After a really shitty start to 2018, I unexpectedly felt the quite urgent need to spend most of the year focusing on looking after myself. I saw it as the only way to get through the difficulty, really. In the past, I would have distracted myself with parties, shopping, eating etc. etc. but this year has been different. Spending a weekend in Berlin with a close friend this summer revealed a deep desire to travel alone somewhere for a week as well. I was still struggling and I needed to totally let go, to give myself space and privacy to grieve and to reconnect with myself. So, I booked a week holiday in Majorca and here I am!
What surprised me most just before arriving here was that I no longer felt the need to grieve. I've done that already. I've gone through the tunnel of darkness and have come out the other side. (That topic - grief, is a whole other blog post by the way, but what I learned is that when I allow myself to fully surrender to it, especially during menstruation, the process doesn't last as long as I was expecting it to. Win!) So, what was I left doing then on this Spanish (/German) island? If I didn't need to grieve, then what did I 'need' to do? Nothing really but have fun and do the things I enjoy! With that, here are some lessons I've learned from solo travel so far. They surprised me a lot!
1. My inner critic is bigger than I thought
Upon arriving, it was as though my inner critic had packed herself in my suitcase and followed me around for the first few days with 'you should do this,' 'you should see this site,' 'why aren't you reading the novels you brought?' 'why aren't you writing more poems?' 'those shorts are too short and your legs are too pale,' 'why don't you have a plan for the day?' I know - it was intense. But thanks to Menstrual Cycle Awareness (I'm in summer on this trip and had planned that!) I know how to recognise my critic and how to communicate with it. I spoke to a couple of friends on the phone about it, sat with it, thanked it and asked it to leave me be for a while. I came to understand that the reason her voice was so strong was because I had indeed taken my creative writing and my work to the next level over the last year or so. Therefore, naturally, my critic also grows a bit louder! In addition to that, I was not used to following my desires on an hour by hour basis with just me to make decisions around what I felt like doing.
2. I don't need a lot of stuff
This week, I'm staying in an all-inclusive hotel in northern Majorca near Alcudia. The decision to book that was based on the fact that I had hotel vouchers. Decision made. Being here, however, has revealed that I don't need much to make me happy. I don't need lots of outfits, makeup, accessories etc. I don't need lots of food or fancy cocktails. I had thought I'd be living off piña coladas in glam outfits for the week but actually, all I want is a simple meal with nice ingredients, water, tea in the afternoon and perhaps just one glass of wine in my flipflops. Olives and bread with a beer - pleasure!
3. I like a mix of activities
I love exploring the region, rambling around the town, perhaps doing one site, sitting in cafes with my book and journal. Getting my exercise in the mornings. Brought my yoga mat - great decision and I love that there's a gym here. Exercise in Inner Summer is just the best!
4. Quiet Spaces
I'm a highly sensitive INFJ ha! That means that I really struggle with loud noise and find it very difficult to settle and relax if there is a lot of unwanted noise around me. I just wish I could sit in a loud cafe or next to a young family with kids on the beach and read my book not batting an eyelid. Does anyone reading this have the secret trick to that? I've tried visualisation exercises for that to protect my aura but when it comes to noise, it just ain't working. Therefore, I've decided that it's important that I find somewhere peaceful enough to sit if I want to read and write.
5. A healthy atmosphere for sleep
This year I've been working on my relationship with sleep a lot more. I think the new cool phrase is 'sleep hygiene.' I rather see it as a relationship that is fluid. It's important to me to get decent sleep when I can. That's very difficult for me if there is noise (I know, again!). I bring lavender oil with me everywhere now. I have a sleep yoga nidra on my phone and great earplugs that don't hurt. However, in future, I think I will avoid big hotels with rooms either side of me as that noise just comes through. Some gentle yoga before bed is dreamy too!
6. The shade is bliss
I thought that I'd be spending the week lying on sun loungers under the naked sun working on my smoking hot tan but actually, I have not been drawn to that at all. I love love love sitting in the shade on a sunny day. It means I don't have to keep lathering myself in sticky sun cream that leaves me feeling claustrophobic.
7. Renting bicycles
is the best. enough said!
Being alone on this trip has shown me how much I love people! ha! It's great to be away and have the absolute privilege of spending this time alone but I really do LOVE my friends, family and all the wise souls I have in my life. Here on holidays, I love making a little small talk with people in the lift and at lunch. Getting smiles from the bar staff is heavenly.
9. Plans are important to me
One of the biggest challenges I have had on this trip is going with the flow, following pleasure and not doing things based on my inner critic's demands. With that said, I have been working a lot on organising my life lately especially around creative projects and having a loose plan for the day so that I actually get things done around my job. Here in Majorca, I've had zero plans. Zero. And that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Rather than blaming the critic for all, I've compassionately told myself that actually, plans are important to me, even if it's just a rough idea of the day ahead.
10. The things that bring me joy
And lastly, some priceless things that bring me so much joy and have realised I wouldn't travel without: Yoga, meditation, evening walks on the beach in the lapping waves, cheap flipflops, good wifi, a gym, books, my journal, WhatsApp voice messages with friends - love them!
There's my list :) Tell me, have you been solo travelling? Where did you go? What did you learn? Do you have fears around it? Tell me! I'm dying to know!