Night Boat

The Beauty Remains

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel to faraway lands to have the mind and heart-opening experiences that travel is often lauded for.

You can have them no matter where you’re currently laying your head at night, even if you happen to call that place “home.”

But what tends to happen after a long trip or a few years of living abroad is that we simply fall back into life as we knew it before our great travel adventure.

We pick right back up with our old habits; we choose the comfortable over the uncomfortable and the known over the unknown.

Colourful

The magic of travel is that it drives us headfirst into situations that cause us to grow. We’re often uncomfortable, and we’re almost always faced with the unknown.

At home, things are different; we have to actively seek out these situations if we want our personal growth to continue at the same rate we experienced while traveling.

Because at home, we’re surrounded by the familiar. But as long as we’re willing to look for it, that magic we feel when we’re ensconced in a life of travel? It’s always there, just waiting to be discovered.

Home is only familiar if we let it be. If we maintain the same mindset we adopt while traveling and push ourselves beyond the bounds of our comfort, we can discover that very same magic no matter where we are.

We can continue deepening our understanding of the world and blossoming into the people we’re meant to be.

We can stave off that dreaded boredom and begin to redefine wanderlust by discovering the world with our feet planted firmly on the ground.

With diligent practice, we can retrain our eyes to see magic everywhere we go.

Vegetables

TRAVELERS ARE OPEN TO TRYING NEW THINGS.

Whenever you’re in a faraway land, trying new things seems like a no-brainer.

Eat these deep-fried crickets? Sure! Go biking at full speed down a huge mountain? Why not! Sample this spiky, smelly fruit you’ve never seen before? But of course!

And yet, this same eagerness to experience the new and foreign has a tendency to wane when you’re in a place that seems familiar, despite plentiful opportunities.

To maintain that curiosity and willingness to expand your horizons is the first step toward feeling the magic of travel no matter where you are.

So try a new recipe, complete a hike you’ve never completed, and visit that new funky shop that just opened up in town. You never know what you’ll find or what you’ll learn about yourself in the process.

Leaf Hat

TRAVELERS SAY YES TO EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

If your life at home feels boring, there’s a good chance you are overlooking great opportunities without even realizing it.

Perhaps an old friend you haven’t seen in years wants to catch up over coffee. Maybe a new yoga class was just added to the schedule at your gym, but you’re afraid to go alone. Perhaps there’s live music at your local coffee shop that you’ve always wanted to go see, but you’ve never made the time.

It’s not that you have any good reason to avoid these experiences, it’s just easier – or more comfortable, rather – to say no.

These may seem like inconsequential events that there’s no harm in missing, but you never know what you might discover or who you might meet along the way.

Life won’t happen to you; you must go out and grab it. You have to be willing to say yes.

Not long ago, I agreed to attend a party where the only people I knew were the hosts. The drive to get there was pretty long, as well. It would have been quite easy to say no and blame it on one thing or another; maybe I was suddenly tired that day or I had work that I needed to finish, or any other excuse in the book. I’m so glad I didn’t.

What I found upon arrival was a houseful of welcoming people, and like-minded though we were in many ways, every conversation I engaged in imparted me with something valuable. Life-changing book recommendations, tough questions that caused me to think in new ways, and the unveiling of things I knew in my heart but had never before said aloud.

Get into the habit of saying yes more often than you say no when unexpected opportunities arise, and I think you’ll find that even more such opportunities begin to present themselves as a result.

Travel

TRAVELERS NOTICE THE DETAILS.

When was the last time you stopped and looked around you in a place that felt intimately familiar? I mean really looked around, taking in the minute details most people so casually and consistently overlook?

Do you know what colour the walls are in your favourite restaurant? How are they decorated? Is there music playing? If so, what kind and at what volume?

Do you know the colour of your friend’s eyes or whether they take milk in their coffee? Do they have dimples? Do the corners of their eyes crinkle when they smile?

Just the other day, I caught myself admiring dust particles as they danced through the air, suspended in the beams of late afternoon sunlight that poured into the room. It was hardly the first time I’d witnessed this phenomenon, but it was likely the first time I’d paid it much attention.

These particles drifted so slowly, so gracefully, each one on its own unique path. The way the light reflected off of them made them shine like tiny suns, burning brightly in their own little universe.

It was a perfect, magical moment shrouded in calm and a profound feeling of presence. I couldn’t help but smile at the heartfelt joy I experienced upon noticing such a commonplace thing whose beauty I suddenly could not ignore.

It is this appreciation of the everyday occurrences we take for granted, this ability to see beauty in things not considered conventionally beautiful, that helps us develop mindfulness and gratitude anytime, anywhere.

To practice noticing the details in your own life, here is something you can try today: Watch the sunset this evening and describe the experience in vivid detail.  Notice as the colours change from minute to minute; notice whether you see any clouds or birds or if you feel the temperature changing. Have the stars come out yet?

TRAVELERS LEARN BY DOING.

When you’re in a foreign country and you need to get from point A to point B, there’s no time to hesitate just because you’re not quite sure how to do it. You just show up at the bus station and hope for the best.

It almost always works out the way you want it to, and if it doesn’t, well, you’ve learned a lesson and now you have a great story to tell.

When I’m navigating a new city’s public transit system for the first time, I almost always take it in the wrong direction at least once. I’m not kidding. I’ve done it in USA. France. Taiwan. Vietnam.

Of course, I always figure it out eventually. When learning by doing, there are bound to be some mistakes – but I’m still learning faster than those who are too scared to try.

In reality, this method of figuring things out as you go will help you in all areas of your life. You’ll rarely know ahead of time how to achieve your goals, but that hardly means you shouldn’t try anyway.

Green Water

TRAVELERS GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO MEET NEW PEOPLE.

The experiences that we have while traveling are certainly wonderful, but it’s the people we meet and the interactions we share with them that are often what we remember years down the road.

It’s impossible to really understand a new place without understanding its people and what makes them tick. In my opinion, interacting with locals is the most important part of travel.

It’s what teaches us new perspectives and forces us out of tired old ways of thinking. It’s how we learn compassion for those who are different from us.

The very same thing is true at home. How well do you really know the people in your home city? How well do you really know your neighbour?

How often do you engage in conversations with people whose opinions differ from your own, or who have had vastly different experiences?

You are guaranteed to learn, grow, and gain new perspectives by talking to people while you’re at home, just as you would while traveling.

And there’s no need to be selective, everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has something to teach us.

So the next time a stranger strikes up a conversation with you, make it a point to engage with them rather than retreat. For the introverts among us, this will feel particularly uncomfortable.

Good. That is precisely the point.
Ocean

Being Here Is Everything

In the moment

Time, it seems, is a prison of our own creation. We are always waiting for something.

Waiting until we are in a new place. Waiting for an opportunity. Waiting for someone. Waiting for change.

Waiting for the next moment, when really, the only moment that ever exists is NOW.

Look around you. See, hear, and feel what is taking place in your surroundings.

Experience this moment.

As I write, my present moment consists of the hum of the refrigerator. The drizzle of rain. The subtle warmth of the sun as it pours through the tiny kitchen windows at this late morning hour.

I see, hear, and feel these things, resisting the urge to label them as “good” or “bad.” They simply are.

In this moment, there is no time. Just presence. Awareness. Appreciation.

The present moment is a gift. Yet we squander it in favour of a non-existent future, or a past that cannot be changed.

So while many things are “imperfect” or not yet in place, this year has been an incredible one full of so many gifts. The scary or frustrating parts won’t be remembered, but they will serve to build character in the now.

How I choose to act in response to unstable times will be what matters in the end.

And so, I have no choice left but to appreciate the here and now. It is part of my path, and it’s teaching me plenty if I open my heart to it. It’s teaching me gratitude. It’s teaching me patience. It is teaching me mindfulness. It is showing me my own resilience.

Writing in a journal while seated at the messy dining room table, wearing my oversized pajamas, will hardly seem glamorous. But why shouldn’t we be allowed to be unglamorous? Why can’t we find glamour in this, the most mundane of moments? It is the now. It is what is, and it is perfect.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I should at least recognize this moment for the privilege that it is. To sit here with a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and the freedom and security to pursue a creative career – I am blessed!

If I am ever ungrateful for the blessed life that I am living, then I don’t deserve to experience it at all. And so we find ourselves back at gratitude.

Gratitude grounds us in the now. It allows us to appreciate what is rather than longing for what could be.
Even if the now feels like it sucks (which it oftentimes will) it is here to be experienced – even cherished. Every moment – whether happy, sad, frustrated, angry, or scared – is part of our path.
Living in the NOW is the only way to free ourselves from the constricts of time. The only way to truly live.

If we can sit quietly for a few minutes each day to reflect on this fact, we’ll always be grateful, and we’ll always be free.

Love

It Just Takes One

What means the most to you in life?

What does it take for everything to be put on hold, without any questions asked.

What if every time we said, “I don’t have time,” we replaced it with the words, “ It’s not my priority.”

How do we prioritize and make time in our lives for what’s important and what isn’t?

No matter how busy or how important something might be to us, there will be certain times in our lives where we will be the closest to heaven we will ever be, until we actually make it there.

When we get to that point the only 3 things that will truly matter is Family, God, and our Health.

Love

We close our eyes when we pray because the most beautiful and powerful things in life are not always seen but can sometimes be felt……

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.Be Kind

I Love You Mommy

Happy Mother’s Day

Flower Border

Happy Mother’s Day!

So I know we love them dearly all year round, but today is the day to really show it. Shower her with love and attention, spoil her rotten and of course abide by the number one Mother’s Day rule – she’s off duty and banned from lifting a finger.

Unfortunately, I will not be spending Mother’s Day with Momma this year but fear not she will be thoroughly pampered on my next visit to BC on her birthday.

She’s my best friend, my guardian angel, and one of the strongest women I know. I couldn’t live without her.

Look, she’s forever taking care of me…

Mommy

When I started writing this post, I was thinking about how inspiring and amazing Momma is. She has managed to put up with me for 34 years for a start.

But it got me thinking about all the incredible things she’s achieved – raising four children, working hard every single day, living in another country that isn’t the one she grew up in, caring for her own Mom, who is a world away when she became unwell and still being one of the most selfless people I know. She will move mountains for me, my siblings and her grandkids. In fact, she’ll try to move mountains for just about anybody.

We have also just celebrated International Women’s Day, which, at its heart, is about celebrating the achievements of women, past and present, from all around the world. It’s about praising those women who have broken through boundaries, inspired younger generations and given others a voice.

For me, my Mother is my strength, inspiration and support. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started this blogging adventure. During the times when I have stopped believing in myself, she has unlocked my strength within and encouraged me to keep on going.

Today we celebrate Mothers. But it’s equally important for us to celebrate ourselves.

Whoever you are, wherever you are reading this – you are capable of incredible things.

We can achieve anything we put our minds to. So, let’s continue to break through glass ceilings, chart new adventures, dream big dreams and lift each other. Because when we lift each other, we rise together.

And in the moments of doubt and uncertainty (which are bound to happen), our Mothers will always be there believing in us.

Mommy

Momma, I want to Thank You for helping me to grow into the strong woman I am today and for always having belief in my dreams. I am always thinking of you. Your encouragement on all of my endeavors is all that I hope for and my main goal in life is to make you and Dad proud.

We have been to hell and back and I can never repay you for everything you have done for me. You mean more to me than everything in the world.

When I grow up, I want to be like you – kind, beautiful, strong, wise and just pure awesome.

I LOVE YOU AND I CHERISH YOU MOMMY.

BIG BEARS HUGS, ALWAYS.

And BIG bear hugs to all Moms! I hope you enjoy a glass of Prosecco or two.

Have a cherished Mother’s Day!

New Friends

The World Is A Big Place

Beautiful

People often say that traveling alone is the best way to travel and I wholeheartedly agree. Not only do you have time to get to know yourself better, but you will also be forced to meet other people. Being abroad and having that sense of anonymity is surreal, and it is definitely an experience that everybody should have. I probably had the deepest moments of self-introspection during the few weeks that I traveled alone.

Heaven On Earth

You don’t need to be rich to travel. There are so many people who make excuses from fulfilling their life dreams due to fiscal reasons. However I am a true believer in that if you want something badly enough, you will make it happen.

Paddle Boarding

Don’t be afraid. This is what prevents most people from traveling in the first place. There are a million “what if’s” that cross a person’s mind before deciding to travel. “What if I run out of money?” “What if I get mugged?” “What if I don’t enjoy traveling?” All of these concerns may be legitimate to a certain degree, but most of the terrible stuff you hear happening to travelers are over-blown by the media anyways. Embrace your courage and explore!

Wander

Take the path off the beaten road. Sure the traditional landmarks may be nice and all, but the most beautiful things that I experienced were not the touristy places, but rather those hidden gems that you fall upon in a moment of serendipity. So do not always feel obliged to see what is popular, but just let your curiosity lead you down mysterious alleys, over gracious bridges, and through unexplored tunnels. Relive the child in yourself.

Views

Flying via Ryanair is one of the best ways to travel through Europe. If you book flights early enough, you could go on flights from Paris to Rome for $3.00 (including tax and misc. costs). How the heck do you do this? Well first of all, these seats are special promotion deals and the times that they offer are very limited (super early in the morning, or super late at night). Furthermore, if you are limited in terms of what you can bring (only one carry-on baggage, and it costs extra to bring luggage as well). They bombard you with advertising before, during, and after your flight. But with a little bit of planning, you could seriously have your transportation within Europe for nearly nothing. And it’s so worth it!

Sunset

Living Simple Is Simply The Best

One of the greatest things I’ve learned from travelling is that most people want the same things in life. They want to be happy and healthy, and they want their families and friends to be happy and healthy, too. We all work and laugh and love. We all bleed the same blood. And the truth is, despite the endless barrage of bad news in the media, most people around the world are good. Most people will help you out if you’re in a bind, and most will go out of their way to do so. I’ve met people from all walks of life who have opened up their doors to me (or their arms, or their bottles of vodka, or whatever it is that I needed at that moment in time). While not every single experience I’ve had has been peaches and cream, for the most part the human race helps itself out, and I love that about us.

TraditionsThis photo makes me smile. New friends from all over the world wearing traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai with matching head piece and conical leaf hat.   Dog Lover“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner” ~Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Good Eats And Beautiful People

“For Vietnamese people, food is our life; we are forever eating, cooking and talking about food. Food is communication – food is culture” 

Vietnamese FoodSome of the best hidden gems are tucked away in the alley ways – don’t judge based on looks, as they are forever deceiving.

Banh MiBanh Mi on the streets of Vietnam. I have eaten these every day sometimes twice a day, always with different ingredients and always just as good as the last!

Banh CuonThis is one of my all time favourite Vietnamese dishes – Banh Cuon! Enjoying all the street foods Vietnam has to offer.

VietnamMy kind of place…cooking a nice meal for the ones I love and for new friends I’ve grown to adore.

VietnamQuoc starting his work day at his Banh Mi Bakery at 3:00am every single day.

Cafe Sua DaCa Phe Trung – Vietnamese Coffee With Vanilla Egg Custard.

Vietnam EatsSweet Lady enjoying her breakfast.

VietnamIsn’t he just the cutest – so precious!

Food Making99 years old and still making Banh. I want to be just like this beautiful woman when I’m 99…

Colourful Beach

Livin’ And Lovin’ Life

Door

The key to every door lies within you

Everybody is on their own path. There is no right or wrong way to travel, and everyone has their own reasons for choosing the path they end up on. While we were motorbiking through Southern Vietnam, some people were enjoying a luxury Mekong River cruise. There is nothing wrong with that. You do not have to backpack across the Congo to truly experience the world or be the next Indiana Jones to ‘live life to the fullest’. You just need an open mind and open heart. Accept everyone for who they are.

Beach

A smile is the same in any language. It doesn’t matter if no common language exists between people – a smile means the same in any culture. It is amazing how far a smile can really take you in any part of the world. We’ve made entire friendships with people we cannot communicate with simply by smiling and laughing a lot. There really is a universal language in this world, and it doesn’t take a lot to learn it.

Beach

I never want to stop traveling…for as long as I live.