Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
The time has finally arrived! This Friday I embark on a momentous trip that culminates the end of an incredible decade of life and simultaneously kicks off the next big adventure of the rest of my life. I am setting off on my Me Moon adventure in glorious Bali, Indonesia. Eeee!!
This year marks the 10th year in my decade of travels around the world; it marks the third leg of my very own Eat, Pray, Love journey; it also marks a significant milestone in my life – my official transition from an individual to a forever partner. Back in 2005, I made a decision that would forever change my life – I decided to study abroad in Barcelona. After 3 months of immersing myself in the culture, the people, and the food, I set off for a whirlwind 3 week backpacking adventure through 9 cities all over Italy, and some of France and Spain. This experience gave me incredible insight and taught me many things – that being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely; the empowering feeling of traveling solo AND as a woman; the rush of exploration and unknown destinations; navigating new cultures and languages; and creating lifelong memories with my best friend and travel buddy, Christine. It was also this trip that catalyzed a streak of non-stop traveling that has led me through nearly 15 countries and 72 cities all over the world.
In 2007, I saw Eat, Pray, Love on the National Bestseller list and immediately bought it. I tore through it from cover to cover and was completely drawn into it. I watched the movie and got inspired to one day travel to India. When an opportunity to do a trek in India with Room to Read came up in 2010, I immediately set an intention to go and decided that I would live in an ashram and study yoga for two weeks on my own before joining the trek. Unlike Europe, I didn’t start off this adventure bright-eyed and curious. I was depressed at work, searching for purpose in life, and scared out of my mind. But after I finally arrived and settled in, I found myself completely at peace and acclimating quickly. I learned to meditate, practiced yoga daily, journaled often, and discovered the meaning of spirituality while I was there. This experience taught me the true depth of being alone – physically, mentally, and spiritually. And I thrived from it.
Flash forward to the end of 2013. I feel completely centered and grounded in who I am and my purpose in life. My relationship with Andy has soared to new heights in connection, communication, and love. We got engaged, and we began planning our wedding. I had had my sights set on Bali, one of the spiritual epicenters of the world and a surf mecca, for years now. Due to hearing about a random online travel booking glitch, I decided to go online to check out all the miles I had saved on United since 2005. I had never once cashed in a single point, and I realized through a quick search that I could book a first class (one way) round trip ticket to Bali on miles. I gave Andy a quick call, told him my plan, and hit book. The Me Moon – a joke, a random idea, a whimsical plan, was now a reality.
The Trip and the Cast
After a decade of travel in which I got to explore some of the world’s my incredible cultures (and eats!) and to discover my connection to my own spirituality, I am excited to embark on the Love portion of this life journey. I have booked my flight, found a quiet little bungalow through airbnb, and packed my yoga mat and my journal. Everything else will naturally unfold. I’ll spend 5 full days in beautiful Ubud, Bali lying in my hammock and getting massages, fighting off crazy monkeys, reading and writing, practicing yoga and meditation, and most importantly, reflecting on love. I also found out that I happen to be staying in a hut on the same street at Ketut Liyer, the healer from the movie Eat, Pray, Love! He still sees people daily and gives out readings. I know, I’m a random type of groupie and completely own it.
My best friend Christine is also joining me on part of this trip. She is someone who has witnessed me in the different seasons of my life and has been there for me through it all. She was my amazing travel companion in Europe, she cried with me over Skype while I told her about my spiritual experiences in India, and now she’s joining me on this trip as my Matron of Truth. I am beyond honored to have her constant presence in my life.
I created this trip with a very clear intention – to celebrate my life in its current, wondrous and blessed state; to reflect on all of the experiences I have created that have led me to where I am; and to write my vows. I am creating a separation for myself from the hustle and bustle of daily life and wedding planning to slow down, ground myself, and get present on the meaning of me and Andy’s next big step in life and all the excitement that marriage has to offer. This trip will be a gift and a reminder of my limitless capacity as a human to grow, love, and stand for myself and others.
This is an opportune time to thank my long-time and recent readers for lending me your eyes, your thoughts, and your hearts. When I began this blog, I had no idea what life would serve me. I also had no idea how I would interpret my experiences and share them with others. Your comments, personal notes, and shares have touched me, and I am deeply humbled. Here’s to many more experiences, new chapters, and the continual mighty effort to swim upward into happiness and all that this life has to offer.
With two palms together,