I was about to start this blog by saying “never in my life have I been so happy to return home” but that’s not true. Returning home from Liberia Africa in 2008 to my new boyfriend at the time, Michael, was very exciting. Still, I was so happy to come back to the states.
I learned so much that I had not sought to learn on this trip 🙂 I think a list is in order.
Things I learned traveling through Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland:
- The romantic, wild, and ever-changing Camino de Santiago via the Frances Route is dead. It probably died about 5 to 10 years before we arrived. It’s now as well-traveled and exploited by tourist traps as Disneyworld. In fact, I coined the term “Disneyworld for wounded adults” early on in the journey since so many people doing it had recently lost someone or gone through a divorce.
- It’s hard! Putting all of our belongings in storage and traveling was a dream of mine for so long that an immature part of me really believed it would be all sunshine and rainbows. I felt like I read the story a million times on different blogs, young people quitting their jobs putting life on hold to go out and experience the world. But it’s not for everyone. I love to travel and I love adventure, but there is something to be said for having a home. This was probably compounded by loosing our home unexpectedly to a fire the year before but it was still a good lesson.
- Traveling for more than a couple of weeks really exposes you to yourself. This was something I set out to experience but I was surprised how quickly I resorted to past bad habits in order to avoid change. I had also experienced this before in Africa but I was a single woman then. This time what was exposed wasn’t just my inner self but how I interact with Michael in times of fatigue, stress, hunger, or other discomfort. For Michael and I, we realized how hard we try to comfort one another and had to discover new levels of interdependence to get through the trip. It was hard at the time, but I am so grateful for this lesson.
- I re-learned that hard times are ripe for change and to always embrace it. It’s so easy to want to return to old patterns and habits to cope with stress but the outcome is much greater and more meaningful when we embrace the imprints of life on our being.
- Time away from everyday life is valuable. When I reflect on my journals, I feel like I traveled over life times. I feel like a very different person than the one who left Washington on August 26th, 2014.
- I learned that “time away” doesn’t have to be out of the country to be a valuable experience. In some respects our time here in Bend setting life up has been just as, if not more, rewarding than our travels abroad.
- Be present in the here and now. In the past, I felt like I was pretty good at this but somehow graduate school trained me otherwise. I loved school and I wanted to do everything right and take advantage of my time so I often over planned. I was confronted by this on the trip and realized, its time to let that go. Be. Here. Now.
In reflecting on this list I am reminded how often we re-learn things in life. As Joyce Meyer once said, “if we don’t pass the test the first time, its ok: God will offer a re-take.”
I look forward to writing some future blogs on life here in Bend. It has been an incredible 6 month journey.