Firstly, to all my dear friends and family back home, I miss you and I love you all oh so dearly. If there’s one thing that happens to you when you travel for a while it’s appreciating all that you have and even what you do not have. Now, that being said, I am not done yet. I left the comforts of Orange County, Ca, my beloved career of teaching yoga at some of the best studios in the world, cooking for amazing clients and the dearest of friends/family/community. I wish I could say something inspiring like I was in search of something magical or a deep spiritual journey or something like that but that is simply not the case. Forget labeling this as something it is not and let’s be real. I started traveling because I am selfish. I selfishly want to enjoy all of the spectacular things this beautiful mother earth has to offer. Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to see it all, go on adventures and try to get to as many different places as humanly possible. I remember contemplating one day as a kid if it would be possible to see every corner of this planet and I determined it was probably not possible but that wasn’t going to stop me from at least trying. Since then I’ve been a few places abroad and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to make this possible for myself. Lucky, yes, but also I recognize this was not simply given to me, I made it happen every step of the way. From working 3-4 jobs at some points in time to making sacrifices financially, I prioritized certain things to spend my money on and one of them has been travel. It may not always be a priority for me and I understand that, this is part of the reason I am doing this now. Things and circumstances change, we are as fluid as the water we are made of.
So where am I now and how do I feel about it? I am currently in Cape Town, South Africa where I have been for the better part of the last three months. It would be a gross understatement to say I adore it here. To give you an idea of how I feel about this place, I’ll just say I am already plotting my return. The landscape is stunning, food is delicious, hiking is glorious, vegan scene growing, city scene vibing and the people are true gems. There is truly not much to not like about this place and I know that I will be leaving a part of my soul here as I have with many other wonderful places. I am trying my hardest to etch each passing moment into memory. When I got here, I didn’t know why I had come other than to spend time with a dear friend (Inge) and experience a city that has been acclaimed so highly as of late but I now know that I came here because I needed to experience the magic of this place. Theres no soul searching involved in that, just simply being and enjoying this place is enough. I’m excited each morning I wake up and I am still here; despite missing some people from home I don’t feel I need to be anywhere else but here. It is super interesting not actually having a job or something I have to return back to any time soon. For most Westerners, specifically Americans this is not a concept we can easily wrap out heads around. Most of our lives we end up being defined by our status, our careers and how hard we can work- taking only 1-2 weeks vacation on average. We often forget to stop and think about all we are sacrificing in the meantime. Not that we shouldn’t make sacrifices but I feel we should at least contemplate these and discern which ones are actually important to us and our overall life experience. Since I have been in cape town I’ve done a lot of shamelessly sleeping in, walking around town for several hours of the day, hiking, beaching, going to the gym, doing yoga, reading, writing, learning. And you know, my brain still wants to tell me to feel guilty for it, that I should be applying myself in more ways, using my talents. I will do that, I remind myself, but now is for being and not trying so hard all the time for a very elusive sketch of perfection.
I have been working on a few projects here and there too but not officially working, which, as a bit of a work-a-holic I do crave consistent work. I have done a work trade situation with a local studio, 10 min. walking from the flat I am staying in- working a couple shifts a week in exchange for free yoga. I recently let go of this work as I was starting to feel the magnitude of how fleeting moments are and this experience of cape town for me would soon be over. Doing my practice alone in the comfort of the flat I am staying in is perfectly fine for me; I have after all, spent countless hours of my life in yoga studios and sometimes we need a break from that I feel. Yoga is a lifetime project, we are constantly adding and subtracting to our knowledge we gain through the practice and I will return to a studio when need be. I felt deeply I needed every moment I could possibly soak up, even if I am doing nothing…on a beach. Doing nothing is such an art, one I cease to master as of yet. I also helped to curate a culinary (food) walking tour of The V & A Waterfront, also very close to where I am staying. Through that experience I learned loads about the history of food here in South Africa and got to sample the vegan approved goods (haha). One thing about me is even though I am scared of doing new things, I love a thrill and will gladly accept even if I have no idea what I am doing. Comfort zones bore me. Which brings me to the other wonderful and weird working experience I had guiding a tour of approx. 60-70 people (tourists, not from SA) through a wine farm called Spier in Stellenbosch. Talk about fake it until you make it. Sometimes a friendly smile is good recovery for your lake of knowledge, well, that and having a laugh with a glass of wine with your friends about how we pulled that one off. More in my regular line of work I got the opportunity to cook for an office party and most recently (last weekend) I got to cook for a vegan pop up dining experience here in Cape Town called Green & Vegan. I cannot tell you enough how lovely this last experience was. Getting to cook a 4-course meal for a table of guests all sitting at one big communal table was the stuff of a Chef’s dreams. At least for me, I truly enjoy seeing people come together over food, especially conscious, friendly, vegan cuisine and I believe this is the same values of the creators of this pop-up vegan dining experience. This re-invigorated me and made me feel like a “real” Chef again. My only hope is that I am able to savor and take with me the inspiration from this event and not forget it. Again, moments are so fleeting. How can we savor them more fully? And be more authentic as we experience them? These are the questions I am asking myself now.
I have thirteen days left in South Africa and I am doing my best to be present for those days and keep my heart and spirit open to whatever else I am meant to give and receive during these days. The best part is there are people here who have left such an imprint on me that I will be keeping in touch with them and staying close to South Africa through them. Another reason I so treasure traveling, you meet people, beautiful and rich souls and you get to keep them with you forever, if you so choose. Not going to lie here, there are some I will leave where I found them and they probably earned that right but there are many more sweet than sour. On that note I have been so much more social than I am in my life back home and this in and of itself is such a gift and a teacher for me. Living with 2-3 other women (1 left) has been a part of the learning since I grew up with 3 brothers and have lived with mainly guy roommates (finding that easier/safer). I also never went to proper university and therefore never had a dorm room/sorority experience, not that I ever necessarily wanted that but I have to say I have had the time of my life living with these women and we often say how it feels like a sorority we’ve created. Probably a lot more responsible now that we are a group of late 20’s, early 30’s and quite frankly it is hilarious.
The next part of my journey is around the corner and I am doing my best to tame the beast of my mind that wants to jump ahead and “future trip” but it is a bit like being close to Christmas day, you can feel the excitement in your bones! The itinerary so far looks like Bangkok for 5 days and then to Laos for a month, with the option to extend longer. I will be getting back to teaching yoga and I could not be more excited to do so, even if part of me wonders if over the course of the last three months I somehow forgot how to teach? Let’s hope not because I’m stoked to get back to it! Theres another bit of information learned there, I love teaching yoga and I did choose my path correctly. Sometimes, you must be without something to appreciate it whole-heartedly, how it has worked out for me in this case. I never thought I took teaching yoga for granted before; I’ve always been in love with it and was honestly grateful after each class but it does require you to give a lot of your energy and with not a whole lot of compensation. Now I know I am still in love. Like taking a break from a lover who you went hard and fast with and were attached at the hip with…or something like that. With that said, I am looking forward to getting back to it, in a new place, with a fresh perspective on not only the practice itself but the way I approach teaching it. After all, to teach is to learn. I’d like to add to this by saying there is such sweet satisfaction in knowing you’ve found the path you know with conviction you are meant to be on and you can enjoy the ride with a sense of pure gratitude. In somewhat of a contradiction to that I also believe that we are always in the right place at the right time; the universe is working its magic always. There’s very little reason to question it, rather ride those barreling waves! As I enjoy these last days here in cape town I have to time and capacity to meditate on positivity and manifest some goodness for the World, all earthlings including myself and that is the greatest blessing. Although not always possible for others, I wish this time and space to simply be for all.
Big, big love & Hugs to everyone I am blessed to have in my community back home!