2014 was spent saturated in stress. Cortisol levels peaking. Anti-anxiety pills pumping. Long hours in a suffocating bill-paying routine. Destruction happening at every turn. I was running the rat race, championing an abusive relationship behind closed doors + juggling a poisonous life.
Until something inside of me screamed. It screamed so loudly, even the heavens could hear. It pierced me into shock while I was flying down Valley Center Road.
I heard it so clearly, I had no choice but to listen.
Instead of death, I choose life. Instead of excuses – like the millions I had used before – I was given a solution. I booked a one way flight out of the country.
It looked like I was running. Like I was dumping all of that grief, depression, stress, and confusion in a hole and saying ‘See ya later!’
Like I was pretending the past year was just a simple chapter to tie up and put away.
And that’s exactly what I was doing.
At that time, in that moment, it was an absolute necessity. Burying everything deep down, ‘forgetting’ it had all happened, + heading out to explore on my first solo adventure, was just what the doctor ordered. It was my medicine at this stage of healing.
I was on my own for the first time. Away from the comforts of home or the ease of a phone call to friends. Away from the same time zone as anyone I knew. Away from my concepts of how I knew life was lived. Away from the pain + toxic environment. Away from the lies + deception. Away from anyone who knew my story or thought they did. I was truly on my own. Winding up and down the European countryside, exploring down narrow roads with new friends, feeding my inner queen and learning to let her shine again without pardon. I was living in an alternative reality but it was so real all at the same time. I was missing nothing and savoring everything.
What a breath of fresh air. Literally. It was the middle of winter + I was doing all of the things my heart needed. I had been bitten by what some would call “the travel bug” and taken on a full-blown roller coaster of an adventure. From Spain to Italy, Poland to Hungary, I traveled through 12 countries with a 46-liter backpack and zero plans. I spent the holidays and my birthday abroad in a winter wonderland where I was free to be and to become. Examining my thoughts, challenging my perceptions and relishing in the freedom I had created.
New foods, new relationships and a new appreciation for the world I was discovering. I had a taste and I was certain I wanted more. The calendar turned to a new year and I slowly made my way back to the California coast I had left behind many days before, but not before purchasing another flight back to Europe for the upcoming summer.
Perhaps I did, maybe I didn’t. But it for sure breathed life into my bones. It reinvited my soul to take back its residency inside of me and it allowed the world of self-discovery to crack me wide open.
As I flip back through the pages of that chapter, I realize that this terrifying, beautiful journey opened the door to a road less traveled. A passion for adventure. The desire for non-conformity. It showed me many new worlds, new ways, and fresh ideas. This trip did its job: distract, engulf, teach. Inspired, I returned for another bite that summer, and have been returning to adventure around the world ever since.