A Traveler’s Terrene

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

Life’s Possibilities… June 3, 2009

Before I begin this post, I would like to say a short prayer for the victims of a horrible car accident that took place last weekend.

God, I pray that you are with each person filling them with the strength and courage towards a fast recovery. Please help them to be okay.

Now…to start at the beginning.

I arrived at the local pool (which is turned into a bar/discoteca at night) with a group of friends, but since it is a small town ran into different friends and acquaintances I’ve met over the past few months living here.  On this particular night I saw a girl I met a month or so prior.  She has an extraordinary effervescent and friendly personality and is fun to be around so when she invited me to join her four girlfriends to go to another bar I momentarily thought about going–after all, I love spontaneity and what she was suggesting sounded like a lot of fun! However, after a moment’s consideration I decided to stay, after all I didn’t want to ditch the group of friends I originally came with.

“Definitely, another time,” I had said before they left.

The following afternoon I received a phone call from a mutual friend informing me there had been a car accident leaving all of them in the hospital. My first thought was for them—are they are okay? My second thought was a flashback to the night before–that could have been me….

One constant aspect of life is that there is always possibility. Possibilities are both a beauty and tragedy in one. Being an optimistic I tend to think more about the beautiful possibilities in life: finding true love, making new incredible friends, witnessing a natural event etc.

Yet, thinking about the negative things in life and what if scenarios are extremely important: what if the plane crashes, what if I choke on this food, what if I get in an accident and lose a limb? These are definitely not warm fuzzy feelings, but it helps to reign in to the present and to GIVE THANKS for everything you have in this moment: my plane didn’t crash, I’m not choking and I have my arms and legs in tact. In this moment, I give thanks for the beautiful life I am living. In this moment, I forget about stress from work or petty feelings towards a friend.  In this moment I remember that here, right now, I am extremely fortunate for all that I have because from a moment from now–everything can change.

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What it means to be Courageous January 29, 2009

My friend Linea is courageous; her story, inspirational. She is one of the millions of people who suffer from bipolar, yet so many of whom are too afraid to talk about there illness. Her mother, Cinda, teaches about mental health conditions, yet as a mother had to watch her daughter spiral into suicidal depression. Together they have written a book that broaches this topic from both angles, as a person afflicted with bipolar disorder, and a loved one’s family fighting to save a life. Together they share their experience in hopes to raise awareness and bring hope to those who are affected with bipolar.

Because of the current stigmas of bipolar in today’s society, many chose to remain silent, paralyzed by the fear of what others may think or how they would react if someone was to find out. Yet, this illness needs awareness. And, frankly–and this is just my opinion–I don’t like the word “illness” as most medical journals describe it. The word sounds cold and sterile, making you uneasy before you know what it means or understand what it is. The word “disorder” is a bit better. Imagine your  bedroom in disorder–clothes scattered on the floor, books strewn on the desk and the bed is unmade. Is a messy room scary? Is a messy room horrible? No. A messy room is life. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make your bed, or do your laundry. Sometimes things in your room are in disorder, just like, the emotions and thoughts in one’s head for people afflicted with bipolar. And, whereas you are responsible for your messy room, a person with bipolar gets the raw end of the deal–he/she didn’t chose to have  bipolar, it is a brain disorder that happens to them.

So this time, imagine that instead of you making the mess in your room, a stranger comes into your room and starts trashing it–clothes are ripped from the hangers, the sheets torn off the bed, and someone (that bastard!) ripped all of the pages from your favorite book and chucked them across the floor. Now, further imagine that this happens everyday. Or, maybe not even every day, but maybe on a day that you were really really really happy, and then you came home to find your room in disarray. I would be angry at life. I would be depressed. And, depression and feelings of hopelessness are two of the biggest symptoms common with bipolar which can often spiral to more harmful moods or actions:

“As I moved through depression, mania, suicidal ideation, drugs, alcohol, an overdose, self-mutilation, and bulimia I knew I needed to make a difference for others struggling with the same demons. Hospitalized with a 24 hour one-on-one hospital aide I could not help but cry for those less fortunate than me. I cried for those unable to get the help they needed due to financial needs and many other issues.”–Linea Johnson

Fortunately for Linea, she had a loving family and supportive friends that were able to get her through her worst of times–she survived to tell her story. Unfortunately, however, many people afflicted with bipolar don’t tell anyone and they become suicidal before they can get help. If you have any of these symptoms, I encourage you to talk to someone. You are not alone. If you know someone with these symptoms, I encourage you to offer your support–and, if that is not enough, then help them get treatment or seek a doctor for medication.

Don’t be afraid to speak about this condition, there are millions dealing with bipolar everyday. It’s life, just like a messy room.  Things in life happen, but it’s our reaction to the situation that marks who really are. Be strong. Be courageous. Talk to someone, and get help if you need it. And, as Linea puts it, “bipolar is not an illness, but added wisdom.”

To find out more on bipolar, and to follow Linea and Cinda’s book go to their website

To learn about Linea’s struggle with bipolar and read words of inspiration, check out her blog.

To learn about Cinda’s role as a professor in special education and her experience as a mother of child with bipolar, refer to her blog

 

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!