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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Bogotá Views & D.C. Blues

Waking up to a dreamlike view of the Andes mountains and the fresh air in Bogotá every morning has offered a nice contrast to the heaviness of Mexico City. I no longer hear the tamale man circling around our block with a megaphone trying to sell his delicacies or the echoing of dozens of dogs barking in the street. My chest also feels way less tight from all the pollution we were living in. But mannn, I’m missing those Nutella stuffed churros that were just a three-minute walk away.

The layout of our new apartment has us feeling like we could be in any major U.S. city or spending a spontaneous weekend in South Beach, Miami – we have a white leather couch with two matching dining chairs, a lime green ottoman, large shag rug, with accent pillows and chair to match. It’s all bright as hell and modern, and it’s much better than the falling bedroom ceiling and the God-awful sulfur smells we dealt with in our Mexico City spot.

Our small balcony offers a vivid view of the regal mountains on the upper left of us with tons of business and apartment buildings down below. It’s been 10 days and we like it here – the only beef I have with Bogotá is that I have yet to find the perfect empanada. *sigh*

Lately, I’ve been really missing home. I’ve even made my favorite Nigerian stew with fried plantains twice in the past week to fill the little void I’ve been battling. My Facetime dates with my three younger siblings are bittersweet – I do love seeing their faces and answering their redundant questions, but they’re getting even taller, started cooking their own dinners, and are writing essays about going to college in five years. I’m super proud but want them to slowww downnn. At least while I’m gone.

Practically every day since January 1st has offered perfect weather. With sunny days and cool, crisp evenings, I forget what rain and snow and bitter winter winds feel like. The most I’ll need at night is my light leather jacket. But oddly, I miss my east coast winter days – wrapping up in my chunky scarves and throwing on my long black boots with every outfit. I would also kill for a boozy Sunday brunch with a delicious bowl of southern shrimp-n-grits. Gahh.

D.C. isn’t going anywhere, and it’ll surely be the same when I get back in December. I’m working hard on being present, and fully immersing myself in the now.

Favorite Bogotá moments so far: taking a cable car up the Monserrate mountain and obsessing over the views, finding the perfect sushi spot, and dancing to live Afrolatina music at El Campanario.

Not so favorite moments: playing a dangerous traditional Colombian game called Tejo (it uses explosives WTF), walking miles around dusty construction, and being stared at blankly when speaking pretty damn good Spanish.

I’ve been spending most of my time this week in my apartment, mostly because I have a stupid little cold. But I plan on exploring much more of the beautiful city of Bogotá. Here’s some of what I’ve captured so far:

Downtown Bogotá  & Museum District

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Day trip to Monserrate

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XOXO,

Ash