her $ 40 US Dollars and I felt better in about 2 hours. Now, I don’t know if she was a doctor or not, nor do I care much today because I survived. Whatever she did, it worked.

Anyway, we got to the resort. It’s like you see in the movies and commercials, where they greet you with a tray of local fresh juice and champagne. They put a flower behind your ear and bring you into the nice air-conditioned lobby. I was already impressed and it was five minutes into the trip. The rooms were big and beautiful. We had enough space to stay out of each other’s way when we needed to. By the end of the first day, I was exhausted. I am still recovering from surgery and need to take it easy but, it’s hard with all this beauty in front of me to just “sit” and do nothing. I am out and about, on the go and boy am I paying for it. I was sore every day all day, but I was having the time of my life. Want to see for yourself? Check the hashtag #weekinparadise19 on Instagram.

Thankfully this trip fell over the Fourth of July Holiday, that way I didn’t miss an entire week of work. I am one of “those people”, I rushed back to work after surgery, not because anyone forced me but because I missed being in my office. This trip I promised to not get all pressed over work and life, this was a gift – an opportunity and a blessing. My sister is generous to a fault but I am so grateful to have the memories we made on that trip. Guess what, the world kept turning while I was gone too. My husband and dog survived, my office was still standing and life was just as I left it.

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. There was a point where I was going to tell my sister to bring someone else because I was overwhelmed with the “what if’s” and “who will do this while I am gone” and the bottom line is, those were just excuses. I was looking for a way out of something that looking back, I couldn’t imagine missing out on. I must sound like I am the most ungrateful person, I know. I am not ungrateful, I am just flawed. My sister has taught me a lot in life, this time around it was to let go and enjoy. I did, every single second. I got a week-long lesson in the Art of Vacationing. Not saying I am a professional now, but I think I might approach my next trip a little different.

So, here is to the people who know how to unwind. I am a work in progress, but I think this is a great start!

Dee-Dee Kanhai, aka “The Spice of Suburbia”, was a big city girl for 25 years who was transplanted to the Suburbs of Northern New Jersey. This relocation led to her “undoing” and with that, the discovery of her true self. Besides being a wife and mother to a teenage daughter and toy Chihuahua, Dee-Dee works in finance and owns a small Etsy Shop @LoveTheUndoing, where she sells heart-made jewelry, crystals, and other whimsical crafts. Dee-Dee is a student of life, teacher of meditation, practicing yogi and a mystical moon child.

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