I needed a change of scenery. I needed something for me. So, we took a road trip to the shore.

I have been at home for the past nine weeks, except for walks in my neighborhood and an occasional trip to the grocery store. I have watched more TV than I care to admit. And my new-found love of home-made banana bread has me in a heated battle with five pounds.

So my son Ari and I got in my car and drove to Ventnor on the Jersey shore. Ari is 16 and learning to drive, so I let him drive. At first I was nervous, but Ari is a confident driver and takes it seriously, so I able to relax and enjoy the ride.

As we walked on the boardwalk we wore our masks and social distanced from others. It was just I what I needed. We stood there, watched the waves, enjoyed the sound of the ocean and the seagulls, and felt the sunshine on our faces.

We walked on the beach, enjoying each other’s company, and reminiscing about our February trip to Hawaii, which seems so long ago with everything that’s happening. We talked about this summer and how different it will be. Ari loves the beach, camp, playing baseball – he loves summer! He knows this summer will probably be very different. But still, he smiles every day, practices baseball in the park, and gets up every morning for his online classes. I told him how proud I am for how he has handled the experience of this pandemic, and that through it all he continues to smile.

Everywhere we look – social media, the news – people are talking about loss. We have all lost something. Some, horribly, have lost their lives, or someone they love. Some have lost their jobs. All of us have lost things we took for granted. The freedom to come and go as we want. The freedom to see family and friends whenever we want.

Today’s road trip reminded me to recognize what we still have. Not what we don’t have. I needed that reminder.

We can still love.

We can still feel joy.

We can still feel the sunshine on our faces.

We can still embrace happiness.

Today I took care of me. I needed to step away and I did. I cleared my mind and reminded myself that I can always choose to smile, just like Ari.

This weekend, take care of yourself. Do something just for you and your mental health. Do something that reminds you, deep in your soul, of all the things in life you do have and that bring you joy, and how lucky we all are to be here.

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