It has been some time since I’ve written…and I’ve really missed it and missed my readers! While on break, I realized the therapeutic value for me in writing blog posts and journal entries and I am eager to process some of the other things I learned while away from my “regular life”.
I was fortunate to be able to take three weeks and travel overseas on a journey of self-care, connecting with loved ones, and exploring new places. Now that I am back in the office, I have been reflective of a few things that I learned and noticed while I was away. These musings have benefitted me deeply as a person and as a psychotherapist and I thought it might be helpful for others if I posted them on my blog.
Reflections from a journey away from routines, control, and expectations:
1.) One of the first things I learned was how challenging it was to give up control, expectations and routine! It proved to be an exercise in self-restraint to separate myself from my work and “just be” (though I did get this down after a few days of adjusting!). Three weeks away from email began to give me symptoms of withdrawal…which I quickly realized was not a healthy thing. I confronted how tied to my work and my home I am, and I learned that it is imperative for me to have boundaries in the way I spend my time, my energy, and my resources. I desperately wanted to be present and aware during my journey, and this was shown to require more work to accomplish than I had thought! The benefit of this, though, is noticing that there is extraordinary value and meaning in the simplicity of life, and things don’t need to be complicated!
2.) I also learned that we are all the authors of our own happiness. I spent time in some very rural areas and met people who live simple, humble lives. These people work very hard and enjoy the bounty of their work as they feast on the fresh produce from their gardens, sip the wine from their grapes, and enjoy the meat of the cattle they have raised in their own pastures. This is all they need to be happy. The beauty of their lives struck a deep chord with me and I notice how contrasting the aspects that make up my life seem to be from this simplicity. I am motivated to pursue that simplicity and the appreciation of the earth as the wonderful people I met do every day. Through making these connections and observing this way of life, I realize that I have a choice. It does not matter how much money I have or what I own; I can enjoy the beauty of life simply by embracing the gifts of the present moment.
3.) Relationships are the roots of a beautiful life. Spending time with loved ones and forming new relationships with friends from afar can deepen our sense of self, our connection with our world, and manifest priceless new memories for a lifetime. In nurturing my relationships and in embarking on new friendships, I was offered a fresh perspective on life: joy is experienced in the present moment, in a joke with a friend, in the taste of a delicious fruit, in the sound of a bird’s song. It does not matter what language we speak or if we understand the words of another — connection is felt inside, in a language that does not use words. Joy is who we are, not what we own or where we have been. In giving up control of where I was going and what I was doing, I was able to embrace the raw beauty of what IS…without needing to change anything.
Now, back home where there are many other gifts and examples of beauty, I am grappling with how to integrate my experience abroad with my experience in my home. It has not been a simple transition however I am grateful for how many definitions of peace, beauty, and happiness I have discovered!
I am hopeful that some of what I learned could strike a chord for you as you embrace the challenges and the gifts on your life’s path. Whether you a in recovery from an eating disorder or managing stressors of a different kind, I know that life can be overwhelming. I encourage you to take a step back and think about the choices you DO have and how you can find peace in a moment of every day.