The Humility of Headstands, Pt. 2

My headstand prep flow is now on YouTube! This flow activates your shoulders, core, and butt to help you practice this advanced inversion. I wrote and recorded this flow after a friend asked my advice for getting into a headstand.

Headstands are still a pose that drum up nerves and dread. Sure, I’ve hit the pose a dozen or so times, and flying up after a flow class is really fun. But as I mention in the video, inversions aren’t just a test of physical strength. There is a moment during a headstand when you align your hips over your shoulders and feel really light. This is a make-or-break moment. Without a wall behind me, I can’t always guarantee that I will get there, even after two or three tries (or two or three friends around to cheer me on.)

We recorded this flow earlier than I anticipated, but I continued to reassure myself that the video would look “legit,” …meaning I would have a full headstand in the video. I sheepishly tried to position my mat next to a wall (and when we moved the shoot outdoors, next to a tree) in order to guarantee a headstand for the shot. And you may have already guessed (or saw while watching the video.) I didn’t get there while we were shooting. I didn’t reach the full expression of the pose while we were shooting after the flow either. (Okay, I did, but the sun had already set, and my camera had pooped out.)

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You would be pooped out too, if you had to film a lot of Navasana.

After my first failed attempts to hit a headstand, I was extremely disappointed in myself. How could I teach someone else to do a headstand if I couldn’t get there on demand? What was I doing wrong? Would I ever get to the point in my practice where I could do a headstand?

As I moved on through the recording and through the flow, a favorite nugget of yoga wisdom crawled its way into my consciousness: let go of what happened or didn’t happen during the flow. Sure, I didn’t hit a headstand a minute ago, but in the present moment, I wasn’t trying to get into a headstand. I was cooling my body down – while still recording the flow. In the present moment, I had to be present for the video. After all, what was the whole point of the video…to prove that I could do a headstand? No. I wanted to help others as they navigated the world of inversions. Getting upset for not being able to hit a pose is not going to help anyone. 

I don’t want to share or teach my yoga perfect. I want to share my yoga practice. If I want to be an authentic and accessible teacher, I have to share an authentic practice. Sometimes “practice” consists of falling on your face trying to transition out of a crow pose. Sometimes practice is hitting your first plow. In between every “milestone” are dozens of classes and flows where you just go to practice. (And by the way, milestones aren’t just hitting a new inversion; milestones could include making contact between two parts of your body, or simply discovering something new about your body and the space that it inhabits.)

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Sometimes you need an Upward Facing Dog, sometimes you need a Baby Cobra. No flow or vinyasa is any better or worse; what’s important is serving your body.

The reality is that I could have spent hours and hours to make it appear that I flew up into a headstand with the 30 minute flow that I gave you. But let’s be honest. I’m not expecting anyone who hasn’t tried inversions before to soar up into a headstand just because they watched my flow. That’s ridiculous. I guarantee nothing. I’m not a Pinterest pin that advertising “30 days to splits” or “lose 8 inches in 8 days.” I get so upset at posts and pins and clickbait articles that guarantee reaching goals that aren’t physically, monetarily, or mentally possible for everyone reading. Each human experience is different. We are all navigating a different reality that presents limits and possibilities that aren’t always available to others. So why should we pretend that any diet, flow, or routine is guaranteed to work for anyone?

The most that I can do is offer my experiences with inversions and offer tools to help navigate the body and how it’s used during practice. So let’s be real here. Let’s get rid of expectations, of goals, of “perfect poses” and Instagram-worthy photos. Let’s focus on the present moment, whatever it brings. Let’s just practice.

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The Humility of Headstands, Pt. 1

I am so excited to show you guys my latest video, How To Prep for Headstand! The video activates the shoulders, core, and butt to help you prep for this inversion. One of the best parts of this video is the background music. My friend Elliot (aka Many Voices) is super talented and was able to whip up some tunes that went perfectly with the flow. You’ll see him in the back while I’m flowing because that jawn was live. I felt super empowered throughout the flow.

Behind the cameras were my boyfriend Jeremy, Elliot’s girlfriend Liza, and Liza and Jeremy’s roommate Julia. Add on the help of Jeremy’s bandmates Austin and Jack for letting us use their space, and you’ve got one hell of a team producing one video.

My first online flow (check it out here if you haven’t already) also involved Jeremy, Jack, and Austin. As I looked around the backyard where we shot the flow, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How the hell am I going to record more flows on my own?” (If you’re curious, I have four more recordings that I will add video to during my travels, and I plan on recording a few more before I move. If you have any requests for flows, leave a comment below.) When I first started “freelancing” a little over a year ago, I thought that blogging, writing, and even teaching yoga would be independent gigs that didn’t require correspondence outside of a few emails. I was really wrong.

I wanted to write this post just to recognize and appreciate the people involved in my teaching journey. Of course, all I’m doing is chipping away at the tip of the iceberg; everyone who I’ve practiced with in class, flowed with, gathered strength and inspiration from…anything I present, write, or teach is the cumulation of everything and everyone I have ever met. Even though I enjoy yoga for the solo journey it offers, sometimes yoga feels like a team sport…especially when you’re sharing that yoga with others and would like it to sound and look professional.

Another reason I wanted to write this post is to give a behind-the-scenes look at the world of yoga on Instagram. There are many discussions to be had about the authenticity of yoga and social media, yogis and brand ambassadors, hashtags, blogs, content marketing, sponsored posts, etc. As I begin to explore this world (out of pure curiosity but also to expand my budget while I’m traveling,) I’m seeing firsthand how much work is behind one photo or post. What looks like one person just hanging out in the park with cute clothes may actually be three people, fancy gear, a contract with a leggings brand, etc. This isn’t to bash anyone who is a brand ambassador at all; but it is a reminder that hitting the perfect pose or looking like a million bucks isn’t as easy as many influencers make it seem.

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I will be editing this video while working my final week at my full-time job (!!!) preparing for the launch of Our Future Footprint, and managing the stress of packing up my life and moving across the world. So it’ll be done in a few days. Sign up to subscribe to the blog and you’ll be the first to see it! Until then, namaste!

Yoga At The Dentist

I didn’t care how much the laughing gas would be, I simply requested it for three fillings that had to be replaced. I’m glad I have that kind of financial freedom.

Weekly, I write for a dentist in South Florida, and in that time I’ve learned that I’m not the only person to avoid making a dentist appointment. Most people would prefer to wait in long lines or accept a jury duty invitation than subject themselves to scrutiny over their flossing habits. But every time I would write for this dentist, my teeth would start to ache, so I made an appointment. My months (fine, years) of apprehension led to some tartar, and a few weeks later, I was crossing my eyes at the ceiling and praying that the anesthesia wouldn’t wear off.

To relax, I turned to yoga. I decided to focus on a breathing technique called Krama, or “Stair Step” breathing. This cooling breath allows you to count your breath and feel where your breath is moving through your body. Krama breath was one of five breathing techniques that we went over while I was in yoga teacher training, but the Krama breath always stood out to me because it just felt right.

Breathing through my nose when I had a wide-open mouth (and, due to unfortunate orthodontic flaws, live as a natural mouth-breather) wasn’t easy, but it took my focus away from whatever thin slice of metal was heading toward my teeth.

Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is the fourth limb of yoga. It prepares us for additional limbs: dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation.) Asana, the physical poses that we typically associate with the practice, is the third limb. There are eight limbs total, the eighth being samadhi, a state of ecstasy and union of the mind, body, and soul. I was nowhere near samadhi while I was trying to relax my tongue and take in as much laughing gas as possible, but, hey, we’re all on a journey.

The dentist’s chair is probably the least likely place one would think to practice yoga, but using Krama during the procedure reminded me that yoga isn’t just a physical practice. I’m as guilty as anyone of posting #yogachallenge photos and going to the studio in order to get a good sweat. While I pass no judgment on anyone who strictly does yoga for the physical benefits, yoga is more than just a workout. Yoga is a lifestyle, it’s way of being, its a guide that brings you closer to yourself, closer to the god(s) you worship, and closer to infinity.

Yoga is open to everyone, at any point in their life. You don’t need a mat to do yoga. You don’t need $100 yoga pants. You don’t need washboard abs or abstain from eating meat. You don’t need to know what Firefly Pose is or be able to pronounce anything in Sanskrit. You don’t need to feel comfortable with your body or touch your toes to do yoga. You don’t need to have a cute hairdo (once you see my yoga flow, you’ll understand what I mean.)

As a yoga teacher, my goal is to make my classes accessible and communicate them through love and compassion. If you have never taken a yoga class before, if you prefer ribs to kale, if you are physically disabled, if you just want to lay in Savasana or Child’s Pose for 40 minutes, you are welcome to my classes. And I will try my best to guide you through this beautiful practice and give you something you can take with you.

We may start practicing in a studio or through online videos, but the lessons that we collect through our flows follow us as we roll up our mat, walk out the door, and enter the spaces we may be trying to escape with yoga, meditation, or mindfulness.

Below is a flow I wrote to soothe anxious minds and bodies. In the flow, I guide you through Krama and Nodi Shodhan Pranayama. The flow is gentle, all of the poses are optional, and I recommend trying it before a good night’s sleep. This is the first flow I have posted online, and I would love any and all feedback that you have for me. Leave a comment, send me a message on Facebook, or shoot me an email. I teach for the benefit of students, so your opinion is very important to me! Enjoy this flow!

Turning Fear Into Gratitude

It would be too simple to say that I’m scared of the dark, but let’s go for it.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve spent hours in bed awake at night, fearing that someone would break into my home while my eyes were still open. This fear has followed me into many spaces, including my apartment when I’m home alone and my childhood home that had multiple stories. I know these fears are not irrational – they feel quite silly to admit – but my fear has started to get in the way of how I want to live my life. (I make eight hours of sleep a priority, and I can’t achieve that when I’m tossing and turning, worrying about how much I’ll be worrying when I’m camping or sleeping in strange hostel beds in stranger countries.)

On one of my more recent adventures, fear latched onto my heart, brain, and body, while I was camping in Mississippi. Just picture this. You’ve set up camp around 10 P.M. without seeing a soul as you drive into the campsite. There’s a lit bathroom across the path, and an RV displaying hanging lights in the distance, but the rest of your vision is unpopulated. There’s no cell phone service, either. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say that I had shaking fears for hours of getting murdered.

Again, I know that my fears, to a point, are rational. I don’t assume that my fears are unique or speak to anxiety that particularly needs attention. As I picture my death and obituary, or picture being face-to-face with someone who wants to break into my home and cause me harm, I constantly tell myself that I’m thinking irrationally. I don’t do anything irrational due to my fears. (I’ve dragged my boyfriend to sleep in his car, rather than a tent, only once.) I’m writing about fear because I think it presents an interesting opportunity to have gratitude.

I really should be grateful for my health, the sunrise, and all that I have been given, every single day, without a reminder. We all should…but that’s not always how we see things. Gratitude can be tricky: it usually takes a misfortune for anyone to pay attention to the positive things we’ve been given. Often, we are grateful only after we’ve compared our lives or situations to others…something that is otherwise an ineffective and dangerous thing to do.

While I work on taming these fears to the point where I’m only momentarily scared of an axe murderer in an otherwise peaceful and beautiful campsite, I’ve added a new mantra when I get especially nervous or afraid.

“Tomorrow’s sunrise will be so beautiful.” 

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I thought of this mantra once afternoon when I had quite the headache after trying a headstand and could not stop thinking about internal bleeding in my brain (bear with me here.) I can’t use a mantra that will outright tell my brain that my fears are wrong; it’s not going to be effective. So I’ve decided to slide in a positive message between every few thoughts. This message is not only positive, but it travels into the next day. The mantra sets me up for a morning of gratitude. Gratitude, as I’ve learned recently, is an absolutely refreshing way to start off the day.

I woke up in Mississippi to a sunrise over a lake near our campsite that was new to us in the daylight. My sun salutations were charged with gratitude. Rather than rolling my eyes at worrying over absolutely nothing, I was able to start my morning off on a positive, humble, thankful note.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working on taming my fears. After all, my future plans involve traveling across the world alone (again) and eventually making a bus or a campervan my home. So let’s figure this out together. What are your mantras when you’re scared? How do you handle anxiety in the dark? Let me know in the comments!!

Thank you for reading. Namaste!

A Southern Bohemian Barn Wedding in South Carolina!

Phew! The craziest 12 weeks of 2017 (granted, the only 12 weeks of 2017) are behind me, and a few weeks of working, relaxing, and exploring Austin are ahead. The calm before the storm, if you will. (fingers crossed that Andrew and I don’t encounter any storms when we are in Asia. I jinxed it, didn’t I?) The craziness has ended after a big roadtrip to Charleston, South Carolina, for a southern bohemian barn wedding!

When Devon, my friend from high school, asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, it was over the phone, and I thought I had misheard (still said, “yes,” obviously,) because we hadn’t been in touch for a while. Devon holds a very special place in my heart as a friend that I’ve known since I was 10. We don’t talk much (blame can be placed equally on both of us) but I was so relieved and ecstatic to arrive in Charleston and run into the same old Dev. Just, you know, with a diploma, a full-time job, a (now) husband, baby, and dog named Ernie. She’s the type of friend that you agree to drive 1,200 miles to even if you’re not exactly sure what they asked you to do for their wedding. (The bridesmaid thing was eventually cleared up and I emoted a second round of squeals of excitement.)

So my boyfriend and I packed up my yoga mat, some road trip snacks, and more Lush products than I will ever plan on bringing backpacking. (I decided to do my own hair.) A road trip sounded mighty fine to me after staying in the same city for three months straight.

First things first: No one will be able to top this wedding. 

If you’ve been on Pinterest, imagine a more beautiful wedding than you’ve ever pinned. I write with Stefon’s voice in my head: “this wedding had everything.” Chalkboards. Flowers in mason jars. String lights everywhere. A photobooth with a Polaroid camera. They had an old-fashioned car that we took photos with. Beers in wheelbarrows. Meat that had been smoked for 14 hours. (I didn’t partake, but my mouth did water.)

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Pictures by fellow bridesmaid Caitlin LeMoine!

 

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Photo by Caitlin LeMoine.

God, I still can’t get over how picture-perfect this wedding was. It was in a barn next to a marsh that held an alligator (and six-eight babies, allegedly) but no babies or dogs were eaten on the big day.

(I’m writing this soon after the wedding, so the photographer’s pictures are not up yet. I’ll update this post later when they’re ready! There’s a very cute one where Devon and I recreate a picture from our junior prom, so get ready.)

What I’ve always loved about Devon is that while she is extremely smart, professional, and has her head on her shoulders, she still dances to the beat of her own drum (or strings of her own cello, which she played in high school.) I must admit, I worried that I wouldn’t know a wedding tradition that would be followed during the rehearsal dinner/ceremony, or that not doing my hair would leave me underdressed. Devon hasn’t changed, because to hell with (some) tradition.

I’ll leave it at this. Seeing a friend that I grew up with walk her own damn self down the aisle, in her grandmother’s wedding dress, wearing a flower crown in her hair was one of the most empowering and fantastic sights I’ve ever witnessed.

The ceremony was beautiful. The vows were beautiful. The bride and groom were bursting with love.

The mac n’ cheese was dope. The band was insane. The dancing was almost too much to handle.

This wedding was certainly one to beat, with a perfect mix of tradition, elegance, and downright fun. I would drive from Austin to Charleston and back again in a heartbeat for a few more Yuenglings and a swig of bourbon from one of the groomsmen.

I’ll cheers to that. Also, can we talk about this bridesmaid outfit? I’ve already decided that the skirt is coming with me when I go backpacking.

Speaking of the drive…

I drove for over 40 hours with my boyfriend and still think he’s pretty darn cute!

When I found out I was going to be a bridesmaid, I jokingly told my mom I had six months to find a +1 that would drive me to South Carolina. When you ask, you shall receive, I guess. I wouldn’t have agreed to date someone who didn’t like road trips, sleeping in cars, and stopping for the night or two in a tent, but I luckily in December I started dating the most patient, ~chill,~ fun guy in this part of Texas. Jeremy and I left Austin on a Tuesday night to check in at an AirBNB on a Thursday morning. We left Charleston on a Sunday morning and got home Monday night. We each camped for one night each way, first in South Carolina, and then in Mississippi.

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Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina

The road trip consisted of lots of Radiolab podcasts, discussions about politics, stargazing, and eventually, leftover mac n’ cheese in take-home containers. On the way home, I randomly suggested stopping in Dallas for tacos before the last leg of the trip, and without any thought, Jeremy agreed. I don’t have much experience in relationships (despite, having been in, erm, some, I would like to think I have absolutely no experience in relationships) but I know that someone who doesn’t mind sitting with you in a coffee shop for a few hours while you send in some work (I have the pleasure of working remotely) or driving a bit out of the way to get tacos is a catch.

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Of course, I’m going to add a picture of the tacos. Fried Paneer and Nashville Hot Tofu from Velvet Taco in Dallas. 10/10, worth every minute of trying to navigate the highways in Dallas.

I don’t know why I attempted to joke that the road trip would be in anyway a test of our relationship, because it was a great experience, there and back. (Ok, I got mad when he turned a little bit and sent the dirt of our succulents flying throughout the passenger seat, but we survived, didn’t we?)

It’s nice to reminisce. I promise. 

This post is getting to be way longer than I expected, even though it can’t fully encompass the fun I had during the road trip. I’ll leave you with this.

I may just have a bad memory, but I tend to block out my high school years. I feel like a completely different person sang at Carnegie Hall, drove a Subaru Outback, or played the oboe. I talk to my friends from high school occasionally, if not rarely. I feel detached, as I often allow myself to be. Revisiting such a close friendship was not only fun and silly, but reminded me of how lucky I am to have gone to the high school I went to, with the upbringing I had. I was given amazing opportunities by growing up in Doylestown. I left happy memories, and beautiful people, back in the town where I grew up. My friendship with Devon is one of many that shaped me to be who I am. I can only begin to acknowledge the privilege I hold from going to a fantastic school and being surrounded by wonderful people at an early age.

Don’t be afraid to find the people you’ve lost touch with; you may be surprised to find that despite the years and milestones that have come between your friendships, you can pick right back up.

I have more posts coming up, including my first online yoga flow! I thank you for reading, and hope to see you here in the future! Namaste.

 

 

 

Yoga Teacher Training Reflections

Warning: this post ended up being way longer than I thought.


I never take days off from my full-time job, but with the craziness of SXSW and the celebration of completing my yoga teacher training, I’m shutting my work to-do list for a whopping three days. I’m still working on a new project – the details of which will come later – but for the most part, I’m focusing on taking a little SXSW vacay.

I’m a certified yoga teacher! After 10 long weeks of reading, learning, sweating, playing tears off as sweat, and practicing, the journey inside the classroom at Black Swan has come to an end. The journey around the world, teaching and continuing to learn, has just begun.

Beat, Broke, Backpacking is going to resurrect now that I have weekends. I’ll also be uploading flows amongst my travel pictures and wanderlust-y thoughts. In the meantime, I wanted to share some reflections from teacher training. Any yogi, any level, any body type, age, gender, comfort level, etc. can benefit from yoga teacher training. It’s like going to group therapy and the gym and job training at the same time. Pretty cool. Here are some things that I learned.

Everyone Can Enjoy Yoga Teacher Training – I was surprised to learn that not everyone wanted to pursue teaching after the training was over; at first, I honestly had trouble justifying the cost of training for someone who just wanted to deepen their practice. As the weeks went on, however, I was hooked on everything I was learning about yoga, its history, the body, the chakras…we obviously learned a lot about sequencing, adjusting, and the ethics of teaching, but we learned so much more about the practice in general. We went through the primary series in Ashtanga yoga every Saturday morning, eventually practicing in the Mysore style (without verbal instruction.) Learning the primary series alone, and the recommended alignment, is worth the cash. In addition, we had more time to focus on advanced poses and dive deeper into the history of yoga. As someone who is constantly working and not able to put aside much time for Svādhyāya (self-study,) yoga teacher training was a nice kick in the asana. (Get it? I’m hilarious.)  Whether you’ve mastered a headstand, full splits, or you’ve just stepped onto your yoga mat this year, you can benefit from yoga teacher training.


Though She Be Little, She Is Fierce – I was able to befriend and talk to a lot of strong women (and two men) during my training. When you’re spending 10 hours a day & two days a week with people, you get to know them pretty well and grow comfortable sharing yourself.

One day in particular sticks with me. One of my friends, a quieter, humble yogi with lots of knowledge and experience to share, told our group she was feeling small that day. One of our group members was awed at her ability to identify and express that emotion, although we’ve all felt that way in our lives. We were also taken aback at how someone with such knowledge and so many ideas to share could feel like they have a smaller presence in the room.

Yoga meetups can reach hundreds of people. Flows can be taught over booming microphones. When we practice yoga, we find ourselves connected to infinity, the whole, vast universe. But we harness this power and build this connection from the smallest beginnings. An inhale and an exhale may not look like much, but they hold power. Even though we may feel intimidated by our height, our voice, or our place in the universe, we can take comfort in the idea that we are connected to something bigger than we could ever imagine.


Burning Through Samskaras Is A Lifelong Process – When you’re in Pigeon Pose for four minutes, on each side, you’re going to face some emotions that you thought were long-gone. When we encounter these moments, we face samskaras. In short, samskaras are patterns and habits that we’ve developed since the moment our life has begun (or before that, if you’re into reincarnation.) When we practice, we aim to burn through and release ourselves from these samskaras.

I remember a particular flow (probably the one where I was in Pigeon for four minutes, on each side) that ended in a lot of anxiety. Without going into too much detail, I was bringing up past trauma and past discomfort that I just wanted (/want) to get rid of. It was an intense moment, and in that moment I decided that I was going to face the trauma head-on, get over it, and move forward. Yoga teacher training was the time to do it. I was going to get over, get through, and get rid of it.

It was probably during the next flow that I realized that things weren’t going to change that dramatically, that quickly.

I look at samskaras as a giant concrete block that we chip away at when we practice. One blaze is not going to burn and disintegrate our samskaras (I did have to check on the internet to see if concrete was flame-resistant, it is.) It takes a lot of time, and even though we’re constantly making progress, we may come back and think that we’ve done nothing at all. There is still much work to be done. The sooner we accept the task ahead of us (the past that has led us here, and the fact that our future is not going to be perfect,) the easier our job gets.

So I continue to work, even after receiving my certificate.

Definitely still working on the handstands.

I am starting to build, record, and film flows that I will put online through my blog, YouTube, and an online studio (coming soon!) If you have suggestions for flows that you would like to see, let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page! Until next time,

नमस्ते

 

 

Beat, Broke, Backpacking is nominated for Versatile Blogger Award!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award! Even with new projects, jobs, and training, I want to shake the dust off of BBB and arrive in Southeast Asia prepared to share my journey. Beat, Broke, Backpacking started as a way to document an open-ended backpacking trip, and I hope to keep leaving the pages in my planner blank to experience whatever life throws at me. Anyway…

Who Nominated Me?

I would love to thank Dot from DOT On Her Way for the nomination. I feel like I’m still figuring out the whole blog world, and it seems like Dot’s got…just about everything figured out. From hanging wallpaper to traveling through Iceland, DOT On Her Way will answer all of your questions for traveling and living the good life.

7 Random Facts about me

As acceptance of this nomination by Dot, here are 7 random facts about me:

  1. I’ve worked for Lush Cosmetics off and on for about four years and in two different stores!
  2. The best hostel I’ve ever stayed in was Grateful Dead themed. Shout out to the Mamas and Papas hostel!
  3. In my junior year of high school, I sang at Carnegie Hall on Easter Sunday.
  4. I sleep in a sleeping bag every night because I think it’s more comfy (and I’m too lazy to buy a real comforter.)
  5. My full-time job includes writing for criminal defense lawyers, real estate agents, and relationship therapists!
  6. Cancer, Moon in Leo, Cancer Ascending.
  7. I just started yoga teacher training in January, but I’ve known I wanted to be a yoga teacher since I “taught” a class to two friends while we were staying at a hotel in Poland!

Versatile Blogger Award Rules

  • Publicly thank the person who nominated you, linking to their blog so everyone else can see how great they are.
  • Pay it forward and select nominees you think are deserving this award. Some of the criteria’s to get the nomination are:
    • the quality of the writing
    • the uniqueness of the subjects covered
    • the quality of the photographs
  • Tell all of these people 7 random things about yourself, and ask your nominees to do the same.

My Nominations

Congratulations to all my nominees. Please read the Versatile Blogger Award Rules above to accept your nomination. Wishing you all the best to my fellow bloggers and let’s keep encouraging each other.

  1. Kayla Blogs – I can barely keep my bed made for five minutes, so I envy Kayla’s ability to organize in the midst of working and going to college. Kayla Blogs is your best resources for planner reviews, book recommendations, or how to travel and stay on top of a busy life.
  2. How Are Ju – America truly looks beautiful through Ju’s lens. Her landscape photos, from Grand Teton National Park to Riverside Drive in Austin, are simply stunning.
  3. Dreamista – Anna knows how to travel in style! She’s the brains and beauty behind Dreamista, a travel, fashion, and lifestyle blog that has you covered no matter where you want to go.
  4. Green Travel Guru – If you’re inspired by these eco warriors, you can grab green products right off of their site! Gijs and Annabeth are committed to keeping their travels green and sustainable, no matter where they go!
  5. Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok – Keeping this one in my back pocket for July! Nancy Chandler is an American artist with a knack for illustrating the beauty in Southeast Asia’s most exciting cities.

How to Get the Cheapest Flights Abroad

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This will be a quick post…I just always share this secret to people who are traveling and figured I would share it further!

So my one-way ticket from NYC to London in 2015 was $300. My one-way ticket from NYC to Bangkok was around $600. Andrew’s roundtrip ticket is arouns $800, which is pretty amazing.

How’d we find them? The secret is this site called Student Universe. I heard about it and bought my first ticket when I was a college student, since many airlines offer “student” or “youth” discounts. Student Universe, available as a website or an app, goes through different airlines that offer these discounts and gives you the cheapest deals on flights. If you’re flexible about the location or date of your flight, it’s even easier to find a good deal. All you need to book to prove you’re a student, at first, is a school email!

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I don’t have a trip to Costa Rica planned…but a girl can dream, right?

I’m almost two years out of college (aaah) and still using Student Universe, just for its ease of use and ability to find cheap flights. After a few flights, the website will ask for more forms of student identification to buy a flight…when it got to be that point, I would simply find the flights through Student Universe, then purchase them through the airline. Most of the “youth” discounts apply to people under the age of 25 or 26 anyway, so I’m in the clear.

Whether you’re a student or not, using Student Universe is a great way to find honest deals with no gimmicks. The site also offers great packages on hotels and tours, if you want to book those ahead of time as well!

If you’ve recently booked with Student Universe, or have a similar site you’d like to share, let me know in the comments!

January 15, 2017.

I apologize if this post reads as frantic or a bit rushed.

I’ve been pressuring myself to share the moment I’m living in with you; there’s no Beat Broke Backpacking without my loved ones, faraway friends, and anyone who stumbles upon this blog for whatever reason. The past few weeks I’ve been challenged to think about why I want to go further with this project. What are my intentions? What am I willing to compromise? Can I sum my mission for Beat Broke Backpacking up in a sentence? How has that changed?

(More on that below.)

I have also felt pressured to share because each moment disappears so quickly. Since the New Year, I’ve hit so many turning points that I need something for nausea.

I’m writing this from yoga teacher training (we’re on lunch break.) I could go on and on in additional posts about my love for yoga (and I will, and I have) but I’ll have to focus.

You know that beautiful feeling when you realize you’re actually taking the action you’ve been dreaming up for months, years, etc.? That was present in every moment and every pose during my first flow of my first class. Since I’ve moved to Austin I’ve been saving for this training by working two jobs (one was always full-time.) In hindsight, I could have flipped my thinking into appreciating every moment heading to and from work as taking action toward my daydreams, but hindsight’s 20/20. Every moment from now until July I’ll be taking action toward the big plan (or lack thereof) my thoughts have drummed up since I got back from backpacking in September 2015.

My best friend and I purchased plane tickets to Bangkok that leave on July 5. His ticket is roundtrip and mine is one-way. After six weeks backpacking around Southeast Asia, he’s going back to work. The pages in my planner are left blank.

I would still be doing teacher training if I planned on putting a down payment on a house in Austin and staying here for my foreseeable future. But I’ve known for a while that this training is going to take me across continents. Yoga is everywhere, and it serves as the one form of universal expression I am comfortable using to connect with and show my love for everyone I meet.

I don’t want to have set plans for after Andrew leaves Asia; maybe I’ll hit up all of the places I will hear about in hostels, maybe I’ll stay in Bangkok, maybe that’s when I’ll head to Australia.

I am almost finished applying for my working holiday visa…where I hear they have quite a decent market for yoga.

Up until now this post is anti-climactic; I’m going to Asia aaaaaand…then what?

That’s why I’m going to revisit this blog. I won’t be posting every week again at first…I’m still working 55 hours a week on top of teacher training. But I want to make myself vulnerable and share my plans for BBB. I write full-time. I would like to use BBB as a project and experiment with making it a full-time job, while still keeping the integrity of what I want to share and promote. I want to explore making a career out of writing, out of traveling, out of being a travel writer. The moment I first picked up travel guides I knew it was possible to pursue my passions and make it a living. So I’m going to give it a try.

Buying my plane ticket to Asia was not as scary as writing this post because in July, it’s pretty set in stone that I’ll be on that plane. (Andrew and I even got seats next to each other after a hot mess of trying to book through different sites.) Trying to manifest my vision for this blog is terrifying because there is so much gray area. What will I consider “successful?” Can a blog that I completely control even “fail?” I know what the end result should look like, but I don’t even know how to begin.

The road ahead is foggy. I’ve been told to expect a lot of rain in July in Southeast Asia. But I’ve made a promise to myself since the beginning of teacher training that I would appreciate each moment and my effort to run (work, stand, fold, plank, downward dog, whatever) toward this new adventure.

So I move forward.

Tiptoeing Back into Traveling: Post New Orleans Ramblings

In the past few months, while being jostled around by family reunions and summer vacations, I’ve been greedily collecting ideas, plans, maps, and dreams. Rather than a fire burning or a star bursting, I’ve been feeling like a box inside of me was shrinking, and I was stuffing more into it:

things I wanted to discuss in a coffee shop

projects I wanted to start now

phrases and ramblings and pictures.

These ideas, not being unleashed, were beginning to feel stale.

I’ve learned the only solution this is to stuff a bag full of clothes and notebooks, and head to somewhere fresh.

I spent a blink of an eye in New Orleans. I was able to wander through the cemeteries and fall in love (again) with a city that demands your attention to experience both an otherworldly presence and very real history. From the moment I walked into the Museum District, the soft pain and spooky intrigue of New Orleans that I had fell in love with while reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles last summer jumped in front of me like one of the many blaring saxophone solos I jumped for on Frenchman Street.

The words in Chronicles that defined New Orleans for me faded away and I replaced them with discussions, stories, and permanent words scribbled into a notebook over a French market crepe or quiet moment at Greenwood cemetery.

(Backpacking stories, hostel whisperings, local and tourist recommendations alike.)

These stories are not familiar, and the words become rearranged in every city you visit.

Hostel residents tend to tell the same story, but with a new twist every time. Where-you-headed-next and where-have-you-beens were exchanged, and as usual, I felt the simultaneous groan and a smile that comes from adding a new destination to my mental bucket list (this time, Costa Rica won out as the top dream.)

Quick run-ins and small chats brought your world in close with a tight squeeze and shrunk your story to a quick flip of a few pages.

The bartender at the shack whose name you hear whispered through the grapevine will tell you your future, finally humoring you until you’ve exhausted the thoughts that have been tumbling in your head about where to move and the pain you’ve felt looking at the artists giving it a go in the corners of galleries around the city.

The tarot reader in Jackson Square will tell you what she sees in your face and what you’re aching for in your bones. You’re hit with a smack in the face once you pop out of the bubble of introversion to discuss her cards, realizing your future is yours to write anyway, you don’t even remember her name.

 . . .

I write these words as I sit on a Megabus seat bumping through Texas. I’m reflecting on my trip, my gratitude, and I feel my energy being restored. Anyone who asks me if I’m an introvert while in a crowd of people will see the bashful answer on my face before I say, “Oh yeah.” I have to be alone to fill up. I opted out of my reserved seat on the Megabus today (a loss of a whole $1) to find a spot where I wouldn’t be surrounded by people. As I flew through the jobs on my to-do list (giving me the illusion I was flying through Louisiana,) I felt restored back to full.

My assignments for the day are done. My time in New Orleans has drawn to a gentle close, like finishing a good book with a long exhale, putting it back on your bookshelf with great care and knowing that in the future, you’ll revisit it once more with fresh eyes and a great yearning for a different interpretation of the story. It’s time to head back to “real life” now, with a clear mind and a refreshed determination to finally build my “what’s next.”