I never thought I could find love again after my divorce. I was devastated and broken. Damaged goods so to speak. I set out on an Eat, Pray, Love healing journey but mine was different because I did it with three kids in tow. Three girls that were also healing from the end of my marriage.
As I write this is can hear the beautiful voice of a man singing the call to prayer from the Mosque on the hill near my home. I hear this voice every day and it gets more beautiful every time. It reminds me to slow down and embrace the moment fully.
You see. Travel has this way of breaking down all the walls you put up when you have been through something devastating. You can try and keep these walls up but something about traveling tears them right down.
It could be the constant stepping out of your comfort zone or it could be all the amazing, welcoming, loving people in this world. I am not sure but that is exactly what happened to me.
I left Austin, TX with a broken spirit and broken heart. Yet, I am sitting here a year and a half later whole again and my heart is more open than ever before. Why? Because I found love again. Real whole love. The kind of love that makes you excited to jump out of bed again. The kind of love that makes you want to sing all day. The kind of love that makes you feel absolutely invincible.
Who is the lucky person?
Why ME of course!
I found self-love through travel. Self-love is the truest love there is. It also seems to be the most difficult for many people I meet. Why is that?
For women especially, we are so willing to give all of our love to others without thinking of ourselves.
We make sure our kids, lover, and colleagues are all taken care of which leaves us feeling burnt out and exhausted.
Travel made me step out of my comfort zone and forced me to be open to new people and new experiences.
While driving around lost in the jungle in Puerto Rico, I had to be the one to encourage myself to keep going and to stay calm.
After barely being let into Ireland by a very mean border patrol officer, I had to hold myself and tell myself that everything was going to be okay.
During our travels, I am constantly encouraging myself to keep pushing even when I want to do nothing more than give up.
This journey has been transformational. I no longer need someone else to complete me. I complete myself and it is pretty damn amazing.
During our travels, I’ve met people who have restored my faith in humanity.
There was the American single mom in Guanajuato, Mexico who only after knowing me for a day, took care of me and the girls when we fell sick with the strongest and scariest illness we had ever experienced before. She is now a lifelong friend and mentor.
The local handyman of the villa in Guanajuato we lived in for a month in a half that was always there to help us with anything we needed. We didn’t speak each other’s language but we all still cried when we were moving on to our next city. I will never forget him.
The other American single momma I met in Playa Del Carmen who welcomed me with open arms and also repeatedly told me to stop apologizing for my toddler’s actions. She assured me that it was okay to let my toddler be a toddler. She put me at ease.
And there was the local Mexican single momma who fed us when we were locked out of our Airbnb and drove us to the airport in the middle of the night after only knowing us a very short time. She told me she finally started the process of getting things ready to take a trip to Egpyt because I had inspired her to follow her dreams and travel.
There was the handsome Albanian tour guide who rushed Novella and me to the emergency room one night when she split her head open on the coffee table. While there, he continually assured me that everything was okay and made sure to translate everything the doctor was saying. He then stayed up that night checking on us every few hours even though he had to work early the next morning. We had only met once before this.
This is love.
I never felt love truly until I started traveling. Not only did I learn to love myself fully but I also learned to open my heart and love others fully because this world is mostly good and the people in it are pretty amazing.
For all the women out there with your walls up, I am asking you to give love a chance. It is a beautiful thing.