I’ve been back from my ‘vacation’ for nearly two weeks now. The time away was a huge gift to myself (and probably those around me too) as it afforded me the chance to renew and rejuvenate. It also was a time to review the way I want to live in the remaining 49 or 50 weeks of the year. I don't know about you but for me, the end result of taking time to relax, do the things I love and be in the moment is a happy and contented body, mind and heart.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that we are tired and stressed out when we take some time off (if we even take time off). The first week or two may be spent doing catch up with our bodies before we start to get back into a place of equilibrium and relaxation. And then guess what – it’s time to go back to work! We often joke that it's not worth taking a holiday, because the 'glow' is usually gone after a few days of returning to our 'regular' lives.
So how do we find the ways to live in a relaxed manner and enjoy our lives while maintaining the momentum of everyday life - since most of us are not able to always be ‘on vacation’? Is it possible to start to reclaim a life of balance instead of burn-out? I believe it is a mindset that can be shifted through a deliberate attitude of loving kindness and self-care expressed to ourselves. It takes rethinking certain ingrained habits of routine behavior in order to remember to stop and "smell the roses" and appreciate the moment(s) of our lives.
Every time I return from a vacation, there are certain experiences and memories that stand out from the holiday. Inevitably, they are marked in my memory by a label of either ‘taste, smell, or vision’. Translation: food, flowers, and scenery. These three items are important tools I use to recall and retain the pleasure into my now moments as the days accumulate post-vacation.
Of course, we must start with food – the how being just as important as the what. Going back to Italy, I noticed a rhythm in that country that honors how food is consumed. People take the time to appreciate both their lunch and dinner meals, savoring the different courses, and generally always washing them down with some red or white wine – all in moderation of course! The lunch meal is always followed by a siesta in the afternoon – how very civilized is that? I asked myself quietly, the last morning in Italy, "how can I package up that attitude and bring it back with me?"
Upon returning home, it was relatively easy since we returned to beautiful, summer weather. But it still might have been easy to slip back into our habit of eating our dinner in front of the TV, watching the news. Instead, we have been eating our meals outside while admiring the beautiful garden we have planted on our apartment balcony. Granted it is not the hills of Tuscany or the lakeshore of Garda, but the bright red geraniums, white lace-like trailing flowers, and purple lavender spikes are pretty delicious to observe. We also have deliberately purchased a pretty white star jasmine tree, which is holding court as a deliberate reminder of Italy. This type of jasmine grows as if wild there and has teased us to return a few times in springtime when it starts to bloom. Now I can be brought back to vacation-mode simply by stepping out on to the balcony and sniffing – heartily!
Oh and I must not forget the birds! The sound of birds singing early in the morning is an automatic reminder of vacation for us. The birds here may not be chirping in Italian, but their songs are sweet and melodious and automatically soften the heart. We are fortunate to have a forested area near our home where I'm sure many of them nest.
On a beautiful summer day like today, I can choose to either sit out in the sun for 15-20 minutes during my lunch break or go for a nice walk after work, along the nearby river. It may not be a 2-hour siesta in Italy but it beats eating my lunch in front of a computer screen (guilty as charged!). Just that small amount of break in the day can make a huge difference if I let myself take the time to enjoy.
Getting back to the food – again – I love to try and mimic at least a couple of the meals that I have eaten while away. That way every time I prepare the dish, it transports me back… the smell, the taste, and the visual helps to remind me of that wonderful meal and the experience surrounding it. By the way, stay posted for a few recipes yet to be finalized. I promise I will share!
So now you know my cheater tips for maintaining my vacay glow. I know it sounds simple - and you know what - it is! But, if recalling the taste of a fabulous Bolognese sauce or pasta dish with fresh asparagus and green peas, or the scent of a beautiful jasmine tree or the sound of birds singing throughout the day doesn’t put you into a brief ecstatic state, then what will do it for you? By the way, I also have many, many pictures to help also!
Life is beautiful – whether on vacation or not. Simple habits of self-care are really just a switch in mindset and can be accomplished through easy shifts!
So, if you are looking for me, I will either be in the kitchen, cooking an ever so tasty meal, or sitting outside on the balcony eating it, ensconced in the visual pleasure of colors and scents. I will be smelling the jasmine (not the roses). It doesn’t get much better than that!
Ciao for now!