Day 31: Why I blog

It’s hard to believe I made it–but I did!

Full disclosure: It took me MORE than 31 days to complete this challenge. The truth is, I got veeeery side tracked and didn’t write for months. Shameful, I know.

But, I’ve made it to 31 days and here are a few things I’ve learned in the process:

  • Blogging is hard! It’s so much more than typing out the thoughts that come into your head. Having the prompts definitely helped but even then there were certain pieces I was hesitant or just flat out afraid to write!
  • Procrastination is not bad. Because I had no real deadlines, it was okay to leave some posts in the “Draft Box” until I was ready to finish and/or publish them.
  • I matter. At least to a few good friends and family members. I’m not going to lie, it did feel good to get some positive feedback from people who actually read what I wrote.
  • I don’t matter. At the same time it was nice not to have so much exposure because I do still have a lot of insecurities about my writing and my voice.
  • I’m not going to be a professional blogger. At this point there are so many players in the game and let’s face it, it’s just too damned time consuming! I’ll definitely continue blogging for my own personal benefit, but as for monetizing it? Forget it.
  • I’m grateful. For completing the challenge, and I know my future self will thank me for doing this.

So what’s next?????

While I can’t promise to write every single day, it is my goal to write as much as possible. Also, I have an even bigger, life changing challenge coming up which I’ll share very very SOON!

Happy first day of October, my favoritest month of the year!

31 Day Blog Challenge

 

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Day 30: What’s in my makeup bag? or I didn’t like this prompt so I’m actually going to write about something important to me

Besides, I’ve already written a post on Whats in my handbag and as interesting as that was, it’s not an exercise I care to repeat. Instead I want to write about something important to me: yoga.

Long before the hype around cultural appropriation was a thing, I felt a sense of ickyness about practicing an ancient sacred tradition that wasn’t my own. At least in the way it was taught to me by white teachers in commercialized Western studios. There was something inauthentic and fake in all of it.

So I did my own research and began to realize how much cultural appropriation real yoga has undergone.  Western yoga, the fad, leaves out the integrated parts that are the essence of yoga. The yoga that is taught in hundreds if not thousands of studios across the Western world often lack the depth and profundity rooted in the authentic practice. That was the yoga I was doing and I felt ashamed.

As a minority who was raised on a U.S.-colonized island, I felt very uncomfortable participating in the colonizer’s bastardization of a very sacred and spiritual tradition. So for many years I stopped going to yoga studios and instead threw my money down the gym membership drain. Yeah, I know. I traded one ideal for an even shallower one.

Yoga, however, kept reappearing in my life. Aside from its commercialized presence, I encountered numerous people whose practice went beyond the physical and seemed more deeply grounded in the spiritual tradition of yoga. I became curious and asked them many questions and also did a lot of research on the history and evolution of yoga.

What I found was both beautiful and disturbing.  As a healing and unifying physical and spiritual practice dating back thousands of years in Southeast Asia and even East Africa, it’s a tradition that uplifts and promotes overall well being–individually and collectively. However, within many of Southeast Asia’s caste system, certain groups of people were excluded, even forbidden, from practicing yoga. Then came Western colonization and many aspects were altered or suppressed in order to conform with the colonizer’s dominant culture and religion. This, as we know, is the fate of nearly all Indigenous cultures under Western colonization.

Now that I had the information, I felt even more conflicted. In and of itself, the practice certainly has its benefits. But true, authentic yoga, as practiced by it’s originating people is rigorous and strict.  I understand that people have felt the need to adapt it to modern life and I don’t condemn my friends who have gotten certified to teach yoga. I just feel that 200 hours of “training” doesn’t do justice to an over 2000 year old tradition, and personally feel a sense of disrespect when practicing a watered down version of something so sacred.

I don’t mean to sounds like I’m on a high horse. This is my opinion as of writing this. I may find information or inspiration somewhere along the way to change my mind. But until then I’m going to abstain from yoga classes and put the idea of getting certified on the back burner.

Day 28: What I look forward to

Soooooo many things but the most immediate has to be next year. Yes, 2018 is going to be a whirlwind of travels: Colombia, Brazil, Peru and maybe Bolivia and Ecuador if I can squeeze them in. I’ve enjoyed my time in Costa Rica and have learned oh so many lessons about life, myself, and being adrift. Now it’s time to drift farther and experience other adventures.

Here’s the general plan:

A month in Colombia. Three weeks in Cartagena, one in Medellin. I’ll be doing homestays to cut costs and more importantly, to fully immerse myself in the culture and among the people.

Six weeks (or more?) in Brazil. My coworkers (one of them Brazilian herself) and friends are going to be in Brazil and I’ll meet up with them for Carnaval. That’s right: CARNAVAL!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Then I’m going to do a work exchange in a town just outside of Sao Paolo where I’ll be teaching English to kids in exchange for room and board at a school in a quiet beach side village.

Six months (or more?) in Arequipa, Peru. I’m hoping to find an English teaching job and have sent out some feelers. If I don’t land something before getting there, I can teach online to support me for a few months.

I have to admit it’s a little scary thinking about how I’m going to pull this all off. I have some savings but it’s really not a big cushion. But I can’t let that paralyze me. With the way things are going in the world, now is the time to make leaps. The cliche is real: Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We only have now.

Day 27: My fave recipe

I’ve been living a “semi-paleo” lifestyle for almost six years now and my favorite recipes are all paleo friendly. But before I go on, I should explain what I mean by semi-paleo. It means I try to adhere to the 80/20 rule, which means I follow the paleo diet pretty strictly on weekdays and on weekends eat whatever I want.   Emphasis on try because these days, really I eat whatever’s available and when I can afford to and have the time to dedicate to it, I eat paleo.

Having said that, I do paleo-ize my favorite foods, which if you know me by now involve a lot of chocolate and desserts! Paleo brownies are a guilt free pleasure I absolutely love. Almond flour and coconut flour are very hard to come by (and very expensive) in Costa Rica so I only make them on spacial occasions*.

*Special occasions include rainy days, stressful days, happy days, feel good days… I guess I make them all the time! 

paleo brownies

paleo brownies instructions

And voila! 

paleo brownies

So good and good for you!

Big thanks to Oh Snap! Let’s Eat for this recipe!

Day 26: An Old Photo of Me

 

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How’s this for a really old photo of me? I’m the one on the left with the huge grin on my face and those are my sisters next to me. I must’ve been nine or ten. If you look closely there’s a band-aid on my left foot. I’m sure it was from climbing a tree or falling off a bike or some other craziness I used to get into.  And the smile? Well, it was certainly a more carefree, innocent time, wasn’t it? Childhood. *sigh*

Day 25: Minimum of 5 Fave Blogs

Five more days to go and this is probably my favorite post so far! There are tons of incredible bloggers out there and these are just five of my faves. You’ll notice that they’re all women and represent very different backgrounds and demographics. I follow a lot of male bloggers too but these women happen to be on the top of my list.

PS I’m on My Way  A little over two years ago I was doing some heavy research on solo female travel in Latin America when I came across Trisha’s blog.  I not only found a plethora of information but a sense of connection to the author herself and her adventures.  We share common roots in our birth place, the struggles of holding a limiting passport, and the obsession for travel. Although we grew up in very different backgrounds, I definitely feel that if I could relive my 20s I’d be taking a lot of cues from her brave, unapologetic travels.

Tiny Wanderer As a tiny woman myself, I was thrilled to find Ying’s blog a few months ago and have enjoyed her travel stories since then. I love it when women (or anyone for that matter) break through stereotypes and follow their hearts desires no matter what others (even your own family members) say.

Bani Amor What a kickass inspirational person! Bani uses they/them pronouns and is a queer travel writer who touches on non mainstream topics and “decolonizing travel”.  I had never heard of the latter term until I started reading their blog and have been seriously provoked to rethink my values as a traveler.  I don’t hold a US passport and I’m not white but (thanks to the colonization of our islands) I speak with an American accent and have very Western proclivities. Do I contribute to the colonization of travel? This is but one of many thought-provoking questions that following Bani’s work incites. It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear a voice different from and outside of the mainstream.

Brown Girls Fly I love the “melanin-infused” travel perspective these two sisters share through their website. A cursory search for the best travel bloggers will, more often than not, yield a very racially homogenous  group (i.e. white). This is an empirical fact; it’s not meant as a racist statement. In general, I follow blogs based on content that’s inspiring, useful, and resonates with me on some level. I am brown. I don’t hold a first world passport. I am often the “random check” at airports. And I don’t let any of that hold me back from traveling or living my life. It is heartening to read about other people of color with similar experiences and who are challenging preconceived notions about travel.

Nomadic Chick  I’m not quite forty yet but Jeannie’s blog doesn’t just ease my fears of entering another decade but also makes me look forward to it. She’s been following her own rules and dispelling myths about solo female travel for years–especially about older solo female travel. For some reason western society has a very negative view on getting older and older women particularly aren’t celebrated or recognized in the travel genre. As this badass nomadic chick says: “Nobody should ever feel wrong to be their natural selves. No matter what your age.”