I Took A Weekend Getaway In A Cabin In The Woods

In order to connect, you must disconnect.


Earlier this year, I was hitting a wall on a weekly basis mentally as a state of overwhelm and prolonged stress combined to create burnout. I'd work during office hours, work outside of office hours, and through my weekends. I was a classic workaholic; everyone's emergencies were innately mine, my inbox was my ruler, and I didn't have an idea of what balance looked like for me, let alone self-care. I knew them once, but they took a backseat to work demands even though life wanted other plans.

Several months of neglecting myself later, I was more than drained — I was depleted.

So much so, my days dragged and I wasn't operating nearly at the level of efficacy I was used to. Bigger than that, my zen was nonexistent and I wasn't making myself a priority. It showed in my sleeping patterns, my hair, my skin, and my overall temperament some days. It took us throwing ElevateHER for me to truly understand the importance of pouring into myself, particularly the difficult weeks after where I tried to desperately bounce back but burnout wouldn't let me.

One of our writers Shellie R. Warren says it best, to pamper is to indulge. It made me start to rethink some of the ways I looked at self-care and to also introduce the concept of pampering myself on a routine basis into my lifestyle. Hell, why not indulge in some you? After all, we deserve it. Since then, I've had to unlearn the toxic belief that rest was the enemy of productivity and learn that it was the only true key to it. A trip that played a surprisingly significant role in that lesson was the one I took with Getaway.

Getaway House is a modern escape into the wilderness, where hustlers and bustlers are invited to inhabit one of many tiny cabins located at the Outpost. These cabin rentals are located a short drive away and currently offer "escapes" from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Portland, DC, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh/Cleveland, and Dallas. With the motto #GetawayOften, they believe in order to connect, you must disconnect.

As someone who can sometimes feel held captive by the digital world of notifications and technology, let's just say I was more than excited to breathe for a little while and truly unplug. Here's what happened when I did:

The Cabins

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

I live in Atlanta and the Getaway House Outpost closest to me were located in Suches, Georgia, an hour and 45-minute drive away from the city. The Outpost is called Getaway Chattahoochee due to its very close proximity to the Chattahoochee National Forest. The second we got off the highway and ventured further up north and the winding roads of Suches to get to our final destination, I was reminded of my small town roots. The air was quiet and nature was prevalent as the warm colors of autumn leaves painted our view at every twist and turn.

On the day of, we received a text message, alerting us to the name of our cabin as well as our keycode to unlock the door. The collections of cabins were nestled across 57 acres in the woods, ours was named Casper and came with an adjoining parking space nearby. Each cabin is equipped with a hot shower, private toilet, a stove, a campfire grate, AC/heat, a sink, a mini fridge, provisions for sale and a cellphone lockbox.

When bae and I entered the cabin, we were greeted with complimentary smores and were amazed by how expansive it seemed even though everything was so condensed. Our queen-sized bed was positioned near the window with a picturesque view that rivaled any image we saw on the website in real life. The window's size made you feel like you were outside in nature without sacrificing the comforts of the indoors.

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

What To Do

With no TV, WiFi, or cellphones allowed (you are supposed to put your cellphones in a lockbox upon arrival), unplugging is of the utmost priority. So in lieu of cracking open your laptop to do last-minute work or answer emails, your surroundings encourage you to truly connect with the wildlife, connect with yourself, connect with who you came with — or a combination of the three. The cabin includes a deck of cards and a booklet that have puzzles, a guide to meditation, scavenger hunts you can do in nature, and questions you can ask yourself or partner.

I've been on a journey to be more intentional about resting and doing so in a way that allows me to indulge in the art of relaxation. My desire was to connect with nature, so bae and I lit a fire and made smores (and went to the gas station to stock up on more marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers). We walked around the campgrounds and marveled at a nearby lake. We wanted to hike on the nearby trails (the Appalachian Trail is 15-20 minutes away) but were worried we didn't have the right clothes or shoes so we just got closer by conversing and playing cards.

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Bae

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

Photo by Sheriden Chanel

What I Learned

Photo by Bae

During our 24 hours there, we spent our time digitally removing ourselves from the world and indulging in the connection we felt and created with each other. Although it was supposed to be a time to recharge, it also became a time to reset one of my life's most important connections. Taking that time away together allowed us to spend time together in a way that we honestly never had before: without distraction.

We were completely ourselves and completely immersed in each other. It led to a lot of vulnerable realizations and bridged some communication gaps we had in our interactions before that trip. For that reason, I was shown how necessary it is to unplug to reset for yourself but for your loved ones as well. It's important to take time to make time in intentional ways.

As for self-care, my new approach are habits I do daily to reinforce the central belief to take care of Sheriden. That looks like taking one day out of the week to rest and do nothing, but that also looks like having meaningful boundaries established to control people's access to me.

My energy is precious, I now act like it.

To book your own Getaway to disconnect and reconnect, find out more information here.

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Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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