When I was in my 20s and 30s I traveled a lot. I'd work for a while, save up money, and spend it on my true love - travel. I have been to England, Scotland, Ireland, France (lived there), Germany, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Senegal, China, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. And often on these trips I would see a certain type of woman and feel such longing to be like her. In my early 20s I didn't have much access to my own higher wisdom, I hadn't learned how to tap into that yet, or even how to understand my own psychology. But it would happen over and over. She might be traveling alone, she might be with someone else, or a group. What was it about her that I craved? I remember thinking about this on a trip to Spain and suddenly realizing that I knew what it was she had that I didn't....she was present. She was centered. She was ok with herself. I didn't have that. And so, after a series of life blowouts, I ended up living alone in Santa Fe, knowing not a soul, starting school for Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology, and starting a different kind of travel. I traveled within. This is by far the most exciting, exhausting and terrifying kind of travel there is. Ok I have never actually summited Mt. Everest, but I'm pretty sure some of the dark nights of my soul that first year in Santa Fe were as terrifying and challenging as getting to that peak. Inner travel means going inside ourselves and is usually best done with a guide (psychologist, guru, healer, pastor - but make sure they have done THEIR internal journeys first. There is nothing more damaging than taking an unhealthy guide on your inner journey. That can really get you lost and hurt). This is the ritual of inner travel. Of returning again and again to that inner landscape and creating space for healing, growth and maybe some wine too.
Inner travel means going back in time to get in touch with the child you once were, the teen, the young adult, and very carefully and lovingly unwrapping the hurts and fears that you packed away decades ago, hoping they would one day disappear. Inner travel takes you back to your childhood home, your childhood relationships, your friends, your school, your unmet needs (every person has some) and your wrong beliefs (every person gets taught a few of these too). Inner travel is silent, it is unseen and ultimately it is a solo journey. And maybe the hardest part is that it isn't interesting to anyone else. If I sit down with a group of people and tell them how my friend and I picked up a hitchhiker in Turkey and in return he hosted us in his tiny village for the weekend, introduced us to the mayor, fed us local food and let us sleep in a room covered wall to wall in gorgeous Persian rugs (that actually happened), that story gets a great response. But no one typically knows you are doing an inner journey. And not only are most people not interested, they will often even make fun of you or insult you for doing it. "Just get over it" or "Move on" are popular reactions. But when we journey inside, it's a gorgeous, amazing journey because as adults we have the power to heal those old wounds, to have realizations about why we are angry at men or why we eat 4 pounds of chocolate before bed every night or why we do the things we do. And we can heal our own selves. What I realized doing my inner travels, venturing far and wide to places I had never been, was that I understood what those women had. The women I would see traveling. They had inner peace. They had confidence. They knew they had a right to be. So the one journey that was the most eye opening, the most exciting and certainly the most life changing took place almost entirely in my little adobe house in Santa Fe. And it's a trip I've been on ever since. 20 years later I am still that intrepid explorer. Archaeologist. Treasure hunter. Now I am that woman I saw with longing. I am that woman who is happy in her skin. Who knows who she is. Who knows her place in the world. And it turns out she's a wonderful travel companion. I never know where my next journey will take me. This past year it has taken me to explore the deep caverns of grief and loss. Other times I am soaring high visiting love and children and inspiration. But wherever this journey takes me, I have long ago learned that the inner travel might not always be a walk on the beach, but it will always be a trip you remember!