A lot of our friends have planned lavish vacations for the summer, but this year Andrew and I will be busy pinching pennies. While everyone else is jet setting, I’ll be hunkered in my office behind piles of papers with a phone glued to my ear. This past weekend I did manage to get away, however, and escape some of the stresses that have been taking a toll on my sanity as of late. I left my husband at home with the kitties and headed to Atlanta with my mom to visit with some of my favorite family members and one that I had never met – my cousin’s new baby girl, Addison. Although I’m not ready to have kids of my own, I enjoyed living vicariously through my cousin and having a baby around. I give her so much credit for all of the multi-tasking that goes along with being a mother. That’s a full time job in itself! The wonderful thing about my mini-vacation to Atlanta was that we had nothing planned – nothing at all. Amazingly, this is just how I would have imagined it. I don’t know why, but riding in a car for seven hours straight was somehow extremely relaxing, despite hitting the road at 6 a.m. That time gave me the ability to gather my thoughts about life, refuel my soul and catch up with my mom. Although I talk to her every single day for probably an hour total, we had so much to discuss and I loved every minute of it. I left work and the stress that goes along with it behind me as we left Raleigh and I felt so relieved to have some time to myself. We spent most of the weekend lounging around and catching up on our most recent news while being entertained with Miss Addison. The last thing I had to worry about was laundry and what to cook for dinner – Hooray! That was a nice change. The entire weekend consisted of laughter and endless chatter. We discussed everything from shopping to traveling to funny family stories we will never forget. We had some great laughs and some even led to tears, but good tears. As we sat around the table wiping tears of laughter from our eyes, I thought to myself how I didn’t want those conversations to end. The feeling of family is indescribable and therapeutic no matter what my anxieties may be. To be able to visit with those people I don’t get to see each day brought me so much happiness and took me away from the mental chaos I had been experiencing. Just like old times, I bunked with my cousin both nights. I felt like we were 10 again, talking for hours until we fell asleep. The only difference is we weren’t sleeping in a fort that we were notorious for creating when we were younger, made out of all sorts of miscellaneous items from coat racks to luggage. Both nights, I slept so well. Good sleep is hard to come by nowadays with everything on my mind like financial stress, job security and brainstorming on better ways of pinching those pennies. I hate to be pessimistic because I am a very optimistic person, but stress can feel unavoidable at times and tends to seriously affect my sleep patterns. Mini-vacations are the way to go if you find yourself in a similar situation as mine: smothered by daily stress but living on a limited budget. Even though it ended up only being one full day of relaxing after all that driving, it was completely worth it. That one day was enough to recharge my batteries and keep me going. The truly happy moments somehow outweigh the negative things going on in my life and this weekend gave me the opportunity to focus on the positive. This weekend inspired me to look into various options for a quick excursion in the near future. Luckily, we live between the mountains and the beach so we have several choices for a weekend trip. The key to vacationing is utilizing your creativity. You don’t have to go somewhere tropical or overseas to get the much-needed relaxation you crave.