Vacation Schmacation

I am in paradise this week. Pristine beaches – ones where you can get to the balmy 87-degree ocean water without having to step over bodies. Spanish moss hangs off the trees, bringing just enough eeriness to remind yourself that you are not home. Add to that not needing an alarm clock or make-up or even a watch. Life seems just about perfect.

And, then, as it always does, life reminds me that it is life. It ain’t perfect. To this island of heaven, we bring ourselves. The whole damn lot of who we are gets packed in the suitcase. Our feelings, issues, challenges and triggers. They didn’t get left at home.

When my kids were younger, I used to say that we were taking a family trip rather than a vacation. Because the reality was that no one was vacationing. Yes, there might be a better view out the window but we were still getting up at 5 AM. Kids were still throwing tantrums. Dinner had to be made and dishes cleaned. There is no break from the work of parenting.

And yet, now my kids are older. They can put themselves to bed and pour their own cereal. They can even self-entertain. We really should be able to take a real vacation. Right?

Nope. We don’t even get that. There is no break from the life of emotions and relationships. Because no one takes a vacation from themselves. The unconscious does no click an “off” button because you have driven eight-hours south. All of who we are shows up. And, sometimes even more so given that we don’t have the routines and known conveniences of our daily home life as a distraction.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being in paradise. I am saddening as the departure bell will ring in a few days. But, I am reminded that life never goes as it is “supposed” to go. We are stuck. Trapped in ourselves. Taking all of us wherever we go. Having a real-life experience, even when the sun is setting on our sanded toes.

Course Correction

“A little to the left, Johnny!”

“Ah, too much. Back right a bit.”

Evidently, if you are on a long flight cross country, the airplane is never on course. In fact, it stays off course. Those pilots we imagine eating chips and flirting with the flight attendants are actually busy. They are constantly course correcting. Doing the next right thing to get the airplane back on track. For the moment.

We do the same thing, you know. Except instead of compassionately accepting our perpetual imbalance as the norm, we beat ourselves up for it.

“Why did I overeat yesterday?” or “I’m terrible for neglecting the wife and kids due to my big work project this week.”

Lighten up. We are never in perfect harmony.

Instead, like the uniformed men and women who keep our skies safe, just course correct.

What needs your attention today? What have you been putting less energy into that is due a turn?

Life entails continuous decision-making surrounding behaviors that maintain our life and expand our life. Your flight will go smoother if you accept your imperfection. Just do the next right thing that will keep your plane pointed in the direction you want to go.

Got Emotional Strength?

Got Emotional Strength?

If so, you …

Keep going when the odds are stacked against you.

Feel all your feelings rather than avoiding the painful ones.

Shut your mouth when you want to yell venom to someone you care about.

Not take something personal when it isn’t about you.

Own your part in relational rupture.

Know and set limits.

Tolerate difference.

Dig for compassion.

Are curious rather than judgmental.

State what you want and need in a clear and moderated manner.

Respect others.

Are humble when you’d rather be right.

Ask for clarification when you don’t understand.

Have the capacity to feel empathy.

Hold your own while making room for the other.

Assume risk.

Stay in the game when it gets difficult.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Bounce back when there is little bounce left.

Adapt to change.

Commit to a lifetime of growing and learning.