Taking a Break (2)

I have just returned from 2 1/2 glorious weeks of vacation, most of that spent on a cruise ship in the South Atlantic, visiting Buenos AIres, Rio de Janeiro and points in between (below: photo from cable car above Rio).  I thought I would write some blogposts while away, but much as I enjoy writing these posts when I am at home, doing so on vacation didn’t have any appeal during that time.

Photo from cable car above Rio

So as I whiled away the time, in between making important cruise decisions (like which restaurant to go to for dinner), reading novels, going to the gym, sightseeing in unusual and wonderful places, I reflected on the pure joy of being pampered and just enjoying the newness, the beauty, the languidness of it all….and spending easy time with my husband with no responsibilities.

And I thought how important it is to take a break from one’s regular routine – to expand horizons, to appreciate what we have, to refresh one’s heart and soul.

I’m still transitioning back to ‘the real world’, but know that I have a different kind of energy to move ahead in the coming days.

I wonder:

  • Do you ensure that you take a break? Or are you consumed by your work and life responsibilities and challenges?
  • What refreshes your heart and soul?
  • What’s possible for you when you allow yourself to take a break?

Lost Baggage

Home from vacation?  Ready to leap into new challenges with vigour and excitement? Or coasting along from the lazy high of few responsibilities, no chores, and feeling delightfully spoiled?  

Which is you?  I’m the latter.  I can sense the former, but I’m still coasting along in that post-vacation haze.  I wonder if it has anything to do with our missing suitcase.  Seen in Terminal 1 at Heathrow where we arrived from Dublin, but not seen in Terminal 4 from whence we left for Canada.  And definitely NOT seen at Montreal when we arrived….or since.

Trusting that it will turn up, and wondering what if it doesn’t?  Feels like when you lose a document in cyberspace!!  You know it’s out there somewhere, but where?

Makes me feel like I’m in cyberspace too. I want to buckle down, but I’m floating out there with my suitcase and some of my worldly possessions.

Shall I be upset?  After all, it’s only “things”.  But I like those “things”.  And it’s a pain – and expensive – to replace them.   Maybe insurance will pay some.  Must read that policy more carefully – what does it cover, what not?  Maximum? Minimum?

What do you do when confronted with a minor annoyance like this, and a task you didn’t want on your to-do list.  Do you get upset? Or are you calm, cool and collected?  Do you worry?  Do you amp up the search?  Do you methodically follow a plan? Do you trust?   

I realize now I can choose my reaction.  No point being upset.  That doesn’t bring it back, or if it does, any faster.  I can be patient… and persistent.  Yes I can!

What is the symbolism here?  What baggage do I need to lose?  (e.g. my impatience, my tendency to express annoyance when frustrated, etc.)

OK, I get it.  I think I’ll go back to calling the airline AND trusting that the lost suitcase will show up….soon.  Wish me luck!

On Flying High and Landings

Well…almost there. En route between planes and trains after a fabulous two weeks – the first one in western Germany and Luxembourg and last week and weekend in gorgeous Ireland attending the wedding of our eldest son.

If you can, get married in Ireland! The Irish do know how to celebrate in style, and definitely how to party! From the wedding ceremony itself in the afternoon in a small, sandstone church on a hill in a small country town – led with reverence and warmth by Father O’Meara – to the dancing and singing into the wee hours of the morning in a Gothic Revival Castle, which has welcomed visitors since 1208! (see Kinnitty Castle). – all of it was perfect, or as our hosts would say, “brilliant!”

It goes without saying that the bride was truly elegantly beautiful, the groom resplendent in his tuxedo, the attendants (bridesmaids, groomsmen, matron of honour and best man) magnificent also. Proud parents beamed and friends and families from Ireland and Canada mingled and celebrated joyfully. When I shed tears, they were tears of joy, sentimentality, and wonder at the promise of adventurous young lives setting out together.

Funny how smiles and tears can co-mingle like that! Strange how joy and sadness are bound together. Curious how we can feel full one minute, and empty the next…..or excited and anticipatory, then calm and reflective.

Yesterday I was flying (literally and figuratively); today I am back on terra firma, looking backward nostalgically, and forward eagerly.

Where are you today? What is nostalgic for you? What are you eagerly anticipating?

Sights and Sounds

I’m sitting here in Sammy’s Store, Restaurant & Pub on the beach where a good portion of the movie Ryan’s Daughter was filmed some 38 years ago. Improbably, this small establishment on the edge of the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland – today covered in exotic Irish mist – is connected via wireless, so I can feed my addiction to my MacBook and the world.

Listening to the sound of the surf crashing onto the beach, and the lilting sweet voice of our young server, I am awed by my surroundings.

Earlier today, we tromped through ancient ruins – both pagan and Roman – and marvelled at the remains of mortarless stone structures (walls, churches, cemeteries) that have stood the test of hundreds of years of salt water erosion and sometimes human carelessness.

Narrow highway by the seaWe stopped several times along the narrow highway by the sea, and breathed in the magnificent views of mountains and sea.

Our warm, generous and gregarious innkeeper, Dudley Morgan, who runs House of Four Angels (www.houseoffourangels.com) in the hills above the small village of Inch, was our guide. An American of Irish heritage who has lived here for 16 years, he is passionate about Irish history and the beauty of the area in which he has chosen to live and share with his guests.

We are delighted to have found him – on the Internet of course – and his piece of paradise. Thank you Dudley, for a wonderful introduction to the history and beauty of your adopted homeland.

Roman Ruins & Gratitude

Today I visited a small German town where a Roman Villa has been recreated as a museum with artifacts from 200BC to 300AD. Seeing the reconstructed pieces of irrigation ditches, baths and sanitary facilities, ceramic bowls, metal keys and knives, that were cleverly created and used so many centuries ago, one can’t help but be in awe of the inventiveness of this early civilization.

In spite of what it appeared to offer in sophistication, I reminded myself how grateful I am to be living in the early 21st century with all the conveniences I take for granted – including being able to connect with you via my laptop and wireless connection, and send off this blogpost!

I invite you to stop for a moment and imagine what it might be like to live two thousand years ago. And ask yourself: What would I miss about life in the 21st Century? What in my life am I taking for granted?

I know I am grateful for my life and the ease with which I can live it.
What are you grateful for?

Familiar and Strange

Last night I, along with 999 other music lovers, watched the Opera Tosca, in a huge tent in a small town in Merzig, Germany. It was familiar and strange at the same time. Sung in Italian, the subtitles were shown on a screen high above the stage – in German of course. I understand only a word or two of German, recognize only a few in Italian, yet found myself looking up at the screen frequently to try and understand what was being sung on stage – and of course, I couldn’t. My brain kept wanting to make sense of it, and refused to remember that the German language holds no clues to understanding for me at all!! Yet I kept glancing up.

What is that about I wonder?

It’s partly about my never-ending need to “understand” and make sense of my experiences. It’s also a demonstration of how the brain takes time to adjust to new information. And how it recognizes certain things as normal (the timeless music, the audience – (people are essentially the same the world over), the sensory experience of being part of a production which could be taking place anywhere. And refuses to acknowledge the one element that is so different – the language!

So the curious questions begin.

How do I respond when faced with something that is both familiar and strange at the same time?

How accepting am I of differences?

Do I know how to enjoy the moment for whatever it has to offer?

When do I refuse to accept what I know is true? And how does that impact my experience, my feelings, my actions, my relationships?

I invite you to notice when you are in a situation familiar and strange at the same time and notice how you react, feel, act. And to appreciate the learning therein. I’d love to hear about what you have noticed.