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I enjoy receiving inspiration and noticing the spiritual bread crumbs that come from surprising and yet, ordinary places. An advertisement/invite arrived in the mail the other day from the local Tommy Bahama store kicking off their Spring Collection. Ciao Italia!

It was just an over-sized postcard with a picture and a few words ….the way postcards are supposed to be; Compact, specific and quick.

Hey! I’m thinking of you and I’m someplace Fabulous!

I like Tommy Bahama as a brand. The stores are interesting, they normally smell good and make me dream of being someplace distant, relaxing and lavish. They sell us on ‘the dream’ and I appreciate that. I enjoy feeling transported if only for a short time.

This particular spring collection is based on a trip to Italy. Beautiful linen fabrics, casual elegance, easy style. What really hit me was the phrase they used on the postcard: il dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

Talk about transporting…immediately the phrase conjured images of lounging in a lovely resort (wearing beautiful clothes of course), strolling through cobblestone streets, sipping wine, watching beautiful sunsets, or chatting with friends and having no plans for days.

As an accomplishment driven, responsibility-phile, solo entrepreneur, I sometimes dream of doing nothing and how sweet that would feel, and then I immediately dismiss the notion. When I was younger with less responsibilities and more years ahead of me than behind me, I would actually allow myself time to do nothing. Now I even limit my naps to 20 minutes!

I know… intellectually… that life is short and there is validity in doing nothing. Experts agree it is extremely productive and necessary to recharge and refuel our minds and bodies by having fun and just relaxing.We come back to our tasks more focused, alert and creative.

Wow….Somewhere along the adulthood path I got caught in the “doing” cycle and became…dare I say it…task oriented and un-fun.

The Italians have the right idea….long lunches, naps every day and knowing summers are for a long lazy holiday.

Planning nothing into our daily or weekly schedules should be a priority. It should also be taught in school along with other real life skills (but that’s a whole other blog post).

Unlearning habits such as overworking and constant doing are important, as is learning to set boundaries. We (okay, me) must begin to ignore the voice of Mr. Guilt and instead embrace our Italian friend’s mantra,” il dolce far niente.”

After all, why should we only look relaxed and fabulous while on holiday? Why should we only enjoy the sweetness of nothing while on vacation?

Send yourself a postcard. A quick, compact reminder that now is the time to enjoy some sweet nothing time. Pull out your Tommy Bahama ‘vacation’ clothes, do nothing, have some fun and say Ciao Italia!

To the sweet life!

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Over the past few weeks I have spoken with both friends and family who have travel plans in place over the next couple of months. Some are going to exotic places like South Africa, India, Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Thailand. Others have Hawaii, Italy and Cabo San Lucas on their schedules. I enjoy hearing of their plans and the excitement that lights up their face as they share the details and research of their trip. I also love to hear about their trip upon their return home. The images they paint from their stories I find as interesting as their photos. Don’t get me wrong the photos are cool but the stories are their experiences!

Some are going in groups, others with friends or family, and others as a “single” while participating in a group tour. I know folks who like to bike or hike through regions of Europe, others who like to take River Cruises and others Motor Coach Tours. I admire them all. It takes planning, tenacity and an adventurous spirit to travel.

I think there is a difference between vacationing and traveling. Vacationing to me is about relaxing somewhere, playing and being in safe and reliable environs. This takes on many vistas…camping for some, at the beach for others or perhaps Disneyland. Traveling on the other hand is stretching our boundaries, seeing new vistas, meeting new people and exposing ourselves to different cultures. It can also be immersing ourselves in history, art, spiritual/religious pilgrimages or researching our family’s ancestry. While we certainly can use vacation time to travel and we can have fun and play while traveling, there is a different energy around travel than there is vacationing. I think both are necessary to feed and renew the soul.

Travel gives us an education unlike any other and helps us to be better citizens of the world and to appreciate home. As I see it, when we travel we become guests of the countries, cities and regions that we visit. We observe the culture, landscape, architecture and people and experience life from their point of view and existence. There are colors, smells, tastes, sounds and climates that are specific to each place we visit and we bring the memory of these back home with us. Travel of any kind expands our minds and opens our thinking, our compassion and personal insights. We are different when we come home, our life experience has changed and grown. We begin to frame how we live in the world differently.

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Vacationing also changes us. It renews us, gives us new vitality and resets our fun meters. It reconnects us with our inner selves and with our family or friends we might be traveling with. Vacationing gives us time to vacate the stale and stagnant mindsets and physical weariness we have fallen into through everyday life. It mixes things up and lets us enjoy different foods and drink. It gives us time to rest and be “on vacation.”

Most people find planning the travel as enjoyable as the actual going. We set our itineraries, begin to make arrangements and reservations while engaging our travel or vacation mindset months in advance. The planning is fun, gives us something to look forward to and offers interesting conversation with those that have already explored our travel destination.

Planning and traveling are exciting but what I try to remind myself of everyday is to pay attention to the beauty of where I live. It is easy to forget or not see the beauty of our own backyard (literally and figuratively). I know the sunsets in Hawaii are exquisite but so are the ones outside my home. The wildflowers blooming in the fields, the trees beginning to blossom, the rolling green hills and the clouds hovering over the foothills are just as pretty here as they are in Europe.

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Living in Northern California I consider myself extremely lucky. People pay thousands of dollars to come visit our area from all over the world and I live with its beauty and bounty every day. I bet wherever you live, you could say the same thing. And, while we all enjoy travel and vacation the simple truth is there is no place like home.

2d5e15dda3fee4120d88db625acfd38cHappy trails!

A few weeks ago my husband and I headed out on a small vacation.  Mercury was retrograde, offering up delays and problems with our travel from the get go.  Between traffic issues getting to the airport and extremely long lines going through airport security, we arrived at the gate with minutes to spare, only to be told our seats had been given away.  This set in motion a day of stand by travel that was tiring and stressful.

Our first stop took us to Los Angeles International Airport. Upon arrival at LAX, I decided to use the lady’s room before we began the next leg of our stand by challenge.  There in the stall, sitting on top of the paper dispenser was a hard bound book.  I took the book outside with me and looked inside to see if the owner had her contact information listed.  It was there, along with her used boarding passes.  Los Angeles was her destination on this part of her journey and she had already left the airport. I left her a phone message and offered to send her the book upon my return home.  I also offered to read her the itinerary and phone numbers she had hand written on a sheet of paper, if she needed them. I could tell by her name, hand writing and information that she was an older lady and it seemed she had traveled to Los Angeles to attend a family wedding. I didn’t want her to stress over the loss of the book or information.

The book traveled with us and as our long day unfolded it was taken in and out of my carry on several times. It struck me that had we not been detoured at the beginning of our trip I would not have found the book.  I knew it was Kismet. Then it occurred to me to document the book’s journey, so when I did return it to the owner, I could include that story along with the book.

The following is the letter I sent along with the book to its owner:

Dear Ruth,

Enclosed is your book, “Heading Out to Wonderful.”  The title seems appropriate since you were heading out to a wonderful wedding in Los Angeles and my husband and I were heading out on a wonderful vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Finding your book in the Los Angeles airport was fortuitous.  We were not supposed to be in Los Angeles that day at all, but circumstances threw our travel plans into disarray. Instead of a quick one stop flight from Sacramento to Albuquerque, we went on an all day, multi airport, multi flight, stand-by adventure that included finding your book.

I have no idea the subject matter of your book, but the title “Heading out to Wonderful” leads one to form optimistic conclusions of life’s journeys.  I can tell you heading out to wonderful and encountering it can be two different things. Life can give us twists and turns that takes us down different roads (or airports) and heads us out in different directions than our original destination or intent. Sometimes this is a great adventure, and other times only a detour that, for whatever reason slows us down and eats our time.

After realizing that you had already left the airport in Los Angeles and that the book would be traveling with us on our journey, I decided to document some of the book’s travels and make it a bit of fun.  Perhaps, the book itself had its own idea of what “Heading out to Wonderful” looked like. Maybe it was adverse to Southern California or knew this was its only chance to see some of our great land. Just in airports alone, it saw Greensboro, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Diego and Sacramento. Then it went via land to Santa Fe, The Puye Cliff Dwellings, Taos, Red River and back to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It visited museums, art galleries, churches, pueblos, shops and restaurants.  It was on the Old Santa Fe Trail and the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. I didn’t photograph it everywhere but took a few pictures so you would have a sense of its travels.

The book has been waiting patiently with us here in Lincoln, California to head back home to you. My husband hit the ground running with his work when we returned home and it took him a few days to get the photos printed from our trip.  I apologize for the delay.

I look at the book’s title as it sits here on my coffee table waiting to make the return trip home. “Heading Out to Wonderful” I think is a great place to start, no mater what the outcome, if we set our intention to head there we should find a bit of wonderful everywhere.

I hope you enjoy finish reading the book and the subsequent discussion with your book group. Perhaps the group’s discussion of the book’s travels will be a sweet departure from the actual fictional journey covered within its pages.

Happy Trails!

A few weeks later my husband brought in the mail and handed me a package.  I opened it up and there was the book!  Heading Out to Wonderful!  Inside was a lovely note from Ruth thanking me, money to cover the postage of “Wonderful’s” initial return to her and conversation about the book’s adventures, her book club discussion and her granddaughters wedding.  The book was now mine for keeping or passing on as I see fit. I will of course read it and pass it on.  Travel seems to be part of the books destiny.

I was touched. A little bit of humanity along with some old-fashioned kindness and communication all from the hand of  Mercury Retrograde.  No matter where our journey is taking us we should remember we are always Heading out to Wonderful, wherever that may be!

Heading Out to Wonderful is a book by Robert Goolrick

Lisa Joiner

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© Lisa Joiner and HighRoadpost, 2014 Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Joiner and HighRoadPost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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