• A Week in the Life
  • February

    Where does the time go? It’s now February, and only twenty-six days remain before my trip to Costa Rica. I’ve written less than I’d have liked, but have done more than I could have imagined since my last post– from trips to Boston to reconnect with friends, to cutting off my hair and getting a tattoo, I’ve been actively trying to make the most of the time I have left in Massachusetts. Even now, I’m beginning to dream a little more tangibly about my plans for after Central America.

    I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that this right now is a major transition time, for myself and certainly also for so many others. I feel it as an overwhelming energy coursing in and around me, growing more in strength with every day that passes and every action I take to bring me closer to my goals. To be aware of it is empowering,  but to tap into that energy is the greatest feeling–freeing, grounded, true– and it’s what I’ve been aiming to do.

    It’s a feat made infinitely easier when I take pains to surround myself with the people who support and understand my ambitions. Just last weekend, my cousin drove down from Manchester last weekend to visit on a whim. We went out in Boston to an overpriced and overcrowded bar, killed our feet walking to the train in heels at two a.m., then missed the train, laughed about it, and got late night veggie burgers at a falafel joint on Boylston. We made our way home at three in the morning after a rather inspirational drive with our yoga-teaching, life-loving Lyft driver, and woke up the next day surprisingly functional and ready for some local adventuring. We hit all the best area thrift shops, ending our weekend with afternoon mimosas and crepes at a fancy new restaurant.

    We’re both travel-lovers (she’s the cousin who will be visiting Costa Rica) and we were equally delighted to spend an entire Sunday poking around the dusty corners of an antique shop. In so many other ways, we are as opposite as night and day– and yet, the differences are muted to nothing more than a little white background noise when it comes to talk of daydreams and purpose. Passionate people, regardless of their dreams, know that energy because they’ve felt it themselves. Over our late afternoon lunch, we talked plans for the next few weeks and plans for the next few years; each of us the attentive listener for the other, understanding beyond the words exactly the energy we shared.

    Sometimes, the only encouragement you need is knowledge that you have someone else–anyone else– in your corner. Someone to validate your dreams, to listen and nod at all the right places and remind you that you’re doing okay. It makes the transition periods feel a little less crazy, a little more manageable, and that thrum of energy guiding your actions feel a little easier to harness.

    xx Devinne

  • Life
  • A Better Traveler

    Pemigewasset river

    I was supposed to be in Europe right now. At least, that’s where I thought I would be on this November 22nd, back when I scribbled all those plans and lists into my journal over the summer. Amidst the doodles in the margins are the remnants of the fall I thought I would be having: Spain for a few weeks, a bop on over to France, perhaps a quick jaunt to Italy or Scotland and, hey! Why not a stay in Norway?

    My fixation on travel is nothing new, though it has taken on a new intensity in the months since graduation. With college behind me, I finally feel free to spend my time and money on the one thing I crave above all else. I can go anywhere, at any time, no longer burdened by the academic calendar. And after my senior year internship at a travel publication, I feel as though travel could be more than my passion– it could be my professional path, too.

    What better feeling is there to realize that your passion could become your career? It’s not just the passion for travel, mind, but the love of writing and photography as well. I’ve nurtured this trio of hobbies and interests for so long, always keeping them separate from any plans I could design for my professional future. I want to be fulfilled by my work, but for me that feeling of fulfillment comes from the autonomy to create my own art, and to create it for my own ends. Still, I took plenty of time to figure that out, and I do mean plenty. I’ve spent countless months searching for my own cause, and more importantly seeking my own true voice to speak about things I care most about. I need something to say, something to take pictures of and write about and share with the world. I need a reason to go places, a motivation for my travels beyond simple tourism.

    For me, the desire to travel goes beyond a checklist of places I’d like to visit in my lifetime. When you love travel as I do, what you truly love is motion. You love the comings and the goings. You chase change. It’s the thrill of sunrises unveiling brand-new horizons; it’s the sensation of timelessness as you soar through a starry night sky, thousands of feet above the ground ; it’s the exhilaration and adrenaline and awe of each and every new detail you discover in a foreign land. As I’ve become a more seasoned traveler, I’ve slowly come to understand that the aspects of travel I love the most are the ones that stay constant, no matter the destination. You don’t need to fly across an ocean to discover a new horizon, or traverse a continent to explore the intricacies of your location. Those moments, the truly meaningful ones, can be found every day, anywhere you choose to see them.

    When I pinned my hopes for a fall full of travel on that European expedition, I didn’t realize that what I was really seeking could be found much closer to home. A few months spent in Europe would no doubt have been lovely, but they would have been a stale prize compared to the insight I have gained as a local adventurer. I spent the fall traveling around New England, exploring my own state and region, learning how to see the extraordinary in the familiar. And you know what? More than the most exciting and exotic trip could ever have made me, I’m a better traveler for it.

     

     

  • Life
  • Read. Write. Run.

    This is my mantra, and I’d like to share it with you.

    The idea to write an article about these three essential words first came to me over a year ago, when I was living and studying in Seville, Spain. It was a time of great change in my life; I was taking my first tentative steps towards a writing career, and also my first big leaps at becoming the world traveler I envisioned. As it so often is, this period of change was marked by a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’d be lying if I said that my own feelings trended towards the positive.

    I was living in lovely, sunny Seville, and yet, I was more than a little bummed out. My year abroad was not panning out as I had imagined; friends were harder to make, culture shock had hit me harder than I had expected, and a missed home a whole lot more than I was prepared. Coupled with some internal conflicts and struggles with self esteem, and I was far from ready to take on the challenges that come with living in a foreign country. Thousands of miles from home, school, family, friends—I was living in an incredible and beautiful city, yes, but mostly I felt unsatisfied and disappointed that my year abroad was not living up to my pre-departure expectations.

    If you know me well, then you’ll know that the subject of study abroad is of particular interest to me. I firmly believe that there are a whole bunch of amazing benefits it can bring, but I also believe that there are many not-so-great aspects of study abroad as it exists today.

    That’s okay! We don’t live in a perfect world, and I would hardly expect one of life’s great experiences to exist problem free. My personal take on study abroad is a topic for another day. Today, I want to talk about the magic formula I discovered for dealing with life’s curveballs and low points, a mantra to get you out of bed and outside loving today; even and especially when all you feel like doing is binging on Netflix for ten hours straight, and swimming in a vat of ice cream (or wine, or your indulgence of choice).

    Read. Write. Run.

    Every single day.

    Every damn day.

    Those three things can turn even the darkest days around. They will unfailing lift your spirits, brighten your mood, and allow you to escape even the shittiest of situations, if only for a little while.

    I first found their simplicity to be a bit intimidating. Those three words crossed my mind on a day I felt especially like wallowing, and I remember starting at their brusqueness.

    Read write run. It was not a quite a command, and not entirely a criticism.

    Read write run. And it was easy. A beautifully, wonderfully easy idea, something I could do from any corner of the globe at any time of day.

    Read write run. Perhaps that’s why it terrified me so much. Once I relented, accepted the challenge my own mind had laid before me, how could I ever stop? How could I forgive myself if I did?

    Well, on that day long ago I reluctantly laced up my running shoes and went for a jog around the neighborhood. Later that evening, I typed out the rough skeleton of a blog post. It wasn’t great, but I saved it to revisit at a later date. And I read, before I fell asleep that night, a routine I had first adopted as a child but neglected as I grew older and my days grew busier.

    The next day I repeated my mantra. I repeated my routine. The day after followed the same, and the day after and the day that followed. Then a day came and I didn’t write, or maybe I skipped a run or fell asleep before I could read my book.

    Slipping up was disappointing, though it was something I knew would eventually happen. My mantra became more of a suggestion, and my efforts to read write run came as often as I could and then, as often as I liked. Somedays, I only made it to one or two of my magic challenges. Somedays, I didn’t make it to any. Even so, the idea floated in the back of my mind, a personal goal, a simple challenge, and I knew that a day would come that I could take this mantra and this time, really make it mine.

    Fast forward a year and a couple thousand miles. I’ve returned to my college for my final semester. One year and so much has changed. The past few weeks in particular have been a rapid series of changes and happy events; small, serendipitous moments that have me feeling as though I am headed down the right path. My challenge has been echoing in my head again—except this time, I feel ready to fully accept it.

    So, as I embrace this challenge, and seek to complete my three tasks each and every day, I invite you to join me.

    Read. Something, anything, everyday. Read this blog, if you like it, or something else if you don’t. Reading calms the mind and opens it to new ideas and possibilities. It can allow us to escape from the world and stress at hand, and serves to broaden our minds to be receptive to the changes around us.

    Write. Write a letter, a journal entry, a poem, a song, a chapter of a book. Share your words or keep them to yourself. Writing is expression, it is creativity, and it is a safe place for us to release the good and bad, the happy and sorrowful.

    Run. Move. For five minutes or for an hour, there is no better stress reliever than physical activity. Do it because it feels good, because your body deserves it, because you can.

    Read, write, run, and find the balance in your life.

    Mess up, skip a day, and start again.

    Humans are amazingly resilient creatures; we were made for the bumps and bruises that accompany any fall off the bandwagon. There is so much we can learn from our stumbles, and even more to be gained when we choose to get back up. Keep going.

    Read. Write. Run.

    And always, always choose to try again.

     

    See this post on Elephant Journal

     

     

  • Life
  • Personal Best

    So. THIS is what it’s like to travel alone. S-O-L-O, independent, strong and fierce and powerful YEAH. That’s me now, isn’t it? At the very least, I can tell you that’s who I’ve always wanted to be. One of those girls who could rock a big, fat, backpack and some ripped, muddy, sneakers better than any other accessory. I’ve crossed paths with a few of these girls, usually as I’m staggering into a hostel under the weight of my over-sized weekend bag or returning from a provisions run at the supermarket, arms laden with enough food to feed a small army; meanwhile they lounge about in headbands and wool socks and tribal printed pants, munching on perfectly portioned packages of nuts and dried fruit.
    Travel excites me, and when I’m on the road, enthusiasm is the one area in which I am never lacking or underprepared. I may be bursting through the hostel doors loaded with enough gear to set up permanent residence, but I’ve also a huge, goofy grin plastered across my face. Seriously, it’s nothing short of a ridiculous smile, and I swear I’ve caught more than one of these hostel-dwelling travel goddesses shooting me a questioning/skeptical/concerned glance from their thrones of saggy chairs and old couches from across the reception room, like why is this girl so excited to be here right now and is she going to make it up the stairs with that backpack; but really what is in that thing did she pack a bag of bricks?

    I know, I know. I’m a notorious over packer and no, I probably didn’t have to bring three pairs of shoes with me; and let’s face it, no one uses that much shampoo or eats that many granola bars in a weekend. The art of packing the perfect backpack is a process and, well, an art, one on which I’m clearly still working. But, this very far from perfect girl did just manage to pack for thirteen days of travel and fit it all in ONE normal sized travel backpack. She even managed to bring said-backpack as a carry-on on a Ryanair flight, and only had to wear three bras and five shirts and two jackets to keep it flat enough to get past the sizers. I purchased only a normal amount of granola bars, and have been using shampoo at an impressively controlled, I daresay even frugal rate. Every day I spend on the road makes me love the process even more, and makes that dumb smile just a little bit wider when I stumble through the doors of that night’s residence. And my role models across the room? Those hip and muddy and fabulous chicas have stopped looking incredulous, and sometimes smile and wave my direction before I even get the chance. And my sneakers are a little more dirty and ragged, my bag just a little bit more compact, and this time I didn’t forget to bring a towel/toothbrush/pants. Each day I improve just enough to keep me hopeful–that I may earn a place on my own old, saggy couch yet.