loneliness my company

It’s the proverbial most wonderful time of the year. I’m inclined to agree, whether due to evidence or brainwashing. This is especially true when I get to be at home in Jamaica, as I am now. Which is why I surprised myself, on my first night home for the holidays, after a lovely evening with family, I went to bed tearfully sad with no immediately obvious reason. All l I knew was that my heart was hurting and my eyes were flooding.

I was so confused by the tears, my inner self even reprimanded me like “you have some nerve to be crying.”  My life is so good. As I gathered my emotions and fixed my thoughts on gratefulness, I expected the sadness to dissipate; it didn’t. Instead, the tears continued as I tried to understand how this feeling of dissatisfaction entered by orbit. Then I realized, the pang I was feeling in my heart actually wasn’t a new feeling, but rather an old one that had resurfaced unexpectedly.

Loneliness. To be specific “no sweetheart loneliness.”

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You see, I kicked this feeling out of my thoughts and life experiences a while back. Through meaningful friendships, close family ties, lots of travel, pouring my time into charitable causes, cultivating spiritual growth and encouraging other single women to do the same I managed to evict this bitch called loneliness. She stays far from me, I stay far from her. I actually quite enjoy the freedom and independence I am afforded by being single. Nonetheless, loneliness paid me a visit, uninvited, unexpected and really unwelcome, making me cry.

She sat there, heavily on my chest, impairing my ability to fall asleep. So I did what I thought would work best to shoo the nagging thoughts, I prayed put some Hillsong music on and waited to gain some revelation that would appease my soul, or at the very least give me the peace I needed to fall asleep. No such luck, the loneliness persisted. So next I tried distraction, I pulled out the screens (Kindle, Instagram, Netflix, I even checked my work email) but still, couldn’t shake her. Before long it was 3 am, heart still hurting, eyes puffy, still unable to fall asleep, loneliness my company.

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A few years ago, when the company of loneliness was more frequent I shared the struggle with friends many of whom empathized and shared their own stories. Knowing others have experienced similar plights doesn’t necessarily bring comfort, but it certainly makes one feel like less alone. Ironically, we are not alone in our loneliness.

This post isn’t ending with encouraging platitudes, but rather a word of knowledge from my experiences and connecting on the topic with others. Loneliness, in whichever form it comes, afflicts all of us. She is cruel and never a welcome guest, causing lament whenever she shows up. She visits us all, sometimes without real cause. She is not to be trusted, her perspective is damaging. That night I wasn’t able to shoo her, she settled in and reminded me that big girls do cry. 

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I felt compelled to share these feelings because often times from the outside it’s easy to see someone’s life and think “lucky her.” I often get messages of encouragement, especially from women who are inspired by my journey. I love my life, every bit of it. However, I think feelings of loneliness are to be expected as a part of the human condition. This can be especially true for those of us craving romantic love.

“If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12)

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They often read the bible verse quoted above at weddings. I remember at one such event, after being read by a pastor, my friend commented: “that is the saddest scripture I’ve ever heard.” At the time I laughed, unaffected. It is only now that I get why she had that response. The intensity and frequency that each of experience loneliness is unique, and comes and goes. Even my boo’d up friends, with a different plight than mine, have similar pangs.  Until it passes, I’ll chalk it up to cuffing season and I won’t forget no matter how alone I feel out on my little limb, I am really an individual piece of a much bigger picture. I am not alone. You are not alone. 

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Stay warm friends, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 

yours truly,

Suzy

Summer needs a speeding ticket

Summer wrapped her arms around us in a warm embrace.

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Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California

With a smile, a little giggle and a sip of wine, it was officially summertime.

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Vineyard Shenanigans, Santa Claria, California

Long days, warm nights, and plenty of sun, pretty orange hues, and so much fun.

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‘California, blood orange sunsets bring you to your knees’

Blue skies, lush greens, and seeing new places

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Pretty Colorado

balmy days, fresh air, and open wide spaces.

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Colorado wildflowers, aka weeds

Sundrenched days and salty toes

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Joyful beach days

That’s what summer is made of.

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Sunny days laying in the sand

and before you know you it, here comes September but one thing’s for certain this was a summer to remember.

Richest girl in Babylon

Summer lovin’ happened so fast

Like a delightful, rushing wind the summer solstice has come and gone. Though the edges of summer still remain, burning as hot as ever in some hemispheres, in my neck of the woods she is slowly cooling to make way for a new season.  It’s this fact that made me realize I spent the entire summer not blogging. I have several half -assed written blog posts, but this is my first published post of the summer; better late than never, right?

When i’ve been missing in action I typically get curiosity from people around three topics: where I’ve been, where I’m traveling to next and if I plan to slow down anytime soon. Inevitably, folks also ask about my work life and how I sustain my travel. It’s been over a year since my departure from my corporate job, and current trends show no sign of me returning to that world.

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‘Sometimes I feel like the richest {girl} in Babylon.’

No limits

If you are new to my blog, I recommend checking out my article Rooted Nomad, that gives the low down on my current lifestyle. Life has truly evolved over the past year. What started off as a one year sabbatical has gradually become a new way of life.

After quitting my job in the corporate world I started a business offering freelance consulting work, which led to a full-time role with a startup tech company. I plan to continue both my freelance work  globally and work full-time for the tech company; both roles are remote and allow me the freedom to live unbound. I’ve also had a number of people express interest in ‘Travel to Jamaica with Yours Truly,’a cultural immersion trip I will host next year to my little island. 

“when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” -Paulo Coelho

The past year has confirmed for me the power that comes from speaking my dreams and not putting limits on what I can accomplish. I’ve learned that for the things I have been called to do I will be given the sufficient energy, time and people to do it with. I now know what it truly means to be rich, not because of what I own but because of who i’m becoming and a refreshed appreciation for the experiences of this life. 

That said, I have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. This summer birthed new opportunities for me to grow, both as a professional and in my personal life. In terms of my whereabouts, I spent two months watching the glorious blood orange sunsets in California. Followed by 2 weeks catching up with friends in breathtaking Colorado. I am currently  back home in Florida, and will hang here to finish out the summer.

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Florida Summer Beach Days w/ my sisters

Living the dream

Come October I head to Frankfurt and London, both stops are work related. I will be attending the largest cultural event in the world, the Frankfurt Book Fair (yay!). My level of excitement is what we Jamaicans would call “glad bag burst!”  Translation: the part of me that fills with gladness is so full at this moment that it may just burst right open.

People often ask me how I designed this life and I tell them two things:

1) I wish I had a secret formula. I’ve shared tips in previous articles, but however you slice it, it takes *Rihanna’s voice* “werk, werk, werk, werk, werk.” There isn’t a shortcut or a special masterclass series that’s gonna teach you everything you need to design the life you want. In my experience, it requires speaking out your dream, believing it’s a possibility and then applying hard work and grit. Scariest part for me, this is only the beginning. Though I am content with where I am, I know there is so much more to come. 

“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

2) Here’s the other thing, I am confident I didn’t design this life all on my own. I feel called to it (like we often do with heartfelt dreams) and I choose to obey the call. Doing so definitely took a huge leap of faith, actual action steps that included risk. Sustaining this dream requires being flexible, not living for my ego and believing that my life is about something more than myself. 

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Cali Cousins: Alex, (Me), Anna, Ashley, Abbey

As a new season approaches I am eager to see how the rest of 2018 unfolds. I can hardly believe we are already in the 3rd quarter of the year. If you’ve been on the edge of taking steps towards a goal, or perhaps even a leap of faith, it’s not too late. Do it.

Yours truly,

Suzy

What makes you rich that can’t be measured by money and stuff?

Travel to Jamaica w/ Yours Truly

I am currently planning an epic immersive experience into Jamaican culture, for 8-10 interested people. Indulge in a week-long stay in Jamaica, exploring and enjoying the country like a local.

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What makes this trip special?

Guided by a local, yours truly Suzy, this trip is a unique boutique travel adventure that will take you on the journey of a lifetime. Come with me to some of my favorite hidden gems around the island, including waterfalls, pristine beaches, majestic mountains and delicious local restaurants and bars. The best part: this trip will also include opportunities to give back to the community, by participating in planned group activities sponsored by non-profit organizations geared towards enriching the island.
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General Itinerary:

Travelers will experience 3 parishes of the island, staying at luxury villas and Airbnbs. There will be plenty opportunity to meet and interact with locals, as well as excursions to popular tourist attractions. Travelers will have the opportunity to spend approximately 25% of their time on community service. The trip is all-inclusive of airfare, accommodation, transportation, excursions and some family-style meals.
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I will be sharing more details, including dates and cost in upcoming weeks. Spots are limited if you are interested click here to be kept informed of details. I promise, no spam.
yours truly,
Suzy

Rooted Nomad

People often ask me how I’ve been able to travel and sustain a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. When I tell them I don’t work a regular full-time job, more questions follow including “how can you afford it?” This usually leads to my story about quitting my job and using my life savings to travel the world (my about page will give you the gist). This doesn’t quite cover the “how” but I’m getting there…

Rooted Nomad

I consider myself a rooted nomad because I’ve spent no more than 5 weeks (and often times much less) in each place I’ve landed in the past 10 months (with no intention of slowing down), BUT I do have two places that I consider “home.” These are:

  • Orlando, Florida- where I have a small home that I share with a housemate
  • St. Andrew, Jamaica- where my parents live in a quaint villa in the mountains

These main roots each have a unique support system, including family and friends, a church home, and a spot to hang clothes (a treat when you typically live out of a suitcase). Having these roots help me optimize my lifestyle and sustain solo travel without feeling isolated.

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Chillin’ in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

Globe Trotters Community

The community of people, who spend their days traveling full-time, or very often, is enormous. There are many websites that will give you suggestions on how to save, plan and budget for long-term travel. You’ll find that many who started on this journey began with little to no money (often just enough to take the first trip) and that many in the community are living a minimalistic lifestyle to make it happen. Upon researching, I was happily surprised by how common this trek around the globe is.

The community includes remote workers, social media influencers, artists, consultants, etc. There isn’t one occupation that directly leads to a nomadic lifestyle. I believe the desire to live an unsettled life, whether for a season or for a lifetime, is a calling.  People who want to live in their calling are usually willing to use a large chunk of their resources to make it happen. I am one of them.

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Elephant water war, Thailand

How much does it cost to travel the world?

Answering this question would require an unpacking of probing questions like: Where do you want to go? How long do you want to go for? Are you willing to stay in hostels? Are you a picky eater? Truth is there isn’t a cookie cutter answer to this. However, there are helpful websites that will tell you the average monthly cost to live in most cities (nomad.com is a gem), and there are a ton of travel sites where you will find cheap plane tickets (nomadic Matt gives great tips).

In my research, I have found full-time travelers living on as little as US$15K annualized, and others who spend upwards of  US$50K.  One of my favorite sites for planning exotic trips on a budget is hosted by Eli and Travis, called wheninroaming.com. Many of their links will lead you to lonelyplanet.com, the worlds largest travel guide and another great resource for inspiration and planning.

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Skytree Views of Tokyo,  Japan

Personally, I began this journey with enough funds for one year of nomadic travel, using primarily Airbnb for accommodations and visiting friends and family (who have a spare room or couch to crash on). However, what I’ve found is there isn’t an exact dollar amount that will sustain this lifestyle, nor is it really about the money.

The common factor in those who are able to sustain this lifestyle isn’t in their pocket but in their mentality. Many have thought (or wondered if) I am able to do this because I came across a ton of money; I assure you that is not the case. What I came into was a mindset, one that allows me the freedom to design the life I want to live.

Sustaining the Dream

I believe my dream to travel the world came from God. So naturally, it is a feat larger than anything I could do on my own. Whether or not you believe in Him, I would implore you to imagine a future so wonderful that it makes you a little terrified, otherwise, you may be dreaming too small.

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Petaling Street, Malaysia

I believe that those who answer the call and are successful at sustaining the dream (of travel, or any other dream for that matter) have 3 three things in common, and none of these commonalities include money, websites for cheap travel or occupation.

  1. Minimalist Mentality

Folks who are successful at this lifestyle place value on experiences and relationships, rather than on material things. This isn’t to say they don’t like nice things. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I like nice things (yup, bougie and proud). However, I don’t need them to have a unique adventure or a great time. Many of my best travel experiences have brought me to squatting over pit toilets, tossing and turning on uncomfortable mattresses and finding domicile in bedrooms with unfinished cement floors. Being willing to slum it makes a huge difference in how far you’ll go. Embracing a minimalist mentality is helpful not just for travelers but for anyone who wants to focus on what’s important, in order to find fulfillment and freedom outside of material wealth. Wanna know more about minimalism? Ryan and Joshua have a neat site that can help, check out mimalist.com.

  1. Persevere & Press On

People who sustain travel long-term exhibit endurance and flexibility. Becoming attached to an agenda is a sure way of setting yourself up for failure. Planning is important, but knowing that plans can change, or straight up fall apart, is even more so. Sustaining success means not giving up, even when plans change and you experience set back or failure. Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” People who succeed don’t give up; the things that try to hold them back lose steam before they do. Research has shown that grit (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) is a significant difference between those who experience long-term success and those who don’t. If you want to persevere then throw out limitations you (or others) have set on your life, capture, and trash negative thoughts you may believe about your lack of ability or worth, label them as lies and press on. When you think you can’t go any farther, let your grit be your guide.

  1. Go with God

In one of my favorite books, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho says “and when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” I believe that my passion is fueled by something greater than myself. This belief, for me, is the key to continuing the journey. I know that if God has called me to something then the means necessary will follow. I spend time in meditation, praying and communing with Him for guidance and direction on next steps. Even when I can’t see the path ahead, my relationship with Him is like a lamp at my feet, just enough to see the next step. My faith gives me guts.

I am not saying that every traveler, nomad or dream chaser has a personal relationship with God. However, I have found that they each have a passion for something greater than their own individual contentment and satisfaction. These are folks who are excited about experiencing the world outside of their comfort zone and pushing their boundaries. To sustain a life like this one, you must have enthusiasm for things beyond earthly measure and personal pleasure.

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YS Falls, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

The Crux of the Matter

Someone asked me if I imagine myself at 50 years old still living this lifestyle. The truth is, I don’t have a 5-year plan, much less any idea where I will end up at 50 years old. What I do know is what I’ve been called to do today, and that tomorrow isn’t promised to me. In the same conversation, it was said that my actions seem wayward to some. To that I say,  it’s quite often in history that what may seem foolish to some is a golden opportunity to others.

Here’s the thing, everyone won’t always approve of your life choices. Before making this leap I sought counsel, budgeted, assessed the risk and made an informed decision. I decided that I wouldn’t measure my success based on someone else’s imposed idea of what it should look like. I am not interested in measuring up to a man-made yardstick.  However, I am fully invested in living my dreams. I hope you are brave enough to live yours; unhindered by your limitations and propelled by your passion.

Yours truly,

Suzy

Heavenly Hair from a Hot Oil Treatment

Hot Oil Ingredients:

Coconut oil,  Grapeseed Oil, Black Seed Oil, Tea Tree Oil, and Black Jamaican Castor Oil infused with Lavender. Each of these oils adds unique value to the blend and works magic on hair that needs hydration.

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The Subject:

Selah Fe, who has a beautiful head of curls and coils. After a week filled with playing outdoors, birthday parties and rolling about in the grass with friends, her hair was ready to drink up the moisture from these oils.  The night before this hot oil treatment her mom used a leave-in conditioner with a little water to start the detangling process.

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Step By Step, Curl by Curl

  1. Heat Hot Oil Treatment in the microwave and massage into hair and scalp (you don’t want it scalding hot, but warm to the scalp when massaging)
  2. Leave for 20-30 minutes, covered (we didn’t have disposable shower caps, so we got creative and used saran wrap, a grocery bag can work too)
  3. Shampoo, Condition and Style hair as usual

 

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Before & After

 

 

Other Products we used in Selah’s hair for cleansing and styling:

 

In all these pictures her hair is partially wet, so you can still see some product sitting on the hair. Within a couple hours of styling, her hair will try, leaving no residue. This treatment can be used for any hair type, as a pre-poo treatment. For hair like Selah’s, thick and curly, this easy wash and go style should last up to 7 days and I recommend doing a hot oil treatment once every two weeks.

yours truly,

Suzy

Teeny Weeny Afro

The Big Chop

On a random day in October, my best friend and I, in her dining room, chopped all my hair off. Like, all. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I remember looking at myself in the mirror post big chop and feeling a sense of identity. Looking at my reflection like “Suzanna, there you are.” It was a beautiful feeling of self-acceptance and confidence. It’s totally cliche, but the sense of liberation after a big chop is so real. I love my natural, afro hair and I’ve received so much validation from friends, family, and random strangers, all complimenting my hair. My wild, spiraling, thick, glorious, natural, African hair.

Creamy Crack

One of my first childhood memories is that of my grandmother (who was of East Indian descent, with extremely long, Asian hair) commenting on the coarseness of my hair. When I was around 6 years old, my parents made the decision to start chemically processing my hair. This meant putting a creamy white substance on my hair to keep the kinks away. Keeping the kinks away made the weekly blow drying and flat ironing sessions bearable, as my caregivers tried their best to make my hair manageable. According to my mom, as a child, I flaunted my relaxed hair boastfully, loving that my once kinky curls were no longer a warrant for complaint from those who had to tame it. My story is not uncommon.  I enjoyed my relaxed hair, until the day I didn’t. 

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My Bestfriend’s dining room table, as we chopped my hair.

Relaxed to Natural

I rejected my natural hair because of convenience, comfort, social norms and because that’s all I knew. Then my curiosity about my curls outweighed all the reasons I claimed for destroying them. I wanted to know what my natural hair was really like. I stopped relaxing my hair, and as my roots grew I decided to embrace them. I transitioned (grew my natural hair, holding on to relaxed ends) for 10 months before cutting all my relaxed hair, leaving only my natural hair; a teeny weeny afro #TWA.

My TWA represents more than a hairstyle because to me it’s not just a hairstyle. It’s a reflection of my African roots, the way I was created to be. Cutting the relaxed ends was symbolic, a gesture that represents self-acceptance and the decision to embrace a part of me that I formally rejected. As I cut off the old, to embrace the new, a part of me was re-birthed, that for many years had been stifled.

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What do I use in my hair?

I get this question often. I think the key to maintaining curly hair is locking in moisture. This means regular deep conditioning and hot oil treatments. I typically do one or the other, once per week. I tend to mix my own homemade deep conditioner, throwing together natural ingredients I find in my kitchen and bathroom (essential oils like lavender and vanilla, conditioning oils like coconut, grapeseed and castor, edible goodness like avocado, and butters such as shea and cocoa).

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My Kitchen Counter on Hair Day

Outside of deep conditioning and hot oils once a week, I follow the LOC method for sealing in moisture when styling. The LOC Method = leave in conditioner + Oil + Cream (in this order, immediately after washing, on wet hair). Finding the right product for your hair type takes trial and error. In my next hair article, I will share some of my favs from each category (leave in, oil and creams). Stay tuned!

If you have specific questions about my natural hair journey or products please ask in the comments section.

yours truly,

Suzy