“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Never has a quote rang truer for my experience of travelling. Let me take you back to planning my trip and the place I was in at the time in my recovery.
I remember the day I boarded a flight to Berlin, age 19 to live away independently for a month and do a travel writing internship. I had booked it on a whim after wanting to do something different that summer and being inspired by my best friends trip to Asia. I was nervous yes, but as soon as I boarded the plane and made friends with the person next to me I knew this was going to change my life. Low and behold this trip was the start of a new me, a me that was able to eat white bread without guilty (something that affected me at the time only 5 years into recovery from anorexia) and drink beer whilst meeting new people. To some this may sound like the ordinary but for me It was a HUGE milestone in my recovery process and I returned home with a new lease of life, more confident in my body and with a new lust for life.
Fast forward two years where my best friend and I sat down and booked our one-way flight to Rio De Janeiro, exciting, thrilling but terrifyingly out of my control, one thing that I still found hard to let go of 7 years into recovery from anorexia. Despite this, it was something I wanted to do and knew I would love despite how scary it seemed with its entirely new culture and a thousand miles away from my partner, friends, family, gym and food. That’s the point of travelling your probably thinking, well yes but for me it was a pretty scary reality and out of my comfort zone.
THE PROS OF MY TRIP:
- South America is just beautiful, so much diversity, different weathers, beaches, hikes and people which really makes for a breath-taking journey.
- I learnt to eat a wider range of foods, not know anything about the context of them and pretty much eat what I was given which brought a new found sense of gratitude for my life back home and for food in general.
- I didn’t have access to a gym, so had to accept that walking, hiking and swimming was my new play area and that I didn’t need the gym to stay fit and healthy, I also learnt how much I LOVE outdoor fitness!
- I overcame my photo phobia! Something that haunted me in my teenage years hiding from pictures, feeling nauseas if I was tagged on Facebook and many nights avoided at the fear of being photographed, in Brazil I took my first selfie and photo in a bikini aged 21!
- I learnt that being flexible and out of control is sometimes just the way life happens and there’s nothing I can do to change that.
- I learnt that the world is a lot bigger than me and my problems and that there was much it could teach me!
The only cons were that sometimes I missed home a lot and I did get mugged and thrown off a bike at one point (no damage done thankfully), however in hindsight this brought me massive emotional resilience and I learnt I was able to cope in terrifying situations!
One of the most amazing things though, was that while on a buggie in Peru, I made a list of what I wanted to do on my return:
1- Learn to drive (still working on that ha)
2- Become a fitness instructor of some sort-yep boxing fitness woo
3- Become a beat ambassador- done
4- Start up something to help others through their eating disorder recovery.
Alas Phelan Well which started as feel good fitness was born and my mission to help people, specifically women with eating disorders, in the latest stages of their recovery through taking care of themselves and their bodies. I was a storyteller, on a mission to inspire others to get through their pain just like I had with mine.
Fast forward to this Summer past, Phelan Well had its first event and I qualified that year as an Eating Disorder Specialist helping those who were in their recovery. I honestly don’t think this would have been a reality without that time away and gaining perspective.
Bringing you back to the present, I have just returned from the most AMAZING trip to Canada to see my best and oldest friend, I went to a little place called Banff in Alberta and it absolutely left me speechless. Its vast open spaces, soaring mountains, crystal blue and jade green waters all inside of a valley meant that worries and stresses faded away pretty quickly. I was back in the bubble of the earth in its rawest form and it was pure bliss. Anyone thinking of taking a trip-GO!
So to finish I thought I would consolidated what my latest trip taught me and what travelling has given me overall, including freedom from an eating disorder.
Freedom from disordered thoughts, negative thinking, control, stress and worry. The ability to be free and at one with my surroundings which let’s face it, is pretty impossible to achieve in London. Culture shock in a good way. Learning a new way of living, learning new languages and meeting new people is such a good way to open your eyes, mind and heart.
New food, different food, food you may love and food you may hate, but a little variety never hurt anyone and you may surprise yourself how flexible you can be.
In Canada I honestly adored the morning-which is something that often causes anxiety for me in London. Instead of waking up with a pounding list of thoughts and to do’s, I woke up looked out the window at the mountains and started my day in a slow and steady pace-this meant the rest of my day followed a similar pattern.
Albeit my photo phobia has been gone for several years, I definitely did not miss a thing and made sure I captured the beauty of Banff and every moment so I could look back and remember how beautiful it had been.
Being able to be in a bikini and not worry about what I looked like, in fact quite like what I saw was again a new found part of my self love journey, something that stripped me of looking after my body for so long.
NEW WAY OF LIVING
It reminded me and opened my eyes up to a potential new life, if I wanted different to what I had now. Don’t settle if you don’t feel like you have found home, the world is bloody massive and there will be somewhere that warms your heart.
THE WORLD IS FAR BIGGER THAN MY PROBLEMS
yes I will still stress, worry meaninglessly and perhaps get caught up with the wrong things but to have the time away and realise essentially I am far stronger, able bodied and resilient that I give myself credit for, reminds me how capable I am and how much I can learn from seeing more of the world. Disasters happen all around us and a reminder to stay grateful never hurt anyone.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Living in the moment is sometimes THE best thing you can do-trust in yourself, trust in the day ahead that if you let go for just a second thing will be okay. Learning to let go can lesd to SO much happiness and a sense of contentment which can ease anxiety and leave space for creativity.
Finally, the world is always waiting, to teach you, inspire you, challenge you and remind you. Fall in love with the world and you can fall in love with yourself all over again.