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 Road to Brave

The first step to being brave 

is being scared. 

Dig deep to find superpowers 

you never knew you had. 

Comfort zones will surround you, 

Stagnation will set in. 

Be scared and then be brave,

Only then will life begin.

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What good does it do to fight fire with fire? 

“Beyond each impenetrable expanse of thundercloud obscurity reigns a boundless canopy of brilliant sapphire blue.” Cara Fox

Today, we remember a catastrophic event of modern history. New Yorkers can close their eyes and feel the depths of darkness experienced 17 years ago. For some, it was their first exposure to the personification of Evil. For others, it had confirmed the belief that all is not well. That hell is not a place experienced after death, but is a reality that exists on this Earthly planet, fueled by hatred, anger, fear, and downright indifference towards others.

It has been said that optimism is an intellectual choice. Choices put the locus of control in our hands, our hearts, and out minds. A choice is a decision, and if you are as scientifically minded as I, you know that decisions take time, focus, and effort. Whether your decisions are mediated by your thoughts, your feelings, or a delicate dance of both, they dictate your choices in how you act, or how you react.

What good does it do to fight fire with fire? 

Think about the force of a flame. While a fire has the power to destroy, it also does something quite wonderful. If channeled correctly, a fire can create light and warmth.

On a day like today, many of us gather together sharing our light and warmth with those who have experienced great loss. Loss, however, can still be felt on October 11th, November 11th, and so on. The love we share with others today can serve as a wonderful reminder of the power of camaraderie, thoughtfulness, and compassion towards our neighbors. But what will it take to carry such qualities with us for the remaining 364 days of the year?

9/11 allowed a nation to experience terror as a collective whole, providing a common ground of grief as we all try to pick up the pieces and trudge on. Individuals experience terror in their lives each and every day. We see celebrities battle addiction and depression. We see family members suffer illness and abuse. I ask again, what will it take for us to embody compassion towards others on a daily basis? 

In college, I acquired the nickname Buddha. Some people have found the nature of my being refreshing, while others have noted is as a weakness. For those of you who struggle to choose optimism, compassion, and forgiveness, I want to remind you of the light we all have burning inside of us. While it may be easier to fight fire with fire, all that’s left are ashes. But, if you tend to your flame as you’d tend to a campfire, you will always carry with you a source of warmth and light.

As optimistic as I am, I’m realistic in knowing that there is a force of evil that exists in the world, and that it is here to stay. As individuals, we have the power to choose to succumb to such darkness, or to use that darkness as a reminder to appreciate the light. Use it as a reminder, that although you may not be experiencing such darkness, others are stuck in its clutches and are in need of your warm, shining light.

So, when you wake up on September 12th, make a conscious effort to be as compassionate towards your neighbor as you were today. The ripple effect of empathy can far surpass that of evil.

27 Things to do that are more fulfilling than complaining about turning 27…

We’re all climbing up that steep ladder called life, one lap around the sun at a time. My grandma always says, the older you get, the faster it goes. It feels like I was just planning my super hip Laguna Beach-themed 14 year old pool party, and yet here I am, writing about turning 27. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not, and our increase in age is inevitable. So, rather then complain about that slippery slope of getting older, here are 27 things to do that are more productive and fulfilling…

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  1. Get sweaty. Whether it’s running, jumping, lifting, or dancing, incorporate physical activity into your daily life.
  2. Take yourself out to dinner. Or lunch, or breakfast. Get comfortable spending time with yourself by keeping your phone in the car.
  3. Book a solo trip. You’ve mastered the art of dining alone, now go ahead and see the world with the most badass travel buddy out there— yourself.
  4. Drink a beer. A good beer. In the shower. There’s nothing a nice shower beer can’t cure.
  5. Clean your space. Vacuum. Dust. Declutter. Donate the things you don’t need. If you live as if you’re always expecting a wildfire, you begin to realize the material possessions you truly care about.
  6. Cook. Get creative! Try different spices and recipes, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes they lead to a whole new creation. IMG_6814.jpeg
  7. Meditate. Practice the art of stillness. Developing a mindful meditation practice has been my super tool in combating anxiety.
  8. Stretch. Amazon prime yourself a foam roller, and roll with it. You may surprise yourself with how flexible you are— mind, body and soul.
  9. Read something someone else wrote. Whether it’s a book, blog, or magazine. Fill your mind with the musing of others.
  10. Read something you wrote. I know personally, I’ve got a plethora of old notebooks hiding under my bed. Dust off the cobwebs are tap into thoughts of the past.
  11. Play an instrument. You don’t have the be the best, you don’t even have to be that good. Just try. Activate a new part of your brain.
  12. Organize your photos. You know you have to. When’s the last time you went through your photos from that trip in 2014?
  13. Take some more photos. Go outside. Find a pretty flower. Snap some shots.
  14. Get a pet. There’s nothing better than some unconditional fluffy love.Image-1.jpg
  15. Do your laundry. And then put it away. Don’t leave it in that pile one “the chair.” Be responsible, you’re almost 30.
  16. Write for yourself. Let your mind flow and your pen go.
  17. Write for others. Perhaps it’s a blog about 27 things to do that are more fulfilling than complaining about turning 27…
  18. Buy yourself a nice shirt. It’s got to be a shirt, and it’s got to be a nice one. You’ll feel that confidence dripping when your strutting around in that $30 diddy.
  19. Learn the lyrics to your favorite rap. A little swag never hurt nobody.
  20. Practice a new language. Duolingo is calling, and you should answer.
  21. Draw or paint or sketch. A free flowing creative mind is a peaceful one.
  22. Write a letter. It can be a letter to yourself, or to someone you care about. Whether or not you send it is up to you.
  23. Learn to do a handstand. It’s easier than you think. Engage that coreIMG_6070.JPG
  24. Garden. A little chlorophyl goes a long way. Dig into that dirt, go green. Bonus points if you see worms.
  25. Reflect over the last 27 years, or the last 27 minutes. Allow the lessons of your past to fuel your present.
  26. List your goals. It will bring you that much closer to achieving them. Be proud of your progress and empowered on your journey.
  27. Eat some cake. And eat it for breakfast. Live your life, you’ve made it this far!

RELATED: 26 Things I Learned by the Time I Turned 26 

Out There Brocial

In researching the social media behaviors of millennials, Lauren discovered that the need for positive online role models was just as important (if not, more!) for young men as it is for young women. She teamed up with four inspiring fellas, that embody the collective spirit of what it means to be a Millennial Male in today’s digital society. Follow Colby, Wes, Eric & George on their adventures out of their comfort zones and into the world. #outtherebrocial

Colby Jennings

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Eric Washington

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Wes Mantooth

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George Costi 

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“There is just a simple beauty of staring at the marvel of where your roots come from.” 

Our Out There Brocialite Eric takes us back to his roots, giving us a glimpse of how this young entrepreneur in the lunch room grew into a confident businessman in the real world. 

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I was born in Manhattan, raised in Queens. Which I’m so happy about because Queens is Gorgeous…always with a capital G after Queens.
*Blatantly Bias*
I began thinking about being Steve Irwin working with animals, however that fell short after SWAT team, then I wanted to be in the military…but ultimately I wanted to be the men in the Tailored suits and the nice rides, in the Financial District.  I didn’t think about what they did, I just saw what I wanted to be. College came around I decided to try dentistry, and quickly changed to business. I have always been in sales. After all, in 6th grade my friend drew 5pg-8pg loose leaf comic books and I stapled them together and sold them at lunch for us at 10 to 25cents a pop depending on the # of pages.
We bought a lot of extra brownies and chips that year LOL.

As Eric went on studying business, he came to realize what  really mattered to him… 

Eventually I realized that a Tailored suit did not make the person important. It is the “who” was wearing the suit that was important. I began to start asking “who I am”, then just let myself free fall in that thought process. Until I started to just follow what I enjoy doing with my time. Which are Business, Adventure, and People. Currently I am working with a company out in NJ, which was a second move. The first after college was located 45mins away from it. In the Bills Mafia world: Buffalo, NY.  Yes I am a Bills fan at heart and soul. But also..Lets Go Giants!! Will be gearing up to make another Jump here for 2017!

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Confidence is key when escaping your comfort zone. We asked Eric what the comfort zone means to him… 

The comfort zone is a launch pad to rocket out of and into the start of your adventure. I truly understood I was out of my comfort zone when I first took an interest in speaking in front of people when I was younger. I was nervous, messed up a few times, but I got through it. Then it was practice practice practice. It taught me that new experiences are essential to developing character. Even if you are visiting somewhere for a day or a year, bump into a rando or have a friend for a couple months, a year, or your whole life. I believe everyone is there for a reason, for good, better or worse. You learn from it all.

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Eric is a graduate of Fredonia state with a Bachelors degree in Marketing. This major milestone is cited as one of his proudest accomplishments, as well as the transition into what comes next… 

Graduating college and becoming entirely independent was very important to me. This to me signified where my real learning began. My goal right now is to take a job that will allow me to travel Europe, and quite possibly live there for a year or two.

Speaking of travel, what destination is high up on your must-see list? 

SPAIN. The best place I’ve ever visited is currently still my parent’s home country of Ecuador. There is just a simple beauty of staring at the marvel of where your roots come from. I can’t really name the worst place I went to visit, but I can tell you what airport I prefer not to take layovers at…(Chicago O’Hare ;P)

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We sign off with Eric with a firm handshake and a shot of tequila. 

Look out for more of Eric’s inspiration in the world of business, lifestyle and adventure on outtheresocial.com!