In celebration of the Month of Love, I wanted to share a special kind of love that I’ve discovered the past two years. No, it’s not the chocolate-and-champagne kind of love (although I love those!), but a special kind of love that was harder for me to accept the past few years – the Thou-Shall-Love-Yourself-Awesomely kind of love.
When my Dad passed away three years ago, I clammed up and hid my innermost feelings inside a tight, specially-curated shell. Opening up and sharing what was in my heart which was once an easy breezy thing for me became quite the feat, and I chose the people and the timing to do it. I didn’t know how to deal with wanting to open up (even if I had wanted to) out of fear of not being understood or out of fear of being a Debbie-Downer for someone else. So I kept those feelings under lock and key and resorted to some type of escapism – traveling.
At first, I thought I was just doing it to lick my wounds and grieve without anyone having to experience the ugly. If I was traveling with my friends, it was an easy way to just shut the feelings out and concentrate on the new things and the explorations. But later on, I started to realize that it wasn’t about packing my bags and saying, “I need a break.” It was about the serenity that traveling brought me. I felt most alive and at peace when I was exploring little streets, drinking coffee and people watching, listening to couples talk in a different language and seeing different crests stamped on my passport.
I soon realized that what I needed was not a break from reality but a chance to experience life and its beauty so I could balance the grief inside me. My traveling was not about “escaping” from my current state, but a chance to recharge, to heal, to love myself.
So I did just that.
When I was reminded that age was just a number in Seoul, Korea.
When I imagined myself perfecting Italian cooking in the small hilltop town of Pitigliano, Italy.
When I explored Roma on foot and imagined the myths, the wars and epic love stories that took place in those streets.
When I hunted down Dante and fell in love with his Firenze.
When I shivered outside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to listen to Beethoven.
When I found myself housed in the middle of Ubud’s rice fields in Bali.
When I ticked Pearl Harbor off my bucket list.
When I discovered God’s Own Country in Kerala, India.
When I stood in awe of the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
This Thou-Shall-Love-Yourself-Awesomely kind of love is pretty special – it’s not about grand gestures and sweet nothings, but the beautiful peace it brings before you sleep at night.
It may be a long road to healing, but there are more than 180 countries to help in that journey. And a lot of chocolates and champagne to go along with it.