Travelling is all in the mind
I enjoy, even look forward to my morning mindfulness meditations and challenge myself to bring mindfulness into my working day to help me focus and still my whirring, flitting mind and mix of emotions that come with running my own business. But it isn’t always easy.
So I want to share what doesn’t work for me in the face of adversity and what helps.
I’ve had a mistaken belief that when I reached my mid 50’s life would be easier: children grown up, financial pressures easing leaving more time to enjoy the things I love doing and with the people I love doing them with. How wrong was I?
The week that well and truly dispelled the myth
I headed up to Scotland on the night of Storm Doris, leaving later in the day I was confident that I would miss all the mayhem she left in her wake. So as the rains subsided I settled down for a relaxing drive up to my hotel stop on the Borders before heading North to a couple of meetings then flying across to Islay to visit my Mum and tidy up the garden of our rental cottage on Islay.
Twenty minutes into my journey I realised that Storm Doris wasn’t my enemy but the Grand Canyon of a pot hole smack bang in the middle of the road, full of water which hid the depths that my tyre would plummet. I knew by the sickening bang that my tyre could not survive such an assault so I headed off to the garage to reacquaint it with air. As fast as I pumped it in it hissed back at me with an angry rasp.
Luckily my daughter’s very practical boyfriend, Ben was at home and pulled out all the stops. Now with a repaired tyre and 3 hours later I was back on the road it was 10.00pm. Within 15minutes of joining the M6 on comes the tyre warning light. Grrr, I thought Ben was my hero. Turns out he was, and this was the rear tyre that must have taken a battering too. After two more tyre warnings and garage stops I realise I won’t make my accommodation on the borders so book in at the first motorway hotel.
A fresh start
Not to be defeated I was on the road bright and early next morning and waiting eagerly in the tyre repair garage in Lancaster as it opened up. They tell me there is nothing wrong with any of the tyres, but on my insistence they replaced a valve for me. (I don’t know why I thought that would help!)
Resigned acceptance #1
I have to be realistic, there is no way I will make my first meeting in Scotland so with regret I ring to apologise only to be told that the person I am due to meet is on a day’s leave. Isn’t a scream therapeutic in the right circumstances? I later learn that her team didn’t know she was coming in to meet me!
At least I will make my afternoon meeting in Glasgow, so northwards on the M8. Another 15minutes into the journey the tyre warning light comes on again, this time I ring the dealer only to be told, “Oh don’t worry madam, (who calls you madam in this day and age!) a number of customers have had the same problem it happens when the tyres get warm on long journeys”. I repeat isn’t a scream therapeutic in the right circumstances, if not a little wearing on the throat.
Peace at last
The rest of the journey passes without incidence and beautiful scenery and I make my afternoon meeting, leaving plenty of time to catch my find my car park and catch my flight to Islay.
How was I to know that:
- the carpark postcode wasn’t recognised by ANY sat nav,
- the street I was looking for was in Paisley and NOT Glasgow.
It seems pretty obvious that those directions need rewriting, somehow after a few fraught phone calls to belligerent staff at the elusive car park company I don’t I have any faith in them seeing the need to change them for non-locals any time soon.
Resigned acceptance #2
Realising I won’t make the flight because I can’t find a meet and greet service at the airport to dump the car in even after five laps of the airport, I pull up and go inside to rebook my flight for the next morning. How galling to see what would have been my fellow passengers still checking in knowing that my car outside was all that stood between me and the open skies. Yet another unexpected hotel for the evening.
I was the first passenger to arrive next morning and the first on the aeroplane, settling myself down with a book for the short flight I breathe a big sigh and tell myself how grateful I am that I made it. We begin our descent over the glittering waters of Loch Indaal and head towards the runway. But suddenly we pull up, after a few more minutes we try another descent, this time it’s hard to see the waters of the Loch let alone the runway. So we are heading back into the clouds. After a worrying 5 minutes the Captain tells us we couldn’t land the first time because of geese on the runway, by the second attempt the weather had worsened so we were now on our way back to Glasgow. No, no Vicki, don’t scream, it might help you but would be very disturbing for fellow passengers. As I get off the plane at Glasgow, one woman remains in her seat weeping, trying to compose herself. I resist the urge to suggest she does some deep breathing exercises, make a gratitude list or a visualisation exercise or even scream even though she does resemble an Edvard Munch painting.
4 hours later all is fine and we land to bright sunshine and a sympathetic Mother. The week passes and all is forgotten, I rebook my aborted meeting for the journey home.
The day of the return journey is beautiful sunshine and I as always have a twinge of regret to be leaving the beautiful island. It is with disbelief that I listen to the Captain who has joined us in the departure lounge announce that we can’t take off because of freezing fog in Glasgow. I think a muffled scream did escape my lips because fellow passengers turned and gave me a strange stare.
Yes I made it home.
That was last week. This week I am faced with a daughter who is trying to plan a trip to Rwanda to see gorillas and wondering if it will be too dangerous to cross the border to Uganda. That scream is welling up again, a father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and I am trying to fill in a 45 page form and another daughter who has just moved house and I wish I was able to give her more support.
So given the dramas of the last few weeks which are showing no signs of abating I resign myself to the fact that this is life in my mid 50’s after all.
So I share with you what helped me get through in the vain hope that they may help you to
What didn’t work?
- My normal meditations – my mind was whirring like the Correyvreckan
- Keeping a gratitude list, what did I have to be grateful for? I know I should have tried harder
- Talking about my misfortunes, I didn’t want to hear others well-meaning advice and words of wisdom. I might just be tempted to scream again
- Going to yoga class and lying next to a woman snoring as we did our visualisation exercise, no it wasn’t a visualisation on a pig farm!!
What did work?
- Screaming makes you feel better for a second, but not your throat
- Finding something small to do that made me feel in control. Writing a list at the end of the day of all the things I had achieved however small.
- Imaging I was in a comedy film and seeing the funny side.
- Taking a warm bath, with my relaxing bath salts, of course.
- Boxercise, thumping the hell out of someone definitely helped
- But the one thing that helped the most was walking around my garden, seeing the daffodils and snowdrops flowering and feeling the sun on my back. For a few mindful moments I could hear the birds singing, and believe all was well with the world.
PS If you try tip number one I would recommend honey and lemon lozenges.