Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. -Kurt Vonnegut
I'm writing this on the road. I'm traveling for a week through the southwest. It's so inspiring and quiet; the natural surroundings are jawdropping and change drastically every 100 miles or so. You can hear the quiet. I am writing next month about self-reflection; different ways to check in with yourself and deep reflecting techniques. I am doing that work now so I can write about it later. It's very challenging to not splice some of that work into the current post. I'll try my best to stick to "resting and renewing" which is this month's theme.
I am traveling, but today starts my vacation. I don't use the words travel and vacation synonomously as others do. I think that when we parse apart differences in things and experiences (in a loving way, we're talking about trips here) we are able to pinpoint what worked for us in an experience and why. Then we're able to make better decisions for ourselves more precisely. For instance, travel and vacation. I am a teacher and like all of you reading this I LOVE TO LEARN! I love going to places I've never been before (the older the better-I love history) and walking around, taking in as much as I can. I usually try to go abroad or in nature. I love big US cities and small cute towns. That's traveling to me, and I like to live the Rick Steve's way and "travel like a local." AND sometimes that's taxing. My brain gets full, I get tired, etc.
I need a vacation from my vacation.
Vacations to me are for relaxing and pampering myself. I love going to resorts and hanging by the pool, eating out, getting massages and facials and body scrubs... my vacation is coming up guys I'm really excited. I need it after this trip! HAHA.
The reason I bring this up is because last week we talked about "to-do" guilt: making a long list of things you think you'll like to do. We usually think these things will make us happy but we really feel trapped by them in the present when we just want to watch TV and sleep a little more (or have a mimosa on a Tuesday morning; you're a teacher-you want that juice you drink that juice!) The seperation between vacation and travel allows me to feel guiltless about doing nothing when I'm on vacation and craving self-care.
AND I've been traveling. So, I have been dealing with a little guilt or questioning about the plans I made vs what I end up doing (I am reflecting on which it actually is: guilt or queston-can I feel guilty that I MAY not do something in the future-I actually think I can..and did yesterday...anyways). I've come to realize that self-care is a part of every-day life and it needs to extend to traveling too. My issue this trip isn't the countless to-do lists. I was ok with skipping Roswell, NM and Bottomless Lake State Park (it is pride month, I don't think anyplace should be bottomless, wink), but I found myself rushing. I'm 80 stories underground in Carlsbad Cavern calculating: if I go to Roswell it'll be two hours more, and then will I be able to be at camp by 8...then eating at 9... YOU LITERALLY SEE THE STRESS BUILDING.
I should have been enjoying the caves, I did enjoy the caves-it was awesome and I was present most of the time-but those little moments continued to build for me. I felt rushed and like I didn't have enough time; and maybe in that day I didn't...but in actuality I've been in my little Fiat for 7 days to drive ONLY 28 hours so I HAVE A LOT OF TIME. It's the plan I made in my head (ego) that was telling me I didn't. It also made each destination and accomplishment and me a failure if I skipped something.
It is really reminscent of how I feel at school come October... that's when I start feeling the crunch: students start to plateau in there academic progress and others start pushing boundaries... and I have seven months of school left and feel like that's not enough time. In reality, I've seen kids "click" and in April they're all the sudden on grade-level. I've learned to accept those behavior challenges as an insight into my students' personalities and situations-most of the time I can turn a challenge into fun (NOW-it took practice). However, in the moment and in daily reflection I will feel time-pressure IN OCTOBER because of THE PLAN. THE PLAN can be made by you or someone else... but YOU must remember that nothing goes according to plan.
Plans are just thoughts that we sometime put on paper. We are present and plans are about the future. Unless you can predict the future (get at me!) then you need to give yourself (myself) some more slack about sticking to the plan. I love to plan- most teachers do-like I said I love to learn and especially when I'm traveling planning helps me learn cool stuff. AND just because I put it in a plan doesn't mean I HAVE to do it-I still have the knowledge of what I've learned. Also, it'll probably be there on your next trip-if you really missed it that much you'll make sure to see it.
I'm going to take one step further into the spiritual realm now: what if the disruption or incompletion of your plan was meant to be? I think it is.
On Wednesday I was planning to go to a collapsed grotto outside of Austin, TX called Hamilton Pool. It looks so beautiful in pictures! It's hot and I love to swim. However, it was closed to swimming due to bacteria and the site was full of tourists so I couldn't get in. After a quick look around I found another beach-really close to my camp ground. IT WAS AWESOME and I totally remember thinking THIS IS WHERE I SHOULD BE RIGHT NOW. There was a restaurant on a cliff nearby and because I was already near the campground I set up my tent earler than planned and got some great views and some awesome food (they had Poutin! a personal favorite!).
On Saturday, I left Marfa, TX and traveled to Carlsbad Caverns. The scenery changed and I wanted to get out and explore some more before Carlsbad. Once I got to the caves, at the time I'd planned on leaving, I was stressed about making all my stops that day. My final decision was not to do them-I was tired, I didn't have energy to swim at bottomless lake and I really just wanted a spaceship sticker for my cooler from Roswell-So I went a quicker route to my campsite for that night. I discovered, by cutting through the mountains, that New Mexico has a little ski oasis right in the middle-that includes the longest zipline in America. It was so beautiful. I no longer felt rushed and was able to stop and get some coffee in a cute little ski village. I was more excited and happy in the moment than when I thought of my PLAN to go to Roswell.
Last night, I was supposed to camp at this abandoned Ashram in the middle of Arizona. It is really cool. I recommend you check out Desert Sanctuary if you are passing through Arizona on Rt. 10 and need a place to stay before Tuscon and Phoenix. I was supposed to camp-but I really got in a bad mood on my drive. I was frustrated by my packed little car, the heat, the driving... I broke down in tears when I hit the gravel road that had been ravaged by recent rain thinking my car was going to be torn apart. I was tired from hiking that morning and a little underhydrated. I was in a state by the time I arrived. I practice containment, when it's appropriate, so I tried to be my best and open when meeting the host. After a quick tour of where to set up my stuff, I said I'd just hang out by the pool for awhile, and take a nap to avoid setting up my camp in the heat ...and I made a joke that I was tired and wished I had a bed at that moment... well, he had a bed, in the old circular prayer room. Nobody was staying there and it was only $25 dollars more than camping-SOLD. And it's beautiful and inspiring and I got some much needed rest and relaxation while still in the desert.
So, although I like making plans, I believe the universe has a better plan and I am not powerful enought to defy the universe.
So let's wrap it up. Stop feeling guilty for not doing enough on your trips this summer. Ask yourself what you need, a vacation or to travel. Then, when you get there go with it... if you don't want a massage don't get one, if you don't want to hike sit down. If you wanted seclusion but decide that you want to go out-do it! If things don't go according to plan that's just your higher power saying LISTEN and she'll give you what you really need.