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3 Life Lessons from The Ups & Downs of Travelling

Being on the road for 14 months doesn't come without its unique challenges. From Nicaragua to Mexico, Guatemala to Colombia and soon Peru, each location has brought its own unique teachings, tests, trials and tribulations. For some folk, the focus is a fantastic outer exploration with the return to familiar soil enriched by beautiful memories and moments shared. But for other 'seekers' like myself, the inner journey is of equal importance to experiences lived in the exterior world.

One week ago, after turning 28, I overcame a huge personal goal of mine which was to DJ for a live audience. This has been something on my list of must-do's for an extremely long time; longer than necessary due to my own very human fear of failure. However, I was so proud to finally have pulled the trigger on this dream which propelled the following days into pure bliss, gratitude and hope for the future.

Three days ago, two of my phones were stolen from my bag while I took a brief rest on the beach, feeling unwell. Being a full-time Digital Nomad and part-time human being means that a certain reliance has been built on the intelligent robot in my pocket. However, more than any inconvenience, I felt devastated to have lost the majority of memories from the last year captured in time. Subsequently, my bank accounts were automatically blocked which left me 8,029km away from 'home' with little means of communication or cash, excusing the 80,000 Colombian pesos {seventeen euro} rustling in my wallet. Suddenly, my high from only days before had switched to an almighty low. Feelings of isolation, despair and frustration had filled the shoes of the previous week's elation and joy.

Two opposing incidents within one week of each other are surely no surprise to fellow travellers and just a brief example of the highs and lows experienced over the last year. As I turned 27 one year ago, dancing amid the foothills of an active volcano, feelings of liberation, opportunity and freedom coursed through every cell of my enlivened being. Nine days later, I was being treated by IV drip for a double whammy of pyelonephritis in both kidneys and bronchitis in both lungs.

I tell these stories not to shock or surprise but to detail the rollercoaster that long-term travelling {and life} entails. The point is not to get swept beneath these transient waters but to learn to ride each wave. Is this difficult? Yes! But, is it possible? Yes, I know it to be true.

All experiences, however difficult, present us with rightful opportunity to grow, adapt and evolve as human beings.

With the intention to understand all of life as our ultimate school, we truly can allow the more difficult experiences become our greatest teachers. This takes practice, dedication and a great curiosity to life's mysterious plan. Eventually, you can trust each cosmic slap across the face as an invitation for your egoic shell to dissolve meanwhile the next layer of your true, unconditionally loving, forgiving. and accepting nature takes precedence. (Yes, it really does exist under there!)

I certainly am no 'perfect' human being by any means. However, I have dedicated the last five years of my life to grow through every challenge and continue to be enriched by life's perpetual dance of highs, lows and inside-out, upside-down moments.


Here are a few of my words of wisdom which can be applied throughout every chapter of life.

  1. Take responsibility for yourself, and only yourself.

Something that has been incremental to my growth is learning that I can only take responsibility for myself. Particularly in my relationships, I realised pointing the finger of blame or shame does more harm than good. As much as we wish to influence others, we can only lead by example through changing ourselves. Although a potentially painful realisation, what waits on the other side of this understanding is great liberation.

In life, there is only one person we have any means of control over. Who might that be? Take a guess! Yep, it's you! Many people are not quite ready to take responsibility for their beliefs, actions or behaviour as it challenges our egoic structures of who may be 'right' and 'wrong'. Taking responsibility for yourself means admitting your mistakes, recognizing your downfaults and compassionately committing to do better next time.

If you ever truly expect to grow as a human being, this is the necessary recipe to follow. Doing so naturally increases our ability to forgive, transmute harboured feelings and adopt a 'live and let live' attitude. It takes practice, compassion for all and continued self-awareness but over time becomes an easier and rewarding navigation system.

2. Release attachment from the outside world.

With that said, it's imperative to release our attachment from the external world if we ever wish to find lasting happiness. This doesn't mean not to care for others deeply or to disregard life's precious moments; quite the opposite. Releasing external attachment means to stop seeking to find 'ourselves' out there. Us humans are driven by an unquenchable thirst of consumption and corruption which has left us no more happier than we were 500 years ago.

Releasing attachment from the outside world means to recognize that the love, joy and happiness you seek already exists within. Yes, it might be harder to access as you never thought to look in there before but I promise that once you recognize your inherent beautiful qualities, you will understand that seasons of life, people and relationships may come and go but no-thing can ever truly take away your most valuable asset - you.

Gradually, as you learn to place less value on the workings of the world, you may subsequently handle external challenges with more collected composure than before. When we place our value within, we learn to trust that life is always, somehow, working in our favour.

3. Embrace life's impermanence.

It can be scary to think of life as impermanent because that implies the one thing we are all most scared of; death. However, when we truly understand that we are mere vessels of nature herself experiencing this earth-thing in these bodies for a limited time, we are rewarded by a richer experience of the more beautiful moments and an easier integration of life's inevitable challenges.

A great majority of human suffering stems from clinging to reality remaining a certain way; inflicting pure devastation, despair and depression when change comes knocking on our door.

Resisting life's changes is to resist the perpetual dance between sun and moon. The truth is; everything we know to be true can shift and change in the blink of an eye. Feelings change, relationships fade and people drift through different fragments of our lives. Should this make us bitter or fearful of life's tender vulnerability? Absolutely not! Recognizing this life as fragile invokes a natural sensitivity to our time here; we begin to listen more intently, kiss more passionately, dance more vigorously and live more presently. Accepting everything including ourselves as transient allows us to embrace our unique journey through the world with more appreciation, spontaneity and childlike wonder.

The harder times in life are just that; times. We all experience hardship, struggle and adversity but when we come to recognize these difficult moments as they are; moments, we can accept them with more ease, understanding and eventually gratitude for the lessons learned.


I was very close to continuing this blog-post to include two more points 'Learn the Lesson' and 'Find the Gratitude' however I'm not quite ready to release my 500 page novel and will share these pointers in a separate, easy-to-read post.

The moral of this blog-post is to remind you that no matter what life throws at you, you can handle it as you learn to handle yourself. When we embrace our challenges as underlying opportunities for personal growth, our hearts can beat a little happier, our lungs can breathe a little deeper and our connection with others and this mysterious world can become so very richly rewarding.

Whether it is a true accruation of 14 months of knowledge gained or a lack of distraction without a hand-held device, I am truly grateful to be writing again. If my words have touched you in any way, please let me know by commenting your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

Much love for your personal journey,

Martha x

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