Bob Denny: Your island retreat

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

I’m driving along that last nine-mile stretch of Florida coastal plain, with its grasses, native pines and palm trees. Anticipating arrival at my favorite spot, I round the last bend, and see grassy little islands in a calm sea of tidewaters. I see the island of Cedar Key in the distance.

As I cross a couple of little bridges, that familiar peaceful “island feeling” slowly comes over me. It reminds me of some faraway Caribbean tropical place, like the Bahamas or the Florida Keys. I begin to feel mentally, spiritually, and emotionally at peace, and relaxed.

What’s happening to me? Well, this is one of my occasional mini-vacations; a geographical escape, or a mental health “refresher.” From time to time, maybe once a month or so, I really like to find a change of scenery, get away from the home or office, and take a “me day” to refresh, recover, restore, and rejuvenate. It’s like punching the “refresh” button on your computer; a refreshing, renewed way of looking at life.

I suspect that all of us can benefit from an occasional break, a change in our daily routines and our surroundings, and from our social settings. It can provide us with an opportunity to adjust the pace of our lives, to see the world from a more relaxed viewpoint, and to take a step back and take a relaxed look at ourselves, those around us, and the place we live.

What about you? Do you already have your own “island retreat,” or would you like to get one?

It doesn’t really matter who you are, or what your circumstances are. Maybe you’re a busy student, or you’re very busy with your job or career, or you’re retired and would like a change of scenery now and then. Maybe you’re disabled, homebound, or unable to get away easily? But there’s probably an “island refresher” or retreat you can find for yourself, or create for yourself. Do you have a room of your own at home, where you can just look out the window and watch birds feed? Or a garden area, with a bench or a gazebo to take a break in?

Maybe you have a favorite little restaurant or diner where you can hang out at for a while. Most communities have a park or public areas near a pond or river, where you can spend a leisurely afternoon, to feed the ducks, or to meet with a friend to play cards. Your getaway may be to just take some free time watching a new and different television program. At your library or bookstore, you might find a new book you haven’t read. Your refresher might be taking up a new hobby, or revisiting one of your old hobbies. A hobby can refresh and renew your attitude and energy.

Where is your island retreat or refresher? If you haven’t got one yet, why not think seriously about finding one? Who knows — a little time in your retreat might lower your blood pressure, help you find some real joy in your life that you might have been missing, and allow you to return to the “real world” refreshed and renewed, with a new way of seeing your world and your life, and of addressing its concerns and challenges. How about it? Don’t you deserve it? Look for your “island refresher” this week.

Bob Denny has been a licensed mental health therapist in Florida, worked with troubled youth and families for a career, and taught psychology at Florida Gateway College for the last 10 years. His book “Happiness is looking for you!” is available on Comments welcome at

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