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Purposeful Wandering

This time last week, I was resting in a cabin near Hocking Hills State Park -- blissful as the sun rose and warmed the beautiful orange and yellow leaves that I could see from the window.

Hot cider, spotty internet and zero cell phone service were exactly what I needed for those magnificent 48 hours.

Hocking Hills is just an hour's distance from home, but it felt much further than that in my heart and mind.

From time to time, I need that space. Daily routines are comforting. Grounding, even. Yet, getting away from "it all" is critical for me. I have to shake things up on a regular basis. My favorite way of doing so is by traveling.

I love art, but I wouldn't call myself an artist. I love singing, but I don't claim to be a singer. These are two traditional conceptions of creativity -- visual- and performance-based expression. I happen to feel the most creative when I am planning a trip. I may not be a "crafter" per se, but I can craft the hell out of an itinerary, and I love it! I get such a rush of excitement while planning an excursion, researching things to do and places to visit, and foods to try. Once there, I am intentional about choosing to live in the moment. I soak up every ray of sunshine -- every second of pure, glorious laziness. I feel like I am on top of the world. If I am traveling with loved ones, I express my expectations more forthrightly than I do on a daily basis: "I am here to have a good time. Negativity, judgment and bad attitudes stay right here in Columbus. Now, let's pray for traveling mercies!" Overall, traveling is everything for me. Luckily, thanks to my parents, I have been able to do so since I was little.

Over the summer, I shared how my interest in gardening started out as an effort to dig into my Environmental Wellness, but I learned along the way that all nine dimensions are wellness are boosted when I am planting, tending and harvesting produce and flowers in the community greenspace at the end of my block.

Travel has a similar effect, as delineated below. In addition to Creative Wellness, I am rejuvenated by:

  • Spiritual Wellness: I've been to four out of the seven continents and one thing that I have been able to do is connect with my fellow humans. This may sound better suited for Social Wellness, but God always comes to mind when relationships randomly manifest. It is an instant reminder that beyond different languages and hues of skin, we are fundamentally the same. Our lives are interconnected and that is important to embrace as a spiritual revelation. If more people had experiences outside of their comfort zones, there would have to be less fear and hate. The world seems so big, but when you travel, you realize how small it really is. While in a bar in Geneva, Switzerland, I met a guy who was from Ohio and it turned out that we had several mutual friends. I was taking a cooking class in Beijing, China and one of the other students was not only from St. Louis, where I once lived, but her sixth grade social studies teacher was my first manager out of law school! The world is small. Our lives are intertwined. Travel offers refreshing reminders of this truth. 
  • Emotional Wellness: Whether it's a long road trip, a two-hour flight or a rainy day on a cruise ship, travel creates time for me to be alone with my thoughts. I wake up and go to sleep steeped in gratitude. It is a privilege to be able to travel. Honoring each and every opportunity is important.
  • Physical Wellness: I try to walk as much as possible when I am in a different location. I believe you see an area best and get to know people more when strolling slowly. I also walk a lot because I eat and drink foods that I wouldn't normally indulge in back home, so it helps balance out the calories :-) 
  • Career Wellness: A lot of what I contemplate while I am traveling is what I want out of my future. Escaping from daily life gives me the chance to sort through my interests, check-in with my level of gratification at work and review core materials like resumes and online profiles to catch up and add details. I also like to participate in conferences that are in different cities because I get to explore a new place with likeminded people and hearing from inspiring keynote speakers.
  • Financial Wellness: I shared in the Mahogany Manifesto Instagram Story that I am a travel-by-loyalty-points devotee. That is part of the fun of planning. How can I have an amazing vacation for the least money? At the end of the day, escapes don't have to be expensive. Cobbling together deals and having a great, relaxing time combine for a fabulous reward.
  • Social Wellness: Travel helps me balance my need for time with others and time with just myself. In recent years, I have made it a tradition to take at least one Me-cation. I go to a place that *I* want to visit and do what *I* want to do. For a long time I was hesitant to travel because I was afraid of being judged. I didn't want to propose certain destinations that weren't popular with the masses. I didn't want to be responsible for the outcome of a trip if everything went wrong. Then one day, I gave myself permission to break free and travel alone. I've been to France, Brazil, China and several states by myself. It is empowering. So, as much as I love group travel, I need the time away all alone to re-center and nurture my own interests. 
  • Intellectual Wellness: Travel is a source of learning all by itself. I make a point to research the destination in advance and visit cultural sights. In addition, I often set a goal for myself of finishing a book that I have been wading through and/or starting a new one. I even pay more attention to plaques and signs when I'm on vacation. I want to soak up new everything, so I slow down to be able to do so.
  • Environmental Wellness: Back to my Hocking Hills trip -- one of the main reasons we chose this destination is because of the natural beauty of this region. Embracing nature as a focal point while traveling is new for me. I started carving out time for hikes and park visits back in 2018 when I went to Las Vegas with my mother and son for the millionth time, but had never been to a national park out west. What a shame to be a short drive from the Grand Canyon and miss the chance to go! So we went and had a picnic on the grounds. Now, I'm hooked. 

As you can see, I get really excited about travel :-)

Reflecting on how one activity enhances your life is an important wellness exercise.

What's your go-to source for creative rejuvenation?

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