The Adventure Continues…

No, that’s not some far-off expanse of foreign land. That’s home. That’s the prairie right outside of Spokane in Washington.

It would seem, since I’m back at home, I no longer have use for a travel blog. What does one do with a travel blog when the trip is over? My answer: Keep traveling!

I’m not going to take off on another worldwide adventure just yet. I plan to stick around this town. While being abroad, I realized how little I actually explored of Spokane and the places surrounding it.

The Northwest is an amazing place that people from all over come to see and I have some serious appreciating of it to do. Today I hopped on a bus to Seattle to go to a dear friend’s wedding and stay in the city for the weekend.

That’s just the start. Canada is just two hours above me, Idaho and Montana within arm’s reach and Oregon a short drive to the south. I strategically took a job with a schedule of four tens, so every weekend is a three day weekend!

One of the most important things I learned over the last year and two months is to live everyday like I’m traveling.

Before my trip, I got into a snooze-worthy cycle of work, relax, work, relax, work, relax (with a lot of worrying and feeling blue thrown in between). But when I was traveling, I didn’t let myself be so boring. I soaked everything in and went on adventures. Why would I not do that back at home?

The way I see it now that the lazy haze has lifted around me, there are adventures to be had, places to see, loads of people to meet and even a business venture to pursue! I want to share that with you all as well as recall some things from my trip that I didn’t get to write about and continue to talk about the struggles of anxiety and depression.

So if you want to come along on that journey, you’re more than welcome!

“To You”

One of my favorite poems from Walt Whitman:

“To You

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me,
why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?”

This is how I tried to operate while I traveled.

Too often, people think they will look weird or creepy if they just talk to random strangers on the street. How often have you simply wanted to know what someone is doing or complement someone on something they’re wearing or tell the person nearest you some interesting musing that popped in your head or just say “hi” to someone that looks kind or fascinating? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s pretty often.

But more times than not I don’t say anything because I’m scared. But when I have done it or someone has done it to me, it was great.

In Bath, England a family wandered away to do something and left their dad behind on a bench. I was sitting next to him. We just started talking for no particular reason. His family returned with fudge and gave me a piece. Free fudge!

In Asheville, North Carolina I was walking around the city with my backpack on the way to the airport and a guy just walked right up to me and asked, “How long have you been traveling for?” It was a guy I had observed quizzically over the last hour as he sat near me in the market square, devouring a whole cooked chicken with his hands by himself accompanied by a full, brand-new bottle of barbecue sauce. I found out he’s a traveler, too, and an AmeriCorps volunteer. I never got an explanation for the chicken, but it was fun. Cool guy.

This is how I tried to operate while I traveled and how I want to be at home, too.

I’m OK.

Last night wasn’t good. I was crying and I was afraid and I was incredibly sad. That hasn’t happened for at least two months, which was quite the record for me.

In the midst, I felt a ping of desperate sadness – a specific, familiar, dangerous kind, a feeling I almost thought I left behind. I had the thought: Oh no. It’s coming back. I’m becoming depressed again.

But then, a wise response came: No, Jo. You’re not “becoming depressed again.” You feel this feeling right now. That’s OK. Acknowledge it. Do what it asks of you. Cry. Be scared. Then breathe and get back to what you were doing. 

Let the bad, panicked thoughts enter your head like a visitor, like a bird that accidently flies into a room. Don’t try to keep it. Treat it gently because it’s fragile. Leave all the windows open, so when it’s done flying dizzyingly to and fro, it can leave easily, back outside.

Surfing!

My heart is so happy that I got to go surfing while I was visiting home. And I got to go twice!

In a previous post from Madagascar, I mentioned how even though surfing is epic fun, I’m not incredibly good and it gives me loads of anxiety. But despite that, I still do it every time I get the chance and it’s actually paying off.

I can gladly say this last time I caught more waves than I usually get and the nerves weren’t there so much. I didn’t worry about shark attacks or crashing face-first into the sand or getting pummeled by a monster wave or looking like an idiot. And, woah, not spending all my energy worrying meant I had enough to actually catch waves! It also helped that the water was super glassy and the waves were superb that day.

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Dad!

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About Returning to the Beginning

I am sitting on an exceptionally cushy couch in the living room of the house I grew up in. I feel comfortable, though pensive and disquieted.

I’m watching television for the first time in a year. I’m driving the car I drove in college. I’m eating full meals compliments of my parents. I’m sleeping in my room full of stuff I left behind when I moved to a different state six years ago.

I’m only here for two weeks. It’s wonderful to see my parents and my brother and my friend and the beach.

After letting the world wash over me and feeling it change me, it’s good to come back to my origin and remember what made me. It’s good to remember things I already knew. It’s like a ship righting itself after being pushed toward the surface by a wave. But, before traveling I wasn’t righted either. I was lying lazily on my side, off-kilter and weighed down by my staleness and mundanity.

I feel balance.

But nagging thoughts are making their way to the shallows of my mind. I feel a tension in my skull return that had untangled itself while I roamed.

I am afraid I cannot do this. I’m afraid of not being constantly on the move. I’m afraid I can’t do this whole full-time-job thing. I’m afraid the courage and the wonder and the joy I found will fade fast. I’m afraid I’ll sink into another couch and not want to go out into the world again. I’m afraid the way that I feel different will retreat like a nap-time dream.

Is internal change something you need to white-knuckle hold onto? Or is change real and biding?

The beaches back home.