I mentioned in my last post how much I love traveling alone, but it has been a while since my last adventure – Paris in November 2015. I learned a ton during my time in Paris – not only was it my first solo trip to Europe, but the first night I was there was also when the terror attack on the Bataclan happened. Very thankfully I wasn’t nearby, but rather sleeping in my hotel in St. Germain until I was awoken by sirens and texts/phone calls. Needless to say, the trajectory of my trip was completely changed and my mental fortitude challenged to the fullest. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and undoubtedly changed me in a lot of ways.
Even though my trip to Rome was way more low key and peaceful (thank goodness!), I still learned a lot from my time there beyond all things food and mindful eating.
Controlling the uncontrollable
A self-proclaimed control freak, it is sometimes really hard for me to handle things in life I can’t control. Especially those things that aren’t going the way I would like. Case in point, flying on airplanes. We can’t control a darn thing when we’re at 40,000 feet, and sometimes this gets the best of me. And I won’t lie when I say there was a turbulent moment over the Atlantic en route to Italy in which I had the “ok, maybe this is it” talk with myself. But there was also a moment after that when I focused on the things I could control – my breath, my mannerisms, what I chose to do and think about. And when in doubt, fake it till you make it. Sometimes pretending you’re fine is a great way of fooling yourself into thinking you are indeed fine. I’m sure that’s some sort of life lesson.
Presence and patience
Aside from with Peanut and at work, I am historically a very impatient person. I don’t like waiting for things or people, and get easily irritated if I do have to wait. Too often, I’m always thinking of what’s next instead of what’s happening right now. This is something that has changed a bit since adopting regular yoga and meditation practice, and definitely since becoming a dog mom (Peanut is always in the “right now” moment!), but still needs some work. One day in Rome I had planned on a guided tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. I bought the tickets weeks in advance and they were fairly pricey, so when the day the (three hour, all outdoor) tour turned out to be cold, windy and a little rainy, I still had all intentions of going. The Colosseum and ruins are HUGE, and I definitely wanted to learn all of the cool stuff about them I might not learn on my own. The previous day I had taken a three hour tour of the Vatican and it was absolutely superb, so I had high hopes.
But right off the bat, a few members of my tour group had to go to the bathroom. And then they didn’t want to walk up stairs. But did want to stop for a million photos. And then they had to go to the bathroom again. And maybe buy sweatshirts because they were cold. And then rest because there were more stairs. Oh man, I was so close to just leaving the tour because I was getting so annoyed at how slow it was going because of them. And it was SO cold, my lips were turning blue. My patience level was at a hard zero. But then I looked around. I was in Rome. At the Colosseum. In Rome at THE Colosseum. How lucky was I? The fact that this structure and all the ruins around it have been around for so long, have such a cool history and I was fortunate enough to be learning about it was pretty awesome, despite the ridiculous tour group members. So I took a step back, did some yoga breathing, and tried to soak up the magnificence around in that moment instead of letting my impatience get the best of me. It worked, for the most part!
Improving self compassion is something I work on with patients and clients all the time – there are so many instances in our daily lives where we can stand to be a bit nicer to ourselves. But sometimes I forget to do this for me. This trip was a good reminder that it’s ok to take it easy on myself, and that it’s possible to redirect negative thinking into something more positive if you just try. When I first arrived in Rome, I got really frustrated with myself for getting a little lost, not knowing what I wanted to eat, being really tired because I didn’t sleep on the plane, feeling like I didn’t look so great in the mirror… the list goes on. It would have been so easy to let those thoughts ruin a day, or even the whole trip. But what a shame that would have been, right? So I really made a point to nip those thoughts in the bud and be as nice to myself as I would want others to be to themselves, or as I would be to others.
It’s ok to prioritize ourselves. To do things because you want to or don’t want to. To take yourself out to a nice dinner and linger over a glass of wine just because. Appreciate the beauty around you and know that you deserve to do so. Being selfish sometimes is not only a very positive thing, but so necessary for all of us and something we often don’t do enough.