A: There is something incredibly fulfilling about growing something in my garden, turning it into a meal, and eating it with the people I love. When planting seeds comes full circle to sitting around a table full of the wonderful people in my life, all sharing something together, I feel completely present and content.
2. I love the idea of creating a home in motion and have been in similar situations, but remember sometimes feeling very unsettled. Does that happen to you? If so, how to handle those moments?
Absolutely! It is completely normal to feel unsettled or adrift when you're traveling frequently or when you've just moved. One thing that helps me is to read old journal entries from previous moves. They remind me that I always go through those rough patches, but there are amazing experiences that make it worthwhile. I also do my best to stay connected to friends and family through phone or video calls and writing letters.
Q: Where do draw your inspiration for traveling, cooking, moving and well, life in general?
Am I allowed to be cheesy? Seriously, my mom is my inspiration for traveling, moving, and life. She studied all around the world, learned seven (I think) different languages, served as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is always up for an adventure. Now she teaches English as a Second Language (ESL). I grew up meeting her students and admiring their clothes, arts and projects from around the world.
And of course, I get my inspiration from the infinite resource that is the internet! I love reading blogs by freelancers or people in location-independent professions, in particular Yes and Yes, Silly Grrl, and After Nine to Five. Cooking inspiration usually just comes from whatever is on sale at the grocery store or the brightest vegetable at the farmer's market.
Q: Moving/traveling a lot tends to create a huge network of friends of all types. Are there any who stand out as having taught valuable life lessons or just being there in those crucial life moments?
A: There are two groups of people who have been with me through almost everything, and funnily enough, those are the ones from my hometown in Virginia. Now they're spread across several continents and many different states, but even if we go days without talking, I can feel their love and support in even the most difficult moments. You know someone is a great friend when you can email them out of the blue with a random question or life upset and receive an immediate response.
A: * Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then write down five things for which you are grateful. * Look for the positive intent. In certain situations, it can be really hard to find, but this practice has helped me be more empathetic and compassionate, even when I feel like someone has hurt me without reason. * Do something absolutely silly, ideally involving movement. Nothing dispels an emotional funk like a ridiculous dance around the room to 80s pop! It may only work for a moment, but that's a moment that reminds you that you have the ability to create positivity whenever you want!
Q: What are the most important things learned while traveling, to you?
A: When I studied abroad in Senegal, I became absolutely taken with their response to the equivalent of "how are you?"--it translates roughly as "I am only here." There are moments during any trip (and in life) when you feel overwhelmed or torn between a million different choices...but remember, you are only here. Be present in the moment to fully enjoy it and learn from it.
A: I would have to start with my dad, because he is a very curious guy and a great conversationalist...and while I was busy being starstruck by Arundhati Roy, Niki de St. Phalle, and Ruth Reichl, he could keep the conversation moving.
I'm not great with fancy food but given that there's a food writer in attendance, I would probably try my hand at roasting a rack of lamb. The side dishes would be solid standbys like garlic mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and a raw kale salad with a zillion colorful and crunchy toppings. For dessert, I once made a chickpea-based gluten-free chocolate cake--it sounds weird, but it was AMAZING! Food is particularly great when it can also serve as a conversation piece.
Q: Looking back five years or so, did you imagine your life as it is now?
A: I'm pretty sure I thought I would be living in West Africa working in social services or education access for women and girls. After studying abroad, I realized that there was a ton of work to be done towards these goals in the United States, so I revamped my plan a little...after two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer working in education, I now work in nonprofit communications and I love it. Like anyone, I've always hoped to be happy no matter what I was doing, and that's one thing that has stayed constant.