I didn’t write a post last week – I was on holiday, walking in the Lake District instead. We were lucky with the weather which was warm and dry under grey skies. As I tramped the fells, far out of the reach of phone signals and wifi my mind drifted and I relaxed into daydreaming. Wordsworth wandered the same fells ‘lonely as a cloud’ but although I was deep in thought I was accompanied by my partner and our mini Schnauzer. Holidays provide time to think, to reflect, to plan and make big decisions. They can also be a time to argue, to confront issues, to face demons and upturn lives.
My week in Cumbria was the very essence of mindfulness. When I’m on holiday the world seems to slow down. I experience and notice the little things, I engage with nature, feel the sun (or rain) on my face, watch the sunset and listen to my feelings instead of hiding from them. Mindfulness is about being in the present. This helps to explain my angry day, which came midweek out of nowhere. One minute I was relaxed and happy, next morning I’m a fire-breathing dragon intent on divorce and furious. HE had straddled two lanes as we drove up a steep pass. HE took the brunt of a physical rage which gripped my chest and burned my eyes with hot tears. Yes it was my menopausal hormones going into overdrive again, but it was also a massive release of pent-up emotion that bubbled up to the surface as I relaxed.
After the anger came realisation, apologies, healing and understanding. It doesn’t end in harmony for everyone. Time alone together can shine a light on problems that have been under the surface.
Couples have nowhere to hide from one another on holiday. There’s the added stress of expectation, the need to have a good time, for romance, sex, a golden tan. Beach destinations present further pitfalls for those battling with body confidence. According to The Telegraph most couples have at least two major arguments when they holiday abroad and the top reason for squabbles? Men checking out other women round the pool. This, at least, is never going to be a problem in Ullswater.
Holidays can be Life changing
Way back in 2001 my partner and I took a five-week trip to India. The experience was intense and every day was a new challenge and a magical adventure. We travelled under our own steam from palm fringed Kerala all the way up to Delhi. On return to London the urban landscape was no longer enough for us and we craved vistas and wide open skies. It took us just three months to move our home and business to Bath with views across the beautiful valley and Georgian city. I don’t know if we would have made that move without the experience of India which gave us time to really think about the life we wanted.
It’s important to remember that while holidays give us space to see things differently they can also skew our perspective. We spent a wonderful four years in Bath but eventually we had to admit we were homesick for London, warts and all.
At the end of this latest holiday I made my usual noises about taking more time-out. We run a design business together so our breaks are rarely planned very far ahead and if we’re are busy they don’t happen at all. It’s not enough. Travel is life enhancing – it inspires our work, broadens our understanding and helps to put things into perspective. When you take off for your summer holidays this year by all means pack your phone and kindle – but whether you are poolside or mountainside switch it off for a bit and let your thoughts in.