This article was created for The Travel Project by Dara Hayes AKA DJ Tigerlily, an Australian #GIRLBOSS, DJ and adventurer.
When you think DJ, you tend to conjure an image of a keen party animal, a rebel, someone who is never in bed before sunrise, right? Truthfully, I perhaps once did fit that image but these days I’m quite the opposite. Why? Because I learnt the power of balance…
I had to learn balance the hard way though; through stress and sickness from an overfull workload. I was running from one gig to the next and not giving my body (and mind) time to rest and mend. I was a party girl who loved doing something different every day and didn’t care for routine at all. I had such a desire to keep smashing myself by touring more and more, but my mind and body told me to stop. Pushing myself past the limit became super destructive and I was forced to re-jig my attitude when I became really, really ill.
Being at that low point really ignited a fire within me that inspired me to achieve balance in my life no matter what.
I made sacrifices, big ones. I changed huge parts of my business so I could be more in control and make decisions about how and where my time was spent, and you know what, it was the best thing I’ve ever done!
In the past when I was externally managed, my touring schedule was out of control. Last year I was away almost NINE months of the year! It was torture for a homebody like me. In 2017 I took a stand and decided to create my own reality in the way that I saw fit. Now my touring schedule is relatively chilled out and when I am at home I do a maximum number of two shows per week. When I’m overseas, the touring periods are no longer than three weeks, ensuring that I always have time to come home to rest, recharge and recuperate. Not to mention quite a few lovely holiday periods in between all of the above, which is how I arrived on a Contiki!
I probably wouldn’t have been able to head out on a 15 day trip around Spain, Morocco and Portugal if I hadn’t had the guts to overhaul my life the year before.
Many of us would agree that travel contributes to balance in life in so many ways. You want to work hard, but you also want to reward yourself for that work by having a holiday. For me, travel brings me out of my comfort zone, puts me in situations that I may not be used to, and forces me to adjust my perspective and opinion. Travelling often allows you to switch off from your reality for a while, and enter someone else’s; often bringing with it gratitude and a heart felt appreciation for being able to experience something new.
My overall experience with Contiki was really different to anything I’d done before. It definitely pulled me out of my comfort zone and tested me in ways I didn’t expect. Visiting places like Morocco made me incredibly grateful for the beautiful country of Australia that I live in. It’s very easy to take things like fresh food, multiculturalism and safety for granted when you’ve had them your whole life. I found being open led me to new experiences I may never have known. For example, there was actually someone on our trip who was a reiki healer! I’d never had a reiki session before and was totally intrigued about it. It was such a beautiful experience and I’d recommend trying it to everyone, and it was one experience I certainly wasn’t expecting the first day I stepped onto the coach.
What inspires me to keep travelling is a desire to see more, learn more, taste more, experience more, and grow more.
I learnt a lot about myself on the trip (something I wasn’t expecting to do), and I’m really glad I had the chance to travel through the areas we did with such a great group. I loved that we were able to see so much in a short space of time, make new friends and share our discovered experiences together! If it wasn’t for Contiki I doubt I’d have visited Spain, Morocco or Portugal for a long time.
One place I’ll never forget visiting is the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. This palace was by far the most beautiful man-made thing I’ve ever seen and it gave me a great appreciation for the vastness of time and depth of Spanish culture and history. There are so many incredibly beautiful places in this world, and we live in a day and age where travelling is relatively safe, cheap and accessible. I feel very grateful to have travelled so much at a young age and I fully intend to keep travelling until I’m an old woman!
Balance can be very hard to achieve, and I honestly believe that it takes daily work and persistence to find it in your life, even while travelling. We live in a society that is non-stop go go go. With increasingly large demands on all of us, it’s never been more important to take time out for your mental and physical health. Without your health you have nothing, and if your have your health, then anything is possible.
Listening to what your body and mind need is a very important aspect of balance. In my career it’s really important to be able to pre-empt what you’re going to need. For example, after an overseas tour, it’s important to take time off at home to let your body rest and mend. In saying this, balance is very different for everyone. Finding out what works for YOUR mind and YOUR body is really important.
For me, balance means creating a harmony between exercise, sleep, good food, work and social time.
These days I’m no longer that wild child who hates routine. I love cooking healthy meals for my friend and family, working out, being creative and spending precious time with my loved ones. I still love travel and getting on planes, but after pushing myself to the extremes I’m much more balanced in my approach to jet-setting now and how I prioritise time away.
I’ve gone from focusing on career success and fame, to focusing only on health and happiness. It’s been a wonderful change and journey to go on.
Dara travelled on Spain, Morocco & Portugal as part of The Travel Project. If you have a story to share about the ways in which travel has changed you, head here to submit it and you could see your work published on six-two.