An Invitation To… Reykjavik, Iceland

As we leave the colder months behind – which I am *so* excited for – I wanted to reflect on my visit to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik (pronounced rake-ya-vick) with my husband in 2015.

I just can’t say enough good things about the Icelandic culture. The people are beautiful, the natural landscapes are beautiful, but that beauty is not limited to skin or surface. Each person and place we encountered was welcoming, friendly, and exuded peace. Let’s dive in.

Something I learned…

Icelanders learn up to three languages in grade school: Icelandic, English, and Danish

When visiting Iceland, we treated it as a true “stopover” for 3 nights on our way to Ireland. We went on a Super Jeep tour of the Golden Circle, which is easy to do since it’s only 2 to 3 hours outside of the city.

We experienced the gamut of nature, seeing rich green vistas with rivers snaking through, bright white glaciers, overcast skies blanketing an active geyser, followed by afternoon sunshine over massive rushing waterfalls. All in one day! One of my favorite things about our tour was our guide, Ingi. He gave us tidbits of Icelandic history in between stops across the country’s majestic landscape.

Some fun facts we learned:

  • Not only do most Icelanders learn the 3 languages above, they typically do so before the age of 12.
  • Icelanders are purposefully peaceful. Iceland has no military force, and police officers don’t carry guns.
  • Most of Iceland is powered by renewable energy sources, primarily geothermal.
  • There’s no McDonald’s on Iceland.
  • Iceland has a universal healthcare system that is both available and affordable to all.
  • If you dare… you can try unusual (and controversial?) local fare including whale, shark, and puffin.

Something I ate…

Reykjavik is known for its coffee… and hot dogs

Right?! The fabulously gorgeous land of Iceland is known for dirt cheap delicacies? It’s true. I particularly adored the coffee at a quirky, hippy joint called The Laundromat Café. Yep. You can eat and do laundry there. My little Type A heart is swooning at the efficiency of this concept. And we had the BEST hot dogs at a little permanent food truck-ish place called Baejarins Beztu Pylsur.

We also had divine fish and chips, Viking beer, and more delightful snacks on our short trip. Too little time to try it all!

Something I felt…

The holiness of nature

Call it the slow pace of vacation, the fresh air lacking petrol fumes, or the proximity to the ocean… but I really felt sparks in my faith here. No matter where we went, I kept thinking over and over: God is so masterfully creative. In just one country, He picked so many colors, textures, and shapes for us to feast upon with all our senses. Mindfulness naturally came here; I didn’t have to work for it like I normally do.

How do you capture a raging waterfall in a single frame? How do you box up a miles long glacier into one photo? You don’t. But I hope to impart a bit of Iceland’s magnificence with a few of my measly snippets below.

Wrap Up: Peace be with you, every day

Whether you want to visit Iceland or just want to escape your day-to-day, I hope you feel these same feels when in nature. That you may always be in awe of how it catapults you into its endless depth, full of surprises and full of reverence.

If Iceland is it, then I can’t end this post without mentioning a stop to Hallgrimskirkja Church… for the views. Pay a small fee, then go to the top of the steeple where a 360 degree view of Reykjavik awaits. It is a grand experience seeing the mountains and ocean so close to each other, colorful row houses bunched together, and little dots of humans roaming about the city. Absolutely breathtaking.

There’s so much more to tell, but I’ll leave that to you to discover.

What would give you a full mind, belly, and heart in the next city you explore? Follow more of my “invitations to” adventure at the top right of the page: Home > Travel+Bug.

My Word for 2021: Heal

I wasn’t planning to have a “word” this year. I only learned of the practice a few years ago, and I’ve picked maybe one or two annual words since then. It’s typically hard for me to land on just one thing. I don’t want to be disappointed if this one thing, one thought, one feeling doesn’t come through for me. Also, my FOMO kicks in and says, but don’t forget about X, Y, and Z.

Anyway. I just got a couple’s pedicure with my husband, and “heal” came to mind. I loved the symbolism. Heel on feet reminds me of self-care that’s been a large part of my healing, even if I sometimes question if I’m doing it “right”. Heal: something I’ve been trying to do for over a decade now to actually feel closure from past traumas. As I pondered “heal” in the quiet of the spa room, with music gently playing and essential oils lightly diffusing, it resonated deeply.

Trigger warning: I want to heal from childhood traumas that play out internally for me on a daily basis. My dad was an abusive alcoholic who moved away when I was 13 and passed away in a car accident when I was 16.

To shift gears to a less triggering place, I know that everyone has traumas. The more I see my own trauma without judgment, the more I can face it. Some form of childhood trauma affects all of us: not getting picked for a team, the humanity of parents, falling down when we’re sure we can stand up, etc.

I’ve seen 3 therapists since college. One smiled and nodded after I shared my story, then handed me a pamphlet that said, “What it means to grow up in a dysfunctional family.” I experienced a mini trauma from this because no one in my family had used those words before. But deep in the recesses of my mind, it slowly awoke a new awareness.

I described this experience a few years later to the next therapist, and to my relief, she said, “well, that probably felt awkward.” She explained that what he probably meant was that I was an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA). She gave me a beautiful quote by Nelson Mandela about being a gift from God. But I still wasn’t ready to fully dive in. After four sessions, I stopped going. I learned more about ACOA, buying several books but finishing few.

I’ve seen my current therapist for over a year. But it took me 8 years to try again. And I’ve done a LOT of work. I’ve learned all about codependency, boundaries, ACOA, feelings, and more. I feel more informed and emotionally stable. But certain memories still haunt me. Certain sounds still trigger me. So, I’m starting EMDR (just Google it). After all the self-work and introspection, trying to rewire my brain to get to my heart feels like the next step.

I believe in God, and He promises healing to those who believe and seek. “‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD.” – Jeremiah 30:17. I believe in the power of these words. Feeling them is hard. And I know that His promises look very different in real time vs. hindsight.

After all my efforts over the years, I just want to feel peace. I know there is no way to “perfectly” heal, much to my recovering perfectionist’s disapproval. Maybe peace is really my word. But right now, heal is the only way I feel I can get there.

I picked this word on Sunday. After our nation’s utterly tragic, historic events this week, I can’t think of a better time to focus on healing.