In order to feel refreshed and recharged; I need to travel and surround myself with new discoveries, recreation and experiences. I need a vacation to regroup and put things into perspective so I can come back renewed and able to give my all. How about you – what do you do to reconnect, re-create and reconvene better than when you started?
On a recent trip to Moorea, French Polynesia; I felt I was in heaven. Everything was just perfect. The over-water bungalows were just as they were shown in the travel mags. Just as beautiful and the water and view looked like a screen saver. I had sent some photos back home to friends and they demanded I send some photos with me in them to prove that I didn’t swipe them off some internet photo gallery. The staff could not have been any nicer and accommodating. I thought to myself, THIS is why I like travelling five stars. You get treated much better from people in places that sport more stars. You feel better about yourself, even. The room was fabulous with a glass-bottom floor where you could see the fish and eel swimming below. You could have your breakfast brought to your deck by outrigger canoe, and the atmosphere was one of tropical elegance and ease.
I thought it couldn’t get any better and just then a knock at the door and a chilled bottle of champagne and sweets were brought to the hut. As I relaxed on the deck with the water lapping beneath me sipping champagne and eating chocolate crumpets; I thought to myself, “This just can’t get any better, I’m at the point of exploding with joy, contentment and happiness.”
I was about to take another sip and there before my very eyes, a full rainbow appears over the lush, green mountains -big as life. There was no rain around the vicinity, but there must have been some droplets someplace. I captured that moment to share with you and to remind myself that things can always get better than you’d ever imagined. I remember Oprah saying that there is no way she could have dreamed as big a dream as she is living in this moment, but God had a bigger dream for her. She just needed to listen and follow her path, follow her inner guidance.
Look for things to get better, keep an open mind that things can and will get better. Be grateful for what has come to you as it was done for you and not to you, and always be open for more and better to come into your life. When you live with an open heart and open mind, all kinds of rainbows can come into your life. Watch for the signs, be on the lookout for what falls in your path and keep your eyes open for rainbows of all kinds to bless you. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better….cue the rainbow…or a double rainbow!
Most of us are guilty of creating loooong lists of things to do and not managing to put much of a dent in the compilation of busy-ness. Then some of us even do something that wasn’t on said list and end up wanting credit for it (not that anybody is keeping track or watching), so we add whatever it is we did that wasn’t on our list to our list just so we can cross it off. I’m talking about another type of To Do list. A fun one. A list of trips and adventures I want to do during my lifetime. I don’t call it a Bucket List because that seems negative to me. I call it a Life List because I want to do it living Hartfully, vitally, and fully alive.
So, on our most recent trip to Tahiti and Bora Bora, my BFF Barb and I decided it would be apropos to use the stationery aboard the M.S. Paul Gauguin while we were sailing around French Polynesia and brainstorm our To Do list of adventure travel trips we want to experience. The ideas were flying fast and furious and I could hardly keep up with the trips that were spewing forth from our lips. Later that day one of our travel buddies had spotted us on the deck during our writing drill and asked us what we were consumed with and intent on writing. We showed them our list and they asked if they could join us on some of our future explorations.
Barb’s philosophy is that you always need something to look forward to and she grew up always planning the next trip while her family was still on their current trip. It was something they always did and something she/I now carry forth. One of the maxims I’ve heard throughout the years is that happiness is having something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. It keeps you young, vital, excited, and exciting. Sometimes we don’t have it all figured out immediately on our trip, but the mindset is there and we usually come up with something within a few days to a few weeks after our return. We are both good problem solvers and we find that travelling to far-away lands is always chalk-full of opportunities to solve some problems. Issues always come up, missed connections, bags not showing up, wrong bed configuration in the room, mixed-up meals, and communication disconnects. It gives you a chance to test your creative thinking skills and ingenuity. I also find it’s better to have the luxury of two or more brains working on the solution than just me. If it’s just me, then it gets a little weirdly nerve-wracking, and if it’s with my buddies, then it becomes an adventure.
What do you have to look forward to in your life? How are you living Hartfully and doing the things you want to do? How are your dreams playing out? Who are you inviting along for the ride? How do you make your ride enjoyable? I’ll share more Tahiti tales in future posts. There were so many amazing experiences to share that just lit me up. Once again it was one of those lifetime trips I’d been dreaming of for decades and it truly was a dream come true. What are you doing to make your dreams come true? Do you have a strategy in place, a visual, an accountability partner? I’ve uploaded our list – maybe it will spark some ideas in you.
We were deep in the Amazon jungle. I had wanted to do a jungle tour ever since I first saw the movie The Jungle Book with Mogli and Balu the blue bear when my brother took me to see it when I was five or six years old.
As we usually do, my BFF and I charted a wild itinerary into the wilds and invited some other friends to join us. Vacation planning is our forte and I call her a travel savant. This was one trip that was near and dear to my heart and I knew that living fully and living Hartfully just had to include the Amazon forest.
Our thatched hut was so far into the rain forest that there were no roads. The only way to reach the compound was by motorized canoe. We had to walk the plank just to embark on the boat. Our guide told us we were not to ever walk alone around the camp. It was the buddy system for safety. The sign posted in our bathroom next to the whistle hanging on the door gave instructions on how to summon help if we encountered a wild animal and food in the huts was forbidden.
Being a vegetarian, I always travel with protein bars, trail mix and peanut butter crackers from past experience of going hungry for lack of appropriate food in unknown places and the middle of the jungle was one of those places. We took a nighttime canoe ride and saw a white alligator and a 60-pound rodent, a capybara which is related to the guinea pig. Seriously, think of a 60-pound rat. It gave me the willies just thinking about how huge it was. It was the largest rodent I had ever seen – the size of a German Shepherd and they roam free. A sloth hung from the branches as we made our way back to our hut. It was like a steam bath and still hovering in the 100’s at night, so I decided to take a cold shower only to find a frog in the stall. I wondered what other creatures had made their way into our hut, which was had only a screen on three sides.
At 4:00 am the jungle starts coming alive. It was completely black outside and I heard it. The lowly rumble of the beginning of a roar. Frozen in my bed with anticipation of a jaguar jumping through the screened wall, I turned on the video camera on my phone. There is was again, only this time much louder and closer and more grumbling. I just knew the big cat was after my M&M laden trail mix I had locked in my suitcase. Could they really smell it inside baggies and a rollaboard? I recorded the sounds and kept recording until the sound faded away. Maybe it wasn’t that hungry. I peered out the window and only saw a baby Capybara and heard the birds. It was a symphony of sound as the wilderness cacophony grew louder as the sun rose. I’ve never heard so many different natural sounds in my life. It was deafening. The one sound that I was glad not to hear any more was the growl.
My BFF, Barb and I finally mustered the courage to exit our hut and go to breakfast using the buddy system and keeping our eyes peeled for jaguars. All we encountered were monkeys and birds. We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast of Brazil nuts, pastries and fried yucca. Next time I’m double-bagging my trail mix to throw the wild animals off the scent.
What lights you up? What really gets your heart pumping and enthused about your life? What fills you with a sense of awe and wonder and giddy excitement? My BFF and travel buddy, Barb and I both experienced amazing underwater surprises on separate diving and snorkeling excursions during our recent visit to the South Pacific. We had both wanted to see the Islands after watching the movie as children and it was finally our time to see that part of the world and what was underneath it.
I know when I am living Hartfully when I’m awe-struck by nature’s beauty and bounty, and in the midst of grandeur or maybe even danger. It’s a fine line. Much of our trip was spent underwater or at least on top of the water to view the incredible creatures. Why neither one of us thought to bring a Go Pro underwater sport video/camera, I’ll never know. We were the only ones on the dive boat to not have one and I’m sorry we could not capture those moments.
I’ve been SCUBA diving since the early 80’s and have seen my fair share of marine life, but what we experienced just outside our over-water bungalow and on deeper dives is nothing short of incredible. I’ve never been surrounded by so many sharks in any of my dives anywhere in the world. At one point I counted six black-tipped sharks and eight lemon sharks circling our group until the largest barracuda I’ve ever witnessed came swimming right towards me with something hanging out of its mouth. A half-eaten lunch, maybe? I stretched out the length of my 5’2” body and that barracuda was every bit the length of me. Where was that camera when you needed to document being one of the smallest things not at the top of the food chain at that very moment? Then we saw a herd, pod, gaggle, school, whatever, of eagle rays float effortlessly by on their way to someplace away from the sharks. I was in absolute heaven and I couldn’t wait to regale Barb with my story. Little did I know she would come back with a story of her own.
When we reconvened back on the ship after our separate underwater adventures. Barb’s story won, hands down. It seems that their snorkeling group landed amidst a school of lemon sharks who liked playing about the dive boat. So naturally what do divers do but jump in the water to get a closer look and better pictures. (If you’ve brought your Go Pro – note to self, go buy a Go Pro camera.) Just when Barb thought it was clear to jump in the water; off she goes and immediately after she is already committed, a 10-foot lemon shark swims from underneath the boat and SHE JUMPS ON THE BACK FIN OF THE SHARK! Yup, Fonzi famously jumped the shark in the TV sitcom Happy Days, and my friend jumps ON TOP OF A SHARK! Luckily he was only merely annoyed and swam away. Then a bit later the dive master, who weirdly stayed INSIDE the boat top side, announced to the snorkelers who are IN the water that “The sharks are getting agitated. Get in the boat NOW!” You can bet there was a bee-line for the ladder on that boat. Last one up the ladder is shark bait!
So, we learned a lesson that no matter how good you think your story is, there is bound to be somebody with a better story, and sometimes a good story is better than a good time. Although we did come back from that trip with a ton of stories and a heaping good time. Sometimes you luck out when you are in search of a Hartful life. Look for the good stuff, always seek good stories and ways to keep you lit up. What lights you up? What have you done lately to create a good story?