We had a plan when we left Canada. Okay, let’s be honest… I had a plan. From the moment we decided to embark on this adventure, I started planning.
Trevor already had his plan well in hand; his plan was not to make a plan. As much as I found that infuriating at first (WHY AREN’T YOU PLANNING? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO US?!), I have to admit there’s some merit to his roll with the punches and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach.
This past March and April were a flurry of online research and planning on my part. See, I might be a bit of a control freak… stop laughing. Okay, I admit it: I like to think I have control over the things in my life. That’s an easy illusion to maintain, of course, when things are going relatively well for you.
But… things just weren’t going so well this winter. By spring, everything had completely fallen apart (and me with it). So we decided we were going to take a break and get healthy and happy, dammit.
I bought a great ‘Yoga for Women‘ book and scoured YouTube for just the right yoga workouts, saving them so wherever we ended up, I could be sure to strictly adhere to my yoga regimen. Of course, that regimen existed only in my head, you see; I was far too busy worrying and stressing and planning how to get healthy to actually set down the laptop and bust out a downward dog.
I ordered some coconut oil and essential oils from Amazon and made my own skin lotion. I stayed up late researching natural recipes online so I could make my own soap.
I downloaded audio file after audio file of guided meditation… Meditation for Sleep. Meditation to Ease Anxiety. Meditation to Meditate Your Way to Better Meditations. And that classic, F*ck That: An Honest Meditation. (I’d never meditated before, but have heard it’s quite good for quelling rage and inspiring the kind of gooey life changes I was so desperately in search of.)
Finally, Trevor drew the line. “No Miranda, I will not start oil pulling. I’m probably not going to use your nasty homemade coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste, either. Let’s just go and figure it out when we get there.”
It was blasphemy. Does he not want to get healthy and happy? I wondered. Why isn’t he making a PLAN?
Of course, Trevor already knew something I didn’t (I like to think it’s because he’s sooooo much older. Also, I added this after he proofread my draft and fully expect retaliation at some point).
In 2002, he packed a backpack and hopped a plane to Europe with a plan: to circumnavigate Western Europe in 90 days, beginning and ending in Lisbon on a $3,000 budget. He researched hostels along a specific route, planned to buy and cook his own food, and bought a train pass to get him from hostel to hostel.
Unfortunately, Trevor’s arrival coincided with the introduction of the Euro, which caused mass confusion and unfavourable rates everywhere he tried to exchange funds. He discovered that getting from hostel to hostel wasn’t always as simple as he anticipated. Trains sell out. Routes aren’t always available. At times, he was forced to take a sleeper cabin at extra expense just to get a seat. One night in Paris (get your mind out of the gutter), someone walked off with his backpack of clothes, camera and film after a professional distraction routine. In Barcelona, a pickpocket worked his way into Trevor’s pants on the subway and made off with a few more Euros.
Two months into his adventure, his daily budget has sunken to a little less than $10 a day. He tried to switch his flight to get home earlier, but found he’d have to purchase a new, full price ticket. Those first hostels he’d researched? Fuhgeddaboudit. Attempting to find his way to Seville by train, he discovered one day that the line went no further than Algecires, on the Bay of Gibraltar. There, he walked around until he found accommodations in his price range–in this case, some rooms for rent above a seedy bar. Eight rooms per floor shared a grungy 2-pc bathroom (toilet and bathtub; each room boasted a tiny hand sink and springy mattress atop a solid wood frame).
Algecires was an unscheduled pit stop; a disappointment that went on for days as he tried to regroup and get back to his plan. But his plan was shot and had been for weeks. Finally willing to accept that he wasn’t get back on track, Trevor decided to make the best of it. He hopped a bus and headed around the bay to Gibraltar, in what became one of the most memorable aspects of his entire trip.
And so, Trevor returned home that March, flat broke, down 70 pounds, and sorely in need of a haircut. Things obviously hadn’t gone according to plan, but you should see his eyes light up even still when he talks about that epic adventure.
We’ve all had things turn out far differently than we’d planned. In fact, this whole need of ours to hit a giant reset button in a big way was born out of a plan that blew up in our faces in spectacular fashion.
So why in the hell did I think I could plan and micromanage and control our recovery from that?
Force of habit, I guess. But here’s what actually happened:
- I have done yoga exactly one time in two months, and made it about 13 minutes before wanting to die of boredom.
- I still can’t touch my toes, but I can see them! I realized about 3 weeks ago that’s good enough for right now.
- We’re sleeping! ALL NIGHT. 10pm has become a late night for us, and rather than dragging our asses out of bed in just enough time to shower and run off to work, we’re up with the sun and looking forward to each new day.
- We’re both feeling lighter in every way that matters. Whether or not that translates to weight loss is neither here nor there, as we haven’t seen a scale in two months and have no plans to seek one out.
- We discovered that it’s okay to be bored and just sit in it; we’re learning not to feel guilty about “wasting” an afternoon.
In fact, most of this article was written a few days ago in my head while swinging in a hammock, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
See, what I’d actually planned was to stay too busy to deal with my shit.
Too busy to grieve my father and our irreparable relationship. Too busy to dwell on being scammed out of our life savings (you know who you are). Too busy to mourn my lost youth and contemplate the sad state of world affairs and all that other crap that gets us all down. And after my first great, big plan fell apart here in Nicaragua… well, life piped up again and said, “Cool it, sister! You’re not running this show.”
So here we sit in a beautiful tiled courtyard in downtown León, Nicaragua, watching the world go by. This wasn’t part of the plan, either, but here we are. And you know what? I believe in the benefits of yoga and especially meditation (you really can retrain your brain, it’s true), but was silly to think I could force myself into it. Some letting go needed to happen first. Now that we’re sleeping and eating right, maybe I’ll give it another shot… tomorrow.