Last week, as I hit publish on an exciting new workshop in Tuscany, I went over to share the piece on Facebook.
Instead, when I opened my phone to share, I saw the terrible news of the latest European terror attack, this time in Barcelona, Spain.
In an instant, my mood disintegrated into sadness, fear, doubt.
Sadness for yet another senseless tragedy hurting so many innocent people, including children, newlyweds, grandparents. Families forever changed in an instant. As I read their stories, I cried.
Since then, I’ve been pinned downed by grief, as fear and doubt spin their worst-case scenarios.
Fear. I’ll be back in Barcelona in a couple of weeks — and also France and Italy in cities on orange alert (as is the United States) for terrorism.
I wasn’t feeling fear for myself. I’m already a nervous/scaredy cat traveller, but I go anyway.
So what am I afraid of? My fear is that people will be too afraid to travel. That they’ll cancel their trips abroad. That their love of exploration and adventure will be trumped by fear.
Doubt. Maybe I shouldn’t be inviting people to travel with me in Europe? Or even Mexico, or the United States, for that matter. What if something horrible happens?
What if something horrible happens and someone is traveling with me?
Isn’t travel frivolous? Is travel too dangerous now? Should we all just stay home?
Mexico doesn’t get the best travel press either. Was it irresponsible to have my young nephew spend his summer vacation here with me? Encouraging him to follow his dream of Spanish language immersion?
Am I a good Aunt? A good influence? Should I be encouraging my nephew, or anyone, to follow their travel dreams?
When fear wins over love on any subject is truly sad. As a hopeless romantic and extreme lover of life, I want love to prevail.
This is something that I know intellectually. But logic is no soother of raw emotion.
My mood was stuck in hopelessness — cycling between fear, doubt and sadness.
Until I spoke with a friend yesterday. Someone who has traveled with me as a client many times.
I confessed that I was feeling depressed and couldn’t seem to snap out of it.
She asked if it would help to talk about it.
Yes! It might. Leaping on the chance, I told her everything I just told you, above.
And then we talked about dreams.
She already knows what I’m about to tell you, so let me share a quick note about where my travel dream started.
Travel: For the Love of the World
When I say that I travel for the love of the world I mean that in the most literal way.
As a child living with my grandparents, my grandfather read to me out of his National Geographic magazines.
Each page turn opening up a wonder. My overwhelming feeling was: I have to go there. I want to know these people. I want to go everywhere.
No one in my family finished high school, or had careers, went to college or travelled. The desire to explore the world, to know people from other cultures, inspired me to be the first in my family to do all of those things.
Spinning the globe in my third grade classroom, I wondered about the mystery why we are born in a particular time and place. Locating the Great Lakes region of the United States, where I was born, I played a game of spinning the globe and stopping it with my finger on a random spot.
What do third graders do here? What dreams do they have? Who might I meet from this place one day when we are adults?
The Pull of the Dream
Dreaming of where travel could take me, and making art, is what kept me going through a difficult childhood.
The power of having a dream, is that it can pull you forward, toward a future that is totally different from your present.
After I spoke of my grief, I asked my friend if I could run an idea by her about my dream, the reason I even take women on creative journeys.
Creativity + Travel + Courage
Creativity + Travel + Courage (for lack of a better way to describe what I do) has been the theme of my blog since 2002.
For my whole life, creativity and travel (and the courage to do both) are the themes that constantly challenge me and move me forward, from fear to love.
Awkward Dance Steps
Creativity and journey-making, I’ve found, is not a graceful, linear path at all.
But more like a dance.
You know, two steps forward, a cha-cha step to the right, step backward, try a twirl, fall on your ass.
Daring to say YES
What I want most is to help women have the audacity to say yes to their own creative dreams and particular form of wanderlust.
For this we need to be daring, and a little brave.
My dream is to help women who get stuck:
- With the desire to want to create, and not know where to start.
- Secretly wanting to be an artist, but so full of doubt.
- Putting their art on hold for more practical things; day job, kids, spouse, dogs, unrequited love, etc.
- Longing to visit (anyplace, you name it), but not wanting to go alone.
- Wanting to blog (share and connect with kindreds) but not comfortable being seen and heard.
- Desperate to get their work into the world, but overwhelmed by business stuff.
- Wanting to travel, but with meaning. Not just margaritas on the beach, but not exactly joining the Peace Corp, either. Something in between? Or closer to meaningful margaritas?
- Dreaming of travel to far-off lands, but without budgeting the money or time to do go.
- Wanting to travel more like an artist and less like a tourist. How would that even look? Wow!
These are/were my creative dreams. Fueled by love and passion. Sidelined by fear and doubt.
Remember those awkward dance steps?
What I’ve learned so far is that love just needs to stay a couple of steps ahead of fear.
Like Leonard Cohen said, “Dance me to the end of love.”
I told my friend the new ideas I’ve been having around the topic of Creativity + Travel + Courage, of where I want to take you, dear readers, next (here online and around the world).
By the end of that call, we were shouting Hell, Yeah’s all over the place. The mood was light, full of possibility. Joyous and optimistic.
Love was now out a few steps ahead of fear, doubt and sadness.
This is how I feel when I’m cooking up my next travel adventure.
This is how I feel when I’m breaking through fear and saying yes to my creative impulse.
This is what I want for you, too.
Dare to travel.
Dare to create.
For the love of the world. For whatever love you claim as yours.
Doing what we love most takes us the places we really want to go.
If you are following a dream or idea that really lights you up, you’ll be afraid sometimes.
There will also be reasonable and logical reasons presented on why your dream or idea might be too dangerous or worth putting off until you’re ready or the political climate is better.
But I hope you go anyway.
You only need for love to be a couple of steps ahead.
p,s, My nephew just tested into Spanish III as a high school freshman, without any Spanish before his visit. Woo Hoo! I hope he doesn’t mind that I just blabbed to the entire Internet about it.
What is your travel dream?
What is your creative dream?
What stops you?
What keeps you going forward?