Every Monday Misha (my husband), Roo (our pup), and I jump into the car and take off to do something fun together. We go on an adventure.
To be completely transparent, we originally started adventuring as an attempt to fix a problem, a tension in our marriage. Between the two of us, we found a way to work every day, to say "yes" to everyone and everything besides each other. We needed a way to see one another, to continue to grow closer, and to experience wonder and whimsy together.
We tried a no-technology hour after work, a weekly date night, and a few other "commitments" that did't quite get the job done, perhaps because we are distractible, passionate people who have a tough time leaving work at home (especially since I work from home). Then one day, Misha suggested that maybe we need, for one day a week, to remove the temptation to work at all by devoting that WHOLE day to exploring together. It sounded crazy then, but it's just life now. In other words, it worked.
For us, there are a few key characteristics that make a great Monday adventure!
Start with one cup of coffee. NEW coffee. Of course, we would prefer good coffee, but new coffee is our non-negotiable - that is, we need to visit a coffee shop we've never visited before. I would always prefer a unique atmosphere, staff that, if not warm and friendly can at least be charmed, good smells, and strong a strong-yet-sweet latte. Sometimes we get lucky, and sometimes not. Sometimes the coffee is divine, sometimes it's dirt-water with vanilla. But it's always fun. And, I'm not sure about how Misha feels, but I always feel a little cool and just the right amount of indulgent for some reason. And, I get to sit across the table and stare at a total hunk (always a plus).
Helpful tip: We always check reviews and try to pick the best coffee in a new area, and I always scope out the small-batch coffee packaging. Bonus points are awarded for packaging with watercolor or floral. Duh.
Add a Handful of on-foot exploration. I guess this is just a fancy way to say, there has to be lots of walking! This is a non-negotiable part of our adventuring because I need to be able to include it as a day that I was active (gotta fit in those active days!). But, experiencing a new place on foot just gives a different perspective. It allows you to slow down, to smell, hear, and actually see your environment. It allows you to hold hands and talk. It also makes your food taste better later on!! We usually end up walking about six or seven miles on a Monday adventure, but it never feels like too much.
Helpful tip: Comfy shoes are required on a Monday adventure...and sometimes deodorant.
Include a dollop of food! You'll notice I didn't say good food. Well, when you end up in the middle of nowhere, good food can be tough to find. I would say about 80% of our adventures include carefully-selected dining based on online or word-of-mouth reviews, and we totally enjoy a good meal! We very rarely do fast food and will never be found at a chain. We tend to gravitate toward unique. I am obsessed with a good sandwich, and Misha is all about mac n' cheese, meatloaf, and anything with bacon. We usually don't get dessert, but sometimes work in a second coffee shop visit after dinner!
A second way we do food, which is less exciting, is the standard trail mix, apples, and beef jerky meal. It's good. We feel satisfied. And, I think that the days we bring our food with us, we tend to focus a lot more on taking-in and appreciating our environment versus looking forward to a good meal. We also tend to feel less full, and more energetic on these days.
Helpful tip: Trail mix with dark chocolate is good. Actually, just dark chocolate is really good.
Wrap it up with intentionality. In most everything we do, we can lose vision and forget the reasons we started down that path or made that commitment. When we started our Monday adventures, I noticed that there would be days when we had a blast, talked about our passions, sang in the car, laughed and learned together, but there were also days that we struggled a lot more to connect. It's really easy to loose sight of our intentions when we're out experiencing the world together, and we've started to learn ways to increase the likelihood that we really do attend to one another and grow together on our adventures. Currently, we've gotten really good at respectfully calling each other out, or sharing what is distracting us in the moment... like...while we're on the adventure, we just talk about what we are struggling with or what we could be doing better! Hopefully soon, those conversations will more often be preparatory versus in-the-moment... we are usually just too excited at the start to remember to discuss being intentionally together and the day's potential pitfalls.
Helpful tip: Practice communicating sensitively! Think carefully about how you can give feedback in a way that your partner will receive it well, and potentially apply it! And, really think about whether or not what you are frustrated by is actually a "you" problem! Not everything that annoys you about your partner is something that he or she is doing wrong, ya know? Choose carefully what to bring up, and bring it up with absolute grace, love, and sensitivity. Likewise, practice accepting feedback gracefully! This is so tough! But perhaps acknowledge that you can be a turd sometimes (like... maybe once a year), stop, and think about how you can be better in that moment. And, of course, focus on the good stuff!! Enjoy your experience together and do your best to enjoy each other's quirks, because they're beautifully and uniquely you!
We definitely tried a lot of things before connecting through adventuring together worked for us. I feel like it's freeing to realize that the first thing we try to make our relationship better doesn't have to work. We have our whole lives to figure it out, and we can take our time because we love each other no matter what. All we need is a handful of ideas and the will to try.
Mash Illustration + Design Connection: As a businesswoman, having a day to rest does amazing things for my productivity. Knowing that my marriage is healthy removes distraction. Enjoying a day of physical activity helps keep me healthy. And, putting myself in new places where I can see exciting color palettes, textures, cultures, and gain new perspectives inspires my work!! Rest and adventure is so important for what I do as a creative. Stay tuned next week to hear about the inspiration I gained during this weeks' Monday adventure to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
I would love hear about your Monday (or any day) adventures!! Please use the hashtag #amondayadventure (you'll see my adventures here, too!), and tag me @mashillustrationanddesign!
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