Travel state of mind.

As I write this, I am sitting on my couch in San Francisco, drinking a cup of tea and wearing pajamas. It is 11:35am on a Tuesday and I feel like I am on an adventure at this very moment.

As cliché as it seems, traveling is truly a state of mind. You don’t need a plane, train or automobile to travel.  The only thing between you and an adventure is, well, you. You have the power to dictate what experiences you open yourself up to, what opportunities you create and when you say YES.

The collection of new experiences we gather while away is the very reason traveling leaves such an impression on us. What we forget is that we don’t actually need to be away to try something new. We just need to be open, to say yes. Here are a few smalls steps that will help you get into the travel state of mind:

  1. Go on a walkabout. Step out your front door and walk. Just walk. Take a turn you haven’t taken before. Explore a neighborhood you don’t know much about. As adventurous as I like to think I am, I have to admit that sometimes leaving my little few blocks feels so hard. But whenever I do, I’m always happy I did. Maybe you’ll find an awesome mural, a new coffee shop or a park featuring a feast-full of people watching opportunities. Hey, this is San Francisco.
  2. Take the bus. Now, I know what you’re thinking. But trust me on this. When I first moved to Paris I had absolutely no money, no job (hence the no money) and a lot of time on my hands. So, I got on the bus. I rode the bus for hours. I didn’t look up the route on a map, I just rode. When I saw something that looked interesting, I hopped off and wandered around on foot. This is the best way to get to know a city…and the people in it. You’ll encounter all sorts of characters on the bus.
  3. Change up your routine. If your afterwork ritual involves popping open a beer and sitting in front of the TV, maybe tonight do something different. Research a local hike, a walking tour…chances are your city has more to offer than you think. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but my mom wasn’t going to let that get in the way of our adventurous inclinations. Instead, we played tourist. She found a deck of cards called “101 Things to Do in San Francisco” and on the weekends, I was allowed to pick three cards. We would dress up as tourists from whatever far alway land we wanted to be from that day and take off into the city for an adventure.
  4. Eat. This is my personal favorite. My priority in any new place I visit is to understand the local culture. What better way to do that than through cuisine? Try a restaurant with food you’ve never tried. Have a potluck with friends with a country theme. I love using recipes from Tasting Table to organize a “travel” dinner.
  5. Relive your travels. I don’t just mean #tbt posts on Instagram. Integrate memories of your travels into your daily life. Sitting here on my couch, the tea I’m drinking is one I learned to prepare in Bali. My pj’s are from my best friend from Paris. The blanket I’m wrapped up in was my grandmothers in the Philippines. An experience is meant to stay with you forever. Help it do just that by reliving it over and over again.

Hopefully one or some of these little steps will get you on your way to a travel state of mind. Just remember that the only thing stopping you is…you.

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Having it all.

Recently, a friend told me that I just needed to deal with the fact that I cannot have it all in life. I probably made some squinted up, what-is-that-smell face as I responded, “um, yes I can.”

The thing is, I really believe in what I said. I do believe that we can have it all. It just depends on how you define all. If you’re looking to never work, drive a luxury car, save whales in Asia and climb everest, all with a baby on your back and an Instagram-worthy hairdo, then no. Maybe having it all will be a little bit tricky. But for the rest of us, we certainly can have everything we want. It’s just a question of defining what it is you want and finding out how to get it.

I’ve read that there is a shortcut: want what you already have.

But you’ve heard that before. So have I.

I decided to take a different approach: figure out what you don’t want

By sorting through the things you have in your life that you wish weren’t there, you start to get to the root of what’s really important to you. In the process of elimination, you inevitably highlight the good things you do already have. No matter how small or how big, make a list of the things you want to eliminate from your life. From there, one step at a time, one line item at a time, get rid of the clutter and clean house.

When it’s time to start adding things in, the things you “want”, you’ll have the mental/emotional/physical space to welcome them with open arms. Hell, you might even learn that the things you thought you wanted weren’t really what you wanted at all.

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I’m a hot mess.

Today I am that girl. That hot mess of a girl, girl. For starters, I woke up late and groggy. Missed class and tried rushing out the door to catch another. Of course, as I was leaving my home stay host wanted to talk, needed me to move rooms. This was the third time in three days. So I had to run back upstairs, shove all my crap into my bags and quickly toss them to the side to be moved.

I stopped in a shop to buy a new sports bra because it’s honestly too hot to wear a shirt in class. I never thought I’d be the girl in a sports bra in class (at least not until I had abs to show off) but mother nature had other plans in mind for me. So I’m in said shop and naturally I get stuck in the bra. Very stuck. The straps are all tangled, I’m wrestling with it and myself. Mind you the “changing room” is just a curtain hanging on a shower rod that gives you about 1 square foot. Everyone in the shop saw the commotion.

Next, lunch. Finally I made it to lunch. I took a deep breathe, ordered my food and finally took a breathe for the first time in what felt like all morning. My gorgeous turmeric water came, then a very handsome looking raw salad. It was a lunch well worth capturing. I tried taking a photo from my seat but of course the lighting was off. So…I stood on my chair in a contorted pose, not knowing how to turn off the clicking sound on my camera, snapping away. Of course, no one around me seemed to have gotten their lunch yet so they could give me their full attention. I let out a little giggle and apologized.

Back in my seat, I took a long refreshing sip of this beauty juice. As I put the cup down I realize that my hand is all yellow. So is my cell phone cover. So is my fork. So is my keyboard. I slowly looked up at the girl across from me and asked her if I had anything on my face. Through a thick German accent, I could tell she wasn’t quite sure what to tell me. She hesitantly replied, “um, a little on your teeth.”

A little. A little liar she was.

Photo Booth doesn’t lie. There was yellow all over my lips, my teeth. This shit stains.

So I throw myself into my veggies and as I’m slurping away, manage to get dressing just about everywhere my turmeric drink missed.

Who only knows what will happen when I get into my yoga class today. Please let there be no funky poses, handstands or anything else that could create self-inflicted bodily harm. My hot mess-ery has already received enough public attention. Pray for me.

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Kicking the wiggles.

Tonight at yoga my teacher said something that has my head on fire. “If you pay attention, you’ll notice that there are a lot of feelings going on that you might not have noticed before.” He was referring to physical sensations but I read his words in a different way.

As I was laying down on a block in what was possibly the most uncomfortable position of all time, my mind couldn’t help but drift to the weight of what he said. The goal of the class was to draw attention to important, yet often ignored, sensations in the body. We spend so much of our time physically (or metaphorically) wiggling around pain, around problems, that we avoid them all together. He was calling for us to choose to surrender.

We do have feelings. We have lots of them. They all have a place and a purpose. Life is not always funky, groovy, fun but, of course, we never wiggle around the good stuff. It’s the anger, the hurt, the sadness that we want to avoid. And who wouldn’t? But they too have a place, too.

Traveling alone for the first time, I’m starting to recognize all sorts of sensations that may have existed in me before but I never took the time to deal with. For the first time in my life I am alone. Actually alone. I always thought I liked that. As one of 5 kids, I craved my space, my solitude. Now I’m starting to realize that maybe I only loved it so much in context. I found comfort in knowing that there would be someone home at the end of the day. But here I am in a new place, without friends, without family. It’s just me.

I want “just me” to be good enough, and I hadn’t realized that I might’ve ever, deep down, thought it wasn’t

The first 30 seconds on that block, I was sure I was headed into what would be the most awful 5 minutes of my life. In each dramatically uncomfortable position, we sat together for five minutes, in silence, recognizing our pain. No, this wasn’t some whacky hippy dippy love circle. We worked to acknowledge the existence of something hurtful.  And then we breathed through it. We realized that it wasn’t going to kill us. It wasn’t even really going to hurt us. Rather, feeling our feelings gave us the strength to deal with them.

Surprisingly enough to me, there are tons of other people here walking around, alone but not lonely…or so it seems. Conversations are started like wild fire and new plans are made before coffee is finished. But that is where I have to pause, breathe and recognize.

Do I wiggle around my discomfort with being alone by buddying up with new friends? Maybe adjust my own plans to theirs so I’m not solo?

It’s time for me to choose to surrender. I am here to pave my own path, to build my own life. It’s time to breathe, resist the temptation to avoid my discomfort and stick to my plan: just being okay with me.

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the first.

The first anything is always awkward. A first kiss, the first day of school…a first blog post. I think I’m supposed to write something witty to convince you that reading my blog is not a waste of your Sunday afternoon. But as I’m not too interested in struggling in vain, I think I’ll do what I came here to do. I’ll tell you a story. So here it goes. The first story.

It is Easter Sunday. I am in a restaurant called The White Whale, or more accurately, La Ballena Blanca. There is a gentle breeze coming through the windows, a bright blue sky where a ceiling would normally be and palm trees all around. Oh, there is also a random chicken waddling around between tables that the bartender keeps shooing away. The music on the speaker is in a language I don’t understand but the guitar rifts have a sweet Jamiroquai-esque sound that makes this Sunday more than ideal. 

Three hours ago I was on my sailboat, locked in the bathroom, in the midst of a juvenile meltdown. I felt homesick and sad that  Wasn’t coloring eggs with my family. Did I mention that I’m 29 years old? FOMO on an Easter egg hunt is probably not too common at my age. Yet, in the midst of said tear-fest, I had a breakthrough. I am growing. I am in the process of growing, of becoming a woman. Does that mean that women can’t enjoy painting eggs? No, this has nothing to do with that. It means that I’m feeling my way through the life I have chosen, sorting out sentiments as they come to me and deciding how I will react. Five months ago, I left my life in San Francisco to explore the world by sailboat. As romantic as it sounds, the growing pains of a nomadic life, and there are growing pains, are inevitable. It’s a long hard look into the mirror that you either didn’t know existed, or may have been avoiding. But this is exactly what I was searching for. I want to grow, to create myself and a life that I’m proud of.

What a poetically convenient moment for this realization to manifest? On the very day that many believe represents new life, a new beginning, I am crying over the absence of glittered eggs, becoming a woman. Today, it seems, is a great day for a personal rebirth. Over the past few months, I’ve collected a wealth of experiences to put under my belt, yet, in a way, they’ve overwhelmed me with their newness, importance and intensity. Today, and maybe this is just the two-for-one margaritas talking, I feel ready to take the reigns, put these experiences to use and grow from them. It’s time to start creating, not finding, who I am and what I want to be. What an exciting adventure for me!

As for the eggs, I, Gina, 29 year old Gina, love painting Easter eggs. So that is what I am off to do.

Happy Sunday,

xx.

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