I was recently asked by a company called: “Home Away from Home” to write a post about my home away from home. Home Away from Home is a company that takes care of people’s loved ones (pets) when they are away.
My home away from home has always been the beach. Growing up in New Jersey Ocean City, NJ was engrained in me from a very young age. Not one summer went by that my family and I did not spend a great deal of time at this beach. Ocean City is an hour away from my home so if we did not spend our vacations there we most certainly made weekly day trips down to OC. My grandmother had a home there and later in life my friends and I always made sure to have a place for the summer. It has been the most important place in the world to me since I could walk however became much more important after I first left the Mayo Clinic in MN.
I went to the Pain Rehab Center in MN two times in my adult life. After I left the first time I slowly got my life together and began managing pain without help or medication for a very long time. I went back to college in Denver, CO changing my major to social work as I wanted to help people with chronic pain as the Mayo Clinic had saved me. I was happy, healthy, and for the first time since my accident living life to the fullest. I graduated college with a 4.0, moved back to New Jersey and was soon working as a medical social worker. Unfortunately my success in managing chronic pain naturally did not last. About six years later I thought that I was cured in a way and stopped practicing all the tools I needed for my chronic pain management. Slowly, I began falling into old patterns and my chronic pain returned with a vengeance. I returned to the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehab Center feeling like a complete failure. However, it was once again the greatest decision I ever made. As my dad used to say: “It is not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get up.” After leaving the Mayo Clinic the second time I was very afraid. I had the tools I needed, I was off all medication, but I was petrified to enter the real world again. I took a few months before going back to work to truly find myself and made certain I was ready to manage pain naturally. There was no way I was going to be able to go back to the Mayo Clinic and I knew I was given an opportunity and did not want to waste it. Each day, I drove to Ocean City. It was off season but quite warm. I went to the same exact spot each day and for the first time in my adult life actually saw the ocean. I spent hours there: reading, meditating, people watching, walking, and one day I knew I was ready. I had never practiced mindfulness or living in the moment until after my second experience with the Mayo Clinic. I had been to the beach a thousand plus times but I never knew its beauty until then. I realize now I could not see it’s beauty until I was able to see my own. I always went by myself because and for the first time ever enjoyed being alone. I began to love my own company. I was living, I was happy, and I was ready.
Now I am able to take my daughter to my favorite place in the world. This picture is her first time in Ocean City. But it will not be her last. This weekend we are taking a trip to the beach and I am so excited for her to see the ocean as she has not seen it since she was a baby. The beach especially the beach in Ocean City will always be my home away from home. It is where I was re born.