How many summers have you seen?
My 12 Months A Nomad Journey
I didn’t blog as much as I thought I would during my year of travels. Instead, I documented the journey in little notebooks, crumbled-up typewriter paper, endless notes on my phone, and screenshots of storefronts and restaurants I took. I captured moments with a polaroid camera, and when I lost that in Mexico City, I replaced it with a film camera in London.
I took a stab at vlogging, and while I loved to have these videos to look back on, being on Youtube requires a staff of people — one I don’t yet desire to have. But hey, cheers for being consistent for 6 months. I love holding my film camera and the excitement of the process it creates. With such an instant culture, I’m searching for a way to slow down. This film camera also steadily reminds me of my favorite sermon. I listen to it about once every six months, at least. It’s all about the darkroom process.
Anywho, you’re reading this blog to learn about my travels. I like marking the end of seasons. I wrote one blog post at the start of my journey, so this blog feels right a little over a year later. I’m writing this mainly to remember when I sold my stuff to travel. We did it, Joe. This post isn’t about my favorite city or food to eat. Although, I never had a bad meal in Paris. For 12 months, I lived in a suitcase for the chance to see the world. I went far. I went near. I went close. I went beyond what I ever thought was possible. Isn’t it just like God to do the impossible?
A year around the world with a one-way plane ticket, a seed of faith, looked something like…
JULY 2021: LOS CABOS
AUGUST 2021: MEXICO CITY, CLEVELAND, OHIO, ATLANTA
SEPTEMBER 2021: MEXICO CITY, ARUBA, AND CURACAO
OCTOBER: MEXICO CITY, OAXACA CITY
NOVEMBER: PLAYA DEL CARMEN, TULUM
DECEMBER: WASHINGTON D.C., COLUMBUS, OHIO, DUBAI, SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE
JANUARY 2022: MEXICO CITY
FEBRUARY 2022: VALLE DE BRAVO, MEXICO
MARCH 2022: PUERTO ESCONDIDOS, NEW ORLEANS
APRIL 2022: COLUMBUS, OHIO, CANCUN,
MAY 2022: CABO, COLUMBUS, OHIO
JUNE 2022: LONDON,
JULY 2022: SPAIN, PARIS, ARUBA, AND JAMAICA
And I planned most of it just day by day. I literally practiced walking by faith. These are the places that now hold a place in my heart. These destinations shaped my perceptions, they expanded my mind, and I have smiled and cried in most of them.
I’m not going to neatly package my journey in a clean-cut post that’s easy to digest. I want you to sit for a while. Pull up a chair, and leave a comment. Just consider this blog a collection of poems, prayers, quotes, and thoughts that I’m still processing…
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and being alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel it. It is the reason you are here on earth. You have to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, betrayed, left, hurt, or death brushes too near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.” ―Louise Erdrich, “The Painted Drum”
I took a lot of risks with dating abroad and with men in the US. I went on dates with men outside of my race. I invited them to travel with me to near and far places. I cried in their arms and still felt lonely. I took all the right turns and ended up in the wrong situations. I tried to overcome my perfectionist- ways and mindset that said I must perform to be loved. I experienced that no matter where I am, God’s love is never distant. Lust robs us of more than just intimacy. My old church used to say, “God is not limited by location,” and while a cliche, I think it’s true for dating.
Don’t rush forever. You don’t have to be fully healed to be loved; you just have to be. So keep on risking, and be kind to yourself in the process.
“When you want to pity yourself over how little love you’re getting, I ask you to stop and consider: How much are you giving?” Brianna Wiest — 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think Brianna Wiest.
People often tell me I’m brave for traveling solo, but I think the bravest thing I’ve ever done was let go of what no longer served me.
“The right person will know how to hold your love. The right person will choose you just as deeply as you choose them. You will not have to quiet the way you care, you will never feel like you are too much. You will not have to beg for the love you deserve. One day, you will be met where you are. One day, you will be someone’s favorite thing, and you will not be confused, you will not feel like you are fighting for someone who isn’t fighting for you. One day, you will understand that it never mattered how tightly you held on to the wrong people, how intensely you tried, because the right people were always going to find you. The right people were always going to stay.” —Bianca Sparacino “Gentle Reminders.”
While you’re traveling, you can see who is showing up. Even if it’s just a small text, a quick email, or a phone call, I even appreciate the voicemails. There are millions of ways to stay connected, yet we live in the most disconnected society. Regarding friendships and changing seasons, I’ll wait for the right people in love and friendship. I no longer show up for one-sided relationships.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ―Franz Kafka
I love that my career has been non-linear. If anything, I’m always going to bet on myself. I’ve worked in ministry as an intern, the non-profit sector as a marketing manager, and spent most of my career in media as a journalist, social media editor, and producer.
And now I have this travel company. I threw it out in the world, and people came. The most significant career highlight that made me the least money was gathering women to experience love and transformation as we watched the butterflies migrate in the highlands of Mexico. I want to go to the grave empty. Navigating a remote career has not been without its challenges. It takes a lot of discipline, most of which goes unseen. But, traveling and meeting people from all over and interacting to building new friendships have helped me not identify with my accomplishments. I am more than my career.
“I would have never known the bravery of my heart if I didn’t lose sight of the shore.” —Molly Sags, “Cultivate”
I love learning about every new season and things about myself. Life is a series of dreams realized, so keep on undoing, relearning, and dreaming new dreams.
You were always good. I’m happy that I spent my 20s exploring faith. In having hard conversations. In the running back to the Father’s arms, again and again. I shed a lot of religion from my life. For there to be a resurrection, something has to die. The parts of me that held so tightly to the right behaviors to get the proper outcomes had to die. The parts of me that desired to be known by man instead of genuinely known by God had to die. The parts of me that thought purity was about behavior and not a heart posture had to die.
What does the silence sound like? I can hear his voice in the wind. The love of Jesus grows sweeter and sweeter with time. Things can coexist, and life isn’t black and white. One year, I looked up and realized all my friends looked and thought like me. It wasn’t what I wanted. We close ourselves off from people and experience out of fear — b/c most people are afraid of what they do not understand.
I hope God’s voice is always the clearest and loudest voice that I cling to. Life with Abba is the purest and most authentic form of freedom. I’ll never forget his goodness and return to his love again and again.
I’m unsure if I ever see myself being a part of a church again. I haven’t been a church member in over four years. The desire for a Christian community and friends is prevalent — but I don’t think it will be packaged in the form of a small group. I’m open to the right community. It will take time. Faith is oxygen. I’m breathing it every day. I’m focused on my relationship with Jesus being more sacred than seen.
Lord, I need your Living Water.
Most people think travel teaches you how to endure and be resistant. And it can. But Black women don’t need that lesson. I know I didn’t.
Travel has taught me to be light and trust in the storm’s wind and sails. Lightly. Lighty. Lightly. My journey has helped me to become soft. This year has proven that a simple girl from Columbus, Ohio, can dine at the top of the Eiffel tower. She can surf the waves, soak up the sun, interview celebrity chefs in Dubai, and trust that she will never be too soon or too late — but right on time for all God has in store for her life. I move lightly.
There’s no timeline to grief. I lost my grandfather on this past year, and I don’t think there’s an end to grief. When it comes, I honor it. I say a prayer, and I remember. I play my grandfather’s last recording so I can hear his voice. I remember the walks I went on with him as a kid. I travel with the Christmas cards he’s given me. I remember the conversations we had. I play his favorite songs. I return to my present life with a deep and lively breath in my lungs, which reminds me to live another day fully and unapologetically. I don’t have the words to process grief. But breath deep, my friends, breath deep.
on being a 20-something...
I turn 29 this year, and I can’t believe it. I’m excited about the process of getting older and maturing. I’ve been meaning to read this book called The Defining Decade. I don’t feel a rush to accomplish not one damn thing by 30, sorry, Forbes, and that gives me so much peace. I want to get all my friends together for my birthday to do a high ropes course, haha. I love this song about our future selves.
To all my 20-somethings, congrats; you’re doing a good job!
I often get asked where I stayed during my travels. There are so many options! We all need to think about how we want to design our lives. I dream of building my family, spending winters at a lake house in Portugal, and spending the summer homeschooling in Africa. What is the limit at this point? There are none. Anywho, there are so many other excellent housing options other than Airbnb. I wrote about them here. I stayed in an Airbnb about three times on this journey and at hotels for short weekly stays. I mainly stayed in: Sonder, Outsite, and Casi. There are also plenty of programs like Remote Year that make it easy to travel. I have friends who own homes and live abroad for one month out of the year. You can do it and design your life as you see fit. Also, the average customer age for these businesses is travelers in their 30s. So, are you creating the life of your dreams or the life you have been taught to have? I keep defining and redefining what a “dream life” is. I hope you give yourself the grace to do the same and the grace to change your mind.
on "what's next"...
I often get asked, “So what’s next?” I can’t honestly answer that question because I’m so deeply in love with my now. I have no idea. The only next thing I’m going to do is be obedient to whatever God tells me to do and to go wherever he tells me to go. I like to keep it simple. Until then, you can find me scrapbooking, communing with friends in my creative sanctuary while taking weekend trips to the closest beach, while trying never to miss a sunset. Selah.
With light, love, and a peace that surpasses all understanding,