by Kim Jackson of PeaceLoveandPrettyThings
There is much to be learned from being stuck outside your comfort zone--both literally and figuratively. Last week, while traveling in Europe, I was literally stuck outside the comforts of home. Due to Super Storm Sandy, all flights into the East Coast were canceled while airports and cities dealt with the surprisingly devastating blow Sandy dealt--and my travel buddies and I were unable to leave Rome, Italy on the day we had planned.
I know this doesn't immediately sound like such a bad situation. We were in Rome after all, right? Right. But we'd also already traveled to multiple cities, completed the itinerary we'd planned, and spent most of what we had allotted for travel funds. So we were more than ready to return home. That didn't happen for 3 more days (thankfully not the 6 extra days we thought we'd be away), and they were a difficult 3 days at best. We were on mental overload from all we'd taken in, emotionally stressed from working feverishly to secure new flights, and on a particular rainy day in Rome--totally bored.
Please don't misunderstand--this was an absolutely amazing trip. But there was certainly something to be learned about adapting when your plans change in a way that is so utterly out of your control.
Appreciate the simplest things possible. Immediately after returning home, I realized I'd missed even the tiniest pleasures about it--down to standing in my own kitchen and staring out the window while cooking at my own stove. Remember to be grateful for even the simplest day to day activities that can bring you a bit of joy.
Know how to self-soothe and find peace no matter where you are. The ladies I traveled with were a great group. But I live alone, am used to lots of alone time and I value it immensely. It's easy to start to feel stifled when I can't get that. So I had to find ways to sneak away from the group--even if it was just for a few minutes--to breathe, write or read some of the daily positive emails to which I subscribe. Having new experiences was great, but I needed to also find ways to feel like myself. There are going to be times where you can't complete your normal routine. You have to know how to adjust and be centered anyway or you'll drive yourself crazy.
Find a way to connect with your loved ones and yourself. I'm not sure if you have checked out international calling rates lately, but uh...they are OOC (out of control) and I'm not about that exorbitant phone bill life. So I relied on free wifi throughout Europe to communicate with my family and bf at home. Even at the times where I felt most stressed, a quick Face Time moment or a well-timed email was all it took to help me to feel like myself again. There is something about reconnecting with the people who know me best that helps me to reconnect to myself. Try and bring a bit of the familiar into unfamiliar circumstances when needed.
Be patient. Trying to get on a new flight home was a hell of a waiting game. And the actual journey home was a long and arduous one. But as soon as my feet touched ground at the airport and I saw my son's face at the gate, all that drama was forgotten. Trials seem really tough to stick out while we're going through them, but more often than not we forget about all the hard stuff once that great thing we were waiting for comes to fruition.
Learn to bite your tongue. As frustrated as everyone was, there was not one incident among the 6 of us on the trip where there was negative confrontation. We worked hard to be constructive in suggestions for how to handle our extended stay. And that really warms my heart. The women in my life continue to prove that the assumption that all black women are angry and combative is 100% false! When there are a lot of voices in a room, the need to feel heard can be overwhelming; but sometimes it is just important to keep your opinion to yourself as it is to speak up. Find a way to quietly contribute in other ways and make yourself a useful part of the solution as opposed to someone who spends all their energy complaining.
p.s. I penned a travel diary over at Pish Posh Perfect about all the ridiculously wonderful parts of the trip. Click on over if you're interested. There are pics too! xo