What Have I Learned? 34 notions...
It was 91 degrees in Amed, Bali and I was sitting on the steps of an Indomaret mulling over the year while eating a roll of coffee flavored cookies. Yeh, they were pretty bad, but it merely added texture to what passing in front of me: families riding on scooters complete with a dad driving carrying a woman cradling a small child in one arm while chatting with two kids draped around the frame; chickens scurrying out of harms way, tourists melting under the oppressive sun, small lorries overflowing with standing passengers, dogs with tongues hanging out of their mouths hugging the berm only to dart across the road with death defying precision, and Indonesians covered from head to toe protected from the insufferable rays while navigating scooters with baskets full of wares, nonchalantly holding the handle bar with one hand.
There were four temples within eye site and most had a small statue at its entrance adorned with a black and white checked skirt. I had asked a local expat what the black and white symbolized and got that “dumb ass” look. I was told it represents the yin and yang of life - of course it does. And when I did take a moment to notice, I found that the little symbolic reminders were scattered everywhere throughout the Balinese culture...
I sat on those steps mulling over my “pinch me” year wondering what amazing “ahas” I had to share and realized my journey was more about self exploration, and knowing that so much more sits out there (and in me) waiting to be explored...
Simple truths - for me - in no particular order...
1. The world is a much safer place than the media (and some folk) portrays. That doesn’t belie the fact that it’s important to be smart and aware of ones surroundings, but to live in fear of “what if” is an artificial construct of the mind. A true limiting belief on so many levels. 2. I’m grateful I was born in the US where my rights as a woman are more advanced than in many parts of the world.
3. I’ve seen the impact of diverse religious ceremony, tradition and beliefs around the world and how it binds (and blinds) communities.
4. I now know for sure that I don’t need much stuff. A backpack with some clothes and a few toiletries are more than enough.
5. I’ve learned that it was good to be away from the negative political atmosphere... and virtually every country I visited has had its share of bad leaders. Some countries have taken years to heal and most African countries have miles to go to rid themselves of corruption, but life - in all situations - goes on.
6. I saw the power and influence of Colonialism around the globe and the long term economic disparity it created. My white privilege became even more apparent to me as I traveled...
7. Community can be found everywhere and volunteering was an incredible way to get dropped into a new City and into community.
8. I’ve learned that “stuff” is binding and can shackle you to a job, location, etc. As I let go of my material goods, my world literally expanded exponentially.
9. That perspective is everything and a mere thought - or the shudder that can come with it - strikes an energetic chord throughout your body. Keeping your head (and body) in a calm, relaxed state is helpful in any situation. (It’s also the optimal state in which a body can heal. Learned that one pretty viscerally...)
10. I found spirituality and my tribe in virtually every Country and City in the world.
11. I found that nobody cared about all the stuff I did before I traveled! All they knew and cared about was the relationship I formed with them.
12. I learned that there were subtle differences between being a traveler and a tourist. I prefer, and am happier, when I’m a traveler...
13. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as I had a clean and comfortable place to lie my head and get a good night’s sleep, little else really mattered.
14. An unexpected change in plans often resulted in something better than my best laid plan! I learned to roll with it and watch with anticipation (and sometime fear - can’t lie) how it would unfold...
15. I experienced a couple of episodes of being really sick, and the kindness and compassion of others (both near and far) made all the difference.
16. I learned that salt water is incredibly healing, and that warm sunshine makes my hair and nails grow.
17. Facebook messenger and WhatsApp are important tools in keeping in touch with those that I love back at home.
18. I learned that I don’t know my own country as well as I could (SO excited to explore it on a bike this summer!!!).
19. Yoga continues to play an important role in my life and allows me not only physical health, but mental ease.
20. I have met many people that are leading incredibly creative lives and living on their terms. There are so many diverse and unusual ways to live, and that the ways in which society defines success in the US isn’t the only recipe.
21. And new friends.... my network has literally spiderwebbed itself around the world. So grateful for the homes to which I can return and new homes to visit.
22. Courage is feeling the fear and figuring out how to persevere through it to the other side. I’ve learned that my fears are very rarely founded in anything that should change my course of action.
23. I learned that the locals always have a new herb or oil that is a perfect remedy for the condition I’m experiencing. My new wash cloth is a red porous rock from Zambia that exfoliates my whole body and keeps my heels from cracking. Yes, I carry rock with me now.
24. I’ve learned that living in flip flops is conducive to removing your shoes before stepping into a restaurant or home. Life really is better in flip flops...
25. Ear plugs are critical to a good nights sleep, and can be the pivot point between having a good day or a remarkable day! Oh, and roosters really do wake up much of the southern hemisphere.
26. Synchronicities (or what you may call coincidence) happen with amazing frequency. Noticing must reinforce them, as the occurrences have risen exponentially...
27. Attitude is everything. Hamlet said it aptly, “...for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so...” Truth.
28. Giving myself a budget (ie, not traveling like I had riches) allowed me to get to know and live among the locals. Resorts and high end accommodations seem to separate the tourists from the locals and their culture.
29. S L O W travel is everything. Walking to destinations. Taking the local bus. Literally rubbing shoulders with la gente (the people) gave me a different perspective of the world.
30. Suffering exists and I have overwhelming gratitude for meeting amazing humans all around the globe that are responding with kindness, generosity and love.
31. I have gained confidence, learned to let things go and how to live with very little. How will that inform me as I live forward....?
32. I am not so worried about what others will think of me and am much more open to saying yes to the world!!
33. And.... the world feels so small and yet so huge, and I’ve not even scratched the surface. So much more to explore and experience!
34. Don’t over think it. Don’t plan every detail. Just do it... And don’t panic if you forget something - the world has stuff to buy - lol!
I covered this much of the world in 2019:
Cancelled flights - 1
Delayed flights - 1
Missed flights or connections - 0
Lost luggage - 0
Geckos, incense and open air showers ended 2019, and now phase II of my journey is unfolding as I type. 2020... magic is in the air...