What summer family vacations are all about

IMG_3423I’m just back from a family road trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We spent six days in my grandfather’s hometown of Chéticamp.

Some relatives were planning two special events in Chéticamp this summer — a memorial for a cousin who passed this spring and the 30th wedding anniversary of another cousin.

Since it had been awhile since some of us had been to Cape Breton, we decided as a family this would be a great opportunity to visit our homeland to replenish ourselves with its rich culture, delicious food and breathtaking scenery.

Six of us drove from Halifax and my sister and her husband drove all the way from Peterborough, Ontario. We gathered in two cabins at the foot of the Cape Breton Highlands.

The weather was perfect. The laughs were plentiful. And my heart is full.

We attended the memorial for cousin Robert at the magnificent St. Peter’s Church, a Chéticamp landmark. We also took in part of the scenic Cabot Trail and ate a seafood lunch at the Rusty Anchor.

We visited gravyards in Pleasant Bay and Margaree, finding gravestones of long-lost grandfathers.

It was all about good times and good cheer on Saturday afternoon listening to fiddle tunes and watching step dancers at the well-known Doryman Tavern. Afterwards, we enjoyed a big feed of mouth-watering fresh crab.

We enjoyed the sun, sand and water at the beautiful Chéticamp beach. We wrapped things up with the 30th wedding anniversary celebration of our cousin Muriel and her husband Phillip.

In between these outings and events we spent time hanging out together at our cabins, playing cards, being silly, laughing until it hurt, eating too much and kicking back with a few beverages.

But this isn’t what I was intending the week before I left.

As a health coach and someone who makes health and wellness top priorities, my plan going into this vacation was to try and stick to my daily healthy routines.

I packed some healthy food and brought along my yoga mat. I imagined myself sitting, overlooking the ocean while I meditated every morning.

While I did eat my full-fat yogurt and grain-free granola, meditated once and did yoga twice, I found myself letting go and relaxing into the vibe and energy of the group more and more.

I decided not to beat myself up if I ate a few potato chips, enjoyed an ice cream cone or stayed up late.

As I reflect back, this is what strikes me most – there are lots of ways to find health and be healthy. For me during this family vacation it was about nourishing myself in other ways.

It was about connecting, laughing and having fun. It was about letting down my walls, opening my heart, and sharing. It was about dancing, being silly, and indulging.

Nourishment comes in many different forms. It’s not just about the food we eat. It’s about our relationships. It’s about how connected we feel.

I learned in my health coach training that food comes secondary to the other things in life that nourish us. These other aspects are our primary foods because they fill us up in ways that food can’t.

I truly experienced this during my family vacation. While I might need a liver transplant and a serious detox, I feel full, satisfied and very well nourished.

Have you experienced this type of nourishment? What are the non-food things in your life that nourish you? Do you have a family vacation planned for this summer? Please share in the comments online.

This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on July 26, 2016. 


  1. Lynn Matheson on July 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Eat the chips! Sounds like a great time.

  2. Mark on August 2, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Glad you were able to have such a nice time with all of your family

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