Tag: travel

Finding Opportunities During Down Time

The timing never seems quite right to be out of action for one reason or another. At least not for me. Famous last words before the storm, right.

“Not now! I cannot afford to be sick… I’ll take a break after the this or that is over.”

Barring a sudden accident such as a broken leg, a torn ligament, a virus, etc…, which puts you out of commission whether you like it or not, often times you can limp through the storm, if you are anything like me. But is limping really developing your full potential? Like the time when shingles hit in between trips to the US to take care of my father. I remember saying to my GP, “I cannot deal with this now. My dad has a major surgery in just under two weeks and I have to go there.“

Calmly, he wrote out the prescription for a medicine that would leave me as high as a kite and faced his computer and began searching his calendar until he came to an appointment just before my air travel. “I will see you back here then,” he said. “And if you are fit to travel, off you go, and if not, someone else will have to step in.”

In a daze, I stumbled out of his office and made my way to a nearby coffee shop and did what came most natural—ordered a croissant and a coffee and commenced to ponder the matter. Never mind that I already knew that I had somewhat of a gluten intolerance. But as I tried to calm the noise in my head, I had a light bulb moment, something to do with taking a little more responsibility for the situation, reflecting on how I arrived in the tight spot in the first place, how I was going to get out of it and also, what I might do while in it to develop personally.

Upon reflection, I can see that my mind ran to the safety of personal development for answers, even if I didn’t understand fully what was happening. Suddenly, I realised that the food I was eating wasn’t necessarily helpful for the situation nor was the anxiety that I was courting and joining ranks with. What could I do to avoid such a crisis moving forward and if even if I couldn’t avoid it, how could I manage the situation to serve me, to get better, instead of staying in a dark or corner or causing further harm?

In this particular situation, I was able to keep moving as I wasn’t house bound or bedridden, though I was trapped in my mind and possibly in London, but I have had my moments of physical limitations, too. And upon reflection I’ve found that looking for the opportunity to grow personally while healing is a game changer. Doing so means coming back to the game, whatever it is, stronger and better. Here are some tips that have helped me:


1) Start the day on a positive note with some form of meditation. For me, that means a prayer. For others it might mean a session of mindfulness or full meditation.
2) Keep it moving physically. If you are able to walk, have a short walk. If not, find a way to do exercise from right where you are.
3) Eat foods that serve your body, not ones that are going to depress the mind and the body further. As Robyn Spens points out in our latest podcast, On Personal Development, go for whole foods. As much as I love croissants, the difference in my mental and physical capacity is amazing when I pass on them, any gluten.
4) Reflect upon personal goals. If you are on track, that is amazing! Look at ways to stay on track. If you are not, ask questions, loads of them. What are the hindrances? In the case with the bout of the shingles, I was so stressed that I was driven beyond what my body could do. I had to put the matter into perspective and then remembered a quote from a personal development trainer of sorts that I met early on in New York. “You can do anything you want but not everything at the same time.”
5) Take up a new activity. Ever fancied learning to draw or even knitting. Such activities require quieting the left side of the brain, the chatter box, and just letting things flow naturally.
6) Catch up on your reading and your UIO podcasts. Stretch the mind, use the imagination to live beyond your sick bed.
7) Write it all down. I highly recommend keeping a journal as many of the guests from our UIO podcasts suggest. Doing so gets your thoughts down and also teaches you loads about yourself.


When all is said and done, if you do these things and others that are healthy to healing, there will be less time for worrying about missing out on the game and keeping up with social media, for example. Sure, the odd moment or two to stay connected to the world is important but the most important thing is reconnecting to self and working on developing your full potential in the space you are in. And if that is on your sick bed, go for it and get well soon.

I did—the trip to the US was far more rewarding for both me and my father.

Travelling To Make And Celebrate History

School years do whiz by and all the while talk about the future runs rampant—whether to go onto university, take a gap year, do an internship and so on. All good stuff. Still I firmly believe living in the moment is key, too.

This got me thinking about how to make experiences of today beneficial tomorrow and immediately, the topics of travelling and history came to mind, two concepts that are indelibly linked.

While travelling often feels like a light topic, something for fun, perhaps for a gap year and so on, history is a heavy one, recording the good, the bad and the indifferent. It is a topic that some love while in school, others find it hard to come to grips with. I have always fallen somewhere in between, a curiosity to know as much about the past as I could, quickly followed by a sense of information overload. Enough already, so there went my A’s.

However, as I got older and honed my research skills, my brain developed more of a tolerance for history—the more I knew, the more I wanted to know. And then I started travelling. And the rest is, well, history.

While I wanted to have a fun holiday or a good work experience, don’t misunderstand me, I immediately saw the benefits of getting to know a new culture, seeing life through the lenses of the locals, learning about their trials and tribulations, the things that shaped them, fashioned their history.

Post Master in traditional dress

My first memorable experience of doing so was co-leading a group of students to the Philippines on what we called a work camp many years ago on behalf of my then employer Habitat for Humanity International.  Quickly, I learned the difference between living on the surface of an experience and delving into it.

Admittedly, I had never felt so far from my comfort zone that I wanted to run for the hills or rather for the city, the creature comforts, except for one night when I couldn’t bear to sleep outside all night on the grounds of a mall. Pathetic, if I must say so myself. But while I could leave my tent unpitched in Albany, Ga, I couldn’t do that in the Philippines and I am glad I couldn’t. It was the beginning of a raised consciousness, which instantly made me a more compassionate, more open-minded, more grateful person. In short, I became a better person and thankfully that betterment has continued.

All I was asked to do was live a certain way for a couple of weeks if that—no electricity, no running water, sleeping under mosquito nets, etc., when much of the world’s population has no choice but to live this way indefinitely.

Sounds like a bit of reality TV, doesn’t it? But it was and still is the real deal for many. Admittedly, I hoarded a lot of guilt to begin with, as if I had somehow contributed to the situation, but over time I have learned to turn that guilt into positive action in my thinking, my giving, my doing and not just when I travel.

But particularly when I travel, which I do quite a bit of nowadays, I make an effort to get to know the people. Make no mistake about it, I still don’t do camping and therefore cannot recommend it, but what I do, as I did in Sri Lanka, is to try to dine with the locals when possible, talk with them, contribute to the economy, represent humanity as decently as I can, learn something about their joys, their sorrows, their pains, their pleasures, share in them as and when appropriate, and it not only makes my holiday richer, but it has a bearing on my life experience—on theirs, on history.








A Taste Of Travel For Teens

Nothing like travel to get us moving, thinking, living. And summertime is the perfect backdrop for it for anyone but especially for teens. With many schools already out for summer in the US and those in the UK letting out soon, teens are on the move and rightly so.

During this crucial time in their lives, there is nothing like travel to get them intuitively growing. But there is one suggestion to really spark this growth, let them leave home without you. Really! Yes, read more in my latest Huffington Post blog.

Roll on summertime for a taste of travel for teens.


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.