My greatest adventure yet

They say time changes things, and life marches on in spite of those changes. To keep up, you have to adapt and change right along with it. I’ve had lots of instances in my life where I’ve had to do just that, adapt. A lifetime of travel and study could not have prepared me for the adventure I began two and a half months ago. Our beautiful daughter was born, and our whole world changed.  My husband and I, the couple who had it all together in terms of commitment and partnership, suddenly felt like we had only just begun, and the feelings of inadequacy rushed in. Late nights, early mornings, the confusion, worry, and overall feelings of those moments with a newborn left us feeling disheveled and uncertain. 

Were we doing things right? Is she healthy? Was she okay? Are we going to make it through this? All parents feel these things, but for us, as older, more underprepared parents, we felt like it was just wrong. The rawness of nerves and emotion are scary. The kindness of family, friends, and in some instances, strangers, slowly showed us that this newborn phase was temporary, and that we were in fact, doing everything just fine. Fast forward a few short months, she’s thriving, and loving, and our lives are that much more enriched by her curiosity and wonder. 

Her birth has made me contemplate many things, but one that has been resonating recently is that I have always been a wanderer…not lost, but seeking my true self, and an outlet for my creativity. In that wandering, I’ve often felt out of place and different. Over the years, I have finally figured out that true happiness comes from living in joy with what you are given, and sharing your talents with the world. 

Even with all that confidence, sometimes that negativity can creep back in. Just a few days ago, I found myself in that place of comparison to other women. They seemed more put together…their lives, their clothes, their bodies, and those feelings of not being good enough flooded back through me. But then, I looked in my daughter’s eyes and realized, I simply can’t do that. I can’t show her the viciousness that being a woman can bring, and the feelings of inadequacy that we as women can feel about ourselves. She needs to know that we are all good enough, we are all strong, and that if we surround ourselves with the right women, we become our best allies. 

And, honestly, despite this recent bout of comparison,  in the last few years, I really felt I had found my place. I have had the amazing opportunities to travel, a partner to share life with, and a job that brought me joy. My daughter will be my greatest adventure, and my greatest contribution to our world, because she combines all of those things that gives true happiness. She brings joy, and I will share life with her, using my talents and abilities to do so. I have found my true north, my compass, and my reason for being. I can’t wait to show her everything, take her everywhere, and share this beautiful, wonderful world with her. 

The greatest part of this particular adventure, is that it has only just begun. 

“The mountains are calling…”

…and I must go.” – John Muir

I must go. I must breathe in the crisp mountain air. I must listen to the roaring stream as it flows over rocks. I must see the snow-capped peaks rising above me. I must hear the rush of wind through the pine trees. I must feel the calmness of nature envelope me in its embrace. After just a few minutes of being in the mountains, my soul is nourished with a sense of renewal. 

  Photo credit: @wander_lust_girl

My husband and I camped in the Rockies a few weeks ago. Camping may not seem like a relaxing getaway for some, but for us, it is unlike anything else. Camping is not for everyone, and outside of childhood, I had not done much of it until recently. I’m proud to say that I am slowly getting the hang of it as an adult. In the same view from a camp chair, I could look at the glow of a campfire and Longs Peak, which still had remnants of snow from the winter before. There aren’t many views that can rival that. 

What I feel is the most special about a mountain getaway, is the break from reality. In our connected, fast-paced world, our lives move rapidly to the next event. It is difficult to really savor the moments happening all around you. In the mountains, there were moments of peace, and moments of disconnect. No access to social media, no wonder of what someone else was up to, only what we were doing. It truly  doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, does it? It’s much simpler to focus on your home and family. That’s what matters. I brought that home with me from the mountains this time. I’m going to disconnect from distractions and focus on what truly matters more frequently. Hopefully this will help to renew my soul at home. I do know that regardless, the mountains will still call, and I still must go. 

  Photo credit: @wander_lust_girl

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10 Things Ireland Taught Me

  I just want to start out by saying that everything you’ve heard about Ireland is true. They aren’t just marketing ploys to get you there, they are real. It is that gorgeous, and the people are that friendly. Here are a few more things Ireland taught me about myself, and traveling in general. 

1. Irish charm is real.

I even experienced it in the quintessential way, in a pub, under glowing lights, with a traditional Irish ballad playing in the background. The young Irishman and his duet partner had just finished their set of songs, and were packing up to leave. They had a small sampling of CDs for sale, and I walked up to purchase one. His partner took my money, and thanked me for my compliments of their music. All the young Irishman said while looking into my eyes was, “you are truly beautiful.” I was taken aback, with a million cynical thoughts running through my mind. Even though I am married, I was flattered. 

2. Irish music is as good as its reputation.

You will hear Irish music piped into every gift shop, airport terminal, and hotel lobby. You will find yourself humming and even singing along with it after a short time. To truly experience the wonder of Irish music, however, you can’t listen to a CD. You have to hear it live, with an artist that can also tell a good story along with it. There are so many options when it comes to finding live music, and so many talented musicians and vocalists. One of my favorite things about my trip to Ireland was listening to live music just about every evening.

3. Getting off the beaten path is the best kind of travel.

We learned this when we jumped off the highway and drove a small one-lane road that quickly turned into a path. At the end of that path was one of the most beautiful sights we saw in Ireland. Two perfectly formed high crosses. Such remarkable works of art and craftsmanship, in pristine condition, and not readily visited by the masses. I’m so glad we ventured down that lesser-traveled path. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment in navigating those unknown roads, and witnessing such an amazing work of art humbled me. I believe those travel moments are the ones to cherish. You, in solitude with a wonder of the world.

4. Road rage can be nonexistent.

Even though I drove slowly, rushed across lanes of traffic, and generally broke most travel laws (in an effort to find my way around), road rage from myself and other drivers was virtually nonexistent. The man that rushed out of an alley and almost collided with my little rental car only smiled and waved apologetically. I didn’t hear angry honking or see any rude gestures, either. It made the stress of driving in a foreign country easier to handle.

5. Castles can be a part of everyday life.

In Ireland, you see castles everywhere. They aren’t all in perfect condition with towering turrets and moats, but their stoic stone walls tower over their surroundings all the same. Most are ruins and left to weather in sheep pastures, which is an amazing sight to see. I believe what reached out to me the most was the sense of history and legend that was present around every bend in the road. You could look out and see how the stone tower was built to defend itself from enemy raids, utilizing the environment around it for protection. The juxtaposition of modern life with stone walls and tower ruins was something spectacular to witness. 

6. Facing fears = making memories.

Two things: driving in a foreign country and heights. Both of these fears were faced on this trip, and both were overcome. You can read more about my fear of heights here, and read about my driving experience here.

7. Irish hospitality is genuine.

Even though you hear often about how welcoming Ireland can be, I was not expecting fanfare upon my arrival. We had been in the country for a grand total of 15 minutes, and had already met three people. Each one of them asked us how we were, and welcomed us to Ireland. It was such a nice feeling. Each bed and breakfast had the same easy, warm feeling. Whether it was help with mapping out our route, welcoming us in with a cup of tea, or recommendations for a restaurant, we always received kindness and hospitality.

8. I’m a thrill-seeker, apparently.

I experienced many thrills on my trip to Ireland…driving on the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road, all while on small, winding roads…laying upside down on top of a castle to kiss a stone, and even standing on cliffs overlooking a rough, choppy sea to get the perfect photo. They may not seem all that dangerous or death-defying, but they were definitely out of my comfort zone. All of these experiences were thrilling, and resulted in the trip of lifetime.

9. Sheep will cross the road in front of you.

  

10. It really is the “greenest green you’ve ever seen.”

So many shades of green across rolling lush fields. No Instagram filter needed…the natural light and color flood your senses. I’ve never seen anything more naturally beautiful. 

Did Ireland teach you anything? Would you like to visit? What’s your favorite thing about Ireland?

“The Happy Wanderer”

The daily prompt today got me thinking…it asked some interesting travel questions: “What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?”

I’ve been fortunate to travel both ways, and I have to say, there is just something special about not having a plan…maybe it’s because in my daily life, I live by a plan, with entire days mapped out, but when it comes to travel, I love the feeling of waking up without a plan, or care, in the world. My husband is actually the one that got me traveling without a plan, and our first major trip together was amazing. We just woke up, lazily ate breakfast, and headed out to explore. Wherever the day took us, is what we did. Now, I must say that traveling without a plan is not really possible unless you have visited the area, so I don’t recommend it if you’ve never been to a destination before. If you get the chance, travel without worries and plans. Let wanderlust take over, and let the atmosphere, scenery, and culture be your guide. You’ll be opening yourself up to some amazing experiences, and unforgettable moments.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/daily-prompt-the-happy-wanderer/

Kissing the Blarney Stone

A special memory…

wanderlust girl

Anyone that knows me at all, knows that I am deathly afraid of heights. I get dizzy and scared just standing on a chair sometimes. I don’t know where this fear came from, because as a kid, I really didn’t have a problem. It makes me sad sometimes, because the best views and experiences are quite high in the air. I haven’t let it get the best of me, and still force myself to make that trip up, if the view is worth it. This summer, I visited Blarney Castle in Ireland.

blarney 1

Now, the castle is not one to just look at, as most visitors are there to do one thing…kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend states that if you kiss the stone you will be granted the “gift of gab,” or, a great speaking ability. It’s one of those experiences you just can’t miss out on if you’re physically able…

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Growing older with grace…

I struggle sometimes. Don’t we all? I struggle with the life I had when I was young, and the life I have now. Sometimes I want to return to that simpler time. I look around me at young people so desperate to grow older, and think, “Stop!” “You don’t know what you’re wishing for!” I wish I could stop time. It’s not that I’m vain, and don’t like the aging process, it’s just that I feel as if I’m only good at being young. Young is what I know, it’s what I understand. I’m the youngest in my family, and as I get older, I just see my family getting older, and that’s something I’m not ready for. With my birthday just passing, I realize how much I’ve learned and experienced, and only hope to bask in the moments with loved ones, and not fixate on how fast time is slipping by.

Reflecting to relax…

I have been stressed and frustrated lately. Everything has hit at once, and I’m reaching a threshold that I’m not used to. Life does that to us all sometimes. What makes the difference is how we handle it. I confess I’m not the best at it, I’m actually probably one of the worst. I’m slowing getting better though. A few weeks ago I was preparing a video for a family member’s birthday and looking at old footage. I stumbled across a video from the first trip my husband and I ever took together to London. We sat down and watched it, and I could feel the tension subsiding. It was a happy time. We were being silly, but seeing our carefree attitudes was refreshing. It made me think…why can’t we live life that way all the time? It’s simple, because “life” gets in the way. Our responsibilities weigh us down, and make us too serious. We have to work to live, and sometimes working is just not what we want to do, even if it’s something we love. So then I started thinking about how to inject that happiness into everyday life, and then I realized, reflecting on memories is what got me thinking, so maybe that’s it. Now, maybe that’s it for me…I understand that it may not be enough for others. I’m willing to start trying, however. The next time I’m exhausted and ready to just quit it all, and unable to travel away, I’m going to reflect back on happier memories and travels. I’m going to flip back through my travel journals, and photos, and souvenir boxes, and hopefully gain some peace of mind. I hope you do, too.