10 Ways You Can Travel 'New Roads' Without Leaving Home

When I feel up to it, going on a weekend drive is one of my favorite sunshine activities. Supported by the Zofran in my bag, anti-inflammatories, pureed snack packs and so much water, my dad and I drove to see my brother at his school this past Sunday. OK, so I only decided to go after finally taking some real pain meds on Saturday night. Nevertheless, it was lovely. We even stopped at a scenic vineyard on the return trip to snap pictures. Did my pain and nausea increase from all of the time in the car? Oh yeah. Did I fall asleep on the couch as soon as we arrived home? You betcha, and the views were worth it.

Setting out on frequent road trips while managing my chronic illnesses isn’t sustainable or painless. However, moments of spontaneity help me “feel like a person.” This weekend’s route was one we had traversed many times over the years, but there was still plenty to take in. For instance, neither of us had ever followed the signs to a vineyard. Nearby, the promised “ruins” were rather unimpressive, but the road to them was gorgeous. So, this familiar drive became fresh and fun again. It’s that shift in perspective that helps me keep going when symptoms are tough. Hitting the road is definitely one of the most literal ways to do that, but a positive shift can happen at home.

Last week, I wrote about seeing the “incomplete” parts of me in a better light. Focusing on the long view, though rarely easy, can be a hugely beneficial shift in perspective. On a more immediate level, having something to look at or listen to might be necessary. People with chronic illnesses may find themselves in the same physical environment more than the average bear, so we need to find new ways to engage our senses. Let a brand new song, or a whole album, fill your ears. Find an engaging documentary or foreign film outside of your everyday viewing habits. Lately, I’ve followed up on surprisingly compelling book recommendations. Whatever it is, let that new experience be your new road. A short side-trip, if you will.


Here are ten ideas for “new roads” at home this weekend…

1. Ask friends or family members for music recommendations – listen to the sounds that move them.

2. Pick up a newly published book from the library, or download a memoir from Audible.

3. Watch an Oscar-nominated documentary.

4. Taste test a creative recipe, or have unfamiliar cuisine delivered. If eating gets complicated, learn about cultural differences and traditions.

5. Draw or paint with your least comfortable medium.

6. Reach out to someone you always mean to connect with, and try to make them laugh.

7. Queue up a playlist of TEDTalks.

8. Write a letter to your younger self, only two years ago. It’s easy to forget how much can change in that time.

9. Listen to a parent or grandparent tell the story of their most pivotal moment, personally or professionally. Really, just listen (and call your grandma).

10. Plan an imaginary vacation. Look up a cute coastal town, find the best coffee spots and pick the loveliest hotel. It’s amusing to go browser “window shopping,” and you never know when it might be possible to go.

Driving down new roads isn’t the same as paving them. The side-trip to the vineyard took all of 15 minutes, and that was enough. We appreciated the beauty in front of us, and let that comfortable exhale influence the rest of the day. Later in the week, I used the drive to physical therapy as time to discover new musicians on Spotify. Wherever you are – home, hospital, Fiji, etc. – it’s possible to see the day in a new light.

Follow this journey on Maria Gracefully.

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Thinkstock photo via hobo_018.

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