My BODY had been speaking to me lately in the past month or so relaying an important message- It’s TIME FOR A VACATION! It had been a year and a half since my last “real” vacation getaway. After the past eight months of putting in 14 hour work days my began to speak- loud and clear. It was shouting, begging and pleading with me for a break from the busyness.
Recent exhaustion, massive heartburn and feeling stuck in certain areas of my life were my catalyst to book a last-minute trip to Cuba, Cayo Santa Maria.
Sometimes you don’t realize how much you NEED a VACATION until you get there. And if you ignore the body’s message that it is time for a BREAK, you can and will become very SICK. The STRESS of LIFE will eat you alive if you don’t stop along the way to take a BREAK.
Sometimes a vacation or trip away from home is also what you need to gain CLARITY and INSIGHT about the areas of your life that may be feeling stuck or in limbo. Stepping away from the situation can bring massive revelations and offer you DIRECTION that you may not have been able to have access to while you were in the midst of it.
After eight days in paradise, I gained THIS insight and was reminded of these 8 THINGS ABOUT LIFE & HEALTH:
8. IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT “GETTING” AND FEELING LIKE YOU HAVE TO RECIPROCATE. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a giver by nature. In fact I used to give and give and give until I was completely depleted and drained.
I spent a good part of my life always feeling obligated to give back after receiving, whether it be gifts, compliments, love— you name it and I gave it ‘til the cows came home. Sometimes it felt forced and not so nice.
The CUBAN culture just gives and doesn’t expect anything in return. They want to give and have no expectations. Even when I had no money to offer for a tip to the waiter or cabana boy, they insisted it was okay and to simply accept it. They wanted to give to me anyhow.
The message I got: It’s okay to receive and not feel like you always have to give something back. Accept your gift, favour, love, whatever it is that is being offered to you and accept it with great GRATITUDE.
7. SLOW DOWN- LIFE IS NOT A RACE, IT’S A JOURNEY. Rush through it and you’ll miss all the tiny but amazing golden nuggets! We are running a marathon daily here in Toronto. I’m sure you are too in your city of choice. Every day we get up startled and panicked by our screeching alarms, jump on our gerbil wheel and start running. Exhausting anyone?
After 8 days of slowing down— almost completely, I decided that when I returned home to bring back into my life a slower pace, a casual stride in my step and time to breathe through my daily meals so as to taste, smell, and savour every minute of the precious day I have been given.
6. CHRONIC STRESS WILL EAT YOU ALIVE. Stress can be connected and linked back to almost all disease and illness. In our rat-race of a society we are STRESSED more than we know it. Most of us just aren’t even aware of it. We may think we don’t “feel” or “think” we are stressed but your body speaks to you sometimes in a language that you might not be familiar with.
Stress can show up as a headache, tummy ache, fatigue, depression, anxiety, worry, aches and pains and so much more.
Checking off our daily “to-do” list and jam-packing our day with mind-numbing tasks, I often think we keep so “busy” for the sake of keeping busy. When we chronically and constantly experience stress a series of events takes place in our bodies.
Our cortisol levels rise, our insulin response to incoming food wares out, we gain weight, we get sick, we feel exhausted and we can even feel depressed. Whether it is work related stress, financial stress, relationship stress, life-purpose stress or creative stress, STRESS can speed up the aging process and leave us more susceptible to heart disease, cancer and PMS.
If we do not learn how to address, prevent and lastly manage the stress in our lives, it will shred us apart and leave us for the dogs.
5. WE DRINK AND EAT TO AVOID OUR REALITIES. When I first arrived in Cuba and got situated, took a walk to the beach bar to order some food. I couldn’t help but to look around and notice I was surrounded by overweight-obese people, most of which were wasted out of their tree. I get it, it’s a vacation. It’s about letting loose and having fun.
But I couldn’t help but to keep asking myself what is this really about? From 6 am (the time I was up to see the sun rise on the beach) to well into the late hours of the evening I watched as people ordered and drank cocktail after cocktail— young, middle-aged, the elderly.
On one particular morning a man in his early thirties sat down next to me and poured his heart out about his troubles and problems back home. He then began to cry and told me how much he missed his mom. The alcohol had allowed him to become vulnerable and open up what he could not in his regular waking reality.
ESCAPE— we go on vacation to escape the reality of our everyday life that many of us don’t like. But what if we made our everyday life more like our vacation? I’m not talking about more drinking or eating here. I’m talking about enjoying life, going for the life we really want deep down, following our dreams, finding our passion.
Perhaps we drink to AVOID the pain of real life— our pain, hurt, job we loathe, loveless marriage, failure and lost dreams. Perhaps we wouldn’t find the need so much to bury ourselves in food and alcohol in order to hide the pain that we’re not walking our truth path if we began to walk and speak our authentic life— the one we really want and not the want we go on vacation to hide from…
4. THERE IS HOPE FOR THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE. I met the sweetest and coolest couple on my third day. We hit it off right away and spent the late afternoon, well into the wee hours of the evening swapping childhood stories, discussing life, love, relationships and marriage.
What I took home from my meeting them and what they taught me in our short time together, is that marriage can work— but you have to really want it to work and sometimes that means working your ass off for it. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine and sometimes you may want to throw in the towel. After 25 years together with trials, tribulations, up and downs, romance and many unexpected curve balls, this couple was still going strong.
Sure they had their problems, they fought or disagreed at times, but I saw it in their eyes and the way they looked at one another. There was still a whole lot of LOVE and more lessons to be learned from the relationship. Marriage can work— sometimes you just have to fight for it.
3. TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF IS PART OF THE SELF-HEALING AND ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. This trip (unintentionally) gave me the opportunity to reflect back on my life so far to see where I’d been, where I was now and where I was going… It offered as and the opportunity to assess, evaluate and explore (much like I do with my clients) what was working, what no longer was, what was abundant in my life and what was lacking.
I was able to gain clarity and insight out the confusion and exhaustion of the city life of the things I needed more of in my life and the things that needed nurturing, watering and tending to. Taking time for yourself and only you is okay and actually necessary for personal, spiritual and soul growth.
Taking time for you allows you to understand what you need and what areas of your life and health need more tender loving care. I recommend we all take some time from time to time (I prefer daily) for self-care, self-attention and self-reflection. What’s lacking or no longer working for you in your life?
2. YOUR ENVIRONMENT CAN MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU. The surroundings in which we dwell and spend the most time in have the ability to shape our mood, change our energy and influence the course of our lives. Have you ever felt like you just don’t belong or fit in where you reside?
I have. Having lived in Toronto, a busy go-go metropolis for the past 7 years, I have never really felt quite “at home” here. The second I drive into the busy city beltway I already begin to feel the chaotic swirling energy ready to swallow up my sensitive spirit along with the other millions of rats running the race.
My soul, my spirit, my passion for my work comes most alive and feels most at home close to the water— breathing in the salty ocean waves, dusting my bare feet with sand and feeling the sun on my face. It gets me every time.
Now I may not need to live at the beach, right on the water, but I certainly now know with every fibre of my being I need to have available access to this tranquil paradise on a more regular, if not daily basis. Where that is for me, I don’t know yet, but I’m on my way to finding it. How does your environment affect you?
1. THE SUN WILL ALWAYS RISE. No matter how bad things get, how many curve balls life throws you, how bad your heart breaks— tomorrow will be a new day and you will be given the chance to start over. The sun will rise again and again…