Monday, April 16, 2012

A Transformation, at Last!


I've read more inspirational quotes in the past month or two than my entire life combined. Most of them are about overcoming fears, taking leaps of faith, and adventure. I read them before I came on this trip to get me psyched to come, and I have lovely family and friends who keep sending them to me and posting them on my Facebook to keep me motivated while I'm gone, and I'm loving it. It feels good to have so much support from friends and family at home. There are a lot of people who thought I could do this even when I didn't, and they're the ones who are still encouraging me.

Madrid has changed this trip, and I can officially say that I'm in love with this adventure! I've taken on a "come what may" attitude, because I realize that this is an adventure, so it won't be perfectly smooth or what I expected. My friend Kellie Turley posted this quote for Diana and I the other day:

" can't get lost on an adventure."

And I love it. All my favorite quotes are about adventure, letting go of safety nets and comfort zones, and exploring the world. Who am I to quote Tennyson when he said "Come, my friends, tis not too late to seek a newer world" or the entire concept of Richard Bach's book "Running From Safety" if I don't live it?

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Sometimes you have to let everything go. Sometimes it's just you, a suitcase, a prayer, and an open world. Sometimes quitting your job and leaving everything behind for the unknown brings more clarity than you've ever known. I've struggled with choosing between what's good, what's better, and what's best for a while. Right now, staying in Utah and working full time at the job I love would be good. Working that job plus going to grad school this fall would be better. And forgetting about both of those to travel and see the world for a while was best.

This is my new friend Phil from British Columbia. We met him at the train station in Paris at 5:30am.

Leaving behind my life where I'm completely content and in my comfort zone was exactly what I needed. Leaving everything I know to experience everything I don't is changing me. I've already been stretched further than I ever have, spiritually and emotionally, and I know I'll just get stretched further. All my comfort zones are shattered. My repetitive daily schedule that I love is shattered, and I never know what time or day it is. It's a very new but surprisingly cool feeling.

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." -Lao Tzu

I'm not the same person I was 2 1/2 weeks ago. I wasn't the same person when I boarded that plane in Detroit or when I got off it in London. I'm a brave world traveler now! My fears and anxiety fought back for the first part of the trip, and I know they'll continue to sometimes during the whole thing. The problem was that I was still telling myself that I couldn't do it and that I wasn't strong enough, even when I WAS ALREADY DOING IT. Hopefully the hardest part of this trip is overwith now, and I can just have fun. The past few days have been really rad and fun, so hopefully it just gets to be more fun along the way.

Check me out, learning life lessons from another hemisphere!

Diana and I touring the Cathedral and the Palace in Madrid yesterday in the rain!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Seriously, I'm the worst blogger ever. That's ironic since I edit and write blogs for a living. We are in Spain now! We were in London about a week, then we took the Chunnel, which is an underground train tunnel that goes beneath the English channel from London to Paris and other places. I didn't even know it existed. We rode the train through it to Paris, where we spent two days. We saw the Eiffel Tower, which is way cooler in real life than it is in pictures. I was surprised at how rad Paris actually was. It was dirty and smelly, but I think most major European cities are. We walked for like 9 hours on the day we decided to see all the tourist attractions. We walked up the hill to a famous basilica that's the highest point in Paris, then down to Moulin Rouge just for a picture, then to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and more. We were touring on Easter day so not much was open, but it was rad to see the outsides of the famous buildings anyway. After Paris, we went to Barcelona, where we stayed in RamCat Hostel. It's right by La Rambla, which is a famous street of shopping and people watching that leads out to the beach and a famous statue of Christopher Columbus. We did a lot of walking in Barcelona too, but the weather was perfectly warm so it was great! We didn't get in any beach time because it was raining before we left, so we'll have to soak up extra sun in the other beach cities we go to on this trip. We saw La Sagrada Familia, the Barcelona Cathedral, Park Guell, and a ton of famous art by Antonio Gaudi. That guy was amazing. Now we're in Madrid. I spent a month here in August 2010, so I feel right at home. I know my way around the city, vaguely, so I feel more comfortable here than I have in the other places that were brand new to me. I'm excited to be here again. It's a rad city. Today we walked for like 8 hours (so far) and wandered around town, admired the Metropolis, which is my favorite building, and explored the Retiro Park. While we were there, a guy came up and asked us if we were there to buy weed. Europe.... he was surprised to learn that we were just there to admire the trees and fountains and people. This trip is getting much better. I had a really rough start in London, but I'm getting into the swing of living out of a suitcase and having my schedule thrown off every day. Traveling is a lot of work, but it's worth it to see the rad stuff I'm seeing. I know I'm lucky to be on this trip, so I'm going to at least enjoy it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm in LONDON!!!

I know I swore I'd write a blog every day, but today was my fourth day and the first time I've felt stable enough to write a blog post or to do anything, essentially. Today is the first day I feel happy to be here and I don't feel anxiety every second. It's the first day I started to remember the reasons I came here, and remembered that this is the trip of a lifetime, or can be, if I let it be. So here it goes.

I was expecting it to be easy when I got here. I went to Spain with my mom a year and a half ago, so I thought the main problem was going to be getting across "the pond" by myself. To be honest, I didn't put much thought into this trip. If I thought about it, I wouldn't have come. I would have convinced myself of a million reasons why it couldn't or shouldn't work, so now that I am here, I'm realizing what a huge thing it is.

Because I was such a mess the past few days, I'll skip those parts and just give you highlights. So far I haven't done many touristy things here because it was General Conference weekend. Diana has been going to the ward here, so she made some young adult friends, who I met on my first night here. I don't remember much, but I'm being tagged in pictures so apparently I was around people.

We watched 3 of the sessions of conference that were broadcast here. We took 2 buses to the church and walked a few blocks. One of the times we got a free watter bottle and egg salad/salmon/cracker bites from some guys on the street. They were selling insurance? Homes? Not sure.

The young adults here rock. Seriously. I am sure there are stuffy British people here somewhere, but every single person I have met is absolutely friendly and nicer than most Americans I know. This morning when we were leaving Oiying's house permanently, one of her neighbors, John, was outside in his yard getting the mail or something. He greeted us cheerfully and asked us where we were going and how we enjoyed our stay in the neighborhood and in London. He was seriously ecstatic to see us. Quite a jolly fellow.

For my first 3 nights here, we stayed with a 63 year old Malasian woman named Oiying. Diana talked to her at church once and I had never met her, but she was nice enough to open her home and let us sleep on the floor of a spare bedroom. We wore slippers inside her house and ate a couple of meals with her and got to know about her culture. She was adorable in every possible way. Pictures to come later.

Now we're at Diana's friend Naomi's house. She'd been staying here for a few weeks but wanted to give her a weekend of solitude, so that's why we ended up with Oiying. We'll be here for 2 nights, then off to France.

Today we toured the Tower of London and saw the Tower Bridge. It was quite an interesting tour and we learned about English royalty and a lot of history that I've read about in all my literature. I really liked going into the city finally. Tomorrow we're doing an open-top red bus tour just so we can get all the tourist sights in before I leave. I'm excited for that. Keeping me busy is a good way to avoid anxiety.

Now I'm off to the land of dreams.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Jet-Lagged Hag

This is what I looked like when the jetlag finally hit me, at 2:30am, London time, on my third night here. Wide awake.