Tag: holiday

Seeing The Light For A Happy Holiday

There’s nothing like negative energy to put a dampener, even a darkness, over a holiday. It moves fast. Once it takes hold of you, you change, go up in arms and see the world through cloudy eyes. And the cloud can hang around for days and make a good time bad, certainly if you are not intentional about lifting it.

There goes my holiday, I thought, watching everyone around me being served, including my husband on a business-class flight, where this kind of thing is not supposed to take place, right? Wrong, as it happens.

All I could think as we neared the male-dominated culture where I was hoping to broaden my horizons, while relaxing a bit as well, was: it is going to be a long two weeks. Never mind that that it had been a smooth ride so far, turbulence had hijacked my heart, as well as my mind.

Thankfully, however, I had just read an InStyle piece by writer–filmmaker Ava Duvernay, about the concept that darkness moves faster than light in her new film, A Wrinkle in Time.[1] Though she believes the idea is true, she still maintains that light is stronger than darkness.

Ah ha! Here was a chance for me to see the light. So as the words ‘sexism’, ‘racism’ or both, or plain ole ‘trifling-ism’, floated around in my head like several overactive helium balloons, I remembered the article, reached for it and reread it and, in my negativity, begrudgingly agreed with Duvernay.

Still, no matter how I spun my situation, I had been overlooked, which consequently led to a feeling of marginalization. I could feel the negative energy rushing through my head. Then oddly, I remembered two descriptions of mismanagement of anger from The Marriage Book by Nicky and Sila Lee: the hedgehog and the rhino concepts.[2] Yep, these concepts are exactly like the animals they are named for.

Momentarily, I became a hedgehog, most uncharacteristic of me, and curled up into a prickly ball and threatened to stick anyone who came near me, and in the next moment, my rhino tendencies took over.  And just as I was about to charge, an air steward rushed over with a tablecloth bearing an apology, which actually seemed sincere.

Only then did I call upon my positive strength to ward off the negative energy that was ruining the holiday that hadn’t even begun. Attentively, I listened.

There had been a mix-up. As I was in a middle seat and there was no one to the left of me, each steward had thought the other was taking care of me. It happens, right? Never mind the iPad(s) they walked around with listing all passengers and where they were seated.

So there I was with two paths before me: I could let the darkness hang over the situation, exacerbated by the inflated balloon of thoughts; or I could let light push through.

In a flash, I took a middle ground. Through gritted teeth I accepted the apology, but only after I mentioned how terribly upset and disappointed I had been, and that I hoped it wouldn’t happen again … to anyone. Full stop!

There, I could get back to looking forward to my holiday were it not for the balloons of negative thought. Though somewhat deflated, they were still bobbing in the background. Even after the cabin manager had rendered an apology and came bearing an expensive bottle of wine, followed by yet another apology from another big wig, I couldn’t quash the negative thoughts.

They had to go to make way for the light. But how? Then I had a lightbulb moment: I had to be intentional. End of story. They were my thoughts, mine only, and only I could get rid of them.

So, after some serious reasoning with my subconscious mind, it happened – it was addressed, there was no need to harp on all the –isms because, after all, doing so was going to ruin our holiday, no one else’s, so I had to let it go. The message got through.

That’s when I heard the voices of many happy Minions – you know, the ones that cheer when you win a video game. And then I saw fireworks exploding with beautiful light. So glad I caught it … the light, that is. A happy holiday was ahead.


[1] InStyle, March 2018, Let There Be Light by Ava Duvernay.

[2] The Marriage Book: How To Build A Lasting Relationship by Nicky & Sila Lee (Alpha Resources, 2000).

A Nordic Road Trip: What Were We Thinking?

For years now Paul has teased about taking a Winnebago across North America after retirement. Fat chance, I always retort, that is, if you expect me to come along. I can think of few things worse. Seriously!

Born and bred in the Southern USA, I’ve had enough of extenuating road trips, endless highways stretching from east to west and from north to south, and standard and some substandard roadside parks and rest areas. I’ve long taken to the skies.

Still recently, however, Paul and I drove about 3,500 kilometers (approximately 2,200 miles) around Sweden, Norway and Denmark, after flying to Stockholm, where we hired a trusted Volkswagen Golf for the tour.

What were we thinking? Paul, likely, in true British style had high hopes for more sunshine and less rain, a big desire for wild adventure and an eagerness for plenty of surprise. Not to mention his laid back attitude about our accommodation.

I, on the other hand, longed for above average accommodation, haute cuisine–even if I am darn near intolerant of all things yummy–haute couture and a destination  relatively close to Georgia, USA, preferably with a spot of sunshine.

I know. I know. Distance is all relative, but at least we didn’t head off to India, Africa or on Paul’s much talked about round the world trip. Make no mistake about it, I am game, well at least for the first two, but not now with my mother being seriously ill.

Anyhow in compromise we ventured into lessor known parts of Sweden, unknown and well-known parts of Norway, and hotspots of Denmark.

Having done little or no research for the holiday, unlike us to be honest, we faced plenty of surprises, pleasant ones for the most part. At the last minute, however, I picked up a copy of Lonely Planet, after a necessary trip to my orthodontist in Marylebone. After nearly 10 years, my permanent retainer had broken. With a new one fastened securely, I found myself leafing through the travel guide on my Uber ride home and briefly glanced up to respond to the driver’s curiosity about what I was reading.

Just before then my eyes had feasted on Copenhagen’s Noma, voted the world’s best restaurant for the last three years in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide. Thus, I told him Scandinavia in a rather irritated voice, knowing there was no chance we would get into Noma at such late notice. People reserve for months in advance to get a table there.

‘Don’t go there,’ he said. I closed the book and looked ahead in dismay. His dark eyes searched my face through his rear view mirror. ‘It’s not a good destination for brown people,’ he said, explaining that though he was originally from Iraq, he grew up in Denmark.

Having read earlier on the Internet what the street committee had to say about racism in Scandinavia, long after the tickets were booked albeit, my heart sank to its lowest degree again. What were we thinking?

But then I remembered all the racial matters going on in the world, particularly  in my home country. So I tossed the cynicism out the window and got thinking again about the pending holiday, all the opportunities ahead.

The excitement of exploration opened my mind and pretty much kept it accessible throughout the entire two weeks. Thus, I found the Swedish people youthful and accommodating, with the odd exception here and there, the Norwegian scenery breathtakingly beautiful, save for the few rough spots, and the Danish cuisine, delectable, even if it is over the top expensive, not to mention my refusal to admit to allergies and intolerances. Never mind, it was worth it. And I did a bit of my kind of shopping, too, in both Stockholm and Copenhagen.

In short I am pleased to say we have been there and done that, even though we didn’t get much sunshine or less rain for that matter. Not to mention the less than average accommodation in some spots. Would I do it again? Not a chance in full. It was too much to cram into the short period of time, only affording us one night in most places, albeit this was more than enough in a few cases. The point it is, however, the trip was exhausting, though exhilarating.

Besides, road travel is not my thing, remember. A different option would be to take the trip off the road and do it my way–fly!  Still we not only racked up miles but also awesome memories, too, memories to savour for years to come.

What were we thinking? And what did we discover? Find out more here on sonjalewis.com. Stay tuned.


Expat Takes Off On Flying Holiday

Make no mistake about it I love airplanes. Without them, I would be grounded, likely in the US, instead of the UK. Let’s say I owe my expatriate experience in many ways to the airline industry. I never took to the waters, if you will.

And certainly I owe my visits to the US to see family and friends to planes, not to mention holidays abroad. And I am not the only one indebted to the industry; the tourism industry must be, too.

In 2013, the UK had more than 31 million visitors with London leading the way with 16.8 million of them, an increase of 1.3 million from 2012, when the Olympics were held here.

The rise was the highest recorded number of overseas visitors since records began in 1961.

Presumably, many of these visitors arrived via airplane, though the Eurostar, ships and coaches provide other travel options. But if you are in a hurry, flying is the fastest route. And I almost always am.

Admittedly, however, I find the preparation for flying rather tedious. I do understand it and wouldn’t have it any other way for safety. Still I long for the nonchalant preparation of throwing things in a bag or two willy-nilly and taking off.

Last weekend, Paul and I did just that, joining our English family at a Center Parcs village, sort of a vacation park, which offers short breaks year-around. How very interesting we found it.

Though marketed for families with children, Center Parcs offers something for everyone from outdoor activities such as walking and cycling to indoor sports including swimming and playing tennis and squash. Also, the facility has a spa, plenty of restaurants and a few shops. The accommodation is not bad either. 

Honestly, it’s not a holiday destination that we would take without family but with them, it measured up. I’ll take their Aqua Sana Spa over the chilly rain any day. And most importantly, there was no commotion about packing and travelling. So, I did throw in two bags after all, one for each day.

The next stop, however, calls for flying, with only one-bag to carry on. Argh! Considering that the trip is tomorrow, I’d better get sorting. Otherwise, I’ll be grounded. And I do like flying.