“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu
I love to travel! I find visiting new places, exploring new areas, and learning about myself and the world to be deeply self-nurturing. But I know that travel can also be stressful since we must stretch outside our comfort zones in the process.
Just yesterday I returned from a trip up the California coast to take my daughter back to college. Our time was lovely but required 17 hours in the car on the way up and back. We chose to spend an extra day and drive back when there would be less traffic. I am so very grateful that we made that choice. Staying an extra day allowed us time and space to enjoy Santa Cruz and explore and hike in the ancient redwood forest. Giving ourselves extra time is truly a gift, but most of us do not give ourselves permission to take an extra day and may even feel like we have to pack everything into a short adventure leaving us overwhelmed and exhausted.
Often by the time we are about to leave for a trip, we are already stressed out and exhausted trying to prepare, pack, and provide for our absence at work and at home. Then instead of being kind to ourselves and planning mindfully, we schedule early morning flights, close connections and create very full schedules. We expend the little energy we have left on stressing about things outside our control and completely miss the opportunity to plan our trip with the intention of nurturing ourselves.
Can you imagine instead cultivating the nurturing art of traveling and planning a deeply nurturing experience?
I love to people watch when I travel. I feel as though I am witnessing how people nurture themselves when they fly. A plane ride is a perfect metaphor for how we spend our “down time” and what activities we choose when we have a few moments to ourselves.
Reflect for a moment on how you spend your down time? Do you sleep, work, worry, dream, rest, play games, read, staying plugged in on-line, journal, meditate, write a letter, talk, watch a movie or the earth below or around you?
Many of my clients report not knowing what to do with themselves when they have down time, so I encourage them to imagine they have a two-hour plane ride and ask them to write down options they can choose from.
Then I ask them to assess how self-nurturing those activities are and how filled up they would feel when they exited the plane?
I invite you to embrace this exercise and create a list of activities that would really nurture you. Then you can include them into your life, not only when sitting on a plane but also as part of your daily self-nurturing practice.
You see the nurturing art of traveling highlights how we choose to spend our time and guides how we get to our destination. Throughout our day we have the opportunity to cultivate peace and joy along the way and to weave gratitude into all that we do. We have the option to give ourselves permission to enjoy the ride, as well as choose our destination. We have the choice to bring an intention of nurturing ourselves into all that we do, even when we are waiting.
Next week I will travel again on a trip to Chicago for the Hands of Peace Board Retreat. I am going a day early with some friends to explore Chicago before the retreat. Giving myself permission to take an extra day and make the business trip fun is critical to nurturing myself. I have learned the nurturing art of traveling after years of not consistently making nurturing choices, and am deeply grateful for the peace, joy, and meaning I am able to cultivate as a result.
Wishing you wonderful adventures on your travels and the ability to infuse your trip and life with the intention of self-nurturing, as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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