Nasty Women

Food on the Road-4.png

Dear Reader,

I know you're probably expecting to hear about my last day of work, or about the adventures I have pursued in the PNW before I hit the road. But oddly enough, I feel called to write a post for International Wandering. So bear with me, more information about the present will come on Friday. For now, I'd like to share the words written in my red leather journal on a Parisian rooftop in 2016.

Let me lead in by saying, I feel inspired to share my words from long ago because of a Facebook post I came across this week. While scrolling through my newsfeed I read another woman's words. She sought advise about traveling through Europe. She wrote about feeling burnt out, about taking a week to get away, recharge and explore this beautiful world. My immediate response: "A week is not enough time, you deserve more!"

When I shared my thoughts she replied, "A week is all I can get off work, maybe a week and a half."

All I could think was, this rad woman is listening to her own needs, she's caring for herself, she's going where she is called, work should not stop her. And as I read through the other comments, I stopped on one in particular, advising her to wait until next year, handle other, "more important" matters first.

And with that, I couldn't hold myself back, so I reminded her of her value, her right to stand up for herself, and trust in her voice. I told her she deserved a week and a half off, and she should demand it.

Point being: we let the noise of our day-to-day, the noise of our obligations and commitments drown out our truest inner voice. This woman's voice was peeking through the cracks and she just needed a little push to hold onto it. 

So, when I came across this journal entry from long ago and re-read my own words they've never felt more true or more relevant (and honestly, I hope she reads them). So here they are:

Misspoken

mistaken 

words.

meanings.

Side smirks.

Cold hands.

Crisp Breezes.

Here.

Now.

The universe

always delivers you

to the correct destination.

If you simply

Listen.

As does, your inner voice.

Both are strong,

beautiful

nasty

women.

Know they are blessings.

Thank them. 

And write yourself a love song.

 

So, that's what I hope this woman does. I hope she accepts the voices of others, and of her obligations, as mistaken and misspoken meanings.

I hope she sits in a city alone on a rooftop and listens to another language buzzing around her.

I hope she smirks shyly at a beautiful passerby, and proceeds to warm her own hands around a cup of tea.

But mostly, I hope that by following her inner voice (where ever it takes her, it does not have to unfold in the way I described), she does truly fall in love with herself in a new and powerful way.

This is what I hope for us all. For myself included.

I can't wait to write myself a million love songs while I wander this wild world. I can't wait to learn how to listen to myself even more deeply, and to whisk away the voices of all my "shoulds." I can't wait to inspire each and every one of you to do the same, in the way that FEELS RIGHT TO YOU!

So here's what I ask of you today...

Stop. Tune out all your responsibilities. All your "have to's" and "should's". Tune out the friend who reminds you to stay small. The boss who demands way more than you're paid for. Put it all on mute...for just 5 minutes. Sink into yourself, and listen.

What feels easy? What feels good? Where are you deeply called? Really listen, because I promise you, even if that calling is just a whisper, if you give her room to grow, she will grow into a NASTY WILD ROARING woman. And she will lead you to the places you've always wanted to go but never believed you could!

So here's to listening, to the universe, to our inner voices, to Facebook posts that inspire and words written on rooftops in Paris that ring so true, even years later!

 

With love,

Annalise

Minimalist Wanderer

Dear Reader,

As I prepare for a life largely guided by wandering, I reflect on my time living out of a backpack abroad.

In order to live out of a backpack, a car, a hostel room, a tent, or whatever our wandering hearts may choose, we need to let go. In this particular instance, of our physical belongings.

I've never claimed the title "minimalist" for myself. Nor do I feel my home has ever truly reflected a minimalist lifestyle. I love my belongings; my paintings, candles and books. I also own more dresses than I could wear in a week...total guilty pleasure. 

However, time and time again I have been praised for my ability to let go. My mother - who organizes peoples homes for a living and is well versed in the art of letting go - is always surprised by my ease relinquish objects (she even finds herself keeping things I've sent away). Moreover, I have a good friend who recently asked me for my advise on minimizing the possessions she owns.

So, while I may not claim the title minimalist, apparently I reflect it. 

And the more I think about it, the more it fits.

One of my favorite parts of traveling through Europe was being unburdened by materials. I loved having a handful of outfits, three pairs of shoes and virtually no beauty products. I carried around one book and my journal for entertainment. Additionally, I had a lock, headlamp, water bottle and charger. But that was about it.

I left items behind at every turn; sweaters when it got too hot, shoes when I realized they no longer served me, a razor, nail polish, a hat I didn't love. Every time I felt relief, rather than sadness about my loss. 

As I let go of the materials I thought defined me, I began to truly understand myself. I let my armpits grow hairy and I was able to embrace my womanhood. I left my nail polish behind and discovered the strength of my hands to scramble up mountains. With each item I let go, I sunk deeper into myself.

As I make this transition into a life guided by wandering I feel that same relief as I let go of my drawer full of candles, the furniture I have collected over the years, and extra lotions and soaps. 

So, while I do not think my belongings represent those of a minimalist quite yet, I am choosing to embrace the title. After all I'll get there and, letting go of my belongings ignites joy within me.

I write this post, not to force you to abandon all your belongings, but to encourage you to let go of the things that hold you back. May they be your physical belongings, your fear and doubts, your unanswered questions, your insufferable job, or your "should's" (see last Feminist Friday Post), LET THEM GO. Free yourself, so that you may wander boldly!

 

With love,

Annalise

 

Unfinished

Dear Readers,

While this post is in fact finished, my journey is not. As I thought about what I should write for you today I reflected on my overseas travels by flipping through my red leather bound notebook. A notebook that accompanied me across Western Europe. I read journal entries about Cinque Terre and Serra San Quirico and thought to myself, "I should share these today." After all, these entries flowed perfectly with the posts I've already released. 

And then, I came to a journal entry from the very end of my trip, and I thought fuck it! This is the entry I am meant to share today. It may be totally out of order, it may be totally unrelated, but it is so in line with my state of mind, my soul, and my present journey! 

So today I am going to share the words I wrote on December 4th 2016. I was not done traveling then, and I am not done now. Every time I taste true freedom, settle into myself and power, and become fully present in the amazing world around me I am called to wander MORE. To wander longer. To wander without an end date or plane ticket home.

The words I wrote on December 4th echo what I know wholeheartedly now: my wandering journey is unfinished.


12.04.16

I go home in ten days, and I feel as if my trip is just beginning.

Things I have to do:

  1. Hike Eastern Europe
  2. Walk the Camino de Santiago 
  3. Watch the sunset and rise at least once in ever town and city I visit
  4. Visit Iceland
  5. Explore the Samira Gorge in Crete
  6. Rome around Croatia 
  7. Buy a van and drive cross country (Europe and the USA)
  8. Meteora Monasteries
  9. Watch the sunset in Oia - again...and again!
  10. Publish my writing
  11. Cliff Jump
  12. Challenge myself with a meditation retreat

My list has only grown since then! Lovely humans, I was called then and I am called now! May we all follow our crazy, wild, totally unconventional desires each and every day!

And if we cannot, if we lose them, leave our desires unfollowed, may we flip through our notebooks and find them once again. I have left my journey unfinished for two years. It's time to pick it back up full force! 

With love,

Annalise

Cliffs of Moher - Awakening

Dear Reader,

Last Wednesday I wrote a post in PNW Wandering about pursuing the opportunities that make me feel alive.

Last weekend I took an outdoor Open Floor dance workshop, where our teacher spoke about opening ourselves up to life and connecting with our world. So I did just that. I took everything I had been working on personally and my teachers wise words, and what did I do? I stripped down to absolutely nothing and skipped through the Nooksack river.

I was shocked by the ice cold bite of the river, and the sun's heat on my bare skin, but mostly I was shocked by my ability to grab a moment that made me feel so alive. As I stood in the river with cold water dripping down my back I felt awakened. I was in awe of the world’s beauty and of my independence. With this, I thought of the first time I had ever consciously felt this way. Standing atop the Cliffs of Moher.

As you may recall, the beginning of my international wandering was filled with cityscapes, hospital waiting rooms, eye infections and UTIs. So, when I hopped aboard a bus from Dublin to Galaway (still accompanied by my UTI and eye infection) I was ready to focus on feeling healthier. To do this, I knew I needed to get out of the city and into nature. I needed to feel the magic. I needed to feel alive.

When I arrived in Galaway I bought a ticket for a Cliffs of Moher tour and hunkered down for the night. Come morning, I found myself nervous about getting on a bus that would trek 4 hours to the Cliffs of Moher. Needless to say, the trip was filled with anti-nausea wrist bands, a million trips to the bus bathroom to pee, and sunglasses to cover my goopy eyes. But nothing was stopping me. I was opening myself up to life and grabbing my opportunity.

When we arrived at the Cliffs I found myself excited, but willing to wait my turn patiently. Step by step I inched closer to mother nature. And as I stepped off the bus she whipped me hello right in the face with a huge gust of wind. With that, she took my breath away.

It was not until I walked to the actual cliffs that she caused me to audibly gasp. My eyes welled with tears. The power that nature has to create, destroy, and rebuild is unlike any power I have ever known. Standing atop the Cliffs of Moher, staring out at the sea, surrounded by absolute unmeasurable beauty, I really got it.

Perhaps for the first time in my life I understood, moments like this: enveloped in nature, moved to tears, these were my moments. These are the moments that bring me to life, that heal my body and soul. This is where I am meant to be, how I am meant to live. This right here, this is it!

So, for the rest of my trip I tried to chase those moments. Sometimes, I forgot; found myself distracted by new friends, a sweet man, or bustling cities. But when I remembered, rerouted myself to nature, to tiny towns on hillsides, to abandoned trails and sunsets on cliff sides, those moments brought me back to myself, back to that spark deep inside that said “you’re alive!”

It’s easy to get distracted, to choose straighter paths, paved by tourists everyday (or business women here at home). But when I grab moments like I did in the river this weekend, I am brought back to all the other moments I have ever felt truly alive, and damn, those are the moments worth chasing!

So do yourself a favor and think about the moments that make you feel like a warrior queen standing atop the Cliffs of Moher, empowered and enlivened by the beauty around you.

Whatever those moments may be, follow the magic within them!

With love,

Annalise

Parisian Solo Dates

Dear Readers,

I would like to share one of my journal entries from Paris circa December 2016, apparently I’m on a Paris kick right now (forgive me, it’s Spring, I can’t help it).

During my three months of wandering through Europe I carried a 4.5x6, red, leather bound journal. My journal acted as my loyal companion in my many moments of solitude. Near the end of my trip I wrote at least one entry every day. Especially in Paris, a city that inspired creation like nowhere else I have ever traveled.

So without further adieu I’ll bring you back to my Parisian solo date.


Once again, I find myself in the most romantic city in the world entirely alone. I’m sitting here at Sacre Coeur with my own personal concert, courtesy of an incredibly gorgeous French street performer. Perhaps more importantly, I hold in my hand the best cup of hot spiced wine I have ever had.

Tonight, with all this glory around me I am determined to remain alone. It’s funny how when I’m alone everything feels and unfolds in a slightly different way. I feel thankful for this slight, and yet incredibly important difference. With gratitude I want to take time to acknowledge everything I notice now BECAUSE I am alone. Everything I’d miss or lose if someone else was here next to me.

  1. The ability to observe people deeply

  2. Eye contact and timid smiles shared with passing strangers

  3. The freedom to write

  4. The freedom to get up and find somewhere to pee (this is always a big one for me folks, I really dislike when people hold me back from peeing or comment on the incessant call of my bladder, she’s needy okay, so am I. Deal with it).

  5. Freedom. Period. (2018 Annalise popping her head in here, “Freedom” is my 2018 word and clearly it has always been important to me!)

  6. Three year old, wobbly, bundled up photographers taking pictures of Mom

  7. The ability to focus on my breath

  8. The plethora of selfie sticks present at the this location (and I mean easily over 100 selfies sticks, like DAMN!)

  9. The space to recognize my own frustration and annoyance with the people around me

  10. My own ability to keep myself warm and care for myself

  11. Big globs of spit on the cobblestones (surprisingly not my own)

  12. The ebb and flow of people - the sheer rhythm people create with their bodies

  13. Witnessing old friends traveling together

  14. Gender assumptions, microaggressions, apologies

  15. Awkward interactions and language barriers

  16. My own ability to communicate

  17. The highschool french knowledge stored deep within my brain

  18. My occasional belief in myself as a fluent french speaker (I must say this belief is a bit disillusioned)

  19. Sadness for the smoking singer - they are losing their voice

  20. A breeze that reminds me of my own humanity

  21. A breeze that awakens gratitude for my hostel bed and heated room

  22. Children bargaining with tourists

  23. A chance to pay it forward

  24. Unattended phones

  25. Police Officers

  26. Numb Butts

At this point in my evening a man interrupts me and tells me to be safe as a woman alone on the dark streets of Paris. I smile curtly and say, “Thanks, have a good night” as I walk away from him because up until our interaction I had felt very safe and very content.

Alone I knew I could trust myself, I knew my own strength, the beauty of every little thing I could notice because I was not distracted by anyone else.

This man was misinformed. He made an assumption: because I was a woman alone in the city of Romance I wanted a man to talk to. He assumed I was unsafe and needed someone to escort me home.

But he was wrong. And I showed him this by walking away. By claiming my solitude. By continuing my solo-date at chocolate shops and Rue La Fayette lit up with Christmas lights.

It’s interesting reflecting on this experience. I gained so much by sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur alone. I noticed different people’s interactions, my own feelings, and the cities beauty in an entirely unique way. These are often things I would miss if  I was focused on someone else. But in this moment I chose not to miss anything. When I had the opportunity to focus on someone else I chose my own power and company.

I learned lessons I never could have grasped here at home and I cannot wait to return to Europe and learn even more lessons.

So with that said, here’s to to Parisian Sunsets enjoyed in solitude, freezing cold breezes that remind us of our humanity, and wobbly three-year-old photographers. And of course the the incredible power we harness within - the power to notice, to guide and to protect!

May you all empower yourselves with your own versions of solitude and Parisian Solo Sunsets!

Love,

Annalise

Cigarette Sunsets

Dear Readers,

Today I will share a totally wonky poem, circa Paris 2016. Take what you will and leave what you wish to dismiss. But please, have a little fun with it if you can, because this Wednesday calls for some fun!


Cigarettes

resting on the lips

of squealing teenagers.

Flying from fingers

off the side of the cityscape.

The sky glows

the color of a newly lit cigarette.

 

Shouts leave the teenager’s lips

as a dark haired girl drops to her knee.

Her cigarette falls

as her hand drops

to her jacket pocket.

 

Will you marry me?

She shouts!

 

Laughter fills the terrace

she picks up the cigarette

as she stands to embrace her girlfriend.

They laugh

and kiss through

the smoke.

- 22-year-old Annalise, a little wine drunk, and gazing upon the Eiffel Tour illuminated by a cigarette sunset!


Paris - the city that inspired me to write creatively once again. In fact, I even attempted to start the book has long lived in the back of mind - not much progress since then, perhaps I need to head back! Each and every country and city I traveled to gave me a different gift. Spain gave me kisses, and kindness from strangers. Scotland gave me cheesecake and lasting friendships. Italy gave me sunshine and farmers markets. Greece gave me back myself. And Paris gave me back my love of writing!

 

As I said, take what you will from this post today. It is is short and sweet, but I hope you find a small gift in it. May this be inspiration for your own poetry. The courage to propose to your partner. Or the wild hair to hop on a plane I hope it speaks to you in even the smallest way.

 

With love and such immense gratitude (I can't even begin to tell you!),

Annalise

Unexpected Gifts

Dear Readers,

As I sat down to write this evening I poured myself a glass of wine. I proceeded to stand in the middle of kitchen motionless, holding the cork in my hand. Simply looking at the cork transported me back to a train in Central Italy with my friend Mark. And just like that, the post I planned to write flew out the door. Tonight, I would write about a train ride to Serra San Quirico.

I find myself flooded with emotion simply sitting down to write this post. When I first conceived Empowered Wanderer I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for Mark and the adventures he inspired that I reached out to him to thank him. So, Mark if you’re reading, thank you again for lighting a fire in my soul, pushing me to hike billy-goat trails, scurry over cliff sides supported only by metal chains, eat prosciutto and cheese atop mountains, and proceed boldly without plans!

It clearly goes without saying, I have an arsenal of stories from this portion of my international wandering and they are some of my favorites. No doubt, they will be bubbling with emotion, awe and, oh yes, magic (we were in search of it and we found it)!

So now, we will jump into the first of many stories. I invite you to come back to Italy with me.


“Serra San Quirico!” Mark exclaimed.

Knowing only the town’s name Mark  was sure, it was the magic we were in search of. And so we went. We purchased a one way ticket. Hopped aboard a train. No plan. Multiple transfers ahead of us. And absolutely no idea what we would find on the final platform.

Near the end of our final train ride my stomach grumbled and my slightly hangry mind raced - I didn’t have a plan, and by this point you all know that shit is scary for me! Longing for some comfort food to calm my nerves my eyes crept across the aisle to an Italian man surrounded by coolers and bags of fresh bread.

I timidly turned away, knowing I shouldn’t stare. But the smell of bread eventually got the better of me...once again. When I turned back I saw his hand extended into the aisle holding a loaf of bread. I shook by head in earnest. But his hand remained outstretched.

I said thank you in Italian - one of the five words I knew. And that was it, that’s all the communication we could manage, but I like to think my absolute disbelief and gratitude surpassed our language barrier.

Apparently it did. It seems my gratitude was felt around the train, because as soon as I took a bite of the delicious bread I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“We have some wine that would go with your bread” a voice said.

As the three travelers behind us handed us a half finished bottle of wine to contribute to our little picnic and my my eyes began to burn. It was something I had never experienced. There I was, woefully under-prepared, wandering without a plan, and I was met with so much love and selflessness from complete strangers.

Mark and I sat in a half-full train car with tears in our eyes and dumbstruck smiles plastered on our faces; and we enjoyed truly the best wine I have ever tasted, gifted to us by a Scottish, Irish and Italian man, and feasted on bread baked in Italian man’s kitchen.

As I write I am overwhelmed by this memory and feel that there is no way to truly do it justice, but I hope you can begin to see the wonder of these unexpected and magical gifts.

I still have the cork from the bottle of wine, it sits among my momentos until I can find a way to pay it tribute - and perhaps this post is a start.

I reflect on this train ride with awe and immense gratitude. In fact, I just pulled out my journal to read what I wrote about this transformative moment. So although I did my best with words of the present, I’d also like to share the words of the past - they are much for concise:


14/11/2016 (November 14th 2016)

My train ride to Serra San Quirico taught me that:

  • Love attracts love

  • Strangers are good

  • And stepping outside the city invites hospitality, selflessness and humanity


So tonight, with a new wine cork in hand, I was filled with gratitude for the strangers on that train. For our shared feast. And for unexpected gifts.

Those four men reassured me of the most important lesson I have learned to date:

When I am called somewhere, I must listen. I must go and pursue the magic without question, and sometimes even without a plan. For, the universe and the people within it, will always provide!

May you all listen to the magic calling you, may you feast with strangers and may you proceed boldly into the unknown!

 

Cheers,

Annalise

Hospital Stays

Dear Readers,

Nine hours after boarding my flight at SEA-TAC I arrived in London. My first week and half in Europe was spent safely in a countryside side town with a family friend. It was a safe and cushy place to land, but before I knew it I was out on my own and, as it often does, the world hit me with a reality check. 

My first night alone was spent in my hostel near London bridge, where I found myself scurrying out to the street to catch an Uber the hospital. For the majority of the night I lay awake with horribly itchy and goopy eyes and an urgent need to pee every five minutes (yep, you guessed it: a double eye infection and a UTI - that’s what I get for long travel days without bathroom access and incredibly bad habit of incessantly rubbing my eyes - haha). 

Unfortunately, this was my first in a long line of doctor and pharmacy visits - and even one multiple day hospitalization during my trip. I don’t feel the need to include every agonizing or boring detail, because my goal is to share what the experiences taught me about myself, my health, my support system and my independence. Nonetheless, I think it’s important to at least provide and overview. A brief timeline includes:

  1. A hospital visit in London where I was first diagnosed with an eye infection and a UTI

  2. Dublin walk in clinic visit for my persistent eye infection - where the doctor was worried about cornea damage (thankfully there didn’t appear to be any)

  3. Ireland Eye and Throat Hospital - A day long visit that included flipped eyelids, orange dye, handcuffed men, and creepy old sexual predators

  4. My 22nd Birthday which began with a $100 pharmacy visit in Dublin for steroids, cranberry supplements and antibiotics

  5. A visit from a concierge doctors in my Barcelona hostel and a brief hospital visit for inconclusive tests

  6. A 3 day hospital stay at Hospital Delfos in Barcelona, Spain for a possible kidney infection

  7. A brief period of remission followed by a visit to my cousin Alexa’s American Doctor in Rome

And that was pretty much the end of it. My eyesight is a bit diminished to this day and my urinary tract is still easily irritated after so much trauma. But after Rome I had a better handle on my health and made it through the rest of the trip with diligent self care and a willingness to proceed with positivity, and trust in my bodies resilience. 

It’s interesting really, when I committed to traveling entirely on my own near the end of my trip my body calmed down. I have discovered that my body is always communicating with me. It seems to me, at the beginning of my trip I wasn’t listening. As a result, my body fought harder and harder to communicate. When I finally took the time alone to heal, to explore what my body was saying, my health problems diminished. 

One of my main intentions for my European travels was to heal from an incredibly abusive and unfaithful relationship (which mirrored the lessons of my past). Reflecting back on this relationship I recall my 21st birthday. On my Birthday I had a black eye due to an eye infection and I can’t help but suspect my body telling me to see the man in front of me for who he truly was. However, I didn’t listen. Again on my 22nd birthday, I found myself with an eye infection in Europe. An eye infection that seemed to be telling me: “Look! Open your eyes, you are here to heal yourself, get to know yourself and yet you are focused outside yourself! Stop distracting yourself with other people!”

Similarly, I truly believe that my UTI and constant pain around my reproductive organs was a signal from my body to deal with the abuse I had faced, sexually and otherwise. 

By the end of my trip I saw my physical ailments as important messages from my body, and when I finally listened I healed, physically and emotionally. 

Now if you don’t buy any of that, that’s cool, I get it! You definitely don’t have to. Instead, consider the other important lessons I learned... 

Alone, 8,000+ miles away from my family and friends I survived my first extended hospital stay ever! This in itself showed me my strength. I sat alone in a hospital where no one spoke English fluently, afraid for my health. I faced allergic reactions, inconclusive tests, dangerously high fevers, by myself. I did so in tears, much of the time, but I did so with only myself there to rely on. 

I found comfort in myself and my incredible strength. I watched as my body fought and willed my mind to fight alongside it! Because of this experience, I can proceed forward without fear, knowing I can count on myself even when the going gets tough.

I also learned that in those moments when I don’t want to do it alone, when I need a hug, or words of encouragement I can cultivate this for myself. I learned that my family loves me more than I’d ever known. So much so, that they sent out word and found people on the other side of the world for me to stay with after my discharge from the hospital and to come back for follow-up visits to translate for me. Love is a powerful force that travels across the world even when bodies cannot physically do so.

While I would rather not face hospital visits and ongoing ailments in my travels to come I am so appreciative of everything I learned on my 2016 trip. 

Because of the adversity I faced I’ve learned to listen to my body fiercely and with trust. I now have faith in my ability to overcome challenges in solitude. And I now know that in the moments where I do not want to overcome hard times alone, I can call on my support system and no matter what they will come through. 

In those dark moments on my trip I never thought I would feel thankful. But I write with so much gratitude for my experiences. I am enlightened and empowered because of them!

May your moments of both hopelessness and triumph empower you wonderful warriors!

I send you strength, for whatever moment you may be facing now or in the future!

 

Love,

Annalise

 

The Beginning

Hello sweet readers,

I will begin at the beginning – I suppose it’s only appropriate. It’s strange to reflect on my introduction to wandering. I remember how absolutely terrified I was by the newness, the unknown and the uncharted territory. Full disclosure, this terror has not vanished. However, I have learned how to wave hello to my fear when it arises, and promptly set it free. But at the beginning all I could do was wave hello, again and again until I spiraled – I am guessing some of you can relate.

On September 21st 2016, I sat in my parent’s car sobbing. “Why am I doing this?” I asked, hands curling around my brand-new REI pack. Truthfully, it was a useless question because all I could hear were my own thoughts. “I’m making a mistake. I can’t leave now. It is definitely not safe.”

I had spent the past three years of my life collecting furniture, pots and pans, cozy blankets, and incredible Craigslist couches. I had earned a Bachelor’s degree that would sit in my mailbox, unopened, collecting dust. I had settled in the first place that ever truly felt like home. So really, why the fuck was I leaving it behind?

Why would I uproot my life, leave the person I had been seeing, my family and friends, and my home? Simply to set out an explore an entirely different continent entirely alone, with no semblance of a real plan? Why would I commit to spending my 22nd birthday away from my family? Or willingly share the same smelly room with other backpackers, carrying all their belongings on their backs? The questions continued as I pulled my overstuffed pack onto my back at SEA-TAC.

Weighed down by fears and my 80L pack I printed out my boarding pass – the plane ticket was purchased and despite everything, I was determined to sit my ass in that plane seat. I had to trust that letting go would come naturally, and the weight of my fears would drop as my journey progressed. So I hugged my parents and embarked on my journey – with a very wet and puffy face. And by putting one foot in front of another I found myself sitting on an international flight headed to London.

It is particularly strange to look back on my beginning because it is not a side of my wanderings I often share. I read this post to my partner the other day and he said to me, “I had no idea you were that scared.”

Often, I think people, myself included, edit their fear and sadness out of their stories. Perhaps folks feel that vulnerability will not inspire. I feel quite the opposite. I want you to know that I cried, I called home, I felt lonely and lost. I admire the people who truly thrive on wandering from the very beginning of their stories. But if you are like me and are apprehensive about the unknown, know that you are not alone. You will learn how to root into yourself, your heart, your power and you will become your own home. And as you realize how damn incredible you are, you will learn how to set your fears free.

For now, I will hold the torch for you. Even if you don’t yet know it, I see your power and I am excited for you to begin wanderings. And if you need more time, read on as I post every week and know that you will set out when you feel called to do so.

With love,

Annalise