life is good

What I'm Thankful For This Year: Four Truths I Learned From A Year Around The World

“I think I deserve something beautiful.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

2017 was a year beyond my wildest imagination.

My husband Ross and I spent fourteen months traveling around the world. We volunteered at a glamping retreat center in the countryside of Portugal, we trimmed olive trees on an organic farm in Tuscany, Italy, we lived in Ubud, Bali for three months eating all the raw food and practicing yoga, we explored Thailand and Cambodia, we took a culinary course in Sydney, Australia, we drove a camper van around the South Island of New Zealand, we did Ayahuasca in Peru, and we rented a cabin along the water’s edge on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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Around this time every year, I take some time to honor the things I am grateful for, and this year it is not so much “things” I am grateful for, but lessons learned along the way. Truths that were revealed to me as I broke way out of my comfort zone, and, in turn, expanded my heart …and my mind.

I am grateful for the truth that we are all the same at the core.

So many people have approached me with fear or trepidation about the places I have gone or things I have experienced. “Cambodia? No way, not for me,” they say. “Did you get sick?” Yes. “Did you feel unsafe?” Sometimes. “Did you miss the comforts of home?” Of course. But you know what, I get sick in Austin, I sometimes feel unsafe here, too, and when I’m back in the States, I miss the adventure of travel.

Whether I am in Texas, India, or New Zealand, people are people. The large majority of them have a kind and gentle heart, they want to help you if you seem lost or confused, they will take you in and feed you and teach you about their culture. People are good. 

I remember the first time I traveled to India, I told my mom that if I don’t come back for any reason (you know, if I don’t make it out alive or something) just know I am following my heart. I was THAT scared. I had no clue what that world was like. And as soon as I spent all of ten minutes off the plane in Mumbai, I realized that, while the sights and smells may be different than what I am used to, and the people may look different, they are still just people. They are kind, good, loving humans.

Choose to see the good in people and that is what will be reflected back to you. I’ve found that to be the truth in every single place I explored this year.

I am grateful for the knowing that all you need, you already possess within.

It was in Austin that I took my spirituality to the next level. Even though it is in the middle of Texas, it is a highly connected, progressive, natural, alternative and conscious city to live in.

As a seeker, I have looked outside of myself for years, and it was in this magical city that I truly began to learn and know that everything I need is within.

I read, studied and listened to Dr. Wayne Dyer, Neville Goddard, Neal Donald Walsch, A Course in Miracles, Think & Grow Rich, Gabby Bernstein, Mastin Kipp, The Alchemist, the Tao, Tony Robbins, Michael Beckwith, The Untethered Soul and Kundalini meditations that serve as anchors for my growth and spiritual connection. I questioned, I researched, I went to conferences, and I spent time being alone and quiet with myself.

While traveling, and without the comforts of the people and places that are familiar to you, you have no one else to rely on but yourself. You MUST have self trust, you must learn to trust your gut and be guided by your intuition because without it there will be too much fear to face new and unfamiliar places.

Everything you need, you already possess within. My work, your work, our work is to clear away enough noise and mind clutter to be able to connect with what is already present: Love, sweetness, kindness, purpose and a sense of clarity. My yoga and meditation practice is no longer a luxury, it is a critical part of my work to keep my mind quiet enough to stay connected to these parts of myself.

There is no one “right way” to do life. I am grateful for like-minded explorers.

“Happiness is only real when shared.” This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, Into the Wild.  

I used to feel like a crazy person, lonely in my intention to be an adventurer, and to, well, do life differently. I never dreamed of a big wedding celebration (we got married in the court house in a $5 dress from the thrift store), a big house and white picket fence (we most recently lived in a ’95 Dodge van camping around the US), or having big, fancy things (a backpack I’ve owned for the last five years is probably my most prized possession), but I did dream of being barefoot in the sand, hiking mountains, exploring the Earth and valuing TIME, not MONEY, as the most important thing in my life.

What I’ve come to understand is that while there may be cultural influences to move through life in one particular manner, that doesn’t mean that is any more “right” or “correct” than joining the circus, living off the land and eating only avocados. What I mean here is that just because you have a particular conditioning, it doesn’t mean you can’t choose again, a new path, at any given moment.

Everyone will try and give you advice on what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your life, but they can only share from the framework of their OWN life. Do not take advice from anyone who’s life, passion and spirit does not LIGHT YOU UP.

This world is yours for the taking, and creating.

Your body is the greatest gift you’ve ever received.

For a long time, I didn’t like what I would see when I looked in the mirror, I would think, “If only my hair were straighter, my legs were longer, my belly flatter, if only I were more than what I am right now…” and this kind of thinking is harmful to the body and spirit.

Through my studies and commitment to nutrition and wellness, I began to see that it is up to me, and the lifestyle choices I make daily, to decide what I see when I look in the mirror.

A shaved head is beautiful in parts of Africa, pale skin is a sign of beauty in many Asian countries, the French go all natural, and the Spanish embrace their full figures. In the US, we are force-fed the message of “thin is in,” fake tans, acrylic nails and painted faces. Give us your money and we will make you beautiful, they say. It’s so cliche that I don’t even want to write it, but beauty comes from within. Think of the most beautiful person you know, bring them to mind. Now I can bet, there is something magical about that person—their kindness, their honesty, that they stand for something bigger than them themselves. THAT is what is beautiful.

Enjoy your body, relish in it. Every morning wake up and say, “Thank you, toes,” “Thank you, legs,” “Thank you arms,” “Thank you, hands.” The fact that I even have ten fingers to type this post and you have the eyes available to read it and a brain able to digest it is freaking amazing!!!

Your body is incredible. Love on it.

May this Thanksgiving give you some time to reflect on the truths that bring value to your life as well.

Happy Holidays!

xo,

Carly

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