I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! It’s been one long minute since I’ve posted, and although I’ve missed nurturing my creative side thru this vice, I’ve really been spending a considerable amount of time on other parts of myself. I didn’t have any specific New Years Resolutions this year, however, with the changes I’ve been going through you’d think I had subscribed to a slew of them! I wanted to be transparent with my readers (you!), about my absence from the online world, my lifestyle changes, growth, and ultimately about the state of becoming.
You’ve probably noticed that travel writers/bloggers sometimes fail to share all of the moments in between our actual “travels.” The times between beautifully put together itineraries and breathtaking photos. The trying times, the boring times. The months we have to work our day jobs to fund our trips abroad when our websites aren’t quite cutting it. The times when money is tight, or other obligations take priority. Or whoever we’re in a relationship with has family plans over the holidays and our annual Leave-the-Country-for-the-Winter trip suddenly has to be tweaked (sigh). So what’s my reason? I moved states. I bought a place and now have a mortgage. I started this website full time and didn’t have an income for several months. Was it all worth it? Absolutely! But it has put a bit of a damper on my travel plans, nonetheless.
Whatever the reason and no matter how truly we believe that “traveling is our lifestyle,” we are just people after all. This is life, and you know what they say – Life Happens. And it gets hard sometimes, when our ever changing souls twist and writhe, evolving and changing unexpectedly. Enduring these growing pains of sorts, this expanding, isn’t always a comfortable feat. You open new chapters and close old ones. You grow out of your old skin. And that’s okay. The past few months have been that for me.
I’ve been away from my computer, but I’m still here.
The weather has been a bit colder than usual here in Tennessee. And last week’s cold blast brought a few inches of snow that honestly, I could have done without. Somehow these chillier months feel more mundane than the rest of the year. The early darkness creeps up on the winter afternoons, dropping the temps even lower and creating the allusion of much longer nights.
No matter what my day job, no matter how much my heart is in it (human services), or how fulfilled I may feel when I lay my head down at night, it never feels enough. Maybe it’s the routine. The constant. The predictability of it all that leaves me itching for something more. Maybe other parts of the world that have left a stamp on my heart, have ruined me for this part.
So my work day begins and within a few fleeting hours the afternoon blurs into evening. I get home by 9:15pm. I eat. I watch something on Netflix, or Hulu, or cable. I pass out. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
It’s Monday, then it’s Thursday, then the weekend is gone. And I can’t help but know and feel that we weren’t created to live our lives this way, not really. It only resonates stronger and louder and more often since I began my traveling lifestyle years ago. It seems so whimsical and lovely to be in a distant land. So romantic, creating unforeseen moments and friendships and experiences to the backdrop of a foreign language. But mostly, it seems natural to me. I long for it. I crave it. As if it’s what I’m meant to do.
I digress. Where was I? Oh yes…
It’s Monday, then it’s Thursday, then the weekend is gone.
I find myself trying to slow it all down. This hamster wheel.
One morning as I was driving to work I turned off the radio. Out loud I began to recite all of the things that I’m grateful for. The mountains in the distance. The heartbeat in my chest. The cold I have the sense to feel. My dog that I’ve loved uncondtionally for the past eleven years, safely sleeping in his kennel. My reliable vehicle. My home. All of the things I appreciate in my life. Ironically, my daily job is one of those things – everyone needs an income, and I’ve met some great people and networked through this job. Then one by one, I began going through a list of people whom I love, admire, and strive to be like. People who have helped me along my life’s journey, some still very much a part of my life, others held close to my heart through fond memories. I feel a spiritual shift is taking place inside of me.
So I talk to God. I talk to the Universe. I become aware of the energies that course through all living things. I realize and feel how we are all connected, alive, and alike. I see how prejudices are a creation. Created by mankind. The treatment of all living things; plant life, sea life, animals and people. We are intended to care for every living thing. Yet so few of us do. And since we are the creators of such hateful prejudices, thought processes, perceptions, beliefs and labels, we also and equally are the destroyers of such things, able to dismantle them much in the same way they were created.
I begin to make it a point to be aware of opportunities presented to me throughout the day, chances when I can break those barriers and refuse to give prejudices the attention they need to thrive. I choose rather to love, advise when asked, empathize, and give of myself. I give and I receive. I tell myself that I’m a vessel, a channel, ever moving, a current, a force. I’m not a greedy, self-centered and stagnant pool of want and gain and self preservation. I am no longer that. I am so much more. I’m in the state of becoming.
Then a physical change manifests in my life. I learn to treat my body with love, I recognize that every cell in my body has one purpose, and that purpose is to keep me healthy and alive. Without this body, I will cease to exist. For I am not defined by my body, it is just a vehicle intended to take me as far as possible in this life. I’m suddenly aware of the fact I need to care for and treat it the utmost respect. And for the first time in my life, I begin to give it what it needs to function properly.
Much in the same way that I wouldn’t put Coca-Cola into my gas tank, I also stopped putting it into my body. I cut the sugar. I cut the ruthlessly murdered meat. I cut the dairy. I cut the steroids, the hormones, and the GMO’s. I cut anything that had ingredients on the label that I couldn’t pronounce. I cut it all out of my diet.
I completely saturated my daily life with this diet change. I eat raw fruits and vegetables, drink larger quantities of water, and fill up on the things I’m learning are “Super Foods,” which I couldn’t have cared less about just a few months ago. Within a few days of incorporating this change I began to feel the effects.
I felt irritable and went through sugar withdrawals. I had cravings. I wanted cookies, I wanted chocolates, I wanted doughnuts and fruit snacks and Little Debbies. But I stuck with it. I knew that it wasn’t my body that was wanting, but only my taste buds, because those were the things I had conditioned them to want.
I learned and I researched and I stopped ingesting every toxic thing I’m so accustomed to flooding my poor body with. I watched documentaries. I read studies. I binged on TedTalks and relative YouTube videos. I even got creative in the kitchen and made a homemade sugar free chocolate recipe, (it’s even HEALTHY, if you can believe it!) which has been my saving grace. I now find enjoyment in putting nutrient rich foods into my body that only help it manage its tasks of taking care of me. I have a relationship with my body that I never had before.
After a week I found that I had more energy. I felt better. I had more clarity. After a month, there’s absolutely no turning back and I asked myself, why didn’t I start this sooner? But I knew the reason.
I didn’t know. We aren’t taught how to take care of our bodies. We aren’t taught about nutrition.
Think about it. We are literally spoon fed and brainwashed on a daily basis by countless commercials and ads on TV, the internet, magazines, even billboards (yes, they still use those). These synthetic drug cocktails conjured up in labs with a laundry list of dirty side effects are little more than a shady profit scheme. TV ads are usually followed by big time lawyers and attorneys you can hire if, “you or someone you know” has experienced health complications or death due to these drugs.
Why were these drugs, which can cause death, even created? To “treat” the numerous syndromes, diseases, and ailments our bodies go through as a reaction of the toxins we put into them on a daily basis. But also to create their own set of side effects that need “treated” as well. It’s a nasty cycle that would come to a screeching halt if we began to only put into our body the things that it was naturally meant to digest and break down for fuel and energy.
*See Sugar Coated, a documentary on Netflix. Also, Hungry for Change, and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 1&2 just for starters.
So I felt a spiritual awakening as well as a physical change, but it didn’t stop there. There’s also been a mental shift in me, almost simultaneously.
We judge. We make assumptions. Our first thought is generally one that we’ve been conditioned to think. Our first thought is usually a negative one. Think about it, put it to the test. Next time you make an internal observation or form a instantaneous opinion about someone, be sure to acknowledge if it was negative or positive. That’s our first thought — but it’s our second thought that matters.
Do you stop yourself? Do you give the benefit of the doubt? Do you resolve to think, “It’s none of my business” or try to understand what sort of situation they are in that caused them to say that thing, act that way, feel how they’re feeling? Do you experience compassion for that person? Do you take a few moments to empathize? First thoughts may be our instinctual response, but it’s the thought that immediately follows – it’s our second thought – that defines our character.
Our thoughts matter.
“We are what we think about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
So what’s the point?
The point is, “We become what we think about” as Earl Nightingale wisely stated.
So this January, this new year of 2018, I ask you this: What is it that you’d like to become?
My life isn’t always gorgeous landscapes, exotic foods, smiling faces and thrill seeking (although that’s what I’d prefer). As confining as a 9-5 can feel, as monotonous as your hometown can be, and as unremarkable and ordinary as you may think you and your life are, this is simply not the truth. This is only your perception of it. Change your perception. You aren’t a finished product, neither is your life.
Always stay in the state of becoming.
The state of becoming more loving. Daring. Forgiving. Understanding.
The state of becoming more bold. Honest. Patient. Open. Compassionate.
The state of becoming more observant. Humble. Kind. Giving. Helpful.
The state of becoming more authentic. Whole. Healthy. Balanced.
The state of becoming more … You.
Yes, a very good post about things so important. I firmly believe that we manifest our own future reality from our thoughts, intentions and actions. Thoughts are like boomerangs, so there’s no escape, no fooling the way the Universe works. I have three kids, with very different personalities – I tend to think of their lives in these terms:- If they were left stranded on a desert island, Arthur would cut down the palms, fabricate a boat and sail away to freedom. Pete would cut down the palms, lay them across the sand to be more comfortable, and wait for… Read more »
Thank you so much for sharing this Courtney – I try and find the extraordinary in the so called ‘mundane’ of my daily routine, and planning for the next adventure makes the day job absolutely worth it! All the best, Cheers, Karen
That’s great, Karen! Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Courtney. This is an absolutely amazing article…how you go about your journey and share your story in a way that shows that you can be a women out in the world, learning and loving and seeing and doing and bringing all of that home with you and incorporating it into your daily life. By doing so, you have learned to appreciate all of your wonderful surroundings. Things like that do change you, where most of us take it for granted, or just never notice. I’m one of those people who takes these things for granted and I have to… Read more »
Hi Courtney, I read your post and I can feel what you felt when you were writing it. I had to re-evaluate my life for the past year. My job, my family, my eating habits – all had to be re-evaluated. My job is also a 9-5 kind of thing. Do I enjoy it? No, Not really. But as you said, we all need money to live, so every single day I make myself wake up and go to work. But I found the strength to actually think, “What do I really want to do in my life?” and I… Read more »
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! I love hearing about these kinds of changes that people make in their lives. It really does make such a positive impact, and I’m sure both your body and your family love you for it! Keep it up and thank you so much for taking the time to leave this little gem. Cheers!!
BTW, can we please have the homemade sugar free chocolate recipe please?
Sure! Here’s the recipe I use https://thefitcookie.com/guilt-free-dark-chocolate-bars/ I’ve noticed that the chocolate tends to melt when I use coconut oil and don’t keep it refrigerated so I switched to coconut butter. I’ve added nuts and dried coconut but so far I actually prefer it plain. I’m a bit of a dabbler, so I’ve made it with Cashew milk just to see how it turned out, and I liked that just fine. I’ve also used Stevia (instead of Truvia, since Stevia is plant-based) But in all honesty I prefer the honey agave/agave nectar over the other sweeteners. It took me a… Read more »
Wow, what a fantastic share of your journey! You’re writing style is so captivating. I feel compelled to take the same trip because your reasons why make so much sense. We all should awaken like this and I, too, believe the world would be a better place if we all made our individual selves proud. I look forward to reading more about your days, weeks and months ahead. Thank you.
Thank you Jacquie! I’m so happy that you could relate a bit, and that it makes sense. I hope to see you around again and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts, cheers!
Welcome back Courtney, it’s been a while. I am so glad you are back doing your thing here. I am really glad to hear you have made some really positive changes in your life. I am excited to read all of your new posts that I am sure you will be working on. Glad to have you back! Moving and taking on a mortgage is definitely a stressful thing to go through. Keep up the good work and I will be sure to check back often to hear how things are going!
Aww, thanks Steve! Happy to see ya and thanks so much for taking the time to stop by!
Hey Courtney, I know what you’re talking about with hard times. Years ago I had a point in my business when I went from making 70,000 from a website, to nearly 5,000 in a year. It was a hard time in my life, where I didn’t really want to work or write about my financial struggles. But, I suppose success is really measured by how much money you are making, though. I have found that I need balance in my life. For example, working from home can get kind of tough. Meaning, you work from home and have 8 hours… Read more »
I totally hear ya about working from home, and I’m a firm believer in balance as well. I’m especially fond of practical motto’s like, “Everything in moderation.” I agree with you whole heartedly that the The Law of Attraction is solid, and not a theory. I find when learning about successful entrepreneurs and business owners, motivational speakers and the like, that every single one of them touch on the Law of Attraction. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me Garen!
Yes, I agree with you – as a blogger during travel it is hard to follow up. Most bloggers fail to actually blog during their trip. However, I have heard of programs where it’s actually all about blogging during travel, which is a good thing to do. It’s almost more like a video dairy, which makes it interesting to follow and read about.
Hey Dieter! Yeah I’ve had fantasies of documenting my travels and posting them on YouTube. One day I’ll begin incorporating them into my website. Videos definitely bring another more entertaining element to the table!
Great article. I’m new to all this and boy do I have a lot to learn about well-placing relevant pictures! Very nicely written and illustrated. I haven’t had many sodas in the last 35 years and have been juicing for a decade, so I’ve already incorporated some of these diet changes. If only I could quit the cookies altogether!
Quitting cookies is hard! I haven’t completely done it! I have been juicing for a few months though, but you’ve definitely got me beat there! Incorporating raw fruits and veggies into my diet has been easier than I expected though (especially the fruit part of fruits and veggies haha). Good luck to you and hope to see you around again!
So inspiring. Now I want to be a backpackingruffian too! 🙂
Haha, there’s always room for more backpacking ruffians in the world!
The combination of graphics, combined with the excellent writing made this easy and enjoyable to read. This part at the end, “The state of becoming more observant. Humble. Kind. Giving. Helpful.” It really resonated with me. Thanks for this!
Thanks for stopping by John! Happy to see ya here, and appreciate your thoughts!
Wow, that was beautiful.
What a unique and advanced perception you have on things! Blown away by this and the aesthetic imagery so eloquently articulated in this article.
A beautiful and bright spot online for those seeking nourishment for the soul – I know I will remember so much from reading this – even years from now.
I so hope you continue to write as beautiful as this as I am going to subscribe your website for future further insights.
Thank you, and I do mean Thank ‘You’, for such a beautiful and cohesive expression of such wonderful ideas.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it and also had a few “take aways” Philip! Thanks so much for taking a moment to share your thoughts with me!
I really enjoyed reading this post. You’ve taken thoughts right out of my head. There’s always a balance between real life and dreams! We just have to find it!
Thanks so much for reading, Lauren. Hope to see you back again!
Nice Post! Keep on becoming!
Wow, what a great post, you have done quite a bit in a couple of months. If I had any sense at all, I would do everything that you’ve done right now. I have made a few changes with my diet and not drinking as much soda as I used to. I just need to stop it all together. I feel that I am healthy and happy for the most part, but I can do so much better. Thanks for the inspiration, and have a great rest of your day!
Hey Bobbi! It may sound like I’ve done a lot, but it’s just the beginning! Sounds like you are well on your way too! Just small changes in your daily routine will make a big impact. And that doesn’t just go for diet – it goes for anything! Thanks for reading! Cheers!
I really enjoyed this post. I too want to cut all bad things out of my diet and have completely cut out soda and am moving on to anything to do with animals. But I’m going about it in a more gradual method. Have to get all of that stuff out of my house first!!
Very true! The easiest way to not consume it is for it to be unavailable ?