Embracing the Elements: My Icelandic Adventure
Guest writer Sara Hanks brings us the lessons she learned through vacation in “Embracing the Elements: My Icelandic Adventure.”
As I was unpacking after returning from my journey to Iceland, a quote on the hiking shoe box caught my eye, “It can be easy to forget how much beauty surrounds us, but <Insert Shoe Company> gets you to a place where you can enjoy the world around you.” The words struck a chord, as a beautiful summary of my experience and reflection of the lessons I had learned throughout the vacation.
The first key takeaway was to Be Prepared. The 10-day forecast on the weather app on my phone, would not have prepared me for the elements we encountered. Several days were met with heavy winds and rains. At one point, the road closed due to high winds. When the road opened and we could drive through, there were several vans and trucks destroyed from being blown off the road. I’m grateful that my sister is always cold and warned me to pack with the worst weather in mind. The treacherous winds and heavy rains were no match for my waterproof hiking shoes, rain pants and layers of jackets. I enjoyed each moment because I was prepared.
Be Silly and Have Fun.
Be Silly and Have Fun, was a lesson I encountered in surprising ways. From running to see what treasures hid around the bend in the trail to being up close and personal to farm animals, I found pure joy. Trying to keep my balance in the wind, watching sheep being born, and petting the friendly Icelandic cows brought out a childlike sense of wonder and giggles. One cow decided to put my foot into its mouth. The small, whimsical moments made me realize the satisfaction of embracing the unexpected and amusing things in life.
Be Present in the Moment
Nothing taught me to Be Present in the Moment better than my hike up the stairs to the top of Skogafoss. With each step up the steep staircase, I was fully engrossed in the task at hand… get to the top, safely. When I reached the top, the view was amazing, as were the winds. Traveling back down the stairs was one of the most terrifying experiences of the vacation. Railings only existed on one side of the staircase, and they switched sides randomly. I found myself competing with the people climbing the stairs, especially when the wind gusts were greater than 30 MPH. All thoughts of work, LinkedIn notifications, and the incomplete chores were non-existent.
The lesson to Get Outside was driven home by a multitude of experiences. From riding an Icelandic horse to the stone beach, to boating around bright blue icebergs, each moment spent outdoors was a refreshing escape from the digital confines of everyday life. Oddly enough, I felt no knee pain during this vacation; I could run pain-free for the first time in years. I believe the constant movement in the fresh air was a big contributor. Now that I have all-weather gear, there is no excuse to avoid being outside.
Prioritize What You Love to Do.
Lastly, this trip reminded me to Prioritize What You Love to Do. I’m flexible and adaptable, so going along with others to do whatever, is not a problem. In Iceland, I rediscovered my love for adventure in the outdoors. Seeing geysers, making snow angels at the base of snow-covered mountains, hiking through a farm to a secluded waterfall, and being chased by a herd of Reindeer brought complete joy. It was a strong reminder that investing time in my passions brings both pleasure and a sense of fulfilment.
The quote on my shoebox perfectly described my Icelandic journey. Amidst the wild landscapes and memorable experiences, I had not just traveled across a country, but traveled on a journey of self-discovery. The joy, serenity, and renewal I found in Iceland shall be continued through these lessons.