My story of transformation.
I wasn't always this way.
Once upon a time, I was a cynical, somewhat judgmental, extremely self-conscious and insecure young woman. My insecurities ran deep leaving me with a guarded sense of self. I was a nurturer to my core which lead me down the path of being a social worker. I gave my everything to helping those in need with the exception of giving back to myself. I walked the walk that our society said I ought to walk and every once in a while, I'd hear the calling of my soul to listen and act accordingly, but I would quickly silence the calls. I became very edgy in my essence; I felt like the insides of my being were as sharp as shards of glass. Something was missing in my life despite the apparent married with two kids American dream I was living, yet I didn't know what it was.
Enter: Viva la Vida Travel
I started my business with the idea that I wanted to help transform people's lives through enriching travel experiences. I had no idea how to do that or where to begin but I started. My life's purpose has always been to nurture and support people in their life's journey and this was just another way to continue the mission.
I began to travel. I began to explore the hotels, the destinations, the experiences that I would hopefully someday send some enthusiastic travelers to. I traveled for business purposes, to learn all that I can learn so that I could be the best resource out there for future travelers, little did I know that in my travels, my life was changing.
It all started in Morelia, Michoacan ~ Mexico.
I was listening to a webinar of a woman who led culturally exclusive trips to Mexico and in listening to her passion for her work, my heart skipped a beat and I knew I needed to talk to this lady. I emailed her then arranged for a phone call where we had a brilliant and inspiring conversation about how she views travel and Mexico and I knew that I had met a member of my travel tribe. She heard the enthusiasm in my voice and how I wanted to build my business and she wanted to support me. It was because of her that I got invited to a travel event in Michoacan, Morelia, Mexico. I had never been outside of touristy resort towns in Mexico so I was intrigued by the offer to attend the event. I looked up everything I could about Morelia and all of the news seemed less than comforting. Michoacan was in the no travel zone in Mexico due to drug cartels yet despite the fear I had about going there, something inside me said, "Just go." So I went.
I arrived in Morelia late at night and when I exited my car to go to my hotel, I was paralyzed with excitement. Cobblestone roads, colonial buildings and dimly lit street lights paved my way to the hotel and I was in love ~ instantly. THIS ( in the 5 minutes that I'd been there) was going to be a great trip and something would come of it. What that would be, I had no idea but something inside of me was being stirred up that had never been stirred before.
I traveled throughout parts of Michoacan with a group of people I had just met who also worked in tourism. We explored quaint little towns, immersed ourselves in local street food and during our time together, became very good friends. We were driving in the countryside and on the side of the road was a mother and her three young children; a baby and two others who were probably 1 and 4. They were all dressed up in little suits and dresses. The mother was trying to walk down the road with a baby and two little children in tow, obviously struggling a bit and our driver noticed. He pulled over, opened up the van door, and invited the woman and her children in for a ride to wherever they were going. Our van was packed with all of us but we made room for them. They were on their way to a wedding just a mile or so down the road. She hopped in the van, children in her lap and next to her and we took off. We dropped them off at the church and as she got out, we also got out of the van. As she walked towards the church, she thanked us for the ride and waved us in the church, inviting us in for the wedding . . . so we went in.
Here I was at some strangers sacred ceremony, a gringa no less, feeling extremely out of place, yet I was welcomed in as if I was family. This would have never have happened to me back home. I couldn't understand how I would ever be invited into someones world in such an intimate way. I felt something different in my being, something I'd rarely felt before:
accepted and welcomed and dammit did it feel good.
This is when the softening of my soul began ~ in a small town in Michoacan, Mexico ~ initiated by the kindness of strangers. This is where I began to transform.
Many experiences later. . .
I continued to be invited to explore new destinations and to share in travel experiences that I would be able share with my travelers. It became my pursuit to learn about new countries and cultures in order to inspire my prospective clients and doing so, I myself, became inspired.
The edges of my heart and soul softened, my patience grew stronger, my judgements slipped by the wayside and my ability to accept everyone as they are grew exponentially. Every time I returned home from what was a business scouting trip, I found that a part of me had changed. The protective layers of my onion were being pulled away every time I traveled, leaving my core exposed and for the first time ever, I became content exposing my authentic self.
In the end . . .
It may be one experience you have while traveling that sparks a fire within you or it may be a culmination of many experiences while traveling both near and far from you that add to your transformation but the fact of the matter is this: