My Suitcase and Protein Pancakes

By: Peggy Willms


(4 min read)

When you live 2400 miles from your family and main circle of friends, you are expected to visit a few times a year. After all, I chose to get out of Dodge.

For years, I have headed west a few times a year to spend time with my family and friends. After raising my family in Colorado for 25 years, I moved to Florida in 2016. Traveling to them makes the most sense and is more economical than having them come to me.

I am blessed to have a business that can be conducted anywhere, so this flexibility has been possible. In the past (aka my younger years), I could zoom in and out for a week at a time and not miss a beat. Not now. Over the years, I have begun spending three to four weeks each visit because, physically and mentally, it takes more time for me to adjust upon my arrival and prepare for departure.

Each trip, I see about 20 people. I stay at multiple houses a few days at a time. Everyone’s desires and lifestyles are different. Some want to eat out, hike, watch movies, do projects around the house, look at old photo albums, and story tell (aka talk, talk and talk some more). On this trip, I also met my second grandson, had two meetings, a photoshoot, two interviews, a dog bite, and a parakeet burial (long story).

Most people in my Rolodex are aware of the effort and finances it takes to visit their zip code; however, at times, there is a reminder discussion. Here is a conglomeration.

“I need to work each day. I don’t have a vehicle. Not everyone likes each other or lives nearby, so I must come to each of you. Going from sea level to 5,200 feet and from 90 percent humidity to 10 percent takes a toll. My allergies are very different in the desert versus the subtropics. I experience migraines several times the first week. I eat differently than most of you. Sometimes, I am tired of talking. And, yes, I still use white noise earbuds, an eye mask, and a mouthguard.”

To be clear, I am NOT complaining. I adore all of my peeps. However, I collect the data from each visit and determine how I might design the most effective travel self-care plan the next time around—how do I meet my needs while trying to meet those of others? During this visit, for the first time, I asked myself, “How many more years can I do this?”

I am still recovering from publishing three books in nine months and am simultaneously writing three more. I also tend to downplay the effects of the aftermath of surviving a 156-mph hurricane last fall has had on me. We just moved back into our home one month before I hopped on a plane to come here, so we are certainly not “settled,” which might also be on my mind.

The first week, I experienced three-four days of migraines, and my allergies went crazy. This happens every time. You would think I would remember that and not schedule too much out of the gate. I was forced to rearrange many previously scheduled events. I accepted the shift and settled into the screeches my body was making. I decided that the next time, I need to take a day off before I head this way. It was too much of a dopamine withdrawal to go from months of 12-hour days to dropping everything and trying to chill. I think my body went into shock. It felt like a carb coma without the carbs. But I honored it and will shape-shift my next trip.

I also forgot MY My Pillow, which is a must for the bulging discs in my neck due to two car accidents 12 years ago. I take it everywhere. I also sleep with a 7″ slope wedge on my bed…head above my heart. This takes the pressure off my neck and has completely stopped my sleep apnea symptoms. How could I possibly make my sleeping arrangements work in multiple locations?

Well, I did it. How? I spoke up. I slept in four different locations on this trip. I asked for help to make the beds as comfortable as possible. It has been in the three digits here, so I was also honest about the room temperature. I cannot sleep when I am hot. Who can? In the past, I felt too selfish to ask for my own comfort, so I suffered. Now that was a sad sentence.

Most importantly, I chose to eat my own food; I didn’t budge. And guess what? I didn’t get sick. I don’t eat out or eat meat, fried foods, gluten, or dairy. And excessive sugar is not my friend. My nutrition plan took decades to design and meets my personal needs. When you eat differently than those around you and don’t drink, vacations can be challenging. Most social events are based around those two things. This time I didn’t feel guilty or make excuses for my choices. I showed up with a suitcase and a bag of food—every place I stayed. My little tote bag contained protein pancakes, bars and drinks, fruit, veggies, and beans. House to house to house I went.

This visit, I did me. If I was tired, I rested. If I needed to postpone lunch, I did so. If I didn’t want to walk, hike, talk, etc., I bowed out respectfully. I have seen everyone on my list. The next time I will cushion my visit on both ends with decompression days. But I will STILL show up with my suitcase and protein pancakes in tow.


Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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