Monday, 4 July 2011

It's a Wrap

I've been back in America for nearly two weeks.  Enough time to reunite with family and friends, attend to administrative needs, and shift from travel mode to MFA writing mode.

These two weeks also gave me time to reflect upon my trip (I imagine I'll be reflecting upon this life experience for years to come).  As an intuitive person, I can't help but be introspective - I always try to see the big picture, to ask myself, "What did this experience MEAN?"

Traveling was the first major thing I did after getting out of the military, and I believe it set the tone for how I live the rest of my life.  It changed me in dozens of ways but I feel like I can place most of these changes under three umbrellas:






The most obvious change is that I'm more self-confident.  I gained self-confidence because I had to depend on myself for everything.  I had no one holding my hand, standing by my side, or giving me advice from afar (left the cell phone at home, and email was often sketchy).  Out of my comfort zone, I land navigated, practiced street smarts, decided who to trust and not to trust, secured food and lodging, translated and was translated to.  I cleared dozens of challenges every day, challenges that I don't encounter to nearly the same degree when I'm back in my comfort zone in America...

As a more self-confident person, I believe my opinion is valid.  I believe my opinion is valid because I don't feel that I'm below anyone anymore.  I feel like I have an array of life experiences to impart.

As a more self-confident person, I've noticed that my body image is improved. For the first time in 28 years I not only accept my body but I OWN my body. There is a distinct mental shift between the two. Reaching that next step on the road of evolution is empowering.

As a more self-confident person, my tactics toward endurance training have changed.  I've been an endurance athlete since I was 15-years-old.  I love pushing my body further and further on the swim, bike and run.  I'm excited to train for my second half-ironman and first full-ironman while I complete the MFA.

As I eased back into exercise these past two weeks (after not working out for five months), I noticed that I was more gentle with my body.  I'm enjoying the journey more and not taking everything so seriously.  I'm eating more protein and less sugar.  I'm making adjustments to my swim, bike and run form, and I'm backing off (and readjusting) whenever I feel pain in my joints, ligaments and tendons.  I'm more determined than ever to be a better athlete, but I'm less obsessive compulsive.

Tel Aviv





I've always considered myself a dreamer, but seeing the world in all it's diversity made me dream not only as big as I used to dream when I was a kid, but bigger than I ever thought possible.

That said, I realize that dreaming isn't action.  (In fact, dreaming can be self-indulgent and take our minds off of appreciating the here and now.)  Fulfilling those dreams requires risk-taking and work.  That's the truth and it's not glamorous.

I identified two stumbling blocks to fulfilling dreams - fear of uncertainty, and fear of non-conformity.  Those two fears remain.  But I developed two corresponding mantras:
-There is no certainty in life but uncertainty.  
-There are absolutely no rules to the game of life.






Risk taking.

Getting out of the Army, traveling, and pursuing an MFA involved a risk.  Some people would say that I committed financial suicide, but I knew that if I didn't take this risk I would regret it for the rest of my life. Ultimately, regret is more scary than failure.    

The past 10 months have been an emotional rollercoaster.  I've been wracked with fear on many occasions, but have noticed something peculiar:  when I set out into the unknown, "stepping stones" have continually appeared.  I've never been given more than I can handle (and some of the things I thought I couldn't navigate at first glance proved navigable).    

...I've noticed that many people talk about the great things they did in their teens and 20s (but what about ages 30-100?).  When you ask them about themselves and what they're proud about in life, they mention something that they did decades ago (with a whimsical, far-off look in their eye).  They say things like, "I wish I was young like you," or "Do it now because once you settle down it's too difficult..."  

That's not the way I want to live life.  When people ask me what I'm proud about 60 years from now, I want to mention something I did last month, last week, yesterday.  I want to keep on forcing myself out of that comfort zone.  I want to continue to do great things - not out of feelings of obligation or some masochistic desire to appear a martyr, but because I'm passionate and excited and ENJOY empowering people and affecting change.  

I don't believe that "settling down" is an excuse to stop being great and doing great things.  If I find a partner, and EVERYDAY with him feels like Sunday afternoon (comfortable, easy, no challenges, no risks) then it's time to look elsewhere.  I believe that the best romantic partnerships challenge people to grow and evolve, to explore, to take risks, and to get out of their comfort zone.  

I don't WANT to be the same person, to have the same ideas, opinions and perspectives I had at 28 for the rest of my life.  

If travel left one imprint on me it was this:  savor the journey but don't stop EVOLVING.    



...I've been trying to decide what to do with this blog now that my first RTW trip is done and dusted.  I don't want to write garbage, so I won't be writing as much as when I was on the road.  But I want to keep Random Road Revelations active. Travel is travel, and there are plenty of American cities to see before my next RTW adventure.

The plan is to live frugally, work hard, keep a budget, and save up enough money so that I can spend my 30th birthday next summer in southern Africa.


  1. My favorite line from this post: When people ask me what I'm proud about 60 years from now, I want to mention something I did last month, last week, yesterday.

    Good luck with your next adventure, Lori!

  2. It occurs to me that you'll still be on a road worthy of writing about, only a metaphysical one.