Transatlantic Flight Post Pandemic

In the past I viewed myself as a wanderluster, perhaps I still am.  I was on a plane nearly every month during the 6 ½ years I had been an expat, before the pandemic started.  The pandemic hit, and although it is still ongoing, so must our lives.  Now, I have been an expat for officially 8 years and 1 month, and I am travelling for several weeks back to the USA.  Luckily my work has afforded me a complimentary flight home for a visit.  It’s been 20 months since I have been to the states, or seen any family or friends.  And it’s time for a trip.  Jet setting was such a breeze before.  There was limited anxiety, I slept on a majority of the flights, but now things have changed.  

There is so many essentials to be taken care of before one even takes off.  A negative covid test the day before, upload it, and wearing a mask the entire time from after I park my car until arrival.  I was hoping to use my lounge passes from my credit card, but even the lounges were closed.  When I got through security, I wanted to cry.  This was not out of sadness, but out of relief.  It’s easy to focus on the little things that go wrong, which today included a nearly flat tire which needed air in, one of my dog crying as I drove to the dog minder, and other tiny bouts of frustration that arose.  Yet, little do we focus on the amount of things that go right, that we depend on.  The tire filled with ease and luckily I left the house early enough, I had a negative covid test, no traffic, ease of getting though security and re-adjusting my bags that were slightly over-filled, kind staff throughout the day, free magazines at the airport, and a cappaccino as I waited.  There was a multitide of things that went right, and I wanted to cry as a form of release from the stress of travelling, even though it barely just begun. 

There was a recognition that for weeks, I could not let myself be too excited for this trip.  At any moment it could have been cancelled with either a positive covid test, or the state of the UK, the USA, or the world.  I simply bought a ticket, hoped for the best, and held my breath.  This was the moment of release that was emerging. 

 I finally boarded the plane, and could not fall asleep.  Was it excitement? Anxiety? Stress? Novelty?  I generally was such a good traveller, but what happened? I wasn’t relaxed enough to journal, had no intention to glance at a magazine, or interested in my book to devour it.  I simply sat and watched a film.  Eventually a thirty minute nap arose, which I was grateful for.  But jumping on planes would take some getting used to again.  It’s a necessity and a benefit to being a human at this time of life.  We have taken it for granted before, but now a new normal has arrived.  How will you adjust to finding ease in the skies? 

Enjoy The Ride Not Just The Destination

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about the destination.”


         Last week I drove my two dogs to the beach.  This does not seem like a big ordeal, but driving solo over 80 minutes to a British Norfolk beach solo with two older dogs can be cumbersome.  As we drove with my sunroof down, the dogs were loving every bit of the wind sprayed onto their face.  Regardless of the fact it was gray skies, it didn’t matter.  They were with their owner on an unexpected joy ride, and were ecstatic.  I closed the roof as it sprinkled rain, and automatically I silently cursed myself on not doing this on a more gorgeous day.  But I looked back at my dogs, and remembered I promised at least one trip to the beach this summer.  The ride seemed enough for them, it wouldn’t matter how long they were at the beach for or what the day was like.  

I arrived at the Wells-next-to-the-sea early in the day, or so I thought.  It was 10:30 AM.  Two parking lots were full, and a spill over parking lot was made available.  Intuition warned me of this, I knew the next parking lot was 1 ½ miles away.  I didn’t mind the walk, but my 14 year 2 month old English Bulldgo Puzo may not be able to handle it.  I brought a stroller (or as the Brits call it “pram”).  He got in, and the joyride continued.  We stopped along the way, to let their paws and my feet play in the shallow waters where the boats parked.  The sun began to shine on the newly formed picturesque day.  Puzo smiled as he sat next to his 12 ½ year old sister Bella in his pram.  They listened to the sea breeze and got the attention and grins of fellow beach goers.  We stopped at another shallow area to briefly cool off and take in the scenery, but our journey continued.   Past the scenic walkway, through the woods, towards the dog friendly area.  After the one hour stroll, we finally arrived to the beach.  We took in the scenery of vintage beach houses, happy families and friends, and dogs grateful to be included in the festivities.  The beach was gorgeous and serene, and I was grateful I could take them to appreciate the shore for another year.  I’m reminded our time together is limited, and every ounce of joy I can give them is worth it.  

Our time at the beach was definitely less than the hours of driving and walking to and from it, but it didn’t matter.  The entire journey there and back was appreciated by the dogs.  These animals de compagnie (French for “pets”) remind me to slow down and lavish in each moment. Although we may strive for the end result, we can indulge along the way.  The entire ride is part of the process to be enjoyed, not just the high of the beach.  There are multiple miniature thrills along the way.

If Something Is Too Good To Be True…

         There is an adage that goes, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.”  I have been the victim of two separate internet scams this summer.  My mom had told me to go onto a website, as they were having a deal on Birkenstocks.  You could buy two pairs of Birkenstocks for the price of one.  It turned out neither was delivered, but simply a girl’s tanktop from China.  Another was a tarot reading and profile summary.  The only reason I know this is a scam is my friend received the exact same profile/reading.   In both of these instances another individual was the one who told me of the deal, and I followed suit.  Everything is easy with Paypal.  We swipe often without thinking, and yet sometimes things are too good to be true.  Before we know it, we are scammed, and cannot get our money back despite complaints and disputes made. 

         This blog post is not to complain but to reframe.  What can be learned?  First, why am I making a purchase?  Is it coming from a place of need or greed?  I think I am going to land the most amazing deal, only to be cheated.  I probably did not need to make the purchase from the start.  Second, I am in the process of decluttering.  As I do this, why am I adding? Third, perhaps I need to learn patience, desire, versus immediate gratification.  Fourth, if I am going to buy anything it’s more beneficial to support in person products from local vendors and services versus internet ads.  

         Maybe you have been victim to an internet scam, if so how did you handle this? What were your lessons learned?  How have you shifted your experience as a customer after this occurrence? 

Balancing Discipline and Restoration During Travel

I’ve been on a sound healing course in rural Wales.  Although the course is from 10:00-5:00 for four days, somehow it does feel as if I am on a retreat.  Perhaps because the center we are staying in has a retreat feel.  The essentials are provided.  There is no luxury, but there is enough.  Cell service is poor, but you are amidst greenery, trees, woods.  No responsibilities can pull at you at the moment.  All is asked is your presence.  Due to a later start in the morning and my only commute time equating with taking several turns down a hallway, my mornings appear luxurious.  There is time and space to maintain my daily discipline. 

            My mornings are filled with meditation, morning pages (journaling), gratitude, setting a morning intention, and yoga.  Somehow, I am mostly sustaining my intermittent fasting.   Since there are no dogs or people pulling for my attention, I have time to craft my mornings to look what I want it to look like.  Having some type of discipline while I travel helps create a light set of boundaries to my day.  I can keep a foundation of my essence, although other aspects may be out of control.  It may be easier to do this on a retreat or workshop, because your schedule is predictable.  Yet this is also possible to sustain if you are crafting your own trip.  Mornings can be sacred as a means to develop and sustain your discipline, whatever that looks like for you.  Yet it’s important to leave space for adventure, serendipity, and spontaneity. 

            Although my days are filled, part of me wishes to squeeze more out of them.  For me, this is more writing, creativity, or productivity.  Yet what I realize after dinner is my body is tired.  In reality, this even occurred during the training.  Our first day ended with an hour long sound bath.  Not only did I fall asleep, I was the first one and was lightly snoring!  This was embarrassing to hear in front of our group, but I couldn’t deny the truth.  My body and mind have been extremely busy.  It’s nudging me to be nurtured.  It is longing for more rest, rejuvenation, recuperation.  Allow your body and mind the time to slow down.  The word vacation comes from the Latin word “vacare” which means to “be unoccupied.”  Leave space for this to occur.  Between the busy-ness, adventure, learning, doing, exploring, and gallavanting allow yourself to be unoccupied.  Perhaps you may let out a sigh, yawn, or even a snore.  Welcome whatever arises.  It needs it!

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”- Ovid

Trusting Your Travel Intuition

Go with your gut, particularly when it comes to travel.  Although I know this in theory, it’s easy to lose sight of this.  We think others may know better.  They are more familiar with the terrain, have travelled more extensively, and perhaps you have not researched enough.  But what’s important to keep in mind is only you knows what you are looking for.

            This was the case for me yesterday.  I was driving to Wales for a sound healing training.  I chose this one particular Georgian beach town to visit, as it was only 45 minutes away from where I was headed.  It was a four hour drive away.  When I inquired with a colleague familiar with the area, she frowned.   She noted how that town disappointed her, as it was rundown.  She suggested another town that had more vibrancy and I would appreciate it more.  I looked at a virtual map, it was only three hours away.  I thought somehow I would be saving time.   When I landed in the town, I found the center: a shopping mall.  This was fine, it could be my base.  It was across from a tiny river.  I parked my car, found clean toilets, grabbed a latte and then I began to explore.  Although the town had some high street stores, there was no charm to it.  It was pure chain stores.  To me the town felt rundown, deprived of historic culture, and was simply a low income eyesore.  When I sat in a restaurant to look at the driving distance from here to my retreat center, it was nearly another three hour drive!!!

            Not only was the town disappointing, but my total hours in the car was going to be extended by two hours!!!  I was highly frustrated.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to be in nature, in a charming town.  I didn’t want to be surrounded by stores that I could see in my own backyard.  I was upset at myself for asking for the opinion of another and wasting an afternoon in an ugly town, when I could have been surrounded by inspiration. 

But I tried to remind myself that this lesson of trusting my gut versus asking the opinion of others was luckily not an expensive one.  It didn’t cost much money, just additional hours of my time.  How often do we pivot our lives to please others?  How often do we take jobs, move to cities, remain in a long term relationship, purchase an expensive piece of property, or cut off ties with people because others say so?  In life, we have to listen to our gut.  What do we really want?  What are we looking for? We can listen to others’ advice, if solicited, but it’s important to remember what your intention is.

            I was not clear with this when inquiring with my colleague.  I was simply asking her opinion.  What I actually longed for was beautiful scenery or perhaps to be surrounded by nature.  I did ruminate about my poor decision and spontaneity during my Welsh countryside drive, which cost me an afternoon.  But as I drove my additional three hours to the center, I stumbled upon this beauty.  

I paused.  Got out of the car, and simply sat to take it in.  This is what I was actually looking for.  A moment like this, when the world stopped.  My heart was reset and inspired again.  Perhaps I would not have been given this opportunity to view this if I had not been re-routed.  

I was reminded that travel doesn’t always go as planned.  We can’t always have wins or beautiful moments.  Like life, there will be disappointments, detours, frustrations, and self-doubt.  Can we let that go and learn?  Can we accepted the flawed with the unexpected beauty?  Can we take in the totality of a moment?  Detours can take us to the unexpected.  All is part of the journey.

“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”-Anthony Bourdain