You know the most magical part about traveling to new places? The people you meet. Even if you cross paths with someone for just a quick 10 minutes, their smile can change your life forever. From the most relaxed people I met in Europe, to the happiest and wisest of Southeast Asia, to the truthful toddlers of Hong Kong and passionate people of India– I have been influenced in all those nearly-indescribable ways.
The biggest reasons my husband and I wanted to travel around the world was to gain new perspectives, learn more about this beautiful existence called LIFE, and realign our priorities. Those goals could have never been met without those incredible people who opened our eyes and our minds.
For me personally, I was on a journey to shift my mindset by discovering what brings the light and fulfillment to people all around the world and eagerly learn from them. Specifically, learn how to be happy in the present moment and follow my true passions. The inspiration I found from others was seriously cray-zaaay.
We met so many unique people along our path so the stories will have to come in 3 parts. Here is “Those people who changed my life [mindset, perspective, or outlook]” Part I:
The smiling woman above? She lives in Unawatuna Sri Lanka and sells chips and ice cold coconuts on the side of the road. We were on a long hike and stopped at her house to get a coconut while it was 100+degrees outside when we quickly realized we literally had $0 on us. As we told her “shoot never mind” we’re moneyless, she still smiled hugely and insisted we take a coconut for the road; she told us we could “pay her back another day if we pass by again”.
I was actually mind blown coming from a world that can seem so overwhelmingly selfish. This sweet selfless woman relies on selling coconuts to take care of her family, but gave us a free coconut out of the kindness of her heart– and this my friends is the definition of #humanity at its finest. Of course that very next day we walked 2 miles back to see her, pay her back, buy more coconuts, and take her kindest smile home with us through this photograph.
While we were in Hong Kong I met a woman who I wish I could talk to all day every day. Seriously though, we actually went to the restaurant where she worked 3 days in a row just to see her and talk to her about life. She has been through a lot of obstacles (some of the toughest life obstacles out there) but she was SO positive with the most contagious smile and the wisest woman I have ever met. I was going through a mentally tough week as I was preparing to launch my blog and truth be told I had the heaviest fears of judgement, rejection, and not being understood.
However, meeting her felt like a universal sign of encouragement. She reminded me to always stay positive and true to myself. What did I learn from her indirectly? Some people will understand you, some will never understand you, some people will simply choose not to listen, and some will understand but never tell you (to each their own). However; you need to focus on positively influencing yourself and everyone that you possibly can.
She encouraged me to stay focused on what really matters which is to think positively and do what makes you happy and as she said, “Always smile for those around you no matter what, as life is all about energy and you never know what someone is going through, you can change someones life”.
During that same week in Hong Kong I BFF-befriended a 4 year old named Ellie. Literally. My husband and I were having a glass of champagne at a bar and the cutest little girl came up to us and asked Bryan if he was Aqua Man (the hair flow is quite similar so I understand her curiosity) and then she climbed into my lap. She proceeded to take my phone and scrolled through all of my pictures.
Of course, that followed up with her 100 question game of, “what is this, where is this, why were you there, how come, what happened…. do you want to go wine shopping with me and my dad”? (haha). She told me her name was Jasmin but I found out later it was not Jasmin, but indeed Ellie (kids imaginations are just the very best).
That day in Hong Kong was honestly one of the most memorable days we had on our travels. We ended up going to her dads favorite wine shop for a wine tasting and then had dinner with her family at their favorite restaurant in Hong Kong. Her 2 year old brother actually fell asleep in my arms at the dinner table and I was so touched by that days’ experiences that I had tears in my eyes. Moments like those make me believe in all the incredible magic of this world we live in. It also gave me extreme #babyfever (but shhh)!
In Tuscany we met a man named Franco who told me simple but powerful words to live by: “To live a stressful life… that is not a good thing”. I used to always believe the harder I worked the more I deserved. However, true happiness and reward comes from our balance within. We should never be searching for the “hard way” or feel like we are on the track of most resistance. We shouldn’t wake up in the morning anxious about our day before it even begins, nor should we feel restless at night because of the stress we put ourselves through that day (speaking from true experience there #soguilty).
Franco does what he loves everyday and I could feel his relaxed energy while we were with him which was truly mind altering. We all need to be more aligned with what balances us, stay thoughtful to ourselves, and invest in our well-being (and prioritize calmness). My biggest piece of advice for you is that working intentionally and being resourceful always pays off more than working yourself to a resentful burnout.
Now for my final story of Part 1:
Our time in India was the most life changing and there are almost no words to describe our time there (working on that blog piece but its taking lots of time to process). Life in India is just so different and unlike anywhere I have been; it felt like an alternate universe that stimulated every ounce of my mind. We took in the most unfamiliar views and absorbed things we had never seen, felt, or thought about before.
This man here? They call him “the monkey man” of Jaipur, India. When we went to visit the Sun Temple our driver actually told us we were “extremely lucky to witness him” and even better I was able to photograph him doing what he loves everyday. He wakes up every single morning to spend his entire day collecting natural foods of any donation to feed the wild monkeys (he also feeds the cows, dogs, and wild pigs).
He has done this for 30+ years. This man lives to take care of these wild animals at this Sun Temple. He is so in tune with his #purpose in this world and there was pure passion in his eyes. I have never felt a crazy #passion like this in my entire life.
The biggest way we can rotate our perspectives and open up our minds? Other People. More to come soon!