The Highlands

Three years ago, I wrote a note and buried it in the middle of a stone circle, beneath a rock at the center. The circle wasn’t made of tall standing stones the British Isles are known for, but smaller ones, easily carried and moved. But the circle was special and the land was special and I promised to return.

And so I did. I made my way back to the Scottish Highlands.

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I don’t know entirely why I’m homesick for a place that I’ve never lived. But it calls to me, even now when there are too many months between now and when I next return.

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Somehow, the Highlands have bewitched me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Sometimes You Just Want to Run Away

…and go somewhere incredible old, someplace ancient where the magic is thick, where you can feel the tide of emotions from long ago.

You want to tumble through the door into another world, peer around the veil, move the curtain just for a moment so you can remember that there is so much more. We are part of such a grand symphony that is evolving, crescendoing, flowing. We forget sometimes, so focused on the instrument we hold in our hands, its physical properties, the sound it makes. We worry about the mistakes we may make as we play and forget to hear the whole piece of music, forget how we can transform sound into emotion into something that vibrates on.

I’m daydreaming about running away today, to an old stone circle on an island in Scotland, to a faraway ancient temple that’s nearly forgotten, to a long stretch of shoreline where there is nothing but the wind, the crash of the waves, and the smell of salt water. I need to imprint the symphony so I don’t forget anymore.

Where are you daydreaming about adventuring to?

(Photograph taken by Beth Moon, from Portraits of Time, her collection of ancient trees around the world)

My New Definition of “Success”

I had fully intended to blog while I was away. Fully.

But there were adventures to be had and out-of-the-way boulangeries and macaron shops to be found, let’s just be honest.

One of the reasons I truly love what I do is because it allows me to be so flexible in location. I can live almost anywhere and work from anywhere. So when the opportunity to spend time in Paris came up, I reminded myself that this is why I started my own business, to have little adventures and work in someplace new.

We live in a time when “success” is being redefined, when we have the opportunity as individuals to decide what that means for us.

I had the secure job with good benefits and two weeks vacation per year. I had a salary that many would envy. But nothing about what I was doing felt fulfilling. I felt trapped by the security I had been encouraged to chase.

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Starting my own business wasn’t easy and I don’t get a clear two weeks completely off. But I feel more successful than ever before, for three key reasons:

  1. I am completely in control of my schedule, my income, my clients, and my work. I lighten my load when I need to, I take unexpected moments to myself during the weekdays, I choose projects with clients who I believe in and want to support.
  2. I can literally work from anywhere. So maybe that “vacation” in Paris wasn’t completely a vacation, but I saw the city as a tourist and as a freelancer, and that made it special for me.
  3. I can be there for my family and friends. And be there for myself too.

This feels like freedom to me. This feels like success.

I’m still not precisely where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there, and I’m learning insane amounts along the way.

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Why I’m Never Taking Another Vacation

Growing up, family vacations generally fell into two main categories: beach vacations and Orlando, Florida. For a long time, I thought those were the only kind of vacations people took.

Relaxation

The beach was always my mother’s thing. She loved the sound of long lazy days near the surf and sand, exploring the area here and there, but mainly just “relaxing”. The beach provided the escape she needed from her regular routine, and for me and my brother, it meant extra time with our father, who often worked 60+ hour weeks to provide for his family. There was an imbalance I saw, all the work and the little vacation time to relax.

Blame it on my living in large cities or the fact that I’m my father’s daughter, but I’m¬†doer. I’m always moving, working, trying to create. I don’t want to sit and try to relax for days on end. But more importantly, I don’t want those few days to be the only time to relax.

Relaxation is becoming a daily practice for me. It comes in time at the gym, reading, writing, meditation… When it’s warm, I hike, and whenever I can, I go to the archery range and shoot. (Combining archery and hiking? Now that’s the best.)

Excitement

Orlando, on the other hand, was the epitome of an exciting vacation when I was a child. The lights, the rides, the constant chaos of people moving about the parks and waiting in queues — it was easy to enjoy it all. As I got older, Orlando became Vegas or Atlantic City (mainly based upon the wishes of ex-boyfriends).

But as time passed, I found myself bored. I didn’t find sitting for hours,¬†pulling the handle of a slot machine, and hoping I strike it big thrilling. And even though I still very much enjoy a good wooden roller coaster, it’s somehow not the same.

Excitement had changed entirely for me.

Nourishment

Vacations changed again. This time, they were more about pampering myself with a massage or eating at an upscale restaurant. I wanted to indulged a little bit, and I wanted to nourish myself a lot.

We all need time away from our daily lives, to see the world again, to see ourselves again, but I’ve used — and seen other people use — vacations as an excuse to nourish ourselves or even just finally take time we need for ourselves. We should’t need an excuse. We should take that time now. Nourish now. Relax now. And find excitement in every day.

Me

I’ve learned that I need to add relaxation, excitement, and nourishment into my daily life, not just “vacation time”. I’m by no means perfect at it. Sometimes a whole week goes by before I realize I’ve spend nearly 12+ hours each day working. But I’m getting better at it and making little steps. Sometimes, it’s as simple as making sure I go to the gym in the morning and trying out a new cafe in the afternoon. But those small things make a signifiant difference in how I feel about my life.

As for vacation time, I’m going to redefine it.

I want to travel and adventure. I want to laugh with strangers in places I’ve never been before. I want to wander streets and lose my way, discover little galleries and restaurants and bakeries. I want the sky at night to be filled with strange stars and spices in the air. I want to fall in love with cities and towns and places that have lost their names.

This is where I feel alive.

So I’ve decided I will never take another vacation. From here on out, I’m taking time for myself every day. From here on out, there’s nothing but adventures and journeys, wherever they should take me.

So what will you do to nourish yourself today? And what adventure will be your next?

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.