A Thing Called Love

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.

Seoul
Street art in Samcheongdong

When I imagined myself perfecting Italian cooking in the small hilltop town of Pitigliano, Italy.

Pitigliano
Olive oil, cheese and vino in Pitigliano.

When I explored Roma on foot and imagined the myths, the wars and epic love stories that took place in those streets.

Foro Romano
The Temple of Saturn in the Foro Romano

When I hunted down Dante and fell in love with his Firenze.  

Firenze
Outside Dante’s home in Florence

When I shivered outside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to listen to Beethoven.

Amsterdam
Students playing Beethoven outside the Rijksmuseum

When I found myself housed in the middle of Ubud’s rice fields in Bali.

Ubud
Morning prayers in Ubud

When I ticked Pearl Harbor off my bucket list.

Arizona Memorial
At the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii 

When I discovered God’s Own Country in Kerala, India.

Kerala
The sunset over Kovalam, Kerala.

When I stood in awe of the Gateway of India in Mumbai.

GatewayIndia
Lunchbreak at 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.

Heart
A present from my beautiful sister who knows my soul the best – maybe even more than I do. 

 

 

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