(Beautiful sunflowers from my sweetheart!)
I am currently in a great mood! Could you tell? I mean if the faux Southern accent doesn’t give it away, maybe the uplifting tone of this post will. Anyway, I am back from my vacation – another year older (wiser, hopefully) and I’m feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to write something new.
The past week I have been traveling up the central coast of California, all the way from Solvang to Santa Cruz and everything in between. I decided this year for my birthday I wanted to do something a little different and explore several cities instead of just staying in one place. Let me tell you – it was awesome! Hectic at times, because of the unexpected cold weather and accommodation mishaps, but still awesome nonetheless.
Traveling has always been a favorite hobby of mine. I think I get off on the idea of exploring new things, places I haven’t been, tasting foods I haven’t experienced, seeing things I haven’t really seen, and crossing paths with different cultures and people that I normally wouldn’t witness in my everyday life. I think of it more as “adventuring” rather than traveling. To me, traveling sounds too boring – go somewhere, stay somewhere, be a tourist. But “adventuring” is much more than that. It’s really diving deep and opening up your eyes to a different way of seeing things.
So I went adventuring. And I realized that when you are adventuring, you really must embody the type of personality that is really laid back. Adventuring is not about control AT ALL. Traveling, maybe, I mean you have your planned out itinerary and everything all organized and scheduled, but with adventuring, you really having to leave some room for the unexpected.
Being the control freak that I am, this definitely does not come naturally to me, as much as I very much want it to. So it’s usually not until the middle-ish end of the vacation where I can finally just let go and be present, enjoying the moments of adventure as they come. I have done a ton of traveling in my life, but more recently I am doing more adventuring. I am learning that it’s ok not to be in control of every little detail and that it really ends up to be more fun and more memorable that way.
So this is what I’ve learned from my adventures, and I wanted to share it because I think most of these principles can be carried on to everyday life and not just while on vacation (but it does make the vacation much more enjoyable if you can follow them!).
Learn to Step Away from Control.
Like I mentioned earlier, I am the biggest control freak. I literally spent the weeks prior making lists from what I was going to pack to what we were going to do to how much exactly we were going to spend on each part of the trip. While it’s good to be organized and have some sort of loose structure regarding what your goals are for the trip (or for your life), I think it’s equally as important to leave room for some mystery. Being too predictable is boring. You don’t want to plan out every single thing, because what happens is you begin to create BIG expectations, which inevitably won’t go the way you want them to, which then leads to major disappointments.
So don’t plan every single thing out. Have a general goal of what you’d like to do but don’t allow yourself to latch on to a specific outcome. Be ok with whatever outcome does happen so that you won’t feel a huge sense of disappointment when you don’t get to do everything you wanted the way you wanted to.
My boyfriend is super laid back, and I’m kind of a mix between too uptight and easy going once I’m in the right conditions. In the beginning of our trip, I had my super control freak hat on and I wanted everything to be on schedule. I didn’t want to waste a precious minute of my vacation time. I wanted us to be out of the house before 10am and preferably at our first stop in Solvang by 1pm at the latest. Long story short, it didn’t go that way. In fact, we didn’t even get there until around dinner time at 5pm. And while at the time, I was a bit stressed out by our late arrival, I’m not looking back and realizing that I could have easily shifted my attitude and enjoyed the journey up rather than being so focused on our end destination.
I notice I tend to do that with life too, just to draw a comparison. I am so focused on these end goals of what I want my life to be like, that I forget that it takes time (along with many other things) to arrive there. It’s really not all about the destination; it’s more about the journey and the moments before arriving. And you have a choice to either be present and enjoy those moments for whatever they are, or not.
Sadly, I kind of chose not to enjoy the trip up and all of my boyfriend’s silly pit stops. Instead, I chose an attitude of stress and tension, which only put me in a bad mood and robbed me of my joy. Luckily, because my boyfriend is so encouraging, he helped me to recognize my attitude and helped me to shift it fast. We ended up having a really great evening and I was able to let go of the expectations I was holding on to, which made it much more enjoyable from that moment on.
(Being silly in the giant clog in Solvang, CA)
Who Cares about Perfection.
The second thing I learned kind of the sister to control and expectations and this is good ol’ perfection. Perfection always comes as a result of wanting control. When you want control, you want things to work out perfectly and when you feel like things aren’t perfect, you feel like it is because you don’t have enough control. It being my birthday and all, I wanted things to be picture perfect. I wanted the beautiful dinner, the flowers, the gifts, the phone calls, the showering of attention, the special treatment, and everything else that comes along with feeling like a princess on your birthday. I also wanted it to be social media worthy so that I could show off my wonderful day and how much fun I was having.
While my birthday wasn’t really lacking any fun, it was definitely lacking the perfection I had expected and most of it was caused by my own selfish expectations, believing that I deserved this and that just because it was my birthday. Then I would get pouty, because I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. What a way to be ungrateful, right? So what if I didn’t wake up to a bed of roses and breakfast in bed? So what the weather turned out to be so cold that I couldn’t wear my specially picked out dress at dinner? So what if I didn’t get to blow out some candles and post it on Instagram? It was still SO AMAZING and the people that really mattered in my life did the best they could to show me how special I was to them, and I appreciate that.
Yeah, the weather was cold in Big sur. I didn’t get to look extra pretty on my birthday because I had to wear 2 sweaters and an overcoat to my romantic dinner. And I couldn’t really go shopping because there was a blackout in the town and everything was closed. But it was still amazing. I woke up that morning next to my sweet boyfriend wishing me happy birthday. I got to experience traditional Danish pancakes for breakfast in Solvang, which I always wanted to try. I got to explore a town I’ve never been to for half the day, and then my sweet boyfriend drove all the way up to Big Sur, just for me, just to make me happy. How lucky am I? And on top of that, my friends and family all wished me a happy birthday and remembered me on my special day. If that isn’t a good enough idea of perfection on your birthday, then I don’t know what is.
Perfect doesn’t exist. And no matter how much time to you take to plan or how hard you try to force things to happen just the way you want them to, something will always be slightly imperfect. But it’s ok. Learn to love that imperfection, because most of the time that’s where the real beauty of life exists. Right between those cracks.
I’ve learned the phrase, “so what?” So what if things don’t go as planned? So what if it’s not perfect? So what if that person has it better? So what if mine’s a little less? So what? So what? So what…nothing. Nothing happens.
It’s all about our attitude. We can enjoy it, or we can dwell in our own dissatisfaction. We can choose to be grateful or we can choose to complain. We can choose to make the best of things or we can choose to point out all that’s lacking. In the end, that’s the only thing we can control.
(My makeshift birthday (cheese)cake!)
Be Present and Be Grateful.
The last little pointer I wanted to give was to ultimately, regardless of what happens during your trip (or throughout your life) be present and be grateful. Always stay in the now. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t anxiously look towards the future and be stuck in that thought pattern of, “oh when this happens, then I’ll be happy…” Be happy now. Enjoy it now. Regardless of how it turned out to be. Find something good in it. And don’t be that person either who sits and dwells on the past, who reminisces on what it used to be like or how it was better before. Who cares what it used to be like! Make it better now.
Right now is all that matters. No matter how hard you try, you can’t go back and you can’t force time to move faster. You can only be in the here and now and do the best you can with what circumstances you have.
And then, be grateful. No matter what. Even if your circumstances are bad, remember it can always be worse. So be grateful for everything. The one thing I’m really trying my hardest to learn right now is to give up the habit of complaining. I complain about literally everything, and sometimes I don’t even realize it. It’s just such a negative attitude to have to always find the worst in everything, even if it’s simply about how bad the weather is. So what if the day was cold and cloudy? You got to snuggle up with your sweetheart, didn’t you?
You can always turn your attitude around with anything and you can always find something to be grateful for. You just have to purposely look for that reason. Gratitude takes effort. It doesn’t come naturally to anyone. It’s something we have to train ourselves into seeking.
So I encourage you to form a new habit of gratitude and new habit of being present so that you can enjoy the most out of life. Because really, life is toooo short. TOO SHORT. You don’t want to waste precious time being angry, being miserable, being depressed, being disappointed, feeling let down, or anything in between. You want to create joy and happiness and love in every moment. You want to appreciate every moment and live it to the fullest. Because it’s not worth it to be so unhappy. It gets you nowhere. It only robs you of today’s joy.
The Self Love Challenge:
To summarize, let go of control, forget perfection, live presently and be grateful for everything!
P.s Follow me on Instagram @christina.ciro to see more photos from my trip and all my other adventures! Thanks xxxx