When we arrived home, I messaged a friend, “We are home from vacation! It was a success!”
It began with an idea that when the time was right, I would devote many hours to it. The idea: a vacation in Spain. Weeks before planning the vacation a colleague asked if I had any summer plans. I told her about Spain. “Have you booked anything yet?” she inquired. “Not yet,” I replied. Most people tend to plan vacations far in advance. I guess we aren’t most people. Our travel agent laughs at the spontaneity of our bookings. “So a flight to Spain a week from now?” Even though we may book at the last minute, I still make extensive preparations.
I enjoy travelling, but like most people, I find it exhausting to organize every last detail. Packing all the essentials, navigating airport lines and security, spending hours in a crowded plane with strangers, customs and, of course, the jet lag. If you could bypass the ‘travelling’ in travel, it would be a breeze. Oh, to be able to fly like a superhero!
The morning of our flight my body recalled my last vacation and I struggled to regulate a sense of calm. My logic tried to convince my body that everything was going to be alright, but once again my body was not convinced. So I barrelled down, allowing my body to cycle through the stress response, offering her reassuring words. After sometime, I reached a sense of balance, and while I was still nervous, I had just enough courage to do the ‘travelling.’
Our late night flight turned into a mid-day arrival in Spain. Once we were at our hotel we crashed for a few hours before having dinner. It was a delicious first meal before our adventures began.
Each day I felt anxious when I woke up but successfully moved through the symptoms. It’s marvellous what education and normalizing symptoms can accomplish for your health. I’ve had all the symptoms in the past, and they were just as painful as they are now. However, instead of fighting them with prayer and willpower, I approach them with awareness and compassion. And every time I felt a sense of ease, my courage grew. I was astounded by my ability to stand on a very crowded bus with strangers coming and going. Despite feeling safe in the company of my fellow train-goers, anxiety still crept in and when it did, I wrapped my blanket around my shoulders and reassured myself that I am safe.
My body felt so good. Every day, we wandered for hours in the heat, exploring new places, eating fresh authentic cuisine, sipping local beers and wines, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and roof top pools. It was incredible.
I recognize that our trip to Spain was incredible for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I had time to decompress from work, that we were both healthy, and that there were no major travel inconveniences. These factors, as well as my ability to recognize (without shame) and nurture my symptoms of anxiety. This grew my courage exponentially, resulting in a fantastic trip. Of all the memories, the one that stands out the most is the courage that allowed me to completely experience all the sights, flavours, and ‘feels.’