Turning Anxiety Into Opportunity

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

Anxiety is really annoying to have.

Last year, in Portugal, a friend made me aware of the anxiety contained in my thoughts. It came out as we made plans for things to do during our travels together. She’d throw out an idea and I would picture the worst-case scenario and say it out loud. Since I have a big imagination, that scenario could go on and on and was very well thought out! She sealed in this issue for me one day when I expressed my concern at not being able to reach two of our friends by cell phone. She replied to me, “Heather, if they’re not answering their phone, then, clearly they’re dead.”

Remember this photo? Riding horses is scary for me, I was clenching the reins!

Photograph by my tour guide, with my camera.

I laughed myself right out of my anxiety with this ridiculous thought! However, until she called me out I actually wasn’t conscious about the depth and breadth of my anxiety. I still carry these anxious thoughts with me. So, I’ve decided to work on transforming anxiety into positive thinking. As a trained coach, I know that awareness is the first step and a very powerful one. Once you become aware of something then you can finally shift it.

“With a vivid imagination anxiety can take on lots of depth.”

When I arrived to El Calafate, Argentina I took a shuttle bus to my hotel. The passengers were placed in a small van and our bags in a tiny sort of caravan behind it. It was attached to the passenger car and the doors of the caravan had a hook to close them. I boarded the bus and, naturally, I imagined that as we drove along the bumpy roads, the hook of the caravan doors unlatched, and our bags flew out onto the road. I imagined passerby running to our bags, opening them and going through our clothes and being delighted at their new hoard of belongings. Yup, they stood right there in the middle of the highway, with cars racing by, and went through our stuff without getting hit by any cars. In fact the other cars stopped and they blasted some music to make an event out of going through our bags.

This is the luggage carrier behind the van. Comically, one time when leaving the airport, the driver’s colleague called to tell him he had left the door of the luggage trailer open!

Photograph by Heather Markel

And the shift – after chuckling at this stream of consciousness I thought to myself, “Our bags are fine. The doors are safe, we will have our bags when we get to our hotel.” They were just fine.

When I left some stuff I wanted in Colombia, my friend grabbed everything for me and FedExed it to my hotel. The tracking number showed that the package would arrive 4 days after I checked out. After getting stressed, I thought, “This is just the date they have to tell me, but it will arrive before.” I had my hotel check on the package status again and, sure enough, it was suddenly scheduled to get to me that very day! Positive thinking! Until, it turns out, customs decided they want a doctor’s note or something for my reading glasses that are in the package. So my package will sit in Buenos Aires for 3 months and then be returned to my friend. Positive thinking – I’ve lived without these items for a week, perhaps I can live without them, period. Bonus – less to carry, yay!

When I hiked the Perito Moreno glacier recently, I caught myself worrying, “What if I step wrong, twist my ankle, and then have to seek medical attention? That will delay my travels and really suck, where will I go and stay?” I shifted that to, “Wow, I’m hiking a glacier and I’m going to hike it with confidence and be just fine!” And, I was just fine.

Some days I catch myself thinking, “What else could go wrong?” I immediately correct that with “What else could go right today?” When I start a sentence “What if…” I keep changing the ending. Like when I entered a National Geographic photo contest recently and shifted my “There’s no way I’ll ever win” train of thought to, “Maybe I’ll just win.” On my recent venture to see penguins (more on that soon) I saw a bad weather forecast which could have canceled the trip. When I caught myself worrying about the weather, I changed my thought to, “We’re going to have a perfect weather day.” And, amazingly, we did. 

It’s not easy and the negative thoughts creep in all the time. But, I see them now as a fun game and challenge to think a million positive thoughts in a day and see what manifests because I did.

Learn about Heather and what set her on her world journey. She also explains why this life is not just for Millenials, it’s for anyone that wants to create a life around what they love most in life. 

Listen to an episode of the video interview series that will inspire you to follow your heart. Whether you want to travel full time or have another calling, this series is for you.

See the amazing people I’ve been meeting on my travels and the fun stories that go along with the meetings.

Check out my travel photos from around the world to see the world from wherever you are.

If you’ve been thinking that there’s got to be  more to life than work, or, you’ve lost your job, and wonder whether now is the time to do something you’re more excited about, this quiz will help you. Answer a few questions and get a free guide to help you know the areas you need to work on, followed up with inspirational and helpful tips to put your dreams into action.

Traveling the world full-time may sound glamorous and exhilirating. (In many ways, it is!) But, it’s not full-time fun. Before you decide to go, take this quiz to make sure you’re ready, and, if not, find out how to bridge the gaps.

This fun quiz helps you understand what your travel personality is, and how to make sure you indulge it when planning your next trip to maximize your enjoyment!

This one is pure fun – test your transcontinental travel trivia knowledge. Hit the button below if you dare take the quiz and see your score! 

If you enjoyed the first quiz, see how you do on the second one! More fun, more tricks, Click the button below to test your knowledge!

If you want to see every post I’ve written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

Many of my blog posts are about things I’ve discovered about myself or about being, while I’ve traveled. If you’d like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.

I’ve been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you’re a fellow solo traveler, or you’re thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I’ve visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that’s your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I’ve had.

If you’re looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it’s blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.






Costa Rica


New Zealand








Want more in-depth information about travel? Trying to figure out how to afford full-time travel (or, doing what you want to do, full-time)? Check out these items!

Looking for a photo or a travel-related item to reconnect with the spirit of travel? Check out this page to see some of my photos and where you can find them as prints and various photo-gifts..

Trying to create a more fulfilling life? Want help with planning out how to make your mark in the world? Check out this page to see how Heather can help you!

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