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5 Life Lessons from World Travel

Photo by HANNES CASPAR
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. ~St. Augustine

I’ve spent the last year wandering around the globe and exploring this wondrous thing called life. Through 26 flights, I’ve managed to circle the globe twice and touch five of the seven continents.

The journey led me to scuba diving for a month straight with whale sharks on islands in Thailand to hitchhiking my way through an African country to being paid to make sand castles on the beautiful Australian beaches to almost having a foot amputated in Asia.

It’s been a hell of an experience. I’ve learned more about the world and myself than any book, teacher or person could tell me.

I’m not claiming that this has made me a superior human being. Maybe a bit wiser, but I’m just as much human as you are. I still have trouble putting my own insights into practice.

5 Tips for Having Hard Conversations

Photo by Shannon
Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. ~Douglas Stone

My friend, author and artist Christine Mason Miller, once wrote in her book Ordinary Sparkling Moments that communication between people is like a ball — you have to throw it so that the other person can catch it.

If you don’t? Someone’s going to get whacked in the face, really hard. That’s not going to promote communication.

Most people spend a lot of time just trying to work up the courage to have a difficult conversation with someone. This is a tough space, isn’t it?

No one likes to initiate a conversation in which they know that they need to communicate that there’s a conflict between them.

After you’ve checked to make sure that you’re not manipulating the work when you decide to speak your truth, here are a few guidelines to more successfully throw that ball so that someone else can catch it.

How to Date Authentically: 4 Lessons

Photo by The 10 cent designer
I will have a loving, committed, and fulfilling romantic relationship.

I created this affirmation several months ago to remind myself that the type of relationship I want is possible.

But, to be honest, sometimes I wonder if I will ever find someone. I wonder if maybe I have too many issues or if my standards are too high. At times, I even question whether I am capable of having a healthy relationship.

Whenever I’m feeling particularly hopeless, I look back over the experiences I’ve had and remind myself that I have grown tremendously and have learned so much about myself through my dating experiences.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that ultimately, dating is about me: my behaviors, attitudes and beliefs about love. As I’ve learned more and more about myself, I have started to attract others who mirror the qualities I value most.

How to Move Forward and Stop Repeating The Past

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

We move through our lives based on patterns of the past, replicating the systems and dynamics that we’ve become accustomed to.

Our brains are actually trained to perpetuate these patterns, as we reinforce the neural pathways that have been previously established.

Without consciousness, it continues.

4 Tips to Manage Ego and Find Bliss

Photo by Kasia Skrzypek
We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul. ~Deepak Chopra

Imagine it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue and the sun is shining bright. There is a light breeze that just feels like a gentle hug. You are walking down your favorite street. Everything you see is just beautiful.

As you walk, your sense of peace increases. You then turn the corner and all of a sudden dark clouds appear out of nowhere. The sky turns dark. The gentle breeze is replaced with powerful winds. Pretty soon, you are pushing yourself against the wind. You think you are moving forward but actually you are stuck.

This darkness that appeared is not the weather. It is what happens when you stray from your innate nature — bliss — and succumb to the power of the ego.

Have you noticed that some people have sparkles in their eyes, shining with joy, while others seem to be traveling with a storm cloud over their head, consumed by problems? Those who exude joy don’t have fewer life challenges, they’ve just figured out ways to better handle their egoic mind.

5 Ways to Live in the Moment

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Forever is composed of nows. ~Emily Dickinson

For a long time I believed that living in the moment meant doing what I wanted, when I wanted to.

It has taken me many years to realize that I was wrong.

I felt the need to be free at an early age. I recall packing my bags to leave home at five years of age. My poor parents had a hell of a time with me when I hit my adolescent years. And of course, the teen-age years were even worse.

Basically, I didn’t like rules and regulations.

3 Secrets to Mindful Eating

Photo by Sarah Ann Wright
The art of mindfulness can transform our struggles with food — and renew our sense of pleasure, appreciation and satisfaction with eating. ~Jan Bays

This is a personal story of my disordered relationship with food and my own healing. When I wrote this a year ago, I thought:

There is absolutely no way I’m sharing this so openly and publicly. Especially since I’ve had such transformation over the past few months and now feel healed of this struggle. This is a closed chapter.”

Now, I think, that’s even more the reason to share.

My intention in telling you the details of my experience is so perhaps you will find the courage to inquire about your own relationship with food.

When we’re able to cultivate a deeper awareness with eating, we will also begin to wholeheartedly nurture ourselves and pay attention to other areas of our life.

3 Lessons Solo Travel Taught Me

Photo by Rosie Hardy
To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Six years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled solo halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia (Bali). In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to.

A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity — until  I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This bestselling novel chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India, and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce.

The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagined vision of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies.

The beautiful tapestry of life I envisioned left no question about where my first trip abroad would be once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I went, I decided I would go alone — just like Elizabeth Gilbert.

5 Reasons To Embrace Jealousy

Photo by Sarah Ann Wright
Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks. ~Thomas Browne

This morning I spoke to my sister on Skype for almost two hours. She lives in Istanbul, so we don’t chat as often as when we lived in the same house, but we’re pretty close despite the ocean between us.

I remember in the not-so-distant past that getting off the phone with her was bittersweet. She’s lived in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Italy, South Korea and even international waters. The bitterness didn’t come from being so far apart from my lovely sister, but the fact that I was extremely jealous of her.

I remember vividly sitting in my home in Minnesota expressing my excitement for her when she told me she was planning on moving to Asia.

“You’re so lucky,” and “This is such a great opportunity for you,” came out of my mouth, but what I was thinking is I can’t believe I’ve lived in one state my whole life. I should be traveling and exploring too.

It was embarrassing to be jealous of my younger sister, so naturally I denied it to myself and anyone else who had the guts to say it. But in my head, the envy found a place and rooted itself there, determined to make permanent residence.

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