My Vacation to North Carolina: A Taste of Southern Culture
That’s an understatement! This was by far in the top 5 best vacations I have taken thus far in my life. I know some of you might be thinking Italy, Greece or the Pyramids in Egypt. Not even close. Good old North Carolina was where I experienced what I call a miracle.
In August 2009, we packed our bags and cars to the max and headed out of New Jersey like a caravan ready for the circus. The group included two of my closest friends, Debbie and Barbara, my girlfriend Bobbie, and their families. We traveled 12 hours on Interstate 95 stopping frequently to eat, pee and fill up our gas tanks. I love to drive when vacationing. I enjoy experiencing different places, people, cultures and of course–food. Coming from the New York/New Jersey area, I am used to a fast paced lifestyle. People eat, drive, talk, and shop fast. Everyone is in a rush and time is of the essence. It really isn’t a place conducive to savoring the moment unless you discipline yourself with, for example, meditation. So people only really get this opportunity of savoring the moment when they go on vacation, if they let themselves. So I enjoy the slowing DOWN of life, even if it’s for two weeks. That is the first thing I noticed in North Carolina—the pace was much slower, people friendlier and the time crawled compared to home. We stayed at a beautiful beachfront home with a pool in the back yard and a beautiful deck on the second floor that overlooked the ocean. It was two weeks of sun, sand, peace and stars. Yes, stars. Every night we would sit on the deck and watch the sun set and the stars emerge. You could feel the peaceful energy when day turned into night and the moon was the only light that danced on the ocean.
Life was good I thought, as I felt my breath deepen, my mind melting into nothingness. It had been the most relaxed I’d been in months. I went to sleep one night dreaming I was floating, basking in that limitless feeling, when I heard a loud knock on the door at 2am. I jolted upright, for a minute not knowing where I was. “Hurry up, you have to see this!” My friend Barbara was saying. “You won’t believe it!” “Ah, stop messing with us!” I thought to myself. We always played pranks on each other and I thought this was another one. But I went along with it. Bobbie and I followed her to the outside deck half asleep. “Look up at the sky”, she said, pointing. When I looked up, I thought I was still dreaming. “Holy Sh____” I said. There were literally millions of stars lighting up the house, the ocean, the whole block. It was as if heaven and earth merged. The stars were so close I felt I could reach up and grab one. It was breathtaking, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them. I wanted to feel the experience with all of my senses and that didn’t even seem enough. Then I realized that if I just can “be” in the moment with it and experience the moment through the eyes of a child, the feeling of oneness I was seeking would occur. The innocence of it made it the miracle. After that night with the star-lit sky, I was never the same. The stars taught me one of the biggest lessons in my life: I can be in the moment anytime I choose by experiencing it as a child.
I came home rested, renewed and with a new tool that I can utilize in my life and continue to do in my daily life. This was a true blessing that I am forever grateful for.
Rita Gigante is an inspirational speaker, writer, and expert on healing and the power of forgiveness. In Rita’s recent book, The Godfather’s Daughter, she shares her personal journey to make peace with her family. Rita has helped thousands understand the link between emotional well being and physical health. For more information visit: www.ritagigante.com.