Belize In Yourself
The first week of February, Eric and I were so fortunate to be able to take a week away from work and life and head to Belize! We hadn't taken a full week off of work since right after our wedding about 2 years ago. Right after we got married we went to Mammoth for a week to snowboard, relax and watch movies and promised ourselves we would take a bigger trip soon. Well just after the wedding my panic attacks started to escalate and I wasn't about to hop on a plane, go somewhere new, and eat food that wasn't a part of my "organic" routine. However, overcoming all that I had, it was the perfect time to take a trip in celebration of a delayed honeymoon, second anniversary and one year "free" of panic attacks.
I was really looking forward to the trip...especially the part where I would be able to plop myself on the beach and not have to check my phone or e-mail. While there was plenty of that, there were also a ton of opportunities for me to face fears and overcome challenges. Every day, except for the fourth and last, I did something outside of my comfort zone, and I know am stronger for it. Things that may seem small to others once terrified me, and while I was still nervous for some, I had the spirit of iboga with me every step of the way reminding me that I have everything it takes to overcome anything. Just having that confidence was huge.
Day 1: This was our first mini adventure and we drove about 45 minutes to the Altun Ha Maya ruins. Sounds simple enough, right? It was my first time really venturing out in a foreign country, and that 45 minute drive was a little bit stressful for me. For me, a lot of anxiety comes from the unknown. Just the fact it was our first of seven days, and our first adventure and all of that, I had a little bit of that pit in my stomach. I really focused on my breathing and staying present and that really helped. Once we got there, the ruins were great, and the drive back was a piece of cake because I now knew the route.
Day 2: On the second day we went to Xunantunich Mayan ruins, and that was about a two hour drive away. Even though we had a GPS, I was still semi-stressed about the drive. I did have some confidence from conquering the previous day, but Belize is pretty rural, and if you break down on the side of the road...there's no AAA. You're probably going to walk quite some distance to find some sort of help...and we're tourists. None of it sounded good. Of course, once we got there it was fine. This time the ruins were much bigger and climbed to the top. I do have a fear of heights and I promised myself I would go to the top and at least take a picture. Once I got the top, I was holding onto the ruins for dear life and was ready to climb back down immediately, but hey, I did it. After we left the ruins we were going to go to this Butterfly Ranch. Well, I read the map incorrectly and needless to say, I realized we had passed it about 30 minutes later and we weren't going to turn back. I was instantly crushed because butterflies are one of my spirit guides, but it was a really great opportunity to "let it go," adjust my sails, and trust that the universe always has my greatest good in mind. For whatever reason, the butterfly ranch was not meant to be a part of my path that day. One of my favorite quotes that I like to lean on is, "The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you." Even though it wasn't a part of my "plan," we found an awesome cave to swim in. Still a great day!
Day 3: Today we decided to take the water taxi to a local island, Caye Caulker for a relaxing day on the beach. I'm always worried about getting sea sick, but at this point I'm fairly certain that I don't get sea sick because I never have. I think my stress around boats now comes from worrying if OTHER people will get sea sick. It's so weird to get inside the mind of someone challenged with anxiety, isn't it? I knew the boat ride was about 45 minutes and knew I could handle it. We were late getting to the boat and ended up squished in the very front with the windows barely open. It was hot and crowded...not two of my favorite things. Man, I was feeling nervous. I started a timer to track the boat ride and just focused on my breathing and being present. I knew I could handle it. I made Eric keep me distracted and we took lots of pictures. About 15-20 minutes into the boat ride I remembered that I had brought a few crystals with me. No joke, but holding the crystals calmed me down IMMENSELY. I had carnelian in my right hand and petrified wood in my left. We receive from the leftside of our body so with each inhale I breathed in the calming properties of the petrified wood, and with each exhale I breathed out my stress into the carnelian. That was a game changer. I started to calm down immensely. I can't say that I was ever excited to a part of that boat ride, but I really handled it like a boss. On the way home, I held my crystals the whole time, was able to sit in the back with fresh air, it was less crowded and I actually ENJOYED it.
Day 4: This day we did yoga, read and relaxed. It was great!
Day 5: This was my most nervous day by far! That morning we were hopping on a 12-passenger propeller plane over to Ambergis Caye for the last three days of our vacation. I constantly wavered from being completely terrified to feeling totally empowered. I had actually visualized the plane ride for weeks ahead of time. I visualized myself enjoying the plane ride and having zero fear. The time was about to come to actually get on the plane and I started to have doubts. Sitting in the terminal waiting to board, I pulled out my crystals and again started to feel immediate relief. The only passengers on the plane were Eric, me, and a couple from London. The plane was much bigger inside than I thought and go figure, it was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. The views were amazing and the 15 minutes flew by...literally, haha. I think another piece that helped was there wasn't a lot of time for anticipation once we got on the plane. One of my struggles with anxiety is the anticipation leading up to an event, more so than the event itself. Once we got on the plane, they shut the door and took off immediately. Not having a lot of time to think about it made for a much easier transition. That combined with my crystals, positive thinking, deep breathing, and mindfulness...I really enjoyed the experience!
Day 6: Eric and I decided to go snorkeling that morning. I was undecided if I wanted to go. Another boat, I'm not a strong swimmer...nothing about it really appealed to me that much. However, it was only about 2 hours, and I will admit, I was being stubborn in the fact that I didn't want to feel like I was running away from something I felt like I "couldn't do." (Another blog post on that later...I've learned a lot more about that!). It turns out that this ended up being our least favorite activity! Haha. The guides were great and the people on our boat were great, but the current was SO strong that day. I also really struggled with the breathing scenario. When I'm feeling nervous, deep breaths are one of my techniques to get through it. My normal deep breaths through my nose were not an option, and I felt totally out of my element in the middle of the ocean with the strong current. As soon was we got in the water I wanted it to be over, but I just focused on staying present and stayed near the guide. I actually didn't even get out of the boat at the second stop. Getting back on the boat after being in the water made me feel almost drunk, and I was just ready to get back to the resort to a pool chair. The crystals, again, helped me through it and I was glad to conquer another fear.
And on the seventh day, we relaxed! Haha. I told Eric that I didn't want to anything else challenging. We laid by the pool, drank mojitos, read and enjoyed the beauty around us and practice gratitude. It was amazing.
I never thought that going on vacation would be a great way to stretch my limits and overcome challenges. The week was a total blast and I am definitely looking forward to the next opportunity to travel, relax, and widen my comfort zone just a bit more than it was before we left.