I just got back from almost 3 months of working and traveling in Portugal, France and Belgium. The thing I’ve been thinking about most since we got home is how opening myself up to life’s many pleasures on this trip has helped me feel more connected to myself and my creative voice.⠀
I'm the sort of person who tends to slowly tighten the screws until I'm white-knuckling everything and completely miserable. ⠀
I've tried pretty much all the forms of controlling my body and my life: No carbs. Slow carbs. Keto. Beautiful-Mind-level calorie tracking spreadsheets. Mandatory 5am runs. Hours on the treadmill and the elliptical. 16-hour days. 80-hour weeks. Draconian budgets. Juice cleanses. And prescriptive "lifestyle makeovers". So much restricting in so many forms. So much denying myself kindness and pleasure in the name of “self improvement”.
The time I've spent traveling has helped me slowly let go of a restrictive, control-obsessed mindset and offer myself more freedom and joy. When you’re far from home, you’re forced to surrender a bit of control. Grocery stores don’t carry the food you’re used to. Shops keep different hours. Life flows at a different pace.
It feels completely reasonable to have pain au chocolat for breakfast if you feel like it. Maybe a pastel de nata with your afternoon coffee. Walking becomes your main mode of transportation. You spend many idle hours on the terrace of your favorite cafe drinking espresso and people-watching. Your work hours shift to leave time for naps and dinners with friends. You drink more wine.
Plus, none of our european friends give two shits about working out all the time. Or drinking protein smoothies. Or spending a gazillion hours a week on work. Our friend Filipe surfs because he loves the ocean. Michel and Cecilia ride their bikes to work and go for long walks in the forest by their house on the weekends. Matilde and Mafalda get around Porto on foot. Sara does yoga. They all eat pastries and drink wine without having any sort of public freak out or the need to talk about how they’re being “naughty”.
After the last 3 months of living a looser, slower, more pleasure-focused lifestyle, I am feeling more relaxed and approving of myself than I ever have. I'm enjoying my work. I'm sleeping well for the first time in years. And Beau and I have had so many ideas for new ways to run our business and build community.⠀
If you're feeling like you need to have everything under control all the time, I feel you. I have lived there most of my life. ⠀
But here's a little reminder that pleasure and joy are the sparks that will keep you burning bright for years to come. Loosening the reigns a bit might even get you closer to your goals than doubling down on the hours you spend in the office and the gym.
To help you lean into living a more pleasure-filled life, here’s a super easy recipe for a Herbal White Port and Tonic cocktail. My friend Filipe and I served it at our pop up dinner in Lisbon and it was the perfect drink for a warm night. I hope you carve out some time this weekend to mix up one of these, kick your feet up, turn your phone off and watch the world go by.
If you want to lean into pleasure in a big way, join me in Paris this October for a 6-day photography & creativity workshop! You’ll step out of your day-to-day rhythms, hone your photography skills and get fresh inspiration from being in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
And of course there will be daily doses of buttery croissants, dark chocolate, cave-aged cheeses and natural wines. Because, Paris.
Click here to find your next yes.
Herbal White Port and Tonic
- 1/4 cup (60 ML) dry white port
- 1/2 cup (120 ML) tonic water
- Pinch pink peppercorns
- Pinch fennel seeds
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
*Note: We made these with Quinta do Infantado white port and Schweppes tonic water. I don’t think there’s any need to use a premium tonic water in this cocktail since the flavors of the port and herbs are fairly strong and would hide the nuances of a more subtle tonic.
Fill and 8 ounce (240 ML) glass with ice. Pour the port and the tonic over the ice. Stir. Top with a pinch of pink peppercorns, a pinch of fennel seeds and the fresh thyme sprig.
Makes 1 cocktail