Friday, December 14, 2012

Time to get real with you.

Moroccan Sunset taken by moi 12.13.12
The Dizz and I were lying in bed the other night, trying to force ourselves to get to sleep at a reasonable hour so we could wake up early for our trip to Morocco.
But, of course, like all the other times you try to will yourself to sleep, the opposite ends up happening.

So as we were lying there, wide-awake, we got to talking.
We talked about how we were feeling after almost a month in on this world traveling of ours.
It’s been great, absolutely.
We’ve seen things we never imagined doing together.
And we’re about to embark on 20 amazing days in Italy. Then 30 more in Thailand.
How wonderful it really is, I know this.

I sold everything to do this. And what I couldn’t sell, I gave away.
My BMW. My Louis Vuitton. My Marc Jacobs. My Ethan Allan furniture. My flat-screen TV.
All of it, gone. Cleansed myself of the material things.
And him, the same.

It was a no-brainer at the time.
Because you see, when we were deciding to take this step in our lives, we had high hopes that this would be a “life-changing” experience and that we’d have one of those “Eat Pray Love” experiences and come back different people, for the better, of course.

So when we were lying in bed, going over our first month of travel, I just wasn’t having any of those “a-ha” moments.
Something just kept nagging at me.
Thoughts kept going through my head like…. "Is this it?”
And I hope you don’t take that the wrong way.
Because “this” is amazing and wonderful and exactly what we wanted to do.
And I’m so grateful we took this leap, because I know not many get to.

But, you see, I don’t want to come home after 6 months, with an $18,000 dent in our wallet, and have nothing to show for it other than a few pictures of the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum.
Yes, yes, I know, that’s incredible too.
But I want to come home with more than that.
I want to know that the 6 or so odd months we spent around the world on this once-in-a-lifetime experience had purpose other than fulfilling our selfish wishes.

So I tried my best to explain that to The Dizzle and he just got it.
Because he’s cool like that and seems to just get me at the exact moments I need him to.

It’s time to put in the work.
We need to research.
How can we help? What can we do?
Do we go feed the poor? Do we volunteer at an orphanage? Do we sign up to build houses for people?
I’m a rookie when it comes to things like this {unfortunately}, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

We have 2 months after Thailand with nothing booked.
We left that part open to “figure it out” while we were traveling.
And I’m so glad we did because now I feel like there’s a reason we did.
Now I feel like we’re on to something.
Something bigger and better than anything we could have anticipated for this journey of ours.
I’m getting excited and I want to start right away!

So that’s that. I’m anxious to see all of this unfold and what will come of it.
I don’t quite know what it’s all going to entail.
But I bet it’s going to be pretty amazing.

Also, I just wanted to say I'm grateful for all of you guys.
I love reading all of your wonderful comments and emails and it just makes me feel connected while I'm thousands of miles away from home.
So thanks for following along and being a part of this too. :)




  1. I totally get what you're trying to say as far as wanting to do more. One of my girlfriends volunteered in Guatemala this organization(link below) for two weeks during spring break. They offer up to 6 months of volunteer placement tho so maybe something to look at? Cambodia would be a great place to visit in Southest Asia, since you'll already be in that area while staying in Thailand. xo

  2. I think what you are trying to do is great. A peace corps volunteer wrote an article on the 2 week volunteer's and how they may not be doing as much good as they think. Its a good article and something to consider as you move forward with finding someplace to volunteer at. :)

  3.'re better than me. If I get a LV you better believe its going everywheres with me and Ise not given it up til I dies. And then I'll give it to Boomer. Lol, I'm a 'things' person I can't help it. I do understand what you mean tho. sometimes we work so hard to get to a point and then say, 'Is this it?' I applaud you and your man for looking into ways you can give back and volunteer. That is way cooler than a LV :)

  4. You are just the sweetest! I don't have a lot of suggestions (help build houses/schools? teach English?) but I'm excited to follow you on this wonderful journey! xo

  5. I think it's wonderful that you want to do more than just be a tourist! I think by doing this, you will have a completely different travel experience, one much more rich! The tourist things are wonderful and lovely, but there's something incredibly special about investing yourself in a cause outside of your comfort zone that allows you to connect with a group of people. My best friend lives in Thailand and I can see if she knows of any good places to volunteer or serve and get back to you :)

  6. This is so awesome! I would say Google is going to be your best friend. I'm sure there are tons of orphanages, tons of homeless shelters, etc to volunteer at. I spent a week in Mexico one summer building houses for families and it was the most humbling experience of my life!

  7. I'm sure that's a scary/unsettling feeling, but I'm so glad you REALIZED this. It better defines what you really want out of your traveling, and now you feel motivated to go after opportunities you probably hadn't considered 24 hours before. Enjoy it all!

  8. Wooo! How exciting!! This is such a great plan, it's going to be amazing. You could try these guys my organisation works with them a little and they are really great. Or you could try a smaller charity that is volunteer run. I know of a charity called SALVE International that relies so much on the two volunteers/interns they send to Uganda every year - and it looks as if they're recruiting for two now :) If it were me, I would get an opportunity with these guys if I could: It's smaller organisations like this one that make an immediate impact on people's lives.

  9. hey michelle, i know how you feel and i've felt that way before too while traveling. sometimes the emotional return (the feeling that you're looking for) is immediate, but lots of times, it's not. (in fact, this is ordinary -- i think there's a whole slew of books written about this; and of course most books are on the other extreme by completely romanticizing and distorting what most travel experiences are really like.) i think if you drop any expectations that you may have about what your trip is *supposed* to be like, and just let it be what it is, you might be more at peace. it might also help to remember that it'll take a while for your mind to process everything that's happening, but traveling does change people so fundamentally, often in small incremental ways that won't become apparent to you until months, or even years, later. so don't feel like you have to feel so much and experience so much right NOW, and try not to put too much pressure on this trip or feel like you need to be a do-gooder in order to make it more meaningful. because if you do something out of the goodness of your heart, but it's not really a calling - and you know deep down inside when it's a calling - you'll just end up feeling even emptier. meanwhile, girl you're with the dizzle! just continue having fun, relaxing, being curious and checking stuff out. -nancy

  10. Okay, so I backpacked around Southeast Asia for six months, and a few months in I started feeling the exact same way. After a bit of research, I spent a month volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, and it was truly a life-changing experience (I wrote a bit about it here if you are interested: I emailed a lot of places in Thailand and Vietnam to ask about volunteering, but I was consistently told to look into Cambodia or Laos. I'm sure a lot has changed in Cambodia since I was there, but they were in dire need of help and thrilled to have any that they could get. Since you are going to be in Thailand, I'm sure you could find some really great volunteer programs in Cambodia if you were up for it.

    The one thing you need to be wary of though is that a lot of the popular/more well known organizations make you pay to volunteer... I encountered that multiple times and it was really frustrating. It wasn't until I started looking in Cambodia that I found multiple NGOs that just wanted help, plain and simple.

    I also know of a couple other organizations in Southeast Asia that might be in need of volunteers, so let me know if you are interested. My girlfriend also runs a volunteer program in Nepal that is constantly seeking help, if that's a possibility. :)

  11. lady - what you're doing is amazing.
    and i LOVE that you've taken me along for the ride.

  12. I was wondering when you'd get to this point :) So glad you're there have a big heart and I know you can offer a LOT to others in need.

  13. Seriously, you two...awesome amazingness! My two weeks in Spain opened my eyes to a whole new world. And the fact that you are seeing so very much more of that world, and on top of that, you're going to PARTICIPATE in that world...LOVE IT! Great work friend! Have a wonderful weekend!

  14. Hi Mish,
    Seriously I really think what you are doing is fantastic. Just take one day at a time. You can always come home and no one will think less of you. But listen to what the others said, if you want to volunteer around the world, you can do that! But just seeing the world is important too!!

  15. I have a feeling your purpose will find you. You will look up one moment and there it is in your lap.

    Enjoy yourself.


  16. I just found your blog. I'm really enjoying it! I hope you find what you're looking for. I think you will. Best wishes as you continue your travels!

  17. This is a beautifully honest post, Mish. I'm glad you are in touch with these thoughts and feelings...even if initially they seem disappointing.

    When I read this, I think of that movie with the wonderful Diane Lane, "Under the Tuscan Sun". That movie made me feel like the best way to experience a new place is to truly "live it". When you're a tourist you are less likely to absorb all the special things around you...the people, attitude, food...all the nuances of a place that isn't learned and habitual yet. I wouldn't feel obligated to volunteer or help the poor, but maybe get a part-time job and meet the locals! Separate from V every now and then and get out of your comfort zone!

    Even as I write this I can sense how difficult it would be to actually do these things. But I also believe that the more uncomfortable something feels, the more you learn and grow from it. (I almost feel like I'm giving myself a motivational speech right now...)

    I love you and miss you guys and hope you gain everything you can from this adventure.


  18. I lived in Mexico for a semester and was immersed into life there - good, bad and ugly. It was an amazing experience, and I got to really see how life is outside of my safe bubble. I think I would probably feel like you do, and I think it's the perfect opportunity to dig deep! Try out a few things, and see what fits you guys' expectations and needs. I loved working with the children and they taught me so much more than I could have ever taught them. Thanks for keeping it real - I love that about y'all.

  19. I completely understand where you are coming from! You guys will figure it out and you will do amazing things. :)

  20. that one bomb opportunity will come to you in no time.

  21. Michelle i love that you've written this!! I have done lots of travelling and I felt EXACTLY the same,I'm all about sunshine and sightseeing but I just wanted something to grab a hold of me and just BLOW ME AWAY!
    I figured out, the best way to get that, is to totally throw yourself into ONE city, ONE country, ONE culture and stay put. That way you see it from the local point of view and it is sooooo much better than from the tourist view, the best bit is when you start to feel like a local too, you learn new languages,and meet people from the country and not just other backpackers!!
    When I was 19 I did that in Mexico, I stayed in Puebla for 7 months,got a job, and all my friends were Mexicans and 6 years on I STILL talk about it, it feels like a massive part of me!And now ive been living in Melbourne for 2 years and its the same! Its awesome when you get to know somewhere SOO well,it feels like you've lived there forever! even if its only 3 months in one spot! it just takes away all the backpackery, touristy shizz and slows the pace down so you can actually stop and soak in all the normality of one place!
    If your anything like me,maybe thats your fix!!
    Whatever you pick, its fricking exciting to have a big unknown adventure ahead!! :) :)

  22. I think you should look up the website & read the journal. It is written by Maggie Doyne - she decided to travel after her senior year of high school and ended up opening an orphanage and school in Nepal. Her story is truly inspiring and she is helping so many children. I think you and the Dizzle should go volunteer at her school. I have a feeling you'll find what you're looking for there.

  23. Have you read The Lost Girls? It's a true story written by 3 friends who give up everything to travel the world together. It's a great read, and might give you some ideas! Here's their website: Good luck!

  24. Hey! I haven't commented in awhile but I've still been following along. I just wanted to say that while volunteering may be a good option, I think really what you're missing out on (and I think some others have said this too) is the social interaction. In general, what changes us is our relationships with other people. So if you're looking for a deeper feeling in your travels, I would say you'd have to plant yourself in one place long enough to get to know the people and the culture. Maybe you can do that through volunteering, but I feel like volunteering puts you in a position where you're "giving" and others are "receiving" which isn't particularly conducive to real relationship. I've lived in Chicago now for six years in an entirely Mexican neighborhood. I volunteered here for a year and now I just live and work here and it's definitely different as a "normal person" rather than a volunteer.

    Hope you find what you're looking for!

  25. As a teacher I would say meeting families and working with children is one of the best ways to get to know the heart of a country. :) Maybe I'm a little biased.

  26. I read this article this morning and immediately thought of you ---

  27. Your life sounds amazing right now, seriously lol. It has only been a month so far right?? So give yourself some time to find your calling. I'm sure you will find something to make you feel more fulfilled and I can't wait to read about it!

  28. I'd say the "ah ha" moment won't be momentous but it will surely come in the least expected way. I think Thailand will be awesome! No need to volunteer to "change your life". Just spend time among the people! The first 30 days was just a warm up, IMO!



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