Tag Archives: life

Traveling Solo

If you know me, you know that one of my passions in life is travel. Travel has always held an enchanting allure for me. Even as a child, I would watch the Travel Channel and dream of visiting the places and having the experiences I saw the hosts of the show enjoying. My parents always talked about their dreams of travel, but they made it to a sad few of their destinations; I decided that I would not allow myself to not reach my destinations. So in my early twenties, I decided to start traveling to my destinations at least once per year; that commitment lasts to this day.

Now, when it comes to travel, I have found that it is often hard to organize and get other humans to commit to adventure. Unfortunately, I have met many people who have not traveled simply because they have been unable to secure friends and family to travel with them. I decided early on that I would not allow myself to be dissuaded from travel if my friends or family could not come with me because of work, money, etc, which is why I have opted to travel alone several times throughout my wanerlusting career.

In fact, as I write this I am on a solo trip through the beautiful country of Greece. As I wander around this historically and culturally rich land on my own, I am reminded of the challenges and discomforts, the opportunities for growth, and the joy that traveling solo can bring. And it is these things I feel compelled to share about with you today.

Pros & Cons of Traveling Solo

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Temple of Apollo, Naxos, Greece

Pro – King/Queen of Your Own World

When you travel alone, you are beholden to no one and free to make your own decisions without question or consultation. There is no compromise about what you want to see or do, there is no discussion about if this or that restaurant sounds good for a meal, there is no waiting on someone else to finish getting ready. Rather, you wait only on yourself, you do what you want to do, you go where you want to go, and you eat what you want to eat. Traveling solo may be one of the most independent experiences you may ever have and it is truly liberating!

Traveling Solo

Con – Lack of Camaraderie

It is liberating to answer to no one, but while traveling solo there are moments where you may wish you had a friend or ally. In uncomfortable situations when you are unsure of what your next move is or you are confused about how to navigate somewhere, you might long for a friend or significant other to be in the situation with you – helping you to figure it out and assuring you that no matter what, you are in it together. It is in these moments of discomfort during solo travel that feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming powerful. The only option you have is to breathe through the discomfort and find a solution on your own.

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Palace of Knossos, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Pro – Learning to Be More Self-Sufficient

In these moments of discomfort while traveling alone, you have no choice but to quickly learn how to problem solve. You are forced to go internal – to think critically, to think logically, and to use your intuition. It is through this process that immense growth occurs. You learn to remain calm in stressful situations, you learn to use your own brain to find the solution, and perhaps most profoundly, you learn to trust and believe in yourself to find a way and be okay.

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Filot, Naxos, Greece

Con – Dining Alone

I have heard many solo travelers talk about the awkwardness of going to a restaurant and dining alone.

It can be an experience that makes you feel totally isolated and it can also be more expensive as you do not have the option to share dishes. Here are some tips to make dining alone feel less awkward and actually be enjoyable:

  • Bring a book – I always bring a book to restaurants when I am dining alone. Reading can help you to feel more occupied and get you out of your head worrying about what other diners are thinking of you or just how alone you are. Enjoy reading in between bites of food and sips of wine. After awhile, it feels pleasurable to enjoy a meal alone with a good story.
  • Save some of your meal for later – I sometimes will eat half my meal at the restaurant and take the other have to-go (it’s called takeaway in Europe) to enjoy for lunch or dinner later on. Especially when I am in an Airbnb and have a means to reheat my dish, saving some of your meal is a great way to save money and time!
  • Connect with other diners – I have found that when dining alone, other restaurant guests will strike up conversation with you as they recognize you are alone. This can be a great opportunity for connection and even new friendship! You might even end up moving from your table to theirs to join them in the meal; it has happened to me more than once.
  • Reap the pity – When they realize I am traveling solo, some servers at restaurants seem to feel bad for me and thus gift me an extra glass of wine or a dessert on the house. I assure them that I am okay on my own, but I happily accept the complimentary glass or plate!
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Solo Dining in Chania, Crete

Pro- See more faster 

Traveling solo can often lend itself to seeing more on your itinerary more quickly, at least in my experience. Since you do not have to wait for another human to finish getting ready or coordinate with them in anyway, you are free to zip and skip around your destination and accomplish what you desire. Additionally, as a solo traveler, you are more likely to be let into popular attractions more quickly – it’s sort of like being a single rider at Disneyland.

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Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Con- No one to take your photos 

In the Instagram age, having your photo taken at beautiful and awe inspiring destinations is a must! But when you are alone, it can be a struggle to get that perfect shot. I typically hang out where I want a photo for a few minutes, identify a friendly looking stranger and ask them to take my photo. Some of my best travel photos have been taken by friendly strangers. However, you can’t expect them to take 20 different shots like you can with your bestie or S.O.

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Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Pro- Meet new friends

There is something magical that happens to humans when traveling – we seem to be more open and ready for new experience and connection. I have made new friends every time I have traveled, especially when I have traveled solo. From meeting a new group of friends on my tour of Italy with whom I still talk to to this day, to encountering my buddy Fabrizio and his family in Paris and going on to stay with him in Amsterdam 2 years later, to connecting with my new friends George and Selma on a SUP adventure in Crete and going to get dinner and drinks with them later on that night, to meeting my new friend Leela who offered me a ride down a mountain in Santorini to escape the sudden rain and then asking me to go wine tasting with her and her sister. It is these serendipitous connections that make a lasting impression and memory that cannot be forgotten.

The connections I have made while traveling have inspired me to be a more open, friendly person in my everyday life and have taught me just how much we as humans are looking for authentic connection through openness and vulnerability. Moving through life with this experienced knowledge is truly life altering.

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Partying with new friends at Paradise Beach in Mykonos

Pro – Experience the kindness of strangers

This goes along with meeting new friends. One of the most profound aspects of traveling solo is connecting with strangers and experiencing their kindness. As a solo traveler, you sometimes have no choice but to turn to strangers for support or help, and the responses you may receive can be amazing. I have received so much aid and so many blessings from strangers while traveling solo. It has affirmed my belief in the kindness of strangers and the inherent good that exists in our kind. The kindness I have received from strangers has helped to color my outlook on life.

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SUP in Crete with new friends, Chania, Crete

Pro – Learning to make peace with yourself

As you can imagine, traveling solo lends itself to, well, a lot of alone time. It is a “me, myself, and I” situation all around. When you are forced to sit with yourself for such long periods of time a great deal of self-reflection begins to take place. Self-reflection can me immensely uncomfortable and we may start desperately looking for a way to escape it. However, if you can lean into the reflection, you may begin to make peace with yourself in the moment and identify ways you may grow moving forward. At first it feels like a con, but eventually it becomes a pro.

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Mykonos Town, Mykonos, Greece

So clearly, traveling solo is complex and evokes so much within us humans. I am a firm believer that everyone should embark on a solo travel adventure at some point in their lives.

Now, as a white man from the US, I enjoy a great deal of privilege in my life and feel comfortable traveling far and wide. I recognize that traveling solo to some destinations is not as accessible for women or people of color due to the inequalities we are currently battling in our world. However, solo travel does not have to be to faraway, exotic destinations; you can travel to a new city within your own country or state! Solo travel can still be a wonderful, growth-filled experience even if it is still within the safety of your own land. For example, if you are an American, maybe try traveling somewhere like New York or San Francisco on your own – same language, same culture, socially liberal, overall safe, but still big and exciting enough to get all the benefits I have mentioned in this article. Additionally, countries like Ireland and Scotland are very safe, open, and friendly to everyone and most people of all stripes say they feel comfortable traveling to these destinations. Go only where you feel comfortable and safe, but do indeed go!

Traveling solo has blessed me with some of the greatest experiences I have had in this lifetime and has cultivated growth within me that I do not believe I would have found anywhere or anyway else. Solo travel is scary, it’s exhilarating, it’s liberating, and it is profound. I hope that you can experience all that traveling solo has in store for you when you answer the call.

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Naxos Town, Naxos, Greece

 

Manifestation: There’s Something To It

If you are in the yoga world, then you have probably heard someone talking about “manifestation” at some point. Maybe someone in your local yoga studio was explaining to a friend about how they were trying to manifest a solution to a problem or perhaps your yoga teacher taught a class themed upon manifesting your best life. ‘Manifestation’ and the action of ‘manifesting’ are very popular buzz words in the yoga world; this idea that through focused thought and energy we might be able to create outcomes, objects, and even attract people that we need and desire out of the ether. I have always been a big fan of the concept and have more or less believed that manifestation was a possibility, although, I did not place a great amount of faith in it and generally saw abstract manifestation as a possibility but not at all a likelihood. That was until I decided to give manifestation a good honest try and discovered that manifestation can indeed be a powerful force that works.

My Story of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

Last year, I found myself in a dark place. I was working at a corporate marketing job that I loathed with every fiber of my being. I had come to the realization within this job that it was not just the company and the position I held within it that made me deeply unhappy; it was the industry of marketing that was the true problem. I recognized that I was in the wrong profession for myself and it was harming my mind and spirit.

I have two central passions in this life: writing and yoga. Though my primary career was in marketing, I always pursued my true passions on the side in my own time. I was always working on some sort of writing project whether it be a screenplay, novel, or article. And I had trained to teach yoga, teaching several classes per week in the mornings before or the evenings after my corporate job. It was in these devotions and crafts that I found light and life.

At that point in my life, I had come into a place where I desperately needed to make a transition out of full-time marketing and into some sort of working existence made of yoga and writing. For a while, I approached my wish for change from a very angry place: I was angry at the universe for not making me a highly sponsored Instagram yoga star and not landing me a book deal for my novel. Of course, directing negative energy at the situation did not move it into a positive space. And so, I decided to do something different.

I decided to give manifestation a go. Without being specific, I expressed to the universe what I wanted; an exit from my corporate job, a new financially stable career that included more yoga and writing and a new lifestyle to go with it. I wrote down my wishes, I made a vision board to represent them, I spoke about them to friends, and I meditated on them during my yoga practices. I trusted that something out there was listening to me and conspiring in my favor. Sure enough, a couple of months later, I was given an amicable outing from my marketing job, offered an abundance of yoga teaching opportunities, and landed a few freelance clients to help supplement my income. I transitioned away from a high-stress, fast-paced, regimented lifestyle into a new one that was flexible, steady, rewarding, and abundant in positivity.

As I began this new and glorious season of my life, I found myself in awe that I had evidently manifested this whole new career and lifestyle for myself. It had worked, it had really worked! And so, I wondered what else I could manifest.

Wanting to build my career and reputation as a writer, I decided that I would attempt to manifest being published. I did not necessarily mean becoming a New York Times best-selling author right away, but just being published in some form or other to add to my writer’s resume. Within weeks of putting this out there into the ether, I was officially published by the new age publication Elephant Journal. The article I wrote for them began to trend, earning thousands of views, and I was soon featured on their website. I have since been able to publish two more articles with them.

Manifestation again worked in my favor a few months later, this time on the yoga front.  When the teacher training programming I served as a coach for came to an end in June, I wondered about how I was going to make up for the pay I would no longer be receiving at the end of the program. I decided to manifest more opportunities in the yoga world that could take the place of coaching teacher training. Within two weeks, I was offered another permanent yoga class at a different studio and a corporate yoga gig. A month after that, I received an opportunity to teach for a private client for a higher rate of pay for yoga instruction than I had ever received before.

If the past year with all of these experiences have taught me anything, it is that manifestation is indeed possible when you dedicate enough energy to it and put enough trust in it. I continue to be amazed by what I have been able to manifest and I am excited to keep at it to see what else might be possible.

 

The Basics of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

In addition to my own experiences, I have done a good amount of research on the philosophies surrounding manifestation. I have read articles, book chapters, and listened to podcasts all centered on the subject. Through all of my studies and experiments, I think I have identified a few basic principles for manifestation that I would like to share with you.

  1. Ask Rather Than Demand

I think this is the most important principle of manifestation. When you choose to try and manifest something – whatever it is – I believe you have to ask for it humbly rather than demand for it aggressively. I feel that (the Universe/God/the Force/whatever-you-want-to-call-it) is much more receptive to a polite request than they are to a hard and firm order.

  1. Keep It Open-Ended Rather Than Specific

Everything I have read and listened to on the subject of manifestation more or less comes to this same conclusion. We must create space for our manifestations to come to fruition in different forms. Sometimes, our manifestations look very different than what we originally imagined or intended, but they ultimately provide us with what we need.

Think about my earlier example when I set out to manifest becoming a published writer. Though my end goal was – and still is – to become a published novelist, I did not specify that in my first attempt at manifestation around writing. Rather, I simply stated that I wanted to be published and I was open to that transpiring in any way. The result was publishing a short article in an online publication. It was not grand or life altering, but it was something. And perhaps that one manifestation will evolve into more.

Another more universal example: manifesting material abundance. If you specify to the universe that you want material abundance and thus you want to win the lottery, it is highly unlikely that the universe is going to reward you with the winning lottery ticket – if it was that easy, many would have done this already. If you, however, ask for abundance and remain open to that transpiring in various ways, you may receive. You could receive a new job offer that comes with a raise, you could receive new side hustle opportunities that bump up your income, or you may receive a reduced rate on a car or house payment that gives you some extra pocket money. The possibilities are endless as long as you are open to them.

We have to remember that whatever is out there is far wiser and more intelligent than we are. Sometimes this force will gift us with a manifestation that is not quite what we envisioned, but may ultimately be more valuable to us and our journeys, even if we do not fully understand it. So keep an open mind, an open heart, and receive and give thanks for what comes.

  1. Be Patient

The powers at be do not operate on your timeline. Avoid putting a deadline on your manifestations. Those powers will decide when we are ready to receive, and we have to accept that.

  1. Not All Manifestations Manifest

We are not going to be successful in manifesting 100% of the time. Once again, the Universe/God/the Force/etc. see and know more than we know. Sometimes it/they might decide that what we are trying to manifest is actually not right for us, and we just don’t know it.

  1. Practice Gratitude

We should always practice gratitude, but I think it is key to express gratitude when our manifestations are realized.  When we successfully manifest, we should be sure to tell those powers at be that we are thankful. If we are consistent in giving thanks, we will probably receive more consistent blessings.

 

Conclusion

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

I believe that manifestation is real and we have the power to influence our own realities. I see manifestation as a branch of real magic; curious to understand, challenging to practice, impossible to master, but powerful in its potential. I encourage everyone to give manifestation a try and see what the possibilities are!

Have you ever manifested something before? What are your currently trying manifest? Tell me all below!

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*All photos within this article were captured by my old travel buddy, Neil Bloem. Neil is a photographer and visual artist currently based in Lofoten, Norway. The natural beauty he captures is truly remarkable. I find myself in constant awe of his work. You can follow him on Instagram @coldxneil Enjoy the beauty he will fill your Insta-feed with!

 

“How Travel can be a Practice in Presence, Mindfulness, & Joy” published on Elephant Journal!

Oops! I did it again!

My latest piece “How Travel can be a Practice in Presence, Mindfulness & Joy” has been published in Elephant Journal!

Written shortly after my return home from the Netherlands, this article explores how travel can be an avenue to becoming more present and to discovering much about the world and ourselves.

If interested, please read, like, and share!

Lots of Love & Travel to you!

Link: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/05/how-traveling-can-be-a-practice-in-presence-mindfulness-joy/

27

Today I turned 27 years old. This is not an age that is by any means a milestone. It is, however, a number that holds much significance for me personally.  Ever since I was a little kid, 27 was always my favorite number. I know, it is a very odd number to select as a favorite; why not one of the primary numbers like 3 or 5, why not the superstitious 13, why not the clean even 20? I can’t explain it, but I always liked the look and feel of 27; an age young but mature, a dollar amount not huge but still worth something, a quantity amount enough but not excessive. 27 is the age I have assigned to many of my characters in my writing throughout the years. And now, I am this age and for me, there is a lot to reflect on because of it.

27 represents a crossing from the mid-20’s to the late 20’s – the final third of the golden decade.  When I was a teenager and even in my early 20’s, I truly believed that by my late-20’s, by 27, I would be a wildly successful writer of sorts, a homeowner, and married. Yet here we are and I am not close to being any of these things. My life has not unfolded in the ways I thought it would, but this is not a unique sentiment. Ask anyone and you will probably find that their life’s journey has unfolded in a multitude of unexpected ways as well, usually taking them to different destinations than they ever thought they would end up.  So rather than being disappointed or discouraged with where I am at as I become this age, I am choosing to be at peace and trust in the divine flow of the universe and my part in it. Additionally, I am choosing to believe that 27 is going to be a wondrous year for me. While my 27 does not look how I envisioned when I was young, I have reason to believe that my 27 will still be significant and meaningful.

Again, 27 has been an important number for me since I was a little kid. And they say that numbers you feel drawn to or repeatedly see again and again may be your Angel Numbers. What are Angel Numbers? Angel Numbers are codes from your spirit guides to convey messages to you throughout your life. Your numbers can change over time depending on what you are going through, and others stay constant. 27 has been constant for me and so I finally looked up what this angel number means.

The Angel Number 27 is a message from your angels that new information or news of a positive nature is on the way. It is a message to believe in yourself, your intuition and the callings you feel within. Angel Number 27 is a message of faith, trust, and self-belief. Your angels ask you to step forward on your life path with confidence and grace. Maintain a positive attitude and perspective and trust that you will manifest positive results, rewards, and blessings into your life.

What a positive meaning behind this number! The good, however, does not stop there. 2018 – this year that I turn 27 in – is a big year in astrology. I recently read an article from an astrological contributor at Elephant Journal that tells us that each sign in the zodiac has a lot of potential in 2018. I am a Pisces, and very much so, here is what they had to say about Pisces in 2018:

“A magical carpet ride is about to be set in motion. 2018 is your year to become enchanted with all of the mysteries of the universe and refuel your emotional reserves. Out of this realm discoveries are awaiting. Its finally time to swim care-free through an ocean of positive emotions. Your Pisces Mantra for 2018: ‘Get Enchanted’”.

So if we put this all together, I am in my Angel Number year of 27 being guided toward positive news and encouraged to believe in myself in addition to being a Piscean in 2018 which is to be an enchanted year that takes me on a magic ride. What a combination, right? So here is to believing that this new year of life, this next jaunt around the sun, is going to be beautiful!

Fulfilled

Dear ones,

I recently published an article on Elephant Journal titled, “Fulfilled.” The piece details my experience in my recent career transition and the discoveries that came out of that time. I was lucky enough to work on the article with one of the publishers at Elephant Journal and I am very proud of the final product. Please read the article when you have a moment.

You can find “Fulfilled” here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/now/fulfilled/

Making Waves

 There is a quote that I once read which I come back to time and again when I am in need of a reminder about my own abilities and worth. It reads:

“Your thoughts and words are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to grow and expand outward. The power you have to make impact on the world is far greater than you could ever image.”

Further exploration and interpreting of these beautifully strung together words leads to the discovery that each and every one of us is an incredibly powerful being with great potential to spark change and manifest good. We all come with our own unique strengths and sets of gifts, and when we believe in ourselves we can use those strengths and gifts to make ripples, even waves, for the greater good. You alone have the ability to do wonders.

Let me craft a simple example to help illustrate the potential power you hold to create good and have it ripple outwards towards growth.

Let’s say that you are at Starbucks. You walk up to the cashier to order your coffee. The barista manning the cash register has had a tough morning; they are anxious, tired, and weary of abrasiveness customers rushing through the morning hours. Upon your turn at the register, you pause, you greet the barista a good morning, you ask them how they are doing, you smile at them, maybe you even joke with them; you provide a much needed friendly interaction filled with warmth and kindness. This elevates the mood of the barista which helps them to better serve more customers throughout the day with that same kindness and warmth, and all of those customers now touched by that kindness go forth and perhaps spread even more kindness and warmth. By simply being friendly, you have quite possibly elevated the energy of many people throughout the day.

The above scenario starts on a small scale and becomes larger as the momentum catches on. What about an even grander scale? Let’s craft another scenario.

You are on the phone with your friend and through the natural conversations that take place in friendships, you tell this friend something that they really needed to hear. This friend also happens to be a teacher. Your friend-teacher goes to their class and in their lecture relates that something you told them to their students. This something deeply resonates with some of the students, and they go forth and use that message in various ways that impact more circles of people. Perhaps, maybe one of those students holds onto that something for years to come, allows it to inspire them to do something great that ultimately benefits many people. It could happen, and it could happen because you dropped that something, that stone of wisdom, into a calm surface of the ocean and made giant waves with it.

So you see, your words and actions have huge, enormous potential for growth and greatness. Furthermore, your simple thoughts have large potential too! Thoughts are not merely thoughts, they are vibrations of energy. In yoga and meditation, we believe that through the power of focused thought, we can eventually manifest those things we need or want. And so, by thinking positively and purposefully putting those thoughts into the universe, you can start to bring into reality more good. It’s a bit of a 60’s-Woodstock sentiment, but I truly believe this.

Sometimes it is so easy to doubt ourselves, to think of ourselves as too small, to believe that we are unable to make real and true impact in our time here on earth. The truth is, however, that we are each powerful beings of energy and light with every ability to touch this world in small and big ways. All you have to do now is to believe. So moving forward, believe in your worth, believe in your strength, believe in your power. Own it. Go on and make waves.

Choosing Life Over Loans

I recently read a brilliantly written article by Lee Siegel entitled, “Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans”. In summary, Siegel recounts her choice to not pay her student loans back in order to continue living a full life that was not solely based on making money, paying bills, and dying at the end of it all. She calls out how, unfortunately, our society often looks upon one who is in debt for their education, and not doing all they can to pay their loans back as soon as possible, as someone who is irresponsible and displays a lack of good character. She argues, however, that building good character in the eyes of others requires actually living and enjoying life, seeing and experiencing the world, and nurturing relationships with others. The article is very thought provoking, and I agree with much of what she says. Take a read here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/sunday/why-i-defaulted-on-my-student-loans.html?referrer&_r=0

You see, I myself have a decent amount of student loans to my name, along with 42% of my generation, and so Siegel’s article speaks to me on many levels. Now, to all my family members and close friends, please do not fret; I have no intention of defaulting on my student loans. Though, I also do not plan to work myself into unhappiness and depression over said loans. Some would argue that the wisest course of action would be to put my head down, work myself to the bone, all the while turning down opportunities for rewarding life experiences, until I have managed to pay back my loans. Maybe then, after I have paid back said loans, can I then decide to begin truly living my life. Personally, I don’t find this a wise course at all. Continue reading