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I Traveled Around the World to Find My Greatest Journey Was Within

How Travel Sparked My Spiritual Awakening

Exactly this time last year, I packed up my apartment in San Francisco to start a new chapter – a year-long journey around the world. I wanted to travel to the places that called to me, working remotely and finding my tribe. I’d been dreaming about it for years.

My colleague told me that his own multi-year journey around the world changed his life. It was one of the most impactful experiences he ever had.

I started my trip in Spain, starry-eyed and hopeful – for adventure, growth, and magic. I thought my greatest area for growth would be around my career – quitting my job, working for myself, and building a location-independent lifestyle.

One year later, I look back and am bewildered at everything that happened. At the time, I could never have imagined what would come…

I share my story because many of you have asked about my journey, and I know many more are taking the leap to discover and live your truth.

Digital Nomad Life

I planned to travel to tech hubs around the world, building my consulting business while coworking and coliving with other freelancers. It all started as an experiment to see if I could make this remote lifestyle work.

I went to Lisbon and did a coliving retreat with Nomad House, living with 20 entrepreneurs and freelancers. We worked on our own businesses, hosted workshops, and cooked and adventured together.

It was my first step away from the 9-5 corporate world (or I should say, 7-9 startup world). Living and working alongside a diverse group of people with unconventional careers inspired me to see how I could make this a sustainable lifestyle.

While working hard on meaningful projects, I began integrating balance and play into my life again. I got to spend more time in the sun – exploring, walking, laughing – than I had in years. I had the breathing room to pursue my hobbies again and reconnect with my inner spirit.

After a month and a half in Lisbon, I spent two months in Tel Aviv. There, I immersed myself in my consulting work, the cryptocurrency craze, and thwarting the advances of extremely forward men.

For my 27th birthday, I flew to Tokyo to be with my Japanese grandparents, mom, and sister who flew out to visit from California. While journaling, my intentions for the year ahead overflowed. I dared myself to dream bigger. An immense joy and sense of limitlessness bubbled in my chest.

This was the beginning of creating, and recreating, my dream life.

Everything You Can Imagine

And then I landed in Cape Town. Looking back, I see it as the inflection point in my journey.

I joined a group of 27 incredible humans at a coliving retreat with Unsettled. We lived in 3 villas within 10 minutes of each other near the sparkling ocean.

Though we were a diverse group from all over the world – freelancers, filmmakers, startup leaders, writers – we shared a deep hunger for pursuing our life’s work with purpose and passion.

The energy in the group was so high. We spent hours discussing our dreams, brainstorming, and helping each other shed the limiting beliefs keeping us from our true potential.

We were questioning the status quo, reexamining our definitions of success.

Leaping into the unknown is messy. Many of us felt lost and at standstill at times, but that’s normal. Slowing down to take a hard look at the path you’re on and where you want to go, IS progress.

One night, I asked the universe – “What is my Why?” What is my deepest purpose?

The next day, I got my answer. Our retreat leader Scully hosted a workshop on discovering our Ikigai (Japanese for “reason for being”). We wrote down four lists (what you love doing, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can make money doing) and found the intersecting themes between them.

A few common themes for me were spiritual growth, advancing consciousness, and supporting people in realizing their fullest potential. It was the first time I admitted to myself, and others, my interest in spirituality and the esoteric. Though I’d been fascinated by it from childhood, it always felt too ‘woo-woo’ to put in the context of a career.

I realized that purpose is not a job title or career. It’s aligning with your truest self — your soul. Discovering it requires transcending the fearful voices in your head like: “What will others think of me?” or “You can’t make money doing this.”

Was I willing to give up my ego and beliefs around what success looks like to hear the callings of my heart?

Coincidentally that night, I was scheduled to have a call with Rob Minkoff, the director of Disney’s The Lion King. He shared his story about living his purpose and gave me some advice.

“When you discover your dream, you have to say, ‘I really want to do this, and I’m going to commit myself and devote myself. I’m going to climb the mountain. And it doesn’t matter what happens to me along the way. I’m going to succeed.’” – Rob Minkoff

He also told me, “Spirituality is more important than ever before.” It felt like a confirmation that I was on the right path.

Cape Town was where I began trusting more fully in the flow of life. I stopped working with clients that didn’t fit my values and interests. By aligning my work and intentions with my soul mission, I began to live my truth.

Opportunities, people, and resources came into my life, almost effortlessly. I started experiencing synchronicity and manifestations daily. The concepts I’d read about for years – the power of surrendering and trusting the universe – became tangible, undeniable experiences in my reality.

I suddenly started getting many opportunities to practice my passions and support people in their highest visions for their life.

I had deep conversations with my friends in the retreat and helped them reach ‘aha’ moments of clarity around their purpose. I empowered one of my clients, a startup founder who was in the middle of a critical fundraise, by wholeheartedly standing for his vision. And out of the blue, a colleague in Canada called me for mentorship. I felt so alive in those moments.

I was getting closer to my core, and I wanted to go deeper.

What would happen if I opened my heart more, let go of my fears, and tapped into the greater wisdom of my higher self?

What would it be like to co-create with the universe?

Dark Night of the Soul

And just as I told the universe to bring it on and show me the truths of this reality… I got what I asked for.

I spent a month in Chiang Mai, Thailand, going deep within myself. Unlike my past two social months in Cape Town, I spent most of my time alone.

There’s such a beauty in traveling solo, slowly, over many months. You remove yourself from the bubble – from family, old friends, society, and the news to some extent. This fresh slate allows you to examine your values and priorities. It becomes easier to let go of the beliefs and ways of being that no longer serve you.

So in solitude, I went down the rabbit hole. I started questioning so much of what I’d been taught – by society, the media, my friends and family, my education.

I learned things about our true nature, history on this planet, and the multiverse that truly shocked me sleepless many nights. It was a lot to swallow. I was meditating daily and devouring books on spirituality and quantum physics to try to make sense of it all.

Many people go through a “dark night of the soul” in their spiritual awakening, and this was mine. Reality was not at all what I’d believed it to be. Structures that seemed so solid before collapsed around me. I had to reconstruct my understanding of myself and humanity.

Sound dramatic? It was surreal, like I was in a movie. Though it was an abrupt awakening, I’m so grateful I went through it in order to open my eyes.

Heart Open Wide

It was time for a change of environment. In the new year, January 2018, I landed in Bali. I fell in love with it and ended up staying for 4 months and renting a villa for the long term.

There’s something truly magical about Bali. The peaceful energy there, especially in Ubud, is palpable.

I felt so boundless. I was creating my dream life on my terms. I found myself having enough energy to wake up at sunrise, work during the day, swim, dance, and then take calls with New York clients at 11pm.

I was blessed with soulful friendships, intense breath-work sessions, cacao ceremonies in the moonlight… Kind locals, cleansing vegetarian food, romance… And somewhere along the way, I found inner peace.

I’d spent my entire life chasing happiness, success, love, and new experiences. I thought these external milestones and achievements would make me feel whole, but I was always sprinting for more. In Bali, I realized it was because I didn’t love myself fully.

Do I love myself no matter what? Do I love myself when I feel selfish, ugly, bloated, angry, hurt, or embarrassed? Do I love myself when I’m failing and weak? Will I love myself if I hit rock bottom? What about if I become unrecognizable to myself, inside and out?

The thought of failing, hitting rock bottom, terrified me. I would hate myself if I let myself let go.

And so, I realized that my love for myself was based on conditions – that I felt good about myself, was doing well in life, was happy.

I practiced loving my shadows, being gentle with myself, and becoming more aware of negative self-talk so I could reprogram it.

Slowly, I realized – conceptually and experientially – that I am already whole, just the way I am. We all are. Everything we seek is already within us. All the love, creativity, and joy we desire has always been here, just waiting to be unlocked from the inside.

I saw how powerfully my thoughts and emotions could shift my experience of life. What we experience in our reality is a reflection of what we’ve created from within. And so, I prioritized mastering my thoughts and emotions, relaxing into surrender.

Today, I feel a deep contentment with where I am. After swimming my whole life to get to the next goal and the next, I’ve seen how much easier it is to float with the current. I trust that I’m on my path. Everything unfolds at the right moment – there is no need to fear or force anything.

As a little girl, I was very connected to my inner spirit. I was scared to grow up, because I didn’t want to lose my zest for life and awe for this world. I dreamt of staying free. I longed to be able to write from my heart, help others awaken to their highest selves, and live true to my own spirit.

This beautiful journey was greater than my wildest dreams. It opened up a new way of being, of living, of loving myself.

Now, I know we can intentionally create our lives, wake up from the mundane – and arise to the truth that we are limitless. We can create anything as glorious as we dare to dream.

Keep Reading

I started my blog Covival to share new paradigms for living from the heart, intuition, and abundance. You can read posts on career, purpose, awakening, intuition, manifestation, and more here: www.covival.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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