Learning What it Means to be Connected

To me, being connected can be defined in one word: mindfulness. Whether it’s a connection to nature, your career, relationships, yourself, conscious movement in mindfulness will help deepen any experience. This means slowing down to breathe in the moment and avoid rushing through.

What better way to experience mindfully living than while on vacation?

 

Vacation fosters mindful movement – a space to experience with all senses. A person on vacation usually slows down. Certain aspects of life are shifted. For me that includes: no alarm clock (sometimes I need one to be sure I catch an early-morning flight); no pets to feed; no work; no school craze, homework and car lines; I eat out, which means someone else does the dishes and cooks. Vacation creates a chance to detach from stress and daily chaos and to purposely reconnect.

I recently visited the United Kingdom (UK). (In case you missed my debut to the UK last fall, you can read it here.) To say it simply: I LOVE THE UK. It’s a place I feel at home. The UK inspires me with it’s romantic castles, haunting historical architecture, poetic train rides and cooler, damp weather. I easily imagine a permanent home with a crackling fire and Tennyson’s words filtering the steady stream of rain.

Don’t worry I do know what a cold, wet English rain feels like with squishy shoes when you are blocks from your flat. I also know what a crowded weekend train from Oxford feels like. I stood for the entire hour with all the other travelers. I also crammed myself with the rest of the morning rush on the Underground. And somehow this reality DOES NOT change how I feel about the UK. Because there is connection in every moment, and recent history has proved the uncomfortable moments are the ones to pay attention to.

I’ve never had difficulty finding awareness in my surroundings. I’m always very conscious of my physical surroundings. But I haven’t always been aware my emotional body.

 

So how do I feel in those uncomfortable moments?

First, riding a train in London is such a familiar feat everyone gets comfortable and reads. Not a cellphone. Not even an e-book. A REAL BOOK. That made me smile. People talk to each other. Complete strangers have conversations.

There is a relief to knowing you’re on the right train heading in the right direction. It’s a moment to take a deep breath and relax.

Those moments reminded me how to stay connected to who I am and who I am becoming. I used this opportunity to continued to find deeper connection with my needs, wants and feelings. And a deeper connection with myself cultivates deeper connection to the experience.

How did I cultivate that connect while on vacation?

Self-awareness:

The UK surrounds me in a life I find comforting. It was Autumn (my favorite season), and it actually felt like a season I remembered as a child. The UK is where many great writers emerged – a subject I studied in college. (People actually know who Elizabeth Gaskell is AND they can list her books.) And the English garden is a must see and smell – ALL THE ROSES. It’s a moment to fully immerse in what I love, which is, in many ways, who I am.

Self-care:

Every day I did yoga. Many times it was in the kitchen of my flat. Sometimes it was in nature. I also sat and meditated. My favorite spot was the one pictured above. It was a sunny spot in a crowded city center in Oxford. The noise didn’t bother me. The moment still held peace.

Silence:

I took advantage of moments of silence for reflection and to just breath in the experience. A good experience should be given the gift of savoring with all the senses.

“The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

How do you connect while on vacation or holiday? How can you remain in those moments to stay grounded in who you are?

 

 

 

 

Learning to Grow in Ireland

In a previous post I suggested I was made for London. But surely my soul belongs to Ireland. There is no doubt a magical tingling in those emerald mountains. Where London was busy, noisy and bustling with people, Ireland was quiet, serene and everyone moved at a more leisurely pace. It was the perfect ending to the trip.

What I loved about Ireland:  The scenery. It’s stunning! While winding up one of the mountains, I came across a house nestled in a valley of bright green sheep pastures. Sheep dotted the mountain, and this cottage overlooked a small harbor on the Atlantic Ocean. What else could you want?

What surprised me about the Ireland: There were SO many American tourists! I ached to hear a native Irish accent and instead I was surrounded by folks from California, Virginia and Ohio. Also, the roads are so narrow and winding my children got car sick. I mean real car sick.

What I’ll remember most: Surfing at Inch Beach, Kerry Co., Ireland. Click here to read the entire tale. My family also had the pleasure to watch an entire sailing fleet leave a harbor. I pray little Sean didn’t tip his boat. The poor child was determined to make his first sailing lesson work.

What I ate: I had to have Irish stew in an Irish pub. The pub atmosphere was just like I imagined, dark and gloomy. Unfortunately, our waitress was also a little gloomy, which made the stew hard to swallow. But I tried not to let her ruin my Irish fairytale. Ireland also has an incredible variety of root vegetables.

What I missed from home: My writing journals. Ireland is begging to be written into poetry. I wrote lines on napkins, receipts and even on the back of my daughter’s homework.

Turning sliver out of dark grasses
Where the skylark had lain,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist becoming rain

– Austin Clarke, “The Lost Heifer”