“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”
— Yan Martel, Life of Pi
To the Readers of Something In Her Ramblings,
I’ve just returned to Los Angeles from a trip that took me to my 50th country and the energy of this Odyssey still pulses through me.
My heart is full from nights spent laughing under a bright moon over conversations about philosophy (and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) with friends in Greece, bed bugs followed me home from a hotel in Istanbul, and my body is still sporting a lingering heat rash from a day spent walking the streets of Belgrade, Serbia in the middle of a heat wave.
Reaching this personal milestone of 50 countries comes at a fitting time as I share with you the news that this will be my last post here on Something In Her Ramblings. I’ve accepted a new job here in California and will no longer be blogging.
This blog has meant more to me than I’ll be able to express here and this is not a decision I’ve taken lightly. In fact, I wrote most of these words a few weeks ago from a cabin in the mountains where I spent a weekend alone with my blog, reflecting, typing out these last few words and pondering how to best say goodbye.
This past July marked my four-year anniversary of blogging. During that time I’ve produced 418 posts featuring stories from my travels through 36 countries and countless others in the guest posts I’ve hosted from other female solo travelers.
While in the mountains writing this post I also read I Saw Her That Night, a Slovenian war novel (that is really not an appropriate choice to read while in the woods alone given the heavy material), and in the novel I encountered the Serbian word dert.
Dert: A sorrowful state; the longing of an imprisoned woman for life.
Why don’t we have a word like this in English?
Prisons come in many forms. When I began this blog at age 24 in Florida I was seized by the dert, sorrow at my position in a self-imposed prison bound by my choice to adhere to the strict societal path of advancement I thought I had to follow. I was full of fear – both fear that I’d never see the world and that if I did it would mean leaving success behind.
I knew deep down that more than anything I needed to get out there and see the world. And so I spend a lot of time preparing – financially by working a second job at a restaurant to save for my escape, and emotionally by calling on countless mentors. Their conversations gave me the courage to take a leap and leave my stable job behind to teach English in Spain.
When I first left for Europe I thought I’d only be able to make it to just a handful of countries given that I didn’t have very much in my savings account and teaching English in Madrid isn’t the most lucrative of careers. But just like the Maccabees in the Temple of Jerusalem, a miracle happened to me. The little oil I had in my lamp kept burning and burning, and I kept finding opportunities to travel and travel – all the way to 50 countries.
I never thought I’d travel so far.
This blog has played witness to the miracle and I’ve loved Something In Her Ramblings with every fiber of my soul.
At times this blog has been my life raft, giving me a sense of purpose when I was fresh off the plane in Paris and so green to foreign travel that I didn’t realize McDonalds restrooms were not open to the public world-wide, and straight on through to the lonely nights in that God-forsaken jungle in Costa Rica where spiders crawled across the walls and I feared the rain would never end. It did.
It was there too in the transition moments when I didn’t know if my decision to fling myself so wildly into the world would pay off. It did.
Something In Her Ramblings has transformed me. It’s turned me from a diarist into an artist, making writing part of my near-daily routine. All the hours of work I put in researching, writing and posting helped me find my voice and my confidence. The journey of this blog helped me grow to a new level of adulthood, one in which I look over my shoulder and am astonished to find that I have experience. Enough experience to start a new chapter.
The experience of producing this blog has also allowed me to travel deeper, as I’ve been thrust together with so many different people – they the storyteller, me the scribe, our joint mission to tell these stories has bonded us in rich purpose that leads to quickly earned trust and intimacy. These memories are worth more to me than all the gold in the world.
Above all else what my travels have taught me are that the most valuable thing the world has to offer is people. From Fatima’s warm hands that covered mine while rolling khobz in Morocco to the warm entanglement of children as I gathered a heap of children into my arms on a fishing boat off the shores of Papua New Guinea to the brush of Anthony’s shoulders as we ate doubles side by side on a dim street in Trinidad, I’ve been so blessed to be really touched by people of the world. Their touch has been so real that my heart is now scattered in tiny pieces across the globe.
“Your blog is such a big part of you but maybe it was meant to get you through to this point,” my sister Emma told me as we discussed this transition.
“It was your Wilson (Castaway reference) to get you through and your canvas to share your passions with the world.”
She’s right. I don’t feel the dert anymore. The wild stallions that once bucked in my soul have calmed down, tamed by the miles they’ve galloped across Italy and France, Argentina and Chile, Australia and Papua New Guinea, Greece and Turkey. Of course I’ll always be a traveler, and my new role will still involve international work, but I don’t have to build my life around frantically trying to see as much of the world as possible anymore. My soul now belongs to the world. I can release myself to focus my energies on some new goals, at least for the time being.
When I was first formulating a plan of action to see the world I sat down with a man named Bob, one of my early mentors at Disney and asked him how it would be possible to shape an international career.
“I have no idea,” he responded. “That’s a trail you’ll have to blaze yourself. When you get there let me know.”
I want to run out to the crest line of this forest and shout across the mountain tops, “BOB I MADE IT! I BLAZED A TRAIL THROUGH 50 COUNTRIES AND I HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL CAREER!”
But of course, thanks to this blog and social media, he already knows this.
And so my dear readers, this is farewell. I’ve shared what I know here and given it all the love I have inside. This blog has taken me so far but I am being called to a different Odyssey. It’s time for me to grab onto the winds of change, step up and start this next chapter.
Thank you for reading. May your life be blessed with adventures that touch your heart as deeply as they’ve touched mine.
Footnote: So many people supported me along my blogging journey and I’d like to end this post with a long list of thank you’s:
- To my parents and siblings for loving me in all my wild ways.
- To my early mentors at Disney who helped me find a way to balance forward progress in my career with my wanderlust. Without this balance I would have been lost.
- To Michelle for being my writing thought partner, and for all those hours we spent writing together in Madrid cafes.
- To Anthony for calling me out whenever I wrote a post that was sub-par and reminding me to always take my writing seriously.
- To David for editing my writing early on and always being available for editing assistance down the road.
- To Sylvia for opening my eyes to what blogging actually is.
- To the crew of mommy bloggers in Kissimmee for opening my eyes to the professional side of blogging.
- To my Uncle Bob for always reading every post. I truly think you are my most dedicated fan.
- To all those who sponsored a post or provided me with complimentary touring and accommodations. I wouldn’t have been able to travel as far without your support.
- To all those who contributed guest posts sharing their own stories of female solo travel here. Thank you for aiding me in my mission to inspire other women to travel solo.
- To M— for telling me I was a writer long before I believed it.