Off the Beaten Path


A tree with white flowers on a rural roadside

As a newer contributor with Pensacola Mom Collective, I am fully immersed in reading other people’s stories—everyone is so talented!

I realize, however, that while I am newer to the community, I am not newer in age. A part of me marvels at the latest innovations for moms, camps for kids (back in the day, bowling camp ruled the day and was cheap and included a new ball EVERY SINGLE SUMMER), gift guides, and the like.

As women, we have the remarkable opportunity to share wisdom and experience with one another.

This is not a one-way street. It works both ways.

We all learn from each other. Women my daughter’s age have a lot to teach me and my compatriots. There are new and better ways of doing things.

Old dogs can learn new tricks. And as for us old dogs, sometimes we can plant a kernel of truth in a younger woman’s garden.

So here goes.

I watch how busy you are.

I see how you cart your kids from one activity to the next at breakneck speed.

I watch you in the fast food lines, opting for a quick dinner before heading to the next event.

I tire watching you volunteer for all that is out there.

I eavesdrop while you are at lunch, sharing with one another that there is no time for anything.

I want to pull you onto my lap and whisper one bit of advice given to me by a smart older lady years ago. “Slow down. Smell the roses. Go off the beaten path.”

You are a busy woman.

You manage to feed your children, teach them manners, do homework, run a household, volunteer, squeeze in time with friends, work a full-time job, take forgotten homework to school, make history and science projects (you’re not fooling the teacher by the way – she is smart and knows the difference between 3rd grade and 30-year old cutting and pasting skills), go to church, run a taxi cab service, host parties, create magical birthday parties, wrangle sleepovers, attend sporting events, and quickly say hello to your husband each morning and night.

I get it.

I do.

I was you.

And the woman you will be 25 years from now will be tired. Looking back, you will wish she had slowed down, if even for a moment.

So here’s what I would love for you to do each and every single day.

Be selfish.

Yep, you heard me. I’ll say it again just to be dramatic. But this time, I am yelling.


Take 15 minutes a day for yourself, no matter what that looks like. It might not seem like much, but for the novice, this will be hard. You will find yourself looking at the clock. I bet some of you will throw in the towel at the 5-minute mark.

Alone time…I am not talking about a walk with a girlfriend or time at the gym with your buds. I mean A-L-O-N-E.

Read a book, take out a sewing project, go into the backyard with coffee and look at nature, hug a tree, soak in the bathtub, hide in your car with The Talking Heads (that’s me) blaring and sing along like a maniac, journal, go to a chapel and pray, cuddle up in your bed and take a load off and for goodness sake leave your phone in your purse.

The world will survive for 15 minutes without you.


The reason is two-fold.

FIRST, you cannot give from a depleted gas tank. Your body is running on empty.  When the tank is low, you are less patient. You will suffer. Your kids will suffer. Your husband won’t recognize you, and all those god-forsaken balls you are juggling in the air will come crashing down around you. Be mindful. Some of those balls are breakable – they are important – they can’t be repaired.

SECOND, you will model for your children the importance of self-care. You will show them that alone time is so important. You will teach them to like themselves, to entertain themselves, and to become self-reliant. It’s from alone time, very often, that the best of ourselves comes bubbling up. Trust me, your littles are watching every move you make. Make good use of your time so they, in turn, will do the same for themselves.

Over the years, I have felt that I have done a good job of taking 15 minutes a day for myself. If I am being honest and giving myself a grade, I might have earned a C-. It wasn’t until my youngest went off to college that I really became dedicated to this practice. Sometimes, 15 minutes will stretch into an hour, and guess what? The world hasn’t come crashing down.

This “me-time” practice has pushed me to slow down, relax, take a breath, enjoy my surroundings, reset, rest, and reinvigorate.

Recently, I found myself driving home from Nashville alone. Years ago, and before my daily 15 minutes of “me,” I would have gotten up early and hit the road to get home well before supper time. Instead, I opted to split the drive up into a two-day trek.

On my first leg (Nashville to Birmingham), I stopped wherever and whenever I wanted to.  I visited the birthplace of James Polk, pulled off to photograph the dogwoods that are frosting I-65 with their magnificence, went to an antique store, and visited the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. I ended the day with a surprise visit to my son and daughter-in-law and immersed myself in just being with them.

The weather was horrible on my drive from Birmingham to Pensacola, and it took me almost seven hours to get home. Before, this would have sent me into an anxious frenzy, but my practice of savoring my moments has created a shift from busyness to contentment. I loved my rain-filled journey home.

With not a care in the world, I pulled off the road, ate a sandwich in the car, and listened to Meryl Streep read Tom Lake to me. I sat in traffic and listened to my favorite podcast, What Should I Read Next, and I stopped in Montgomery for a leg stretch and a little more antiquing.

I got home feeling revived. I discovered new places, enjoyed the journey home, and couldn’t wait to tell my husband about all the amazing places along the I-65 corridor that were just begging to be visited.

Life is quick. Life is fast. Life can be cruel. Life is exhausting.

On the flip side, life is nothing short of miraculous.

There are wonders around every single bend. But you have to unplug and dedicate time to discover what is around you. You achieve this by first investing in yourself – 15 minutes at a time – without feeling guilty about it.

Aren’t you worth a journey off the beaten path?

I would answer that with a resounding YES! Trust me, your almost 60-year-old self will thank you for all the time you invested in you.

You are worth it.

an overhead shot of a woman's feet in sneakers. She is walking in the grass

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Jennie Barrow
As an Army brat, Jennie grew up traveling the globe. She landed in Pensacola in 1987 and never left. As a result, she feels like this is her hometown. She is a graduate of UWF with a BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She spent almost ten years in the classroom but left to run her family's tennis business. She is an avid reader, loves to cook and watch movies, travel is in her DNA, laughter is her middle name, and she has a knack for style. Jennie and her husband, Scott, and have been married for almost 30 years and have two children. Ben is married (Callie) and lives in Birmingham, and Lucy lives in New York City. They are now living the empty nester life, filling their time traveling - going wherever the wind takes them. Above most things, I believe that women have a responsibility to help one another. As we progress from one stage of life into the next, there are ladies in our midst to give us a helping hand, lend an ear, offer advice and whip us into shape when we need it. Sometimes the help comes from the people who have traveled before us and sometimes it comes from those younger and wiser who can teach us new tricks. We girls are a force to be reckoned with and full of an unending amount of wisdom and experience that demands to be shared.


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