What Philadelphia Teaches Me About Self-Care

I didn’t have a great week last week. It was full of epiphanies…both “good ones” and “bad ones”.  I use quotes because any realization is subjective in terms of how you feel about it; usually based on your current perceptions and what’s happening in your world to make you color them either one way or the other.

While discussing these newfound realizations on Friday morning with a co-worker, the decision was made to just get out of my daily routine box of horses, case management, marketing, insurance adjusters, laundry, and dusting.  So Michael, Dylan and I hopped the SEPTA R2 the next day and headed into Philadelphia from Wilmington with zero timetable.

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I packed two foldable grocery bags in my purse with the intention using one for the outdoor Italian Market to get that week’s produce, and the other for stopping by  Harry’s World to pick up some more incense, crystals and soaps. I can be found there every quarter for my stock up trips and this would be my first of 2018…other than that, the day was ours and we could go into any direction that we wanted to.

Philadelphia is just a short 30-40 minute drive from where we live in Wilmington, but the adventure is so much more fun walking from our house to the train station and taking regional rail.  The habit started when Dylan was a toddler because he loves trains so much, and it continues on.  Often Dylan and I would just get on and go on our own while Michael was at work, but mostly it’s family love affair with the City of Philly.  My father and mother both attended college in Philadelphia.  One from New York, the other from New Jersey by way of South Philly, the City is where they met and fell in love.  Had it not be for Philadelphia, I wouldn’t even be here.  When it comes to Michael, he has had his own love affair with that city.  Both of our 20’s were spent there and there is no definite way to know just how many times we have past each other on her streets. Philadelphia runs in our blood.

This is something that Dylan will come to appreciate at he matures.  For know all that he actually knows is that there is a train involved and that from the time we leave the house to the time we are walking in our back door, it’s non-stop laughter, pizza, ice cream, new sights, talking, exploring and each trip is different.  So many inside jokes come of these family trips.

On this particular time, we first wandered towards South Street (because Harry’s World would be located at none other) and on our way we stumbled upon a crowd gathered around a large art instillation.  It was beautiful, and one aspect of it was a large wheel with numbers on it.  You were to think of a challenge that you would like guidance on, spin the wheel and what number it landed on correlated to a fable with sage advice.

We watched enough people spin the wheel, go to their numbers to read their fate and turn to their friends wide eyed and obviously touched in some way to not spin ourselves.  My “challenge” was a looking over the fence problem.  It was thinking that “there” is better than “here” when in fact “here” has all of the rewards that I once prayed my dedication would bring me.  There is nothing the matter with my “here”, I just have ambitions that have me think that being “there” would mean that I have realized them, and being “here” means that I have not.  This is the epiphany that I didn’t come to until after I read the result of my spin:

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29542363_2064690833807871_3900083238366760145_nFoundation.  How many times have I written or preached about a good foundation…plenty.  I guess as nice as my foundation is, I have to make it wider so that it will be able to support more and help many.  To rush this process would topple everything built upon it, and to abruptly stop the widening process, would only shortchange myself and anyone else that is meant to occupy my tower.  Well played random art in Philly.

Well played.

That led to an entire discussion where even more realizations were to be had, and even more inside jokes. After that, we made it a point to change direction at our discretion.  We laughed and looked around at new stores and custom doors on brownstones getting remodeled.  We found real estate for a future chapter in our lives.  We did what we wanted to do and somehow always ended up in the right place at the right time while never looking at a watch.  Small quiet coincidences that remind you that the Universe will give you more what you look for were around nearly every corner.  While in the Italian Market, we very randomly ran into a friend of mine from Delaware.  A few seconds one way or the other, we would have missed each other.  We got to the train, both times, right as it was time to board.  Dylan found dimes and pennies all around the city.  The day was full of serendipity because we both expected it and had no expectations at all.

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Having Dylan walk around and talk with us the whole day was an experience in and of itself.  Everyday he gets wiser, and may I add…cooler.  These are the moments that people end up regretting that they missed when it comes to their children.  But it’s up to us to create them.  Philly reminded me of this.

The best ending to the day of all, was our finding Tordi the tiny baby turtle.  He was there being sold in the Italian Market for $10.00.  He was in a hermit crab tank with no water and we could not leave him.  Dylan named him before I even removed the cash from my wallet and it was done.  We walked back to Suburban Station from 9th and Carpenter and sort of took our time strolling around to get there.  So many people got wide smiles on their faces and made comments about the tiny turtle in my hands…not to me but to whomever they were with because…Philly, then I realize that this little turtle was making me kind of joyful too.

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Once on the train, a nice women who boarded with us filled us in on what Red Ear Sliders need for their long (30 years) and fruitful life as Tordi took his first SEPTA ride on Dylan’s lap.  Back at home, we found what we could to make him comfortable, a bowl, some rocks from the backyard, and we let him stretch out his legs in the bathtub.  By Sunday he had a sample pack of turtle food to chose from so we can learn his preference, and by Monday he was into a new tank in Dylan’s room. Dylan is in love with his new friend and takes care of him very well – and my cup runs over.

Since coming back to my routines, I feel like I better understand why I was feeling how I was and what my focus is right now.  I feel like I got the opportunity to level up that I was looking for, and all it took was a shift in my perception…and also gratitude.

Instead of worrying about “getting there”, wherever “there” is, I have officially dug into my daily work.  I am currently bringing an element of creativity, ambition, dedication and love to every task that I do from mucking a stall, to answering a client’s question or just folding laundry and I have to say it’s nice. It’s nice to be more dedicated to “here” than to “there” for once.  I now have the deep understanding that all I’m doing is making my foundation stronger and larger, and this continues to let me find meaning in what’s in front of me instead of longing for what’s next.

Sometimes is just best to suspend any sort of ambitions and instead, find a way back to yourself by hopping a train.

 

Till next time friends,

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