This May I decided to set an intention for myself: to “Be Open”. It seems rather fitting, as this month is the beginning of my summer travels, taking me to many places around the globe. I have just finished my final college exams of my Junior year and can now officially call myself a Senior in college! To start off the summer, my boyfriend Jackson and I went to Shoshoni Yoga retreat, which was a lovely way to relax and unwind. Immediately following this I boarded the airplane to San Francisco to attend Crystal’s, my second cousin one-removed, beautiful wedding. One day later, here I am heading to Nicaragua on a 10 day public health brigade with fellow CU Boulder college students. In Nicaragua we will be involved in building sanitation units and water supply systems to service extremely rural villages. Upon my arrival back to Colorado I will spend 4 days packing up my room before I head to Asia for 10 weeks. I will spend 2 weeks in Thailand, hiking around Chiang Mai and exploring with Jackson and his brother. I then fly to Kunming, China and spend 6 weeks taking classes in community health and traditional Chinese medicine! After this I have three more weeks in Asia, I am not yet sure where I will travel, but would love any suggestions!
WOW, all that traveling was a big mouthful, and kind of intimidating to be honest.
One of the things that scares me most about traveling for three months is the lack of control around my daily schedule. I am definitely a creature of habit; I like being on a set routine, in control of my daily activities and patterns. It has become increasingly evident to me that it is close to impossible to keep to a set schedule while traveling, especially when you are in large groups of people, changing time zones and trying to find your way around unfamiliar cities. Because of this, my intention to “Be Open” is very fitting for this month, and probably for the whole summer.
By “Be Open” I mean many things. I mean be open to new experiences – say yes to things I would usually avoid because you never know until you try. I mean be open to other people’s ideas and suggestions – I don’t always have to be involved in choosing the restaurant or planning the day’s activities. I mean be open to new forms of exercise -I want to let go of my rigorous running and cycling schedule and realize that waking up at 6am to run on the hotel treadmill is not the reason I have come to Thailand. I mean be open to trying new foods and not eating on a planned schedule as I usually find myself doing at home. I mean be open to CHANGING and GROWING.
I often find that the root of my worries around keeping a tight schedule is that I am afraid that if I do not stick to it, bad change will occur. For example I worry that if I say yes to a spontaneous concert or late night extravaganza, I will either suddenly turn into an alcoholic because I am having an unplanned beer, or that I will be so hung over in the morning and forget to call my mother, becoming a horrible daughter. I worry that if I skip my morning run and instead go walking around the city all day, that I will all of a sudden realize that I never want to run again and all of my hard work to get the fitness I have today will be wasted as I become a life-long couch potato. I extrapolate single decisions and turn them into huge permanent changes. I am not quite sure why my brain does this, because I realize rationally that skipping one run or having a beer will not permanently change anything about who I am. I think that it is the perfectionist/anxious/eating disorder/control-freak voice in my head that wants me to stay on track and never sway from the plan.
Now that I have noticed this about myself I have decided to fight it. I don’t want to be the girl who is afraid of change. Because not all changes are bad! I’m so concerned with maintaining things like my intelligence, weight and fitness level that I forget to actually appreciate these things in the moment! So my intention for while I am traveling is to be open to new things and not resist change. Change can be beneficial and I know that it will help me grow as a person in many ways!
Specific goals to help me towards my “Be Open” intention.
1 – Try to pay less attention to the time: I am going to wake up naturally without an alarm (unless I need to catch a flight obviously). This way I will let my body get the rest it needs every night without forcing an early morning work out. Traveling takes up a lot of energy and I think I can often underestimate the toll it puts on my body. I am going to try to listen to my body’s hunger cues, rather than my watch to tell me when to eat. This is going to be especially important when I change time zones, as my whole system will be out-of-whack for a few days. My body is much smarter than my mind about meal times and will let me know what it needs; I just need to be open to listening to these cues.
2 – Say yes: Every time I feel myself wanting to say “no” to an invitation that isn’t in my plan for the day, I am going to think seriously about why I am saying no. If I am saying no because my plan would need to be rearranged, not because the idea doesn’t sound fun, I am going to try to say yes and figure out how to fit everything in later on. I don’t want to miss out on anything, just because it wasn’t in my frame of mind for the day!
3 – Do something everyday that scares me: I know its cliché, but I think this is a great way to have new experiences and put myself out of my comfort zone. As the old saying goes, change only happens outside of your comfort zone. I am going to strive to do one of these things everyday, and in order to keep myself accountable, I am going to write down what my scary thing was everyday and with you all at the end!