10 Self-Lessons That Actually Changed Me From 3 Weeks In Europe

31 Ways to Sunday - 10 Life Lessons that Actually Changed Me

Bonjour, my darlings.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here.

The end of the summer was a whirlwind. I was burnt out for many reasons, and was desperately looking forward to an upcoming trip I had planned to Europe and the UK for 3 weeks.

Trust me, leaving the country was exactly what the doctor ordered.

And it was fucking amazing.

My gal pal Jen and I took off for 21 days starting in London, heading to Cologne, Munich (for Oktoberfest), Paris and finally Reykjavik. It was a marvellous trip, full of laughs, drunken nights (several), shit loads of bread and cheese and beer and wine and everything else that we “shouldn’t” eat, new friends, AND we even made it into a movie. (More to come on our adventures).

Since I’ve been back, I’ve dived head first back into my business, joined a weekly business group, started learning to fly (airplanes), started learning the drums and got back out in my social circles. Life is busy. Life is good. A good change from things before I left.

Sometimes taking a step back to take a look at your life without the weeds has the ability to allow you to see areas where you are strong, areas where you need support, and sometimes gives you the ability to intuitively make calls on what you really need to fill gaps or make space to fulfill yourself a little bit more than before. Forward movement. Positive steps.

There are lessons to be learned with travel. I was expecting fully to learn about culture, history and people in the places that we travelled, but what I wasn’t quite expecting was the fulfilling and seriously life-changing lessons I learned about myself that I have taken home and moved forward with. I literally felt that I came home with these things wrapped in a box waiting for them to be dived in further.

This was an amazing gift.

Here are 10 Self-Lessons That Actually Changed Me From 3 Weeks In Europe

  1. I got really fucking clear on my needs – Something about spending time away from daily routines, people, and places allows us to view them from a different lens and also add a new twist to our view of things based on our new experiences. Despite not travelling on this trip with a romantic partner, I got really crystal clear on what my needs are right now in a relationship. I got really clear on work…what I want to do, what I don’t want to do anymore and what I want to explore. I got really clear on taking time for myself and saying no once and a while. Goal: Communicate these needs more to other people.
  2. No excuses time away from work is a non-negotiable – I planned on having “work days” while I was away. And I did for the most part. But I threw some out the window. And I would never plan on scheduling work time again while away. Why? Because we all deserve to go and play. We are worthy of play/rest/relaxation time. Furthermore, when I play, I’m way more productive upon my return (which is why burnout is a thing). Goal: 2 weeks completely off the work grid in 2018.
  3. I can still make money when I am not working – Although my business is still more “me” dependant than I would like, I have some pretty rad people on my team right now who kept the wheels turning quite well in my absence. We even brought in new business while I was away. Goal: Polish this even further in 2018, so the biz is making money while everyone is on holiday.
  4. It’s ok to indulge. And indulge some more – Shockingly I ate a lot. I know that rarely happens when people go away on vacation. Being the curious cat that I am, I wanted to try, try, try. I ate the local favourites wherever possible and felt ZERO guilt. We drank every day but one (only because the resto we went to did not serve alcohol and we were too hungover to be bothered to grab our own). Could I do this all the time? No. But I indulged. I didn’t feel sick, even after all the cheese and baguettes in Paris. I actually felt awesome. I gave myself permission for this window of time to have no rules. Sometimes we put ourselves in tight boxes of rules in real life. Break them once and a while. Goal: Designate days and times to ignore ALL the rules without guilt.
  5. Big, slow, German breakfasts are my “jam” – Speaking of eating. When staying with my beautiful friend Karin in Cologne, (I could write a whole post this amazing woman), she put out this beautiful German breakfast spread every morning. Breads, cheeses, meats, yogurt, fruit, jams. And we sat and savoured it. Slowly. Karin is quite glamorous. She enjoys her food, her wine, hearty laughter, the occasional ciggy, and she savours life. This was a beautiful way to start the day. A full meal, not rushed. Not checking CNN, emails or standing up waiting to throw the dishes in the sink and rush out the door. Just enjoyed. On pretty dishes. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been more conscious of allowing myself the time to enjoy my breakfasts. Why breakfast? No idea. It just seems like a glamorous and stress free ease into a hectic day. Something that I’ve noticed since doing this is that taking my time with breakfast and in the morning actually increased my efficiency later in the day. Who cares if you take an hour if you are really enjoying yourself? Goal: Use pretty plates and trays and glam up my breakfast routine as much as fucking possible. Because it makes me happy.
  6. I can eat raw pork and not die – Raw pork. Yep. I love me a good tartar, but when a bun with raw pork came rolling past my curious eyeballs in our local hang in Cologne, I knew it was something I had to try, (much, I’m sure to poor Jen’s vegetarian gag reflex…she was so understanding of my meat eating curiosity). I had health insurance if things got dicey. It’s called Mett, and it was eaten very frequently in Cologne. And it was good! And I didn’t die or even have a bellyache. Goal: Always try something new on the menu.
  7. I can sit with uncomfortable feelings, they won’t eat me – From time to time some things came up for me. Normal things like homesickness, a bit of “what am I doing with my life” after a particularly late night, and one day I remember in particular in Paris, extreme restlessness and unease without an obvious cause that would not settle. Travelling with a close friend, I felt I could be honest about this stuff. But some things don’t have a known cause to talk through. I couldn’t always just go lock myself away or take a nap. I remember one day sitting there and just giving myself permission to feel the way I felt without doing anything about it. It passed. It wasn’t complicated or dramatic. It just passed. I think this is what they mean when in meditation they say “just observe”. Goal: Observe feelings without assigning them a value, and they too, shall pass.
  8. Self compassion is where it’s at – Out of all of these things, this was the biggest take home for me. Self compassion. Being mindful with how I feel and what my needs are and being kind to myself about it. We are often super compassionate to other people, yet hold ourselves at a ridiculously high standards using “should” self talk and other limiting beliefs that we have whipped up over the years. Self compassion involves recognizing that we aren’t perfect – we never will be. It does not turn into a whiny self indulging, self pity-party, but allowing ourselves to be imperfect and looking at it with compassion. How this exact thing came up for me during this trip is a mystery. All I know is that I had a clear “self compassion” message when I came home that I actually went out and read this book (which I would recommend). Goal: Observe my actions and thoughts compassionately, as I would for a loved one.
  9. I will never, ever check bags again – I used to be that girl. The one with the oversized bags. Literally. Oversized bag tags for the embarrassing win. Carry-on bags for 21 days was a total experiment. Jen and I agreed that we should really try to do this, to both save on money and time spent waiting around for bags at airports. Also, we did a LOT of train travel, and having a gigantic suitcase would have sucked. I stuffed all of my belongings in a backpack and small carry-on suitcase. It was a Christmas miracle that this actually happened, but I did plan ahead and packed versatile pieces. We took advantage of our AirBNB laundry facilities and learned to pack and repack (and repack) like pros. Goal: Throw out my Kim K. sized suitcase, i’ll never use it again.
  10. You can make it happen – What makes me sad is that some people don’t ever experience the gift that you can give yourself of travel. “I can’t afford it”, or “too busy” often get in the way of the bigger picture of the cultural and personal learning that happens when we get away from our daily routines and into different culture. Jen and I planned ahead and tried to make logical spending decisions. Travel is a gift and I assure you with the right amount of pre-planning and research, almost anyone can make a decent learning trip happen. Goal: Explore, travel and breathe in the beauty of this beautiful world as often as possible.

Brooke Simmons