Life Lessons From a Gypsy, Part 2: How Learning to Be Selfish Has Given Me My Life Back

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Seasons greetings, friends, family and Facebook stalkers! Sit down, grab a beer (or wine, or whatever floats your boat) and get ready for another long and insightful blog post. I know it’s been awhile…

I Haven’t Been Distant, Just Reflective

Aside from posting travel photos and an occasional selfie, I’ve taken a brief hiatus from social media and  blog posting. Okay, more like a two month hiatus. I wish I could put my finger on why, but I really can’t. I’m one of those people who withdraws when I’m reflecting or making major changes in my life. I have to work things out internally before I can verbalize it or post about it, and there’s been a lot of reflecting going on lately during my travels.

I’ve also taken a major step back from my cause work and volunteering since I embarked on my full-time travel adventure in August, but I’ll get to that later.  Rest assured, I haven’t forgotten about anyone, anything or lost sight of what’s important. I’ve simply been reflecting, strategizing and meditating about what I want to do next.

I Had a Breakdown In LA And It Inspired Me To Keep Traveling

Picture this. I’m just getting done with a one month stint in beautiful, sunny San Diego, coming off the tail end of a relaxing but action packed week in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and kicking up my heels in West Hollywood. I’m right in the middle of the action, surrounded by palm trees galore, mere miles from the Walk of Fame, beautiful beaches, and talking to some of the hottest people I’ve ever seen on a daily basis. To sum it up, it was everything I’ve ever wanted and aspired to have…on paper.

Reality was much different. I’m living out of an Air Bnb studio rental, in a 400 square foot space, with a kitchen not big enough to cook dinner in. I’m trying to work from home while my 3 year old crawls all over me because he’s annoyed that he doesn’t have space to run around and play. Every time I step out my door to drive somewhere, it’s a one hour trip…each way, because the traffic is so bad. Let’s not even talk about parking. Work is piling up, because I can’t focus and because that 3 year old wants my attention during every waking moment. The apartment owner is calling every other day, because neighbors were complaining about my son “touching the palm trees outside”. On day 3, I show up to a 3-day eviction notice on the apartment door, because the owner had apparently forgot to pay her rent, even though I paid her in full UP FRONT for my entire stay. Needless to say, my stress level went through the roof and it began to make me depressed and completely unproductive.

By the end of the first week, I had pretty much stopped eating (aside from my morning coffee and donuts) and spent most of the days laying on the couch. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is COMPLETELY out of character for me, as I’m normally someone who is on the go 24/7, doing fun things, chasing dreams and building my business. On a normal day, I only get about 6 hours of sleep per night and that’s more than enough. After a week of hearing how unhappy I was, my best friend from Utah drove out to spend a week with me and get my ass back in gear. It did help a little, but what the hell was wrong with me!?

travel gypsy

I was smack dab in the middle of getting everything I had ever wanted and I was completely unhappy. What kind of person could be unhappy working from home, traveling full time, going to theme parks and spending time in the one city they had always hoped to live in? I WAS.  My state of unhappiness came as a complete shock to me. I had always told myself, much like most people do, “once I have this, or do that, I’ll be happy.” I’m here to tell you, that’s complete and utter bullshit. I’ll save the “happiness comes from within” hoorah for later, but what I do know is that outsourcing your happiness until you reach a certain level of success or until you “do this, or do that” is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

I’m still not sure why I was unhappy in LA and it might take me awhile to figure it out. There’s certainly a lot of things I DO like about the place. I love the vibe, and the palm trees, and there’s no shortage of fun things to do there. I absolutely loved the people; everyone I met seemed friendly and non-judgmental. I have no doubt it could be a great place to live. Maybe I was simply unhappy because of my circumstances. Maybe I was just completely exhausted from 2 months of full time traveling and exerting myself at full speed 24/7. And a studio apartment with a crazy owner was not the most ideal living situation for an adult and a toddler. If the circumstances were different, I might love Hollywood after all.

Or maybe, it was the stark realization that what I thought I always wanted, wasn’t really for me after all.  Tony Robbins says that unhappiness and depression comes when our circumstances don’t live up to the blueprint we have in our mind for our life. If I wasn’t happy in this place I always wanted to live, what DO I want!?

Or maybe, must maybe getting everything I wanted was uncomfortable to me. I’ve always been one to sabotage my own success, and perhaps this was no different. Was I just sabotaging myself because I was so close to my dream?

I still don’t know the answer to the question, but the experience of having a breakdown when everything I ever wanted was within my grasp really made me start thinking. What DO I want? What experiences do I want to have? WHO do I want in my life? Do I want to keep doing what I’m doing?

I Realized One Thing: The Need to Travel is in My Blood

I haven’t figured everything else out yet, but despite the challenges I’ve had running a business and being a full time mom on the road (aka, “traveling gypsy”), the lessons and amazing things I’ve done while traveling are invaluable.

From making new friends on a dinner cruise in Lake Tahoe to admiring the beauty (and hippies) in San Francisco, I fall in love with each place I go just a little. Here are a few of my favorite trip highlights so far;

  • Kayaking the La Jolla sea caves
  • Horseback riding on the beach in the Outer Banks, NC
  • Touring Alcatraz
  • Tequila tour in Puerto Vallarta
  • San Diego sunset harbor cruise
  • Golden Gate Bridge tour
  • Walking around Haight Ashbury in San Francisco
  • Dinner cruise on Lake Tahoe
  • Taking Dominic to Disneyland (their Halloween party was awesome!)
  • Coronado
  • Drinking margaritas and smoking cigars in Mexico
  • Making friends with cab drivers in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta
  • Winning a game show on our cruise in front of a room of 200 people (video to come later!)

Travel gypsy

Chasing adventure and meeting new people makes me feel alive. I want Dominic to know and appreciate different cultures, just as I do every time I go somewhere new. I want him to have the same appreciation for trying new things.  Bottom line; I know that I do want to settle down at some point, but I don’t know where yet, so that means I keep searching. I’ve been looking at houses and condos everywhere I travel, but nothing has felt right yet. When the time and place is right, I’ll know.

19 Lessons Learned From Life on the Road

  1. No one ever has anything figured out…EVER. Traveling has made me much more confused about my life in some ways, yet much more clear in others. But I’ve realized that life isn’t about reaching a stage of finally figuring things out, it’s about constantly evolving. If you think you’ve got everything figured out, you’re either a complete idiot or you’re dead.
  2. You can’t change people, you can only love them. Accept people as they are, without the expectation that they’ll be or do what you want them to be. This is a lesson that keeps repeating itself for me, so I suppose it’s time I learn it.
  3. People learn how to treat you based on what you allow, what you reinforce and what you stop. If you don’t like the way someone treats you, leave them or raise your standards. This goes for friends, significant others and family members. I’ve found that a few certain people in my life have come to respect me more and treat me better over the past couple years, and it’s completely because of me. They know I no longer tolerate mistreatment and disrespect…from ANYONE.
  4. People still like me, even when I’m not trying to prove myself. This is where the “learning to be selfish” part comes in. I genuinely like helping other people. But at the end of the day, if I’m not taking care of myself first and making myself happy, I’m completely useless to everyone else. Through being “selfish” and doing some of the things I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve realized that people still genuinely like me, even when I’m not doing something for them. It’s a nice feeling.
  5. You become the 5 people you spend the most time around, choose wisely. I know I’ve said this a million times, but I can’t stress the importance of this enough. After I spend too much time with certain people, I begin to feel drained, lazy and sometimes, even sick. Those are the people I limit my time with. The mentors and friends I have who challenge me to do better, are absolutely 100% the reason why I’ve achieved any level of success in my life at all. Who are you spending time with? Do you want to be like them? If not, choose new people.
  6. Everyone has a story you know nothing about, so don’t make assumptions and always be kind. Outwardly, most people would think that my life is challenge-free and perfect. Although I’m immensely grateful for the life I live, it’s not without its drawbacks. You never know the struggles someone faces on a daily basis, and we all have our battles.
  7. Working on the road is HARD, but worth it. It’s absolutely been a lesson in discipline, and it’s something I’m still working on. Consistency has always been a weak spot for me.
  8. People are inherently good, even when evidence may seem the contrary. When everything you see on the news makes you start to question humanity, look for the good in people, look for the people who are helping. You’ll ALWAYS find them. Start looking for the good and that’s exactly what you’ll find in people.
  9. Time is ALWAYS ALWAYS worth more than money. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
  10. When you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing. This year has been my biggest year ever for personal growth and development (business growth too, not coincidentally) and at some points it has been uncomfortable as hell. I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone and figured out how to build a bridge on the way down. But the results speak for themselves. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re stagnant.
  11. To be successful, you’ll make enemies. Nothing was more apparent than this when I started writing for some of the bigger news sites and blogs. I would write something that I thought was well thought out and awesome, and some people would just rip me to shreds (there were even death threats). But the bottom line is, the secret to failure is trying to please everyone. Every successful person I know has at least a few enemies.
  12. Ignore criticism, unless it’s constructive.
  13. When you don’t require outside validation, you can do amazing things. Over the past year, I’ve truly taken the limits off myself by not caring what people think or say about me. I no longer need external validation before making a decision, because I know what’s right and I know I’m good enough on my own. The final result: I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been.
  14. Real interaction doesn’t take place behind a smartphone or computer screen. I make my living working from my computer, but I’ve known for awhile that truly engaging with people is how you build a business. Traveling has made me realize that really engaging with people is also how you build a happy LIFE. A large percentage of happiness comes from who you spend your time with, and how you impact the people around you.
  15. If you want to do something, do it now. Just. Do. It.
  16. Fear is completely in your head. Some people are afraid of public speaking, some are afraid of starting a business, the list goes on. My biggest fear was always getting my heart broken and losing someone I loved. Last year, I had that happen when I broke up with my boyfriend and it shook me to the core. But not in the way you’d expect. I realized one of my worst fears, and I lived through it. I came through it better, actually. The point is, the thing you fear most is very rarely as bad as you think it is. The worst case scenario rarely happens, and even when it does, you find out, you’re stronger than you think. Getting out of that relationship was HARD and it’s also the best thing I did this year. It’s what truly catapulted me into making these major changes and finally chasing my dreams. I thought, “if I can get through that, what else can I make it through?”
  17. I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to. The idea of traveling full time and working from home was once just a dream that I thought was completely unattainable. Through personal growth and making small strides every day, I made it happen. It’s truly made me realize that any other goal I have is also completely within my reach.
  18. Tough times never last, but tough people do. If you’re going through hell, keep going. In my lifetime, I’ve been flat out broke, unemployed, unhappy and seemingly without options. Everything is a season and things always get better as long as you keep going. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
  19. Last, but certainly not least… No one needs to travel with 27 pairs of shoes. You never, EVER need as much stuff in your suitcase as you think you do. Pack light and save yourself the hassle. In 3 months, I’ve gone from traveling with 3 full size suitcases down to just one. Trust me, just leave most of that shit at home because you won’t wear it anyway! Save yourself the baggage fee and buy an extra margarita at the airport 😉

Moving Forward: Where The Hell Do You Go, When You Always Want to Be Somewhere Else?

So where do I go from here? Literally speaking, the next stop on the agenda is NY to spend Christmas with my family and do New Years Eve in NYC. Figuratively speaking, the adventure continues with just a few minor adjustments…

  • Traveling full time is exhausting and without taking breaks, it’s a recipe for burnout. So, moving forward and as long as we’re traveling full time, I will be pacing my travels with strategic trips to NY and Utah every couple months to stay with family and friends every so I can unpack and recharge. The idea is that small breaks and the ability to unpack for a few weeks will help me avoid another meltdown like I had in LA. On the positive side, I’ll also be seeing more of my friends and family!
  • It’s time to take the limits off my business, just like I took the limits off my life. I love my business for allowing me the freedom to travel and I appreciate my clients for a multitude of reasons. But I’ve been toying with the idea of making some changes to my business for awhile and the only thing stopping me has been fear and self sabotage. It’s time to jump in head first. The new changes will bring about even more freedom, more writing, more money and best of all, more value to those around me. Stay tuned!
  • I’m ready to get back to a place of volunteering and giving back to those around me…but only because I truly want to and not because I think it’s something I “should” do. I’m lucky the non-profits I serve on the Board of Directors for have been patient with me as I’ve been doing my own thing the past few months. Connecting with people is something I’ve been truly missing the last few months during my travels and I’m going to make a concerted effort to start giving back again and also to meet more people everywhere I travel. The human experience is really what it’s all about, anyway.

To sum it all up, the last few months have truly been a unique and priceless journey that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’ve found that when I trust my intuition and never give up, I always find my way. The adventure will continue! And if I’m lucky, just maybe I’ll inspire a few people along the way.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”