Tag Archives: motivation

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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I Told My Fears to Take a Hike & This is What Happened

My life these days seems reminiscent of the law school days of the past: intense, highly motivated by caffeine and filled with self imposed anticipation of what is to come next alongside the constant questioning of whether I’m cut out for this or not.

There’s a redeeming difference, however, this time around.  As much as I wish I could say my attending law school was a true desire,  I’d say it was partly a desire; and partly a peer pressure induced move in my life.   This time around what I’m pursuing is completely part of every inch of my existence and further beyond I have ever imagined to behold my dreams and creativity.  In the real world, it’s called ENTREPRENEURSHIP.  In my world, I deem it as FREEDOMPRENEURSHIP.

Coming back from a one year sabbatical from my legal career in 2015, I must admit I was a complete mess.

Sure, I quickly adapted and retrained my brain to function yet again as its legal minded counterpart but deep within the core of my being my peace was disrupted by the rallying of new age thoughts that developed while in full access to a life of freedom on the road.  Mind you, the thoughts were not harmful in anyway.  They were life-changing.  They were the voices that I have successfully pushed aside all these years because of one thing:

FEAR

So, as I walked back into the house I have lived in for a decade on my first day back in the U.S., the familiar sense of home I once knew was no longer there.  I became a stranger in a space I called home for ten years. I discovered that my path was changing.  I didn’t have a clue as to how, when or what.  I knew, however, that I had no choice but to follow the flow.  For the first time in a long while, I saw a big sign on the road telling me to go a certain way.  It was loud and clear.  There was no way for me to push down on the brakes.  There was no way out of it except the exit door that life was presenting before me. There were no more excuses to keep me from unlocking the door and walking through it.  I dove right in without pre-planning anything or everything.  I was free and yet completely lost in the midst of this  pool of creation and energy, the physical built up of which was the formation of a social enterprise.

Peak Explorations, which is Brown Gal Trekker’s virtual mountain home, didn’t materialize out of boredom or the need to partake in a lucrative endeavor.  

It all started because of a burning desire to impart on every person that manages to join a trek the notion of freedom – the way I experienced it on my one year away.  To speak truthfully about this, the freedom they will experience on a two week trek in Nepal will merely be a fraction of what I have experienced, but good enough to afford them the idea that there’s more to life than the status quo that we created in our respective lives.

Peak Explorations aims to put in the forefront of the trekker’s mind the meaning of fear.  Fear is an illusion. But our desire to travel is real.  The nagging voice that tells us to take a break from our job to explore or to quit our job altogether to pursue our passion is your voice in its most authentic form.   Drowning it any further is futile.  It’s our inner being finally  grabbing a hold of that microphone to be heard loud enough by your ego.

Life is about freedom, joy, love and inner peace.  

Since being back to the U.S., people have asked me repeatedly about the lessons learned on the trails and unequivocally seek for words of wisdom based on my love affair with the world and the mountains.  So, I tell them my best guess and hope that they instead search inwardly for the answers they’re looking for.  In a chaotic world where our lives are mediocre at best, it is up to us to recreate and refurbished the complexities of our lives and transform them into a much more comprehensible and simpler version of living.  I know it can be done. I have met the people who have executed this premise flawlessly and now living the life that they initially pushed away because of fear-based excuses.

Entrepreneurship has a way to pave the path towards freedom.

By this, I mean in a broader sense, we should never leave the major decisions in our lives at the discretion of our bosses or mates or friends.   The lifelong questions of where we go and who we are lie solely within our sole capacity as humans to address, understand and accept in their entirety.  That’s part  of coming face to face with true freedom.

As to entrepreneurship, by transforming myself to becoming my own boss, I know I’m half-way there.  The second half would merely entail the grunt work that the  outside world often gets to witness.   Mind you, the process is scary as hell as I worry about safety of my clients all the time.  After all, mountain trekking is a serious endeavor with some serious consequences in the event of mishaps on the trails.  This is when faith is crucial – faith in that everything will work out.  That your passion outweighs your doubts.  That your mission is noble enough to render the risks minimal.

You tell yourself, YOU GOT THIS! Yeah, YOU GOT THIS!  Soon enough, you will believe it and the world will, too.

It’s been overdue.  But, finally, every step of the way, I’m telling my fears to take a hike.

In my traveling life, I have figured rather quickly that as humans we crave freedom more than we care to acknowledge.  As a new entrepreneur, freedom turned out to be everything that I always wanted for the sake of creativity, self-expression and actualization of  the authentic version of myself.

For more, see also

Freedompreneurs

She Becomes a Judge and I Become a Mountain Nomad

Trekking Has Taken Over My Life But I’m Ok With It

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Trekking Has Taken Over My Life But I’m OK With It

etna
I’m not going to deny it. Lack of time to do millions of things is akin to climbing up Mt. Etna’s high points. Tough and slow going.

I stopped dating.  It’s not because I’m jaded.  Neither is it about lack of options.  It’s just that I married the mountains.  

Let me explain what I mean.  By profession, I’m a lawyer.  But since June of 2016, I made a bold move in my life.  I obtained a business license and started running a social enterprise to market trekking tours globally. This decision took shape based on over 15 years of traveling whenever I could while still practicing law.  In the past decade, I discovered my passion for mountain trekking.  I’ve been hooked since the start, so much so, that I have decided to dedicate my life to running my business, Peak Explorations, and the non-profit, Trails Without Borders.  The icing on the cake is of course my blog, Brown Gal Trekker.

I say all this to explain to you how I balance my love for travel and trekking alongside my role as a lawyer.  It’s a given that I do my duty as an attorney in my office like I always have since I started 13 years ago.  Every minute of the day outside of that is spent on running my three enterprises.  The upside is that my enterprises allow me to hike and travel.  What’s great about this transition and marriage with the mountains is that any hiking trips I do is part-business and part-pleasure.  So, balancing between these two is a bit strange because I’m doing something as work which is also something I love simultaneously.  I can’t complain really.  It’s the best imaginable syncing of my passion and work that I can possibly conjure in my head.  The thought manifesting into its physical form is happening as we speak!

So, where is the balance?

On a more concrete level, I do allow a couple of weekends for hiking or trekking per month.  I have 2-3 major treks I schedule a year that amount to 4-6 weeks of being with nature on the mountain trails.  I also do yoga at least three times a week and running at least twice a week.  These things are part of my regimen as the CEO of Peak Explorations since on some occasions I’ll be trekking up mountains alongside my clients.  The most relevant means of maintaining balance in my life, however, is to shut my brain and let it rest for sometime. I do this best by meditating which include sitting in a quiet room, dancing, taking a drive or hiking on a nearby trail.  All the rest your brain gets is so important especially when you spend significant time on social media to market and share your thoughts, let alone the amount of time you spend writing and creating.

Ah, this so-called balance can be elusive!  I must admit I’m still trying to learn the best way to balance my life given the new marriage I got myself into.  Right now, due to the newness of my being an entrepreneur and the experience of blogging, I am embracing the need for me to spend considerable time to establish the foundation for my three enterprises.  Interwoven among these three endeavors is my best effort to continue hiking and traveling.  However, as daunting as this task may seem, one fundamental thing I learned is to listen to that inner voice in me.  If I have to devote more time away from work, then that voice within will tell me so.  My job then is to listen.  When I do, my effort to find balance becomes easier.  So yes, I’ve yet to return to the dating scene which is unlikely to happen for a while.  Maybe my passion for trekking has taken over my life, but at least it’s of my own choosing.  Hence, life is as balanced as it’ll get only for now especially when what I do every minute is filled with joy and love.

…Which leads me to say this,

Regardless of the extent in which the outdoors plays a role in your life, there is such thing as overdoing it.  So, make sure to find the kind of balance that suits you.

And, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, just remember:

The experience of transitioning into a life filled with more freedom and a job that is based solely on my terms is analogous to climbing that last bit of summit.  It’s tough and slow going.  More likely than not, you’ll have to make certain sacrifices along the way, but the rewards you get from the views on top are vast and life changing.  I know it’s physically exhausting but I also have to admit that working towards my dreams fills my soul with so much ease and satisfaction that were foreign to me prior to taking this leap of faith.  With that in mind, I trudge along full speed ahead knowing that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

whitney
The views can only get better as you get higher. Keep on trekking – on the trail to Mt. Whitney (USA).

For more, see

Freedompreneurs

I Told My Fears to Take a Hike and This is What Happened

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