Solo Reflections

I found this reflection in my phone. Ironically its almost a year old and yet, today I leave for my second solo trip – headed to Nicaragua. My heart melts at the lessons I learned in my 5 days of travel throughout Italy. These things take some people a lifetime to realize. A wink of faith and a touch of courage carried me through my first solo trip abroad. Nica, be good to me.

I knew I needed this. I sometimes know what I need but talk myself out of needing it because I’m scared of what it takes to go through it. But this trip and this time with myself was necessary.

Four years ago, while volunteering I had a conversation about travel with a young woman who was young like me, vibrant and had just finished traveling throughout Africa. 20+ countries – ALONE!! That conversation shook me! I was stunned, impressed, and wow’d by her journey. In less than 24 hours we became Facebook friends and I peeled through her albums detailing her travels throughout Africa. At the time I was also recently laid off and unemployed. So her experience got under my skin and even had me reconsidering entering the workforce.

Nonetheless, four years later here I’m am finally creating my own journey of opportunity, openness, and humility.

My takeaways:
1. I don’t know it all. Its okay to not know it all. Ask for help.
2. Stop assuming. Stop predicting the outcome. You don’t know until you give every chance, every opportunity, every person and every possibility a try.
3. Look people in the eye and engage them.
4. There are people who do want to help. They want to be apart of the journey. There’s good in them.
5. Smile. Even though I still haven’t seemed to master this in a way that doesn’t make me look crazy. I realize people are curious beings, their smile and stares aren’t necessarily insulting. Sometimes they’re intrigued or admiring. Stare and smile back.
6. Expect the best, expect to be wow’d. Expect something great to happen.
7. Never let weather stop you. Weather is like time >> it passes.

Italy, you wet my palette. This is just the beginning – for us and me. #dueseason #tobecontinued

Overdue Season

I hate that my first blog post of 2014 comes at 35,000 feet in the air. Shame on me for neglecting this tab that I built into this website as a way to update, connect and simply vent.¬†As I type, I am finally en route to conquer my first solo journey abroad. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for the longest. I previously imagined it would’ve been to some small island, where I would lay out on the beach all day and make up stories about people as I watched them from my cabana. Juan or Winston would bring me drinks with a floral print bow tie around his neck with shorts to match, and a chest glistening with baby oil. I’d end my nights late and start my mornings early because the sun would be waking me up from my beachfront balcony. Yet, here I am, window seat of aisle 25 flying across the Atlantic Ocean to Milan, Italy. Ciao Bella!!!

EWR to Milano!

EWR to Milano!

It’s true, humans plan and God laughs. I never had any imminent desires to go to Italy. I think I always knew I’d end up here some day – maybe with a boyfriend or husband in tow. However, the good folks over at featured a steal of a deal and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go.

I was restless the eve of my departure. What I had been wanting to do was less than 24hrs away and the “what if’s” started cycling through my mind. What if I get lost? What if I get robbed? Will I be discriminated against? Then doubt and discouragement crept in. I don’t know the language. How will I haggle prices and I can’t even count to ten in Italian? Who will take pictures of me? I don’t have a single thing planned. I’m so unprepared.

I booked this flight 2.5 months ago. I had more than enough time to jot down some things to do and places to see. I’d often sit down at the computer, start googling “Italian Tours” and just get overwhelmed. So I’d exit out of the window and hop on Facebook to read over some status updates. I just couldn’t commit to putting myself on a schedule. A part of me liked that. In life, I’m always so planned and over think every move and every thing I say. Then I’ll have these random moments of spontaneity where I’ll just say eff it and do what I want. Well, I’m neither of those things right now. I’m not planned, I can’t think straight and I don’t have a clue as to what I’ll be doing.

Yet, more than anything, I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity. I just feel so blessed in this moment. I can’t even process how I got here. I absolutely love to travel and in my post collegiate life I’ve always regretted not taking a year off to travel the world. Much like many professionals in America, it’s hard to fit in cross-continental adventures in any given year. So my dreams of traveling to far and distant lands continued to be a dream deferred because it was just too hard to fit it in or too costly to plan.

However, I spoke to myself in 2013 (yes, I speak to myself often) that I would travel to 5 countries in 2014. I turn ‘coughs coughs‘ this year and my goal has been to fill up my passport before it expires in 2015. So Milan marks the beginning of my travels and a continuation of foreign experiences that have shaped and molded me for the better. For myself and this year I want to be fearless. I want to push myself to do things that are uncomfortable and stretch me. Some would say I’ve already been living fearlessly given some of the previous stunts and disappearing acts I’ve pulled. But nah, there’s more in me. I just know it. This year and forever on, I want to test me out a little. Push me a little more. Shoot, I may just jump off that cliff if I have to and take that leap that I’ve been toying with. This season has been long overdue.