Celebrating 6 years of Breathedreamgo

Mariellen Ward at Taj Mahal in India

Me at Taj Mahal, India 2006

What I’ve learned from 6 years of travel blogging: Just doing it is the most important thing

August 23, 2015 is the 6th anniversary of Breathedreamgo

NONE OF THIS WAS EXPECTED. All of it has been a surprise.

Ten years ago this summer, I was saving and planning for a six-month trip to India. It was one of the biggest leaps I have ever taken. But I needed to go, I needed to overcome grief and depression, and I needed to start living my dreams.

I knew the trip to India would change my life, but of course I didn’t know how. I started blogging on that trip, very casually on Travelblog.org. I had no idea that hobby would grow into Breathedreamgo and a new career as a travel writer. I had no idea that I would meet my soul mate, Ajay, and be adopted by his family in Delhi. I had no idea I would feel such an affinity for India and fall in love with the country. I had no idea I would return again and again and travel from one end of India to the other.


Mariellen Ward travel Kerala India

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

As I was pondering what to write about my six year anniversary, I read a post by talented blogger Renuka of Voyager for Life. She’s celebrating three years of blogging this month and she wrote: “Today, I complete my three years as a travel blogger. What a triumphant feeling it is! Not because I have done something extraordinary or I have tons of following. Nah… It’s an awesome achievement because I am at it vehemently!”

I love this, and I feel the same way. I have built a following, won some awards, got some media attention, and even attracted a couple of haters (which, they tell me, is a sure sign of success). But none of this means anything compared to this:

I am at it vehemently!

When I was younger, I always had trouble sticking to anything, and I didn’t have the confidence to risk failure, to allow myself to be creative or to reveal myself. I’ve been on my own since about the age of 18, with very little support, so I played it safe for a long time, working at a series of meaningless jobs, and spending a lot of time in therapy to overcome childhood trauma. Then, in my late 30s, came a series of losses that cast me into depression, and led me to yoga.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

At magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

This journey I’ve been on since, first, getting my yoga teacher training certificate, and, second, travelling in India, finally gave me the confidence to pursue my biggest dream — my dream of becoming a writer. Writing and publishing Breathedreamgo was my way of practicing my skills, making a name for myself, and helping break in to the profession. And it worked, it helped me accomplish all these things.

But more than all of this, publishing Breathedreamgo consistently for all these years gave me something far more valuable. It gave me a feeling of pride — not the pride of accomplishment, but the even more meaningful, and often underrated pride of commitment.

It’s the commitment I made to Breathedreamgo that I’m most proud of — the commitment to continuously publish, to never give up, to find out how far I could go with it, to learn, and grow, and strive to improve.

Because I had never really tried to do anything before, I didn’t know what it was like to allow yourself to be seen, to feel the barbs of judgment and jealousy, to ride the highs of success and the lows of failure, to develop integrity and take a stand for what you believe and to go through all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” This has all been new to me.

Which leads me to another thing I loved in Renuka’s blog post:

In my opinion, you are successful if you are doing what you really like doing and if you are doing it consistently.”

It’s taken me six years of publishing Breathedreamgo to really realize this. I was very driven, for a few years, to make a name for myself. I was also trying to make a living. Both of these have been arduous and checkered pursuits, and I’ve felt both a lot of euphoria and a lot of despair (bordering on negativity and bitterness, for a few dark moments).

But nowadays, I feel a sense of calm. Whatever it was that I needed to prove to myself, I’ve done it, even though I haven’t fully achieved my dreams yet. I would still like to make a decent living as a full-time writer, and I’m not there yet.

Following your dreams is like walking the razor’s edge

The truth is, that in industriously pursuing my dreams over the past 10-11 years, I’ve racked up a considerable debt, and I have not figured out how to successfully monetize my platform. I am stressed about this situation, to be sure … but … the stress I feel about my precarious financial situation is, oddly, much less pressing than the stress I used to feel about not having done anything with my life or talents. My mother always had a lot of dreams for me, and I didn’t want to let her down.

I’ve done what I set out to do, I “followed my bliss,” and I didn’t give up.

When writing this, I googled “quotes never give up” and every quote I read was about not giving up until you reach your goal. But I think there’s another type of not giving up — and I think it’s the type that Krishna spoke to Arjun about, as related in the Bhagavad Gita.

I think there is great merit in applying yourself assiduously to something just for the experience, for the joy, and because you feel it’s what you were meant to do. Not to achieve. Not to win. Not to beat someone else. Just to do it.

And, maybe, if you’re really lucky, to be an inspiration.

TDH CORE children's homes in Tiruvannamalai

With a group of children at a home for street kids in Tamil Nadu

Looking forward to the future

As I look to the future, I am refining my vision for Breathedreamgo. This blog post, Holding hands with children in need, is perhaps the one I am most proud of, and this is the direction I want to take Breathedreamgo. I have always envisioned it to be a platform for good:

  • for sharing the beauty and wonder I see in the world
  • for inspiring others to go after their dreams
  • to offer positive solutions
  • to highlight amazing people and places, like the homes for children in Tiruvannamalai featured in the Holding hands with children in need blog post

After the “Holding hands” blog post was published, someone in Colorado who read it organized a big fundraising drive for the charity. I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel. I feel the same way when I meet people at Aurovalley Ashram who are there because they read Breathedreamgo. Some of the people I’ve met there have told me that the ashram visit changed their lives. It makes me feel I have done something useful and inspiring with my words and platform. 

I’m currently looking for sponsors and supporters who can help me tell these kind of life-affirming, life-changing stories. The kind of stories that uplift the spirit and hopefully give light a bit more of an edge over dark.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported me, read my words, wrote me a message, email or comment, inspired me, criticized me, or just came along for the ride.

Mariellen Ward, Sirpur, Chhattisgarh, India, carving, Buddhist, Buddhism, Hinduism, Hindu

Feeling the sensuality of the gorgeous carvings at Sirpur, Chhattisgarh

Favourite blog posts on Breathedreamgo

As I was counting down to the August 23 anniversary, I posted a favourite blog post every day on social media. Here they are:


The Crossing — A travel narrative about meeting death on the river in Varanasi

The River — A travel narrative about how the Ganga River helped me heal 

Alone and at home at the Kumbh Mela — A riveting tale about how I got lost in a sea of 10 million pilgrims

My first bus ride in India — Everyone’s favourite feel-good story from Song of India

Tea and sympathy in Darjeeling — A travel narrative about spending a day with the King of Tea

Butterflies are freeMy experience volunteering in Dharamsala and what it taught me about love

Walking in the footsteps of Mirabai: A 5-part series — Most ambitious series on Breathedreamgo about my adventures in North India following in the footsteps of the saint

My Story: Why I write about travel in India — The backstory: an honest account of how and why I began travelling and writing in India

The journey to Ireland for The Gathering — On my first trip to Ireland I walked the ground of my ancestors and made a surprising discovery

Taking the train in India: A story — A small story about a tender moment amidst the chaos of New Delhi Train Station

Mariellen Ward, tea, drinking. Darjeeling, India

Drinking Darjeeling tea in … Darjeeling!


Top 5 ways my India travels differ from Eat, Pray, Love — In defense of the personl / spiritual quest

My Top 10 Incredible India moments — Inspired by the Incredible India campaign

30 Travellers share their love for travel in India — There’s a lot to love about travel in India

Top 5 things I’ve learned from travelling in India — Some universal truths emerge when you travel 

Top 10 books about India that are better then Shantaram — I know it’s a beloved cult classic, but ….  

Top 5 Myths of India — One of the most popular posts on Breathedreamgo

Top 10 movies about India — Explains why each movie was chosen, and what it teaches you

Mariellen Ward, travel blogger, blogging in Bhutan and India

On the job as a travel blogger in Bhutan


Bhutan: Is happiness a place?– On the hunt for the secret to theGross National Happiness index in Bhutan

Serendipity in Sri Lanka — Did you know Sri Lanka was once called Serendip? The name suits this pearl of an island.

If you want to get off the beaten path in India, try Chhattisgarh — A brief trip to a fascinating state in India

Kerala photo essay and travel tips — This tropical, southern state is a great place to begin your trip to India

1,001 Tales of the Jaisalmer desert — A travel narrative about one of my favourite places and favourite experiences in India

Visiting Odisha: Here comes the sun  — Discovering the many treasures of a less-visited state in eastern India

The Taj Mahal: An Arabian Fantasy  — A luxurious hotel that captures the romance, history and style of the Taj Mahal is a good base for exploration in Agra and beholding the worlds’ most beautiful building

The best Indian food in Delhi  — Delhi is known as the food capital of the world, here’s why

Photo Essay: Mumbai local  — A walking tour of some of the city’s most fascinating sights with photos by Andrew Adams

Photograph Mariellen Ward, Ranthambhore national park and tiger reserve, Rajasthan, India

At Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve


The secret world of oysters — A peak inside the oyster culture in PEI and Ireland   

Holding hands with children in need — A very moving experience visiting children’s homes in Tamil Nadu

 Is tiger tourism helping or hindering? — Interview with the director of Tiger Watch about the role of tiger tourism

 Sharing India’s wisdom with the world — What Dr. Deepak Chopra and I have in common: an interest in the spiritual wisdom of India

Looking for India’s tigers in Ranthambhore — A story about looking for tigers and finding something else

 One day in the life of a yoga ashram  — One of the many posts on Breathedreamgo about my spiritual home and why ashrams are important to awakening, consciousness and peace of mind

Conscious eating at a yoga ashram in India — How one ashram brings consciousness to the food chain

The nature of reality and Lal the cow  A short story about the mystery of perception

Monastery, Ladakh, India, Buddhist, mountain, art, culture, travel, tourist, tourism

Me at Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh, India

If you enjoyed this post, you can….


Breathedreamgo was launched on Ganesh Chaturthi 2009

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22 Responses to Celebrating 6 years of Breathedreamgo

  1. Sunita August 23, 2015 at 3:33 am #

    Lovely…you just followed your heart..
    Sunita recently posted..The Monsoon MagicMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward August 23, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Yes, SUnita, I have had the privilege to be able to follow my heart … and I felt it was the best and most responsible thing to do with my life 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..5 reasons to love Kumaon nowMy Profile

  2. Ceci August 23, 2015 at 4:00 am #

    I’ve been following your blog for several years now and enjoying India vicariously through your eyes and words.

    Congratulations on this momentous anniversary of your commitment to yourself to, as Nike would say, “Just do it.”

    I sincerely hope that there is a way for you to continue doing what you do so very well, and still be able to pay your bills!

    Happy Anniversary!

    • Mariellen Ward August 23, 2015 at 10:11 am #

      Thanks so much Ceci. Nike certainly hit gold when they came up with that slogan!

      Many creative professionals are in the same boat. No one wants to pay for “content.” Creative work is not supported, valued and properly remunerated across the board. It’s one of the things I feel most strongly about: pay the writer!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..For International Yoga Day: What is Yoga?My Profile

  3. Shivya Nath August 23, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    Congratulations on 6 year Mariellen! I’ve known you for a few years now and proud of how far along you’ve come. You are an inspiration – the way you write, support others and take new challenges head on. Thanks for doing what you do and cheers to more glorious years ahead of blogging and following your passion. Stay at it vehemently 🙂
    Shivya Nath recently posted..#NotJustBeer – Why I’m Going Back to Germany! My Profile

    • Mariellen Ward August 23, 2015 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks so much Shivya, I feel we’ve been on this path together. I admire your talent and passion, and hope we BOTH have many more glorious years ahead!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A taste of India in CanadaMy Profile

  4. Samrat Banerjee August 23, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    Dear Mariellen,

    I don’t follow your blog. I do follow you on Twitter. And I must say that you have showcased our wonderful country admirably. I feel you are the kind of ambassador that Incredible India needs.

    My best wishes to you on everything. Although I am a non resident myself I feel proud every time I read your writings.

    God bless you, India and our good friends in Canada too.
    Take care

    • Mariellen Ward August 23, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Hi Samrat, Thanks for your lovely comment! I see a lot of beauty in India, and that’s what inspires me to write. There is much to be admired in the culture — much of it overlooked by the oppressively negative media.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A taste of India in CanadaMy Profile

  5. Vishnu August 23, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Kudos! Miss Mariellen Ward.
    I have been following you and Breathedreamgo over a year, I suppose. I am a fan of Journeys but I have not attempted anything huge. You are really an inspiration.

    In spite of being a person born and brought up in India, I still don’t know much more about its visual beauty or interesting places. One of my biggest ambitions is to do a Himalayan safari and a visit to the wonder of the world Taj Mahal with my soul mate and go for a walk. Also I want to travel around the world with her.

    Hope that my dreams will fulfill.

    Keep inspiring everyone like this. And you are doing it right.
    Go ahead. we are with you.

    God bless you and your family.

  6. Renuka August 24, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I’m so touched by this, Mariellen! 🙂 I’m so sorry I couldn’t respond to this post earlier due to bad internet at my end. But I am so thrilled to be mentioned by you! It’s a big pat on my back! 🙂
    Renuka recently posted..9 Destinations In India That I Still Have To Tick OffMy Profile

  7. Reshma August 24, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Congratulations Mariellen! I’ve been reading and following your blogs for some time and what fascinates me is the way you portray the essence of India.It’s so honest, beautiful and pure. The way you showcase the rich culture of India is simply amazing. Some of them are overlooked by Indians themselves and in a way your blog reminds me of the beauty of the country I come from.

    I’ve just started writing myself and you are one of inspiration to me be at it vehemently!

    keep doing this great job! I hope to reach there some day. Wishing you many more years of successful blogging and many more travels in India 🙂

  8. Iheanacho August 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you Mariellen Ward, for sharing your story with us.

    Even though i am just reading this now and do not know much about you, i have seen light and hope in your travel story. I think there is a way with destiny, if we are born for it, we are for it. Well, i am a young Nigerian poet, {not published} Poetry is the song of my soul, the dance of my emotion, the walk i must take to be real.

    I have had a general interest in all work of creativity, but poetry is best seen in my soul.

    One thing i want o do someday is to travel round the world, i have so believed that seeing a new place is finding a new inspirations. I want to travel someday, i want see all nature holds and confined.

    I don’t know how this is going to happy, but i know there is a way with God. thank you for sharing your part with us

    • Mariellen Ward August 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      Oh Iheanacho, what a lovely comment. You are indeed a poet, it is so evident in your words, your outlook, your observations. Thank you so much.

      I also think that destiny plays a role in our lives, mysterious though it may be. Trust in the song of your soul and the light of hope to lead you to the right path.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A story for summerMy Profile

  9. winny August 24, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

    is it safe travelling alone to india especially for girl?

    • Mariellen Ward August 25, 2015 at 11:10 am #

      Hello Winny, There are a lot of blog posts about travelling alone in India on Breathedreamgo. This is one of the most popular: http://breathedreamgo.com/2013/01/my-top-tips-for-women-travelling-in-india/

      But if you check various sections of the site, you will find a lot of tips and advice.

      Generally, I recommend going to India the first time with a group tour or people who know the country. There’s a lot to learn. Also, I don’t think India is any more or less safe than most countries — the key is how confident you feel, and how much common sense you use. I advise practising safe travel strategies, which I have outlined in this blog and many others on this site.

      If you look in the sidebar, you will see that I offer trip planning and advice through Plansify. You can always contact me through Plansify and I can give you detailed help, cheers. Mariellen
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..How to travel safely in India webinarMy Profile

  10. Doreen Pendgracs August 25, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Hi Mariellen and congrats on your 6 years of blogging. I, too, had my 6th anniv in 2015, but have gone thru several URL’s and servers during that time. Congrats on knowing right from the get-go what you wanted to call your site, and maintaining your focus.

    Reading your post makes me realize just how much we have in common, as most of experiences you share of your blogging journey are ones that I can fully relate to. Congrats to you, my friend. We are on this glorious journey together.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..5 reasons you’ll love Las Alcobas in Mexico CityMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward August 25, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Hi Doreen, So awesome to hear from you! Congrats on your anniversary, too, and on finding a wonderful niche — chocolate travel. It has been an exciting, unexpected and at times hair-raising journey, hasn’t it?

      I actually started blogging in 2005, can you believe 10 years ago? But founded Breathedreamgo 6 years ago. Took me a few years to develop my niche and platform.

      Here’s to more wonderful years ahead 🙂
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The Tough Drops Tour of the Pacific NorthwestMy Profile

  11. Pankaj Solanki August 25, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Hi Mariellen,
    I have been following your blog for some time. You are excellent 🙂
    I agree that Just start doing what matters is the first step. Congratulations for completing 6 years.

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