Stumbling on the road to my dreams

On the road to Raiwala Village, outside Aurovalley Ashram, India

On the road to Raiwala Village, outside Aurovalley Ashram

My year-end post is about a revelation I had in India, plus what I learned about the pitfalls of following your dreams

IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, as I’ve been travelling , writing and building Breathedreamgo, I’ve achieved some cherished life goals, some things I never thought I would see. Here’s just a couple from 2014:

  • I took The Canadian train from Vancouver to Toronto (and had many other wonderful Canadian adventures, thanks to a great contract that gave me the chance to showcase Canada)
  • I received an Explorer’s Grant (how cool is that?!?) to undertake a cultural expedition in India (the Mirabai Expedition)
  • I finally got to visit Sri Lanka
  • I’ve travelled in India for four months (Sept-Dec), and made it to some amazing new locations like Ladakh, Gujarat, Vrindavan
  • I was profiled on BBC Travel and the story went viral
  • I broke 70,000 page views per month on Breathedreamgo, a new record
  • I gained a bunch of new readers, followers, friends — lots of fascinating people — people who inspire and teach me every day

So in many ways it was a great year. But something was still wrong, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was tired, worn out, feeling down and, though I was working harder than ever in my life, and watching my online following steadily increase, I was making less and less money. A sudden revelation I had at Aurovalley Ashram recently, in November 2014, gave me some insight. 

Aurovalley Asham, yoga, ashram, India, travel, sunrise, spirituality, peace, quiet

Sun rise from the roof of the World Temple, Aurovalley Ashram

Warmed by the sun

The sun glows gold behind the Shivalik Hills of Rajaji National Park before it appears to shine its life-giving rays on the meadows and fields, villages and ashrams of Rishidwar. It’s a profoundly peaceful time at Aurovalley Ashram, with only the sounds of temple bells and bird songs in the air. The ashramites wrap themselves in shawls to keep away the fresh, morning chill as they walk in silence to the circular meditation hall.

It is here at this garden-like ashram, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where I unplug from worldly life, and plug into spiritual energy, each year. This year more than ever I almost desperately needed the tranquility, the time to be with my inner self, the guidance of Swami Brahmdev and most of all, a spiritual recharge.

For the past few years, I have been struggling much more than I was willing to admit, even to myself. I knew something was wrong because I was tired. It wasn’t the kind of tired that goes away with a good night’s sleep. I was deeply tired. I could feel my posture collapsing, my abdominal muscles giving way, my neck compressing. I had aches and pains, stiffness, and felt lethargic. I was depleted.

How could this be? I was following my dreams, but not feeling a lot of joy. Where did I go wrong?

Aurovalley Asham, yoga, ashram, India, travel, sunrise, spirituality, peace, quiet

Morning sun shines on at Aurovalley Ashram

Waking up in India

At Aurovalley, I walked in the tulsi-scented meadows, meditated in the temple, listened to inspiring talks, soaked up the peaceful, energizing atmosphere and, most of all, listened to myself. In silence, I sensed the presence of the divine, and I heard my heart and my soul speak. Then, almost suddenly, I feel I “woke up.” It was like a light went on.

I realized how deeply disconnected I had become from my vision and sense of purpose; from myself and the source of my being. I was living in a state of fear and tension, and hadn’t fully realized it. I saw strong currents of negativity and bitterness within me, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. It was a very painful, but very necessary, awareness.

I was afraid I would be a “failure.” I was afraid I wouldn’t make any money. I was afraid I would end up alone and completely broke. My insecurities were doing their destructive work.


Blog posts about Aurovalley Ashram


The founder of Aurovalley Ashram, Swami Brahmdev (Swamiji), says that all the forces, even the negative and hostile forces, are actually trying to help us — but they have to help using their nature. So negative and hostile forces help us in a negative and hostile way. You might get sick, and then realize how much you needed rest. You might get fired and then find the job or career of your dreams. You might get criticized and realize there is a useful message mixed in with the hostility.

So my negativity, tiredness and dire financial situation were trying to help me see that I was on the wrong path. But I have to back up to tell the story.

Mariellen Ward travel Kerala India

In Kerala, India at the start of my travels. January 1, 2006.

The long and winding road

Before I discovered travel writing and blogging, I had never really tried to do anything. As a young woman, I was plagued with anxiety, insecurity and lack of confidence. With help from a boyfriend, I earned a degree in magazine journalism when I was in my 20s. But after graduating, I drifted from job to job, mostly in communications or as an editor. I was going through life without focus, ambition or goals; my dreams were buried a mile deep.

In my 30s, I started searching, questioning, healing. I studied Gestalt Therapy and became a yoga student. I took an active role in my career and tried to steer it towards writing. But then, at 37 years of age I was hit with a devastating trauma — the sudden death of my mother. Several other terrible losses piled up, including my father’s death from cancer, and I sank into a deep depression for several years.

It was regular yoga practise and a six-month trip to India in 2005/2006 that helped get me out of the depression. And it was travel blogging during that six-month trip that kick-started my writing career.

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. Joseph Campbell

I started off with great passion and enthusiasm. I wanted to share with the world how travel had transformed me, and how India and Indian spirituality had inspired me, and I was committed to mastering my craft. I wrote prolifically on earlier blogs, then Breathedreamgo, plus lots of magazines, newspapers and websites.

But over the years, as I attempted to monetize Breathedreamgo, I found I was enjoying writing less and less. There was always way too much other stuff to do — proposals, social media, technical issues, etc. The downward pressure on writer’s fees also created a lot of tension in my life. My income halved; then halved again.

I prayed for a lucky break — a great contract, investor, business partner. I searched for a viable business model. I became a certified travel agent. I tried many, many things that would enable me to make a living income as I pursued my dream career.

But here was my mistake: I was looking outside for the answer.

Me, watching the sunrise on banks of Ganga near Aurovalley Ashram, India

Watching the sunrise on banks of Ganga near Aurovalley Ashram, India

Within you, without you

When I had the revelation at Aurovalley Ashram, I realized that I had completely lost faith in spirituality. I had lost touch with the divine energy that is the source of all life, and that binds and connects us all. At Aurovalley, this energy is often depicted and referred to as The Mother — both symbolically, as representing the feminine energies, and in reference to the French woman who was the spiritual partner of Sri Aurobindo.

I was at Aurovalley this year to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the ashram, on November 24. This also happens to be the date of my own mother’s birthday. And it was my mother’s sudden death (I found her body after she had died unexpectedly at night of heart failure) that originally sent me into a trough of depression and grief, and eventually to India, to heal.

So, all the stars lined up, and I feel I received a blessing from The Mother in the form of a revelation about my life. I saw my negativity and bitterness fomenting, and I decided I had to stop it. I had to allow spiritual energy to re-energize me, and stop the downward spiral. I decided I needed radical positivity. By that, I don’t mean walking around with rose-coloured glasses, but with a positive, hopeful and trusting attitude. My friend Kim Hammer said on my Facebook page that whether or not you see the world as abundant — as providing for your needs — is the key question. I agree. When you feel cared for, you relax; you don’t try so hard; you become less abrasive; you let the divine do its work. And you trust that things will work out the way they are meant to.

(By the way, I think there’s a connection between lack of confidence and negativity, and I want to explore confidence and creativity. This may turn into a new writing project.)

QUOTE get there

Revelation resolutions

So here are some of the resolutions that have come out of my revelation.

WRITING

I’m going to get back to basics. Love of writing (and travel of course) was what motivated me to blog in the first place. I’ve made a pact with my friend Nellie Huang of Wild Junket to attend the Book Passage Travel Writers Conference next summer. I’m going to work on my craft and most of all, endeavour to write only from my heart. I’m also going to start pitching to magazines, newspapers and online sites again. I had become demoralized from not hearing back from editors, but I now know they are very busy people, and I’m not going to take it personally.

BLOGGING

I have found travel blogging over the past five years, since I founded Breathedreamgo, to be a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, I’ve had lots of great adventures, met lots of wonderful people and connected to so many others online. I am particularly happy about the comments I get. I often say, I may not have the biggest or best blog, but I have the best readers. However, I have not had the financial support I hoped for, which has made things a big struggle (and taught me the value of having a sound business plan). But henceforth, I will not complain or whine about unfairness, I will not be negative or bitter about lack of support.

I will approach travel blogging with radical positivity, too — and also with a more realistic and professional attitude, and clearer boundaries. This means I am going to clearly separate my “travel for joy” from my “travel for money.”

As of January 1, 2015, I will not promote or support a for-profit website, online platform, tourism board, travel company, contest, tweetchat, hotel, airline, product, service, or organization that asks me to work “for free” (unless it is for the benefit of my readers and something I really want to do). I will be requesting my 2015 published rates… updating rate card now.

The difference between hobby bloggers and professional bloggers is not always clearly understood … being professional doesn’t mean you are better or bigger, and it doesn’t mean you have “attitude” … it means that you make your money from blogging and blog-related activities. When you are a professional blogger, you have to do things differently, you have to make different decisions — just like a professional in any field.

ME

This is a promise to myself. I will listen to my soul and stay connected to myself. I will trust the divine and keep the faith that the universe is loving and abundant and trying to help me grow and become the person I am meant to be. If it means a change of career, so be it. I need to live a more balanced healthy life … and henceforth, that will be my priority. More time for me, and more time for the things that matter: namely Penny, Calvin, Tanny, my family, my friends and my community.

Aurovalley Asham, yoga, ashram, India, travel, sunrise, spirituality, peace, quiet

A meditator on the roof of the World Temple, Aurovalley Ashram

An attitude of gratitude

I know very well that I am blessed to be able to lead a life that has self-actualization as the driving force. It is a rare privilege, and one that I take seriously. I am actively cultivating an attitude of gratitude everyday. And if my words inspire you at all, then I am doubly blessed.

To all my friends, family, followers, readers — thanks for staying with me on the journey. We all go down blind alleys, and it makes all the difference to know there are people standing ready with a torch.

Finally, I wrote about this revelation on my Facebook page and writer Amy Gigi Alexander wrote:

“While places and others can be teachers, I think we are the ones who have to be ready for that teaching. There’s nothing wrong with not being ready, either, for the state of unreadiness is necessary to become the person we are supposed to be … There is no time to be bitter. Congratulations on your revelations, bless you in your journey, for shame anyone who criticises you after you have had the courage to be more forthcoming than most: the gift is in the listening. Being unhidden is the journey, right?”

Ramana Maharishi

Lessons learned

Here’s what I’ve learned after about 10 years of living my life based on following my dreams:

1. The dream IS the journey

I thought that once I found my passion in life — what I feel I was put here on earth to do — that I would be on easy street. Everything would fall effortlessly into place including money, partners, community. Maybe that’s what it’s like for some people, but that’s not what it’s been like for me.

What I’ve learned is that finding your passion is not a destination — in fact, it’s just the beginning of the journey. I think you need to keep the same attitude of openness, humility, acceptance and yearning that you had at the beginning of the search. Life, and your dreams, may lead you in a new direction, and you need to be attuned to sense this — instead of hanging on to something that’s not working and bringing you down

QUOTE bad to good2. Unpack your bags

I thought that finding my passion would “fix” my life. I was facing two big issues — intractable grief over my mother’s sudden death and a deep and inescapable feeling of insecurity — and I brought them along with me on the journey. In retrospect, I think I was trying to run away from these problems. All that happened is they went underground.

What I’ve learned is that you have to face your issues, you can’t run away from them. Finding your passion, and even finding success, won’t get rid of emotional baggage. It’s like trying to build your house on quicksand.

3. All you need is love

Finding my passion, and living the life of my dreams, was so important to me that I lost sight of the really important things in life. I actually remember sitting down and saying to myself: I am going to sit here until Breathedreamgo is the number one India travel blog and I am a successful writer. I was working all the time, missing moments with my niece and nephew, not socializing very much, not doing much of anything unless it was related to my career. After about three years of this, I ruined my back, my bank balance and some of my relationships.

What I’ve learned is that, if your ideas about your dreams become too fixed, you can lose the plot, lose your way. That’s what happened to me.

Relationships, community staying attuned to yourself, staying healthy and giving back are the most important things. If attaining your dreams means sacrificing any of these things, it’s probably not worth it.

In the end, love is all that matters. Love your family, love your friends, love your community, love your work and love yourself. Let your dreams grow from a seedbed of love.

The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which is the central illusion of our time. David Brooks, from Chris Guillebeau’s site.

Hearing from you

What have you learned about following your dreams? Is there anything you can share that could benefit others? Please share in the comments below.

QUOTE Vonnegut

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50 Responses to Stumbling on the road to my dreams

  1. jasmine @NomadGirl.co December 22, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    i love the rawness and the inspiration i get from reading your posts. It is great to read about your lovely experience in india at the ashram – i am planning on returning to india in 2015 to stay at an ashram for a month – hopefully my experience is uplifting as yours. Much love and best of luck for 2015 🙂
    jasmine @NomadGirl.co recently posted..Cost of living in Hong Kong vs MelbourneMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:12 am #

      Thanks for the comment Jasmine, I am wishing you well for your experience. Of course, we never know how or when or where we will grow next … I guess the trick is to just be open to whatever lesson life has in store for you next. “Learn faster” as my yoga teacher says. Have fun in India!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  2. Shikha Gautam December 22, 2014 at 4:38 am #

    This is such an inspiring read Mariellen.

    Travellers, writers, photographers are all dreamers. I guess my resolve for the coming year is not to forget Oscar Wilde’s words, “I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

    Keep writing, keep travelling. Peace.
    Shikha Gautam recently posted..The Best of All The Things To Do in Gangtok!My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:14 am #

      Shikha,

      You have given a perfect example of what I said in my post: I have the best readers. That’s an amazing quote, and even more amazing — I have never heard it before. Thanks so much for sharing it.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My seventh trip to India beginsMy Profile

  3. Gudrun Klaff December 22, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    Dear Mariellen, so happy to read your thoughts and resolutions, wishing you much happiness on your path. Gudrun
    Gudrun Klaff recently posted..Praying MantrasMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:16 am #

      Thanks so much Gudrun, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Same to you:
      “May the road rise up to meet you.
      May the wind be always at your back.
      May the sun shine warm upon your face;
      the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
      may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
      – Irish prayer
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  4. Rachel of Hippie in Heels December 22, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    I have to tell you this is maybe your best post. I really feel like I got to know you. I’m so sorry about your mother, that must have been awful. I can’t imagine how difficult that was for you and I’m happy India saved you. You and I both write about India but in very different ways, and I agree that lines need to be drawn when blogging is your business. Money is scarce in travel blogging (at least for me) so that’s why I do massage and little things on the side. I keep things pretty light on my blog and part of that is because I don’t want it to become a burden or stress as other bloggers with more experience have been saying after years of blogging (alex in wanderland wrote a similar post just last week). Thanks for your wisdom and wish you luck for a good 2015- working with companies in India surely isn’t the easiest so we need all the luck we can get ha ha.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Discovering the Soliga Tribe of BR HillsMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:27 am #

      Thanks so much Rachel, I appreciate your comment. I am really impressed by your blog, you are doing a great job! India really is so vast and so diverse, it can be covered in so many different ways, from so many different angles. There’s certainly lots of room for variety. But, you know, I am also someone who veers between hippie and chic … I like both meditating on the banks of the Ganga and going mad at the bangle mela in Delhi. I hope we get a chance to meet and follow all of our interests.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Getting ready for long term travelMy Profile

  5. Rohan Jayasekera December 22, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Indeed, the problem with a “career of your dreams” is that it is still a career, and your career is not you. Long ago I threw away the idea of having a career, and although a career would no doubt have made me much more comfortable financially, I would have been its prisoner. Unfortunately, in many countries, many of us who have no career feel guilty – even many stay-at-home mothers! – which can prevent us from letting go and being open to what suits us best.

    It’s wonderful that you have rediscovered what is truly important to you. (Coincidentally, I’ve done some of that myself over the last two days.)

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:29 am #

      Hi Rohan, Thanks for your comment, you know my story better than most.

      Glad you are having epiphanies, too, it’s that time of year.

      ps: How about starting an anti-career movement?
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Serendipity in Sri LankaMy Profile

  6. Tushar December 22, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    I am traveling and writing for past almost 5 years. This is the happiest subject I have done almost continously and almost solo and earned almost zero and yet to know/understand how to earn (via blog) but I am continuing traveling and writing because I am happy. The day I am unable to travel and write I will try to happily quit. Maybe some other subject.
    Maybe happy to open a tea shop if required. At least for few years I have traveled and that thought is a happy thought to smile even while selling Chai Chai Chai.. 🙂

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:39 am #

      Haha, your comment is filled HAPPY. I would love to visit your tea shop and drink chai chai chai and think happy thoughts, too. Well said 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Serendipity in Sri LankaMy Profile

  7. Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog December 22, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Beautifully honest post, Mariellen. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I’m glad that things are starting to look up for you – it’s terrible when you feel down all of the time, and your dreams don’t seem to be working out right.

    On a separate note, I definitely agree that there’s a connection between creativity and confidence. I think there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two: as you grown more confident, you take bigger creative risks, and your writing improves; at the same time, the more you see your creativity taking shape, the more it feeds your confidence. It can be so bolstering.

    I hope you manage to have plenty of confidence in your creativity in 2015! 🙂
    Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog recently posted..My Top 11 Posts of 2014My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:41 am #

      Thanks so much for the comment Katie, nice to see you here on Breathedreamgo. And thanks for the validation about creativity and confidence. I think we forget that most people who are putting their work out into the world probably have at least some level of confidence. What about the talented people who struggle because they have no confidence?

      I hope you have a great year in 2015, too. Maybe it will be the year of creative people 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  8. Angela December 22, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Great post, Mariellen, I totally hear you. I’ve felt pretty wornout and uninspired earlier this year, and I’m slowly coming out of it. Like you, I started looking for outside solutions, and this is what I’m gradually trying to “fix”, working more on myself and definitely trying to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Have a great end of the year and an even better beginning of the new one!
    Angela recently posted..Beneath Yazd tallest wind catcher in beautiful Dolat Abad GardenMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:44 am #

      Thanks Angela. There’s so much truth to the idea that we are our thoughts. Our thoughts are far more powerful than we imagine, they shape our lives. And it’s so easy to fall into negative thinking patterns. Good luck staying positive and attracting all positive things to you.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My seventh trip to India beginsMy Profile

  9. Renuka December 22, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you for writing this post! 🙂 There are so many subtle messages through the post. I’m inspired to retain my honesty and rawness. I have said this before and I will say it again that you are one of the best writers we have. Your writing is not predictable. It comes from the heart.
    Renuka recently posted..2014 Flashback – Lessons That I LearntMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:46 am #

      Thanks so much Renuka, I always appreciate your comments and support. It means a lot to me that you say my writing is unpredictable, and that it comes from heart. That is what I aspire to … so if I reach it occasionally, I am really satisfied.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  10. Hayley @Lovepuffin December 22, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    I really felt your words, Mariellen and I’m so glad to read that you’re taking control. Following your dream is never easy and I think you’re doing the right thing sticking to your guns and trying to rediscover the joy of travelling.

    I’m currently working full time but in February I’ll be leaving my 9-5 to travel through India, so I’ve been a long-term reader of yours and have found your posts to be informative, inspiring and full of personality. You and Rachel (Hippie in Heels) have given me hours of India ‘dream time’, and I can’t thank you enough. Wishing you all the best for 2015, Hayley xx
    Hayley @Lovepuffin recently posted..Feeling the Christmas burn: Wearable tech and a day of Christmas shopping in LondonMy Profile

  11. anup singh December 22, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    You are a woman of quite a postive attitude toward the life…Its great india benefitted you in some ways…as rightly said beauty lies in the eyes of beholder..india is beautiful because of people like you..thank you
    anup singh recently posted..Stumbling on the road to my dreamsMy Profile

  12. Rhonda December 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    What a heartfelt post. I, too, have struggled recently, and am focusing on being present, being mindful, ignoring the critics, and following my instincts. Good luck on your continuing journey!
    Rhonda recently posted..Time PassesMy Profile

  13. Doreen Pendgracs December 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    I agree with Rachel. I think this is your best writing to date. True and raw and revealing.

    I hope that all your soul searching will take you down the right road.

    My only words of wisdom are: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

    There are so many obstacles on all our journeys, but the key is to BELIEVE.

    Bt the way, confidence and creativity are my 2 best assets! I thank my father for nurturing both traits in me.

    Wishing you the very best for 2015. I hope our paths will cross again soon.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..chocolate ecstasy at the Pure Jungle SpaMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:57 am #

      Thanks so much Doreen, I know you know what it’s like. And I agree that you do have a kind of infectious, bubbling confidence — that’s why everyone always wants to be around you! Congrats on your success with Chocolatour. I love the way everything came together for you 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Discovering the sacred spirit of WhistlerMy Profile

  14. Caroline Cunningham December 22, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,
    I follow you on Facebook and here. You are an inspiration. I too am following my dream. It has been an unbelievably difficult journey..overcoming much of the fears and “weak ground” that I started out with similar to yourself. My success so far is that im definitely more confident and creative and brave. But not at the point where I can breathe….the things I’m passionate about don’t promise to feed me…I live in Ireland..not cheap to live here…and there’s an expectation even amongst the poorer sections that a certain standard of living should be attained…I sold my home to continue my quest…I sincerely hope like you that I can trust this Universe to provide the sustenance which keeps those hard and competitive edges far from my shoulders. I wish you a very Happy Christmas…5 years ago I celebrated New Years eve in Varanasi after an enchanting 3 day river trip on the Holy Ganga. Here’s to a prosperous and joyful new year.

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 2:59 am #

      Hello Caroline, Thanks for sharing your story, I am really hoping the best for you. And as I have discovered, bringing hope and positivity to the quest is the most important thing.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  15. Shivya Nath December 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    Mariellen, I’m so happy to read about the revelations, and the promises you are making to yourself this year. I know you work very hard and deserve every success that comes your way, but I also know that it’s a tough world out there and ultimately, all that matters is you follow your bliss. A beautifully written, inspiring post. Hope 2015 turns out to be a wonderful year for you!
    Shivya Nath recently posted..My 14 “Incredible India” Moments in 2014!My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 3:00 am #

      Thanks Shivya, I appreciate your comment, as you are one of the people who continues to inspire me with your talent, dedication and perseverance. Let’s hope 2015 is a great year for everyone who is following their bliss!!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My seventh trip to India beginsMy Profile

  16. Amit Kumar December 23, 2014 at 2:48 am #

    Your love and passion for India reflects from your post. It’s good to see my country from a different perspective altogether. Your post is indeed very inspiring and compels the readers for soul searching.
    You have found your inner peace, while travelling in India and i am sure, your writing will help many like us to self-actualize.

  17. Anusia December 23, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    You are very lucky then that you got the opportunity to visit all such beautiful places. I wish I can also visit these places like you.

    • Mariellen Ward December 23, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      Anusia, You are very right. I am very lucky. Indeed, I am very blessed. I feel that I must use this opportunity, this precious gift of life, to the best of my ability. That’s what my mother taught me. Trying to live up to her expectations. I also hope you will get the chance to visit every place you dream of going.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  18. Nita December 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    What an inspiring post! Very sorry about your mother. But glad you could find some peace and comfort in India. Your writing is brilliant and I’m sure 2015 will be a great year for you! 🙂

  19. Aretha du Rand December 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Thank you sharing your real and authentic journey with us, Mariellen. At the age of 51 I chose to bid the corporate world farewell and to start out on my journey of discovering authenticity. I am currently in the 8th month of my one year stay in South Korea and I am planning on experiencing India, amongst others, next year. One small thing I want to share with you on the matter of money: I say to myself everyday that I have enough and that I will always have enough to pay for the things I value the most. Whenever I stumble upon a coin or even a note, I bend over and pick it up no matter who is looking and I paste it into my journal as a reminder that I will always have enough.
    I love reading your articles/posts and wish you every success.

    • Mariellen Ward December 25, 2014 at 12:32 am #

      Thanks so much Aretha, your comment about money is really helpful. Many people believe in the “law of attraction” that says if you are positive and grateful for what you have, you will attract more. Makes sense to me. Good luck on your journeys!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Getting ready for long term travelMy Profile

  20. Travel Hot December 24, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Hello Mariellen Ward, Great post indeed. Keep Searching and Posting.

  21. jane ayres December 24, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Hi Mariellen. Thank you for sharing your heart and congratulations on your many wonderful achievements and successes. I totally empathise with your reflections about pursuing and achieving your dreams. I am generally very goal driven and motivated, and have been a part time published writer for most of my life, but always dreamed of being a full time writer – and after more than 40 years and several redundancies, I have spent the past year trying to negotiate the rocky road of freelance life. It wasn’t how I imagined. I feel huge pressure and stress to earn money, am juggling too many projects, (because I want to help others achieve their creative dreams), mostly working for nothing and feel that there are never enough hours in the day.

    I battle between feeling passionate and dynamic, with boundless energy and enthusiasm (and give the impression that is what I’m always like) and a deep sense of sadness and futility, which especially set in after losing both my dearly loved parents to pancreatic cancer within the space of 5 months, so I understand the profound effect such a loss has and am sorry you have also experienced this

    I remain inspired by your post and agree it is important to try to repair the disconnect that I think so many of us experience in our current society. Somehow, I am going to try to do this. Wishing you peace and joy in 2015.
    jane ayres recently posted..Print copies of Beware of the Horse out now!My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward December 25, 2014 at 12:40 am #

      Thanks so much for your heart-felt comment Jane, I really appreciate it, and I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. That must have been awful.

      Freelance writing is such a tough grind — and it’s not because of the writing. It’s because of pitching, getting paid, making enough money, all the things that make it a struggle. I admire anyone who succeeds. Add personal stress to it, and not having enough support in life, and it’s a recipe for burn-out.

      But somehow I feel that feeling good about yourself and about life, and feeling that deep connection, can go a long way to making life more joyful and worth living. I hope you find it.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My seventh trip to India beginsMy Profile

  22. Wendy December 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Wonderful words from you, and I just wanted to share with you some words that I read by Tiziano Terzani,

    ‘watch your thoughts, for they become words, watch your words, for they become actions, watch your actions, for they become habits, watch your habits, for they become your character, and watch your character, for it becomes your destiny … What we think we become’

    poignant I thought at the time, my journey is one of learning not to get too caught up in my thoughts and I love reading your words about your journey, they are beautiful and heartfelt and I adore your openness and revelations. I look forward to following more of your journeys, and welcome 2015 when I will also adventure to India…. thank you wonderful woman

    • Mariellen Ward December 28, 2014 at 1:42 am #

      I love this comment Wendy, and I agree completely about the wisdom of Tiziano Terzani. This is the wisdom of India, and the East, to understand the relationship between our inner selves, the outer world and the supreme consciousness that binds us all together. Thanks so much for the reminder.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Mirabai Expedition 1: Lost in VrindavanMy Profile

  23. Meera M December 28, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    Loved reading your post. Sorry about your losses. Glad to read about how you dealt with them, as I have constantly been looking for answers while dealing with my own depression. You and your post have been inspiring and have alos provided hope.

    BTW you seem to know more than some of the locals in India… Great journey.

    Best wishes Meera

    • Mariellen Ward December 28, 2014 at 1:50 am #

      Hello Meera, I think the best way to see depression is also with a sense of positivity — as a symptom that is trying to tell us something, trying to get our attention. It is perhaps also a time for reflection and to get to know our inner selves. The West simply pathologizes and medicates depression, but I think they are missing the point.

      Yes, I do know a lot of “locals.” In fact, since the day I arrived in India in 2005, I have spent almost all my time with Indians. I am here because of the culture, and people are 99% of any culture. I feel very comfortable in India, and very comfortable living, working and playing with Indians. I find, generally, Indian people are very easy to get along with; they’re very kind, generous and helpful, and they laugh really easily, too. It’s the “badmashes” and the bureaucrats that give India a bad name. Luckily, they are vastly outnumbered.

      Thanks for the comment, and good luck finding your way. Always remember that faith and hope are most important.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..My seventh trip to India beginsMy Profile

  24. Karen January 3, 2015 at 1:07 am #

    Thank you so much for this honest aND inspiring article. It has come at the right time for me.
    I can identify with so much of what you say. I feel that weariness and lack of faith in spirituality although it has been my path for decades.
    I am travelling asia at present solo not what I had planned but my companion had to return home due to a family member becoming ill.
    I wonder why the very opposite of what you want or need happens.
    I guess it is down to interpretation

  25. Prema January 11, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Thank u a lot for ur raw, honest and inspirational words. I feel myself and life story reflected on urs. Though im still in the “find what moves u” stage. In the last few years ive realized that only inner realization can fulfill me and my life. But im mentally struggling with the “what the hell im going to do (vocation) for a living?”. So im passing through the same kind of feelings uve experienced. I lost my parents as well, 7 and 5 years ago, facts that have lead me to feel (more) insecurity (yet), unsafeness, aloneness and fear about life. Me that i wanted to discover the whole world travelling… i find out myself attached to the painful “comfort” zone of my home, with no job, somehow issolated from people and life itself! During the last year mostly, ive been feeling lost, without any direction or purpose, stuck, far away from joy and fulfillment, disconnected from my own spiritual practices (yoga and meditation), disconnected mainly from me and feeling in despair cause i didnt know how to stop it all and start from the very beginning. Now, not effortlessly, im back to the commintment to sadhana. Still a long way ahead! Thank u for sharing and for letting me share my process as well. Love and blessings.
    PS: even if i had read some articles of urs long time ago when i first went to india, today ive connected to u through a comment in the fb page of our common friend Yogi Amitram Ji. So may God bless all these connections that, im sure, lead us to take the next steps in our lives. Hope to meet u someday. Much respect for u, dear. Namaste _/|\_

  26. Cheryl Clark January 13, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    Dear Mariellen,

    I am a teacher, a newly unemployed one as I have just recently moved from one province to another. I follow many travel blogs as my passion is travelling, particularly to Asia. Tonight I felt drawn to check out your blog (once again as I have read many of your articles when I feel a need for a taste of India) and it took me by surprise. I was amazed at your heartfelt inquiry as I too have been feeling tired and questioning my career path as I seek new opportunities such as teaching in an international school. What I want you to know is that you have a gift to draw in the reader; to make the story come alive; to present an experience and make us want to create our own. I hope you find your sense of fulfillment as you explore what comes your way. Thanks for your writing; a true standard of excellence. I look forward to reading more so I remain hopeful that your blog continues to be a part of the path that you will choose. All the best, Cheryl Clark

  27. Marj Kleinman April 12, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Thank you for this. It came at the right time for me to hear it. I really appreciate everything you do here and I hear how challenging it is. Thank you for being honest and human.

  28. Lei September 21, 2015 at 7:33 am #

    Wonderful article, just what i needed to read on this monday!
    Lei recently posted..How to achieve Business Feng ShuiMy Profile

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