WISDOM was not the souvenir I was planning on bringing back from my winter holiday in Europe. Italian leather boots and a raspberry beret would have been more to my liking. Alas, we get what we get from our experiences. My intentions of a wonderful conclusion to 2013 and a grand entrance into 2014 didn’t exactly go as anticipated. The wisdom gained is, however, wonderful and the insights are probably exactly what I need to make the year ahead as brilliant as I envision it.
Since I like to write about (it helps me process) and share my experiences with the world, here are some highlights of the insights.
Money, shoes, and sleep affect mood and attitude.
Cash is resource that is necessary for navigating life with ease. Without it, one must become a pro hurdle jumper. Our inability to get cash from foreign ATMs resulted in hours on the phone with the bank, limiting our freedom and increasing our frustration. A sense of freedom is one of the main draws to traveling the world that Matt and I share. For future reference, get plenty of cash before going abroad.
Shoes. Is there such a thing as a stylish, comfortable, AND supportive shoe that can be worn all day and transition into something fab for evening? I ask because I thought I found that shoe (boot, actually) but miles and miles of walking in a not-exactly-supportive shoe can really do a number on a girl’s feet, especially if she’s just getting past a chronic foot/ankle injury. (I only packed one carry-on bag so my usual variety of shoes was not available to me.) Therefore, I offer this challenge to footwear designers: If you make a line of shoes that feel like Nike cross-trainers and have the aesthetics of L.A.M.B. I will buy one of every design AND be your spokesperson. Happy feet = happy traveler. The reverse is true, too, as was evident on the days we trekked through London, Venice, Copenhagen, and Paris.
A word about sleep. I’m writing this article at 5am from my home in Texas. I imagine my internal clock is still on Euro-time, which is cool with me because I have big intentions for this year and an early start is conducive to that. However, whilst abroad my internal clock was not on Euro-time, making it tough to really get in a full day’s worth of sights and such. Now I know jet lag played a minor role in that, but what played a major role in being knackered most of the trip was the fact that we hopped from country to country on early morning flights. This would not be that big of a deal if we were staying near the airport, but we were waking up at 2:30 and 3:30 am to get to there on time. (I’ll through in here that I wasn’t sleeping in the hours before getting up, probably because I was concerned I wouldn’t get up.) Needless to say, being a zombie does not make for the best holiday. The lesson here is taking the 6am flight doesn’t give you the whole day to play in your destination if you’re jet-lagged and haven’t slept the night before.
Routine is not a bad word.
I used to think a routine was something I welcomed breaking while away from home. I could blow off my morning meditation, skip the usual ritual of quiet “coffee and me” time, let slide the practice of yoga and exercise…allow myself the indulgence of yummy not-so-clean food that I normally wouldn’t eat, and hey, I’m in Europe so espresso throughout the day will take the place of green juice, right? Hell-to-the-NO! I need green juice (and yoga, and meditation, and exercise, and clean food, and solitude)! My routine is my wellbeing platform from which I construct a joyful and pleasurable life. Without these key aspects that fuel and nurture my body, mind, and spirit I am… less than fabulous. Another way to say that would be “bitch”. I found myself easily frustrated, anxious, and complaining. I thought the people in London were rude. Could it have been me projecting? I love connecting with people, but to connect I need to be open. The absolute best lesson I learned from the trip was that to be open, to really be ME, a wellness routine must be a part of my day. Every day.
If relaxation and romance are on the vacation agenda, don’t stuff 4 countries into 17 days.
That is, unless you get turned on by managing logistics, which I do not. It’s also worth noting that while I was super excited to see family and friends, staying with others can put the kybosh on sexy time. Even though we were doing more together on vacation than at home (as in 24/7), Matt and I felt further apart much of the time. We didn’t really have “us time” until the end of the trip and by then we pretty much wanted to just be home. In years past, I have spent my winter holiday on the beach in Mexico. I go to one place, plop down, rest, read, write, reflect, renew, and relax. Now that is the recipe for romance. And winter is the season that calls for such things. All the movement and management of our European adventures would go so much more smoothly in the seasons that spawn such activity. Thus, it is my pleasure to announce that from this day forward we intend to winter holiday on the beach and summer in Europe.
Perspective is everything and we create our experiences exactly as we intend them.
So there I was with 4 days left to play in Paris. There had been the cash thing, the lack of sleep, the aching feet, the grumpiness, the distance between Matt and I, and the general disconnection and dissatisfaction (mixed in with fun, family, and friends, of course). I said to Matt, “Who are we being that’s creating THIS experience?” We both know what we focus on grows stronger. We had been focused on all that stuff. All the hurdles. And guess what? The hurdles kept showing up. We had a lovely chat over a bottle of French wine renewing and restating our intentions and went to sleep. We slept til nearly noon the next day. I guess we needed it because when we woke we both felt relaxed and ready to enjoy our day, whatever it included. We gave ourselves permission to just be where we were without needing to “get someplace” or see/do something. We ended up having 3 full days of fun, feeling free and truly enjoying the city of Paris. My feet were killing me and we didn’t have any cash, but we were together in the most romantic city in the world. That’s what we focused on.
So I am thankful for the souvenirs: awareness, wisdom, and insight. I am also thankful for my routine, for the comfort of my own bed and our cozy home, as well as my juicer, my car to get around in (vs. public transportation), and all the shoe options in my closet, especially the comfy supportive ones.
Oh, and I must confess…You bet your buns I got the Italian leather boots and raspberry beret, too!
Avec amour et gratitude,