You don’t have to carry all that baggage with you.

Ask any seasoned traveler for advice and it’s likely you’ll be told: “pack light!”

While I’ve never been particularly good at packing efficiently for trips, (though I’ve gotten better!) I realized the equivalent of packing light has been at the center of my life at home since the new year started.

For so many of us, the world seems a bit heavier than usual right now. Intentional breaks from the news and/or politics can help. Personally, the heaviness has prompted some reflection about where I spend my time and energy. I’ve begun a process of thoughtfully letting go of people, places, things, and any other clutter that no longer serves me.  In the midst of all this San Francisco rain, it has become a “spring cleaning” of life, if you will.

So often we don’t recognize the confines of our own schedules, commitments, and demands. We take on more than we can juggle and find ourselves out of balance and unintentionally ‘dropping the ball.’ (Ladies, this can be especially true when feeling the ‘you can have it all’ pressure.)

Yet things are different when we travel. Often it begins before the trip even does. When you only have so much room in a suitcase, you’re forced to say no; there’s a finite amount of space (especially if you fly budget airlines.) You have to examine the purpose, function, and worth of every thing you choose to bring. What if we took this approach to our lives as a whole, where it’s so easy to pick up more and more without stopping to think about what may be weighing us down?

What if we took this approach to our lives as a whole, where it’s so easy to pick up more and more without stopping to think about what may be weighing us down?


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The Good in 2016

Oh, 2016. You were something else.

If you’re a longtime reader of this blog (thank you!) you may recall that I tend to recap each year utilizing a theme. In the past, there have been reflections through the lens of food and even hotel rooms.

After a year of so many ups and downs for the world, many of us are looking forward to saying goodbye to 2016. Reflecting on the year, I’m looking intently for the good in these past twelve months. Thank you so much for being part of the journey.

Choosing safe places to travel.

The end of 2015 had me questioning my travel experiences and the world as I knew it. I did not believe one horrible incident abroad would really stop me from traveling, but I knew it would take a few places gentler than Colombia to build my faith back up.

I’m grateful to Ireland, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, lots of travel around the USA, and return visits to my beloved France for doing that for me.

tallinn overlook


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Caring for the Self

Or, unintentionally cozying up to a new Danish word.

Hello, friends! You may have noticed I’ve been a bit absent from the blog lately. I’ve always strived to share with transparency in this space, so perhaps I’ll start today by telling you that it hasn’t been an easy year for me with regards to writing. I do still write full-time for a living, but it has been challenging for me to write the personal pieces I often share with you here.

Many times I’ve pointed to the block that is still haunting me — yes, you guessed it — telling the full story of my robbery at gunpoint and bus hijacking in Colombia at the end of last year. There’s so much I want to say, but so much pressure (from myself, mostly) to get it right.

It’s fitting I should mention that event now, because that was the beginning of the self-care practices that inspired this post. After the hijacking, my sense of security, my view of the world, my ability to trust myself…all of these things came into question. I suffered from PTSD and sought treatment when it began affecting parts of my life. And while I’ve learned more from it than I can begin to write, perhaps the simplest way to begin to share is to tell you how I learned to take better care of myself.


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This time of year is consistently filled with excitement (and for some, dread.) Softening twilights signal the end of summer, when we put down our popsicles (or mugs of hot tea, if you’re a San Franciscan) and pick up our books, strap on our backpacks. It’s back to school time.

The little girl who loved school, who couldn’t wait for classes to begin…could hardly have predicted the evolution of the phrase “back to school” as a thirty-year-old. She likely could not imagine that one simple object and its meaning, its weight, would evolve alongside her.

 

Backpacking SF beach-8


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Well, just for the week.

And yes, you can consider this post’s title my best attempt at a terrible, belated April Fool’s joke.

After a whirlwind visit to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day, where I got an intensive lesson on Irish life past and present (and by that I mean more than just multiple hours spent wearing green and cozily sipping pints — did you see it all on Snapchat?) I’ve been home for just two weeks and already, I’m heading back out there into the world again.

As many of you know, I took a long break from even uttering the word ‘travel’ after a worst nightmare came to life on the road at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure when or how I’d resume my usual manner. So, I resolved to press pause on traveling and stay home for the foreseeable future…only to then lose my apartment.

In the months that followed, I tread water daily just trying to stay afloat. And when it feels like you’re drowning, the best way to survive without panicking is…(?) to find your footing. I sought and found great comfort in re-establishing myself in a new home and rooting myself in a daily routine.

In pursuit of this balance I’ve sharpened my skills for finding adventure in my own backyard, staying curious, active, and engaged with life and culture even when I’m not traveling. Yet at some point, even the boldest routines can begin to feel stale. (Isn’t repetition what creates a routine, after all?)

Once again I find myself seeking that familiar desire to stretch to the unfamiliar, like a runner whose legs ache to hit the trail. Still, more than ever to date, I respect, need, and value my life at home.  


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