Starting Year Four Of Nomadic Life – Reflections On 2020 And The Future
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
Lessons awaiting me in the new year.
I find it hard to believe I’ve been a full-time nomad for three years. I spent ten years viscerally craving this and unable to overcome my excuses, and years before that, wondering what else I could do with my life. Here I am, now, living it, and still loving it.
After almost nine months in my beloved Kerikeri, I’m back to my nomadic life, albeit, only in New Zealand. I was so excited to have an article published in Stuff, one of New Zealand’s national publications, about my experience, so far, in this country. As I’ve traveled, it’s been fun meeting people and learning they read the article! And, New Zealand really is a small country – a guy on one of my buses ended up staying at the same hostel as me in Taupo. We left on different days, but I saw him again when I took a bus to Bulls. At that same hostel, I met a French guy I knew from Kerikeri! I won’t be surprised to see the same people over and over again until it feels like everyone in the country is a friend or aquaintance.
Standing near my temporary home in Kerikeri, New Zealand.
Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020
2020 was, as we know, a strange [insert adjective of your choice] year. I flew to New Zealand ten months ago, thinking I would avoid “that China virus” by skipping out re-visiting Asia. Several weeks in, when I was ready to fly to another country, I was faced with the choice of running back to New York or staying in New Zealand, indefinitely. At that point, I thought “indefinite” meant 3 or 4 months. Looking at what my country has been through, and how Covid has taken its toll, I’m so glad I decided to stay in New Zealand.
One of my favorite parts of full-time travel is how each year carries a theme for me, and early January is the time I reflect on it. This year is no exception. Reflecting on my choice, and on my year of life in New Zealand, I step into year four realizing the themes that will dominate 2021 for me – loving and accepting my decisions. I’m learning to make decisions by feel, rather than head-y logic. When I go into a decision with a debate, or try to make a decision that pleases other people, I have often ended up regretting the outcome of those decisions. More recently, I’ve seen the power of making decisions by feeling and intuition; it’s how I decided to stay in New Zealand, ultimately, and how I made a recent decision between two great options and felt wonderful trusting my heart and choosing the one I knew less about. (More about this in an upcoming video…)
“Deciding by feel instead of logic.”
This week, I did a house-sit in Christchurch (PS – housesitting is a fabulous way to save money in New Zealand) and got to look after the wonderful Frank. He’s a very loving dog and craves attention and time spent with him. Whenever I left the house to go out on my own, I received the most horrible puppy-dog eyes and depressed walking I have ever seen. I almost caved on the rules for him a few times but held my ground. I realized he was the perfect teacher for me. If I could resist those puppy dog eyes, I’m going to do just fine standing my ground when others give me their version of puppy dog eyes. Thank you, Frank!
Frank and his puppy dog eyes.
Entering year four, I’m happy that my desire to remain a full-time nomad is still with me, and also aware that I may start spending longer periods of time in one country even when I start traveling again. At least, at some point in the near future. I’m very aware of how lucky I’ve been to choose New Zealand (and it, me) at this time in the world. Jacinda put her people first, and that decision resulted in keeping the virus very well contained. That means that we can safely travel in the country, and that mandatory mask wearing is limited to bigger cities, like Auckland, and only in public areas like buses. Because the virus has been so well managed, we can feel good about carrying on as normal and not infecting other people. I am so grateful for that.
As I recommence my nomadic life, I’m finding my rhythm again, making changes to my plans when I realize I want to stay longer, and having fun. I decided to start sharing the fun with all of you in my new YouTube series – “Travel Adventures With Heather.” The first episode is below! Please subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss out on future videos (there are 13 already!) and, hey, I need more followers so I can change the name of my channel! 😮 So, I’d appreciate if you could follow me.
While I have greatly missed skipping off to the other international destinations I had planned last year, travel became inward again. I found refuge in friendships and discovery and learned that even when you think you know “everything about a place,” there’s still more to discover. The same is true about yourself. Travel is a most wonderful teacher, even when that travel is close to home, or in the same country. (Though, of course, I can’t wait to get back out there again, like you, and see more of this earth!)
As 2021 begins, I’m so happy I’ve learned to go with the flow and trust my intuition. I’m looking forward to new adventures and creating new possibilities and sharing them with you.