Memories from a new life chapter

Any of you use Facebook?  Yeah, me too.  Who doesn’t?

You know those “Facebook Memories” that pop up daily and remind you just how far up or down you’ve gone from wherever you were a year, two, or three ago?  Yeah, me too.   

Being that I already look backwards or forwards too often, these memory “reminders” on Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship.  Any memories before two years ago, tend to stir up a bit of sadness for me and remind me of events I’d rather not remember.  Not always, but often…  

Three years ago I was in a major car accident that left me with a concussion and permanent neck injury.  Four years ago, I lost friends I’d known my whole life.  Five years ago, I went through the worst breakup of my life.  Six years ago, a different bad break up and a major relocation.  You get the point…no one wants to be reminded of the tough stuff.  Even so, I keep the silly notifications coming despite knowing, yes, you can turn them off.  

For better or worse, these memories are mine, and they made me who I am today and brought me to to where I stand.  So I keep the stupid notifications and reminisce when necessary.    

Today was different. 

Today, I had a moment of clarity when my daily “memory notification” went off this morning.  

The memory that popped up today was of a new era- if you will- beyond the years that kinda sucked in my personal life.  It was from my travel era…my freedom era, which began after I left home August 2015.  I guess I’ve been gone so long now that this life chapter is big enough in time and space to look back fondly.  How great is that?  

Today, my “Facebook memory” notification was from exactly one year ago in this very same spot I stand now.  Unplanned, I happen to be back in the exact same place I was in that picture that popped up…Koh Tao, Thailand.  

Yes, I am back in my happy place.  

Thailand, even more specifically this island- Koh Tao, is so special to me.  I cherish it for countless reasons, particularly because it’s where I first found my balance amidst a crazy whirlwind around-the-world adventure.  

The first time I came to this island (I’ve been here four times now), I was 3.5 months in to my travels with shaky legs and a bad back.  I was still reeling from the effects of leaving home, trying to find my confidence and my place amongst “the backpacking community.”  I never, did find my place in that “community” (because everyone is always moving around!) but I did find my confidence.  I found my chi…my inner peace…my balance.  

  

I had been well on my way to inner peace by the time I first arrived on Koh Tao, but it all came to me at once the first time I watched the sunset outside my bungalow.  “This is my life now…and I am SO lucky to be living this way,” I said to myself as gratitude deeply set in.

It may sound ridiculous, but prior to first coming to this island, I was so caught up in getting from one place to the next that I forgot to stand still and really appreciate the present moment.  Koh Tao helped me stand still and reflect on my major life choices and all of the experiences I had had those first few months of my travels.  I found peace with my decision to leave home to travel and appreciation in all the little struggles along the way.  Missed flights, mixed up train journeys, wrong buses and culture shock all made me laugh when I stopped and thought about it.  (Let me tell you, though, on those days when difficulties did happen on the road I panicked big time!  Thanks Mom for always talking me off the ledge!)  

After three and a half months in Europe and ten countries, I was tired.  So when I first found my little shack on the beach in Koh Tao, I settled in.  I roomed by myself for the first time in months.  It was BEYOND exciting to have a bit of privacy again.  

I planted myself in my hammock and rested (something you often forget to do as a traveler).  I reflected.  I meditated.  I read.  I wrote.  Peace became me and gratitude took over.  

They say gratitude is the door to inner peace, and for once “they” are right…it is.

After a couple weeks in my “special place,” I carried on with my journey around the world, which eventually lead me to Cape Town where I now live with my wonderful South African boyfriend.  

Since my visa expired a couple weeks ago, I am back here visiting for two weeks then I will return to Cape Town.  Being back here, I have immediately found the same peaceful place I found the very first time.  THIS is my happy place and my sanctuary…unlike any other place in the world.  Twenty-two counties in and I still keep coming back here.  

One year ago today, I was here with two of my closest girlfriends from back home, showing them around the island.  It was so incredible to share this special place with my special people.  We had the time of our lives, and now I get to look back fondly (something I don’t always get to do) while standing here again.  I am filled with joy.

I will let this experience give me life for the days, months and years ahead.  No matter where I am in the world, I will work on channeling the same inner peace this place brings out of me.  I will always find peaceful serenity in the memories I’ve made here, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I am grateful, all over again, for making the “crazy” decision to quit my awesome job, sell everything and travel with my backpack.  I am reassured, for the hundredth time, that I made the right decision by leaving home (even though I often feel homesick), and comforted knowing this place will always be here waiting.  

I’ve realized all over again how lucky I am to not only be traveling, but to have found this sweet spot in a world full of chaos.  

May we all find our sweet spot, wherever it may be, and return again and again. 

Oh, and those Facebook Memory notifications? I don’t hate them so much anymore.  

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