How Travel is Nutrition for My Soul…and Finding Your Soul Food
Certainly not everyone would want to be on the road for weeks at a time–or years for that matter, as I have done in the past. It might be some peoples’ worst nightmare! Yet for me, traveling is something that is an important source of nutrition for me, just like food. You have to feed your soul the way you feed your body, and figure out what really stokes your inner fire.
We are spiritual, emotional, mental complex beings – not just physical ones, and I do believe there is nourishment that for all aspects of our being, that we have to pay attention to as closely as the food we eat.
I remember interning in college in an office job and by about 10:05 I would stare at the clock and think, There’s just no way I’m going to make it to 5:30! How have I only been here one hour so far? Then I would think, maybe at some point I would “grow up” and being in an office won’t bother me. Well that never happened! I worked in an office in Australia and back in New York for fairly brief periods before/after the world journey, and each time the same thing thoughts would come up: I’m going out of my mind if I don’t get up and walk around somewhere! I understand why sitting at a desk fuels so much coffee drinking, because back then I would try to find any excuse to get up and leave my desk for a minute- drinking lots of coffee, which in turn would fuel lots of bathroom trips (yippee, another reason to get up!).
Yet I do know so many people that love their office job, and this is certainly not meant to be an affront to office jobs in general. I just speak of how I personally feel, and I stress that everyone has a different way they want to live their life and what feels right and good to them. I know many friends and family members that love their jobs- they love the rhythm and the way the routine fosters focus. And I think that’s wonderful.
Observing the eating habits of gorillas, our close genetic relatives, firsthand in December 2013, in the volcano jungles between Rwanda and the Congo.
But for me, it was also hard to accept that I would only get a few weeks of vacation a year. Not because I need more time to just turn everything off and drink pina coladas all day, but because I need more time to explore.
The road has been a primary source of inspiration and learning for all aspects of my life. It’s where I’ve learned incredible amounts about myself and what I really believe. In India I discovered yoga and meditation (my spiritual food), in Thailand I learned the healing practice of laughter, in Nepal I learned resilience, and so on it goes… and I learned many aspects of my nutritional philosophy across the world today, which have formed the basis of the Beauty Detox philosophy. My way of thinking did not come from textbooks. Every time I go on the road, my mind feels like it’s expanding in new and amazing directions that I never dreamed of, and this journey is no different.
As I write to you now, I am happily on the road. I’ve been on the road for about 8 weeks so far on this particular journey. I’ve been working all along the way- writing, doing emails and conference calls, cooking for clients and organizing food and programs for clients back home, managing Glow Bio from afar, etc. But still, blissfully on the road.
Journaling at a temple in Seoul, South Korea.
My husband has been with me for all parts (he has a non-office dependent job as well), except for Thailand. As much as I adore being with him and traveling, there is still a part of me that very much values my alone time. Back in November, I spent time in Puerto Rico alone, writing a lot and working on a big project, spending lots of time meditating and reflecting and thinking, walking on the beach alone at sunset. In Thailand I’m so fascinated by the culture here: the Buddhism that seems to pervade everything, the way their language sounds and the way they interact with one another. I love to be alone here, walking for hours alone through the streets and in local markets (when I’m not in cooking class) where no one really pays attention to me. And I can just take it all in and process it… and learn from it.
What sucks about being on the road? The long flights don’t bother me so much–but what does is not having a kitchen. It’s been tough not getting to make GGS the whole time I was in Italy, South Korea or Thailand. I did eat a lot of greens and fruit, but it wasn’t the same. Still, I try to remain really unattached about getting the “perfect” food, because in the end it’s a tiny price to pay for these experiences.
And let’s just say that my digestion/bathroom feeling can actually can be really sensitive. I know that sounds weird for someone like me that travels so much, but it really is true! If I am constantly moving around I can get pretty constipated and not feel so great. On this trip though, I’ve been getting to a place and parking for a few weeks (Italy was only one week though). It gives me a chance to acclimatize, to the time zone…and the toilet!
Hitching a ride up the coast of Mozambique, Africa for 12 hours, with some other fellow travelers, during my first trip to Africa.
When I started my travel jaunts, which really started happening my junior year in college, I was 19 , and stayed in tiny guesthouses, some really gross hostels and some super basic bungalows all along the way, with squat toilets, a spout for the shower that would dangle pretty much above the “toilet” aka hole in the ground (especially in places like India), or just outhouses and no toilet at all, like in Mongolia. One time there was a family of centipedes under my mattress, which was on the floor in my bungalow along the Mekong River in Laos. I was going to tuck my passport under there but something told me to look first, and I lifted the edge of the mattress and get a horrific site for sure.
At night in a different Southeast Asian bungalo, the Argentian girl I was traveling with and I would tuck the mosquito net in VERY well each evening, then shine the flashlight to the ceiling to see huge spiders gathering. I remember my friend getting some weird bug bites from the bed covers in the hostel bed next to me in Bolivia… and the boat that left right before the one we were supposed to get on in Cambodia crashed. We got a few flat tires in the Namid Desert and had to wait around for quite a while for help… and there are hundreds and hundreds of other travel stories!
Meeting rastas in Swaziland.
Sunrise over the Ganges in Varanasi, a place that brings me back and back.
Camping with the Twareg people in the Sahara, Morocco.
But I am very grateful both to have had all those experiences of just roughing it on the road, feeling absolute freedom for the first time and bursting open my mind in every possible way. My travels now are different in the way that I’m working along the way and not just purely living for that day- and oh yes, I am staying in some nicer places now. Though I wouldn’t trade anything of what I went through for the world.
But back to the original question: “Why do I travel so much?” If I had to but it into two specific reasons, it would be to learn and to be inspired. It really feeds me in so many ways, and keeps my mind expanding and looking at things in new ways. I come up with so many creative ideas on the road, and in all that I do I know that it makes me a better contributor. It’s not to say that I don’t love being home, because when I’m home I feel inspired by the nature in LA and the people I’m around. You can tap into Inspiration no matter where you are, but travel is a source of soul food for me too, as I’m referring to it as here.
Now let’s talk about YOU. I want you to think about what your Soul Food is. Some of the most passionate people I met in Korea were the tour guides at the palaces and museums. They spoke with such pride about the ancient history of Korea, and you could tell they reveled in the process of sharing with others- it was their soul food. Passion comes in so many different forms. To find out, you only have to ask yourself what you would do this weekend if you had no restrictions (besides sleep!!). Would it be to:
Spend more time with your children in nature?
Join a local sports team- softball, etc. (miss playing games like when we were in high school?)
Volunteer for a cause you feel strongly about
“Travel” within your city to a new park, a museum exhibition you haven’t seen, checking out a new local historic site or restaurant?
Actually check out sprouting or that herb garden- growing some of your own food!
Tackling that project in your career- if your “work” fuels you!
Soul food doesn’t have to be super dramatic or something you have to set aside a lot of time or money for. In fact, it can cost very little, and if you prioritize it, you might find other areas in your life to cut back so you an incorporate it more. But if you don’t make it a priority in your life, the week and the month or even the summer or year might slip by and you miss out on feeding yourself that important “nutrition.”
I really believe we have the power to create the life we want. I “get” to travel so much because it was a big priority to me and so life carved out that way. But when I was living in New York after my around the world trip, going to different museums and different ethnic neighborhoods also felt like soul food to me. I had very little money, but I would go to the free Friday night museum nights and was able to hop on the subway to Jackson Heights, Queens and other amazing places. YOU can do the same. Schedule Soul Food time in your calendar as firmly as you would a work meeting or a meeting up with a dear friend. Keep it.
Little errands and spending too much time watching (sorry, but let’s face it) useless reality shows (I say that in the nicest possible way) can be a time suck and take away the precious free time you have to feed your soul, your inner fire with the things most dear to you.
On the cusp of official summer, I thought this would be a good time to write this to you. Schedule smaller moments of bliss as regularly as you can, then more major ones a few times a season or at least a year. For instance, if your Soul Food was to spend more time with your kids in nature, you could commit to a Friday evening walk in the park down the road before dinner, but plan at least one weekend camping trip or maybe a few longer day trips to other trails this summer.
In the words of the wonderful Eckart Tolle (paraphrased), “The Now is all we have!”
Seize the Now, and feed yourself regularly.
I’d love to hear about your Soul Food also, and how you are, or plan to feed your soul and spirit.