Guide to Iceland

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View of Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja

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Dyrhólaey

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Grillmarkaðurinn

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Apotek Kitchen + Bar

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Langjökull

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Hidden Mine//Oxidized Iron

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Blue Lagoon (super touristy–but totally worth it)
swimsuit-Goodwin
necklace-Mr. Kate

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Hallgrímskirkja

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Jökulsárlón

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Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon: Where JB shot some of “I’ll Show You”
necklace-The M Jewelers

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Diamond Beach (one of my favorite places–it looked like someone had hand placed the rocks and ice [melted/washed up glacier pieces] on the beach)

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Mýrdalsjökull

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Dyrhólaey
earrings-Natalie Joy
top-TOPSHOP
jacket-Henry Holland

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Reykjavík
jeans-TOPSHOP
bag-Balenciaga

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Þingvellir

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Midnight Sun in Reykjavík
dress-Realisation Par
heels-Zara

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Breakfast at our hotel, Canopy by Hilton

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Rooftop at our hotel // dress from Gylltikotturinn (in Reykjavík)

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pants-asos
top-J.Crew
shoes-Nike Cortez

Iceland is one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) country I’ve ever visited. It was totally worth getting bronchitis, losing my luggage, being flown to SFO instead of LAX on the way back and having Russian hackers get their hands on my Uber account, PayPal, credit and debit cards. (After a long and stressful phone conversation with a guy from PayPal, he said, “Now after we get off the phone, I want you to go put a kettle on and make yourself a cup of tea.” LOL).

Tips: Unless you know your way around inflating and deflating tires for certain terrain, how to use a GPS device (that isn’t an iPhone) and how to drive on glaciers and gravel paths on cliffs–I would recommend using a tour company (e.g. Viking Trips, Guide to Iceland, Reykjavik Excursions–we used multiple during our 6 night stay just in case one of them wasn’t good).

If you do decide to rent a car, you have to get an SUV. We went to so many places where there were signs prohibiting sedans from passing (though many tourists decided to ignore those signs and struggle their way to the destination).

Pack lots of snacks. Restaurants are pretty expensive in Iceland (mostly because tip is included and because of how many tourists they have). I went to a grocery store in Reykjavík and definitely paid about $50 for just a few Quest bars.

If you want a “luxurious” vacation–stay in Reykjavik and make day trips out to the southern part of Iceland/the Golden Circle/etc. Otherwise, there are many small, boutique hotels/bed and breakfasts inland.

Second Arrows

A few weeks ago I went to my first meditation class at The Den. The topic of focus was “second arrows”:

“When hit with discomfort, the conventional reaction is to whine and regret, kick oneself, take it hard. So we feel two afflictions: 1) the inevitable, physical feelings [a first arrow the world blasts us with] and 2) the additional, mental reactions [the second arrow we shoot into ourself]. We may fail to note any relief or escape from uncomfortable feelings [the first arrow] other than to distract ourselves with sensual pleasure. So we cling to diversions, rather than observing what is actually present, the arising and passing of feelings.”

—The Buddha, The Arrow Sutta

I think it’s important to allow that first “arrow” to hit you–a break up, the loss of a job, betrayal, etc but forbidding it from having a last effect. Initially, there will be that hollow feeling in your chest, a burning in your stomach and that rage that seems to envelop you (fight or flight response/sympathetic nervous system). But your thoughts surrounding these sensations either amplify them or control them. If you feel that burning sensation in your gut and say to yourself “I’m feeling rage,” you’re going to make it worse. It’s such a quick cycle so it takes a lot of practice but it is your choice as to which course of action to take.

I’ve had my fair share of these situations and I’ve definitely shot those second arrows–especially during my last breakup. A friend reminded me of this Buddhist ideal when I was feeling especially upset and it helped me check myself. I realized exactly what I was doing and how it wasn’t serving me in any way. This is where the buzzword we all love to hear people talk about–“mindfulness”–comes in. Something I practice often is getting myself out of unnecessary deep thought–if I’m driving, I drive; if I’m eating, I focus on that; if I’m reading, I pay attention to each word and process it. All of this takes concentration and practice but the physical sensations and reactions to situations do go away over time.

There are innumerable self-guided meditation videos and articles online but I highly encourage a group setting class. The social obligation of staying the entire time has prevented me from leaving classes when I’ve gotten anxious or lost my ability to concentrate. Because who wants to be that disruptive person that leaves early?

And if you’re like me, fresh out of a tumultuous relationship, don’t shoot those second arrows. Don’t go through old texts and think to yourself, “but he/she said…” Delete those messages and let it be. Understand that the only things you have control over are your actions and thoughts.