Life is Re-Opening
As we begin to see small, yet significant lifting of the Covid restrictions and life begins opening up, travel planning is top of my list. I can’t wait to experience a sense of adventure. If you’re feeling what I am, here are some ideas to warm you up to life’s possibilities beyond your area code! Maybe out of the country too.
From Overwhelming to Invigorating
Several years ago, as we landed after our long flight, I was jet-lagged and overwhelmed by everything. Bags in tow, and not understanding the signs or the language, I struggled to find ground transportation and exchange money. Slowly we sorted it out and were on our way to new adventures. Landing in a foreign country at first feels very disorienting.
I soon felt confident as I hopped on and off trains and city trams. I was invigorated, excited, and aware of my surroundings. My mind was fully alert as I made decisions and thought through next steps. I love feeling so engaged in the present moment!
Arriving back home, I wanted to retain some of that fresh perspective. I don’t want to live on autopilot and want to have a heightened sense of awareness in my daily life. While routines are important to our well-being, they should provide a framework, not restrictions.
There are many benefits to adding adventure to your life by challenging yourself in new ways. You will gain confidence, learn new skills, and it is very healthy for your brain too.
Harvard Medical School Health Publishing reports that scientists have found brain-challenging activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
Opens minds and hearts
Adventure is less about travel, and more about how we choose to experience the world. It opens our minds to new and different ways of living. This is obvious in their language, food, clothing, religion, holiday traditions and cultural values and norms. When I lived in Brazil at 16, I quickly experienced some very different ways of doing things, let alone a new language. I had to adapt to their way of living and be open-minded about these differences.
Following are three ways to develop an Adventurer’s mindset and experience the benefits.
1. Think like a tourist
I have visited some of the great museums of the world, yet sad to say I had never been to our local town history museum. So, I decided to approach my life as a tourist.
After living in the same place for years, we shop at the same grocery stores, frequent the same restaurants and shops, and travel familiar routes. We often don’t even see what’s familiar, venture down different streets unnecessarily, or explore new stores.
I asked, what would I share with someone visiting my town for the first time? What are the highlights of life in this community? It is not the local Safeway!
Then, I went onto the town’s website for ideas. I found restaurants I have never tried, a small international food store, several upcoming events, places to visit, parks and trails maps, and arts and cultural events. I am trying at least one new thing a week.
What can you learn that is new and different in your own hometown?
2. Expand your local world
I love to cook, but recently noticed I’m preparing and simply rotating the same meals. So I ventured out and found a wonderful ethnic international market with varieties of vegetables, cuts of meat, and unfamiliar spices.
I’ll ask the butcher or the produce person for suggestions on preparing an unfamiliar cut of meat or vegetable. They are often happy to chat, and I learn something new. I’ve tried several new delicious interesting recipes. If we like it, I’ll do again; if not, so what?
My lifelong friend, Carol, traveled extensively in her career and for pleasure for decades. When she retired and traveled less, she became passionate about exploring in-depth the northern California hiking areas. In the past few years, she has visited dozens of beautiful trails within a fifty-mile radius, hiking hundreds of miles. Fortunately, she’s shared several hikes with me. Adventure is everywhere, even nearby.
What areas in your life can you expand, dive deeper into, or do differently?
3. Change up your routine
On our European trip we had days of walking the streets and canals of Amsterdam. We were fascinated by the sights and sounds around us, and walked with no specific destination in mind. We were exploring, open and alert to all that was different.
I returned with a new attitude of exploration about where I live. My morning runs and walks are varied routes, and I’ve ventured down several new, unfamiliar streets. The same number of steps–far more interesting.
Try different routes and new streets to get in your miles or steps, whether you walk, run, ride a bike or drive. When you aren’t in a rush as you drive somewhere, turn off your map app and explore. (Your GPS is always there if you get lost.) Very often you’ll discover new and interesting sites in your local area.
The world is now open and awaits.