I very well could be on the brink of a quarter life crisis but I have a sporty car and travel for a living, so my networking friends suggested that a life crisis for me is going to be reverting to opposite behavior, like moving to a farming town in the Midwest and going off the radar.
I’ll take half of their advice and attempt to go off the radar.
Last weekend, I chose to spend one additional night after the Wendy Perrin Summit to do some site inspections (twelve hotels in two days, to be exact. If I wore a Fitbit, I would have used those two days to justify not walking for the rest of the month). At a Preferred Hotels event, I had won a night at Nizuc, and after touring the property a few years ago, I wanted to see it from the guest’s side of things. This is my burden to bear as a travel agent.
I arrived at Nizuc to check into the hotel just a couple of hours before sunset. It had been a relatively dreary day, but the sun was just peaking behind the clouds. It wouldn’t be a full on sizzle-into-the-seafire sunset like I watched in Grand Cayman, but it still had the potential to be something beautiful.
Since it was a Sunday and I had just previously given a talk to fellow WOW Listers about my 2016 year of working smarter not harder, I made a pact with myself that I would not even do busywork that evening, there were no emergencies and all other emails could wait until the next morning. I had had a whirlwind few days at the conference and, if I’m being totally honest with myself, a whirlwind few weeks in my life. I needed a breather.
On my list of ten thousand goals for #newyearnewme #yearofme #lindseydoes2017 is the ambition that I can learn to embrace being alone. I was recently challenged by a mentor of mine to just sit in stillness.
“That’s a great idea!” I told her, “because I’ve been wanting to write more – I mean, honestly, I even feel like there’s a book buried deep down inside of me and I can totally write that by sitting in stillne–”
She looked me dead in the eye and, almost comically, cut me off to repeat her challenge. She explained that my incessant need for every second of my life to be productive does not count as stillness.
“What would that look like for you?” she asked.
Well how the heck am I supposed to know? I’ve never done it before. I do not know how to relax: I can’t sit on a beach without a good beach read, I can’t watch TV without simultaneously online shopping (a bad habit, but doesn’t clicking “check out now” fulfill the need to be productive?!), I can’t even go to yoga without walking away with new business ideas.
Like all good challenges, I immediately dismissed it until it reverberated in my head enough times, bouncing around from one side of my mind to another, that I finally accepted it. At some point during my time at Nizuc, I’d try out the challenge to stop running from a quiet mind.
Originally built as an Aman property, Nizuc’s serene setting is the perfect place to simply embrace whatever you choose to embrace: nature, indulgence, inner peace. I decided to take a golf cart to their seaside restaurant right as it opened, taking my seat at a table for one, something that still makes me a little thrilled and nervous all at the same time. At a table for one, you can be anything you want to be. And tonight, I wanted to be peaceful.
Of course, I had brought a bag with my laptop and cell phone because dinner would be a good time to write or online shop or scroll through Facebook. Instead, I forced myself to chuck the bag onto the other side of the table. It landed into the overly-cushioned seating with a soft thud. I had to get rid of the distractions, I knew then that I needed the next hour to be dedicated to practicing mindfulness. Last year I took a course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction that taught me a few of the basics.
As I sat deeper into the cushions and tried not to look like a total weirdo (how strange is it these days if someone is sitting alone without a tech device in their hands?), something amazing happened to me: I began observing.
Maybe it’s my writer’s heart, but even now I can recall each and every sight, smell, taste, touch and sound from that hour last week more vividly than I can remember anything that happened at work today. Being fully present made me so incredibly aware of everything around me: the changing sound of the ocean, how the crashing waves became more and more subtle as the day shifted into night and the tide drew out. The way the ironclad pendant above me was swaying in the wind, the tiniest fragments of light that shining through it danced across the wooden table. The feeling of that table, all of the words that came to mind as I touched it: splinter, pulp, steady. And the taste of the food – wow – the chef’s special that night, caramelized short ribs with a red wine reduction, was absolutely beyond anything I’d ever tasted. I slowly, intentionally took note of each bite when all of a sudden I realized –
OH MY GOD I’M BEING MINDFUL!
I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! IS THIS WHAT MEDITATING IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE?! AM I MEDITATING RIGHT NOW?! I’M TOTALLY MEDITATING, AREN’T I?!
I didn’t shout that. Instead, I smiled quietly, to myself, and kept observing. I saw my same smile reflected back in the kindness of the waiters, in the excitement of other guests as they were seated, in the thoughtfulness of the hostess after I had signed my check when she approached my table and asked if she could call me a car (the service at Nizuc is some of the best I’ve ever encountered). I fully believe that living in this way attracts others that are living in this way, even if you’re only living mindfully for a few minutes.
But now I get what all the fuss is about with this being present stuff. How insane it is that we bury ourselves in our phones and, while that’s still heartbreaking and silly to do in your normal life, how absolutely asinine it is that we would choose to bury ourselves in a distraction while on vacation in one of the most beautiful settings on earth?
The vacations we plan provide an opportunity to reconnect – with your loved ones, with yourself – and in that one night at Nizuc, I glimpsed just one more way that travel can restore your soul.