The Struggle / by Kimm Otto

It's hard to comprehend the fact that we're almost half way through our trip already. So far the race to beat the seasons by heading South is going well. It's been a cool 23 degrees for the past week - give or take. Although it does get a bit chilly in the shadows and at night time. Hanging out in the forests and mountains of Slovenia for a week was especially cold but temperature hasn't been a problem since crossing the border to Croatia. I'm thinking it's because we're getting closer to the sea. We haven't reached the coast yet but I can feel the familiar moisture in the air. It's getting me excited. I miss the ocean. 

Tofino, Vancouver Island

Tofino, Vancouver Island

It seems every time I sit down to write I'm constantly drawn to starting with, "it's been a tough week" or "it's been challenging this past little while." I think I've just come to terms with the fact that traveling is just all around challenging. Or at least for me it is. That's not to say that I'm not enjoying myself on this adventure. It's just becoming more and more evident as we creep toward the five month marker that traveling for such an extended period of time comes with its hardships.

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, Germany

While the idea of a different city or place every night is appealing, I think once you've been doing it for months it starts to seem like more of a chore and less like an opportunity. I mean, some times you roll up and you're in the middle of a full blown city protest with cars getting lit on fire, people getting pepper sprayed and police sirens keeping you up all night. Then other times you find yourself in the most serene landscape, struggling to convince yourself that it's time to move on despite having mentally mapped out the rest of your life in that one specific area. But I suppose learning to let go of things and places is just one of the lessons you learn along the way.

Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands, Norway

So much of this trip has to do with me letting go of my attachment to things back home: the adorable downtown apartment in Victoria that quickly became my safe place, my collection of plant babies that always had a way of grounding me after a stressful day in the office, the growing obsession with listening to music on a four hour commute to Vancouver simply to hang out for a few days, quitting a job that allowed me the opportunity to have my very first art show as well as teaching me a completely new skill set. The list is endless, really. To put it bluntly, leaving Canada was bitter sweet. I felt like I was leaving so much of myself behind. 

The ol' 555 residence

The ol' 555 residence

Plants & Polaroids

Plants & Polaroids

Victoria - Vancouver

Victoria - Vancouver

But that's all part of it, right? I think why I struggle with this trip sometimes is because I'm learning not to attach myself to places or things, and dare I say it, even people. I struggle because I've never been out of my comfort zone for this long.  I struggle because as much as I want to be this free-spirited individual that experiences every single thing the world as to offer, I'm also the person who wants all the comfort and ease of being a hermit at home. 

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At this point I'm sure I know exactly what you're thinking. How can someone who's spending a year traveling Europe sound so much like they're not enjoying themselves? Well that's just not true. I'm in awe of how much I've learned, grown, and experienced in such a short amount of time. I'm beyond grateful to be here, to see these beautiful countries and to meet some of the amazing people that live here. I feel like I'm constantly adapting to new surroundings, new language barriers, new cultural norms. And it's wonderful.

Vineyards, Vino, and Vienna friends

Vineyards, Vino, and Vienna friends

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

All that being said, Kev and I have started making more of an effort to take time for ourselves. That means allowing ourselves days specifically set aside for working (yes, I'm still working from Europe), for exploring a city, for hiking, for sitting around and doing nothing. It's crazy how much of a difference it makes to create a schedule for yourself. It's actually kind of funny. You spend all this time to save up and travel so you don't have to be on a schedule, and then you start going stir crazy so you have to make yourself a schedule. I guess we're just the kind of people who thrive off of organization. Or maybe that's just me and Kev plays along as a means to keep me happy. 

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Well enough talking about me coping with homesickness. On a different note, it's my 28th birthday soon! The plan is to spend it in Dubrovnik - a lovely beach town located on the West Coast of Croatia. This year I've decided to give myself the gift of self-love. That means forgiving myself for past mistakes, spending more time with the creative process (this means more writing, more reading, more photography!), getting back to a yoga routine, less time focusing on the things I don't like about myself and more time appreciating the things I love instead.

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It's a process. Having the right people around you and some good tunes to motivate you helps. So for those feeling a bit down on themselves lately and need a little boost, here's five songs that I've been listening to that get me pretty stoked on things.

1. Everybody Wants To Love You - Japanese Breakfast

2. Ultralife - Oh Wonder

3. Head On - Man Man

4. Tadow - FKJ & Masego

5. Because I'm Me - The Avalanches 

 

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You're welcome.

Now get out there. Struggle your ass off. Love every damn second of it.