WAKING WANDERLUST

I always wanted to travel.
It got to the point where it was painful to be reminded of far off lands and embarrassing to respond to questions about where I had been because I was so unhappy with how few places were in the response. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go. I wanted it so bad I even tried to move out of the country.
Moving to San Diego was supposed to be a temporary stop during my first attempt, but I was so happy there, it turned into seven years. The second time I let cold feet influence me into taking a vacation-style trip instead of going after my dream of becoming an expatriate. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like now if I had stuck to my guns.
I do have a little regret, but it’s difficult to be too hard on myself. After all, it was that first trip, regardless of what it was made of, that got me started.
“I’m going to Europe,” I told my friend as we watched the sunset from the cement divider that separated the beach from the boardwalk.
“I’ll go with you,” she responded.
“OK.”
Many friends said they’d go with, but none had ever come through. By the time I heard it from her, there had been too many letdowns and botched trips due to planning around others to take it seriously. It had been five years since my last attempt to leave and the need had finally become greater than the fear. For once, I was relying on myself instead of hoping she was the real deal and ready to stand on my own two feet instead of using her as a crutch.
I didn’t start taking her seriously until she was ready to put down a deposit on one of the trips she had found during her research. Both of us were huge fans of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, so she brought up the idea of hitting Italy. My original plan was to take a certain amount of money to Barcelona and do everything I could to scout out work and a place. It wasn’t according to my plan, but the idea sounded good. It’s easy to dream when I didn’t believed she’d come through and besides — how could I say no to Italy?
It was too late by the time that I realized that she was serious and I had let this trip turn into her dream instead of mine. Instead of focusing on life and the people of Spain, we were joining an Australian tour group that was about to take us from London through mostly big cities and tourist spots in France, Italy and Greece. The trip only spent one day in Barcelona.
So I went ahead and accepted that fate had other plans for me. I had only been going on a feeling anyway, and it was much easier to believe in destiny and God’s Plan than to admit than my fear had ended up sabotaging the trip once again. After all, San Diego had taught me that the greatest happiness was sometimes found by venturing down an unintended road once before. Why not this time, too?
I was finally traveling. No matter what happened to my original plans, as long as I was headed off to different countries there was little that could have dampened my spirits about that. It was real and my heart was beating out of my chest. The trip was quickly paid for and finally upon us. The concept was incredibly large to grasp and I was terrified, but once that plane took off, there was no turning back.
I can’t say I had a good time. I can’t say I had a bad time either. What I can say that it that it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had the honor to partake in and yes, it was completely life-changing.
One of the first things I learned was that the experience of travel is rarely what we expect.
As a people person, I thought I’d be able to focus on the locals and take in their culture. Instead, I was surrounded with Australian twenty year olds who wanted to party and possibly take in a little info about where they were as a side note. There was also a very sweet Japanese model that was always smiling, talking and holding up a peace sign, friendly Canadians, a hand-full of other Americans and some New Zealanders that put their country on my list of places I just have to go. These were the cultures I was exposed to.
I also learned the hard way that you never know how your body will react. On our first night, two pints and some fish and chips mixed with jetlag woke me up in London with a splitting hangover at 3 AM. I also had my first experience with B.O. and two days later, felt the beginning of intense stomach pains in the Louvre. I didn’t know it then, but both of these unfortunate bodily side-effects were to be my companion on and off through the rest of the trip.
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After just one day of pushing through a very expensive London, our next stop was Paris. Contrary to everything I had been told, I found the Parisians to be quite pleasant. At one point, being distracted by how even the young men working in sandwich shops wore designer clothes, I had a Marilyn moment with an air grate as I strolled along the sidewalk.
Our next memorable stop was a few days staying in a chateau in the Beaujolias Wine Region near Lyon, France. After coming out of the gate at full steam ahead, it was nice to slow down as we got away from the tourist spots. The scenery could have brought out the romantic in even the biggest cynic, but as an outdoorsy girl, the beautiful rolling hills covered in vineyards with occasional chateaus dotting the land took my breath away. It was everything you would expect out of a vineyard found in the French countryside.
After a couple days in that dream of a setting, we started back into rocket speed as we headed to Barcelona, where it rained for the entire day. Even soaking wet, we weren’t about to let it dampen our spirits. Exploring Picasso’s Blue Period in The Picasso Museum was followed up by a seedy flamenco show that brought out an inner-passion I had rarely been lucky enough to find outside of myself. Later, we hit a strip of clubs along the water that the locals liked to frequent. These discos consisted of three-walled clubs with outdoor lounge areas that made the places back home seem drab.
I missed the fabulousness of Cannes and Monte Carlo when my stomach started acting up again, and it continued to get worse until, during one of the first nights in Italy, I ended up in the hospital. Stumbling past our travel companions that were busy with a bottle of Absinthe, my friend and I crawled into a taxi with a four hundred pound driver who drove fast and crazy enough to make me thankful for being in enough pain to distract me from a fear of certain death. That hospital didn’t do much for me, but I did get help in a common Pharmacia the next day where a doctor came out and prescribed me something on the spot. I had heard about how much better health care could be than back in the states, but this was the first time I had experienced it.
Finally back on my feet again, I made it to the statue of Juliet Capulet in Verona located in a courtyard down a narrow alleyway. The tradition of rubbing breast for good luck warmed me, but it wasn’t until Venice that I felt like I was home.
A city built on water. A city of dreams for a personality made of dreams. I watched a model shoot while drinking an incredibly overpriced coffee in St. Mark’s Square ($20 just to sit there) and watching pigeons gather while live music played in the background. Walking into small shops down alleyways where water was being swept out, I checked out all of the different masks and wished we had longer to stay.
Pisa and Florence didn’t impress me much. I was dizzy from all of the different languages, old buildings of massive size, cultural differences and other new information that had been crammed into our heads in such a short time. Plus, I still wasn’t feeling great and being in Italy without being able to enjoy the food was torture.
I was definitely not well enough to go on the horseback riding picnic through Tuscany my friend and I had planned. I was sad to miss it, but I also took a tiny bit of pleasure in screwing up her goal when she had shown so little regard for mine.
Years later, she told me she thought I was mad at her throughout the trip. Not having been mad at all, I was shocked that she had been under that impression, but it also made sense. I’m usually an extrovert, but during this trip, I spent most of the time (as I still do when travelling) quiet and wandering the towns alone. There’s just so much to take in and I didn’t know how I’d react to that.
From what I heard of Rome, I hated it before we even got there. Another big city that’s always crowded and hot. Three things I’m not fond of. I was dreading the visit, but instead of the negative experience I was sure to come, I fell in love the moment we arrived. Like so many other things I was experiencing, hearing about it couldn’t hold a candle to actually being there. The people were passionate, flirtatious and sensual. I had always craved these traits in the people around me and had rarely found it. Now that I had, I greedily ate it up and wanted more. Just as I had first experienced in the Beaujolias Wine Region and then in Venice, parts of me that had always suffocated were finally being given air.
I knew I’d love the island of Corfu when we got to Greece. I had grown up a beach person, so running around in the sun wasn’t something new. It was lovely and it I could do forever, but not so new an experience as the other places we had been. Those long three days of something more familiar and yet still new were a lovely near-close to the trip.
It was a terribly sad ferry ride heading too Athens, but followed up in style as our last day consisted of visits to places of Greek mythology such as The Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis and Parthenon. Sitting outside a café decorated in all white before my flight the next day, I looked around and enjoyed without pretense. There wasn’t room for a thought in my head at that moment. For once, I was experiencing instead of dreaming. The only thought that did come to mind was that during that trip, I had been doing exactly that all along. Not dreaming, not planning, but finally doing.
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I don’t know if I could ever count everything I learned on that first adventure, but there’s a few things that have stuck with me ever since.
1. It’s the unknown that scares us. Once we get out there, it’s rarely that scary.
2. Traveling doesn’t satisfy a curiosity so you can put it to bed. It starts a fire inside of you that leaves you hungry for more.
3. Remember who you are, but never turn down an opportunity and be flexible along the way. You never know where you’ll find happiness.
4. Pay for part of the trip the second you decide to go.
5. Traveling gives an education that can’t be taught in a classroom.
6. Learn as much as you can about the places you’re going and things you’re going to see ahead of time.
7. You will never, ever, ever be the same.

Where have you been and where do you want to go? What would you like to read about here?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’ve always known who I am. I write, I love the arts, I love people and I love travel. I’m passionate and need to fight for what I believe in. I never had a problem knowing who I am. My battle has been fighting the outside forces that would tell me I am wrong.
There’s only so long we can run from ourselves before surrendering and that’s where I am now. I’ve given into who I am and what I love. That is what you see here.

Bobbie White

Photo by Robin Gilmartin

BOWING UP THE BOX

I woke up today at 5:15 AM in a panic about the choice to go after my dreams. OK, that’s a lie. Not the part about waking up in a panic; just the part about it being a choice. The truth is, I fought it tooth and nail.
I tried to fit in growing up, but that didn’t happen. Then I tried to be happy in almost ten years of working the mortgage scene, but that didn’t happen either. The more I tried to fit into everyone else’s idea of what “should” be, the more happiness pooped out on me.
So here I am, doing naked cartwheels in the hopes that you’ll come do them with me!
Of course, it’s not a requirement to go as balls-to-the-wall as I did. The fear of giving up the home I loved, relationships, security and pain of being judged in order to get here wasn’t something I’d recommend. It’s always been all or nothing with me. You, being much smarter than me, may chose to go in a direction that holds a little more finesse.

Photo by Robin Gilmartin

Don’t you hate the constant BS about how it’s “all worth it in the end” as much as I do? Sure it is, but the junk we have to wade through in order to get there is a nightmare. Why is credit rarely given to that?
When I say this rodeo was terrible at first, I mean it. And I probably never would have done it if my old miserable career hadn’t crashed and booted me out by my bootstraps.
My pals and sweeter-than-sugar parents were great at support as I put up my dukes to the breakdown of my old life, but I sure wasn’t great support to myself. I’m aware that a new foundation can’t be built without tearing down the old, but it was still painful, raw and scary as hell. I was losing it in more ways than one.
As if what I was going through wasn’t bad enough, many of the people I expected and needed support from ran for the hills or kicked me while I was down. I was a walking, breathing country song.
What amazed me was who did come through. The two angels in my life who just so happened to be sisters and my best friends were never a question. Neither was my ridiculously loving and supportive parents. Who did surprise me were the unexpected acquaintances that helped and gave me strength to keep on truckin. If asked how anyone gets through times like these without that kind of support, I’d just have to shrug and keep on dancing.
The wind was in my face for a long time and every struggling step forward changed me. Everything and almost everyone was a threat. It wasn’t until I had sacrificed too much to turn back that the ever-elusive rainbow started to peek through the clouds. Once I knew all that sacrifice would all be for nothing if I gave up and my old life was already in ashes, things became strangely easier. I realized I would never be able to live with all the pain, loss and suffering I had gone through if I even tried to turn back. Uncertainty had become a moot point.
The winds changed. For the first time, the momentum was pushing me forward instead of blowing in my face. For no reason at all, more people started supporting and believing in what I was doing. Instead of being an irresponsible fool, I was now someone to admire and believe in. Actually – finishing the book I wrote and will be selling on here once edits are done could have helped (total plug right there).
Then I met a wonderful woman on a similar path. The support, belief and accountability to each other kept our fire alive. Finally, after years of going down the comfortable but miserable road more traveled, we pulled each other forward on bloodied knees to make it where we needed to be. Yeah, things are still pretty tough, and that kind of support only comes for brief moments, but it helped me get to where life is the most sweet. Not at the finish line where all is done and well, but to the midst of building the life, career and dreams I always wanted. Not just living that life. Being it.
And yeah. It’s totally all worth it in the end.
Do you have an inspirational story that show how rough it was, how you got to where you are and why it was worth it?

THE AUTHOR

I’ve always known who I am. I write, I love the arts, I love people and I love travel. I’m passionate and need to fight for what I believe in. I never had a problem knowing who I am. My battle has been fighting the outside forces that would tell me I am wrong.
There’s only so long we can run from ourselves before surrendering and that’s where I am now. I’ve given into who I am and what I love. That is what you see here.
Bobbie White

Un-named but not forgotten

I took this picture in a rough neighborhood in South Sacramento known as Oak Park. During the beginning of the recession when gas was $5 a gallon, people like the woman in this picture were broke and had no hope. We all felt the hit financially but for people who struggle with everyday living the recession and the extremely high gas prices took its toll.

Artist Bio:

Professional photographer for 2 years and my vision is unique. My perspective is real with a goal to bring out the best truth in each individual. My mind visualizes it, my eyes arrange it, my camera exalts it. I see things. I know images, but I desire you. Your face, your moments, your expressions. How beautiful is love? How peaceful are children? I capture it all. So, feel free to be imperfect. Know that my eyes do not judge. Jasmine Renee’ is my name and photography is who I am

Jasmine Renee

Jasmine Renee
www.jasrenee.com

Blowing up the Box — the story

“We’re going to have to close down,” he said.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the attractive Lebanese man that had been my employer for the past two and a half years was going to cry.

“I’m sorry, Danny. I feel terrible.”

“It’s OK Fadi,” I replied, looking up from my desk in a moment of perfumed silence. “You shouldn’t feel bad. You’ve been great to me and our clients.” I fought to keep eye contact as the pain of this inevitable information sliced at me.

“I don’t regret losing money that would have come in if we were less honest,” I mumbled as I picked at a piece of tape stuck to my desk, “and there’s nothing you could do about the bubble bursting in this god-forsaken industry. It’s been coming for years.” I forced a smile for him, but as soon as he walked out, the tears took their place.

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We spent the next few heart-wrenching weeks wrapping up what we could with the existing loans before shutting down the office. After that, I spent a couple months working for another mortgage broker Fadi had helped to hook me up with, but it wasn’t long before the doors closed there as well.

Out of loyalty and admiration, I had chosen to go down with a sinking ship and all of my treasures with it. When the second office shut down, I had no financial padding left and the industry was dying. Mortgage workers of every type flooded the work market with desperation to get into another industry as their livelihood crumbled to the ground. We were blacklisted as crooks and, even if we could find a job, there was no way it could pay for our lifestyle.

There I was — left with no choice but to do the thing that scared me more the most. I had to leave that sunny beach paradise that had brought me so much happiness and go back to a dreary, rainy place that symbolized nothing but misery. I had to move back to the place I had grown up.

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“Thanks for letting me stay here while I figure it out Mom and Dad.” I avoided looking at them as I let down my Jack Russell and lugged my overstuffed Betsey Johnson luggage through the door.

“We’re just glad you’re OK hon,” Mom said with her eternally worried look.

“Who says I’m OK?” I mumbled as I dragged past them and up the stairs.

After unpacking, I drew a bath and looked in the mirror at the expensive blond hair, expensive red lipstick and expensive Cashmere sweater.

“It will be OK,” I told myself. “It will be OK.”

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Dad had been sick for a while, but I hardly ever came back to this place to realize just how bad he had been. Over the next couple months, my heart twisted as I began to really see his illness for the first time and soon began to help. Our parents had been on their own and neither I nor my sister or brother had helped. For the chance to be able to do that, I finally found a reason to be glad I was there.

Every day was a foggy struggle, but eventually I started to sweep myself off the floor and slowly started to remember who I was. I wanted to write and travel. I wanted to be involved with photography, fashion and the arts. Volunteering had become a big part of my life and doing good was something I didn’t want to let go of. I might not be able to do it all at once, but I could start with something. A whisper inside my heart told me that I was finally being given the chance.

I started writing. I wrote and wrote until I wasn’t sure what I was writing about. When an opportunity came up to travel, any opportunity, I said yes. Without thinking about it, I would say yes and do what I had to do to make it happen. I didn’t know where it was going, but I was writing and traveling. Texas, Arizona, Florida, Tahoe, Mexico – whatever. As long as I was on the move and writing, it didn’t matter.

“Must be nice,” my sister saidas we sipped on vanilla lattes at the neighborhood coffee shop. “Some of us have responsibilities.”

“We all have responsibilities,” I said defensively. “Do you really think this is easy for me? Do you think life is easy for anyone? Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Besides – if Mom and Dad support me going after this, you don’t need to worry about it.”

Many people felt the same way she did. They lived in their suburban track housing with their nine to five jobs and two point five kids. In their eyes, anything outside of that box was wrong.

I had lived that life. I had the career, money and social status that they approved of. It was a miserable jail sentence with terrible things on the inside, but as long as everything on the outside looked pretty, it hadn’t mattered. I couldn’t live like that anymore. It may not have been my choice to break free, but now that I was, I was determined never to go back.

I kept writing. I kept writing and traveling and helping with my father. Life was hard, but I started to love myself in a way I never had before.

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“My book’s done,” I whispered at the end of a big family dinner at Maggiano’s a year after I had first arrived.

“What!” Proclaimed our little brother who was temporarily in town. “That’s awesome Danny-Doo!”

The whole family surprised me with how excited they were. I was scared it would disappear at any moment, but it didn’t. Friends threw a party of congratulations and I floated through their long-needed approval in disbelief.

“Does that mean you’re moving home,” my brother asked before leaving to report back to the military in our beautiful beach paradise.

“Not yet Kid.” I hugged him with internal strength I thought had been lost long ago. “I’m well on my way, but there’s more I have to do before I can get back home.”

It was true – I was well on my way. I didn’t know when this new life was going to solidify, but the ingredients had been mixed and were growing firm. For the first time, I realized that I had the foundation of a new life that would make me really happy. All I had to do was be patient and keep stirring the pot.

THE AUTHOR

I’ve always known who I am. I write, I love the arts, I love people and I love travel. I’m passionate and need to fight for what I believe in. I never had a problem knowing who I am. My battle has been fighting the outside forces that would tell me I am wrong.
There’s only so long we can run from ourselves before surrendering and that’s where I am now. I’ve given into who I am and what I love. That is what you see here.

Bobbie White

A travel & lifestyle blog about the messy pilgrimage of adventure, body-positivity and personal growth. Real and authentic. All the way.