travel more. worry less.

Traveling has changed me.

As a child I was fortunate enough to go on frequent family vacations. I am forever thankful to my parents for providing me with those opportunities. Together we created memories that will last a life time. Something to look back on and reminisce about.

family1             family2

Although these trips have been special, I believe traveling as a young adult is different. It strengthens you. It allows you to grow and get cultured. It makes you appreciate the little things. And it ultimately defines the rest of your life.

As you know, over the past year and a half I’ve done a bit of traveling to Europe (Finding the Inspiration) to visit my boyfriend. I’ve always been a nervous flyer. I don’t enjoy being on a plane, especially when I’m by myself, surrounded by complete strangers. What am I supposed to do for 7 hours? Who can I talk to? Where do I go when I get off the plane? Will I have enough money? What if I get lost? These thoughts floated around in my head incessantly. Until I decided to let go. I chose to let these worries escape me and learned how to go with the flow (a skill that is difficult to master). It ultimately opened my eyes and changed my attitude into a more care-free, positive, enriched attitude.

travel

I’ve discovered new things about myself that will stay with me throughout my life. Lessons that I’ll be able to hopefully one day share with my children. Ideas and thoughts that I would like to share with you now.

5 things traveling has taught me:

  1. Experiences over Material things. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to shop. But, I’ve learned to recognize my needs vs. my wants. Happiness isn’t about getting those pair of shoes you’ll probably never wear, or that new handbag that is similar to another one you already have in your closet. Happiness is about making memories and embracing new experiences. My travels have taught me to buy experiences, not things.
  2. Taking a break from social media is okay. We have become so dependent on our phones and computers, that we often forget how to live our life free of them. I’ll admit, I’m still learning to master this. But, traveling has taught me to break free from social media and take time to enjoy what I’m doing, in the moment, rather than spending my time showing everyone else what I’m doing.
  3. The best restaurants are hidden away from tourist attractions. If you’re looking for delicious food at an affordable price, avoid the high traffic tourist areas. Yes, it might be nice to sit under the Eiffel Tower for dinner, but you’ll pay the price for it and it probably won’t be the greatest food. In my opinion, I got more joy out of stumbling upon a small, quaint restaurant down a cobblestone alley than going to a fancy, extravagant lounge.
  4. Step out of your comfort zone. Meet new people. Try different foods. Speak the language. Be adventurous. Say yes. In our lives, we often get scared of trying new things. But, I’ve come to learn that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. This March, Justin and I are traveling around Switzerland and we decided to go paragliding during our time in Interlaken. I’m terrified. But I know it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
  5. Appreciate the beauty. Breathe in the culture and nature while you’re visiting a new place. Sometimes you have to put your camera down and just enjoy where you are, who you’re with and what you’re looking at. Let it sink in and envelop you. Because that is what you’ll carry with you forever.

I’m sure as a take flight and explore new destinations, I’ll add more lessons to this list. I look forward to exploring and experiencing life the best way I know possible.

a journey of grief

I wish I could sit here and say that it was a grey and miserable day. But, it wasn’t. It was sunny and beautiful outside. The beginning of what I thought would be the best summer of my life. Instead, it was the day that would change me, forever.

I decided it was the perfect morning to go for a run along the beach. My boyfriend and I were up at his cottage, three hours from home. Out we went, iPhone’s in hand, music playing softly through our earphones. We were about halfway through our 5 kilometer run. As I quickly changed to the next song, I realized that my music was being interrupted by an unfamiliar jingle that was my ringer. I looked down to see that my Mum was trying to reach me. I answered the phone call, a little out of breath, explaining to my Mum that we were just out for a run. She told me the news.

My sister, who was 34 weeks pregnant, had an episode during the night and was rushed to hospital in the morning. There was no fetal heartbeat. As my Mum told me the news, it was as if everyone surrounding me was moving in super speed and I was stuck, in this slow motion nightmare that was consuming me. I talked to my sister briefly on the phone. As she sobbed, I sobbed. Both of us were completely and utterly heartbroken. We later found out that my sister was having a baby girl. Isla Alexandra Claire. My first and only niece.

Nearly 3 months since the loss of Isla, my family and I still grieve. It comes in waves. Some days, I feel better than others. But then it hits me. I won’t get to be the kind of aunt that I was so looking forward to being. Many keep telling me that I’m still an aunt. But it just doesn’t feel the same.

She’s gone.

I never saw the colour of her eyes. I never saw her smile or heard her laugh.

My emotions vary. I feel numb, frustrated, angry, sad, and empty. I try to stay strong, because I know I need to be strong for my family, especially my sister. But some days, I’m tired of pretending to be brave. I’m tired of seeing all the great things going on in other people’s lives around me. Because, for me…My heart now has an Isla-shaped hole that will never be filled. A missing puzzle piece.

So as I mourn for her, I can only hope that Isla is in a safer place, looking over me and my family.

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Isla Alexandra Claire – June 1, 2014