I’m currently in Panama, on a 2 week yoga, surf, and wellness retreat. This trip is the manifestation of a vision I seeded over 4 years ago; it is the culmination of a lot of “things that had to happen first” finally happening.
My original vision was to go to surf camp in Costa Rica. I was really set on “surf camp,” specifically in Costa Rica, as something I wanted to do after selling my home. My home took a year longer than planned to sell. And it wasn’t the right time of year for me to leave New York.
I stayed temporarily in a place that I expected to be a respite, but that was anything but. The environment drained my energy and presented obstacles to doing even the most basic things, including investigating vacation options.
When I finally was able to free up energy to plan my vacation, Costa Rica just wasn’t happening. Places were booked; I couldn’t find the type of environment I wanted for the time I wanted. Often, when things are too difficult, it means it’s not the right plan. I surrendered to the fact that maybe it wasn’t the right time for surf camp, or Costa Rica, or both.
So I released the idea of Costa Rica for now.
As of last weekend, I had NO vacation plan set. And yet everything in my bones was telling me that I needed to get away, I needed to restore.
Seeking an End to Winter
The past few years for me have been one long “winter” in the seasons of my life. Brain injury, burnout, breakdowns, battles — heavy stuff; darkness. I have been longing for an end to winter, to experiences the warmth and freedom of summer.
Stepping back to reflect on the difficulties in planning the vacation, I received a clear message: I had to honor my own winter before I could have my summer. I also had to help other people honor their “winters,” — embracing the emptiness, loss, grief, and dormancy that marks the winter season.
On the second day of the annual review workshop led by Tiago Forte and Taylor Pearson, someone asked a question about how to deal with disappointments and failures from the prior year. This is a question that is squarely in my wheelhouse, and I offered to address the issue.
The next day, I was able to free up energy to research alternate vacation options. I did this even while I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night. I found a retreat in Panama that had everything I had been looking for in Costa Rica — yoga, surf, remote location. It is basically off-grid; there is wifi access only in one area of the place where I’m staying.
I inquired, and there was one open spot in the retreat.
I was able to create the customized experience I wanted, for a fraction of what it would have cost in Costa Rica.
The entire trip came together in just two days, and I left four days later.
How was it that this plan came together with such ease when my long-held vision for Costa Rica hit every obstacle?
Annual Review is an Alignment Check
This is one of the key benefits of doing an annual review in the manner that I’ve outlined over the past week.
Doing the annual review is an alignment check.
Although looking at our disappointments and processing loss is the hardest part, this is the piece that’s most often in the way when we feel stuck.
It’s only through a dedicated ritual of examining my life that I’ve been able to see the energetic components that are in my way — emotional blocks, mental blocks, unresolved issues, ungrieved loss.
I’ve found for myself that the hardest part of accomplishing something is allowing it to be easy. I often think things need to be more complicated.
I’ve learned that when things are truly aligned, they happen with ease. That doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work involved. Hard work is one thing, but, as one of my yoga teaches says: this is not a practice of suffering.
Through commitment to this process on a daily and annual basis, I am able to see the bigger picture, release attachment to form, know which parts to surrender and which parts to maintain committed to.
When things are aligned, they happen with ease.
What if it doesn’t need to be so difficult?