Letting Go

Being by the ocean makes you reflect. The movement and tranquil sound of its waves quickly pull you into a meditation where you can be alone with your thoughts. It’s an easy escape from all the noise and chaos of the world – at least for a little while.

This month I’m living in the lovely city of Lima that sits right on the western Pacific coast of Peru. I didn’t realize how much my soul missed being near the ocean, and I’ve been feeling especially grateful and humble since we arrived here a little over a week ago. As I swoon over the stunning cotton-candy sunsets and the refreshing smell of salty ocean water every evening in my new city, I can’t help but think “how in the hell is this my life.”

I keep wondering what I’d be doing if I was home in D.C. I’d probably still be stuck in the unfulfilling routine of rushing to my media relations job at 8:30 AM each morning – riding on unreliable, cramped metro trains full of grumpy government workers who desperately need their cup of morning coffee, sitting at an uncomfortable desk surrounded by cold gray cubicle walls, dreading the forced office small talk, and counting down the hours until lunch where I would splurge on meals out of my budget because it was honestly the highlight of my boring days. Oh, and my weekends would, of course, involve some hyped-up day party or boozy brunch where I always ordered my shrimp-n-grits and too many cheap mimosas. I’d be putting off any “creative me time” because I’d still be overextending myself for people and showing up to places I absolutely “needed to be”. Yea, I know I wouldn’t have escaped that cycle – because it felt normal, but mostly because I felt in control.

My number one constant goal for this year’s journey has been to let go. I started with leaving my full-time job and beginning 2017 unemployed with no new offers or prospects, and really had no idea how I would pay for the Remote Year program after plowing through my savings. Let’s just say January through March was humble-season for me (I am now thankfully working a remote job that combines my profession + passion, #praiseHim). Throughout my life, I’ve liked to think that I enjoy “going with the flow” but I can now honestly admit that I’m obsessed with controlling every detail of my career + life – and having any uncertainty about tomorrow, the next week or even the next month freaks me the f*ck out. I hate it, but traveling has for sure calmed my little ego down and has pushed me to build my faith in the unknown and put trust in all my experiences.

In the past few months, I’ve exceeded any expectation I’ve had for myself – I’m way less introverted, I’ve stopped being so damn scared of everything (went surfing three days ago and kind of chickened out but I am going back I swear, for real), and I don’t try to look “perfect” all the time with freshly done hair + nails because I’m too busy climbing up mountains and getting in muddy alien lagoons. So far, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at letting go and being content with the present moment. I will never go back to the life I had in D.C. – I know I’m not that Ashley anymore. And it feels really, really good.

Here are some shots of the Lima coast, ocean, and sunsets for you guys to swoon over, enjoyyy!

 

Xoxo,

Ash

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Not a Goodbye

Tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. I’ll be leaving Colombia and heading to Lima, Peru for month four of my journey with Remote Year. The faster my last hours in this perfect country speed by, the sadder I get – Colombia feels like home, its people feel like family, its mountains have become my peace, and all of its details have sparked creative depths in me that I was sure were dead. I’m not ready to go.

It’s been pretty interesting the conversations I’ve had with family and friends back home while living here. “Get those Pablo connects while you’re out there girl!”, “Don’t EVER walk alone no matter the time of day”, “Man, you’re so bad ass to spend that amount of time in Colombia…you’re not scared?!,” and so on…*rolls eyes*. I often cringed at the ignorance, but at one point I, too, had no idea what Colombia would be like other than what I’d watched in the glamorized, ruthless drug-world portrayed in Netflix’s Narcos series.

Long story short: If you’ve never been here, it’s easy to put the idea and perception of the entire country into a tight box — the terror and cocaine-filled 80’s and 90’s Pablo Escobar era is a time that Colombians work extremely hard to move past, and they’re constantly trying to climb out of the stereotyped bubble many outsiders place them into. For anyone visiting, whether it be for a weekend or a month, I cannot stress enough how important it is to enter with an open mind, and an open heart. Colombia is SO much more than the negative weight it has carried on its shoulders, and it deserves more than the insulting Pablo jokes and comments that many U.S. natives casually laugh over. The people take extreme pride in their beautiful country, and my respect runs deep for them.

I’ve spent the past month living and experiencing the gorgeous Colombian city of Medellin. The nicknamed “City of Eternal Spring” is nestled in the center of a deep, wide valley with mountains in literally every distant view. To me, it feels like some kind of fairy tale utopia floating high up in the clouds. Minus the daily battle between the loud thunderstorms and the sunshine, I’m pretty obsessed with the entire place. Upon my arrival here, I immediately felt overwhelming comfort and that strong sense of “I’ve been here before.”

I haven’t blogged all month because the past few weeks have probably been my most busy ones all year – I’ve hiked through super lush jungles & forests, visited a mountain coffee farm and a woman-owned agroecological farm, went on a “tienda crawl” at traditional Colombian corner stores (that serve amazing beer and food), learned about & tasted juicy exotic fruits only grown here, toured the Afro-Colombian neighborhood of Moravia (a city built on what used to be a trash dump), and even visited a cannabis connoisseur.  Aside from all of these adventures, I’ve spent time working and creating in the cutest, perfectly-decorated cafes and bistros that I’ve ever seen. You can say I’ve been busy falling crazy in love with Medellin.

Right now, I sort of feel like a bratty five-year-old leaving my favorite childhood stuffed animal behind – I want to pack up all the greatness of Medellin and keep it all for myself. I’m not at all ready to leave – but I know this is not a goodbye, simply a quick ‘see you later’ – and I’m currently adding Medellin to my “places I would live” list. Colombia has certainly set the tone for my expectations of South America, and I’m freakin’ thrilled to explore more of its wonderful gems.

Enjoy my photo collection & highlight reel from my favorite moments + places in Medellin, I hope it inspires you to visit the lovely & extraordinary City of Eternal Spring (click on individual image to see the full-size):

Cafes & Bistros

Parque Arvi Hike:

Coffee Farm:

Moravia ‘Route of Hope’

Cannabis Tour

Next up on the itinerary is Lima, Peru – til next time!

Xoxo,

Ash