A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Living an Italian Dream. March 18, 2009

It seems surreal that it has been three weeks since I left the States to start my new adventure: to live in Italy for a year! Last year I embarked on an 10 month around the world trip, this year I am in pursuit of fulfilling additional dreams to live abroad, learn fluent Italian and write a novel–something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember but have never taken the time. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember that I wanted to do something, but rather that I did that something. The fear of failure is the greatest failure in life.  Why would you deny yourself the opportunity to try to achieve what your heart desires for fear that it cannot be done?

Sure, I may  not achieve all of my endeavors, that is to be somewhat expected. However, with every pursuit I will certainly grow, learn and strengthen myself with the mere act of trying.  The end result is a compliment for ones ego, but the passion that fills one soul in the process is the true reward. To feel alive with passionate hunger and desire is the only life worth leading, without feeling and emotion life is a stagnant line. I want to be a heart beat. A pulse. A movement in space that is always surging and never at rest.

Let the infinite possibilities of life consume me,  my dreams engulf each moment I spend on earth, and give me determination and perseverance in maintaining an unwavering aim to lead a life of unrelenting passion and romantic adventure.

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A Continual Quest February 19, 2009

It’s officially official…. in one week from today I am moving to Italy! Although, I already planned to be leaving, until I had my visa in hand nothing was certain. I flew to San Francisco last week, applied for my visa and a few days later walked out of the Italian Consulate’s white wooden doors with a huge smile spread wide across my face, my visa in hand, and the stripes of red, green and white from the Italian flag hung over the door frame waving behind me. Just over a year ago I was leaving Seattle for an around the world trip, now merely 12 months later, I am about to embark on a new adventure. What amazing moments are waiting for me in Italy? What new terrene can I explore?

The world offers endless possibilities if you continually strive for them. The key to accomplishing your goals and dreams is to not stop after completing one goal, but rather to keep challenging yourself to achieve all of your goals on your list. And, when that list is done–time to make a new one.

Never stop aspiring for your dreams after you complete your first round of goals. Of course, take some time to soak in the glory of your accomplishments, congratulations!  But, don’t think for a moment that you are done–your list of dreams should be constant, never ending. No matter how many goals you’ve accomplished or how much status or wealth you have obtained, you should never allow yourself to sit idle in life when you have the potential each day to fulfill a personal goal or to help others achieve theirs.

Obstacles are bound to cross your path stealing your motivation like two black masked men robbing piles of crisp green cash from the vault of a bank, leaving you empty and in disarray.  But, when all is lost, that is when your true strength perseveres. “Okay,” you should say. “What can I do right now to better my situation and what is out of my control?” Be relentless about identifying the things you can change, and let go of the things you can’t.

Life should be a challenge. Whether you create the challenge for yourself, or the challenge falls unexpectedly in your lap like Cancer or paralysis, you still have a reason to push yourself. Don’t give up. Strive for your dreams, and if your current dreams are too far away to grasp or have now become unrealistic given an unexpected situation, create a new list–keeping pushing yourself.

The true prize is your journey in persevering towards your goals, rather than the single moment when you actually achieve them. The gratification from holding a trophy is minuscule to the power of conquering the skills that allowed you to get there which were achieved from hours of practice, diligence to your goal and belief in yourself that–yes! my dreams are important, they are worth the effort.

 

Back in the U.S.A December 14, 2008

It was exactly 10 months from today that I boarded a plane for New Zealand. I left my family. I left my boyfriend. I left my friends. I left beautiful Seattle…my home. I challenged myself to take a risk, to be independent, to follow a dream of exploring the world and experiencing culture while it still exists.

I returned to Seattle three days ago with 50 some gigs of photos and experiences that have changed my life. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip, better travel companions or better memories while traveling the world.

And, now after 10 months…I am back where I started. I am sitting on a comfy couch in my brother’s warm living room writing on my laptop while the rest of my family (minus my brother Mark who is coming on Monday) sits next to me reading the newspaper or watching t.v. It is as though nothing has changed, everything seems the same. If it weren’t for me being curled up in my blue and green Tibetan shawl I bought in India, I may think that my around the world trip was just a figment of my imagination. But this soft blanket reminds me of all that I have experienced, all that I have DONE in the past 10 months. And, for this I smile.

It was hard to take the plunge and to leave my family, boyfriend, friends and my comfortable life in Seattle. My life was incredible before I left–why would I leave? One word: dreams. Everyone has different dreams and goals. Some people dream of becoming a professional basketball player, while others dream of being the best stay at home mom. There is no wrong dream, it is yours and it is what makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach as you quest to fulfill them.

One of my dreams was to travel the world. Ten months ago I was 25, two years into my career but with no car payments, house payments or kids. I was free from the materialistic burdens that tie a person to one place. Besides leaving the people I loved, it was good timing and if I didn’t leave then, I knew I never would.

Now I sit here on the same couch I sat 10 months ago, only this time my body is warmly wrapped in a Tibetan shawl, my head is filled with incredible travel memories and my heart is content that I fulfilled one of my internal passions. I missed many people and things while I was gone, but they were here waiting for me when I got back.

Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your home.

Home, is a place you can always return.

 

Daily Challenges: Balancing Your Goals November 23, 2008

I have been living off an energy high since being in Italy. Each day I have woken up and felt truly happy…to the point that I smile all day long, have a skip in my walk, and have had numerous people ask me if I am always this happy, for which I reply, of course not (to make them feel better)–but truthfully, I have been. Why? Because each day I have been living a balanced goal oriented life. I have an accomplished feel to my day as I simultaneously work towards achieving many of my personal goals.

But the past 3 days however, I have been on the verge of kicking something (really hard and with all my strength), my insides have felt explosive–like a shaken up soda pop, cap still on and just waiting to explode. I hate being filled with negative feelings or anxiety as it directly affects the rest of my mind and body–I start sleeping less, eating bad foods, stop working out, and become mentally and physically lazy. It’s a recipe for disaster and if which, is not stopped soon, can easily become routine. And, seriously, who likes to be around a pessimistic, lazy, moody person? Not me…and even I then start to despise myself…  

The catalyst to this horrible cycle of emotions has been my over indulgence in one particular goal–trying to complete a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of November. I think this goal is entirely doable, and had I spent the first few weeks organizing my time a little better would have been manageable, but as I near the end of the month with a current word count of around 30,000 I began to freak out–“I’m not going to achieve my goal,” my insides wail. And because my insides are little fighters they say, “come on now…we’re not going to give up! Let’s fight…”–and so I did: staying up routinely until 4…3…2a.m. this past week, locking myself in my room and sitting in a chair with my computer on my lap for 9…10…11+ hours at a time, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee and tea and dedicating all my non-working hours to writing (meaning no running, reading, practicing Italian etc).

Three days ago, my body started hating me and my mind felt like a caffeinated cloud–buzzing awake but airy, with nothing really there.  Finally, I did what I knew would make me feel better–I went for a run. Within the first four strides, my body said to me, “THHHHHAANNNKKKYYYOOOOUUUU” (it doesn’t like being caged up) and my mind slowly began to relax, the fuzzy cloud that hung over my thoughts began sharpening into focus like the lens in a binocular. “Yay!” I said to myself, “I can actually think again.” So I ran…and ran…and ran…and probably could have rivalled Forest Gump in distance had I not had to work that day. It felt good to feel good; it felt good to be back to my normal self.

So, I have decided to not bind myself in trying to complete the word count at all costs–not to say I have given up writing towards this goal, but I am not going to starve myself from sleep, exercise and a little fun. My long term goal is to write a novel. I may not achieve my short term goal of writing a 50k novel within a month, but hey–not every goal I set am I going to accomplish, and that is okay. As long as I am taking a step in the right direction, I am at least moving somewhere than standing idle. This short term goal pushed me to start writing and to stop doubting my abilities or fears of failure. So, even though I may not get to 50,000 words by November 30th, my novel is in motion–30,000 words and counting!

Goals are like climbing a mountain. You see the top, and you want to be standing there, smiling, hands stretched out wide to your sides in self congratulation as you pear down below at your achievement. Sometimes it will be an easy climb–hey you’re in shape, you have the right equipment and your body can manage it. Other times, it will be a struggle–the weather brings snow flurries, equipment breaks or your body just says to you, “I can’t go on.” As any true climber knows–a mountain will always be there, you however, if you don’t listen to the signs of your body, may not.

So, my challenge to you is to access your goals and the state of your mind and body. Everyone will have different capacities and breaking points of how much they can handle. But just remember, your mind and body is your core, keep it alert and healthy and don’t overindulge if is telling you not to–it’s a smart little vessel, so listen to it:-)

 

Daily Challenge: Push Yourself November 19, 2008

I have now written 15,545 words for my first novel. My target goal is 50,000 by the end of the month, as I am taking part in the National Novel Writing Month , which is a creative writing project through the course of November that challenges you (as in anyone!) to get off your lazy bum, stop making the thousands excuses about “lack of time” and finally sit down to write the book you’ve always talked or dreamed about writing.  This event worked out perfectly in timing as writing a book is one of the top reasons I chose to live in Italy, and has been great motivation.

I have 34,455 more words to go, and am quite far behind as I only have 9 writing days left (I’m going to Switzerland in 2 weeks so that will cut out a few days). But, it is my own state of procrastination (or rather anticipation to spend time exploring Correggio and the surrounding areas) that has left me trailing a few laps in this race.  However, slowly by slowly I am gaining speed–last night I forced myself not to go to bed until I had written 3,000 words. As 4a.m. rolled around, I finally did it…3,011 to be exact…

Will I be able to kick it into gear and sprint to the finish line in time? I will soon find out…

My daily challenge to you is to push yourself to finish a goal, or start it for that matter–one that you’ve always had on your list but never have gotten around to accomplishing.PUSH YOURSELF…little by little…or like me, if you are far behind, kick yourself into high speed and start sprinting towards that finish line!

 

Daily Challenge: Listen to New Music November 16, 2008

There is something about music that can make a bad day turn great or an ordinary moment suddenly feel exciting.  Your ears perk up, your foot starts tapping, and your body moves to the beats or your mind relaxes to the harmonic rhythms that vibrate through the air. Music is like another world like an ocean. There is so much variety of tunes out there it is an endless sea of exploration.

I couldn’t live without music, however, if your anything like me, the DJ’s on the radio cultivate my taste in music rather than me venturing to find new beats and genres.  My challenge to myself and all of you is to explore a new genre of music.

Here is a list of Afro artists and Afro dance music that my backpacker friend Alex, music knowledge extraordinaire, put together for me:

Afro Artists:

Baba Maal
Papa Wemba
Oliver Mtukudzi
Johnny Clegg “White Zulu”
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (men’s choir)
Miriam Makeba (60’s afro-jazz)

Afro Dance Music and Videos
Lopele (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpaFn5D0cQI,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7riUWg9QQg&feature=related

Kwaito-the clubbing music of southern Africa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRm3lhFRttU

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD66Yjqhhkw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grkd6P5XcWE&feature=related

Afro Rap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rq0tOycu-ug&feature=related

Southern African music dance called Kwasa Kwasa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv3p3hsgFj8

Happy Listening! And, THANK YOU Alex for the awesome recommendations. If anyone else can recommend other Afro artists (or any great artist/bands in that case), leave a reply on this post and we’ll put together a long interactive list of stellar tunes!

 

Star Jumping and Toyota Kicking the world! November 14, 2008

Yesterday marked my 9 month anniversary of leaving Seattle to travel around the world!  It was an experience of a lifetime, an epic adventure. I freed the explorer inside me that has been restless since my childhood days when I explored the world in my backyard. I finally had the courage to say to that little voice…go on…PLAY! IMAGINE! CREATE! The world is your playground I told myself, it is a Traveler’s Terrene.

So here I am nine months later with some 50 gigs of photos, unforgettable memories, and a global network of new friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. From the people I travelled with on different legs of the trip: my older brother “Mohawk Mark” (2 months in New Zealand), college friend and dance extraordinaire Brian (3 weeks in Thailand), my childhood next door neighbor and “Sister Zesma” Suzanne (5 months throughout Southeast Asia, Turkey, Croatia and Italy), my adorable Italian former roommate Ilaria (2 weeks in Milan and a long weekend in England) and the countless backpackers I met along the way where we travelled together for a few days before parting ways (you know who you are…I HEART you…and there are too many too name!)  

At some point I’ll upload a wide selection of photos to Picasa and send a link, but for now, here is a snapshot of my trip as I Star Jumped and Toyota Kicked across the world!