Why I Travel

Traveling serves many purposes. It allows for a chance to see the world outside of your hometown perspective. It gives people the opportunity for vacation, and gives those working in the field of tourism a job. For me, traveling has become something different.

Travel has become a prescription for my mental health.

The first 18 years of my life were spent fighting demons, both internal and external. Mental health was never a concern of mine, because I had already accepted the fact that my home, my reality, and my “comfort zone” would always be one of mental anguish. One where a good day is “just good enough.”

That’s a really sad reality for a someone to accept. Let alone a child, an adolescent, or a young adult.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and let me tell you, I’m pretty damn strong. I feel proud to tell my story, because it is one of perseverance, of self awareness and self discovery. It is a story of using everything in your power to change your reality, in order to change a mentally unhealthy life, to a life of flourishing, growth, and mental wellness.

The best decision I’ve ever made was going to school for psychology. I would have never sought help otherwise, because my reality was my norm. I didn’t understand how starved for positive mental health that I was, until I learned the true definition of mental wellness. Of abnormal psychology. Of mental abuse.

I’ll never forget the day I left my classroom in tears. The day my professor defined and described my home, my family, and my life, straight out of a textbook. I nearly vomited when I realized all the lies I was forcing myself to believe. I was faking happiness for 18 years.

After speaking with my professor, the wheels that moved the rest of my life began to trek forward. In 2011, my new life began. I sought the help that I needed. The help my family needed. I learned that it is not ok to be mentally abused. Ain’t that a funny thought.

Parents are just people. We’re born under this notion that parents are suppose to shower us with unconditional love. But what if you have a parent that can’t love them self? Or a parent that loves them self too much that there’s no room for anyone else. What if you have a parent with a caring, appeasing soul, born under the notion that they are suppose to do whatever it takes to make their spouse happy. Even if their spouse is incapable of happiness. What becomes of a child raised in such an environment? What happens when a child is told not to tell?

I am what happens.

After 18 years of being constantly criticized, of suffering threats, walking on eggshells, and feeling the weight of a parent’s regular suicidal threats on my shoulders, I learned that this was not the life that I deserved. That is not a life anyone deserves. And man, what a powerful realization that was.

So, why do I travel?

Sure, I escaped the mental prison I once existed in. But such a hellish reality comes with repercussions. Anxiety is a very real part of my life. Once I was able to actually focus on my own mental health, I learned that anxiety is one of the building blocks of what has made Lauren, Lauren. It was one of those “a ha!” moments of that’s what that feeling is!

One of my favorite quotes about anxiety is that anxiety is like praying for what you don’t want. It’s a constant worst case scenario playing in your mind on loop. It’s a constant worst case scenario playing in your mind on loop. It’s a constant worst case scenario playing in your mind on loop.

I began to test myself, pushing myself further and further out of my comfort zone, until I was on a plane from JFK to LAX with a 2 month solo agenda. I have never felt so alive. I finally felt free to be me. Nothing was holding me back.

I travel because I am strong, brave, and capable. I travel because there is such beauty in this natural world, and I deserve to experience it. I travel to make up for lost time, for those 18 years that I forced a smile on my face, as I carried the weight of my parent’s personality disorder upon my shoulders.

If you are reading this and any of my words feel all too familiar, if you are living a life of accepting abuse, pain, and anguish, and have been forced to believe that you deserve it.. I am telling you, you are so much more than your circumstance. It’s never too late to seek the help that can set you free. Let 2018 be the year that your new life begins.

Happy World Mental Health Day. I love you, life.

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The Path You Pave

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Tough as a rock,

strong as a stone;

take a deep breath, 

and go alone. 

Luck favors the bold,

so go and be brave; 

you never know who’s following

the path that you pave.

Whenever someone says, “Travel solo?! I could never do that!” I say, “…not with that attitude.” 😏 There’s a tremendous amount of empowerment that comes with going somewhere on your own. Somedays often turn to nevers, and if you spend your life waiting to coordinate with the schedules of others, you may never climb that mountain, or see that beach, or taste that poutine. It’s ok to be nervous, nerves are cousin to excitement. Embrace time spent with yourself; the Earth is awesome, and so are you. 🌎

The Attacks of the Gulls

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I’m here to share this tale with you, Still quite traumatized…
Of an event that happened in a flash, Before my very eyes.

It dates back to the winter,
My first Miami trip,
When I met this super sandwich,
Whos ingredients did not jip.

Inside a fresh croissant,
Lie prosciutto and mozzarella…
In one fell swoop, with just one bite,
Deep in love I fell.

Do I eat it all? Save leftovers?
I was stuck in quite a jam…
Before finishing this work of art,
I snapped a pic for Instagram.

Fast forward to November,
So we meet again.
I didn’t even need a menu,
Despite how long it’s been.

Sandwich in hand, smile on face,
I skipped down to the sand…
Little did I know, that this decision
Was the beginning of the end.

“Look how many friends you’ve made”
Said Sandra, about the birds…
I realized then the danger I was in,
“Oh Shit!” Being my final words.

They inched nearer and nearer,
As I tried to swat them away…
But these harsh fowl did not back down,
Much to my dismay.

The head honcho soon squacked his call,
The leader of the pack.
The most terrified I’ve ever been,
Was the target of a bird attack.

Lettuce to the left, tomato to the right,
Feathers flying everywhere!
Even after the sandwich was devoured,
They still swarmed within my hair!

There was no escaping them,
I ran what felt like miles!
And the bystanders that witnessed it all,
Were nothing but laughs and smiles.

My friend, just sipping coffee,
Was in danger by association.
This attack on the both of us,
Led to hours of conversation.

We said our goodbyes, cursed the birds,
And prayed for our dear lives.
Then suddenly a godsend,
Put an end to all our strifes.

A couple way down yonder,
Proudly opened up their lunch bag.
The birds quickly took notice,
Finding brand new pray to hag.

So here is what I learned from this,
The lesson I can teach…

Don’t be the fool to try and eat
Your sandwich on the beach.

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A Guide to Seattle based on the Random Things I Found While Unpacking

After such a jam packed trip to the North West, I was trying to think of the best way to make a fun, creative guide of Seattle, Washington. Then, as I was unpacking, I found a plethora of obscure maps, stickers, ticket stubs, and noise makers (of the duck-call type).

What a perfect way to outline the best things to see with a short time schedule and a low budget!

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Space Needle

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This is THE must-see in see-attle! Get a ticket to visit the observation deck, which is 520ft above Emerald City! Be sure to take note of what time the sun sets, and head on up about a half hour before. Expedia also has some great deals on eating at Skycity Restaurant, but make sure you have a reservation!

Mount Rainier

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If you have time, and if your budget allows, I highly recommend taking a tour of Mt. Rainier— Seattle’s sleeping giant. As a city dweller, this type of adventure was something I wouldn’t typically plan. Luckily, I was traveling with a friend who had Mt. Rainer very high up on her list of things to do. Looking back on my entire North Western trip, this was my favorite endeavor. I felt like a child again, being so floored by the beauty of nature, splashing around in waterfalls, and most importantly— having no cell phone service. For more information on the tour that we took: click here.

Pike Place Market

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Another Seattle classic! I love craft fairs (as I’ve blogged about before: Get Crafty!). Pike Place Market is a great place to be a part of the community with handcrafted goods and local foods. Don’t forget to check out the awesome, yet gross, gum wall located downstairs!

Ride The Ducks

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When they ask if you would like the duck noise maker to be included with your ticket, give them a blissful, “yes!” We had a lot of fun on this land and sea tour, checking out many of the city’s hot spots and learning about the history behind them! The view from Lake Union was awesome, but the thought of owning one of the floating homes was even better.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

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If you are an art connoisseur, then this is a must see! Located near the Space Needle, this exhibition shows off the work of artist Dale Chihuly. Most art enthusiasts are use to seeing standard mediums: paint, canvas, etc… seeing blown glass is sure to blow your mind!

 

Pier 57

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Take a walk along the water for some great Seattle sites; such as the Great Wheel! There’s many tents along the way with people selling art, jewelry, and so much more. Stop for an ice cream cone, take a seat, and enjoy your beautiful surroundings!

And of course, some pointers on where to eat & what to order:

Brunch: Citizen Cafe
The caramelized apple cheddar crepe (add black forest ham) & flatliner coffee were the best way I could have ever started my day.

Happy Hour: NYP Bar & Grill Seattle
They have awesome happy hour prices, so order away! The BBQ pulled pork quesadilla was delicious. Still hungry? Go for the tuscan steak bites.

Mexican: Laredos Grill
Spicy Mango Margarita & a variety of tacos to your liking. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Pizza: Zeeks Pizza
If you like spicy, go for the Dragon! Vegetarian? Try the Quentin Florentino. Adventurous? Go half & half!

Thinking about taking a trip to Seattle? We can help you Get Out There!

Lauren’s Guide to Los Angeles: You can’t spell Lauren Without “LA”…

If you are thinking about planning a trip to L.A. here are some spots you shouldn’t miss!

Where to Brunch on Sunday Funday? Sunny Side, Venice Beach

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This place had me at $15 bottomless mimosas. Try the side of jerk potatoes, it was the most delicious starch I’ve ever had in my life. The vibe is awesome… chill music, chill people. And, you are about a half mile walk away from the beach.

Where to Watch the Sunset? Muscle Beach

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If you walk along the Venice Boardwalk until you reach the meat heads working out at muscle beach, and then walk left towards the ocean, there will be a ton of rocks jutting out into the Pacific. Not only is this spot my favorite for lounging, it is the most beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunset.

Where to Go Shopping? 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

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Picture the best mall you’ve ever been to. Now picture it outside, surrounded by palm trees, on steroids. That is the 3rd Street Promenade.

Where to Just Chill? Venice Beach Skatepark

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It is something you have to experience for yourself. The talent is incredible, and the vibe is so relaxed. Grab an iced coffee, and go hang out for a bit!

Where to People Watch? The Rusty Mullet, Hollywood

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Hollywood is overrated. Many people are extremely disappointed when the arrive, because it is a beautiful facade. If you are going to go, go during the day. Check out all the touristy things like the walk of fame and the Chinese Theater while it is still light out. Then, as the sun begins to set, Hollywood becomes Hollyweird. The Rusty Mullet has seats by a large open window, where you can get something to eat, have a beer, and watch all the interesting characters that walk by. Then, take an uber home.

The Happiest Hour?  Hermosa Beach Pier

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Allow some time in your trip to head down to the Redondo/Hermosa Beach area. There are a ton of bars near the Hermosa Beach Pier offering awesome happy hour specials. Fish tacos galore!

Where to see Artwork? Venice Boardwalk (especially on weekends!)

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I can’t emphasize enough how amazingly creative the city of Venice is. The boardwalk is filled with tents of artists displaying and selling their work. On weekends, the number of vendors nearly doubles! The work is spectacular, and talking to the artists themselves is really cool.

Best Beach? … anywhere. From Malibu, all the way down to Orange County! 

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If you’re in Los Angeles, stay by the coast!!!! No matter what beach you go to, you will be happy that you are there!

Yoga Class? Yoga Nest, Venice Beach

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Not only is the vibe of this place incredible, but you can go get a smoothie right downstairs at The Cow’s End Deli.

Where to Drink on a Rooftop?  The Perch, Downtown Los Angeles

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DTLA was not the city I expected it to be, but, coming from NY, I had pretty high expectations. However, if you want a beautiful view of the city while sipping on a martini, check out the Perch!

Where to Ride Your Bike? The Venice Canals

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This is a spot that I don’t think enough people visit when they are in Los Angeles… and it is a shame. The canals are breathtaking! Rent a bike from the boardwalk, and ride down the street to the canals… you won’t be sorry.