Last August, I started a new job and on my first day, I drew a tropical scene on my new whiteboard. A giant palm tree on the beach and a little boat leading to a structure in the distant water with a straw thatched roof. It was a reminder of where I actually wanted to be instead of in a cubicle in Chicago. Little did I know that 8 months later, I would get to see it in person.
I had just left an unfulfilling job and taken a weeklong staycation in an effort to unwind and relax. I quickly realized that I had no idea how to relax or take it easy. I couldn't stop my heart from racing from anxiety that there wasn't enough money or time, that I should be doing more, being more, that I was not enough. I wasn't able to sit still or be with myself. After an exhausting week of trying to do nothing, there I was, back in an office, hidden from the sunny days I craved so much. New company, new desk, new people. I feared it would be more or less the same as my last job. Thankfully, it isn't.
As I've deepened my meditation practice over the past 6 weeks, life has gotten easier. I've learned how to sail with the highs and lows of life, and put into practice remaining equanimous.
"Is this really happening? Is this real life?" I've found myself saying these words countless times over the past few months and even more during this past weekend in paradise. I was in awe that I was in a picturesque Caribbean scene with white beaches and glittering turquoise water for the first time in my life. Leafy green palm trees that waved in the breeze. Serene blues, greens and whites- just like my bedroom in Chicago.
Returning from a weekend in paradise, I noticed that I have not been struck by the post-vacation blues. I did not spend the entire weekend filled with anxiety, feeling like I had to soak up as much fun and relaxation as possible and dreading my return to reality like I normally do while on vacation. This vacation wasn't an escape from reality. It was reality. I have finally learned how to live in the moment.