I haven’t posted lately because I was on vacation. With llamas. And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!
But it got me thinking about our vacations, and what we want from them, and how I think I prefer the British “holidays,” i.e. Holy Days. I know we all look forward to a break – From work, from our daily routine, from our busy schedules. But what changes other than the scenery? Are we still checking our email, still over-scheduling, still living out our daily lives, just at the beach, or in the mountains, or trading work stress for family dynamics stress? How often do we stop to consider what might nourish our souls, renew our spirits, return us to our center? Vacations filled with movies, shopping, checklists of sights seen, more tv and drinking than we can get away with at home – That’s a nice break, but doesn’t get us ready to head back into the fray.
So what does? Here’s what the llamas and our guide Stuart Wilde (I know, great last name!) taught me about going on “Holy Day” versus “Vacating:”
1. Time outside. Stuart quoted research suggesting a correlation between time spent outside and happiness – The more time outside, the happier. Although I haven’t checked into it yet, I know there has to be something magnificent going on in our brains when we step outside, into the elements. The more we are outside, the more we are reminded how small, yet how connected, we are with all creation.
2. Moving these bodies of ours. But slowly. So in 24 hours I climbed from sea level to 11,400 feet for this view: Then the next day, after recovering from altitude sickness – which is a real thing, people! Not pleasant, and definitely humbling – hiking – again SLOWLY – to this view at 12,600ft:
We all know that exercise is good for us – Releases endorphins, eases stress, lifts depression. But this wasn’t that kind of “I better go for a run because it’s good for me” exercise. No, this was the amazement at how my body can carry me, my muscles working with the ground, my lungs with the (thin) air, all my senses drinking in the outdoors.
3. Relationships, flooding me with oxytocin. And I don’t mean just with other people. So this trek required we care for our own individual llama. Mine was named Apollo, and as Stuart, aka llama whisperer said, Apollo was a little slow, a little out of shape, still carrying around the winter 50lbs. And I was on the other end of the llama leash. And I had to get to know Apollo, his quirks, his desire to go slow and stop often, his incredible patience with modeling headgear for the teens’ endless selfless:
And as Stuart warned us, within 15 minutes of meeting our llama, in spite of the randomness of pairings, each of us were attached to OUR llama. Just like petting a dog slows our heart rate, and lowers our stress response and blood pressure and all those other great reasons dogs visit nursing homes, same with the llamas.
Now, I know most people are not going to ever get to trek with llamas. Heck, I don’t know if I’ll ever trek with llamas myself. But this experience sure taught me what to look for in my “holy days:” Get outside. Get moving. Love and get loved (human or animal counts.)
How can you turn your “vacate” this summer into “holy day?”
And if you want to trek with llamas, check out this website:
Here is the company: http://www.llamaadventures.com