Peace Like A River: April Travel Inspiration

Where in the world has Emilee been?

Not an unusual question, since I’m usually traveling around the world. But lately I haven’t been on my blog, and there are a few reasons for that. March was a really crazy and kind of terrible month in my life. I had a lot of upsets, and a lot of plans got literally trampled in dirt and tears. But that’s part of life, isn’t it? And as much as it hurts, I know that I’m strong enough to press on, and to dig deeper.

I needed to take a couple of weeks away from my writing to recover, but behold — I’m back! And April is already proving to be a much (MUCH) better month.

For starters, I’ve started writing again, which is always a good sign. When I’m writing, I’m happy. If I’m not writing, there’s probably something wrong. April has brought all kinds of new opportunities for me to be able to partner with other creatives, which I’m so incredibly thankful for, and I love that the pieces keep coming together, in order for me to keep doing what I love.

So what’s up next?

April is going to be filled with copywriting projects, continuing my Etsy shop and working on paintings for the exhibit I’m getting ready to display in June (I’M SO EXCITED!). Oh, and continuing to work like a mad-woman. In the past I’ve apologized a lot for working so much, but there shall be no more of that nonsense. I love working, and I love where I work (all four jobs). And the thing is, if I love what I’m doing, how dare others condemn it. Can I get an amen!?
In other inspiration news I’ve been watching some cool shows, while working on my many projects. Here are my favorites at the moment:

Elementary: An American version of Sherlock Holmes, that actually isn’t that bad. It took me forever to start this show, because I was so worried it would be terrible, but I actually really like it.
Harlots (Viewer discretion advised): This show is a Hulu original, and all about bad ass women at the end of the 18th century. It has a (basically) all female cast and I love the politics of strong women who are so entirely bad-ass.
Mercy Street: Season 3 just ended, but I’m absolutely in love with this is an amazing Civil War era drama. Again, strong female characters who have strong character development (sarcastic *GASP*) and there’s just a really well rounded cast, overall.
The White Queen: This show is set during The War of the Roses, in England. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I’m also really excited because there’s a sequel, “The White Princess” coming out on April 16th!
Survivor:
 Yes, this show is still on. One of my friends mentioned it and then I thought, “Oh, I’ll just watch one episode” and I got hooked. #guiltypleasure

I’m also really excited for all of the amazing arts events Seattle has to offer in the month of April. I love living in a city that’s so passionate about art and music and theater. It really does feed my soul. This weekend I’m going to the Seattle Art Museum’s new exhibit, Seeing Nature, and I couldn’t be more excited. I literally always need a little more painting inspiration in my life.

I mean, LOOK. The Seattle Art Museum’s current exhibit “Seeing Nature” looks so amazing!

I’ve also been reading a lot, lately. Over the past year I’ve bought about 20 books I want to read… and I’ve read approximately 3 of them. So, now’s the time to dive in and consume them ALL. My current read is called Uninvited and it’s a beautiful book written by Lysa TerKeurst. To be honest, the title of the book sounds depressing, but it’s actually about living intentionally with others in your life, establishing a strong self identity and overcoming obstacles. I’d highly recommend it.

And lastly I’m working on this project. It’s kind of an awesome New Years Resolution that’s been really hard for me, but has proved to be so incredibly inspiring. This year, rather than resolving against something I decided to resolve to do something: every month in 2017 I’ll meet up with one person to have coffee. Not a work date, not a group hangout session, but a one-on-one intentional sit down cup of tea/coffee. Sounds easy, right? It’s not.

The reality of the world that we live in is that we’re constantly on the go. Especially as Americans, we’re taught to keep running, running, running. But what about the people who get left behind? Not because you don’t want them in your life, but because you’re so busy chasing a career or the next adventure, or a marriage, or your children, that you completely forget to connect. Intentionally connect.

My New Years resolution was to intentionally connect with people in 2017.

I’m not going to lie, it was really hard the first couple of months. I have a really crazy schedule, and so do most people I know (because they’re complete bad-asses) but I’ve held true to my resolution. The crazy thing is, I barely made time in January, slid by in February, but in March (*dramatic pause*) I grabbed coffee with THREE people.

I’m basically a hermit, so this is a big deal.
The lesson I’m learning? We’re a very lonely society, and no amount of Netflix binge-watching is going to cure that. Once I started making time, I started noticing more opportunities, and (the best part) people started to reach out to me. It’s like once I let the universe know I was ready to let people in, it started to help me out.

It’s really hard for me to make myself leave my comfort zone/house and spend time with people (#introvertproblems) but you know what? I was wired for it. We, as humans, are wired for connection. And especially in today’s world, where things just seem to be perpetually going to shit (sorry, mom), it’s more important than I think we realize.

So, let’s take the challenge together. Who can you intentionally connect with? Who can you call, or write a letter to? Who can you grab coffee with?
Take the leap.
Oh, and leave a message in the comments to let me know how it went!

4 Ways To Travel Without Leaving Home

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What if I told you that you can travel without ever leaving your neighborhood? 

Traveling is a big part of my life. Obviously. I spend hours each week blogging, researching and Tweeting about it. But the reality of the situation is that not everyone can just throw some stuff in a bag and hop on a plane, which is something I’ve been very fortunate to have done on multiple occasions. Right now, however, I’m in a bit of a hiatus for travel, or at least long trips, because I’m paying back the student loan gods and getting settled after a year of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

But back to you. I know there are a lot of you who love travel, but may not be able to right now, so I thought I would share some of my tips for curing (at least temporarily) the travel blues. Ready? Okay, here we go:

Postcards

You know, those tiny little scraps of paper that you pray will go where they’re supposed to because, let’s face it, there’s no return address. Yep, those. I love postcards and I probably always will. When I was a kid I used to had a penpal, and that’s probably where my love for snail mail originates from, but I think I also just like being able to talk to people without talking to them (if I’m honest) #introvert.

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The best part of sending/receiving postcards is that you don’t have travel somewhere in order to send them. No joke! Try out a website like Postcrossing to send and receive postcards from people all over the world. How does this work?

1. You go to Postcrossing and sign up.

2. They send you the addresses of a few people to test your commitment.

3. Once those people receive your postcards (which you’ve written a little code from the website, on) you start getting postcards and so forth and so on.

One time I got a postcard from Germany that led me to making a new friend in the U.S. and it was awesome. You never know what you’re gonna get!

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The wall of my bedroom in Paris.

Read

I know, I know, now I sound like
5th grade.Outlander-TV_series-2014 But it’s TRUE! Reading is an amazing way to experience other cultures and places without ever having to leave your house (literally, just order them on Amazon – you don’t have to ever leave…except maybe health reasons).The best part of books (other than that they’re relatively cheap) is that they can actually inspire you to travel to other places, and make your trips more fun.
Right now I’m reading the Outlander series, and I’m seriously considering going to Scotland just so that I can visit all of the places. It makes you appreciate a place so much more when you’re able to associate happy reading memories with the real life places.

Have a Penpal

IMG_0389One of the best ways to get to know people who are different than yourself is to do just that…get to know people who are different from you. I’ve had a penpal for most of my childhood and again for the past year. She lives in Liverpool, England and due to the crazy of each letter taking 1-2 weeks to get from point A to point B, we don’t talk too often, but it’s the most exciting thing in the world to get a letter in the mail from England once a month!

If you’re still a little skeptical that pen pals are for kids, take a peek at the website that I used to get mine: Letter Writer’s Alliance. They’re dedicated to making sure snail mail stays in business, and it’s a pretty awesome community. Not only can you get matched with another member (lifetime membership is $5) but you can also check out their awesome letter writing merch (not required to write, just awesome) as well as local meet-ups and other events.

Social Media Groups

You know what they say: the people you surround yourself with influence your behavior. The best part of social media is that you can choose who you’re around and gain inspiration that way! Obviously, Twitter is my biggest inspiration with all +5,000 of my travel buds, but I also love Facebook groups, as well. Instagram is (obv) a really good source as well, but I’ve never really been in to Instagram, so that’s not as much my scene. Try looking at these Facebook Groups (or even join a couple!) for travel inspiration galore.

Travelettes : Launched in 2009, Travelettes is an online magazine/ travelblog/ network for and from girls who love to travel.

Nomadness Travel Tribe: The Nomad•ness Travel Tribe, created by Evita Robinson, stemming from her travel series Nomad•ness TV, is an online social community of travelers and expats all around the world. In the Tribe, they come together to share stories, advice, dos and don’ts, in an interpersonal setting. The majority of our members are bridged by an urban background.

Americans in France:

Irish Central: IrishCentral is America’s number one news website for Irish news with over 3.5 million readers a month. (Also one of my favorite newsletters to get!)

Mama Loves Paris: Brilliant ideas, inspiration, fun and fab photography for families living or loving Paris life.

Jetting Around: Jetting Around by Pola Henderson is a blog dedicated to cities and their culture. In addition to writing, Pola hosts a weekly city travel discussion on Twitter called #JAchat (Fridays, 1pm ET) and international networking events for travelers, JA Café: Travel Talk Over Coffee.

Travel Noire: Travel Noire is a digital publishing platform that creates tools and resources for the unconventional traveler.

The Exploress: Inspire | Share | Educate | Together we are a global community of young, creative and adventurous women who share a burning desire to travel.

Dust From The Ground

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Glasgow, Scotland

What makes a life memorable? With today’s world of online clutter, award winners, inspirational people and political voices,  it’s hard to really know what impact even means, anymore.

But, a couple of days ago, I read an article about a girl who died when she was 22. She didn’t have any Nobel Peace Prizes or Olympic gold medals. What she did have, were friends who were willing to write her story after she was gone. And, as I scrolled through the piece, tears started to fill my eyes. After I was done reading, I had to stop and ask myself, “Why does this matter? I’ve never even met this person. So, why am I mourning?”

You make beautiful things out of dust.

These lyrics have been haunting me for a couple of days now. They come the band Gungor, but I don’t think I ever let them sink in, until today.

Before, when I listened to this song, I thought about the scientific realities. From dust we come, and to dust we will return.

But today, I let my heart speak for a moment. I started to think over the past couple of years. They weren’t great. With the exception of the last four months, I would go as far as to say they were probably the worst in my repertoire. Nothing seemed to work – ever. I felt like life kicked me again, and again and again, until I was broken down and bloody on the ground. Life was shit, and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to get better. It was chaotic, it was unfair, it was overwhelming, and it was filled with pain, tears and sitting on my bed asking, “WHY?”

But now, looking back, I see that it was dust. Those things that happened, each pain filled moment, was merely dust preparing to be formed into beauty.

See, I serve a Creator who takes dirt and molds it into lives that matter. A God who raises up leaders out of the broken and the weak. When doubt fills my mind, and chaos is all I can see, I know that, through the storm, there is beauty waiting to be made. Beautiful things are rising up out of the ground.

I feel like doubt is one of the greatest killers of dreams. We doubt ourselves, so we make do with what we have, instead of pursuing what we’re called to. We look at ourselves and think, “There’s no way. I’m too [flawed, imperfect, scared, tired, messed up, broken, weak, insecure, unlovable, insignificant, unsure, inexperienced] to ever see this through. It’s not even worth trying.” And guess what? You’re right. You are. But, that’s not the point.

Regardless of beliefs, I think the creation story found in Genesis is beautiful. In it we’re told that God takes dust from the ground and forms it into man. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist – but this is significant. For every other living thing, God speaks them into existence. But for humankind, he takes them and forms them out of the dirt of the ground.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried making pottery, but let me tell you – it’s hard. Your hands get dirty, and your arms get tired. It takes hours and hours to make one pot. You sit there staring and carving, smoothing your surface and lovingly putting in each detail you desire.

We were worth God’s time. And that means something.

In life today we don’t get to see God physically making people out of dirt, but I almost wish we did. We don’t have a physical manifestation so, instead, we have to pay close attention to see the remaking of beauty from the dirt that life produces.

Because, when it comes down to it:

In order to truly understand love, you have to experience pain.

To truly appreciate the value of laughter, you have to know the heaviness of silence.

To relish the comfort of restful sleep, you have to know the anguish of tear filled nights.

It’s not that our lives are perfect which makes us matter, or important, or significant or able. It’s that our lives are poignant.

Why did that 22 year old’s life matter, when I read her story? Because, the words she left behind sparked curiosity and enlightenment in those she spoke to; she set her mind toward goals, and her hard work inspired others to do the same.

Her life wasn’t beautiful because it was spotless, it was beautiful because the ripple effects of her existence are still echoing through space and time. Her zeal for life, her passion for engaging fully with others; those were her legacy.

Those were the stories that continued to be told and retold and retold until they ended up on my laptop screen. She lived a life worth writing about.

And, even if it was through the testimony of others, she inspired me to remember that it’s not always about the prizes, the recognition and the success of our endeavors. Sometimes, beautiful things don’t come out of perfection – they come out of dust.

DID YOU KNOW?!?

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Did you guys know I am a writer/photographer for the website “The Exploress”? Check out some of my pieces and some of the other amazing stories about life, and traveling the world as a woman!

CLICK HERE to read more! 

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