It can be hard being with someone whose passion takes him or her away for extended periods of time. As my husband, Jonathan Ronzio, and his team prepare for their trip to climb Denali in June, I too am preparing but in a different way.
When discussing our year as a whole, my husband recently asked me “what would I do?” when he’s in Alaska for 4-6 weeks. Well, I have some ideas, because “this ain’t my first rodeo,” and this is the advice I would give anyone in the same situation—the significant other of an adventure traveler—when they are contemplating how to deal with the time spent apart.
1. GET A DOG
Now, I am partially kidding. Partially.
If you do not have the time, patience, or the ability to take on the commitment of a dog (the equivalent to a very mobile toddler that stays that way for 10-18 years) then this is not the time to get one. However, I can honestly say having a dog is THE BEST. My dog, Benji, is my baby and the best companion in the entire world.
Benji snuggles in bed with me, barks when somebody is at the door, always greets me tail wagging, body wiggling, wide-eyed when I get home from work, and he gives me purpose in my days of taking care of him. He needs daily walks, lots of playtime at the dog park, and lots of belly rubs and kisses. Because of my 53 lb., 3 ½-year-old love bug, I’m never alone and I always feel safe with his beagle bark protecting me and the house.
Now if you can’t or don’t want to take on such a big commitment, there are many ways for you to be around animals. You can volunteer at a shelter, or even get a small animal that requires minimal care. For example- a Beta Fish. We had our Beta fish, Crapbag (yes that was his actual name), for over 2 ½ years. Or just become friends with people who have dogs.
Now, moving on from animals…what else can you do when your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, etc. is away?
2. GET (OR STAY) FIT
I like to do Yoga at least 3 times a week. Either you can go to a studio or there are free yoga apps you can download to your iPhone. I personally like Down Dog because it not only is a free download but there are a few free half hour lessons and if you choose to subscribe its only $3.99 per month. Whereas other apps you can download for free, but to get the lessons you have to subscribe up to $15.99 per month. Acro-yoga is awesome too, but much harder to do without a partner…
Get your steps in.
Go for a run, long walk, accomplish those steps! Fitbit is the hot trend right now, and for a great reason! Fitbit is an easy way to stick to an easy fitness goal. It’s simple- it counts your steps per day per week and we all like to see quick numbers and feel good about ourselves!
Become a chef.
Try new recipes! I use Pinterest for almost every recipe I ever cook. If you don’t have Pinterest, DROP EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING AND DOWNLOAD IT NOW. Crock-pot recipes are my new favorite, easy way to cook. And don’t be afraid to make multiple portions. If you’re like me, efficiency is key. I like to make a whole batch of chili or soup, really anything, and freeze perfect portions for later in the week. The less I have to cook the better!
3. ENTERTAIN YOURSELF
Binge watch a new show or movie.
NETFLIX is a must, obviously. For $9.99/month, you basically have unlimited hours of entertainment! One of the best things about my husband being away is that I get to watch my guilty pleasure TV shows whenever I want to. Who says you can’t marathon watch all the Disney Princess movies in one day? You can do this on a rainy day by yourself or plan to have some friends over and take down an entire season of a new show with ice cream and PJs. Some of my favorite shows include, This Is Us, Once Upon A Time, Family Guy, and Friends.
Not really into watching TV? No Problem! Come up with some reading goals before your guy or gal comes home. The best time for me to read is before bed. It’s an easy way to shut down the brain and immerse yourself in another world. Some of my favorites are, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein (must read at least once), “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks (or really anything by him), and The Harry Potter Series (well, because duh).
4. DIY – GET CRAFTY
Home improvement projects.
Have a home improvement project you want to get done? Do you need those mason jars to be beautifully farmhouse rustic? How about that super cute DIY planter or that crate bookshelf that you pinned on Pinterest? Well, grab your tool belt and some paint! A lot of these projects seem daunting but in reality, it’s pretty inexpensive and super fun to actually put together.
Coloring books for adults are really in right now. You can find varieties of coloring books in almost every bookstore, or arts and crafts store. The Posh Coloring Book, Mandalas for Meditation and Relaxation, is my personal favorite, but the Game of Thrones coloring book is a lot of fun too!
I know this one sounds funny, but knitting is actually very, easy, inexpensive, and soothing. If I’m stressed or fidgety, knitting is an awesome way for me to calm my nerves. And you get a handmade product out of it! I learned how to knit with Youtube videos and tutorials from Pinterest.
Painting, wine, and friends? Count me in! Paint night classes are everywhere now, easy to find, and they are SO FUN! When my friends and I went, our paintings were borderline pathetic, but we had the best time, laughing at our 3rd grade level romantic sunset scenes.
Scrapbooking & photo albums.
Do you have great aspirations to do all these scrapbooks, photo albums, and frame those cute couple photos but never got around to it? Me too. I’ve had a scrapbook in the works (by in the works, I mean hiding in the closet) from a vacation over 2 years ago… So one of my goals is to finish up all my little projects before he gets back. That way I can SPREAD out all my photos, stickers, ticket stubs and my unnecessary amount of metallic sharpies, without the guilt of there being no room to eat dinner.
5. PLANNING & DOCUMENTING
Treat yourself and fill your time with fun new plans.
Try Groupon! I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but they have a fantastic app where I’ve found great prices for massages, manicures, pedicures, and so on. You look good, you feel good! And I do all my daily planning and goal setting in my amazing Freedom Planner.
Change things up.
Change is fun. I like to try new things with my hair, like dying it, cutting it short, or both! What’s the worst that could happen? It’s just hair, and lucky for us, it will grow back or you can color it back to normal if you hate it. I recently cut my hair shorter and had some pink, fuchsia, and purple foils added to either side. It’s also super fun for Jonathan to come home to a slightly different me.
Document your days.
Instagram/Snapchat/Tweet those little victories! As much as your significant other is off climbing mountains or solving world hunger and documenting it all, so should you! I know that when I get to talk to my husband when he has Wifi or service, he wants to know what I’ve been up to. After he realizes I’m only kidding about adopting 11 more dogs, I’ll fill him in, but he can always check out my Instagram for the highlights if we can’t connect.
6. DON’T WORRY
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone whose partner is away on a big adventure is to have confidence in your husband/wife/ fiancé/boyfriend/girlfriend. They (likely) have done the research, know the dangers, and know to be careful. I only have 3 rules for my husband and even after almost 5 years, I remind him every time he leaves.
- No dying – Always a good first rule.
- No cheating – Trust is everything 😉
- No jumping from space – This one is a joke…but real. After seeing Felix Baumgartner do it, of course, he wanted to. I said no!
Another thing I try to do is to expect limited contact (depending on where he is in the world), be excited when I can hear from him, and try not to over think the dangers or the what-ifs and stay positive. It’s true what they say- distance makes the heart grow fonder. Because of these periods of time apart, I feel our relationship is so strong because of it. Actually, we were apart 8 months in our first year together and our foundation as a couple is stronger as a result. And because I am so supportive of his passions and dreams, he is equally supportive of mine.
But if all else fails, there’s coffee, wine, chocolate, and ice cream!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, if you’re the wife of an adventurer or the significant other of a frequent flyer, or if you just want to chat!