Well, this is certainly a different sort of post that I'm used to compiling, but hey, it's 2020 and this is my creative space to...be creative in.
I've struggled - especially while backpacking with a minimal amount of 'stuff' and being on the other side of the planet from like, everything - to feel put together. It ties in with feeling good about myself.
Combined with the fact that the first few days and weeks of 2020 are already bringing more bad news than anticipated or wanted (see: Iran, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others), it's taken a toll on how I can go about my day with a positive mentality. Not to mention the 4.1 earthquake I experienced while in California at the start of the year - albeit it a minor one on the scale, it was enough to shake us out of our sleep and into the reality of the world we live in. 2020 might be a fresh start, but it carries the continued baggage of the year(s) gone by.
My feelings are neatly summed up in the following quote from Dr. Lynne Henderson:
"One of the ways of being kind to ourselves is not to let the pain in the world overwhelm us."
So perhaps you may wonder why I'm writing a post on my travel blog about five ways to hold it together? In reality, it's just part of the way I am thriving when it seems the world around us is on the verge of collapse. I have faith in humanity and our ability to corral around a problem to find a solution, but until we can solve what needs solving, here's my response:
1. Look Good, Feel Good
It rings similar to a quote by Georges St-Pierre (although this quote and other variances have been attributed to a number of other people):
"If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good."
While it may seem superficial, there's truth in the fact that if you look good you're going to feel good about yourself and that motivates you to put your best foot forward and be the best version of yourself.
For me, this may mean wearing my favourite jewelry and a pretty dress, painting my nails and stepping out with a spring in my step. When I walk out my front door with some effort having gone into what I'm wearing, I feel like I can conquer anything. I'm more productive, more focused and overall, prouder of who I am and what I can achieve.
2. Turn Off the News
At some point, many hours and many scrolls into a black hole of news, you may find yourself in despair. The world seems to constantly be collapsing in on itself and you may feel helpless. The mounting news articles threatening of imminent war, climate disasters and borderline global destruction pile on your shoulders and you feel that there is nothing you can do.
Well, perhaps, at some point, to preserve your sanity, the best thing you can do is to turn off the news.
I'm not saying don't inform yourself. I'm not advocating for ignorance. All I'm saying is that sometimes, enough is enough. Pick a few credible news sources (I personally love the BBC and the New York Times for their varied opinions from two differing realms), read the relevant articles of the day and then move on.
Your life needs to be filled with much more than the sorrow of the world surrounding you.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Maintaining a personal routine will look different from one individual to the next. All I can say is following a sense of structure that keeps you and your body aligned, feeling good and running at maximum health and proficiency is a path worth pursuing.
For me, this means exercising five times a week, drinking plenty of water, getting a good night's sleep, turning off my screens after 9pm, reading before bed, listening to classical music, sticking to a good skincare routine, going outside every day and cooking fresh and healthy meals (I've also been vegetarian for most of the past 8 years).
Those are just some of the things that I've implemented into my life over the past few years and in particular this past year while traveling abroad without a 'home'.
Self structure is just as important as physical structure and it can be a comfort to know that there are things you can control, even if perhaps solving world hunger, climate change and war aren't (yet) among those things.
4. Enjoy the Little Things
Find pleasure in the small things. A successful day, week, month or year is not defined by the things you own, the money you make or the milestones you achieve.
Perhaps it's a meal shared with those you love, a sunny day, a bird singing outside your window, smiling at a stranger or the pleasure of a positive interaction. Maybe it's a wonderful chapter you read, a great new song you heard that you can't stop playing on repeat, the smell of fresh laundry or, my favourite of all, a pretty sunset you can't seem to drag your eyes from.
And as Robert Brault, an American writer, so eloquently put it:
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
5. Slow Down
There is great value in saving up for a rainy day, as they say. Allow yourself the awareness and the space to put money aside, to save up for a greater goal, to have a longer term sense of purpose and achievement. There is great satisfaction in finally having the time and money to pursue a dream long on the horizon.
Like how I booked a one-way ticket to go see the world, over a year ago, and have been traveling full-time ever since. Every penny saved was worth it.
It all falls under the umbrella of slowing down.
We don't need to have everything, right now. We don't need every single new product that is thrown in our face by customized advertising based off of our digital footprint. We don't need to spend money every day.
And in summation, I suppose, we don't need every single answer right now. We need longevity, passion, determination, sanity, peace, self-preservation, respect and ultimately, love - for the world and for ourselves.
Stuff, New Zealand's largest and most popular news platform, shared this article on their website in February 2020! Check it out here.