Live on Purpose

There are always so many thoughts swirling around in my head… but lately they aren’t just trivial ones about planning my day and working my way through my to-do list. They’re bigger than that. They’re actually less like thoughts and more like feelings or deep yearnings. You know, the sort of questions your heart starts to ask whenever your mind and is quiet for long enough to hear the gentle whispers that come from within.

Since the start of this year, I’ve been meditating more than I ever have. I wanted to be more intentional about having a clear mind and clear goals for this year, and after practicing yoga for so many years and loving the way it continually helps me feel centered and balanced, I felt like I needed a new challenge. Something that would help me grow on a deeper spiritual level. I also started reading Joe Dispenza’s book, Becoming Supernatural, in which he explains in great detail the science behind meditation and how it actually changes people’s lives. I immediately felt inspired and compelled to deepen my own meditation practice. Which for me, just meant intentionally setting aside time every day to do it.

Meditating isn’t a new thing for me. And to be honest, I don’t really think there is much difference between prayer and meditation. Growing up in a Christian household, I started praying when I was a child, so the practice of communicating with the Divine isn’t a new concept, nor is the desire to connect to Spirit a new experience. I’ve always felt a strong spiritual connection to something greater than myself. Call it God, the Universe, Mother Earth, whatever you want. I’ve just always felt like there is more to this life, to this reality, than what we are able to grasp with our human minds and intellects. I’ve never been a super facts-based person, but I have definitely developed an appreciation for science and facts and understanding how things work over the years.

All that to say, despite how my various spiritual practices have evolved over the years, the thing that remains the same no matter whether I am praying in a church or meditating out in a forest is a deepening knowing that this flesh and blood, physical experience that we are all having on planet earth is just a shadow of the truth. There is something more than this reality. And I don’t know what exactly it looks like or what the point of this life really is. I just know that the only thing that matters at the end of the day is love.

I know that might sound cliche and over-simplistic. Yet it is the very thing I keep coming back to. I don’t know why some people in this life are born beggars and others never have to work a day in their life for what they have. I hate that so many people in the world are struggling to put food on the table, all the while I have more than I could ever need. The imbalances and injustices in our world seem cruel and intentional and I want to do more to bring balance. But love is the only force I know that has the power to do that, even if that seems like a somewhat vague and naive statement.

There are so many people and powers that are stronger than me. It is easy to become cynical and wonder what I could possibly do to bring any kind of greater change to the world. That’s why I was drawn to work in the film industry. I figured at least then I would have a platform to spread some kind of message that might influence people. But I’m just working in a restaurant now, so does that mean my job isn’t important? That I’ve missed the mark and all my gifts and talents are going to waste? And what about other people? And all the seemingly insignificant jobs they fill. The hotel housekeepers and public school janitors, the fast-food workers, and street sweepers. They may not have an audience or any area of influence, but does that make their lives insignificant? Who’s to say that cleaning up trash off the street has no meaning?

I hope this doesn’t sound ranty… I just think that we tend to overcomplicate things a lot. And that we like to have formulas for how to do everything instead of learning to be present and doing what feels right in the moment. I think we place certain lofty ideals on pedestals and strive to achieve things that in the end really don’t matter when we could find meaning in the simplest of things if only we took the time to appreciate what’s already in front of us.

I think there’s a whole lot wrong with the world, but I also think there’s a whole lot that is right. And I believe every person has value, no matter their position in life. I think if we really want to see positive lasting change, it starts on the individual level. And I think the best thing you can possibly do for your community, your country, and for the world is to become the best version of yourself. To actually do the hard work of healing yourself, examining your prejudices and biases (see my previous blog about self-awareness). Doing so is no small feat, and it’s super important work.

I was really inspired watching the presidential inauguration yesterday, listening to Biden’s speech and Amanda Gorman’s powerful poem. I love how words can empower us to dream and inspire us to take action, and I hope that theirs spoken yesterday really take root in our hearts. I agree that we must seek to understand one another, laying our arms down, embracing each other with arms open wide. But in order to do that, we first have to get close to people that aren’t like us, to brush shoulders with those that don’t think like us or talk like us. We have to get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and work to keep our hearts and our minds open and not closed off in defensive protection.

But how many of us have ears that are ready to listen and hearts that are ready and open to discovering the truth? It takes bravery and courage to examine the ideas and beliefs we’ve long held as true. Are we truly ready to build a bridge over the differences that have kept us divided? I don’t know, but I have hope that we are.

I know this post might seem kind of all over the place, but I hope I hope that it might encourage you to go deeper wherever you are on your journey in life. To consider that perhaps the person you are actually matters in the grand scheme of things and that even the ordinary mundane parts of life are a necessary part of your journey to becoming the best you you can possibly be. It matters that you are here. You’re not here to simply take up space. So figure out who you are and do it on purpose.

Much Love

XOXO

Jackie

You are light

Holy crap. What a crazy f#&%ing year it’s been! I’ve seen so many memes on social media pertaining to the craziness of 2020 that have made me chuckle quite heartily. And despite the over-exaggeration depicting the events of this year through memes, the truth is, it has been a giant monumental year. An entire history book could be written on this year alone, and we’re only halfway through it.

But you already know that. Like me, you’ve lived the wild rollercoaster of a ride that this year has been. The thing I find interesting about the collective WTF moment we are experiencing at this point in time is the fact that EVERYONE is experiencing it. Of course, the universal concept of suffering isn’t something new, but I don’t know that we’ve ever really seen it embodied to the extent that we have this year on such a global scale.

During quarantine, I kept joking that what the world was experiencing as a whole, I’d already been through on an individual level when I was living in the middle of nowhere in Australia. And the growing sense of dread and unease resulting from fear of the unknown that seemed to be spreading during the rise of COVID felt all too familiar to me. For once it seemed like the world was showing me an accurate depiction of how I’d always felt personally. Like the fake facade of life being perfect and beautiful and easy all the damn time was finally destroyed, and the truth that nothing is certain could finally be seen.

And instead of feeling comforted by the fact that everyone was experiencing what I’ve known to be true for a while now, I felt the heaviness of it all much more intensely. And so I retreated. I stopped creating. And I did my best to get by.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I didn’t try to avoid the heaviness that I was feeling, but I also didn’t force myself to do more than I could. I had meltdowns frequently. I went from feeling super high and thankful to melting into a puddle of sadness and despair on the floor. Sometimes within a 24hour period.

And I know it’s not over yet. Tomorrow I could be back on the floor in a puddle of tears. Or maybe even later tonight. But I feel like I’ve gotten a bit of my spark back. Life has come back into my bones and I’m starting to feel a little less heavy and a bit more like my happy hope-filled self.

It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve written anything other than journaling, and I’m not sorry or regretful. By now I’ve learned that I can’t force myself to be productive out of guilt. I have to trust the process and flow with the seasons of life. Because that’s what they are, seasons. And each one is meant to teach us something different.

It’s okay to feel stuck and not be motivated to do anything. And I’m sure that’s how a lot of people have felt this year. While it is good to keep momentum and push through difficult times, sometimes it’s better to just stop. Stop resisting what is. And just let the floodgates open wide. Let the fear and the uncertainty and the doubt and the anger wash through you. You can’t escape it anyway, so might as well allow yourself to fully experience it.

At least that’s what I try to do. And yeah, it’s hella messy. And it sucks. And sometimes it feels like the despair will never end.

Until one day you wake up and realize you’ve just had the most sweet slumber. You hear the birds singing and the sun starts peeking through the clouds, and suddenly you realize, you’re okay. Today is a new day and each breath is a gift. And what is it you want to do with that gift? Because it’s your choice. And you can do anything you want to do.

What I want to do is write. And I want to inspire people to have hope and find peace and joy even in the hardest times. Because there is always light to be found. There is always love. Sometimes it takes going through the darkness to realize that the light you’re searching for out in the world is actually within you. But you can’t discover that until everything else goes black.

So I believe that’s the potential that this shitfest of a year holds for each of us. If we can embrace the darkness and allow ourselves to experience all that it holds, we will come out the other side with full confidence of the light we each contain, shining brighter than ever before. Because we’ll have been to the depths. We’ll have accepted our weakness. We’ll have surrendered to the powers that be and fully died to ourselves. And we’ll come out the other end having been reborn.

Embrace the darkness. There is nothing to fear. There is only love. Only light. And you are it.

XOXO,

Jackie

“Know Thyself”: Self-Awareness–What It Is and Why It Matters

Self-awareness has become quite a buzz word these days. I love that more and more people are connecting to themselves and their intuition/higher power on a deeper level through mindfulness and meditation practices. But I also think as commonplace as these terms are becoming, there are still many standing on the water’s edge, unsure of whether or not they want to wade into the deep. After all, with knowledge comes responsibility. And sacrificing ignorance for accountability requires a certain level of maturity some are not ready to fully step into. Once you see your reflection fully in the mirror, you can never un-see it.

Every person is on their own journey and each has his/her own process of self-discovery and growth into maturity and greater awareness. I think for the most part we are all trying to do the best that we can with what we know. Myself included. But to absolutely close oneself off to the experience of change and growth and broader understanding of the self and ways of the world leaves us all in a worse place. Truly. Our inner reality will always determine our external reality. And if we take one look at the news, it’s not too hard to see that we’ve got a lot of work to do.

But I’m not writing this to shame anyone into a forced journey of self-development. I simply want to share my experience and express why these personal tools and skills are so necessary in this day and age in the hopes that it will inspire you to remain open to learning and understanding more than you already think you know.

Bottom line, no one has all the answers. And the moment we begin acting as if we do is the moment we begin a very steep descent into deception. However, having enough awareness to recognize one’s own personal beliefs and values while also remaining open to the possibility of those beliefs and values changing is what creates a more healthy environment for us all to flourish. Being able to see important issues from another person’s perspective helps to diminish divisive speech and violent actions, but that can only happen when we let go of the need to protect our own egos.

What has got me pondering all of this is my recent return to the US after another extended period of living overseas. Having spent so much time away from my home country, I’m now more aware of certain beliefs and practices and values that are specifically American. And I know from living in other countries, that each nation has specific qualities unique to its own country as well. Every country also has its own downfalls, and as much as we can hate on our leaders for making poor decisions, no matter where you go in the world you will always find policies and people you don’t agree with.

So what does this all have to do with self-awareness? According to the Oxford definition, self-awareness is “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” To me, that means knowing your motivation for why you do the things you do and understanding your thoughts and feelings behind your actions. It’s not about identifying yourself as a certain type of person, whether that be your race, gender, nationality or class, but about identifying your why, and understanding how it determines the way you live.

I think when we aren’t prone to exposing ourselves to different people and places and ways of life, it can be easy to assume that everyone should naturally think and act like we do. But humanity is not that singularly faceted. It’s so expansive and colorful and diverse. Yes, we all have the same basic needs and wants, but there is so much variety in how we strive to attain those things. One isn’t necessarily more right or better than another. They are just different.

Knowing what makes you you and following your own path is important because we’re not all meant to live the same expression of life as each other. I’m not talking about being different just to be different. I’m talking about really getting to the core of who you are and tapping into the creative life force inside of you that wants to manifest in a bright and colorful way that is only unique to you. No one has the same expression of life just as no two fingerprints are the same. We’re not robots, nor will we ever be.

When a person is self-aware, they not only notice their own feelings and motivations behind their actions and reactions but they also notice how those actions affect others. I think once you begin to understand how and why you yourself are triggered by other people’s words and actions towards you, you begin to understand that how you see others isn’t always an accurate representation of what’s going on underneath the surface. And you begin to have more grace for yourself and for those around you, whether others are conscious of their behavior or not.

If you want to learn how to develop your self-awareness skills, start by simply noticing your thoughts and emotions throughout the day. Become the watcher of your own mind, observing yourself as if you are a separate entity from your mind and body. This is the basis of mindfulness practices. But to really understand yourself and become “self-aware,” you must take it one step further and begin to ask yourself why? When you notice certain thought patterns and emotional triggers, ask yourself why those things surface? Why do you feel_____, when _____ happens? Or why do you do ______(negative behavior), when ______ happens? What’s the underlying issue?

The most introspective people are either one of two things: self-conscious or self-aware. While the questions they ask themselves may be the same, the result is different based on how a person sees his/herself after they’ve got their answer. Developing self-awareness is not about looking for all the ways you fail and giving yourself a guilt-trip. It’s about learning more about yourself and why you are the way you are so that you can make positive changes in your life that help you grow and become a better person. If noticing your thought and behavioral patterns make you feel like a shitty person, again, ask yourself why that is. Do you feel like you have to be perfect? Where does that feeling come from? Getting to the root of the cause is what self-awareness is really about. If you only stop long enough to notice your thoughts and behaviors without taking it that step further to ask why, then you’re not really understanding yourself any better. You’re just becoming more self-conscious.

In my own life, I sometimes feel irresponsible for living the way I do, being a nomad with no real plans of where I want my life to go or what I’m going to build with it. But I’m starting to see the value in it. A friend recently asked me what I love most about traveling and living around the world, and now that I’ve spent some time back in the USA reflecting on the ways I’ve changed and grown, I think what I love most about it is that I’m constantly exposed to new people and ways of life.

“Normal” can look like so many different things. And I love that through experiencing different cultures, I feel the freedom to express life in whatever way it wants to manifest itself through me. I don’t define myself by any labels society wants to place on me because I don’t think they can ever truly capture the essence that is me. I don’t mean that in a cocky way. Just in the way that words can often fail to describe our experiences and emotions. So too am I undescribable.

And knowing that, knowing my motivation to keep living the way I do is because I want to continually grow and expand and learn, it’s easier to stay on my path and stop questioning when my life doesn’t look the same as those around me. I’m not fueled by money or fame or wanting to escape reality, or a need to be a mother or a teacher or whatever else is good and worthy of pursuit. I simply long to see the world in all its fullness, to understand the whys of humanity that have created our present reality, and to be a channel of light that brings hope, peace, love, and joy anywhere and everywhere it shines. But none of that is possible without self-awareness.

So what about you? What is your why? And what are you willing to do, to give up, to change, in order to live your unique expression?

I encourage you to listen. To go within and see what you find. And once you have your answer, live your truth wholeheartedly.

As always, thanks for reading along. I know today’s post is a bit more informational than usual, but self-awareness is super important to me and it’s something I think we could all learn to be better at practicing. If you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, please leave your feedback in the comments below!

Take care and see ya next time 😉

XOXO

Jackie

Happy New Yea–errrr February?

I know I’m a bit late in saying it, but better late than never right?! I’ve been super lax in posting lately, so if you’re reading this, I’d like to thank you for sticking around. It’s been a bit of a wild ride this last month…

I feel like I’m echoing the choir by saying that January got this year off to a crazy start. I mean, from the sudden killing of Soleimani, to the raging bushfires in Australia, and the outbreak of the Coronavirus, to the ongoing impeachment trial of Trump and the final enactment of Brexit, and lastly the very sad loss of Kobe and other loved ones, it’s been quite a sobering start to the new decade. Literally, and figuratively.

Not only has it been wild on a global level, but also on a personal one too. Just before Christmas, I received the disheartening news that my dad has pancreatic cancer. After weighing my options and waiting to see how my dad would proceed with treatment, I made the difficult decision to leave Australia indefinitely and a lot sooner than I had planned. While I hated having to leave in such a hurry, I knew that I needed to be home during this time to be close to family and friends. But goodbyes are never easy and I miss Australia every day…

It’s no coincidence my word for this year is presence. At a time when everything in my life feels like one giant question mark (more so than usual), I am continually reminded to seek refuge and peace in just being present each day. There’s no way to predict how our lives will go, and to fill my mind with thoughts of everything bad that could possibly happen or to cling to certain outcomes doesn’t serve me. Of course, I’m still human and I’m still prone to fears and wanting everything to be exactly as I’ve desired it to be, but I can’t find peace or joy in that. Instead, I choose to be grateful and surrender to wherever life is taking me right now.

I still believe everything happens for a reason and I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment. The last month, I’ve been spending a lot of time with family and catching up with friends. And while I often feel irresponsible for living the way I do and not planning every step of the way, I’m extremely grateful to be in a place in my life where I can easily uproot myself and go wherever I am needed without much hassle.

I’m still planning on going back to Australia before I turn 31 since that is the visa cut-off, but I think right now the best thing is for me to be near my parents in Charleston, SC. I’m missing the summer in Australia quite a bit right now, so the fact that my parents are south and far away from Ohio is a huge relief! I spent a week in Ohio already since I’ve been back and it was absolutely depressing lol. It was rainy and super cold and the sun didn’t shine once the entire week. Yuck! So thankfully, South Carolina has better weather and I’ll be close to the beach ☺

I’m currently in Los Angeles and planning to make a couple stops along the way before going back to Charleston. It’s fun being back in this diverse city, and I still love so many things about this place, but I’m glad I don’t live here anymore. I’ve turned into a bit of a country bumpkin I suppose… I just don’t want to add any extra stress to my life and LA is not an easy place to live.

I’m excited to see what it’s like living in Charleston. I haven’t lived near my parents since I moved away for college when I was 18, so being in the same city, let alone the same state, will definitely be an adjustment, but a good one I think. I’ve sort of been going non-stop since I got back to the states, and I’m looking forward to having space to call my own again. Living out of a suitcase gets old after a while.

So it seems that staying stateside is my next adventure for the foreseen future. Starting over is not a new thing for me, so I’m not worried about finding a place to live and a job and making new friends. I know that will all happen with time. My only reservation in being home is the fear that I’ll never leave again. That my time to see the world has suddenly come to a close and I won’t be able to revisit it. I fear settling down and swapping my suitcases for something more permanent like furniture and a puppy. Not that I don’t want that eventually, just not NOW. And probably not in South Carolina, no offense.

But that’s why my other word for this year is surrender. I’m giving up my timeline of when and how I expect my desires to manifest, trusting that the Universe has my back. My current circumstances may not be what I had hoped for, but I trust that I am where I’m meant to be. I feel like a broken record, but life is rarely what you expect it to be. And I’m done trying to figure it out and make it be what I want. I’ve learned that letting go and allowing what’s meant for me to come naturally is a more stress-free way to live. And it also lets me enjoy where I am since I’m not caught up in feeling disappointed or sad about where I’m not.

Not that I’m ignoring my feelings about missing Australia. But after being away for so long, I’m keenly aware of what a blessing it is to have time with the people I really love and care about, and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I’m going to soak it up as much as I can until I hear the call of my next adventure, whenever and wherever that ends up being…

Till then, I’ll be sure to keep you updated on all the happenings of life back in the US and the joys of reverse culture shock 😂

As always, thanks for reading along. I hope February finds us all in better health and brighter spirits. Much love!

XOXO,

Jackie

Goodbye, 2019!!: My Year in the Rearview

Ahhh 2019. What a year, hey? And really, what a decade! So many changes and so much learning! And this past year was no exception. So here’s my recap of 2019:

I actually started the New Year in Ohio. (Shoutout to my cuzzie for showing me a great time on New Year’s Eve. 😉 Country music and all…) I hadn’t been in America for over a year, and being back in the place I grew up felt like taking a trip down memory lane. All the ways I had changed since moving away from home when I was 18 seemed much more evident to me after having been out of the country for so long. And even though I no longer felt I belonged there and haven’t for a while now, there are so many aspects of growing up in Ohio that will always be a part of me.

It’s weird when you outgrow people or places. It feels like they will always stay the same no matter how much you change. It can be comforting and stifling at the same time. And that’s exactly how I feel when I’m in Ohio. Being there reminds me of how I used to be before I knew how capable and fearless I could be. Before I really believed in myself. And I feel a bit sad. But having all the fun memories of spending time with family and the simplicity of small-town life brings warmth to my heart and makes me miss those days gone by. It was an amazing way to grow up. Even though I was so eager to leave and forge a new path for myself, choosing to say goodbye to all the people I loved was still one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

Continuing on in my year, after an extended road-trip down south to see more friends and family, and spending a few weeks with my brother and sister-in-law in Nashville, I spent 10 days hanging out in my old stomping grounds in Los Angeles. Despite all the turmoil and strife of struggling to build a life on my own as a young adult in a new city, LA will always hold a special place in my heart because of how it taught me to dream, even when it felt like I was being ripped in two. It taught me to persevere. And it brought me my closest friends, my chosen family.

So with my love tank full and ready for my next adventure, I hopped a plane to Australia at the end of February and landed in Perth. I moved into my new living arrangement within a couple of days of arriving and started my first job about a month later.

It took a lot longer to get settled in Perth than I expected, and I thought about leaving several times. But I didn’t really know where else to go or what else I would do. In a lot of ways, this year was a grounding of sorts. Of coming back to who I am. Not that I strayed from that in the past, but I think a lot of questions I’d had floating around in my subconscious have been somewhat resolved over the last year, rather unintentionally I might add. And I think being in one place for an extended period of time provided the stability that I needed to feel safe to fall apart and be able to put myself back together again.

When I started this year, my intention was to focus on healing… I had been feeling a bit unhinged in pretty much every aspect of my life, especially emotionally and physically. Much of that I’m sure was due to my constantly changing geographic location. Being in a constant state of flux brought up a lot of old insecurities that I thought I had already conquered. And being in a new environment every month or so made it difficult to decipher whether what I was sensing was my own shit to work through or if I was picking up energy from the people around me. I knew I needed to feel settled for a longer period of time so I could get recalibrated and find balance again.

So that’s what a lot of this year was about. I didn’t know exactly how having the intention of healing would manifest in my everyday life, but I just took it one step at a time, starting with things that had helped me in the past and saying yes to new opportunities as they came. I drank celery juice every morning and cut back on drinking alcohol. I started going to a chiropractor regularly and doing yoga again. I meditated. I got into a routine with work and I prioritized making new friends. I even got into the dating scene, which is something I hadn’t planned on.

Doing all of those things helped bring a sense of stability and support to my life, but I still wasn’t feeling totally grounded or in the flow. After a session with an energy healer, I felt a big shift, like whatever negative energy had been blocking me before was finally released, and I finally felt grounded again. That’s when really cool things began to happen. I quit a job I hated and amazingly found another one that was super idyllic less than a week later. I started taking several online courses, one that would certify me as a life coach, and I joined a women’s circle. I got introduced to tantric practices, learned a lot about releasing emotions and embodying the divine feminine, and discovered an amazing alternative holistic community right where I was living. It’s like one thing just led to another and soon I was entering a new level of awareness and healing that I hadn’t experienced before.

That’s not to say that just by having self-awareness and the tools to help you work through things suddenly makes all your problems disappear or makes you somehow immune to them. You just get better at working through challenges, and the things that used to throw you off balance, no longer threaten to do so. I definitely had my fair share of challenging/painful experiences this year, but because I had the awareness and the tools to work through those experiences, what used to set me back into a tailspin for months, now gave me momentum to understand myself more and helped me to grow exponentially.

Through all of the experiences of the last year, the training I’ve done, the people I’v met, and the books I’ve read, I feel like I’ve learned and grown SO much. I feel much more centered in who I am and how I operate than I ever have. I feel excited and hopeful and so so grateful for the path that I am on. I never anticipated ending the year where I am now, in the Outback, but being here is just another piece of the puzzle that is my life. And that means I’ll be starting the new decade in Australia. Which is pretty cool I’d say.

I’m thankful to be closing this decade where I am. To feel so rooted in myself and at the same to be so full of possibility and desire for expansion. It’s easy to focus on the struggles we go through and allow ourselves to become cynical, but there’s no room for growth or change in that. That’s why I’m starting this decade choosing to focus on all the good things that could happen instead of fearing the hard stuff.

There will always be hard stuff. So why not look on the bright side of things and ask yourself, what if? What if everything in your life is meant to help you in some way? What if your greatest challenges are meant to be your greatest opportunities for growth? What if the best years of your life are still ahead of you? What if you decided to go after your dreams instead of playing it safe? What if you dared to dream of a better world and how you can make a positive change instead of complaining about how bad it is? What if you saw infinite possibilities instead of a million dead ends? What if?

I know the world can seem scary, especially in this day in age. But there is still so much beauty, and I think the answers to some of the world’s most important questions today lie in those timeless moments of awe and wonder. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for 2020. I have a feeling big things are in store… ☺

Wishing you all a very hope-filled and prosperous new year! May it be better than we’d ever dreamed.

Much love xoxo,

Jackie

What I’d Tell My 20-year-old Self

It’s nearing the end of 2019, and not only are we nearing the end of a year, but we’re also nearing the end of a decade. I don’t know about you, but these past ten years have been some of the hardest, most stressful, beautiful, and life-changing years of my life. And the fact that this decade is ending seems slightly more significant given that I will be reaching a major life milestone in 2020.

Next year I am turning 30. The big 3-0. I’ve heard that often as people approach this milestone birthday, they begin to feel more settled in who they are. And though I’ve still got a few months left in my 20’s, I can definitely attest to that sentiment.

But I think settling into who you are has more to do with the number of changes you go through in your 20’s that help to solidify who you are, more than the simple act of getting older, and thus, supposedly wiser. That, and the nature of said changes. Let me give you a little rundown of the last 10 years just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. I’ll try to make this brief as possible, so bear with me…

My life in 10 years: In 2011, I graduated from college, moved to Los Angeles, and attempted to start a career in the film industry. After a few dead-end unpaid internships and a short stint working at Universal Studios, I took a break in 2012 to go backpacking through Europe for 5 months with my twin, and then returned to Los Angeles in the fall. I got fired from working at a hair salon for 2 months and was then unemployed for 9 months as I worked yet another unpaid internship in the film industry that led me nowhere. Then in August 2013, I took a job at Universal Studios again where I stayed for a year, pretty much dreading every day I had to go to work. When I realized it wasn’t leading to an opportunity to work in the film industry as I had hoped, I wound up back home in Ohio for the last bit of 2014, utterly exhausted and defeated.

After working at a restaurant in my hometown and saving up for another short trip to Europe, I moved back to Los Angeles in April 2015, just in time for my twin’s marriage to his beautiful wife. I soon started working two restaurant jobs and taking bartending classes in my spare time, and after 6 months, I got promoted at one job so I quit the other. After another promotion in February 2016, I finally had enough spare time and extra funds to travel more, and I began taking trips within the US about every month.

At the beginning of 2017, I started writing a book about my life. And then came February, when I took a life-changing trip to Ireland and decided to move there. After attempting to do so at the end of August, experiencing my first big heart-break and then managing to find a job but then realizing I couldn’t get a visa, I ended up moving to New Zealand in December 2017. After 7 months, two jobs, a published book, and my first sort of semi-serious adult relationship later, I traveled some more around Europe and a few other places and ended up in Australia at the end of February 2019.

This past year I decided to stay in one place for a while so that I could take some time to decompress and feel grounded again. The constant travel was beginning to wear on me and I could feel I needed some stability for a season. So I got connected to the local community and intentionally worked on taking care of myself and figuring out what I really want, which led me to getting certified as a life coach and dating some really decent guys all before I moved to the Outback of Australia in October so that I can apply for a second-year visa!

Whew! Which brings us to the present. I’m sorry if that was a bit long-winded, but now you can get a sense of what I mean when I say this last decade was CRAZY. And that’s just the very short and condensed version. I can honestly say no aspect of my life was left untouched in the last 10 years. From questioning my purpose and what I want to do as a career to navigating modern romantic relationships, from experiencing a shift in my world view and the evolving of my beliefs to having chronic health problems and learning how to maintain balance, literally every piece of solid ground I used to stand on has been shaken to some degree.

So I get why people say 30 is such an epic year. After experiencing so much change and upheaval, it’s only natural that you’d come out the other end of it feeling like you really know yourself. You know who you are and what you stand for like you never could have when your 20s first began.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic or sentimental. I guess I just wish someone would have told me what your 20s are actually like so I would have been a bit more prepared and known what to expect. Maybe I’d have had a bit more perspective to get me through the tough times and never-ending changes. Which is why I thought I’d make a list. If I had a time machine and could go back to my 20-year-old self, this is what I would tell her:

  1. Having a college degree doesn’t mean squat. (Sorry for the frankness.) I don’t mean that in the sense that just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a job–though that is true–but in the sense that being educated in a certain field doesn’t necessarily define your path or ensure your success. The hard work doesn’t stop once you’ve graduated. That’s when it begins. And if you’re not sure you’re committed to that path, you might want to do some re-evaluating. Which leads me to my next point.
  2. Take your time! Seriously. There is absolutely no rush to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. In fact, you may never know. No, that’s probably not what you expected to hear, but if you are open to the idea that what you want will most likely change throughout your lifetime, then you will save yourself from so much unneeded stress and fear. That doesn’t mean that you never decide to do anything, it just means that you allow yourself time to play and figure out what you enjoy doing (which may also be a result of first learning what you don’t enjoy). Take the pressure off. You can do that when you understand that your work does not define who you are. The amount of professional success you experience in life does not determine your worth, even though our culture will tell you the exact opposite. But you know what, a rich asshole is still an asshole.
  3. Forget all the “shoulds.” Acting out of obligation or fear of disappointing people isn’t a good enough reason to ignore your own desires. Who decided that other’s desires are more important than your own? If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. All that percieved pressure brought on by worrying what everyone else will think if you do this or say that is just plain horse shit. Sorry, not sorry. Who cares what anyone else thinks of you! As long as you’re happy with the decisions you are making and you’re living a life that is true and authentic to you, then that’s all that matters. You have a unique way of viewing the world that no one else has, so don’t listen to the naysayers or the people that think they know what’s best for you. At the end of the day, it’s your life, not theirs. So you do you boo.
  4. You don’t have to have a plan. (Eek! I think I can hear the audible gasp on this one.) I know your entire student career has been designed to prepare you for the next step in your life and that having a plan seems to be ingrained in our culture, but the truth is there is no possible way for you to predict what is going to happen. You can prepare all you want to and set yourself up for success, but life might have other plans, and your ability to adjust to those changes will determine whether they make or break you. I’m not saying don’t have dreams and goals or aspire to something, just don’t get so attached to the outcome and thinking that you can control everything in your life that you aren’t willing to let go when something is no longer aligned with you. Learn to be flexible and hold your plans with an open hand.
  5. You are the only one that can define what success means for you. If the idea of having a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a house with a white picket fence doesn’t make you jump out of bed and wanna take on the world, then figure out what does. Your dream doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. You get to choose a life that makes you happy, and conversely, you are the only one who gets to decide what that looks like. You are the one that has to live with your decisions, so do what feels right for you. Comparing yourself to others will only make the process of finding your path more confusing and stressful. Don’t fall into that trap. Celebrate other’s accomplishments, and know that just because you may not meet their mark, doesn’t mean that you are a failure.
  6. It’s okay to change your mind. Life is about learning and growing and figuring things out for yourself. And often in the process of that, your values and beliefs will change to match that growth. What you once thought you wanted so desperately, you might suddenly realize you can now live without. It doesn’t mean that what you wanted before was wrong or in some way bad. It was just different than what you want now. And that is totally okay. Change is good. Embrace it.
  7. Don’t be so concerned about the end goal. The way you do things is just as important, if not more important, than what you do. Your attitude and perspective are everything. Learn to find meaning and purpose in even the small mundane things. And know that nothing you ever do is wasted. Every experience, even every mistake, is just a lesson to help you learn and grow. Even when your interests vary and it may seem like nothing you do is related, trust that everything has a purpose. Even if the purpose is only for you to enjoy what you are doing. That is enough.
  8. Don’t be afraid when things get a little messy. Life doesn’t come in a perfectly gift-wrapped box with a nicely tied bow on top. Usually, it comes more like a box of IKEA furniture and you have to figure out how to assemble the random pieces yourself, which may or may not result in it all falling apart down the line. The main thing is to keep going when the going gets tough. You’re allowed to take a break and throw yourself a pity party and cry angry crocodile tears, just so long as you don’t camp out there. Accept the fact that sometimes life just isn’t fair, and do your best not to let that hold you down. You are capable of so much. Don’t limit yourself to getting trapped in a victim mindset.
  9. People will treat you like shit. Unfortunately, not everyone out there has good intentions and wants what’s best for you. There are people that will use you and manipulate you for their own benefit. While it may not always be conscious on their part, it’s important that you understand their behavior towards you is not your fault. And it’s not something you have to put up with. It’s also not your job to change them. Your job is to be responsible for yourself and your own wellbeing. If someone doesn’t treat you right, LEAVE them. You don’t owe them anything. You are a diamond in the rough, and if anyone makes you feel like anything less than that, they are not worthy of your time or your energy. Having boundaries to protect yourself doesn’t make you an inconsiderate person. It makes you a safe one.
  10. Have fun! As important as it is to work hard towards your goals and dreams, it’s also important that you take time for things that bring you joy. You’re allowed to cut loose once in a while and go a little wild. You’re young! And you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Don’t stress so much about the future that you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the present. Life isn’t a race to the finish line, so enjoy your health and vitality while you’ve got it.
  11. Emotions are meant to be felt. It’s perfectly normal to be extremely happy one day and then be down in the pits the next, especially when you’re constantly being stretched and learning new things every day. Your emotions are not something you need to suppress, but rather, something you need to express. Bottling up how you really feel inside isn’t being fair to who you are. You are a human, not a robot. You’re allowed to feel really high highs and really low lows. It’s just a part of being a living and breathing human. And you are not crazy for feeling the way you do. You don’t have to have it all together all the time. It’s okay to fall apart.
  12. Love yourself. No matter what. Become your best ally instead of your worst enemy. Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. When no one else has your back, decide that you will. There are infinite wisdom and unconditional love that you have access to if you just look within yourself. Learn to draw from that deep well instead of searching outside of you to find what you need. Feed the fire that burns inside your heart and let the flame burn bright. You’ll need the torch to guide you when the road gets dark.
  13. Keep your heart open. There will be countless people and circumstances that will make you want to close it off and hide it away from the world. And you’d have every right to. But you’d be doing yourself and those around you a disservice. To close it off would mean never allowing the world access to the bright beautiful, fun and joy-filled person that you are. Being fully alive requires that you stay open, time after time of disappointment, betrayal, rejection, heartbreak, and pain. I know it’s hard, but there is no way around it. But I promise life will be equally full of healing, beauty, love, and joy if you do. And lastly…
  14. Life is going to look a lot different than you expect. You’re not going to get married or buy a house or start a family before you turn 30. You’re not going to have a set career path and fancy car to drive to work each day. But you’re going to be okay with that. Because what you will gain in place of those things, for now, is time to know and discover yourself and the world around you. In the next ten years, you are going to grow massively in self-confidence and self-respect. You’re going to develop your ability to quickly learn and master a wide range of skills applicable to a variety of job paths. Your curiosity about and understanding of the way the world works are going to grow and deepen as the role you want to play becomes more clear to you. You will make an array of life-long friendships with people in many countries from around the world, and especially with people you meet in LA. And you will have countless adventures and create memories that are sure to last you a lifetime. It definitely won’t be an easy path, but you won’t regret any part of it.

As always, thanks for reading along. Take care and stay awesome 😉

XOXO,

Jackie

Graduation day May 2011
Perth, Australia October 2019

Life in the Outback 101

If you’ve been following me on my journey around the globe over the last 2+ years, then I’m sure you’ve probably gathered by now that I’m more of an off the beaten track sort of traveler. As you can imagine, traveling in this way has exposed me to many different people and different ways of thinking that have enriched my life and broadened my world view. The desire to continue learning and growing is the fuel that keeps me on this path.

Knowing all this, it should come as no surprise then that I’d happily end up in the middle of nowhere for a few months if doing so means gaining a unique experience other people would usually decide to avoid.

Which is sort of what led me to the Australian Outback. I mean, I figured I can’t come all the way to Australia and not see what all the fuss is about, right?

I think we all have some sort of idea about what life in the Outback of Australia is really like. Usually, the picture entails vast stretches of desert, dangerous wild animals that threaten to kill you, and lots of kangaroos. While that may be true, what actually goes on in the Outback remains a bit of mystery. Before coming here, I really had no idea what to expect other than that I was going to the middle of nowhere in the desert. So today I thought I’d give you a little peek inside my life in the Outback…

Working as the cook at a sheep station, my day usually begins around 6/6:30. I make a cooked breakfast every morning M-F, and prepare the various fixings for the team to make their own lunches. Typically, I cook for 5 or 6 people, including myself. After eating at 7, I clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes, and then go out and feed the chickens.

We have 8 chickens (aka chooks), and each day they cluck expectantly as they see me approaching. They know what the buckets contain that I bring; usually one full of food scraps and the other full of seed. Before I’m even able to step through the gate, they push their way close to me, fighting to get food. Then just as I toss the food out of the buckets, they charge immediately to where it will land, sometimes getting food thrown on top of them they’re so quick. A few come back to check on the bucket I am still holding, suspecting I am withholding more goods. I lay the empty bucket down so they can peck around inside it to their satisfaction instead of pecking it out of my hands, as one clever chicken did before, starling me in the process. They can be quite cheeky at times.

One morning I forgot to shut the gate completely behind me as I began to refill the water troughs and two hens managed to escape the enclosure. I realized a moment later what had happened and went running madly after them, chasing them in a panic, thinking how terrible I’d feel explaining to my boss that I’d managed to lose 2 chickens in my first week.

Several of the station hands saw me chasing the chooks from afar and had a good laugh. Realizing how completely ridiculous I must look, I had a bit of a chuckle myself as I continued my chase. Before long one hen slipped back into the fenced area on its own and I managed to catch the other one. But I learned my lesson that day and no chook has managed to escape since.

After collecting the chooks’ eggs, I prepare for the day. Typically my mornings consist of checking emails/messages and social media, looking up recipes, yoga/meditation, and a bit of baking. In the afternoon, I read, catch up with friends and family, or work on my online courses/business stuff before preparing dinner. When dinner is finished and the kitchen is all cleaned up, sometimes we play cards, watch TV, or read before going to bed at about 10.

WiFi is limited to the single’s quarters (aka not the cookhouse) and I have zero cell reception, so when I am in the kitchen or my room I can’t look up any last-minute recipe details online, and if I want to listen to any podcasts or audiobooks I have to download them ahead of time. For the most part, I don’t mind not having access to the internet all the time. It’s just one of the many things you learn to adjust to out here.

Other adjustments include having really low water pressure, waiting for water to get hot with the boiler system, getting drinking water from an outside tank (basically anything to do with water or lack thereof), lots of insects everywhere all the time (ie ants crawling on you when you’re sitting on the couch, spiders in all the corners of your room, moths and mosquitos buzzing about when you’re trying to sleep, tiny ants fighting to get into food in the kitchen, flies that fly into your nose, mouth, and eyeballs anytime you’re outside doing anything,) crazy dust storms that blow red dirt onto every surface no matter having all your windows and doors shut, electrical outlets that run on a generator and get turned off every night, and finally, total isolation.

But it’s really not all as bad as it sounds. Once you get used to the constant insect infestation and not having everything conveniently available when you want it to be, you learn to appreciate the people and the conveniences you do have available to you.

Like for instance, I spend the majority of my time alone. But I’m rarely ever bored. I spend a good chunk of time preparing meals and baking goodies throughout the day, but when I’m not in the kitchen, I’m usually reading or studying or working on my business. Having space to do all the things I really enjoy without anyone to distract me is like music to my ears. As much as I love people and having a good chat, I really love my alone time. I think because I usually live in cities where I’m constantly surrounded by people I just assumed that naturally, I like to be with people all the time. But being here has reminded me that I actually really like to be alone.

Even the isolation isn’t so bad after a while. I thought I’d really be itching to get back to modern conveniences and civilization, but I’m surprisingly not. I mean having the company of the station hands is enough to fill my need to be social, and I’m usually so spent from being on my feet long hours in the kitchen that I don’t have a lot of energy to do much on the weekends. Though I have managed to get away most weekends, either to town or another station, both of which take several hours to get to and from.

Even with the seeming mundaneness life in the Outback brings, eventually you learn to appreciate the subtle changes each day. Like the way the weather can change so drastically from one day to the next, dropping suddenly in temperature overnight and rising to sweltering heat at mid-day. Or the rare days the typically clear blue sky fills with soft wispy clouds, providing a reprieve from the sharp blinding sun.

I especially love the sunsets on a partly cloudy day and watching the colors reflect different shades of purple and pink as the sun tucks slowly below the horizon. And the star-studded sky glittering with so many lights on nights when the mood is completely hidden.

Having access to so many cooking ingredients and being able to try out so many new recipes also helps to break up the monotony. We obviously don’t have access to restaurants or really tasty ethnic foods, so I’ve learned to cook different types of cuisine I’d normally order when eating out. Now no one really cares to go to the local pub much for a feed since the cooking here is so good. ☺ I’m also learning a lot about cooking lamb since we obviously have a lot of it. We also have kangaroo mince, ham, bacon, and sausage. I’m thankful to have all that we do, but to tell you the truth, I never thought I would miss chicken and fish as much as I do now!

The team also has different themed days to keep things interesting, like wearing pink on Wednesdays and Hawaiian shirts on Fridays. And then we do store orders on Fridays at the end of the day, which basically means we hang out and drink beer and everyone picks up their mail and whatever goodies they want like candy, chips, and beer. Afterward, I cook a feast for the whole team, which ends up being 8 people in total. On the weekends we mostly just relax and hang out, catching up on sleep or watching TV/movies.

I’d like to be able to tell you more of what actually goes on at the sheep station, but as I’m in the kitchen I haven’t really seen much of real live sheep. Though last week I did get to go on a run to drop some rams with the ewes so they can get frisky and make some babies haha. As far as I know, water tanks get checked every week, and lots of driving around happens since the property stretches for thousands of acres. There’s also some hole digging, removing old windmills and putting up solar panels, and cleaning water troughs. Other than that (though I’m sure there are other tasks to keep them busy), the exciting time seems to be shearing when all the sheep get rounded up and shearers come to clip the wool off of the sheep for 3 weeks straight. And sadly, I won’t be here for that.

All in all life in the Outback is pretty alright. While the scenery may not be everyone’s idea of paradise, there is a certain beauty to the vast stretches of red dirt and desert shrubbery. It’s definitely not a place I’d want to spend the majority of my life, and I still have no idea how some people do. They’re just a different breed, I’d say. But to each his own.

At any rate, I’m glad to have the chance to spend 3 months here and get to know a side of life and of Australia I might have otherwise missed out on. I definitely feel like I’m getting the real Outback experience, which is what it’s all about.

I hope now you feel like you can picture life in the Outback a bit better. And if you’re still a bit clueless, have look at the pics below. 😉

So that’s all for today. As always, stay awesome. Till next time…

Much love,

Jackie XOXO

Mulgathing Station
My backyard
The cookhouse (aka my house)
Petrol pump and another side of the cookhouse
Sunrise
Sunset
Home Sweet Home

How to Travel the World Without Breaking Your Bank Account

“Jackie, how do you afford to travel so much?”

This is a question I’ve been asked many times since I first began traveling on the regular. And usually, it is asked with a bit of hesitation from the questioner so as not to seem too offensive. After all, one’s financial situation is somewhat personal, and asking this question somewhat implies a willing openness about said finances. It also seems to imply that the cost of traveling has to be expensive. Right? I mean surely, galavanting across the globe can’t be CHEAP. But what if I told you it’s actually a lot less expensive than you think?

Well, it is. It just requires a little bit more research and an extra dash of flexibility. But fear not, if I can do it, then so can you. And lucky for you, you have me as your guide! So sit back and relax, as I give you all the insider hacks I’ve picked up over the years so that you too, can travel on the cheap without breaking your bank account. Sound good?

Alright, so first things first. Transport. Transport to and from wherever you decide to travel is likely the biggest expense you will have while traveling. And whether it be by plane, train, or automobile, there are gazillions of websites and resources out there that can help you find transport at a reduced cost. You just gotta know where to look.

The best place to look for discounted flights I’ve found is on Skyscanner.net. This website compares prices of flights across hundreds of different websites in order to offer you the best ones. Sometimes, cheaper may mean you have one or two more stopovers in between, but when it saves you over $100, it can often be worth it. Skyscanner also offers the option to look at a variety of dates at once, giving you prices each day over an entire month. So, if you’re able to have flexible dates, choosing to fly on the cheapest days can also save you a lot of money.

Other websites for airfare I’ve used regularly are kiwi.com and kayak.com. I find Kayak tends to have better deals within the United States, and Kiwi has great deals all over, especially when flying to New Zealand and Australia. When looking for flights, also consider checking out several airports within the region where you are looking to go. Sometimes you will find cheaper flights from smaller regional airports if you are flying within European countries.

Generally, on international flights, it’s best to buy your return ticket at the same time. Search engines will typically give you a better price when buying flights together instead of separately. I’ve also heard that the best time to buy flights is about 6 weeks before you plan to leave. However, if you plan to fly around any major holidays, then you want to give yourself plenty of time in advance to purchase tickets as prices tend to increase pretty drastically closer to the holiday.

And now for a few internet search hacks. Because of the genius of marketing these days, websites can track your search history, which means, as soon as you start looking for flights, the chances of the cost increasing goes up. If you want to keep searching and aren’t comfortable purchasing your tickets the first day that you look, then make sure to clear your internet browsing history. This keeps websites from tracking your earlier searches and jacking up the prices each time you do a new search. Lastly, flights typically sell for cheaper on Tuesdays as that is when airlines release discounted faires. Once you have the dates and locations of where you want to travel, then you can easily plan accordingly.

Now, say you have a certain budget you want to spend and you’ve got a little more flexibility with dates and location. A great way to travel on the cheap is checking websites that offer discount vacation getaways at the last minute and during off-peak season. You can sign up to get emails from Groupon.com or Travelzoo.com if you’re in the USA. Often, airfare and accommodation are included in the price, and everything is booked through an agent, so it saves you a lot of time and stress of actual planning.

Great Value Vacations is also a great company that offers trips as a package deal for a great price. I planned a trip with 2 friends to Ireland, and the price included airfare, accommodation, rental car, and several museum entrances. Everything was planned in advance and I didn’t have to coordinate anything. The whole trip was so much more enjoyable because all the stressful details were out of my hands and I could simply relax and go along for the ride.

Now, as far as other transportation goes, it’s best to just search around and find the best deals by comparing several websites. Taking the bus is usually the cheapest option if you want to see more than one location and don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of rental car fees and worrying about insurance. However, you will also sacrifice a bit of your freedom to decide where to stop if you go that route. Most places offer affordable car rental through smaller companies (which can be helpful to avoid the driver under age 25 fee), and a quick google search can help you find the best option. Keep in mind that picking up and dropping off a rental in different locations will incur an extra fee. And if you’re brave, renting a scooter can be a fun option that tends to be quite a bit cheaper than a car.

Taking the train can also be a more affordable option, though be sure to give yourself plenty of time to figure out where you are meant to go if you are traveling in a country where the first language isn’t English. Train timetables and stand numbers can be a bit tricky to navigate in a foreign language. Also, train and bus tickets are usually the cheapest if you buy online, so plan ahead and book in advance.

And finally, there is always the option of hitchhiking, though I wouldn’t recommend for longer stints of travel. If you’re in a rural area and need a lift to the next town or city, hitchhiking can be a fun and free way to get around. However, it’s best to ask around to see if the area you are in is a good place to ask for a lift. Some countries are friendlier and safer than others. In that situation, it’s best to use your common sense, and if you get any bad vibes, just don’t do it. That being said, people are often a lot friendlier and willing to help than you might expect, so if it feels safe and you wanna try, just give it a go!

For traveling within cities, it’s cheapest to avoid taxis and use local transport options. Or better yet, walk. However, metropolitan cities provide buses or trams/trains for cheap that can get you to and from all major attractions within the city so you can give your legs a break. If you want a little extra information about where you’re traveling, a hop-on-hop-off bus can be a fun way to see a city and learn some of its histories. Uber can also be a cheaper alternative to a taxi if you want to get somewhere quickly without any hassle, as well as other local rideshare companies like Lyft, Ola, and MyTaxi. Just easily download any ridesharing app on your smartphone, create an account with a valid credit card, and you’re good to go!

Now, onto accommodation. Depending on your age and personal preferences, the type of cheap accommodation available to you may differ some. The cheapest type of accommodation would obviously be the kind that you don’t have to pay for. So this might include asking around family and friends for connections they may have with people in the area you wish to travel. It can also be a great way to connect with a local who can offer you tips and show you around places you might not be exposed to if you were to stay in a hotel.

Couchsurfing.org is also a great network to connect with other travel enthusiasts, where locals kindly offer a couch or sometimes an air mattress for you to sleep on for free. Again, it’s best to use discretion when choosing a host to stay with. The website provides reviews of both surfers and hosts though, so just make sure you look for any questionable reviews first. I’ve never couch surfed on my own, but I know others who have and had positive experiences. I’ve done it many times with a companion and also hosted surfers before and had many great experiences doing both.

If bumming it with strangers doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then hostels are a great way to go if you’re looking to save a couple of bucks. Though if you’re over 35 there are often restrictions on staying at youth hostels, so a room on Airbnb might be a better option. Hostels.com and hostelworld.com are the most popular sights for hostels used worldwide. Airbnb.com is now used pretty much worldwide and offers a variety of rooms and entire flats for a wide range of prices. Some countries even have hotels advertising cheap rooms on Airbnb.

Maybe you still want to feel like you’re pampering yourself, yet don’t want to go all out on a 5-star hotel. In that case, hotels.com and booking.com are my two favorite websites for finding cheap hotel rooms that are a step above a motel, but less expensive than 5-star luxury. And if you’re into the last-minute deals, lastminute.com can be a good place to look for fancy hotel deals on a whim.

If you’re planning to do an extended road-trip, then renting or even buying a second-hand camper van can be a great alternative to paying for accommodation (Just easily sell it to another traveler when you’ve finished your trip. Facebook Marketplace is a great place to buy and sell used cars). Though the actual thriftiness totally depends on where you’re traveling. Some countries like New Zealand and Norway offer plenty of options when it comes to freedom camping, which means exactly what it sounds like. You can park and camp for free. But other countries will have stricter laws on where you can legally park and camp, so be sure to research each country’s specific laws before you decide to park your entire kit and caboodle.

Next, the actual expense of sight-seeing. If you’re into seeing all the tourist attractions a place has to offer, then there isn’t really a way to get around paying entrance fees and such. Though you can almost always get a discount with a valid student ID. However, if you are no longer a student, often you can find deals for multiple tourist attractions at a discount price if you purchase them as a package from a travel agency. These can usually be found online or be purchased at a travel agent’s kiosk at any major attraction. Again, this is when planning ahead of time can save you a bit of extra cash.

However, not to put a damper on anyone’s hopes and dreams of seeing all the touristy stuff a place has to offer, but I think it’s important to at least mention here that often you can find unique spots away from the main tourist trail that will give you a memorable experience you can’t get anywhere else, and all for FREE. That being said, some museums and natural parks are certainly worth every penny it costs to get into them. So, if you only have so much money to spend, do your research ahead of time and read reviews about places you’re interested in to decide which ones you most want to see.

And remember, no matter how much you see and do, you will never see it all. So whatever you see and do, just enjoy it for what it is. And if something is a bit disappointing, oh well. It’s all a part of the experience. At the end of the day, as much as you plan ahead and think you have it all figured out, there will almost always be a cost or unforeseen event that you didn’t plan for. But, if you start with that information already in your mind, it will be much easier to adapt to the changes and adjust your budget and schedule accordingly.

And now the last main expense of travel: food. This one really is the most commonsensical, however, it is often one of the areas people end up spending way more than necessary when traveling. And again, it comes down to planning. In a lot of countries, it will almost always be cheaper to buy food at a grocery store and cook for yourself than it will be to eat out. Just like it is when you are at home. And if you’re staying at a hostel or an Airbnb, this is a really easy affordable option as you will have a kitchen to use and refrigerator to store your groceries. Hostels also often offer meal and drink deals with local restaurants and bars if you do feel like going out and don’t want to spend a lot.

But let’s be real. One of the best things about traveling is tasting the local cuisine, which requires going out and spending money at a restaurant. Luckily, in some countries (actually pretty much any country not in the first-world) eating out is actually cheaper than cooking at home. Just remember to stay away from the touristy restaurants as the prices are usually higher. Go where the locals go. And if you don’t know, ask around. Or look online. Yelp and TripAdvisor can be great resources for finding amazing food on a budget. And if you are in a first-world country, then budget by only eating out one meal a day. You can get the rest at the grocery store. Some groceries even offer quick meal deals for only a few dollars, which not only saves you money but also time eating out or cooking at home.

So there you have it, my friends. That is my complete list of travel hacks for trotting the globe, or maybe just your nearest city, on the cheap. I hope you found this information helpful and are realizing now how travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Traveling cheap may require a little more research and planning, and sometimes a bit of resourcefulness. But if you really want to go somewhere and not spend your whole life savings, it is possible.

As always, thanks for reading along. I hope you enjoy your travels, wherever they may take you! Oh, and don’t forget to stay awesome 😉

XOXO,

Jackie

PS: If you use any of these hacks or know of any other useful hacks, please comment below! I’m always learning better ways to travel more affordably, so I’d love for you to share your knowledge, or rather, share the wealth, as they say. 🙂

Learning for the Sake of It

I’ve realized something recently.

I love having goals. I’ve always been a dreamer, and having goals is what helps me reach my dreams.

I put deadlines on goals that I have as a way to keep myself motivated and continue to be productive. This is something I’ve done for ages and is how I managed to do so well in school. Finding motivation was never a problem.

But that’s because I used to do things in fear of the consequences of what would happen if I didn’t do what I was “suppposed” to. The problem with this is that I was motivated by fear. Fear of getting a bad grade. Fear of letting my teaches and my parents down. Fear of not getting into a good college. Fear of becoming a failure.

It was rare that I was simply motivated out of a desire to learn. Though I often found the subjects I was learning to be interesting, fear of forgetting a key fact or details of an event so that I could reiterate such information on a test, kept me from the joy of learning. The purpose of my learning then was for performance and not for personal growth.

I wonder how many times in our adult lives do we treat new information and the process of learning in a similar fashion… I know I have a tendency to do this a lot.

When being given instructions, what is the key point I need to remember so that I can do a job right?

When given criticism, what do I need to change in order to not make this mistake again?

So much of my learning process is about avoiding pain… and trying to get something.

I don’t want to do something “wrong” and feel like an idiot for not understanding. I don’t other people to suffer because of my incompetence. There’s so much fear. So much avoidance. And so much trying.

I’m currently working on creating my own business. This is a process that began about 6 months ago, and as each month passes by, I feel a growing sense of pressure to launch. It’s totally pressure that I put on myself in my own mind, but nonetheless, I feel it taking away the joy of learning.

I think when I have an end goal in mind, I tend to imagine that completing that goal requires some level of perfection. After all, if it’s not going to be done well, then is it really worth doing at all? But do I have to do something perfectly in order for it to be done well? Are excellence and perfection the same thing?

I’m not sure. However, to return to my initial statement, I’ve realized something. And what I’ve realized is that I can give myself time.

I think sometimes I give myself unrealistic deadlines because I have an unrealistic standard for myself. I get so focused on the end result that I stress myself out trying to meet my own deadlines and I end up not fully soaking up what I’m learning.

Instead of enjoying the process, I silently dread the finish date because I’m already worried about being able to produce positive results. I’m still worried about getting good grades and I’m not even in school!

But like I said, I can give myself time. And as a recovering perfectionist, I know time can often be spent over-criticizing myself and trying to perfect every last detail. However, not having a set date to launch is kind of freeing because then it allows me to do it when I want to instead of when I feel like I have to.

And gosh, if the whole purpose of starting a business is so that I can help people, then by golly, I better make sure I want to!

So often I doubt my capability. I think starting your own business is scary and freeing for the same reason: you’re the only one in charge so you can call the shots. You’re also the only one that can fail. Everything is riding on you.

As much as I know I have a lot of room to learn and grow, I think it’s important that I give myself credit when it’s due for all the strides that I am currently taking.

I’m not saying this just for my benefit, but for other recovering perfectionists and fellow entrepreneurs and adventurers out there. The world is our oyster. We don’t have to meet a certain timeline because that’s what we feel like we should do.

What do you want to do? And when feels right for you? Is there ease and joy in the doing or does it feel forced?

These are the questions I’m learning to ask myself. It’s hard reprogramming the way I do things when the opposite has been the dominant way in our culture. But that’s why this work is important.

If my aim is to help others live life fully and follow the joy, then I’ve got to find it for myself first.

So, I’m letting myself off the hook.

I’m going to enjoy learning for the sake of learning. And it’s not because I’m lazy. If what I’m learning benefits me, then I’ll naturally want to share it with others. And if other people benefit from what I share, then my “business” has been successful.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about anyway. Learning and growing and sharing and expanding.

That is the goal. And that is enough.

So this concludes my ramblings for today. Hopefully, you’ve found them somewhat helpful or relatable. Thanks for reading along. As always, stay awesome.

XOXO,

Jackie

In the Middle of F*#!ing Nowhere

Hey, there! So I’ve just realized it’s been almost been 3 months since my last post; where does time go?? Wow, isn’t that so something old people say all the time? Gosh, now I feel old…

Anyway, you’re probably wondering where I am right about now. Well, I would tell you, except I really don’t even know where that is exactly. All I can tell you is that I’m right smack dab in the middle of f*#!ing Nowhere with a capital “N.” No seriously, I bet if you googled images of “nowhere” it would look exactly like it does here. Just imagine a couple of old stone buildings, some desert bushes, and lots of red dirt. Lots and lots of red dirt. So much dirt that the closest “pub” is over a 2- hour drive on bumpy red dirt, and the largest actual town is 5 hours away. Basically, I am living in the epitome of what is the so-called outback of Australia–South Australia–that is. I can at least tell you that. 😂

How did I end up here? Good question. By taking a plane! And a bus! And a ute! Literally, though. It was a 3-hour flight from Brisbane. A 9-hour bus-ride from Adelaide. And another 2-hour drive from wherever I got dropped off at 3am on the side of the road… but more on that later. As to what led me to here, well, that’s a different story…

At the end of September, I started looking for a job that would qualify for my 88 days of rural work required by the Australian government in order to apply for a second-year visa. Initially, I had planned to do fruit-picking. Most backpackers that decide to stay another year choose that option, but, because I had waited to start my rural work towards the end of my first year and hadn’t researched much about the actual picking of said fruit, I soon came to realize I might be a little SOL.

Naturally, certain fruit is picked during certain times of the year. And while I had hoped to land somewhere in Tasmania, unfortunately, the cherry-picking season most likely wouldn’t start until the END of November, which was about a month too late for my second-year visa application. Whoops. So back to the drawing board I went. After weighing all my options, I decided to pay to do a farm training course that would guarantee a job on a farm that would qualify for my second-year visa. None of the jobs I’d be offered would have anything to do with picking fruit, which was a safer bet for me because of my time constraint. (Animals always need to be looked after, so work is basically guaranteed.) Plus, I’d get to ride horses and dirt bikes as part of the training. Need I say more?

After a week traveling around south WA and another in Bali with my mom, I flew off to Brisbane in mid-October, dragging all my luggage with me. (Why is there never enough room in my suitcase???) From there it was a 3-hour bus ride to Noosa, and then another 2-hour drive to the farm. (Basically, I’ve seen all of Australia by now 😂) Have I mentioned I did all of this with 3 bags of luggage?? Haha, so much for traveling light!

Anyway, the farm training week was a blast and I actually learned a thing or two (who’d a thunk), so all in all, the experience was worth it. But best of all, I landed a JOB, and I did it on the second day so most of the week I just got to chill and enjoy whatever activities we did. Yippee!

The most hilarious/ironic part about it though is that all of the training I did at the farm didn’t have much to do with what I am actually doing now. Because funnily enough, I’m working as a COOK at a sheep station. No shoveling shit. No wrestling sheep. I get to be in a kitchen filled with more ingredients than I could ever ask for given how isolated a place I am living in, and cook and bake all the things I could possibly ever want. Ha! Not to mention that I also have the entire cookhouse to myself with my own private bed/bathroom, I have hours of free time every day to read, do yoga, work on my writing, or whatever else I could fill the day with while I’m alone, which is something I was desperately craving after living in Perth. Did I hit the jackpot or what?!

Oh right, except for the fact that this sheep station is HOURS away from civilization. There is that. But aside from that one small detail, I’m actually genuinely loving it. I never thought I would be so happy living in such a hot dry climate in utter isolation, but I surprisingly am. Granted, it’s only been a week so far, so things could easily change. But so far, so good. I’ve lived in pretty rural areas before and managed to do fine, so I think I can manage another 80 or so days that I have here. At least that’s what I’m telling myself… haha

But all in all, I’m really thankful that I get to be here. I’m enjoying the time to myself and the lack of noise and distractions. It’s exactly what I need at this point in time, so I’m fully embracing it. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of 88 days I’m ready to go back to city life. But who knows, maybe not?

I’m sort of seeing this whole experience as an experiment in how well I can tune into myself and work through whatever feelings this isolation brings. I know in the past, I’ve felt sad and lonely in similar scenarios. But I’m hoping this time will be different and I can learn to appreciate this time for what it is instead of seeing it as something I have to endure. It probably helps that I have a job to do that I actually love to keep me busy. But weekends can be a bit less exciting, so the opportunity to face boredom and loneliness is still there. I guess we shall see!

Anyway, stay tuned. I may issue a cry for help later on down the line and need someone to come save me. 😂 In the meantime, I’m happy to record whatever musings and random happenings come about here in the outback since I suddenly have so much time! (Speaking of, I accidentally killed a little mouse today as I walked into the kitchen. Somehow stepped on it and killed it. Poor little mousey…) Anyway, thanks for reading along! As always, stay awesome 😉

XOXO,

Jackie