Last updated on April 1st, 2012 at 02:39 pm
After three magical weeks in Spain, it feels surreal to be back stateside.
Just last week I was celebrating Spain’s first World Cup win in San Sebastian, cheering, dancing, and kissing strangersÂ in the streets.
My days and nights were filled with mini-adventures and moments of pure beauty: watching the sunset over theÂ breaking waves while drinking vino tinto with friends; savoring my first bite of torrijas, a traditional Spanish dessert made of sweet bread dipped in milk and carmelized sugar and lightly fried; wandering the streets of San Sebastian and stumbling onto another beautiful churchÂ at the end of anotherÂ colorful streetÂ of historic buildings with ornate facades, wrought-iron balconiesÂ overflowing with flower pots.
I wentÂ sunbathing topless on the La Playa de la Concha, the city’s largest beach,Â ate pulpo (octopus) and sampled Pastel Vasco, aÂ small cake Â made with almond flavor and custard that is a traditional favorite of the Basque region. I danced to live bands, watched capoeiraists perform in the street, took a side day trip to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a charming little French village with red-tiled-roofed buildings and stunning beaches.
Every day was a new adventure, full of new tastes, new experiences.
After such a full three weeks, itÂ feels grounding and comforting yet also strangeÂ to suddenly beÂ back in Troy, NY, settling back into my “normal” life and routines.
I have a book to finish, a house to clean. I am only partially unpacked.
My poor body, after three weeks of too much bread, cheese, dessert,Â friedÂ foods, andÂ wine, just altogether too much rich food, is craving salads, fresh veggies, fruit, water.
Taking It Easy Spanish-Style…
During my three weeks in Spain, I climbed to the top of the hill featuring the statue of El Cristo, went to the gym twice, went for long walks with my niece – and that was about as rugged as my activity level got.
Here in NY, I am going to the gym regularly again.
In Spain we started drinking at lunchtime, because you can. Restaurants offer a menu of the day that includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert, and sometimes a whole bottle of wine.
A whole bottle of wine for lunch! Needless to say I would sometimes just cork the bottle and bring half home with me.
Sweet Treats on the Streets
I ate ice cream cones on the street, often — dulce de leche, avellana, chocolate con naranja, Ferrero Rocher. I allow myself to indulge moreÂ often when I am on vacation and traveling the world.
And yet I must return to healthy routines if I want to look and feel my best, which I do. So I am back to healthy eating and exercising.
I need the energy to jump back in and write my book, to set up public speaking gigs, to reach out and tell my story in places that will make a difference. ToÂ make it all happen, I have to first take care of myself.
Decadence and Pleasure…
That said, I am a firm believer that it’s important to experience pleasure regularly, and I won’t deprive myself unnecessarily now that I’m home. I’ll eat healthier, yes, and head to dance classes at the gym, yet I’ll still have that occasional glass of Spanish wine, still eat a little dark chocolate daily.
Strict diets have never worked for me. Yes, I am perhaps a wee bit curvier than when I left for Spain.
Yet I know myself well enough to know thatÂ “feeling deprived”Â and making a long list of what I can’t eat often only makes me want to eat more.
Instead I focus on eating what I DO want, which in this case actually is healthy food. My body is craving it. I want green leafy things, fresh fruit, lots of water.
So I went shopping when I got home from Spain, and filled my fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, with hummus and multi-grain bread, with Greek honey yogurt and soy milk.
Being Healthy Feels Good…
Feeling healthy is to me one of the great pleasures of living. I love having a strong healthy young body, and treating it well.
Of course eating light and exercising will also help me trim off the Spain indulgences -Â thatÂ little extra belly that I didn’t have before I left.
And, with all that I have to do now that I’m home, I feel like my body is begging me to treat it well, so I’m energized and ready to move forward with all of my dreams.
I edited my book while abroad, while on the long plane rides across the Atlantic. Yet now it’s time to dive back in and write the last section of the book, and then to further craft and polish it before handing the whole manuscript to my writing coach in October.
There Is Time For Pure Pleasure…
I basically spent the last three weeks giving in to pure pleasure – food, wine, friends, adventures, beauty – and now I want to focus again on creating something for my future.
I don’t regret a second of the decadence of course – it was divine to fill myself with delicious food, wine and desserts in San Sebastian, known to be one of the gastronomic capitals of the world.
Life is all about the ebb and flow. It’s now time to settle into my normal healthy routines and to get back into my writing practice, after a few lovely, luscious weeks of simply being and living in the moment.
Of course I can carry that spirit forward, enjoying every bite of an arugula and avocado salad, every sweet ripe cherry, and still challenging myself to try something new every day. I can keep the spirit of adventure in my everyday life.
Yet I also am ready to feel really healthy again, because it gives me the fuel I need to live my dreams. I am at my best when I’m truly aligned -Â body, spirit, mind -Â taking care of all parts of me.
Living The Dreams…
Traveling the world is one of my longtime dreams, and I’m living it. I travel internationally at least twice a year and I’m so thankful for the opportunities, and the places I’ve visited.
It’s extraordinary to live for a time in another country, to experience the culture and cuisine and speak the language, to get a taste of another kind of life.
Now it’s time to focus again on other dreams, including finishing my book. I’m up for it. I’m ready to take it on.
Spinach and broccoli shake for breakfast, here I come! (Trust me, it’s good! Add mint, grapes and a banana and it’s actually delicious!).
What does your body need to feel healthy right now? What can you do today to take better care of yourself so that you have more energy for living your dreams?
What are your strategies for healthy living and dreaming? Leave a comment and let me know!
Lisa is a freelance writer and consultant who has published articles, essays and poems in journals and newspapers across the United States. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University, and earned her MPA at Harvard in 2005. Lisa launched her dream to write her first book by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule. She recently achieved another milestone — 200 pages written in her manuscript! Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco. Lisa is also a lindy hopper, blues dancer and belly dancer. She has traveled extensively on four continents. Lisa’s post day is Tuesday.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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