Travelling teaches you to know yourself. Sometimes we take it for granted that we know certain aspects of our character or personality well, however, it may be the case that we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned in a certain way in our day-to-day lives, or we may be drifting along with our ‘likes, dislikes, decisions or opinions’ being influenced or even imposed upon us by those around us. We may simply find ourselves going with the flow, and not really experiencing the opportunities to live in a way that authentically resonates with who we really are.
Travelling, especially when we are able to do so alone, helps us to grow in awareness of our own needs, wants, desires, as well as of our own shortcomings, failures and need to change or develop certain aspects of our character. Living a life of authenticity is so important, however, although travel is…
Travelling teaches youto plan ahead. Travelling also teaches you to leave your plans behind.
There is so much to explore, and limited time, so we may find we gain the most from our experiences if we have in mind what we most want to see and do and focus on those. These lessons in planning and preparation can be useful and transferable into our ‘ordinary’ lives. We are so ‘wired up’ in the 21st Century to try to have multiple ‘tabs’ open in our lives, however, just as our computers and devices can only handle so much, so too we sometimes need a ‘re-boot’ or to close down some of the tabs we have so that we can enrich our experience of the fewer things we actually choose to do, and be more productive and efficient in making the most of our time in doing so.
Well, it’s the 1st of August already, friends. At this time of the year, having well and truly crossed the half-way point, someone is bound to say “I can’t believe it’s August already! Where has the time gone?” Can anyone relate? Maybe you’ve been the one to say it to others.
I often find that as the year draws on, as summer reaches its height and then begin to fade, and we face the inevitability of the approach of autumn and winter and the end of the year, that a subtle negativity can creep up on some people (or perhaps not so subtle!), and with it an underlying current of anxiety, stress and maybe a little fear.
The passing of the seasons reminds us of the passing of time, and inevitably life. And even if we are in the bloom of youth, and have much ahead of us to look forward to, there can be a tendency having reached the mid-point of the year to lament the things we haven’t done that we wanted to do, to feel directionless or that we have wasted time or drifted along, or to have a fear of the future, the passing of time and the need to ‘wake up’ a bit in our lives especially with regards to how we spend our time.
It can be easy to overlook our accomplishments, the fact that we have got up and shown up everyday (or most days), and have made it this far. Some people are naturally positive and don’t feel this way so much. However, if you are someone who struggles with having passed the mid-year point and need some encouragement, then read on my friend.
A simple shift in perspective can really help our outlooks for the better. Instead of seeing half the year as ‘gone’, look at this as the brand new start to a new month and new opportunities, and the chance to put your all into your life this month. We all approach life differently. I was chatting with a friend the other day who doesn’t like to plan things too much, but prefers spontaneity. We were talking in particular about using our time after work. I like to be ‘free’ within the structure of a plan. It helps me not to fritter away my time, and to focus and having spent time reflecting upon what is important to me in life, and aligns to my core values, then it’s a helpful way for me to ensure I do the things that are of most value to me. Eventually, this becomes part and parcel of the fabric of my life (such as the things I do in morning or evening ‘routines’), but for the things I find harder to ‘fit in’, I find that being intentional about them, even with a loosely structured plan, helps me. But perhaps you are more like my friend, and would find that constraining. However you approach things, use the 1st day of this brand new month to reflect on all the potentials and possibilities ahead of you, and strive to live deeply and more fully without dwelling anxiously on what you haven’t yet done.
Look out to the horizon, and dream big, then set sail and let your dreams take you there. Be blessed and stay hopeful. x
Travelling teaches youthat ‘selfies’ aren’t always best 😉 That is to say, travelling teaches you to look out for others, and to discerningly allow others to look out for you.
It might be a little ‘tongue in cheek’ to use the example of breaking away from the ‘selfie’ approach, and asking a kindly stranger or fellow traveller to take a photograph of you, and maybe even to return the favour for them, which will create an end result of a wider panorama and view of your surroundings, and a fuller picture of yourself as an individual. Of course, I am referring to more than just the potential picture that you may come away with, but to the experiences of life themselves. However, I have found on my travels that offering to help others, or accepting help (and obviously being wise and safe in who you approach or allow…
Travelling teaches you the importance of Home. Perhaps this in itself is a challenge to some of us. It is beautiful and inspiring to get away and explore the world. However, there are inevitably challenges and annoyances along the way no matter what we do. Moving from place to place, living out of a suitcase at times, being in unfamiliar territory or out of our comfort zone, or simply not being somewhere that is our ‘own’, of living in a constant state of the temporary, of moving, shifting, changing, can give us a deeper longing for and appreciation of Home. Yet, perhaps some of us, especially those of you who have spent years ‘on the road’ (something I haven’t yet done) find the idea of ‘Home’ a strange and transient concept, and maybe you don’t have a place where you feel ‘rooted’ to.
It’s summer time, and while many people are going on adventures near and far, you may find that you aren’t in a position to get away somewhere for whatever reason. But sometimes what we really need is just some time out of the normal busy routine of working life to take a break and recharge. I haven’t had the chance to travel abroad this year so far, and although I love to travel, I also see time spent closer to home as valuable. I have the next week off work, and am enjoying the chance to ‘destress’, live at a slower pace, reconnect with God, and invest in those relationships that are important with people I no longer see as regularly as I once did. And this in itself is its own form of rejuvenation. I find that mid-year, and we’ve now passed the mid point of 2019, is a good time to stop and reflect on not only our achievements, or areas for improvement, but also how closely we are living to our priorities and what is most meaningful to us. Too often, we feel we need to ‘tick the biggest boxes’ whereas perhaps the slow and steady changes and investments of our time, energy, heart and mind are what matter most in the long run.
So if you do find yourself at home this summer, make the most of it. Maybe you have time off, or maybe you could take a day here or there to extend a weekend, and take some time to rest and reflect and envision where you want to go from here.
I have enjoyed the time to catch up on my sleep, to pray and spend time with God and in His Word, to see a close friend and meet her first baby for the first time, to simply sit in the sun, to exercise, to eat healthily, to play my violin and take photographs, to fellowship at church, and I hope in the next few days to visit family, and then some good friends so I guess those aren’t quite ‘vacations’ as such, but mini trips to visit loved ones. I know that all too soon I’ll be back at work, which is why it’s important to make the most of looking after myself and doing things that are meaningful in the interim, but without the stress and pressure that regular life lived ‘according to the clock’ often entails.
Another thing you could do if you can’t get away is to plan a ‘staycation’…maybe rent out a place for a change of scene for a day/night and have a mini retreat. Take time to listen to understand your thoughts and know that the time you have right here and now is precious. xx
There’s a little foxy friend that comes to my parents’ garden- a night watchman / ‘fox man’ that comes and turns on the security lights in their garden, by activating the motion sensor. It’s lovely to get the chance to visit family, but also a treat to see some furry little fox friends 🙂
I’m sure you’ve said it at some point in your life: “The view from the top was amazing!”. But how did you know? You climbed that steep staircase, you took on that mountain, you put feet to your vision and you did something to get there.
At the top, you took a moment to steady yourself. You looked down from where you came, and then ….then you saw the view that took your breath away. The view that touched you and changed something within you. And that experience meant the person who descended those heights was different, more alive, than the same one who had only just embarked upon the journey.
You know what I mean, right? There was a time when that experience was a distant dream, an unreachable horizon, and then the dream became a vision, the vision a plan, and eventually the plan became action. You enjoyed the view that changed part of you for the better, because you took action…you did something about it, you took the first step.
And you did it again, you took on a new adventure, you pursued and reached that next goal, you wrote that next blog post….and all because you started somewhere.
Whatever it is that seems out of your reach and a distant dream….how does it compare to the dreams that you have turned into visions, plans and eventually accomplishments before?
You have accomplished so much in your life already, that you tend to forget. You become a little ‘short-sighted’ and uncertain about the road, or mountain ahead of you. But is that dream, really an impossible dream? Did the views that became part of your life’s journey and experience not begin with that first step?
What is that hope, dream, plan that you are thinking of today? Just take the first step. Start at the bottom, everyone has to start somewhere, and keep going, and once you reach the top, tell other people how incredible it is, inspire them, and keep believing, dreaming and achieving, helping others up on the way.
Well, we’ve made it to May, which means that summer is on its way, and hopefully so too are new opportunities and adventures, be they big or small.
The new year seems to be the most obvious time of the year for most people to reflect and take stock of where they are in life, and where they want to be, to set goals and make plans for the year ahead.
However, I think that each season, and even each new month provides an opportunity to invest in our personal growth and quality of life, by taking the time to reflect on whether the way we spend our time is aligned to our deepest values and purpose in life.
That might sound a little overwhelming, but the thing is, life can only be lived one day at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. And so it brings a kind of comfort in knowing that the little things all add up to build the pattern of our lives in more significant ways.
By looking at each month as an opportunity to reflect and reprioritise, this makes the perhaps otherwise overwhelming task of accomplishing life goals, or living well, much more manageable, fun and achievable.
I don’t know about you, but I find using a planner a helpful, creative and engaging way of doing this. Personally, I use the ‘Tools 4 Wisdom’ planner, and although I don’t always manage to sit down at the start of each month to do so, when I am able, like this month of May, I enjoy adding colour, designs and drawings to the month, creating a colour scheme and a theme, and adding in the details of events, tasks and goals.
Some people prefer to use online methods, or combine these with art journaling or bullet journaling, there are so many ways to create a framework and a structure for reflection that works for you.
I find it helps me to have a positive outlook on the month, as otherwise it is so easy to simply ‘drift’, to wonder where the time is going, or to feel like each day is just slipping into the next and that you’re somehow not making the most of things. It is engaging too, creatively in that the very act of producing something authentic, putting pen to paper, means that you are putting in something of yourself, and appreciating through the creative process, the fact that each little detail is important, and allowing yourself to value each day.
Even the seemingly mundane or ‘ordinary’ days can be extraordinary in their own ways.
Perhaps a good way to move forwards is to bring to mind any goals you had at the start of the year, and reflect upon these and revise them if required. Life changes, and your plans may have to as well, however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Then each month, choose one key life area, and maybe four or five smaller things that you want to work towards or accomplish. They don’t need to be ‘massive’ goals, like traveling the world or sky diving (perhaps those are ‘ordinary’ goals to you if you are the more adventurous type!), they can be simple yet authentic, and therefore beautiful in their own way – things like read one book, plan to spend time with a friend or family member, write a blog post, work on a particular creative project, make time for self care, etc.
Living purposefully gives us the opportunity to clear away some of the clutter in our lives and minds, to let go of what are unnecessary time stealers, and to perhaps live more simply, deeply and authentically, so that we feel more connected to ourselves, our core values and the people and pursuits in our lives that matter most to us.
Breaking things down and appreciating each small ‘chunk’ of time that we’ve been blessed with is good for our mental health too. Things feel less overwhelming, clearer and easier to prioritise. We can’t do it all, but we can try to spend more time focussing on what matters most, knowing that these little steps in the right direction all add up to a more fulfilling life.
We seem to be, in this generation, constantly ‘plugged in’, and always taking in stimuli from the world around us with unceasing suggestions of what we should be doing, thinking, eating, wearing, feeling, and so on. We also find ourselves caught up in the stream of images, stories, pictures and snapshots of other people’s lives, and that creates a risk of unhealthy comparison, ‘FOMO’ and even mental health struggles such as anxiety, fear, loneliness and depression if we feel that our lives are ‘not enough’ compared to those around us.
Yet, there is a beautiful paradox that reveals that when we disconnect from the noise, we are able to live in a deeper way that is more fully connected. We don’t need to pretend that the rest of the world isn’t there, or to stop engaging with it, but we do need to realise the importance of taking time to reengage with ourselves, our own lives, quietness, solitude and personal self reflection so that the time we spend on this earth is meaningful, authentic and much less wasteful.
I hope you take the time to enjoy something meaningful to you today. Perhaps that is in prayer, a walk in nature, journaling and reflecting, assessing your priorities, spending time with people you love, or maybe even sending out a random act of kindness to someone, even a stranger, who might need the authentic love and care of a fellow human being. Perhaps today, in taking time to connect with what is meaningful to you in your life, you might be inspired to write a blog post that will encourage another precious soul. Take care, think deeply, seek peace and pursue it, and be kind. xx