Two years of breathe, dream and go

Photograph of Jodhpur Fort, Rajasthan, India

BDG was born 2 years ago today

It was — and is — a labour of love

On this date two years ago, August 23, 2009, I launched Breathedreamgo (BDG). It was Ganesh Chaturthi, the Hindu god Ganesh’s birthday, which I chose because he is the god of luck and auspicious occasions, and the god worshipped at the beginning of new ventures.

I have a lot of feeling for the elephant-headed Ganesh because he has protected me during all my travels in India (I always carry a representation of Ganesh with me).

Breathedreamgo grew out of a travel blog I wrote on while I was traveling in India the first time. On December 5, 2005 I flew to Delhi, India for the start of a six-month odyssey. Blogging about that first trip really helped me gain meaning from the experience and also bolstered my confidence as a writer.

By the summer of 2009, when I was planning Breathedreamgo, I realized that blogging about my travels in India, yoga and Indian culture was my passion. But it hasn’t been easy. It has taken a huge leap of faith to pour my time, energy and skills into this blog — and it has taken those things away from other aspects of my life and career. I am now at a critical juncture. Back in August 2009, I gave myself two years to “breathe, dream and go.” To follow my dreams unfettered by thoughts of money, practicality or the future. Today, the two years is up.

Why India?

Many people ask me, why India? I went to India when I was at the lowest point of my life. I had lost both my parents and split with my fiance. I was not happy with my career (corporate communications) and had never followed my dreams. I was over 40 and knew, if not now, when? I decided I had to do something BIG, so I bought a backpack, gave up my apartment and went to India for six months. It was like jumping off a cliff. I was truly scared. But I went anyway … and it was the best thing I have ever done.

In India, I was revitalized and inspired. I found a new family and a spiritual path. I felt an uncanny affinity to India and developed love and admiration for the people and the culture. I was inspired by India to write and changed my career.

Basically, by going to India I started a whole new chapter in my life — at a time when I thought my life was over. I always wanted to be a writer, but never felt I had the confidence, skills or subject matter. Traveling, and blogging, in India changed all that.

I feel I owe so much to India. Through my writings on Breathedreamgo and in newspapers and magazines, I try to share the beauty of India’s culture and wisdom with the world. That’s my way of saying thank you.

Mariellen Ward at Qutab Miar, Delhi, 2006

Moi, Qutab Miar, Delhi, 2006

What now?

Now, I need to re-evaluate. So far, my blog has been 100% non-commercial. My entire strategy has been to create unique, heart-felt and (I hope) compelling content. I am very proud of what I have accomplished  in the last two years: My blog traffic has grown exponentially — please see About Breathedreamgo for the numbers. I have published a book, Song of India; been on several press trips; organized two tours to India (upcoming this winter) and published many articles in newspapers, magazines and on many travel sites. I have done everything I set out to do, and have gone as far as I can without support.

I am now pursuing appropriate partners and sponsors: People, organizations and companies who want to support my efforts to stimulate tourism to India, increase awareness of Indian culture, promote a more spiritual approach to life and support causes such as child welfare (UNICEF), literacy (World Literacy of Canada) and environmental conservation (Tiger Watch). If this sounds like you, please contact me! Without you, Breathedreamgo will not reach its potential.

Advice is also welcome. What have you done when you were publishing a blog — or building any kind of business — and still had the vision and the passion, but not enough resources to keep building?

A word of thanks

Back in August 2009, I remember rushing my hard-working and fabulous web designer, Jennifer Johannesen of lowtotheground, to ensure I could launch on time. Thanks Jennifer for supporting me from the beginning. It means a lot to me, as Breathedreamgo has always been a labour of love. My talented graphic designer friends, Shelly Rowen, Renee Klerer, Helen Lee and Ana Botelho also supported me by providing the graphic elements and designing my book in exchange for dinner. We designed the banner one night after a vegetarian feast — thanks ladies!

photograph of Krishna at Sivananda Ashram, Kerala, India

Krishna at Sivananda Ashram, Kerala, India

During the past two years, I have published a number of incredible photos by an array of professional photographers. I want to especially thank Andrew Adams of Katha Images and Dave Bouskill of Picture the Planet for your ongoing love and support — and awesome photos. Also want to mention photographers Amanjeet Chauhan, Jeff Jung of Career Break Secrets, Nikolaz Godet, Bruce Granofsky and Lisa Field-Elliott. Thanks so much, I need you — photography is not my strong suit.

Also want to thank several wonderful people who work for the Ministry of Tourism in India and Canada, notably Venkat, Vibhava, Sushil and Eugene. Your support has enabled me to travel in India with confidence.

Qatar Airlines flew me to India on my fifth trip – and I had one of the best flights of my life! Thanks to Tilley Hats, Chapters-Indigo and Sony Pictures I was able to give away some great prizes to lucky readers. LMA PR and the Uma Paro sent me on a fabulous trip to Bhutan. And Bundi Vilas (Bundi, Rajasthan), The Farm Villa (Ranthambhore) and Casa Cottage (Bangalore) have all hosted me – and they are all great places to stay.

And of course I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my family and friends here in Canada and in India — especially my Indian family in Delhi. Without you, I couldn’t have done any of this. Thank you.

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20 Responses to Two years of breathe, dream and go

  1. Deborah Peniuk August 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Congrats on your second anniversary! Glad to be a part of taking it to new levels this coming year!

  2. Mariellen August 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks Deborah! The Breathedreamgo Tours will make all of this a reality for the people who come with us 🙂

  3. Kelly August 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Congrats on your two year mark! All the best in your new adventures!

  4. Mariellen August 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks Kelly! I hope my new adventure includes lot of Breathing, dreaming and going places … and includes publishing my blog … but it depends on support 🙂

  5. Suzanne Boles August 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I have been following you, and your story, for the past two years. I remember when you launched this blog.

    From this post, I sense you’re at a turning point now – ‘Should I continue, move away or move in another direction?’ I sense that you feel that you need some financial remuneration from this as well now that your spiritual side is satisfied (I may be wrong, feel free to correct), but that you feel that moving this blog to another level – to incorporate some financial gain from it – is not what you had set out to do, initially, and so you are wavering.

    Spirituality is very important. But don’t feel guilty if you want to continue with this but move it to the next level. We all have to eat and have a roof over our heads.

    There are so many people who have taken this journey with you. I am sure they will hang on, wherever the road takes you.

  6. Mariellen August 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Thanks so much Suzanne, I can feel your support — and appreciate your very wise words!

  7. Mariellen August 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks for the information, Indian Culture. I believe there are 22 or 23 official languages in Indian; all of the world’s main religions and much more diversity as well, based on geography, history, etc. That’s why India is such a rich, colourful, fascinating place to visit; and why the country’s plurality should be commended.

  8. Indian culture August 24, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    The different states of India have different official languages, some of them not recognized by the central government. Religion, education and social class all influence greetings in India.

  9. Niranjana August 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Congratulations, and wishing you good luck for Breathe dream Go’s next avatar!

  10. Mariellen August 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Thanks Niranjana! I love that you said next avatar… It’s such a great way to look at life, to see beginnings in endings. Not that this is an ending – just a re-evaluation. I hope Breathedreamgo continues even bigger and better than ever – but with the support it needs!!

  11. Steph (a.k.a. Head Health Nutter) August 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Mariellen, you are truly an inspiration! From the courage you displayed to follow your passion and now again, for having the courage to reevaluate if this is something that’s working for you.

    I’ve had similar challenges, both personally and professionally, especially lately. What eased my confusion was something so simple, it’s actually funny. Have you ever read The Alchemist? There’s a part in the story where the hero was forced to give up on his quest because of life circumstances – a lack of resources to continue. You know what he did? He got a job, that he wasn’t passionate about, to take care of his immediate needs.

    So that’s what I did. I found part-time work to ease the burden of financial stress. And it was the best thing I did! I found clarity and it helped reignite my passions. I’m able to move forward again and it’s exciting me!

    Does this option resonate with you?

  12. Mariellen August 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Thanks Steph,

    You know, I always give people the same advice about going to India: whatever happens is part of the path. It’s not a deviation from it. This idea was captured nicely in The Darjeeling Limited, I thought. So, I have to feel the same way 🙂

  13. Simon Lee August 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi Mariellen, great to hear that you have a new chapter of life. I visited India, Hyderabad on business trip last year and i feel that this country is full of love, the people here is friendly although they dont understand me in some cases, but they will still try to help, love to travel to India again some other time…


  14. sharell August 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    You’ve come so far and done so well on this amazing journey, I’m sure it won’t be the end. Onwards and upwards, I say! 🙂

  15. Mariellen August 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    That is a very nice thing to say Sharell! I hope I can continue with the support I need 🙂

    Would love to meet you in Mumbai one of these days.

  16. Ron August 31, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    You’ve got a really useful blog. I have been here reading for about a while already. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me. Keep up the good posts!

  17. Kaushik September 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Hello Mariellen
    I am Kaushik Pandey from Pune, Maharashtra, India.I went through and also read about your personal life and i must say that as an Indian, i really felt proud of you and your work in India.As any other Indian, it gives great inner satisfaction and patriotic happiness when i see people from other countries appreciating Indian culture and the country itself in its original form.I feel the dedication, the love, the efforts,and the emotions that you may have gone through while doing this great work and am able to relate to it spiritually.I salute you.
    I would like to help personally in further developement and progess of breathedreamgo, as it would give me a unique opportunity to do something different for my country.But i don’t know how and where to start.So please help me regarding this.Please message me on my email id.

  18. Tammy September 22, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Mariellen! It amazes me to think that you’ve only had this blog for two years. When I met you last winter at a Toronto Travel Tribe, it felt to me like you had been a travel writer, blogger and India expert for many, many years. You’ve achieved so much in a short time, and are an inspiration to people just starting out in the travel writing and blogging industry (like me). I don’t have advice for where to take it from here (as a somewhat newbie, I’m still trying to get myself off the ground, let alone take it to the next level), but I wanted to share my congrats. You really have established yourself in a very difficult industry to break into, and you’ve proven that with a lot of hard work and determination, achieving what you want IS possible. I often need a reminder of that.

  19. Mariellen September 22, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Thanks Kaushik, and Tammy. I will message you, Kaushik, when I am finished a big writing contract I am working on now — it’s taking up most of my time.

    Tammy, thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I need a reminder too, these days, that achieving your dreams is possible! I guess we all do.

    To be honest, I’ve never worked so hard in all my life as I have these past two years. I have a lot to show for it, but I have paid a price too. My neck/spine is in pretty bad shape; it’s been a financially challenging period; and my social life has all but disappeared 🙁

    However, overall I am satisfied, and I am continuing to breathe, dream and go! It sure helps to have friends.


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