Intuition And Travel Plans

I talk a lot about intuition and how it plays such a powerful role in the way I live my life. I’ve always been a person ruled by feeling, and emotion, and most of my decisions are made by gut instincts vs logical reasoning. If something doesn’t feel right to me it’s almost as if I can’t physically bring myself to do it.

The past couple years especially have been a test of trusting my intuition. As I sit in my cozy apartment in Australia I wonder what life would have been like had I gone against my hearts pleading to travel and stretch,  instead staying put giving in to the  ’what if’s’ of my mind. I’ve seen time and time again the consequences of going against my gut feeling to do what sounds right logically (IE: befriending certain people who didn’t have my best interest in mind). Now the time has come as I have 3 months left on my visa to put trusting myself to the true test.

A plan of some sort needs to be put together as I’m quite literally being kicked out of the country in early October.   But to be honest, I’m ready to go. Australia has offered so much beauty as well as many personal growth opportunities and I know once I leave I will miss it but my heart tells me its time to move on.

Nearing a year of being away from my family and friends back in the U.S. there’s been incessant internal chatter about whether to keep on traveling or go home. While I initially thought I would be booking flights home to Milwaukee in August it seems I’ve had some sort of  breakthrough and  realized that may not be what I need right now. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but its as if in the past month I’ve overcome certain limitations that have always told me it was mandatory to go back home. That’s how its always been; work, save, travel, go back home and repeat. Except now I feel ready to try a different strategy.

What if I continued on?  Truthfully it’s a thought that scares the hell out of me but at the same time it’s also intensely exciting. Instead of the thoughts of failure I’m  being bombarded with images of success—what if I really can make a life of travel work for me? Trying something and finding out it didn’t work out quite as I hoped is much better than not trying at all and always wondering if things could have been different in my opinion.

At this stage I no certain plans so I won’t make any announcements. However, my intuition’s booming voice has been louder than ever and I think it’s safe to say I will be piecing together yet another adventure. I just feel like there’s so much more opportunity if I continue forward that it would be silly to back out now.

Stay tuned kids because I think there’s going to be some fun to be had.

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Take A Little Time

We rush to meet deadlines, to make it on time to school and work. We rush through meals so we can get on to our next activity. Conversations with loved ones are hurried along or simply forgotten to be had because we “can’t find the time”. It’s a constant search for the next best thing as we strive to meet the next milestone in life. But what about the now?

Too often as  I feel myself drift softly into silence my mind perks up forbidding me from fully indulging into a moment of peace and in float the thoughts of what “I should be doing”. I should be writing, looking for more clients, working out, tackling that nonsense task on my to-do list that has somehow become urgent or doing something more “exciting”.  Anything but settling into my feeling of ease.

Tamarama Beach Sunset

Why is it so hard to let go and take each moment as it presents itself? Why must we always want more when we can barely accept the now?

Of course, it’s important to look to the future. Working towards something gives us a sense of accomplishment and bettering ourselves is a crucial part of leading a fulfilling life. But on the other hand what good is it to tirelessly work towards something if we don’t take the proper time to enjoy the time spent on the journey to achieve it?

When is enough, enough? When is acceptable to step away for a moment and figure it out later?

If I was making more money would my life be more satisfying? Would it all be easier if I was at that next step in life already? If only I had ‘fill in the blank’ things would be complete, right? Probably not.

At times I feel trapped in a state of paralyzation. Unsure whether to move  forward faster or slow down. Time flies and if today were to be my last day would it really matter if I got that extra time in of whatever felt so urgent in my mind?

I’m learning sometimes ‘nothing’ is OK. In fact, that may be all we need to do when we feel like we’re not doing enough—nothing at all. Instead maybe its best to press the pause button on life and regenerate ourselves so that when we are ready to ‘do’ again we can  with vigor.

So maybe instead of asking ourselves if we’re doing enough we should stop and appreciate what we have already done as its brought us this far. Maybe its time to enjoy our time for what it is  until the next moment is ready to present itself to us.

The Rocks Tamarama Beach

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Vulnerability Is Not A Weakness

Photo courtesy of Aleera.

Photo courtesy of Aleera.

Vulnerability is an inevitable part of our human existence.

The raw flood of emotion coursing through your veins as the walls you thought were so sturdily built come crumbling down. How did this happen? How did you find yourself in this position? You trusted, your heart became softened, it all felt so right. Only to be left with the harsh sting of hurt throbbing inside of you.

The mask you wore each day that safely hid you has been lifted.  You’ve been revealed and those around you know who you really are now. Yet somehow, you feel more alive. The world as you knew it is in a  whirlwind  around you but your heart is set ablaze with empowerment. A portion of your inner wall, the one you worked built carefully around your precious heart, has been torn down. A weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

Vulnerability has the power to do this. Rip you open, leave you confused as shit, bewildered with emotion that has been dug out from the deep crevices of your soul. But with all that it has stirred within just know it will all be alright. That’s the beauty of raw emotion and as the saying goes, if it doesn’t kill you it’ll make you stronger.

If you’re reading this right now I think it’s safe to say you’ve experienced fear, rejection, and all the other negative emotions that make you want to retreat deeper into your shell away from the cold, harsh world. Away from the those who will never understand you, those that hurt you, and those who don’t give a damn. And maybe its true that they never will but this is about you, not them.

It’s time to understand yourself. You may have fooled them with your mask but you can never fool your heart for too long.

In reality it takes strength to be vulnerable. Exposing your naked truths is an act of courage.  People are cruel, the love you give is not guaranteed to be returned, you won’t always be liked, and some people will label you naive and weak for being this way. But to walk towards this and away from the cozy shelter of avoidance is an act of greatness.

Embrace your vulnerable feelings. The boiling, bitter rage,  the uncertainty, the sadness, confusion, and complexity of your inner self—embrace it all.  Indulge in life with your heart on your sleeve. Express your inner desires and speak your mind. Let yourself be fragile. In the moments of intense vulnerabiltiy we’re blessed with the ability to experience our authenticity.  Only once we experience the deep pain of the lows can we enjoy the beauty of the highs. Only after we’ve felt weak and broken can our inner flame burn its brightest.

 

 

 

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Reflections On 6 Months Living and Traveling Abroad

Sunset in Bondi

Sunset in Bondi

It’s officially been six months since I boarded the plane in Chicago’s O’hare Airport to Melbourne, Australia. A mixture of disbelief (that it’s gone so fast) and restlessness (where to next) rush about when I take a second to really let that sink in. As much courage as it initially took to make my journey out here I knew deep down that I would be gone at least this long—even if  I  refused to say out loud to anyone for certain that I’d be away from home for the year long extent of my work and holiday visa.

Throughout the past six months I’ve gone through my fair share of ups and downs; being filled with immense joy,  feeling like I have the world in the palm of my hands to the doubt and uncertainty that inevitably hits when you’re so far away from a place you’ve called home for 24 years.

Change has run its course through the “original plan” to live and work in Melbourne and I’ve somehow ended up in Sydney. Although that’s one of my favorite parts of travel—seeing where it all takes you and how things actually play out. Really there’s only so much planning ahead you can do.

This point in my journey is not only a proud accomplishment but some sort of self validation that travel is going to continue to play a leading role in my life for a long while. Without little more than a hope to capture my current feelings, a few of the lessons I’ve learned, and a small glimpse at what I see  for myself in the near future here is some of what has been on my mind thus far.

Wherever you go, there you are.

This saying never really resonated with me until recently. Living and working in a new country, full of new and foreign faces has brought on so many interesting challenges; yet when it comes down to it I’m living  only slightly different than I was before.

I never meant for my move to Australia to be an escape from anything in Wisconsin, nor did I assume I would transform into someone new overnight, but I’ve been able to see more clearly how a change of location doesn’t magically change a person. Of course there’s a lot of adapting to be done when entering new surroundings, i.e.: finding a place to live, finding a job, making friends, creating some sort of social life. But at the end of the day, through my  constant rising and falling feelings on it all, I am still me.

There are times when I’m so sure I’m right where I need to be and other times I can’t think of an escape plan from this city fast enough. I learned quickly that if I chose to be unhappy by a circumstance that only I could change that around. Not something I was unaware of per say, just a fact that becomes a bit more blatant when you’re far away from familiar.

I tried for a while ignoring the fact that some of my bad habits or negative feelings still existed even though I was somewhere new but it was only a matter of time before I came to terms with accepting that a change of scenery isn’t enough to wipe the slate totally clean.  It can inspire and motivate you to change but it isn’t instantaneous.

It’s also been a strange yet gratifying feeling having my conscious self know that this is all playing an important part in whats yet to come on my journey towards greater independence. At first I was a little unsure about the uncomfortable feelings that were stirring inside without all my “usual options” available but as the months have gone by I’ve gotten progressively more creative with being there for myself. No one wants to hang out? I’ll go grab a glass of wine or lunch alone. Having a bad day? I’ll go for a run or walk by the ocean which is a sure way to remind myself how trivial my worries really are. And when all else fails there’s always journaling, which in my opinion, is a less crazy form of talking it out with yourself.

 

 

Learning To Slow Down And Find Balance

This has been a tough one. I go through periods where my restless mind is viciously pushing to move on and I get a feeling similar to what I think a caged animal might feel like. Even though I know constantly changing cities, sleeping in hostels way too often, and a little too much uncertainty for too long wears me out emotionally and physically, I can’t help but want to do all of the above from time to time.

Patience is a virtue in this case. Patience is also not something I have too much of. Which is why I’m choosing to use these moments as a lesson in slowing my mind down a little.

It might just be the beach life culture rubbing off on me a bit but it’s started to finally become so much clearer that I operate on a happier and higher functioning level when I  consciously make room for balance. Easier said than done of course especially since I’m a very black or white person.

Sydney, or at least Bondi, seemingly has it figured out though. An observation made from working in a cafe is that it seems everyone has time to stop in and grab their favorite espresso laden drink while reading the paper or chat with a friend. There are always people being active outside and just a general vibe of positivity. No one seems to be tied to their desk at all hours of the day or away from family and friends for too long. And if they are they make up for it on the weekends. All something I’m taking note on as I slowly craft together my ideal lifestyle.

Travel Remains On The Horizon

Looking back on things its almost funny to think I was so unsure about coming to Australia. No doubt it was a huge commitment to make but deep down I already knew making the trek would only unleash a deeper level of passion for travel—and exactly that has happened.

Hitting this half way point has spurred so many “where to next?” thoughts. I’ve fought back and forth with myself for thinking this way though. It certainly can’t be “living in the moment”, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself it’s that the more I try to fight off thinking about something the more it nags at me.

So while I haven’t mapped out any plans yet I’m opening myself to all the possibilities the universe has to offer me. Will I be teaching English in Southeast Asia? Making my way through Eastern Europe? I can’t say for sure but knowing that I can literally (well, for the most part) go anywhere I want to on this beautiful planet is one of the most awe inspiring feelings.

As my passion for travel has grown so has my appreciation for my family, friends, and city back in Wisconsin. The simplicity and goodhearted nature of the Midwest is undoubtedly missed. Nonetheless, since leaving I now question when and where I’ll have that “at home” feeling in my heart again.

I’ve reached an in-between point between realizing Sydney is not the city I see myself settling in, and even though whenever I do return to Milwaukee it will be seen with a new perspective, I can’t picture myself settling there either.

And so the wanderlust continues. I suppose there are far worse infectious things to be affected by.

 

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Be Set Free

set free

Photo Courtesy Of Gesina Smith.

To be set free of the burdens of the mind and heaviness of the heart is a feeling everyone should experience often. Now more than ever I’ve been realizing the importance of self expression and allowing myself to feel things thoroughly versus cutting my energies short in attempt to avoid feeling negativity in the future. As I touch pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) I can physically feel a weight being lifted. When I make the necessary time to practice self reiki, meditate, and enjoy the beauty around me my sanity is kept and  I am at ease.

There are things inside of us that need releasing—thoughts, emotions, feelings.

The process of release can be frightening but necessary none the less. There’s no need to keep it all in. We are meant to express ourselves, allow our thoughts, energies and emotions to flow freely. Instead we bottle it all up, tucking the negative neatly away in the pockets of our heart  where it becomes stuck. Until it begins to slightly probe at us aching for our attention; aching to be let loose. It is when we let things become lodged and stagnant that we start to feel discomfort which can show up as anxiety, depression, and fear.

Call up a friend, go for a walk, meditate, journal until your hearts content,  create something. Whatever resonates with you use that as an outlet. Without an outlet you are left carrying around old baggage that will only continue to grow heavier. There is no right or wrong way to do this only a feeling of lightness to be achieved that is patiently waiting on the other side of it all.  Uncover hidden passions, forgive yourself for mistakes of the past and begin a compassion fueled journey to self appreciation.

Allow yourself to move forward and ride along with the gripping waves of life. Set down the heavy baggage. What’s done is done; feel it, embrace it,  and be set free.

 

 

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More Professions Of Love To The Ocean

It’s colder out today.

I’m reminded of how calm I feel sitting next to the ocean and watch as the waves crash a little more intensely than usual.

The beach is empty of those who only come for the sun—today is grey. Some might call it glum but I’m feeling content and in tune.

I inhale deeply letting a cool, comforting breeze fill my lungs completely.

Exhale and I’m feeling at ease.

These are the days  I am thankful for the unending beauty this world has to offer. Reminded of how the simplicity in moments like these touch my heart.

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Trading Love For Solitude

This post originally appeared on elephant journal.

Solitude

Photo Courtesy of Moyan Brenn.

“The hard part, the place where we hope wisdom will find us, is in deciding where and when we must break a promise to be true to ourselves.” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The quote, an excerpt from the book, The Invitation, rang bells of truth throughout me.

I’d just broken a promise of love and commitment to the man I’d been with for the past year of my life—we’d planned to build our lives together. I remember the first time the thought crossed my mind that our love would not last. I was in love and totally enthralled with him, yet a small voice playing devil’s advocate in my mind made its presence known. It whispered to me stories of the future, a future in which I was settled down yet unable to give myself wholly to my relationship because I had never taken the relationship I had with myself seriously.

As a serial dater I had no idea who I was alone, although it would be a few more months until I truly accepted this fact. I like to think it was then that I realized I needed to get acquainted with who I was before I could ever fully love another.

During the few months leading up to the end of our relationship, my mind played a brutal game of tug-of-war: should I stay safe within the comfort of our love? Or break free to follow the nagging feeling in my heart, telling me I had a journey to take on alone?

Ultimately, I chose the latter, though the decision did not come easily. I was already thousands of miles away from him, traveling in Australia the night I ended it. The act was short and left me emotionally paralyzed, even if days later we both admitted we had seen it coming. Regardless, I had never been so confused yet sure of myself in any other moment.

He said he thought that our love was strong, that we could conquer the vast distance between continents that separated us. How could I just leave him with no solid explanation to give other than, ‘I’m following my heart?’ he asked. I didn’t know. I had no other answer to give, no white lies to tell nor comforting words to soothe his wounds. I only knew that there was a yearning deep in myself for independence and it was time to quench my thirst for knowledge in the world around me.

 I needed to stretch my soul to its limits.

Months later, I’m still unable to give a truly solid answer as to why I left. There have been nights where I’ve tossed and turned remembering him, kissing his soft, full lips, our passionate sex, his everlasting reassurance that he loved me. Tears of frustration have been shed as I struggled through the ups and downs of my travels without him there to tell me, in his calming voice, that everything will work out just fine.

But still, I continue to listen to my heart, as it’s now my only consultant when trouble finds its way into my path or loneliness keeps me up at night.

As the healing process continues, each day feels anew with the abundance of self-discovery. I’m creating a fresh relationship with myself—one that is healthy and filled with love and honesty. There is no end destination on this journey of solitude I’ve chosen to take. And even though that leaves the questions of why, when, and where wide open, I’ve never felt so true to myself than I do right now.

 

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On Being A Traveling Introvert

The fact that I spent Christmas evening cozily and contently curled up on my couch with my journal and a book appreciating the beauty of the rainfall outside instead of trying to find solace in one of the many orphan (as in not from the country) Christmas parties around Sydney may have been confirmation in itself that I surely  am an introvert. As a traveler this realization first left me feeling a bit out of the norm but I quickly switched that mentality and am proud to wear the introvert badge these days.  

Traveling With An Extrovert

This whole tangent, if you will, was brought on by my traveling situation. For the past three months I’ve been traveling Australia with a good friend of mine who also happens to be one of the most extroverted people I know. She’s the type of person that can strike up conversation with just about any stranger and carry on for a good hour or so. Social and outgoing far beyond me, she can make friends with just about anyone and gets a bit antsy if she’s been off the grid too long. These traits are something I admire but at the same time  made me question my own social skills as I’m quite the opposite.

My energy is regained from spending time alone—I enjoy my own company and need alone time often.  I’m horrible at small talk and almost always end up making things awkward. Striking up conversation with a stranger doesn’t usually appeal to me and I prefer to listen and observe rather than jump right into the middle of a group conversation.  Although I have deep rooted friendships back home, they’ve all been nurtured over the course of many years. Don’t get me wrong, although I have hermit tendencies I do enjoy getting out and socializing, but on my terms.

Doing Things The Introvert Way Introvert Traveler

Soon after arriving in Australia the fact that I would rather spend time lingering in a few familiar spots for a while before moving on to explore or that I rather enjoyed the fact that I  was unknown without any familiar faces to engage with began to make me wonder if something was wrong with me. I was  traveling in a new country after all, what the hell was wrong with me? Why didn’t I want to meet as many people as possible? Why wasn’t my day filled with never ending activity? Most of all, why didn’t I care that neither were true?

I knew I couldn’t be alone in feeling this way so I sought out to try and find other likeminded travelers across the web. Through my “research” I read about people who, like myself,  enjoyed traveling on their own agendas and didn’t feel guilty for not doing all the typical touristy things or hitting the social nightlife scene every weekend. Not that I was blind to the fact that there were other introverts out there but I think I needed validation that it was OK to not want to befriend every other person in my hostel.

A New Mindset 

Coming to terms with this has brought on a newfound appreciation towards being an introvert both as a traveler and a creative .  As I spend more time alone reflecting, writing, and creating I feel more in touch with my inner being and artistic abilities. I am thankful for the ability to look inward and connect with myself as it gives me a more conscious perspective on the world around me and a greater understanding of how I operate as a person.  It also allows for me to make deeper connections with people as I travel because even though I take a bit longer to warm up to people once I do I work hard to keep a lasting relationship.

Of course all of this is not to say that being an introvert is better than being an extrovert or vice versa—the world needs variety to keep things interesting. But I am saying that I am a proud member of the introvert community. As I travel I will continue to do so slowly, enjoy quiet nights in spent reading, play the part of “fly on the wall” as I people watch in cafes, and spend copious amounts of time pouring my heart out onto the pages of my journal near the beach.

xx,

Mariana

 

 

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On The Uncertainties Of Living Abroad

I’d spent the better half of my afternoon wandering the Bondi Beach area visiting some of my favorite cafes. Despite my efforts the three soy lattes I downed did nothing to cure the low buzzing energy I had coursing through me. Instead they  left me feeling nauseous and with the anxiety I so often am plagued with after too much caffeine. I wanted nothing more than to drown my thoughts in  a good book but I of course left my beloved kindle at home (talk about first world problems). So instead I sat staring out into the busy street faced with my own uncertainties.

The Open Road

I had recently finished an amazing book about positive thought and the law of attraction. The few days following I was beaming with happiness, sure that nothing in the world could bring me down. “Life is so great, just bursting with opportunity” I thought. Yet there I sat  listening to melodramatic music pondering my recent travel woes. I was jobless in one of the most expensive cities in the world, rent was due in 2 days, and I had about 10 days to find a new place to live—which, by the way is a pretty daunting task when your income is $0. Not only that but the uncertainty of living abroad, the same uncertainty that only days prior had filled me with excitement, was now starting to depress me.

The end of my relationship with my long term, long distant boyfriend was still a fresh wound and I was unsure if I even really liked living in Australia or if I was just in yet another place that didn’t feel like home. Which led me to wonder where the hell home even was anymore. Though my family and friends were all back in Wisconsin it didn’t feel right to call that my home yet
either did Sydney.  I felt stuck, restless, and uncomfortable all at once and was really starting to question myself.  Where was to I turn when I was unsure of what direction I was headed but unwilling to turn back and throw in the towel?

Please don’t mistake this for a long list of complaints, it’s nothing more than the uncertainties of a traveling 24 year old.

x,

Mariana

 

 

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Apparently I Make New Years Resolutions Now

“I’ve got a secret and I do not intend to keep it, covered up my soul for far too long.”

-PJ by Jesse Woods

 

My new years resolution, though I rarely make them, is to stop being sorry. What I mean byTransition that is I’m going to stop apologizing for being me, doing the things I do and saying the things I say (however awkward they may be). Besides, the apologies for the most part, are insincere. I (and I suspect many others ) spend too much time trying to please others and as far as I’m concerned this needs to stop. To my knowledge I have one life to live and it seems every year I say something along the lines of “Shit! I can’t believe it’s already insert-year-here!”, which gives some indication that time is flying by at rapid speeds.

Take for instance this older gentleman sitting next to me on the beach as I write this enjoying his cigarette. It seems to me he doesn’t give two shits that he’s in the middle of a crowded public space where people have come to enjoy the FRESH AIR, view, and ocean—oh yea, and it’s illegal but that’s besides the point I’m trying to make. Nope, not one fuck given over there. While I usually would be cursing him silently, today sir, I applaud you.

Honestly though, life can be so simple and beautiful. Why complicate that with worries that you aren’t doing things right according to the rest of the world? Maybe I sound cliche right now but I think this resolution is 10 times better than vowing for the 3rd (plus or minus) year in a row that I’m going to “hit the gym more” or “start eating healthy” like half the world is. Sure this can’t be measured in the usual sense but I’m OK with that. All I can do to ensure progression is to relentlessly move forward towards whatever brings me even the tiniest sliver of happiness no matter what anyone else has to say about it. With that I say cheers to 2014! It’s going to be a good one because I’m going to make it that way.

So, how about it. Anyone else out there with me?

x,

Mariana

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