Sunday, March 13, 2011

Calgon, Take Me Away: The Travel Version

“Ok Melinda, what’s the secret?” I say to her, watching as her glasses fell slightly down her smooth nose, her well-made, warm eyes rising to meet mine as her hand went to cup my knee that was bouncing up and down from a bout with anxiety.

“You’ve” she said calmly, gazing at me with certainty, grace and understanding, the result of three years working together through life and career coaching, babies being born, promotions being made and office matters bittersweet.

“So, what’s the deal? How do you be ‘on’ all day, plaster a face on and arrive with the same passion and energy, day after 18 hour day? How do you forget you’re missing a husband and child at home, that your house is a wreck, that you’re bone tired and not everyone in the room is satisfied, learning and growing? HOW?!”

Whether you’re an executive, a SAHM, a rock star or scrubbing bathrooms, her reply would be the same: you’ve gotta take care of you.

So here’s some secret tips she shared with me, that are now tried and true after round two at the Vinoy:

1. Create your space: unpack your bag, no matter how many days you’re staying, lining your clothes nicely in drawers and closets. Order fresh flowers. Bring tiny frames of your loved ones. Tote along a fabulous smelling candle and ask for matches at the bar when you arrive. Just like home.

2. Mail your love: particularly for Moms and Dads, duck into the gift shop or at your arrival at the airport and scrawl out a postcard for a loved one at home. Let them know you’re thinking of them and missing them and mail it immediately, with hopes it will arrive before your return trip.

3. Take a minute: use the fabulous amenities, including the gym, media room, spa, pool, sauna, gardens, room service or whirlpool if you can, whenever you can.

4. Load your iPod: bring along tunes that soothe your soul and bring you to your happy place.

5. Cut back on liquor: when you’re on the road, the tendency to ham it up and network generally involves alcohol. But actually, the warm stuff makes it more difficult for you to sleep and function the next day. When peer pressured, ask for soda water or water with a lime and forgetaboutit.

6. Breathe: when it doubt, step outside. Hide in the restroom. Duck into a dark corner. Take five deep breaths and try, try again.

And you know what? It worked. Bath and Body makes a fabulous, small stress relief candle that easily made it through security, while the Tampa airport had the perfect postcard with a “dofin” on it for Lawson, and his little picture was darling perched on my nightstand. Michael Jackson was my wakeup and shakeup for the morning, while the Vinoy’s whirlpool in the women’s locker room coupled with the sounds of their waterfall were the perfect end to a 16-hour day. And mornings? Way more manageable with ounces of water in the tummy versus white wine spritzers. Sure, I may not have been quite as fun…but you know what? I delivered a kick-butt meeting that achieved rockin’ results. And I saved my sanity along the way.

So thank you, Melinda, for shedding the light and creating a little Calgon that while on my travel, took me away…

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