Lessons from my London trip

Happy 25-year cancer anniversary to me! I treated myself to a wonderful, memorable trip to London, England to celebrate living beyond cancer. As I walked along the River Thames on my last evening, I reflected on some lessons learned from my London trip. Reminders of enjoying life and taking chances on the opportunities in front of us. I thought you might appreciate them too so keeping reading.

How I ended up in London

England has been on my travel wish list for some time. Actually, the entire United Kingdom is. Our family DNA is strong for English, Scottish and Irish so I assume that’s the draw for me. Never mind the gorgeous scenery, fun people, great culture and music, and so much history! I traveled to Ireland years ago for my 10-year cancer anniversary and it felt like home. A beautiful country, friendly people and great adventures exploring. I want to return but am ‘making’ myself first explore more areas.

I had plans to travel to England/Scotland in 2019, but alas, I had to clear stupid cancer (again) so pushed to the following year. Well, we all know what happened in 2020 and through 2021 (ugh, Covid). While the pandemic keeps lingering, I feel a bit more comfortable traveling thanks to vaccines and continued restrictions with many European venues and companies. But I had a hard time finding a friend who could commit to the time I wanted to dedicate to traveling so kept putting any trip on hold.

Then I kept thinking how CELEBRATE is my word of 2022 and 25 years ago I was diagnosed with my first cancer. And it’s been quite a long journey. When I returned from biking across Iowa to raise funds for Livestrong’s cancer support programs, I learned a friend had died from cancer and another was in hospice (she sadly died a few weeks later). These moments really hit me hard. And reminded me of my pledge to myself to embrace life.

Choosing to CELEBRATE the possibilities

So I looked up a travel company that had been highly recommended by several friends, offered several small group trips and still had Covid protocols in place. I found their Taste of London tour leaving in mid-September, days after my birthday. I’ve traveled solo before but never overseas. And I had never been on a tour. But this one promoted being an active tour and seemed to explore a lot of the area. I then learned there was one spot left and the single supplement was minimal (many companies charge extra for a single room, which I personally think is dumb but that’s for another day). One spot left? Direct flight to/from London? My own room? I felt like it was meant to be. So I booked it! And am so grateful that I did!

View of London from Greenwich

What a memorable trip. First, it’s a wonderful tour schedule and we had the best tour manager (she made sure everyone had a great time). In addition to ALL that we explored on the itinerary (we were on the go all day/evening most days and saw a lot), it happened to also be the time of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral events. From seeing the miles-long queue of people waiting to see the Queen’s coffin to visiting Buckingham Palace gardens to view thousands of flower tributes to watching the funeral on huge screens in Hyde Park with British citizens, it was fascinating to be in London during this historic time. I also made friends in our tour group, found time to explore a bit on my own and simply appreciated the opportunity to take myself on this trip to CELEBRATE life and health!

I plan to return to England to explore beyond London as I know I’ll love the countryside and other areas. This trip re-ignited my passion and interests for wandering the world.

Some lessons from my London trip:

** Throw your arms open to possibilities and opportunities that present themselves to you NOW, in the present. You never know what joy and adventures will appear if you’re willing to be open and look.

** It’s true that we don’t know what the next minute, hour, day may bring. So embrace the present moment.

Enjoying English tea time in London

** Don’t keep putting off trips and experiences (if you can). Waiting for the ‘right’ time, a significant other, the kids to grow up, etc. keeps putting off things that you could be enjoying NOW. The blunt reality is that your opportunities may be gone when you finally decide to go.

** Get comfortable being with yourself! Learn to enjoy your own company, find solo hobbies and do activities on your own every so often. Then you won’t always be waiting around for others, possibly missing out on fun experiences. And you will learn so much about yourself, your likes, wants and interests when you don’t have others’ opinions and needs in your face.

** Remember that there is no guarantee that the ‘right’ time will be in the future. Cheesy as it is, the future is today, friends.

** Be proactive about your health. Get preventive screenings, pay attention to health changes and establish relationships with appropriate doctors to ensure you’re well cared for.

** Be open to exploring the world around you. There is so much to see and LEARN. If you can’t travel far from home, check out what’s happening in your home town or surrounding areas.

** Try something new. Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone, teaches you something about yourself and even makes you proud.

Today I choose to love life

While I learned some great lessons from my London trip, it mostly reminded me to enjoy life. We truly have no idea where our journey will lead us or what we’ll encounter along the way. But we can choose how we respond to each day and today I choose gratitude for every moment I’m blessed to be alive. What will you choose today?

Have you been to London? If so, what did you enjoy?

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