Hey there, how’s it going? It’s been a while since I just checked in and shared how things are going on a personal level, what I foresee from the future of the blog, and just chatted with you. Today, it feels like time.
I used to write more of these back when the blog was younger (and coincidentally so was I). It used to just be a diary, and I miss it sometimes.
There’s been a lot of ups and downs around here, which I’m sure most of us can say. Current events have me wondering about the causes, outcomes, and whether or not there is a silver lining.
I’ve gone through the seven stages of grief multiple times. I have never clenched my jaw and grinded my teeth this much in my life (like I even got checked at the dentist because I was that worried), and have mostly made friends with birds instead of people, but I also feel gratitude to have a roof over my head and food to eat, a privilege denied to many.
I’m learning that few things, even the super shitty stuff, even the super, duper shitty stuff, are 100% bad. It forces new directions and sometimes those directions are positive. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a silver lining to almost everything.
My Silver Linings
I’ve been doing a lot more self-reflection lately because I suddenly have all the time in the world to do it. I’ve realized I can’t trust the media. They just want me to click so they rile me up, so back in March I decided to tune it out completely. I realized I can interpret data the way that I want to, and make my own decisions. Outrage porn and clickbait don’t need to color my lens.
After all, perception is reality, no?
I started to feel hopeful, paid attention to my own thoughts and opinions, and realized that no matter what, I’ll be fine. I will adapt. I know I can.
This realization served me well 8 years ago, too.
But I’ve been listening, too. I want to learn and be open minded about how I can show up as a better ally, American woman, and general human being. I’m grateful for the opportunity to listen and the encouragement to be a more supportive and egalitarian person.
Having a Home
I haven’t had a real home, a meaningful pause, or time to rest over the past 8 years.
I didn’t let myself.
Living in Berlin meant feeling guilty while I traveled most of the year while also paying rent, because I didn’t spend all that much time there despite basing out of it for over 4 years. I made friends but they’d quickly learn I was never around, and stop putting effort into such a one-sided friendship. I couldn’t blame them.
The same was happening with Reno, a city I’d chosen because my boyfriend lives here but wasn’t really giving the time to.
Wait a boyfriend?
Yes, a boyfriend!
Maybe you’ve seen him mentioned on my Instagram, but otherwise I’ve largely stayed quiet about the relationship I’ve been in for over a year now. We met while I was in Namibia, leading 16 women across the country on a tour. My co-guide, Pete, and I had brought s’mores makings all the way from the US (try finding marshmallows, much less graham crackers abroad), and there was finally a bonfire at a lodge we were staying at.
G was sitting by himself around the fire. I was surprised. Almost nobody solo travels across Namibia. I offered him a s’more, we chatted for 20 minutes or so, him showing me photos of his adventures in the Azores, telling me that he loved the outdoors, and me developing a crush and wondering if things like that ever actually worked out.
A couple weeks later he was on his way to Berlin to visit me in an apartment I’d ended the lease on (in Germany it’s a 3-month lead time). I’m glad we at least had furniture to hang out on still.
Would it be weird? Would we realize we weren’t compatible? There’s always that risk.
But he’s one of the best human beings I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and it did work out.
So I eventually moved to Reno, though I wasn’t allowing myself to get to know it. Even though I wanted a smaller town closer to nature when I left Berlin, I didn’t really slow down, I sped up. Reno was a place I chose because I met someone amazing who lived there. So really, it chose me.
The Power of Pause
I felt untethered and overworked – all by my own doing. I’m grateful for everything, but I am also bad at stopping.
I don’t just dip my toe into anything – I dive in head first. This is both a blessing and a curse.
Now I’ve had a chance to love Reno. There’s a lot of space, there’s wilderness and nature, there are big, gorgeous trees, the clearest and most beautiful lake in the world, and four rather mild seasons, thanks to the altitude. Living here over the past 2 months allowed me to experience my life’s first actual spring.
Instead of doing yoga in a gym and pretending to root to the earth, I do yoga outside, bought a bunch of plants to live indoors with me, and planted my own vegetable garden. If I hadn’t spent so much time with the same tree in the backyard, watching the birds migrate in and play out their dramas, the flowers bloom, and the seasons change, I might not really have felt this connected to Mother Earth.
There’s so much simple joy in one of the neighborhood cats finally warming up to me and letting me pet her (which I am always a sucker for despite my severe cat allergy). There’s a loveliness in noticing a dove building a nest in one of our trees or a bush in the yard turning bright pink. I’ve never gotten to know a natural space the way I have my own backyard – I wonder if I ever otherwise would have.
Now my house is covered in plants – like I’ve seriously purchased 30 over the past two weeks and I’m totally obsessed – and I don’t just feel more interested in nature now, I understand that I am a small, humble part of it. I feel like an umbilical cord to it all. Mother Nature cares for me, and I need her, not the other way around.
This feeling of being a daughter of a great, all-encompassing mother is helping me to feel less alone, to know that we’re never truly alone.
This pause is also making me realize that I don’t need to go so far so often. There’s so much in my own backyard, and I think everyone can say that. As a Vietnamese girl named Cherry knowingly told me on a delayed overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, “Everywhere has its own special beauty.”
Pressing Pause While Moving Forward
I’m grappling with having to always be working towards something. It’s so rare I take a true break. I hear this echoed by other creatives and people who work for themselves. It feels like we always have to be working super hard and innovating.
And I’m starting to ask myself if it’s actually necessary. What if the working super hard part is a myth? What if I only did what I wanted moving forward, and walked away from everything else, even when it pays well?
That same thinking caused my last leap, and it was a good choice.
I’m trying new things, but I’m also taking breaks, actually meditating and inviting stillness and gardening and things that weren’t ‘productive’ enough before. It’s interesting how giving all of these things more time actually leads to more productivity, or rather effectiveness.
It’s been so interesting and rewarding to coach bloggers as well, because being a teacher reminds you of how important reviewing that knowledge is. I’m launching Wanderbabe Clothing while doing this, and am applying all I’m reviewing to my stuff, too. We’re on the journey together and it’s super gratifying.
I really enjoy coaching, and it’s been fun to discover that. I’d wanted to start for years but never did, but now, I figured, why not just try these wild ideas? What have I got to lose?
Nothing. If I let it be fun.
And I have patience.
I’ve also decided to lean into my desire to share more of my spirituality and bring more voices to Be My Travel Muse, and have decided to host a virtual retreat with some amazing women from July 6-12. It’s affordable, healing, uniting, and uplifting. Everyone is welcome. You can sign up here!
I’m happy to be trying new things, though sometimes I ask myself if what I’m doing is still just churning the wheel of capitalism, which doesn’t appear to be working by my estimation – and yes I am.
But I can’t not. Something in me drives me forward, and I think my only job is to listen to that deep knowing, and to give it space to show itself. In a state of perpetual movement, it’s nearly impossible.
All that said, I’m so happy to be connecting to my body awareness again. I’m seriously bummed about Burning Man’s cancellation (it would’ve been my ninth consecutive burn), so I ecstatic dance by myself, truly when nobody’s watching, and let loose. Isn’t it amazing how when we really let go that’s the best we dance?
So yeah, this has been the pits in some ways, but I got all the gifts I asked for – pause, time, to feel more connected to the place I lived, and to actually have a home – a connection with somewhere. It’s like I needed permission to stop and allow self-care and reflection, and I got all that.
How has it been for you?