I just returned from a 12-day trip to Vancouver, but I came home three days early.
I went because I desperately needed a change of scenery. I needed to escape my empty, dog-less house – it just didn’t feel right without my sweet Benji, who passed away several weeks ago.
But trips to Vancouver are never vacations for me. I go there to visit family and friends. This trip, I spent most of my time visiting my mom, who has dementia and lives in a nursing home.
Last Friday night, I was with her and the other residents congregating in the main social area. I know many of them by name from visiting over the years. As a trained gerontologist, I’m very aware that while their mental and physical health are on the decline, these people want to be cared for, recognized and loved.
I enjoyed connecting and chatting with them. Some couldn’t speak much, so we played charades. Others were lucid enough to carry on a conversation, and some talked to me about their pasts. So often with dementia, people’s long-term memories are better than their short-term ones.
I love schmoozing with the other residents and hearing their stories. There’s so much we can learn from older people, about their lives, heritage and legacies.
I felt like a dog trainer surrounded by a pack of attention-starved puppies. With all the COVID outbreaks and lockdowns over the past two years, this nursing home – like so many others – has strict visitation policies. Many of these residents were craving connection, and I felt honored that I could be fully present with them.
And while I also enjoyed getting together with friends, I struggled being present with myself during the entire visit. I learned a lot about myself during this trip:
1. Traveling during COVID is stressful for me.
Pre-COVID, I traveled extensively as a professional speaker. But now, between coordinating pre-flight COVID tests, packing toiletries and make-up, ‘real’ clothes and shoes instead of wearing leggings and going barefoot, everything just feels so time-consuming. There are no direct flights from DC to Vancouver, so I faced a 15-hour travel day each way, which I found challenging.
2. I crave sunshine and good weather
On both my recent trips to Vancouver, it rained EVERY single day. Yes, Vancouver is beautiful during spring and summer. But not during rainy season, fall or winter. Besides having bad hair days, Seasonal Affective Disorder hit me hard, affecting my mental health. This was hard to handle in addition to juggling feelings of anxiety and depression due to the loss of my beloved dog and the recent breakdown of my marriage.
3. I’m out of sorts when I’m out of my routine.
During this trip, I lived out of a suitcase while staying at two different homes plus a hotel. Not only was I not in my own space, but more importantly, I fell out of my zone practicing self-care:
EAT: I was skipping meals instead of eating three balanced, healthy meals daily. I find it challenging when staying with people and not buying my own groceries or preparing my own food. Occasionally, I went out to eat, mostly for Vancouver’s renowned sushi. It’s fresh, delicious, and raw – just like my emotions.
SLEEP: My sleep felt compromised with the time zone difference and sleeping in a colder environment than I’m used to. Fortunately at my brother’s house, he had an extra weighted blanket just like the one I sleep with at home, so I slept like a baby there. I love my weighted blanket!
MOVE: My regular exercise routine consists of dance, yoga, Peloton’s Discover and Build Your Power Zone program, power and pole walks and weight training. In Vancouver, I squeezed in just two power walks between bouts of endless rain. Everything else fell by the wayside.
BREATHE: I was too busy being busy and could not relax in stillness. I felt like I had zero downtime. I was preoccupied with my thoughts – reminiscing about the past and trying to plan for my return. I was having a tough time being in the moment, despite what I teach in my professional speaking and online wellness portal/program. Hey, I’m human!
So, I rescheduled my flight and returned to Maryland three days early. As a bonus, I got to spend an evening with my son before he left on his Spring break trip to Poland.
I got to attend Saturday Sabbath services, a Bat Mitzvah on Sunday, plus a salsa dance social. I quickly resumed my regular “Eat, Sleep, Move, Breathe” self-care practice and my virtual business.
Almost immediately, I started feeling better. Making small changes has a big impact! That’s why I created my Byte-Size Wellness Academy (BSWA), an online wellness self-coaching program. It includes all the resources and tools you need to take charge of your mental and physical health and make self-care a lifelong habit.
BSWA is an evidence-based micro-learning program that cuts through the information clutter and makes it easy to fit wellness into your busy workdays, meeting days and everyday life - one micro-step at a time. All information is delivered in short, digestible bytes. The portal has a library of curated mind-body video breaks, video mini-courses and a digital wellness resource center.
Click HERE to schedule an information call with me.
FYI: Upon completion of the Jay Shetty Life Coaching Certification Program (on May 8, 2022), I will be adding individual and group life coaching via Zoom to Byte-Size Wellness Academy.
PS. Help me help you! I’m looking for three practice coaching clients to fulfill my unsupervised coaching hours. I will be offering 3-4 sessions (45-60-minutes per session) in April - FREE of charge.
If you are in transition and seeking to create a more abundant life full of meaning, purpose and joy, feel free to reach out to me for a Discovery Call to see if this is a fit.
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