Traveling Solo Is The Best Way to See Yourself

Something pretty miraculous that I’ve really tuned into lately is how wonderful it is that I enjoy spending time with myself. This is a miracle. It used to be so hard for me to sit still and even spend a minute trying to meditate alone. For the longest time I simply couldn’t do it. I really didn’t like myself and found it much easier to criticize myself and focus on negativity than anything else – it was my default, unbeknownst to me at the time. For many years, the critical, afraid, negative voice of mine was the only voice I really knew.

Traveling alone is something I first did when I had about one year sober and I decided to book a solo expedition to Costa Rica for slightly over a week. It was right around the time of my one year anniversary of recovery so I wanted to do something really special. I booked a flight somewhat impulsively wondering if anyone might end up coming with me or if I was really going to go through with it and make the solo trek. I ordered a new backpack and everything – and started imagining how I would go about packing it up for the 8 day adventure. And a few months later, before I could back out or come up with a good enough excuse to not do it, I was off. I remember waking up in Tamarindo the first day and feeling really scared – like I was all alone in a new country and had no idea what I wanted to do to pass the day or even the next hour. I was overwhelmed with possibility and scared about what might happen if I ventured out all by myself.

I was mostly scared to be truly and completely alone with myself. I never really had to be after all. In NYC I always had plenty of distractions and could be surrounded by people every moment of the day if I chose to be. Being alone with myself and really having to engage and ask myself what I wanted to do was a huge challenge. I had to listen in and be pretty patient as I started to let my inner voice emerge, maybe for the first time. I never really gave it much air time back then and to hear it required a massive turning up of the consciousness volume – like that frequency hadn’t been used too often so it took extra care to attune to.

Eventually I got over the fear and went to the coffee shop next to my hostel where I ended up making friends with the owners who were long time Berkeley, CA residents. Of course. Leave it to me to find the Bay Area peeps anywhere in the world. We are like magnets for one another I swear. Not only did I end up having the best coffee (and would continue to everyday I was in Tamarindo) I also made some other friends who I started to see around town. It was a pretty small expanse after all. I went out to dinner with friends I met at my hostel, one of whom I even ended up hitching a ride with to Monteverde, high up in the mountains towards the middle away from the coastal beaches I had been enjoying. More than these fun little moments though was the cultivation of newly found self esteem and confidence – secured through honoring what I wanted to do and following my inner guidance. I was reaching out for guidance in a way I hadn’t done before because honestly it felt like I had no choice to do otherwise. I was granted so much relief and ultimately got to enjoy so much fun. If you missed this, read more about my Costa Rica adventure here – it was pretty magical indeed.

My next solo adventure was to Barcelona, which was a huge milestone for me given my long history of thinking that traveling to Europe simply wasn’t something available to me. I ended up meeting an amazing guy there who I ended up traveling around with quite a bit for about a year after – it was like a movie romance seriously. He just got a girl friend in Barcelona (yay for geographical convenience) and I’m so happy for him. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever had where I feel like we are truly friends and I can be happy for him that he’s so happy and found someone amazing close by to connect with. Another miracle – surely a result of developing this loving relationship with myself over the years, definitely.

Portugal was always on my mind since living in Brazil while studying abroad back in 2009. I was curious to see the land of tiled streets with the most epic conquistador rap sheet aside from Spain. I find it so hard to believe that such two small nations at one point controlled most of the known world – bizarre indeed and even more so that I think people are very proud of that history to this day. A few cab drivers in Lisbon swore to me that their Ponte 25 de Arbil bridge is older than the Golden Gate Bridge – perhaps even the inspiration for the west coast counterpart. The record was just set straight by this nice dude at the airport who assured me that the Golden Gate has a few decades on it at least and before the name change to the date of the revolution the bridge was named after the last dictator Salazar.

Did I mention my first day in Lisbon I went to a dance party in the forest on top of this big hill? Yes, and I got an amazing Ayurvedic massage mixed with some reiki vibes in this cool tent off to the side of the party – perfection. I’m so glad I started talking to the girl manning the tent, her Buddha statue caught my eye and I knew something good was about to unfold.

And each day in Lisbon was better than the last. I got to know this amazing woman who is part of my IIN group coaching call – she’s seriously a rockstar cellist, music therapist, surfer pro, teacher and super cool mom! I am so grateful to have connected with her, what an amazing friend indeed. I even went on a date my second to last night there with the best guy – a former tour guide and flight attended turned social media marketer who literally has the best stories I’ve ever heard. We enjoyed some sweet rooftop snack vibes and strolling through the windy streets and staircases of Bairro Alto followed by a drive through the city interior to make sure I got to see absolutely every part of town.

Basically I feel so blessed to witness how magically things seem to unfold particularly when I don’t over plan. This is something I desperately want to integrate more of into my everyday life – which I don’t want to be much different from my experience traveling and adventuring in other countries. Might I please remember this time that everywhere I go people are amazed to hear that I live in NYC? Their excitement makes me want to take more advantage of the city and its true spectrum of activities and fun. I also want to intend on having more down time so I can spontaneously allow happenstance fun into my life and run ins with incredible people I might not otherwise meet. #notetoself

So I have a week in Berlin and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds. I’m definitely going to get into some yoga, cook more for myself (so much bread and cheese in Portugal, I need some veggies yo!) and work at some fun co-working spots. You know how WeWork is a thing in the US? Well apparently that whole co-working scene has been a thing in Berlin specifically for much longer! I’m going to get all up in it and pretend like I’m in Silicon Alley: Berlin. One of my clients cracked me up yesterday on the phone when he started dropping the most stereotypical lingo of all time, to which I had to respond: “we are streamlining so many synergies!” True story. Love my life. And more than anything I am reminded of how grateful I am to love spending time with myself – I am the coolest person I know, what a miracle <3

Going With The Flow, Ultra Dreamy Style

     Just this past April I went on my first trip ever to Europe, first to visit a friend in southern Spain then to Barcelona solo! I love traveling alone, it’s honestly the best way to get to know yourself and really get in touch with what you truly love. At least for me this tends to be the case. My first solo trip was to Costa Rica for a little over a week. I went without a plan other than just the hostel I would spend my first night in. The rest I figured I’d leave up in the air – see how I feel and then go from there. What a refresh from my seemingly overly planned scheduled life in NYC. The first day waking up in Costa Rica, if I remember correctly, was kinda terrifying. I was along in another country. I could do whatever I wanted and no one would really know. I felt overwhelmed and scared – what should I choose? I suddenly felt nervous about going out of my hostel room into the shared kitchen where other visitors and their friends were all hanging. Would I look lame because I was alone? Where did this high school nervousness suddenly pop up from?

I ventured out anyway and realized a ton of other people I thought were all friends were actually solo travelers just like me. Of course. One dude from Chicago invited me to check out the best coffee spot and then suggested I venture to the beach. Once I got to the ocean I realized – this is what I had come for. I let go of the anxiety and pressure to plan out the perfect trip so I could get the most out of my experience and started meditating, asking for guidance and support in letting it all go to be open to a whole new experience.

Long story short I had the best time. Like, literally. The guy from Chicago with the coffee recommendation? He ended up inviting me to hitch a ride to Monteverde, the most beautiful mountainous rain forest area a couple hundred miles away from the Pacific coast. I was only there with him for a day and solo for a few days after, where I went on an epic 10 mile hike and saw a hidden waterfall, a butterfly preserve and met this awesome magical psychic lady who I got to help with her shop’s Facebook page in exhange for a massage! Needless to say my trip worked out better than I could have even tried to plan. As usual.

I’m writing from JFK about to depart for Moscow then Barcelona. Super weird itinerary, I know. I jumped when I saw a super cheap ticket, realizing only after the fact that the layover was almost half a days travel out of the way. Whoops! My first thought: cool, I’ll check out Russia, especially on the way back during the 12 hour layover from 9pm-9am! I’ll go to DA CLUB or who knows what. No sleep till Moscow. Then I realized the visa process was intense and expensive plus I would need a formal hotel invitation to exit the airport, real serious like. Then I caved again and bought a direct flight back from Barcelona to NYC, paying about the same cost of a direct round trip flight in the end. Lesson learned I hope.

So what brings me back to Barcelona this time? I still haven’t been anywhere else in Europe after all. Well, on my third to last day in town during my solo adventure I decided to mix it up and go on Tinder to see if I could find a new friend to holler at some dinner and maybe, if we hit it off, a fun Flux Pavillion concert I had tickets to. First of all, Tinder in Barcelona is just better than NYC. Everyone is gorgeous and has way more game. Not in a creepy pretentious way though. Game in the authentic, romancing type way. Some kinda way!

After some banter back and forth about “necesito un guía de turismo” (I need a tour guide aka my suave pick up line) – I was on my way to meet this guy for dinner. Since I didn’t have cell service, just what’s app on wifi, we made an old school plan to meet by an ATM outside of the train. I could only keep thinking, God how did people used to live without phones? Showing up on time to a specific place never seemed so incomprehensible. Sure enough, there he was! Just when I thought we lost each other, he turned the corner, mentioning there was another ATM of the same bank at the other trains entrance. Thankfully he didn’t think I had stood him up.

We had an awesome dinner and luckily he was into the concert idea too. I could tell he thought the venue was funny – reminiscent of study abroad bars I think, and sure enough when we got there it was bro overload. I almost felt like I was in San Diego again circa 2008. We proceeded to dance the night away and I created my own movie moment on the roof of Razzmatazz – we were deciding what we wanted to do next, to which I replied, “Quiero besarte!” Translation: I want to kiss you. Then it was game over, the chemistry I had felt earlier at dinner was more than confirmed and suddenly I was lost, lost in the heat of the moment (queue Frank Ocean in the background).

The next day we checked out the beach, rising over on his motorcycle through the bustling Barcelona streets. I got the best tour of the city I could have hoped for. We fell asleep on the beach, talking about astrology or something spiritual in Spanish – but it gets better. We had another awesome date that night, checking out the magical dancing fountains of Montjuic and then enjoying a delicious sushi dinner (like really good). I had been on quite a few Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, blah blah dates over the years but nothing ever materialized into anything serious except for a few cool new friends (no new friends). Something was different now. I felt like we were on the same level, in a cool way where he would say what I was thinking, more than just a few times. It was striking and really refreshing at once. I also just felt really good about going with the flow and not being in my head about the usual questions – where is this going? Are we a good fit? Are we going to date? But I live far away. Is he successful? What does he think of me? And on and on and on literally forever. This time there was none of that. I was just me and it was all good. Maybe it was a case of ultimate freedom and surrender to vacation vibes in the most romantic place maybe aside from Paris (or so I’ve heard). Regardless, I was all about this life.

 Time flies when you’re having fun. He came with me to my Airbnb apartment to help me pack the ridiculous amount of stuff I had brought with me and even saw me off as I led with this ridiculously old, quite possibly blind retired taxi driver my Airbnb host hooked me up with for a mega deal. I didn’t have huge expectations of what was to come but felt really happy with how we parted ways and knew I would always have a friend in Spain no matter what.

After I got home I was amazed that he was eager to keep in touch. It felt easy to, not calculated or ripe with any ulterior motives like other post-dating comms can sometimes feel. I was going with the flow and loving it. We Skyped and texted a lot on What’s App and before I knew it, I was booking my weird flight to Moscow, I mean Barcelona, for a few months later. We started planning an awesome adventure together that somehow morphed into a road trip up Costa Brava from Barcelona into Southern France. I forget who suggested it but in any case it reminds me of the California Pacific Coast Highway but even more beautiful if that’s even possible. And the water is more green and swim-able. Dreamy.

So here I am, waiting to get on this epic flight to Russia aboard (no lie) “The world’s most improved airline.” This is a real marketing tag line for Transaero by the way, although their website might be fake, which is surprising because there are so many other people waiting for my same flight. Maybe I’m just late to the Russia flight game. I’m excited and also nervous! I haven’t seen him in a few months and I’m going to see him in the airport looking super haggard after nearly a day of traveling – cute. But this time tomorrow, after a long nap, I’ll be on vacay and living the dream. I’m unplugging except for snaps for that Gram (duh) and maybe some inspired writing. Going on vacation always inspires me to write, and not just write – but share it too. Sharing what’s going on is a big part of self love for me. When I put myself out there for everyone to see I am saying – “what I have to say is worth sharing and my experience is valuable to others, and maybe I can help!” It feels all warm and fuzzy when people resonate with me too, and since I’m totally a connection/feelings junkie, I’ll keep doing it! Bon voyage beautifuls 💜

Stuntin’ is a Habit (Get like me)

Be all there

Love this song. Right now I’m taking it as a reminder to make new habits – consciously form new habits, especially the ones that feed my soul. For me, traveling is just that. Last week was my first week back a 10 day blissful adventure in Spain, which actually felt like a month away. Time slows down maybe everywhere else in the world outside of NYC.

I started by adventure in Cadiz, where time literally slowed down, spread out and morphed in ways I still have trouble understanding. The sunrise is earlier and sunset is way later than anywhere I’ve ever been (9:30-10pm in summer or maybe always) and it’s the norm to eat weekday dinner at 10pm. Siestas are brilliant although my first day walking around I didn’t quite get why there wasn’t anywhere open to eat. Siestas are such a real thing in Cadiz that the town literally shuts down for a few hours between 12 and 4pm to give people a chance to literally and figuratively chill (so hard).

Barcelona offered more of the familiar NYC city vibe with a certain SF swagger I couldn’t help but feel was familiar. I felt like I had been there before, quite possibly in a past life. Most importantly I realized the root of the restlessness I was feeling for quite awhile. After all I hadn’t taken a real unplugged vacation (for longer than a long weekend) in a couple of years!

Here’s what I’m taking back with me from my recent escapade – new habits with intentions to match:

1. Plan more weekend getaways, get out of town, get a fresh perspective. Get into gratitude for how awesome my life is in NYC. Remember 5 years ago when I dreamed of moving here and I went for it, without a job, or anything? Yeah, that happened. What a ride.

2. Treat the day like an adventure. On vacation I love waking up without too much planned and just seeing where the day takes me – spontaneity in its purest form. Instead of planning the week with back to back commitments and activities, how about going with the flow and seeing what I actually feel like doing throughout the day. Adios FOMO. 

3. Go on solo adventures walking around NYC, visiting spots I’ve never visited before. Where would I go if I was a tourist visiting NYC for the first time on my own? There are still so many places I haven’t experienced here – I’m excited to venture out into the great beyond with a renewed sense of wonder. Hiking along Appalachian Trail, The Cloisters, Brighton Beach, Hudson Valley spots, Fire Island, NJ hiking and beaches…and much more.

4. Eat amazing food, adventure to far away neighborhoods to experience famed cuisine only available in NYC. Dim Sum in Flushing, Indian in Jackson Heights, soul food in Harlem, Dominican in Washington Heights.

5. Run around with no schedule in mind and no limit on time. Stop to take pics and bask in the beauty of Prospect Park, Central Park, the city, the Brooklyn Bridge and the loop around Battery Park up the Westside Highway.

6. Write about my experiences. Remember why I moved here, what I thought would happen and what actually transpired. Tell the story of how it’s all unfolded.

So much awesome change is in the air lately – I’m excited for more of it to unfold in the coming months! But as always it all starts with today.

BK Bridge

Daily Dose: Truth + Travel

barcelona

Don’t downplay your abilities now, Libra. You’re on the brink of greatness, so act like it. Things should go quite well if you let them. Don’t clog up the works by thinking that you’re unworthy of the good luck that is sure to come your way. If things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to, take it as a sign that the situation wasn’t right for you anyway.

Sometimes it’s as simple as subscribing to daily horoscope updates to remind you of the truth.

I’m going to Barcelona in less than 2 weeks and it feels like a dream. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I’m finally making the trip! Truthfully for a long time I believed that there were many things preventing me from going – namely student loans, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, an inability to save consistently (for a long time), and my healthy budget for self care and entertainment (gotta be healthy and have fun, duh!). Somewhere along the line my old frame of mine shifted into a new plane wherein I am no longer waiting for something to swoop in and save me from student debt and expenses. Instead I simply started saving and took responsibility for making my dream happen – and it wasn’t even that hard!

I’ve found a few tools incredible helpful in the process – including Mint.com, regular check ins with my checking account, and using a CaptialOne 360 savings account to auto-save each week towards my goal. Oh and definitely Hipmunk for my flight alerts – always my go-to for finding great flight deals. It only took a few months and I’m off to an incredible adventure!