For the last 5 summers, Dillon and I have been able to travel "UpNorth" to the cottage.  Without fail, the weeks and days leading up to our trip have us hyper aware of how badly our family needs time away.  It's like when you go for a long time without washing your hair or changing the sheets or vacuuming your car that mess and chaos becomes the new norm.

95% of the time, we are Get.Crap.Done. people.  We hunker down, press on, keep moving, and operate by the belief that "we can do it all and live to tell the story".  But one can only operate so long with that mindset before they are totally freakin exhausted.

There are soooooo many things that we love about being UpNorth.  We love being so close to the water and having boats and kayaks and fishing poles within arms reach at all times.  We love the gift of staying up late and sleeping in (though this year my 7 month old had other plans).  We love being "off the grid" and unplugged for a few days.  We love to eat too much food and sit in Muskoka chairs as we watch the rise and fade into the distance each day.  It's good for our family and our marriage and helps reset us.

But what we love in addition to everything else I listed, is the drive.  We love the long stretches of highway between our home and UpNorth.  It allows us to just sit and be together with nothing else grabbing our attention.  Some of our most important and meaningful conversations as a couple have happened during our drives together.  When we were dating, we talked about our likes and dislikes and talked about the families that we came from and what life would be like if we spent forever together.  When we got married, the conversations shifted to what we value in a home and in a family and what we want to name our 4 babies (yeah, ya heard me right.  4).  And now as parents, we talk about Nora and how we want to raise her and encourage her as she grows, but also, we talk a lot about our individuals selves.

It's like with every passing mile, another weight or stressor falls away and slowly we start to un-tense our muscles and breathe a little deeper.  We're stripped back to our best and most honest selves.  The drive and the time spent UpNorth always reminds us of who God has uniquely created us to be.  Sometimes in the busyness of life, Dillon and I forget that we are two individual people, with our separate interests and passions.  When we take time away and put all of the "have-to's" on the back burner, we are reminded of our hopes and dreams for our lives and who we long to become.

It's an incredible gift; one that I pray our family never takes for granted.  Not only the opportunity to be away and to reflect with people we love, but also the ability we have to dream.  I'm reminded more and more everyday that I get one single life and it is a gift.  I don't want to spend any time doing things aside from what God has made me to love.

So this is a PSA, whether your are an office-dweller, or part-timer, or you spend your days shuttling your people around, to take time to breathe deeply every once in a while.  Grab your people and your car keys and take time to travel "UpNorth", wherever that may be.  You'll be glad you did.

Ashley Sider