Tea Talk 8: Jane Streicher | English Teacher (Seoul, Korea)

Jane and I have known each other pretty much our whole lives, and I love that we both have a passion for traveling. Something I’ve written about before is how homeschooling opens up your mind to being able to do things like live in other cultures, or travel the world, because it encourages that sense of constant curiosity. Jane and I both had that as kids, growing up, and I love seeing her adventures as she lives and works in Korea. I’m so honored to have such amazing women surrounding my life, and being able to share their stories with you all! Without further adieu, here’s Jane:

1. What started your passion for traveling?

I grew up going on family road trips every summer including camping for a week a few hours away on the coast or cross country trips to visit relatives in the midwest. Because of these trips, I learned to love going places and experiencing new things from a young age.

2. What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Stay with locals. One of my favorite things to do is to find an Airbnb or hostel run by locals and get their advice on where to go and what to eat. They will usually have secret spots that I could have never found without their insight.

3. What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

One simple thing I do subconsciously now after living in Asia for four years, is taking my shoes off whenever I am inside a home. I remember in high school and college, I would wear boots inside all day long but now I feel so unsettled if I have my shoes on for more than a few minutes.

Another thing I have learned to appreciate is gift giving. It’s a simple way to show someone you care about them or respect them after taking a trip or visiting their home. Obviously this is done in the US too but I never truly saw its purpose until living in Asia.

4. What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Don’t over think things. Be open and flexible to what can happen. Make plans and be smart but also have an open mind so if/when things go wrong you can still have fun and enjoy yourself.

5. What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

Always check times (especially if its military time). When I was leaving Vietnam last winter, I accidentally missed my flight completely by 12 hours because I thought my flight was in the afternoon when it was actually late at night. Luckily I could buy another flight for $100 but I now make sure to triple check all times.

6. What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Being alone. When I first moved to Vietnam in 2013, I preferred doing things with other people and felt a little bit intimidated going places alone. Over the years I was there, I learned to navigate going out alone and now I love going to coffee shops alone to read or work. My introverted side as defiantly become much more dominate as I have traveled and lived abroad.

Accepting help. As an American, I think it’s ingrained in me to want to do things without help from other people. Living in Vietnam and South Korea, there have been countless times when I have had to rely on my friends from those places to help me get simple things done like going to the doctor or fixing a flat tire on my motorbike.

7. What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

Plane. There is always such an excitement I feel when taking a flight. I love the whole process and especially enjoy the meals (?! I know most people think they are gross.)

8. What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Money will come and go. So much of the time when traveling and living abroad, money can be a huge worry. I am still learning how to be smart about it but as an expat I think I have to expect times when money is tighter.

9. What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Japan! I am hoping to take a trip to see the cherry blossoms there next spring.

10. Let’s talk about your current adventure! What was your inspiration?

I was really curious about South Korean culture and learning the language. I had met lots of Koreans in Vietnam and decided it was time for a new challenge. Instead of wondering what life was like there, I wanted to experience it first hand.

11. What has been the best/toughest part?

One of the best parts is my job teaching English to kindergarteners and elementary students. I spend most of my work day with four and five year olds and they are so precious and curious. They make it fun to come to work!

I have also been loving all the food and places to discover here. There are so many tasty things to try and new coffee shops to go to! A tough thing is starting over and everything that comes with it – making new friends, learning a new language and new city.

12. What’s one thing you’ve learned?

Being uncomfortable is okay, especially when going through change.

I came to Seoul after living in Vietnam for three years. I loved my time in Da Nang and by the time I left last winter, I had a comfortable life with so many special friends and connections. I knew the city so well and everything was fairly easy and simple.

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Seoul of all the cities in South Korea was because it scared me a little bit. It sounded so big and intimidating and I loved that idea. I wanted a new challenge of living in a highly developed city and learning a new language but what that meant didn’t fully sink in until I got here.

The last six months have been exciting and fun but also awkward and challenging. I have been able to study Korean with two amazing teachers and have also made friends and have a good job. But there have also been days where things aren’t perfect and feel uncomfortable.

13. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this trip?

I truly love to learn. I have always know this but over the last few years, it’s really hit me that I am a life long learner. In Vietnam, I was a part of a Christmas choir and also took a dance class. I had never done those things well but decided if I was interested I could do it.

14. Anything else you’d like to add?!

The experience of traveling and doing new things is always worth it, even if you have to budget or rearrange things!

Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or post a message on this blog post! Join me again in November for the next feature! 

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10 Awesome Happenings From 2017…So Far

The last 6 months have been a sham. In today’s world it’s pretty easy to write a list of 10 terrible things that happened recently… in fact, you can probably write up 10 terrible things that have happened this week #America. But, in the spirit of being my opposite self (known pessimist) I’m going to encourage us to focus on the positive.

I think it can be really easy to focus on all of the not-so-great things in the world, and while I am not advocating for ignoring those (at all!) I am offering a 5 minute read break of some pretty cool things that have happened, but that can easily be overlooked. But don’t let it stop with me! I want to hear all the beautiful things that have happened in your lives, as well. In the spirit of celebration, share yours in the comments!

1. The apocalypse didn’t happen

Okay, so this one might seem a bit extreme. But, yo. Shit went down in January, and I think we can all agree on that (sorry for the swearing, mom). But can I just say something, really quick? I’m proud of you guys. I’m proud of my allies who post signs in their yards saying that they support people who look different from themselves. I’m proud of the people who don’t stand around ignoring homophobia or xenophobic remarks on public transportation. I’m proud of the women who take their daughters to protests with signs that say, “WE ARE HERE. WE ARE WATCHING. WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!” I’m proud of my science friends who march for knowledge. I’m proud of my friends who sat in airports and said, “No. Fear will not rule how we treat our neighbors.” I’m proud of you guys.

2. I found out what I want to be when I grow up

This is the year when I finally figured it out. I know what I want to be when I grow up! And no, it’s not a brain surgeon—sorry mom. I graduated in 2010 with a Degree in Journalism and literally no idea what I wanted to do with my life, other than have people stop asking me what my five year plan was.

I gave myself five years to do whatever the hell I wanted. I traveled the world, lived in another country and in different states. I worked for a non-profit, I took more internships than I can count. I was a nanny. Giving myself time to grow was one of the best gifts I think I could have ever given myself, and it works! I finally figured something out. Stay tuned for more details!

3. I took a trip to Europe 

Every year, since I started solo backpacking, I’ve tried to take a trip back to to Europe. Why Europe? Because it’s my heart. I don’t know how to describe it, really. But when I’m there (almost regardless of the country) I feel like I’m at home. Since 2013 I’m kept my promise to myself and this year I went to Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and Belgium! I’m so excited because I’m actually going to get to go TWICE this year, which I do not take for granted, at all. What an insane and unimaginable gift. I’m so excited.

4. I went to a clothing exchange 

Hands up if you like clothes! As someone who has more than I probably should, and a Degree in Fashion Design, I’m a 100% clothing and shoe lover. This month I got the opportunity to meet up with some other stylish ladies, and we exchanged clothing and stories and laughs. The best part was that all the extra clothes got given to an awesome non-profit that helps out women coming out of domestic abuse situations!

5. I hosted a craft night…and it was f*cking awesome (sorry, mom)

Me and a friend tried to join a knitting group about a month ago and when we got to the damn coffee shop (sorry, mom) we found out that the group wasn’t meeting anymore. We had been waiting to go for weeks, so we were pretty upset to find out we couldn’t get our knit on.

Solution? Host a craft night at my house so we DEFINITELY have a place to create and geek out. AND IT WAS SO FUN. One of my passions in life is bringing together magnificent, strong, creative women and having them all meet and talk to each other. What an awesome event for us to get to craft and laugh and drink wine and just have a great time!

6. I’ve hung out with eight estranged friends

I’ve talked about this on here, before, but my New Years Resolution was to grab coffee with someone every month, who I hadn’t seen in a long time. So far we’re 5/5 and I already have a couple coffee hang times scheduled for June.

This has honestly been one of the coolest resolutions, because it is TOO easy to lose touch with awesome people who may even live close, but are just eternally busy. And I get it, we’re so busy with life that we don’t have time for relationships with people, anymore. But let’s swim against the tide and battle those loneliness statistics (looking at you, Seattle—we’re #5 on the list).

7. I went to an awesome birthday dinner for my Grandpa

My family is borderline insane. And the great part about saying that is that we all agree, so I don’t have to apologize. That being said, we still get together and we still celebrate the occasional event. This April, we had a glorious celebration for my Grandpa’s birthday, and it was the actually a lot of fun! Maybe we’re growing out of some of our crazy?

8. I had a sleepover with my friends

Yep. Like an old-school sleepover. The brainchild of my brilliant roommate, we built a blanket fort out of our living room, watched Knight’s Tale, and ate pizza. Of course we had all types of girl talk and tons of laughs as well. The best part? It was at my house, so I still got to go to sleep in my own bed. #adulting

9. I didn’t adopt a cat…but I did get a cat sitting job

In March I got out of a pretty long term/serious relationship and as all sane recent breakup-ees do, I immediately went on the hunt for a cat to distract me from all of my woes. Thank the universe that nobody let me get one (because practically speaking I am technically allergic to most of them…broken hearts make you do weird things). The GOOD news is that I got a job cat sitting, which is awesome because I get to play with cats, get paid, and I still can breathe at home! Win-win-win.

10. I took a personal finance class…and it was awesome

Call me crazy, but why is personal finance not a required class in college? I mean, no wonder this country has so many financial problems. Ask any millennial and all we know is that if we don’t pay the student loan gods we get in trouble. What about retirement? What about balancing a budget sheet? WHAT ABOUT TAXES!? Okay, so that last one is probably more important to me because I work at an accounting firm, but come on America, where are we supposed to figure this stuff out!?

Luckily there was a free personal finance class that was offered near me, and it was like four hours of empowerment. I highly recommend looking into your local community centers (or this one was at a church—shoutout to Quest) to see if you can take one. Believe me, it’s worth the time investment.

11. I have an art exhibit going up tomorrow! 

Bonus! I have an art exhibit going up at Irwin’s Bakery tomorrow and I’m so excited! I’ve wanted to have an exhibit for a while, and it’s so awesome that the dream bubbling around in my mind is actually becoming real. If you have a chance to stop by definitely do, if you can’t, you can check out more pics (and a video – woot!) on my Facebook page.

How I Paid Off My Plane Ticket To London…In 1 Week

Oh, travel, how I love thee. But my bank account does not. Sound familiar?

Let’s get real for a second: I do not make a lot of money. That being said, I’m pretty good at managing the money I do make. So much so that people often think I make a lot more than I actually do. How? I hack every single thing. ALL THE HACKS.

It all started back in my mom’s kitchen when my brother was explaining to my child self about “inherent value.” I guess there are advantages to having siblings that are five years older than you, because I actually learned a lot during that conversation. The main lesson was this: value is determined only by what people are willing to pay. Nothing is actually “worth” anything.

When it comes to travel, this is huge because I’ve decided that I just WILL NOT pay $1200 for a plane ticket to Europe. No.

But how do I do it? As a social experiment (because in another life I was an anthropologist), I bought a plane ticket about a week ago…and then decided to see if I could “pay for it” in a week. Here’s how I did it:

1. Price Alerts

I’m signed up for a couple different types of price alerts. I set price alerts on Skyscanner for specific cities I want to go to. This means that when cheap tickets are flying out of that specific city I get an alert! I also subscribe to Scotts Cheap Flights (email newsletter/price alerts) which periodically sends me “cheap ticket” alerts. The thing about these is that they aren’t always for flights going out of Seattle, so you have to sift through them a little, to find your city. But when you do find one? BAM! I just paid $350 for a round trip ticket to London.

2. Work yo’ butt off

We all have jobs. In my case I have about five jobs, but I always encourage people to find alternative incomes that they can tap into, if they need a spare buck. For me, it’s:

  • Selling my art in my Etsy shop
  • Babysitting (shoutout to care.com)
  • Picking up extra shifts at work
  • Freelancing (copywriting via UpWork)

For this past week I really called in the reserves on this one, because I needed to make some quick cash to meet my “deadline.”

3. Prioritize

I once heard a saying that the fastest way to make $5 is to fold it up and put it back in your pocket (or something like that) and I wholeheartedly agree. Making cutbacks is a great way to finance your passions, like travel. For this experiment, I didn’t count the money I saved, but I wanted to point out that being really intentional about purchasing groceries, clothing, coffee etc. really does add up!

The Breakdown:

Here’s how I paid off my $350 plane ticket, in vivid technicolor description: Drumroll, please!

  1. I babysat an awesome Star Wars obsessed 8 year old | $70
  2. I took a couple of freelance copywriting gigs | $157
  3. I took two extra shifts at work | $70
  4. I babysat a couple other cool kids | $90

TOTAL = $387

And with my extra $37 I might even buy a Starbucks travel mug while I’m in London.

Cheerio,

You Never Let Go

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The view from my window

I’ve been waiting four weeks for paperwork from a French government agency so that I can apply for my visa. After sleepless nights, phone calls, faxes and emails, they finally called me this morning. The woman, her thick French accent filling the phone, told me I had no need of the paperwork I had been waiting for (and had been told to apply for). “Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We’ve just been so busy.” Four weeks.
Welcome to the bureaucracy.

I’m finally boarding a plane for my visa appointment with the French embassy in San Francisco. It’s been a long road, filled with stress, stress, stress and more stress. I can honestly say that this “adventure” has been more stressful than four years of college… combined. I don’t even know how people do this and live to tell the tale, but I’m still fighting everyday to make it to the end.

The only question now is, when will it be the end? The hope right now is that the embassy will process my application in record time and then I’ll be able to leave on August 18th. The reality is, though, that they might not get it done in time, and that means I’ll have to buy another plane ticket. Something which I have NO budget for. Let the prayers commence.

Miracles don’t generally seem to happen, but when I was sitting in my room yesterday, looking at my stack of paperwork, I realized something – this ALREADY IS A MIRACLE.

If you had told me a year ago I would be applying to move to France, would be accepted into a French university and would be quitting my job, I never would have believed it. Last year, at this time, I was trying not to think about suicide, unhealthy relationships and starving myself. I was on multiple meds, had no plans or direction for my life and was spinning out of control. I remember sitting on my bed, curled up in a ball and thinking that I just wanted to die. Then I thought about that thought for a minute – no I didn’t! And that’s when a little voice said, “You’re going to have to choose. You can’t keep floating between life and death.”
I chose to live.

It’s been a pretty bumpy road getting here, but I think that’s what’s making me realize just how much I want this. Last night I really felt like God was pointing me in the direction of 2 Peter 3:9 where it says, ” The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you.” We’re all given passions and dreams for a reason. On each of our hearts God writes a script that is unique to who we are, and who we’re called to become. Maybe these things seem arbitrary and random, but those are what guide us to find our destiny/calling/purpose. The funny thing is how often it’s US who are causing the roadblocks to getting there.

I think one of the most dangerous things we can do is to ignore what we’re passionate about. But, the reality is, sometimes we just forget. We get so caught up in the societal expectations to ___________ (fill in the blank) that we lose sight of our own path. And, for a really long time, that was me. Afraid to live my life, and trying desperately to follow someone else’s dream to get married, work in an office, get pregnant, volunteer in the kids room at church and only shop at Nordstrom and Anthropologie. Note: There is nothing wrong with these dreams. But they are not mine (although, some might be in the future). Coming to terms with this realization was half the battle. But you know what they say: Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery. It wasn’t until I was in a place of complete (and essential) surrender, that God reminded me of the dreams HE had planted deep in my heart.

When I was going through some old boxes at my parents’ house a couple of weeks ago, I realized that throughout my life I’ve always wanted to move to France. I have coloring pages from when I’m 9 of the Eiffel tower and every school related binder I ever had has some kind of France theme to it. It was a dream of my heart – my heart’s desire. But, in the chaos of life, I had forgotten, and I almost gave up.

I’m so thankful that life is full of second chances. And that right now I am on a plane to go apply for a visa to FRANCE. That, in itself, is a miracle. And I think it’s important that I declare that. Everything might not be working out according to the plan in my mind, but it is going to work out, because this wasn’t my plan to begin with.

This dream comes from somewhere so much deeper than my mind or my heart. In truth, I think it comes down to following a path that’s been waiting for me for quite a while, now. To find it, I simply had to stop looking so hard for a path that was someone else’s “right one.”

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Keep Moving Forward

Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland

Yesterday I stood in a Safeway aisle, staring at toilet paper.

Normally I always buy the same brand, same size, same everything (I’m a creature of habit), but for the first time in years I had to stop and think. You see, I’m moving out of the country in 2 months – I don’t need 24 rolls of toilet paper. And, as I continued to shop through the store, this realization kept hitting me. I don’t need a huge container of laundry soap. I don’t need spices in bulk. I don’t need twelve rolls of paper towels…no, wait – I do need those (#artistproblems). It’s odd, but grocery shopping yesterday was the most slap-in-the-face realization I’ve had so far.

Although I’m getting closer and closer to my leave date, there hasn’t been a whole lot that’s finalized so far. I’m still mid process in getting my Visa, moving and packing up everything. But, even thought things aren’t 100%, I’m at the point where I have to pretend they are. I can’t buy bulk at the grocery store anymore. I can’t buy new clothes, unless I’m going to DIE without them. I have to get rid of stuff every moment I can. I have a giant “Get Rid Of” pile in my living room because there’s no way I can take everything I own with me…or even half of what I own with me.

The hardest thing right now is acting the part, even though I don’t know for certain that I have the role. See, I’m the type of person who likes certainty. I like order, I like knowing things are going to work out, and at exactly what date, time and location they will happen. But, unfortunately, that’s not the way life works – as much as I want to be in control of this situation, it’s just not going to happen. There’s no net, here. There isn’t a back up plan for if things fall through. And, honestly, that’s terrifying. I am a type A personality. I NEED everything on charts and graphs. I NEED to know everything’s going to work out. But I don’t.

They say that big risks reap big rewards, but risks can also produce epic sized failures. Realizing this is part of adulthood. As we get older we realize that grass isn’t going to be purple, no matter how many times we color it that way; just because we can imagine something, doesn’t always mean it’s going to happen.

BUT, the other half of adulthood is realizing that sometimes you have to stick your middle finger to that side of your brain (yes, I just told you to flip yourself off) and fight for that kid-like disregard for the factual and definite. Because, living despite the potential for failure is essential for succeeding, growing and moving forward in life.

And while risking big is something scary, uncertain, and periodically gives me nervous breakdowns, looking back over my life I’ve realized that I cannot remember a time when I’ve risked big and not been blown away by God’s faithfulness.

The last time I moved, even though it was only a couple of states away, I had no idea what was in store for me. I moved to accept a job in southern California with a non-profit called Krochet Kids International, and it ended up being one of the most impactful experiences of my life.

But, that being said, it also was nothing like I imagined. While living in California, I was so broke I remember looking in my bank account and laughing when I saw I had $7.11; the irony of having barely enough money to go into a 7-11 store, let alone buy anything substantial like groceries.

When I was in California I lived in a three bedroom, two bathroom and one main room apartment with eight other roommates – guys and girls. If you’ve ever had roommates, you can imagine how much drama took place amongst that many people in that small of a space. I honestly think if we had lived together for another month someone might have ended up dead seriously injured. But we figured it out. We survived that ant infested apartment… and I figured out someway to buy groceries.

I cried a lot when I lived in California. But I also grew a lot. No, I didn’t have the experience I expected from being a “good Christian” and volunteering. I didn’t frolic on beaches, greeted by dolphins amongst the Pacific Ocean waves (there were sharks, however). I didn’t sit under palm trees and tan – I started to hate palm trees about a week after being there (all I could think about were Washington evergreens).

Things were just about as off kilter as could be, and I really loathed to all eternity  didn’t like living in California. But that experience was essential for making me into the person I am now. Living in California changed me, because I stepped into the complete unknown and failed miserably.

Right now there are a lot of uncertainties in my life, and it’s really hard to try piecing everything together when I only have a sketch of what the final painting is supposed to be. But what I do know, what I draw from daily, is that I’ve never been failed in the past. God has never failed to see me through. He’s never left the role of comforter, guide and Father. And even though I can only see the next step of my journey, he sees the entire playing field. And I have to trust that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go color in some purple grass.

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France Checklist

My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.
My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I’ve posted on here! Life has been crazy hectic, per usual. But I think the real culprit is me having my head up in the clouds too much. So, since my mind has decided to ground itself for this slice of the evening, I’ve decided to catch you all up on what’s happened this week.

Medical Certificate

This week I went and had my “I’m not dying or trying to carry the plague to your country” checkup, which is required before you can apply for your French Visa. I’m happy to say the diagnosis was that I’m normal – physically, anyway.

Awaiting DIRECCTE Approval:

All of my paperwork is officially in! Now, all I have is to do is wait for the DIRECCTE (the local government in the French city I’ll be living in) to approve it and I’ll be ready to apply for my Visa. I’m so excited, and I can’t believe how much work it’s been to get to this point. Here’s to working your butt off just to be able to APPLY to live in France.

SIFF: French movies

Chinese puzzle

The Seattle International Film Festival is happening right now – my favorite time of the year! I saw this film last weekend with two of my friends and we absolutely loved it! It was witty, well written and the actors were phenomenal. There was one part of the movie when everyone in the theater was laughing so hard you couldn’t even hear anything on the screen. Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year – a must see.

Mood Indigo

This film I’m going to go see next week and I can’t wait. Not only are Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris some of my favorites, I love the overall whimsy of this storytelling style. I can’t wait!

Official Acceptance Letter

Last week I got accepted into The University of Orleans and this week I got my official acceptance letter, which was so exciting! I can’t believe I’m going back to college. I know it’s going to be a challenge but (if I’m totally honest) I’m so excited to be a student, again!

Anthony Bourdoin: Parts Unknown

BourdainCNN

This series has been my absolute favorite this past week. It’s produced by CNN and is as much a series about culture and global perspective as it is about food. I’ve loved watching it and getting whisked away to different parts of the globe. My favorite episode is about Quebec, mainly because that’s where my French obsession began when I was there for my 9th birthday. Two seasons are on Netflix now, so if you have access I would highly recommend watching a couple of episodes. My only warning is: Have a healthy snack nearby, because you’re going to want to eat your entire kitchen after each episode.

Belle et Le Bete

I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THIS MOVIE. And, weirdly enough, it has nothing really to do with the movie itself. I’m just so excited to see the cinematography, costumes and sets that I’m about ready to cry. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I AM really excited.

Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The Secret Life

Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

You can always tell if a person has traveled. Call it the Indiana Jones effect, but there is something different about the way travelers carry themselves: how they dress, how they walk and the way they interact with the world around them. Even if they never mentioned the places they’ve been to, you could still probably pick them out in a crowd.

Why is this? What happens when we travel from one place to another? Do we become different people, or merely more complete version of ourselves?

When I was backpacking around the UK, I remember walking past a mirror one morning, about a week into my trip, and thinking, “Who is that?” The person I saw was standing straighter and taller than I normally did. She wasn’t wearing any kind of makeup or jewelry, but she was glowing.

At that point in my trip, I thought I would have felt haggard from the varying effects of jet-lag, daily strapping a pack to my back and hopping around from place to place. But I was the complete opposite – I felt alive. I felt transcendental. I felt vivid, like a coloring page that had finally been colored in.

This morning I watched “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” for the first time and thought about what happens to us when we go beyond our borders (physical or mental) to travel the world.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. One of my favorite scenes is when the main character, Walter, is stopped by flight security and then “bailed” out by his eHarmony friend, Todd. At the beginning of the movie Walter has trouble writing anything for his online dating profile because he’s never “done anything.” But after getting back from traveling, something is different. When Todd sees him he says, “I pictured you as this little gray piece of paper, but now I see you and it’s like Indiana Jones decided to become the lead singer of The Strokes or something.” *

There is a physical difference in Walter, and Todd sees it. He’s not wearing a sign that says “TRAVELER”, just the essence of someone who has explored. Throughout the movie we see someone go from a man who daydreams about escaping his life, to someone present; someone who gains understanding, confidence and perspective.

There a few things I took away from watching this movie.

1. I truly believe we’ve all been Walter Mitty – whether it’s in our past, or in our present.

2. Just because that’s true, doesn’t mean we can’t change it.

3. “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

4. The time is now. You didn’t miss it, and you shouldn’t be waiting for it.

5. How is Sean Penn still attractive at 53?

Watching this movie, there were so many points when I related. Years ago, I used to be Walter Mitty. I used to be scared of living life, or of taking any risks. I used to zone out a lot, daydreaming of adventures my life could have been, about traveling and finding ways to explore the world.

But something happened when I hit rock bottom – I started remembering how to climb. I stopped listening to people who told me I couldn’t do things. I started writing down dreams and then actually doing them. I started to risk. And I’ve never turned back.

Something happens when you travel. I don’t know that there’s a word for it, but the world leaves its mark on you. You’ll never be the same after you experience other people, cultures and environments. And you’ll never want to be.

While living under the illusion of safety can feel like we’re in control, the reality is that life is meant to be an adventure. For everyone that doesn’t mean the same thing, obviously, but if dreams of traveling are embedded in your heart, run after them.

Let’s live with eyes open a little wider, and purposes that reach a little higher. Adventures don’t always find us. Sometimes we have to go out and find them.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty