Cascais Portugal

During the Summer months last year (god, I miss Summer now), I traveled off to Portugal with my big sister. After visiting Lisbon for a short weekend, we ended up spending a week in a surf and yoga retreat. Somewhere in a hidden neighbourhood in Cascais, located just North of vivid Lisbon.

At the beginning of last year, when booking this Surf and Yoga get-away (very hipster) with the Salty Pelican I mostly felt three things. I was happy about finally visiting Portugal. I was mostly scared about learning how to surf (not a good swimmer). And I was curious to discover (how good I would be at) yoga.

Little did I know this trip turned out to be one of the most ‘valuable’ trips I ever took. More then looking back on nothing but good memories from this trip, I’m also really grateful. I’ve learned about peace, about myself and about discovering new hobbies despite feeling the fear.

Cabo da Roca

Offline is the new luxury

While the Salty Pelican offers you a wi-fi password, I hardly made use of the connection. Already at the first day, during my first yoga lesson I learned a lot about self-awareness, being in the moment and forgetting about everything that you can’t control or change. And with that in mind I deleted my Facebook app, stopped checking my email for work, stopped taking my phone with me to the beach or into town and enjoyed the new luxury of being offline.

Normally, I am online basically 24/7. Even when I don’t want to be. When I’m busy doing what so ever – my phone, laptop or tablet forces me to be online and to be distracted. There are hardly any hours that I don’t hear a bleep somewhere at my house – whether it is a message from a friend, a new episode from serie X on Netflix, a colleague with something I need to do NOW, an ‘important’ news article or a personal message on Instagram. Being online forces you to be disturbed and to do anything but relax.

If there is one thing I took from this trip it’s that being offline is a luxury we’ve forgot about. We don’t know what it feels like to be offline anymore. It’s the one destress factor we forgot about. We feel it’s ‘out of reach’ – because for some reason we HAVE to be online.

Being online is the only addiction that is socially accepted. But most of all: being online triggers you all the wrong ways – and that means your brains will stay active, and you are doing everything but unwinding.

Yoga at the beach - the Salty Pelican
Surfing in Portugal, Cascais

Great things never came from comfort zones

I knew this one already. You probably knew too. I’ve learned it when starting a blog, when traveling solo for the first time, whilst networking, when moving to a new city. Comfort zones are there to crawl back into at the end of the day – not to stay hidden in for your entire life.

I knew this. But there was always one specific comfort zone I’d never wanted to leave.

I’m freaking terrified of water.

I mean – I’m getting better every day. When I was little I didn’t even want to step foot on a boat. But since a couple of years I actually tried all these different ‘water’-activities – even though I wasn’t really a big fan. I’ve snorkeled, hopped into a rafting boats and kayaked.

Surfing though always seemed a bridge too far. But I still wanted to try. Weird actually how you know that your biggest fear will also be something you’d absolutely enjoy.

So for that brave little moment when I booked a trip to Portugal, I still pat myself on the back.

Surfing was scary. The safety instructions – and with that being confronted with everything that could go wrong – beforehand didn’t really help.

But from the moment I stepped into the water and tried to catch my first wave I knew I found a new hobby. It took me hours to finally be able stand up – but my smile was genuine. Falling from my board and trying to get up again time after time felt great. Getting gallons and gallons of salty water smashed in my face didn’t bother me – nor did my cold feet that weren’t protected by my wetsuit.

I absolutely loved it.

And this year I’m going for my second surf trip.. even though I’m still pretty freaking scared.

Living in the moment creates peace

Thanks to one very good, inspirational yoga teacher I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go, about forgiveness, peace and living in the moment. Which during this trip, brought me to the next conclusion: living in the moment creates peace of mind. The thing is that most of the things we worry about or overthink, are things we can’t even influence or change. At least not right now. While cluttering up our brain with matters we can’t control we change into stressed, anxious human beings forgetting to enjoy the moments we actually can control.

To be able to let go of the things we can’t control – living in the moment all of the sudden becomes far more realistic – and actually something we can cherish.

Probably my most valuable life lesson so far.

Living in the moment seems like such an easy thing to do though – but if you even come close to being a perfectionist like me – a little mindfulness and learning how to ‘let go’ definitely can’t hurt.

Cascais Portugal

Good memories will last a lifetime

I came back from my trip to Portugal with a smile that didn’t leave my face for at least two weeks.

I think it’s the combination of living completely in the moment, being offline, meeting new surf-buddies, banding with my sister, and enjoying new hobbies that definitely made my trip so much more worth than just a regular trip to destination X.

And that’s why I found the next saying to be true: happy memories are the most valuable possession one can have.

Even though I already knew it was true.

But this time it stuck with me, and it still does.