Did You Breathe Today?
from the archives
Finding the delicate balance between embracing a more relaxed lifestyle, and engaging my skills to achieve my creative and financial goals has been at the top of my mind lately. Even though I am a little over a month into this journey, the pressure of finding discipline is ever present and real. Just because I am on the road living a nomadic life doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities. It doesn’t mean I don’t have debt, and it surely doesn’t mean I don’t need to earn an income. But I've come to realize that my “impending doom” is all in my head. I’ve already landed my first freelance contract and, all things considered, I am doing just fine.
Being a stranger everywhere I go limits the amount of outside pressure I feel, the need to compare myself to anyone, and the urge to conform to westernized societal norms. The fear of falling behind doesn’t exist in some ways, but definitely exists in a couple of other ways. Not many people I know are doing what I am doing, so as far as my circle goes, I am in a league of my own. And because of this, I am quickly realizing that finding and TRUSTING my own pace is paramount. I set the tone for each day, leaving me to figure out how to be disciplined but fluid. How to work hard but to find joy in the work. How to approach creating content as a priority but also as therapy. How to be where I am, as I am. Though these things were all important in my old life, disappointment seems heavier now that I am the only person I report to. I gave up everything I know to travel the world and reunite with my higher self while creating soul moving content and manifesting life changing experiences. The thought of not accomplishing any of that because I couldn’t find the discipline is heartbreaking.
In the same breath, how is it possible to feel so present, to feel mesmerized by the seconds in a minute? Everything slows down. Life is more vivid, and more pleasurable. Despite fleeting moments of overthinking, I have not been so present and so content in a long time. Downtown Los Angeles feels like a lifetime ago. This doesn’t feel like a new chapter, but more like a highly anticipated sequel that took so long to create that we need a refresher to remember all the parts that lead us here. There are faces and memories I keep close to my heart but so much of it is a blur. Cleansed like God’s breath after a Nicaraguan rainy day, I am made new in every moment.
A few nights ago while drinking wine and watching the most amazing sunset over Playa Maderas with fellow travelers, the conversation turned to the reasons for the difference between this version of ourselves and the way we are when we are back home. I didn’t add anything to the conversation, but as I listened to others share, this question dug into me. I honestly didn’t have anything to say at the time, but the longer I sat with the question, the more some things came to mind. I know the obvious answer is because in a new place you can be who you are without fear of reprisal from the people who “know” you. But could it be something else? Could it be that we used other people’s perception of us as an excuse not to be who we really are? Did we choose to sit back and become a pool of shallow water, reflecting much and contributing little? Did we suppress our nine year old selves in order to belong?
As a solo traveler, there is little need to belong because I always stick out. The way I act, dress, speak, eat - it's all different. And as a traveler locals accept me as such; different. No one is expecting me to fully conform to their cultural and societal norms and in a few days/weeks I will be gone. As long as I respect traditions and etiquette, I’m good money. Comforting, right? And in terms of other travelers, it’s like a revolving door of people. I am not saying I don’t crave connections or the connections are superficial. I just feel like the connections I am making are coming from a more raw and natural place. In the past few weeks I’ve had some of the realest, deepest conversations with people I will probably never see again and gone on a random adventure with folks that my path would have never crossed otherwise. I guess what I am saying is that we are different while traveling because we are truly present with each interaction. We are open.
I can safely say, I have always been a bit of an odd ball. A risk taker, if you will. But even I have felt the need to do the “right” things. But I also know that you (unlike me) don’t have to be dragged by life or completely get off your path to realize that you must be who you truly are unapologetically. Like a good friend likes to remind me, “Don’t forget to breathe.” When the overthinking starts, I breathe. When the debt back home comes knocking on my door, I breathe. When I taste fear crawling back up my throat, I breathe. I close my eyes and breathe, then I open them and remember that I am on the trip of a lifetime, creating my truth in each moment. My only job is to be present and manifest.
“A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she "should" be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
-Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Did you breathe today?