travel with purpose

In recent introspection I took to a map to take inventory of the interesting places I've been and seen. I was impressed; I didn't think I had travelled as much as I did. But, at the same time, I also became much more aware of how much world there is that I've yet to discover. 

Years ago, I wrote a post of the places I would love to see. It included anywhere in Africa, California, Cairo, NYC, Florida, Greece, and any island in the sun. I can say I've definitely crossed California off my list, as well as Cairo and NYC, but I'm nowhere near done. There is so much world to see and so many cultures to experience, and I want to see it all. (It's too bad I picked a career in writing, then).

Whether it's overseas or in your own backyard, I've discovered that there are 3 main ways to explore a new space:

  1. Like a tourist. Every space has its must-see spots; the pyramids of Giza, the Hollywood sign, Times Square, Niagara Falls. Travelling like a tourist is travelling to see what everyone else has seen and capturing what everyone else has captured, no matter how beautiful it may be.

  2. Like a visitor. Going to visit people in a space you've never explored before usually entails them showing you the best that their city has to offer, which sometimes boils down to big chain restaurants and giant landmarks. As a visitor, you get to see the filtered and classy version of the place you're visiting.  

  3. Like a local. Get on the train. Eat from a hole-in-the-wall. Talk to the locals. share a meal ora drink with a stranger. Get to know the grocer. Walk down the alleys. It's in these moments that you discover the true culture of a place. 

Since I enjoy photography I tend to come off as the tourist, but my favourite way to travel is like a local. Beyond exploring like a local, I enjoy experiencing a space through the eyes of the locals of lower socioeconomic class. It's the ones with less money and a lower social status that are a depiction of a country's essence because they've yet to be changed by media influence and globalization - they don't use affluence to try to live the lives of the wealthy, or the lives of those in more desirable countries.

To travel and experience the culture and people of a particular place always reminds me of how large a world we live in but how similar we all are. Every story I hear from every stranger I chat with resonates with me on some level, reminding me that, no matter how scattered we are across the globe, we're not that much different.  To travel is to enrich your life experience, because every trip and every conversation affects and changes the way you see the world - for the better.

As I write this, adventure awaits me. My suitcase is partially packed and my flight departs tomorrow. To find out where I'm headed - and to see it from my perspective - follow my adventures on Instagram.

If you could explore one country in the world, where would it be? 

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on change and new beginnings

"Today I am a woman torn between the terror that everything might change and the equal terror that everything might carry on exactly the same for the rest of my days. Some people say that, as summer approaches, we start to have weird ideas; we feel smaller because we spend more time out in the open air, and that makes us aware of how large the world is. The horizon seems farther away, beyond the clouds and the walls of our house." 
- Paulo Coelho, Adultery


While I would never choose to have Paulo Coelho write my life story - beautifully eloquent and captivating as his tales may be - some days I find myself caught in his words and seeing my world through the lens of his narration. Scratch that - some seasons, not just some days. This is one of them.

I haven't written in a long time, but today, as I sit on my balcony, as the sun sets and the wind caresses my curls into an exotic fuzz, I'm reminded of how small I am and how large this world is, and how much there is yet for me to do.

Just over a year ago I had packed my trusty Camry with two sets of siblings and driven from Toronto to Los Angeles and back again. That same summer I drove down to Chicago and explored the streets of Montreal - twice! A few months later, I was approached at a restaurant, given a business card, and offered my first 'career-related' job. I established an 8-4 routine, regularly went to the gym, and dove headfirst with cold feet into friendships that would simultaneously become my worst nightmare and an answered prayer.

But, I guess I got too comfortable. If there's one thing I've learned about routine it's that, once you establish one, it gets broken. Mine got drop-kicked.

I wrapped up 2014 by picking up my life and moving to California for three months. From there I flew to Seattle and drove to British Columbia. I saw sights and places and spaces that no camera could do justice (which is my only comfort given that I forgot my camera at my doorstep as I left to the airport for what is, so far, my longest trip away from home). A few months later I wandered the streets of Queens, took in the grandness of New York City, and hiked The Narrows of Utah. My adventures had me on top of the world and dancing on a rooftop with a view of the NYC skyline.

Inside every wanderer is a soul craving to find itself. 

I've heard it said lately that God finds you when you're far away from home. He seeks people out in their moments of identity crisis and introspective conflict. And just when we begin to feel comfortable and independent (read: complacent and self-reliant) He tends to drop-kick our lives. But I can't blame Him. We were created for far greater things than complacency. 

As I approach my 25th birthday I find myself between seasons. The past season of my life has been incredible, but it seems to be complete. There's wisdom in acknowledging the completion of a season - with its sweet memories and painful downfalls - and knowing when to allow a new season to begin.

As this season wraps up, I can say that I've learned...

1. God sometimes moves us away from people and places and things dear to us because, despite those things being good in our lives, they preoccupy us from connecting with him. Most people lead busy lives; the difference is between those who are busy for busy's sake and those whose lives are full and thriving. Regardless, we wear so many hats and commit to so many things that we find ourselves too busy and comfortable and complacent to seek God. It's in the middle of a desperate nowhere that he seeks us out because, away from all our distractions, we are reminded of how much we desire to seek him, too. 

2. Cheesy cliches can be born of a person's profound experience and reduced to a 'Pin' or 'Tweet' button. "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone" is a caption to one of my Instagram photos. It's also a cheesy cliche. But, after an exhilarating hike and the triumph of climbing up a cliff after nearing desperation, I can attest that you truly begin to feel alive once you push past your comfort zone.  Cheesy cliches hold true once you've gained the life experience that proves them to you, but that's still no excuse to use cheesy cliches.

3. Home is a feeling, not a place. Our souls are constantly searching for a sense of home, and, if we search for it, we find a little bit of home everywhere we go. Home isn't the comfortable and the cozy and the familiar. Home is finding the comfortable and the cozy and the familiar amid the turbulent and the scary and the unknown. 

I'm beginning a new season and it's exhilarating and terrifying. This season begins with making life changes; it begins with the launch of my website and freelance business; it begins with a humble brokenness and an excitement for what's to come.

It begins.

Change is scary. New seasons are exciting. God is good.

What's the scariest thing you've ever decided to do, and what made you decide to go ahead and do it?  

 

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