Top Five Reasons for Traveling Around the World

Finding the “Why” in Your Deepest Desires

You have heard it before, and maybe you have even said it yourself: Some day I am going to travel the world. A few weeks ago, I woke up and realized, that day is here. The time is now. I decided to commit to traveling around the world for a year. You can read about that decision here

If you have ever taken a motivational course, you have probably heard about how important it is to solidify your “why.” Your “why” is your reason for doing anything. It is very easy to decide to do something (did you make any New Year’s resolutions?), but to see a decision reach fruition, you must have a solid, strong, and deeply felt reason that propels you toward that goal.

I seem to have a natural ability to accomplish what I set out to do. Many people ask me how I have made the dramatic life changes I have (this post is about that), but honestly, I had to stop and think about why I achieve my goals. I have realized that I practice not only the three secrets I blEurope trip June 08 114ogged about in my last post, but I also have a deep, strong, unshakable desire to reach my goals. If I am missing that part for a particular goal, it usually drops off the map. And yes, that’s happened plenty of times.

I have been writing down in my RTW notebook all the reasons I have for traveling around the world for a year (Paleo-style, I might add, but that’s a topic for the next post), and I thought it might inspire other wanna-travel-ers to begin planning their trips around the world. So, without further preamble, here they are:

5. I want to expand my adventurous side and be brave.

I had always lived a rich and colorful life. But by the time I hit 50, my life had slowed down dramatically, and I noticed that my world had gotten very small. I live in a gorgeous, artsy little town of 20,713 people (I just checked), and while I love the area, I am feeling closed in and shut off from the rest of the world. I have gotten small and safe. I am ready to step back into my natural, adventurous state of being. I want to eat new foods (Paleo as much as possible!) and smell new smells and feel new air.

4. I have wanderlust.

I have had wanderlust all my life. I went on my first international trip when I was 19. I went alone to Europe and had the time of my life. Ever since then, I have traveled as much as my budget would allow. My income is rather small, enough to support a single woman, but I am making my RTW a priority, so every unspent dollar is going into my travel fund. (More about this in another post, too.)

3. I want to meet people from all over the world.

As I mentioned, I live in a small town. It is very vanilla and safe and dramatically NOT diverse. I love people. (As Ruth Gordon says in Harold and Maude, “they’re my species.”) And there is so very much to learn from other cultures, other lifestyles, other ways of being. I cannot wait to see who I meet.

2. There are so many new experiences to be had.

Some guy I used to know taught me that experiences are far more valuable than stuff. I have taken that attitude to heart. (In fact, my teen-aged great-nephews and great-niece don’t quite appreciate that I give them experiences instead of gifts, but I know in my heart that some day they will.) I treat myself the same way. I am creating my own memories from experiences that feed my very core and will last me a  lifetime.

And my number one reason for traveling the world is:

1. I have only one life. Just one.

Yep. This is it. Just this one precious, unique, special chance I get, in all of eternity, to be consciously alive. I will never have this chance again. We all make choices that impact what our life experiences are by the end. I have chosen to mindfully, consciously, and without fear step into the world and grab whatever yummy, dirty, exciting, scary, sweaty, heart-pounding experiences I can. I relish the boring days. I rejoice in the stimulating, exciting days. And at the end of every single day I say, “I am so deeply grateful to be alive.”

What is your dream? What is your “why”? Please share in the comments below.

 

An RTW Journey Starts with Planning

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

That saying has never felt so true to me as it does now, one week after committing to traveling the world for a year, after a year of planning.

This morning, as I was making my coffee, I was loudly singitraveltheworldng Joni Mitchell’s song “Both Sides Now” when one of the phrases struck me to my core: “But now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone. So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way.”

I sing this song a lot, but today I heard these words as though for the first time. I understood them as a metaphor for how we can be blocked from what we truly desire in this one life we live, blocked by CLOUDS! Soft, wispy CLOUDS! Most often, we create the clouds ourselves by the choices we make. We choose jobs, family, community, and those are all GREAT choices. By virtue of any choice we make, though, we step off the path of another choice. It is the nature of choice.

I have created a life where nothing is blocking my way to a RTW journey. (That’s “round the world” speak!) I can take my work as a freelance editor on the road. I can rent my home in Oregon, sell my non-essential belongings, and put the rest in storage. I can enlist the help of family and friends to maintain a support system on the ground. I have removed all blocks to this incredible, exciting, and completely possible adventure. The clouds are no longer in my way.

I have lived a very colorful life. I have always been adventurous, and I have incredible memories of some times I’ve had. But in the the last decade or so, my life has become smaller and smaller, feeling more and more like I’m looking through shades of grey. But now I have awakened, the clouds have parted, and I can see in vivid color once again. It is never too late to live in color.

I have always had a deep desire to travel; I took my first solo trip when I was 19, traveling to England, Holland, Germany, and France. I didn’t know a soul, yet I remember feeling so free, so excited to be traveling! I had no fear. I met people everywhere I went. I felt alive in every cell of my being. I have since been back to western Europe four more times. I’ve been other places as well, so over the last several decades I have made do with short trips, as most of us do who want to travel.

And now, in this first week of planning my year of traveling the world, people from all over are connecting me to others in far-flung places. I will not be alone! I look forward to being welcomed in people’s homes all over the world, connecting with friends I simply haven’t yet met. And the travel hacks! The secrets of my fellow travelers! These kindred souls open themselves wide to receive yet another adventurer on a path around the world and share all that they have learned on this pale blue dot.

Since the day I decided to travel for a year, a whole new world has opened up: the world of solo travelers, men and women who are living their dreams on their terms. I am joining their ranks and once again living in color.

Rainbows and Sunshine

Rainbow country

Rainbow over Ashland

I live in Rainbow Country. I have never seen as many rainbows, or as frequently, as I do here at the southern tip of the Rogue Valley. And they’re wide—often one can see a full half-circle rainbow, from one end to the other, arcing across the fields on the far side of the valley. Or perhaps it’s dropping a pot of gold into a pond on the near side while stretching its colors to drop into a grove of trees way over there, that way. It’s remarkable; in fact, most people I know have a love affair with our rainbows. If there’s a big, juicy bow stretched bright across the middle of the day, you know it’s going to be all over Facebook in just a minute. With pictures. It’s cool.

Of course, I’ve seen rainbows all my life. As a kid, I was always excited to see a fraction of a circle of color peaking above the low hillside across the street. I’d run into the house yelling, “Rainbow! There’s a big rainbow!” to anyone who was nearby. I remember rainbows being pretty special and rather rare. So what is it about the Rogue Valley that gives us Rainbow Country? Well, it’s all about the layout and the weather.

Ashland sits at the base of the Siskiyou mountains, with Mount Ashland at its back, toward the south. We face northward, looking out over the black ribbon of I-5, which cuts smoothly down the narrow valley. Grizzly Peak is due north. The expanse of valley spreads east to west. So here we have this long, narrow, tight valley, where mist and sunshine mingle together to demonstrate nature’s physics.

More often than not, the suggestion of a double rainbow, that reflected rainbow of the rainbow, occurs. Sometimes, while watching, the double rainbow will become brighter and brighter, becoming almost as bright as the primary bow. I mean, wow! How cool is that!

So with the sun at our backs, the east/west valley at our feet, and the mountains across the way as a backdrop, everything comes together perfectly to create a canvas for our stunning rainbows. We never know when they’ll appear, but when conditions are right, which they often are in the spring and fall, we are treated to Rainbow Country’s greatest spectacles. And, no surprise, Ashland is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Wildflowers and Spring in Ashland’s Lithia Park

Fairy playground

Fairy playground

I confess… I admit it. I’m not a photographer. I have an old digital Canon that I mostly keep on “auto” setting, and I know how to zoom. That’s about it. But when I hike above Lithia Park, on the trails in the hills above the main park path, I have to take picture every few feet. There’s just so much to see!

In the spring, wildflowers bloom in abundance. They’re mostly tiny–teeny dots of color pushing up between soggy, old, dead leaves and mats of pine needles.

But once I train my eye on them, I see them everywhere! They’re snowy white, royal purple, deep blue, and butter yellow.

They’re smaller than a candy dot and as big as a gumdrop. And when they’re just starting to push up from the cold, damp ground, they signal the promise of thousands more to come.

And then there’s the textures. Oh, my, the textures. From decaying old logs to spongy green moss, the textures of the forest cover it all.

Smooth, rough, soft, scratchy, ribbed, and spiky. The woods and forest floor yield endless textures of nature, slowing my hiking rhythm to a snail’s pace.

Driving home from what turned out to be a pretty leisurely walk through nature’s treats, I pulled over no less than six times to attempt to capture the plethora of blossoming trees. Really, they’re everywhere! Ashland has a short window in the spring when, it seems, everything has flowers pushing through rough, wintery bark.

Yes, Ashland is full of nature’s eye candy in every flavor, if only we slow down long enough to notice. And maybe point and shoot an old camera in hopes of capturing just one taste.

  

Coffee Houses: Part of Ashland’s Charm

20130326-202635.jpg I moved from Southern California to the Southern Oregon town of Ashland in July of 1993. I had been living in Orange County for seventeen long years, and was really ready to get out of there. I hated the traffic, the noise, the competitive atmosphere. When I moved to Ashland I felt I had finally moved home.

That was nearly twenty years ago, and I’ve never had a day of missing SoCal. Ashland embraced me with her warm, inviting, liberal arms. I met scads of people right away. I got involved in the community, which I’d never been comfortable doing in California, even though I’d owned my own business there.

I now live next door to Ashland, in the tiny little town of Talent. Its population is a minuscule 6,100 compared to Ashland’s 20,200. I live so close to Ashland, though, that I can get to the downtown plaza faster than half the people who live in Ashland. In fact, I spend most of my time out of my house in town, simply because it’s such a groovy place to hang out.

I freelance, so when I need to get out, my office comprises half a dozen charming little coffee houses in town. Some are easy for tourists and visitors to find, such as Boulevard Cafe, which is part of the Stratford Inn. Boulevard is a top hangout choice for locals who like the open, sunny atmosphere, the great selection of loose teas, and the plentiful tables with outlets for laptops. Clearly I’m not alone in calling this favorite shop my office.

Other coffee hangouts, such as Case Coffee, are not as easy to stumble across if you don’t leave the downtown area. Case is across the street from Southern Oregon University and is typically missed by visitors. This may change, though, because Case just won one of the prestigious Good Food 2013 national awards for its coffee, an honor indeed for this tiny little hideaway. Find Case Coffee at 1255 Siskiyou Boulevard, right across from the emerald green lawn of SOU.

Also off the beaten path, but sometimes discovered by out-of-towners, is the Rogue Valley Roasting Company, or RoCo, as it’s affectionately called by locals. Since it’s near a few B&Bs, visitors often chance to stop in for some of their delectable spanikopita, scones, or pumpkin muffins. This rustic old building has been well-preserved. While I don’t know its history, it has surely seen many generations come and go. Sit outside on the front porch, or go around to the shaded patio to relax and watch the slow traffic go by.

When I want to experience Ashland’s abundance of visitors in a relaxing, homey atmosphere, I stop by Bloomsbury Coffee House. This charming bookstore coffee house boasts comfy stuffed chairs, wifi, reading materials, and the good cheer of its owner, David, who is usually on the premises either serving coffee or cooking in the kitchen. You’ll find the famous Bloomsbury’s bookstore and its independently owned coffee house on the main drag, a few blocks up from the downtown plaza. Head in and up for a cuppa.

The list of coffee house hangouts goes on. At any one of them, a visitor can engage with the locals, who often visit their beloved baristas. These offices-away-from-home remind me of why I love Ashland. I sure didn’t get that feeling when I had coffee at a Denny’s in Costa Mesa. California, I don’t miss ya.

To visit any of these local gems, check them out here:

Boulevard Cafe: http://boulevard-coffee.com/

Case Coffee Roasters: http://casecoffeeroasters.com/

Rogue Valley Roasting Co: http://ashlandcoffee.com/

Bloomsbury Coffee House doesn’t have a website, but you can check out the bookstore here: http://bloomsburyashland.com/

Oh, and apparently the Denny’s in Costa Mesa closed. 😉