This time, it is aging (I celebrated my 54th birthday this month) and an ancient city in Portugal that inspired me to share my thoughts about politics, travel, and hope
A new year is ripe with potential: 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds to choose differently, to perceive differently, to BE different.
And, whether it's optimistic or delusional, I enjoy the act of creating new year resolutions.
It’s Thanksgiving in the United States today and I’m spending it in Peru with my husband Hank and an international gang of expats and Peruvians while feeling grateful for the random and unexpected path that led us here.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Here are 8 Pinterest quotes to help inspire the day.
It’s a compelling question: If I only had a few weeks to live, where would I go?
Would I drop everything and head off on a thrilling round-the-world Bucket List adventure?
Would I would stay right where I am, in a temporary house in Mexico?
Would I return ‘home” to the landscape of my childhood?
Who has time to think about the meaning of life, happiness and fulfillment when there are iPads, Facebook and jobs to fill the days? These are big concepts. Deep questions. Topics that for much of my life I rarely contemplated.
Like most people of the world, I was busy doing my best to hang on and enjoy the ride as life whizzed by. I’d been raised to view life and its certain pains and pleasures, struggles and triumphs, beginnings and endings as something to endure with grace. So I tried to be a good sport, to stifle anxiety and confusion with the usual American distractions: working hard, trying to appear normal and going to the gym.
The miracle is that despite a formidable capacity for denial and great gaps in knowledge of myself and the world around me, important questions still accumulated: Who am I? Where do I find meaning? What is my purpose?
So now, with streaks of gray in my blonde hair and fifty years on this planet, these are questions I’m finally getting around to asking. And the answers are not what I expected.
I’ve learned a lot from travel and living abroad. I’ve learned about my own ignorance, arrogance, and resistance, but also about kindness and compassion.
One of the most liberating lessons of being a foreigner, however, has been learning to love the feeling of anonymity that comes from hanging out in places where no one knows me.
Sure, there are times when being away from home feels lonely or frustrating. When, for example, I crave the company of a cherished friend or advisor. Or when an unfamiliar language prevents me from connecting at a deeper level. But mostly it feels like freedom.
As a traveler, by the very nature of my foreignness I am granted a reprieve from constricting social norms. And as a visitor, I am free (even expected) to spend my days playing.
There’s a quote by author William Watson Purkey that has made its way into the public lexicon: “dance like there’s nobody watching.” When I travel I get to live like there’s nobody watching.
Strangers don’t care that my Spanish isn’t perfect, that I’m curvy instead of slim, or that I’ve reached middle age without amassing a fortune. Or if they do, I’m blissfully immune to their disapproval. I don’t know them, they don’t know me. There’s no need to impress, no requirement to conform.
I don’t consider myself a rebel. Rebels are brave and bold. They fight for social justice, world peace and environmental awareness. Rebels protest, raise money, build schools, and produce meaningful documentaries. They are charismatic leaders who make the world a better place.
Me? It’s all I can do to love and be loved; to live with courage in a world of fear.
Sure, I’ve done some brave things in my life, but this might be the boldest yet. At the age of 49, I am learning self-acceptance.
I opened my email this morning in Mexico to a blog article written by a self-described ‘award-winning’ travel writer whining about how ‘good writing’ was largely absent in travel blogs.
Next, I read a piece by a personal finance writer challenging professional travel bloggers to publish their financials and provide ‘real numbers’ for how they budget for their future, because at a certain point “they’ll have to resume a ‘normal’ life, right?.”
I’d bristled reading both and my prickly reactions prompted me to stop and think about why.