Have you ever been somewhere that just inspires you to be a better person? One of those places, for me, is Iceland. In this post, I share my thoughts on what I learned about living an intentional life as I self-reflected through long drives and took in epic, other-worldly scenery.
"Why do you want to go there?"
This was the most frequently asked question when I told people that we were going on a family trip to Iceland a few years ago. I always found this question shocking because I couldn't see how anyone would NOT want to go there. The pictures and scenery took my breath away and the cloudy skies and dark water gave off a strong vibe that called to my soul.
The trip was amazing, but it was different than the other European countries we had visited. There was something about this trip that was both awe-inspiring and exhausting all at the same time. I think because most of the activities were more nature/outdoor focused, and the fact that we made our way around the whole country, there was a lot of driving and a lot of time for self-reflection. There was something about this country and culture that had me taking a deeper look at myself and my life. Looking back, there are three ways that Iceland inspired me. These three things resulted in me making changes and living a more intentional life.
Who do you want to be?
There's this sort of independence or personal responsibility that I felt in Iceland. Their most popular tourist attractions are not highly regulated and even in the areas where it could be potentially dangerous, it wasn't blocked off and there were no warning signs. Coming from America where it's the complete opposite, this was surprising. One example was when we went to Namafjall. There were many mud pots and geothermal steam vents around, much like Yellowstone National Park, except no signs and only flimsy strings to block off some of the most dangerous parts. We got to go VERY close to these geothermal areas, much closer than we were allowed at Yellowstone. This carried over to other things too, such as paying to use the toilets, but only having a box to put the money in with no one to catch you if you didn't pay. And I never saw a single cop on the road to catch speeders or road rule-breakers. There just seems to be this expectation of integrity and common sense and it was so evident to us throughout our whole trip. Now, maybe there are other reasons for why things are set up this way, but for me, it inspired me to check in with myself and decide who I wanted to be? Am I living in integrity in my life? Who am I when no one is watching? Who am I when people are watching? I got clearer about my values and started making choices that were aligned with them and saying no to the things that didn't.
Own Your Power
There isn't a shortage of powerful landscapes in Iceland. Each part of the island has distinctive features and they are all powerful. Big volcanoes, giant glaciers, dark, foreboding waves, and gushing waterfalls. I think this place coined the term "force of nature." Just the site of them is inspiring. I was most excited to see a glacier up close. From far away, they don't look very big, but when you get up close–it's just incredible. I am so intrigued by glaciers because they are slow, like really slow. But they are also very powerful. They break down mountains and carve out valleys. It's a silent power. When I was near that glacier, just like when I was near the waterfalls, or hiking to the top of a huge volcano, I could feel the energy of these forces of nature and I felt their power transfer to me. On one hand, being near them showcased how small I was, yet I felt the power that I had within. The potential I had to create, to influence, and to change. As I went home, I thought about how I could use my power for good. Was I owning that power within, or did I let it lay dormant out of self-doubt or insecurity?
Embrace the Silence
Iceland is overall, still a very blank canvas. You aren't going to find loads of museums and touristy things to do, which is fine with me. So much of it's intrigue is in the landscape. And I think the lack of touristy stuff adds to the charm of the country. Almost everywhere we went was met with silence. Not literal silence. Sometimes you had the crashing of waterfalls, the roar of the wind, or the beating of the waves. But those nature sounds are not the same as the "life" sounds we're surrounded with all day long. In the silence, I was more connected with my intuition. I could hear the thoughts in my mind. I had to acknowledge the not so fun thoughts and work through them and I was better for it. I felt the energy of my surroundings. And it was so energizing and peaceful. I'm not sure I ever felt as relaxed as I did on those evenings in Iceland. It inspired me to intentionally create more moments of silence in my life when I went home. I knew that if I didn't intentionally create it, I wouldn't have it. As I've made more space for that silence, my intuition has guided me and my family to some amazing opportunities and I've had many powerful moments of personal growth.
Are you being intentional?
You don't need to travel to Iceland to be more intentional in your life. You can decide to make those changes right now and you can start by asking yourself these questions:
"Am I living in integrity? Am I actually living the values that I say are important to me?"
"Do I acknowledge and own my power? How can I create, influence, or create change?"
"Do I embrace silence? How can I connect to my intuition more?"
As you answer these questions and start being more intentional in these areas, I know that you will see a difference in your life!
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