It's coming on three months since we have been back.
Ask me what I've done during this time and, other than my sister's awesome wedding celebration and a few select events, I'd tell you not much. Returning from a ten month trip abroad, I've come to find, is a bit like waking up from a dream. A dream that was good in lots of places but also left you scared and sad at times. And when it's all said and done, it's a reminder of why it is so darn sweet to be awake and alive.
We learned a lot of things on this trips, some things were reminders and others we found with fresh eyes and ears. Sometimes the process was painful, both physically and emotionally painful – I'm thinking building raised beds in Scotland (you can't imagine the types of demons that show their faces in such a harmless sounding situation), walking certain stretches of the Camino de Santiago (that's pretty self explanatory – things are gonna come out if you have twenty pounds on your back and you've walked fifteen plus miles every day for the past week – there's just no way around it), and coming to certain truths while on a lazy Malaysian island (even island hippies have troubles, sometimes).
Here are some (well, several) of the most important lessons we learned, and ones we'd like to ask that all of you take a moment to think on (cause what's a good travel inspired blog if it doesn't change or cement some perspectives, right ?) whether they are lessons that have already molded themselves into your life motto, whether they are new and a bit non-intuitive, or they are ideas you know but often evade your reach:
Never take family, friends, and home for granted
Do what you love (not what other people tell you to love)
Be willing to compromise (kind of fitting considering the current political climate)
Talk it out, calmly and courteously, yelling or avoiding doesn't solve problems
Nature makes everything better
Keep things in perspective, and recognize that others bring different experiences and lifestyles to the table that can create perspectives unfamiliar to you
Along the same lines, don't prejudge
Stay positive, positive attracts positive
Be assertive – don't be afraid to ask, to make the first move, to right a wrong, to stand up for yourself or someone/something else
Carpe diem, seize the day (Guess my high school morning announcements were onto something after all…)
The best way to experience a place is to walk it or bike it
Most people are good and have the same basic morals as you do – regardless of religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sex, anything
Allow yourself downtime, it is necessary to function happily and effectively
Take care of your body – the food you consume, the exercise you partake in affects you on every level, not just physically, and can make your life so much better (or worse) depending on how you treat it
Keep a budget and spending journal – your money will go farther
Allow yourself to see and live the extremes – hunger, poverty, over-fullness, extravagance – and you will better understand the world, appreciate what you have, and know your boundaries
Don't have set-in-stone expectations, allow for change and you won't be hurt when things don't turn out as “planned”
Good service trumps good food, any day
Things happen for a reason – learn from experience and harbor no regret
Nature provides us with everything, we just need to do a better job of listening to it and caring for it
Say sorry, say thank you, forgive, and move forward
Understand that people work differently and do your best to accommodate it. For instance: for those that take things a bit too personal sometimes – constructive criticism is not an attack, it is meant to help, try to see it that way. For those that dish it – try to be kind about it and recognize that not everyone handles it as you do.
Counteract the infinite hunger by eating a large meal immediately following exhausting physical activity, otherwise it will last a week
We are all connected
Love yourself, flaws and all, 'nough said.