Reflections from Corfu
If I were to choose a word for my holiday to Corfu, it would be 'breathe'. I could also have chosen 'bliss' because it was most certainly that. I switched off properly for one of the first times in a long time and lounged by the pool surrounded by the sea. My husband and I explored a little around the coast of Paleokastritsa, took day trips into beautiful Corfu Town, and visited nearby islands Paxos and Antipaxos. But our primary aim in being there was to chill, slow down, bask in the sun, eat Greek salad (yay to the abundance of vegan feta) and enjoy time together, absent the stress and busyness of running our businesses.
I began my days journaling as the sun rose over the sea before me. Some days we enjoyed a quiet run to the local monastery for amazing views and enjoyed a sea dip at a little stoney beach cove we had all to ourselves every morning. Yes, bliss. It was one of the first holidays ever where we didn’t drink and therefore awoke fresh every morning. We wanted to come home fully refreshed and not feeling like we needed another holiday, like so often before on a fast-paced trip.
You already know, I’m a reflector 24/7, so my reflection as I sea dipped with the sun on my back and lounged by the pool with no other distractions but a book and my journal got deep. In fairness, I could talk deep from morning to night, much to my husband's dismay before he has had his morning coffee or when his eyes and ears are struggling to stay open at night.
Combine the fact I’m deep by nature with my choice of holiday book genres, self-help obvs, and you’ve got yourself a rumination on life. My first book of choice from my backlog of spiritual and self-help books I have picked up in charity shops was the Peace of Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a book that will now remain a part of my life forever, and I love that I found it randomly in a charity shop or maybe it found me. Thich Nhat Hanh was a zen master and mindfulness teacher born in Vietnam. I lived in Vietnam for a year and left a little bit of my heart in this country (while simultaneously running away from the crazy traffic and uneven pavements), so I always feel a particular fondness for anything or anyone hailing from there. This book is all about teaching you the way of mindfulness and its benefits. How you can feel joy in the present moment, whatever you are doing or whatever your circumstance, by coming back to your breath and connecting your mind with your physical body. Thich Nhat Hanh raised a point that so many of us in modern-day life live in total forgetfulness that we are even in our physical bodies. We spend all day at our job, our minds consumed by our computers that we never stop to take a conscious breath. He recommended setting an alarm every 15 minutes to get a reminder to come back to your breath and your body to take a moment and feel the joy and gratitude in the knowledge of simply being in the present moment.
Of course, I joined the ‘Breath Warrior Tribe’ a few years ago when my mother started randomly telling all of us to breathe or sending us Thich Nhat Hanh quotes on Instagram. Indeed at the time, I was living in Hanoi, Vietnam, and would proudly correct her pronunciation of the author's name as I rolled my eyes at her message. My mother's mindfulness journey was triggered by another; her breast cancer journey. My mother sought out mindfulness as a coping mechanism. She credits Thich Nhat Hanh and his books for getting her through this difficult time in her life, the challenges of surgery, and all the emotions that come with it. So this connection with the author and his teachings made it even more special for me to read. Indeed I don’t know how it took me so long to pick one of his books up given how many of his quotes I have been sent. I’m not going to elaborate on it much in this blog, maybe I will another time, but breast cancer visiting my family was the catalyst for a great deal of change for me and the reason I am part of the ‘breath warrior tribe’ today and no longer rolling my eyes at the concept.
So as our holiday in Corfu continued, I implemented mindfulness practices as I walked along the beach, as I ate my Greek Gyros, and I felt immense joy and gratitude throughout. ‘Let’s take a breath, Scott’, I would say as we took in views around Paleokastritsa. I am so grateful I gave myself the gift of this time off to reflect and enjoy a slower pace for a while. I have returned refreshed, in alignment, and super excited to get stuck back into doing what I love, bringing you fabulous vintage and of course, content like this on the search for fabulous every day.
A break from work or social media is not an indulgence, it's a necessity, so if you are feeling the need for one right now, take this as your sign to do it. We have to take care of ourselves first and foremost to present our best selves to the world and be there for others.
I’ll finish this blog with one of the mindfulness mantras from Thich Nhat Hanh's book I noted down in my journal.
‘Breathing in, I go back to the island within myself.
There are beautiful trees within the island.
There are cool streams of water,
There are birds, sunshine and fresh air.
Breathing out, I feel safe.’