why we travelTraditions Become Stale

This Christmas Eve, Santa has arrived in the Houston airport, buzzing around on a golf cart appropriately adorned for the festive day. We—my husband, our daughter and son, and I—are there, bags packed and ready to fly. We’ve completed the rounds of extended-family Christmas dinners and gift exchanges and are embarking on a journey I have always wanted to take: We are leaving town for Christmas, joyously skipping out on some of the holiday traditions that frankly feel way more exhausting than fulfilling.

Our daughter, taking what might be her last significant break as a full-time graduate student, suggested that we travel to shake things up. I was elated, but it took some convincing for my husband to jump on board, and our son was initially pretty annoyed as well. Thankfully, everyone came around. While the upcoming trip made it challenging to schedule our annual Christmas party, which we’ve been holding for over 20 years with some dear friends, we managed to do it early. No one even noticed that we didn’t have a Christmas tree.

Travel for New Experiences

Taking a break, a pause from traditions that have become stale and unsatisfying, gives us the opportunity to breathe new meaning and purpose into the rituals within our lives. Occasionally letting go of well-kept traditions and throwing caution to the wind with wild abandon can allow us to gather up that delicious inner phosphorescence that keeps our lives sparkling with vividness and adventure.

A visit to Guatemala’s indigenous Mayan people of Lake Atitlan, which is about an hour-and-a-half from Antigua, is just the kind of adventure we’ere looking for. I’d read an article in the New York Times this past summer about Markus and Laura of Magic Carpet Rides, and after tracking them down, they placed us with a Mayan family in San Juan La Laguna. One goal for this trip: our daughter and I plan to study the relationship between Mayan arts and spirituality with our host family.

Travel to Reflect and Grow

As we reach the end of 2010, take a few moments to remember with gratitude all of the goodness of your year and note any areas in your life that perhaps need a bit of tweaking. Maybe some form of travel — whether it’s internal or external — can pull you out of the slump.

To help with this, I found the following bit of wisdom from Sarah Susanka in December’s Whole Living Magazine and wanted to pass it on:

Your Year-End Review

The Past Year

How have you spent your time?  What were you grateful for?  What were your sorrows and disappointments, and how did they change you? What books, films, etc., moved you?

The Present

How are you different from the way you were a year ago? How can you integrate the lessons of the past year? Is there anything you’re trying to force into existence right now? If so, what would happen if you stopped?

The Future

What do you want to focus on in the coming year? If you could sum up your desires and longings in one simple statement spoken from the highest aspect of yourself, what would it be?

This is not a New Year’s resolution – it’s an anti-resolution. Often, we imagine we have to make things happen, but when we’re clear about what we love, those opportunities come unbidden.

Enjoy the last moments of the New Year and look forward with shining eyes to the next! Consider sharing your answers to the questions above in a comment.

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