Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Best Souvenir


No postcard, photograph, or knickknack can stand up against the best travel souvenir: personal growth. On my 3-month trip overseas to Australia and New Zealand, I learned a handful of ideas and practices to bring back to my life in the States.

Summary of Lessons Learned:
- Everyone (no matter their age, race, religion) can teach you something...good, bad, or ugly. These lessons then help us understand others and, ultimately, ourselves.
- Take the positive from every experience (and eliminate emotional responses) to help change your perspective for a more enjoyable life.
- Never settle for a mediocre life—you get out of life what you put into it.
- Most people just want to connect with other people—it makes the world a lot less scary and lonely! So reach out to others in any way you can.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway! Don’t let the things that scare you stand in your way of conquering them.

Currently, I'm at the end of my first week back in the States. I chose to ease into it by traveling throughout California first. I wanted to visit my cousin in San Diego and friends in Los Angeles and Napa. I figured that this plan sounded much better than withstanding a Chicago winter before it was mandatory! Plus, even after all my travels worldwide, California is still my "happy place." My "quirks" in Chicago are normal here.

The biggest challenge when someone incorporates a new way of living while he or she travels is the ability to bring this thinking and lifestyle back home. I know that when I travel, I am my best self. However, in the past, the implementation of this frame of mind into my lifestyle has been the hardest part. It would last for a couple days, but then the Rat Race or whatever other societal pressures I fell back into would overtake my new thinking and deplete all the positive energy surrounding it.

In order to help with my transition back into the States and adhere to the same travel lifestyle, I signed up for classes at a local yoga studio mere blocks from my cousin's house in Ocean Beach. For the past two years or so, yoga has been a way for me to center myself during new life transitions, whether it be a new job, a breakup, or a new city. I have attended yoga classes in multiple places around the world, but this studio in OB seems to fit perfectly with where I am at life right now. Before class, some instructors have each person blindly choose an affirmation from a deck of cards. The card I chose that stands out most includes, "I prosper wherever I turn." In recent months, my life has taken many different turns and the hardest part about being back in the States is the realization that I'm not exactly sure where the road is going to go next. But as I mentioned in previous posts, I am learning to live day by day and trust that I am headed in the direction that is best for me. (And at least now I know I'll prosper there, right?!)

My two biggest realizations this week:
- Gratitude is a magnet. When you are grateful for what you have (as much or as little as that is), you will inevitably have more to be thankful for.
- When you look around and realize that the people that surround you are kind-hearted, amazing people, you know you're on the right path. And I have to say...I have some pretty awesome people in my presence these days.


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