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A break from spring break

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

For spring break last year, we traveled to Siesta Key. This year, we expected to go to Naples. In reality, the only trip I am actually making is to the grocery store, which is OK. I am trying to make the best of my staycation.

No spring break trip for us this year. What a bummer! But the coronavirus isn't the only one to blame. I will share the whole story another time. To lighten the mood a bit, here is a picture of me drinking the best margarita I’ve ever had in my entire life! It's from a place called The Hub Baja-Grill in Siesta Key if you want to try it.

Everything about that place captivated me! The beautiful beach and the white, soft sand, riding a bicycle by the ocean, and watching the stunning sunset on the Gulf Coast.

However, I do not miss the blisters on my feet and the calf pain I felt for over two weeks after having the amazing idea of running barefoot on the sand. OK! I know it wasn't the smartest idea. So what? I always dreamed of being that person who could run for miles on the sand like a pro. So, I thought now that I am actually a runner I could at least give it a try. I am very proud of myself for accomplishing it and for everything I learned from the experience

That Saturday, I woke up before the sunrise and instead of rolling back and forth in bed, I decided that I might as well go for a run. As I dressed, I realized I had one little problem: I didn't pack any shoes except flip-flops and sandals. Since I've learned that when problems aren't preventable all I have to do it is to find a solution for them, I decided to take advantage of the circumstance and head out barefoot, crossing off that of my bucket list.

Initially, the idea was to try and run for about three miles on the sand. Nevertheless, the weather, the gorgeous view, the sounds of nature and the combination of all the factors mentioned above were so inviting that I just couldn't help it! After seven miles—when I finally got back to my starting point—I stretched on the beach and I had the blessing of witnessing dolphins swimming right ahead of me. So rewarding!

Despite two burned toes, a couple of blisters and very sore calves, I think it was well worth the experience. Would I do it again? Absolutely! But next time, I will do a short run and be aware of my limits.

That was a year ago, and here I am, not in Naples as I hoped, but at home. Don't get me wrong; I am having a great time. Today, as many other days of this week, I spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the lovely weather, getting some sun and hanging around the pool with my family; relaxing in the hammock. In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself of what is really going on right now, but I try to not think much about it.

I know sitting around and worrying about it won't help, so for this one week I want to take a break to live in my own little world. To focus on the moment. One thing that really melts my heart is when I jump in the pool and my dog, Oreo, rushes to the pool steps and swims toward me. She grabs my wrist with her teeth and pulls me to the edge of the pool as if she is rescuing me. She does the same to all of us as many times as she needs to ensure we are safe! She is always alert when it comes to playing safe in the pool.

Peanut, on the other hand, is a little skeptical of the water but doesn't think twice before protecting us. Yesterday, I did a couple of different massage techniques on my daughter, making her burst into laughter, Peanut came right up to me and barked, defending her. It amazes me how much love and loyalty these animals have to offer.

Nevertheless, I deeply miss hanging out with my friends! That is something I am having a lot of trouble dealing with. I went from seeing them twice a week to not at all. Now I try to find ways to fill that void. As I run, I count cars and pedestrians to make the time to go by. This week, I thank my two canine friends for helping me to accomplish an eight-mile run. They kept me busy and distracted as I ran.

For example, during my last run with Oreo, I had a memory of the first time I started to run after I moved to Miami. As Oreo started to approach her first mile, I looked at my Garmin to see how we were doing as far as pace. At that exact moment, I recalled the days when I checked my Fitbit at that exact same point because I was struggling to accomplish that single mile.

"I have come a long way!" I thought, proud of myself.

As we kept on running, I realized how engaging in such sport has presented so many amazing experiences in my life. Besides the fact that it has added quality to my life, it also positively impacted my entire family, since everyone wants to join me and be active outdoors. What was supposed to be nothing other than a sport itself, ended up becoming a recreational activity for all of us to enjoy, even our dogs. Which is something to be very proud of considering the times we live in when children spend most of their time indoors with their gadgets. Well, except for the last couple of days.

With the coronavirus pandemic and stay-home orders issued, we have seen lots of families out; something we never witnessed before. My hope is that what we are going through now will help people to appreciate outdoor activities so our kids can experience a childhood similar to our generation when growing up.

Many things have happened since my last post. During my runs, I noticed a considerable decline in the number of drivers on the road. This past Wednesday, I saw less than fifteen. On the other hand, there is an increase in walkers and runners. Some are getting extremely friendly at this point. Even a fellow runner from the run club, who happens to be a mailman (and always very friendly, by the way), saw me by my house and stopped to say hello. He had driven by an adjacent street, saw me watering my plants, and decided to stop by. That was a pleasant surprise! In times like this, we learn to cherish simple gestures even more, no matter how many feet apart we are supposed to be.

Most grocery stores are reserving the first hour of operation to customers 65 and older. They have also changed their hours to be able to sanitize the stores consistently. Customers are wearing masks and gloves as well. Unfortunately, many still don't have any sense of the concept of social distancing, including grocery store workers.

During my last trip to the grocery store, what astonished me wasn’t the line outside before the store opened, but that they all headed straight through the door, still in formation, toward the paper towel and toilet paper aisle, only dispersing after reaching it.

The good news is that tough times also bring opportunities to show kindness to others. Many businesses are offering free items to health workers which is very heart-warming. Others are taking advantage of the increase in paper product’s “demand” and even offer a complementary roll of TP on orders over $20.

I am grateful for all the people who came up with amazing ideas to brighten up other’s lives. These have been such hard times; many of us are on edge and struggling, so I appreciate any who make me—and many others—smile.

The coronavirus and its consequences are not a problem that can be prevented at this time; we can only do our part and follow CDC recommendations and government orders, but we do have the power to find positive ways to deal with it all instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and complaining. It won’t help at all and will bring us down even further. We don't need any more of that right now.

That being said, I believe it is our job to think as positively as we can. We can conquer this together, even while physically apart. All it takes is a bit of willpower. If you don't think you have it, this is a great time to find it. I believe God doesn't waste any pain. All difficult circumstances are teachable moments. I think now it is a good time to reflect on that.

I am delighted that I have been able to spend a lot of time with my daughter and homeschool her. I love teaching her new things. This has been an incredible experience!

"What about you? What positive things have these new circumstances presented you with?"

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