Embracing The Journey (Making The Grind Lovely)

creativity joy personal freedom stress Feb 28, 2022

I need to get to Florida.

I need to get today’s driving done to get one step closer. I need to survive the traffic to get to the hotel so that I sleep and get up and get the driving over with and be in Florida already.

I just wish I was there already. 

That was the thought loop that was playing in my mind, to some extent, as I set out several weeks ago to drive from frigid Wisconsin to sunny Southern Florida.

December had been ravaged by Covid for my family, and the thought of this trip to Miami and Fort Lauderdale was something that had been carrying my wife and I through those dark days.

It was about 12 degrees in Wisconsin when we finally packed up the car and headed out on the first leg of our drive in late January, and as expected, things got hectic around Chicago and into Indiana.

Distracted as I was by all of the vaccination propaganda that littered billboards as I drove through Chicago, I still felt the sting of the heavy traffic hitting my temples.

And when we got into Indiana, a quagmire, being stuck in the middle of a hundred semi-trucks, greeted us.

When we were finally able to get to a convenient highway exit in order to gas up and use the bathroom … well, let’s just say I didn’t want to use the bathroom anymore.

The first gas station of questionable repute actually had yellow tape, like that which you’d see at a crime scene, blocking the hallway that led to the restrooms, and at the next gas station, I waited and waited outside of a locked bathroom door before finally deciding that, if and when that bathroom did open up, I would no longer want to step into it for any reason.

So I buckled up my seatbelt, my bladder, and my resolve, and we hit the highways once again, traffic conditions okay until we neared Indianapolis.

Once at our first hotel, we were tired and glad to get into our room. But on one side of the bed, instead of a lamp on the wall there was a hole in the wall where the lamp should have been.

“We can switch you,” the friendly front desk lady said when I informed her of the situation.

Great. Sounds good.

But in our second room, there were human hairs on the pillow covers and in the sheets, and it was obvious that we needed to change rooms again.

“I’ll come up and switch you,” the friendly front desk lady said.

Great. Sounds good.

And this time, it really did work out.

Like in the tale of Goldilocks, we found an option that was just right on the third try. An upgrade to a suite with a nice living area. And in the morning, we enjoyed a delicious hot breakfast. Day one of travel in the books.


As we traveled through Kentucky the turns got a little confusing.

As we traveled through Tennessee the metro areas such as Chattanooga and Nashville got hectic and the general quality of the roads occasionally deteriorated or became very twisty and hilly in certain other areas.

What stands out to me most about Tennessee is the traffic jam that swallowed us; this time it was in the middle of a thousand semis, not a hundred, for what seemed like a half day but was probably just a long hour and a half.

After sitting in this particular traffic jam for that long hour and half, I came to an exit and had a decision to make. Should I take the exit, maybe to get us to a gas station, maybe to get us a little break? Or would taking the exit just lead us to nowhere and set us back even further?

Finally, at the last second I veered up onto the exit and found us a gas station, which was a good thing because my wife was now car sick and needed to hurry into the bathroom.

When she got out of the bathroom, after we got back onto the road, she said with true gratitude, “Thank you for taking that exit. I feel so much better after being able to throw up.”

I felt like a hero at that moment.

In Georgia we found our next hotel, and although lady bugs seemed to find their way into our room more than once, it was quite and the breakfast was palatable.

The next morning, after twice getting ripped off on an “air” machine at the gas station that took my credit card but didn’t actually allow me to set the air pressure for my tires, I drove onward.

I drove through the Atlanta traffic mess listening to Tupac on the radio, and although there were some truly peachy stretches of highway in Georgia after that, my wife and I once again found the search for clean restrooms to be a tall order.

I will never forget some of those restroom stops, and I don’t know if that will in the end prove to be a haunting memory or a humorous one.


My wife and I cheered upon finally entering Florida, and later that night we stopped in St. Augustine. It took us 45 minutes to find a parking spot, amidst one way streets and small, full parking lots, but finally we got drinks and dinner and searched for a hotel.

And that was when the real magic happened. The best hotel experience we’ve ever had!

In the midst of super expensive bed and breakfasts, I found us a hotwire deal on a riverfront hotel. “Deal” is perhaps the wrong word, because it still ended up being the most expensive of our hotels, but it was relatively cheap for the area, and it promised a king bed and made-to-order breakfast.

A short drive over the bridge after dinner brought us to our hotel, but when we went into the lobby to check- n, there was no one there. No guest, no front desk attendant, no one behind the bar, no one at all.

So we waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally, once we’d resigned ourselves to possibly raiding the hotel bar on our own and then sleeping in the lobby, in came a blond-haired hotel worker, appropriately dressed in a nautically themed outfit to fit with the branding of the hotel. He kind of looked like Moose from the Archie comic books, if you’ve ever read those.

“Thanks for the patience,” he said, just as nice as could be. “Last name?”


“Oh yes, Mr. Priebe, I have your room prepared and your key is right here. The pool is open all night for you, so feel free to enjoy. And there’s a great breakfast in the morning which we can bring to your room if you like.”

And with that, we went to our room, which was conveniently located just to the side of the outdoor pool area and lobby. And there just happened to be an empty parking space right outside our door as well.

The room, it was gorgeous. It had an absolutely gigantic king-plus bed that was so soft it felt like sleeping on clouds (the best mattress I’ve ever experienced), and we also had a private patio looking out at the river, the bridge, and the soft lights of St. Augustine at night.

Despite the unusually chilly weather for Florida (maybe low 50s), we were two hardened Wisconsinites, so we braved the chill and soaked in the private luxury of the outdoor pool, which we could get to by simply walking off our patio.

This pool, which was like a huge hot tub, become our private entertainment for the next hour. Not a single other soul came into the pool that night, and it truly was like having a secluded resort all to ourselves. We couldn’t believe it.

I looked at my wife and at the river, feeling so blessed to have survived the sickness of December. Feeling so grateful to have survived the travel to that point. Feeling so joyous to be enjoying this “diamond in the rough” of a hotel experience.

I was reminded that the journey can be good, too. Not just the destination, but the journey. The laughs about unclean restrooms, the silly games in the car, the way your spouse looks at you like her hero because you found a gas station where she could get sick … all of it.


Too often I might get wound up in my own head, maybe planning for the future or just trying to survive the responsibilities of the day. I have to take a step back sometimes and get into the moment, as we all do, realizing that each day is a gift and can have wonderful moments even if there are stressful ones mixed in.

That, is indeed, what the Lovely Grind means.

The goal isn’t just to “get out of or past the grind,” as I once thought it was. The goal isn’t just retirement, or vacation, or the end of whatever hard road we are on at the time.

Rather, the goal is to find ways to make “the grind” more lovely, something that can bring us little moments of peace, enjoyment, creativity, and spiritual connection each day, even in the midst of difficulty.

The next morning, the made-to-order breakfast at the hotel did not disappoint. Fruit crepes and yogurt parfaits, juice and coffee, waffles and eggs and bacon and toast – it was almost too much.

Our last leg of the journey, through Florida and to our accommodations, was (as expected) hectic at many points.

And when we arrived at our Airbnb, we were both tired and grateful as we unpacked the car and got settled in. It was time to enjoy the beach, the sun, the cafes con leche, the empanadas, the outdoor running, etc.

But also, in the midst of the sunny Florida diversions, there would be “everyday” realities: work, grocery shopping, cooking, cloudy days to pass, annoying traffic, and the like.

Life, no matter where we are, will always be a mix of responsibility and goofing off; a mix of stress and relaxation; a mix of pain and pleasure; a mix of frustrating moments and victories; a mix of dirty restrooms and pristine ones; a mix of smooth highways and rocky roads; a mix of inspiration and “blah moments”; a mix of cloudy days and sunny ones.

The grind is upon us in this life, but we have to take it upon ourselves to make it lovely and enjoy the ride – yes, even during the tough times. Because if we have a “lovely grind” approach to life, then each day can truly have funny or joyful or peaceful moments its own right, moments that “fill up our hearts” and keep us moving forward.

And sometimes, when we are least expecting it, we just might find the best hotel experience of our lives on Hotwire late at night. And the bed might feel like bliss and God might have reserved the heated pool just for us. Because He knows we need it.

Have a great rest of the week. May your grind have lovely moments.


Would You Like to Join My Members Only Support & Success Community? 

Click Here to Join at a Special Price Today!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest posts and updates from The Lovely Grind.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

About the Author

Michael Priebe is a writer and wellness coach who has helped people from all over the world understand antidepressant withdrawal, benzodiazepine withdrawal, anxiety, stress, and healing. In coaching he has worked one-on-one with individuals from nearly twenty countries, and his Lovely Grind YouTube videos inspire thousands of viewers each month. He invites you to inquire about his coaching today to find the knowledge and inspiration needed to fuel your own wellness journey. 

Get More Information About Lovely Grind Coaching