25 Oct

Inspire You, Inspire Me

I received a very sweet email this week from Christina of MeetUsInMunich. She said I could share it with you.

Hi Gillian,

I’ve been meaning to write this email for a while– thanks for commenting on our blog! It’s really silly, but I felt star-struck. I’ve been following your blog for a while. I would read it at work as we were secretly planning our getaway. I loved all your adventures and insight and advice. And it also gave me the encouragement and courage to take the first step to going around the world. So, thank you!

By the way, your post on India…now that we’ve been there, I so get what you’re saying! :D

Take care,

Christina

Of course it boosted my ego a bit and maybe made my head swell slightly…I mean did you read the part about star-struck! But it also reminded me of how we never know of the effect we have on other people.

I realized a while ago that no matter how humble I feel, or how scared I am, or how giant my own steps seem, that there are people who look to me for inspiration and courage.

Fairy Chimneys and Balloons-1

And I like it.

I like that people are inspired by me. That I have made a difference and helped someone overcome some of their fear to get where they are going.

Because I still look to others for the same thing. I think we all do.

I remember the first comment I got from a fellow blogger. When I realized it wasn’t just my mum reading. When I had to start thinking about who the audience was. And it scared the shit out of me!

And so I looked to bigger bloggers, more experienced travelers, and better writers to look for clues as to how I could do what they do. I watched as they expanded themselves, took risks and moved forward seemingly fearlessly and I emulated them on a much smaller scale.

But it’s also about connection. I followed those people and listened to their every word because I felt connected to them. I could see something of myself in their stories and, just like Christina, I would read them as we secretly planned our getaway.

The difference between inspiration and dreaming is that inspiration moves toward action while dreaming is static. Those who dream of one day doing something likely will never get there. Those who are inspired to do something will keep reading, and planning, until they get there.

It’s no different for me today. I still look to those that are doing what I would like to do.

I’m glad, Christina, that you wrote to me. It really did make my day week month! And, as I said to you in my email, I have no doubt that there are people who also read your blog and feel the same way!

10 Sep

Continuing Inspiration

We’ve been back in Canada for four months now and life has, in many ways, returned to ‘normal’. Our feet are still itchy but we scratch them as best we can by heading out almost every weekend to visit friends, mountain bike or discover new cities – we have not lost the ability (or want) to just pick up and go!

I still read a huge number of travel blogs too. It’s fun to read stories of those who are now on the road or who are just starting to plan their own great journeys. They offer continuing inspiration for others  who aren’t quite ready yet…and help those of us who have returned home relive our own time away.

Here are some that I have been following. Enjoy.

  • Surrounded By The Sound: Amy and Sean are 6 months into a one year RTW trip. They write great, amusing posts accompanied by fabulous photos.

 

  • Thom And Sean’s World Trip: Just 3 months into their two year! RTW journey, these Brits have just completed classic USA road trip portion of their itinerary and have just landed in New Zealand ready for more driving, some camping and, hopefully, extreme sports!

 

  • Living The Dream: Currently in Japan (and making me extremely envious!), Jeremy is in the first month of his one year RTW trip. He is chronicling every detail of his  trip and so is an excellent resource for those of you planning your own trip.

 

  • To Uncertainty And Beyond: Clark and Kim just redesigned their site and I love it! Full of great stories, beautiful photos and Kim’s great City Guides. They are working their way through Europe before heading into the Egypt/Syria/Jordan area.

 

  • Wallagrams: This is a couple to watch as they plan and save and dream about their RTW trip planned to start in 2012. Corey and Lisa know that it takes time to live their dream and they are writing about it as they wait.
28 Jul

Sharing The ‘Danger Of A Single Story’

Today I share a video that I recently came across quite serendipitously. I was perusing a photo-blog site that was recommended to me in the comments of one of my recent posts (thanks Amy…I love her!) and came across a video that, for me, summed up a concept that I have been struggling to articulate.

I struggled as we traveled with the question of whether wanting to see other cultures and learn more about them is a voyeuristic pursuit brought about by my relative wealth and privilege (as a Westerner) or am I trying to fight the ‘single story’ by learning firsthand about a country.

Engaging Quote Before leaving I certainly had a single story of many of the places that we were to visit. I shamefully admit that I was surprised when places did not live up to the monocular view that I had assigned them. Pleasantly surprised…and interested. Interested to learn why I had the vision I did and interested to see how my vision evolved as I spent more time in a place and learned more about its history and culture.

And yet I know that it doesn’t matter how many books I read, how many places I visit, or how long I stay there I still will not ‘know’ it as I will always filter it through my own lens. I cannot know what it’s like to be a Peruvian woman living in the Andes any more than I can know what it’s like to be a Muslim Turkish woman or a Vietnamese woman running the iced coffee stall in the market. I am a Western woman living a typical (and not-so-typical) western life. I will view everything though this lens – it’s impossible not to. I will compare and contrast what I see to what I know about my own life. I can only imagine what a life might be like when I imagine my own life like that and that has to take into account everything that I am made of – my upbringing, my place in society, my socio-economic position, my education, my hardships (or lack thereof), my opinions.

Consequence Quote That’s not to say that we should not travel. On the other hand I argue that we should even more. We should gather those stories and keep adding to our books so that we can learn how similar we are rather than how different. Although I may never truly understand another culture or person, I can certainly go a long way to eradicating my complete ignorance. Learning the other stories people have will take me closer to having a broader lens through which to view the world.

16 May

Who Inspires You?

inspirationI used to think that everyone that came into my life was there to teach me something. I still think that…kind of, but have refined the theory a little.

Now, I think that it’s parts of people that teach, or inspire me.

I believe that there are pieces of people that we emulate. There is no one person that I want to be like, but there are pieces of many people that I want to take in and be part of who I am.

  • Passion. Man, I love passion. Whether I agree with their cause or not, I admire people who believe vehemently. Recently someone told me that they wish they were not so emotionally involved in everything and I replied that I wish that I was. It seems that even in this, the grass is greener on the other side.
  • Confidence. I believe that confidence can take a person a long way. I admire people who are confident in themselves, their abilities and their possibilities. If you don’t think you can do something then why would anyone else think you can?
  • Willingness. A willingness to try new things is another trait that I admire. Sure, I may not like every new food or new experience, but  I want to try new things all the time. People who are not willing to try, or who make up their mind before trying, test my patience. But someone who is up for anything is an inspiration in my book.
  • Peace. I admire people who are at peace. And no, I don’t mean dead. People who are at peace with themselves, who aren’t in turmoil, who are calm and settled with who they are. They have reached a place where they aren’t searching and reaching but just are.

What does this have to do with a travel blog?

Well, specifically, it’s about the people I have know that have traveled, and how they have inspired me to travel. Well, really I don’t know how they have inspired me, I just know that there is something about those people that made me want to be like them.

I think it’s because they have ‘stepped out’ and visited unusual places, made themselves uncomfortable and yet still seem so…like me. They make me believe that I can do it.

Quietly, without knowing it, they have inspired me.

15 Nov

Go Ahead…Call It A Mid Life Crisis!!

Is it time to call a spade a spade? I can do that – I can call this a mid life crisis…but then I’m just not sure what to do with it!

The term ‘crisis’ seems a bit too serious really.  I mean, I’m not unhappy, or depressed, or in need of psychotherapy for crying out loud! And I’m not leaving my partner for a young cabana boy, buying a convertible, and dressing in tight leopard print skirts (although who am I to judge if that’s how you question your reality?).

I am just questioning the droning out of daily life that, I know, we all experience. I guess I have the privilege of having a midlife crisis – many people must feel the same way but do not have the opportunity to ‘step out’ and take a break. That has, in fact, been one of the pieces that I’ve been struggling with…who am I to do this? What makes me different from anyone else? There are millions (billions?) of people out there who are also questioning their reality and they don’t have the options that I do. Maybe it’s my English roots, but I feel like I’m being a bit ‘posh’. Let’s just say that I know how lucky I am. Read More

25 Oct

Books to Inspire, Teach, Enjoy

Since deciding to ‘step out’ and travel around the world, we have read quite a few books. Except for Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding book, none have been about the ‘how to’ of long term travel. Rather, the books we are reading, and have read, offer smatterings of insight into other cultures, languages and lifestyles. Some provide inspiration or context for culture or religions, others provide language training or humour – all have been worth reading. Read More