My recent two week trip to Europe became another grand adventure with its high points, challenges and unexpected surprises. My husband and I took a seven day cruise from Barcelona to Rome and spent three days in each of these cities. Because of my heart surgery last year, I felt apprehensive about managing this full itinerary. Looking back, I see how this vacation became another pilgrimage in my life.
Pilgrimage as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to a journey to a sacred or unusual place or the course of life on earth. A pilgrimage is more than walking El Camino, traveling to some sacred shrine or participating in a transformational retreat. Each time we go the distance to achieve a desired outcome, overcome obstacles, and grow in self-awareness and personal power, we are pilgrims on the path of life.
On this trip, I pushed myself beyond my limits as I faced the following challenges and obstacles:
- getting around using the Metro in a strange city without speaking the language;
- following maps and approaching strangers in order to find our way within a city;
- climbing hundreds of steps to see some point of interest;
- getting sick (Sniffles occurred on our one sea day.);
- feeling heat exhaustion at the Forum in Rome (We left before completing the tour.); and
- boarding our plane home late because our ticket stated the wrong terminal and the
correct information was difficult to get (new changes at Rome Airport).
My latest adventure is an example of what can happen in life as we make plans, work with the unknown and stumble upon obstacles. Here are a few tips to ensure that your pilgrimages empower you and bring you what you want:
Be prepared – We researched hotels and points of interest, made lists and shopped for appropriate clothing, toiletries and supplements. (Wish I had packed Ricola herbal cough drops.) We stacked one small carry-on bag on a larger suitcase for easy maneuvering during transfers. I increased my workout at the gym to get ready for the vigorous activity. We began taking oregano oil several days before getting on the plane to boost our immune system. When you plan your next adventure, pay attention to the details. Your journey will be filled with ease.
Don’t resist the unexpected – We flowed with instead of resisted the surprises along the way (most of the time). We knew we would be in the unknown more than usual and stayed calm when we made mistakes. We laughed when we ordered food in a restaurant and did not know exactly what we were getting. This is all part of having fun, creating stories and feeling empowered. Going with the flow on vacation as well as in life is paramount to enjoying yourself and living the good life.
Lean into the obstacles – My husband could not climb 100+ steps to visit a church; he found a place to read a book. When I got a head-cold, I recuperated in my room, and my husband ventured about the ship without me. When we became over-heated, we went to our hotel early. Obstacles are a part of life. Don’t blame yourself or others or make yourself miserable with anger and resentment. Move through obstacles with a positive attitude and focus on a solution. You will find a way that works and become a master at overcoming adversity.
Ask for help – We relied on others to guide us and had some amazing food and memorable experiences. We took several tours when time was tight but mostly we were on our own. We got help from people who spoke perfect English and some who spoke very little. Part of the adventure of any pilgrimage is meeting others and receiving guidance from those who “know.” Reaching out to others can help you feel less vulnerable on your journey through life or your next planned adventure.
Celebrate success –My husband and I had a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of this grand pilgrimage. Even though we were physically vulnerable, we made it. Always celebrate the small wins in your life. Acknowledge yourself and others whenever you make it through a difficult ordeal. It takes courage, persistence and faith to make it through life’s challenges and crises. When you celebrate, life feels sacred.
Whether you choose an adventure or a life challenge is thrust upon you, you have an opportunity to take risks, persevere and grow in self-awareness, acceptance, wisdom and confidence. Obstacles are a natural part of any pilgrimage; work with them. You will end the journey feeling empowered and fulfilled by what you have accomplished. You may even inspire other pilgrims because you have successfully “been there and done that.” By taking on a challenge and making it count for something, you are living a purposeful and passionate life. Bravo!
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