Val with Guru Made, healer, Bali

The Top 29 Things I Learned From My Travels

This has been the longest time I have traveled. And it has been an amazing journey. I have seen amazing things, grown as a person, realized my own strengths and weaknesses, changed my eating habits, gone to incredible healers who have brought healing to my body and soul, and have expanded my outlook on life.  Here are the top twenty-nine things that I learned.The Top 29 Things I Learned By Traveling1. The greatest thing about traveling had nothing to do with the beaches that I saw, the temples, or even the food. It’s not about rushing around to see the sights. The best part of travel were the people who I met. I loved seeing what we had in common and seeing how we were different. Hearing their stories expanded me as a person, changed me, humbled me, and showed me that no matter how far away we may be from one another that we are all connected.


2. I need to surround myself with more colors and flowers. Living in grey Portland has taken a toll on my soul. I also need to wear less black. I am a brightly colored flower and should start looking like one.

Val in Ubud, Bali

3. My greatest moments of joy are when I live in my body and not my mind.

4. This moment is all I have. I need to start living like I know this.

5. A lot of Americans live their lives in constant fear. Fear of not having enough. Fear of losing their jobs. They have fear of losing what they have. I used to live this way. I let fear control me. Here, I realized a better way.

6. I realized the American dream was not my dream. Working long hours to own a house, and then spending the remaining hours left in a day to clean and take care of it are not how I want to spend my life.

Bali woman with bricks on head

7. I want to live somewhere where I don’t need a car. But not just somewhere that has a good bus system. I want to be able to walk everywhere. When you walk, you notice things. People, flowers, birds, trees. I want to live my life noticing more.

8. Sometimes I just have to treat myself to luxury, and not think of the cost. I am worth it.

9. I have learned to be grateful for the small things. Things I used to take for granted. Like ice in my water, a bathroom without bugs and mosquitoes, and Egyptian cotton sheets.

10. I have quit trying to control things (well mostly!) In a place like Asia, where you really have no control over anything, and 5 minutes can mean anything from 5 seconds to 5 days, I have learned to relax, sit back, and enjoy the show. Things upset me less. I worry less. I realize that by worrying, I am not changing the outcome of the situation.

11. I am so incredibly grateful for the many healers that I visited. My body and mind were in need of healing and I was able to go to some incredible healing souls in Ubud, Bali and that changed my life. I have let go of the stress that was affecting me deeply, to the point that one healer said that I was on the verge of having a stroke when I first arrived in Bali. I will not go back to living the way I was. Nothing is worth getting my body out of balance in that way.

12. Taking time to watch the waves roll in, the rice grow, to talk to the chickens, and pet the cats were some of my favorite moments of this trip. I need to take more time to just be.

Kuta Bali wave

13. I have learned to do things slowly. It’s not worth rushing, or panicking, or stressing. It’s OK to be late. I once had a friend I was supposed to meet at 7pm call me exactly at 7pm wondering where I was. I was 30 seconds away. I’m not going to succumb to that kind of pressure anymore. I am not going to get caught up in the hectic American pace. I’ll get there when I get there….Breathing deeply and stopping to smell the flowers the whole way.

14. I’ve learned to dance more!! And I like it! Actually, I love it. Before, I left, I had lost touch with my body, and was just using it as a vehicle to get around. Moving my body more through dance has brought brilliance to my days, healing to my soul, and more laughter to my nights. Dance is my way of showing gratitude to my body for being there. Dancing reminds me to live in my body and not my mind.

Gili Island Rasta Guy

15. I’ve eaten more vegetables here. I’ve gotten to where I actually prefer a glass of green juice over a glass of wine.  (Well, most of the time.) I understand more how food brings healing to the body. My skin glows, my eyes are clearer, colors brighter, and I taste my food more now that I’ve let go of almost all sugar and wheat. I feel great. Plus, I have more energy to dance!

16. I’ve laughed more. I’ve felt more joy from the bottom of my soul. I feel more connected to life. It’s hard not to laugh when everyone around you always have huge smiles on their faces.

17. I’ve learned that if you take care of animals, they will in turn take care of you. I am thankful for all the kitties I met on this journey that stopped to share their kitty love. Such purring, loving, softness.

Gili Island Cat

18. I don’t miss watching the news at all. At ALL. I’d rather spend the time watching the flowers grow.

19. I love having someone else do my laundry. The best few dollars I’ve ever spent.

20. I need to drink more coconuts.There is nothing that puts a smile on my face or a bounce in my step like a cold coconut.

Artist on Gili Meno drinking coffee

21. Stopping to talk to people I meet along the way is really what life is all about.  I can learn from everyone!

22. In America, I’ve gotten myself in a place where I owe on my house and I’ve just spent all of my money on things without even realizing it. It’s so easy to get brainwashed by the American Dream that our corporations have created to keep us working for them. I would like to think it just happened, but it was my choice.  I now realize that it’s not my dream. I would rather have experiences than things. I’ve never been so happy having all I needed for three months in a backpack. We need much less than we think we do. In other countries, not having money is not an excuse for not having any fun. People sing. They dance. They just get together. And that being together is the fun. Deeper conversations are had. There is no other entertainment to get in the way.

23. I want to constantly learn new things. I can’t believe it took me 37 years to realize that I want to paint.

 painting in Ubud

24. In Sri Lanka, I felt so unsafe that I felt like my very life was at risk. Being in this place made me really face death for the first time in my life  It made me think of what I would like my life to look like if I knew I were to die soon. That’s the thing with life, there are no survivors. My life is my creation, and I need to start really living it.

25. I’ve started living from my heart. I’ve been able to ask myself what I feel like doing in a day rather than doing what I should be doing in a day. Being so busy at home, I realize I was very disconnected from myself and never had time to ask myself what mattered, how I was feeling, what it was that I wanted. Really learning to follow our hearts is the thing that matters.

26. I’ve learned that it’s OK to relax.

Babies in Sri Lanka orphanage

27. I learned that the best way to help others is just to give them my love. That’s it. Be love.  If we all did this, we could heal the world.

28. I’ve learned patience. Here, where it takes two hours to have a meal. Where trains come late or not at all and waiting is just a normal part of the day, I’ve learned to enjoy just being.

29. I will never, ever, ever, no-way, no-how, no matter what, stop traveling.

Val on Gili Trawangan