If you travel for work or have a case of wanderlust, you may be able to relate to the challenge of feeling well, aligned, and nourished on-the-go.
I'm writing this from a real-time perspective, as I am currently in Greensville, South Carolina where I have been for the past few days leading a Wise and Wild Women's retreat at Furman University. Directly before that, I was visiting family in Florida while also being visited BY Hurricane Irma. The past two weeks have been unpredictable, a little unstable, and awe-inspiring to say the least... and I loved every minute of it.
Outside of my regular teaching schedule, I'm not one to follow a daily routine. Over the years and through a LOT of trial and error, I have realized that I actually thrive in the more organic, go-with-the-flow sort of moments. For a long a time, I felt guilty, shameful, and reckless when I would make little and life decisions more spontaneously; however, now I KNOW that it's actually energizing and life-fulfilling for me to be present and to move through life from a place of intuition. Schedules and routines are draining and make me feel stuck. Travel and fluidity feed my fire, fill my soul, and allow me to engage more FULLY with the people, animals, and land around me.
However, I know this isn't true for everyone and I recently sat down with my good friend and most wonderful teacher and human being Sydney Leto who travels and leads outdoor adventures for a living. Below she talks about her perspective on wellness and shares all her tricks, tools, and wisdom for staying grounded, energized, and nourished while living on-the-go.
Meredith: How do you describe your work?
Sydney: I am an active travel guide for a company called Backroads. The company started in Oakland nearly forty years ago and now offers mostly six day hiking and cycling tours all around the world. While a major part of the job is being active outdoors and exploring new places, an even bigger part is supporting and caring for our guests. I am everything from a hiking guide to a caterer, a bike mechanic to a DJ, an expert to a driver.
Meredith: What do you love about your work?
Sydney: I love the people I get to collaborate with each day. The Backroads community is an incredible coming-together of open minded, beauty seeking adventurers who are always looking to be a little bit better.
At first communal living was a challenge for me me, and at times it still is, but now I love walking into the house and knowing that one of my coworkers/roommates will probably offer some seed of inspiration - either through picking up an instrument or asking an interesting question.
Meredith: What are some of the challenges you face in this “on the go” lifestyle?
Sydney: It is next to impossible to know when you will have space, or create a solid routine. Most mornings I wake up in a new bed, in a shared room, with likely two other people. The greatest challenge is establishing simple rituals that help me feel grounded when everything around me is constantly changing.
Meredith: How do you start to describe what it means to be “well?”
Sydney: Being well on-the-go is learning to be kind to yourself. This was my greatest challenge as a new leader.
The moment I gave up the comfort of my everyday routine in San Francisco was the same moment I began forcing control in other parts of my life. What I learned is that when you're constantly in motion though, the best lesson is to have a sense of self while maintaining a flexible mind. In this lifestyle, most days will not go as imagined - a hike might get rained out, a guest might need special attention, your five minutes of morning quiet might be interrupted, you might eat something you normally wouldn't - but through being kind to yourself, rather than critical and spiraling out of control for days, you can bounce back and be even better the next time you encounter a challenging situation. Through this lifestyle I've learned that being well is flowing with the stream rather than grasping and working against it. It is living in a way that is lovely - with yourself and the world around you.
Meredith: What are some tips/tools you have to stay well?
Sydney: Creating a self-care toolbox is essential, for any type of lifestyle. For me, it is hard to find physical space for practice, so instead I try to find space in my mind first. Each morning, before I lift my head off the pillow, I simply observe where I am, how I feel, and notice the qualities. By this I mean that if I am feeling foggy, I simply observe that state, without spinning a story about it. If I'm feeling rested, I observe that state just the same. Then, I take a moment to set my intention for the day. I ask myself, “how do I want to feel today?” And then I determine what I need to do to feel that way. It isn't a particularly long time that I lay in bed thinking, maybe two minutes. Then, I get up.
Another ritual that helps me feel grounded on the go is simply preparing a thermos for the day with hot water and lemon. I also need coffee, so I have a smaller thermos for that. Breakfast - even eating something - is essential. It's the one meal I seem to have the most control over, so I do my best to have something juicy and filling, like fresh fruit and some nuts or oatmeal.
I've also heard that hugging someone first thing in the morning will help you live longer. Just saying.
Meredith: You were mostly recently in ALASKA! Tell us about that.
Sydney: When I was first sent to Alaska, I had no idea what to expect. I was totally ignorant - I didn't even realize that Alaska had mountains! But, this place is perfect. Alaska is water. It's green, it's blue, it's gray and it's dramatic. I didn't realize how distracted I was living in a city until I found myself in vast Alaska. This place makes you crave something simple, it tempts you to pursue peace and quiet. It's totally creative.
Meredith: And where are you off to next?
Sydney: Next up I am heading out east to Nantucket, Vermont and Maine. After living in San Francisco for three years, where it's always mild, I am so excited to experience a full fall season again. There is something so comforting about the fall, it always feels like a homecoming.
Keep up with Sydney, her travels, and her committment to staying well by following @sydleto on Instagram.