“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ―
When I came across this quote, the first thing I pictured was sitting by the canal in Copenhagen, enjoying the warm fall sunshine on my shoulders, eating an amazing smorgasbord of herring, salmon, pickled veggies, and hearty bread. I was almost there again, drinking an incredible crisp white wine and laughing with a good friend while enjoying the low hum of the voices of other diners around us. I loved Copenhagen and I saw Hans Christian Anderson’s birthplace and the Little Mermaid statue on the Langelinie Promenade while I was there. I’ve always loved the dark interesting stories he wrote and his personal history when I’ve run across it is especially interesting, so being there and seeing those landmarks was a highlight of my trip. But believe it or not, this post is not about Copenhagen, but it is about the life that allowed me to travel to Copenhagen, on a whim, with a girlfriend from the USA.
For the last six years, I had the incredible opportunity to travel all over the world. In those six years, I lived in or visited around 55 countries. It was an amazing experience, one that changed me forever. There were about three years in the middle there where I never saw a cold day, I called it “Chasing Summer.” I was either in southern hemisphere places or literally in summer in the northern. My skin became golden, (for me I am so white you might not have noticed, but my tan lines told the true story!) my hair blonder than ever, my body strong from walking and exploring my new locations. I swam in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian oceans. I woke up early for sunrises (occasionally) and watched in awe as the sunset over mountain ranges I had previously only heard about in books and on TV.
Sunrise over Table Mountain, overlooking the harbor in Cape Town Africa with some of my new spiritual vegan friends is a memory I will never forget! Or climbing Dune 45 in Namibia at sunrise, stressing that my arthritic knees wouldn’t take me all the way to the top (they didn’t, but I was proud of myself anyway!) but standing there in awe as the dawn sunlight bathed the sand and turned everything around me a golden orange. Those were tear-inducing moments of awe and incredible joy.
The Greatest Love of All (A Story about how connecting with friends in Cape Town impacted my life in an amazing way!)
The nights also brought amazing adventures! New Year’s even in Berlin with a few girlfriends, dancing wildly to 80’s pop, wandering from room to room, discovering new sounds and new people. At mid-night going outside and enjoying the amazing fireworks that are not only officially going off, but everyone on every street is also shooting off. Dangerous but an incredible thing to be part of! Sleeping on top of a Safari truck in the desert of Namibia, with five new friends, staring up at the full moon, counting shooting stars and feeling the moment so intensely everyone locked hands and just laid there silently grateful for the experience.
I started this adventure when I left my ex-husband and I have never regretted either decision. When I bought a car and drove away from him, across the country to join my BFF “for a month” I already knew I wasn’t going back and I knew I would be going to Costa Rica. Something in my heart called me there. My first visit there so many years before had implanted a little part of that place in my heart and I knew in my gut, the way to healing through my divorce was the sunshine, ocean, and freedom to become me again I would find there. Turns out I was right!
What I did not expect to find there were the lifelong friends I made. My tribe grew with the addition of some amazing people who support me even today, 6 years later! One of the ladies became a sort of “extra mom” and just the other night spend almost 2 hours with me looking at furniture and rugs and different decorating ideas for my new apartment. I love the Internet and how it helps me to maintain so many incredible relationships.
The other thing Costa Rica gave me was the freedom I took advantage of for the next five years. I met a few digital nomads. Digital nomads are people who work “from home” and take advantage of that privilege to make their home all over the world, usually staying a few weeks to a few months in different places. They showed me a completely new way of life, something I had never known was possible, but as soon as I hear about their way of life, the idea spoke to me. My gut again told me, this is what you need in your life. I figured it out and off I went!
The freedom of being mostly on my own, of making decisions I wanted to make because I wanted to make them, was wonderful. I once moved from Thailand to Malaysia because I met a guy on a Tinder date when I was in Kuala Lumpur for a 3-day weekend! That didn’t work out and I was totally heartbroken but he is someone I stay connected to even now. I laid in bed one night in Bali, after swimming in the ocean all day and having an amazing massage and facial, deciding by gut instinct to go on a trip to Africa- six countries in seven weeks- in a safari truck with eight strangers.
Travel, Privilege, and Solo-Poly (A little about how I incorporate my poly-traveling life and belief system.)
A Little Flower
I would call the day to day joy of being my own person, coming into who that person is, and making choices that completely suit me and how I want to live, the “little flowers” of my life. I especially take joy in the little things. Things I never really took the time to do before I started traveling but I don’t think I will forget to look for ways to incorporate into my life now. Not to mention that as often as I can, I actually go to the local flower markets (if there is one) and buy flowers for my home. I love a fresh bouquet of flowers and how they brighten up a room. I love even more when I got them at a local market, talked to the little old man selling them, and paid 5$ for a bouquet that in the US would be at least $10-$15. Cuenca, Ecuador and Chiang Mai, Thailand were places I was able to get a brand new bouquet weekly and really enjoy the small pleasures of life.
Cuenca was also great for going to the local market. I could peruse fresh fruits and veggies and buy from the indigenous women selling them. Then run upstairs and get the most amazing pork from a whole roasted pig, with giant corn, and the most amazing homemade aji sauce (sort of a hot, garlicky mess of deliciousness they gave you in a common use bowl and spoon (obviously pre-COVID!) In Berlin, I loved going to the Späti (a 24-hour snack and drink shop) to grab something and even though the owner only spoke German and Turkish and I speak English we enjoyed our interactions so much that when my little brother came to visit, we stopped there and I introduced them! Eymen gave us a free beer to celebrate! When I lived in Costa Rica there are so many ex-pats I mostly spoke English, but I always wanted to keep my Spanish up. (I am fluent.) So one of the best ways to do that was to make friends with the bartenders and waitresses I met every day. It was lovely to walk into a restaurant and by the time I got to the bar, my drink was on the counter in front of me! Then the next day the bartender and his pregnant wife would come over and sit on the porch and chat for a while.
Back Again, in Medellin (All about why I love Medellin, Colombia so much and I am always happy to be back there.)
I will always be incredibly grateful for the life I was able to live and how my life has completely changed because I took the chance to make my life the way I wanted. To not just live, t=but to have more in my life. More sunshine, freedom and flowers are only the beginning of the gifts this life has given me. In so many ways I am completely devestated that this part of my life is over, but at the same time I am determined to take the lessons I have learned and apply them to the foundation of the new life in front of me!
*** All photos by Author on my travels!