Personal Writing

UK spark lessons 🔥✨🔥

I was in the UK this past week with my dear friend Ellen, whom I met in one of the darkest moments of my life. We had planned this trip around a work event of hers in London. Of course, we had no way of knowing that the Queen would literally die the day I flew out or that we would be in Edinburgh and London on the same days that she was lying in state. That event certainly closed most of the streets but opened up doors to some incredibly interesting conversations with locals. In case you’re curious, Americans don’t have the market on feeling deeply and expressing loudly their views about political leadership or, in this case, monarchs. We met with an equal number of pro- and anti-monarchists, and each side was remarkably committed to their stance. We heard everything from reverential praise for the Queen’s seven+ decades of unwavering service to one women’s proclamation of “King Sausage Fingers, the idiot.”

Have to share this photo from St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. There were literally thousands of people lined up overnight to walk past the Queen’s casket.

What a time to be in the United Kingdom!

But that’s not the purpose of this post. Just go ahead and consider it color (or colour if we’re going to go full-on the Queen’s English) commentary, if you will.

The real purpose is to share a few insights I gained from my week away that have a direct connection to the upcoming virtual, FREE (re)Discover Your Spark retreat.

In no particular order of importance or timeline:

  • Solo traveling is an excellent way to get out of your comfort zone and experience success (even in a country that speaks your language). I met Ellen in Cambridge, which means I flew to Heathrow, took a train and a subway to Paddington Station in London, caught another train to Cambridge and took an Uber to the hotel by myself. As someone who lives in a small town where I can be anywhere in 20 minutes max and who doesn’t ride buses, trains or subways with any frequency, I was proud of myself for figuring out all of those pieces and successfully arriving in Cambridge. It wasn’t particularly complicated travel, but there were a number of pieces I had to figure it out all the same, so I’m taking it as a win for my independence and problem-solving abilities.
On the train to Edinburgh from the Lake District.
  • Taking time away to gain a new perspective can do you the world of good. I think most people would say it’s not the best idea to leave the country the week before you launch what you hope will become your life’s work, but I disagree. I was so “in my head” leading up to getting on the plane that I was starting to spiral a bit out of control. Stepping off the plane at Heathrow gave me the opportunity to stop obsessing about the work for 7 days, and as soon as I did that, I was able to give it all proper perspective and gain some new insight. I came home ready, settled and more certain than ever that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
The famous Grasmere gingerbread enjoyed from our little bed and breakfast patio—impossible to put into words how glorious and restorative this was.
  • Connect with friends, old and new. This trip was bonkers for the people I (re)connected with. I hadn’t seen Ellen since 2018. I met my friend Lex in person after having gotten to know him virtually from Seth Godin’s AltMBA in January 2020. I met Meghna, who took my retreat virtually in January 2021, for dinner and a long walk through London. (I’m proud that both Lex and Meghna credit me with helping give them the space and gentle push they needed to disrupt their lives and leave the US to pursue more education in England. It’s not lost on me that they each defended their Master’s the same day the week before we met up in person.) Ellen and I met Mike from the Hertz store in Barrow who drove us to the train station so we didn’t have to pay for an Uber. We had breakfast with Jeff and Jeff, friends from Minneapolis who just happened to be in Edinburgh the same time we were (is that crazy or what???).
  • Treat yourself. What is life without some beautiful treats now and again? Some can be large, but I delighted in my little sheep mug of hot chocolate as much as my Michelin starred multi-course meal
  • Look for signs—they are everywhere. I don’t have any doubts about this path, but I still hoped for something to confirm my certainty. On my last night there, we arrived back in London. We got off the elevator at our hotel, and immediately in front of me what this long passage of writing on the carpet. I stopped to read it while my friend walked on. We met another friend in the hotel room, and when I said to the two of them, “Can you believe the carpet outside?” they didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. They hadn’t noticed it; I couldn’t have missed it if I had tried. As far as I’m concerned, that carpet was installed for just that moment. Signs are all around you if you’re paying attention. My friends didn’t need the sign, but I sure did, and I’m so grateful to have gotten it. Plus, it wasn’t lost on me that it was literally on a path I was walking on. Way to be spot on, Universe!
Have you ever seen anything like this? I sure hadn’t. Read it and be inspired for yourself. #extraordinary #rediscoveryourspark

It would be terribly sad if lessons like this could only be learned while traveling abroad. Fortunately, these are universal gifts that can occur in your neighborhood or community today if you’ll only be on the lookout for them. Every place and experience, regardless its size or newness to you, has little presents to share. You can run into someone you haven’t seen in ages at the grocery story and feel an instant (re)connection. Instead of sitting at your computer, mindlessly drinking your mug of coffee or tea, go sit outside and take in the view—bask in the beauty that is all around you. Get out of your comfort zone just a little bit: knock on your new neighbor’s door and welcome them to your block. Try a new recipe that’s harder than anything you’ve ever made before. Attend an event you’ve wondered about but never gone to. Drive to a new park and walk around.

The possibilities to expand your mind, body and spirit are endless, and they are right out your door. It doesn’t take a trip to England, or anywhere, to (re)awaken all that. But I’m not gonna lie—it’s a pretty lovely way to be reminded of it.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut or like there’s no spark in your life, there’s still plenty of time to sign up for the virtual, FREE 5-day (re)Discover Your Spark retreat that starts Monday, Sept 19 and runs through the week from 11-12 CDT. It’s sure to help you (re)ignite some joy and magic in your life again!

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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