The feeling of autumn swirls through my curtains and dances in the soft breeze around my home. I left California in the summer and returned in an entirely new season. Although the seasonal changes are very subtle here, the delicate details of fall can be felt to anyone paying attention. I’ve always been intrigued by the almost palpable feeling of loneliness during this season; however, it’s never been a negative feeling to me. Having lived at the beach for most of my adult life, I’ve learned to embrace the deserted, quiet calm of the beach in autumn, after all the tourists have gone home, the kids are back in school and the silent foggy mornings overtake the crowded, long sunny days of summer. Fall is a time of reflection, routine and balance; all of which I’m current falling into after my fantastic whirlwind of a September!
Just as the stories of my aunt’s travels around the globe fueled my childhood fascination with exploring the world on my own someday, the stories of my September will fill the imagination and dreams of my children and grandchildren tomorrow. From soaking in the glamourous sunsets of Santorini to getting my hands dirty for a family in need in Vietnam, these experiences have added immense value to the chapters of my life’s book in so many ways.
This past month of travel invigorated a part of me I had previously seemed content with setting off to the side. Before leaving for Greece in late August, I was in the midst of a summer hustle that consisted of building my photography business, debuting my website, working my existing job as a bartender, and entertaining and socializing with friends and family. I became so busy with everyday life and working hard to build my dreams that part of me became disconnected with the BIG dream itself. I was sprinting full speed to the self imposed finish line. And however incredible it was to have my beautiful website live and running just days before embarking on my adventure-filled month of travel, by the time I set sail on my big adventure, I was exhausted and in need of rest and reprieve. After grounding and balancing myself through sleep, relaxation, quiet time and overall self-care, I was able to reconnect with the BIG vision for my life.
Since I began traveling the world in my early twenties, a fire was lit in me that only exploration and expansion could satiate. Travel has fueled the intense curiosity I’ve always had inside me. It’s a huge part of my BIG vision and the expression of how I choose to live this life; with immense love, passion, optimism, joy, and immersing oneself completely in the dance of what it feels to truly be ALIVE! Travel is one of the platforms where I can dance to the beat of this magical existence. This month abroad reconnected me to the rhythmic dance in my soul that has been waiting patiently stage left for the chance to perform onstage again.
Travel has this way of expanding one’s soul in a way unlike our routines at home. In Greece, I learned the art of slowing down. I had carried some of my frenetic, go-getter energies from home into my vacation. While in Greece, I learned to release and let go of some old behaviors and triggers that no longer serve me. While there are seasons and specific purposes for high energy enthusiasm, passion and drive, Greece was my opportunity to relax, settle, and restore wellness after a very busy July and August.
I fell in love with the Greek culture; as it embodies the perfect balance of work, play, and rest. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of a big city such as Athens, they take time for long lunches and afternoon coffee breaks. On the island of Naxos, storeowners take siestas in their stores in the afternoons hours and families cruise the promenade together late on a Friday night after dinner; laughing, relaxing and enjoying the warm night air together. Life is slower and revolves around the enjoyment of the small, magical everyday moments. The food is as pure, fresh and delectable as the appeal of the Greek lifestyle; everything so inviting and in perfect proportion. There is truly something to be said about Mediterranean cultures and their ability to savor life’s small pleasures. My travels throughout Greece with the love of my life, reminded me to slow down, breathe, and savor life’s small, sweet moments.
In Vietnam, I learned my capacity to tap into strengths within myself I hadn’t known existed. I left for Vietnam on a volunteer trip just 4 days after returning home. Taking my lessons from Greece, I practiced radical self-care during my time at home and prepared myself for helping a family in need in Vietnam. It was my first time visiting South East Asia and my first experience with poverty at that level. Before embarking, I aligned my heart and soul to serve others. I had anticipated many tears and sadness on my part upon seeing the lifestyle and circumstances of the underprivileged in Mai Chai, Vietnam. However, what I found was a hidden fortitude within myself and overwhelming hope and goodness within the world.
From a Western world perspective, the people of Mai Chau, Vietnam have very little. Some families (like the family we helped) live in a one room hut, lack a toilet and running water, cook their meals off a floor made of dirt, and walk 3 miles to school. Yet, amidst this apparent poverty shines joy, light, gratitude, community and hope. The first instinct of the people of Mai Chau is to smile, and oh do they know how to smile! Beyond the harsh climate, and intense working and living conditions radiates a smile only a truly joyful soul can project! And the kindness behind the eyes tell a story that transcends language. The strength and fortitude of these people ignited a strength and fortitude within myself. Even after a scooter accident on day 2 of volunteering, my injured friend and I still forged forward with our commitments to the people and the project. We helped build a clean water basin for a family without access to clean water, bought their daughter a beautiful bike to ride to school, met the locals in their homes, and brought supplies to neighboring villages.
My experience in Mai Chau changed the trajectory of my life, as I knew it would. I knew that by giving to others in need across the globe, I would somehow be giving to myself and the world in a way that transcends monetary value. I am still basking in the light of this gift and immense gratitude to the incredible humans in my life who donated their funds to this cause, as 100% of my Vietnam trip was funded through donations. Thank you to the beautiful souls who contributed to this volunteer trip; it has been a privilege and honor to serve. And a special thanks to Jim Kennedy at Love the Locals Experience, RAKLife, and Quy at Your Local Friend for curating a once in a lifetime experience! Vietnam is only the beginning...
How can you best heal and serve the world? What choices can you make in your own life daily to turn the tides towards LOVE? In lieu of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas and the suffering worldwide, I pray that you choose to focus on the light, love, and joy on this beautiful planet. I pray that you decide to channel your energies towards the direction of love, as it is only through LOVE that we can heal ourselves and this world. Make the decision to turn these moments of clarity, community, and inspiration into abiding light.
With joy, love & light,
"The day will come when, after harnessing the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God, the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire." Teilhard de Chardin