Let me be honest, I have spent a lot of my life aiming to please my friends and family. There is a great majority of us human beings who have done this all the same and still do it to this day. There is indeed importance in feeling accepted, but that is different from what I am trying to share. For me, it was as if I let the world and the society I live in reach far too deep within my soul, so far deep they began to change what I believed in as myself. They made me let go of who I was, a beautiful, young, human and wild Emily Elizabeth Nelson. They forced me to try and perfect my imperfections and develop a desirable personality. I put a lot of effort into not being myself, an action the produced an energy which eventually drove my soul into a seemingly perpetual darkness. I was afraid of who I had become. I did not recognize myself anymore, and I wondered why it had taken so long for me to realize and understand all I had done. The only things that kept me going were love and vulnerability. I tried to understand my true self, to let go of what had became routine in life. I wanted to begin living my life in a way that felt most natural. I wanted the world to know me, the real me. Slowly, as I began to listening to my soul, my life began taking many turns. I dove into my world of creativity, and I was fully pleased. I rediscovered my love for the arts and began pursuing my passions full time. I became the writer I was always meant to be. I became the photographer who had always itched to be let free. I became the musician who was always there singing, even if I didn't hear her all along. I became the teacher who always wanted to share. I became the actress who always wanted a shot in the world. I became the adventurer who desired to learn all she could. I was finally me, no longer afraid of the world and what he/she thought of me. And, it is the most magnificent thing, to be truly me. x
Well, I have left my dear Europe behind, for now, and I am back in the United States. I do not know how to feel just yet. I am sad, because I miss Europe. I am happy, because I have seen my family and dearest friends. I am excited, because I have been honored with a load of new opportunity. And, I am anxious, because I cannot know what the future will hold. So, here's to the good times had all over in Europe and to all the good times that are to be had. I miss Europe with all my heart, soul, and might and all the beautiful individuals who graced my soul with their presence. I look forward to discovering new things everyday and learning to be again in the place I called home for the first two decades of my life. x
I am in a mixed up world of places that have shown me what it means to live again. I am lost among the culture and diversity, and my heart beats for the differences. I am a vagabond, a soul that belongs to nowhere and everywhere all at once. I am a lover. I am woman. I am human. I am loved. I love. I am a traveler. I am living in a world that often chooses to shape itself with crooked boxes and broken perspectives. I am dreaming of a world where we live as one, together, whole and loved. I aim to make a difference and carry home with me what I have learned. I have gained a plethora of brothers, mothers, fathers, soul sisters, and mates. I have learned to love myself, rather, I have fallen in love with who I am again and what it means to be alive in the truest. I am stronger. I am wiser. I have grown beyond my years. I will forever cherish the memories of yesterday and savor the dreams of tomorrow. I have learned to love the present and live according to what I have today. I am vulnerable, but I am not scared. I am open to the world and all that it is destined to offer. I have learned to fully love again with all my heart and soul, the broken pieces glued together by the love and care I have been shown. I have grown to be a sunflower, bursting with color for the light through the soil that once covered me where I laid stuck beneath the ground in the darkness that swarmed my soul. I am now free, and I am me. x
There was no way to fathom the effect Sweden would have on me. Twice, I have been, and my heart will forever stay. In this country, I experienced my first journey into a place that spoke a different language from my own, and I was hooked from the start. Intrigued by the language, I began to learn. The urge to return became overwhelming, so I canceled a week in Berlin, Germany to, instead, visit the place where part of my heart was resting. I made the best decision, although, I will see Germany one day. The past week in Sweden, though, has been beautiful.. filled with old friends, new friends, lovely strangers, laughter, challenge, reflection, realization, practice, and enjoyment. Fifty miles on my feet but a lasting impact on my heart. Gothenburg was nice, but Stockholm has my heart, a city for the lovers of fika (my favorite part of the Swedish culture), water, long walks, sustainability, style, coffee, good vibes, color, architecture, design, art, hard work, and beyond.. I am a lover of it all. I will be back, for I no longer belong somewhere. Instead, I now belong to every place I have been, and a large part of me will live on in Stockholm. All right then, Brussels. Let us get on with it. x
Today, Denmark and myself have parted, and I am on my way to greet Sweden for the second time. My heart is full of joy and warmth knowing what is to come, but I am also in a state of longing. As I near the end of my European travels, I find myself thinking often about all of the brilliant people I have met along my way the past six months. I realize, now, that my life has been truly graced and forever changed by the experiences I have shared with my many new friends from all the corners of this continent across the pond. I feel my own mix of emotions as I long for more time in Europe, while I also long for my friends and family back home. I miss Denmark already, and all of the other magnificent places I have visited, but I am ecstatic to find myself in Sweden, now. The months I have spent traveling in Europe have turned into something truly glorious, a time period full of life lessons, surprises, and personal growth. Plans may have taken turns and moments may have become unexpected, but I have embraced every single detail of this journey. This morning, I am happy. I am content. I am baffled. I am sad. I am hopeful. I am excited. And, I am alive. I am feeling, and that is beautifully human, to feel.
I will see you later, Denmark. And, I will see you soon, Sweden. x
One week ago, I landed in Copenhagen, Denmark. I walked off my plane and was greeted by my friends Karoline and Mette and Karoline's mother, Pia. Bless her heart, Pia fetched my luggage and drove it to their home, while Karoline and Mette brought me along to a house warming party in the city my first night in Copenhagen. It was a fabulous night. I was introduced to Copenhagen's food scene, had a special cocktail at Balthazar, an incredible cocktail and champagne bar in the city, and met a load of new people at the housewarming party. I stayed with Karoline, just outside of Copenhagen, for three nights before departing for Riga, Latvia on Monday. I called my first experience of Copenhagen a 'taster visit.' Monday morning came long before I expected it to, but there I was boarding another plane to Riga, Latvia where I would meet a friend of a friend of a friend, Henrijs, who has now become a friend of mine. He welcomed me into his home, where I stayed for my four nights in Riga. I was lucky enough to meet his sister, the rest of his family, including the cat, Bruno, and some of their friends. I enjoyed exploring the city and learning to understand the Latvian culture and language. Latvia reminded me of Minnesota for many reasons. The people I met were friendly and kind, like an even better version of the Minnesota nice I know so well back home. There were loads of trees, daudz koku. Birch trees and red pines dominated the woods. The ground was blanketed by a sheet of snow my entire visit, and the temperatures were familiar. I look forward to visiting Latvia again in the summer and bringing my future understanding of the language, as I plan to continue studying the language in my time away from the country. I was reminded of the kind of life I want to live: follow my own heart, honor the earth, and appreciate all that people, the Earth, and life has to offer. The Pono Life.
Man patīk piedzīvojumi un es mīlu Latvija! And, now, hello again Denmark. x
I am not saying goodbye to Ireland and the people I spent time with here, instead, I am simply saying see you later. My time in this country has differed from the last two places I have visited, Barcelona and Lisbon. I fell in love with all of Lisbon, found the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona, made friends in both places, but I was still far, far away from my family. When I arrived in Dublin, over two weeks ago, I stumbled out of the airport and into my hostel, explored the city, as I had become accustomed to doing, and made the most of the few days I had there.
Four days later, I boarded a train to Waterford in the Southeast of Ireland to visit family friends, and old neighbors, whom I had not seen in eight years. I was greeted by the woman who was like a second mother to me when I was a young one and too afraid to stay home alone after school. The moment she smiled and said my name is when Ireland began to feel like home. I spent one night with the Farrell's in their seaside village, Dunmore East, which was a short drive outside of Waterford. We spent the twenty four hours we had together catching up on the past eight years of each others lives, laughing loads, drinking tea, playing guitar and ukulele, hiking along the sea, and surprising each other with the ways we had all aged and grown over the years. I said my goodbyes the following day, but I knew I would be back to see them all again soon. It had been too long before, and I never again want to go eight years without experiencing the light and joy that is the Farrell's.
I was comforted leaving the Farrell's knowing that my friend, Amy, awaited my arrival in Belfast. I traveled by train for nearly five hours to reach the city from Waterford, but it was worth every minute. Amy and her boyfriend, Jonny, were there at the train station to pick me up and drive me home. What a treat it was to have someone drive me around, as I had become used to dragging my luggage with no ease through metro stations, trains, and buses. I was grateful for the lift and, even more so, the warm welcome. We opened the door to their home, and I was ecstatic to have three dogs run at me. We joked later on that the title for their Airbnb would be, 'Cozy Room with Three Dogs Running Atchya,' with the thickest of Minnesotan accents you can imagine. Amy's home was a full one, and I was grateful to have a place to stay there. With my addition, there were eight of us living there: the dogs, Patch, Lily, and Bella, Beverly (Amy's Mother), Jonny, Ben (Jonny's Brother), and, of course, Amy. We all shared loads of laughs, smiles, jokes, and silly times. They did not just open their home to me, they made me one of their own. Beverly became like a second mother and a friend and having Amy around was like having my sister by my side again. I could write on for ages about the twelve days I spent in Belfast, but I know that the memories will live on in my mind and soul for long after my departure. The way I imagine the city may change and fade, but the memories we made, hiking into the foggy abyss, laughing until our bellies hurt, and practicing loads of yoga together, will remain vivid in my heart. I will miss this country and the people dearly.
So long, Ireland. I'll see you soon, Denmark. x
In two different languages, we call the same place on Earth by two names, the Portuguese given name, Lisboa, and the English name, Lisbon. The place is magical, my dear friends. I am telling you. From the ground up, the city was painted by beauty: stone, marble, colors of the rainbow, and camoflauged art decorate the spaces. Even the sidewalks were worth watching as my feet stomped upon their surfaces. There is a vast amount of places, things, humans, and moments I could share, but I choose to keep this one simple. Lisbon has latched on to a piece of my heart, and I believe she might never give it back. I will return, though, some day, not in hope of recovering my heart, but, instead, to praise her for stealing it in the first place. Lisbon, I will see you soon. And, Dublin, I am coming for you and my roots. x
At this very moment, I am in Barcelona, a place that only ever existed on a map, to me, before. It is absolutely extraordinary, and I am glad to have tasted a small bit of its magnificence. The rolling hills and mountains captured my awe, the deep, blue and turqoise seas captured my heart, the architecture, like none I had ever seen, reminded me how the world is so utterly vast, the evening sunsets, a perfect mix of marmalade, violet, and subtle hues, inspired a plethora of wondrous words in my mind, and the people I met warmed my soul like no other. I spent five short days here, but it felt like an eternity. The endless adventures and discoveries that awaited around every corner blew my mind, and the courage I mustered up to wander to a small town, away from the city, surprised me in the best of ways. Now, it is time for me to say 'goodbye for now' to Barcelona. I must say that this place gave me the warmest of goodbyes, with a cheery accordion player gracing the space of the Metro on my way to the airport. The bright moments, as small and large as they were here in Barcelona, will provide a light in my heart and soul for days to come. Here I am in Barcelona. Later, I'll meet Lisbon. I crave what is to come, but I savor what is here and now. Until I find myself in Portugal, I will indulge in the views of the hills and mountains as they fade to greyish-blue behind the haze of clouds that encompass the city of Barcelona. x
I am sitting, here, in the airport cafe, in preparation for my flight to Barcelona today. I was over three hours early: typical me. I swear, before any flight, my mind likes to engage my body in an all encompassing fit of worry. My heart races, my mind races, and I imagine missing my flight over-and-over again. I feel like if I miss my flight, it will bring a horrific ending to the world. However, that is fully and utterly untrue. If I miss a flight, I simply will owe a large sum of money, but the world, my heart, and my mind will remain in tact. I believe my worry stems from my excitement for travel, and maybe a wee bit of fear. It is challenging to be away from what has been home for twenty-one years of my life. But, these are the experiences and places I have dreamed of my entire life. To arrive in Barcelona will be the best thing, so, in turn, my mind settles on not making it there to be the worst scenario. But, I've made it, almost. I've overcome the hardest aspects of air travel: waking up at an ungodly hour, navigating a short walk, one tube, one hour-long train, and airport security. I am here. And, I am ready. I am overly motivated to wander the beaches, to explore the city and to run around in my t-shirt because I can. But, this time, I am also scared. Actually, I am somewhat terrified, but it is a good kind of terrified. This time, I am not picking up my life and moving to London for three months, to study at a university for an entire term, knowing where I will be living, knowing who I am living with. This time, I am picking up my life and wandering for three months straight. I am no longer a student abroad. I am a vagabond. I will be forced to find 'home' in my heart and soul and among the people I cross paths with and the places I find myself in along the way. I will welcome it all, happily. And, so, I'm off. x