The never ending gift of travel

img_1453

As I sit here day dreaming about the next destination on my bucket list (Thailand), I can’t help but think back to the places I’ve been so far, and how they keep making me smile. Travel (in the broad sense) is such a fountain of never ending joy – from the moment you even think about going somewhere, through all the excitement of planning, to the actual adventure itself. What you rarely hear about though is the post-travel smiles, as we are inclined to focus more on the reality of back-to-work blues. Just recently I’ve discovered a whole bag of beautiful hand made items I bought in my travels to South Africa about 11 years ago, still in perfect condition. Putting them out on display in my room has been a lovely walk down memory lane, not to mention a colourful addition to my collection.

Something I tend to do after I’ve been somewhere of significance (for example the Bali Bombings memorial in Kuta), is go and read everything I can about it afterwards. You’d think that would be the smart thing to do before visiting a destination, but for me the real significance of a place doesn’t hit me until I’m living in the moment, staring it in the face. The complete sensory overload you feel when visiting somewhere iconic (whether that be a place of beauty or sadness), can leave you either awe-struck or overwhelmed. Whatever the case may be, I think it’s incredibly important to see as many places of significance in the world as humanly possible. Viewing life through the screen of a TV or mobile isn’t living, it’s simply cutting yourself short from engaging with other cultures, people and experiences that will make your own life richer.

I’ve been pretty fortunate to visit some incredible places so far, from China, Singapore and Hawaii through to Indonesia, California and Vegas. Some of my standout memories and items to put on your own bucket lists would include:

  • The Great Wall of China
  • Kruger National Park in South Africa
  • The Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa
  • Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)
  • San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego (California)
  • Pearl Harbour, Hawaii
  • The Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaiian Islands)

So here’s to turning day dreams into reality, working hard so you can play hard, and not letting life pass you by from the comfort of your couch. Catch me in the Emerald Cave in Thailand!

Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not things to show.

img_1445

Sometimes, a dose of normalcy is just what the doctor ordered.

img_0686

I’m sitting here smiling with contentment tonight, having had a very simple, non-eventful day. No appointments, nowhere to be, and nothing in particular to do. How extremely boring! How exceedingly ordinary! Damn straight, and you know what? I absolutely LOVED it. In fact, sometimes all we need in life to re-group and just breathe for a minute is a day off. 24 hours away from the routine of work, meetings, appointments and people you’d rather not be stranded on a desert island with… you get the picture. So what does a dose of normalcy involve? Well everyone’s idea of a normal day is obviously different, but for a lot of us I imagine it involves simple things like cooking, doing laundry, walking the dog and eating dinner at a reasonable hour. So as I sit here paying respect to my annual viewing of the wonderful Love Actually, I can’t help but smile.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t get that craving to go off somewhere exotic like Ibiza and spend my nights partying till dawn, fuelling my body with all sorts of chemicals and making one-night memories with perfect strangers. It’s like I’ve skipped that stage and gone straight to wanting a comfortable lifestyle that involves fresh sheets, cups of tea and long walks on the beach. Does this make me boring? Don’t get me wrong, I lived the quintessential University lifestyle in my early 20’s. I did the share-housing, the packets of cheap pasta and even cheaper wine. I did the binge TV watching, the shitty parties and nights that ended in kebabs in the gutter. But at some point I realised that I was living a complete lie. Everything that my friends and I were doing at the time seemed at complete odds with what I really wanted, and it was time to stop apologising for that. Perhaps it comes from growing up under the roof of my Nana and Pop’s, but needless to say – I’ve come to an age where doing what I want is a breathe of fresh air.

If only the beauty of hindsight could benefit us at the time where we most need it, a lot of us wouldn’t waste so much time trying to please others. I remember the nights where all I wanted to do was light a candle and listen to some music, but my friends would beg me to come out. Having said that though, I most definitely don’t regret a thing about coming to know myself. We have to go through those phases of young adulthood to understand ourselves, figure out our values in life and what actually makes us happy. I think the most important thing to take away from any experience or phase in life, is to simply treat it as a learning curve. It’s about the journey – not the destination, and finding that perfect balance can be the sweetest, most satisfying thing we ever realise.

img_0564

Trying to understand people is impossible.

 

IMG_4484

If you, like me, have wasted countless hours of your life trying to understand why someone has acted in the way that they have, then you aren’t alone. I’ve spent days analysing situations, messages, emails, behaviours – you name it. Simply trying to understand why someone has said this or done that, drives me absolutely insane. It’s something that I’ve really struggled with my whole life, just trying to connect all the dots and make sense of peoples decisions. The truth is though – nobody can ever really understand how people think, or someone’s entire life of experiences that add up to them choosing to act one way instead of another.

There are hundreds of variables influencing people at every moment of the day, each of them firing away at rapid speed without us even being aware. From little decisions like choosing what to have for lunch, to big decisions like applying for jobs and moving house, we all come to our conclusions after a series of elements like past experiences, friends and families opinions, media influences, emotions and a million other things come into play. How could we ever possibly aim to understand people if this is the case? We can’t, and that’s something I need to accept before I waste any more time trying.

One of my big ones was people who are always late. ALWAYS late. WHYYYY ? I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just plan their day around the time they KNEW they had to be somewhere, to ensure they had enough time to get there etc etc. Didn’t they feel guilty for making other people wait? I know I feel absolutely panicked and sick when I (rarely) keep someone waiting, and apologise profusely for doing so. But nope, some people just breeze on in at any time they like without seeming to care. I still don’t understand it, but it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I have a little more life experience to appreciate that everyone is different, and that I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of their day. They’ll get there when they get there, and I can be a little more forgiving (as long as it’s not something super important like a wedding – though this one remains to be seen).

Assuming that people will want to do certain activities with you, or that they are free at the same times as you is also a big mood-killer. SO many times in my life I’ve planned things in my head with certain people, to be left disappointed and lonely when they’ve low and behold got other plans or simply don’t feel like doing the same thing as me. This one is something I still struggle with, and it’s completely self-induced. Nobody is a mind reader – the other person in my planned scenario will usually have no idea that I’ve connected A, B and C to mean that because I’m free on Sunday morning then we can both go out for breakfast followed by a morning stroll. Assuming things about people or how events will unfold is the worst thing you can do, because it is always a recipe for disaster – or at the very least leaves you feeling like a sad control freak.

So take a step back, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.

IMG_4181

Photo credits – depthobsessed & maxfromtax.