I’m in the middle of the longest break that I have taken in years, oh, twenty years – a four week working retreat. I’m pausing to post what I have learned, or rather, got in touch with again, the things that often elude you in daily life.
1. You don’t need so many things to be happy.
While away I am living in a studio apartment with a two burner stove, small fridge, desk, lounge chair, small washer/dryer and bistro set. I brought my computer, ipad and iphone, some paper, sticky notes and coloured markers. I don’t have a printer, my books and resources, oodles of stationery and office supplies.
I thought I might miss them. Instead, I feel unencumbered. I effectively de-cluttered my office vista with an ocean view. My eyes have rested. My mind has grown.
2. When you remove triggers, you discover your authentic self.
Removing daily stressors – from cold weather, to cluttered spaces to family bickering – you can discover the peaceful person you are, the person that is still in there, but hasn’t had space to emerge. You rediscover your grace, your peace, your passion. Sometimes, in the ‘busy’, you forget. The challenge is to carry this knowledge and grace back with me to the cold weather and a very full home and work life.
3. Fewer decisions mean more time and a better quality of life.
When you live with less, less food, fewer clothes, fewer books, there are fewer choices to make. Every choice takes energy and sometimes willpower.
My closet has a handful of outfits so getting dressed is a breeze. One of the happiest times in my life was the year I travelled the world with just a backpack. When you only have five tops and three bottoms, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about getting dressed. You get on with whatever you want to be doing, or even better, you have time to just be.
I have a pool to swim, a shady place to practice yoga and miles of beach to walk. It’s more than enough.
4. If you can be, you can receive.
I am often so focused on action and causing effect that I can forget to let things happen, unfold, evolve. I am starting to trust. I will set intentions but resolve not to be so emotionally tied to the outcome. Any other way causes unnecessary stress.
5. A small place is faster to clean.
Okay, this is obvious, but what a joy to spend half an hour and have your entire place tidied and cleaned.
6. Tracking your life can teach you what you need.
I have invested some time each day into documenting and learning about how much I’m sleeping, eating and exercising. Fitbits and Jawbones are helping motivating tools to help drive performance but even without fancy technology, you can easily measure how you spend your time, and more importantly how it makes you feel. If you connect the dots between eating, sleeping, and exercising well and feeling good, you’ll be guaranteed to want more of the same. Good habits reinforce good habits.
7. A warm climate makes it easier to eat healthfully.
Not only is my fridge is filled with healthy food (no one is buying snacks to tempt me!) making eating well is the only option, the warm climate makes nutritionally richer raw food even more appealing. I have rediscovered the pleasure of cooking and tried some new ingredients.
8. A place is made more beautiful by the people.
I’ve met so many new friends in the last few weeks. One thing about being in a community where most of the people are away from ‘home’, is that you make fast friends. I’ve heard and witnessed many stories of care and compassion in this community. Within days I was invited to join celebrations for a baby shower, the Superbowl and a 72nd birthday. A place may be dazzling with natural beauty. but people really bring it to life.
What refreshes you on a trip? What lessons do you bring home? Love to hear in the comments.