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Happiness is Only Real When Shared (Malpais, Costa Rica)
Happiness is Only Real When Shared (Malpais, Costa Rica)

¿Viaje sola? ¡Ay, probrecita!

That’s how locals feel when they realize I travel alone. But I don’t feel like a “poor little thing”. Traveling alone is pretty awesome.

In fact, I have never felt stronger.

I wanted to be alone.

I left because I needed a break. I was burned out, depressed and, frankly, pretty useless at home. I did that to myself. This is not Mark’s fault, this is not Feng’s fault. In fact, this is nobody’s fault. It was happenstance. It was a combination of trying to do it all alone, not having enough help (or not accepting it), dealing with and adjusting to motherhood (and fatherhood) and the new dynamics of having a tiny human being ruling the house, trying to make a living at the same time, and of course surviving the winter.

Looking back, I would do things differently. But I didn’t know any better. I was focused on caring for Mark and on doing the best I could.

I think I did the best I could.

Now, things have to change. Nothing drastic but I will try my best to let it go, accept help and relax a bit.

Easier said than done, I know. Kick my ass if I’m being the old Juliette, please.

I learned a lot during this trip.

I had always thought I was pretty social but lately, I discovered I was actually very comfortable being alone. I guess I am more confident than when I was a teen. I know what I am doing (most of the time, anyway) and I know what I want (ditto).

I realized how much art and creating art make me happy. I need to write, to take pictures, to draw, to express myself creatively, no matter how.

I learned to appreciate what my body can do for me. I can walk, hike, climb, swim, rest in a hammock or hurry to the nearest bus station. And to do that, it needs fuel. Food. Rest. So that I can be stronger.

I realized that being a mother is now part of my identity. I can’t help trying to make babies smile, tickle toddlers and chat with children. I am comfortable around them and every time I see a kid around Mark’s age, I think of my little dragon. I miss it when he wraps his little hand around my finger or when he smiles to me. Even alone, here, I feel like I am part of a family—Feng, Mark and I.

I understood that I didn’t have to (and shouldn’t) sacrifice everything I like for Mark because it is not healthy, for both him and I.

Traveling alone is empowering. You focus on the basics first: staying healthy and safe, find a place to stay, a place to eat. Then comes problem-solving: managing various modes of transportation, several currencies, several travel options. You are left with very little time to worry and to “what if…”. This was exactly what I needed.

I am heading back to Canada in a few days.

I am not a new person. I am myself, again.

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