To feel intrinsically connected with a culture other than the one you were raised involves the feeling of a coming home. A ‘coming home’ in a way that seems impossible until you feel it first-hand, deep in the marrow of your bones. As I share in detail in the introduction of the month of May in my new book The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, my first trip and time spent in the English countryside spoke to my inner most true self in a way I didn’t expect, but completely understood.
Spending only, but entirely, four days in north Devon in a country home aloft the hills overlooking the Bristol Channel without another house in sight, I went about my everydays as I would if I were at home in Bend. And it was pure bliss. All in my own company, and not for a moment did I feel lonely. Quite the opposite in fact. I felt enriched, I felt soothed, I felt, finally, in so many ways I had not felt entirely before, at home.
Brené Brown writes in Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone that a feeling of loneliness stems from spending time in places and with people “that don’t feel alive with connection”. She continues to share neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago’s definition of loneliness which is ‘perceived social isolation’ . . . “when we feel disconnected” the latter Brown’s paraphrasing. While reading these words recently, it made all the more sense to me why I feel so wonderfully alive even, and perhaps especially, when I am in my own company while traveling both to France and Britain, and then as well when I return and am spending time, my everydays, at Le Papillon, a sanctuary that was customized to welcome both cultures into my everyday life, a home I share with no other human, but of course my pups, and the birds and animals and plants that hold my attention, fascinate and delight me and visit or bloom when consistent, thoughtful care is given.
Equally so, to further acknowledge the truth in Brown’s discoveries, I can feel lonely when I am spending time with people who or am in an environment that lacks a curiosity or appreciation, or at the very least a respect, for a culture I am so fond of and grateful to have found. Unconsciously I have known my own company is quite sweet as I give myself permission to follow my curiosities without judgment, to explore, wander and learn; conversely, my loneliest days have been spent with other people – whether in relationships of all different natures and/or spending time (and in this case I do use the term spending) that indirectly or directly deny or dissuade me from celebrating the life I love living, the life that truly nurtures me to be fully Shannon.
Returning to England this past April was life lifting. Noting not having visited since 2017, which I didn’t realize consciously is nearly 5 years, ended a drought of British culture seen with my own eyes that I needed more than I realized. It was a figurative deep breath of fresh air that upon taking in, immediately brought a smile to my face and a calm to my being. While I didn’t spend my time as I most enjoy for most of my days when I am in England, which is to rent a vacation rental out in the countryside and go about many days just savoring the everyday routines and visiting an occasional destination of interest, I was in Britain, and that was all that mattered. I saw places and spent time partaking in activities that further introduced a culture to me I had not done before, and for that I am grateful.
In today’s episode/post, I’d like to share with you 20 Life Lessons learned during these 3 1/2 days in Britain – both in London and in Kent as we took a train ride out to the southeast countryside of England and spent the night as we were intent to visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and oh what a treat that was.
Let’s take a look at the list:
~Note, if you tune in to the audio version, I share much more detail about each item on the list. Be sure to check out the podcast wherever you enjoy your favorite shows.
1.Afternoon tea is always a good idea – whether a formal occasion at a special location or at home in your own company
2. Taking a long, hot bath in between day outings and evening plans, accompanied by classical music is restorative and energizing
3. Take the Tube (the Underground) to swiftly and inexpensively move about London
~Purchase your Oyster card to have with you when you arrive in London.
4. Don’t wear exposed fine linens on the Tube (under a trench or other coat) to protect from any loose soot that may fall when there
5. Business class is more than worth the price if flying to London from the West Coast of the states or further away.
Please do reach out to me if you are seriously considering a Business Class ticket as I have a travel agent and company who can help find you a quality route and airlines for a fair price.
6. Stepping away from the virtual world regularly strengthens the quality of presence and engagement in the life you have created.
7. The countryside is my jam.
From birdsong, to rolling hills of green fields, peace is found simply standing still or watching it drift by while on the train.
8. Trust what captures your ahh . . .
From tangible items that will a gap in your life, routine, etc., to art, traditions, natural beauty, anything that draws your eye and holds your attention, even if at first you do not know why, hold loosely in your mind and explore what is speaking to you. Do not dismiss it.
9. Have a classic trench that fits your stature and complements your skin tone.
You will wear it in nearly every season – cinched up with a scarf in the winter, left open and layered over the top of your spring or fall outfit, ideal for traveling during the summer for sprucing up your comfy outfit to sit/sleep with ease for a long flight.
10. Whilst in the country, leave windows open at night so as to be gentle awoken by birdsong
11. A Chelsea boot is a must for three seasons of outfits
12. Garden, keep gardening, keep learning, keep nourishing your mind and being
13. Make time to visit the theatre when in the city
14. Visit, spend time and enjoy the beauty of the gardens throughout Britain not only for ideas, but for rejuvenation of the mind, eyes and being.
15. An umbrella, find and invest in a quality umbrella (foldable or traditional)
16. Spend time in the countryside
17. Savor the train ride out to the countryside
Grab your favorite daily newspaper, open a book or take a nap, and just appreciate not having to commute as the driver nor having to be alert whilst traveling with fellow train-goers. Saves time, reduces stress and stretches your ability to see more of Britain, because there is so much more than London.
18. Less driving, more walking and connecting
– seeing and being around humanity and nature, consciously choosing a place to live and work that does not require so much time in your vehicle
19. When a moment of calm and comfort is needed, visit a museum and wander, stop and let the art guide you
20. My company, so long as I embrace my true self, is wonderful company whether on my own or with a chosen companion
~Explore all of the posts shared during TSLL’s 4th Annual British Week here.
—The Duke, the film based on a true story