Hey there readers,
On A Travel Broad, I tend to focus only on the positive and exciting side of my life and travels. I share with you pictures from my time living in Germany and stories of my jaunts through Europe and North America in hopes of inspiring you to go out and experience the world for yourselves. But I hardly ever discuss the difficult times I sometimes face. Some of these challenging times are by my choice because I love traveling and sharing my travels with you gives me purpose. In the 5 years since I’ve started this blog, I’ve gotten myself into ridiculous situations including selling all of my belongings to pay for college, being homeless for a short period of time, and moving into a dilapidated, vermin infested house in South Philly. To me, it was totally worth it, and it’s taught me to be a resilient, resourceful, and grateful woman. Because without the hard times, how can you enjoy the good times, am I right?
Writers don’t make the most money, so during those trying times I hustled, picking up whatever random gigs I could get — copywriting, graphic design, updating guidebooks, stock photography, random blog posts. Even during my time as a full time Marketing Coordinator, I worked myself into exhaustion, dedicating every evening, weekend, and vacation into traveling and writing more stories for you, my readers. Finances were tight, but I had no problem sacrificing all luxuries to live minimally and fund my vagrant lifestyle. One time, I climbed to the top of a tree for a free burger. It was a cold burger, but freedom tastes delicious!
Eventually, those small paying gigs turned into larger projects, press trips, and feature articles in places like Yahoo Travel, Budget Travel, Long Weekends Magazine, FoodableTV and more. By March of 2014, I worked my way up to being a Planning Committee Member for the New York Travel Festival and got to meet personal heroes of mine — people that I had only ever read about.
Needless to say, there were times in 2014 I drifted from updating this blog because I got super busy working hard to make a living doing what I love. But there were some events in 2014 that took me away from this blog that I didn’t choose — they just happened. And the only thing I could chose when my life collapsed into chaos was how I was going to deal with it. That brings us to May 12, 2014, the day of my father’s suicide. It was horrifying and life shattering. An article I wrote called What my Father’s Suicide Taught Me About Traveling Fearlessly was recently published and went viral on Yahoo Travel, Yahoo News, and Yahoo News Canada. It goes more into detail about the lessons that I learned from this tragic event.
Regardless, I continued to travel and to update you on all the happy times between assignments, I continued freelancing for national publications, and I even founded the Philadelphia Chapter of Travel Massive to help out other travel writers in my community locally and abroad. October through November, I traveled through Europe, visiting England, Athens Greece, and Germany for multiple projects and meetings. I met writers from the New York Times, National Geographic, AFAR Magazine, and fellow Travel Massive leaders on my voyage. At that point in time, my career started to really take off and I worked hard, regardless of the pain I was experiencing from my father’s passing, to continue to ride this sudden wave of success.
I returned to Philadelphia with tons of photos and drafts for blog posts and articles, but by Thanksgiving, my family and I were subjected to another tragedy. My grandmother had been battling cancer for two years, and it was beginning to spread rapidly throughout her body, causing her a lot of pain. She was in the hospital for several weeks before going to hospice where she passed away painlessly and peacefully on the morning of December 21, 2014. The funeral was right after Christmas.
During that time I took a break and spent my time with my grandmother on her last days on earth and with my family, who was struggling to stay afloat in the same ship as me. At this point, I had become so exhausted from losing two extremely important people in my life in just 7 months. I didn’t write — I couldn’t write. I didn’t realize how emotionally demanding it all was until I temporarily lost my ability to express myself in my writing. I had lost so much in such a short period of time, so I allowed myself to take a step back from writing for a little bit, lick my wounds, and cope.
I’ve come to learn that, when you’ve reached your limit and are standing on the brink, there is a spectrum of ways to cope. On one extreme, there’s numbing the pain with drugs, sex, and partying — avoiding alone time because in our solitude we would be forced to confront our thoughts and painful memories. The other extreme would be to shut everyone out and cast yourself too quickly into the black hole of reality where the shear gravity of the situation would crush your psyche. Then there’s somewhere in the middle, the path I chose, where you ease yourself into the discomfort, confront each of your emotions as they arise, and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to rely on your community to help carry you through.
I have always strongly valued friends and family — family, to me, being a top priority. During all of this strife, my relationships with friends and family remained solid, and if anything, became stronger and deeper through open communication. It was a revealing time. True friends who honestly valued me as a person and didn’t take me for granted rose to the occasion where others faltered. It was then I realized which relationships were worth nurturing and investing myself in.
I had never realized how powerful and beautiful life could be until I began letting people into the dark corners of my life. It was scary to be honest about my weaknesses, my emotions, and my fears. I assumed that people would think that I was damaged goods and define me as the girl whose father took his life and then had to watch her grandmother pass. But when I came forward and was honest about my weaknesses, my emotions, and my fears, it was humbling to find that there were so many friends, family, and even Yahoo readers, after my story was published, who could relate. And though we weren’t going through the same events, we all experienced similar weaknesses, emotions, and fears. I wasn’t alone anymore and neither were they. And together we were able to confront our struggles and leave the experiences behind us, all of us stronger than ever before. I discovered the strength in being defenseless and the bravery that comes from admitting fear. I was not defined by my dark past, but rather, recognized as the strong individual that emerged as an end result.
Life is beautiful. Life is brutal. Life is brutiful! I’m back in action! I’m revitalized, ballsier than ever before, and super stoked about the future that is ahead of me! Thank you for understanding that this was a much needed a break — and if you don’t understand and pass judgement on me, then too bad. Deal with it.