Traveling Across The World to Reconnect With My Former Self

Traveling to South Africa. Woman looking over Table Top Mountain

I spent my formative years traveling quite a bit. Driving across the country a handful of times, backpacking across foreign lands, even just moving to new cities. There is a part of my soul that is a traveler; it has been that way since I was young. I was born with a wanderlust trait, inherited from many family members that came before me.

Two Babies Equals Less Me-Time

Once I was pregnant and had twins, traveling the way I once had, ceased to continue. Flying with two infants is not exactly easy and with limited time off work, my air miles were filled flying to visit family members. So, buried deep under the many layers of being a new mom, my need to explore new places lay dormant.

The few trips away had always been for work, until this year when my best friend’s sister was getting married…in South Africa. To say I was torn was an understatement. To miss my dear friend’s wedding saddened me, on top of the fact that going to Africa has always been at the top of my travel bucket list.

It Takes A Village

My former self, the girl that spent three days on foot with the Hill tribes of Thailand, was in a proper battle with my current, mom-self. My parents generously offered to come out and stay with the boys and their dad would still be there, as he couldn’t take off work to come with me. I knew they would be fine, probably have the time of their lives being spoiled for a week by their grandparents.

But there were two things that prevented me from being able to let go. The first was letting go of control. I made almost every decision regarding the boys and to not be able to do such left me quite stressed. The second was being judged for being a crap mother for leaving her two toddlers to go across the world. This was not a trip to the Bahamas. It’s a full day’s travel to get to South Africa. Not easy to get back if there was an emergency.

Gratefully my husband and a couple dear friends, also moms, made me feel better about going on this trip. They spoke of using this time to get centered and also to show the boys that exploring new places is good for the soul.

Traveling to South Africa. Market in Capetown

Traveling is Therapy

In so many ways, traveling forces you to step outside of the small box in which you live. We can get caught up in the “must haves” of American life, and being in a new country will always re-ground you and help you re-establish the sense of gratefulness of the life you have back home. I want my boys to experience the education, excitement, adventure that travel brings and I am their example for doing so.

So I did it and spent a week in magic. It wasn’t easy being away, but I allowed myself to enjoy an incredible country, filled with incredible people. I reconnected with friends and made new ones. I also re-discovered that part of myself that is always looking at a map, wondering where to go next. It felt amazing.

Traveling to South AFrica. woman on safari at Aquila Reserve

 

 

 

Thank you Carrie Fisher

 

Carrie Fisher as Princess LeiaWe have lost so many people this year, many who played an intricate role in my life. David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and now Carrie Fisher. After the news of each artist’s passing I found myself wishing over and over it wasn’t true. And then I wondered why was I so affected by the death of a person I didn’t know? Other than the obvious sadness of a life lost, there was something deeper. 

Each death brought forth a flood of memories of my own life. Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher influenced so much of who I became and am still becoming through their talent, words, self-expression and self-ownership. But for me, Carrie Fisher was the first most influential “figure” to enter my life, without me even knowing it. 

She was my first superhero when there were no female super hero’s. Her character Leia was a woman in a position of power, when as young girls, we had no real examples of strong, secure women. I don’t remember any other female action figure we had to play with other than Princess Leia. The character of Leia was self-assured, capable and held her own in a universe of men. There was little the men in Star Wars could do that she couldn’t do just as well.

little girl dressed as Carrie Fisher

She also wore clothes appropriate for action. She wasn’t dressed in a bathing suit or skin-tight battle garb, like so many of our female heroes are subjected to wear. That makes a difference to young girls, not in the sexual exploitation way, but in a way that made her equal to her male counterparts. We all wanted to be Leia, not because she was beautiful, but because she stood side by side, fighting with the men, calmly taking her shot, running through a forest, and then ultimately leading them as their General.

My admiration for Carrie Fisher grew as I did. She was so smart and fucking quick. I could watch an interview with her forever because she didn’t miss a beat. She was so authentic. That is rare in this town, actually in life. She didn’t hide who she was and was unapologetic. Another trait I think girls and women need to own more.

She was in life, who Princess Leia was on-screen. Young girls need more role models like General Leia Organa and women, like myself, need icons like Carrie Fisher. 

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” ― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking, 2008

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