I used to be one of those people who, when it was time for vacation, found myself over packing and overloading my suitcase with tons of stuff that I was sure I was going to need for my trip. I'd pull and lift, roll and drag way too much stuff with me whenever I'd travel. Truth is, I had a lot of baggage. Instead of heading off to vacation with room for a future adventure, I was carrying way too much of the past with me. I guess I was stuck in thinking I needed what was familiar and comforting. Then I heard this great little story that changed all that.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and had a wonderful day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "Hmm," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and had a fantastic day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a ponytail." So she did and had a really great day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YEA!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"
This wonderful story reminded me that each day new challenges and adventures come our way. To be really happy, we have to adapt, roll with the changes and embrace the adventure instead of clinging to old ways of living and to the past. This little story makes one point really clear—attitude is everything! When you begin to realize that attitude is a powerful tool, it can change your life for the better, forever.
Armed with this new sense of freedom and attitude and tired of dragging all my old stuff with me, I decided to start my vacation in Maine last summer with just the basics. I threw a few shirts and skirts and a great pair of shoes in a bag and set out on my way. I elected to pick up things that I really loved all along the journey. While on vacation, I drifted in and out of antique stores, junk shops and yard sales. I picked up little things that caught my eye—forgotten buttons, scraps of fabric, old sheet music and charms that had long ago fallen off their bracelets. As I strolled on the beach, I felt lucky to find broken pieces of painted china, small pieces of driftwood and worn sea glass in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. At sunset, I poured myself a glass of wine, toasted the day's end and began tinkering with the loot I'd collected.
I found a long piece of twine in the house we rented. I think its original use was to tie up the newspapers for recycling, but I had other designs on it. In my cosmetic case, I found a sewing kit from a hotel. As the natural light of day faded, I began stitching the bits and pieces of my day's journey onto the twine until my eyes got tired and the rumbling of my tummy called for dinner. Every evening, I added a few more treasures to the twine. At the end of the week's vacation, I tied a knot in the now highly decorated cord and slipped it over my neck as I headed to the car for the drive home. Whenever I wear my creation, I am instantly transported to the feelings of rest and relaxation and the memory of a time I cherished.
I like to keep a travel journal on vacation, but because I did not bring a book with me, I started searching for one along the way. I went to the local library where they were hosting their summer book sale, and for 50 cents I bought a brightly covered, red, hardbound book that became the canvas for my travel journal. I added pages simply by stapling blank ones in among the typed ones, glued in pictures of places we'd gone, recorded the most wonderful things we ate for lunch and dinner, drew pictures of the houses along the beach and filled the book with little pieces of what turned out to be a big adventure.
I've learned that you don't need to take lots of stuff with you when you travel—it's best to travel light and take in the new experiences. Use anything you find to document your trip and make a journal. Guide books, menus and old books all make for great journals. I met a woman the other day who writes on her boarding passes from the plane. She has saved a box full, and they share the story of her life's journey. You too can fill your journal with thoughts for the day, poems you discover, a list of things you found beautiful in the day and anything and everything that touches your heart.
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013