Yes, Mike has finally opened the site for blogging. That’s what blogs are for, right? To blog. I kept asking myself, how does one start a blog? They just use words, Mike. Words. Blogs are started by typing words.
I’ve been back in the good ‘ole United States since landing in Boston on October 18th. Oh and check this out, do you know how weird our currency is? It’s so narrow! I’m still getting used to that after four months away and it makes me laugh. It felt like it took a full 10 days for the jet/travel lag to wear off even though I took my time coming back – after Uganda, stop over in Austria, stayed in the Netherlands, then stayed in Iceland and then a final 6 hour flight to the home land.
Maybe it wasn’t jet lag. It was quite possibly all the new impressions (stuff I was seeing) on my brain that occurred daily while traveling in Europe and Africa. When I was still in my work routine in Northern Virginia it was very typical for me to do a lot of the same things day in and day out – it was the same stuff for about 70-80% of the day. The same car, the same streets, the same people honking on the way to and from work. While traveling, my eyes were wide open 100% of the time. Okay, maybe not when I was sleeping. There was always new information, new languages, new accents, new cultures, new perspectives from hosts, travelers and strangers that are now friends. It’s an experience that I can’t refine, or cut short and say, “here are the top three things I learned while traveling.” There was just so much that happened. It flew by in the beginning while I was still in a fast-paced mode. This was all being done by someone that can’t remember taking off more than two weeks from work ever. I was always wondering how it would work in the beginning? Focusing on being in the present moment and really (truly, literally…) going with the flow was the solution. Soon enough, I found my inner explorer, photographer, writer, and my curiosity to learn again. There was so much to learn from everyone I met.
There was a time or two where I really had to pause on the moment and think about friends and family back home. They were still continuing on with their lives. Summer was ending, it was even getting cooler in Europe. A change of seasons started to bring another perspective shift for me. There were announcements of friends having babies, my BFF got engaged, the world kept spinning and I felt like I was listening to a different album entirely. This album had everything from EDM (Electronic Dance Music, such as Skrillex), classical, and even softer tunes playing for me in my mind. Somedays were entirely EDM days, like driving a rental car 750 miles through Scotland, having 20+ cows walk over to the farm fence to greet me and take a photo with a rainbow on a typical overcast day in the highlands. Some days were feeling like the track by Alanis Morissette, “You Learn.” It was somber when I started to think about my childhood friend who passed away earlier this year.
He affected so many people in ways I don’t think he knew. I remember thinking before I heard the news that I wanted to reach out to him and hear about his travels and catch up, but I just brushed it off and thought it would only be a nuisance. I won’t let that happen again. There’s always a reason we have a thought, right? I’ll act on it next time. We never know if or when we will have a chance to talk to someone again. I will always remember him as a bright light, full of adventure, curiosity and rebellion (him and some other friends got me interested in skating culture). I smile when I think of the scar he gave me that’s still on my face. It’s small and near the left side of my lip. He was running around the house with a plastic gun (I had a plastic sword I think?), and I was coming around a corner and didn’t see him, or the gun with a broken piece on the end, and it stabbed me in the lip. It’s one of the best scars I have.
Traveling was amazing, lonely, awe-inspiring, heartbreaking and fun as hell. The pace at the start was breakneck speed. Insane. Stupid fast. Like, for real. Every three or four days, sometimes two days, I would be moving locations, seeing new regions entirely. Like I had only two weeks to “spend.” I was on unlimited time and a limited budget. It’s a real paradigm change. As I learned from other travelers along the way, I found great ways to save money and have free housing (like pet sitting for a month in Belgium at two different locations). I was drinking from a firehose of experience that I craved for a long time. Never have I been overseas. Never have I traveled solo to a new place. I’ve been to Mexico, a lot. Canada a couple of times. Oh man, that Canada trip brings back memories that are similar to Amsterdam. Yeah, not a joke. There was one weird night up there in the frozen tundra and it involved a ping pong ball and a “night worker.” I digress. More on that later I suppose. With all these things, experiences, new people I have met, my eyes were opened to far more than new lands or a 5,000-year-old tree in Scotland – freaking incredible by the way – want go back for sure. It’s like a new level of awareness was revealed. My eyes were opened to how I experience the world, people and places. It was an unvarnished, rip the bandaid off, and figure this shit out experience. And now I’m back.
I’m unsure what’s next other than this feels like the next logical (more importantly, heart centered) step for me. This week, I started going to some meetings that focus on healing ancestry trauma. Yeah, it’s a thing – it was powerful and helpful. I hired a life/business coach and I’m not drinking – those Belgian trappist,monk brewed beers were so good, and the Ugandan Obushera Enturiire made of a sorghum and honey mixture that tasted like a dairy-free milkshake — it was delicious too. I went to a really great networking event today at a local co-working space (COVE) that was sponsored by a local bank and hosted by the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. It was nice to talk to business people again. I felt like I threw myself into situations where I can apply the things I’ve learned. For the longest time, I would just read books and take it for what it was worth in text but never apply much of it or even try to take action on some of the recommendations. It was a little uncomfortable. I need more of that, just like traveling. It stretches us. It mobilizes new ways of being and I’m continuing to follow that rabbit hole. Exploring my creative tendencies (writing, photography) while networking is what’s happening right now and I’m good with that. I’m content. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before. I was always the driven, impatient, achiever, what’s next… do this, do that. Well, that didn’t work out so well – let’s see how this pans out then.
Until next time…
P.S. The overall format and blog appearance will be evolving as I dedicate time and resources to improve it. I also do want to list out a lot of helpful traveling “stuff” I have learned. If you want anything specific, please let me know in the comments and I can prioritize some of those things (depending on the request :-p)