This is part 2 of 2-part series on Robert’s attempt at a mindful vacation. Part 1 was all about the planning and build-up to the vacation. You can read part 1 here.
I am back! And I bring a mix of mindfulness, stress, and lessons learned – back with me. Let me tell you all about it.
A mindful vacation filled with sun, beach, laughing kids and happy parents…. that was the goal.
It started off great, with only a 30 minute delay. We had no rush in the morning to get driving, but we wanted to try and start driving early.
Me, my girlfriend, an our two daughters (both less than 5 years old) – all seated in the car and ready for our drive to Italy.
Me and GF was super excited to be on the road, and the kids seemed relaxed and happy.
The 7 hours plus car drive went smooth, with only two stops (including a long lunch break), and not too much screaming from the youngest (only towards the end).
Sun, Beach And Fun
We arrived in the evening at the hotel and had time to check in, get settled, and eat a delicious meal at the closest restaurant. We had had a bit of rain on the drive to the hotel, but that had stopped now.
“What a great place, and what a great place – despite the short summer shower”, we thought! Little did we know that the rain was not gonna be leaving us anytime soon.
We woke up to sunshine, and it was easy to relax. I had no problem with my plan to be mindful and as present as possible.
The kids absolutely LOVED the beach, and so did we. Sand castles and dammed rivers were made on the beach, and we all got wet in the shallow water. Perfect so far!
Rain, Stress And Glum
The second day we woke up to rain, and lots of it.
We already knew that there might be rain, as we had checked the forecast, and it seemed to be a topic on everyones lips around here. Apparently this much rain in July is not that common in Italy.
As prepared as we were, we decided to use the day to drive to the closest shopping center. We could see some nice scenery on the way, find some activities and toy shops for the kids, and perhaps do some shopping ourselves.
Fast forward, we arrived one hour later than estimated. We had managed to get lost on the way, had to ask for directions twice.
The shopping center itself was very nice, and we all managed to shop something nice plus play a bit and have fun.
But alas! While we had fun at the shopping center – it continued to rain for the next two days.
We crossed our fingers for a sunny last full day at the beach – and were blessed to get it. The spirits were back up, the mindfulness was easier, and the vacation felt worthwhile again.
It is wonderful how some sun can brighten everyones mood and make living so much easier!
We left for home the next day, and managed to detour into Slovenia. The GPS led us astray after we tried to take a pitstop in a close by village for some grocery shopping.
Delayed, crying kids, angry GF… and yeah. Not the best end to our vacation.
Let me be clear about one thing first. Overall, I absolutely LOVED the whole vacation. We all did.
My goal was to be more mindful (than I know I can be when on vacation), and while it wasn’t always easy – I did succeed to some extent.
I frequently reminded myself to just breath, relax, and observe the immediate scenery.
This tended to work best when I was doing a slow walk with the kid stroller. no deadline to meet or place to be in 5 minutes – just me, the family and the beautiful surroundings.
I definitely learned some lessons on this journey, and I have listed some of them for you below.
Mindful lessons learned:
1. It’s easy to be mindful when there are no distractions. When it was pouring down rain, with the kids sleeping and me and the GF frustrated and stressed, there was no room to be mindful – and very hard to “break out” of the negative cycle. When the sun was shining, however, and everyone happy – it was “easy-peasy”.
2. It’s easier to be mindful when you commit to it. When I laid on the beach (I had very few moments by myself, but managed to sneak in a little bit of “just-me-time”) and thought I would “try to be mindful”, I didn’t have much success. Sure, I managed to relax a bit, but I found my mind wandering and got easily distracted. When I decided to dedicate my walk with the family (from the hotel to the restaurant for example) to being mindful and observing without judging, it was much easier.
3. Walking meditation is a great tool to have in modern life. In the past when I went for a walk to “wind down”, I would normally use it to “sort things out” in my mind and feel more in control of my thoughts. Having re-discovered meditation and mindfulness, I have found my self less and less “sorting things out” on my walks, and more just trying to relax. Having experimented more and more with walking meditation recently, I can safely say that the “sorting things out” attitude is gone, and the “let go and just be” attitude is in.
I hope my reflections have been of some value, and that my lessons learned can be of some help to you. Perhaps your next vacation will be a little bit easier now?
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