On reflections and going back “home”

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

Jack Kerouac

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I started this blog a year ago. I used it to document my self-transformation, my journey, and to inspire others somehow with my photography and writings. A few months before this blog was born I had made the decision to quit college. I felt as though I wasn’t serving my soul’s purpose. I woke up and dragged myself to school everyday with this strong nagging feeling that I just wasn’t supposed to be there. That I needed to be somewhere else, doing something better with my life. Doing something that would fulfill the desires of my heart. So I decided to pursue photography and something I have dreamt of since I could remember: to travel the world.

And I did.

I spent three weeks with my friend in Costa Rica and Panama. Then I came back to California. Worked and saved for five months. Then left again to go backpacking in Thailand and to visit my homeland, the Philippines. I was away for six months. And now I’m back “home”.

I know now more than ever what my definition of home is. It’s not a place. Or a person. Or a thing. You can “feel at home”. You can “be home”. But that’s not it. That was never it for me.

And so, what is my definition of home?

Freedom.

Never in my entire 24 years of living have I felt more liberated than I did when I am travelingWhen I am wandering on the road I call home. I feel the most alive and liberated when I’m out there. Living like a vagabond with nothing but my possessions in a huge backpack. Moving as my only constant. Anything is possible as I am given a brand new day in a place I have never been, with no set plans. I find comfort in not knowing what the day will bring and surrendering to the currents of the universe.

But, what happens when it’s all over?

I’ve been back in California for almost two months. And to be honest, it’s been tough as hell. I miss traveling. Found it hard to adjust to the American life. Dealt with discouraging people who think I’m making a “mistake” by my life choices, just because it’s something they don’t understand. I’m still technically “unemployed”. I’ve had to deal with disheartening “family issues”. I’m trying to find a place of my own so I can move out and avoid it. I’m working hard to make a living with photography. I’ve spent endless hours working on my blog to be location-independent but above all inspire the others. On top of it all I’m trying my best to stay positive despite all the adversities.

Deep down I know that it is happening for a reason, as everything does. So I will continue to trust my struggles, to trust the universe, stay in the present moment and let bliss occupy my mind.

And so that’s the truth. When we come back from whatever adventurous journey we’ve embarked upon reality will settle in. We will have to work harder than we did before we left for our trip. We would have to overcome obstacles and we will have to continue to fight for our dreams. But no matter what happens, we must be grateful and manifest the light through whatever situation we are in. Nobody ever said making sacrifices and taking risks for our dreams would be easy. But it is sure as hell worth it.

And so, what’s next?

I will continue to work hard for my dreams before I embark on another journey.

This year I will stay in California to work on my photography business, work and save up for my next backpacking trip, and work on becoming location-independent with my blog and photography so I can do it while traveling anywhere in the world. I will feed the wanderlust by going on camping trips in Northern California and its surrounding states. And take a few weeks to go backpacking somewhere in Central America or Hawaii until I go backpacking long-term again. And who knows where else this year will take me.

In the summer of 2014, I’ll be back on the road for several months. My journey will start in Bali, then Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, India and my homeland, the Philippines.

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It’s important to hold on to whatever lessons we learn on our journeys. To keep the travel spirit alive. To let the adventure permeate through every cell of our being and to keep it breathing. We have to let traveling and coming back teach us and we have to learn over and over again. We must grow with every experience, good or bad. We have to make it through each triumph and defeat of our journeys and let it sustain us.

So here’s to never-ending journeys. May it continue to bring us to the most breathtaking places we will ever lay our eyes on, lead us to meet beautiful souls, and the most blissful experiences we will ever have in our lives. May we continue to fall in love everyday eager to see the world we know so little about, to feed this insatiable wanderlust, and the curiosity to explore.

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And so where do we go from here?

Well, everywhere.

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84 thoughts on “On reflections and going back “home”

  1. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on the 1-year anniversary.
    I really appreciate the story of not only you traveling but also of making this blog as a kind of new chapter in that journey.

    For some reason I just got this vibe that you had been doing this for so long, it was that inspirational, that unorthodox, that ‘whatever I WANTED TO EXP/FEEL’, that unreal, but maybe so real it intimidated me, in the way of, if she is doing this so can you…

    Thanks again

    what do you mean by location-ind?

    • Thanks Obi! I know it’s kinda crazy to think that has only been a year. If I had the courage at an earlier time in my life I would have started when I was a little younger. But everything is perfect timing.

      Location-independent means being able to live and work anywhere on their laptop. A digital nomad basically. Also known as “free-range humans”. This can be done through many ways.

  2. This might be another successful, viral post Stephanie! (May I call you Steph? :D)

    We’re the only ones who know what’s best for us, so we shouldn’t mind those who probably don’t know any better. 🙂 I’ve also been met with crinkled eyebrows, blank stares and words of discouragement by people who I’ve shared my dream of traveling the world with. Though difficult, I pay them no mind. 🙂

    I guess we folks have to stick together. Do know that you have a lot of us behind your back. 🙂 Thanks for being such an inspiration. 🙂

    • Haha of course you can call me whatever you want love! Thank you so much for the kind words. I can feel your love and support from this side of the world 🙂

  3. It’s really an inspirational for everyone with passion to travel. Thank you for sharing 🙂 I am praying that may God Bless you in all your journey and I’m hoping that our path will cross someday. Congratulations and I hope all the best for you.

  4. Once again the synchronicity of your posting has blown my heart (in a good way)! I am sitting in Thailand this morning seriously contemplating a return to California for a few months. I had even tentatively reserved a free flight back just before reading your post which gives me pause to go a band deeper in my deliberations.
    In the five years I have been traveling I have returned twice and it is always exciting for a week or two and then very difficult. Friends and other beings who do not travel have a hard time relating, reenforcing cellular doubts I thought cleared years ago. This is standard. Expenses are four to five times greater than in most of the world in which I travel.
    Last year I returned from traveling in NZ and Indonesia, thinking I would stay a month or two. The magnetics of Northern California and the beautiful redwoods that were home for so many years ended up sucking me in for almost five months. Most of that time I was either stir-crazy or miserable on the inside and my heart did not fully reopen and engage until I booked a one-way flight to Bangkok in December.
    What have I learned? What have you learned? I too have found I am happiest traveling with no long-term fixed agenda. I feel more empowered and flexible, less rigid and judgmental. I relate well to fellow travelers and meet new cultures and people from a place that begins in the center of my chest.
    Although there is a large chronological difference between us, I resonate with and am inspired by your fearless articulations. (I, too, dropped out of college many years ago to follow my heart’s dreams but that is another story.)
    I would encourage you to never settle for the routine security-driven life of third dimensional reality. I feel that deep inside you already know this to be true for you.
    One last thing, if you are going on a short trip to Central America, I would recommend Guatemala and El Salvador. I have written extensively about both in my blog.
    Here’s to the continued unfoldment of your story

  5. Philip! I’m glad my stories and words resonates with you and also glad to see we are like-minded people.. although you’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, I mean five years my goodness! You’re an inspiration. I will definitely check out one of those countries, if not this year then I am doing a backpacking trip through Latin America around 2015/2016 and will go through those countries.

    To never-ending adventures my friend. I wish you magical days.

  6. Very Eloquently put. I love your writing! For me being at home can be OK but as you said it is important to hang on to and retain that feeling we have when we are travelling. There really is nothing like it. I want to feel like that always and we must fight to let that permeate our entire lives! 🙂

  7. wow! love your post, flow of your thoughts…amazing. 🙂 returning home can be really tough. First couple of days are great but then you are back just where you started from. The difference is that you are a different person, with different views – this is the great part of coming home, every time I can see how I have grown and changed, I can really see the difference in my own thinking! 🙂

  8. Your images are beautiful and inspiring. Being a photographer can be tough but it can also be so rewarding. To convey the emotion you feel to share with others in an images is a great gift. I wish you all the very best of luck. 🙂

  9. The synchronicity of your posting to my own thought processes caught me off guard. I’m still abroad (in London) pondering my pending return to California (home) in a few months and discovering a sense of dread, worry, stress, fears of settling back in to daily life. I think your photography is beautiful, as is your written voice, and I hope that with perseverance you become successfully location independent. With so many others able to achieve this out there, with far less talent than you possess, I cannot imagine your failing in this endeavor. It will likely just be a challenge to reach that point. Wishing you well as you struggle to settle, and in all of your future adventures!

  10. Really enjoyed the honesty of this post; it must be very difficult indeed to go against the grain. Stay focused of what feels the best to you and let others find their own adventure! Happy travels!!

  11. It is always difficult to face our reality after a time travelling. Starting a new career is also a little bit scaring… I’m just having this experience now, and I can tell you how difficult it is.Sometimes your family and your friends doens’t understand you, but keep pursuing your dream! Your a young talented girl, you will succeed! Have a great week!
    Cristina

  12. Inspirational, As I sit here in my office desk on a Monday morning after a long weekend thanks to the 4th, I question what exactly am I doing ? you see I’m a senior in college and I spend most of my summer’s interning (saving up money to pay for school) when all I really want to do is travel with my camera and experience the world. Your decision to drop out of college must have been a difficult and hard one to make but it was the right one and I commend you on that, for being brave enough to chase after your dream regardless of the outcome.
    You have inspired me to do the same and after this long year when I finally do end up graduating, I will do the same and chase my dreams regardless of what anyone thinks .

    • Yes, a lot! I turn my music on and put on my earphones on ferry/boat rides, bus rides, planes, etc. Pretty much like a movie soundtrack and makes everything even more amazing 😉

  13. I’ve only been following for a few weeks, but you are a huge inspiration! I find it funny that my life looks a bit like yours too.
    1. I dropped out of college, out of nursing, a few months ago because my soul didn’t feel like it was in the right place.
    2. I have a passion for photography too and going for my dreams to become a photographer. Plus, I love traveling!
    3. I’m filipino too!
    I totally understand where you’re coming from with adversities, mostly with family right? Cause that’s where I had a lot of troubles rise up. Just keep doing what feels right to you because you know what you love to do. You understand yourself, while other people don’t. They don’t agree with your lifestyle because they didn’t grow up that way. But there’s not one perfect way of living, as you already know. I wish you the best in whatever comes your way! I look forward your next blog post!

    • Haha nice! Where are you based?

      Yea it’s hard to deal with your family especially if you’re Filipino. Our families are mostly conservative and well, you know how that is. Luckily my mom warmed up to the idea of me quitting college and following my dreams. My dad and grandma did too. Sometimes they still wish that I would go back and finish college, but I talk to them and remind them why I’m doing this. And I know they see the passion in my eyes… my dreams radiating through me when I speak of it. So they just let me be.

      I wish you the best in everything you do as well! You take such beautiful pictures!

  14. i’m feeding my wanderlust the same way – though long drives or walking aimlessly around my corner of the city…i was one click away from booking a flight to cambodia a few minutes a go but stopped myself as i head for bangkok next month and will need whatever meager funds i have….i’m double your age but i share the lust for travel and freedom…i sure as hell understand how it feels when real becomes REAL and you almost resort to tying yourself to a post just so you can keep still because you know you need to keep still or else travel might cease to be freedom but escape (been there done that, not the same).

    i’d sure want to meet up with you somewhere when you vagabond next – nepal will be nice…

    may i say, when i read your posts and the accompanying comments, i feel right at home ❤

    • Thank you for the sweet notes. It would be lovely to meet up with you. If you keep in touch with me and we’re not too far off from each other one day, we just might 😉

  15. Dear Stephanie,

    It feels like “home” to know that you went through the same thing when I was 24 then 🙂 Instead of quitting college, I quit my job. And yes, I found home everywhere. Maybe this planet is really just the “front porch”. And far beyond, who knows what lies ahead. Cheers and Godbless!

    • “Maybe this planet is really just the “front porch”. And far beyond, who knows what lies ahead.”

      Love that! Thank you for reading Cindy. I wish you never-ending adventures… and to always be home.

  16. Its so comforting to hear a fellow wanderluster’s struggle at the end (or pause) of travels. I too have been home in the US (North Carolina) for 2 months after 4 years between NZ, Oz, and South East Asia and I am struggling to keep the positive energy flowing. I so strongly believe that travel enriches a person and that energy seeps through them and back into the community they belong to….the answer to world peace! I’m finding it so discouraging to be ‘home’ where I grew up, but have NO person who shares in these values.
    Believe it or not, I stumbled across your blog and have continued to follow in an attempt to keep that bright light shining inside me by reading your inspiring words/photos. Shine on!!! x

    • Being home after being away for 4 years, wow! And I was only away for six months hahaha. It’s definitely tough for an adventurous free spirit to be in an “old home” and having no like-minded people.. I commend you for that. A lot of my travel friends are in the same boat right now too, many others are. We just have to keep the wanderlust breathing. And planning the next trip helps.. a lot! Before I even came home I was already thinking on my next trip to asia next year. And the short trips will feed the wanderlust for a bit.

      Here’s to us keeping the travel spirit alive my friend.

  17. I have been reading the last few months, since I discovered this blog thanks to the High Existence Community.

    Good Luck. I’m not ready for my journey yet. I can feel I have business to attend to in the next few years. At 18 though, I stay hopeful. I have time. A few years should do it, and I’ll take off one day, maybe just start walking. Your stories, and others, keep me pointed North though. Your story is important. and thank you for sharing.

    By the way. While you travel the Western states, if you make it to Oregon, see about visiting Opal Creek. Clean water doesnt exist in many places here or elsewhere in the world. This is the only sanctuary I have ever laid my eyes on though, and it was beautiful and life changing.

    Much Love,
    Anthony

    • Thanks for reading Anthony! I’ve heard Oregon is absolutely beautiful. I definitely plan on going there and visiting Opal Creek thank you for letting me know.

      Follow your heart, love. Wherever it decides to wander.

  18. Hi! I just discovered your blog (through WordPress recently on their picks of travel blogs) and am really enjoying reading. This is beautifully written. If you’re happy then you’re doing the right thing – you don’t have to listen to what others say! All the best and look forward to reading more of your journey 🙂

  19. It feels good reading this entry, it speaks of your soul. =) It encourages people as it seeps through our hearts. I believe in each and every step you take, your soul has never been the same, left wandering yet enriched. Lokin’ forward to your next entires!

  20. I absolutely love your reflections, and was actually really inspired by this post. Thank you! I’m glad I stumbled upon this blog of yours, and I can’t wait until it’s my turn to leave the nest and explore the world.

  21. Hey! I’m Filipina too. I was captivated reading about how you’ve visited the Philippines, and like it here. I understand what you meant when you wrote about how people accuse you of making “mistakes” – it’s hurtful, and in a way, lonely, not to be understood. But I find that we must make the decisions that fill our hearts with the most life, and joy, and I applaud you for knowing yours. I’ve followed you, and wish you only the best and most beautiful adventures!

  22. Reblogged this on ..around the World and commented:
    I love this blog which I’ve recently start to follow. The blogger writes out my same sentiments towards travelling/life journeys/coming home which I myself have failed to put in words.
    I’m still trying to find my own definition of home.
    It’s kinda like a temporary state of mind.. It doesn’t stay, that’s why I wander.
    Or perhaps I just have not found it yet.

  23. Pingback: Home is ______ . | ..around the World

  24. I envy your free spirit. Mine is around somewhere. Perhaps in Costa Rica or Ireland. One day I’ll find it but until then I shall live vicariously through your blog posts. I thank you for that. A little part of my soul has been set free.

  25. I just found your blog, and I’m already obsessed. You are truly inspiring! I’m looking forward to following your thoughts and adventures!
    Oh, and from September this year, I’ll be living in Nepal for half a year. Then backpacking around in Asia after that until I run out of money. If I make it to (and beyond) summer 2014 we should see if we end up somewhere near each other, it would be great to meet you!

    • Thank you Louise! So excited for you! Are you volunteering? Or just exploring? Either way I’m sure it’ll be an epic adventure.

      Meeting up with you at one point would be lovely! I’m always up for meeting awesome new like-minded people 🙂 I’m going to Bali first either in July or beginning of August 2014. Then traveling throughout Asia. I just added you on fb so let’s keep in touch yea?

      To beautiful days,
      Stephanie

  26. Hi Satori,

    I found it inspiring reading your blog and I wish we could meet in person. I live in KL, Malaysia. Do email me when you’re here and I can bring you around 🙂 I’m saving up for my world trip too and for that, I would leave everything behind.

  27. Pingback: The long road home | cultured|creative

  28. I’ve just come back from university and am living at home again. It’s probably not quite the same, but after moving on and having to come back it’s extremely difficult and your words articulated how i’m feeling. My plan is to travel too, and you are right i think ‘home’ is having freedom! Good luck with your photography, it looks awesome :).

  29. Wow, what a beautifully written entry. I’ve been really ruminating on home — the concept of it, what it means to me — as well as those longings to travel, that feel like a deep part of me and so your writing really resonated with me.

    There’s something about traveling that makes me feel hyper-alive, and I think that’s why it can be so hard when you stop. When you find something that makes you feel like your truest self without a bunch of effort or force or pushing, it’s all you want to do to get back to it. I find that we can be ourselves anywhere, but some places make it harder than others.

    Best wishes with your travel dreams for 2014! 🙂

    • I wholeheartedly agreed with what you just said. I just read your post on coming home and absolutely loved it. Thanks for sharing your post.

      “I realized that growth is not the absence of those old debilitating thoughts, but rather a deeper knowledge that tells you that beneath it all, you have a choice. The thoughts in and of themselves aren’t necessarily the choice, but how you respond is.

      Instead of feeling discouraged, you can take it as a sign of great growth that you are aware now. And awareness is always the first step to lasting, meaningful change.”

      Such an insightful phrase and rings so much truth. That’s something I’ve learned as well. I’ve learned that with any given moment you have a choice to alter your perception on life. That you can choose happiness or suffering, no matter what circumstance you are in. Yes it’s hard. But it’s better to find that there is a reason why we are where we are, why we are who we are, and to find the silver lining in it. To grow not drown. It’s always our choice.

  30. Pingback: Going Home & Complacency Post Travel | letsbelost

  31. I just discovered your blog just this morning! i followed you on instagram & twitter just to be updated. I’m a big fan now. You’re such an inspiration. My husband and I are also into photography. Hope to meet you someday.

  32. This is such an inspiring read, dear. I’ve been following you on insta and your blog, it’s really inspiring and lovely. You know something? Do what you love and you will never live a day to regret it. Ignore the naysyers. You know best, your heart knows best 🙂

    Take heart xx

  33. Hello satori 🙂 I happened to come across your blog and found your prose incredibly lovely. Many of the things you have written resonate deeply with me as well, and I also write on similar themes on my blog: http://loveundwanderlust.wordpress.com (only if you’d like to read of course.) Continue to follow your heart and dreams, I wish you beauty in all that you choose to pursue!

  34. This is exactly what happened to me a few months ago. Going home really does suck…but leaving again is always a relieving, freeing feeling.

    I wish I had seen your blog earlier. I feel as though we write a lot about the same things.

    Great post, and looking forward to reading more 🙂

  35. Stephanie! I just found your blog and I must say that your expression of your passion for photography and travel is beautiful. I absolutely LOVE your definition of home. I too find my deepest passion in being on the go and taking photos everywhere I go. I can relate to the sadness of being home and stuck in one place, but at the same time have been exploring my own region and finding gems I never knew existed in my own backyard (the Lower Hudson River Valley in New York). My second favorite place in the US that I’ve been would have to be California and I think you should take advantage of living there and marvel at all the wonders in YOUR own backyard! But it seems you are already planning on doing that. I look forward to reading your blog and following along your adventures!

    –Alex

  36. Even though this is an old post, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with the universe. I just returned to California from Southeast Asia myself, and the past 6 weeks have been some of the most difficult and confusing weeks of my life. It’s hard to transition from a life on the road with like-minded friends to being stationary again and expected to find a stable job. But it is nice to have a gentle reminder that I am not alone with these feelings, and that it’s ok to want more from life than a stable job.
    Wishing you safe travels. Keep inspiring those around you.
    -Cait

  37. This is absolutely inspiring ! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas , I enjoyed reading your blog , I totally have the same urge to go travelling but I haven’t made my action yet . It’s really nice to see how you make the effort and fulfil your dream. Thank you !

  38. I do not even know how I stopped up right here, however I thought this post was once good.

    I do not realize who you are however certainly you are going to a well-known blogger in the event you aren’t already.
    Cheers!

  39. I’ve just accidentally found your blog and have kept read it for like hours. Thanks for the photos and the combined music, those are really inspiring. hmm, and I know summer ended already in Vietnam but I still wondered if you were there. Because I’m a Vietnamese and now living in Hanoi- the capital of Vietnam. Where I’m living currently is just 5 minute of walking from the Temple of Literature. If you haven’t arrived Hanoi, I hope I can meet you in person and show you around the city, to my facvorite places and we can talk about travel. that would be my honor to meet you. really. I don’t use WordPress regularly so you contact me through Couchsurfing:
    https://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=5HX4B0CTP
    best of luck for you.

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