I grew up with a wonderful, fun dad and for this I’m very grateful. I realise more and more as I grow older how much he shaped my character, my mindset, my outlook on life, my narrative about who I am. My love of nature and art come from him, my curiosity and delight in quirky things, my sense of adventure. Whenever I was anxious or worried, he always said, ‘Everything will be ok’ – usually the Spanish version ‘everything will work itself out.’ And, you know it was and did. We survive challenges and often through and because of them. I miss his playful spirit and calm practicality.
I’ve been thinking a lot about him recently. August marked 25 years since he passed. I really feel his absence. Along with all the reflection on the positives, I’ve also come to realise that part of who I am and how I respond to the world around me is a result of some of the negatives. He was often irresponsible and a little naughty. I hesitate to say reckless but there was an element of risk taking that bordered on this in his behaviour. My mother tells stories of this that I was too young to remember and, in part, her reactions also had a significant influence on me.
Short tales of travels with my dad:
- When I was three, I went with him to a music shop. He bought an album, took it home, didn’t like it, resealed it with the iron, and then made the mistake of taking me back to the shop with him to return it. Apparently, when the man asked if he’d opened it, he said no and I jumped in to say that he had and that he’d resealed it. Haha he was hopping mad and when he told my mother what had happened, she laughed.
- When I was four, we were on a family holiday in Mexico. My mum woke up one morning and he was gone. She spent the entire day with me and my little sister with no passports, no money, and no knowledge of where he was or what had happened. Turns out he’d got up early to see the fishermen bring in the turtles. Curious to see where they took them, he hopped on the back of the truck and ended up deep in the jungle at a turtle processing factory. It was a long walk back. She forgave him of course. That was him, curious and adventurous without too much thought to consequences. There is a back story to why he was like this but one for another day.
- When I was five, my dad and I went to Mexico for a winter break. En route, the plane stopped to refuel or collect passengers in Chicago. My dad worked as director for a large multi-national and had contacts in Chicago. He decided to get off and call the guy in the airport – this was long before mobile phones. They started preparing for take off and he hadn’t come back. Just a little distressing! The flight attendant noticed, was reassuring and took me up to the cockpit. Back in my seat, there he came, sauntering down the aisle with his head tilted and his cheeky grin, hugged me and all was right with the world again.
- When I was six, we went to Mexico again. He met some American guys on the beach who were about to go deep sea fishing so we hopped on board. Within 20 minutes, he was in the hold, green and vomiting from sea sickness. Nothing I could do and not his fault really. So, there I was alone on deck with these big, loud, burly guys deep sea fishing. We caught a baby hammerhead shark and a a swordfish. He was fine once his feet hit dry land again and in great spirits, and what an amazing seafood supper we had that night!
- When I was seven, I travelled alone with him to Venezuela where he’d spent some years in his youth. The pic at the top is from this trip. I remember standing with him on the side of a major road in Caracas with 3-4 busy lanes of traffic. He sprinted across and then stood on the other side waving encouragingly at me to run across to join him. Terrified, I adamantly refused and eventually he came back laughing, picked me up, and carried me over. I was upset, hurt and angry, for some hours after but got over it with his gentle apology, a bit of laughter, and the curious antics of sloths and anteaters at the zoo. He saw me, heard me, did not dismiss or diminish my feelings but, did help me to let go and move forward.
Travels with my dad were always an adventure, a lot of fun, and I travelled a lot with him, often just the two of us. What I’m realising, reflecting on these experiences, his behaviour and my mother’s reactions, is that it has on the one hand shaped my values and my relationship with truth and integrity, but, on the other, his behaviour also provoked a need in me to know things, have as clear an idea of the lay of the land as possible. My husband finds my incessant questions amusing. Why do I need to know everything? I’m just curious but also realising that it comes from early travels with my dad. Even if ‘everything will be ok’ is the motto and mantra, it’s hard to let go of anxiety and fear when in unfamiliar territory or facing an unknown future.
So, like my dad, I am quite adventurous, curious, adaptable, and can easily throw caution to the wind when I want, but I do lean towards perfectionism and have some control issues – I’m working on it. We are complex beings, aren’t we. Letting go of the need to have everything perfect and under control is a challenge for so many of us. I see it a lot with my coaching clients too.
Imposter syndrome, fear of failure, anxiety about things going pear-shaped, fear of not being accepted for who we are, fear of the unknown… for some it’s driven by negative experiences, past failures, holding onto anger and hurt. What can I tell you? So much has been written about this by so many experts in the field which of course I’m not. I do know that while a little fear and anxiety can be positive, when it becomes chronic it can have devastating impact on our health and well-being and our ability to move forward and thrive in our lives.
The recent 4 part Blue Zones documentary series on Netflix, Live to 100, brings some insight to this. Brilliant documentary by the way and worth watching! Many of the centenarians interviewed attribute their longevity to being happy and content with their life, accepting things, going with the flow, getting along with others, community. It’s about faith, in the universe or God but most importantly in oneself.
If I learned nothing else from my father, it’s that you can’t control everything and the reason everything will be ok is that you trust in yourself. What’s the worst that can happen and, if it happens, can I trust myself to get through it. If I treat everything as a learning experience, if I remain curious, I can grow and thrive. Perhaps what’s required is a sense of humility, resilience, creative thinking, and, most importantly, love and compassion for yourself. And, of course, a good sense of humour – after all, sometimes, laughter is the best response!
What are you looking to let go of? What’s holding you back?
If you feel you need a little support and challenge on your journey, come and join me and Sam in the Blue Zone of Sardinia for a unique retreat this October. It’s a 6 day, off the beaten track, small group, slow travel experience with culinary and cultural adventures. We’ll focus on helping you become the hero of your life journey and the secrets to a long and healthy life, taking lessons from the Blue Zone. The first step is identifying what it is you need to let go of and releasing it. It’s a walking retreat where we disconnect to reconnect, connect with nature to connect with ourselves and step into our power. So, a coaching in nature retreat where nature itself becomes our coach.
Come! Be inspired! Give yourself the gift of time to think and feel. Let go and embrace the beauty of the moment, of Sardinia, of you with us in Sardinia… it’ll be fun!
Take care of you. Live well!