Getting Out Of Dodge

I have been looking forward to today for weeks. Today is the day Belle and I take our first solo road trip!

We won’t be gone long–only 3 days–but it’s good experience for us. My parents are a bit nervous about me driving by myself, not just because it’s an 11 hour drive, but also because of people. People are afraid of Belle, though, so I have that going for us. She also won’t let anyone get near me if she’s not entirely comfortable with the situation. She’s a smart dog. But there’s more to me doing this than just to see family and because I hate flying.

I need to know I can.

You see, for years, anytime a road trip was involved, I was never alone–it was always my husband and I moving or driving home from college. It’s taken me just over a year to be okay with myself and my capabilities, so this is my chance to really see what I can do.

. . . . . .

As I’ve said before, I am a planner, but I’ve gotten to the point of only planning what I can stand to plan or what is necessary. I’ve been thinking about this road trip for weeks and slowly gathering supplies and packing them into the car as I could. Now that we are heading out, everything is there and ready.

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What sort of things are hitting the road? Let’s see…

Belle. Traveling with a dog means I need to pack things specifically for her. She actually has her own little bag:
(1) Food & water bowls–I bought plastic ones for travel, so they aren’t too heavy and they won’t break.
(2) Wipes–She has some allergies (who doesn’t, right?), so I’m always prepared with a way to wipe off her paws or clean her ears.
(3) Float coat–Otherwise known as a dog life vest. The members of my family we are visiting live right on a lake, and, though Belle can swim, I want to make sure she is safe. Plus, there’s a little handle that gives me something to hang on to if I need to grab her quickly.
(4) Cooling vest–This little vest is something she wears frequently on our hikes. Since she is all black, it helps to keep her cool when it’s warm out.
(5) ESA vest–I don’t put this on her frequently, but when we are traveling or going to be in places I may not feel entirely comfortable, I bring it. It helps to let people know that (a) I would greatly appreciate if they ask before petting her, and (b) she provides a type of service to me, even if it is just her adorable companionship.
(6) Towel
(7) Seatbelt harness–she isn’t too pleased by this, but it keeps her safe.

In addition to the bag of supplies, I also have a container for her regular food and for treats.

Me. I have a bag of clothes and toiletries, a backpack for hiking (honestly, it’s just one I don’t mind getting dirty), and a backpack for traveling that has all the essentials (wallet, book, computer, cords, etc.). As always, my journal and bag of pens will be in that bag. I honestly don’t think I could go three whole days without writing. I’m also bringing my weights (just one light set). I’m currently doing Beachbody’s 80 Day Obsession program, and I really don’t want to miss a workout. I take pride in how I feel now, and the program has helped me in a lot of ways, so it’s important to me to travel with those things.

Food. This is probably the most important category. Because of the 80 Day Obsession program, I have been a lot more conscious of what I eat, so I am brining my own food instead of relying on fast food stops along the way. Plus, this will help me save some money. I’ve packed all the food into a cooler, along with my portion containers from the Obsession program:

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(1) Fruit salad–I love fruit, and the program allows 3 fruit-specific containers a day. I am hoping the fruit will be able to last me the entire time.
(2) Shakeology packets–Basically a protein drink, but they taste pretty good. It helps me feel fuller longer so I’m not tempted to get fast food.
(3) Meat sticks–I’ve always wanted to try these, and they’re good if I get a need for meat.
(4) Snack bars
(5) RX Bars–Again, so I’m not tempted to stop for fast food. Plus, they help my sweet fix.
(6) Yogurt & granola
(7) Celery & peanut butter–Because, duh.
(8) Shakeology (not pictured)–This is my post-workout fuel for this morning, and it will make sure I am not hungry as we begin our drive.

The food is not just for the drive today, either. The RX bars, meat sticks, and snack bars also serve as fuel for any adventures we have while we are with family, as well as for the drive back. Honestly, a year ago, I wouldn’t have had any self control, but now I know better, and I am determined to make it all last.

Audio. I get bored really easily, so it’s important for me to have multiple things to listen to when I’m driving, especially on long trips. Here is what’s playing on my phone:
(1) Podcasts: Cabinet of Curiosities; my church’s podcast (Collective Church); JourneywomenLoreThe Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast
(2) Audible: all the Harry Potter books; The World of Lore: Monstrous CreaturesEmbraced by Lisa TerKeurst; In The Middle of the Mess by Shelia Walsh (though this is my Bible study right now, so not while I’m driving)
(3) Music (I use Spotify): a road trip playlist that includes Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Carrie Underwood (just to name a few); my church’s worship playlist; and Top Christian

With these options, I doubt I will be bored of what I hear.

. . . . . .

The car is packed, and we are ready to hit the road. I am really excited to be able to do this, and I am also excited to see my extended family. I’ll be taking plenty of photos and taking lots of notes.

Feel free to follow along at my Instagram (@digitalinkandparchment) or Belle’s (@_belle_bear_)!

. . . . . .

Have you ever gone on a road trip before? How did it turn out?

When A Planner Has Anxiety

I’ve been a planner for at least as long as I’ve been in school. I did a lot of activities growing up, so between those extracurriculars and actual schoolwork, planning was essential to success. In college, planning meant learning time management so I could work and maintain a high GPA. Things were often planned out for extensive periods of time–such as multiple semesters. I like having control, and I hate the unknown; planning was a way for me to know and control my world.

When I started going to therapy, it was recommended I try to pinpoint what causes my anxiety. And you know what the root cause ended up being? Yup–planning.

But I should rephrase that to excessive planning. I had been planning my life–and the life of my husband–for years because I wanted control over what could happen. As it turns out, planning can’t control everything, and it can actually breed a lot of resentment.

When I lost control of everything, though, I couldn’t bring myself to plan anything. Not even my day. I was too depressed. And when I tried planning, my heart started racing, I couldn’t breathe, and I would burst into tears.

Over time, and with therapy, I warmed up to planning again, but with a change. I would only plan what was absolutely necessary. I began bullet journaling. Not only does this allow me freedom to only plan what I absolutely have to, but it also gives me a place to write down my thoughts during the day, writing prompts or ideas, and my prayers. Because I tend to overthink, having a safe space to release those thoughts has really made an impact.

As my responsibilities have increased and changed–like having two part-time jobs–I have to plan any fun time, retreats, or vacations I want to enjoy. As my mental state has gotten better, I can actually enjoy those times. And I finally planned my first solo vacation.

Belle and I are going on a road trip.

My birthday is next weekend, and her and I are going to visit family in another state. We will only be gone for four days, but it’s our first trip solo, and I’m really excited. It’s the least amount of planning I have ever put into a trip–I asked at the beginning of the month if they would be around for a visit, and they said yes. I’ve only been really planning it for three weeks.

And it feels really good.

God has used this uncontrollable time in my life to show me I need to learn to let go of control and hand it to Him. As always, I’ll be taking notes the entire trip. I am really looking forward to seeing what I learn about traveling solo with Belle and about myself.

So, I’m curious: what would you like to see about the trip?