Money Can’t Buy Me Peace

I was nervous that moving to New York would make me more materialistic. Everywhere you look are signs of wealth; it is a constant display of conspicuous consumption where people casually wear $500 shoes on the subway, overhear conversations of people spending $200 at dinner last night ( and it was a cheap meal), or casually mention about the after parties of Fashion Week. Sometimes the street feels like a runway, everyone sporting their limited edition Nikes, holding $7 golden lattes, and on their way to SoulCycle.

I thought I would fall into the materialistic rabbit hole, and endless emotional downfall for the need to have more, more, more, and never feel satisfied with what I had. I thought I would feel more envious of what I couldn’t afford and judgemental of what others could.

And maybe if I moved to New York right after college, I would feel that and fall into that trap of getting a high paying job just so I could have fancy clothes, spend $19 on a cocktail, and go to exclusive nightclubs, so I could continue to fill a void I had inside of me with the newest electronics, the expensive food, or the stunning Instagram photos to show that I had made it.

But I think all too often we equate financial success with actual success, which calls into question what is a successful person? Do they have 500K Twitter followers or multiple summer homes or sit front row at basketball games?

Or do they have loving relationships? Are they kind to strangers? Do they love themselves? Are they able to quell the inner demons of loneliness, doubt, and envy and be able to sit comfortably with themselves in the present moment? Are they able to be happy with where they are, wherever they are, regardless of how their stocks are doing?

Long distance travel absolutely taught me how to live simply. If I could carry it on my back I could take it, if not I don’t need it. And fortunately, that mentality has transferred over while living in New York. My happiest moments in New York are not experiences I can purchase: dancing at house parties, strolling and chatting with my friends, and looking around the subway at the beautiful multicultural population that makes up New York.

Those who can afford the $12 eclectic ice creams, the 4-hour tasting dinners, and a yearly membership to Equinox, good on them! But that’s not for me and won’t be the motivator for the work I do.

I know what I need and the rest won’t fill me. A human must be happy without things.

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The World is Yours for the Eating

I don’t like the question “What is your favorite place you have been to?”

That is like asking which ice cream flavor is your favorite?

All of them?

There is no singular answer because all of the places I have been to are so subjective and my feelings about them are based on my place and perception in life.

Also, there are infinite amounts of flavors, I mean, places to experience, so why limit myself to a singular favorite?   

Not to mention, it is all subject to change and the moment.

When I was a kid, mint chocolate chip was my absolute favorite; now all I want is the swirling salty and sweet splendor of peanut butter and chocolate swing dancing together in my mouth, and who knows what I will be craving tomorrow.

Different places will resonate with you, call to you, and teach you different lessons depending on where you are in life. Your previous experiences, perceptions of the world, and current state of being will influence how you experience your travels.

Sometimes you’re ready for a place and sometimes you’re not, but that doesn’t mean that your taste buds don’t change and you might return to a place years later and find it to be the most delicious experience.

I encourage you to go out and try as much as you can because the places you might have expected to enjoy might not wow you as much as the ones that had no expectations at all.

I want you to take advantage of all the free samples you can get and sometimes know it’s ok to not choose and decide to have an ice cream sundae instead ( and the best are shared 🙂 ) icecream w:friends

Tend to Yourself

People know about the love languages, yes? If not, definitely look them up, because I feel like I understood how I expressed and receive love better once I read about the generality of these categories. I am a HUGE words of affirmation- tell me what I’m doing right and wrong or else I have no idea.

Which is why I love constructive criticism. I always, always, always want to do better, because I can’t always see what I’m doing wrong in the first place.

And after finishing my first season of my podcast, I know how I needed to improve and am taking the time to do so. So I’m giving myself the month of February to read up on those who are masters in the skills that I need and boy is it HUMBLING. I’m reading and listening to the works of all of these people in the travel, writing, and podcasting field and how to be a better interviewer, writer, and listener and will often pause and think to myself, “ Could I ever be as good as them?”

Because there are the voices in my head that whisper words of doubt and hesitation- can I be a great podcaster, writer, performer? Can I be a great storyteller, will anyone care? This picks up on my sensitivity towards words of affirmation.

So having negative words of affirmation against MYSELF could be a huge setback because if I listen to the voices of doubt then I might believe them and never book another one-way ticket, create another episode, or tell an honest story.  And for others, these voices could be so loud that they inhibit people from living a life less bold, creative, or adventurous as it could be- and I can’t settle for that.

I need to remind myself that everyone has had, at one point or another, these deleterious voices, especially the ones whom I am reading and looking for guidance from. The people I’m reading have also had nights of wondering whether they were good enough and it hasn’t stopped them.

So, I’m going to give myself my own positive affirmations,  sit down, be humble, and read.

#selflove

Travel for the Thrill

moroccanblue.png

me, circa 2013, on the road for 7 months and v tiered 

My bed is my favorite place in New York.  I’m grateful for it every day when I am reminded of all the planes, hammocks, sunken beds, and mattresses cloaked in shredded mosquito nets I have had to sleep on.

I love lying down flat on my 10 inch mattress when I am reminded of how my body would have to contort itself on the awkwardly angled bus chairs, propping my head on a makeshift pillow- some combination of a sweatshirt, scarf, and tights- that muffle the abrasive vibrations of the rubber tires repetitively and endlessly hitting concrete.

I love closing my eyes to the perfect stillness of my room with no fear that someone sharing my space will be snoring, blasting reggae music in the hostel room next door, or attempting a quickie in those tiny single hostel beds that architecturally structured to inhibit sexual relations.

I love waking up without the fear of wondering “Where will I be sleeping tonight?” I love my consistency; I’m grateful for my comforts; I enjoy waking up relaxed, but there is a thrill that no longer greets me in the morning.

The thrill of being roused by a distinctive melodic beeping of an awoken city; the thrill of having new dreams; the thrill of waking up under an altered angle of the same sun. The thrill of different breakfast smells, morning news reports in unfamiliar languages, and watching someone else’s morning ritual. The thrill of wondering where will I be sleeping tonight?The thrill of being alive can sometimes only be experienced thousands of miles away from the bed that has been warped to your body after years of sleeping in it.

It is a thrill and fortune to be awake at all.

Retracing Your Roots

fam

I was raised in the woods of upstate New York and was raised from a pack of wonderful and weird women, and I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with them the other week. My sisters, mom, and I were a juggernaut of blonde-haired women wherever we went. Although they still know how to humble me, I have a blast with them because we all inherited my mother’s sense of humor. My family is the type that will start dancing in the dairy section of a grocery store if  Michael Jackson if comes on.  

I was pretty overworked and overwhelmed by taking a day off to be with them, but the feeling of my stomach hurting from laughing so much on the way down to Coney Island got me to forget about all the work I was neglecting. We got out and walked on the beach by the calm Atlantic in the blustery air. I had a sense of tranquility I hadn’t felt in a while, a lightness and laughter I had almost left behind.  My family reminds me how important it is to be brought back to your roots, remind yourself of parts forgotten or grown out of ( like how my sister reminded me I used to eat Lucky Charms marshmallows in order of the song).

I miss them the most when I travel. They are the hardest leaving sometimes because I feel like I’m abandoning them. But I know that if I stayed, I wouldn’t be true to myself and it helps me relish and appreciate the times I do get to be with them. I get to come back with stories for them to listen to and laugh about how I made a fool of myself abroad.

The End of a Journey

passionpassport

It’s such a weird feeling to wake up one morning and to not have to work on the project that you have been pouring your time, energy, and mind into for the better part of three years. And my rat brain was immediately like, “ ON TO SEASON TWO.”

I am always in the stifling grip of the productivity monster- that Protestant work ethic that has been hammered into my being and makes me think I need to keep WORKING and CREATING and DOING something all the time. I have this feeling even when I have returned from a trip and think, “ When and where is my next flight?” I need to keep GOING.

Now, I know this is a cliche, but it feels like I’m sprinting during the New York City marathon. I’m trying to bypass all of these other runners who are pacing themselves, thinking that they are such suckers and I’m beating them, and I’m seeing more faster, when in reality I’m the sucker who be left on the side of the road on mile 4 because I have pulled a calf muscle and am caught guzzling Gatorade and Ketamine for electrolytes and painkillers in order to keep going. And because I keep thinking I need to keep running, running, running and catch up to everyone who is so far ahead of me, I feel paralyzingly overwhelmed.  And as a runner, I have found that my stronger runs have been when I allow my body to take breaks in between them.

So I’m giving myself a creative break, to give myself time to reflect on all of my adventures, all of my passport stamps, and all of the achievements I have made. It is important to look back once you have reached the apex of a mountain, to reflect on who you were and who you have become before looking at the top of another mountain. Since I have given myself some breathing room I have found is creativity and inspiration in places I wouldn’t have explored. My creative mornings are messy and honest and playful, and I’m enjoying it more than if I just jumped right back into working, working, working, working. I don’t want my work to be perceived as work; I want it to be play. Take a break, look back, and relish in all that you have achieved.

Of All the Stories in the World, the Best are those between the Pages of a Passport

Three years ago, I was sitting on an uninspired carpet on my living room floor in Portland, OR and was planning my trip to Latin America. I was living in a sterol apartment with a partner who didn’t understand me, a job that was exhausting my passions, and a parasitic feeling of having no direction, which would leave me crying on that irksome carpet. I had always used travel to run away from my problems and knew I needed to leave.

So I as was sitting on my plasticy couch and I started off at the uninterested walls of my apartment, I thought about how could I document what was about to happen, and I had been listening to podcasts non-stop at my baking job and thought “maybe I could start one?”

I was extremely lonely in Portland and felt uptight, not able to catch the West Coast chill. So I would escape into the world of podcasts because it was people who were sharing stories about things I was interested in and felt like I had commonalities with.

While I was bouncing from unsatisfying job to the next, I always found myself sneaking in a podcast or two while at work, to escape my unsettling reality. I loved the feeling of being transported somewhere else, being simultaneously inspired by stories and intellectually stimulated, and be able to pause and rewind when what was said to me was too beautiful or honest to keep listening. And above all, I just loved voices.

I was someone who has always had a creative drive, an energy that would wake me in the middle of the night and needed to MAKE something. But I loved talking about a wide breadth of topics and wanted something that overlapped with storytelling and deep topics, and at that point blogging was the only way to do that.

I started feeling embarrassed by how many blog ideas I started and stopped thinking THIS will be my next great project, and weeks later I would be staring at stuck staring at an incomplete website with half-finished thoughts and basic stock photos, unmotivated to clean any of it up. It felt like when I would “journal” as a kid. I had a tower of beautiful journals in my bedroom that I would impulsively buy and all of them contained two entries- one entry detailing my excitement over my new journal and all the things that happened that day and the second one six months later….. At the age of 8, I knew I had no inspiration for the written word because I didn’t have the understanding that the written word wasn’t for me.

Because here I stand, years older, with one full season of a PODCAST completed.

Once I had the idea, I was jazzed about recording conversations and found myself hunting for interesting individuals whom I could convince to be on my podcast. At the beginning of my journey, my iPad cracked and became precarious to work with but it didn’t stop me from trying to record as much as I could. And although I had no sound engineering experience, no software experience, or recording experience, it didn’t stop me from teaching myself.

I never woke up any morning thinking I HAVE to do this; my need to work on it is what got me out of bed.  I remember coming back from traveling and working at my dad’s nursery listening to podcasts and felt an anxious, nauseating pain in my chest because the voices on the other side of my earbuds were doing what I wanted to do, what I needed to do.

It took me too long to realize that the human voice was what captivated me. To me, one of the simplest pleasures about traveling is getting to hear all the different voices and accents that the human voice can take on. I love hearing one’s personality, idiosyncrasies, and ability to peek into who people are through their diction, syntax, and accent, and I promised myself to have as many diverse voices on my podcast as possible.

For me, it is an ineffable pleasure to craft an audio experience, transport, and influence people with more than your words but your voice and the stories you have to share, which I have found is my most powerful tool.

I wanted to curate an intimate experience for my listeners and make them feel like I was beside them while they are walking their dogs, cooking, or on a long commute and help guide them through whatever hesitations and excuses they give themselves to not travel.

With podcasting, I found my ideal medium and am able to finally unite storytelling learning in a way that resonates with me- and I wouldn’t have been able to find that if I didn’t go off and travel. I gave myself time to experiment with something new, to dive into untapped potential, and deviate from the limitations my environment had on me.

I am my truest self when I am telling stories with my voice and I thank you all for the support and encouragement.

Don’t worry, the story’s not over….this is just the beginning.

It’s Not the Mountains We Conquer but Ourselves

 

Huacachina, Peru

I met Doron at the beginning of his journey and in my last days of traveling. Although we were at the opposite ends of travel, we still shared one striking commonality: home. Where he had been walking around just hours earlier, was a place I hadn’t stood on in months and while he was ready to jump out into the big wide world, I was ready to cozy up in a familiar bed.

Doron is a social and geographical mountain climber. He sets large goals and aspires to reach a physical or metaphorical apex, but knows how to pace himself and enjoy the ride- something that travel has taught him. His travels have grounded him from the insanity and often superficial aspects of his home city and have helped him focus on self-care and how to not waste the rare opportunity of being alive.

Our conversation happens when we are back in New York and we discuss the relationship between home and the world and how leaving home can help you discover who you are when it isn’t coddling you. In this episode, we reflect on the benefits of long-term backpacking, why he feels connected when he is alone in nature, and why home tastes sweeter when you have been gone for a while.

Enjoy Life: You Just Have One

E24- I Find Home In Weird Places 

Blanca, from Spain, and I met at the top of a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. I know how that sounds. As we walked around the town of Machu Picchu, I was immediately captivated not only by her reenactments about the ancient man-made feat we were experiencing together but with all of the stories of her adventures around the world. At the time, her and her partner, Heiko, from Germany were traveling for a year, dividing their time between Latin America and Asia and challenging themselves to go to places most people don’t travel to. She tells us all the areas that surprised her, how travel influenced her relationship with her partner, and how the world still has lessons to teach her.

 

Hiking Machu Picchu

E23.5 The Lost City & The Last Soul 

Machu Picchu is a mountainous citadel hidden deep in the Andes. A citadel is a “little city” with a fortified area situated as it’s core. Anthropologists believe that it was originally a place where the ruler of the Incas would take vacations but was repurposed once the Conquistadors arrived. It is rumored that Machu Picchu became a hideout for the Incas from the bearded men on horses who arrived from the sea because the Spanish left no written record of Machu Picchu. There has always been the omnipresent myth of the lost city of the Incas, but the Spanish never got there. It is still not considered the lost city of the Incas- that is another place, Choquequirao, which is even deeper in the jungle that is STILL difficult to get to. The Inca’s ability to live in such hidden places is evidence of human endurance and adaptability.

Machu Picchu slowly deflated in population after being exposed to western diseases and the Conquistadors plundering their land and people; however, the jungle continued to protect this sacred space from outsiders as it remained isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years, tended only by a few remaining families and llamas.

It was discovered by the Western World almost 100 years ago and since then it has become a place of spiritual refuge and inspiration. In 1911 American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham traveled the region looking for the old Inca capital and was shown to Machu Picchu by a local farmer. Bingham brought Machu Picchu to international attention and organized another expedition in 1912 to undertake major clearing and excavation. He returned in 1914 and 1915 to continue with excavation. It has since then been overtaken by tourists, trekkers, and explorers from every corner of the planet.

It was 6:30 am by the time I arrive at the base of MP.  I sat for a minute to collect my breath and watched the rested passengers get off the buses. I walked around some of the city, made eye contact with an alpaca, and decided to keep hiking before the other mountain closed off for the day- another hour and a half hike directly up.

Once I arrived at the top, I ignored the loud Canadians and Americans taking shots of pisco at 9am, found myself a ledge to sit on and just stared out into the sky, the mountains, and the world below me. I turned away from them and blocked out the sounds of the world, I sat in awe of what was before me. I was at eye level with the apexes of the Andes-some of the most paramount accomplishments that our earth has to offer- and became hypnotized watching a distant bird playfully swoop in and around the azure mountains magnifying their magnitude-like a plastic bag caught in the wind. This was the closest I had ever been to the sun without flying.

But sitting in solitude upon that mountaintop- with the world below my feet- the feeling of loneliness evaporated and I had never felt more connected to the larger universe. It was a moment of pure acceptance of my position in the collective consciousness- a word in a larger story- a neuron in a mind- a spec of dust on a clover shouting out “We are here, we are here, we are here.” An energy that ebbs and flows, with no particular direction, and there is nothing to do but go along for the ride. I was overcome with everything I had done in these past five months-traveling alone, being humbled by the world over and over again, and chiseling away at the slab of stone of who I was and wanted to be. I was fully present- knowing the only thing I have is this moment.

I cried, more accurately, I wept. I am frequently overwhelmed with my own existence and when the daily dynamics of the mind have subsided and I am present, everything becomes illuminated. Is when for a flashing moment my brain tries to fathom how expansive this universe is and zooms out to observe the world, then zooms out to our solar system, then zooms out to our galaxy, and zooms out to our universe. I feel tiny, and insignificant, but peaceful, knowing that I am part of a larger, complicated system that is so unfathomable to my species. These moments are what I call “emotional orgasms” being in the presences of something so beyond me and being humbled by it, expressing itself through tears of acceptance and peace with the universe. The universe is in no position to explain itself to you. The silence of the mountains was deafening.