SGLY: I decided it was time
I did something I had never done before: I took a staycation. Two nights at a hotel a few towns away felt more like a different state — certainly, a different state of mind.
I was given an itinerary of activities when I checked in. My eyes glossed over the boot camp fitness class and landed on the solo guitarist playing an evening set. As the sun went down, I found myself downstairs, occupying the corner chair in a café closest to the musician. A dim lamp beside my chair cast a faint glow. And in this light, everything looked as if it were being played out one beat slower – from the couples talking at the bar to the child swaying on the dance floor upon his parent’s hip. Everything looked magical.
I told myself I would listen to the guitarist until my cappuccino was finished. I stayed one hour beyond my last sip. I would have left sooner but an older woman in a bright turquoise dress caught my attention. Her silver hair clasped with a single comb wisped just below her shoulders. Only when she twirled and her hair lifted did I notice she had just as many freckles on her back as she did on her face.
I sat alone and watched her dance alone. Her comb slipped from her hair and fell to the ground. As she leaned over to pick it up, she removed her sandals from her feet. She placed both her comb and shoes on an empty chair and returned to the dance floor. She danced barefoot. Her energy gave me energy. Her smile made me smile.
It is hard to explain, but as I watched this woman dance, I felt as if my outside self was watching my inside self. In a hotel café full of people, her eyes would often land upon mine, and she would smile. I cannot tell you if she was returning my smile or if I was returning hers. Either way, I sensed we both needed this escape — this moment — to breathe and be free from our thoughts. And in our smiles, we acknowledged that this was indeed a good moment – a moment worth enjoying no matter what has happened or what will come.
This small snippet of time framed the remainder of my weekend in the same magical glow. I made a conscious decision to be authentically me in whatever I did. I did not care that I was a party of one dining in a room full of couples and families. And I found freedom in letting my freckles and wrinkles show. Oddly enough, I felt considerably younger.
On my last morning at the hotel, I sat on the veranda and slipped off my shoes, allowing the morning breeze to tickle my toes. Music piped in through the speakers as I closed my eyes and danced in my imagination. When the song was over, I opened my eyes to see the older woman from the other night walking toward my table. I had not seen her since the evening of my arrival.
“I want to go wherever you just went,” she said with a smile in her eyes.
Once more, I wondered whose smile sparked whose. “I was just following your lead from when you danced barefoot the other night,” I said.
She looked at me with a tilt of her head. Her face fell slightly. “I haven’t danced like that in a very long time,” she confessed.
“What was the occasion?”
“I decided it was time,” she said.
I saw her smile fight to return to her face. It did return, and I knew then that her resolve to be joyful was greater than her circumstances. Once again, I felt as if I were looking at the inside of me. Perhaps our souls crossed paths to see one another as a reminder to find our smiles again. To find them and to share them.
Upon my return home, I had a friend ask me what the occasion was for my staycation. Before my retreat I would have said it was to mentally prepare for an upcoming event. But during my staycation, I realized I had fallen short in nurturing my mind and body in recent months. I had been responding to my stressors more than my blessings. I had forgotten that taking care of oneself is a blessing — a necessary gift. So, my answer now changed.
“I decided it was time,” I said. And it was.
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.