How a Vacation Changed My Life

Written by Jen E. Griswold


(Four Lessons Discovered on a Nordic Vacation)

My family and I have just returned from a fabulous Northern European vacation that included 7 nights on the Disney Magic cruise vessel.  This was a much needed chance to recharge and share the love Mr. Milpreneur and I have for traveling with our kids, ages 9 and 11.  It was their very first trip to Europe and we figured that the comforts of the Disney cruise would be a great way for our picky eaters to both see the sites and ensure they would have something they would like to eat every evening.

Along with the recharge I was also enlightened with several great business and life lessons while experiencing new cultures.  With a clear head and fresh perspective, it was amazing what I picked up from the beautiful Nordic culture and sites.  From the cobblestone streets, to the immense history, to the restaurant experiences, there were new discoveries and important lessons around every corner that I can take home to enhance my business practices.

1.  Less is More

Less is More

Russian food is pretty simple

As a lover of all things interior design, I think the architecture and style in the Nordic countries was truly remarkable.  They have perfected the art of efficient and smart design.  No extra, no frills and no waste.  As I would admire the clean and well designed bathrooms or building architecture, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways I could apply the idea of simplifying in many areas in my life.

In my business, I am committing to scheduling my day more efficiently.  Rather than answering emails all day long, I have decided to stick to a strict schedule of answering messages during two 30-minute times in the early morning and late afternoon.  No major development will suffer if I don’t answer it within 15 minutes.

Additionally, I am committing to cutting back on our calendar commitments.  As much as I like to host each event or party, sometimes I can schedule myself into a corner.  Not every event is value added, so I am committing to asking myself more honestly whether each and every added event to the calendar is worth the input.  My hope is that this Nordic cleanup of my practices will allow for a better mental health status and the ability to feel “done” at the end of the day, rather than just on a constant hamster wheel.

2.  Your Roots Matter

Know Your Roots

Given that my great grandparents were both Swedish and Norwegian, I felt an unspoken connection to the people in Northern Europe.  As I learned more about their deep spiritual ways and their struggle as Vikings, it made a lot of stories my grandmother told me come into perspective.

It’s funny how just that physical feeling of “belonging” in the region (although my hair is more of a manufactured blond than most of the true Nordic women), made me feel more confident in my journey in life.  In a way, it makes me make more sense to myself.  And, with that confidence, I think it instantly helped me see how I fit into the bigger picture.

3.  Don’t be Afraid of Different

Try New Things

Cole trying Russian soup

My son is absolutely the worst when it comes to trying new foods or experiences.  And I remember being exactly the same when I was his age.  Yet, I eventually grew out of it and kept reminding him how exciting it is to experience new things.  I found myself repeatedly saying, “Don’t be afraid of things that are different.”

For instance, when we stopped at the port in St. Petersburg, Russia, I expected a bleak and dreary Russian city where people moped around and wished for a more exciting life.  I know that is a wildly undereducated prediction and I should have done more research, but what we found was completely the opposite.  The city was vibrant, colorful, rich in history and religion and full of happy people.

From a city decimated by Hitler during WWII, there was much to learn.  After enduring tough times, the city and people of St. Petersburg found ways to survive and thrive.  Russia has very little agriculture or natural resources and it is cold there most of the year.  Yet, they were resourceful and created caviar and vodka out of fish and potatoes, which are delicacies that have become common across the globe.

Additionally, with cold winters and bleak weather, artists had little distraction and were able to accomplish amazing work in the areas of art, music and ballet.  All in all, before experiencing St. Petersburg, I had an entirely inaccurate perspective and understanding of this fascinating city.  And it reminded me that there is just nothing like experiencing new cultures and experiences to open our minds to what is possible.

4.  Finding Wonder and Magic in Your Daily Life is What Keeps You Young

Magical unplugged family moments

Despite the fact that we are not typically Disney people OR big cruise people, we have somehow fallen in LOVE with Disney cruises.  The amazing service, the attentiveness to all ages, and family togetherness have an incredible effect.  Those who know me know it takes a lot for me to get sentimental, but when it comes to these cruises, they are truly “magical.”  And for the past 4 years, they have been the times I look back on most fondly.

The key reason is because Disney provides us the chance to find the wonder in things again.  Without wi-fi (which they make so ridiculously expensive we just go without), and the pressures of a job, they take care of everything and allow you to truly find the wonder in the places you visit and the people you are with.  It’s just as they say; magical!

Now the truth is, that it doesn’t take a Disney cruise to find the magic and wonder in your life.  It just takes enough escape from the rat race to gain some perspective again.

So, go escape to someplace new.  Enjoy the adventure and let us know what you’ve learned!  Leave a comment on our Facebook page!

Written by Jen E. Griswold


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