“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song”. – Maya Angelou

Getting back from a vacation off the beaten path is always inharmonious to me. I seem to fall into a state of discontent for awhile as I adjust back to the hectic lifestyle of raising a family in America. I often feel more culture shock returning home than arriving into a place so different than my own, and it takes me a week or so to get back into the swing of my high paced life.

Sunset on Mount Kilimanjaro

Of course there are things I could do to slow down but it is hard. I’m the kind of person who wants to do it all, and live life to the fullest. I put a high amount of pressure on myself to achieve. But honestly, I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t try my best each and every day to make a difference with my life, to love my children and husband to the fullest and be a good mom, wife, person and citizen.

However, sometimes I need to take a deep breath, and slow down. To find harmony again within my body and soul. To remind myself of the places I’ve traveled to, both near and far, that have helped me find true peace, harmony and solitude.

My most recent piece of harmony was just last week in Nicaragua.

San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

Me and my perch, taking the world all in.

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time.” – Hermann HesseΒ 

Shira Camp, Machame Route Kilimanajaro

“The fruit of silence is tranquility.” – Arabian proverb

Shira Camp, Machame Route Kilimanajaro

“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have”. – Norman Vincent Peale

Tour de Vanoise France

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others”. – Peace Pilgrim

Vanoise National Park, France

“After a storm comes a calm”. – Proverb

Sunset on Lake Harriet

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”. – Mahatma Gandhi

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Harmony.


  1. Amazing photos and I can relate to your culture shock back at home. Sharing this as a reminder to myself to slow down at times:)

  2. I can relate to this. It is about a whole lot of levels. Challenge vs the same, holiday vs work, new vs the same, sometimes slower pace vs fast. But then I guess we can swing the argument around. Viewing work as fun and life as work. Finding fun in everyday challenge. There is certainly a disconnect between being away and then back home again. Good thing is we can relive it with our blogging. Beautiful, beautiful images and lovely quotes. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Louise for the thought provoking comment. Yes, life can be challenging. I think if I had a more relaxed personality it would be easier but then again I wouldn’t get so much done! What I love the most about blogging is reliving the experiences in life and travel. πŸ™‚ Keeps me smiling.

  3. Nicole, although I sometimes feel more than a twinge of envy when I read what you’ve been doing and where you’ve been, I always enjoy traveling with you. Perhaps this summer, you could make a trip to Chicago and we could meet for a day in the city. πŸ™‚


      1. We’ll plan for this summer then. We can see if there are any other bloggers in the area who would like to come as well. It will be a blast!

      2. There is also the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange conference) this May and it is being held in Minneapolis! The bummer is that it is over Memorial Day, a terrible time to have it but I am going. Would really love to find a way to come to Chicago. πŸ™‚

  4. Wonderful photos of your amazing trip. Raising a family and working in the US is a challenge. It’s great that you could go and take care if yourself for a bit. 😊

  5. Beautiful photography again ~ a definite slice of heaven you found in your life. Very smart words and thoughts as well, one of the truest things in life necessary is to step back and regroup, or as you say “find harmony again within my body and soul…” A nice post for me to read as I head back into China for a spell, refreshed and regrouped to attack life once again. Cheers to a great week ahead.

    1. Thank you so much! I love these photo essays where I don’t say much but use the photos and quotes to express my innermost thoughts. China sounds nice! I’ve
      Only been to Beijing and Shanghai but would love to see the countryside so much!!!

  6. Such beautiful images Nicole and wonderful sentiments. And I can totally relate to coming back from such a relaxing break and finding yourself at odds and feeling discontent. It just takes awhile to find your groove again but isn’t it amazing how quickly we adapt. Still, if you’re anything like me, you still yearn for those days that you just passed in such bliss. How lucky that we have our blog to remind us of all our precious trips. A wonderful post on harmony, perfectly captured.

    1. Thanks Miriam! Yes as much as I miss my kids and husband I always feel a bit sad when I come back. It is that freedom you feel on vacation with no worries or stress. Wish we could always feel that way but then vacations wouldn’t be so special! 😌

    1. Yes it is Debra! Its been hard too as I have a chronic neck/back pain (for over 30 years since I was 13) and it has really been bad for the past three months. I think I hold a lot of stress in my neck and ironically I felt pain free when I was on vacation in the 90 degree weather but now I am in bad pain again. Oh well. πŸ™‚ Keep smiling is what I say!

  7. Great photos as always, Nicole. I’m also having a very unsettled period of my life, having been suddenly catapulted out of our comfortable home into our unfinished house. Thanks for the inspirational quotes. I love this one, β€œThe more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” Energy is something I’m lacking at the moment.

  8. I can relate. I do re-entry very badly. I even hide from friends and don’t answer my phone for a few days until I get my equilibrium back!

    1. I wish I could do the same! Now I’m back in the swing of things. It helps that it is 68 degrees here in Minneapolis! And March is usually our snowiest month! It is spring two months early!

  9. I can totally relate to the reverse culture shock! I feel free and happy when I travel, slow down and take everything in. The new world becomes my world, the new experiences become part of me. Travel is my life and has been for over a decade. Each time I visited one of our home countries, I had to adjust to what were daily habits there and were different priorities, but I knew I would go back to my exotic world. Entering a US airport caused the biggest culture shock I ever had, many years back. Now, I am temporarily semi-settled and after the first shock – one that was anticipated this time – I enjoy the small things of a comfortable and convenient life! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for the comment! I feel like the more I travel, especially to off the beaten places, the more of a shock and sometimes even a disappoint occurs. It makes me sad and also makes me want to travel and see even more!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.