Silver linings, taking chances, and navigating the worst year of my life
2016 was the worst year of my life.
My mom got cancer, I lost my grandpa, I went through a tumultuous break up, and I spent all of my time driving back and forth between my apartment in SF and my parents house in the suburbs to take care of my mom (and my dad).
When I think about it, the one thing that got me through that year was travel. I had some of the best trips of my life, in the worst year or my life… isn’t that weird? I think travel was my much-needed escape from the realities of home, and everything going on, and allowed me a reset and recenter button, giving me the strength to come back to take on the ‘real world’ stronger.
At the time, I was working a corporate job and writing my blog as a hobby. My best friend and I planned a trip to Bali to visit my guy friend – Kenny, who had moved there a year before to start a shirt company. He was so excited about our trip and planned an amazing itinerary to show us around his island.
On one of our many slow walks around the neighborhood I did with my mom while she was sick, I asked her if I should go, given everything going on, and she told me of course. No question. She always prioritized travel in her own life, and knew how important an opportunity to see the world with two of your best friends was, and since she assured me she was living vicariously through me – I HAD to go.
Kenny and I had always had ‘a thing’ ever since we met in college, and both always knew we loved each other, but we never admitted it, too afraid it would affect our amazing friendship.
But, on that trip to Bali, everything fell into place. Kenny and I talked day and night about life, our hopes and dreams, and Kenny Flowers and Jetset Christina. He pushed me to give my blog and brand the real shot they deserved. He told me to move to Bali (which is hilarious to think back on because I, like probably so many of you if someone told you to quit your job and move across the world to pursue your hobby full time, thought he was absolutely insane).
Of course it sounded like a DREAM, but that wasn’t reality!!!! My reality was back home, going into my office, picking my mom up from chemotherapy on my lunch break, finishing a boring work day, and heading home to cook dinner. Then waking up and doing it all again.
But Kenny pushed me to make my own reality. I already was making (a very small amount of) money from my blog, with so little time and energy devoted to it, so I knew if I gave it a real chance, and my full energy, I could make it my full time job. Only one problem – I wasn’t the only one who thought it was crazy!
My parents asked for a business plan, my friends were like “wait, what? You’re in love with a guy that lives in Bali?” Followed shortly by “You want to QUIT your well paid, great marketing job to BLOG?” They all thought I was crazy.
But I’ve learned that if people think your idea is a little crazy, it’s probably a good one. It means you’re thinking differently than everyone else.
I remember talking to one of my best friends, who, even though she was shocked, told me that she’s never met anyone who trusts her gut more than me, and it has never steered me wrong. She said where most people just continue down the same path because it’s comfortable, easy, and content, I’ve always known when to strive for more.
So I set my sights on More. Creating a different reality. Being my own boss, running my own company, and being able to get paid to travel the world while I did it.
2016 was the best year of my life.
My mom beat cancer, I got rid of a toxic boyfriend, I traveled with girlfriends to France, Spain, Monaco, Vegas, Napa, and Bali. I decided to pursue my dream. I fell in love with the greatest man in the world, who happened to be my best friend.
I look back on that year and can’t help but smile so big. It was challenging, it was chaotic, it was terrible at times and it almost broke me, but it didn’t. It completely changed my life, in all the best ways.
I hope this story gives you all a different perspective on this past year. I know it’s been a rough one for us all, but I also know there is always a silver lining, even if we can’t see it clearly yet. One of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes is “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
I also hope it shows you that travel, and taking chances and seizing opportunities is so important in shaping our lives, and creating our own reality. Sometimes, a trip, or even planning a trip for the future, can be just what the doctor ordered during a tough year. Throughout my mom’s illness, we talked about and planned travel. I think it helped her get through it all and stay distracted. She had always dreamed of going to Bora Bora, so that was the bucket-list celebration trip we took as soon as she recovered. A trip of a lifetime she had been waiting too long for and that she deserved so much. A trip that helped us all as a family appreciate life, and travel, that much more. It was also part of the reason I became a travel blogger (you can read more about that story here).
By the way, if you are thinking of traveling anytime soon, please do so safely and read my tips for traveling in the pandemic here.