Wednesday, June 02, 2010

My Happiness Project - by Cara

For those of you who missed reading my blog from last week, I discussed how my fifteenth wedding anniversary was coming up on Memorial Day Weekend. The issue, though, was that my husband and I are newly separated. I knew that if I were to stay at home, I would be crying and grieving the entire weekend. I decided that the best thing I could do was to get away to a place that would distract and enthrall me enough to try to “forget” that it even was my anniversary. Here I chronicle what I term, my own Happiness Project.

I made the decision to go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. I had been there for short stays twice before. I adored everything about this resort! From it’s many pools and water activities, to an expansive underground aquarium, to rock climbing! I loved it all!!

I arrived at the hotel at approximately 6 pm and after dropping my things off in my room, I headed for the outdoor bar for a large tropical drink! It relaxed me and set the tone for the rest of my stay! I perused the hotel, the choice of activities offered, walked to a nearby shopping area, and essentially just took in the gorgeous surroundings! Although there were may options to partake of, including a Sheryl Crow concert at the hotel, I simply just wandered around, collected brochures and mulled through them once I returned to my room.

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer location as hotel rooms go (remember, I AM the Hotel Snob - see Archives under same title). I had a room at the end of the hallway, away from elevators, traffic, maintenance rooms, but most importantly, right next to the beach and ocean! The sound of the ocean washing onto the shore was so relaxing, I left my sliding door open all night, every night!! I loved falling asleep to the sound of the rolling waves!

When I woke up the following day, I decided not to sign up for any specific activities, except for the Sheryl Crow concert, so that I could lounge and relax. I found a sparkling pool that had cutouts in rock, lining the pool. Through those oblong cutouts, you could see portions of the aquarium that ran behind it! It was so amazing! I went to get my phone, praying I wouldn’t drop it in the water, and took photos of these aquarium cutouts! Later on, I uploaded them to friends as my computer had internet service, but my phone didn’t.

When some clouds started wandering by, I decided to head back to shower and change. Once clean and happy, I ventured to the excursion desk to see if I could plan an activity or two for the following day. When I visited the hotel last year, I swam with dolphins. This time around, I decided to try swimming with sea lions! I went to book my adventure, but was told it was sold out for the whole next day. And I would be leaving the day after that. A lovely lady who worked at the excursion desk suggested that I go on a sea lion adventure that was offsite, but close by. She suggested I come down at 9 am the next morning to make sure I got a slot in the schedule.

The next day, I ran down, in my pajamas no less, to the excursion desk. The lovely lady who was there the day before was working again that day and remembered me from the night before. She first tried calling the sea lion tour that was offsite, but did not get an answer. On a whim, she tried calling over to the hotel’s sea lion facility and explained that I really wanted to go on the sea lion excursion, that I was only one person, and could they possibly squeeze me in that day...and they did!! It was the last excursion of the day, but that lovely lady got me in to swim with sea lions!! I was so excited, I hugged her! I then went back to my room to see how I would fill up the rest of the day. I decided to swim some more, walk along the beach, and sit in a float and go down the lazy river! Well, I did most of what I wanted, except for the lazy river. There were quite a few children there and all of the floats were occupied. I thought of my son and how the two of us laid on a two-person float last year and floated the mile of lazy river together! I decided to wait to go down the lazy river when I came again with my son!

Then I was ready to play with the sea lions! I boarded a hotel shuttle to travel to the area where the dolphins and sea lions were kept. They had us put wet suits on over our bathing suits. Then, after a lengthy, but quite informative orientation of the facility, we met all of the sea lions, even the 4-month-old babies! These “babies” weighed 150 pounds!! The biggest male sea lion they had weighed 500 pounds!! That’s a lot of sea lion!!

The sea lion we interacted with was named “Pippin.” She was a highly trained female who worked with a female trainer. The trainer had Pippin do some tricks and show off for us. Then we were able to get into the water with her. First everyone had a chance to pet her and get a picture taken petting her. Pippin even stuck her tongue out at the camera on queue! We then learned about some of the commands the trainers teach the sea lions. One was a kiss on the cheek. Everyone got a chance to get “kissed” by Pippin and “hugged” too! For the less squeamish, we could feed Pippin a fish as a treat. I decided to go for it! When would I feed a sea lion again?

Once the sea lion excursion was over (and another nice woman worker, who felt badly that I was there by myself, gave me a free snorkel, mask, and bag to take home to Brandon!), I shuttled back to my hotel and poured myself into my room to take a short nap. Then it was up and out to visit the “Bar on the Beach.” After 2 daiquiris, I, along with all of the other patrons, were dancing together with the bartenders, laughing and having the time of our lives!! When was the last time I uninhibitedly danced at a bar?? Too many decades ago, that’s for sure!! The bartenders stayed open a full extra hour for us, and played lots of music from my “era!” Once they closed down the bar, I stumbled to my room (those daiquiris were DAIQUIRIS!!). I wasn’t hungry and too “tipsy” to wander around, so I went on to my computer and made it an early night. Again, falling asleep to the sound of lapping waves!

I woke up the next day late!! I don’t remember waking up so late in ages!! I wandered downstairs to get coffee. I came back and dressed. But this was my REALLY relaxing day!! And the Sheryl Crow concert was that evening!! I took lots of photos, visited the aquarium the hotel is known for and took the day in stride. Then it hit me! I would be leaving this Paradise early the next morning!! I didn’t want to leave!! It was too soon!! I went to the front desk and inquired about the shuttle service I would need to pick me up early the next day. I found out that it was too late in the day to arrange it! There would be no way to get a shuttle the next morning to make it to the airport on time!! I called Jet Blue. They said for a $40 flight change, they could put me on a later, direct flight. I took it! I took the latest flight they had!! I could stay!! Even a few more hours made me elated!! I dressed for the Sheryl Crow concert, dancing around to the song “Soak Up the Sun!!”

I knew that luck was on my side, once again, when I went to the theater and found that they had given the same seat to both a gentleman who was part of a 10-person party and me. I didn’t want to break up the party, and since the box office made the mistake, and again, because I was by myself, they gave me a seat 4 rows from the stage!! I was so close, I could count every one of Sheryl’s waves in her hair!! I yelled and screamed, and even got up on the chairs like everyone else and danced my heart out!! I felt free! I felt unencumbered! Like I didn’t have a care in the world!! Like a feeling I haven’t felt in decades!

I am home now. I slept with my little boy the night I returned because he had fallen asleep by the time I arrived back. I wanted him to wake up knowing Mommy had returned, as promised, and I was right there next to him. Along with a bag full of presents for him to dive into once he woke up.

I titled this blog, “My Happiness Project” because I brought a book along on my trip called, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin. I fortunately or unfortunately, never even had the chance to crack open the book. But I set out to find happiness for myself, and I certainly did just that! Thus, the title of this blog.

One last thing; I have found that traveling alone can offer quite a few benefits! The best being finding your own happiness, any way you can!!
The second best is getting quite a few perks for being a solo traveler! I highly recommend it for anyone who is game!! Oh, and I WILL be going back to Paradise! Very soon!!

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Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

Sounds so amazing and empowering and rejuvenating. I applaud you for going. And, I'd love to go some time too. Go Cara!!

7:45 AM  

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