My First Solo Trip – Italy (Part 3)

The next morning I felt very jet lagged, nervous and anxious, and just flat out “weird”. I wanted to stay in my hotel room – all day. I felt all bravery that I’d been having since getting on the plane a couple days before had left me. I called Josh (waking him up at 2:00 am!) and he encouraged me to get out – to step outside. I finally found the courage and forced myself to leave what little comfort zone I had there by leaving the hotel. And I was so happy I did! I found a beautiful church called Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, which had me in awe of its high ceilings and ornate frescoes and stained glass. There hadn’t been a line to get into this lesser known and less popular church in Florence, and that was exactly what I needed at that time. Jet lag can really make you feel weird and I was feeling the need to be away from people and have as much space as possible. Those moments taking my time walking through the church were so calming to me and just what I needed. I meandered through the courtyard outside and breathed in the fresh air. It was so quiet and peaceful. I loved my time there and that I was on no time clock . . . no one there to rush me, or to tell me what to do next. That is another glorious thing about traveling solo that I learned . . . you call the shots. You can be “selfish” for a few moments. And that’s okay. I’ve always been an advocate for self care, and I feel like solo travel is the ultimate form of self care. Sometimes, we NEED to get away. By ourselves. We get lost in the busyness of life, and so it’s nice to take the time to slow things down and be present in the moment, and taking a trip is an avenue where you can do this. 

 

At the same time, it’s kind of funny because before I arrived in Florence, for months leading up, I had been researching that city to death. I have learned about myself that I like to plan things, especially when it comes to travel. Which I know is what you’re NOT supposed to do. Perhaps it gave me more of a sense of control, which I needed to feel, more so because I was traveling by myself, and I wanted to feel a little more familiar with the big city before I got there so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Well, so I had therefore made a list! A list for each day that I’d be in Florence. I seriously had like 15 attractions listed for each day! Very unrealistic I know. And because of that, I think I had inadvertently added pressure on myself to see everything and do everything on my list. I even had the restaurants listed out that I felt like I “had” to go to. In retrospect, yes, a little research is good, but not to the degree I took it. Leaving room for exploring and spontaneity is much more freeing and releases you from pressure and expectations and a “schedule” that may even just be in your head.  

 

At this point, also, because I was feeling so tired and jet lagged, and a bit overwhelmed by my list that I felt I had to tick off all the boxes . . . it was then that I actually realized I needed to slow down. Once realizing this and taking it step by step was so good for me.

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So, after visiting Basilica di Santa Mario Novella, I then had pizza in the square/Piazza that overlooked the church…it was so peaceful and felt perfect. I ate at a little cafe that even had the red and white checkerboard tablecloths that I imagined Italy would have! There was Italian music playing, the weather was fine, and I inhaled the most delicious margherita pizza I’ve ever had! Life was good, and I was feeling calm and better after eating. 

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Then, something happened that afternoon that I would call a challenge. It ended up being a challenge for me. Let me tell you the story. 

 

I was headed to the Duomo to see all of its attractions, and along the way, in the Piazza del Duomo, I saw many vendors selling souvenirs. I saw some paintings being sold and so I stopped to look at those. The man selling them was bargaining with me, which was fine. I bought a beautiful painting, and then, he was trying to sell me another painting. He got close to me and even started whispering, I guess he was talking about the prices, but it was a foreign language, and so I had no idea what he was saying. At this point, I was feeling uncomfortable, and so I was just like, “No grazie!” And so he gave me my painting, but as I turned to walk away, he hugged me! I had my back to him and my intuition told me that he was even trying to kiss me, but I pushed him away and grunted, “Ugh!!!” And walked away from there very fast. It was crowded in the Piazza and I felt my heart pounding. That really shook me up and scared me and I felt very uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do. I was going to just go on about my plan and see the Duomo, but I felt uneasy. So I walked back to my hotel.

 

I told the lady concierge about what happened and started crying as I told her. She was mad that this incident had happened and she advised that I go to the police station and report what had happened. And so, I walked to the police station. I waited over an hour in vain, because the police officer on duty told me he spoke little English and to come back the next day between 8 and 11 am when his chief would be there who spoke better English. I did talk to him, with difficulty, but he understood what I was saying happened. So I left, and was feeling overwhelmed but glad that I had tried to do my part at least. I debated about whether or not I should go back to the police station the next day to report it or not.

 

Anyways, the situation really shook me up. I felt scared. I didn’t feel as safe as I once did upon first arriving. And so, what did I do the rest of the day? I let fear stop me. I stopped back at the piazza where I had eaten earlier that day, and found an outside cafe and had creamy risotto with asparagus. It was raining at this point. The risotto was steaming hot and warmed me up inside, but I scarfed it down. I felt like my nerves were shot. I rushed eating because I was feeling so anxious about what had happened at the Piazza and all I wanted to do was to go back to my hotel room, and not come back out. I’m just being totally honest about how I was feeling in those moments. I wasn’t able to savor my food, or to truly take in the moments of people watching while the rain fell down all around us. The things fear and anxiety can do to us!

 

The next morning, I woke up and I felt very emotional and I REALLY did not want to leave my hotel. I wrote my friend Amy, who lived 45 minutes away in Bologna, and told her about what happened and how I was feeling. (It was so amazing by the way, that Amy was there, for we had once lived in the same city, and she had actually been my daughter’s music teacher! Her family had moved to Italy a few months prior to my visit, so I would call it providential, which will make more sense later). 

 

Anyways, so Amy called me, while I was sitting in my hotel room feeling and looking like such a mess because I’d been crying, and one of the first things she said and that caught me off guard, was that she would not waste the day away at the police station. She said what happened was atypical and basically that that doesn’t usually happen and that I didn’t need to feel unsafe because of this random incident.

 

But then she said something that struck a chord with me. She said, “I believe that was an attack by the Enemy.”

 

The Enemy of course being Satan. She said that Satan is wanting to rob me of my joy and of my time of enjoying myself in Florence. She said this was supposed to be a journey of healing for me, coming on this trip.

 

Wow! Her words changed my mindset and comforted me and gave me a newfound determination. I then called Josh and we discussed about what Amy had told me. He also gave me another pep talk and he told me to be like the bearded lady (minus the beard!) in “The Greatest Showman” movie when she sings with courage and confidence, “This is me” and stomps through the streets of the city singing:

 

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.”

 

The “sharpest words” part was that of Satan or anxiety telling me I couldn’t do it, that I was weak and scared and fearful.

 

And so, I left my hotel room, walking down the long hallway and feeling scared, but brave. So determined. I was not going to let my time, my joy, my happiness be robbed of me while I was in Florence. I listened to this song as I braved walking through the streets of Florence again. My goal was to see the Ponte Vecchio, the iconic bridge on the Arno River. I knew it was far from my hotel and that there was a possibility that I might get lost, but I kept on walking. And that is a memory that will forever be ingrained into my mind. For I found that I was enjoying myself and having fun walking amongst all these people….it was one of the most EMPOWERING feelings, because I was facing my fears head on.

 

And when I finally came upon my destination/goal, which was the river, I felt incandescently happy and SO proud of myself! That is why the picture of me standing with the headphones in my ears and with Ponte Vecchio in the background is such an important picture to me. There’s a story behind that big smile on my face. That is why I am so happy and smiling so big because of what all I had overcome, and how it ended up being one of my most favorite memories of all the trip. I was reminded of the quote from The Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf says to Frodo:

 

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

 

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The day ended up getting even better, because I got to see my friend Amy. She took a train and came down to visit me that afternoon. It was just what this girl needed! That’s why I say her being there in Italy at the time I was there was providential. A God thing. Without her words of wisdom, I’m not sure I would have pushed myself and seen past what was really happening. I think I would have just stayed in my hotel room the entire trip, being sad and missing out. She and I had the best time together, strolling through the streets, taking our time. I even had my first Italian gelato! It was so great to catch up with an old friend and I’m so thankful for our friendship.

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I forgot to mention, that earlier that morning, I did go visit the Medici Chapel, which its beauty was absolutely beyond words. 

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That day is a day I will never forget. When challenge and adversity crosses our path, what do we do? Do we give in, and give up? Or do we use it as a catalyst to propel us forward and onward? Because, when you do face that challenge, whatever it may be, head on, your confidence then soars through the roof. As I’ve mentioned in Part 1, my confidence in myself in some ways had basically been shattered after going through PPD. Maybe your confidence in yourself is shattered or almost nonexistent. I would encourage one who feels this way to DO something about that. We can’t just sit there. Do something that scares you, that is completely out of your comfort zone. And when you do, you will find out just how capable you really are. 

 

Anyways . . . back to the rest of my day. So after parting ways with my dear friend, I went back to my hotel and I treated myself to room service. And yes, I ordered that “melt in your mouth” steak from the hotel’s restaurant that I had had my first night there. It was so nice to relax and reflect back on the adventure I’d been having since first leaving Texas a mere 3 days before. The best part was knowing that my adventures were not over, because the next day I would be spending the last day of my Italian holiday in Pisa. 

***

My First Solo Trip – Italy (Part 2)

After saying goodbye to my husband, and walking through the airport by myself, I already felt a newfound bravery within me. I went through security, and felt relieved (that’s never fun). I found a quiet place to eat, and began to realize already that this is all new to me . . . ever since I’ve been married to Josh (we celebrated 7 years of marriage this past April!) . . . he has been with me on my travels 90% of the time. I missed him already, but I also felt an independence that I hadn’t felt in many years. At this point, I was trying not to think too much about me stepping on the plane in a couple of hours, and so I distracted myself by playing solitaire and Tetris on my phone . . . exciting stuff! Not really, but I was doing whatever I could to not feel too nervous and anxious! 

 

The time finally came to get on the plane. 

 

I found my seat and was still pretty calm. I have flying anxiety, and so as soon as the plane started speeding down the runway, I felt my palms start sweating and my body felt weak and shaky. It was a LONG flight. I felt like I was never able to fully relax, but that my body was tense and trembling off and on. Still, I had to just push through it (I had no other choice!) and so when we made our first stop in Madrid, Spain, I felt slightly relieved that I had made it this far. There was a huge group of people, fellow Americans, that were all traveling together with a tour company. I rode on the underground tram to the other terminal alongside these people, and I felt comfort in their company. I was still anxious as a cat, but they were talking to me and they were amazed when I told them I was traveling solo. One lady even said she would never be brave enough to do that. That boosted my confidence in myself, which I believe I was needing at that point, because my nerves were on high alert. 

 

I went through customs and eventually this group of people parted ways with me, and I felt a little sad. They were starting their tour somewhere in Spain, and a part of me felt a little bit alone for a moment. It was almost like a marathon . . . one thing on to the next, and you just have to self-talk the whole way through until you make it to the finish line. 

 

After another 2 1/2 hour flight, my heart started racing with excitement as we started descending. That’s my favorite part of the flight, is when you can feel the plane start its descent, and of course, my absolute favorite moment is when we land. I let out a big sigh of relief when the wheels hit the tarmac. 

 

I stepped out of the plane and into the fresh air and looked around me at the hills. I was in Italy! I was in Tuscany! I was in Florence! I had made it!

 

There is nothing like the feeling when you arrive at your destination. Especially when you have never been there before. I can always literally FEEL the adrenaline in my body and a feeling in my chest like it could burst! I just want to jump around and dance! The anxiety left my body and I was smiling so big and smiling at everyone I passed by. 

 

I grabbed my suitcase from the conveyor belt, and then stepped outside to go find a taxi. I stood in line and waited for mine. This was another first for me. I have never ridden in a taxi by myself. It was like every little step was a huge accomplishment for me and boosted my confidence. As I rode in the backseat, I looked out the window and felt like a little kid again. I listened to the driver talking on the phone in a foreign language, Italian, and it all began to sink in of where I was at and what I was doing. I felt so giddy! 

 

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The taxi finally arrived at my hotel, the Grand Hotel Baglioni, and as I walked up to the front door, I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. It was absolutely beautiful. So elegant and sophisticated looking. And I was right in the middle of the city, which made the hotel’s location a perfect spot to just walk out your door and go explore the city. 

 

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I checked in and felt like I was treated like royalty. There were frescoes on the walls of the lounge area, where I relaxed with some aperitivos after my very long journey to get there. The hotel had an old world charm to it. I loved it. 

 

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My hotel room was quaint, but cozy and comfortable. It had a stained glass window and wooden beams on the ceiling. 

 

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At this point, I became overwhelmed. I could hear all the city noise through my window and I desperately wanted to go see the Duomo. But, fear set in. Anxiety welled up within me and I felt overwhelmed. 

 

I had to call my husband. I told him I didn’t know what to do . . . should I just relax in my room (it was about 3:00 pm in the afternoon at this point, by the way), or should I go start exploring? I was finding every excuse in the book to stay inside my comfortable hotel room (it was raining, was one excuse) but thank goodness for my husband. I had woken him up from his sleep, but that man still gave it his all to encourage me. He said, “Go explore the city!” Fear can keep your feet glued to the floor. Glued to where you are at in the moment . . . where you are in life. But, after talking to him, I mustered up the courage to walk out my door. 

 

I didn’t know where to go. How do you solve that? Ask questions. I asked the hotel concierge where the Duomo was, and he said to just turn left outside the hotel and walk down the street. Sounded easy to me. 

 

When you push through and cast your fears and anxieties aside, and do what you are afraid to do, the results that can happen because of pushing through . . . well, it’s almost beyond measure. If I had stayed in my hotel room, I wouldn’t have the beautiful memory that truly warms my heart as I reflect back on it. 

 

The rain was gently pattering down upon my umbrella, and I took my time as I walked amongst the crowd of people. I felt calm. I felt excited. The energy of the people all around me was contagious. I walked across cobblestoned streets and stepped in rain puddles, and didn’t care that my feet were almost already soaking wet. I just kept on walking. I had a goal . . . and my goal was to see the Duomo that Florence is renowned for. That I had been seeing on pictures covering my Facebook and Instagram for months before this trip. 

 

And when, at last, I rounded the corner and saw the red Duomo (the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) towering in the sky in the distance, I literally gasped out loud. Seeing it for the first time was even better than I could have possibly imagined. I was in absolute awe. It was almost larger than life. And the detail and beauty of its creation could make one want to cry. I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest. In that moment, I felt incandescently happy. When you work hard to get where you are going, it makes achieving that goal worth every step it took you to get there. 

 

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I stared in wonder as I walked through the Piazza del Duomo and asked strangers to take my picture for me. This city was alive. It was beautiful. Breathtaking. 

 

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After taking in the sights, sounds, and smells around me, I took my time walking back to my hotel. Again, did I mention how happy I was? 

 

That night, I had made dinner reservations at the hotel’s restaurant, called B-Roof. I had requested a table by the window, and when I walked into the restaurant and saw the panoramic, floor to ceiling windows that had a view of all of Florence, including the Duomo, I again couldn’t help but gasp out loud. It was one of the most amazing dining experiences I’ve ever had. I’m all about views, and this view might be at the top of the list of places I’ve dined. The service was incredible. I felt like a queen. This is what I had: “Tagliatadi manzo alla griglia, fagioli all’olio e contorni di stagione” (or, in English – “seasoned, sliced grilled beef, cannellini beans in olive extra-virgin oil and vegetables in season.” Oh man, I do believe that is THE best meal I’d ever had. The steak sprinkled with sea salt and flavored to perfection was so tender it just melted in my mouth. I love to eat, by the way, and so I was in heaven as I savored every bite. The glowing candlesticks on the table added to the romantic ambiance, and my heart longed for Josh to be sitting across the table from me. It made me happy at the thought of bringing him back with me one day, and sitting at this exact table. As night settled in, the Duomo became illuminated in the dark sky. I took my time enjoying these moments, and then finally headed back to my room where I soon fell fast asleep. 

 

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***

My First Solo Trip – Italy (Part 1)

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

– John Augustus Shedd 

This was it. It was finally time. After months of planning, researching, and dreaming, I was about to embark on an adventure that I had been craving and needing for years now. Not just a typical “vacation” to get away, although, yes, this stay at home mommy was needing a break, but that was not the purpose or intent of this trip. I was about to set sail (or hop a plane) and was about to leave behind my safe harbor. I was about to take my first ever solo trip. Across the world. Thousands of miles away. Away from my family. My comforts. My what had become to me….my “lifelines.” 

I needed to go on this trip. My SOUL needed it more than anything. 

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my soon to be solo trip. I briefly mentioned that there were reasons as to why I needed to go on this solo venture, but I did not explain why I was doing this. 

I feel like the “why” is important. Sometimes we don’t even know why. Often times, for me, to travel is simply because it makes me feel alive. It’s intoxicating. Exhilarating. 

Maybe some of you who have gone on a solo trip can understand. Your “why” might not be the same as mine, but in some way I can almost guarantee that you can relate on some level. Maybe you’ve gone through something really difficult in your life, as I had. 

A few years ago, after my husband Josh and I had our first baby, I experienced something very painful and scary. A month after our daughter was born, I was completely blindsided by postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It rocked and shook our world. It was a traumatic time – a mountain that I didn’t think I was going to be able to conquer. Thankfully, I owe my healing that I finally found, I owe that to God. But I also know that my husband was crucial in my healing. He fought alongside me and held up the sword in battle when my arms became too heavy. He is indeed my hero. He never abandoned me. I thank God for him. Because of this painful time, although the PPD “only” lasted about 4 months, it became a life changing experience for both Josh and I. Looking back now, we see how it changed our marriage. When you go through a battle with someone, there is a bond, a comradeship, that you can’t ever fully put into words. It ended up being a beautiful thing for our marriage, and our love for each other grew tenfold. 

My family and friends were there for me and helped me get through my darkest days. 

And so, after going through something so intense, traumatic, and painful … after that event is over, you find yourself still reeling after it’s over. You find that yes, good things DID come from something so terrible. 

But, my friends, it also leaves you feeling wounded. Damaged. Broken. Traumatized. Fearful. 

Perhaps you have experienced an event in your life where it left you feeling this way. If you have, I am truly sorry. It is not easy to move on after such a trying time . . . but, along the way, I’ve learned that, no matter what, we have to keep moving forward. 

PPD lied to me while I was in the thick of it, and it has also lied to me since finding my “healing”. It’s been a journey. 

One of the lies it made me believe is that I failed. I malfunctioned. 

But something I kept noticing in my journaling, is that it made me feel like I was incapable. 

And so, in a way, I felt like I needed to do something to challenge myself . . . almost to prove to myself again that I AM CAPABLE. That I am not weak, but, that I am strong. 

Taking myself completely out of my comfort zone and challenging myself to the very core . . . traveling by myself, across the vast ocean, to a foreign country to a land where I did not speak the language . . . yep, that sounded like just the challenge I needed. 

I needed to believe in myself again. 

So, I chose Italy. 

And here it was. Time to go. April 9th, 2018. Departure day. 

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I have struggled quite a bit with anxiety since going through PPD, and it’s a struggle that comes and goes. And so, I had had my doubts, and shed several tears in the days leading up to my solo trip to Italy. All the ‘What If’s’ that played in my head were beyond count. And so many times, I even said out loud to Josh, “I can’t do this. Let’s just cancel the trip.” 

Don’t cancel the trip!

It was a Monday, and my husband drove me to DFW. Along the way, I was debating whether or not I wanted him to come inside with me and help me get checked in for my flight. Part of me wanted him there to help me with at least this part, and to be with me for as long as possible, but I also knew that this might make saying goodbye even harder – it would prolong the goodbye. 

At the last minute, I told him to just go ahead and drop me off. This was one of the best decisions I made for this trip. Josh had suggested that it might be even more helpful for me if I do this whole thing ALL by myself, even from the checking in point. And even in that moment, as I hugged him tightly beside our car at the curb of the airport, I felt a courage fill me to my core. Was I scared? Nervous. Oh yes! But I had a belief that I could do this. And what a feeling that is that we must cling to when we do believe in ourselves! Those moments are so important. 

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I waved goodbye, and walked in the airport, and thus began the start of my solo journey. 

***

Fearless or Not, Push Forward!

Fear can be crippling.

It can keep us from chasing our dreams. Or it can keep us from enjoying or embracing our day to day lives. It can keep us away from journeying on magnificent adventures.

But you see, our lives were not meant to be lived in fear. Of course we might feel fear, it usually can arise and will arise in our every day lives. But, are we going to let it rule the day? That is the question.

Satan wants to keep us trapped in fear. God understands that we feel fear, and that is why in His word, He reminds us, comforts us, reassures us, and even commands us to not be afraid….”Do not fear, for I am with you.”

Fear can keep us teetering on the fence about a big decision that we need to make. We know what our hearts desire and want, but fear can hold us back from embracing and pursuing what we know the answer to that decision is or SHOULD be.

I’ve recently felt fear with moving to a new city. Of course, that’s only natural. Moving to a new place, away from your comfort zone, family and friends, the life that we worked on making….that is scary. There were moments when I truly felt flat out scared, and I expressed my fears out loud in prayer to God. There were moments when I questioned if we were doing the right thing, and I know I’ll naturally still have those moments, but that was when I had to talk to God. Voice my fears out loud to Him. It’s a scary thing to give up control and fully trust God, and to not worry, but we have to. This is God’s desire of us. I know I haven’t completely trusted Him throughout the whole process of moving, but there have been times where I’ve stopped myself, my thoughts of “what if’s” and all the worries that pop up in our heads and simply say out loud, “I can’t worry about that.” And I imagine simply handing it to God.

It was scary, nerve wracking and emotional leaving our home in Tyler last week…leaving behind so much, and heading out into the unknown, the unfamiliar. It’s just like traveling. Whenever I’m about to step on a plane, knowing my destination is foreign to me…it is scary, but it’s also exhilarating and exciting. And what do you have to do despite the fear that sits on your chest? You get on the plane anyway.

And fear can honestly keep us at home, just sitting on the couch. Letting life pass us by.

This is a reminder for myself, and I hope this helps others, too.

Don’t let fear cripple you. Feel the fear, but don’t let it be your master. Get on that plane…that ship. Sail the seas. Feel the wind in your hair….live life with your arms wide open. And then you can turn back and look at that fear that is far behind you, and you can laugh at it.

And you can smile, knowing that… you didn’t let it win.

LinFlightSant

To Travel Without Anxiety . . . If Only

In less than a couple months, I will be going on my first solo trip. First solo trip. Ever. Of course, I’ve flown by myself before domestically, but I’ve had friends and family waiting for me at my destination. Not so this time. I will be crossing the pond, flying internationally by myself. If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I have traveled internationally before, but I’ve had my husband with me. So this time is really different.
I will be going to a place I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little girl. Italy! I find myself constantly daydreaming about my future adventure and sometimes the excitement is so high it almost makes my chest hurt!

 
But, at the same time, there are days when I start REALLY thinking about this solo journey. I think about all the logistics. The step by step process of getting from my house to the long plane rides to reaching my final destination. I start thinking of everything, all the details, and then all of the “what if’s”. I soon find myself overwhelmed with a thing called anxiety. And there are days when I say out loud, “I can’t do this. What am I thinking?” And then I say to myself, “I’m just going to have to cancel the trip.” And I feel defeated before the adventure has even begun. It’s in those moments that I don’t have the confidence in myself that I CAN do this. Doubt and worry, oh my, they can really mess with us and interfere with our lives…steal our peace and happiness. Oh yeah, and fear. That’s a big one that I feel like I wrestle with a lot.

 
I am being honest here…I am not sugarcoating how travel can be, at least for me sometimes. I love traveling just about more than anything in this world, but I have travel anxiety. General anxiety. So it makes it a little difficult sometimes to enjoy the journey. Maybe some of you out there can relate. We know all the motivational quotes out there about enjoying the journey, but when you have anxiety it can interfere with what you truly want. And what I want IS to not dread the part of making it to my destination and just being happy and relieved when I get there, but I want an overwhelming sense of peace and calm to wash over my entire being ON the journey itself. I want to savor every step of the process that it takes of getting there. I want excitement and adrenaline to rush through my veins on the journey, even while flying (which makes me anxious, like most people!) and not just to have those feelings when I’ve arrived. For some people, it might come easy to do this, but for me it’s not so easy. It is something that has frustrated me and has hindered me at times from fully enjoying a trip. What I find myself doing is being two steps ahead in my mind, instead of being present and fully in the moment.

 
So, what is the point of writing all of this? I know it’s a different, more vulnerable post than I’ve written on this blog.

 
I write this to say that travel is not always pretty and glamorous as we all can make it appear by the pictures we take – the postcard worthy pictures. Those of us who travel know this. All the mishaps that can and do happen along the way. But it’s all part of the adventure right? (I nudge myself to believe it as I say it!) We know travel can be stressful and exhausting, and can bring out a lot of emotions, both positive and negative.

 
BUT…when we or I find myself being overwhelmed with anxiety, I have to remember why I am traveling in the first place.

 
I CHOSE to go on this solo trip, and I’ve been wanting this for myself for a long time. For various reasons, of which I won’t explain all of it now, maybe for another post, but here is one reason why. I want to grow in my self-confidence – to fully believe in myself again, because somewhere along the way after going through some things, I have lost that. I need to believe and know that “I am capable.” And so, stretching myself and getting out of my comfort zone and doing something that I believe is hard and that would be like climbing Mt. Everest – I know that it will be nourishment to my soul. To accomplish this….I can only imagine the overwhelming feeling of how proud I will feel! I know this will be so good for me.

 
And, of course, I am going on this journey because wanderlust is in my veins, too. Life is a gift. This world is filled with wonders, and I want to see and experience it all. Gratitude, contentment and wonder washes over my heart, mind, and soul when I am in a new place. To hear a foreign language and not understand a word that is spoken but being enamored by its sound. To appreciate a different culture and to just sit there and “people watch” and in those moments you just feel so alive. Traveling makes me feel alive. It always has. It awakens me. Fills me with passion for life.

 
So I must remember these things. I am afraid to travel solo, yes, but one of my favorite quotes inspires me to keep on dreaming and to not press the “cancel” button. Oh, the regret I would feel if I did that! “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” (George Addair). I will not let fear have a say; it will not keep me from my dreams.

 

And, I will end with another favorite quote of mine;

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

What about you? I would love to hear from you guys about your traveling experiences! Ever dealt with travel anxiety? What kept you going and what kept you from canceling the trip?

And I would love to hear about any solo trips you’ve been on and what that was like! Feel free to comment below or send us a message!

Much Love,

Lindsey

Central America : Belizean Adventures

For anyone who’s explored Central America or the Caribbean, the beautiful country of Belize has probably been in the queue for potential places to visit. For us, Belize was the only choice – more specifically, the small settlement village of San Pedro located on Amergris Caye. Just for a little bit of history: Belize was formerly British Honduras, and is now an independent Commonwealth realm on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, and to the south & west by Guatemala. The beautiful waters of the Carribean Sea surround the east of Belize.

The 30 minute flight in our puddle jumper aircraft from Belize City (the capital of Belize) to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye was one [flight] which we’ll never forgot! The plane seemed to just barely clear the end of the blacktop runway and catch enough uplift for takeoff – but, it somehow happened . . . and we were on our way! We’d never flown in such a tiny aircraft – one which was equipped with a whopping 8 seats. Despite the size of the aircraft, which only seemed to become increasingly smaller as we gained altitude, the views were huge – sweeping panoramas of the verdant jungles, snaking rivers and crystal clear waters – outstandingly beautiful.

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IMG_0083 Flying above the jungle near Ambergris Caye – a jungle which is filled with every type of flora including the beautiful Red Tail Flowers as well as a variety of fruits, such as Annato and Allspice.
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Outside of San Pedro

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As we landed in the tiny Central American city of San Pedro, located on the southern-most region of Ambergris Caye, we were instantly shocked – not only by the beauty we’d witnessed from the air, but also the third-world feel as we stepped off of the airplane. Everything about San Pedro was different from any other country we’d visited during our travels around the globe, including the primary mode of transportation, which is golf cart – everything was perfect and we knew an adventure was ahead of us!

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As this was our first visit to Central America, we were unsure as to what we’d find upon arrival. To our pleasant surprise, we were greeted by friendly faces, including the immigration officers, shop-keepers and locals, all who welcomed us with open arms to their small country. We knew immediately we had chosen well in terms of the country we wished to visit during our first trip to Central America.

Upon arrival to San Pedro, we were taxied via golf cart from the terminal a/k/a ‘garage’ to the most incredible, relaxing, and accommodating resort on the Caye, being Ramon’s Village. While we did take advantage of the affordable jet-ski rentals and the thrilling open-water shark scuba dive at the Aug Hol Chan Marine Reserve, our Central American getaway was primarily gear towards R&R. Ramon’s Village was perfect and suited our every need, including booking excursions as mentioned above.

 

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Ramon’s Village – Perfecto!
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Ramon’s Village : the beach “hang-out” area

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Ramon’s Village offers dive site trips, including the famous ‘Blue Hole’ at their dock located on-property!

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The food – ahhhh . . . so wonderful and so fresh. The fish tacos were out of this world!

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After filling up on fish tacos, we headed out to the Reef for the dive of our lives! A big thumbs up and thank you to our guides! Just a 30 minute boat trip from Ramon’s Village to the Hol Chan Marina Reserve on the Reef will yield an experience of a lifetime! A must-do when visiting Ambergris Caye.

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All in all, Ambergris Caye was fantastic and the ultimate destination for anyone who’s looking for relaxation and/or adventure!

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Thanks for stopping by – safe travels!

Magical Oregon

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. There is nothing like the feeling you get when first arriving to a new destination – a place you have never seen before. There is so much to discover. Travel makes your heart race and adrenaline rush throughout your entire being. It’s so exhilarating!

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And so, our hearts raced with excitement as we stepped off the plane and found ourselves in the Pacific Northwest – a place that neither Josh nor I had explored yet.

 

Our destination was Cannon Beach, Oregon. But first, we had to see something amazing. We picked up our rental car from the airport, and then drove a few miles outside of Portland to see Multnomah Falls. As we drove along the highway, clouds covered the sky and fog was on the horizon. We were not used to this kind of weather and scenery, and to us the weather was what one would call “moody.” We reached the parking lot for the falls, and felt excited for what our eyes were about to behold. Our shoes crunched in the snow and we passed under the highway through a tunnel where a local was playing some tunes on his guitar. It felt perfect, and just added to our excitement. At last, we gasped for breath when we looked up and saw the Multnomah Falls crashing its water thunderously down with such great force. It was foggy, creating an eerie and mysterious effect. We stared in wonder for several minutes at this beautiful site, took pictures, and then got back on the road as we were ready to get to our destination.

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The 2 hour drive to Cannon Beach was slow, but the scenery made the time pass quickly. We finally arrived to the sleepy beach town as the sun had just set a few minutes earlier. I instantly fell in love with the town because it was quiet, had a main street with cute shops, and it sat right on the ocean. We checked into our accommodation, The Waves, and were blown away by the panoramic views of the ocean from the windows of our hotel room. A storm was brewing, and when we opened the back door of our room to our private patio, we felt in awe of the ocean as the sound of the waves crashing against the shore was almost deafening. We were right on the ocean – such a prime spot. Our room had a cozy fireplace, which we were thankful for as it was in the middle of February.

 

We ventured a mere couple blocks away and found the perfect place to eat dinner – Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge. It felt like the restaurant was filled with locals, and I felt instantly at ease and calm when we walked in the doors. The restaurant was dimly lit with a dark wood interior. Candles and vases with fresh flowers adorned the tables, which made me happy as I am all about a romantic dining experience. It was so nice to be in a warm and cozy restaurant, away from the cold and brutal wind outside. I had clam chowder which was amazing, as well as a steak and baked potato. Our server was a gem – she was so nice and friendly. We knew from first stepping foot into this town, that Cannon Beach was a unique place. We loved it!

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The next morning, the wind was blowing mighty fiercely. We walked along the beach, struggling against the wind, and having the sand hit our faces. But we were having fun, and didn’t care. We had our GoPro and camera in hand, and did our best to capture the moments.

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View of our accommodation – The Waves
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Another view of our accommodation

I walked a block over to the main street (North Hemlock) to go to the Cannon Beach Yoga Arts, and had a calming yoga practice. A great way to start the day off right!

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After breakfast, Josh and I put our hiking boots on and drove a few miles outside of town and, after getting lost a time or two, finally found the Cape Falcon trailhead. Despite the cold, we did a short photoshoot of me in the magical-looking forest, where I felt like I was a fairy. It was so much fun! Then, we embarked on what we thought was going to be a short hike, as in 2 1/2 miles roundtrip, but we ended up hiking further than we intended, and it turned out to be an 8 mile hike! That’s quite a difference! Nonetheless, we had fun walking through the mystical rainforest. It was so quiet and peaceful, and we hardly saw any other hikers along the way. Towards the end of our hike, the sun finally appeared, and it was absolutely glorious as it peaked through the trees and warmed our skin.

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After our exhausting hike, we ate lunch at Pelican Brewing Company where I had delicious fish’n’ chips.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon, still filled with adrenaline, wandering in and out of the shops and art galleries of Cannon Beach. I then went to a local coffee shop, and did some reading. Josh later joined me and we walked next door to a pizza cafe (Pizza a’ fetta) where we shared a delicious barbecue chicken pizza. Amazing!

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The rest of our time in Cannon Beach was filled with exploring the town some more, and relaxing. We were amazed again by the natural beauty of this place, especially the iconic Haystack Rock. While gazing in wonder at Haystack Rock, the waves crashed brutally against the shore and the wind was relentless. It made standing there all the more inspiring. I had found a place of mystery. I think it was then that I discovered that my heart longs to live near the sea.

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Indeed, we will never forget our time in Cannon Beach, Oregon. And our hearts cannot wait to go back!

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Another place we found with great seafood – The Local Grill & Scoop
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Absolutely divine creamy, clam chowder at The Local Grill and Scoop
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Crab cakes at The Local Grill and Scoop
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An energetic, little photo bomber – haha!

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