Tag Archives: Philosophy

Finding the Beauty in Goodbyes

Paros, Greece - Europe Travel

My friends and I made our way giggling in a tuk tuk to the party. The night before we had danced on a moonlit beach, Leos in hand, swaying in time to the palm trees and chill electronic beats.

“Wow, you seem to be doing so well. If I was in your position, I would not be this okay right now,” one of my friends said to me, when I mentioned my abrupt breakup from two weeks ago.

I shrugged my shoulders, “I guess I just want to be happy. I don’t want to be sad over something that wasn’t meant to be.”

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Why I Still Believe in Solo Female Travel

Monkey Times at Angkor Wat - Cambodia

Solo Female Travel – it’s a term that has garnered backlash in the travel industry in recent years, one that people think is unnecessary and overused.

Everyone and their mom has become a “solo female traveler” with the rise of personal travel blogs. It’s old news, nothing special. Just as soon as the term became popular, there was an outcry for females to stop using it…mostly by fellow females.

Why should we have to label ourselves as solo female travelers, when guys just say they’re travelers? By putting a label on it we’re just encouraging the sexism and division in how females and males are perceived around the world, is what some women argued.

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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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On Getting Dumped in Thailand

Getting Dumped in Southeast Asia -

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every goodbye you learn.

-Veronica A. Shoffstall

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Why I’m Thankful & Why We Should Acknowledge the Other Side of Thanksgiving

Why I'm Thankful and Why We Should Acknowledge the Other Side of Thanksgiving

No matter which side of the American election you were on this November, you’ll have to agree that where America stands on the world stage is a bit uncertain right now. My country has decided to put someone in power who has no previous diplomatic or political experience. We have decided to choose a leader that wants to close America’s borders, and increase the ethnocentric mindset that already exists in this country.

This has caused alarm for a lot of American travelers and expats. I’m unsure if visa regulations will change for the worse in the next few years. I’m dreading how much anti-American sentiment I’ll get from other foreign travelers for simply being from a country who elected someone like Trump. I’ve already received backlash from other travelers in the last couple of weeks and I didn’t even vote for the guy.

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On Coming Home to the Land of Fear

On Coming Home to the Land of Fear - America Travel

I’m tired you guys. Exhausted might be a better word. I try my best to spread positivity on this blog and to focus on the good, but sometimes, sometimes, I have to be honest and talk about the negativity too.

The America I left 3 years ago, is not the same one I came back to last March. Perhaps I was blinded by my love for my country, never having spent a decent amount of time away from it previously. I know this was not a sudden change, it’s something that has been building throughout the decades, probably, to be honest, since America was born. But the America I came back to last March, the one I’ve been living in for the past year and a half is unrecognizable to me now.

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On saying goodbye

On Saying Goodbye - The Atlas Heart

It was my last full day abroad when I woke up to a Facebook message sent by my sister, letting me know that my grandma had passed away that morning.

Dealing with death on the road is never easy, I can only be thankful that it happened so close to me coming home, allowing me to attend the memorial service in a few weeks.

For as long as I can remember, my grandma has lived in Nevada. Taking our yearly trip through the Sierra Nevada’s to get to Grandma Jo’s was my first taste of travel.

It was a trip I looked forward to every year, Nevada seemed so different from California, and the McDonald’s in Carson City had a legit play area for kids my age.

If we were good, we’d even stop at Chuck E. Cheese’s on the way. The perfect way to start a road trip is jumping in a colorful ball pit and running down slides, after all.

Jokes aside, what I really loved about those trips was the journey. The fact that we’d leave before sunrise, finding our way in the dark to the highway. My siblings and I would cover ourselves in beanie babies and blankets in the back seats and blast Backstreet Boys with the windows rolled down.

on the way to grandmas

It was an annual ritual I looked forward to because it meant I would be able to see my Grandma Jo and Grandpa Al for the only time that year. Our short time together growing up is what also made it so special.

Those trips made me realize that the journey is only half the fun, the people waiting for you on the other end; however, that means everything.

My grandma waiting for us with fresh lemonade, a new card game to play, or simply a good conversation out on the porch in the summertime, that is what I remember most about those trips.

When I left home to travel, I had the chance to say goodbye to my grandma who had finally made the move to Santa Cruz, CA a few years after the passing of my Grandpa Al.

My mom was sad and worried about my upcoming travels, but my grandma told her to look at it from a different perspective. How proud my mom should be of me, to have raised such a brave, fearless, and spontaneous young woman.

That conversation with my grandma stuck with me throughout my travels, and when I doubted myself the most these past two years abroad, those encouraging words made me sleep easy.

I had no idea that would be the last time I would see her. Her health severely deteriorated these past two years I’ve been overseas, and I was never able to say another goodbye.

I may be coming home with a slightly heavier heart, but I’m also proud of the woman I called my Grandma Jo.

She lived a full life, she raised a daughter that became my mom, she inspired and influenced others – I don’t know what else you could wish for in life.

I have a lot of fond memories with my grandma that I won’t relay here. This post is simply more a way of me coming to terms with everything, and to honor her in my own way.

More than ever it has made me want to feel alive in everything I do, to be aware and sincere…simply, to love more.

The classic quote by Buddha comes to mind: “the trouble is, you think you have time”. 

I want to go jump in the ocean, learn how to surf even though I’m terrible at it, go jump off a cliff and paraglide over the place I went to school in San Diego. I want to try everything once, and not regret a thing.

I want to come home to those people on the other side of it all, and to realize how the journey was worth it. How full of a life I’ve lived in the process of doing what makes me happy.

Grandma

This one is for you grandma, cheers to a life well spent, and to an impact both profound and graceful.

Rest in Peace and….

be free

On leaving everything behind to follow your dreams

The sun is gleaming through the palm trees, I’m riding alongside the ocean, the orange sky as my canopy. What a way to say goodbye to this cherished place I’ve taken for my own, a place I call home even with these restless bones.

The southern winds pushing me onward towards my journey, the new adventures that await. This feels right, even with the tug of nostalgia filling my chest, a montage of memories in my head.

This is my purpose, my path in life. I hate goodbyes, but I don’t see this as such, because those who I’ve met, who have touched my heart in someway, will stay there even after I’m long gone from this place.

Life is such a beautiful art, with its stops and starts, passing glances and what ifs that fade away as the sun descends its last rays.

The man next to me sips on his Corona while in his own space, drawing from a vivid imagination that consumes his focus as we pull into another station . We’re all in our own space, yet connected through our graceful humanity, our innocent fallacies that make us kindred souls as we tackle our independent goals.

The train stops, last call, end of the line. But this ending is my beginning, so I’m going to take it and run into the arms of a soulful passion that is all my own. That is my journey to travel.

I’m finally ready to start.

I believe in

I believe in watching every sunset as if for the first time, I believe in not settling for someone who makes you feel ordinary, I believe in rainy days and the rainbows that come after, I believe in flossing and wearing sunscreen every day.

I believe in music being the soundtrack to life, I believe in spending hours in coffee shops and secondhand bookstores, I believe in trying everything once, I believe in honesty and sincerity.

I believe in reading in the sun, I believe in bucket lists and staying up all night just to plan my next trip, I believe in keeping an open mind, I believe in going to the beach as much as you can, I believe in playing basketball as a way to clear my head.

I believe in the benefits of education and learning new things every day, I believe in still sending postcards and handwritten letters, I believe that everything happens for a reason even if it’s not always easy, I believe that traveling with someone can make or break a relationship.

I believe in being polite, especially to strangers, I believe in karma, I believe in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I believe in the benefits of doing things that scare me because every day could be my last.

I believe in midnight adventures and the value of a good California burrito, I believe in the balance that comes with yoga, I believe in taking risks and having spontaneity, I believe in wishing on 11:11.

I believe that every person should have a passport and that they should use it, I believe in discovering the world with the curiosity of a child, I believe that when it comes down to it we are all the same, I believe in the beauty of poetry and prose.

I believe in following my heart.

 What do you believe in?

(Post inspired by C’est Christine)

La Bella Vita

From the time I was very little, I can remember looking up at the sky every time a plane would fly over me on my daily walk to school. I would imagine where the people in it were going, what adventures lay ahead for them. Every time I would see an airplane in the clear blue California sky, I would make a promise to myself that someday it would soon be me on my own adventures. It became a promise that structured my whole life around when I could travel next. It began with a two week backpacking trip through Costa Rica as a graduation present to myself the summer after high school. When choosing a University to attend, the study abroad programs had a significant impact on my decision. My dream was to study abroad in college, the only problem was deciding where exactly I was going to go; I wanted to go everywhere. When it came down to it, I chose go to culinary school in Florence, Italy to learn the ways of Italian cooking, and to ultimately learn about Italian culture as a whole through their love of food.

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Living in Italy, I tasted some of the best food of my life, but there was more to it than that. The food is their culture. The family is centered around meals, bringing people together in a way that I’ve never seen in any other culture. It is completely contrary to the American way of life of constantly eating on the go; many modern families don’t even have the time to eat together anymore. A dinner in Italy is multi-course, including hours upon hours of talking, drinking wine, and eating fresh homemade food. Moreover, it’s not just in the immediate family where food brings people together. Each time I would walk into an eating establishment, I was welcomed in an affectionate manner, almost as if I was being welcomed into their home as a house guest. To be honest, that connection was not far from the truth, as I tried to eat mainly at family owned trattorias.

Florentines pride themselves on their food and the history behind it as much as their culture, because in many ways they are one and the same. My teacher at culinary school was one of the most passionate people about food that I have ever met. After every meal we would cook in our three hour span of class time, we would sit down and discuss the importance of that dish to the region from which it originated, and describe how every region in Italy is respectively proud of their food specialities. We can see why cuisine is so tied to Italian culture through how long it took for Italy to be reunited as one country. As a loose collection of regions, the food and dialect were the aspects that made one region unique from another. In this way, food gives a sense of regional and national pride in a united country that is known for its food.

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One of my favorite moments involving the culture of food in Italy was my first night in Florence, eating in view of the campanile. I had the most exquisite gorgonzola gnocchi. My meal, combined with the chilled pinot grigio and good company, gave me pause to reflect; so this is the epitome of Italian culture, taking pleasure in the simple things of life. The mentality that surrounds you in Italy is that the little pleasures in life are just as important (if not more so) than the practicalities one has to think about on a daily basis. I basked in that Tuscan night, hot but pleasant, taking it all in with my new roommates, who were just as enamored with the city as I was. That night is one of my favorite memories; I had never felt so at home in a new place as I did that evening, I knew everything was going to be alright.

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My Tuscan summer will forever be ingrained in my memory. You can read about these places all you want, but I now realize that you don’t fully know a thing about it until you can actually feel the city, hear the faint sound of the accordion player down the street every morning on my way to my favorite bar for a standing cappuccino, look at the colorful gelaterias on every block, hear the Italian like rapid fire being yelled by a mother scolding her son, or seductively spoken by the amorous couple sitting next to you in the piazza. You can feel the presence of the city everywhere: it’s so alive; it makes me happy to be so young, so malleable and open minded to the experience. I can still smell the pizza around the corner of my little apartment, and see the welcoming smiles of the Italian family as I walk in the door to my favorite restaurant. That is what Italian culture means to me. That is what makes me nostalgic and convinced that one day I will come back to a summer in Tuscany to experience it all over again.

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