Unexpected summer holiday lesson

The idea of a summer holiday, a break from the usual routine, is bound to put even the cynic in a better mood, so I was very much looking forward to my family getaway. Having cleared my work scheduled, unpacked from a trip to Moscow, gotten ready for the new school year ahead and September work scheduled organised too, I was looking forward to my August travels.

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The first part of a trip, a sunny and beautiful journey through rural France was glorious and I got to make some new discoveries in an area that I presumptuously thought I knew. Spain welcomed me with open arms too but suddenly I realised that I was actually tired, very tired – tired of talking, of being organised, of eating right, of exercising – I just craved silence and no schedule of any kind. The first two weeks were blissful, with the sun shining, the beach beckoning and books ready to be read for the simple pleasure of reading. The restaurants were great and so was just drawing circles in the sand and building stone mosaics. Then I had a blazing row with someone dear and shortly after the stomach ache started. At first I ignored it, then I got worried, as it happened more often, daily, then several times a day.

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I stopped eating certain foods and I stepped away from my favourite morning drink – coffee. For me, the latter is unheard of! My acupuncturist has been gently saying for the last few months to me that I need to give my body a rest from coffee, but I just smiled mischievously at him, shook my head with conviction and said that it ain’t happening. Well, clearly my body had other ideas. I tried to limit myself to drinking juices – my stomach ached. I started googling diseases and frowning a lot, almost expecting the dull ache to come. I was making mental notes to go and see the doctor. Then the unexpected happened – I just stopped eating certain foods, because they just felt wrong and started eating others. I had no explanation of why I was doing this. My husband started a running joke, saying that I don’t seem to have an ache after trips to the restaurant, so it must by my cooking that was giving me a stomach ache and that I was turning into a high maintenance woman out of a blue. I smiled, thinking the phrase ‘ I am sick of myself’ can be apt here, with a word ‘myself’ replaced with ‘home cooking’ and innate desire to have a personal chef cook daily for me – that would be the day but one can dream!

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Then, little by little, I started making changes, by just listening to my body. I swam in the sea, some time for the pleasure, but I also made sure I pushing myself daily, in terms of pace and distance. I actually started swimming better than I ever did before, even though I have been swimming from the age of three, on family holidays in Latvia, even when the sea was darn cold. I did some yoga, sitting on the grass overlooking the sea or did some abs work, planks or yoga poses, sinking my toes into the sand and looking ahead, at the horizon beyond the sea. I booked myself a strong massage that made me feel a few centimeters taller the next day. I stopped writing and got thinking, mentally letting go of the situations or people who weren’t making me feel good. I pondered something that a dear friend said to me a while back, when I was going through a rough patch: ‘Galina, people come and go from our life for a reason. Some linger, some stay, some come and then disappear never to return – each is meant to teach you a lesson, you just need to be conscious of it and not feel sad or too attached’. Another line, from one of my favourite movies, ‘Indecent Proposal’ was hammering gently in my head, about not holding on to people and setting them free, as if something it meant to be, will be and if not, that person was never yours to begin with.

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I started getting curious and smiling at strangers again. I dived into the sea, climbed ridges to get to an unexplored new beach and I enjoyed the feel of sea water on my hair, face and skin. I dressed leisurely, choosing favourite pieces, some of which have been in my cupboard for years, while on other days I luxuriated in new additions to my wardrobe – nothing fancy, just pretty and comfortable. I felt renewed appreciation of the hugs from my kids. I saw clearly what parts of my body needed work because looking at them simply spoke of my own laziness. I smiled at my own tanned reflection in the mirror, with hardly any make-up on. Suddenly I felt I was ready for the work year ahead, knowing that things are and will be different. All of a sudden I was just happy to be, not to judge others and not to be hard on myself. Yes, there are some people who are exceptional at monetizing themselves, while I ain’t great at it and that has been frustrating me lately, but only now did I realise that if someone or something annoys me, I should step away, ask myself why and walk ahead with a lesson learnt. Other people’s success has nothing to do with me and if it does and people take my role in their success for granted, well, there are other projects and people out there, where interests would be mutually aligned, building a better synergy for everyone involved. Plans were being made in my head because I felt I needed certain things to change, while I saved my blessings daily for those things and people who are already in my life and without whom my world would be an empty space. I started asking questions and not being upset when some were left unanswered.

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A good acquaintance got in touch and asked if we wanted to meet up for dinner. I said yes, with no expectations of a grand reunion. We had a great time – will we become closer ? I don’t know and I particularly don’t care – what will be, will be. I made new discoveries, delighting in them. I let go of frustrations that I have been feeling when it comes to my work and my website. I came up with a hashtag for how I am feeling and with which I want to live every day from now on move – rediscover joy. Why? Because lately I seem to have lost the joy, without even realising it. My life became an endless race towards vague goals, while I refused to face certain fears or admit that certain things weren’t working, that some people were taking advantage because I was letting them and because my writing was becoming a chore, instead of something that I love doing daily.

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I still have a few days of a holiday left and you can bet I will savour it with renewed gusto, like a marathon runner after an intense run in the heat. What I can honestly say is that I look forward to the new chapter of my life that I wasn’t even contemplating when I locked the door and went on a holiday. I rediscovered the joy of being because I actually listened to what my body was saying to me, as I sank into an anxiety state of which I wasn’t even aware. I am grateful for every breath I take and for the bright horizon ahead, even on a rainy day. And my stomach ache? While I will still go for a check up upon my return,  it has all but disappeared and I even started savouring coffee again, just not making it myself in the morning but relying on the talents of others to make me a perfect one. An unexpected gift of rediscovering joy!

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Categories: Women's issues

2 Responses to Unexpected summer holiday lesson

  1. Dearest Galina, you’ve shared a very profound learning experience and I’m sure all those who read this will draw much from what you have said. You are right; life teaches and here is the perfect opportunity to see the inter relation between the mind and the body. The state of the mind has such a huge impact on our health. When there is inner disharmony our bodies reflect this. Well-being extends further than food choices, supplements and exercise. These all have their place but no green smoothie is going to replace the need for the inner work we need to do. Deep and honest contemplation takes courage and yours has paid off. Rediscovering joy – yes absolutely and knowing that it is something inherent in all of us.
    With love SJ xx

    • galina says:

      Dearest SJ, thank you for leaving a comment and your kind words. This post wasn’t planned and just came along, because I sat down and just started writing – I think the best pieces of writing happen this way, when we feel inspired to just put our thoughts and experiences on paper. I agree with what you say about wellbeing and am somewhat tired of reading about yet another magic supplement or potion being launched that will sort out all of our voes. Wellbeing comes from knowing ourselves, listening to our bodies and doing what’s right for you and not necessarily mirroring our friend’s wellness routine. We often ignore the signs and our own needs and I hope women who read this post will start thinking about what is it that they actually need in the moment in time. Dialogue is so important, as is sharing our experiences with honesty. Thank you for your voice, it is always appreciated! Galina

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