First a Thank You
To Christine Kane who’s blog posts often inspire me and this post is very close to a recent post she made. I will provide a link at the end.
Downsizing a Booked Vacation into a Real Vacation
I would say I spend more time counselling people into a vacation than actually guiding them through a vacation.
For many people around the world Ireland is seen as a place of magic and an escape into fantasy, that can include catching up with the ol’ ancestors. For some reason this cannot be done without months of “research” and compiling a list of at least 100 things to see and do within seven days.
To quote Christine Kane, “As adults like to think we’re rational beings. And as rational beings, here’s how we think it should go ..” and I’ll put this into the context of vacation requests I receive
Folks inquiring usually have a vision of arriving in Ireland from from North America, Japan, Australia, far away, to do a bit of touring on arrival, have a nice afternoon shower, rest a bit before dinner, then go and meet a few locals at the pub, and have a Guinness in Ireland …
……. so I become the delighted end receiver of itineraries from inquiring potential clients with requests such as
“We arrive in Shannon Airport at 9:00 am and would like to visit the Burren in the morning and Connemara in the afternoon. Do you think its possible for us to slip over to one of the Aran Isles for lunch? By the way, we would like to eat dinner early so we can go down to the pub and enjoy some local banter and Irish music.”
There is an underlying thought that a change is as good as a rest.
There is an assumption and pre-arrival thrill of being able to arrive in Ireland, see a bit of its landscape, have a lovely meal of traditional Irish food, followed by some social time with a few folk “to learn about the country”, then finish with a restful worry free sleep. Because this is vacation time it is expected to feel refreshed and be able to do it all again the next day, the day after and each day through the vacation. Its vacation, and we are “supposed” to be different, feel different, be different and be gifted with more energy and life than during the rest of the year. This is what we have been waiting for. This is the way “it has to be”.
What actually happens?
Vacations are not a luxury and should never be thought of as such. Its also not about “deserving” a vacation, and even feeling guilty when you are on one. Humans, at least, with their unique creative minds and spirit, need vacations as much as we need air, food and sleep.
Instead, as Christine Kane says “Some of us can enter our vacations kicking and screaming inside, wreaking all kinds of havoc in our own heads, convincing ourselves that we don’t need sleep! We need to stay busy! In fact, our minds often go even faster once they figure out we’re trying to relax and that there’s pressure to do it within a week!”
I don’t really need to explain what Christine is saying there as I think most people can interpret themselves on vacation through those words.
I always advise people that their first three days in Ireland should not be about “working” their itinerary right from the 9:00 am plane touch down. For a start it can take up to 30 mins, sometimes more, for the aeroplane to taxi to the dock, open the cabin door and let everyone pour out. Will the plan be on time? Early? Late? Add to that waiting in line to pass through immigration, picking up baggage, maybe customs check.
Then its those phone calls and emails to respond to the things you thought of coming over on the plane, which then leads onto wondering how to make phone calls, then its the realisation Ireland does not trade in your own currency so its off to the atm to get to for cash, maybe then to a pharmacy to translate your medical needs, then onto getting some waterproof shoes that you were advised to get in advance but was sure sandals or your bright white tennis shoes would work just as well, and maybe you’ll need to buy a sweater to cover all those short sleeve shirts you brought with you.
How can you overcome your “dream” of vacation suddenly turning into an inner tantrum when you find your carefully “researched” planned itinerary has fallen apart from the moment of plane touched down in Ireland, especially if touchdown time is different to “what you planned”?
As Christine Kane says, “I quietly give myself permission to have three full days for my bitchy self to throw her mini-tantrums, make her judgements, criticise, attack, and yammer on and on. I do not resist. Nor do I tell her to shut up. I simply know she’s fighting her nap. (like a baby resisting going to sleep when tired)”
During your first three days of vacation
It does not matter if you are a planning, organising, multi-tasking guru woman or an ambitious goal driven time management guru man if you give yourself permission to have inner tantrums because your Ireland vacation expectations and itinerary did not follow as carefully planned …. something wonderful will happen.
It may well happen on day two.
On the first day, most folks are surprised how tired and exhausted they are when they arrive, but fast switch into denial mode raises adrenalin level and “the itinerary must go on!”.
I notice that if I publicly review publicly shared itineraries on travel forums, such as Frommers and Trip Advisor, and suggest a first day of light itinerary that focuses on rest, a good meal and bed, the forum is usually quickly filled with testimonials opposing this idea. Folks are fairly eager to “brag” about what they did on their first day in Ireland, but if you read between the lines their first day was a regime to keep awake and not start a vacation. Sometimes this is obvious as the posting will include remarks such as “I found that if I kept walking I was ok, rather than take a tour.” Should your vacation be about denial and then suffering?
If folks join our vacation services for their first two days and nights remarkable things can happen on day two.
We have a labyrinth garden designed for a “ritual” of transformation from your “working” self to “vacation” self.
Folks who follow this have gone to pick up their rented car on their third day and had a fuller vacation than if they mentally tried to avoid this first 2 day, maybe 3 day, inner tantrum.
At least, the would have re-visited their “researched” and “planned” itinerary and made some changes to enable more nights at same places and more vacational personal transformation experience rather than travelling more miles.
At best, they would say “we are just going to stay here and have a real vacation” and actually have more of an Ireland experience than constantly travel.
What happens if you travel around Ireland?
You’ll probably go to the “hot spots”, the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, Blarney Stone etc.?
Who will you meet?
Possibly your next door neighbour, at at least lots of other folks from your country and even your home town. Most Irish people you will meet will be planted there to serve you as “their job” and not as living Irish people.
The best thing you can do in Ireland is meet Irish people as they love to mix with people from all over the world.
The Magic of Day Two
I think we have worked out this one rather well :-)
I have tried combinations of the same things on the same day, but this one I truly enjoy sharing.
We have a labyrinth garden, not on a traditional design, but one I have designed myself inspired by the mating dance of seabirds, the creation of the ogham language from tree wisdom, the four cities of instruction that appear in ancient legends, the trinity pathway of life within mythologies around the world, and a centre of sanctuary which I believe is self explaining but if not I think our churches, temples, synagogues etc. serve these well too.
Most important is that it is mirror symmetrical, two almost identical halfs but mirror imaged, just like any cell in our body.
Our labyrinth is wonderful for a “ritual” of leaving behind your “working” life and entering your “vacation” life. A great way to start the day. I then point out Morrigan in our landscape and talk a little about this. The best part of our labyrinth is that it is designed to take your mind off of any thoughts, rituals, planned prayers. There is often so much going on with smells, colours, touch, birds, insects flying and scurrying around, maybe a frog jumping or a hare running. We want you to be distracted, always in the present, always in the moment.
After that makes a great time for bathroom break. Not planned, just happens :-)
From our Two Worlds Labyrinth its usually off the Ceis Coarran mountain, “the woman of the rowan carrying life, i.e Morrigan”. Just seeing her imagery from the labyrinth sparks enthusiasm to see more closer and to share more. This is a wonderful introduction to the role of story in our life’s learning.
Then its off along a network of windy roads, mainly to show that if you really want to discover Ireland these are the roads for you and they are safe, if not safer, than regular main roads. Our destination is Carrowkeel Cairns, about 10 minutes away.
Scenically, Carrowkeel Cairns is spectacular with up to half of Ireland visible on its clearest days. However, that is not our main intent. though your interpretation is.
It is here, within these 5500 ancient passage cairns we are offered the experience of eliminating our dependence on time and space, and show how time and space, both human inventions, are resistors on the flow of love. We offer the experience of going back in ancestry to the point of creation and back again and realising this is done without any reference to time and space, and we feel a glow. Is this love?
So we test this.
We visit the nearby donkey sanctuary a bit below the mountain where we mingle with and hug the retired donkeys, well over 40 of them now. How can we fail to love these animals. What folks do not realise until we leave is that they visited and mingled with these animals without fear.
So its back to our thatched cottage for, where possible, a session of songs and harp from Claire Roche, who’s style and presence comes from the tradition of the near eastern deravids, where our word druid and probably the Biblical stories of David came from. Claire did not intend or interpret this. I did. If she had then I believe her presence would be false and pre-determined.
Overall, her performance is a completion and revelation of the day. Your vacation will have begun.
At this point, several visitors begin their journals before or just after dinner that include some outstanding prose, poetry, songs, and sometimes sketches that they just would not do at home or set aside time to do at home. Again, this shows vacation and transformation has begun.
Again, taking a snippet from Christine Kane’s article …
“Then, more moments with more sandpipers and sea glass and angles of sunlight will happen, capturing me in their beauty and timelessness. Eventually, the bitchy nervous self will feel her eyes droop closed, and she won’t fight it. Her eyes stay closed, and my vacation becomes transformative.”
Thanks again, Christine, for inspiring me to write the above in reference to what we do.