Homeward Bound: My personal journey through long-term travel

Some days it feels like we just left, other days it seems  like we have lived an entire life time here in Costa Rica.

Today is the day we land home in Victoria. My heart feels like it is going to burst just typing this. I have had so many moment lately where I’ve pictured the hugs I’ll be giving and it has brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

Today is also a final day of reflection, 24 hours worth of travel time will do that to you. I find myself continuing to come back to a moment that occurred a few days before we left for Costa Rica. I was laying in bed, sick with worry. I turned over to Shaun and asked him what we would do if I couldn’t “handle it”, could we just come home?

I had never travelled for longer then three weeks, and I was so worried about the trip. What if I couldn’t handle being away from my friends and family. What if I couldn’t live a life so drastically different from the one I lead at home. What if I just couldn’t do it.

I was holding on to so much fear about our travels. I was holding on to so much fear about life.

This is how I was choosing to live my daily life. I lived from the foundation of fear, the foundation of the “what if?” The end result was that I wasn’t truly living.

Going into this trip, I knew that something needed to change. And as I reflect back on what I’ve learned, I find myself in awe of what occurred over the past 5 months.  I didn’t actively pursue change, change pursued me. As soon as I opened my heart to all the possibilities my journey of self-discovery unfolded before me in an almost magical way.

I’m not a different person, I’m not coming home completely changed.  I’m coming home with an understanding of who I am deep down, and what I want out of life.

I’m coming home and it’s time to Shine.

As for the blog…

Can you believe that I actually still have stories to tell? As of today, I will post on the blog twice a week to finish up the last few stories of our trip. After that, the blog will transform into something that excites me to no end.

But you’ll just have to wait to see that chapter unfold…

Until then my friends, Pura Vida

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Final Days of Travel: Learning to Live in the Moment

I didn’t think that the last leg of our travels would be this hard.

With 6 days left before we touchdown back home, I’m finding it more and more difficult to fight homesickness. My mind constantly wanders to my family and friends, and I find myself planning all sorts of things that I want to do when I get back. These feelings have resulted in days seeming long, and some moments where, well, I’ve been kinda miserable

There…I said it. I’ve been a grumpy bear this week. Poor Shaun has had to deal with a very homesick wife.

Of course, I recognize I need to change my tune. I’m actively choosing fear over love. If I’m not careful I’m going to waste the last few previous moments I have on this adventure looking forward instead of standing still.

I often find myself taking moments to appreciate my surroundings, but it is always in obvious ways, like when I’m watching a sunset of when I’m laying in a hammock. In those moments, its easy to be present, and appreciate the beauty and tranquillity that surrounds me

It’s the mundane times that I find challenging. Evenings where it is dark early, and no amount of Netflix or crazy eights are going to keep me entertained. Or days where I’m faced with a very hot walk to the store to get groceries. There are so many instances during my day where my mind wanders, I start thinking about home, I get lonely and I’m no longer present.

I started reading about ways to “be in the moment” and although I agree with most things I’ve read, I still didn’t really know how I was going to go about doing it. It’s easy for me to be present when I’m reading something about it, but as soon as I put my book down, I forget. The mind is a powerful thing and it will wander where it wants to wander.

I needed a concrete exercise to help me stay present, so I chose a day last week and decided to make myself a reminder.

I set an alarm on my phone for every hour. Whenever it went off, I took note about what I was thinking about. Most of the time it was about home, or something in the future. I took a second to appreciate that thought and let it come to an end.

Then, I took a deep breath and really looked at my surroundings. I would to myself, what am I grateful for in this moment? What do I want to remember? It didn’t have to be big things. Some of the things I noticed were all of the hibiscus in bloom, the amazing feeling of walking into a room with a/c, or a wicked huge Iguana. All things that I know I won’t have when I get home.

Taking time to appreciate and feel grateful for those little things helped keep me in the present moment.

This exercise totally falls into the “practice makes perfect” category. I found that after doing it for a while, it started to happen naturally. Now I have an alarm set for twice a day, but find I’m finding I am much more naturally present throughout the entire day.

So, if you are every finding yourself in a situation where you are spending to much time looking back or looking forward, try this exercise to help train yourself to stand still.

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For more on the evolution of my philosophies and “kateness” visiting my Philosophy page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Why Choose Fear?

For those of you are Rent fans, I hope you read the title with the necessary musical inflections in which I wrote it!

Today we are going to dive into a little Philosophy of Kate…Kateosophy? Hmmm, maybe not, sounds like an invasive medical treatment.

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My journey into the land of self-awareness continues. Our trip is winding down, and I’ve started to think about how I will adapt and integrate my new way of thinking into life back at home. As a result, I’ve started developing a few tricks to help avoid falling back into my same old patterns.

Today I figured I would share one with you!

One of my goals this trip has been to get a handle on negative emotions. I talked a little bit about it in this post back in December. If I am in a negative head space, I feel as if I can’t get out of it. I will actively choose to wallow in it rather then pulling myself out. I often rely on others to “pump my tires” to pull me out of my own negativity. This is  pattern that I’ve repeated over and over in my life (just ask my Mom!)

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I do this. I realized that I often feel like my emotions are to complicated to attempt to figure out. When I am in a funk, I am not feeling just one single thing, I’m feeling tons! The thought of dissecting all my emotions and addressing them seems exhausting. So, I choose to stay in them and be negative instead.

Sounds like a bummer eh? Well I’m happy to say that this realization actually helped to create a serious “AhHa” moment for me. The result is the formation of a trick to help pull me out of my funks.

So here goes:

All emotions, every single one, fall into one of two categories: Love or Fear.

Positive emotions: Happiness, Joy, Empathy, Hope, Elation, Excitement, Gratitude, are all rooted in Love

Negative emotions: Anger, Frustration, Jealousy, Guilt, Doubt Sadness, Rage, these emotions, these are based in Fear.

This simple realization has helped ground my entire belief system. Instead of looking at my negativity as a complex mixture of emotions that I need to unpack and digest, I look at it as my Fear.

I then ask myself.

Why am I choosing Fear?

When I am choosing to wallow in my own negativity, I am making a concious choice to live a life based in Fear. It doesn’t feel good physically or mentally, but I’m making an active choice to stay in it. When I am whirling in my head, and feeling my negativity take over. I consciously ask myself “Why am I choosing Fear?

This one simple question has become my focal point for pulling myself out my funks, and switching gears. And I think it is its simplicity that makes it so effective. Negativity isn’t about the complexity of your emotions, it is about choosing Fear over Love.

So, this is my new state of being. I choose Love over Fear.

Life just isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be

If you are interested in any more of my learnings check out my My Philosophy page!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Twitter:@caketress

 

 

 

10 Things We’ve Learned in our Four Months of Backpacking

Hard to believe, but I now have 4 months of backpacking under my belt. Although I feel like I’ve graduated from my newbie backpacker status, I still learn new things every day.

I thought I would take a moment today and share with you 10 of my most recent observations about the crazy world of a backpacking.

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  1. Lack of laundry facilities means spilling something on myself is 100 times more devastating.
  2. After four months it has just becomes easier to refer to ourselves as Keit and Jawn.
  3. When leaving a hostel that has hot water, we shower like we will never see hot water again.
  4. Buffet breakfast? Watch out, we will make three meals out of it
  5. Free Coffee? Watch out, Kate will make three meals out of it
  6. If I am not wearing underwear by noon, I won’t wear any all day. That’s a waste.
  7. If I have to pee when I’m in a bed with mosquito netting, I will opt to do the potty polka until morning.
  8. Somewhere in Costa Rica, someone is giving out free Jack Johnson CD’s to every citizen. We just aren’t sure where.
  9. Some people need the sound of waves, crickets or whales to fall asleep, I’m pretty sure when I get home I’ll need a sound machine that plays bad karaoke, howler monkeys and people humping.
  10. Date night’s consist of a box of cooking wine, a bag of plantain chips and being in bed by 9

So there you have it. A little insight into the glamorous world of backpacking.

What other tips about backpacking do you want to hear?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Feeling Grateful for my Fabulous Friend Colleen

We didn’t really have much of a plan for our travels in Costa Rica. We had a rough idea  of where we wanted to go, but we hadn’t really decided on where or when we would go places.

The only thing that was written in stone was that we needed to be in Nicaragua by February 24th to meet up with my friend Colleen.

Colleen and I go all the way back to high school. This means, that out of the vast majority of people in my life, she has known me the longest. I would also attest that she is one of the people who knows me the best.

During our travels, I had certainly thought about Colleen’s up coming visit, but it always seemed so far off in the distance. Plus, I was trying to live every day in the moment and not focus to much on what was coming up.

It wasn’t until the night before leaving for Nicaragua that it actually struck me that I was going to be seeing my friend for the first time in a very long time.

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Nothing could have prepared me for how wonderful it was to spend time with her.

When you are travelling, you spend so much time in your head. Although we often meet new people, the conversations you have with them tend to be superficial. Most travellers you meet are in and out of your life within a couple days.

And of course I have my lovely husband with me, and its been wonderful to have all of this time to talk together. But even I know there are limits to how many times I can tell him about my feelings and disclose what I’m grateful for. Poor guy, no wonder he surfs so much 😉

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So here we are, back at the idea of gratitude. I feel so thankful to have been able to spend four days with Colleen. We talked like crazy and caught up on everything that is going on in each others lives and in each others heads. She listened to all of my “big ideas” and had such a wonderful perspective on things. I’m left feeling even more excited about where our paths are taking us next.

Time spent with friends is now one of those things that I will never again take for granted.

So, the next time you are sitting with a friend, and having those conversations that friends have, take a moment and appreciate just how lucky you are to have them in your lives!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow on Twitter:@caketress

Today I Choose to be Thankful-An Exercise in Gratitude

If you’ve been following my posts, you may have read about my new focus.

Instead of looking outward towards all the things I want to do with my life, I’m starting by looking inward, and becoming who I want to be.

I’m starting the process by focusing on gratitude. I thought I would share a little bit about what I’ve learned so far, and some of the steps I’m taking to move forward. 

There will be no exciting Costa Rica adventures in this post, but I promise tomorrow we will be back to our regularly scheduled programs. So, if you are still game, lets dive in.

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Weird thought…but have you ever thought about what it would be like to have no hands?

Think about it, right now, you have no hands. Can you imagine what your life would be like?

Or what about feet? What would your life be like if you had no feet?

Hands, and feet. Things we take for granted every day, yet they make our lives so much easier.

Often life can seem overwhelming. Everything is so big. There are decisions to make and schedules to keep, and we lose sight of the little things.

Like the fact that we have hands, and feet.

This is where my journey begins, remembering to be thankful. Not just for the big things, but the little ones as well.

So, right at this very moment. Think to yourself, what are you grateful for? It can be big, or it can be small, but make it your very own.

Got it?

Now how does it make you feel?

Good right?

Now hold onto that feeling, and really let it wash over you. Hold onto that feeling for as long as possible. Feel good?

This is the exercise that I’ve been doing for the past week. Whenever I feel myself feeling unmotivated, negative, down, or just unfocused, I take a moment to think about what I’m thankful for in that very moment. Then I work on harnessing that energy and keeping it with me.

I share it with you because it is working wonders for me. The more I do this exercise, the easier it is, and the longer the feeling lasts.

So, in keeping with the exercise, at this very moment I am grateful for you. That’s right, you, right there, I know you are reading this!

Whether we’ve met in person, or simply through the blog, I am thankful for your presence. Being able to share my adventures, insights and learnings through this blog has been such an amazing part of my journey. The encouragement, light and love I’ve received from my readers is something that fills me with gratitude, and makes me smile.

So thank you all for being my current happy thought!

If you are interested in reading more about gratitude, check out Pathway to Happiness. This is the site I found the gratitude exercise on, as well as many other valuable teachings.

So now the big question…what are you grateful for?

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Month Three- Shifting the Focus of my Personal Evolution

Remember way back in month two when I was talking about all my “Big Ideas?” Well, they got a little overwhelming. In fact, my quest for self-growth and learning took a bit of a dive this month.

Here’s the story

When I initially arrived in Costa Rica, I was determined to use the time I had to figure out what I wanted to do “when I grow up.” I immediately started dreaming up all sorts of ideas, and ultimately, stumbled upon something that I truly felt passionate about. For the first time in my life, I started to get really excited about what was ahead of me.

So the big ideas started to form. I focused on taking a moment every day to learn more about the direction I wanted to head. I was researching, plotting, reading, dreaming, and feeling energized. Then all of a sudden I felt it….

I started to get scared.

They don’t call them BIG ideas for nothing. I started to feel how far outside of my comfort zone I was getting, and with that came doubt and insecurities. It stopped me dead in my tracks

I felt my passion for personal growth and self-improvement start to wane, and I stopped making it a focus for myself. I dove into the distractions of freelance work, blogging, working out, reading….anything to help me hide from my goal of moving forward.

I wasn’t seizing the day. I was re-creating the monotony of daily life that I had worked so hard to break free of.

This week, it came to a head. I knew I had to break-free of this slump, and continue my journey forward.After a big talk with Shaun, I came to a life-altering realization. My journey forward doesn’t start with my “big ideas”…

It starts with me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run away just as things start moving forward. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this fear. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt self-doubt. But it’s the first time I’m going to address this reaction.

It’s time to break-free

My goal now is working towards creating a new perspective on how I view myself and to build the foundation to which I will be entering in to my new life.

This is my turning point, and I’m not looking back.

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I write this post, because I want to share my journey with you. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress