If I Rest, I Rust: Confession of a Restless, Roaming Spirit

I came across this quote not a long time ago. It really stuck to my mind. “If I rest I rust. ” words from Helen Hayes, an accomplished American actress who won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and awarded the National Medal of Arts. Wow.

“If I rest I rust.” Well surely Hayes didn’t rest nor did rust.

Since I left the comfort of my mother’s nest and moved out west, I’ve constantly been craving for more. I’ve tasted what it was like to live freely, adventurously, passionately… I was always planning the next adventure, and always had a destination country next on the list to visit. My bucket list evolves each year and my biggest dreams never fade to exist. I got to travel around the world, live and work abroad, volunteer overseas and even start my own business. And I get to adventure outdoors with my dogs and play in the immense backyard that is my home, the PNW. I live a spontaneous and rather adventurous lifestyle with amazing people by my side. And I am beyond grateful for that. But yet, I need more. Is this too selfish to admit?

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“My restless, roaming spirit would not allow me to remain at home very long.” – Buffalo Bill

When slowing down isn’t enough

Getting older makes me slow down. Having senior dogs also keeps me closer to home. Having to stay in one place, I try my best to change the familiar sights and diverse my days: hike a new trail, explore a new town, camp at a new spot, cook a new meal, try a new craft… I even started to play the Ukulele backwards and am re-learning my Spanish. But the region where I live is getting insanely busier by day, and after a while, I feel that the places I enjoy become a little too crowded for my wandering soul (I guess that’s the price to pay when you live where people vacation).

Surely, my heart constantly pangs for a new thing to get excited about.

Strangely, I’m the first person to hope to inspire people to live the moment. I’ve always believed that we need to learn to slow down time, and be in the moment if we want to live well. Inevitably, when I do things, I’m there 100%. Or so I try.

So why is there is a constant yearning in the deepest part of me to be in a place I’ve never been? Why am I constantly distracted by my dreams? Why is my mind always wandering, longing to where I’ve been, and homesick for a place I’ve never been?

“You are free to dream as big as you want, but always remember that every big dream comes with some big responsibilities. So be willing and courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone.” ― Edmond Mbiaka,

Is there all there is in life?

I’ve read once that the evolved human brain constantly needs something to keep him occupied. As such, we are always on the search for purpose, meaning, adventure, happiness… Some of us have created bucket lists, others have a goal ladder they wish to climb and some are content just the way things are.

I wish I could be content in one place. I try. But my desire never ceases to end. I long for more and am never fully satisfied with what I have. The truth is that this fiery desire holds me close to my dreams…

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“Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.” – Henry George

Wanderlusting and the ceaseless yearning for an extraordinary life

Sorting through my boundless wanderlust, I find myself longing for a life spent at sea. Diving everyday with sea life, eating the fruits of nature, volunteering in communities, away from the mainstream, waking up and going to sleep with the sun, living with the pulse of the ocean, one wave at a time… To me it calls for freedom, peace, simplicity, a dream lived awake. Careful what you dream for, right?

I recently took a wonderful trip to Japan, with an incredible layover in China. It’s been a while since I stepped out of my country and explored a different part of the world. Far away from home I felt at home… in the uncertainty, in the unknown, in the newness. I came back refreshed, revitalized, rebooted. It was extraordinary. And it leaves me with exceptional memories. But coming back to my beautiful home the travel blues hits. Instantly. Back to ordinary. Two weeks was way too short. And I’m back on a severe case of wanderlust.

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“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

Fear of settling down

In the past years, I’ve been stuck in a routine, living a predictable life, filled with small pleasures and frolic adventures. But I’m afraid to get a stable job and be locked in one place. I’m afraid to upgrade my living situation, afraid to jump into the mortgage world, have payments, have commitments. I’m afraid of settling down.

The slightest bit of idleness affects me. I’m afraid to rest for too long. I fear stagnation. I fear to see the years blend into one another and forget to move forward and progress.

Maybe I just need that one big adventure. To get it out of my system, before I slow down again and put my feet on the ground. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll always be restless. Maybe I’ll always chase this extraordinary life. And maybe that’s okay.

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”Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.”

If I rest, I rust

I’ve been trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied in the present moment. I try to do the things that make me happy on a daily basis. But I can’t ignore that ache for more. It exists for a reason.

If living the journey is the goal, if pursuing a life well lived is the path we are on, it will not be restful. It will not be comfortable. Nor will it be easy. But it will be exciting. It will be valuable. It will be worth it.

So I’ll keep pursuing the most important things that my heart aches for, even as crazy as they are. Because as long as I can feel, I am living – and as long as I am living, I’ll keep moving.

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“They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings.’ – Lou

6 Lessons My Free-Spirited Friend Taught Me

I just dropped my best girlfriend at the airport. Along with all her necessary belongings and a one-way ticket to Panama, she is leaving a place she called home for the past 11 years, and taking the plunge to start a new chapter with the love of her life.

She met her now-fiancé while on a surf trip in Panama a couple of years ago. What seemed to be a simple vacation fling soon turned into a flaming romance. She spent the last year with him, living on their sailboat and running charters. She returned home for a few months, to make money and sell all her stuff. Now she is back to a simple life: She realized that she didn’t need much to be happy and satisfied.

I met Julie on a friend’s boat on July 1st, 2005. It was 35ºC, and she wore wool leg warmers up to her mini-skirt, rocking her unique fashion style in the summer heat. Her free-spirited nature amazed me and I knew right away a long friendship was about to begin. In those 10 years we have adventured often, such as road tripping Hawaii, backpacking Central America, and exploring the wilderness of Canada’s West Coast. Julie has always been my invaluable companion on so many escapades.

My friend is one special human being. The kind that doesn’t follow the mold, but instead chases her dreams. By following her heart, she ventured around the world, living and working in places such as Europe, Australia and now Panama. She has a collection of “Dreams-To-Do Lists” and manages to check off most dreams realized and goals achieved on a regular basis.

I will miss my best friend, indeed. But the inspiration she leaves behind is greater than any sorrow. I will follow her journey through life as I walk my own. And I will always be grateful her for those things she taught me:

1. Embrace Reckless Abandon

Life is too short to reminisce too much in the past, or live too far in the future. The moment is here, ready to be fully lived. Anything you want to do, at this right moment, do it. Taste experience to the utmost. Do what makes you feel alive. Be with the ones that fulfill you. Embrace your life and the people in it. And when you meet the moment, live it. Sometimes the little things are the big things. Be present to meet it.

2. Don’t Care What People Think

We tend to over-think what people might say by what we do or we don’t do. We act like this as a way to protect ourselves. But sometimes, putting too much energy into those thoughts prevents us from fulfilling our greatest potential and from enjoying life to its fullest. Life is too short to worry about what people think. Start living now! Express yourself, be bold, smile often, have FUN, shine brightly. Like story-teller Oriah Mountain Dreamer once said: “Look like a fool, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.”

3. It’s Okay To Be Scared

Whether it is being afraid of taking a big step forward, afraid to try a new experience, afraid of the change and transition, being scared generally means opportunities for growth. As long as you don’t let the fear overpower your mind and control you. Once you overcome your fear, you feel a sense of pride and independence. You get closer to who you are and discover what you are capable of. It makes you stronger, it makes you grow. So get out there and create new boundaries. Test the limits. Make the impossible possible. Make mistakes, make discoveries. Believe in yourself. Being scared makes life exciting: It makes you feel alive.

4. Discover And Do What You Love

What is it that you ache for? What makes your heart beat? Where do you feel the most alive? Whether you follow or cultivate a passion, the idea here is to do the things you love, and go after the things you want. Whether it is a job, a hobby, or an activity, it is important to have passion infused into your life. You can have a very successful job, yet feel unfulfilled. Like explains the author Gretchen Rubin: “What you spend time doing can also tell you what you should do. Because sometimes the things we do without thinking really are things we naturally enjoy or are good at. ” It’s about finding what draws you in and what makes you shine and feel beautiful. And once you find it, embrace and cultivate it.

5. Just Do It!

Ever wanted to learn how to surf? How to dance salsa? How to play tuba? Ever dreamed of travelling the world, owning a business, living on the beach? We live in an era of many possibilities and opportunities available for us to choose how to make the most of our lives. It’s easy to be lazy and dream of how things could be. But really, for most people that can afford the essentials in life, everything is possible. And you’ll never know until you get up and try. Stay curious and keep learning. Challenge yourself. It’s never too late. Just get up and do it!

6. Be free

Being a free-spirit isn’t a trend, or something you want to be. It’s about being you. It’s about creating your own freeway and not following the conventional path. Accept and be happy with who you are. Be honest with yourself and lead the life YOU want to live. Take the time to explore your heart, your soul, and your goals. In doing so, you will find peace. And once you do, spread your wings and fly. The world is yours, and you are free.

∞§∞

If you ever make a trip to Bocas Del Toro, on the Northeast Coast of Panama, check out Julie and John’s charter business:

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30 and Key Free

I am sitting in front of a blank page, not really sure what to write about. I guess I’m not really sure of a bunch of things right now. That’s always been my life. Uncertainty. Instability. Insatiability. Never knowing what’s gonna happen next has always been challenging, although exciting and exhilarating. I always lived up to that. Now that I reached the age of 30, I’m wondering when am I gonna start being serious? When am I gonna switch lane and settle down?

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” -Mark Twain

Lately I’ve been reading articles about growing up. Most mention that at the age of 30 you should know exactly where you stand: confident of your future, stable with your finances, certain of your relationships, holder of land. I guess I’ve been too busy enjoying my 20’s that I forgot to think about all of the above.

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Career? I know I don’t want to work for someone else’s dream. That’s why working in the service industry gives me flexibility to travel and the funds required to get closer to my own pie in the sky. Family? I do want kids. Some of my own, some adopted. However, I’m not ready yet. I just finished being one myself. Perhaps I’ll never be done being a kid. Marriage? I don’t believe in the modern concept of marriage. Still, I do believe in love. And I believe that once you find real love, you hold on to it. It might be this thing in life worth fighting for. Home? I do have a few places I call home. Places that inspire me, places that bring me back to great memories. I’m grateful I got the chance to live in these beautiful locations. But what is home anyway? A place? A person? A satisfaction?

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I’m 30 and key free. I have the freedom to leave without worrying about anything. When I was 25 I had too many too young. Between car, house, locker, parking, office keys, I found myself living the stable life I never wanted. It only lasted a year, then I decided to get rid of all keys, packed my bags and moved to an island of the Caribbean, where neither keys or shoes were required.

Growing up. Do I have to? I don’t want to loose my eagerness to run to the sea, to climb a tree, to roll in the mud with my dogs. I don’t want to loose the power to day dream and believe in fairy tales. I don’t want to loose the ability of letting loose and being spontaneous. I don’t want to loose the capability to book a one way plane ticket, the open mind to backpack to a developing country, to love to sleep in the jungle amongst cockroaches, spiders and howler monkeys. I don’t want to let go of my freedom. I don’t want to grow up.

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!”-J.M. Barrie

Ok, you’re thinking: “one day you’ll hit a stump and you’ll have to start thinking about your future”. It’s true. I do think about my future, a lot more these days. And I think about my mom’s, and my future kids’ one day. And tic and toc… I know where I want to be, it’s just taking me longer than ”normal”, as I let life be. I guess first step would be to start putting priorities first. If my 20’s were all about the importance of making ”mistakes”, I should know by now not to make them again. Learning from past experiences. Understanding the feelings. Thinking before acting. Be more responsible. Be more knowledgeable of the world and its people. Choosing wisely. Moving forward. Growing up?

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We surely grow old, accumulating years in our body, sun marks and eternal tan lines on our unfair skin. Each freckle commemorates a trip, each scar tells an interesting story, each wrinkle represents the repetition of an emotion. The benefits of yoga are racing with the existence of gravity affecting our body. We grow old. I came to accept that. And I guess I am growing up too, only at my own speed. Yet, one thing is for sure, if my body ages and my soul blossoms, I’ll ensure I keep my heart forever young and free.

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Changing Lanes: The Impossible List

bucket-list-780x566Like most of us, passionate and travellers, we live life to the fullest and to make sure we do so, we have created a list of goals we want to accomplish before we expire. Whether it is a meli-melo of ideas trotting in your head, or on a sheet hanging around the house, or written on your bathroom mirror, the Bucket List is there and waiting to be crossed off.

Most people tell me, “Why are you such in a hurry of doing it all? You have all your life!” But what if I don’t? Life is unpredictable, plus I enjoy setting myself challenging goals. As I believe we only live once, I want to take advantage of my human life. And while I agree with most part of buddhism, I am not entirely convinced with reincarnation. I hold no memory of my previous life, although if I was a bird that would’ve explained all those aerial dreams. And what if I turn out to be reborn as an amphibian, or a reptile or worse, a parasite? I want to make sure that my human life is fully completed with the goals I set myself. Some people will strive for professional career success, or to realize an Olympian dream, or to become a great entrepreneur. But me, I just want to complete my Bucket List, or I was…

Recently I came across one of the toughest decisions. I was working so hard on accomplishing my #1: 30 countries before 30, and started stressing out by a lack of time and finances. At the edge of the 30’s, I had 8 countries left to visit and 4 months left to do so. My plan was to volunteer in Morocco then travel the African continent overland with a budget camping safari company. It seemed like the perfect plan. But came reality and my dream collapsed. After volunteering costs, surf camp and safari fees, visas, vaccines, air tickets, travelling equipment and optional activities, I was left with just a few coins. I would’ve found myself restrained from checking other items off the list. Plus, when I travel abroad, I like to be generous and give to the local economies, hence buying souvenirs, booking activities from local companies, buying lunch and presents to my guide, driver, host. There was no way I could do it all without coming back home in the biggest financial hole. Life would’ve been hard and miserable for a while. I had to choose. So I took a walk in the woods and sat by a waterfall. I looked as the water streamed through the rocks.

The fear of growing up, the anxiety of settling down, the pressure of starting a family. Overall, it is the fear of stepping into this milestone of life. Growing up. Aging. Life moving too fast. Middle-life crisis. And a Bucket List screaming to be crossed off.

I came to my senses and realized that I was putting too much stress into following this list. I started to search the Internet, trying to understand this meaning and purpose of this famous list. Then I came across Joey Runyon’s article on the Impossible List:

Impossible quote“The impossible list is a journey (…) a series of events, each building on each other in order to create a great story. Each list has a meaning and a purpose and the list expands and changes in order to tell a story of how you’ve grown, what you’ve overcome and how you’ve gotten to where you are from where you’re from. The check marks designate things accomplished, but the purpose is not to simply achieve specific accomplishments but to change in the process that occurs between events.”

This reading has inspired me in changing a few approaches I had on life. I turned my Bucket List into an Impossible List (at least to try it out) and found myself releaved of anxiety and future feelings of failure. I decided to postpone the safari to a later year, without holding grudges, and put emphasis into volunteering. This way I could spend more time offering my help to people in need and I would even have the time to fit a safari with my mother in the Sahara desert and finish with a vacation in the Canary Islands. While focusing on one thing, I would have the financial comfort and appropriate time to profoundly explore an area of the world that I was forever attracted to.

Whether you have a To Do List, a Bucket List or an Impossible List, remember it is not a race, it is a personal evolving challenge with no expiry date. Don’t limit yourself with time, don’t take it as a failure if you can’t cross off some items. Leave room for change, as we constantly mature and evolve. A list should inspire you to do more each day and live life at the fullest. A life of purpose and meaning. Because it’s not to get there, but how you get there. It’s about how you live the journey.

I won’t be able to cross off my #1: 30 before 30, but at least I got an inspiring lesson from it. And I feel great about it 🙂

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