It’s one thing to navel gaze when you’re in your own element, but I believe you can discover who you really are when you’re away from your daily grind. This summer I’ve spent a lot of time traveling and am getting ready for five stops on my fly sisterhood tour to promote TWIN FALLS and FAMILY CHARMS. I’ve had time to see what I’m made of and it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice.
I’ve noticed certain quirks surface. Annoyances seem to be magnified. Why not take note of it while you’re away? These actual journeys certainly contribute to our inner journeys. In writing fiction, we develop plot lines around those points. What in the physical journey brings about change inside?
For my three sisters in FAMILY CHARMS, the trip around the world to see where their mother has been the last twenty years is all about bringing the pain and possibility to the surface. It’s also about the roles we play as sisters and when/if we can ever let our guard down. If we can open up to forgive and change and hold onto hope for a better future. Anytime we travel, we can let the experience change us for the better.
In talking to my dance mom bestie on our trip last week to nationals, I was reminded how nice it is to be able to share with a “sister,” how little revelations about your true self shine through in conversations over dinner or in between dance performances. I told Jill about how I hadn’t wanted to get married or have children when I was a child, mostly due to the extremely high divorce rate in my family. Or if I ever did have children, I certainly didn’t need a man. I was young, but observant. While I could’ve been defiant, I was also putting a shield up. I wanted to stave off future hurt. While I did end up marrying, I made my choice carefully and still believe parenting is the hardest job in the world. I somehow was able to see those things when I was a child, but along the way made the decision to have a family of my own. I could persevere. And I have. What beliefs early on have shaped our decisions and who we have become?
Note in your journal the little things, too. When you’re away, do different thoughts or moods come to you? Do you wake or go to sleep differently? Does being outside of your element invigorate or scare you? Does it make you appreciate certain things about your life back home? Or make you realize how you’d like to get rid of certain aspects of your life?
I found that I had more energy while I was away and decided it had to do more with getting up and working out ever morning in the fitness room and walking more during the day. As someone who sits at a computer all day, I know the sedentary lifestyle is bad for my health. Being gone made me realize how much I need to stick to walking, working out and taking regular breaks from my computer.
Being gone also makes you aware of what you need and what’s missing. How do you feel fulfilled physically, mentally, emotionally? It was no surprise to me that technology is still a crutch, but I was thankful for the times I didn’t have wi-fi and couldn’t work so that I could do other things. It made me focus my time so I got my projects done and was able to then not feel guilty about the time to do other things. Why not bring that back home with me?
Since we were at a dance competition, I got an affirmation about how competitive I am and how it’s in my nature to want to fix things. I want to find a solution and quickly outline how it can happen. I use mistakes to motivate me to make improvements, but I don’t stop with my own mistakes. I want to fix others’ mistakes, too. That can be great if you’re a leader, but I found I need to recognize when to step back and let go of the intellectual hold those thoughts can have. You can’t fix everything nor are you supposed to. Be okay with not always being in charge. I call it, “adopted stress.” Why take on more stress when you have plenty of your own already?
While away, I was reminded how much satisfaction I get from getting things done. No, this wasn’t a clouds-parting sort of epiphany since I’ve been Type A all of my life, but I was aware of it happening and needed to remind myself to be happy in the present moment and in the “waiting mode.” I was waiting to hear back from several people regarding the book tour and waiting for the puzzle to come together requires patience. Hearing “no” means being able to handle disappointment and quickly get over it. I knew one no meant a future yes.
I also discovered how little satisfaction shopping and eating bring me, which may sound odd, but I used to love to shop. Now, I’d be happy to send out a personal shopper if I had one. (Just leave me in the shoe aisle.) The “thrill” of the find is no longer really there. It’s a task, a to-do, but not very “fun.” And while I knew I wasn’t a foodie, being in a city with restaurant choices that are new to you I figured would bring about some curiosity, but it seemed just stopping the hunger pains was all I needed. I’d love to find more joy in food, but there it is. (Best meal: ribs!) Coffee on the other hand? My roomie said her favorite part of the day was getting to go downstairs and drink coffee. (Highly recommend Royal Rainforest coffee. Thanks, Holiday Inn for serving it.) The peaceful morning routine is definitely something we should integrate into our “home lives.”
Mountains or city? The mall or museums? TV or Internet? Talk up a stranger or keep to yourself? Take it easy or stay on schedule? When you’re with others, you have to go with the flow (which makes you a good travel companion!) but it’s also good to note what choices we’d make if it were up to us. (I’m mountains, museums, friendly but prefer some alone time, schedule in plenty of free time for writing.)
Finding out what makes us tick not only leads to more personal fulfillment but can help us shape who we are and how we can succeed in life. Now if I could get my hands on some of that coffee, life would feel pretty perfect right now.
BOOK NEWS: If you live in Oklahoma, Kansas, or Texas, I hope you’ll join me at one of my sisterhood parties between July 17 and August 7th. Visit my tour page for full details.