Brazil, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Reflecting on our Year

This is a blog post I have been putting off.  I started it while we were still away.  I’ve looked at it and thought about it numerous times over the last few months since we’ve been home.  Something in me just didn’t want to complete it.  After spending some time reflecting on this I realized I was subconsciously not wanting to end my year without heels.  I have so much to say about what I have learned that I can’t figure out how to say it.  If I publish this post does that mean I’m done with my year without heels?  If I publish this post does that mean I am done writing and reflecting on my experiences living, learning, traveling, and exploring?

We’ve been back for over 3 months now.  I am still reflecting on what an incredible year I had, full of rich learning and exploration, lots of time for introspection and practice.  I am still integrating and processing this experience.  When regular routines are disrupted it offers different perspectives and time for reflection and contemplation.  Through this adventure I learned about the true power of the present moment.

I learned about love, kindness, and compassion. I learned about humanity and humility. I learned about the value of friendship, family, connection, community, and support from others.  The experience for us as a couple was just beyond words.  I learned more about David, myself, us, about life, exploring what it means to be content and happy.  How important it is to continue to grow and to be more comfortable with myself.  Exploring the inner self.

There were endless surprises and we had no choice but to constantly adapt.  Long term traveling has its fair share of challenges.  With each challenge we learn, we grow, we become more patient, we soften, and we strengthen.  Like our flight we couldn’t board to Ecuador because we didn’t have the yellow fever shot, the taxi that wouldn’t bring us to our hotel the first night in Delhi, the flight we thought we scheduled from Rishikesh to Delhi but apparently never went through and we did’t realize until we tried to check in on line the day prior, food poisoning, infections, feeling sick, all of these experiences helping me to soften, strengthen, and building resilience.  Delays, wrong ways, loud noises day and night, these things can help you to be more adaptable.  I think we might be a little more flexible in the mind and gained even more skill to “go with the flow”.

I experienced deeper trust through vulnerability and taking risks. There were many times when we were dependent on others because we couldn’t speak the language or we didn’t know where we were. We had to rely on others.  We said yes as much as we could, taking risks, like to offers to eat at someones home or opportunities to join with locals.   We didn’t have the ability to be choosy or picky at times.  Sometimes you just get what’s available.

Constantly seeing people who share joy, smiles, and offer nearly anything they own selflessly to you – it’s so humbling.  It appears they have so little materially but I quickly became aware of how much people can have inside.  These moments and interactions will stay with me.

I learned to see and think in different ways, practicing and feeling what Ram Dass says, โ€œWe donโ€™t necessarily see things as they are we see them as we are.โ€ We all have cultural norms.  Sometimes we don’t question things that we learn from a young age, you just grow up around these cultural norms not realizing that’s what they are.  How you are raised and your culture makes things seem normal and potentially the right way or the only way.  What and how we eat, what we wear, how we think, and what we choose to see.  What is outside of our perception? Having to think in different ways opened me up to greater flexibility and creativity.

I am looking forward to continued learning and growth.  I really like the idea of more “slow walks and frequent talks” here in NH but….. that might be more enjoyable come spring.  I have already noticed a different lens from which I can choose to see and experience life here at home.  I have a finer appreciation for the small things.  I am noticing things that I might not have previously.  The brief interactions with strangers – who knew the T in Boston was full of friendly helpful strangers with beautiful smiles?!

I have so much more to say about what I have learned or unlearned.  If I publish this post does that mean I’m done with my year without heels?  NOPE! If I publish this post does that mean I am done writing and reflecting on my experiences living, learning, traveling, and exploring?  No way!  ๐Ÿ˜‰