Saturday, March 9, 2013
Savouring my Saturday: what I learnt about self-care
Last weekend, I spent the best part of two days and two nights savouring the offerings of Laurie Anderson as part of the Adelaide Festival.
In many respects, the trip went smoothly. The flights were [almost] on time and the airport experience was practically flawless (a rarity when it comes to Australian domestic travel, believe me!). I met so many people -- service providers, fellow theatre goers, random strangers -- who felt like guardian angels, providing me with assistance, comfort, support and cheer exactly when I needed them.
My stumbles, however, included a serious miscalculation when it came to accommodation. My first night was the busiest Saturday night of the year in Adelaide, as it included a motor racing event as well as the arts festival, plus another competitive sports event, the nature of which I've forgotten. By the time I came to book, there was only one place left in the whole of the city.
I knew this particular motel would be a distance from the city, and was happy to work around that. It was relatively inexpensive and I figured it was only a place to sleep.
What I did not expect -- and what I soon discovered -- was that it was unclean. Despite assurances it was a non-smoking room, the room was redolent of cigarette smoke. Being an asthmatic, it made for a very bad night indeed. The room, the layout of the motel, the noise levels from outside, the appearance of some of the other patrons, and the motel's location also made me feel (for the first time in almost 20 years of solo international travel) unsafe.
That night, while mesmerised and transported by Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet, I tried to block out panicked images of someone breaking into my dodgy motel room while I slept. Confession: I actually slept with a chair wedged under the door knob.
After a terrible night of tossing and turning and reaching for my asthma pump, I took a chance the next morning and found somewhere else to stay. I was lucky! There was a vacancy. There was a room available there and then, even though it was only 10am. The rate was higher than I'd usually pay (and I'd already paid for two nights in advance at the other motel) but I did have the funds to cover it.
I jumped in a cab, threw my stuff in my suitcase, checked out of the old place with a hurried explanation, drove back to the city. I checked in to my new room, hung up my smoke-sodden clothes, showered and washed my smoke-stinking hair.
Then I sat and reflected. This new room was clean. It was actually a little plush. It was quiet. It had airconditioning. The hotel was in a familiar place (I used to stay at this particular hotel back in the day when I was a business traveller, I even recognised the concierge) and in a great location. In fact, it was right opposite the theatre I'd be attending that night.
I felt safe.
I grabbed my journal and scribbled down all the things that I realised I needed to enjoy a holiday:
* good planning (for smooth sailing) and surrender (when smooth sailing is out of my control)
* personal/physical safety
* the chance to have a decent sleep
* elegant surroundings, maybe even pampering (non-negotiable: cleanliness)
* beauty, adventure, transcendent experience (theatre, galleries, street art, great food, good coffee)
* feeling good in my skin and in my clothes
* a camera, a journal, my tarot deck
* a reasonable/temperate climate (inside more than outside!)
* enough funds for contingencies and maybe even spoiling myself too
* kind strangers with fascinating stories
* great location, the chance to walk a lot but also to incorporate rest times
* friendly, helpful, respectful service providers
* no pressure to constantly "do" and the freedom to "do" (or not) as I like
This made me realise something. Actually, quite a few things.
One being: I am long past my backpacking days. A place to stay is never just a place to sleep anymore. My younger self would not have been at all phased by last Saturday night's events. My current self was thrown into wave upon wave of total panic. This completely detracted from my capacity to enjoy this precious time.
Another being: it's not just when I am travelling that I need these things.
And for that realisation -- and the chance to ponder how I might honour and incorporate more of these things into my day-to-day life at home -- I am truly grateful.
As always, I am linking up with my dear friend Maxabella and her brilliant 52 weeks of grateful project. You really should get in amongst it: it'll hone your vision during the week for all the things you're grateful for; and you'll meet some totally gorgeous kindred spirits along the way. Promise!