Experiencing Old Parts of My Life Anew

I knew that when I arrived back from Europe I’d find little rest. I was aware of the activity upon activity I had lined up which would whisk me about the North East, and, in truth, I was excited for the upcoming time with friends and family. What I didn’t realize, however, was that despite my lack of repose, I’d still be able to reflect, to continue to grow, and to find the inspiration needed to continue my journey.

This has been a special finding.

I always assumed my life-long mental and emotional fatigue was due to a lack of sleep. I do a lot, which I know is my choice, and I always figured my activity level was what wore me down. Thus, I’m invariably thinking about how to get more and better sleep so I can FINALLY, after 37 years on this planet, feel rested.

This morning (I’m drafting this post on Sunday June 23… My niece’s 12th birthday!) I woke up from a deep sleep just like the type I’ve been wishing for. It was great, except that I didn’t FEEL any more well rested than other mornings. Bummer.

As I bounced around these past couple of weeks from New York City to Providence, RI to Boston, MA to East Hartford, CT, and then finally to Fremont Center, NY, I found myself developing a hypothesis that would address this lack of feeling better even when I had more and better sleep. This morning my hypothesis seemed confirmed:

Maybe my feeling of fatigue isn’t caused by a lack of sleep at all. Maybe I’ve been expending too much of my energy on activities and people that drain me, instead of on those that fill me up.

The reason this thought came to me is because as I’ve been traveling around the past few weeks, I’ve been super conscious of who and what activities I give my energy to; choosing to spend more energy on people and things which fill me as opposed to those that leach off my light.

As a result, I’ve noticed the direct effects of my fatigue level lessening which I simply haven’t felt just from getting more or better sleep.

What are the activities and who are the people I’ve been spending my energy on? Here let me show you.

Lis and Clewi close up
Clewi and I arrive at our AirBnB in Providence, RI.
friends in the stands at Fenway park
Our crew has a relaxing afternoon at Fenway Park.
Family at dinner
The family gets together for dinner in MA. PS that’s the niece who just turned 12!
Lis in front of a pond.
Enjoying nature at A.W. Stanley Park
View from Wickham Park
The view from Wickham Park in Manchester, CT (my new favorite place!)
View of trees and hills
The view from my brother and sister-in-law’s house.
Pond in the country
More of my brother and sister-in-law’s beautiful property.
Lis holding her baby nephew
Me holding my new nephew, Nolan Christopher!

After these most recent travels, I’ve come to realize that simply getting more and better sleep is not enough for this self-proclaimed empath to feel my best. Instead I have to both get good rest AND monitor where and who my energy is shared with in order to feel alert, and to decrease my overarching cloud of tired.

What gives my hypothesis even more credit is that for the past few weeks I’ve been staying in places where I used to live full time, and where I am used to feeling my normal level of fatigue. Yet when I applied my new exercise of deciding where to place my energy while in these old and familiar environments, I noticed how much more calm and connected I felt.

So you see, my external environment was pretty much exactly the same as it was for the first 22 years of my life, but I was able to feel different while in it.

In addition to these findings, as I moved about these familiar locations as the 37 year old woman I’ve become, I couldn’t help but think on who I was all those years before.

While visiting my old roommate in Connecticut, for example, I thought back to my early twenties and to who I thought I wanted to be at that time. That Lis of 15 years ago believed she should stay at a full-time job, get married, buy a home, have children, and retire quietly with grandchildren waiting for her. For years I imagined my life starting, and ending, in Connecticut. Now, I can’t even conceive of many of these events occurring. It was a truly odd sensation.

I had a similar experience when I was back in upstate New York as I thought on who I was in grade and high school. I saw how, back then, I gave so much of myself away in order to try to conform to the narrative, and to attempt to be accepted and loved. I also saw how all of that energy was wasted as it went towards creating a false persona whose only goal was to “fit in”. Further, I saw how putting all my energy towards trying to gain the approval of others is what has sucking my energy dry all my life.

My perspectives have indeed broadened as I experience old parts of my life anew. But, most importantly, as I continue this journey I see how I’m taking control of and falling in love with my own narrative.

I’m now confidently deciding who and what gets my time. I’m also deciding who and what I want to be, and I’m deciding where I’m going and why.

This is an incredibly empowering realization, and I believe I owe it all to listening to my gut and stepping off the path most traveled.

With all of these new empowering beliefs and inspirations to guide me, I simply can’t wait to see where MY path takes me next.

Best of all, I have no doubt it’ll be to exactly wherever I’m supposed to be.

Getting to the Root

I write to you after a week spent back on the East Coast. My current location is Lincolnton, NC; a smaller town about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte. It’s rural here. It’s maybe not as rural as where I grew up, but there is certainly a great deal here which reminds me of my hometown.

Not the least of these reminders are my childhood friends who currently live in the area. In fact, I’m here because a friend whom I’ve known since I was 4 years old needed a pet sitter while her and her husband honeymoon in New Zealand. I am delighted to be that pet sitter! (NOTE: Their pets are really cute… AND they have a beagle)

Beagle on a bed
Jack gets into bed.
Cat posing
Arya strikes a pose.
Cat curled up
Pickle settles in for TV time.
dog and cats curled up on a couch
The pets curl up for a family cuddle on the couch.

Being surrounded by reminders of my youth has me thinking of a line from a book I recently read:

After all, it is the root that looks after the survival of an organism. It is the root that has withstood severe changes in climatic conditions. And it is the root that has regrown trunks time and time again. It is in the roots that centuries of experience are stored, and it is this experience that has allowed the tree’s survival to the present day. ~ The Hidden Life of Trees; Peter Wohlleben

When I read this, I paused. I’ve often thought of my current journey as one in which I’m getting back in touch with my roots. When one spends so much time alone without much external stimulus and distraction, it’s kind of hard not to go through this process. It’s a process where I’m constantly figuring out and trying to own who I am, why I am, what I believe, and how I want to live in this world. It’s also a process where I investigate how these beliefs were established, or became rooted, to be begin with.

If, as the author says, a being’s roots are the key to its survival of chaotic and changing times, it seems a necessary exercise to get back in touch with mine. After-all, they are what store my experiences and allow me to be who I am in my present day life. If I don’t unearth them, I fear I’ll remain a shell of what others say I should be instead of identifying with my core and living my own narrative.

And you know what… I’ve lived as a shell for far too long.

Guess I’ll keep digging.

Another Coast, Another Summer Road Trip

I write this post from a friend’s apartment in Hoboken, NJ. Here I sit looking at their “Home Sweet Apartment” sign ready to share more about the additional 24 days I spent road-tripping the East Coast this Summer. But, instead of wanting to write, all I can do is stare at that sign.

Home.

I’m not sad nor regretful as I stare, more bewildered or perplexed. Maybe I’m just considering the meaning of the word. I say this because even though I haven’t been in a home of my own for the past 2.5 months, I’ve felt at home for much of my journey. I believe this latest trip, and the people I spent time with along the way, have greatly contributed to this state.

Before I get into all that, allow me to share with you where my friend and I were staying this July.

Google map image showing our route
Our route from New York to Tennessee and back again.

Unfortunately, Google Maps wouldn’t allow me to add a line from Philadelphia back up to my hometown of Fremont Center, NY, but hopefully you get the point regardless. During the trip, we stayed at the homes of 4 different friends and also spent nights at 5 hotels (well, really 4 hotels plus an AirBnB in DC which was not only conveniently located, but included a pinball machine and jukebox!)

Me playing pinball.
Look at me getting my pinball on!

It was quite the journey, and of course I learned a lot along the way. I can’t begin to pretend I’ll be able to share all I’ve learned in one post, so I’d like to use this post to bring up the top lessons learned which come to mind. Here we go!

Stay Open to Random Acts of Kindness

I realize I’m a pretty extroverted person and so to others it may seem that I’m adventurous and open to anything, but that isn’t always the case. Much of the time I close myself off to new things as a form of protection. This was something I was actively working on along this trip, and this work paid off.

For example, instead of closing myself off due to fear of rejection, I opened myself and reached out to friends whom I haven’t talked to in a long time to see if they’d be open to having a couple of visitors. Not one said no. Instead everyone we stayed with was overjoyed with our visit! If I hadn’t stayed open, I wouldn’t have come close to having the experiences I’m so very grateful for.

Cristina, Lis, Karen and Joe
Our dear friends Karen and Joe (the two to my left) who hosted us in Richmond, VA.

Also, when we were up in New England I was explaining to a friend what I was doing and why. This friend isn’t the wealthiest person (He’s married with two wonderful, young children and is, like many of us, just trying to make ends meet), but he so wanted to show his love for our adventure that he handed over a gift card for us to use along the way. When I tried to deny it, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. This small act made a big impact on me, and this energy carried me through the trip.

Don’t Shy Away From the Hard Times

Most of my friends and family reside on the East Coast of the United States, which meant I spent a lot of time visiting and traveling with friends I’ve known for years. Some of these interactions were successful and some of them were not. I was faced with some real relationship trials this go-round. I found myself mourning old relationships and feeling distraught in thinking what would come next.

Thing is this time around I leaned into these hard times. I sat in the hard feelings and I reflected on what they were. Through all of this I grew leaps and bounds, and shed old energy and regrets. Had I turned away from the despair I wouldn’t have seen the other side of it, which is where I now get to dwell.

A bridge we saw in WV.
You need to cross the bridge to get to the other side.

See the Love

It doesn’t seem like it given the current state of our media, but there is a whole lot of love out there in the world. For the 24 days I was on the road I was cloaked in it. I reconnected and deepened connections with friends in ways I never even considered. There were times when the love from both friends AND strangers lifted and carried me through.

Besides the overwhelming love from friends, one example which comes to mind is from our stay in Winchester, VA. We stayed over 1 night at the local Motel 6. In the morning the hotel Wi-Fi wasn’t working in our room, though it was in the lobby. As I sat in the lobby working, I saw the front desk employee (who had been on duty overnight since 10pm and wasn’t leaving until 4pm due to a sick co-worker) exhibit so much kindness to all who came in. There was a couple who came in who couldn’t afford full price for a night so she made an exception. There was a family who came in who couldn’t speak English and she went out of her way to calmly and caringly get them a comfortable room. It was better to watch than any TV show out there.

I Should Write a Book

I write this somewhat sarcastically, but I won’t deny that it came up several times along the trip. I’m sure sharing my story will happen in some way, but with several different people around me saying this I feel like I should get cracking on it!

The World is Beautiful

There’s not much else to say here. Take a look around! There’s so much beauty and wonder waiting to inspire you. Take 30 seconds and really SEE it.

Quote from the State Park
A quote from a WV state park.

As I mentioned, these are just a few of the lessons and reflections which came to me. There was also the idea of working hard and following your passions which I learned from touring Dollywood,

Lis at Dollywood
Yes, that Dollywood.

and the newest Sierra Nevada Brewing property.

The Sierra Nevada Brewery outside Asheville
The Sierra Nevada Brewery outside Asheville, NC.

But, those are for another time.

For now, I’m a bit in need of a rest. I’ll be heading back to the West Coast in a few days and when I get there I’m not sure what kind of life I’ll find, so I want to be ready for it. One thing I am sure of is I’ll take these and many more lessons and beautiful (and not so beautiful) moments with me from which to be inspired, learn, grow, and adventure even more.

Wish me luck!