Category Archives: BGT Coffee Corner

Why Your 40s is the Best Time to Go on a Grand Adventure

Quit your career when you hit your 40s.  Seriously, quit it and take on some grand adventure.  Take  a break from it all and just indulge in guilt-free freedom.  I know. That sounds so against the norm.  After all, it makes more sense to tell you–

“don’t quit your job, pretend you like it, pay your bills, and if you’re single , then hurry, and find that partner!”

Two years ago, I wrote an article about how it felt to be a global backpacker in my late 30s.  In that article, I confessed my feeling a tiny bit awkward carrying a 70 liter pack as I mingled with the millennials at hostels.  Two years later, I’m thinking, why the hell not?

While so many in their 40s re-evaluate their progress in life by looking at the increase in their income, their career progression, the success of their marriage and the existence of children in their lives, this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone who reaches this age.

In my world, my 40s is meant to be spent outside playing.  To be more exact, it’s meant to be spent hiking and trekking countless mountains, and then some.  At first, I too, felt this was such an insane idea.  And perhaps, my dream of becoming a mountain/digital nomad frolicking around the globe was simply too late for me to pursue and that maybe I missed my chance in my younger years.  It took time for me to realize that doing this at an unpopular age of 40  is actually a blessing in disguise.  In fact, it’s the best time to partake in a major extended travel or adventure.  If you are in your 40s and  are fortunate enough to get a chance to partake in a grand adventure, then I’d say go for it!  Here’s why:

  1. In your 40s, you are past many of the insecurities you had in your 20s. Your 30s typically are spent challenging the existence of every insecurity you might have that was carried over from your 20s.  As we enter 40s, many of us have more or less learned how to deal with our insecurities and hopefully most of them were outgrown in the process.  By getting to this point, our adventures tend to be more meaningful and devoid of unnecessary stress.  Forgetting to bring that nice evening attire to look good on a trip wouldn’t dampen our spirits nor do we care if we need to skip showers for the sake of enjoying a life-changing trek.  Petty things dwindle as we age and that’s priceless.  Anyone who has yet to reach 40 should be jolted with excitement to look forward to a much more carefree version of themselves.
  2. Assuming you have spent part of your 20s and all your 30s building your career, by the time you’re 40 you know you have built yourself a solid career.  There’s no longer a question whether you’re a real doctor or a lawyer or an accountant because you are!  We manage to shrug off the other set of insecurities – those that challenge our ego as to whether we are good enough at what we do.  Heck, yeah, we are!  So, go on that adventure and remember if you tire of it, you can always come back to that career that you built. If not, chances are, by the time you’re 40, you have established skill sets that can be transferable to other types of endeavors.  If that company doesn’t rehire you, with creativity and persistence, you can even start your own company and run it in your own way.  Either way, you come out on top.
  3. With over two decades of adult life experiences under our belt, being 40 should render us more courageous and fearless.  We’ve been hurt, disappointed, criticized and fired.  But we lived and survived. We ought to know by the age of 40 that failure is merely a redirection.  We no longer cry or get angry over it.  We just strive to find another route that we believe will take us to where we need to be.  By this time, we experience lesser amount of invalid fears and worries.  We trust life more and allow it to bring us closer to our desires.  In our travels, we then find no reason to stress out when itineraries fail.  We lived long enough to realize that unexpected events happen for a reason and so we refrain from fussing in the same manner that we did when we were in our 20s.  We just let most situations be, regardless of whether they’re wanted or not.
  4. We are likely to be richer than the younger version of ourselves, and in some cases, fortunate enough to pay off a mortgage or student loan.   When we compare ourselves to others, sure, we might say we’re broke but if you were honest with your situation, you’d soon realize that graduating from college or grad school had led you to incur thousands of dollars of student loan debt.  By the time you’re 40, you would have had at least a decade to pay off some or most of the loans.  That’s something to smile about since that only means more money to put towards that grand adventure.  And if you’re the savvy kind, you may even have an investment or two which will then afford you more disposable cash for your grand adventure.  Lucky you!
  5. Do you feel wiser now that you’re 40 or older? I hope so.  That’s the point of living – growing and learning and then growing, and learning, and so on and so forth. By the time we’re 40, the expectation is that our life experiences should have taught us a thing or two about love, loss, success, failure and everything else in between.  By 40, we’re likely to know ourselves and our goals better.  But if not, we ought to have enough tools to figure out our own destiny in our own way.  All that therapy and counseling should have yielded the outcome we hope for by now.  We are ready to re-do everything – relationships, career, and even ourselves.
  6. Simply put, when you’re in your 40s, you hardly give a damn.  Nothing will ever be as serious as when you were in your 30s.  In your 40s, you begin to realize life starts over again.  But, this time around, you’ll makes sure it’ll be done in a more lighthearted fashion.  After all, this is the age when your health becomes more relevant and therefore stress is your number one enemy.  In your 40s, you naturally start to value your time and how you spend it upon realizing that life is limited and that success is defined by the frequency of joy in our lives.  You also begin to enjoy the authenticity of being “you” without giving into societal pressures and living our lives based on others’ expectations.  True to not giving a damn, you do what your heart tells you even if it’s unconventional and weird.  Doing so doesn’t at all make you feel uncomfortable; rather, it makes you feel empowered to be “you.”
  7. As a result of wisdom gained over the years, you know what you want when you reach 40.  When you decide to travel extensively or become a nomad of some kind, you mean it.  You have never been this sure in your entire life!  Since you now value time more than ever, you wouldn’t just quit a career that you put forth effort, money and time just to travel without a purpose.  You are deliberate in your decision to travel on an extended period of time or even for a lifetime!  When you decide to venture into some kind of an enterprise to give you that freedom to roam the world, you initiate it with all your might.  In fact, you have never felt this driven in your life because this time around you are answering to the calling of your deepest desires.  And you simply know you have to go that direction even if the path can get bumpy along the way.  You know that if you traveled in your 20s, it would only be temporary because you have yet to experience the contrast of the life of a 9 to 5 to decide honestly whether a life of travel is for you.  In your 30s, traveling is a break from the 9 to 5 but you may still be uncertain as to your true desires or unskilled at the endeavor you wish to pursue or still in need of wisdom to learn how to succeed or have yet to muster the courage to risk it all.  So, rejoice in taking a leap of faith in your 40s because chances are you’ve gone through all the necessary steps to finally be ready to experience a real adventure.

As you can see, being in your 40s should not be  the reason not to travel; rather it should exactly be the reason to do so!  You’re in the prime of your life and you have nothing to lose except the opportunity that you can create for yourself to experience the greatest adventure of your life.  Don’t hesitate for a second to hop on that adventure.  Don’t doubt yourself, and most certainly, don’t doubt your desires. Do it now!

To learn more about Brown  Gal Trekker’s plans on leaving her job and becoming a mountain nomad, check out her podcast:

ON MY WAY! FROM A LAWYER TO A MOUNTAIN NOMAD (intro)

Episode 1: Should I Stay or Should I Go?  Reasons To Leave My Career

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Trekking Made Me Lose Things to Gain More

Once upon a time I had a 1500 square foot, three bedroom, two bath house with front and back yards, complete with furnishings from top to bottom and front to back.  I had subscription to Costco, a huge grocery chain that sells in bulk; hence,  I bought in bulk every week.  But I lived alone. I had the house for 10 years.  “Had.”  I sold it.

In those 10 years, I spent majority of my  time hiking, backpacking, trekking and whatever else one does with their feet in the outdoors.  During perhaps the most defining moment of my life, I summoned up the courage to leave my career for a year, my house in Washington, D.C. and the comfort of my daily routines and obligations, so to speak.

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In Kotor, Montenegro with my “home.”

I lived life on the road.  Specifically, I trekked in the mountains of Asia and Europe, mostly by myself but also with others as the opportunity arose.  My home then was all confined within a 65 liter Golite backpack plus another compressible day pack.  Both packs carried mostly hiking gear that allowed me to trek in all weather conditions, in addition to a few other personal items.  For the record, this was the most minimalist I had ever been in my life, but the lessons learned from the experience are too many to count.  However, here are some of the lessons worth highlighting:

I learned from this experience that minimalism means what we truly need in life doesn’t take much space as we are conditioned to think from a young age.

I realized that owning a car is unnecessary.  During the one year that I was away, I relied only on public transportation and moved around as a local.  In contrast to the typical driving life in D.C. where you find yourself stuck in heavy traffic, getting around like a local was a refreshing change.  In fact, I found myself much more productive sitting in buses, trains, boats, jeepneys, tricycles, scooters, water buffaloes, camels, and horses, to name a few of the local transports.  The time in transit allowed me to reflect and clear thoughts in my head without the stressors of dealing with the chaotic nature of road traffic.  Looking back, these were special moments; hence, I never took any of it for granted.  My car, a Toyota Echo, is now 15 years old, which I only use on weekends.  When it stops running, my replacement will be the local transports just like when I’m on my travels – an extra routine to add to my workout.  Same goes for one’s shelter.  Living in tents, cabins, huts and hostels taught me we don’t need much space if our goal is to experience life as much as possible outside the confines of the four corners of any room.

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One of the many boat rides in the Philippines.

I learned from experience that we don’t need to overindulge in the usage of certain products, some of which can last a while if we use them minimally.  

For instance, washing your hair daily is really unnecessary.  Putting on make up became less of a needed routine because on my travels, I did mostly trekking so there was no point wasting time and energy on that.  Likewise, minimalism creeps in when it comes to the usage of clothing.  How many times can you wear your hiking pants before washing, you ask?  A lot, actually.  But if you wish to be sort of scientific about it, you can often answer that by doing the “smell” test.  Generally, outer layers can wait a while before they get washed.  The undergarments, however, will need washing in a much lesser time period.  The usage of clothing changes drastically when on the road compared to being in one place.  Keep in mind though that if you change clothes everyday, the inconvenient repercussion would be having to do the washing more frequently than necessary, which for some can be a burdensome task.

I learned from the experience that minimalism on the road can transform our daily routines into their simple and basic  forms.  

For one, you’ll have to learn how to wash clothes by hand.  As much as you’d like to think that in this day and age most cities will have machines you can use to wash your clothes, think again.  Some cities may only have washers accessible.  In Chengdu, China, the hostel I stayed in had washing machines but drying clothes required sunlight and good drying weather.  As a hiker, you’ll have to shift your thinking completely as the small towns along the way to the trail heads are unlikely to have any washers or dryers.  At times, you maybe lucky to have washing service at the hostel or guesthouse you’re staying at but AT ALL TIMES be prepared to wash your clothes by hand – your hands to be exact.  If you haven’t tried washing clothes by hands, I urge you to give it a try.  It’s not as bad as you think.  I honestly can say that washing clothes by hand can be such a meditative experience.  If you love nature enough, washing clothes by hand is like being close to nature…living in the moment of feeling the water and the suds touch your skin as you smell the fragrance of the soap.  Sure, it does require a little bit of imagination but you get my drift.  You may not like to hear this but when it comes to bathing in countries like the Philippines, you will need to manage without hot showers and shower heads.  You’ll be using a bucket of cold water instead to wash yourself.  You may have to eat with your hands in Cambodia or Mongolia in lieu of utensils.  Again, approach it as meditation like I do because going back to basics like this can provide you with the rare chance of experiencing humility at its purest form.  These are the smallest of things that can truly leave a mark in a traveler’s life.

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Newfound friends while hiking up Etna in Sicily, Italy.

I learned from the experience that minimalism on the road entails minimizing our friendships, only to create more ties along the way.  

I gained, and then quickly I lost the same people I met just days ago.  This taught me to love without being attached, which was a difficult task to do repeatedly.  I had to learn to say “hello” to a stranger who became my friend, but soon enough he or she also became my ex-traveling companion – a process that can happen in as little as 24 hours.  But letting go only means paving a new path for another “hello” and a newfound friend to open up the upcoming new chapter on the road.  You realize, however, that you hardly lost anyone.  You actually have been gaining all along – the people and the memories.  What started out as such an emotional process overtime became an enlightening one for me where I learned first-hand about trusting in the flow of life.

I learned from the experience that minimalism entails indulging in experiences, not things.  

It’s true.  There are many things that are free in life – and they’re what we call experience.  While in the town of Pokhara in Nepal, I had the option to go souvenir shopping or do a day hike nearby for free.   I chose to experience life, and hike.   This led me to discover the historic village of Ghandruk where I spent a night at a guesthouse and indulged in the views of the Himalayas.  Similarly, in Croatia, I decided to go hiking in the Velebit mountains instead of spending the rest of my time in the cities.  Hiking in Velebit was free and when I reached my hut for the night, a local family was having a family reunion which entailed tons of food and drinks.  I was invited and included in the merriment which allowed me to try authentic local dishes while getting to know more about Croatia and the locals’ daily lives.  All that experience cost me nothing.    Had I stayed in the touristy areas and focused on shopping, I would have missed out on these memories I gathered from hiking – the part of my travels that truly mattered the most.

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The hospitable innkeeper of the hut in Velebit. Despite language barriers, we were both thrilled to be in each other’s presence.

I learned from the experience that minimalism affords you joy from simplicity.  

Because I was on a tight budget from the start, I managed to stay in hostels when in the cities and tents or huts in the mountains.  I rarely stayed in hotels, which in my view deprives one of the realness of the experience.  Staying in hostels provided the opportunity to meet people from various parts of the world.  Oftentimes, they became my travel or trail companions for days or weeks, which added meaning to the experience.    After days of trekking together, we were no longer just friends.  To me, they were my family.   Likewise, the art of hiking is simple.  Whether you walk solo or with others, you immerse yourself in the lure of nature with its snow-capped peaks, emerald green lakes and hidden valleys.  Walking in the mountains bestows upon you a world filled with nature’s masterpieces, simple and yet extravagantly beautiful.

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With the Milk Lake on Yading Kora Trek in Sichuan Province of China.
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The majestic rocks of the Dolomites in Italy, along the Alta Via 1.
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In China’s Huangshan (Yellow Mountains), nature meets zen.
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Gobi desert in Mongolia has the the best sunsets with the colors reflected back on its golden sand. Not to be missed in this lifetime.

I learned from the experience that minimalism allows me to appreciate the beauty of solitude.  

When it comes to numbers and company on the road, we gravitate away from “solo.”  Don’t.  When you get a chance to be alone on the road, don’t hesitate to give it a try.  You may discover the power of being “one” and the beauty of your own companionship.  Seriously.  Don’t let solitude intimidate you.  When my journey ended, I brought home with me a whole new set of myself – someone I truly got to know and learned to fully love in the end.

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In Nepal’s Everest region, it never got dull staring at the peaks as I learned about myself each day.

Falling in love with yourself starts with the moments you have in solitude.  Take advantage of it when you’re on travels or better yet, when you’re in the mountains.  I found nature combined with solitude as one of the most organic and powerful experiences to be had in our lifetimes.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to trudge on that path towards self-discovery and self-love.  If you’re venturing out for the first time as a solo traveler or trekker, see this article for tips, 8 Ways (7 Really) to Mentally Prepare for A Solo Adventure.

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I had the privilege to meet a Tibetan mastiff in Tibet! He was certainly bigger than me.  Yes, he’s real.

While I minimized many aspects as noted above when I was on the road, ironically this led to an increase of joy and abundance in my life.  That increase included my circle of friends, the trails I have trekked, the mountain peaks I experienced first-hand, the number of stamps on my passport, the happy memories with fellow humans and even furry friends (I hiked with a dog and spent time with cats), and best of all, the love and gratitude I had within me.

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My few priceless possessions – mostly hiking and travel gear.

Indeed, minimalism brought an overflow of love in my life, which brings me to the present.  I sold my first house almost a year ago now and traded that with a 400 square foot studio.  People wonder if I’ve lost my mind to transition back to a studio after owning a house for a decade. To date, I’ve not experienced even an ounce of regret over my decision.  You see, my studio holds everything that is important to me now- my furry friends, my trekking and travel gear, my passport, my laptop, among a few other items.  Other than that,  everything that matters and holds meaning in my life is tucked away safely and kept close to my heart, which suits me well knowing that I’ll never have to worry about losing any of it.

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Diversity Needs a Voice: Will You Speak Up?

America’s political and cultural landscapes are about to change in a drastic manner. The incoming new president of the supposedly most powerful nation in the world is set to initiate his leadership position in a matter of days. The very thought of it reignites my belief even more strongly than ever before in the importance of the role that writers, bloggers, creators, artists, musicians and all other sorts of dreamers play in advocating for diversity, multiculturalism and globalization.

I’m not going to lie. I’m scared for the future of America and anxious as to how dialogues and human interactions will go from here. Even the liberal nature of my locality, which happens to be the D.C. metro area, is ineffectively able to pacify my fears, so much so, that I get the nagging feeling that being apathetic is no longer a choice. In fact, in a place where marches, rallies and movements are common occurrences, my tendency to shy away from these events as they come to my area no longer feels okay. There’s guilt deeply seated within me ready to consume all of me for any future rallies that I avoid with no justifiable excuse.

I’m not saying we all should hold hands and sing, “Kumbaya.” Doing that will not create change unless we utilize our voices more effectively in our respective mediums. The next four years will likely bring tremendous change to people’s mentality about human rights, globalization, diversity, travels, and everything in between which in essence touches upon the very nature of our humanity —that of love and respect towards one another.

If you have a voice, which we all do, then now is the time to speak up. If you believe in the value of diversity in our society, then it’s time to incorporate that in your business, your publications, your personal dialogues with friends and strangers, your film projects, your artwork, your music, your blog, your travels and everything else in between. Silence is only acceptable for self-reflection and to further tap into internal inspiration. Other than that, to be silent on such issues is to be deliberately reckless and egregious as a human being which would utterly be detrimental to the human race, if we seriously hope to instill and advance mutual respect towards one another despite our differences.

I say all this to assert that now there’s a new form of guilt to contend with — one in which our inner being compels us to leave a critical mark and legacy in the advancement of human rights whether within America or beyond. So, as non-politicians and regular individuals, what can we do about it?

If reading books and articles on human rights are too dry of a reading for you, then there are simpler avenues for you to take to educate yourself and others. For one, travel outside the U.S. more. Talk, or better yet, write about your adventures in Pakistan or Iran so the world can be less judgmental of certain ethnic groups and refrain from labeling them as terrorists. Blog about the beauty of human interactions in remote countries that are predominantly of Muslim faith. Take photos of the wonderful human connections that you managed to develop. Let your photos depict the innate goodness of people from any parts of the globe. Create art or music that sends out a positive message on inclusiveness. Collaborate with diverse individuals to advance your business enterprise.

Artists, musicians, storytellers, dreamers, entrepreneurs, writers, bloggers, and whatever voice you may have at your disposal — we all have a place in this movement. In fact, we have an important role to play and this is our time to rise to the occasion to perform our very best.

At this juncture, we can’t afford to overlook any opportunity to grow as individuals and to go beyond our prejudices as so much of humanity is, and will be, at stake for the years to come. There’s no room for apathy. Silence will only make it all worse. When apathy lures you, reject it, and focus all your energy to summon that part of you that values change, progress and humanity. Your role as a human being is now much more critical than ever before.

When it comes to diversity, it’s either you effect change to advance it or you subconsciously join the silent movement to destroy it. We all have that decision to make, whether we like it or not.

What will it be for you?

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Interested in joining solo travelers for trekking tours to Peru, Nepal, Kilimanjaro & many others?  See PEAK EXPLORATIONS.

You’re Not Invited: Why I Chose To Be Alone on New Year’s Eve

(THIS POST WAS ALSO PUBLISHED ON MATADOR NETWORK)

All over the world, celebrating the onset of the New Year is universally a huge event. It means fireworks, big feasts, parades, parties, lots of drinking, the dramatic countdown events and everything in between. With all that, it also means being around friends, families, partners, and huge crowds. It’s a festive time and most definitely everyone can sense the contagious spirit of celebration. Therefore, it seems no one in their right mind by choice would decide to be alone on such an occasion, with the exception of a few who might miss the celebration due to extenuating circumstances.

But then, there’s me. I made a choice to be alone on New Year’s Eve. It’s not because I didn’t get any invites to events. I did but I turned them down. By choice, I decided to stay home and spend the entire night by myself. No, I’m not depressed; nor did I go through some difficult period recently. In fact, there are so many things I feel I should be celebrating about for the past year but do I need a specific holiday to feel celebratory? I don’t think so.  Any day is perfect to be merry and celebrate anything in life or just life itself for that matter with anyone, be it a stranger or someone familiar – a lesson I learned over the years and is inherent in solo traveling.

Also, I don’t own a TV so I didn’t see the countdown like most people did who decided to stay home. In fact, I went to bed the same time I usually do. No, I wasn’t feeling ill that I had to be in bed early. That’s not the case either. To me, New Year’s Eve, in essence, is just another day. Unfortunately, as a single person with no kids there is this pressure to be out there to be seen with the crowd and work on my chances at dating so I can get myself a partner, especially when I’m at an age where partnership and marriage are critical for societal validation. Yes, I know all that. Believe me.

The expectations and pressures do not end there, unfortunately, as I know very well that when I return to work and tell those who are curious about what I did for New Year’s, my reply that I spent it alone would render them speechless. I, then, will have the privilege to be the subject of their blank stares accompanied by internal negative judgments along the lines of my being this pitiful single woman who doesn’t have anyone. If somehow the conversation gets to a point where I manage to tell them it’s by choice, I seriously doubt that asserting “it’s by choice” will change their originally presumed thought of me being the ultimate spinster. It won’t because society still heavily relies on companionship to validate a person’s worth. I know that. Hence, when I decided to be alone on New Year’s Eve, I ran this dialogue in my head several times to see if I was making a sound choice for my own sanity. Did I make a good choice? To be honest, I did. In fact, it was a perfect choice because it was what felt true to me at that moment.

If you ever have doubts about the idea of being alone on New Year’s Eve, I urge you to think again. The idea really is akin to solo traveling which I’m familiar with as it is my preferred type of travel. Mind you, I enjoy the company of others as much as being a solo traveler. But as a solo traveler for most of my traveling life, I realized life is something to be celebrated each day, not just on special occasions. Sure, it’s great that everyone comes together, writes their resolutions and demonstrates more kindness towards each other, but wouldn’t it be better to strive to do such things on a more regular basis in our daily lives? Wouldn’t it serve our own best interests to express gratitude for what we have and towards others without being prompted by a specific occasion or a change in the numbers on the calendar?

This brings me to the reasons why we all at some point should spend New Year’s Eve alone by choice based on my newly acquired personal experience of spending it in solitude:

It’s a chance to check up on our inner self.

You can view the alone time as respite from your obligations to others and a chance to focus instead on yourself. This is an opportune time to ask yourself questions pertaining to your well-being as a means of self-reflection. Life gives us so many chores that easily take up all the hours in our day, not to mention the 40 hours or more we spend working. On my time alone, I took an extra step and attended a yoga class. The process allowed me to calm my mind to a point that I became reacquainted with those inner desires that quietly beg for my attention. Finally, I heard them loud and clear, so much so, that I could no longer ignore their need for attention. But even without yoga, you can easily tap into your inner visions and ideas by simply spending time alone. There’s no need to add any extra accommodations to yield such experience. Silence and solitude are the only items you need.

It’s a chance to de-stress.

Any alone time can be a source of relaxation, especially on a day like New Year’s Eve when commotions are all around you as a way to celebrate. Take advantage of this day to stay indoors alone to find a peaceful moment devoid of stress. It’s a chance to work on a hobby that you’ve neglected for a while due to lack of personal time or pursue a new interest that has been on your mind.  I personally enjoyed working on my writing at home, which lately has been a vehicle for me in igniting inspiration from within.  Allow yourself to tap into your creativity which is also an ideal way of achieving that much needed level of relaxation.

It’s a chance to play catch up.

A more likely scenario is that most of us are behind with so many chores come the end of the year. We can’t find the time to do these overdue tasks unless we drop certain obligations to make room for them. Well, if you decide to ditch New Year’s Eve celebrations, then you create time to play catch up.  Work on the bills, repair that furniture, or clean the fridge.  A whole day to check off those items on your to do list would mean reduced level of stress. You’ll then come out feeling refreshed and more prepared for the New Year that lies ahead.

It’s a chance to spend time with your pets.

Even pets require some tender love and care. As humans, we easily forget about their need for attention. Since you’re going to be spending the entire day alone, then why not spend it with your furry friends? Don’t worry. Being with them doesn’t deprive you of the alone time. You’re still alone except you get to have some companionship – the kind that will help with de-stressing.  Pet your cats or dogs or both.  Indulge in pet therapy while you still can.  Even your pets have expiration dates so don’t take your time with them for granted either.

It’s a chance to liberate ourselves.

Once in a while, you need to say, “F*** the expectations and pressures!”  It’s exhausting to carry the stigma of solitude no matter what context it maybe, whether hiking, traveling or on a special occasion like New Year’s Eve. Liberate yourself and do it despite what others may think of it.  You may just be surprised how much you like that time alone.  But there’s more.  I made reference earlier to being alone on New Year’s Eve as being similar to solo traveling. Well, solitude on the road and solitude in your own home share something in common – a sense of freedom. When I spent New Year’s Eve alone, the feeling brought me back to a happy place while I was traveling solo – atop a mountain peak I climbed in the Albanian Alps or one in Nepal’s Himalayas. When you learn to value freedom from solo traveling, anything you do in solitude from that point on will always lead you back to your fondest memories of solo traveling and with it comes the feeling of freedom that you enjoyed then, and aspire to have now.

Hiked solo in Atacama, Chile on New Year’s Eve.

In my case, New Year’s Day  managed to arrive and curiously enough not even slightly did I feel a sense of missing out on the shenanigans the night before. In fact, spending New Year’s Eve alone proved to be the most enlightening experience I ever had on such occasion.  I didn’t have any photos of myself to post on social media hinting any kind of celebration and neither did my friends.   That’s liberating for a change.  Don’t get me wrong. It took me time to be mentally okay with solitude on New Year’s Eve. In the past, I feared the notion and desperately sought companionship even if it lacked meaning. It is indeed a process to get to a point in which being alone on New Year’s Eve becomes genuinely enjoyable. Truth be told, it took me years to finally embrace this type of solitude without a hint of fear or insecurity.

In finally getting here, the experience turned out to be a pleasant surprise as the next day my mind was clear of clutter, my heart was full from reminiscing the night before about my favorite travel moments and my soul was filled with a deep sense of stillness and gratitude. In addition, I woke up knowing I have less items on my to do list to worry about and therefore felt much more prepared for the brand new year ahead of me.

For all these reasons, we should celebrate those who manage to find solitude on New Year’s Eve rather than stigmatize them for the choice that they made. The experience is one of a kind which can potentially bring us closer to our own sense of freedom and inner peace.  In a fast-paced and chaotic world, that’s luxury.  Hence, at least once in our lives, we should all experience solitude on such a day.  So, go for it, and start the year being “you” even if it means minus the crowd.

For the rest, next time your friends or loved ones don’t invite you to hang out on New Year’s Eve or perhaps reject your invitation for the sake of solitude, don’t take it personally or chastise them for it. Instead, appreciate the fact that they love themselves enough to give themselves that alone time they deserve on New Year’s Eve.  Finally, when they do invite you, take that as you being THAT relevant in their lives because once they discovered the beauty of solitude, they then lost that sense of needing to invite you which leads me to say that the invite will come only because they truly want to spend that time with you.

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