The end of the year is one of my favorite times because I love the process of self-reflection and I find it fascinating to look back and see how things in my life evolved. 2013 was certainly full of shifts, big surprises, and some pretty amazing accomplishments.
One of the highlights of my year was a much-needed personal vacation I took earlier this month. I was in the midst of a huge life transition and needed to get to get some perspective. So, I sat down and asked myself what I wanted out of my travels.
I had four goals:
- See beautiful things that take my breath away.
- Eat delicious food and enjoy every single bite.
- Listen to music that moves my soul.
- Travel alone and prove to myself that I can stand on my own two feet.
Apparently if you’re me, these goals will lead you to Miami in order to board a cruise ship to the Bahamas. And, for the record, not just any cruise ship: a Matchbox Twenty cruise. Yes, ladies and gentleman, my epic vacation of 2013 involved a giant boat with my favorite band from the 90s. It really was my version of heaven.
My vacation started by boarding a plane and flying across the country to South Beach. There I spent three days exploring a brand-new city: walking the beach, sitting at cafes, and reading in the park. As a Seattleite, I have to say that it was amazing to see palm trees and sun in December. And, there’s nothing stranger than hearing Christmas music when it’s 80 degrees outside.
Most of my time in Miami was spent at the News Café, which I now fondly think of as one of my most favorite cafes. I would spend hours sitting at a table by the sidewalk reading, writing, and dreaming up new business ideas.
It was a fabulous reminder about taking pleasure in the little things: a good book, a good cup of coffee, feeling creative and abundant, a beautiful view, and lots of sunshine.
And after three gorgeous days of sun and sand, it was time to board the cruise ship and spend the weekend with Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls in the Bahamas. Heck yes.
Do you ever have moments in your life where you know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be?
As crazy as it sounds, I knew that I was supposed to be on this boat and I loved every. second. of. it. (Despite the really, really, really, bad food.)
The funny thing about traveling alone is that I wasn’t expecting the reactions I got from other people. During my trip I talked with a variety of folks – everyone from families to single adults – and every time I got the strangest mix of reactions:
Are you really here alone? So, let me get this straight, you flew across the country to come on a cruise ship… alone? Really? (disbelief)
You’re dining alone? Wow, you are so brave! Oh my gosh, you’re on this cruise ship entirely alone? I could never do that! You really are brave! (awe)
You’re all by yourself? Why don’t you join my table? We have room for one more! (pity)
The great thing about traveling alone is that I realized the pleasure I can find in solitude and that I can indeed stand on my own two feet, even in an unfamiliar city or on a boat in the middle of an ocean. I think as a woman it’s sometimes nice to know that you’re independent, self-sufficient, and have your act together. Just sayin.
So what else did I learn on this trip?
Lesson: Life is too short to take beauty and joy for granted.
And, life is too short to forget that we are in control of our time. We have the choice to choose how we want to feel and how we want to live our lives. Whether you’re on a vacation or in the midst of the daily grind, we all have a choice about what we are doing and how we feel while doing it.
Lesson: My vacation taught me that I need to take more vacations. Vacations are breeding grounds for creativity, passion, and excitement for life. The bottom line is that taking a break isn’t optional; it’s mandatory.
Lesson: My favorite lesson from all of this is that you can’t predict where your life will take you, but you can always trust your gut and be true to yourself.
And if your gut tells you to get on a boat and hang out with Rob Thomas in the middle of the ocean… sometimes you just gotta listen.