Great Expectations – My Journey to Machu Picchu

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know I’m a traveler. It’s one of the things that makes my soul come alive. It’s one of the reasons I started The ALiVE Retreat – I wanted to share my passion and I always get great insights and experiences that change me when I travel and I hope the attendees on the retreats get a taster of this.

So off I went to Peru, not quite with a backpack but some light luggage, an open mind and ready for adventure.

I did lots of great stuff in Peru – met Incas, went to villages, hung out with an alpaca, but the real reason people come to Peru is to go to Machu Picchu, and I’m no different.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Machu Picchu is an ancient city that was only uncovered in 1911 and has been preserved in its original condition. It’s one of the new 7 wonders of the world.

So I was pretty excited and hoped to not only see it, but get some cool photos for Instagram.  I really fancied one of me looking out to the city looking wistful and poetic. You know the one I mean. If you don’t, it’s this one.

So I wasn’t too thrilled when I arrived and this was my view…yes it was raining too!

So what was the plan? A common theme in my life and I’m sure many others is how to cope with reality over expectation.

I have high expectations for myself and the people I surround myself with. Part of it comes from wanting them and myself to be the best we can be. I’m a girl from the Welsh Valleys and I now run my medical practice in Knightsbridge in London. It didn’t happen overnight but I worked hard and didn’t lose my vision despite numerous ups and very very low downs. But I also expected to be married with kids and a size 10 and that hasn’t happened. And it’s hard for me to admit, but I spend a lot of energy wondering why my expectation isn’t my reality.

So whilst up Machu Picchu, in the rain, in the fog and in that oh-so-sexy plastic poncho, I came up with the following steps for accepting reality.

Step 1: Real is better than fake.

I like people who are authentic and honest and aren’t perfect and I’m sure you do too. It’s nice to know people don’t need to be perfect to do well. Is it better to have a real experience rather than an airbrushed, Instagram-filtered one? Is it better to actually feel something rather than portray an image that doesn’t fit? Cognitive dissonance is when our actions and words don’t fit in with our values and true beliefs. It can lead to emotional stress which can lead to physical health issues.

Step 2: Higher Power

If you believe in a higher power or God then you will believe you’re always being guided to something or someone good for you. Or as Dorris Day would say, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

Step 3: Gratitude

If you’re biggest problem in life is not being able to see Machu Picchu because it’s foggy then you need to get a life! I’m alive, I’m relatively healthy, I have a good home, friends and family and a job I love. I’m not homeless, I don’t live in poverty, I’m loved. Did you know, even if you’re in the poorest 1% in the UK, you’re still in the richest 10% in the world. Puts things in perspective right? We all have a moment from time to time but just need to get a grip. Even if we’re ill we have access to health care. There’s always a way.

Step 4: Self Actualisation

I know who I am and what I’m capable of. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I also know  what my greater purpose is. So I have to be grateful for what I have as my body and mind allows me to travel, to see amazing things, to help other people, to listen, to laugh, to move, to dance, to teach, to feel, to help, to be. So instead of berating myself I have to embrace all I am.

So, it was rainy and foggy so I went with my new pals to get a coffee and a Twix, and we had a really great chat and laughed. It turns out as soon as you accept where you are, it seems the universe collaborates to move things. So we decided to go back in and the fog lifted. I got my photo, it wasn’t that one I imagined, it was one that’s all me.

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