Losing My Vacation Virginity

I’ve never gone on “vacation” before-at least, not in the traditional sense of the word: somewhere warm, a get-away with the intention of relaxing and letting go.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world (not as much as I would like) but each time I’ve set out, there has been a purpose and a busy-ness to the journey.
With both of my parents being immigrants to Canada, a lot of my youth was filled with semi-regular trips to Europe to visit family.  Often these trips were packed with family reunions and a liberal dose of sight-seeing.  It’s not that I lack an appreciation for these trips-with my immediate family being relatively small and distanced from my extended family, there was always great excitement with reconnecting, and I am grateful to my parents for wanting to create travels full of enrichment and education.
I travelled/moved to New Zealand for a little over a year but again this was done for education purposes-literally.  Being able to live in NZ was amazing, but it was also a year and a half filled with school and work.
About 10 years ago I travelled to Peru and the Galapagos Islands for a little over a month.  It was a schedule-filled trip, with hikes, snorkelling and camping as we eventually made our way to Macchu Picchu.  A wonderful experience for sure, but one that was on an itinerary.
When I bought my ticket to come to Mexico 2 weeks ago, I didn’t really have an idea of how the trip would go; I didn’t have any expectations, and I didn’t have a checklist or schedule filled with things I wanted to do or experience.  My primary reason for coming to Mexico was to spend time with Ian, and after that, warmth, sun and a beach were really the only other areas of focus for me.
It admittedly felt a bit strange coming into a trip with no set schedule or list of things to do or places to see, but interestingly enough, this odd feeling wasn’t too much in the forefront of my thoughts.
Ian and I had a brief exchange the evening I flew into Mexico about expectations and what I had hoped for in this trip, but as I mentioned it was a brief conversation.  Mostly because I didn’t have any expectations.  Which isn’t usual for me.
I am someone who carries loads of expectations and hopes for even the most mundane and everyday experiences.  For me to come to Mexico with none wasn’t something I had planned or was even necessarily aware of, before Ian asked me.
The last 4+ days here have been relaxed, played-by-ear and pretty blissful.  I’ve uttered countless sighs of contenment now and have expressed my sense of utter relaxation to Ian numerous times.
When we were eating dinner outside the other night, I told Ian that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed.  There has been no sense of dread, and while I am only here for a short time, there has been no impending sense of an ending or limit.
I have been eating amazingly fresh food.  I have been breathing in the salty ocean air and have been alternating between people watching and just being still.
I have been present.  Possibly for the longest, continuous stretch I have ever experienced.
Even with 6 months off from work, I haven’t experienced a release like this.  The past 6 months have been meaningful and as I have detailed many times, I have learned so much.  But I don’t think I have fully let go.  Various pressures have crept in and out of my mind and when I combine that with my constant companion of guilt, I realize that I haven’t truly rested or taken the various weights of the world off my shoulders.
The last 4 days have been filled with good food, a lot of laughter and countless moments of gratitude and appreciation.
I am experiencing feelings of recharge and renewal-things I assumed would come at some point during my sabatical but haven’t made their presence known until now.
I have another few days left before I head back home, but rather than view it as a countdown back to reality (and the cold), I will be soaking them up.  I’ve opted to carry this feeling with me upon my return and onwards from that point. If I’ve finally experienced this release-the kind of which I don’t think I’ve ever felt before-then I know I can consciously and with intention carry it forward, and maybe even replace my former dark friend of guilt, with it.
As Ian mentioned to me when I was expressing all of this to him, I now have a reference for this feeling.  Having finally experienced it, I can concur it up at will to help ground myself and bring myself back to the present.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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