Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I Learned About Myself During Our Vacation

Hello Friends! I'm back and am so looking forward to connecting with you again! As I mentioned in my last post, it was time for the hubbs and I to get some R&R time away, especially after he's been busy writing his thesis so he can graduate and I recently left the company I was working for and the crazy schedule that eventually came with it- 7:30pm-3:30am shifts for the past 2 months had taken a toll on me. So, we packed our bags and drove down to Ft. Lauderdale where our cruise ship to the Caribbean awaited us for the next 10 days. We visited Antigua, St.Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and the cruise ship's private island in The Bahamas which you might have already seen a pic of hubby and I in if you follow The Classy Woman Facebook page.

One of the perks to being married to a Professional Speaker is that he gets invited to many different cities, countries and venues and I get to tag along. As an Author of a variety of topics, he gets asked all the time to speak on cruise ships as their guest Lecturer on an array of topics during the at sea days. While the cruises aren't entirely free it makes seeing new destinations extremely affordable and living in Florida is a huge plus because we have so many ports to depart from. Airfare isn't necessary which makes stuffing my suitcases that much easier since I don't have to worry about weight restrictions for my many pairs of shoes in their respective boxes-yes I'm particular like that. ;) I can do many things well but packing light isn't one of them...yet.

While relaxation and fun was the goal, I had not anticipated that by the end of the trip I would have so many new lessons learned, but I did. Although not always easy to share weaknesses, since I value personal growth and being transparent with others and because I know most people can learn a lot through others' experiences/lessons, I thought I'd share them with you, maybe they'll help you to evaluate your own life also. Here we go! Prepare yourself for a L-O-N-G post...this is what I learned about myself during our 10 days away.

Lessons Learned:

1. What you Want isn't Always What You Need- The very first cruise that hubby worked on, I had anticipated the worst for our accommodations (after all, he was working on the ship) so I set my expectations pretty low so that I wouldn't be disappointed. To my surprise and delight, that first glorious cruise we were set up with a sweet ocean view cabin-it was an even bigger room than on previous ships that we had had a balcony-it was awesome. The next one I set my expectations low again especially since we were cruising at such a busy time-Christmas & New Year's, and we were in fact provided with an inside cabin which simply means it's the smallest cabin (or so I thought) and it does not have a window or balcony. It was a little weird not getting to see the sun rise/set and see our arrival into a new port but heck, we were at sea for 14 days so we pushed the two individual beds together and made a queen size bed for ourselves. ;)

For some reason, even though it was a cruise during Easter, I somehow felt like we might have a nice sized cabin waiting for us. However, when they handed us two cruise cards each upon arrival of this ship, I just knew things were going to be different this time around as I read though our paperwork. We found our room and as I turned the handle and peered inside my heart sank when I saw it was a crew cabin with....wait for it......bunk beds! LOL. It was the tiniest cabin we had ever stayed in and with both of us not ones to pack lightly I had wondered where we were going to store all of our stuff and not go crazy over the next 10 days, especially with no window. I moved my bags into a corner out of the way and decided to leave the cabin, partly to give my hubbs a chance to unpack some of his stuff alone and give him some space and also give me space to get over my immediate feelings of disappointment. I headed to the other decks to check out the pool and spa only to learn that the discounts we previously received on other ships for shopping, spa, and fancy drinks didn't apply on this ship. For a brief moment I felt that disappointed and then suddenly remembered something my dad used to tell me as a young girl. While he always promoted dreaming big, he'd often say, "If you don't set your expectations so high, you will be less likely to get disappointed". And how true it was in this case. As I walked around the ship I told myself to snap out of my funky feeling, after all our room was just for sleeping hours and showering, we were blessed to have such an opportunity. There are bigger problems in life to contend with then one's stateroom!

I realized that in ways, I had become a bit....dare I say...spoiled with having such a fab room out of the gates a few cruises back. It's hard to go backwards sometimes when you've experienced something greater. I do realize that some people will never go on a cruise or a vacation at all in their lifetime, I had much to celebrate and forced myself to be grateful for everything that we did have-10 days together away from home, a cabin in a quiet area away from the elevators, great meals that I didn't have to prepare, 5 new destinations we hadn't been to before (we were in St. Thomas on a previous cruise), sunshine, beautiful beaches and hubby's opportunity to expand his growing roster of cruise lines.

It turned out that our lack of space actually brought us closer together as we laughed, made jokes about our bunk beds and other bits of our circumstances during the trip. We hadn't laughed that much on any other cruise. The space for our stuff? Turns out that the Officer's cabin we stayed in had a lot of storage space, just as much as the other rooms with under-bunk storage. Even still, Most of my items that don't wrinkle easily like jeans stayed in my suitcase during the trip making packing to go home a breeze! Sometimes the circumstances we want to fight, don't feel we deserve or don't understand make us better, helping us to become more grateful for previous wonderful opportunities or circumstances.

2. Don't be Afraid of Looking Silly- Looking forward to the beaches of our first destination in Antigua, I spent more time in the water than I should have. The glass-like water was so stunning that I enjoyed 3 hours straight in it followed by lunch. After re-applying sunblock many times, I thought I had myself covered but the nasty sunburn that appeared later that day revealed otherwise. My shoulders, face, neck, back and chest looked like a lobster and boy did that make sleeping unbearable for the upcoming days-bunk beds actually proved to be helpful for us on this particular trip! Since we didn't pre-purchase excursions this time as we normally do, we decided to play it by ear. Sadly, I couldn't do much that involved being in the sun. Mostly I stayed covered up in the shade with a big floppy hat and halter dresses as to not put pressure on my red, hot shoulders followed by a long sleeved linen shirt over top and zinc sunblock everywhere else. I looked a bit silly to be honest but the health of my skin was more important than fashion.

When we hit our last destination, my skin was healing and although peeling, was looking much better. I was not going to miss the snorkel opportunity in Bahamas as I sat out of other possible snorkel adventures due to my intense burn. There I was with my 3/4 length sleeve bathing suit cover-up on, a mask and snorkel over top of my white-ish face covered with zinc oxide sunblock, hair in a bun messed up by putting on my mask and trying to navigate my way into what I learned from hubby who was already in the water, was a beach shore filled with rocks. As I forewarned another couple about the rocks which were hard to see, the guy who responded kind of looked at me with a smirk looking at my getup. I was there to see fish, and fish I was going to see!  As I entered the water and swam over the rocks hubby scooped me up and went in for a kiss and joked "only a face a husband could love" as we tried to kiss with his hat brim and my snorkel mask in the way- we were laughing hysterically, a fine looking pair that day! Thankfully all of the prep work paid off, there were lots of beautiful fish, huge sea fans and coral to be seen and I don't regret looking silly for one moment. We all want to look our best and present our best self, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. The perfect situation is over-rated, being silly is what creates funny stories and leaves lasting memories.

3. I've Become a More Patient Person- Sharing a tiny cabin, and an even smaller bathroom (when we don't share one at home), and trying to get into the same closet as we got dressed for dinner was tricky. We usually did things in shifts. He'd work out at the gym while I got ready since he always gets ready at warp speed. I would walk around the shops before we ate or read a book in one of the lounges. Perhaps it was the vacation atmosphere, but I'd like to think I've made some progress, patience has been an area that I've been working on for a while.

As hubby and I have discussed having children in the next couple years, I've been praying for a while that God would help me to become a more patient woman so I can be the best possible wife and eventually mother also. It helps that I have a mostly patient husband who gives me grace when I need it.

5. I Need to Stop Pre-Judging Situations- The night before we arrived at the cruise ship's private island, we discussed what we wanted to do once we were there. We had decided to spend that day snorkeling but I knew I didn't want to stay there for more than a few hours. When we sailed on a previous cruise line a few years ago, their private island beach was okay but nothing to write home about, hubby agreed. I had just assumed that most of the private beach areas were more or less the same. We agreed to head to the beach around noon time allowing everyone else to get off the ship and we could eat breakfast with far less people around.

That morning we took our time getting out of bed and heading to breakfast, there we saw the beach from a distance. When we finally decided to head over, we learned that the last tender boat would pick everyone up at 3:30pm, which wasn't much time since we dilly-dallied. When we arrived, it was so beautiful-brightly painted cabanas, little shops that I wasn't expecting, a much larger beach with gorgeous white sand and many more places for people to lounge. There I was, taking in the beautiful scenery but all the while I was mad at myself. Why? Because I had preconceived notions about what this little beach area would be and as a result, I missed out on spending several more hours at such a lovely spot. While I don't pre-judge people, I realized in that moment that I do tend to spend too much time thinking about how things will be or how they'll turn out, even on vacation. I need to let go of presumptions and pre-judging situations just because something similar wasn't so great (once again my over-analytical brain at work). I'm looking forward to being more open to all opportunities and take things as they come instead of ruling them out before I've even experienced them.

5. I'm more in love with my husband than ever before-We've had our ups and downs like any couple but I can honestly say that our first year married was not the lovey-dovey rainbows and butterflies kind of newly married life that we had envisioned. At times I questioned whether I made the right decision as I'm sure he did as well. It was a frustrating time which was intensified by the fact that I had moved to a new country with all of my close friends and family thousands of miles away.  We can both be stubborn, we're both very independent and very driven. I also have a need for things to be organized that hubby cannot relate to-his office door is the only one that stays shut for this reason-he admits he's a disorganized clutter bug. These things aren't always a great recipe for a good relationship and I had struggled to make his home feel like mine as his grandparents raised him in the house we live in today.

The past few months since he's been home for NYU have been amazing, not to say that other times weren't but we feel connected and committed to each other more than ever. Somehow, it was all magnified for me on this trip as we laughed our way though circumstances. Seeing my husband speaking in front of everyone on his lecturing days at sea made me so proud too, he's so talented, a very hard worker and has such a heart for people. I feel really blessed to have him in my life. While many relationships start strong and fizzle out years later, I'm glad ours started out with all of its challenges. It has given us perspective and we now know how committed we are to one another. Five and a half years in, it's as if the mountain we've been climbing has ended and we've suddenly arrived at the top with the brightest view of our future.

Being on a ship and seeing many elderly couples reminded me of how short life truly is. There's no time like the present to make things happen, we are given each day as a gift. Sometimes there are things we can do best in our current decade than we cannot in future decades, my goal for the rest of the year is to make sure I'm maximizing on all of those things to avoid having regrets later.

Are you still with me? Oh, good you are. If you're up for more reading, if you've been missing our Manners Monday posts on etiquette, or if you're planning on taking a cruise soon yourself, he're a post on Cruise Ship Etiquette.

Anyone getting ready to take a trip or just come back from one?
What things have you learned about yourself recently? I'd love to hear from you! :)

*images via


  1. It's not unusual to experience any of the things that you wrote about. The fact that you learned from those experiences is amazing and will help you later to teach your children when you do become a parent.

  2. such a nice way of expressing yourself!!! its good you have learnt so much! lovely :))

    my latest post on greece travel :))

  3. @Karen-Thanks, I hope to do just that! :)
    @Fashionista Era-Thank you, I appreciate your comment and I look forward to reading your latest post, I love Greece. :)


  4. So wonderful that this vacation has brought you together even more. i have to say, when we were in Mexico they gave us 2 twin beds, we giggled and asked for another room....not sure what I would have said about bunk beds :)

  5. Where oh where can I buy the black and white cabana stripe dress that you have in the top picture?? I am in love with it!!


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