Disconnect To Connect: Your Homeaway From Home

If you find yourself “losing touch” with what you know, consider it instead a rare opportunity to embrace the quiet and learn to reconnect with the people and environment around you…

An intimate group of FP friends and colleagues recently descended upon their Vrbo abode in Joshua Tree for a few days of exploration, relaxation and reinvention. They ended up with so much more than they could have ever realized…
When I arrived in Joshua Tree, I was immediately overcome with an unspoken magic — a calm, quiet, incredibly powerful yet gentle peace. Our airy, off-the-beaten-path vacation home overlooked the expanse of nature around us, and allowed its breath to flow right on through. This getaway would serve a rare opportunity to step outside of routine and shift my focus on new spaces and new friends. Suddenly add to that list: no phone service and no Wifi, thanks to a county-wide service outage.
The next morning brought with it some hope of salvation, but a quick scan of our phones confirmed that service was still out. That meant no notifications, no emails, no texts. For the first time in a long time, we were off the hook — off the hook in Joshua Tree. The pressure of editing and filtering and sharing our home, this desert, this intimacy was gone. The panic that overcame me the night before now took the form of a long and welcome sigh. This moment was Mine. And now, too, was the realization that the word OURS became so much greater than I had ever anticipated. 
This retreat suddenly afforded me new opportunities to listen and learn. Without it, I would never have known that Alyssa, an editor by day (and night), is a Libra who lives for recharging her body, mind and spirit whenever possible. Courtney is a music fiend with fine taste and finer opals. Kelly, a new mom and holistic nutritionist, loves avocados and her sisters are her rock. We were connecting.
Together, we witnessed the hills surrounding our house coming alive with yellow and purple flowers that fought to catch the desert breeze — the superbloom was on the loose. In the distance hares hopped in and out of the weeds. Bugs, birds and desert creatures made themselves known to us from every direction. The desert heat was thick but the sun nurtured and warmed our skin. Our Vrbo experience gave us room to spread out AND be together.
We were new friends, able to connect with new sounds and scents, able to secure something so much more than a photograph ever could: a lesson that sometimes, in order to connect, you need to first disconnect.
I carry this with me still. When I ride the subway to and from work each day, I stop and actually notice things. Watching all the people looking down, lost in the world within their phone screen, seemingly unaware of those sitting next to them. I’m grateful to now recognize the difference. And, I have a few new contacts to reach out to when I pick up mine.
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What a lovely place for a retreat! It’s so Instagrammable too – though I know the whole point of the trip would be to NOT Instagram it haha! ✨

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

wow. this post made me emotional. maybe because i know i need this and i’m jealous, maybe because i’m so worn out mentally and spiritually right now. i hope to be able to recharge and reconnect soon as well. so happy for all of you. xo

4 years ago

Joshua Tree is such a gorgeous desert getaway! Though I love camping out in its wilderness, I would love to experience a retreat there as well! So beautiful!

4 years ago

This is exactly why I moved away from the city to the rural countryside in New Mexico. When I took a roadtrip to New Mexico with my Dad, who was born and raised in that state, I was spellbound by how wild everything still was. Vast forests, deserts, mountains. Hidden hot springs, White Sands NP, aspen groves, beautiful meadows with creeks nearby. Being a San Diego native, it was worlds apart from the crowds and noise I grew up with, and while I loved my city and the sea, I never felt truly at peace in it, my soul was longing for something I couldn’t put my finger on. I realized what it was while visiting the hot springs in Ojo Caliente, that I was longing for connection, with the locals, the culture, my own heritage.

My Dad was from the Mescarlero Apache nation, and his childhood were the very mountains and forest I was seeing for the first time. No wi-fi, no phone. Just nature, just my family around the campfire eating dinner, listening to my Dad telling local native folklore. It had been a long time since we bonded like that as a family, we were usually so busy all the time. The biggest treat was seeing the stars. I saw them sometimes back home, but never like this. I saw the Milky Way clear as crystal that night. It was magical. When I went back home, I fell into my stressful routine again and felt an even stronger calling to leave. I kept coming back every Spring to New Mexico to visit those places, even after my Dad passed away. Eventually I just decided to move there forever. That was ten years ago. I don’t regret it.