I returned home this week to the United States; back to a country where we can flush our toilet paper down the toilet, drink water out of the tap, and choose to sleep past the sound of roosters. Ha! But oh there is already so much to miss about Nicaragua: sighting monkeys in forests, eating amazing food, sampling fruits I've never seen before, practicing my Spanglish with the locals, hiking to waterfalls, watching the "run with the bulls" in Granada, making tortillas on a wood oven, learning how to make tamales from a local family, walking through charming towns, and just learning about an amazing population of our brothers and sisters in another part of this world. It was all so very special.
If you're familiar with our TravelCircles then you'll know that all our trips are designed for women to come alone and get to know each other. We start the trip as strangers; depart as friends. It's one of the most magical parts of the trips.
Leaning Like the Bamboo
One story that emerged on our trip is so appropriate to friendship that I wanted to pop into your inbox this weekend with this little inspiration for you, trusting that there is a relationship in your life where this truth can serve as an invitation to, as well.
The chances of any two people wanting to do the exact same activities, with the same exact needs and energy levels, enjoying it in the same way, at the exact same time is the stuff of fairy tales.
In fact, in some ways it's easier to travel with strangers than it is with friends or family-- we're all on our best behavior, more willing to try new things, and excited to get to know each other; but no matter who we travel beside on vacation or through life, the art of compromise is ever-present.
At one of our hotels, one "wall" of our eating area was bamboo. And it was so loud-- creaking and groaning and singing with the wind. For a city girl like me, to be sipping my morning Nicaraguan coffee and be serenaded by the bamboo was such a delight.
Bamboo is one of those trees that teaches lesson after lesson, but on that morning the one that popped into my head was:
Flexibility: Bamboo bends with the wind, never fighting against it. But it doesn't blow away with the wind, it stays rooted. Its ability to bend without breaking or being uprooted is so beautiful. It's the perfect metaphor for flexibility-- being able to go-with-the-flow without ever losing our center or our roots.
The Gift of Flexibility
Being flexible isn't weak, rather it's one of the strongest choices ever: leaving one standing straight even after the winds tire out.
We often think of being flexible as someone who compromises and rarely gets what they
really want. But as our group shared our favorite moments of the trip on our last night together-- I can attest that we all very much got what we wanted: Jennifer got in her nightlife, Erika her chocolate, Miriam her rain forest, Pamela her market photos, and me my monkeys.
Flexibility didn't mean we didn't get what we wanted, but rather that we helped each other get what was most important to each other!
And in so doing, we each received so much more than we were looking for!
There were activities on the itinerary that I would surely have skipped if I were traveling alone or with my husband.
What I might have missed:
- I definitely would have skipped driving up to the rural village on dirt roads, but because we all had to go together, I went along. Fortunately! Because we ducked into a little home up there to learn how to make our own tortillas from grinding the corn to flipping it over on the wood-fire. And let me just say that there is hardly anything tastier than salt on a hot homemade tortilla!
- I probably would have talked myself out of riding a horse in the rain, but because
others were excited about it, I went along. And it may have been my favorite day of the trip-- we saw monkeys, took photos at gorgeous vistas, and laughed a lot!
- I would have listened to my exhaustion and relaxed at the hotel, but because Jennifer was so excited to go to Salsa dance lessons, I decided to join her. Good thing, otherwise I would have missed out on a lot of laughter! Ha!
It was so impressive to watch us practice hearing each others needs and doing what we could do make the trip amazing for everyone. And it surprised me again how in so doing that for others-- I was exposed to things I wouldn't have chosen myself.
In other words: my trip was BETTER because I was flexible. I lost little to nothing, but gained so much more.
In your relationships, I invite you to consider: What would it look like for you to let the wind blow you a little in a new direction? What might you do with someone or how might you respond differently if you knew you could bend and not break? What could you be open to even if it's not what you would personally choose? How might you and a friend do a better job of leaning into what makes each other happy?
p.s. Want to travel with us? All women over the age of 21 are invited to come on any of our trips! Our next two trips with availability are to Cuba this November or Turkey next May! See info here.