Recently I went away for five weeks. I travelled interstate and stayed with four different households. This was meant to be a rejuvenating, revitalising holiday away from the freezing Tassie winter.
Instead, I was thrown unexpectedly and unpleasantly so far out of my comfort zone that within days I was desperate to be home.
It was my first major trip away having to juggle food intolerances, and since I wasn’t able to keep to my usual diet, I started to feel unwell. My sleep was disrupted and I became progressively exhausted. My daily meditation routine fell in a heap. Then I landed in an wi-fi desert and my backup dongle failed, so the only internet access was a thirty minute bike or bus trip away. Because I rely on wi-fi to keep tabs on my online editing business, this had the potential to be rather difficult! On top of this my iPhone expired, and I contracted a nasty cold which messed up a week’s social planning. At times I felt helpless, scared, isolated, snotty and miserable.
What a litany of woes!
It never fails to astonish me how a few minutes’ gratitude practise can transform my experience. I find it even more powerful than my daily meditation ritual, and since I was meditating erratically during my trip, gratitude came to the fore.
I got out a tiny notebook one evening and began to write down everything I was grateful for since I’d left home.
By the end of this exercise I felt completely different. I felt warmed, grateful and much, much calmer. My external circumstances hadn’t changed a whit, but my mindset had.
I realised that despite the difficulties, I had so much to be thankful for. That my hosts considerately did their best to accommodate a gluten-free guest; that they offered me warm and comfortable beds; that they didn’t mind my absconding for an hour in the afternoon to catch a few zeds. That when two editing jobs came up I was staying with a family whose wi-fi worked, so I could complete the commissions easily and quickly. I was grateful for the wonderful heat, a bike to ride, swims in beautiful pools, tropical sunsets on the beach, the scent of frangipanis, companionship, conversations, renewing old connections and revisiting familiar places. I was grateful for missing my loved ones at home and for their messages and phone calls.
My iPhone revived after a day and I was grateful that I didn’t have to buy a new one. And when I felt most feverish and achey I told myself how lucky I was to be with friends who’d make me cups of tea, and that I didn’t have any vital commitments to fulfil.
So it was a wonderful holiday. Not stress-free, but filled with countless large and small delights.
Now I’m grateful to be home, despite the freezing Tassie weather – grateful for emerging spring blossoms, squeaky guinea pigs, friends, neighbours, family and my loving partner Pete. There’s a vase of brilliant yellow daffodils on the table and a flickering rainbow candle delighting my sense as I write. I’m warm. I’m comfy. I’m fed. I’m clothed. I’m loved.
Life is good. If you’re not convinced, try the alchemy of gratitude.