Looking out before me, seeing the Riverlands blanketed in near-dusk sunlight, I am reminded of how time passes us, how life leads us one place, only to direct us to another. My time here is ending fast, days pass quickly and my Berri hour glass is draining with the sand from the Murray.
I've spent two months getting to know this land, the people, and even more facets of myself. I’ve lounged in the treehouse while making some of the most lovely connections with others. I’ve laid in the hammock soaking up Australia’s winter sun. (when it comes out.) I’ve tasted the goon elixir and shimmied around the games room. I’ve watched Berri’s beautiful sunsets from the main entrance. I’ve looked up at the southern hemisphere night sky and watched every star burn bright. I've felt the blunt edges of disconnect, and I've felt puzzle pieces snapping into place as I feel the string of links connect me back together.
I stand here currently gazing out into the lands of the distance, knowing that pretty soon, I'll be floating away from all of this, taking a plummet into new grounds, breaking myself and my shell even more as I push myself through the curtains of my comfort zone.
Eight months ago, I was a nervous, timid girl boarding a plane asking myself if I could even do this. I was so unsure of myself, but ready to take the risk, for the fear of the unknown has only been told to bring the best treasures in life. I’ve found that to be absolute truth. Some days I look in the mirror and can't believe I've come so far. Yet I am here, more than half a year later, still head strong in exploring all the special parts of life. There's been times I felt defeated, alone, trapped. Somehow, I still kept on. If you only knew how many times I dreamt of coming home, how many times I looked at tickets to Buffalo asking myself if that was my only choice. It never was, and I'm happy I didn't decide to run home at the sight of discomfort.
For 8 months, I've been traveling alongside my best friend. For almost two years I've lived with her, and been around her every single one of those days. She's one of the greatest people I know, and had the pleasure of watching her grow in front of me... Not just in the past 8 months, but in the past 10 and a half years that we've been friends. We've both grown, blossomed, and managed to stick together through some of the toughest times. Every single day, no matter what, I thank my lucky stars for her. She's motivated me, inspired me, and reminded me I could do it whenever I thought I couldn't.
From day one of our journey, we talked about the day we would separate. Would it happen? How? We made somewhat of a pact to understand- no matter how, when or what it was that was that would be the driving force between us continuing our journey together. Still, no matter how tough stuff got, how distanced we were at times~ when the thought of separating came up, we would squirm and giggle at how weird the thought would be. I remember one time in Spain we had the chance to sleep in different hostel rooms~ and after sleeping in the same room for over 80 some days- you'd think we would've jumped at the chance. Not us, we somehow got the people of the hostel to move around so we could slumber party and stick together.
And that's just the way it's been. It's been one hell of a roller coaster ride, and I couldn't have been lead to a greater person to start my travels with.
Monday morning, I was let go from my job. I spent the morning upset, in tears over a stupid mandarin packing job that I was miserable at anyways. I didn't know what I was going to do, and frantically weighed the options in my head.
...I strongly believe that the Universe guides you exactly where you need to be. In my state of panic, I desperately kept reminding myself that things fall apart so others can unfold. As the day played on, the synchronicity of the stars came rushing in at my doorstep, and things started to unfold just as I thought they might. I listened. I spent a great deal of time in thought, figuring out just what would be my best bet. My options were quite limited, but I weighed them greatly before making a choice. The first was to stay in Berri, continue monotonous random farm work, which was beginning to be quite taxing on my body, and would just 'get me by.' The second path scared the absolute hell out of me, and that option was to pack up my life, and head out on my own into the world of the unknown.
Most of you know me from home, and the others are some of the people that have graced me along the road the past 8 months. Some of you I’ve been lucky to connect with instantly. But all of my connections, whether I’ve built them over the years, felt them in passing, or had an instant connection; I value them with my life. Anyway, regardless of how we know each other, you probably know that I'm pushing on the borderline of introversion. I've come to accept it along my travels, I find my comfort in the ones who I've been able to deeply connect with~ some with long conversation, and others with just a sincere smile. I know what I'm looking for in human interaction, albeit sometimes it leaves me extremely shy and inward.
Before I left, however, if you didn’t know me then… I couldn't even order pizza. I couldn't look people in the eyes. I was beyond timid and insecure.
I am proud to say, I am not that girl anymore.
While I am still figuring it out,, and still coming out of my shell, I've come a long long long way. So while I still lay my pillow each night beside my introversion, and am still dusted with a sprinkle of awkwardness, I am way more than the girl I left as. I have a better sense of who I am and where I want to be in this world, and every day I come closer and closer.
Therefore, the moment I realized that the option to leave Berri was the scariest, I knew that was the feeling of nervousness in my gut was my intuition telling me take the risk. To do it. To go. It was scary because it was the force behind all of this telling me there was something bigger out there for me. And I'm ready for it.
I didn’t strap on my boots and leave everything I ever knew for nothing.
I did it for this.
For the moment I could say “I am a warrior.” and confidently know it is true.
That each step in my life has brought me here, to the moment I could trudge more against the current and keep chasing every dream I’ve ever had.
To say I'm scared is an understatement. But while I'm nervous, and the anxiety hasn't quite crept in as it will the first day I'm walking around in a city by myself, I am equally excited. I know I'm ready for it, and I have a confidence in myself that I can seek out anything I want in life, and I'm the only one who can do that.
I know that I must do this by myself. What will happen? I have no idea. I haven't been this nervous since the day I stepped on that plane headed straight to Iceland. I remember one of my first posts on this blog, where I said I was ready to look my insecurities and fears in the face, and take them on. In this moment, I know that I’m staying true to that girl by setting off on my own.
Monday I lost my job, and by Tuesday, I decided I would leave the following Monday. A week after the initial stun. Also, June 22 - 8 months to the day that we left Buffalo. It’s been a lucky number of sorts while traveling. Mel and I both take it as a good omen. Fiercely, I have been getting my things in order. Packing up my life, perfecting my Resume, and generally “takin care of business.” :P I had one week to prepare. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
Of course, among many many other things, I’m sad. I didn’t have much time to prepare for my departure, so it’s been a whirlwind* of crazy emotions pounding through my chest. I’m sad to leave Berri, my Berri Family, the beautiful land I’ve had the chance to live on for 2 months, and most of all, I’m sad to be parting ways with Mel. We’ve spent the past days tucked away in her caravan making up for the lost time that’s about to be strewn upon us. Above anything, I’m really grateful we’ve taken the time to connect before I left. We’ve had some of those beautiful conversations, both of us completely reassured that we’re making the right choices. I noticed the one night, we started talking about the future, and both of us started saying “I” instead of “We.” We referred to some of the dreams we had talked about in the past, and instead of it being the both of us, we each took initiative to talk about our dreams separately. It was absolutely beautiful, and Mel~ I want you to know how proud of you I am. How proud of each of us I am. It confirmed everything we both needed to hear, that we were both ready to do this on our own. And I’m nothing short of happy for our separate journeys we’re about to tread upon. It’s a really amazing thing to have a best friend, and even more amazing that we’ve not only found ourselves alongside another, but that we have found ourselves on our own, so much that we’re ready to take on the world by ourselves.
So while I can’t deny that I’m sad to leave, I also can’t deny that I’m extremely happy. For the past 8 months, whenever the two of us would see the glow of the Universe guiding us, a general thing we would say is “ Life is strange.” What we mean, is that life is perfect. Life is ironic and beautiful, bursting and bewildering…. and it is absolutely perfect.
We said it a lot this week. It’s been one thing that kept assuring me of everything these past days. And I’m so excited to see where we’re headed. (Just don’t join the circus without me ;))
Monday I leave the Riverlands to go to Adelaide. I’ve always wanted to live in a city for a little while, so I’m going to do just that. I’m going to hit the ground running, and seek after some aspirations I have set after myself. I’ve truly accepted that nothing in my life ever goes according to plan, so while I have my mind set on some career goals, I’m excited to see what exactly comes my way. All I know is that there are doors and windows opening from every direction, and I have no clue what’s behind them.
But I am
and I am going to find out.
This video is from October 2014, one of our first nights in Iceland...
We missed the bus and drank stoop beers while we waited for a ride.
Thought it was quite a fitting time to post it. :)
So here I am, 7 months along my travels, 3 months in Australia, one month of deep homesick, feeling a lieu of disconnect and overwhelming emotions...and just a couple of days later, a wave of refreshing energy has finally washed over me, as I feel a new chapter unwinding.
It's hard sometimes, being on the road. I never want to sound like I'm taking my journey for granted, but after being miles away from your "home," you begin to miss not only the people, but little things. Driving down familiar roads, craving the strangest foods... Like maybe the distinct grease off of marks pizza (buffalo chicken of course), or the chili sauce from teds hot dogs, wanting simple things like ice cubes, or the line at Reid's the first day you realize the awning has come down, and it smells like spring and French Fries... The scents of certain peoples houses, the feeling of belly laughing with your oldest group of girl friends til your rib cage might explode.
All these memories of things rush back to you, and just as much as you miss these things, you also begin to collect new memories, new places, smells, people, tastes, you start to question what home is to begin with.
Is it the place you began, the place you grew up, the place you feel the most comfortable?
Or is it everything, everywhere, and everyone that is in your heart?
Is home not an actual place on earth, but a place in time?
I was so caught up in "home," reveling in memories, often times circling my brain of the past... Completely disconnecting myself from the current moment.
But within others support, my own thoughts, and a whole lot of love...
...In this moment...
Home is the United States. Home is Lockport, New York... A suburb of Buffalo. Home is when I tell people "I'm from New York.... Not the city." Home is passing my elementary school, and the home I lived in as a child, in Batavia. Home is my parents voices, my parents eyes, my parents smiles, and my parents hugs. Home is going to "that taco place" with my dad. Home is visiting Florida to see my mom catching up on all forgotten time. Home is pot holes the size of swimming pools in the winter, and regular sized pot holes in the summer. Home is bone chilling-hot chocolate filled-curse Mother Nature while you're scraping your 2 inch snow covered, 1 inch ice covered windshield-run from your car to indoors to feel your cheeks get warm winters, and iced coffeed-windows down-getting off work for as many concert series as possible-let's go to gonzos on a Tuesday-holy moly it's so nice out I think I'll even walk by the canal summers. Home is "tour de lockport bars." Home is "your jam" on the juke box...(probably medicine by grace potter, or if I'm feeling indulgent of guilty pleasures, Taylor Swift.) Home is driving to Tim Hortons every morning. Home is Mr. Devine mowing the lawn 5 days a week. Home is the smell of Alicias house (usually nag champa.) Home is going to the Filim house for a family dinner. Home is knowing you can cuddle with any of your friends and they'll play with your hair while probably making fun of you at the same time (in a loving way.) Home is How I Met Your Mother. Home is going to Rae's so she can school me in classic movies and her always saying something "hard ass" followed by my "oh Rae Rae" response. Home is the nights with all the girls together. Home is 'my chair' at Regis. Home is Mighty Taco. Home is Transit. Home is the filthy, disgusting canal we make fun of which is actually quite beautiful and incredible.
....Home is the moment we strapped on our backpacks for the very first time on the floor of Keflavik Airport and got our passports stamped excitement rushing through our veins as we waltzed through customs. Home was using my first Icelandic Krona, being clueless at the exchange. Home is accidentally calling whatever currency you're using "dollars." Home is the feeling of seeing Iceland for the very first time. The hills, the rocks, the colors....The magic. Home is the first foreign super market you walked into. Home is instant coffee at Sindris. Home is the awful pungent smell of the chicken farm. Home is egg puns. Home is hitchhiking from North Iceland to the capital... Meeting some of the most lovely people on our trek back.
Home is getting lost and walking an hour out of the way in Edinburgh, Scotland fully backpacked. Home ending up in so many $@&!ing clubs no matter how much I despise those places. Home is being paranoid in Amsterdam. Home is the freezing cold-I need 2 duvets and my sleeping bag-hostel in Portugal. Home is running from winter but never quite succeeding. Home is Christmas in Porto, with the Alma Porto Family. Home is eating fresh oranges off the trees in Orgiva, Spain. Home is waking up to the mountains every morning with tea. Home is compost toilets, (haha!) and learning to 'pop a squat' anywhere in nature ~ because that's just what you did. Home is walking 4 miles to sneak into a campsite to just to take a shower. Home is walking 3 miles for wifi. Home is hearing Nora recite "When I love myself." Home is Ronjas soups. Home is riding a bus with a bottle of wine with Ronja and Mel bonding over boys and girl talk. Home is also the French gypsy juggler boy. Home is falafels for 3 euro. Home is meeting again on the road...Tristan..Graham..Nora..Kristie...Jodi...(and hopefully all of you others yet to come!) Home is hazelnut chocolate. Home is Makuto Hostel in Granada.
Home is the Big Pineapple in bali. Home is "the cheap place." Home is Bintang time. Home is mengong. Home is apa? Home is 20000 rupiah (less than $2) Marlboros. Home is not knowing what type of bathroom you'll end up with. (I could write a book on all of them I've experienced ;))
Home is Southern Hemisphere sunsets and stars.
Home is seeing my first wild kangaroo. Home is the 80s cassette we would listen to on the way to work. Home is the mango farm. Home is cheap as chips. Home is Red Lime Cafe. Home is Confest.
Home is the Berri treehouse.
Home is traveling with my best friend.
Home is long distance calls and skypes. Home is being far away for big moments in loved ones lives.
Home is the tough moments, the high moments, and everything in between. Home is the sparks of connection lit within each of us, somehow linking us all together, for life,
...no matter if we're here, nor there.
Home is letting go. Home is saying goodbye so that you're able to say hello once again.
Home is everywhere, and home is with me, wherever I go...
...because I am home.
We arrived to Australia Thursday and in my imagination, it would be this crazy cool foreign place in which I've been wanting to visit since I was a child. Maybe it's the naive little girl inside of me, but I imagined kangaroos and koalas everywhere... It's not like that, at least not where I was. (Of course it wasn't ;) ) Strange enough, it felt as if I was stepping right back into my own home country- except everyone had accents and was driving on the opposite sides of the road. I can't quite put my finger on it, nor do I mean it in a bad way, but Australia is a strange place. Maybe because it reminds me so much of my homeland. Perth itself, resembles and feels as if I'm living in Tampa again. Except Northbridge which felt like an ultra miniature version of Brooklyn~ of course I loved this, as Brooklyn stole a part of my heart that I still have yet to get back. Yet unlike Brooklyn, my feeling of ignited love quickly faded as we continued down the road to be hit with towering newly built buildings and mega-stores.
We spent the next few days in a weird haze of boredom, as we couldn't search for jobs being it was the weekend, and our hostel was massive and seemed to already have it's cliques established and EVERYONE staying here was on the same job hunt, or already working and living within the hostel. However aside from the cliques, there were a few cool people we got to meet and chat with, which took the edge off of some of the boredom we were feeling.
Bored? How could we be bored? We were broke~ so so broke~ and Perth is a small city in which I felt like we quickly got to know the 'cool' part rather fast. Therefore a mix of walking around one day, and not being able to spend money, we found ourselves lingering the hostel more than usual in other places we visited.
We decided rather fast that instead of staying to work in Perth, we wanted to get back into nature and find some farm work . The stars aligned as always, and just as fast as we arrived, jobs landed among our laps as we hoped they would. Things always fall into place ~ especially when you need then most, and trust me, we did. As a firm believer in 'the stars' and the magic upon this universe, it also just so happened that the jobs came on the first of March, marking a new chapter, and leaving the craziness of February behind. So a new chapter awaits, and I couldn't be more ready or excited. The first of our "planned" 12 month journey begins, as we head to a small town near Adelaide, in South Australia.
When we arrived to Renmark, I joked to Melissa "look, we're in Lockport!" as our bus turned down a small street that slightly resembled the Main Street of my hometown. However, it was the size of maybe a block of it. I'm talking from Gonzos to Main Moon... And that might even be a stretch. Still, this town seemed to a have a lovely little charm about it and we were both relieved to have left Perth and get working again.
A couple days later we started the work on a mango farm. Here I had the chance to be a part of the process from A to Z... Picking the mangos, carrying 20 lb baskets of mangos over and over and over, sorting the mangos, washing the mangos, stickering the mangos, boxing the mangos, eating the mangos, disliking the taste of mangos....and I'd be thrilled to never see a damn mango for the rest of my days. But ~ for me, if you will.. The next time you eat a mango, or any fruit for that matter... Savior it and be grateful. For loads of people worked extremely hard to get that mango to you, from 9.5-11 hours a day, just so a mango could be devoured within seconds... And I have the utmost appreciation for where my food comes from. It's hard work. Easy, but physically daunting and by the end of each day, my body told me that the mango life wasn't one I was meant for. I'm honestly beyond proud of Mel and I for sticking it out. I talked to countless people who quit after just a couple days working in the farm life, and I'm impressed that both of us stuck it out for the length of the job. (We have two days left of the 15 day job! But I know we'll make it!) All the times we said "I QUIT!" but still continued to work through the sweltering sun and baskets upon baskets of Mangos, the times our bodies gave up on us and we just wanted to fall into a heap and cry, the times our alarm begged for our awakening far too early in the morning when one of us just needed "10 more minutes." The times we were hit with utter frustration for the never ending baskets, and the days we had to work up to 11 hours. All the times we were mad at the mangos for even existing, and all the times we generally just hated everything in that moment for pushing us too hard. We still stuck it out, and worked hard, and for that I'm proud of myself, and proud of Melissa for getting through it.
Not only was it was money in my pocket, which I desperately needed and am grateful for, but in the end it wound up being so much more than just a job. For starters, I'm always excited to try something new, even if I learn that it's no where near what I want to be spending my life doing. It's amazing how much we've gotten to try in the past 5 months. And while I have absolutely no clue what my calling is, I do know... It's not at an egg farm, or a mango farm, or a hostel.
Meanwhile, when we weren't slaving over mangos, we were still so bored. At this point in my journey, almost all of my inspiration has seemed to disappear. When I'm not working, I want to be sleeping. And when I'm not extremely exhausted from working, there really isn't much to do in this town. We were situated on a highway, not close to any real nature unless we were at the farm.
The hell were we supposed to do? Nothing.
So I shaved my head and watched a bunch of television.
Shaving my head was fun. I "oh my god-ed" the entire time I saw the mix of locks and dreads fall to the ground, and somehow made it through without shedding any tears. After fighting the tangles and dreadlocks for months, I surrendered my hair-ego, and decided it would be best. Props to the folks who live the dreadlock life, for it just wasn't for me. I can't even sleep with braids on my head because it's so uncomfortable, so having to sleep under an added layer of matted hair wasn't fun. And the weight of the hair was obnoxious. With what hair I did have left, it was so entirely damaged and bleached that when I tried to comb it, a pile of tiny hairs would follow onto my lap, broken off and crying to be cut. Buzzzzzzzzzzz. Buh-bye! Freedom has called, and I answered on the first ring.
Anyhow, somewhere along the way of complete boredom and zero inspiration... in a small span of two weeks, everything completely flipped inside of me. Before I generally loathed the Mango farm. I couldn't see the silver lining if I had tried. I wanted it to be over everyday, and I wanted to leave this place. The boredom was getting to me, the job was getting to me, I wanted to be having fun again. I wanted to be inspired again. One day, it all just crashed upon me when I was working.
I started paying attention to all the thoughts circling around in my brain.
Anger. Lots and lots of anger.
Judgement. Lots and lots of judgement.
Blame. Loads of blame.
For the first time in my life, I felt the feeling of ACTUALLY getting to know myself. I saw myself in a different light. I was not a victim to heartbreak, insecurity, or disappointment, I was a villain in my own circling negative thoughts and keeping myself there. I was dwelling on the smallest things, I was blaming myself and judging myself through everyone else around me, because I was too scared to see that I was actually doing it to myself. I started to see how much blame, judgement and anger I have towards myself. Then I peeled away more and saw all the guilt I hold onto. All the things I blame myself for, how that's affected my self worth and how I perpetually go around in circles dragging myself down. Everything became crystal clear to me at this moment. I needed to stop the blame game. I needed to stop blaming others, stop judging others, and just as importantly: stop doing it to myself. Once I began to see this, I watched a new voice appear in my head... One I believe to be my intuition, or my stronger sense of self. This voice stepped in when I was harboring anger, and I began to tell myself to knock it off. I began to try to locate the anger or frustration and see why I was behaving this way inside my head. A lot of times I was just tired, and because of this started letting every single thing get to me. Sometimes I was recognizing the anger towards other people as actually being the guilt I felt masked and me again trying to blame others for why I felt such a heavy feeling. But the more I got to know myself, the deeper I began to dig, and thus wound up actually freeing myself from a few of the things that were burying me. To see some of my dark parts come to surface, made me actually love myself a little more. To see I am only human, I can make mistakes, I can learn from them, brought me right down to earth and let me know it's okay: my past does not define me. I began to feel proud of myself, to tell myself nicer things about myself that I had never done before... the things I have been seeking for months, years even, I actually began to see change inside of me. How hard I worked, how much strength and courage I have to do some of the things I do. Facing the guilt, blame, and judgement within myself opened me up to see that I didn't have to live in that reality. I no longer could go back to thinking the way I had previously, because I now saw things for what they were.
I saw myself, and through all of her disappointments, I still loved her.
I certainly didn't expect to write "Renmark" down as a significant part of my travels, but it hit me like a train, and I'm absolutely grateful of the introspect and bonding with myself that has come of this place. It certainly goes down in the books. I found a real, pure part of myself here.
Today marks our 5 months since we started traveling. I can hardly believe it. It seems no longer that yesterday we nervously packed our belongings and said goodbye to all of our favorite people, but a distant memory. Now when we revisit old memories of when we first left, it's funny to look at our old selves and laugh at how scared we were. I can't explain just how much I've learned in only 5 months, but I can say: the doors have just started to open, and I can't wait to see what's inside.
When I first arrived in Indonesia, I remember a few people telling me that traveling through Asia is full of ups and downs. Although I only spent one month in one country of Asia, I couldn't agree more. Indonesia was a lovely place, beautiful, tropical, and the local people were so warm and friendly. Escaping the tourism was difficult, but in the few times we did, I had a chance to see how extremely different and incredible of a place I was in. By far the most different and humbling place I've ever been to, and I know for sure I will most certainly be back to Indonesia as well as explore more of Asia at a later time.
We started our travels in Sanur, Bali- heavily coated in tourism, and it felt like I was on vacation. It was nice actually to have a vacation away from traveling, as living out of a backpack for 4 months can sometimes get tiring on the body and soul. Here we had a chance to surf, make friends, and eat some of the best food I had in Indonesia at a little shop deemed "the cheap place..." Where a meal and a bottle of water was less than $2. We lost our minds one night in Kuta, took a day trip to Ubud where we saw some of the most incredible rice fields, drank "shit coffee" aka lemuk coffee, visited a temple, and had lunch among a beautiful lotus garden. The week in Sanur was my most carefree time in Indonesia, as everything following got a bit heavier for me.
After a week in Bali, we took a boat to Gili Trawangan, where we spent nine days frequenting a bar off the beaten tracks *Mengong*, full of Bintang time, soaking up the sunshine, ending our nights indulging in the delicious night market and nightlife before heading to Lombok island for a week. My time here was turbulent, a mix of happiness and uncertainty.
Lombok was by far my favorite island that we went to... although I wasn't able to purely enjoy it the way I would've liked to. It's the least touristy of the places we'd visited in Indonesia and was drenched in beautiful aesthetics. Waterfalls, mountains, beaches and coves. I spent a lot of time by myself here, in my head a lot and feeling out of place. However, there were some unforgettable moments spent within this island. We took a day trip to some waterfalls, and as I rode on the back of a scooter, I was able to consume myself in the beauty of this island. I recall as I sat on the back of the bike, letting the wind blow through my hair, having strange feelings of déjà vu. It was the happiest and most peaceful I felt in all of my time in Indonesia. We were able to escape the tourism completely, see inside the soul of this place, witness not one but 3 weddings, and as we got lost on our way back, I remember getting caught in the reigns of the night sky, the stars burning right through me. Our last two nights on Lombok, we were extremely fortunate enough to stay in a local village where we were greeted by some of the most welcoming and open hearted people I've had a chance of meeting. There was a definite language barrier, yet through warm smiles and spirits, I knew I was in only amazing company. It was a humbling chance to live like the locals, and peer into their life. I feel so lucky that we had the chance to do that. Although I was sick both days, I'm honored to have had that opportunity given to us.
We ended our travels here on Gili Air, a quaint and quiet island, where I finally was able to catch my bearings and take in all the lessons I had learned the previous 3 weeks.
In the past month, I absolutely experienced a plethora of ups and downs. Physically, I was eaten alive by some of the most lovely insects I can think of. Mosquitos, spiders, and bedbugs (hurrah!) I was sick twice, and my feet were destroyed from the moment the plane landed. Swollen for days, then blistered up by shoes, and to top it off, I wound up getting a parasite that spread all over my foot, and had I not taken care of it, would have made it's way into finding a home among my intestine. (Woo!) It was nothing, though, as all of it was almost expected entering Asia, and certainly not the worst that could happen.
The hardest part was the toll that was taken on my mind. I left Europe feeling a new sense of confidence, feeling more at ease, and almost as quickly as that high arrived, I was ripped right off my pedestal for a new wave of lessons and discomfort. I hit one of the worst travel lows while here... At one point even contemplated throwing in the towel and going home. I didn't want to deal with the discomfort anymore, but I pushed through, as I knew I needed to, and I'm most certainly glad the road doesn't end here for me.
It was all worth it, and the good times were amazing...how could I not appreciate this place? It's paradise. I met some beautiful souls, and took lessons from every individual that crossed my path. But my mind was always churning, always feeling crazy, and I was almost always uncomfortable. I learned the difference between feeling alone, and feeling lonely. I remembered how in Portugal I felt lonely, but here I felt alone. I almost only felt at peace when I was by myself. Which is okay, but certainly uncomfortable when you want to be social. However, I learned it was okay to excuse myself and spend time alone, because only then was I content. There were times where I felt incredibly happy, lucky, and right on top again. Followed by feelings of sadness, disdain, and unacceptance. I wanted nothing more than to be with my friends from home at times, where I knew I could talk or sit in silence without judgement or anything at all... Just comfort. I missed the comfort. I missed my parents a lot as well, and gained a new appreciation for the relationship I hold with each of them. It was harder to get ahold of them here, and I missed the comfort in my mothers voice, and my fathers words telling me to "keep plugging away, kiddo." His go-to advice. He said it to me one day on the phone, and I started to cry... His encouragement was what I had sought after. While I was here, both of my parents expressed just how proud of me they were... I could hear the sincerity in their voices, and I needed to hear it ~as I was doubting myself more than ever and it was comforting to hear them believe in me more than I believed in myself in those moments. Amidst my parents and friends back home, their love shone through to me and I deeply cherished the connection through the airwaves, as I felt their support when I needed it most. Still I had a so much time spent by myself, to become my own support and friend.
Plans got crazy, yet again. We were supposed to follow Indonesia with Vietnam, but twice, for whatever reason, it didn't work out. Money was getting low, things were hectic and I thought I was stuck. I felt extremely stuck, and I wondered if going home was my only option. As much as I missed the comfort of my friends and family, as soon as I looked up a plane ticket back to buffalo, tears filled my eyes. I wasn't ready to give up, not just yet. I've been away for only 4 months. If I came home now, I'd be stunting myself in the middle of a huge growth period. After all, they say you're growing most when you're the most uncomfortable. Certainly, there's a huge dose of lessons, set backs & tribulations I learned while here, even if some of them haven't hit me yet. I do know, I've already been hit with a multitude of them here. I learned a dose of tolerance. I learned that I can still love myself when I don't feel accepted by others. I learned to trust my instincts, that I have a better hold on reading people than I ever thought, and I shouldn't forget to pay attention to that. I learned that there will always be people who try to dim your light, you don't have to let them. I learned that not everyone you meet will love you, and that's okay. I learned to find comfort in music again, and let my headphones wash away my worries. I learned about true friendship, as I extremely hold close to me the people back home, the few I've met along the way, and the one I travel side by side, whom all stay close in my heart. I learned to be my own friend. I learned to sing to myself, and enjoy my own voice. I learned I can cry on my own shoulder. I learned HOW to cry again....& that was a big one. I learned that whatever I'm feeling, I'm allowed to feel it. I learned ~I have the right to be here~ as much as anyone else. I learned that when others don't respect you, you don't need to try to earn it, or go against it either~ just let it be. People will do as they do. It is still possible to coexist. I learned acceptance in not always knowing the WHY others do what they do, to just take things as they are and appreciate the fleeting relationships that weave in and out of your life. I learned to accept change. I learned to cease control of situations and let them be as they may. I learned that we are all on different journeys, and not everyone will understand yours. This is also okay. I've learned so much about forgiveness... I learned forgiveness of the past, doesn't mean you necessarily have to let old people back into your life, but that you can think of them and smile. I'm also currently learning more and more about forgiveness as a whole and how to forgive those who intentionally or unintentionally bring you down. I learned to look at the stars, to listen to the ocean, to feel the earth beneath my bare feet (even if it includes getting a parasite because of it.. Hah)
Within each high, and every low, I learned one extremely important thing... My light is mine, and even when darkness comes, I will still manage to shine again. No circumstance, person, or place can or will ever destroy that.
All the bumps, the burdens, the bites and blisters.... Every minute is always worth it.
So for now, Vietnam is on pause, and home isn't an option. To be honest, I can't even afford the ticket home anymore. One of the scariest risks I've taken, putting all my faith in the universe that it'll take care of me. I know it will, as I take on a whole new adventure among my path. A new place to call home for a while, and somewhere I fully intend getting back to my core and work on focusing on the things that lift my spirt and fulfill my soul.
I imagined that Indonesia would be this spiritual place in which I would find my peace, but instead it shook me up, dropped me in a hole, and forced me to find my way out on my own. Extremely gratifying and I'm actually happy and grateful for everything I took away from this place. I'll be back. I thank this place and all the people who I crossed paths with. Thank you for teaching me some of the hardest yet most important lessons yet. I know from here, up is the only way.... Even if I'm headed down under. ;)
Life is strange, I say everyday to my best friend. And sometimes we laugh about it, and sometimes we just give each other this look of understanding, because we just get it. Life is strange.
I sit upon this island, gazing up at the moon so perfectly haloed by a cloud, struggling with some inner conflict, and in that moment, I feel completely alone, and I don't feel like myself. But upon my burdened thoughts I realize one beautiful thing: I can and am allowed to be here for myself. When the outside energies are draining me, or I'm not feeling as if my energy is high as well, I can be by myself, and I can comfort the girl inside me feeling weak. I don't need anything I'm craving on the outside because I have it all within me... I just need to realize this more, and I shall. I decide to take my discomfort with grace, as much as I possibly can. I know it's just the next step in my journey and there's something mentally that I need to push through, that I need to do on my own. Some days I'm hard on myself, others I've seen how far I've come and how my thought process has changed immensely, I remind myself to take that as a sign that I'm doing just fine.
This life is sure a wave that'll blindside you within each moment. My time thus far in Indonesia has been such a mix of emotions, energies, exchanges. I'm having loads of fun, but at the very same time, there's a shift in the air that doesn't feel so easy. I left Spain feeling this new ease within myself, I knew I had grown and felt such a bond with myself, proudness and appreciation for the person I was becoming. Indonesia brought me to a stumble of sorts. Reminding me of the bracelet Rachel had gotten for Mel right before we set sail... 'stay humble at your highs, stay hopeful at your lows.' I can't quite say I've hit a low, as I'm living in paradise surrounded by such bewildering beauty all around me and I refuse to take it for granted, yet something is off within me and instead of letting it eat me, I've been trying to sort it out and be self aware of what's going on and why. Each day I get in the ocean, I sing to myself over and over the lyrics from Hang Loose by Alabama shakes, trying to let go of all the weird and uneasy discomfort that's been flowing through me. Within those moments, I lose all the hastiness and clutter inside my head. I see the waves, the reef, the lifeless broken pieces of coral beneath my feet... and I know I'm here for a reason, and that I'm very very fortunate to be here as well.
'♬ put your worries on a shelf, and learn to love yourself... don't be your own worst enemy. hang loose, hang loose, let the ocean worry 'bout being blue. ♬'
From the day we left home, there has been so many signs and open doors, leading us to exactly where we need to be. Sometimes it's scary, the predicaments we've managed to find, to help us prepare for the next. Downright weird things, but always making perfect sense. It's so strange and mind blowing to me how you cross paths with people and places and are lead in different directions to come to the exact moments you're meant to be sharing. How perfect it is. How much synchronicity there is in this world. Absolute magic if you ask me. So when there's uncomfortable moments, sometimes it can be hard for me to remind myself of this magic that we're living upon. Sometimes I get doubtful, and when I'm stuck inside my head, I loose the confidence I had built, watching a little girl try to piece it back together brick by brick where beams of uncertainty are trying to pull her away.
When on the phone with my mom the other day, she beamed with proudness for me. Calling me a conquerer. I laughed in that moment, as I hadn't really felt like I conquered anything, yet days passed and her words have stuck with me. I've done a damn good job at what I'm doing, and I'm extremely proud of the way I've done it. How timid, shy, and uncomfortable in my skin I was before I left, as opposed to now, slowly but surely learning who I am, and how to deal with myself and the uncertainties I've carried. It's absolutely something I should commend myself for, and my mama is so right... I have conquered unbelievable amounts of fear within myself, and I continue to do so.
When I was in Spain, I felt so disconnected from home. I felt like I couldn't relate to that place anymore. Here, I've felt more connected to home than I have since I left. Not in a homesick way, in a grateful way. I miss the beautiful people who love me with all they have and embrace me for who I am. I miss you guys, I wish you knew how much I love you, and how full my heart feels when I think of you. I wish so much that I could have hugs from each of you, SQUEEZES!! Thank you for standing behind me so much while I'm out here trying to figure it all out. You already know who I am, and love me for everything. I feel so happy to have people who understand me so much, who know whats in my heart and how hard I've worked to get where I am. I can't help but become a mess of tears when I think about what a beautiful bunch of souls I have on the other side of the world. Each and every one of you are my role models. I'm undoubtedly lucky to have you by my side.
It's strange and beautiful connecting with new people who dance in and out of your life as quickly as they came. Sometimes its difficult, because you know it's temporary. How wonderful it is to be able to connect with people so suddenly, but how tragic is it to have to leave that behind in the blink of an eye? I feel myself somewhat trying to guard myself up this time, where in Spain I was completely open and ready to share my heart with everyone. It's made me so grateful to have people waiting for me at home, whom have known me for ages and will still be there when I return. It's these feelings, the fleetingness of traveling that has been somewhat heavy on me. At the same time, I have an irrevocable love for traveling, it's amazing to be able to form these connections with people so quickly and I think the whole art is absolutely incredible. But right now I feel as if I took two steps back, I long for the people I know I'll never have to truly say goodbye to, because I know they'll always be here.
Everything is so bittersweet right now.
Every. Little. Thing.
until I can conquer
So much of being on the road has been finding myself only to lose myself again. I suppose there's ways to get lost and found everywhere you look. The more I dig, the more I find, and then in an instant, the less I know. It's breaking boundaries and trying to piece together the mess that spills from under them. It's like ripping open a bag of skittles too fast... they fall everywhere all over the floor, different colors and flavors. It becomes your job to pick them up, one by one. Each flavor. Each color. Some days, everything makes sense, others, I feel like I'm raw handedly climbing a rope, grasping to hang on to what I know. If only I could let go completely, maybe then things would stop shaking up so much. But I can't say that I don't enjoy the turbulence of this ride. I know that's the beauty in all of this, the continuous contradictory to the life we live and the meaning upon everything. It's moments like this where I feel like I could crumble into tears. Not upon sadness, or happiness, but just because I feel such a heavy amount of emotion flowing through my body. I can't explain what emotion, but sometimes I believe there aren't always words for the ways you feel.. as I mentioned the way I felt about love in the past post. The heaviness I feel isn't bad, at all... and nor can it be labeled as good. It's just there, scattering through my body.
I wouldn't change a single thing, however. Every bit, every high, every low, is a part of me, and that's something that will never change. I may change, the way I think, the way I view the world, but my experiences will always be there, they are mine to hold, and they've all lead me to the spots I know I need to be. The lessons I need to be learning, the chances I need to be taking.
The blatant imperfection, is perfection it itself.
As I sit upon this bus to Madrid, being careened by Otis Redding, I try to put Spain into words. My backpack is packed and full, and yet I am feeling a little bit empty knowing I have to leave here. I lost a bit of my former self, only to discover myself again. Twice. How can I possibly put this into sentences that will do it some sort of justice?
I shall try….
Love. This word we have that means so much. There is no way to truly describe this feeling and put it into a box. I believe that the word has much more meaning than the definition we give it. There are all types of love. Self love, unconditional love, fleeting love, unrequited love, spiritual love. There is love that lasts an instant, and others forever. This one word has so many different layers beyond the simplicity that we try to give it. THIS is the way I feel about Spain. Its been four weeks, and I’ve had so many different feelings and peeled so many layers away.
I remember arriving here, and as my feet hit the Spanish soil, I knew in an instant that this place would change me forever. I had journaled my first night that I felt a big shift coming, and that I knew I would leave Spain different than I was before. It couldn’t have been a more true premonition.
I arrived in Spain completely timid and shy within myself. I remember the moments we arrived to the first place we stayed feeling completely intimidated by everyone around me. Everything, and everyone was so cool, inspiring, beautiful. How could I possibly fit into this place?
A few days following our arrival, I started to feel disconnected with myself. I felt a loss of identity and unsureness about myself. Still, I felt happy, so inspired every moment. I recall waking to the sun, walking outside the van we were sleeping in, seeing the vast and incredible mountains, sparkling from the sunlight. I would pick the most delicious orange off a tree, and then become completely flustered with how I would even spend my day. I wanted to write, photograph, read, yoga, ALL at once. Needless to day, I used my inspiration wisely. It was absolutely phenomenal to be outside of the world of technology and be more connected with the things that truly move me. Life. REAL life. Nature. Myself. It was glorious!
After a week, we moved basically next door to where we were staying, to begin working on an organic permaculture farm for two weeks. Wow. It blew my mind. Both of the lands we were staying were so off grid and more self sustainable than I’ve ever seen. Compost toilets. No electricity (unless it was solar powered). Let me say that again so it sinks in…. ZERO ELECTRICITY… Meaning, you woke with the sun, you slept with the moon. There was no heat. On the first land we slept in a van. In the second we slept in a place called a Yurt, something slightly resembling a circus tent, with a wood burner inside. It completely flipped my mind inside out. Working on the farm was completely inspiring in itself. To be involved in something so entirely beautiful… To know and see that it was possible to live in a way so connected and appreciative towards nature was, indescribable. Our food came from the garden, and we worked to help more food grow. We planted carrot beds, sorted through olives…. SO MANY OLIVES! We learned so much, and mostly… learned to appreciate the simple things, the little things… Such a satisfying feeling contributing and proud to learn and know that I could be part of something so amazing. I can’t wait to take a little part of this with me being more conscious of how I live my life and contribute myself towards nature.
After the farm, we headed to Granada with Ronja for some time to visit Nora, two of the gals we met on the first land we stayed at. Nora was now working at Makuto hostel, where we had an incredible time. And there it hit me like a ton of bricks, I was no longer this timid girl that arrived in Spain 3 weeks ago… or better yet, the scared nervous girl who boarded the flight to Iceland 3 months ago. I could talk to everyone, be myself, and feel okay… Traveling does something incredible to you, it’s honestly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done, and I recommend it to everyone. It’s so hard to explain, but at some point you realize that we’re all on this same path together, and with that, you share almost an eternal bond with these people you meet. Some I will never see again, others I know will be my friends for the rest of my days. Regardless of that, these people have touched my life forever, and I’m extremely grateful to have met each and every one of them. To any of the travelers who take a read: Thank you to all of you- thank you for accepting me, and helping me grow, for sharing this journey with me, and for letting me be a part of yours. You’re all a little part of my heart now. I wish you the very very best of luck and hope one day our paths cross again! Either way, I can’t wait to see how your journeys transpire as well. :) XO.
I wrote a little piece in my journal the other day laying in the common room of the hostel, and I’d like to share it with you all… to all my friends I’ve met along the way :)
the people and their shoes
all meeting here.
Weaving in and out
Some people feel like moments
Some people feel like eternity.
Yet we all share this understanding,
this unspoken bond.
We are lost.
We are found.
At the very same time.
How poetic might that be?
That within each of these moments,
we are all happy to be here
spending our time with strangers
…but strangers all sharing one part of our souls
exchanging this beautiful energy
it feels like home.
and my former home feels like a distant memory. ~
Now I sit in the Madrid airport, waiting to board our flight.. I reflect back on the past three months. We've slept on floors, in a van, on a boat... Housed ourselves in places I had never heard of- like the Skemma or a Yurt. We’ve dealt with difficulties, we’ve pushed through and conquered. We’ve fallen in love with places and struggled to make others feel the least bit comfortable. It's incredible, really... The places we've seen, slept, found ourselves and lost ourselves in. I look back to the scared girl on the plane to Iceland wondering IF I could even do this, and now am a walking warrior inflicted with the marks of traveling. I have gained confidence in some parts of myself, only to be given timidness in others. I have found silence in the most peculiar places, sometimes eating me, and others calming me. I am constantly losing and finding myself yet again. I've been faced with the loss of self, the very doubt of my existence, only to yet again feel the connection within everything pulsing throughout my body into the ground. I have faced fears, battled with others, and am still striving and working towards more of them. I have seen myself grow and then shrink, rise and then fall. I have seen so elegantly the magic of traveling- the stepping stones and puzzle pieces all leading you to the next part of your journey. Things falling apart to come together- never going as planned. I feel so proud of myself and Melissa. I know we’ve definitely grown and both of us have such a unique bond and understanding of each other that has only become stronger throughout our travels.
This very last week in Europe has been so strange and beautiful to me. To be honest I feel more disconnected to home than ever before. It’s a complicated feeling, as I connected with Spain so much, yet distanced myself more from the place I was so comforted from. I know it’s only normal, but at the same time it made a part of me feel sad. No longer was I the same type of homesick for Buffalo. I missed the people, but not the feeling of being there. I wanted to stay in Spain forever. Thinking of going home now feels more scary than the fears I had before I left. Isn’t that strange? Forever a part of my heart will surely love and appreciate where I come from, but at the same time I have this everlasting feeling that maybe I belong somewhere else. I’ve always felt that way, I’ve always felt as if the nomad in me was itching to be set free. I feel free now, and it’s the most satisfying feeling. As much as I miss the people from home, I feel so much more fulfilled on the road. I hope some of you understand. It’s been weird for me to feel so disconnected to a place that was so close to me, but with every beat of my heart I know that this is truly what makes me a happy person. This is my dream, and I’m finally living it out. It feels so much better and more beneficial to myself to be here than back in a place that seemed to stunt my growth. To be completely and 100% honest, I’m not sure I would come home if I had the option. Home doesn’t really feel like home anymore. It seems more foreign than ever before. As I write this, I feel like I might offend some people, but I’m just being honest as I always have been with these words, and I swear its nothing personal. I wish each and everyone of you would join me. I miss you all every day. I know that’s not possible, so I continue to carry you all in my pocket. I hope so much that I don’t hurt anyones feelings, and that you’re happy that I’m happy. I also know that there are some of you that completely understand me and know that this is what I’m meant for. I now know that the fear of the unknown, is escapable. That the unknown is now exciting to me. This world is much more beautiful place than people think it is. I’m saddened all the time by the fears others try to give me about the places I am, or am going. Life is strange. I wonder so much if I will ever live a ‘normal’ life, now. I wonder if I will ever have a real career and fit into the way society thinks I should act. I believe that I would be much more satisfied as a soul to be out discovering, and why should I conform to what everyone else thinks I should do? I feel much happier living for me. But who knows, this is only the feelings I have now. Evidently, things change every day. Plans never ever work out accordingly.
When Melissa and I first mapped out our trip, we tried as much as possible to leave our plan as loose as possible, however the general idea was to get from Iceland to Spain, and then travel to either India or Morocco. Although Scotland and Portugal were places I'd wanted to visit- I never saw either of those places on our itinerary when I first started thinking about this trip. Precisely, one of the very first things you learn when you begin to travel- Is that nothing ever goes according to plan. So here we are- our trip in Europe has ended and sadly India nor Morocco are no where in sight for the upcoming future. Perhaps the universe has something better in store for us, as I so deeply believe that it does, and am extremely excited for whatever is next. And so as I leave you with these last few words- I prepare myself for a 23 hour journey to our next destination- Adios amigos!
It's been two months today since we left. Almost 9 weeks.
I fell in love in Iceland, with Iceland. The mountain air refreshed and awakened me. I remember feeling so alive there, my heart felt so full of awe and love. That place is pure magic. You feel it, you breathe it.
We galavanted among beautiful Scotland for a week, dancing among the whimsical streets of Edinburgh, indulging in shopping and delicious food, then caught our bearings up north in Inverness.
We then spent another week in Amsterdam, quickly realizing how vastly overrated it is. The vibe is strange, different among the rest of the places I've been, feeling slightly unsafe, (I hate admitting that) the 'coffee' shops aren't exactly friendly, and the red light district is just absolutely sad. It was on my bucket list (god knows why?) but I wish I hadn't. I was almost in tears. A friend later mentioned that they're not willing prostitutes as you may think, they're sold into it. Sex slavery has always been something I'm strongly against (as I'd think most are)- but I thought if a chic wanted to BE a prostitute, well then, do you, mama. I however couldn't help feel a wave of overwhelming sadness come over me walking down that street. It's desperate. It's lonely. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. The people in Amsterdam are generally not very welcoming. If you aren't dutch, get the hell out of dodge. The biking is awesome. The canal structure of the city is beautiful. It's most definitely a gorgeous city, but it's busy. SO BUSY. TOO BUSY. I love New York City, but I hate Time Square... and low and behold, it's just like TS.
I don't regret going, it was just one of those places so hyped that it loses it's spark.
I WILL return there one day, I didn't get a chance to see the Van Gogh museum or the Anne Frank house, and also... yeah, it'd be fun to go with a bunch of friends.
Seriously though, don't listen to me, go see it for yourself.
However, I will tell you this: you can smoke weed at home.
Now here we are, in Portugal, where we've spent the past 3 weeks in Porto. I fell into culture shock and quickly jumped back. In the three weeks I've been here, I've gotten to know and become well acquainted with this city. A couple of weeks ago, I was lost amongst the streets and alleys and thought my only way out was to sit on the ground, cry, and hope someone would find me and carry me back to the hostel. Seriously- 100% contemplated doing that. Somehow, some way, I didn't fall and curl up in fetal position sobbing my heart out- instead, frazzled yet determined, I made it back. (I actually had to work and was 45 minutes late for my shift.) BUT I DID IT! I took my first metro all by my lonesome, wandered streets until I found the familiar, and made it back. If you know me at all, that's a huge accomplishment from my anxiety ridden, codependent self. Now, only a couple weeks later, I could make it back from that spot I felt defeated by, in a breeze. I've pushed through more walls and barriers then I ever thought I could in these past two months. Needless to say, this city will now own a special place in my heart. I freed myself more, and let a ton of stuff I've been carrying go. Mel once read me this quote about travelers... How their backpacks get lighter, but their mental weight gets heavier. Something like that. I beg to differ with that quote. My pack has somehow gotten heavier (haha, SOMEHOW)- yet my mind seems lighter. I learned to forgive in Portugal. To let things go. To free myself from the burdens that so heavily weighed me down. I imagine I still have a long way to go, more will surface, more lessons to learn, but damn it feels amazing to unchain myself from that extra baggage. To forgive the people who have hurt me, and no longer let them control me with the anger and heartache I held towards some of them. I started to understand myself the most I've ever been able to, and that is extremely rewarding. I've started to believe in myself, to see my true potential. If you've read my last post, you saw some of the stuff I was dealing with. I'm not trying to sit here and say any of that stuff dissipated over night. I didn't wake up some strong, independent, confident woman. What I'm trying to say is, since this trip began, I'm stronger, more independent and a little bit more confident in myself. There's no chance in hell I wake up each morning feeling fierce, but I wake up each morning and hate myself less and less. I've begun to embrace myself more and more. I understand why I was the way I was, and I'm working towards admiring myself, accepting my worth, and feeling comfortable in my own skin. Since I've started my travels, that's what this whole thing has been about. Some people said I would find my soulmate, some people said I was going JUST to find my soulmate. I'm pleased and proud to say, that's been the last thing on my agenda. In fact, I've pushed any and all opportunities away from me at any given chance. Maybe it's because I'm not ready for it. Maybe it's because I'm over finding some dude at the bar to shamelessly flirt with. Maybe it's because I know I deserve better. Maybe it's because all I really care about right now, is finding love within myself. Whatever the reason may be, I'm not searching for my soulmate. Whomever that might be, we will find each other at the right time. But from the get go, the only thing I ever hoped to find within this trip, was myself. The girl I once thought I had lost. She's in there, and slowly but surely resurfacing again. Years of wounds and scars have pushed her deep down- into a place where she felt unworthy, inadequate. Now I have realized, dammit Mia, you deserve whatever your heart desires. I always used to say I would never call myself a writer, an artist, a photographer... Because while I enjoyed those things, I wasn't good enough to claim the title. But fuck it, I AM a writer. I AM an artist. I AM a photographer. I've spent my life creating, yet hiding behind my timidness, and I'll be damned if I let anyone, including my own self doubt take that from me. Friends and family have spent years telling me I was good at these things, but in my eyes- I was not good enough. Some would ask, "are you a photographer?" and coyly, I would respond, "No, I just really enjoy my camera." STRAIGHT BULLOCKS. The amazing thing about creating anything, with words, with paint, with a camera, is that anything you create, is beautiful, unique, because you're portraying the incredible creations you see in your mind. No work of art is "bad." Even if you somewhat replicate something, it is still different, because a different mind created it. Yes, there is always room for improvement. Yes, we should always aim for outside the box. Yes, there's always going to be naysayers. Yes, there is always someone who will out-do you. But instead of looking at the rest of the world as my competition, instead I will marvel at them, and use that as inspiration, and admiration. As for the naysayers, well, I think most of the stuff anyone could say about me, I've already said myself. The beauty of showing people your wounds. But hey- I'm sure I'm wrong, I'm sure there's a ton more people can come up with, but I'm done suffocating myself in fear from what one person, or one hundred people might have to say or think about me. It's an opinion, it is not fact. The only time people feel the need to speak badly about another human being, is when they feel insufficient.
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, medal, cookie, what have you.
My dad always told me I gave up on anything that didn't come easy to me. If I wasn't automatically perfect at something, I would give up. I was perpetually afraid of failure. If something didn't come easy, I would throw in the towel and call it quits. He constantly told me to not give up, to keep pushing forward. To practice. That nothing happens overnight. He was right, about everything. I gave up violin, age 9. I gave up dancing, age 11. I gave up any and all sports- my entire life. I gave up on school. I gave up on guitar. I even gave up the things I WAS good at, like writing and taking photos. Once I hit a wall, I would stop thinking there was no way I could possibly get better at these things. If something became difficult, I deemed myself unable to continue trying. I stopped myself from traveling for so long because I was scared of failing. In lieu of this, I stopped myself from living out my dreams. I stopped myself from success. Why was I so terrified to fail? Why would I give up so easily? Because I was scared of anyone noticing. Because fear. God forbid I fell flat on my face and someone saw. God forbid I got laughed at. God forbid someone judged me. Do you really care if I fail? Probably not. If you do, ask yourself why. I'm working on releasing that fear. I'm working on looking failure in the face and saying "Hey, at least I tried." If at the end of the day, no one likes my words, whatever, I will still write. If no one likes my photographs, I will still continue to capture and see the beauty all around me. If no one likes me, well guess what... I still have to be me, I still have to live with myself. I can't run away from that, I'm certainly done trying. Yes, I will fail. Time and time again I will probably stumble. But as long as I pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep on keepin' on, good for me. Honestly, is failure really even failure? I've found myself seeing failure more as NOT doing something, than doing what you wish you could do, and not being perfect at it.
The grand thing I've learned in Porto, is that I'm done being fearful of failure. I'm done competing with everyone. I'm done hiding. I'm done living my life comparing myself to the beautiful beings, the talented artists, the intellects, everyone. There is no need for it. I'm okay just the way I am. I can learn from them, admire them, but I don't feel the need to compete with them, with anyone. No one is better, as I am not better than anyone either. Not an ounce. If only we all worked together, helped each other grow, inspired one another, this world would be a much happier and brighter place. If only we stopped comparing ourselves to the person next to us, we would be happier individuals one by one. If only we lifted each other instead of putting one another down, peace would occur within each of us. I am perfect just the way I am. And guess what, so are you.
As my end in Porto comes near, I leave you with my little bit of wisdom. We are all good enough. We are all beautiful enough. Talented enough. Smart enough. Once you can free yourself from fear, from worrying about everyone else, whether you see them on a pedestal, or are just downright scared of what they might think, you will be free. If anyone has anything bad to say about you, if anyone wants to judge you, let them. They are wasting their time and energy mirroring their own envy and insecurities.
Letting go is one of the most rewarding things you can do. No, I'm not perfect. There will still be times of self doubt, and there will still be times when I compare myself to someone I find more talented than I am. There will be times when I fall down. But I refuse to get discouraged. I refuse to get sidetracked. I refuse to fail. I will reread this post when I feel defeated.
I will work on all of this until I come out on the other side,
and that in itself- is the key to happiness.
I decided to take a different approach this post. Writing is my most therapeutic release, and I've been doing a lot of it the past few days, trying to get rid of some of the anger, bitterness, sadness and resentment that I've been carrying. As much as I've began to enjoy releasing some of my most private details of my soul to the public, the writings I've been doing lately I don't quite deem suitable for the public to read. I took a new strategy in my writing, penning letters to all the people who've hurt me in the past, whom I've hurt, the things I haven't been able to let go, and carry deep within me. (Credit to my best friend for the inspiration, we've both been purging our emotions.) The effects have been amazing, but as to protect the people I've written to, as I respect them, and don't want to put them on blast, I'm going to keep that stuff to myself. In fact we're going to burn them all when we're done so we truly can let it all dissipate and leave it all behind when we leave Porto.
So, instead of giving you my most private thoughts, I decided to get behind my other calming friend, my camera. I found a bathtub in our garden, and ever since I've been inspired to use it as a prop for some sort of project. They aren't perfect, as don't have a tripod and I couldn't exactly be behind my camera while photographing myself, but I'm excited about them. I tried to portray some of the things that have been burdening me lately. The sadness, the anger, the frustration, the insecurity... A couple of moments I could actually feel the emotions coming out, and that was extremely satisfying. I'm no model, and my clothes are completely wrinkled as we don't carry irons in our packs (hehe) but I do think that some of the photographs truly portray my emotions and it was cool to experiment with that. I'd like to do it again and really focus on getting it all out there, cause I know how beneficial it's been the past few days to release some of this stuff. So much, that I'm finally feeling back to my old self- which is one of the reasons I even had the motivation to pick up my camera again in the first place. (I haven't touched it since we got to Porto.) I'm extremely grateful to be feeling happy again, and even more so, inspired.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, as they're a little piece of my soul in each one. My favorite favorite favorite thing about photography has always been the fact that you can truly capture a moment of emotion in each photo. Especially when there's a human soul in front of the lens. I've always found that extremely beautiful, that you can see so much of someone in such a small fragment of time. It's why I fell in love with photography, and why I continue to take photos.
Enjoy! I'm really proud of the way this turned out :)
frustration // anger // resentment
chained // manipulated // insufficient
discontent // unfulfilled
As time trickles past me, and the homesickness and lonely feelings come and go, I am reminded back to my very first post- where I had said I couldn't wait to get to know and test myself mentally and spiritually. Here is now and perhaps that is what is finally surfacing. For the past two months, I have definitely explored myself more and more, tested myself, broke boundaries, and surpassed some fears that I didn't even know were in me. Most of those things were a pat on the back, a reminder to take pride in myself and how much I have accomplished in such little time. Yet as I got swept up in my loneliness the other night, I was faced with the most heavy challenge to come thus far, surely not the last. I finally was able to purge some of the feelings I had been hiding within myself for so long, and come face to face with how lonely of a person I truly am and the fact that I push that far away and far down into some sort of subconscious fear of facing my own feelings, the damages and scars that I've buried into a little chest throughout my life. As long as I can remember I've been one of the most sensitive people I've known. Years ago, the littlest things would bring me to tears, so many tears. I was completely dramatic to whatever occurrence in my life, probably aiming to gain some sort of attention from my loved ones. Something was, and still is, missing within me thats been able to nurture my own soul and face my own sadness. That being said, after years of being that sad girl, I somehow stopped crying all the time, and thought I had become callous towards my feelings. Even though I knew they were very much alive, throwing stakes into my own heart, no longer could I release my emotions with tears, I instead would bury them deep within me. In the past couple years, I drowned my misery with whiskey and only then would I wake up the next morning with puffy eyes, turning to my friends for answers, who always had to pick up the pieces of their friend who ungraciously fell apart after too much to drink. That's a sad story, it saddens me to write about it, to think about it, and to face how much misery I was holding inside of me that I couldn't even deal with on a sober level. I eternally love and feel indebted for the ones who through and through stuck by me when I fell apart into complete shambles. I took my sadness out on them, I took my anger out on them. And they forgave me when I still haven't completely forgiven myself.
When I was thrown amidst my loneliness the other day, I had no choice to but to come face to face with myself, and to actually look within myself as to how I felt. The tears came. The tears from the self doubt, the loathing, the bitterness, the scars, the wounds that have been living and breeding inside of me came, and I cried and cried. It was awful and depressing within those moments. It brought me back to memories where I couldn’t leave my bed, where I had forgotten the purpose to life, where I was perpetually angry and sad and feeling pathetic. It brought me back to my darkest days, where I never ever wanted to face those feelings again. It surfaced a lot of the things that I hadn’t truly dealt with in the past few years. The times I had my heart broken, relentlessly. The times I was stepped on, crushed, or betrayed by people I had loved and trusted. The times where I let myself down, by thinking I would never accomplish any of my dreams, and that I was forever doomed by an unhappy life. The times where I had let others down, and hurt them. All the things I hadn’t forgiven myself for. All the things I hadn’t forgiven others for. It all came crashing into me, and then out of me.
While I would love to say that a good cry heals everything, it didn’t. The fact is, it surfaced it. It let me know that while I am not healed, I am healing. It brought everything to my attention, and let me know what I need to work on, and where I need to go from here. I woke up the next day, feeling a little less sad, a bit more relieved even. Now, I am clear what I need to work on next in my life. Forgiveness. With forgiveness, I know that I will heal. I know that once I can forgive others, and forgive myself, I can then begin to work on the love that is within myself. I convinced myself for a while that I had no longer been seeking love from outside sources, and while I certainly had begun to work on that, truth be told, I am always seeking love. I am a hopeless romantic, someone who constantly believes time after time, no matter how much I am let down- that true fairy tale whimsical love exists. I just have doubts I will find it, because I am filled with a haze of uncertainty and insecurity that doesn’t let me see the love that’s already inside of me. I fear everyday that I will never find another soul to love me. That I am not good enough, not intelligent enough, not beautiful enough, not creative enough. As one talks to themselves that way, it certainly will be true. From here on out, I need to keep working on that forgiveness, and talking to myself in a kinder way. The other love (the fairytale love) isn’t so much important right now, as the more I search for that, the less I will continue to work on accepting myself, which is a crucial part of my next step on this path. I know now, that I can lean on myself, I can continue to grow, blossom, and love myself for all my flaws, and all my beauties. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither am I.
Previous to our travels, Mel and I talked and gave our hypothesis to where or if we'd get the grand ole thing travelers talk of: culture shock. We both had different guesses, neither of which were right.
In the entry before this, I had mentioned the novelty wearing off. Things weren't getting less exciting, but it's lost that "this is new!" feeling, like when you purchase an item and treasure it so dearly until it ever so often gets thrown around after a while. I still wake up every day extremely grateful. I still am amazed and blown away by some of the places put into my view, or even habitat for a small amount of time. I still 100% love what I'm doing and wouldn't change it for anything. Still, there comes a time when things alter the exciting 'I can take on the world' feeling, and become a bit more heavy or tiresome.
Right after we had booked our tickets to Portugal, as I was laying in bed practicing some simple portuguese phrases, and a little voice inside nudged me and told me "this is where you'll get culture shock." Three days here, and it's finally graced my side. It's nothing like I pictured, and I can't quite describe it. Before my travels if you'd have asked if this is what culture shock would be like- I would have said no. I thought it was going to be way more extreme and hard to deal with, but it's just this small feeling of not belonging. Really, even that sounds wrong because that's not very accurate either. Maybe it's just loneliness, maybe it's the small doubts that wash upon me sometimes, or the insecurity and naiveness that I still carry around when walking in foreign places. Maybe it's the homesick feeling I get when I just want to sit in one of our friends living room and catch up on all the things going on in our lives. Skype and texts are cool, but nothing replaces actually being in someone's company who completely accepts you for you. Maybe it's knowing we won't be home for Christmas, for New Years, for one of our oldest friends having her baby. Maybe it's walking into a grocery store and not being able to find milk because NOTHING looks like milk and you can't read anything. Maybe it's accidentally saying "thank you" when you know you should be saying 'obrigada,' and kicking yourself mentally for forgetting and feeling rude. I know it's all completely normal, and just something I have to work through, but it's finally arrived and I'm dealing with it the best I can. Really, it's not that bad. It can be heavy at times, but I'm still enjoying myself and I think that's important. It's when those feelings consume you that maybe it would be harder to deal with. I guess it comes in waves at the moment. Possibly this is just the beginning, possibly I may get consumed by it at a later date. I'm hoping for the former.
Luckily, I have my best friend here with me. Through the strange, the lonely, the foreign, the grumpy, the good, the bad, and the ugly- I have this amazing person to lean on when the going gets tough and I couldn't be more grateful for her.
It took me 47 days to get culture shock, and 47 days for the reality to hit me. Remember all those times I said to some of you how this didn't feel real before I left!? How I couldn't cry or do anything but smile when all of you hugged me goodbye all sad and happy at the same time!? Okay- it FINALLY feels real. 47 days later. I FINALLY realize that I can't hop in my car, drive to one of your homes and talk for hours with you. I FINALLY realized I won't be home for the holidays, or am going to miss important life events. I FINALLY realized I won't be sleeping in my bed anytime soon, or be able to take a bubble bath. I FINALLY realized that I can't have Tim Hortons or Mighty Taco any time I want (okay maybe actually that happened on day one, hour two.) But seriously though, I'm grateful to even be going through this, because it makes me grateful for all the people and places I have back home that are full of so much love and comfort. It makes me realize how much we took it for granted and how exciting it'll be when we do go home. It also makes me feel grateful to be growing, because I know this is the most uncomfortable I've felt, which means that this is going to push me to grow the most.
To the couple people that may fret about me when they read this, please don't! I promise I'm okay, and this is okay- it wouldn't be real if I only wrote about all the amazing stuff, and this also is amazing in itself too! I wouldn't change any of this, and I'll pull out of this a stronger, wiser, more confident girl. Don't feel sorry for me, or waste any time worrying... Cause I assure you it's all good- this is all part of it and I was fully prepared to experience these parts, even a bit excited for it. If anything, I'm extremely lucky, to be facing all these fears and negative feelings and dealing with them mainly on my own. Don't think for a second I'm not okay, just mentally give me a hug and know that I feel it. Nothing is wrong or bad or anything I know you might worry about (seriously mom I'm talking to you!)...but I'm sitting on a balcony in Porto....writing, listening to the beautiful portuguese language and hearing the busy sounds of cars and buses passing by. When I look up I see incredible architecture- some of it decaying (my favorite!) and to my left there's mountains in the distance, and if you know me, you know that's all the things in my dreamiest dreams. And when I stop and take all that in for a minute- I know I'm okay- I know why I'm doing this, and everything else fades away.
I feel as if this is the time I need to push myself further. I picture myself sometimes returning to home and wonder if I've changed at all. I don't see it, but at the same I know I've faced a lot and done a lot of things that I would've previously been too scared, too anxious to experience. With that, I know there is bouts of growth I've gone through. Even now, experiencing some culture shock, I know that I'm growing. But I can't stop having this nudging feeling in the pit of my gut telling me to seize more, experience more, grow more. Sometimes I'm hard on myself that I'm not seizing every opportunity, or taking full advantage of my travels. Others I know that there's no "right" or "wrong" way to travel, and that I'm doing the best I can. Sometimes I feel absolutely terrified that I'm here, or thoughts of what I'll do after I return, and start shaking in my boots at the anxiety that burdens me. Others I remind myself that I'm absorbed in an amazing opportunity and I don't need to worry for one moment about the future. Before I left I had these grandeur thoughts of knowing what I wanted to come home and do for the rest of my life. I'm still just as clueless. All I know is that I love sitting somewhere quiet and writing until my hands hurt. I love being behind my lens, focusing on nothing but the dynamics of my camera. I love being on the road exploring new places. I knew that stuff before I had left, but now I truly know how much I love it, and how much I didn't pour myself into it the way I wanted to. There's still some days where I'm kicking myself in the ass to do it more, but inspiration isn't always knocking on my door day after day. Sadly the arts are always starving... actually, as I write this I find myself thinking that the arts aren't starving at all, they are the most fulfilling thing I know, and I can absolutely fill myself up with them for the rest of my time here on earth.
Two days ago I wrote all that. Two days have passed, and the shock has become more and more real, engulfing me into it's pit as I am completely full of heartache and sadness. As the days pass more and more, I feel more alone. I feel like it's just me, sitting beside myself, that I'm a complete outsider looking in, and I'm watching this extremely lonely and sad girl try to figure everything out. That's okay though, I suppose. I will let this loneliness completely swallow me, if it means I feel a bit more whole at the end of this. These moments are weaving in and out. Sometimes I feel okay, that I have everything under control, and then the next I am swimming in a pool of sadness and feel as I'm clutching to strings trying to find my bearings as I delve further and further into this lonely dark box. Depression is an old friend of mine, one I know far too well, and I feel as if I'm asking it so politely to go away. Not right now. Please don't do this to me. Sadly, it's not always so eager to do as you please. It's not always something I've been able to control, although I've been doing a pretty good job the past year of my life. The thing is, with depression, you don't always get to pick and chose when it graces you with it's burden. I know why it's here, and what it's come to do, and surely I think there's a purpose behind why it's beckoning me to let it in. In the past I would've wallowed in my pity and let this darkness take me further. Right now, I'm just trying my hardest to recognize it for what it is, and let it do what it's here to do. From what I'm absorbing, I realize that it's here to let me know that the one person I have to lean on is myself. That this loneliness I feel, can't be substituted from anyone or anything, but the empty feeling I've carried within me for so long. I know exactly why it's here and exactly what it's doing to me. The shitty thing is, it really really sucks and it's really heartbreaking trying to put yourself back together. When you normally would feel alone, it's easy to substitute your feelings by grabbing at your comfort zones. Here, I don't have anything to grab. I feel isolated, extremely sad, and empty. I don't truly feel like I can turn to anyone, because I know that no one will have the answers, or no one will understand. I know this is something that only I can deal with, and that there's nothing else to do except try to sort it out the best I can and try to get through. I've gone up and down in so many moments today. Just when I think I've started to feel better, a wave washes over me to remind me that the loneliness is still very much alive, growing inside of me day after day. Right in this very moment, I wish I could curl up into a dark box, mail myself home, and take a long nap until I'm back in the states. I'm at a loss as I try to sum this up. Obviously this isn't something I can just push aside, as it's something I have to force myself to deal with. I know it shall pass at some point, but right now I feel the heaviest I've felt in a while.
Tomorrow hopefully will be better. Tomorrow I will hopefully feel less alone. Tomorrow won't be so bad..
Sorry for such a sad post.