Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission. Permission to live, to give ourselves what we need, to do the things we love, to fight for the things we care about. Especially in hard times, this is even more important to make it through the long-game.
Vacations are also a part of that.
In 2019, I gave myself a lot of permission to do what I wanted to do because it was a unique moment in my life (and in my husbands life). I ventured to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Hawaii, Cartagena, Italy and Puerto Rico and wanted to share the lifelong lessons from each destination.
It was an opportunity I could have easily denied myself.
I could have easily let my inner critics lead the conversation as it relates to the cost, delaying the building of my business and a host of other things. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to lead with my desires and my knowing of what would be good for me. I led with my knowing that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring – and so I packed my bags again and again.
Culture is ALL. (cue The Last Kingdom)
I talk a lot about culture; the culture we create, accept, nourish, embrace and cultivate. Creating a culture that is flexible, adaptable, healthy and inspiring requires empathy, understanding and curiosity. When I travel, I know I am building my capacity to do this exponentially.
I am sharing some of the lifelong lessons from some of the furthest destinations I have traveled. They all provided immeasurable levels of growth, inspiration and a better understanding of the world. It makes my heart happy to know I can share them with you, and give you a window into the world that we will soon be able to explore once again.
What are you learning about culture, rituals, behaviors and empathy at this unique moment of time?
Tuscany: The Company You Keep
Tuscany is considered to be one of the most beautiful regions in Italy for its landscapes, history, cuisine, and artistic influences. It is also a place where my heart is happiest – perhaps because some of my roots started here. When I was in Tuscany, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Not only because of the scenery, but because of the beautiful people that came with me. And most unexpectedly, there were locals there that came into my life, who left a deep imprint on my heart despite the short time we had together. Sometimes you don’t know what you truly want until you really experience it. Visiting Tuscany was something that I planned, but experiencing the magic of bringing some of my favorite people on the planet together was a gift that keeps on giving to this day.
Cartagena: The Company You Choose
Friends are the family you choose and traveling with this family was food for the soul. When I visited Cartagena, Colombia I had an incredible experience, not just because I was exploring a new and beautiful land, but because I was developing relationships with people that were part of my chosen family. Colombia has a past filled with heartache, but it was easy to see the resilience and beauty in the land and the people that have survived countless tragedies. Places and people have the ability to give us perspective – and this trip was an incredible teacher.
Chiang Mai: The Power of Honoring Tradition
Cultural appreciation is critical to building empathy, compassion and understanding. Now more than any other time in history we must educate ourselves and embrace other cultures because not only is the world is getting smaller but the more we learn about others, the more we can learn about ourselves. When I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I learned how to cook traditional food from a Lanna family. They were passionate and excited about sharing their heritage through food, customs and rituals. I have learned early on in my travels that when you show interest in learning other people’s cultures, they are thrilled you want to know. This is no different than the person you work with, or the the human standing in line behind you. This kind of appreciation for culture is how meaningful relationships can form and grow.
Koh Samui: Supporting Local
I have always loved to shop local, especially when traveling. This is where I discover culture the most and where I learn new ways of communicating – especially when I don’t know the local language. Koh Samui, Thailand offered an experience where you could just stay at your hotel and never leave. But this isn’t how I like to travel. I love shopping at the local markets and interacting with people who are helping visitors discover new parts of themselves. One of the locals pictured here created a handmade dragon. What I loved about our interaction, is that when I explored negotiating (as is often custom), he stood firm in his pricing and explained to me the time involved in creating his masterpiece. He helped me to see what it was like to stand in his shoes, and what better way to deepen your empathy than that?! I gladly paid full price.
Bangkok: Inspired By Others’ Passion
During my trip to Bangkok, Thailand, I was so inspired by my tour guide’s passion for food. It was a three-hour food tour, but felt so much shorter and it was everything that I wanted it to be. Having passion for what you do is essential. When you are passionate about something, others can see how passionate you are. If you don’t love what you do, people can see it. It’s shown through your face and your actions. It is never too late to chase your passion or your dream. When you enjoy the work you do, you can inspire those around you. My tour guide put love into her work, and it showed. It reminded me that doing work that we enjoy is worth it, even if the journey to get there might come with challenges.
Take Advantage of What’s Temporary
Being in such a temporary moment in time has caused me to appreciate these experiences even more and I encourage you to lean into the same exploration and curiosity that lives inside you. These kinds of life lessons can even come from speaking with your neighbors and engaging in conversation with someone that doesn’t look like you.
So much of our professional and personal transformation is intertwined, whether we realize it or not. Taking these moments for yourself are just as important as learning a new skill, enrolling in a course or hammering out that proposal. There’s so much intrinsic value in new experiences, sights and sounds, and I’ve found just as much value and satisfaction in drawing the parallels between it all.
While a vacation setting can help us open up to be our best selves and take each opportunity to live in the moment – we have access to this at any time. No matter your circumstances or situation – you can create a new reality for yourself to have a different experience and discovery – even if it is in your own backyard. So go forth and EXPLORE!