happy anniversary, positively present!
a rain-soaked realization: are you living in YOUR moment?

lessons learned from a week away


I'm back! Yesterday I returned from a week away -- a week in another country, England! -- and, as much as I'm happy to be back to my routines and my familiar places (yes, I hate to admit it, but I've confirmed what I already knew: I am a creature of habit), I have learned a lot about myself and the world from only a week away from my comfort zone (perhaps I should get out of it more often!). While I'll admit that I spent a lot of time doing nothing (which I desperately needed and enjoyed), I still managed to learn a lot about myself, which really is, in my opinion, one of the greatest things about getting away. Getting away provides a new perspective not only on the world, but on your own life and what you're doing in it. For years and years I've gone on vacations and thought to myself, "Ugh, I don't ever want to go back home, to that life that I've grown so used to." This time it was different. This time I thought to myself, when I was so many miles away from home, "I miss my life. I love my life." Now, this wasn't because I wasn't having a good time -- I most certainly was. This was, I believe, because over the past few months of my life, I've learned to appreciate what I have and to really cherish it. I've learned that if there's something I really don't like about my life, I have to change it (and, for the most part, I have). In doing this, coming home to this life was a joy and not something to be dreaded. I had a wonderful time where I was and yet I know I will continue to have a wonderful time, here, in my home, doing the things I love to do.

Being in a different country living a different lifestyle for a week taught me a lot. And, yes, it was quite a different lifestyle for me -- no work, no plans, just carefree days of fun, which was very, very different from my little organized life of To Do lists and working every day and planning, planning, planning! One of the best things about this particular vacation was how different it was from my normal life. I had no plans. I had no schedule. Hell, I didn't even have a clockin my room! At first it was unsettling (both the clocklessness and not having a schedule), but then I relaxed and settled into it and I remembered college and what it was like to wake after a twelve-hour sleep, unfazed because I had no definite plans for the day. I remembered what it was like to just relax, to just be in a moment and not think, "Oh, I have an appointment soon!" The time away, brief as it was, taught me a lot about myself and about life and I'm going to share these little pearls of wisdom with you...I can't say that these words will apply to all of you, but one of the things I read on the survey I offered last week (and please do take it if you haven't already) is that my readers want to hear more about me. So, here you have it -- here are the things I learned on my travels to England...

Lessons Learned from a Week Away

  • I don't need to have access to email, but, man, do I love it when I do.

  • I love my cousin more than words can say (even though she can drive me nuts like no one else!).

  • I have a lot of trouble living in a room without a mirror or a clock (hmm...that must mean something...)

  • I love all dogs, but there's nothing quite like my dog (I love you, Bella!).  

  • I can still sit and read for hours and hours with my cousin and feel like we're communicating somehow.

  • I might hate to admit it, but I really do love my routines and feel unsettled when I'm out of them.

  • I can somehow spend a ton of money without having much to show for it.

  • I may not see my friends every day but I miss them every day I'm away.

  • I say I don't like to sit through movies, but when faced with a 7 hour flight I can watch 3 movies in a row.

  • I want to believe I can live without TV, but after a week without it, I don't know if that's true. 

  • I never, ever remember to take enough pictures when I travel.

  • I feel much more lost than I should without the ability to send text messages.

  • I have the best, most loyal blog readers in the world who kept reading when I was away.

  • I know now that jet-lag is a real thing and it pretty much sucks.

  • I miss the freedom and laziness of college, but wouldn't go back to a job-less life for anything.

  • I don't think I'll ever get over how great it feels to see my family when I've been away.

  • I love blogging and a week without it was harder for me than I thought it would be.

  • I enjoy relaxing, but I still have a very hard time doing it properly.

  • I might bitch about it from time to time, but I really do love my home and my country.

  • I remember a lot about who I am when seen through the eyes of a childhood best friend.

  • I love sunshine and warmth always (how do the British stand the rain and chill?!).

  • I am incredibly lucky to have my life and the opportunity to travel to a new country.


Traveling to England was great, mostly because it was so great to finally spend some quality time with someone who has known me my whole life and who, in reality, has been one of my best friends for the past twenty-five years. Spending time with her was like going back to childhood while staying in the present. So much of who we are is the same, and, yet, in so many ways we have both grown so much -- into such different and yet similar people. My cousin's friend said to me on more than one occasion while I was visiting, "You are so similar, yet so different. You are so much alike and you are also so different." As similar as those statements were, they came out of her mouth with a sense of wonder, as if she were really saying, "How is it possible that two people could be so different and so similar at the same time?" I often wonder the same thing, the same amazed and slightly confused look on my face when I think about my cousin and I -- so, so different and yet so, so similar. We have always been this way and, it seems to me, will always be this way. There is comfort in that, knowing that there is someone, halfway across the world, who is my opposite and my double, who is me and yet so not me. Already I miss her and look forward to reuniting again.

Now that I'm back from my travels, I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging again. I'm going to be reviewing the surveys this week and I may be developing new plans for Positively Present based on what you -- the reader -- want to get out of this site. Though I started the blog for me, I am so overwhelmed with happiness knowing how well-received it has been after only six short months and I want to make the blog a great experience not only for me, but for my readers as well. Thank you all for your comments on the posts when I was away. It really did mean so much for me to read them all (and I did read them, even though I didn't respond to each one individually) and to know that people were still reading, even while I was away. And speaking of being away, I know that August is a common time for people to travel, so I want to know...

Have you taken some time to travel lately?
If so, what lessons did you learn from your travels?


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This is awesome! I'm so glad you had a great vacation, and learned some things about yourself as well. A double-bonus, I say! Welcome home, dear one. It's good to have you back.

Hey Dani! Glad you're back. It's great that you had fun in England (I really want to go there by myself or with some friends in the near future).

Unfortunately, I haven't been traveling. The only destination I'm on schedule for is the first day of my 2nd year of college. I've been busy reading, writing, and connecting with people.

Can't wait for the next post! ;)

"I might bitch about it from time to time, but I really do love my home and my country. "

Haha I agree with this. Yet in the summer I was in Europe for a full month, and I realized how much I missed home and I do really love it. :)

Glad to hear you had a great time! Did you go to London? That was one place I went to this Summer and I loved it! The shopping is awesome there :-P


Dani, welcome back. You'll never learn as much about yourself as when you're in unfamiliar circumstances or latitudes.

"Same but different" as it applies to people, is a very astute way to put it.

Thanks as always. You do great things here.
Take care friend.

Hey Dani,

This is a pretty entertaining post. Having spent my share of time abroad, I can relate to alot of things. I think my favorite was "I can spend alot of money, and having nothing to show for it." My response to that: After one visit to London, I've decided to vacation in developing countries. London is REALLY expensive and in one hour of being there you can spend about 100 dollars and have nothing to show. Sounds like a great trip though.

Hi Dani! Glad you enjoyed your vacation so much! Good post!

Welcome back! I love to travel, and when I was a little girl I lived in England for a few years. :) It seems like you learned a lot about yourself on your trip - and I think that happens to most people, especially when they're visitng someone from their younger years. I read all the posts in your absence. My upcoming trip is actually the last week of October! I'm going to Toronto (my "surrogate" home). I'm really excited, and I always discover something new about myself when I'm there.

Jay - Thank you! It was definitely a double-bonus. Lessons learned and lots of time to relax! :)

John - You should definitely check England out. It's great! College is pretty great as well so enjoy that while you're there.

Renee - It's easy to complain about home when you're there all the time, but getting away made me realize how much I do love it here. I was only in the airport in London (I was in Lancaster most of the time) but it was great to be in a new country!

Josh - Thanks for the comment! You're so right. When you're far away from home you get a new perspective on things, which is great. Also, great point about people. Most of the time we're the same but different in many ways.

Srinivas - Sounds like I'll have to take your advice! I wasn't in London, but it was still pretty expensive. I had a wonderful time though so it was worth every penny.

Jodi - Hi! Thank you! It was a great time and it's great to be back. :)

Hey Dani!! Welcome back, and glad you enjoyed your vacation in England! The time off must have been really good. Will you be sharing the pictures with us? :D

Ia - Yes, traveling and spending time around childhood friends (or relatives in my case) are great ways to learn more about ourselves. Thanks so much for reading while I was away. :) It sounds like your trip will be great. I've always wanted to visit Toronto!

Celes - Thank you! And thank you for doing the guest post while I was away. It was great to have that and I know my readers really enjoyed it too. I've never before shared pictures on my blog...not sure that I'm ready for that yet... ;)

Don't give up on trying to quit watching television! There are so many better things to do. Seriously.

Welcome home Dani!

Sounds like you've had a wonderful time away, and really learned some things about you.

The last time I traveled was in the spring of this year. And it was very much a learning experience for me. I especially found how deep the connection was between ocean and sunset - and what that meant for me - time to connect with my deeper self - a completely unplanned activity. And one that was so, so good for me.

Glad you had a good time in England, I hope our weather treated you nicely, although I suspect it probably didn't. Lancaster is a cool city, I used to go visit my brother there while he was at college so I have quite a few fond memories of the place. It is good that visitors get to see the other parts of the UK and not just London, we have such a diverse country with some strange traditions and languages.

Debra - You're so right! I still need to work on that one, but I do love it as background noise sometimes!

Lance - Thank you! :) It's good to be back. Ooh, I love the ocean and the sun. There is something about the ocean that is just so magical and moving.

Garry - The weather wasn't all that great, but that's what I expected after seeing England on TV and in movies for years, haha. Lancaster was great. It was nice to be in a place other than London, which is where everyone expects us Americans to visit!

Great to have you back Dani! I find the same when I travel. As much as I love to trip around, I always love coming home. It really is an indication that life at home is pretty bloody good.

Welcome back, Dani! Catching up, in person, with a friend of so many years....well, you can't put a price on that. Glad for you both!

I guess we put up with the rain and the chill because we're used to it! ;)

It's really interesting to see what we do when we're away from computers, alarm clocks, the television, etc. I can't do it for a long period of time, but a few days here and there is nice!

Glad you are back! You shared some great lessons, thank-you. I so love England. I lived there for 3 years and I do miss it at times. It is a different lifestyle, one that I could easily live.
Lessons from recent travels, hmmm ... I recently went to the sweetest place on earth, yes I went to Hershey, Pennsylvania where I had a great time. I have been there many times before, yet this time I explored elements of Hershey that I never did before, lesson there is always more to see and experience. Great place, doesn't hurt that you can smell chocolate all day coming from the Hershey Chocolate flavor and that the street lamps are shaped and look like Hershey kisses.

Hi Dani
Welcome home :-)

When I went away to Paris and London almost 3 years ago.
I was reminded a few things:
How much I love spending time with my husband alone.
I am perfectly fine without my PC for 2 weeks.
The world is beautiful.
How much I love my home.

Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Welcome home!
I love the similarities I see between you and me; reading your list might as well have been reading one of my own.
I especially laughed when I read how hard it was for you to give up TV for a week (last year, I was in the same boat; this year I gave my TV away because I felt too tied to it). The mirror and clock thing caught me off-guard, too, mostly because I've been thinking, "Do I really need a mirror?" Again, I think I'm too attached to it.

No significant travels to speak of, but I did want to comment about those other things. So glad you're back and learned as much about yourself as you did!

Sami - Thank you! As you said, as much fun as traveling is, it's great to know that you want to go home, that home is a good place to come back to.

Mr. Nuggets - Thanks! :) You're definitely right about that catching up part. It's priceless!

GG - Yes, that must be it! You're used to it. I don't mind it every once and awhile, but it was chilly!! It was definitely interesting to be away from certain things, but I'm glad to be back to the things I'm used to having around.

Mark - England was definitely great! So funny that you should mention Hershey. I was considering going there earlier this summer but decided against it. You've inspired me to reconsider! :)

Giovanna - Thanks! It's great to be back. I had planned to be without the internet for the entire time I was there, but my cousin had internet access so I was able to go online often. I definitely learned how much I love home!

Megan - Thanks! I'm glad to be back too and it's no surprise that you saw so many similar things to my thoughts in this post. We often seem to be on the same page! Giving up TV is hard (I've been watching a LOT since I've been back, even just in the background of what I'm doing) but I really don't know if I could do very well without clocks or mirrors. That part was TOUGH!

Getting away is a great perspective changer. I love traveling because of all the eye candy. All the buildings, food and people are so different.

The best part, like you explained, is how much a person can learn. The ideas are always flowing when I get home and I can't wait to start writing for my blog again.

Welcome back!

> I miss the freedom and laziness of college, but wouldn't go back to a job-less life for anything.
That's a particularly interesting insight. I used to think I wanted to do nothing. Then I found I wanted to do something. The key is to do what you love.

> I don't think I'll ever get over how great it feels to see my family when I've been away.
There's nothing like it.

Hi Dani,

Welcome back. This is really interesting post as always and thanks for sharing your experiences and lessons you have learned. Many of those lessons are very helpful and inspiring for anyone.

I haven't done so long(I must say here) traveling for the last about more than two years but been to many exciting places though were of short period.

Anyway, have a nice day!

Hi Dani .. welcome back and so glad you had a good time, despite the weather - should have been down here .. it's been quite nice recently - and going to be 30 today?! Just our English weather.

It sounds as though you had time to think .. and that was probably a good thing - space in life is important; and change!

I have to say when I jumped on the plane to San Diego, or rather when Ileft home and walked to station to go up to Gatwick .. it was the relief of being able to leave my routine behind .. I was just so pleased to have my day to myself - even only 6 of them and still having the schedule - despite the 3.30 am starts etc .. terrible, but I was free of chore, routine .. I'm way too independent for being tied, but I get on with it. So San Diego twice this year has been absolute bliss and I did absorb that time.

I look forward to hearing more .. next time make it a bit longer and then the jet lag isn't so awful!

Enjoy being home and catching up etc .. welcome back
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

I love travelling and after reading your post I have suddenly felt "the urge" again. I have travelled a lot and every time I come back from one of the journeys I've always grown a little. There is simply no substitue for travelling for sure.

Thanks for sharing.

Dani, great to hear that you had such a good time away. I have been "traveling" (and living in other countries) for 2 years now and yep, it is amazing just how much you can learn about yourself when your not in familiar surroundings. Having been away for so long, I am both excited and scared about going home. Excited to see my family and friends and to just be home, but scared (not totally in a bad way)and excited about what lies ahead.

I agree - how do the British put up with the cold and rain!! My boyfriend is a Pom and I have told him that I don't think I will ever be able to live there long-term mostly due to the weather - luckily for me he is coming to Australia with me:).

Hi Dani! Your bubbling enthusiasm is wonderful to read in your blog posts :-)

I'm glad you had a great time and so many of the things you write about experiencing are things I can identify with. I have to single out reading for hours and loving your dog though. My little dog just follows me around and curls up next to me wherever I go. She always has to be touching up against me. Even if she's just a dog, it's wonderful to have something that loves you so unconditionally all the time.

Welcome back! Traveling can be quite a rejuvenating exercise, isn't it? I make it a point to travel once or twice a year. It seems that I am going to do that three times this year, since I already have had two breaks so far.

I had a great time in England the last time I was there. Glad you did too :-)

Karl - You're so right about the eye candy. It's great to get out into the world and see different things, places, and people. Even the food is different! I certainly learned a lot and have TONS of ideas. Now if only I didn't have a week's worth of work to catch up on...

J.D. - Me too. I used to think it would be great to sit around and do nothing all day, but I realize that's just not as much fun as I once thought. I get bored so quickly and feel like I need to do something. Doing what you love is one of the greatest things in the world and I hope to someday get paid for it!

LB - Thanks! I'm so glad you liked the post and felt that others could relate to it. Traveling is wonderful but often you can learn just as much by staying right where you are if you open your eyes as if you are traveling in a new place.

Hilary - The weather wasn't great while I was there but I expected that (as you noted, my cousin told me that it was sunny and bright the day I left!). It was great to get away from my routines and to take a break from my normal life, but I must say that I'm glad to be back at work, sitting at my little desk and settling back into my routines. And San Diego is wonderful! I love, love, love it there! :)

Sunny - There's definitely no substitute for the enlightening experience of traveling. You should plan a trip soon! It really is great to get away and to try out new places.

Valeska - Wow, sounds like you're quite an experienced traveler! Good for you! I don't think I could handle being away from home that long but I'm sure it will be great when you return. I completely understand why you'd be nervous (I would be too!) but I bet everyone will be thrilled to see you again. Glad to hear you don't have to stay in a rainy/cold place. I really hope to visit Australia someday! I've heard such great things!

Stephen - Thanks! :) I'm pretty enthusiastic about my life these days, which is quite a turn around from how I was in the past! I'm so glad you could relate to the part about my dog. She is just the love of my life and I cannot accurately put into words how much I missed her. It's harder somehow being away from animals because you can't talk to them on the phone or via email and there's just nothing like that little body curled up next to you. I'm definitely glad to be back with my pup!

Evelyn - Absolutely! I feel rejuvenated for sure. I cannot remember the last time I was this happy to be at work, being so busy! England was definitely a great experience. I'm glad you enjoyed it to and that you're going to get to do even more traveling this year.

Yay! You're back! It's great you could learn so much from a vacation, thanks for sharing it :)

Welcome back, Dani! What a great follow up post - I love the list. I am a brand new reader and have enjoyed your site so much, I have written about it on my own blog. Thanks for your insight and positivity!


Rosa - It was great to learn so much and I'm so glad I had someone to share my lessons with. It's good to be back! :)

Lynn - Thank you! I'm glad that you've started reading Positively Present! It means so much to me to have new readers on board. I'm off to check out your site now. Thanks so much for mentioning PP on there. :)

Welcome baaaaaaack!

Hayden - Thank you!!!!! It's great to be back! :)

welcome back!! pictures/!?!?! i love your bullet point about communicating with your cousin while reading...maybe it's 'communing through literature'?!?!? :) missed you--and your blog looks lovely...did you make some changes?

Nat - Thank you! I'm not a big fan of personal pictures on my site, but maybe someday... I think you're right about what you wrote. There's something communal about literature, especially when you're reading with someone. I'm glad to hear that you like the blog. I don't think I've made any changes recently but I may be making some based on the survey I put out last week. I want to make it the most enjoyable experience for my readers!

Great post! I can def relate to a lot of these as I am living in London and moved from California 16 months ago. I def feel more patriotic, am happy to be an american and miss my friends and fam everyday.
One of the things that was reinforced for me here is, living a happy life to the fullest no matter where you are is key. Also to push yourself outside your boundaries. When you do, most times something amazing happens.
And I always forget to take pics too when I travel! I guess I am too busy having fun!

Global Samba - Thank you! I'm so glad you could relate to the post. I give you a lot of credit for moving from California to London. I LOVE California and it was hard for me to leave there -- and I was only moving across the country. You're so right -- it's important to make the most of wherever you are and to push yourself out of your boundaries whenever you can. I think it's better to be having fun rather than worrying about taking tons of pictures. ;)

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