Tag Archives: being human

Trusting in the School of Life

Something flipped my switch, making me think about trust this morning. Trust and asking for help. I don’t really do these things well.

In my full-nomad life of globetrotting to come, I suspect the lessons I’ll learn fastest, hardest, most often will do with trusting others and asking for help from folks who’ve got nothing to gain from helping me.

I could tell you I’m travelling the world alone, and sort of I am, but really, I’m not. Every trip will mean me relying on the kindness of others, and trusting that everything will work out so I get where I need to be when I need to be there.

People after people after people. Flashes of life before my eyes, and then they’ll be gone again, all playing a small, fleeting moment of importance in my journey.

It’s All in the Fix

There are no rules, really, to travelling the world. Most people I know who have travelled long-term did it on savings and didn’t have to work, so hostels were a great way to keep costs down.

Not an option for me. I’ll have to work 30 hours a week, perhaps more if I’m writing well and often. At the very minimum, I’ll need a private room. I also want to do a lot of cooking when I live in towns with famous markets.

For the cooking and the penchant for panstlessness, it’s in my nature to want to have apartments entirely to myself when I travel. Still, I’ve recently made a choice that at least ⅓ to ½ the time, I will stay with hosted AirBNB places.

Bonus points if it’s run by:

  • A Granny
  • A savvy middle-aged artsy woman who makes bold life decisions
  • Foodies who offer opt-in meals that are traditional and regional

Options include lovely families on farms, an avant garde female journalist in Morocco, a Frenchman who enjoys cooking at a professional level, and so many other stories and biographies of people I can stay with.

Megolithic stones of Camaret, France, in Brittany, where I hope to spend 4-6 weeks. By y.caradec.

Megaliths in Camaret-sur-Mer, France, in Finistere, Brittany, where I hope to spend 4-6 weeks. By y.caradec.

The Gift of Limitations

It’s easy to think that having to travel on a budget is a “downside,” but I think it’s a gift.

One of my “limitations” in my travel plan is the goal of spending under $750/month in lodging fees. That excludes a lot of cities unless I want to splurge for a week and follow it up with a budget stay. It also dictates when I can visit popular places (since winter months are cheaper), and it will make me have to make difficult or creative travel choices for a while.

It’d be easier to achieve that budget in South America, but I just want to see Europe in-depth so badly. There are a lot of travel-free years I have to atone for. Plus, I want to eat all the foods and drink all the wines. They encourage drinking at lunch, people. AT LUNCH. And naps!

Why wouldn’t I want to start travelling there?

Lost in Translation

As time passes, I start realizing what it’ll be like with people who often don’t speak English or who do it badly. This will further hone my ability to trust because I won’t understand them very well either and we’re apt to have mixed messages.

Then there’s travel’s unpredictability. One of my neuroses is how it sends me for a tizzy when things don’t work out PRECISELY as I plan. This is exactly what’s going to test me the most. At least I can take solace in that I usually roll really well with adversity and changes in the plan — after an initial freak-out phase, before I take a few breaths and sort that shit out. I suspect travelling will streamline how quickly I transition from freak-out to sort-out in the future, though, and for the better.

Waiting On My Soul to Change

It will all be worth it, though. The biggest classroom, the best lessons, the longest learning experience of my life. They will all be worth it.

I’m excited to see how living-on-the-road travel changes me, how being immersed in other cultures and values reminds me of what’s important in life.

I’m even excited to have WiFi and data plans become problematic, because I’m looking forward to life where I’m engaged and observant all the time, not distracted and staring into my phone.

I’ll also appreciate food a lot more when I seldom have a kitchen I can just walk into and cook in, or when I’m constantly ordering meals in different languages only to find out after the fact that it’s something I abhor. “Oh, look. It’s tripe stew.”

Daydreaming Through Dreariness

My adversities of my 30s really taught me a lot about what the “big things” in life are, and how stupid so much of what we worry about is. I expect for these lessons to be amplified when I’m on the road. All the things I can’t change. All the things out of my power. All the things that can be improvised.

All the things.

It’s increasingly hard for me to live in the present, but I think that’s less about my wanting to get out on the road and more about the fact that January just kind of sucks. Got the no-good winter blues, baby.

When spring comes here in Victoria, it’s a magical time, and it’ll be easier being in the moment and remembering that all I need is a good coffee, a seaside seat, and the time to enjoy it. While I can, here.

A friend just asked me this morning if I would move back to Victoria when these travels are all said and done.

Gotta tell ya, the more I look at the rest of the world, the more that answer’s likely to be no. It takes so much to have the money to live the “good” life here. The swish-swish-zoom-zoom of traffic isn’t really my idea of bliss anyhow. I think a more remote life awaits me in the next chapter after travelling. It’s just a matter of where in the world it’ll be.

The funny thing is, I trust that I’ll find a place that completes me and makes me feel like I have everything I want. I know it’s out there. I know it. People will tell you they travel because they’re looking to find something, learn something. I’m sort of travelling to find my tribe, my place in the world, my passion for people. If there’s anything I trust already, it’s my ability to find that.

That’s a good start.

Anticipating Autumn

Fall has landed.

It’s the first night I’ve had to close my windows all but a crack. Soon I expect the radiator will be turned on and will spend the next several weeks climbing in temperatures as the climate closes in on winter.

Photo by me, on Vancouver's Burrard Inlet, under the Cambie bridge, I think?

It’s the first day I’ve been funny in the morning in a few weeks. I’ve got my mojo rising and my body’s starting to feel like I’m in control of it again. Pneumonia has been a shitty ride, but my prescription finishes today, and I’m turning some good corners.

Good thing, too. Gettin’ busy — after all, a week from today, I’ll hit the ripe old age of 37.

September has been a long, hard month. Every year I seem to face some kind of adversity as I head into the autumn. A couple times I’ve cheated death on Labour Day weekend. Once I blew out my back a couple days after my birthday. Yeah, it’s always been a rocky time for me, one that suggests much change is ahead for me.

This year’s no different when you get down to the basics: Change is necessary, positives abound, opportunity knocks, et cetera.

But I suppose that’s autumn for most of us.

I think we all go a little off-track in the summer. From the time of childhood on, summer suggests two months of free-for-alls — a time when hedonism makes sense to just about everyone, days when abdicating your responsibilities are too tantalizing to pass up. Nothing like wind in the hair and sand in the toes, as the saying goes.

Then fall rolls around, and like it did when we were kids, it means life is coming back to the working cycle.

Harvest time. For tens of thousands of years, autumn has been a time of preparation and planning, a time to get working in order to ensure survival over the coming cold months of hardship.

Biologically, I think we’re still hardwired there. Summer’s that time when survival’s easier. We don’t even need shelter — sleeping under the stars isn’t just nice, but essential to the human experience.

Winter? Heh, not so much — especially here in the so-called Great White North. (Ironic, of course, since Vancouver, Canada gets far less snow than NYC, or even Vancouver, Washington, but, hey, whatever stereotypes rock your boat, man.)

As the days get shorter, my mind turns to the months ahead, planning and scheming for all I feel I need to accomplish. Thrown into cold, rainy, dreary, windy Wet Coast days, I’ll find myself methodically productive and compulsively accomplished.

Unlike summertime Steff.

It was at this point, three years ago this very week, I reached my self-esteem rock-bottom, had just quit the job making me miserable, returned to a job that allowed me to put myself first, and started on my path toward losing 70 pounds and being able to say I Am Not That Girl Anymore.

The fall has always been a powerful catalyst in my life.

You might think that, coming off a month of back problems and pneumonia, I carry dread and fear about the months that loom… but you’d be woefully mistaken, friend.

I’m stoked. For every step backward I’ve taken this year, there’s been two steps forward. You can choose to focus on the backwards steps, but I’d rather believe it was just practice, and practice makes perfect.

“Big picture” is always more rewarding than a nano-focus. Don’t think about the steps backward this year; think of how much forward you were able to move.

I know the possibility that can come from this bubbling anticipation and dogged desire to capitalize on it. I’ve been there before, I’ve seen what it can do to me. Hell, I know what *I* can do with it.

All this “stuff” in my way right now… it’s just stuff. It’s a bug, a sickness, and it’ll go away. It happens. It’s not “bad luck” or misfortune. It’s just my turn. It’s a reminder of the things I said were important to me — my health, my future, my soul. It’s a reminder of how much I could have controlled more aspects of my life, and an inspiration to do better in the coming months.

Your adversity is what you decide it to be. Make your conclusions carefully.

It’s autumn. A time for things to die and begin their cycle of rebirth. A time to reap what you’ve sown and account for it. Mostly, it’s just a time.

Today, I lament the loss of warmth and long days, the frivolity and fun, the recklessness and hedonism. I mourn that my inner kid’s gonna have a harder time coming out to play for a while.

But I’m truly thrilled to lose the seasonal distractions, gain some focus, and launch future plans for taking over the world.

I’m looking forward to chillier nights, leaves falling, storms that remind me just how fragile our place in the world is, bundling up, excuses for sleeping in, and cradling mugs of hot beverages in frozen hands. I’m longing for the crisp, clean smell, the quieter streets, the oft-patter of rain and splashing of tires, and the fuzzy comfort of wearing warm slippers.

By the year’s end, I’ll have begun growing tired of it all and will dread the next four months, but that’s how the weather cookie crumbles here in the proverbial Great White North.

And, today, none of that matters. Today, summer’s gone, fall is here, and survivalism kicks in — just like it ought to after tens of thousands of years of biological programming.

Happy autumn, everyone. Enjoy everything about it.

And please, for the love of god, don’t put ornamental gourds on your table.