Tag Archives: Life Philosophy

27 Things I’ve Learned About Life & Travel

Bagan, Myanmar - Southeast Asia Travel

It’s my 27th birthday in two days!

To celebrate I’m heading down to Si Phan Don in Laos, also known as the 4,000 Islands. As many of you know, I spend every birthday of my 20s in a different city. My 21st was in San Diego, my 22nd in Las Vegas, my 23rd in Melbourne, my 24th in Wellington, my 25th in Veneta, my 26th in Chicago, and now my 27th will be in Si Phan Don!

I also wanted to celebrate by sharing 27 things I’ve learned from almost three decades on this planet. I mean, you get wiser with age, right? Well, let’s hope so!

My 20s thus far have been all about that learning curve of life. When I look back on who I was in my early 20s, circa 2011, it almost feels like another person. Then again, to my core, I’m still me.

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If You Were Here (Part I)

Tropical Sunset

It started raining at sunset tonight.

I looked up at the sky and it brought me back to that night. There were crashing waves and mojitos. The rain was coming down in buckets, we had to shout to hear each other over the noise.

If you were here, we would look up at the rain falling down on our faces and laugh at the perfect way in which it paralleled a 90s romantic comedy.

We would pause as we took our eyes away from the oncoming storm to notice the graceful way the falling sun framed our faces, our glances lingering a second too long.

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Life in Portland and choosing what you love

I’ve been so busy with catching up on posts from months past that I haven’t had the chance to talk to you guys in real time in a while, and I think it’s about time to fill you in.

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I’ve been in Portland for less than 2 weeks, and so much has happened since we moved up to the Rose City.

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I got a job at a craft beer bar (surprise, surprise!) before we had even properly moved up to Portland. We were just in the city for the day passing out resumes at different bars, but still based down in Veneta, outside of Eugene, Oregon.

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My boyfriend found a job within a few more days. Most importantly, he found employers who are willing to sponsor him and trudge through all of the yellow tape and the long process of applying for a work visa as a foreigner. I still don’t know how he swung this, but I’m going to put it down to his craft beer savvy, Kiwi charm and accent (seriously, it goes a long way over here).

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In any case I’m so incredibly excited by this turn of events. There was a moment just a few days ago when we thought for sure we were going to have to move up to Vancouver, Canada for the summer so he could work full time. He’s also a Canadian citizen, so he can work up there with no problem. But alas, his employers are awesome and patient, and willing to work with him to process the work visa as quickly as possible.

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Then, before I even had a proper shift at the craft beer bar, I quit. That’s right, I still can’t believe I gave up a perfectly good job that had good beer, but I did it swiftly and without a regretful look back.

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And let me tell you, I’ve been so much happier since I put in my early resignation. I came back to the States with a lot of goals and aspirations for what I want to do with my life, and continuing to work in hospitality is not one of them.

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I love beer, I’ve enjoyed (for the most part) my many jobs in hospitality, but I’m ready to take a chance and take on a challenge to try and make my writing a reality. If things don’t work out completely, I can always pick up another part time bar job, but for now I’m just excited and thankful that I can spend my days focusing solely on my writing and this blog.

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I’ve jumped head first into the world of freelancing. I’m writing every day, whether it be for this blog, guest posts for other websites, or applications for paid writing gigs. In the short time I’ve been in Portland, I’ve secured 3 partnerships with local companies that I’ll be working with this summer, and my head is clearer than it has been in ages.

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I have to admit, we haven’t even had a chance to properly explore Portland yet. We’ve spent a few days around the city, but with the focus on getting our lives together and our jobs figured out, we haven’t had much time to just relax and enjoy all that the city has to offer.

And I can tell that Portland has a lot to offer.

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Things are finally coming together, my boyfriend loves his job so far and I’m loving my new self-employed one. We’re moving into a share house on Friday that has its own yoga studio and greenhouse. It’s located in Alberta, the arts suburb of Portland.

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I’m ready to settle down for a little while, and I think Portland is going to be the perfect place to write and find the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the beauty of the little things.

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So, once again, thank you for reading. This blog has made me realize how much I love writing and it has given me a glimpse into what could make me happy in the future.

Cheers, to doing what you love.

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Notes on turning 25

I turn a quarter of a century old tomorrow. I’m in the Oregon countryside with my family and I’m just as happy as I was when I turned 21 in San Diego, 22 in Las Vegas, 23 in Melbourne, Australia, and 24 in Wellington, New Zealand.

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2nd birthday in Santa Cruz, California

Funny enough, this house in the country is actually where I first started this blog. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, my immediate future is staring at me from around the corner. That future that determines so much of how my life will go.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

25 sounded so old to my teenage and younger self. To my 24 year old self I still feel young, I’m at the cusp of many an exciting endeavor, I’m also in the dark of what the next year will entail.

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Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

I decided to not go straight into an intellectually stimulating (or probably more accurate, a mind numbingly) entry level job from my college graduation.

Paris, France
Paris, France

I’ve always been a worrier, someone who doubted and second guessed things. Then I took a chance and did something I always wanted to do: I moved abroad. I did it without an idea of what job I would find to keep me afloat, with which friends I would find a new perspective, with what inspiration I would find throughout the course of my two years away from home.

Cape Palliser, New Zealand.
Cape Palliser, New Zealand

And in the end, it worked out just as it was meant to. As I’ve traveled up the coast of California and Oregon for the past two months, I’ve found how much I still appreciate and love my friends I knew from college, from past travels, and the new friends I’ve met through them.

Berkeley, California, USA
Berkeley, California, USA

How it feels like no time has passed at all. This initial veer off the idealized path has created a domino effect in my life. My passions come back to me, knock the breath out of me, I’m in love with so many things. But that’s always how I wanted to spend my life.

New York City, New York
New York City, New York

To me, it shows how genuinely happy I am going into this milestone birthday, how content and even excited I am with how my life is going even though I may not know exactly what I’m doing with it, or even what I’m doing tomorrow or the next day.

Maui, Hawaii, USA
Maui, Hawaii, USA

All I know is that music and writing have popped up time and time again through the years, and I don’t believe in coincidence.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I want to finish a master’s degree, I want to record an album and play at open mics or on the street just for the fun of it. I want to start a stellar record collection and become even broader with my music tastes. I want to write a book, to write full time for this blog. I want to become fluent in Spanish and travel to South America, go to Argentina and learn how to properly tango.

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Sydney, Australia

I want to take a cross country road trip with my boyfriend in our beat up van through the States and Canada. I want to settle down in Portland for awhile. I want to teach English in Japan, and live in London just to write for a summer. I want to go to concerts constantly, and festivals as much as my bank account allows.

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam

I want to continually learn, to grow and find out how many ways I can enjoy life in the process.

Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland

In my (almost) 25 years I’ve earned my open water scuba certification, took culinary classes in Italy, traveled to 20 countries, completely started over in 4 different cities, received my bachelor’s degree in psychology, skydived over the middle of New Zealand, traveled on my own, volunteered at music festivals in Australia, fell in love with guitar, and lived.

San Diego, California, USA
San Diego, California, USA

I’ve dealt with loss, sadness, loneliness and self doubt. I’ve gone through the spectrum of emotions and come out on the other side with a sunnier disposition and an attitude that I can face anything I put my mind to.

Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany

I don’t see why I can’t do the rest of it as well, because all of those plans I mentioned before, I truly hope to one day do.

Austin, Texas, USA
Austin, Texas, USA

I’m finally figuring myself out: my confidence, what I love and what I don’t, what I want and what I’m willing to do to make sure my ambitions become reality.

Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

25 is a year to not only get things done, but to enjoy it and embrace any fears or reluctances I may have. I can only imagine it’ll just get better as I get into my late 20s. So, here’s to a quarter of a century of living, and a quarter of a century to figure out where I really want to go is where I am in the present.

Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Tortuguero, Costa Rica

As Ben Howard once wrote, “Climb out. Out enough to see the curl of the world.” I’ve taken that to heart ever since.

Carlsbad, California, USA
Carlsbad, California, USA

I believe in: part II

I was inspired awhile back by one of my favorite travel writers, C’est Christine, to write this I believe in post. With 2013 coming to a close, instead of a list of resolutions, I decided to add and restate what I believe in coming into 2014.

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I believe in hot showers after cold nights. I believe in looking up at the stars every chance you get, even if the constellations are opposite from what you’re used to. I believe in swimming in the ocean at night.

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I believe in playing guitar until your fingers are sore, and practicing yoga to reduce your limitations and listen to yourself breathe. I believe that music solves more problems than most people think. I believe in dancing with your own style. I believe in being outdoors as much as possible and soaking up the sunshine or playing in the rain.

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I believe in tackling every fear and that past struggles will one day be the most beautiful. I believe in always taking a chance, even if it sometimes hurts. I believe in sincerity and second chances.

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I believe in always finishing a book once you start it and reading in beautiful hideaways. I believe in making lists and travel plans over a good cup of coffee. I believe in spontaneous adventures, and that travel teaches you the most valuable life lessons. I believe in surrounding yourself with positive people.

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I believe in the nights that make you feel infinite and that festival feeling. I believe that empathy is often lacking in modern relationships and that random acts of kindness go a long way. I believe in being with someone who makes you feel electric.

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I believe in sneaking onto rooftops and kissing in the rain. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that my heart already belongs to someone I’ve yet to meet. I believe in boldness and grace, and living a passionate life.

I believe in wearing red lipstick and the beauty of creativity. I believe that perspective is the key to happiness. I believe that our mistakes turn us into the people we’re meant to be. I believe in being who you are without pretense. I believe in actions more than I believe in words.

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I believe in living with an open and well-traveled mind, that is, an Atlas Heart.

What do you believe in?

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Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy

This is going to be one of those brutally honest posts that I needed to write, not just because writing is therapeutic for me, but also because I think it’s important to document the good and bad sides of moving abroad, especially when you make that leap by yourself.

People never hesitate to tell me how lucky I am that I get to live abroad and travel so much at such a young age, how jealous they are that I was able to just get up and go do exactly what I wanted. And I’m not saying I don’t consider myself incredibly lucky that I was born in as rich of a country as America, and into a middle class family that supported me and allowed me to go to college, and grow into the person I became today, that all this good fortune led me to have the confidence to move abroad on my own. However, moving abroad is not just the bumming around, laying on the beach all day in Australia that most of my friends seem to imagine my life over here to be.

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Some days are ridiculously hard, some days I just want to curl up into a little ball and go back to before I stepped on that plane to Melbourne, some days are overwhelming…I find it hard to catch my breath some days, especially in the last week settling into Sydney. Moving abroad alone is still one of the best things I could’ve done for myself and my character, because if anything, this year has been one of the best learning experiences of my life. I’ve had some unbelievable good times, and new adventures, and I’ve met so many new people that have opened up my perspective and my own goals in life.

Sydney has been a harder move than I thought it would be, and I knew from the get-go it wouldn’t be easy. Perhaps it has to do with how long it has been since a reunion with my one true passion, music & guitar. Perhaps, it’s due to my current living situation in a hostel dorm with three guys. My bunkmate, an Irishman, snores so loudly it shakes the bed, and tends to wake me up at 4 in the morning drunk and acting creepy. Regardless, I am still incredibly thankful I found a job right off the bat, or I would be in dire straits right now, but sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this to myself when I could fly home to San Diego tomorrow and call the last 6 months a good run.

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But then some little bit of serendipity reminds me of why I’m here, a chance encounter with a friendly stranger just when you need it, the best latte you could never find back in the States, being a boss at your job as a bartender, and finally being an expert in Australian beer. I know what I came here to accomplish isn’t finished yet, and I’m not quite ready to say goodbye because I’m as stubborn as they come, and I know I have more good times, perhaps even the best of times, ahead of me in Oz.

I’m officially a little over my halfway mark of my time abroad, and even though I’ve said before I don’t get homesick, more and more these days, and especially on days like today, I just imagine being home with a burrito in hand, watching the waves from my favorite spot on the beach in California, having lunch with my mom and sister at our favorite restaurant, or chatting over a beer with my best friends and old roommates in San Diego.

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The hardest part of my time abroad so far isn’t the uncertainty of my finances, or my housing situation, or diving into a new culture, it’s the relationships with the people I’ve met – romantic, friendship, and work related. I can’t remember a time in the last 6 months where I’ve felt that I 100% belong here, and honestly, why should I? Although Australian culture is similar to American, it’s still nowhere near my upbringing and it’s a country multiple time zones and thousands of miles away from my own.

What I’ve found to be the most disappointing part of moving abroad is that when people learn you’re only going to be here for a year, they a lot of times use it as a reason to treat you as disposable. This was especially evident with a couple of my jobs back in Melbourne that I lost without warning, one a few weeks before I left for Asia and which I was counting on for income. However, if you’re a casual worker in Australia, it’s just business and you’re not supposed to take it personally.

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In terms of friendships, I’ve made some great friends in Melbourne that I look back on fondly, and I still stay in contact with a lot of these people. But again, right before I left for Asia, one of my best guy friends since I first arrived in Melbourne turned into someone I didn’t recognize anymore, and became someone I no longer have contact with.

I’ve realized that on-the-road romances are the worst in terms of feeling like you don’t belong somewhere, because they all inevitably end unless you’re destined to be part of  a cliché romantic comedy, which doesn’t actually pan out in reality. I’ve never been good at casual relationships, I had enough of them in college and I vowed to never go back to that after I graduated, but when you’re abroad, mostly you’re seen as unavailable for anything more than casual because your time isn’t permanent.

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I originally was planning on having this year be my year of singledom, and to only focus on being alone and enjoying my time in Australia. After getting out of a longterm relationship back home it seemed like a reasonable and sensible plan. Of course that idea is harder to put into practice when you’re on the road constantly meeting new and intriguing people, it’s hard not to find romantic connections along the way.

The last decade has shaped a lot of how I live my life today, especially when it comes to  my relationships with people. After losing a grandfather and two separate friends unexpectedly at different times in college, I’ve accepted that nothing in life is permanent. In my mind, it’s best to enjoy the present, and appreciate what you have, instead of waiting on a nonexistent someday. I feel like so many people are waiting for their “real life” to begin, once they graduate, or get married, or they get that big promotion at work, but don’t truly appreciate just being happy in the moment.

But then again, I also understand why that’s not practical for a lot of people, and more often than not, they want solid proof that you’re still going to be there when the day is done.

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After I was feeling a bit run down over a romance in Melbourne that inevitably ended after lasting longer than I thought it would, my roommate comforted me by saying, “you’re doing a lot better at life than you think you are”.  Those are some of the best words someone can say to you, and I’d like to believe that’s true.

Everyone is dealing with their own battle every day, but we’re also our own worst enemy. In reality, when you gain some perspective, you tend to realize you’re doing much better than you think you are. I for one, know I’m incredibly hard on myself sometimes when there’s no need to be. And to be fair, I’ve only been in Sydney for a little over a week, so it’s no wonder I still feel a bit out of place.

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When I moved to Australia, yes it was because I wanted adventure and to try something new, but I think it was also a way to escape from everything I felt wasn’t quite right with my life back home: my relationship, my nonexistent career, and the lack of a clear path of what I wanted to do with my life. What I’ve learned in the last 6 months is that you’re going to find shitty guys, horrible bosses, disillusionment, and still not a clue to what your future entails with your life abroad as well. Lucky you, you can find these things everywhere!

Sadly, there’s no magic place where all the bad aspects of life go away, but, of course, there can’t be the good without the bad as comparison. That’s what makes life so complex and interesting, the hurdles you come across, make your best days just that much sweeter. There is no such thing as a new beginning. Even when you start over in a new place, you’re still going to be you, you’re still going to have the same baggage that has made you into the person you are today, there is no escaping who you are to your core. I’m finally understanding who I am as a person, and what I want out of my life now, and even that alone has made my time in Australia worth it.

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Before I left for Asia, I was telling everyone that I was going to try and find sponsorship in Australia to stay for at least another year, or possibly go over to New Zealand to live a year over there. I’m not saying those still aren’t possibilities, but at least today, I feel like I’ll be ready to come home after my year abroad is done. And I think I’ll finally be okay with that when the time comes. Until then, I have summer, music festivals, new friends, finding beautiful places to get lost, good beer, and travel lined up for the next 6 months in Australia, and I’m not backing down now.

As my roommate in San Diego used to say:

When life is rough, just remember, it could be worse…

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