My story: Why I write about travel in India

Elephant blessing in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Elephant blessing in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India, 2006

Travelling to India in 2005 saved my life

I recently realized that my story doesn’t actually appear anywhere on my blog. By that I mean, a concise telling of why I blog about India. And it’s not like I just started this. I’ve been traveling in India, and blogging about it, for six years. But it feels like it’s time, especially since Sir Ken Robinson helped provide me with some new insight.

In early December of 2011, I marked the six-year anniversary of landing in India for the first time by publishing Six years of travel writing and blogging.  A while later, I was on Twitter and saw a Tweet from @SirKenRobinson, which said he was writing about passion. You have probably seen Sir Ken’s video — the most famous TED video ever, about how school kills creativity in kids.

I tweeted my six year blog to Sir Ken, he read it and retweeted it, and the next day his co-author Lou Aronica contacted me and interviewed me for their new book, Finding Your Element — which is a follow-up to their bestseller about passion called The Element. The interview with Lou was cathartic and made me realize why I do a lot of the things I do: it’s because I am a deeply creative person who has never had my creativity supported. Well, certainly not in school.

Alice in Wonderland

Creativity: The missing link

So now I see more clearly a thread running through my life, which goes like this. I taught myself to read before starting school. I had a sensitive nervous system and was absent one-third of each school year, but was always at the top of my class. By the age of 10 I was reading Dickens. In short, I was bright, creative and “precocious” (the word my mom used to describe me, along with pensive and sensitive – she often compared me to Alice in Wonderland, and we even looked alike with long blonde hair held back by a hairband.).

But I experienced childhood trauma (too personal to discuss here) and my school didn’t know what to do with me so they had me skip two grades. I was too young when I entered high school, and quit the day I turned 16. It didn’t help that my family felt apart at about that time, and for a while I had no place to live. I was born sensitive, so add childhood trauma, a botched education and sudden lack of family support when I was about 17, and you get a mega-dose of teenage angst. My teenage years were filled with emotional problems. I was even hospitalized for three weeks for depression.

By the time I reached adulthood, I didn’t know who I was, and I was operating in a kind of survival mode.

When I was young, before everything fell apart, I wanted to study comparative religion, English and mythology at university. But instead, I went to college for journalism because it was more practical. My dreams were so deeply buried, I didn’t know they existed. I worked in communications for many years, drifting from one job to another. (And from one boyfriend to another.) Rootless. Passionless.

There were a few highpoints and I did have some fun, though. In my 20s, I was part of the alternative music demi monde scene in Toronto and partied “like it was 1999” in the early 1980s, with bands like Duran Duran, The The and The Psychedelic Furs. After graduating with a BA in journalism I worked at a leading fashion magazine. Then, I worked in the film industry and attended several films festivals, including Cannes, and met loads of movie stars. (Big deal. Anthony Hopkins stands out, very gentlemanly.) I traveled a lot, through France, to central America, many times to London, New York and once to Paris. When I was about 30, I moved to Tokyo, Japan with my film executive boyfriend, and traveled from there to Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

My mom, me and my sister Victoria during my groovy years, circe 1983

There were some low points, too: my best friend killed herself. I had ongoing issues with anxiety and depression and became addicted to anti-anxiety pills. Financial troubles dogged me as I tried to pursue a writing career, and once found myself on welfare, and visiting a food bank.

In my 30s I experienced a crisis and started therapy, and realized I was deeply affected by childhood abuse. I dedicated many years to healing from it, and even gained a certificate in Gestalt Therapy, practising part-time for seven years.

Loss, trauma and my bleakest hour

In my late 30s I was hit by a series of traumas. In a few short years my father declared bankruptcy and we lost our family cottage (which was like losing a family member); my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly and I found her body; my fiance left me, with an expensive wedding dress in the closet; I had a bicycle accident and broke my elbow; and my father died of cancer.

During yoga teacher training

During yoga teacher training. Photo courtesy Christine Lynes.

By the end of it, I was flattened. I was in my 40s, unmarried, no kids, no career, no parents, no money. I was in a deep depression, filled with feelings of grief and irreconcilable loss. None of my early potential had manifested, my dreams were long-lost. It was my bleakest hour.

Slowly, like the ice thaw in early spring. I came out of the depression by doing yoga, and by deciding to go after a dream: to become a yoga teacher. Though I was the oldest and least flexible person in my class, I threw myself into the training program and midway through, had a strange, kundalini-like experience.

A teacher who had lately returned from training in India really impacted me, and somehow I started releasing energy, or channeling energy, and went into a kind of altered state. It happened at the same time as the tsunami in southeast Asia; and for me, it was like a personal tsunami. In three weeks, I lost 15 pounds. And I was gripped with a compulsion to go to India. I had never felt anything like it before, and I had to obey.

I started planning and saving and about 11 months later left for India on December 5, 2005, for a six-month odyssey. I have written probably a half-million words about the affect that trip had on me. How it gave me back my dreams, recharged my life, made me feel I was finally home and provided me with the inspiration to finally start my writing career. I had wanted to be a writer since childhood, but I didn’t have my subject matter until I went to India.

1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights

When I was a child I was obsessed with the 1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights and painted huge murals on my walls, of genies coming out of bottles and maharaja palaces. In India, I found the real-life version of my childhood walls; and the inspirational spark to ignite my imagination. India is my soul’s home and my muse.

I’ve found my dreams, and they are traveling (especially in India and Asia), writing and yoga. And I have followed them whole-heartedly for the last few years, because they were buried for so long. Followed them irrationally and without thought to where they would lead. Followed them without knowing how I would support myself financially. I’ve been to India on five lengthy trips and published loads of blogs, articles, a book. I’ve been asked to speak, I’ve been interviewed and I’ve had some fantastic adventures like attending the Kumbh Mela and dancing with Shahrukh Khan. It’s been a magic carpet ride. But I’ve done it with almost no real support, or financial return.

My interview for Lou Aronica and Sir Ken Robinson’s book seemed to bring things full circle for me; it provided a big puzzle piece. I am the same pensive girl, lost in my imagination, dreaming of the “exotic” Orient, making up stories, wishing I could live in my imaginary world, that I was in childhood. A grown-up cross between Alice in Wonderland, having adventures, and Scheherazade, spinning tales. But now I’m trying to make a livelihood from it as a travel writer and blogger who specializes in writing about Asia and meaningful travel.

So, that’s my story. I am now trying to figure out how to bring the “real world” and the world of my imagination together, so I can live a sustainable, creative life. And I’m trying to break the pattern of not having enough support in my life. It’s hard.

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129 Responses to My story: Why I write about travel in India

  1. Gillian @OneGiantStep January 13, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Wow. I love hearing peoples stories – especially when they turn out so well and are so inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sandesh H R January 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      “especially when they turn out so well and are so inspirational. ” you are damn right, If you are too sensitive and emotional, you always feel that you are reading your life’s story, irrespective of what it is! – Inspirational!
      Sandesh H R recently posted..5 Awesome FREE PSD Website Templates (.psd)My Profile

  2. Bret @ Green Global Travel January 13, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I’ve always felt some sense of kismet with you and your blog, and now I know why. Thank you for sharing your story so bravely, and for pursuing your passion so boldly. You will serve as an inspiration to anyone who has suffered through hardships, but refused to be defeated by them. Great, great post!

  3. Mariellen January 13, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Wow, thanks Bret! I feel the same way about you. I hope we get to meet one of these days. It’s so great what you’re doing with Green Global Travel!

  4. ONEWEIRDWORD January 13, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I’d like to add one word to how you describe yourself, my friend: Brave.

    Thank you for sharing your brave story.

  5. Scott January 13, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    For years now (and “this” came to me in India as well) I’ve believed in the adage: it’s not what happens to you that’s important, it’s what you do about it . . . and you have responded wisely, intuitively and strongly.

    I can only quote (and in place of “Grand Canyon” sub India) my favorite author – Barry Lopez: “The living of life, any life, involves great and private pain, much of which we share with no one. In such places as the (inner gorge) of the Grand Canyon, the pain trails away from us. It is not so quiet there or so removed that we can hear ourselves think – that comes later. We can hear out heartbeat. That comes first.”

    Peace to you on your journey. Keep sharing 🙂

  6. Mariellen January 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Gillian, thanks for your comment. I like people’s stories too. We are all thick books, with complex plot lines, a cast of thousands and, perhaps, a twist at the end …

  7. Mariellen January 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Hello OneWeirdWord, I am at an advantage because I know who you are! That is a nice thing to say. Sometimes, you just have to put it out there. We are all struggling, and you just never know how exposing your struggle can help someone else. Especially since I have this new passion to join people like Ken Robinson and support creativity.

  8. Mariellen January 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Nice quote, Scott! I don’t know Barry Lopez or his work, but I think I have to find out!

  9. Ste January 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Hi Mariellen
    You write beautifully
    Like you I have a dream, but still need a couple more pieces of the jig-saw to fall in place and they will do so – very soon.
    I too have been inspired by Sir Ken and bought and read his book The Element.
    Your story reminds me of this lady


  10. Tammy January 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Such a moving post, Mariellen. Thank you for sharing it. You are strong, brave, and an inspiration to travellers, dreamers and anyone who has ever struggled with sadness, pain and loss.

  11. Mariellen January 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Hello Ste, thanks so much for your comment, and for sharing the video. I have posted it to the Breathedreamgo Facebook page — it’s stunning. Very beautiful, calming and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  12. Mariellen January 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Hi Tammy! It’s great to see your comment and I really appreciate your words. We dreamers have to stick together!

  13. Abhishek January 15, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    First time on your Blog, got its link from your twitter Bio.
    Your story is amazing.
    Throughout your life you have suffered a lot and it makes my happy when you say India had helped you in coming out from your sorrows.
    Best Wishes : )

  14. Mariellen January 15, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Thanks so much Abishek, that’s such a nice thing to say. India has its challenges, but it is a very special place.

  15. Victoria January 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Proud and honoured to have shared a lot of your story. I appreciate you!

  16. Jeffrey January 16, 2012 at 9:46 am #


    Much Thanks for sharing your history so openly. The importance of being creative ohhhh yes. I too teach yoga and it as transformative and healing in a special way – I offer my own story (www) and maybe you’ll get a similar inspiration reading it, that you provided us with yours.

    I’m heading to India at the end of this month (Chennai 4wks, then Rishikesh :-)) and I must admit just now I’m beginning to get nervous about travelling alone after reading more online. I will definitely be keeping in mind your own recommendations about keeping a positive attitude and such.

    Happy Travels

  17. Taxi services in Gurgaon January 17, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    This very nice blog good writing scripting. good story

  18. Mariellen January 18, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Hello Jeffrey, Nervous is okay 🙂 I will be looking forward to hearing about your journeys. Are you doing the one-month intensive at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram? I did that program, it;s excellent. Say hello to Kausthub Desikachar for me!

  19. Jeffrey January 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi Mariellen

    Yes, the ‘Heart of Yoga’ just like the amazing book of the same name.
    REALLY looking forward to the whole experience.

    Will relay greetings 🙂


  20. Tammy Winand January 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    In many ways, your story is my story…the aimlessness, the chasing adrenaline parties w/superstars (even some of the same bands!), the depression/anxiety…the sense of loss & disconnectedness…

    I ended up in India much more by mistake…and my India is a very different India. I stay in the north & work with the Tibetan refugee communities, mainly.

    Still, it’s always a blessing to find kindred souls.

    You are an inspiration!
    Keep up the great work!

  21. Mariellen January 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks so much Tammy. Your comment is very moving, and the reason I took a risk and wrote my story. We have to remember that we are all in this together. So great to connect with you online.

  22. Shreepal Singh Shekhawat February 2, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    How many of us can come out of such sorrows and make a life? You have been fabulous(both in dealing with your sorrows and writing your story so beautifully). Wish you lots of Luck for your writing career 🙂

  23. Mariellen February 2, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Thanks so much Shreepal. We really do need each other, and the encouragement we can supply to each other. I appreciate your words.

  24. Suzanne Boles February 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    I have read your blog and your piece in Canadian Living Magazine but I never read this. What an inspirational story, and so sad too. I am sorry for all the pain you went through, but you are truly and inspiration. Keep writing, dreaming and most of all taking deep, deep breaths.

  25. Mariellen February 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Thanks Suzanne, I appreciate the very compassionate response. I suppose if each of us tells our story, and lays bare the truth, it is bound to be quite raw in places. But what matters is the triumph of the human spirit.

  26. Janit February 15, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Wow…..thats some story…am going through your blog and finding it more interesting by the minute. Keep blogging.

  27. admin February 15, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks Janit, so glad you visited. Sometimes, it helps to know more about the person whose words you are reading; and this is one of the key characteristics of blogging — that it is personal and subjective. I’m a trained journalist, but objectivity doesn’t interest me. (And, frankly, I don’t believe in it either.)

  28. Nicky Singh February 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Wow Mariellen, you have had so many upheavals to deal with in life. I have had my fair share over the years, however you have climbed your way back up to the top.

    I look forward to following your blog.

    Nicky Singh.

  29. Stephanie February 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,
    A friend forwarded me your information. First off, great job turning hardship into something positive! I have had a similar life shift, where I lost my job and house, and am now living out of my backpack touring around South America and loving every minute of it! I am a writer as well, trying to get established.

    My friend indicated that you may be looking for bloggers in the Southern hemisphere to write about sustainable travel. If this is true and you have any information such as writers guidelines, I would love to see if I may contribute.

    Thanks in advance, I hope life keeps leading you in positive directions!

  30. Mariellen February 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it. And it sounds like you can really empathize, from your own experience. Everything happens for a reason, though sometimes it takes awhile before we can see it that why, and understand.

    I will email you about the writing opportunity with Travel+Escape. Cheers.


  31. Mariellen February 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Hi Nicky, Thank you for reading and commenting, especially so quickly after discovering my blog. I appreciate it!!

    Bouncing back from setbacks is what’s really important, and why we have to cultivate a positive attitude. I hope you are doing well with your challenges, too. Glad we have connected.

  32. Sameer Joshi April 15, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    Hi.. I just read ur blog.. Amazing……. Keep Blogging… BTW U look so beautiful in Indian Saree

  33. Rukmini Kumar July 5, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    Hi, I’m writing from Hay House Publishers(India). Would you get in touch with me at the above email address, please? We could talk about a possible book! Thanks

  34. Mariellen July 5, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Thanks Rukmini, for contacting me! I have sent you an email.

  35. Alison Garwood-Jones July 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Extraordinary, Mariellen! Thank you for sharing. And the money will follow, I have no doubt.
    Alison Garwood-Jones recently posted..In conversation with Google’s Robert WongMy Profile

  36. Doreen Pendgracs July 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Wow, Mariellen. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I have known you for a few years and knew parts of the trauma you have lived thru, but not the whole of it. I truly admire your courage and determination to stay focused and follow your dream. There is no doubt … your time is coming. I salute you, and thank you for the inspiration.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..Pisco and chocolate? You bet!My Profile

  37. mala singh July 6, 2012 at 8:19 am #


    I read your blog and I was truly inspired. You have without a doubt found your true calling. Continue to follow this path of self realization and you will reach Moksha (salvation). I am so impressed and next time God willing that we cross paths again I will embrace you and congratulate you for conquering your fears and making your dreams a reality.

    Loads of love and respect!


  38. Mariellen July 6, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Thanks for the comments, Alison, Doreen and Mala. I appreciate your support. We tend to think we are going through all these things alone, but there are so many people around us who can relate, and who understand — if only we reach out! I am very bad at that, I tend to suffer in silence. But everyone has a story, everyone has been through so many things — if only we took the time to find out about each other!

  39. Wandering Educators July 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    m – i love this story – and the honesty in telling it. these transformations are the things that make our lives full of joy.
    Wandering Educators recently posted..A Day in the OzarksMy Profile

  40. Mariellen July 7, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks W andering Educators, transformation is what makes life worth living! So glad you agree with me 🙂

  41. Travel and Escape Community July 9, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Another beautiful and inspiring story by Mariellen. Your writing is captivating and leaves us wanting more. Thank you for sharing this story in particular.
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  42. Kristen J. - Hopscotch the Globe July 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Wow! Your writing is like food for the soul…honestly. Just beautiful. You are one brave lady, and although life has its ups and downs, it’s only up from here on for you. I just know it. I love how much you love India because I can relate so well. India is such a special place. It’s like any other part of this world, and the only way you can truly understand is if you go for yourself, although your writing makes me feel like I am right there with you. Thank you for sharing!
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  43. Saravan July 20, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    You look beautiful in that black n white photo
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  44. anuj sharma July 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    One thing that made me feel good while i read this was your positive attitude.. good post

  45. Aziz July 25, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    Hi Marie,
    I am speechless after reading your story. Your writing is very beautiful. Just stumbled via Zite. I hope your story will help me overcome my own trouma. I am happy to read that my country helped you making your life beautiful.

    Love & peace

  46. Arindam August 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    As a non-resident Indian, I have traveled most of the world and worked in 4 continents. But at the end of the day, my soul yearns for that Indian touch that I so much miss at times. Your story is most inspirational and so much better than the Eat, Pray, Love version. I cannot imagine what I would have done had I faced such hardships. Keep blogging and all the best for many more adventures

  47. Deenis Khan August 14, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    Soren Kierkegaard, the famous existentialist philosopher, says, “Man is a synergy of Duality.
    Within us exists both the Finite and Infinite and many other dualities.
    Embrace your dark side. All duality is united by Divine Love.”
    Yoga is controlling our basic instincts and allowing the Divine Light to shine through our chaos and darkness into the world around us.
    Osho says ‘The lotus is found in dirty water’. Through our pain & sorrow, we reach out to the Infinite.”Like the Moon showing its darkness & negativity to the Sun, we reflect the Divine Light to the world & those around us. Thanks for your encouraging message.

  48. Priyank August 25, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Mariellen,
    I don’t have anything intelligent to contribute in response to this very powerful post. Although you described a personal journey, I found lots of takeaways for inspiration from this article. Thankyou! 🙂
    Priyank recently posted..How to cross the international border at Niagara Falls on a bicycleMy Profile

  49. EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION August 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    wow..awesome..I 100% agree!!!..traveling can change one’s life…but it change differently to different people. Just follow your heart:)
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  50. Pradhuman September 5, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    आपने थोडी बहुत हिंदी सीखी ?

  51. claire October 1, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Perfect. (Thanks to Bret for reminding me of word: KISMET) I found this blog/ website today. Initially, I copied this story and highlighted sections that mirrored my own experiences… intending to send as a personal message to Mariellen. I gave up after highlighting most of it! One difference: I believed I was Pippi Longstockings, slept upside-down in bed with feet on the pillow (like she did) and begged my parents to get me a pet monkey! Now, I am a 45 year old woman with no children, career, money or family nearby and am the happiest I have ever been. I am saving to visit India next year and similarly, have always dreamed of travelling there. (My parents travelled via India with me as a toddler and until recently, I believed that brief visit was the source of my yearning.) Ironically, after 20 years of travelling and living overseas, I still haven’t been to the place I wanted to go to most or first! What I do have – the most precious and exquisite thing – is the (re)discovery of yoga in my life. I have faith, a guru, a tradition to follow and most importantly, trust that I can stand on my own two feet. While I know it isn’t necessary to ‘actually go to India and meet my guru’, I feel compelled to attend the worldwide yoga convention in Bihar next October. Thank you for sharing your blogs and generating such beautiful discussions for those of us that know India to be a beautiful guardian and source of spiritual truth.

  52. Mariellen Ward October 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Thanks so much for the comments everyone! Sorry for delay in responding. I really do appreciate the warmth and positivity. You are right Kristen, India is a magical place. Aziz, I agree that we can help each other by sharing our stories of overcoming trauma and difficulties. Thanks for lovely message and words of wisdom Deenis.

    So great to see you on my site Priyank!

    Thanks for your message Claire. I feel we must be kindred spirits! Love the Pippi Longstocking imagery, it made me smile 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful time in India. You will love it.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Photos of India: Mystic visionMy Profile

  53. kamal October 10, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    hi,You have struggled a lot in your life and finally identified your true self,I applaud your strength to share your inspiring story.You and your words are beautiful.

  54. Luxury Train October 17, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  55. Marry November 7, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    That’s great, I have read your post and I thought you are so strong. Your post are inspiring me.
    Marry recently posted..Amazing traveling place in India. India has many beautiful…My Profile

  56. iran tours November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Thank you for such a nice post, you are so brave, again tnx for sharing this to us

  57. Sonny November 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    it always pains to hear of pain… don’t we all, all our lives keep collecting, giving and sharing pain. Nevertheless i loved your pain…!keep faith.

  58. Mariellen Ward November 30, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for comments. It is very interesting to hear the comment, “I loved your pain.” This is why we share — so we can relate to each other, learn from each other, and grow.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Hotels in India: 24 hours in hotel heavenMy Profile

  59. Shikha Gautam December 4, 2012 at 5:37 am #

    Hey Mariellen, your sharing your story here has dreamers united. With a world that’s becoming increasingly cycnical, it’s great to see someone who isn’t afraid to dream. Hats off! The simplicity of your write-ups has me hooked. Thanks for sharing.
    As for travel, I share the passion.
    Shikha Gautam recently posted..RIP, HeartsMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward March 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      Hello Shikha, Thank you so much for your comment. I love that you support dreams and dreamers! And that you think my writing has simplicity. That is about the greatest compliment you can give a writer!!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Professional travellers love EmiratesMy Profile

  60. Baron's December 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Love your story and the way you narrated…very moving…I’m glad you were able to face all these difficulties with such a profoundly brave attitude
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  61. Ashish December 30, 2012 at 7:29 am #


    I know how difficult it can be a youngster to face child abuse. I am a male, my emotional quotient is very high. when I was a teen my friends use to tease me. They used to tease me to the cheapest possible level. I was unable to concentrate on my studies, neither I was able to focus on anything better. It was a tough life. My father used to scold me, hit me if I demanded anything as a child. It was difficult growing up. I know there were many drawbacks in me but my brain always leaned towards negative aspects of life, I am a born revolutionary. If I don’t like something nobody can force me to do it. To add to my problems I had a stepmother which complicated most of the things. In Indian culture having a stepmom is a big deal :). Believe me I became like a dried flower who lost its fragrance, charm, beauty due to the all these childhood problems. I became totally impatient, had anxiety attacks, depression. Till date I had switched 18 jobs in a short span of 6 years because of my restlessness. Fortunately I completed my Bachelors in Computer Science in 2004 when I was 22. When I was 23 my father took me to a psychologist. He gave me Prodep 20 (anti depression/ anxiety pill) and believe me within a month the world around me changed. Now I am 30, Everything seems so fantastic and positive. I am working with a US based Software company for last 2 and half years.

    One thing I would like to mention here, although western people are attracted towards Yoga but sometimes I feel Yoga is over-hyped. Though Yoga does not have any side effects on body but I have also not benefited while I was practicing Yoga. Correct me if I am wrong? I feel everything lies into your brain, how much positive attitude one has towards life, how much he enjoys every single moment, staying away from bad habits like smoking, drugs, alcohol. If we follow this lifestyle I am sure any guy can be happy.

    I hope I have not bored you with my story :)? BTW I love your interest towards Indian places. Hope to meet you in India soon.

    Take care and waiting for your reply!


    • Mariellen Ward March 13, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

      Hello Ashish, SOrry for the late reply, I was travelling in India and I am just now catching up on emails and comments. I really appreciate that you shared your story. I think we need to give ourselves credit for what we’ve overcome and accomplished. You should be proud of yourself!

      With regards to yoga, the more you learn and study it, the more benefit you will get, no doubt. Yoga addresses mind control and lifestyle choices and everything else, too. In fact I think it is deeply underrated. Westerners especially have no real idea of how powerful it is.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A woman’s voiceMy Profile

  62. Flora The Explorer January 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    This is such an incredible article. I haven’t been through half the hardship you have, but spending four months in India really made me readdress some of the biggest events that have happened in my life, as well as suddenly discovering my connection to the earth and to the ways in which the world works; to fate, to coincidence, and to destiny. I know what you mean when you say you were pulled to the place. I think many people feel the same compulsion.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, and inspiring others to travel with confidence and without fear in the same way you have.
    Flora The Explorer recently posted..Am I Incapable of Learning Spanish?My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward March 13, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

      Hello Flora, Thanks for commenting on my site, I know you have a story too, and that we share some profound similarities. I always feel a kinship for anyone who travels to India and opens up to the magic and healing possibilities there. I truly hope we meet one day!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A woman’s voiceMy Profile

  63. penny sadler February 13, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I’m always amazed by stories like this. I had something similar but I wasn’t able to put myself through school. That’s the part that perhaps amazes me the most. Without family support how does one do that? Thank you for sharing. Perhaps I will get up the nerve to tell more of my story one day.
    penny sadler recently posted..Postcard – Dallas Arts DistrictMy Profile

    • AJ March 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      I’m in awe of the powerful experiences you’ve accumulated in your persistent search for creative meaning and expression in your life – and of your resilience. Your stories remind me that, despite hurdles and traumas, we are never handed more than we can handle in life – I try to believe the same about myself. Like you, I’m born in Canada, have loved traveling in Asia (though not yet to India, I fell in love the Nepal) and now live in Bali; I came here to help heal my body from a near-death accident; and in the process, I fell in love with Iyengar, (more) writing and trying to live a more creative life…
      How sweet it would be if we could, one day, meet… 😉
      Wishing you continued success, passion, heartful connections in your travels. Namaste,
      AJ recently posted..Holey SilenceMy Profile

      • Mariellen Ward March 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

        AJ, Thanks for finding me and for commenting — we seem to be be soul sisters. There are so many similarities in our stories. I would love to visit Nepal and Bali … perhaps our paths will cross in real life. I hope so. Blessings on your journey, too, I hope you continue to believe in yourself.
        Mariellen Ward recently posted..Professional travellers love EmiratesMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward March 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

      Life is harder without family support, methinks. I was lucky I had a partner who helped, but I feel like I’ve struggled alone a lot in my life. Of course, there are probably more invisible hands helping me than I realize. I hope you get the help and support you need.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A woman’s voiceMy Profile

  64. Priyanka March 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    What an incredible story! It touched me on a very personal level because I really love India. With all the challenges India is facing, everyone easily misses out the soul of India, which is so calm, even in midst of all the chaos!

    I can’t wait to get back there!

    Thank you for the blogging! It brought back so many memories.

    Keep blogging!

  65. Anabolio April 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    India! Country in list “must see” 😀

  66. Srishty April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Wow! Your story is incredible and so is the fact that you found yourself in my country. 🙂 I cannot explain how touching it is and how good I feel about this. 🙂

  67. Flying Fox Adventure Nepal April 29, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Really nice; Superb writing;

  68. sudhir May 16, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    Wow!………………..Words fail at such moments. Maybe just one would too BRAVE. Actually such stories inspire us to come out of rut. keep it up.
    sudhir recently posted..Namma Bengaluru AralithuMy Profile

  69. tirtha June 7, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    best wishes from Tripura, NEast India …. LOVED YOUR STORY !!

  70. Broken Hearted September 1, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Hi Mariellen,

    Your story touched my heart.
    I am about to go to India. For the first time. With a meditation group whom I haven’t met.
    I am going to Rishikesh to Ayurveda Bhavan.
    I am a grieving, single Mother and am in search of finding some peace. My little boy died almost two years ago in a tragic car accident. It would be his 5th Birthday – so I will be in India to think of him and his memories and write about his life.
    It has been a very hard time, but your story has given me strength and inspiration, and I hope that travelling away from my life, to somewhere confronting and culturally so different, calm and spiritual, that peace and self love, and strength will follow.
    I am hoping to leave some of my pain in India and try to come home with a small smile.
    Your site is amazing. I am mentally preparing for my trip – and it is a great help.
    Thank you.

    • Mariellen Ward September 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Thank your for commenting and I am so sorry to hear about your tragic loss. I hope India helps you as much as she did me. Take good care of yourself, and let the feelings flow.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A Tale of Two Countries: IndiaMy Profile

  71. TARUN ARORA October 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    Hix Mariellen I m 30 yr old n going thru rough. i hv nvr hd inclination towards n nw m planing to undertake spiritual journey fr d rest of my life.Suggest me sm ashrams fr yoga n meditation whr i cn visit n which r nt that costly

  72. Rachit Aggarwal November 14, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story of yours.

    Sometimes, i feel very embarrassed for not practicing Yoga being an Indian when I heard of foreigners being so passionate about it.

    It is really inspiring to see someone like you. No offense if you mind my usage of the word “foreigner” for you, infact your knowledge and experience of India is far better than me.

    Really enjoyed your blog.

    Rachit Aggarwal recently posted..MahaShivratri celebrations at Brahma Kumaris, Shanti SarovarMy Profile

  73. chetan November 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm #


    The beauty and positivity of your writing are amazing. I hope to read you more.



  74. Indra December 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    An eye opener and here I was cribbing about my near perfect lifestyle. Thank you
    Indra recently posted..Cee’s Which Way ChallengeMy Profile

  75. Amit December 23, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    I am an Indian…If you come next time I will surely meet you and will give you my city kolkata tour..

  76. Amrita February 9, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    This is a heart-touching story…I’ve just shared this on Twitter & really, I’m so happy that U’ve overcome depression through Yoga & your travels in India. U r inspirational & a role model really. Keep your posts coming!
    And yes, U must visit Odisha again! When are U planning to come?! I suggest that U must come during #Nabakalebar Festival at Puri in Odisha in 2015 when the Lords’ (Deities Jagannath, Balabhadra & Subhadra) old idols will be replaced with new ones. It will be occurring after almost 18 years(the last Nabakalebar took place in 1996) & will be a rare & miraculous spectacle to be experienced. Almost 50 lakh devotees from the world over are expected to attend- making this an event as mega as the Mahakumbh.
    Holy energy will reverberate all throughout Puri & it just won’t matter even if U r not allowed into the temple! Lord Jagannath is known to show miracles to His devotees from the world over, hence we say in Odia-‘Bhaktara Bhagaban’, meaning ‘The Lord belongs to the devotee’. I hope to hear back from U soon on this! 😀
    Amrita recently posted..Biju Pattnaik International Airport, BhubaneswarMy Profile

  77. Anita February 9, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    India is truly the magical land. I am so glad it revived you. Great that you have shared your tale to inspire everyone. Kudos! More power to you!
    I find we share much in common – love for Arabian Nights, creativity, travel, India…
    I feel blessed to be in touch with wonderful souls like you!
    Do inform when you are visiting India next 🙂
    Anita recently posted..Solve The PuzzleMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward February 10, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks so much for your comment, and delighted that we have so much in common! Perhaps we are kindred spirits. I will definitely be announcing any upcoming trips to India 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My travel wish list in India, South AsiaMy Profile

  78. nikhil ganotra February 14, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Hi mariellen,
    First time I have seen such an awesome travel blog. Thanks for sharing facts about India.
    Very Nice thoughts. Thanks agin.
    nikhil ganotra recently posted..That’s why I call Amit Agarwal as my guru(preceptor).My Profile

  79. Julia March 12, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    You have a beautiful blog. It’s definitely become an inspiration for me as I embark on my journey to becoming a writer. You write so beautifully. Keep writing, please 🙂

  80. Piyush Agarwal April 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Really heartfelt and brave account of your life Mariellen. I am glad you could find your way to realize your dreams with India and Yoga.
    Your post made me ponder over the many dreams, I have buried in the process of taking over responsibilities, going for run-of-mill choices and opting for things I had to rather than I wanted to. Would love to toggle in sometimes and live that alternate life designed by just me.
    And your post is simply pushing me to do so sooner. Again, thanks for sharing.

    • Mariellen Ward May 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Good luck Piyush, and thanks for reading so closely and really getting what I was trying to say. I can tell by your response. It is definitely taking the road less travelled, to live the life designed just for you. It’s not an easy path either. The sacrifices are greater but I think the rewards potentially greater too. But no guarantees. At least at the end, you get to say “I lived MY life.” Which is really saying something. Good luck!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Will magic disappear tomorrow?My Profile

  81. Christine May 19, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Beautiful story. And so refreshingly honest. Thanks for sharing.

  82. vijay June 23, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Thanks Mariellen
    Your story touched my bottom of the heart Trust me when i was reading your blog your story brought tears to my eyes, and really enjoyed

  83. matrix9666 July 30, 2014 at 3:45 am #

    hey what a refreshing story it was thanks for sharing

  84. Jacqui Brill December 29, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    I read you blogs and travel advice, I really loved the piece on Ladhak. I am having a pretty crappy Xmas and keeping pretty quiet about it. I just read your “about you” and I just wanted to say how brave you are to show your vulnerability and pain on such a public forum.
    I started my own India Oddesy in 2005 too, also after losing my mother, marriage, home, business and having a brush with cancer. I always wanted to go, I don’t know why since nothing in my background led me there, but my first journey was to Palompur, a small poor village in the tea plantations of the Himalayas. I was a volunteer teaching tiny snotty dirty enchanting children English in a wacky Hindu Temple school. I ended up sick in. Mcloud Genj and became a Buddhist and an India addict!
    I’m much older than you and I’m not done! But getting slightly more nervous of travelling alone, something to overcome with you as inspiration. And like you, my creativity and sensitivity were pretty much ignored and like you I love writing about my travels and wish I had the skills and marketing know how to take my own blog to the next stage. I have tons of unpublished material!
    Right now I’m wondering why I ( a trained trainer in personal development and life coach and very used to sharing ) is still sort of hiding in my own ” about me”
    I love your blogs, stay safe and happy new year .

    • Mariellen Ward December 29, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

      Hello Jacqui, Thanks so much for commenting, for reaching out. It seems we have a lot in common. Some people seem to have more challenges, I don’t know why. But I have found that the more risks I take, especially about allowing my vulnerability to show, the more I get from life. But believe me, I am still quite hidden. Lots of heart ache, sadness and confusion lies beneath the surface. Perhaps it’s true for all of us, I don’t know. I wish you well, and hope you do start publishing!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Stumbling on the road to my dreamsMy Profile

  85. Neeraj Chouhan February 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Hello Mariellen Ma’am,

    I really like your blog and your writing. I guess you should consider writing a noble, something which is related to you. You don’t have to keep your name there, but I guess it will keep the readers in flow. I know it would be a hard choice, but I guess you should give it a shot. I normally try to recommend you to people for guidance related to India.

    Neeraj Chouhan

  86. Monarch February 20, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Hi Mariellen ,

    You are real FIGHTER . You have shown world to live life with respect and dignity after such bad times you faced in your life . Kudos!!! you write very eloquently and whatever you wrote that reached my heart..

    Keep up the good work please and I am dying to hear from you very soon..More power to you and may God always with you .. Thanks and do take very good care of yourself..

  87. Wayne Seto June 1, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    An inspiring read Mariellen. I recently travelled to India about 2 months ago and it had a profound effect on me. I can relate to when you speak of a pull to India and just following that pull without questioning it. I took a year sabbatical from my work to live abroad and I’m about 4 months in right now. I never had any desire to visit India, but out of nowhere, something told me I should go. I’m not really sure what the year holds for me or what direction I want to take with my life. I’m still trying to figure that out. Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes I need to hear honest stories like yours to help reflect on my own. Thanks again for sharing.
    Wayne Seto recently posted..I Am The Walrus: My Jaunt Through The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, India.My Profile

  88. Ranjani June 9, 2015 at 1:21 am #

    Wow.. very nice blog..

  89. nalini August 11, 2015 at 4:57 am #

    It was my sister who introduced me to your blog. She told me how inspirational your story is, when i was going through a bad phase in my life. I know no misery is comparable but though it was the small instances bringing me down, i felt like my whole world came crashing down for me. I lost faith, love, hope and most important, confidence. It was then i read your blog; your story. More than sympathizing myself or you, i started looking for similarities in us. Then again i was lost in my own dark world. I was broke, no job, i felt no one understood me, ended my good 5 year long relation. It was then, i got a new job but my new job wasn’t going well, so i decided to take a trip to Himachal Pradesh, India. I took leave for 4 days to visit Lahaul-Spiti. Trust me, the trip changed my perspective completely. I was so overwhelmed by how i felt after the trip, i had to write it and let the people see what i was seeing. I quit my job as i decided to stay there for some more time. One more time, i was jobless and broke; but not hopeless.

    If in case you get time you can check my article about the trip to Himachal.

    Thank you Mariellen, 🙂 you are a true inspiration

  90. trekking Nepal December 30, 2015 at 3:12 am #

    Proud and honored to have shared a lot of your story. I appreciate you!

  91. Erica April 6, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I had been reding parts of your blog as I am thinking of traveling for a while too, but I wondered what made you do it in the first place. I was moved by how much you had gone through and feel I can relate on some level. I have had nurmerous personal difficulties and am at a job that leaves me numb. I’ve tried to do my best but have come to see there is nothing left for me here but to leave. Once my health gets better, and I get things organized, I too would like to go away for a while. I was releived to read it took you 11 months of planning to make your trip happen. I felt panicky and wanted to quit and leave within a month, but I see that taking time is the better way. I am 48, no partner (which is a good thing now), no family (nearby, they are far away and we have little communication), and no real purpose in the life I live now other than to save money and prep for my trip.

    Like you, I am drawn to going some place (Barcelona, Spain) and I do not know why. I do not know what I will do when I get to my destination, but I still feel the draw. The one thing I do plan to do is take language lessons so I can be more fluent in another language. I have had better luck in my life when I do things based on my intuition versus what I “should” do. Unfortuantely, I haven’t listened to my intuition for 20+ years because I’ve been living in fear. My mother, my only family close-by, passed away 23 years ago, and I have been living in fear ever since, taking up lives with partners who were not good to me, and living in places I hated so as to not be alone. But of course this is not the right thing to do, and the Universe has let me know over and over very clearly. I have been depressed, lonely, crying and sad for 20+ years, though I have had pockets of cheer here and there, so it has not been all bad.

    I feel like I am done doing what I “should” and need to do what feels right, even if I don’t understand it, nor does anyone else. Your story helped me feel better about sticking with my gut and I will keep planning for my trip. It also gave me the courage to share a bit of my story with you.

    Thank you, from my heart.

  92. Sumil May 19, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    Mariellen that’s quite an inspiratonal story of yours…i think not giving up on your dreams is the key…
    i developed a sudden urge to keep on travelling when i was away from home in Bali for some work. I think being alone lets yu focus on what your heart wants to do. The absence of parents & societal pressure, friends views just vanishes at that point. What you do is for yourself. That urge led me to explore a lot.
    I again had similar experience in Dubai. What i love about travelling is i get to meet a lot of people, see lot of expressions, different cultures. Sometimes i wish the journey never ends. Still i am looking for means to explore the world. As of now i have started writing about my travels so that the fire doesn’t die out. Lets see what fate has in store for me.

  93. Abhishek Sharma November 18, 2016 at 6:02 am #

    Once you begin, never stop. Beginning is the tough part. Some big time motivators tell, believe in yourself and take a leap, BUT… Keep on track as just dont live but live LIVE

  94. Vasanth December 9, 2016 at 4:57 am #

    Hi Mariellen . i am seriously impressed about your life story. i have seen many obstacles in my life but not much as like deserved. thanks for sharing. and i am so inspired from your story

  95. Raj esh Bhardwah January 2, 2017 at 8:38 am #

    I love your post about travel in India. In jaipur you have great opportunity to have beautiful elephant ride with the nice ambiances. Please look at more details in my blog –


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