Bangkok at 2am: It was a budget motel room we rented above a discotheque. I returned there with friends and despite my exhaustion couldn’t sleep amidst the thumping beats below me. In lieu of earplugs I did what any tipsy 23 year-old might do — reached into my backpack for the remains of a baguette, scrunched two chunks into little pieces and voilà — homemade ear plugs! I felt smug as I drifted off to drunk-sleep. It wasn’t long before I felt something else delighting in my brilliant plan.

A rat. Feasting from my ear.

I leapt up and shook it off, literally, only to find myself completely unable to sleep the rest of the night. To this day my stomach feels slightly queasy as I recount it. Because let’s face it, that’s disgusting. (It’s like the 80s song lyric, “One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble…”)

This is among the more random of my travel experiences. There are many other memories, some that have left me awestruck, some that are simply gross. No others involve such intimacy with rodents, fortunately.

There isn’t a trip I wouldn’t do all over again (granted, if I went back to Bangkok I’d sure want to upgrade my accommodations) because compared to my daily life at home, when it comes to travel I can go with the flow. I delight in taking the good with the bad, the glorious with the gritty, because I love to explore. It makes me feel alive. Some call it wanderlust.

I think of the expansiveness in this world around us. I don’t want to be sheltered, shielded or unaware from what exists beyond my own little bubble. For me, international travel is a portal to understanding the ways we are exquisitely different from others and the ways we are all connected at the human level.

On a more individual level, travel has the potential to be a fast track towards transformation. I’ve seen it in others and felt it firsthand. Whether I was participating in a retreat or leading one, I’ve seen people soften and return home to their best selves, to parts of themselves that got lost in the shuffle of the rat race back home. They frolic, connect, rediscover. They reunite with their laughter, their bodies, their presence, and their best intentions to maintain that inner glow as they return home.

You’ve probably heard of FOMO =  fear of missing out. Then there is the opposite, what I call FOLA = fear of living adventurously. Somewhere in between is that sweet spot where we confront the fear or the excuses and we lean in.

Reside in that fearless and curious heart, and the beauty of the world will meet you there.

Just be sure to pack earplugs.

{What will it take for you invest in your self? Space remains in my two upcoming retreats this winter!}