Vlog: Travel Update

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Hi, lovelies! A lot of people have been inquiring as to my current game plan for Europe. Here’s a quick update on my plans!

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  • During late July and early August a few girlfriends and I are trying to arrange it so we can travel around together! The biggest hinderance is finances! Any tips on ways to make/save money on the road? We’ll be using http://www.helpx.net, http://www.couchsurfing.com, and staying in hostels to travel as cheaply as possible. 
  • At the end of August, I will move to Lausanne, Switzerland to be an au pair for a spectacular Spanish family! This is a great opportunity, because I adore Switzerland and would love to brush up on my Spanish. Although I will be doing some traveling on the weekends, I will be saving a lot of the money I make to put it toward further travels. Additionally, I’ll have to be putting a portion of it toward student loans.
  • The last week of November will mark the end of my Swiss living. That means I have December to travel around and hang out with friends…
  • If you are around wherever I am, I’d love to meet up! There’s a small possibility that my parents will try and come over and visit during this time. That would be great, seeing as I have no idea if I’ll be spending Christmas alone in a hostel (I doubt that would happen, though, as I have a knack for randomly meeting new friends!)…
  • In January, I will move to Torino, Italy to become an au pair for another beautiful family. I am thrilled!  I will stay here for a least six months.
  • After Italy, I will hopefully return to Switzerland for another three months.
  • Then…who knows!

Lost in Zurich

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ImageIn May of 2011, I boarded a plane for my first European adventure. Despite not sleeping a wink on the plane, I was full of energy when I stepped foot into Zurich, Switzerland. It was still daytime there and I had a full day day of me! After getting settled into the hotel, we all changed clothes and prepared to explore the city. The group I was there studying psychology with ended up separating. The two groups of energetic American co-eds split ways to experience our respective guided tours. My friend Michelle and I stuck close together and chattered continuously. This is where my ease with being in foreign environments came into play…

ImageAll of a sudden, Michelle and I realized that we were with the wrong group! We laughed about how distracted we had become and looked behind us to see our original group crossing a bridge. We quickened our steps to try and catch up to them and hurriedly crossed the bridge. The group walked around a corner, but we were gaining headway and it didn’t really concern us. When we rounded the corner, they were gone! We spent the next 15 minutes fruitlessly searching for the gaggle of students. It was as if they’d vanished into thin air. Image

I decided the next best option would be to find the hotel we were staying in. We figured it had to be within a couple miles of us, so we started asking locals for directions. Every Swiss person I’ve encountered since then speaks multiple languages, but for whatever reason, no one we approached could understand our plight!  Well, they may have just been laughing at the silly American girls…

It was when Michelle started to get concerned that I had a beautiful realization. I thought to myself, “We are in Europe! Specifically, Zurich, one of the safest places to be. It is 23 °C outside and there’s no rain!” I wondered why the heck we were spending our time being flustered, instead of enjoying this experience. I convinced Michelle to enjoy a drink with me, at a little outdoor cafe by the Limmat River. We sat there for awhile, chatting and people watching, before continuing to search for a group.

 Amazingly, we saw our trip guide across the street. We flagged him down and were able to reunite with our group. While our professor was quite displeased with us, I still look back at the time I was lost in Zurich with great fondness. We were able to see many historical sites, explore the city, and even watch a game of chess!

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Cafe in Zurich, Switzerland.

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Outdoor chess game

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Zurich, Switzerland.

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Lovely garden!

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Exploring the city.

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Don’t think, Just Jump!

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“I bet you wouldn’t…” Some of my experiences that could be deemed risky stem from that single line. Does cliff jumping into freezing, winter water sound appealing? Definitely not (unless you’re the RawBrahs). But someone insinuated that I wouldn’t be brave enough to do it.  In that instance, the appeal became centered on the accomplishment and not the activity. There are other experiences, though, that I am solely intrinsically motivated to engage in. One of my favorites, up to this point, was the exhilarating activity of bridge swinging. Of course, I’d heard of bridge jumping, but I tended to keep my jumps off of natural surfaces. The practice of bridge swinging was quite foreign to me and when a friend mentioned it, I became very intrigued.

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My bridge swinging experience began at an undisclosed location (potentially outside of the US).  The two men calmly directed our little foursome, while the other girl and I giggled nervously as we followed along. She skittishly remarked that this was the type of thing she would do in her early twenties. I laughed in Imageunderstanding, but didn’t agree with her, as I couldn’t really identify.  When we reached the base of the bridge, the guys began to plan out our ascent. I concentrated on controlling my breathing, to quell my nerves. Inwardly, I contrasted my current feelings to the ones I’d experienced before skydiving. When skydiving, my fellow jumper (who I had coerced into going) was incredibly nervous. I was able to stifle my own nerves, in order to calm him. But in that moment under the bridge, I had no distractions. Instead of allowing myself to become agitated by my nervousness, I appreciated the full spectrum of emotions and bodily arousal that I was experiencing. I took in to account my quickened heart rate, sweaty palms, racing mind. I recognized how beautiful it was that I could feel so alive. I genuinely appreciated how easy it was to be fully Present in that moment.

After a few minutes of set up, it was time to begin the daunting, eighty foot climb up the unprotected ladder. Midway up, I quietly laughed aloud when I realized that I had probably never climbed a ladder more carefully in my life.

As I intentionally set my hands and feet on each bar, my memory was jogged. I was taken back to being five years old and climbing onto the roof with my father. Under his instruction, I remember my climbing being just as deliberate and slow. My mother despised me climbing onto that roof, but in my young mind, the thrill was second only to scaling the tree in our yard. With the chilly wind ruffling my hair and my fingers tightly grasping the rungs, I made my careful ascent and eventually stepped onto the platform.

Walking along the catwalk of the bridge was slightly unnerving, depending on where I let my focal point settle. If I looked through the holes, to the ground below, it was almost as if I was walking on air! I tried to focus on walking and not letting my mind ruminate on the knowledge that, within just a few minutes, I would be plummeting toward the dark waters below.  The bridge blocked the noisy wind, giving us a relief from the cold and allowing for easy communication.

Since the guys were handling all of the setup, we females did our best to make small talk. It was obvious, though, that we  weren’t fully engaged in the conversation.

I knew that I was going to jump first. When my friend suggested bridge swinging, he also strongly recommended that I was the first to go. He maintained that I’d be far better off not having seen someone jump before me. Without giving myself a chance to say no,I agreed and set my intention.

Image Before I knew it, the safety knots were all tied, my harness was on, and it was time for me to climb over the railing. I made a futile attempt to yank my harness even tighter and swung one leg over the bar. I stood there on my perch, which was only big enough for one foot to stand on. Reticent to let go, my white-knuckled hands clutched the railing. I knew that it was time to jump, but for a moment, I was paralyzed. My heart was pounding, my natural instincts kicked in, and the last thing I wanted to do was hurl myself into the darkness below. After what seemed like eternity, I managed to push past my instinctual need for self-preservation and stepped off the tiny platform. For just a moment, before the rope caught, there was nothing holding me. I was completely a victim of gravity, hurtling toward the dark waters. I felt weightless and free. Just like the free fall while skydiving, the moment seemed to be simultaneously infinite and instantaneous. When the rope finally caught, it gently pulled me to into an arc. Finally, I could breath…and scream! My scream was more a cry of abandon and quickly turned into gleeful laughter. I swung back and forth many more times,thoroughly enjoying the feel of brisk wind rushing around me. Once I abandoned my initial fears and let go, the experience was immensely pleasurable.

Of course, I couldn’t end this post without connecting my experience to life in general. People, don’t be afraid to jump! Take that risk. The universe will send you to you what you need the most, so don’t ignore it. Take advantage of the moments that take your breath away.

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Stay positive. Be Present. Set your intentions.

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Vlog: Enhance Your Relationships

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Hey, all! I sincerely apologize for my lack of activity on here, recently. I am going to be posting more frequently, from now on.

Over my young life, I’ve encountered many people and observed a lot of relationships. I decided to make a vlog on a few of my thoughts. As said in the video, I’d love to hear your feedback and constructive criticism!

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Spirit Quest in Nature

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This past spring, I saw a video of a beautiful woman, Megan, whom I had met a few times many years ago. To my delight, she was dancing around to African tribal music while juicing! In case you don’t know, I adore juicing, dancing, and tribal music…

After I realized we had so much in common, I invited her to come stay with me. Megan packed up her belongings, bought a bus ticket, and came to Tennessee! I had such a magical time exploring nature, eating raw foods, belly dancing, conversing, and doing yoga with this enlightened woman. I am so thankful that the universe guided us to each other.

The time she stayed with me was incredibly enlightening. Megan has one of the most positive, loving spirits I have ever encountered. Although we were practically strangers, there was no awkwardness whatsoever! I love her dearly and she is my soul sister.

Naturally, I was thrilled when she divulged to me that she was creating a Spirit Quest video detailing our experience! So now it’s here for you to enjoy….

Retrospect

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While procrastinating on completing my studies today, I was pleased to re-discover a video I’d taken during an early-morning jog in May of 2011. This rudimentary filming was done in the foothills of the Alps, near the border of Switzerland and Germany. Being still jet-lagged and running around at 6:30 in the morning wasn’t exactly conducive to a fully awake video…

I hope you’ll be able to look past my sleepy eyes and gravelly voice to witness me falling even more in love with Europe. If someone had told me during that trip that, not even two years later, I would be planning a trip to Europe with no definitive ending point, I would have had trouble believing it! I felt this ineffable enchantment with Europe from the moment I stepped off of the plane in Frankfurt. It’s hard to explain, but it almost felt as if I was home. Even when completely lost in Zurich (I’ll make a post about this soon!), after only having arrived a few hours prior, I felt completely content.

Releasing my need to constantly plan and be overly futuristic has been such a blessing. I encourage all of you to open yourself up to the natural journey that life will take you on. I am so excited to see where my coming adventures take me.

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
― Eckhart Tolle

P.S. “Traveler” = tourist/student-ish

Milking the Mall System

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Recently, I found myself in a bit of a predicament. While on a mini-trip to Atlanta, I was invited to party. Fun stuff, right? Well, the problem was, I had barely gotten ready that morning and was in no state to attend a party. I decided to kill a couple of hours by visiting Atlanta’s massive mall. This was when I got the great idea to “milk” the mall system! While I’m sure some savvy individuals have been doing this for some time, this was a first experience for me.

I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has ever been bombarded with the requests of vendors while trying to enjoy a peaceful visit to the mall. I usually sidestep and politely smile away their offers, but this time, I accepted!  I said, “Yes!” to that free preview massage and enjoyed every minute of it. Having no perfume with me, I decided to partake in the free samples of Macy’s. When I saw the black and white stripes of Sephora, I thought, “Gold mine!” Sure, it might be slightly unconventional to completely do my eye makeup and lipstick in the store, but I figure that I’ve bought enough of their products over the years to make it acceptable. While perusing second floor, I was flagged over by a guy wanting to show me his mineral foundation. Of course, I accepted and walked away with the luminescent glow of that over priced powder. Because I love my current hair straightener, I typically avoid the hair styling stands like the plague. This time, though, that demonstration really came in handy! I hadn’t intended to include this in my gratis-mall-makeover, but I couldn’t say no when an attractive man called me over to experience the exfoliating powers of the Dead Sea.

ImageAfter a couple hours of exploring the mall, getting pampered and having great conversation with the salespeople, I walked out with great hair, soft hands, and stained lips!

Does anyone know if malls are like this in countries outside of the US? If so, I will definitely be taking advantage!