Two Years as a Solo Nomad – Reflecting on My Transcontinental Journey

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

Learning from the past to create my future.

With each new year, I reflect on how it went. Before I started this journey, this time of year was extremely depressing. I came to December, realized that all the plans I said I’d put in action to make my dream happen, didn’t, and I was now at the end of another year, having failed myself, again. That feeling of failure is now gone. Even when anxious thoughts about my future enter my head, it’s like some stronger part of me automatically jumps in with logical and empowering thoughts to cheer me on. In fact, she just helped me frame my journey.

Standing in front of the white palace in Chiang Rai.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

Year one was about finding myself on the inside. Everything I saw and experienced seemed to relate, directly, to some personal growth I needed to do. It was tough, and it seemed never ending, and it definitely wasn’t what I expected. I set out to take a break for a few months, and I ended up climbing a mountain without a compass and deciding to get to its summit instead of quitting part way up. Year two has been beautiful. Whereas year one seemed like hard work, year two seemed like blessings bestowed. I met the most wonderful people and saw things I never dreamed existed. I ate strange foods, I discovered new wines, I went deep within countries, rather than intentionally deep within myself. I connected with the outside world, and viscerally followed my heart. This is a journey. There are no firm guidelines, there hasn’t been a declared goal or destination. And yet, a clear path has always been part of the journey, I now realize.

“A journey that where I will unite the internal and external experiences of myself and of this world.”

Year one was about getting to know myself. In year two I got to know the world. Just like myself, I thought I knew this world. I have learned I did not, and I have so much more yet to learn. People, languages, economies, governments, foods, animals – I began as a stranger to them all, and ended the year with intimate knowledge of so much of the world that I was sorely lacking. As I’ve been reflecting, I now realize that year three will be about finding my place in the world. I have no idea what I will find, I have no firm plan, but that question will lead me throughout 2020, just as other questions led me throughout the past two years. While the first two years seemed scary and full of mystery, I approach this one with more insight and belief that I am finally walking my own path and it will lead me where I need to be when I need to be there.

On the way to the Tren a Las Nubes in Argentina.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2019

I’ve spoken before about needing to embrace the “I don’t know”. By doing that so often the past two years, I’ve gained a sense of confidence and comfort within the not-knowing. I could never have imagined this in my prior life – where every step I took needed to be based on facts and knowledge and in a “known” direction. Now I walk my own way and no longer need someone else’s path to take me where I’m going. I am bursting with happiness most days and love my life, a feeling I hope everyone can enjoy – I believe that the world needs each of us to be stupendously happy in order to do the greatest good we can for people and the planet.

Over the past 24 months, I’ve been to Central America, South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, and Oceania. I stood as close to Antarctica as I could, without going (perhaps in the future!). I’ve seen world wonders, such as Iguazu and Machu Pichu and been spellbound by landscapes and animals. I’ve met fascinating people, made new friends across multiple cultures and countries. I’ve traveled alone, yet always felt surrounded by new friends, and guardian angels appeared when I most needed them. I’ve manifested experiences and things I needed most when I needed them, and taken the time to just notice the world rather than drive by it. I’ve always loved traveling and meeting people, and now I am living my love, the feeling of which is peaceful, gorgeous and one I’m glad I allowed myself to feel.

As 2020 opens, I continue my trend of creating new year’s themes rather than making new year’s resolutions. I kick off the year knowing that it’s about the journey, not the destination. The video below gives you an expansion on that theme, and a walkthrough of my journey so far and how you can bring this theme into your own life. Happy new year!

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