How taking a vacation at the beginning of the year helped my mental health

For those of you who rarely take vacations and dare not do so at the beginning of a new year, I have some research data for your mental health. I, too, am what most like to call a workaholic. The beginning of the new year is very sacred for me. Gone are the days of resolutions for broken promises and short lived attempts. I use December and January as the perfect time to reset with business relations and gut my life of unnecessary things. It’s a marker to remind me of where I once was and where I hope to be in the future.
Last year, I kept things simple. I had just moved to Los Angeles and was still getting a grip on how I wanted to live my life in a new city. I didn’t want to be in the streets or out much at all. I opted out of getting a car and used technology to get things done. LA is nothing like NY when it comes to having an epicenter for all to mix and mingle. This place feels like Groundhog’s Day at times. You really gotta know what you’re after each day. I knew this to be true before moving here and worked out a strategy.  I wanted to nest and start within.

December brought forth a life cleanse. I did away with 80% of my wardrobe. Trimmed things down to a couple of grey shirts, jeans, black pants and a handful of sweaters. I’ve started to pick up more suits and items that state my exact position. It’s business or training. I wrote cards to people who meant a lot to me during 2017 and sent packages of goodies to contributors within the UNDO community. I started to build my 2018 calendar, goal by goal. Analogue before digital, I placed needs over wants. I cleaned things up, organized all the paperwork, cleaned off the computer and wrote out all the steps necessary to grow. All I needed was that little window week between Christmas and New Year’s to get a head start. Easy.
The Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, laughter and family. I had two out of three while learning how to permanently extend the frame of my family doors. I basically didn’t see my parents this year. My dad is on time-out for negligence and my mother called out sick. I drove up to Nor Cal with a plan and then things changed and all I could think about was trying to not feel sad. I went to my hometown and spent time with people who felt like family. Coincidentally enough, two of these three tribes wear the same surname as I do. I love when life gives you patterns. I hung out with my little sister but spent far too much time griping about the dysfunction of our family. I cried a whole lot and cried some more. I got all up in and out of my feelings. I compared my family to others and wished for things beyond limits.
This cycle of thoughts spun nonstop on the five hour drive back to LA. I got a call from my friend, Jarrett. He, too, had an emotionally rocky Christmas and pitched that we get away to Tulum. My text said “yes” but my mind was telling me “no”. First of all, who in their right mind buys tickets for New Year’s Eve the week of? Not someone on my frugal, freelance budget. I was so stoked for an intense work week of goal achieving and list scratching. How could I skip out on such a vital time in my schedule? I hit my business partner up to get her to talk me out of my randomness. She encouraged me to go. I tried to worry myself and delay my responses. I tried to talk myself out of an opportunity.
“Lock it in.”
I let go of my control. I knew that by saying “yes” to the unknown, I was stepping outside my comfort zone. I usually do loads of research on a place or map out the perfect run route ahead of time. This time I did neither. I spent the sacred week purging, packing and letting go of my worries. One duffle bag and one tote for one week. I left the laptop on the charger and wore the fur mules to the airport. I met Jarrett in Cancun and we taxied to Tulum. We caught up on all the bad stuff and I handed over my control. I didn’t want it for a week.

I didn’t want to think. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to solve problems, not even menu decisions. Problem solving is a part of my job and I knew that vacation meant that I would have to try my hardest to find the easiest way to let go.
It’s amazing what the perfect scenery, book and a good vibe can do for your mental space. Here are a few of the takeaways that really catapulted my trip and helped me to clear my mind.


The Scenery 

Whether it was the piercing blue Gulf or it’s shimmering sparkle, the water of Tulum is enough to clear your head. Tucked between the Mayan Ruins and an eco-reserve, the shallow gradation is the perfect vacation swimming pool for all. Shame on the person who compared this place to Vegas, I give you two stars on your reviews. Tulum is a place of its own. A coastal jungle with all of the necessary scenery to bring you peace and pleasure. Every time I entered the water I took my precious time. Walking slowly and looking at all of the colors of blue. I saw sea creatures and dark men on paddle boards. I saw nothing beyond me but hues. It’s the picture perfect paradise that I always imagine ruling as my last place on earth. Its the blue lagoon after 20 years of development. During high season, its country’s currency, the peso, is quadruple the rate. Paper lanterns and tanned adults walk around looking like modern day cult leaders. The locals are transported by the dozens in the back of transformer like pickup trucks. Lit by the moon light and fire at night. It was every bit of nature that I needed to consume.

The Book

Julie Holland’s, Moody Bitches has been to three different countries with me yet I was only getting a few pages finished at a time. I made a promise to myself to finish the book by the end of my Tulum trip and use it as a reference for the next issue of UNDO Magazine. We are focusing on addictions, prescriptions and supplements and this book gets into all of the wild things that happen inside the female body and what drugs are helping and hurting women. Such a vital read for anyone woman, young and mature.
 The best part about going on trips with people is learning from their learnings. While I was reading what felt like the scientific interpretation of Women Who Run With the Wolves, Jarrett was reading Arthur C. Clark’s, Childhood’s End. Such a fitting choice for a week in paradise. As I gathered insight on overlords, aliens and the evolution of humankind, I started to think about the importance of storytelling. How folklore and tales have been used to give us advice towards cycles that are inevitable. We spent the weekend discussing the Bible and spirituality. We started to live within the pages of the books that were speaking to us. We imagined ourselves inviting any four people to dinner for the ultimate brain picking. We were so deep in the matrix that story-like things started to transpire. I envisioned rapper and activist Akala on my Top 4 but he got bumped out by people beyond this lifetime. The very next day, I saw Akala outside the market. He looked me in my eyes and smiled.


The Vibe 

Vibe is a culmination of a multitude of essentials. It’s all of the elements that heighten your senses but most importantly it involved people. We arrived on a warm 70 degree evening and were greeted by Enrique and Tamar from Loco, a Mediterranean-style restaurant near the 9.2 kilometer mark. It was connected to our quaint, comfortable and seasonally overpriced Airbnb. Our first day on the beach started with Luca, the owner of Dos Ceibas, inviting us onto his floating pillow. He later welcomed us to a New Year’s Eve dinner the following night where we joined a table of stress refugees. Atop the same pillows that floated us out to sea, we were sunken in a dream. The new year brought on new experiences including a full body mud massage at Mayan Clay and sipping exotic fruit combinations out of a plant straws at Gitano’s. Some of the best beach food was dished up at Nest and Nomade with Posado Margherita topping the list for midday brunch. Note to all, they serve the same menu at lunch, save yourself the time and go early. Restaurants were packed for dinner but thankfully we were able to sneak into Casa Jaguar on two occasions. The heavy incense, light mezcal pour and front kitchen preparation added charisma to a delightful menu and atmosphere. We ran into a handful of friends along the way and it almost felt like a week in Williamsburg. I now know where all of the hard working creatives go to escape the cold.
As for my overall mental health. I’ve stepped up to the plate of my own expectations. My head is often spinning with ideas but not all of them make it to paper. This is story is an example of such. I think I get to live a pretty eventful life yet rarely share those stories of possibility and colors beyond the waters. While in Mexico, I met people and gathered stories that will live with me forever. The only time I pulled out my phone was to capture a picture or write a thought. I realized that no one really needed me and all my emails could wait until later. I felt things and decided to not share them with others immediately, I shared them with myself. I slowed the clock down and felt the earth move slowly around the sun. It felt good to just slow down for a second. It feels good to reset.



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