329: 20 Life Lessons Learned on My Recent Trip to England
Monday May 16, 2022

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To feel intrinsically connected with a culture other than the one you were raised involves the feeling of a coming home. A ‘coming home’ in a way that seems impossible until you feel it first-hand, deep in the marrow of your bones. As I share in detail in the introduction of the month of May in my new book The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, my first trip and time spent in the English countryside spoke to my inner most true self in a way I didn’t expect, but completely understood.

Spending only, but entirely, four days in north Devon in a country home aloft the hills overlooking the Bristol Channel without another house in sight, I went about my everydays as I would if I were at home in Bend. And it was pure bliss. All in my own company, and not for a moment did I feel lonely. Quite the opposite in fact. I felt enriched, I felt soothed, I felt, finally, in so many ways I had not felt entirely before, at home.

Brené Brown writes in Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone that a feeling of loneliness stems from spending time in places and with people “that don’t feel alive with connection”. She continues to share neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago’s definition of loneliness which is ‘perceived social isolation’ . . . “when we feel disconnected” the latter Brown’s paraphrasing. While reading these words recently, it made all the more sense to me why I feel so wonderfully alive even, and perhaps especially, when I am in my own company while traveling both to France and Britain, and then as well when I return and am spending time, my everydays, at Le Papillon, a sanctuary that was customized to welcome both cultures into my everyday life, a home I share with no other human, but of course my pups, and the birds and animals and plants that hold my attention, fascinate and delight me and visit or bloom when consistent, thoughtful care is given.

Equally so, to further acknowledge the truth in Brown’s discoveries, I can feel lonely when I am spending time with people who or am in an environment that lacks a curiosity or appreciation, or at the very least a respect, for a culture I am so fond of and grateful to have found. Unconsciously I have known my own company is quite sweet as I give myself permission to follow my curiosities without judgment, to explore, wander and learn; conversely, my loneliest days have been spent with other people – whether in relationships of all different natures and/or spending time (and in this case I do use the term spending) that indirectly or directly deny or dissuade me from celebrating the life I love living, the life that truly nurtures me to be fully Shannon.

Returning to England this past April was life lifting. Noting not having visited since 2017, which I didn’t realize consciously is nearly 5 years, ended a drought of British culture seen with my own eyes that I needed more than I realized. It was a figurative deep breath of fresh air that upon taking in, immediately brought a smile to my face and a calm to my being. While I didn’t spend my time as I most enjoy for most of my days when I am in England, which is to rent a vacation rental out in the countryside and go about many days just savoring the everyday routines and visiting an occasional destination of interest, I was in Britain, and that was all that mattered. I saw places and spent time partaking in activities that further introduced a culture to me I had not done before, and for that I am grateful.

In today’s episode/post, I’d like to share with you 20 Life Lessons learned during these 3 1/2 days in Britain – both in London and in Kent as we took a train ride out to the southeast countryside of England and spent the night as we were intent to visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and oh what a treat that was.

Let’s take a look at the list:

~Note, if you tune in to the audio version, I share much more detail about each item on the list. Be sure to check out the podcast wherever you enjoy your favorite shows.

1.Afternoon tea is always a good idea – whether a formal occasion at a special location or at home in your own company

2. Taking a long, hot bath in between day outings and evening plans, accompanied by classical music is restorative and energizing

3. Take the Tube (the Underground) to swiftly and inexpensively move about London

~Purchase your Oyster card to have with you when you arrive in London.

4. Don’t wear exposed fine linens on the Tube (under a trench or other coat) to protect from any loose soot that may fall when there

5. Business class is more than worth the price if flying to London from the West Coast of the states or further away.

Please do reach out to me if you are seriously considering a Business Class ticket as I have a travel agent and company who can help find you a quality route and airlines for a fair price.

6. Stepping away from the virtual world regularly strengthens the quality of presence and engagement in the life you have created.

7. The countryside is my jam.

From birdsong, to rolling hills of green fields, peace is found simply standing still or watching it drift by while on the train.

8. Trust what captures your ahh . . .

From tangible items that will a gap in your life, routine, etc., to art, traditions, natural beauty, anything that draws your eye and holds your attention, even if at first you do not know why, hold loosely in your mind and explore what is speaking to you. Do not dismiss it.

9. Have a classic trench that fits your stature and complements your skin tone.

You will wear it in nearly every season – cinched up with a scarf in the winter, left open and layered over the top of your spring or fall outfit, ideal for traveling during the summer for sprucing up your comfy outfit to sit/sleep with ease for a long flight.

10. Whilst in the country, leave windows open at night so as to be gentle awoken by birdsong

11. A Chelsea boot is a must for three seasons of outfits

12. Garden, keep gardening, keep learning, keep nourishing your mind and being

13. Make time to visit the theatre when in the city

14. Visit, spend time and enjoy the beauty of the gardens throughout Britain not only for ideas, but for rejuvenation of the mind, eyes and being.

15. An umbrella, find and invest in a quality umbrella (foldable or traditional)

16. Spend time in the countryside

17. Savor the train ride out to the countryside

Grab your favorite daily newspaper, open a book or take a nap, and just appreciate not having to commute as the driver nor having to be alert whilst traveling with fellow train-goers. Saves time, reduces stress and stretches your ability to see more of Britain, because there is so much more than London.

18. Less driving, more walking and connecting

– seeing and being around humanity and nature, consciously choosing a place to live and work that does not require so much time in your vehicle

19. When a moment of calm and comfort is needed, visit a museum and wander, stop and let the art guide you

20. My company, so long as I embrace my true self, is wonderful company whether on my own or with a chosen companion

~Explore all of the posts shared during TSLL’s 4th Annual British Week here.

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Petit Plaisir

The Duke, the film based on a true story

pp329

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #329

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14 thoughts on “329: 20 Life Lessons Learned on My Recent Trip to England

  1. Shannon,
    Such a lovely reminder of all that can be gained when you travel to a place that feels like home.
    Loved, loved the tour of The Pig and Kent!

    1. Julia, Thank you for stopping by. 🙂 Yes, I feel fortunate to have been able to take the trip, and isn’t The Pig lovely! 🙂 Do find one to stay at if ever you wish to explore the countryside. They will not disappoint. Wonderful service and attention paid to every detail.

  2. I felt a smile and a sense of calmness after reading your list, Shannon. I shall listen to your podcast on my walk today.
    Thank you for such wonderful content..

  3. Shannon thank you for your lovely snippets of England. It made me fall in love again. I can’t wait to.be enjoying cream teas in a little tea house in a cottage garden somewhere in the Sussex countryside. There are quite a few so I’ll be spoilt for choice. Coincidentally I was reading the entry for May 22nd ‘Speaking of enjoying a cuppa ‘ just before I read this post . Kameela😊xx

  4. Shannon~

    Wonderful life lessons for not only when we are traveling, but whilst we are at home as well. Tea time, soaks in the tub, long walks, waking to birdsong, gardening, and a nice leisurely lunch on my own are luxuries that I savor as often as possible. Although savoring them in London would be a dream come true.

    Thanks for sharing your recent adventure with us! Have a fabulous week!

    ~Michelle

  5. Ahhh, Shannon, what a calm and wonderful list to remind one of all the gifts available to savor, if one stays true to oneself, whether travelling or not. But yes, one of the things I miss the most about living on the Continent is the train travel. When I returned stateside to attend university, I had no idea how to drive a car and had to quickly learn that summer, eeks!
    Looking forward to seeing “The Duke”, if not in the theatre, then hopefully it will be streaming soon. Mirren and Broadbent are two of my absolute favorites actors. Thanks, Shannon! XO Rona

  6. Shannon, thank you for this post. I agree with so many of the items on your list and especially bringing them into our everyday lives. For me, having rituals during the day gives me a sense of calm and order. Also, I just purchased an Oyster card for my sister and myself to be sent to us for our upcoming trip, thank you for that tip.

    1. Happy to help! It will just save so much wondering as well as time and give you the ‘keys’ so to speak to be able to immediately start moving about the city very inexpensively. Have a wonderful trip!

  7. I cannot wait for my first trip to England. This is truly inspiring and helpful. Should I take a trench coat in June? This has been a packing dilemma for me. Help. Thanks!

    But really, I just want to take the time to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the beautiful work that you do. I feel like you are my friend whose company I enjoy when driving to and from work, and whose words always soothes my soul-knowing that I can create and nurture a life of ease and contentment. When The Road to Le Papillion, I knew immediately that I need to give it to my friends, so far I got four copies already for me and to gift my friends. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Shannon.

    1. Ann,

      First I want to thank you for sharing the book with your friends. That is honestly the best compliment and I thank you. Thank you as well for tuning in to the podcast. 😌

      Now about that trench. I still would bring a trench and I would wear it for the day of travel as it just “dresses” up any comptable outfit you may wear (however, I don’t know how long your flight is). Just my thoughts, but rest assured, you will great and it won’t be too heavy as it will enable you to wear lighter layers in your outfits. Have a wonderful time. Bon voyage!

  8. Hello Shannon,
    Thank you for another wonderful podcast. I am so happy for you having this magical trip with your mother. Thank you for being so gracious sharing your experience, I do learn a lot from you.
    Reference tip#5, I am interested in getting an opportunity to fly Business class. Can I have the contact info of your travel agent please?
    Thank you so much in advance, and wishing you all the best, always.
    Kind Regards,
    Huda

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