In the last post, I covered two common reasons why people often don’t take vacations. Now, I’m going to cover what you can do to make the most of your Vacation once you’ve decided to take it. I’m going to use my trip to Australia that I took in December as an example, but I’ve also found an IMMENSE amount of rest in Provincetown which is a two hour drive from where I live, so just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you need to go to the other side of the world to do it. As my therapist has said when I returned from Australia, “Australia experienced you….You didn’t experience Australia”. What that means, is that the happiness, healing and rest came from somewhere within myself, so the location doesn’t really matter much if you have the correct mindset.
1.) Weeks, or months ahead of going, think very very clearly about what you want to use this time for. Saying “I want to rest” isn’t good enough, because what does that really look like to you? You need to honestly start to visualize what you want to get and take away from this experience.
For example, 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. I had been dealing with stalking and harassment at the hands of the USPS which you can read about Here, and I had my first nervous breakdown, and while I had found an amazing therapist, I was still feeling very stressed and hurt and dealing with frequent bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety. When my husband said he had a business trip to Canberra and then wanted to take me to the beach of Coogee located in Sydney, I almost didn’t want to go. The idea of a 20+ hour flight in a cramped little plane, possible panic attacks because of jet lag making me tired, and being depressed was more than I could imagine. He planned to take me with him and told me about the Air BnB we’d be getting (about a two minute walk away from the beach). The beach has always been a place of healing for me, and once I heard that it lifted my spirits. I thought, okay “well, I can just sit catatonic by the beach and watch the waves all day if it’s really bad” (I wish I could say I was joking here, but I wasn’t), and so I agreed to go. On the flight there, I started to realize how far away from home I was…my problems were quite literally on the other side of the world, and I realized that if I couldn’t feel good here, I don’t know if I would feel good anywhere. So I made the choice to do what I could to heal myself.
I had a few days in Canberra to adjust and during the sleepless nights dealing with jet lag, I let my mind wander to what I wanted. I imagined that if my problems were a monster chasing me, I had a 20+ hour head start at least on that plane flight! So I had time to think about what healing to me looked and felt like.
You don’t have to go to Australia to heal yourself, but if you’re going to make the choice to take a vacation, I highly encourage you to start thinking a week or even a month beforehand to think about what you want to take away from it. You don’t just go to the store and grab whatever you see usually…you make a grocery list, and that’s what I did here. I wanted to learn how to be at peace with myself. I wanted to spend as much time by the ocean as possible. I wanted to meditate when I got up, and I wanted to start working on this blog (which until this year I had never blogged consistently in!) and it worked!
2.) Start to think of a restful routine: So you’ve visualized what you want to take away. Maybe like on Eat, Pray, Love, your word for this trip is “Rest”, or “Healing” or “Attraversiamo” – Let’s cross over, a time of transition. Now, it’s time to put some muscle and flesh on those bones! What do you want to do first thing in the morning?
Canberra is the capital of Australia and didn’t have a lot going on to be honest and I didn’t have a car (not that I really wanted to risk driving on the opposite side of the road) so I had a lot of time to sit on the hotel grounds and start working on what I wanted to write about in my blog. I also got to really think about what I wanted to do once I got to Coogee beach. But while I was thinking of that, I was also noticing what I was doing and being thankful for it. I have a distinct memory of when I was sitting outside on the hotel grounds. It was the beginning of December when I knew full well it was cold as Dante’s Hell in Massachusetts, and yet here I was with a glass of wine and my computer blogging as I enjoyed the patio music and the smell of Jasmine which was planted everywhere. I took it in like I would have if it was water and I had been wandering in the outback for months. I DRANK IT IN. I can remember getting teary-eyed thinking “Yes, this is what my soul has wanted. Time away to think, time to rest”, and that’s when I knew in my bones I wanted to blog because it really brought me pleasure (and it wouldn’t be the first time on that trip I wanted to cry out) “THANK YOU GOD, UNIVERSE, WHOEVER, FOR LETTING ME BE ME!!!”
I decided that I wanted to wake up and meditate every morning…then I wanted breakfast, and then I wanted to sit for an hour at least and watch the early morning waves and sacrifice my pain and set my intentions with the waves. After that, I didn’t care too much, but I wanted REST and HEALING to be my words for this trip.
You need and DESERVE a moment like that. So I would say, like on Eat, Pray, Love, give this trip a word. What is your word for this part of your life? Is it sex like they said Italy’s word was? Is it transition? Is it healing, as my word was?” find your word. After you’ve found your word, start small…what do you want the first few hours of your morning to look like? Do you do yoga? Meditate? Or participate in some other spiritual practice? Is watching the sunrise important to you? Do you like to sit in silence with a cup of coffee, or do you want to run or do some sort of exercise? You don’t have to plan the whole day, but I’ve found the mornings are the first notes to the song that is your day…make sure they’re good notes!
3.) Make sure you stick to what you want no matter what!: At this time, my husband and I were on very different paths. I wanted to get up and go to the beach, and he wanted a slower morning, (which there was nothing wrong with, except that I had set my intentions). There was an extremely loud Kookaburra that liked to wake us up anywhere from 3-4 in the morning, ironically the same time as my cats back home. For those of you who have no idea what they sound like HERE is a sound clip. It would wake me up better than any alarm clock; a very clear, you’re not in Massachusetts any more Dorothy, and I’d wake up and meditate and then head down to the beach while my husband took a slower approach to waking up. There was nothing wrong with either of our ways of starting our morning, but often I’d wait till he was up and ready for the day before I started mine, and this time I really wanted to put myself first, and give him the room to figure that out as well.
I needed something from myself and the reality was, I NEEDED to use this time to get to know myself and heal! So, I would get on my swimsuit and eat my breakfast as fast as I could and head down to the beach. Once there, I watched people I wanted to be. Confident, healthy, beautiful people gathered on the beach and would work out. Some would be doing push-ups on the concrete steps and platform I was sitting on. Others would be jogging or doing athletic relays on the beach. Still, others were doing yoga or laps in the ocean. I was surrounded by people, SELFISH PEOPLE, who had taken time away from their husbands who wanted slow mornings, from their kids who wanted to snuggle, and were honoring their choice to put themselves first AND NOT FEELING BAD ABOUT IT!!!!
It’s not selfish to put yourself first. During an emergency on a plane, they say to secure your oxygen FIRST, before helping those around you. You have to be secure first! YOU CAN NOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP, meaning if you have nothing in you, how can you give well to others? Taking care of yourself is not selfish! It’s maintenance. You’re helping yourself so you can be a better parent, spouse, employee, or human being in general. My husband didn’t know it at the time, but if I hadn’t taken time out to see others taking care of themselves I wouldn’t have a reference point to bring back with me. I wouldn’t have an image in my head that says “I want to be like that! I want to honor and love myself like that!!!” and that is what I needed. So when you’re on vacation, set intentions, make sure you stick to them and take time to notice others who do as well, even if it’s someone jogging by your home, or walking their dog. They’re taking time to connect with themselves and you need to as well.
I hope this list helps and don’t forget to check back next Wednesday for the next installment where I start covering how you can get the most rest, healing and recharging! You deserve your love. If you would like to be notified when I post again please SIGN UP for email notifications and if you would like exclusive content into my life then feel free to follow my social media’s listed on the sidebar! -Heather Astaneh