A New Kind of Awakening

Today’s post is going to be a bit of a different structure than usual. It is an introduction to a new beginning of sorts. I feel more awakened and connected to myself than I ever have before, and my path in life seems so clear that I feel the need to address the impacts so far of my recent and (as of right now) temporary move to Victoria, BC for the summer months. Something has called me to travel out west for a while now, and for many reasons, I have postponed and ignored the universes many signs. However, upon recent circumstances and opportunities arising, I had decided to adventure out from home to explore and spend time with one of my dearest friends, while balancing school and (hopefully soon) work. Having needed a different change of scenery and lifestyle, I moved all of my things and embarked on this unpredictable and exciting journey. Since then, although I have only been here for five days, never in my life have I been in a position that I have felt so natural and at home before, and so quickly.

There is a greater sense of simplicity to the lifestyle encouraged on the island, but at the same time there is a greater awareness and deeper level of interconnected and sustainable lifestyle encouraged by the environment, classes and people that I have encountered here in such a short time. Each time I walk out into the clean and purified air, I feel comforted and rejuvenated by the nature that surrounds me. I am constantly being encouraged by my surroundings, not only in nature but also by people, to continuously grow and ask myself why I do the things that I do. Yesterday in class, we were asked to write down five things that we would like to individually accomplish during our time as a university student, and then asked to review our previous years actions to analyse how we use our time in terms in relation to how we actually want to prioritize our time. A deeper level of connection and thinking is evident in the ways that people live here, and I am overwhelmed with joy of the feeling that I finally feel as though I am in tune with a greater community of people and an environment that is on a similar wavelength to that which I have been seeking to be on. Walking through campus, I see people enjoying the outdoors, meeting others, exploring new knowledge and expanding their horizons. I feel as though I can freely walk through campus with my piercings out, dressed as I please, and remain completely accepted and unjudged. Sitting down in the quad under a tree, I have been constantly greeted by people sitting by, and investing in conversation. I have never felt more included, accepted, and in the right place as I am right now. I feel as though this entire place in which I currently reside is an open-minded, expanding and welcoming community full of many people that I will soon meet. I do not feel oppressed, but rather accepted and encouraged to find and love myself in my natural form. I feel inspired and encouraged to expand my knowledge and grow as a person continuously, and more excited to learn than I ever have before. I feel appreciated by those I meet, even upon first encounter, and I feel the energies of those around me as warm, comforting figures.

Apart from the people, the island itself makes me curious and eager to explore. The lifestyle seems very laid-back, accepting and simple, as well as thriving, lively and energetic. About a year ago from this time, I wrote about the feelings I had from the simplicity of lifestyle of those in Europe, specifically my aunt, uncle and cousins in Italy. They were content with their surroundings, appreciative of every aspect of life, good or bad, that they encountered, conscientious of their surroundings and impact on others and the planet, and much happier with the less items they had, putting emphasis on family, food, nature and self growth rather than material things and success in things like wealth and power. I have envied and fallen in love with such ways of live ever since. I have since then talked about my dream of finding a matching rhythm or energy source in the world where I can live a simple, meaningful and nutritious (mentally, spiritually and physically) lifestyle.  I believe that I have since, in only five short days of living here, found such a lifestyle. I am not on a demanding and fast-paced constant schedule that leads to never-ending and unsatisfying material gains, but rather a calm and free lifestyle that moves at a growing and educating pace suited to my soul.

I would like to deeply thank everyone in my life that has supported and encouraged this soul searching and spontaneous move to Victoria, even if they have not agreed or shared the same understanding. I would like to let those that I love know that I have never felt so naturally happy and safe as I have here.  I have been free of my anti-depressant and anxiety medication almost the entire duration of my stay in Victoria, and feel as though I am on a path of healthy recovery, rejuvenation, learning, growth and exploration period of my life, which would not have been possible without those that I love believing in me so deeply. I am excited to see where this summer leads in terms of knowledge, growth and exploration, and can not wait to share my experiences with anyone who wishes to read these posts or ask me about my life. And I strongly encourage all of you readers out there to open your mind to spontaneous decisions, following your heart, expanding your mind and accepting and loving others and yourselves. I hope that all of you get the opportunity to find a place where you feel that you belong as much as I have found here, and if you feel the need to explore new things and find a place exactly like what I have described, I highly encourage you to come visit me in Victoria. Guests, letters, phone calls, questions and conversations are always welcomed and appreciated. I’ll write to you friends again soon, most likely next time in a much more visual and adventurous manner, addressing more of the land, people and experiences this opportunity has brought to me.

Until then, Namaste.

Em the nomad

If I Stay This Happy Forever

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this trip, it’s that no amount of planning can ever actually prepare you for things in life. Before my trip, I would spend days, weeks and months slaving over bookings and online entries on where about to go, and what to do as I tried to map out a timeline to stick with. Very quickly upon entering my new travel life did I throw away these pointless plans. Though the planning did help to give me a rough road map, the best part about my travels have been the most spontaneous, unplanned and unexpected moments. The moments that make you look back and think “did I really do that? Thank goodness I did, I wonder how much I would have regretted not stepping out of my comfort zone”. These past few weeks have been extremely busy for me. I haven’t been motivated to write much down, other than the casual thought here and there, as I’ve been so caught up with living in the moment that I haven’t had much time for anything to break my pattern of doing so. As I mentioned my love for Barcelona in my previous writings, I felt as though the following destinations I would visit after that had quite the reputation to live up to. While Madrid had some beautiful parks and scenery, it lacked the energy that Barcelona carried with it. Following Madrid, I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal. Though the beginning of my trip there was quite rattling and frustrating, as I was stuck walking around in the rain for hours, unable to enter my Air BNB yet and lost in a new city, I was able to quickly decompress and regain my positive energy. As a firm believer that things that start poorly end up being the best adventures, I quickly met the most amazing group of 6 Canadian boys. Hours in and I was already in love with the spirit of them all. Spending time and traveling with them became so instantly fun, comfortable and familiar, that I felt as though I had known them for years. After only a day, I decided to impulsively cancel my plans in Portugal and run away back to Barcelona with these new friends. The days spent with the boys were by far some of my most memorable of the trip. The stories that came from each hour spent with these boys are far too intricate to share in just one sitting, so I will just have to spare them for another day. The days went by far too quickly, while still having the essence of a lifetime in each one, and it was time to move on to reunite with other friends in France. My love for food peaked in Nice, as I believe diving into the French delicacies might be the highlight of those few days for my friends and I. Many drinks and adventures were shared along the coastline as well, and before I knew it, the time had come to part from my friends one final time. Of course as an opportunity arose to be spontaneous and impulsive once more, I lugged my bags all across town to stay one final day in France in order to welcome a final surprise night with the boys I had left behind in Spain. Hours later, I found myself on yet another plane to another place. While traveling from country to country in fun, the actual traveling the distances part gets pretty tiring some times. I found myself wishing I had spent more time in some countries I had passed through, but realized that the more time I had spent there, the more I would have dreaded leaving. Luckily, my next destination was the one that I was most excited for; Ireland. And who better to welcome me to my favourite place than my favourite person, my father. The nights have been filled with long Irish meals, good company, pub crawls and great music. During the days, we’ve driven our way through the most beautiful country scenery and coasts that I’ve ever seen. Yesterday was probably my favourite however, as one of my top 2 dreams in life was accomplished. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamt of meeting a man who would take me to run away to Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher with him. Who better to share my dream with, than the only man I need in my life right now! Overwhelmed with emotion, the beauty and magic in the air over the cliffs caught me in a trance. I had no fear to walk close to the edge, as I felt as though I could jump off into the blue water and I would float peacefully down as though I was in a dream, because the entire scene of it all felt too beautiful to be realistic. Never have I ever felt so connected to the earth, to myself in the present, and to my childhood past all at once. There’s something indescribable that happens when one accomplishes one of their life long goals. A few times, I felt as though my soul parted itself from my body for a bit to go to a state of nirvana, and then return to remind me how spectacular everything I was taking in was. At that moment, nothing else in the world mattered, and nothing else ever would except the absolute bliss tingling through my veins. I could have died at that moment, and I would have been content, but luckily instead of doing so, I returned to reality, got back in the car, and continued on my adventure. Though I’m not Irish myself, a huge part of my heart resides here, specifically tucked somewhere on the Cliffs of Moher, waiting for the day that I revisit the indescribable blessing that that place is.

A Familiar Friend

There is something so unexplainably magical about this city. Within the first two hours of stepping off the plane in Barcelona, I was hooked and in love with this place. Only once before in my life have I experienced the feeling that this city brings me, from another place on earth. I felt as though I was returning to an old friend, as though I belong here, and as though perhaps my heart has resided here the whole time, as if I have lived here my whole life. My soul instantly matched frequencies with the energy here as soon as I stepped foot on the ground, and from then on, I knew in my heart that I will soon return to dedicate a larger period of time to exploring Barcelona’s hidden secrets, and adapting it’s lifestyle as my own, perhaps for the rest of my life. A wise man, my father in fact, once told me “there are some places, people and things that resonate with your soul and promote a special connection. To find such places, people and things is quite a gift in life”. Barcelona has already made such a special mark in my heart, even in such a short period of time. It has become undyingly apparent that life in Europe is simply different compared to home, especially here. Everyone that I’ve met, regardless of the level of interaction has been so loving, accepting and kind hearted. No matter what you’re looking for to do, whether it’s soaking up the rays of sun while exploring the vast outdoor activities, or going out and meeting people in town, the options are endless. You can party if you want to party, or relax if you want to relax. And I think my favourite part of the people in this city is that when they go out for the night, they do not have an objective to get drunk or to spend the night with someone, they only wish to enjoy time with their friends, connect with new faces on an intellectual level, or simply dance to the beat of the amazing music scene. There is a heavy grungy/90’s vibe floating through the air, as the majority of people of all ages skateboard through the streets, go to electronic music shows and spend time enjoying market shopping with friends, and things of the sort. The reoccurring mentality I have seen is that one should work to live, not live to work, and to be free and yourself, living in the present moments life has to offer. I don’t think there is a single negative thing that I could possibly say about this city. I have had some of the best memories of this trip, met some of the most amazing people and found myself even more in just these few shorts days here. I dread the very thought of leaving, but am once again comforted by the know fact that I will have to return again soon. To say I am impressed by this place is an understatement. I joke with my friends and family about getting a job in the city, living out of my backpack and never coming home, but in reality there is a great amount of truth in every joke. I can feel that my heart and soul are meant to be here, so for now, it will remain my main goal and dream to come back as soon as life will allow me to.

An Unexpected Paradise

Contrary to others, Greece has never been on my list of places to see. If I could go back in time to add visiting Greece to my bucket list, just to cross it off now, I absolutely would. It has been a busy few days in between Athens and Santorini. My first day in Athens was filled with lots of walking, sight seeing, exploring botanical gardens, and a late sprint to see the sunset from Mount Lycabettus. We made it just in time to catch the end of the sunset, and probably one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life. When I reached the top of the mountain with my new friend Ella, I had one of the most humbling moments of my life to date. To realize how small one truly is, is one of the most scary and best things that can happen to a person. Yes, most of us realize how small we are in compared to the world and then universe, but to actually have the feeling click inside is something else. To realize how little all of the drama that engulfs our life sometimes is in comparison to the bigger scheme of things, and to see just how many people live their similar and different lives next to your own daily life, is such a grounding experience. I was lost for words in the moment, filled with anxiety, happiness and wonder all at the same time. What brought me back down to reality from this moment was catching a glimpse of the glittering city lights. I finally understand what “lights sparkling like diamonds” means. I watched the lights dance and shimmer from each distant household for what felt like hours. Just as I was beginning to feel as though I had started to really dig into the hidden secrets and gems of Athens, it was time for my group of new friends and I to take the six hour trek to Santorini, and it was by far worth it. There are truly no words to describe my love for this place. I believe I could truly live here for the rest of my life in content. Yesterday, we woke up late, took a ferry to hike up a volcano, and to swim in the hot springs. There was not one moment that I was not in awe of this heavenly place, even through the tough hike in my very weak sandals. To top it off, we had an amazing dinner while watching the sunset fall under the ocean horizon. Waking up today, the girls and I drove ATV’s all over the island; exploring new streets, driving on the sides of mountains, and to beaches with the most soothing black sand. I have truly felt like I am in paradise, especially lying in the hot sand and letting myself listen to the surrounding noises of the earth as I slipped into a peaceful state of meditation. As the day has gone on, I feel as though I am becoming more and more my age by living in the moment, caring less about the future and just letting go of all of my worries. And with my relaxed mindset, I am now enjoying the spectacular ocean, mountain and valley view from the hostel balcony, before my friends and I venture off to watch the sunset again with a nice local meal, and glass of wine. I think this is my favourite place I’ve ever been to in the world, and that is saying a lot coming from me. It has been a hard transition for me to go from being in a comfortable place to traveling alone, but I am so thankful to be here in Santorini, as I do not think it is humanly possible to have a trouble in the world in such a paradise. I only hope this wonderful feeling continues, and that I continue to be pleasantly surprised with each new place that I visit!

(Ps. I will be posting photos from Athens and Santorini in a separate post tomorrow! Sorry to keep you guys waiting, but I promise that it will be worth it!)

Settling In

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I have always been good at leaving home for long periods of time without getting home sick, lost or upset. Since I was little, my parents have encouraged my cultural excursions, and I have engrained into my head the ability to shut my home world out to adapt to new surroundings easily and quickly. There are moments, however, when I have lots of trouble letting go of things that have meaning to me. With the recent sudden changes in my life over the past year, I have slowly begun to notice that when I drift into more of a comfortable state in my life, I have a harder time accepting change even if I know it will be good, which is not quite a familiar feeling. I believe this trip is a good means of refreshing my appreciation and acceptance of change. Though the few short days I had with my family in Italy made me not want to leave them, I realized that one can not return if they first do not say goodbye. After a few wonderful days full of day trips to the beach, hiking, enjoying more good food and meeting new people, I learned a few more things to take away from these first few days. I learned to put my phone away until it is time to call family at night and to enjoy the moment, as I observed that most kids in Porto San Giorgio only have a simple phone to call their parents on in order to avoid getting sucked into technology and social media instead of enjoying life. I learned that sometimes, I put too much value into unnecessary materialistic things, i.e. packing way too many clothes that are not needed at all on this trip when I could have packed lighter. My favourite lessons that I learned however were the following; how to ride a motorcycle in Italy, how to crash a motorcycle within 15 seconds in Italy, how to crack a rib in those 15 seconds, and how to walk away from the whole situation with a laugh on my tongue. The story is much better told in person, so I will leave that for another time. Taking these new lessons with me, I am now regaining my child-like mindset towards life as I am looking at things as if I have just re-entered the world. I am in new environments where I don’t understand conversation, social norms, or street signs. I have complete freedom without pressure of a time frame or social expectation, and everything seems all so simple and complex somehow all at the same time. I am looking at things with big eyes, as I have now entered Athens without outer guidance, and everything is new. After a long day of traveling, I have determined that is has been worth it to come all the way to Athens. Hiking through the city with my backpack on until I reached my hotel made the whole back-packing adventure actually settle in for me. I am backpacking the world! I am actually doing it, this is not me just looking up cities and things to do there and planning which paths I will take through Europe, I am actually here now. So far, so good. After meeting up with my friend Alex, and making four new friends, we all grabbed a wonderful local bite to eat, where I had stuffed baked zucchini flowers and pumpkin soup. Following this, we climbed to the top of the girls hostel, and watched the sun set over the beautiful city of Athens, and shared laughs and stories. I decided to then walk the city by myself. I didn’t get as far as I had hoped, as it had begun to get dark and I was getting a very eerie feeling walking alone in this city at night, but the beginning was so peaceful and reflective. It has honestly been hard to regain energy from last night’s pub outings and today’s long travels, so I decided to enjoy the beautiful street view from my terrace. The city sounds of people of all cultures laughing, talking and eating down below were followed by the smell of fresh Lavender from the trees draping over the terrace banister, almost too natural and strong to be real. I could sit out there for hours unbothered, as I probably did. Time has seemed to be slipping away from my mind recently, and it feels so freeing. It has not even been a week yet since I left home, and already I feel as though I may just let myself stay in this beautiful nomadic life style forever, without ever returning home.

The beginning is always beautiful

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It seems that the lesson I’m learning most in life lately is that nothing is ever the same way twice around. Returning to a place of loved childhood memories is never going to be quite as you remembered it to be, and everything looks a lot different, yet somehow unchanged at all. Slowly I have returned to some of these special places this year, and realized that perhaps our younger minds had a bit more creativity, bigger eyes and a glorified idea of how life is compared to an aged mind. In this case, returning to my cousins home town in Italy, I received the same feelings. Everything looked smaller, yet the same size. The beaches were not filled with hundreds of children giggling as they run from their parents and into the ocean,or playing soccer until the sun sets as I remembered them to be, yet the same summer feeling was still lingering everywhere. I had somehow never noticed the hills in the background of the town, perhaps because I was always too small to see over the buildings. The  things that stayed the same were the love and importance of family that I feel when I return to this beautiful place, and the comforting smell of my cousin’s house. It has always smelled the best out of any where I have been to, and upon walking into the familiar scent, the memories attached to it flowed into my mind. I suppose I did walk into this week hoping the memories would recreate themselves perfectly, but I’m happy that they have not. Even though the town was not what I expected, it is still magnificent in a sort of new yet familiar way. I would say that upon returning, I have been pleasantly surprised, with an adventure to explore the town with new eyes.

Life is very simple here in it’s off-season. At 7 am, you wake up, eat some cookies with jam, drink some tea, and go for a walk at the beach. 8-8:30 am is when you arrive at work. From 12 am-2 pm, you would take a lunch break, where you would not order the quickest meal you can and rush back to work, but sit down with friends or family and a glass of wine to enjoy three courses of exquisite food. Then you would return to work until 6 pm, when you come home to enjoy time with family, cooking a wonderful meal or another walk around town. If you were to see what the beach looks like at any given hour of the day, you would wonder if anyone worked in this town. There is nothing to be rushed here as everything is enjoyed in leisurely time, as life should be, and even the suggestion of being on an expected time schedule is insulting to the culture. People here have learned something every person should: you must work to live, not live to work. Nothing here is ever an extravagant, impulsive, unnecessary purchase, instead purchasing things that fit a functional purpose when you need them. Quality over quantity is certainly the highest importance, and while people of this culture aren’t always rich in household items as some other cultures are, they are much richer in happiness than most people I’ve met living in America. As my cousin said to me yesterday, “we don’t live a very rich life, but we love living a happy life, which is much better. All you need is a good plate of food in front of you at night, and your family by your side. You could live in a tent if you wanted, as long as you are happy with what you are doing in your life”. For years I have been saying this to my family and friends, and it is so nice to hear someone older than me who has lived an amazing life so far, confirm my beliefs. If life was this simple everywhere, I don’t see how anyone could ever find something to be upset about in this world.

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