Tag: change

Life as a journey

Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that not everything can be figured out in one day.

I “suffer” from wanderlust, the insatiable craving for new experiences, places and people. I relish in the unfamiliar, the awkward, unknown, the ugly. I yearn for experiences that scare me so I can prove that I can overcome one of life’s most debilitating emotions: fear. My heart is open, my mind is open, and I’m ready.

I sometimes ignore my travel blog because I don’t know what to say. My “About Me” section changes every few months because at the bat of an eyelash, I’ve found home somewhere new and exotic. A few months, or even weeks later, it changes.

How can I explain myself? Where is home? What does home mean?

What home looked like two months ago
What home looked like two months ago in Maui, Hawaii

Home is inside my heart. I’ve realized that no matter where I go and where I end up, that my life is my home. My journey is my destination. How could I be afraid to write about that? It’s the most honest and real thing, the most driving and ever-present force in my life.

It’s tough to explain the ethereal experiences you have while traveling. I think similar experiences can be achieved through doing similar activities that you love, like cooking, writing a book, opening a small business or following your dreams in any sense. Suddenly life opens doors to you that before never existed. You see and witness the beauty of following your heart’s path. These experiences are beautiful, but often overwhelming and tough: they challenge you to question everything you’ve ever been raised to think or do.

View of home now...Chicago
View of home now…Chicago

I grew up going on family vacations but was never told or raised to live a life on the road, doing the strange and wonderful things I’ve done. In jumping into the abyss, my eyes bugged out of my head in disbelief at the beauty of the unknown. The first time I feasted my eyes on the rainforest in Hawaii, it was if I died and went to Heaven. I floated around for months on a cloud of happiness and uncertainty.

How could this place be real? I wondered. All I ever knew was the cold, Midwestern winter. Suddenly I’m picking fruit barefoot and surfing in March.

Travel makes you question everything.

It made me prioritize my life. That sounds simple and like a “duh” moment, but it’s surprising how many people don’t really live their own lives, but rather, one prescribed to them. I discovered what’s most important to me: It’s being true to my tastes. I enjoy good food, good drink and travel. These are my life’s expenses and the things that bring me the most joy overall. Even though travel sometimes puts me in difficult situations, the difficulty never outweighs the fact that travel helps me to discover things that I like. Moreover, difficult experiences are often the truest test of your vulnerability and your strength and give you a firm sense of what you do NOT like and won’t put up with.

Not all days are Mai Tais and rainbows
Not all days are Mai Tais and rainbows

Part of opening your heart and exploring the world, discovering new ways of life is accepting and finding comfort in the unknown. By far, the unknown is the root of anxiety and fear.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

This quote from Lao Tzu has never rang truer. In trying to “figure out my life,” I’ve noticed a more hands-off approach is best. Things tend to play out as they do anyway. Life’s journey continues forward whether I worry about it or not.

It’s time to stop being my own worst enemy, do myself a favor and enjoy the peace of the present. It hasn’t let me down in the past and I’m confident it won’t in the future.

The cost of travel besides MONEY

I”m not shy about giving out details about my personal budget, because, believe it or not, just like you, I had to work for my money. I still work for money and I will continue to work for money.

So many people have it wrong. It’s not all about the money. Admittedly, I drained my bank account in order to finance my traveling lifestyle. Sure, I’ve created many a marvelous memory by not working and spending money, but that’s not the only cost to consider when choosing a traveling lifestyle. The other costs include:

1. Physical- This year alone, I’ve done so much flying that I’m exhausted. I’m truly suffering from burn out. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t enjoy flying off to new places, emerging from the plane bright eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure, but it leaves your body physically exhausted. Jet lag is a serious concern. When I left Australia earlier this year, ready to engage in a 4 flight, 23 hour fly-a-thon back to the U.S., I left on Wednesday morning, February 29th, leap year, traveled for 24 hours straight and landed in L.A. Wednesday morning, February 29th. Believe me when I say it took WEEKS for my body to adjust to THAT time travel!

Tired.

My good friend the flight attendant is constantly on the go as well. One time I asked her what day it really is for her because of all of her traveling and time zone differences. She opted for “no comment,” saying that trying to figure that out would drive her insane. It would drive anyone insane!

The road burns your body out. Toting a 50 pound backpack after a shitty night’s sleep in a hostel isn’t for the faint of heart. Trying to sleep when others are partying is even worse. I combat this by trying to maintain a relatively normal sleep schedule (by normal I mean at LEAST seven hours/24 hour period), eating healthy and maintaining a healthy attitude.

2. Emotional- I’ve gotten good, I mean REALLY good at saying goodbye. That doesn’t mean I like to say goodbye, but I have to force myself in order to move on. Luckily it’s not goodbye, just see you later. Part of my goals when traveling the world have been to create contacts all over the world. As I start on that goal, I often grow close to and have to say goodbye to many people that I love. I love their generosity, their kind hearts, their laugh and their unique life perspectives.

My Hawaii friends, aka Family

I also have to deal with feelings of homesickness. Like every traveler on the road, the pangs of homesickness haunt you when you least expect it. You miss birthdays, graduation parties, engagement schindigs, holidays, you name it: any occasion where the family gets together to make mirth and merriment, it seems you’re sleeping in a tent 3,000 miles away. These are the sacrifices we make. 

Aloha until next time!

3. Mental- It’s no secret travel changes you. I’m dealing with this right now. I’m trying to hash out how my life goal’s have changed, how everything I’ve been spoon-fed growing up doesn’t exactly jive with my old interests, now that I’ve seen how other people live successful, happy lives alternate to the “American Dream.” I am dealing with how these differences are changing me as a person, how to reconnect with others who still might subscribe to my “old way” (not wrong, by any means, just confusing and different), and trying to explain my “gypsy” lifestyle to my parents. It’s an on-going struggle. I have to be an ambassador for my life’s decisions. If I won’t stand up for me, who will?

On my magical mystery tour

As a good friend told me, luckily you don’t have to figure it all out today, or tomorrow. The questions I’ve been asking myself are some huge, philosophical, transcendental questions about life, questions people don’t often ask themselves until their midlife crises. Thinking and obsessing over my observations and how they will manifest themselves in my future is unhealthy mentally.  I am prepared to think of life as a mysterious journey, and although I can’t possibly perceive my future right now, I think that through travel, my future will be a brighter place. Growing pains.

I will leave you with an Anthony Bourdain quote, one that describes how I’m feeling in this moment. Just because you can’t strike gold every day while blazing the trail:

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
— Anthony Bourdain