Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: July 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

St. John Vacation 2015

Yesterday, I packed up my suitcase and-- with great hesitation-- left the island of St. John.  After a week of swimming at the beach; hanging out with my family and tenaciously attacking the hills on my morning runs, it was time to go home.  As I took one last swim in the ocean, I reminisced on the girl who had visited St. John last year.  I was suddenly struck with immense gratitude that the Lord has intervened in my life since then, that He has rescued me from that life.  When I was in the depth of my eating disorder, there was no such thing as a "vacation."  The thoughts didn't stop.  The anxiety didn't dull and the fatigue didn't subside.  As I've said before: I was stuck in motion.

But this year's vacation was different (RELATED: Spring Foward). It was paddleboarding in the ocean and reading on the beach. It was hiking and running and napping when all the activity wore me out.  It was Bananagrams with my family and movie nights full of laughter.  This year was better for so many reasons, but to keep it short and sweet, I've rounded out the top five reasons my trip to St. John was made better by God's grace in my recovery from anorexia. Take a look, and remember: All the glory is to Him:

1. Relaxing with my family
One of the best parts about this past week was the culmination of all the little things.  I enjoyed the ease of being able to hang out with the group, and being able to focus on fun instead of food or exercise.  We had movie nights almost every evening and it was such a blast to be at rest, in every essence of the word.

2. Snorkeling
Snorkeling is hands-down one of my favorite activities! I'm fascinated with the notion of being part of a different world, observing the buzz of life just under the water's surface.  For the past few years though, I could never snorkel for more than twenty minutes because I would get so cold and tired in the water.  But I am physically healthy now, and as if that isn't enough of a miracle, God decided to shower me with blessings while I snorkeled last week.  I saw sting rays, turtles, flounder, squid, pufferfish, eels and thousands of other colorful creatures.  Each one was a little reminder: "I love you Hannah."

3. Food!
This is the Chicken Parmigiana I had at da Livio. 
It may sound crazy, but my family's favorite place to eat on the island is a  little Italian restaurant in the center of town.  It's amazingly authentic and I knew that we would be going there during the trip.  So, with  much apprehension: I sat down with my dietician and told her I wanted to challenge myself to eat dinner at the restaurant-- which has no nutritional information available, sufficiently freaking me out.  She helped me figure out something to fit my mealplan, and let me tell you: my worry drained away after the first bite of my chicken parmesan.  In fact, I looked up in amazement at the faces of everyone else.  Was this what I had been missing?  Every time people say food is "to die for," is this what they mean?!?!  I took a bite of the spaghetti and was equally floored.  Woah.  Food is good guys.  I'm so glad we went out to eat there.  For many reasons: I'll never forget that night.

4. Amazing running
This year, I am healthier than I've been in four years.  That meant I was rearing to get out for a run on the island of St. John (RELATED: St. John 2014).  The roads are nothing more than a series of V's, rising and falling against the backdrop of the sea.  The trails are no different.  So I knew that I was up for a challenge.  I felt stronger than ever.  Even when I had a bad run a couple of times and even though my pace was incredibly slow due to the hills/mountains: I had a blast.  I didn't get discouraged and I kept the mind of an adventurer as I leaped over rocks and roots in the National Park.  I smiled at townspeople, who gave a bewildered look at the tourist running up the mountain at 7:30 a.m.  I gained confidence this past week and I had a blast doing it.  Last year, I was fading out.  This year, God is doing a new thing (RELATED: When I Run, I Feel His Pleasure).

5. Exploring the island
Aside from the running, I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to meaner around the resort and do whatever sounded fun.  Did I want to play frisbee golf?  Did I want to sit and read?  I found myself struggling to be still and not give in to old habits of over-exercise, but I was able to keep up with the good habits I've established and that made the week so enjoyable for me.  We went on a hike as a family and we visited some shops downtown.  Some of that required a lot of physical activity and some of it required long bumpy rides in the Jeep, to get to our destination.  And I was able to do it.  He enabled me to do it.

I can't thank the Lord enough for the blessing of this vacation- for the time with my family and time for relaxation.  It was awesome, and it refueled me in so many ways.  Now it's time to buckle down and get ready for my return to Butler in a few short weeks.  The trip to St. John and my last seven months at home have prepared me.  I'm not done with this recovery process, but I'm going full speed ahead.  I'm learning and growing in every way I can, soaking up this precious time with my family and friends at home, because- like our family vacation- it'll be gone in the blink of an eye.

And please: hang around the blog as I'm planning to publish posts on my favorite running spots, snorkeling spots and hiking trails on St. John USVI.  Until then: Be blessed :)