Now that all of my faithful readers are embracing doing nothing (!) I have a related challenge: how can you make your vacation work for you? Time away from home/routine/work/the usual is a great opportunity to not only rest and relax, but to generate fresh ideas and perspectives. When I’m on the road, I often receive all kinds of inspiration that find their way into my work, my kitchen, my closet and my physical and spiritual practices.
Recently, while on a family trip abroad I was infected by the beauty of ancient polished cobblestones, reminded of the positive impact of walking up and down steps – a lot of them – on my stamina and muscles, and remembered to look at the stars. And, as I was in a country with a World Cup qualifying team, I was able to experience the joy of entire communities turning out each evening to watch games in public places, creating a palpable sense of connectedness and common purpose.
There is so much you can do to revitalize your body and soul while you are on a break. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Learn new language
If your budget allows, go someplace where you don’t speak the language. Learn a couple of key phrases (hello, thank you, please, where is the bathroom) and watch what happens when you make the effort. Not only are you using different mental muscles, you are linguistically meeting people where they are, and I guarantee the gesture will create a connection that quite possibly leads to delight (or at least a smile and washroom).
Keep a journal
Keep a journal, noting observations large and small, and see if there is a shift in how you feel about either life’s big questions or the way you think about serving cocktails to welcome friends and a long summer evening (yes, I am riding the Aperol wave right now). Let the journal be an internal exploration of your responses to the external.
Feel the outdoors
Get outside in any weather and really feel what it means to be where you are. Commit to finding ways to do this once you are back to your normal routine, incorporating practices that give you moments of time and space every day to both pause and find new sources of energy.
One of the concepts I – and my clients – have been grappling with over the past year is diversity and inclusion. It occurs to me that one of the most difficult challenges ahead is how to welcome and integrate diversity of perspective. While traveling (near or far) see if you can create opportunities to engage in conversation with people who are, and whose worldview is, totally different than yours. Listen openly and energetically. Avoid the temptation to challenge views that oppose your own. Ask genuine questions. Be curious. I have found during my travels that drivers, wait staff, Airbnb hosts, museum guides, and fellow travelers have so much to offer that goes way beyond advice and recommendations. They open an invaluable window into how people think and feel. There is an immeasurable amount to learn and benefit from in these casual yet important exchanges.
Immerse yourself in the new, the different, the strange and the wonderful. The cliché “lose yourself to find yourself” exists for a reason. By focusing exclusively on the experience and people at hand, you have the chance - through observation and engagement – to learn about both what is unique and what is universal. This interplay is not only intellectually of interest, it is emotionally essential, serving as a critical reminder that diversity of perspective is what makes our shared society rich, rewarding and worth preserving.