Sunday, May 17, 2009

good news & bad news

What would you like first? ;)

Hopefully you chose the bad. I'd like to start with that because I prefer to end on a positive note.

Okay. Where to begin?

I haven't been being completely honest with myself or you all for quite some time now... I'm not completely happy. Not only do I like the blog to have an upbeat tone but I'm one of those people who smiles even when she feels like everything around her is falling apart. Now, with that said, I must tell you that it's really not to that extreme, by any means, but you get the general idea.

The past two months have been a complete physical, emotional, and psychological roller coaster, and, I didn't feel like I was quite strapped in. To begin with, I've had one of the worst cases of reverse culture shock with being home.

As I've told countless blog readers and writers with interests in going abroad or past travel experiences... it never leaves you, those memories; they're the most amazing in every way and at this point in my life, and in many of yours, this is the only time we have to purely make them. The challenge and excitement of a new place, a new country, a new culture is just so addicting. I love it and it's something that I want to experience again very soon.

I never thought that my global experience would completely change me. It was just me coming home to all those familiar things that I have missed. And on the one hand it's true, even after 10 months, most things are the same, yet I find that I view them in a new light; my feelings, my thoughts, my opinions have completely been transformed. That's how I know that I'm different.

Still, being different is not such a bad thing: I feel more cultured, more mature, more prepared to deal with the everyday challenges of life. I am so grateful to have been able to have the experiences that I've had.

So why do I feel so unfulfilled? Surely others that have studied or worked abroad can relate.

By the cold hard facts, this summer has been and still is beyond fantastic. Socially, I am finally able to be (literally) with the boy. We were almost used to missing each other by the time my abroad experience wrapped up, never a good thing for a budding relationship. Now I can be with him while I'm in love with him, and so far, it's a wonderful thing :).

I've been able to catch up with amazing friends that I've unfortunately lost some contact with. I am so lucky to have so many new and old friendships to enjoy. They are all wonderful in their own unique way and we have such a fun time together.

And then, of course, my family. It's actually odd to be living at home in the first place, being as I'm at school most of the time, but it's not nearly as far from home as I was. It's nice to be able to spend time with them and be with them in the place where I grew up. They're my support system and most of the time my favorite people, except for those instances where they can get easily and quickly on my nerves because they know exactly how to go about it, or vice-versa. No family is picture perfect I suppose!

Work-wise, I have two incredible internships: Modelinia and Fitness magazine. I seriously do love them. I feel like I'm getting spectacular experience in a multiple areas of publishing. Both bosses and coworkers are incredible people for their personality and attitude and inspiring for their own work experience and accomplishments.

I should be a completely joyful girl, almost to the point of annoying, but too often all I want to do is get away from it all again. Why?

This blog. A year and a half ago I discovered the foodie blogosphere and quickly became obsessed. I read post after post of various registered dietitians and everyday healthy eaters. I bought countless books bursting with a diversity of facts, opinions, and theories about nutrition in addition to taking the introductory class offered at my school. I felt more than qualified to start my own blog. Although, let's be serious, every one has the right to do it.

And it is for that reason that I didn't want to write just any food blog, I wanted something about mine to be special, to be worthwhile for readers, to me meaningful for me, the writer. In comes the revelation that I was going to be spending the next year of my life globe-trotting.

During the first 6 months I did everything I could to become fluent in the Spanish language and I spent the last 4 with the same goal in French. In between studying I got outside the lessons and classroom to experience the language and culture surrounding my new life. And all the while striving to have the healthiest of lifestyles without holding myself back from traditional dishes which were often times unhealthy.

It wasn't easy yet I was successful in possibly all those ways and I still gained weight.

Of course I did! Even though I eat healthfully and stayed active, I was on what some referred to as a year-long vacation, er almost a year, and I had no choice but to enjoy the opportunity to the fullest.

Still, I wished I looked and felt the same as I had before I left. Thinner, lighter, fitter. I feel the need to finally come clean about my inner struggles and insecurities. At this point, I'm practically at my happy weight, but I've gotten frustrated and disappointed with myself as many do, all the while knowing that they shouldn't be.

Then I turn to look at this blog and notice that it doesn't have the same pizzaz that it had while I was away. I mean, be honest, do you think it's even possible for me to top posts about authentic foods from the most beautiful cities and countries in the world?

No. I keep wanting to re-live the past or fast-forward to a more spectacular future. But what now?

I never stopped wanting my blog to special, hoping that it was worthwhile for readers, nor needing it to be meaningful to me. There I go again, I thought, letting myself down... though with everything in perspective, I cannot let myself believe that it is true.

Not to mention that it's hard to imagine something that I used to be so excited about oftentimes feeling like a chore. It is yet another thing that I have to do in my new ridiculously busy schedule. There are days when I don’t feel any inspiration to post, when I don’t feel as though I’m being a good example, when I’m simply not in the mood to share, to write, to attempt to enjoy the thing that I used to love.

A few weeks ago I told the boy that “Around the World in 340 Days” was coming to an end just as my trip had. It could not possibly continue to exist when I wasn’t doing the same exciting and interesting things that created it to begin with.

But then, deep down, I didn’t have the courage to finish it. Or actually, let me rephrase that, I realized that finishing up my blog was the last thing I wanted to do. What was I thinking?! I might not have been happy with the way everything was or was going but I wasn’t going to be any happier without this blog. The blogosphere has been too good to me.

I honestly feel honored and blessed to be a part of the most supportive community of health-conscious people I have ever virtually (literally in most cases) met.

I was not ready to say goodbye and I’m still not ready nor willing. My situation and circumstances may have changed but I’m still me, this globetrotter hasn’t lost it. Whatever it is.

And, if you’ve made it this far, this is the part where everything becomes all sunny and cheery again. The good news. I have decided to continue blogging for me and for you. Thank you for reading in general and for reading this novel of a post. I appreciate every glance and every comment you have ever made towards my blog and the adventure I call life.

Gosh, it just feels so much better just to write, put my feelings down on paper and get it all out in the open. This deep thought and reflection was brought about by an not-yet-published book I’ve been reading about alternative medicine. I’ve realized that for as healthy as I like to think I am, it may not be so.

I don’t spend enough me time, I waste too much energy about things that, in the wide spectrum of life and the world, don’t matter, and I never just chill out for my sanity’s sake. So what’s a girl gotta do? Sleep more. Exercise more regularly. Do more (i.e. museums, art exhibits, plays, gardens, concerts,) worry less, be less anxious, stop being fearful about living my old life as the new me.

It’s really not that bad at all, and I have the power and the resources to make it even better.
From now on I’m going to give myself mini-weekly challenges to bring balance to my days and more peace of mind with this blog. I’ll document these small healthier changes and how it’s positively affecting me.

In addition to discussing the wealth of thrills in the humble place I like to call home. It takes me all of 20 minutes to get to the city, New York City, where a mixture of cultures is at my fingertips in numerous restaurants. I plan on going to at least one spot every two weeks for a nice dinner, a quick lunch, so I can continue to try foods from around the world, find out more about the culture they’ve sprung from and their stunning countries, and tell you all about it :).

We cannot even begin to imagine the plethora of terrains and climates, languages and beauties.

Speaking of, what exactly is the definition of beauty? My gosh, looking at it from a global perspective trying to find that alone could take me a lifetime to come up. Crazy, yes, but it's important to talk about, and I think that these series will help me return to that same satisfying direction that I intended for my blog, and hopefully fulfill the same goals.

Plus, guess what? I also still have fun, spontaneous things to share! Like the exquisite tasting menu with the esteemed chef, Michael Schlow, or the VIP heart-pumping Jukari workout at a downtown Equinox… I’ll leave those stories for upcoming days.

I’m still human and life isn't perfect; I won’t always be happy all the time. However, there is not one reason why I shouldn’t do everything I can to foster that healthy happiness wherever I may be or go.

“Happiness is a direction, not a place.” -Sydney J. Harris

Words by Danielle E. Alvarez, Photos by Kate O.

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