A Traveler’s Terrene

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

50 Reasons to Take a Mini-Retirement Now: #42 March 27, 2010

Because you can.

I can’t quite my job/take a leave of absence. I can’t sell or rent out my house. I can’t pull my kids out of school. I can’t get out of debt. I can’t save enough money. I can’t travel the world. I can’t live a mobile lifestyle. Does this sound familiar? Well, I have news for you…all of the above, you can. There is no one stopping you from doing all of these things, except yourself. And, with the right planning and resources, you can do all of the above without as much difficulty as you may think. I recommend voraciously reading Tim Ferriss’s blog for a plethora of lifestyle how to’s and advice.

Many people accept failure even before they actually try. “That is too difficult” or “I could never do that,” many say. But, don’t lie to yourself! If you are willing to put in the work, most things are possible, the biggest deterrents though are either fear or laziness, not your inability to do something.  With enough perseverance, hard work and education, most everything is possible–especially, lifestyle change.  Don’t ask, if you can do something….just do it.  You can. No permission needed.

 

Nostalgia February 7, 2009

After hours of packing…unpacking…repacking…packing…unpacking..repacking…I finally squished a years worth of stuff into two bags and a carry on and walked out my parents door, not to return for another year…or longer. Looking back as the car pulled out of my driveway, I was overcome with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am ecstatic to return to my life in Italy, to be around the language, to live abroad and to be pursuing my passions. I am thankful and grateful for this opportunity, it is everything I have dreamed for and I am excited for this new adventure. On the other hand, knowing that I will miss out on the simple joys of waking up to my dad cooking breakfast, making lunch for my older brother Mark , or drinking a glass of wine with my mom makes me emotional. Sure these are just simple, ordinary things; yet, because I will be living thousands of miles away with an ocean between, I simply can’t do them, and this makes me sad.

My brother Mark is a globetrotter as well and is leaving with his girlfriend Lindy in three days for Guatemala for five weeks. I went into his room to see how his packing was going and after a big brotherly hug, I was in tears. Giant, wet, mascara running tears. Partly because, I’ve been so wrapped up in my on-line life (writing, blogging, facebook, emails etc.) that I’ve hardly hung out with him, one of my best friends, and partly because in a few days and I won’t see him for a year. I am mad at myself for wasting the past month of us actually being home together, because with life, you never know where you are going to end up. What if we never live in the same city again?

The  emotions are  the same for my parents, oldest brother, sister-in-law and nephew. I still fortunately don’t have to say goodbye to them for a few weeks, but I know when I do I will be in tears. You will know it is the day I am leaving if you see me with big, wet, mascara stained cheeks.

I know I am on the right track by following my dreams, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to leave the people I love. To know that I will be missing out on all of the little things, the simple pleasures of ordinary life with family is what makes it the hardest.

Yet, in the cloudy mist of my teary eyes, I know things always work out for a reason. If I was meant to stay, my heart would tell me not to leave. But, my heart is not ready to stay idle, yet anyways.  I have to keep moving forward, I still have so much terrene to explore, so many new things to experience.  This wonderlust heart is part of me. I can’t keep it caged, I have to let it roam free.

 

Three Reasons I Heart Google January 16, 2009

For Christmas I asked for Microsoft Office for Mac; however, I am finding that although it is a great program, I am not using it for my writing like I imagined I would. Instead, I have become addicted to Google Documents. I still am exploring what Google Documents has to offer, but here are just a few of my top favorite features, which in my opinion are AMAZING!

1. Accessible anywhere–When I was on my around the world trip I didn’t take a computer and instead wrote story ideas, poems, thoughts and reflections all in multiple journals (I was a freak and carried two leather bound, one plastic covered, and two smaller journals.  One of my worst nightmares is to be caught idle without pen and paper!) The fact that I can freehand write, then type it into a Google document for safekeeping while I’m on the go is priceless. And, now that I am back home, I still prefer to type in Google documents because I never have to mess with uploading or downloading files, making sure I pulled the correct versions, or worry about leaving my files on my computer, hard drive or flash stick.

**Note my next big trip I might take my computer, but then  1) I would have to worry about battery life, and most places I stayed on this trip didn’t have electricity 2)I would be “weighted” down with fear of losing or getting my computer stolen 3) I write a lot when I am outdoors…dust…rain…sun…you name it…not so computer friendly…

2. Sharing Option: When I first started planning my trip I created a master spreadsheet of all of the things I needed to do, their current state and next steps. I also created a packing list, an estimated budget and a rough itinerary of some of the places I wanted to go. The majority of my trip, we travelled by the seat of our pants, going places people recommended, using the city’s I-site for information, or pulling information from guide books.  However, before leaving the states I put together a rough itinerary spreadsheet and sent it to my fellow travel companions and we were all able to modify, change, and add information in real time (no kidding, you can see the other person’s cursor moving and typing in the document if you are both working on it at the same time–a little eerie but cool.) Even though my parents never used it, I shared the files with them so they could have a rough idea of where we were (places/dates always ended up changing but at least they knew what country I was in!)

3. Revision History–Everyone writes differently. When I write I continually save throughout my writing (every 10-20 minutes or so) as I have gotten burned before, loosing everything I had written. Devastating, but lesson learned. Now a days it is common to have an autosave feature to back up your work as you type so you don’t have to, this blog for example does it for me.  I never found a feature like this in a normal Word doc (and maybe it existed but I never knew?), and sometimes I would write something, save it and realize that what I had written before was better but have no way of retrieving it because I saved over it! (and, yes, I’m not super techy so I’m sure there probably was a way to retrieve the files…)

With a Google Word Document, all you have to do is: go to your Tools Tab select Revision History and a full page including the date and edit revisions are recorded. You never have to worry about losing that “perfect sentence” again–you can always go back later on and retrieve it! If you kill off that character but wish you hadn’t—oh wait, he can come back to life.  And, the information is presented in a non-effacing way. You click on the dates you want, and can compare the difference in changes.

Genius. Love it.

 

Stuff…Stuff…and MORE STUFF… January 14, 2009

I’ve spent the last 3 days cleaning out my old high school room at my parent’s house and I cannot believe how much STUFF I have accumulated over the past 10 years…and sadly, I have only scratched the surface as a lot of the boxes have been moved from my room when they painted and redecorated.

Some of the stuff is easy and it goes straight to the trash or give away pile, but other stuff is harder to sort through, like presents given to me from my parents when I was a child. There is this elegant ballerina snow globe my dad gave me when I was a little girl, it’s memorable because HE gave it to me, but it’s nothing I would display in my future house or apartment. Do I keep it or give it away to a little girl who would truly appreciate it?

Or how about high school memorabilia? I have a full box of “Most Inspirational”, “Most Valuable Player” or “Team Captain” plaques from my glory days on the varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams. Sports were my life growing up and these   awards are great reminders of my hard work and perseverance to push and challenge my mind and body to achieve goals I set for myself, but on the other hand I look at these plaques now and they are only clutter. Really what am I going to do with them? I would never put them on display, but I feel guilty in throwing them away or giving them to a secondhand store.

And what about cards and letters? I haven’t looked at all of them but I probably have a shoebox full of birthday cards and notes from friends and family. On one hand, it is great to look back through a few and read them–it brings me back to a different time in my life. On the other hand, what do I do with them? Right now, I can leave them in a box at my parents because they have a lot of storage, but when they move I’ll need to take them and I like to be mobile not weighted down by things.

Since travelling I have become a minimalist–I don’t need a lot of things, and I don’t want clutter. However, so, far the only ideas I’ve come up with on what to do with my stuff I’m torn about whether saving or getting rid of, is to take pictures of the objects I no longer want but still want to remember, and give them away. As for the letters, pick out only a few that will fit into a manila envelope and purge the rest. This is just what I am thinking now…but any other advice or helpful tips on how to appreciate your things from the past but eliminate clutter in the future, I would love to hear it!

 

1 Week Countdown! December 4, 2008

One week from today I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean and returning home to Seattle after 10 months of globetrotting the world!  This past 10 months has been an experience of a lifetime but there has been many people and things I have missed dearly while being away:

1. My adorable nephew Thomas who was born 2 weeks after I left on my trip and whom I still haven’t met. One week Little Thomas and I will be holding you in my arms! I love you!!!

Thomas smiling

2. My family: Dad, Mom, Cliff, Jordan and Mark…a.k.a. The Swain Gang. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to see you all. Thank each of you for every smile you bring to my face when I think about you.

3. My second family: Rambos, Olsons, and Hergerts–I can’t wait to see you all over Christmas! Terra, Kayla, Josh and Kyle…I probably won’t even recognize you kids because you will be taller and bigger than me by now!

4. Friends: To all my wonderful, amazing friends…I have missed you all and am ecstatic to catch up with each of you when I am home!!!

5. My former co-workers: I miss the cube talks, energetic environment and your creative minds. It will be wonderful to see you all again!

6. Morning talks with my Dad

7.  Family Fun Nights

8.  My BBCB

9.  Little Thomas

Thomas having fun in a bag

10. Chicken quesadilla’s from Peso’s, chicken salad from Purple Cafe and Rojos salsa

11. My down comforter

12. The views of Lake Union and Mt. Rainier driving South from I5

13. My snowboard

14. My wakeboard

15. My MAC

16. Il mio nipote

    Thomas rockin' a hilarious face

17. Girls nights out

18. Boating on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Union and Lake Washington

19. My clothes, high heels, jewelry and jeans

20. Northwest microbrew beer

21. Sister Zesma

22. Watching the Seahawks in my Seahawk scrubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon

23. Beer Pong

24. My perfumes

25. Throwing dinner parties for friends

26. My blue-eyed munchkin

Thomas eating cheerios

 

Daily Challenge: Get Together With Old Friends December 1, 2008

Maintaining friendships was once so simple. As a child you only needed to walk across the street to your best friend’s house, as teenagers it was school that brought you together each day and in university you spent hours together studying, procrastinating and drinking countless beers—these phases were the Caterpillar stages, you roamed around, but slowly and mostly stayed in close proximity to each other. 

Then comes the butterfly stage where jobs, relationships or a quest for new adventures propels you to spread those wings and fly to someplace new–often times to far away distances. It’s exciting as you leave the cocoon and explore the world on your own, creating your own path, and a new chapter to life–after all you only live once, right? So you might as well take advantage of using those wings.

As you create your own path, you form new friendships and a new home. You become engrossed with daily life and sometimes for days, weeks, months even you forget about the life you once lead during another time–it is a chapter in your book, but you’ve turned the page–you’re story is moving forward.  But just like a book, if there is a supporting character in chapter 1 doesn’t mean you can’t bring him back in chapter 10, in fact, it’s even better that you do. It’s familiar to the reader, it’s reminding him of the events he read prior. There is an instant connection of understanding to this relationship. No explanations are needed, the writer only needs to carry on the story.

As I look at the friends I have made over the years, most of us now are spread out across the U.S. or across the globe.  We would hang out each day if we could, if we lived close to each other as the connection is still there, but it is the distance that divides our lives.

This weekend I went to Switzerland to visit Sam, who lives in Bern, and a friend who I haven’t seen in six years as well as Beck and Strom, who I consider to be two of my closest friends but who now live in Pasadena,CA and Boston, MD. Seeing all of them filled my heart with happiness–overflowing happiness actually, I can’t remember the last time I smiled and laughed so much (to the point that I probably now have about 4 new permanent wrinkles around my eyes!)

I may not see these friends everyday like I use to, but when I do see them I am truly thankful and feel lucky to still have them in my life. It is comforting to pick up where you left off and to not have to go through the “get to know you phases” of new friendships. They know me, I know them and we just enjoy being around each other and making new memories.

So my challenge to you is to get on the phone or send an email and make plans to meet up with friends that are still dear to you but that you don’t get to see on a regular basis. Spend that extra $100 on a plane ticket, take a day or two of work and make the effort to keep the friendship going. There are incredible things in life, but it is truly the relationships you make with other people that are the most important, and special!

P.S. I am back in Seattle on December 10th and will be at my parents in Eastern,WA over Christmas and in January. I look forwarding to meeting up with all you wonderful friends that I haven’t seen in months, or years!!! It is going to be wonderful to see you again! 🙂

 

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!