Be soft…


Friday July 29,2016

Day 70

Coppet, Switzerland 
This is my mantra. 

I whole heartedly live this. 

Even before someone sent me this little ditty, saying it reminded them of me. 

As with everyone, I’ve dealer with my fair share of negativity. Of bullies. Of people intentionally or not, trying to bring me down. 

Especially in these past two years. There have been plenty of times where all I could do was sit and cry it all out. That sick feeling of betrayal. Of losing everything. Of losing someone. That deep feeling in the pit of your stomach. Everyone and everything around me is sucked far far away and it is just me. There. Alone. Shattered. 

Like that time in Portland when I came home from the last week of summer camp, running a temperature of 101.3, my body heating, sweating, shivering. It hurt to breathe. Pneumonia. All my co staff were getting pumped to go out and celebrate the end of camp. Happy energy. Clean vibes were all around. 

When we got back to base camp where our cars were, and after we unloaded, we all headed back to our cars. 

My front passenger window was shattered. The remains of it lay scattered both inside and outside the car. 

Oh shit. I just wanted to go somewhere and sleep. This can’t be real. 

I looked in the back. There was nothing. I looked in the trunk. There was nothing. 

My car was empty except for shattered glass 

Back up: I about 8 months before I got rid of everything I owned except what I could fit in my car. Everything I cherished was in my car. 

And now I had nothing. 

My new tent was gone that I had just splurged on. My rock climbing gear is been collecting over the years. All my clothes…. 

But most of all. More than all that stuff. 

Was the little things 

The amethyst my latest CouchsurfEr gave me as a parting gift to help me on my travels. The pictures and thank you notes the kids at camp had been writing me throughout the summer. The little army man I found while gallivanting around in Seattle with an old friend. The agate bracelet I was given while at a drum circle in Asheville. 

The little things that meant more to me than any expensive thing that could be bought. 

And I remember the first thing I thought was, “welllll at least a homeless man now has a home”. 

And then everything around me suuuckedddddd away. I couldn’t see. Couldn’t stand. 

My world, not just my window, was shattered. My car, my things, my personal belongings were violated. Taken from me. 

But, yet. At least someone else has them. I can rest my mind thinking that maybe somewhere someone less fortunate than I gets to use my clothes, my tent, my hammock… Or sell them for much needed money. 

My coworkers pitched in with sympathy, but I could not hear them. Could not utter a word. 

I got a new (to me) tent from the cook. I could camp again ūüôā

Life is beautiful. 

Every time I get down on this trip. Lonely. The language barrier too much. 

Someone comes from out of nowhere and lights up my world simply by talking to me. 

Everything happens for a reason. 

Every time I think my world is ending, I pick my head up, move on, and an rewarded with the next beautiful thing to come my way. 

Never give up. Never surrender. 

Poland. 

 



Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
~Ibn Battuta

Wednesday July 15, 2016
Day 24
Warsaw, Poland

I just flew into Poland. Excitement was high. I had no idea what to expect. There money was not Euros, so the first thing I had to do was pull out Polish money and find my way to my first couch surfers place. Thankfully, he gave me pretty good directions.

Take the train to the central station then take the trolley that goes in the middle of the road to the street where he lived.
But of course, I got lost.
I was nervous.
Alone in a huge city.
My phone wasn’t picking up wifi so I had no idea how to get ahold of my couch surfer to ask him for more specifics… I spoke no Polish so was scared to talk to anyone after attempting to talk to people in France ( my¬†“Parlez-vous anglais?” was more often than not greeted with stuck up noses and pure disgust).
So I stood there, at an intersection of an underground train station with people hurting in all 4 directions. I was lost.
Just as I was about to look for a bathroom (What’s bathroom in Polish again?) to hide from the crowds for a bit a nicely dressed man in a crisp blue button up and newly ironed khakis walked up to me and asked, in English, with quite a thick Polish accent, “Do you need help? Welcome to Poland!”
Relief flooded through me. Anxiety quickly erased as this beautiful stranger looked up directions to the trolley stop (down the hallway until I reached the McDonalds and turn left and take the first ….) and timetables on when the next one would come (10 minutes) and how long it would take (35 minutes).
45 minutes later I was at my couchsurfer’s place. The trolley dropped me off in what some would describe as the ghettos. Huge concrete buildings with tiny balconies. The bare sides of the building were covered in beautiful street art and giant dinosaurs and faces and trees towered over the dirty streets. It was run down, but in a quaint, safe kind of way.
I always get that rush of excitement and nervousness when I first meet up with my couchsurfer.
Will they like me? Am I enough? Do I live up to their expectations? What do they expect? I wonder what their plan is for the night? I hope they don’t want to stay up until 6am… I am tired. Did they eat already? I am hungry, should I have picked up something? I wonder how the couch feels. Oh mannnnn, should I have already picked up some vodka? I bet they have some.. what if they don’t! I wonder what stories they have. What can I teach them? Will I be entertaining enough? I wonder if they like chocolate and Haribo as much as me… etc.etc.etc.
He turned out to be grrrrrrrreat! A tiny little apartment up on the 9th floor with a gorgeous view of Warsaw. We went to a shop to get some more supplies for dinner. He took me to the vodka section, it IS Poland after all.. and Ohhhh mannnnnn
A WHOLE WALL OF VODKA!!!!!!
There was clear vodka and caramel colored vodka and flavored vodka and dude… I was in heaven.
We bought some and skipped off to this darling little beach on the river between two bridges and sat down just in time to catch the sunset. We bought three little bottles of vodka and spent the evening swapping stores, sipping from the different flavors, digging out toes into the sand and watching the people all around us. It was a beautiful summer vibe.
The sunset was breathtaking. The vodka was tasty, warming us up from the inside as the breeze grew stronger with the progression of the nightfall.
My favorite bits of couchsurfng.
The local spots.
The story swapping.
Always inspiring. Always leaving me wanting more. Always making me dream of what life would be like to live in that particular place. Bewildering me with the fact that some people grew up in that place. They get to do these things I fall in love with each place I go anytime they want. These places these couchsurfers take me to have stories, have history with these places they take me to. There is a reason why they take me to these places.
Their ordinary is my extraordinary.
And I always think, maybe this is home? Maybe this is where I should be?
Because right there, in that moment, with that stranger that is quickly becoming a good friend, in that new place that makes my heart melt with happy, I feel at peace. I am where I am meant to be at that moment. And nothing can take those moments away from me.
Those places the couchsurfers take me to. The conversations we have. The stories we swap. The laughter we share. We rocket forth from strangers to best friends in mere hours.
I love it.
I truly do.
Couchsurfing is by far my favorite way to travel and to meet people.

To infinity and beyond

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting. 
~Peter Pan
IMG_1569

Being far away from loved ones is difficult.
It is similar, I guess, to moving all the time.
In that I am always on the move.
Always moving to the next new place by myself.
Making new friends so I am not so much by myself.
I get to know places. Find their secrets, the reason others fall in love with that city and decide to live there and move on to the next beautiful place.
I always come back though.
To people. To places.
I want so badly to connect with others. To feel with intensity.
And I do. And I fall easy for people. As friends, as more.
And then I move to the next beautiful place.
But they are still are a part of me. And I a part of them.
And every place I have been is part of who I am.
Every person that has wronged me, broken me, teased me, bullied me, hurt me has given me the fuel to carry on and prove them wrong.
Every person that believed in me has cheered me on to where I am today
Every person that I met or talked to or touched or worked with or encountered in any way… All of it… Every single person.. everything..
Thank you all.
And now I am far away from everyone and everything and sad things are happening to the people I left behind.
And I am so far. And all I can do is message them on Facebook and try to find a time that is good with both our schedules and factor in the time difference to FaceTime.
And I know that they are hurting. They are suffering. And dear ones are gone.
But I also know that what they would want most of all is for me to continue living and loving where I am. Live life to the fullest. To not cut my trip short. That’s what they would want.
Keep chasing rainbows and catching sunsets and following the moon and return to them someday with glorious stories to share.. and once again we will laugh together again.
I miss you.
I miss my brother. I still can’t believe it has been 8 years. I carry your spirit with me in my heart every day. I wish you could’ve seen this stronger side of me while you were alive. I’ve come a long way.
And you too, you know who you are.
I am here for you. Even if you aren’t with me anymore.
I will carry on for you.
To infinity and beyond.
Elephant shoes.
I suppose Ireland is now a definite 100% on my list of places to visit while over here. And I will celebrate your life. (I will even have a Guinness).
And to Edinburgh to celebrate another loved one whose not with me anymore.
And to Romania for another friend.
My heart is heavy tonight.
But tomorrow is a new day.
And sun will still rise.
And so will I.
I am one lucky girl.

Haloumi = MmmmMmmmMmmm

 

 

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.

Wednesday May 25, 2016
Day 4
London

My first stop was London. I was surrounded by accents. My favorite accents. I loved it.
The way they say “water” and “brilliant” and they say “Cheers!” all day long. Quite jolly people. I love listening to them talk. Music to my ears. I saw a bus that said, “Las Vegas: Where your accent is an¬†aphrodisiac”. I giggled and silently¬†agreed. ¬† ¬†I liked the outskirts of the city more than the middle. The middle had the throngs of people.. masses of people going to and from work in a frenzied hurry. Business suits and fancy dresses all surging toward me. It felt odd to be going against the stream in my huge backpack and “normal” clothes. I felt like I was going nowhere. I felt like a rock in a fast moving river. People bumped me. People avoided eye contact. Perfect clothes. Top Shops and Versace and fancy, light up stores all around.
I much preferred Camden and Shoreditch.
Camden was more alternative. Hippy. Funky. Curious.
There were tattoo parlors, funky shops, pubs…
There were man buns, tattoos, dreadlocks, colored hair…
I went into one tourist shop and the owner cornered me, trying quite aggressively to get me to buy something. I politely refused. He persisted. I, again, refused. Finally, he led me to the back of his store. There was this dark hallway lit with backlights. He told me that I should follow him down the hallway to his special collection that he just KNEW that I would like. He wrapped me in a hug, a little too close, a little to long. That bit of icy panic crystalized in deep in my tummy and crept to my throat. I needed to get away. I pushed away from him and his suffocating smell of canned green beans and curry and hurried out of the shop, my head down, averting the gaze of everyone, not wanting anyone to know the embarassment I felt.
The situation rattled me.
I rushed quickly past the throngs of tourists, trying to get rid of that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I finally slowed once I got to the bridge and saw the arch proclaiming “CAMDEN LOCKS” ¬†and colored tents beyond.
I wandered through the gate, the beat of my heart slowing to normal as I took in my surroundings. There was table after table of paintings, jewelry, precious stones, homemade clothes, wooden carvings… all the beautiful things. I felt at ease. It was a feast for the eyes.. all the wonderful things.
Then I happened upon the food area…
Ohhhhh wow!
People were thrusting samples at me left and right.
There were booths with any kind of food from every country that you could imagine.
The smells were intense, mouthwatering and all around me. Wafting through the food court. My stomach answered the smells, lurching in hunger.
I wandered, tasting small bits of burritos, gyros, curry, scrambled eggs, goat cheese, pizza, croissant sandwiches, nachos, stir fries, gelato…
And a booth in the corner caught my eye. It was wooden, like a tiki shack. It had big leaves weaving up and down and over the top. It looked tropical. I was intrigued. I walked closer and behind the counter of the booth was the most gorgeous man… long, tousled dark hair, Jared Leto eyes, arms slathered in colorful tattoos… and then the smell hit me.. ohhh wow.
“Pulcina! Would you like to try out my country’s specialty?”
He talked to me. I jumped. Then I remembered that I was just another customer to him.
I graciously accepted. Having no idea what he was handing me, but stuffing it in my face in case he talked to me again.
My mouth danced in happiness.
IT WAS CHEESE! CHEESE OF THE MOST AMAZING SORT!!
“Ohhh WoW!! Dude!! I think thats the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!!” I realized what I said and quickly continued, “What is that?? I want all of it. Where are you from? What is your country’s specialitY? Why are you in London?”
I was wrapped up in crazed anxiety, trying to not act too weird, too crazy, but in trying to do so, I ended up sounding even moreso.
He smiled a perfect smile and answered that he was from Sicily. He was giving me Haloumi cheese, which wasn’t exactly his nation’s speciality, but one of his favorite things in the world.
I immediately blurted out, “ME TOO!!”
I have no idea what I ordered or what he said but I gave him the money and watched him work his wizardry behind the desk, on the grill, putting on the haloumi…. I was entranced. My stomach churning with hunger and delight.
He gave me my to go box of whatever he concocted and I thanked him profusely.
I weaved through the crowds and reached the canal and sat down at an relatively empty part of the canal where the branches of the overhanging trees leaned over the path down to dip their leaves into the slowly running waters below to sprinkle their flower petals like confetti and let them flow downstream.
It. Was. Amazing.
Everything came together.

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

The purpose of human life, No matter who is controlling it, Is to love whoever is around to be loved.
~Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday July 23, 2016
Day 64
Nyon, Switzerland

So, for my first post I need to ramble and rave about Saturday night, day 64 in Nyon, Switzerland.
Paleo Festival.
I managed to nab some tickets from one of the locals that I work with.
I thought to myself, Oh! A music festival! By myself! Where everyone speaks French! Why not!?
Sounded like a perfect situation. A Perfect set up for an interesting night.
And wow.
It was so worth it.
I painted my favorite blue and purple stripes on my cheeks. I stuck my fuzzy panda ears on my head. I wore my favorite hippy/dancing outfit and was off.
It was rainy.
It was muddy.
Everyone spoke French.
Everyone sang in French.
I saw the one and only band that I knew, a duo of long dark haired Frenchmen singing in all their man bun glory. Sweet songs.. or so they sounded.
I later looked up the lyrics and had them translated to my very favorite and fell even more in love with them.
“Le coeur √©l√©phant”by Fr√©ro Delavega
They even crowd surfed right over my head. I touched one. It was ūüôā ¬† ¬† ¬†As I left the front of the stage, my tummy fluttering with happy singing butterflies, I looked up and noticed a brilliant rainbow behind the stage. On the other side, beyond the hills,¬†The sun was setting. The clouds were glowing and the sky was Melting the most glorious sunsety colors together. pink. orange. yellow. gold. purple. blue. Mother Nature’s canvas above my head.

Below my bare feet was the mud. Wet and squishy between my toes.Paleo

I wandered around listening to all the music around me. The beautiful conversations people were having. The laufhted bursting out from the smiles. Friendships blooming as jokes were told and memories were made. The lovers getting closer together. Inch by inch. Minute by minute. The lights flashing and beaming over the happy, dancing crowds.
I danced in this tent and that tent. Made that instant connection with those around me. We caught each other’s eye and gave each other that knowing smile. We were in the moment. We were together for that moment. Sharing the music. The movement. The feeling of getting carried away in the beat.
We swayed and spun and lifted our arms up and shook our heads and hands and hearts to the rhythm.
The music went up and down and the beat went faster and faster the music turned spastic and then slowed with the beat.
As the music ended in each tent, I followed the crowd as we stumbled out in the mud in a state of bliss, still caught up in the feeling.
Later in the night, I remembered the sky above had turned dark and started walking to a hill that overlooked three of the tents so I could look for stars above.
I normally don’t notice strangers in particular. Nor do I usually detect people’s energy.
But as I was walking, I caught the eye of this guy with long hair and a slightly hippy look about him. He seemed to glow in a strange curious way. I continued walking and chanced a glance behind my shoulder… only to discover that he, too had glanced behind to see if I was looking. My head whirled. A strange electricity jolted through my body. A click. Something inside me surged. That was wild.
I continued walking, trying not to think too much of it, and sat on the hill.
Within seconds, the guy emerged from the crowd and strolled up the hill, his intense eyes locked on me. He sat next to me. Another rush of feelings. My skin tingled, hyper aware of his presence.
He spoke very little English. I spoke almost no French.
“I am attracted to your energy. I like your aura. Je t’aime.” he said. “J’adore…”
But the feelings. The vibes. The genuine spiritual love between us.
We talked. Broken English and crappy French. We danced. We shared beers. We went back to that hill. He whispered sweet and sexy things in French into my ear while gently kissing my neck. We looked at the stars and counted how many shooting stats we saw. I saw 4. He saw 5.
I was in Heaven.
Never did I ever think such a wild and beautiful thing could happen to me. Straight out of a movie.
These are the kind of moments I will carry with me forever and ever, close to my heart.
I met a lot of people Saturday night. Connected with them on different levels. I helped some while others helped me. I will never see any of them again. I never got their names, but we had some wonderful moments. Connecting despite language barriers.
But that one dude, I don’t even remember his name, sparked something inside of me that I forgot existed…
Life is beautiful.
I can be loved.
I am worth it.
Nothing really came of that night.
I didn’t get his name. I didn’t get his number.
I didn’t need to.
I had that moment. Sparkling and twinkling and shining in my memory and my heart forever more.