Reflections on my past four years of traveling.

I recently reflected on the sparse-but-happy blog posts of my past and I’m left with a warm-hearted feeling. I’m so proud of my journey and what I risked to achieve it. And yes, I consider each of my travels as an accomplishment. They may not be school degrees or framed certificates, but each trip and experience that shaped me is MY life trophy. Now, I’ve recently settled down in my home town to recharge, heal, and see where life takes me next. In the past seven months, since moving back from Florida, I chose to make some lifestyle changes to aid in my healing which led me to new people, friendships and most recently, to begin a yoga teacher training (my first accreditation).

The sunshine I chased for four years kept me out of depression and I lived life to the fullest. Everyone has a different definition of that, though, depending on our walks of life. I wasn’t raised by scholarly parents; they didn’t even go to college, like most middle-class families. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I “grew up”, so I skated through high-school and even though my grades were excellent in college, the only options I saw were desk jobs in Manhattan or finding a man to start a family. I wasn’t ready for either. I wasn’t into the health field yet, I just knew I wanted to have fun with my friends, which consisted mainly on having drinks at parties, going to concerts and traveling. It’s not my fault that I knew nothing else at the time. Someone else may have defined “living life to the fullest” by working their way to the top of a corporation, or building a family in the suburbs, or owning a lot of material crap, or maybe they knew at a young age that they wanted to better themselves and others in some form- like becoming a health practitioner or devote their free time to volunteering. My sights were set on an imaginary job I did not yet know existed, to live on a warm beach year-round and to meet as many like-minded, happy people along the way. Coming from a large family, I thrive best when I’m around lots of positive people who (maybe) are lost like me and are just finding their escape in an unconventional life- temporary or not.

The places I’ve lived helped me discover what I want and what doesn’t serve me and has brought me to where I am today. As challenging and severe some things I went through were, I will never regret any of it. I also will never apologize for who I was and who I am. Of course my priorities changed as well. I still find it very important to travel and explore- even if it’s a day trip nearby, a hike or place I’ve never been, because nature and learning about others and new locations is so stimulating to me and so is taking a break from work here and there. I needed to travel, “party”, and create amazing friendships from around the world as I did because that’s who I was, it’s what made me the happiest. How can I apologize for that? It may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s mine and it was most certainly the best therapy for me at the time!

So, why am I home in a cold winter to heal? It begins with my monumental Asia trip three years ago… and an apple. I can explain my illness in another blog post- which is a whole story in itself. But, the lingering effects of the illness that that apple caused me have led me to the healing support of my childhood home. It’s what led me to my recent life-style and diet changes, but I’m thankful for it. I believe it was a blessing in disguise, to have me reevaluate my life. Sometime last year I grew sick of working full-time in a restaurant and going to bars a few times a week. Although I was also practicing yoga and being active during the day, since I got back from traveling abroad, I felt I was going nowhere. I had to quit drinking and focus more on my health which made me light a fire under my ass to sign up for yoga teacher training this year.

Now that I’ve grown and got a lot out of my system, I’m realizing what else can be therapy, perhaps in a more healthy and “conventional” way. I have discovered over the years how to maintain my energy level, avoid what creates health issues and what can help me achieve success in areas that I’m actually interested in, like health and wellness. I left behind waitressing for now, to work in a health-promoting retail store, even though I’m making a fraction in pay. I’m the least stressed I’ve ever been and people actually appreciate my help. Yoga has taught me to love more, relieve life’s anxieties, accept others for who they are and treat my body right. I’m finally learning about something worthwhile that I know will continue to better my life.

This doesn’t mean I want to give up being social. A person doesn’t have to fully change who they are, just because their lifestyle has changed. I love live music, I love new experiences and I certainly still love meeting new, like-minded people. I also enjoy being (sober) at a party or bar (before everyone gets drunk), so long as I am surrounded by my friends or family as a way to catch up. Because sometimes it’s a good place for friends to gather and sometimes the atmosphere is uplifting and fun. The challenge and idea is balance and acceptance… And staying up passed my average, granny bedtime of 9pm (lol, here’s to being over 30!)

I may have not had my “ah-ha” life-changing moment, yet, but I’ve come pretty close with my potential, future yoga teaching career. And I’m definitely grateful for and satisfied with what I’ve done thus far! Most people never get off the couch, let alone quit their job to chase a dream.

Am I doing the right thing? Am I scared of the cold? Do I miss being on the road with a backpack and plane ticket? Maybe a part of me does, but I also know that happiness and success is within us and that each decision or experience is what we make of it (cliché, so what?). I also believe that something can change your route- like love or an unexpected situation…

Just like with cold weather, life is about tolerating and breathing through the discomfort…A mantra I learned from my yoga teacher. As uneasy as I am in the cold and as bored of my diet as I have become, I believe these are challenges that life has thrown at me to help me with the bigger ones ahead.

Stay warm. Namaste!

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Post-Travels Summary

I am, by no means, an expert in travel. Hell, I have only left American soil a couple of times (so far). But, I have been exploring my whole life. My addiction to travel stemmed from my parent’s passion for camping. From frolicking naked in campgrounds up and down the east coast as a toddler, to road trips and flights across the country as an adult, I thrive on exploring new places. I started researching and following travel bloggers and destinations to add to my travel bucket list, which led me deeper into the world of backpacking and hopefully living abroad one day. Little did I know, while I was drooling over bigger adventures and obsessing over travel writers, I was gaining admiration from people for my adventures and blog!

Since I quit my job and moved to Puerto Rico three years ago, I have been on the move ever since. Family, friends and acquaintances have reached out to me to either ask for advice or to thank me for being an inspiration to them! Some say they just enjoy living vicariously through my pictures. These comments give me motivation to keep traveling and never stop sharing.

Which brings me to my response to anyone interested in learning from my experiences: I understand how insanely amazing it feels, but, yet, so foreign. I was lucky to receive great support from fellow travel buddies as well as travel writers I befriended, and now I can’t wait to pay it forward. Advice and stories are always best when written out in the descriptive detail that they so deserve. So, I will begin posting all about my amazing adventure into Asia, in advice-blog form! (Stay Tuned!)

*I try to live a life against “the norm” and follow the sun, not only through a passion for travel, but because it makes me happy. I realized, through tragedies and illness, that life is short! If you feel an urge to see the world, go do it!*