#DoYouIndie Travel Challenge: money on my mind…

“do something today that your future self will thank you for…” -unknown

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D A Y 14 of this BootsNAll indie travel challenge.  today happens to be a question that i put some serious thought and execution into when i was gearing up for my launch to Australia.

QUESTION: when you are getting ready to travel what can you do to cut back on your expenses? is there anything you do differently before you travel versus during?

one of the biggest things i cut back on pre-travel was eating and drinking out.  again i will state that this is a “to each their own” situation…we all know where we want to spend our hard earned money and we all have different goals for our savings.  for me, once i booked my ticket, i was determined to save where i could and pinch as many pennies as possible before i flew half way across the world.

if i went out with friends, i would choose to be social and stay sober to save money on drinks.  sometimes i would indulge and treat myself to one drink out, but generally speaking, i would try to eat before meeting up with friends so that the temptation to take care of my growling tummy would be eliminated as an option.  another expense i cut back on was having my company pay for my cell phone.  this allowed me the chance to save over $100 a month and although it meant a sacrifice of my “after hours” time, it was worth it to me since i knew it was temporary.  i also found someone to sublet my studio and take over the use of my furniture so i could save on rent.  with my nanny family launching into their RTW trip a few months before i left for my year away, i was fortunate enough to organize living at their house for an amazing win-win situation.  that helped me save about 3 months in rent costs before my launch.

i got better at meal planning so that i could make sure i wasn’t wasting money on groceries that wouldn’t be consumed.  i also avoided going to the store when i was hungry so that i wasn’t indulging on frivolous items in my shopping cart.  i stopped spending money on clothes for work and going out because i convinced myself i couldn’t justify ANY wardrobe purchase that i wouldn’t be taking with me in my backpack to AU.  i was still making a car payment, plus insurance, a credit card payment and paying towards two student loan accounts.  those expenses add up fast and took a pretty intense sum of money that i would have much rather banked for my trip, but reality is a thing…you have to face it.

pre-departure, i really started talking myself into this new mentality i would need to adopt while traveling.  i told myself that i could only afford a certain price per day for my life and anything outside of that was not allowed.  a lot of budgeting is about changing your mental game…the change in your finances will come once your mind set shifts about how you’re managing and spending your money.

no matter how you prepare yourself and your finances for your next trip, make sure you budget for the essentials you’ll need while you’re out there in the world and realize that more often than not, you can buy a lot of necessities out there on the road.  prepare for what you can and just ride the wave…

let me know how you change your spending game before a trip in the comments below!

join the indie travel challenge with me here

vanishing acts…

“‘you,’ he said, ‘are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, i believe, is why you are in so much pain.”

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as children…we believe in magic…as we grow up and our innocence fades through life experience…we forget how to express ourselves…we forget to believe…

in this day and age of technology, we walk around with our heads down most of the time, allowing a screen to do the talking for us.  fingers hard at work, the ticker tape moving rapidly across our overly stimulated brain waves, we step onto the moving walkway and we zone out into our day to day lives.  call me old fashioned, but i still love talking to a human face to face.  i still write letters and send postcards and read books that collect dust and have pages to turn. don’t get me wrong, i have a smart phone, although in truth, my iphone4 isn’t that smart anymore since it’s now considered an ancient artifact and will likely be showing up in a museum tomorrow.  i have an ipad that acted as my computer while i was off traveling. i have a laptop.  i use and rely on technology so let’s not get it twisted and take this as a hypocritical rant.  i use technology.  my point is…the generation of digerati, us millenials, we are disappearing…and my fear is, as we near the point of no return a little more with each new tech toy release…we may never be found again.

as females, most of us have known at least one of those guys…the ones who manage to steal our hearts, gain our trust and then BAM! magic happens…they disappear…only at the time of disappearance, it doesn’t feel like magic…it feels like shit.  much like that magician on your heart and mind, our reliance on technology has created an addiction in us.  you get stoked on your new piece of hardware, the new guy in your life, a new app, the just because it’s wednesday flowers, the day you get 47 likes on a new profile photo, when you finally get to meet his mates…then maybe as you’re texting and walking at the same time, a dangerous multitasking feat as we all know, feeling your feelings, a light post comes out of nowhere and releases the cold, hard device from your hand and your life moves in slow motion as it takes wings, soaring then falling to its potential death on the hardened concrete, the “we need to talk” conversation happens, he’s gone.  a shattered screen, now brings a shattered heart.  does anyone else feel sick to their stomachs right now?  when did we get so busy swiping to the next profile that we forgot about the art of dating?  when did we get so busy typing that we forgot about holding hands?  when you are able to meet a person who can keep your attention longer than your high score on candy crush saga {dear friends on facebook, please stop sending me requests!!!}, it’s practically a miracle these days…i might have mentioned a time or two that dating in your twenties is pretty much awful {refer to about 20 out of 50 something blog posts}…much like that shattered smartphone screen, there is your heart.  broken into pieces and left disappointed and longing for something more.  a few more likes, some new laughs, attention at the cost of something…anything. we are ruining our own lives in app time and real time by becoming desensitized,  by creating a false self.

 selling our souls to bright screens has created a fear of human interaction…we’re nervous we talk too much, verbal destruction is a thing that can’t be cured in some, we worry we will fall too hard, feel too intensely, show too much vulnerability.  when did we decide that was a terrible idea?!  life is short…too short to hold things back and create a 2.0 version of yourself for people to see on tinder or on facebook.  of course everyone’s life can look brilliant when you’re using an airbrush photo app or filtering all of your pictures before you click share…it’s easy to announce your day has been grand when you’re writing it in a status update, making edits so you sound more appealing, but some of those “friends” of ours, are really just covering their truth.  when did we get so interested in how we’re viewed online?  why do we care so much that our lives LOOK good and forget how to be authentic and allow them to FEEL good?  when we strip ourselves of the chains that bind us, put down the smartphone, get back to being the smarthuman, allow ourselves to live in our rawest form, there is a magic that develops and an honesty that is not tainted by how many “likes” you can get. we’ve become so busy writing about ourselves to appeal to our viewers that we’ve forgotten how to express ourselves in real, honest, can’t get this moment back, time.  finding someone you can connect with outside of screen time is like finding a f*cking unicorn.  i don’t mean this just in dating, but in finding good people to call your friends as well.  i can’t help but wonder if with relying so much on the “magic” of our screens, we’ve lost that childish belief in real magic…the magic of connecting with someone who alters your world, finding a new place that becomes a home, getting lost in a foreign land to find yourself, disconnecting from material things invented to distract you so you can connect with breathtaking landscapes that were created for you and the people you should share them with.  we have become so busy making a living…we have forgotten how to make a life.  

sometimes, we need to take a moment and look up…

for these vanishing games we play…can make us disappear from knowing love and each other altogether…if we let them.  so as we continue to walk, dance and twirl down this road called life…i hope today and everyday, we remember to stop…set the phone down and be present in the moment we physically sit in now…allow ourselves to emotionally be there…to become real people…despite the falseness that surrounds us…for it is the only way to truly open a heart to love and to magic.

 

white blank page…with some glitter and gold…

“for last year’s words belong to last year’s language…and next year’s words await another voice.”

out with the old and in with the new…

for the first time, maybe ever, i am kind of dreading the coming of a new year.  i suppose that’s a little too negative.  i am not so much dreading as having a tough time accepting…

NYE is always more about the hype and less about the fulfilling of expectations…should you be so bold as to create some.  i find it’s always a bit of a letdown…when you do expect something.  this year, i have to accept that the turning of a new year means letting go of australia a little bit more.  when i tell people what i’ve been up to, which is a frequently asked question these days after my decade long absence in my hometown. come tomorrow, when i run into old teachers, old friends, instead of saying i was backpacking around australia this year, i’ll have to say last year.  this reality, leaves part of me filled with sadness…a longing for my old life down under, amongst the beautiful hippie humans of my tribe…dancing under the stars, waking up early to catch breathtaking beach sunrises, kissing in the moonlight, finding magical places in the rainforest…but, this reality also leaves part of me filled with anticipation and excitement…because the turning of a new year, brings me closer to my next launch date.

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photo credit: various humans i love & yours truly

after an unforgettable, life changing journey of self exploration and travel, my backpack is on a shelf and my wings have been temporarily clipped .  i have been back state side for 3 months and some change…working my getting skinnier everyday ass off, paying off debts, living simply and modestly, enjoying my mountains and trees, creating a semblance of home back in my hometown.  roots grow deep here in the methow valley and although i still have a piece of my heart in the city of seattle, many pieces of my heart in various parts of australia, i am grateful to be ringing in a new year in an old place.  as a constant dreamer, i have set my goals high.  within the next 12 months i hope to be flying again…with a stopover in someplace old and a one way ticket to someplace new.  this new year for me brings a lot of challenges as i accept my reality in america, long for my feet to wander the world, let go of the adventure i just returned from, remember the memories and the lessons, hold the humans i fell in love with in my heart and prepare myself for what is to come.

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photo credit: various humans i love & yours truly

with every passing year we get a fresh start…a chance to begin anew with a clean slate.  i’m not big on making resolutions…i find that it’s the best way for me to fail before i start, so i refuse to make them.  i don’t write down how many pounds i think i should lose, how many spontaneous things on my bucket list i hope to complete (hashtag irony), vices i think i should quit, etc. etc.  for me, a new year means a challenge and last year presented many.  the new year brings 365 completely unknown, innocent, untainted, perfectly whole days in which to fill with adventure: to breathe in, create in, love in, laugh in and truly live in.  how incredible is that?!  we get an entirely new year to LIVE!

so although, the coming of NYE is bittersweet for me, i will be standing somewhere at midnight, in a fabulous party outfit, covered in glitter, hydrated by bubbly, not hoping to be kissed, but instead, hoping to make 2015 a brilliant chapter in my amazing life…just like i did  in 2014.

cheers to everyone who made this past year so magical for me…& cheers to the adventures that will come for all of us in the new year!

xx

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thanks-for-giving…

“some people grumble that roses have thorns; i am grateful that thorns have roses…”

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this particular quote {by alphonse karr} resonates deep with me.  in a world that can be harsh and cruel, it is easier most days to focus on the bad instead of the good.  as a person who tries with every fiber of my being to see the light in a dark tunnel, i have much to be grateful for.

’tis the season.

the season for giving.  we americans kick it off with our tradition of thanksgiving…which for any of you history buffs out there who have educated yourselves past the kindergarten version we were brainwashed with…was a bit of a bloody mess when it was first established.  the bottom line of the holiday, massacres and turmoil aside, is to give thanks to those around you who you care about and share your life with.  as a member of a fabulously loud irish brood who overflows with love and adoration for each other, using every possible excuse we can to get the whole crew together for good food, strong drinks, a re-telling of the hundreds of stories we have created over the years, catch up on the time we have spent apart, revel in the success and accomplishments of our fellow O’Reilly, thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.

i don’t know if i have the words to describe how much my family means to me.  they are literally the beat of my heart.  last year, i was very far away from them for my favourite holiday.  i was in a gloria jean’s coffee shop in hobart, tasmania on my purple samsung flip phone, using up VERY expensive international phone credits, talking to the familiar voices of my family back home in the states.  i had just departed from my soul sister and travel mate after our 3 week adventure in the tassie wild and was deeply homesick.  this year, although the reality of being back in america for just over 2 months hasn’t quite settled in fully, has been a constant struggle and felt a bit suffocating at times…i will be able to attend my family’s thanksgiving dinner and share time with the humans who make my heart beat.  some i have seen since returning…most i have not.  excited is an understatement.  since this is the season for giving…i’ve been thinking a lot about what i will be giving for the holidays.  last year, by being in a different geographical and emotional place, i escaped the overwhelmingly cliche consumerism that covers my homeland with the color green…for greed.  each year it seems to get a little more intense than the year before.  as a backpacker,  i gifted thoughtful postcards and spent money on international postage to send some adventure stories to the hearts i hold dear.  this year, i am physically here…but emotionally, i am torn between two homes.  because of this tearing, i have made a big decision of refusal to feed into the american consumerist culture that i fled over a year ago.  i am choosing to give gifts to the world as a whole…because it has given so much to me and the people i cherish in my life.

i am uncertain of how or why i have been fortunate enough in my life to meet the most incredible human souls.  people who live in their heart space, who stand up for who they are and what they believe in…lads and ladies who don’t take people, places or things for granted…who give back to causes they can relate to or appreciate, the kind of people who want more for themselves, for the world and for their people in it.  because of these people, i am forever changed.  throughout my 28 years, i have become more and more opinionated and action oriented as i experience new opportunities and grow in my worldly education.  after a year of traveling, seeing various sights and situations in australia, removing myself from the american “dream” constantly shoved down my throat, i have emerged with clarity and an endless amount of gratitude.

so to my amazing family, who has shaped me, showered me in support and love, been the daily smile in my heart, to the incredible souls i connected with throughout my time as a backpacker this past year…the hospitable people of australia who offered me shelter, transportation, helped me get jobs, offered me friendship that created a lifelong bond.  to my amazing world peace family that changed my life forever, kept a smile on my face even with time slipping away, to a beautiful soul who taught me what being appreciated and adored really feels like…to my irreplaceable friends from several of my life chapters who were there for me from the dreaming stage to the “holy shit, i booked my ticket” stage, to my current “re-entry sucks” stage…who stuck with me through several life journeys.

to ALL the people who have allowed me a place in their lives…thanks for giving.  thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the chance to smile at you, to learn your name and who you are, to hug you, to laugh with you, cry with you, have adventures with you…you have all shown me that in a world full of thorns…there will always be roses.

xx

{a donation has been made in the O’Reilly family name to YouthCare, a seattle based NPO organization that has been working for 40 years to provide effective services to homeless youth.  i chose this organization because we are all very child oriented.  we are passionate about the youth of the world and giving each and every child a positive start in life to be safe, cared for and to follow their dreams. i wanted to give back to the youth of the city that has given our family a place to gather and call home…learn more and make your own donation here}

{a donation has been made in the name of La Familia de Peace to Bush Heritage Australia, an australian non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting australia’s unique animals, plants and their habitats.  i chose this organization because la familia wandered kilometers of australian national park land and beaches, hidden places and magical forest land as we explored together.  we encountered wildlife and beautiful landscapes and i wanted to give back to australia since it gave so much to us on our journey together…learn more and make your own donation here}

{a donation has been made in the name of Around the World Friends to SeaShepherd, an international organization going strong since 1977, that works diligently for marine wildlife conservation.  this is an organization i became familiar with in my time in tasmania as i stayed with a family and worked on their bio-dynamic blueberry farm.  they took me to a sea shepherd event that showed the 2013 mission documentary film and i met one of the captains who helped stop the whaling in japan.  stead fast and strong in their missions year after year, sea shepherd is changing the world with every animal life they save.  learn more and make your own donation here.}

wearing big girl pants…

“all children, except one…grow up…”

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photo credit: Sam Norman

well good on peter pan, i say…the lucky chap.  this whole concept of growing up has put me in a bit of a whirlwind since my state side return from my life of carefree backpacker ways, looking out for numero uno {and the gorgeous humans i met along my journey} erasing stresses of days past and embracing the stresses of life on the road to everywhere.  now that i am back to a {new} american reality, i have been reflecting on this whole idea of growing up.  it seems overrated to me…which is the answer i created while coloring with crayons in my living room fort in mismatched socks earlier today.  growing old…it’s inevitable, kids.  but growing up…ahhh…that’s a choice.  after a year of being mostly unhappy in my city life that started to not fit so well…which ignited an ache in me to finally pursue the travel dreams i’d been holding onto…resulting in a year of pure bliss as a {mostly} free bird… i have found, that us young folks who still have good couch surfing, hitchhiking, sleeping on rooted national park land and on sandy beach years in us just shouldn’t even think about that growing up choice thing…maybe ever.

sure, there are bills to pay, debts to settle, life to live and live responsibly…however, you can still accomplish all those things, without taking life too damn seriously.  my adventures in australia taught me a plethora of lessons…as travel and life aims to do…and one of those lessons was learning that life is short.  because life is short and we really never know how long we have on this beautifully overpopulated and vastly destroyed planet, we must seize each day, opportunity and lesson.  for me, that means accepting that with each passing year i will indeed gain a new year in age, but in growing older, choosing to never grow up.  it worked for peter pan {whom i’ve always admired} and it can work for me.  i still giggle like the 4 year old girl i used to be in curled pig tails when my dad tells a silly joke…i still have a love // hate relationship with tickling…i still adore stomping in puddles and dancing in the rain, regardless of who’s watching or judging…i still use my hair brush as a microphone whilst dancing in my underwear at home…i still don’t like mushrooms {although i have been trying them more often to acquire my adult taste for them…finally}…i still love a good disney movie…i still have an obsession with dinosaurs…i still know every word to every raffi song…i still eat honey nut cheerios with my feet dangling off the couch and drink all the milk up when the cereal is gone…i still…okay, my point is…i haven’t allowed myself to lose my childish heart  // despite how many times it’s been cracked and broken by life and humans.

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photo credit: Sam Norman

as a little girl, when i finally got trained into my big girl panties, i was all about showing them to everyone…seriously.  i would show them to everyone…proud of my accomplishments, much to my parents’ mortification {and hope that lifting my skirt up in grocery stores would end after age 2…it has mom and dad…mostly!}  i LOVED big girl pants.  if only that love continued into adulthood. these days, i am struggling to enjoy the fact that i now have to wear pants.  everyday…i have to wear pants.  the big girl kind.  the kind of pants that cover my body as i trudge through the cold weather to get to work…the kind that make me look somewhat professional in small town jobs that help me pay my bills.  i have started to resent pants.  while i was enjoying my final month in australia {the best month of my life}, i got to go to bed every night with or without pants since the beachy weather we were surrounded by was warm and kind, i got to wake up every day and not wear pants.  i lived in my bathing suit since the ocean was our playground most days…no pants or shirt required.  clothes, i find these days, are restricting and overrated…just like growing up.

so even though life has changed once again…as i set goals and gear up to pay off the debts of my adulthood, continuing to giggle at my life like i’m still 6…daydreaming of the day that my green backpack can be brought down off the shelf, my passport can be dusted and we go off on another international adventure together…that wild haired, barefoot, free loving hippie child that’s always been inside me, that i fully grew into in my year in a foreign land, went into the wild exploring land, sea and human souls with…she’s still in me…even when she has to wear pants.

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collecting lessons…

“and if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones…cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs…setting fire to our insides for fun…”

IMG_1605 in your twenties, i truly believe that you make all of your biggest mistakes and learn the grand lessons that make life better when you hit a fresh decade…or at least i f*ckin hope so…otherwise, i have a lot of whiskey to consume in my thirties…

for most females of my generation, those years struggling through your twenties entail constant moments of solo humiliation, public embarrassment, laughing at your own jokes, giggling with your ladies who understand your stupidity, etc. etc. etc. and likely a string of mr. wrong’s, “ah hell nah’s”, almost prince charming’s, maybe a one that got away, at least two “fool me more than 3 times” guys, the players, the one that you thought could be the one because he had SO much potential, guy.  then amongst the shallow gene pools your stylish Hunter wellies have been wading through over the years, amidst the bar lights that made the ones look better than the reality of daylight, despite the cynicism your exhausted heart has adopted as a shield to go into battle with, if you’re really fortunate, you get the “show you what you deserve” guy…and let me tell you, when you get that guy, there’s no turning back to the old antics you settled on and made excuses for all those years before.

the hardest truth to face once you find one of those guys…the amazing kind that appreciates and adores you…who shows you a new side to relationships and yourself…the guy that ignites a fire inside you that can’t ever die once it’s been lit…is that he’s likely not the one you end up with.  but that’s ok.  really, i assure you…it is.  and really, do any of us end up with just one someone in life? i believe that soul mates come in and out of our lives and they come in many forms.  even if the “this is why it never worked with anyone else” guy isn’t the one that ends all dating for you, he’s a guy worth having and a guy worth holding onto…even if the time you get to hold him is temporary.  why is it still worth it?  because he’s proved them all wrong.  he showed you why your twenties are worth it, but also has shown you why the years to come will be google times better.

these encounters of all kinds will show you trials and tribulations, red flags, channel your inner goddess, make you run a faster mile (or kilometer) when he’s crazy and you must flee, will literally make your heart ice cold and become melted mush, will make you tell yourself that you’re just going to become a bitch…much to your dismay, not to mention everyone who knows you giving that smug smile and the slow head shake, it just won’t suit.  the different types you allow into various chapters of your story will alter you forever…most of them, show you how great you can be…without them.  trust me.

there’s the one who you give your first kiss to, the one who sweeps you off your feet at the high school dance who you have that immature puppy love with and say the three little words (that scare you for the rest of your heart beating life) and think you might even mean it…and for awhile you do…but it’s not your first love.  no, then comes the guy who first broke your heart…ouch, he’s a toughy.  he’s the real first love.  the one you have those other really important firsts with…the first one you see a future with, the one to teach you what bitterness can look like, how cynicism can consume you and what broken feels like.  moving on to the rebound turned relationship guy who you may or may not date off and on for 3 years of college…another rough go of lesson learning…the bonus is you saved on textbooks for this one.  he’s the one who teaches you how to trust yourself, since you can’t trust him…or the white noise around you.  you’ll learn that power can shift when you follow that gut instinct of yours…and it feels good.  likely there will be “should have been just a rebound number two” guy and for 10 months or so, he’ll teach you what passive aggressiveness is, that unhappiness can come in the form of attractive males who come visit you when you’re bartending, showing off their pool skills and fortunately for you…you eventually pick up the cue (pun intended).  he teaches you that as an independent woman, you get chances in life to grab it by the balls and run the other direction and never look back.

then there is the “he has so much potential” guy…the one you fall in love with when you’re finally kind of an adult…when it’s just enough of a big deal that you’ve been in each others lives for over 2 years, he still hasn’t met your family and you don’t have a flashy relationship status on social media.  the one who you believe in and see in the ways he can’t see himself.  he teaches you that almost 5 years can turn into 10 if you don’t stop and realize that nothing will ever change for you two…at least not together.  he teaches you mature love.  the unconditional kind…even though he never gave it back to you…nor will he ever be able to, you learned that to really and truly love another human, is to see past their flaws, believe in their soul and wish them every happiness, even when you’re not a part of it.  he also teaches you forgiveness.

and just when you’re broken into a million pieces…trying to accept the fact that as a person who loves hard and feels with everything she has…that physical pain is something you will just have to learn how to champ through…you meet a beautiful human soul on an epic journey that changes things in you.  and with that change, you’ll learn that nothing is guaranteed.  that the timing isn’t always perfect, but it’s always for a reason.  that life can never and should never be taken for granted.  that just because someone comes into your life and shifts your world a bit, doesn’t mean they can always be there…doesn’t guarantee that it’ll always be the way you had it once before…but the thing to hold onto there, is that some magic happened…even for a short time.

sometimes…in the middle of an ordinary twenty something life…extraordinary things happen…and the good news is, that the vision the universe has for you…is almost always, better than the one you may have created for yourself.

 

humanity wins…

 “when i was young, i didn’t know too much.  then i grew up, i found out life was hard…harder than stone…”

sometimes in life, there is a struggle.  as i try to create an acceptance of my current reality, put positive spin on the fact that re-entry has been deeply heartbreaking and find “home” again, i have moments where my heart opens so fully it actually physically hurts and other moments where my heart closes off intensely and i feel frozen…which also physically hurts.

imagine my own surprise when on a day that my heart was feeling especially closed off and a bit cold, running errands and sorting tasks in my beautiful city of seattle (before i moved over the mountains), i had some experiences sparking love and acceptance in me again…pushing me back into my warm, thawed heart space.  on a tuesday, not that the day of the week matters much in this case,  i saw an older woman completely decked out in her green and blue hawks gear, hitchhiking.  the intense need to pick her up, unfortunately couldn’t outweigh the fact that i was driving a mates car and was on a mission to accomplish storage sorting and clothing donation drops.  after spending an entire week hitchhiking off and on in tasmania last november, my want and need to pay it forward is currently at an all time high.  knowing two of my handsome travel mates from my final month in oz have been hitching thousands of kilometers in australia and getting heaps of rides, enjoying amazing adventures and meeting incredible people, makes the urge to pay back the free ride kindness even stronger.  someday…i’ll have a car of my own again…and someday, i will pay it forward and give hitchhikers rides, offer interesting conversation and help them in any way i can to get to the next part of their journey.

later in the day…after handling ‘return from utopia’ logistics, i had ridden the bus (first time i rode a seattle city bus in about 8 years) downtown to meet a good friend from the uni days for a catch up.  as i walked down pine street on the sidewalk across from the columbia store, i saw a homeless man with a cardboard sign that said, “down on my luck.”  after quickly processing and appreciating the honesty of his sign, i gave him eye contact and we exchanged a compassionate smile, i gave him a friendly wave and i continued walking on my way.  another ice chip melted off the ol’ ticker.  i couldn’t help but smile remembering how open my heart was just a month and a half ago as i drove the open roads of the eastern coast of australia…windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, music blasting…exchanging just shy of about 600 hugs a day with the most incredible world peace family i could ever dream of…letting a new person have a piece of it and change its beat…exploring bits of myself that i hadn’t grown into until i was on the journey of a lifetime…discovering other bits of myself i never knew i even had…you see, travel opens the heart pretty easily if you let it…but when you have to put it to rest for awhile, it’s easy to close it back off.  these little moments i was experiencing back on US soil, were to me, a universal reminder to keep my open heart open…to remain the optimistic and free loving soul i have always been.

when it was time to say goodnight, i took my wine induced buzz back to the city streets and walked to my bus stop…feeling a newfound purpose and feeling alive and open again after good company and sharing stories and sweet new music.  at the bus stop, which could be construed as dodgy given its location and the after 10pm time period, a middle aged gentleman approached me asking for a dollar.  a dollar i had and a dollar i would have gladly given, but it was one of two dollars plus the quarters i had scrounged up…all of which i needed to get my legs and my ass back onto the bus.  i apologized and as we boarded the bus and settled into our seats, he explained to me that he had intended to trade me my dollar for his $2.50 prepaid bus ticket.  clearly, the misunderstanding was my own.  when i apologized profusely at my confusion, he smiled graciously as we exchanged a kind moment of acceptance.  as he prepared to get off at his stop, one before my own, he said, “you have a good night” and gave me one last smile.  i responded with, “you take care,” and once again…ice melting…a heart opens.  on a typical night in seattle, doesn’t matter the day of the week…or even what city it is to be honest, this same bus stop exchange could have gone several different ways…i’ve seen the other outcomes as i have walked to my next destination point in san francisco or continued forth to turn down a new street to meet friends at a new club opening in belltown…sometimes, people aren’t so friendly…sometimes people are cruel.  it felt good to not be one of them…and to have encountered the friendly kind that day and night.

the next morning, i awoke with a new appreciation.  i could suddenly feel why my closed heart wasn’t actually closed…why it never really freezes over in moments when i am feeling uncertain or a bit hurt.  it’s just not the way my heart beats.  after a brunch date with a dear friend, we journeyed to the u village to sell some of my clothes on consignment…an act that didn’t give me much monetary luck pre-australia departure so my usually optimistic self wasn’t too sold on the idea that it would bring any kind of success.  i may have failed at making money that day…but what i received instead was not something money can buy.  we were circling to find parking when an old blind gentleman with a walking stick to guide him was crossing the street…he bumped into my mates car as he swerved and struggled to walk the straight line of the crosswalk to get to his curb.  both my friend and i were feeling concerned…as we watched him begin to cross the next street up from where we sat idling, we saw him struggle again and with my hand on the door handle, ready to jump out and assist him, a beautiful patron…on her own crosswalk mission, stopped walking in the opposite direction of the old man, grabbed his elbow gently as she spoke to him and offered her guidance and walked back the other way to help him complete his crossing safely.  witnessing this act…both my mate and i feeling the strong pull to jump out of the car and assist this stranger who needed some empathy and some direction…my heart burst open.  i actually got teary eyed…because you know what?  humanity wins.  every time.  it wins, because it has to.

just when you think that you’ve become a hardened statue that can’t feel…that’s closed off from the realities that bind you to a new kind of life…you remember that although life can be harder than stone…your heart simply cannot.IMG_1694