A few days ago, Sarah Somewhere was a year old. I get a real kick out of reading my first ever blog post, and feeling the fear, uncertainty and flat-out terror in my words. They were the first words I’d written in a long time, and the first ever for an audience besides myself or a university professor. And they will now remain as some of the best I’ve ever written. Not for what they are exactly, but for what they represent, the beginning of the best adventure of my life.
I started this blog just after applying for a voluntary redundancy from my job of eleven years. I knew I needed to write, but was lacking in confidence and full of fear. People like me didn’t write blogs. People who had been serving tea and coffee for the last decade didn’t just up and create a website.
I knew nothing.
Tyrhone was the computer-savvy one, the graphic designer and photo-shop expert. I’d had the same Hotmail account since highschool, had deactivated my Facebook account due to lack of interest. I thought a tweet was a sound a bird made.
People like me didn’t start blogs.
But after setting up a free account, coming up with a name (okay, I have Tyrhone to thank for that one), and playing around for a little while, I thought, “I could get the hang of this.”
It was baby steps, but some of the most important I’ve taken to date.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step,” – Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.
Sunset on Gili Meno, Indonesia.
I’ve come a long way in a year. It has been the biggest learning curve! I am now part of a community of people who travel and write and take pretty pictures. I’ll never be the best, and I’m hopefully not the worst, but one thing is for sure, I have never learned so much as I have in the last year.
One of the many cool stair cases that has appeared for me over the last year!
Highlights on the blogging front this year (in no particular order):
Being mentioned in the Travelfish newsletter. They also linked to my “Paradise Found: Cambodia’s Koh Tonsay“ post from their page about the tiny Island. It was a huge vote of confidence just one week into our adventure, and was really exciting to be mentioned on a site I used myself for travel advice.
Being named on a few “Best Travel Blog” lists. I’m pretty sure they just chuck a few sites up there and say, “They’ll do!” but I’ll take all the compliments I get.
Making a little bit of $$$ from the blog. I’m certainly not making a living from blogging, but I have pulled in just over $1000 from it. I know it’s not much, in fact I used to make that in a week at work, but that money has meant so much more to me because it’s been made from something I created. Little old computer-illiterate me. The fact that it is from something I love to do, travel and write, makes it worth so much more to me.
Agreeing to do the Rickshaw Run. My relationship with Hannah and Kim has been one of the biggest blessings of starting my blog. Those girls know more about me than some of my oldest friends, since we have always been open and honest with each other. I know we haven’t met yet, but I now understand how people fall in love on-line, ’cause I’m head-over-heels with those two.
Meeting blogging Royalty. Back in Chiang Mai, we were having dinner in a pub, and who should pull up on their scooter, but all three members of the Almost Fearless clan. My heart was in my throat as I nervously introduced myself to a woman who had inspired me to travel, write and make a life for myself outside of normal expectations. The poor thing wasn’t expecting to be accosted by a jittery me talking a hundred-miles-an-hour and acting as though I knew her (which I felt I did), but I suppose with over 10,000 subscribers she had come to expect that sort of thing. And just so you know peeps, you can always approach me in a bar, because I’d love to meet you! I also met up with the lovely Alex, from the wonderful Alex In Wanderland in Chiang Mai so I was really treated to some great blogging company in that town!
I was going to write about the low-lights of blogging, but honestly, there haven’t been any. Even when I am full of insecurity and fear, fed up and resigned to the fact that I’ll never make it in this business, I always end up learning something new, or receiving a really nice comment from one of you guys. So I just keep trying to remember why I do this: because I love it.
Alli, me and Jenny, on the summit of Mt Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia
On Selling Our House (and everything else) and Leaving Our jobs…
The process of dismantling our lives was a very painful and stressful one. It’s a process I don’t ever want to go through again. Fear and insecurity dominated my world during that time, as well as very real desire to have other people approve of my decisions.
It was awful.
I felt alone, weird, and unsupported. I wasn’t actually any of those things, but for some reason the fear of “making the biggest mistake of my life” expressed itself in a huge amount of self-doubt and resentment towards a society I felt was responsible for making people like me buy houses and work their lives away in crap jobs to pay them off.
Of course I now realise I can live my life any way I like. I can choose to buy into society’s messages of “Buy, buy, buy, work, work, work, then buy more, more, more,” or I can choose a different path.
I like my life of owning nothing. As a reformed shopaholic (I was a flight attendant, it kind of goes with the territory) and property acquirer (had two of those), it was very difficult to part with the things I felt defined me as a ‘success’.
And though it did take some getting used to, I love the freedom that comes with owning nothing. We are free to live where we please, work where we please, and live exactly the sort of life we want to live right now. And if we change our minds tomorrow, well that’s okay, we can do that too.
In a word, it’s the freedom, to live our lives by our own set of rules rather than those imposed upon us that has been the biggest reward of this whole adventure.
I don’t even own moisturiser at the moment! And I’m happy! That’s just craziness!
A slightly easier climb… Ancient Mayan pyramid in Coba, Mexico
And the Travel?
Well I think you guys know we’ve had a blast travelling for the last eight months. I’ve meditated with a Buddhist Monk, been kissed by an elephant, had my ass kicked by an Indonesian volcano, played ‘silly buggers’ on The Great Wall and pooped in a bin.
Ganung Rinjani, from the plane window a day after I climbed it. Needless to say, this was an emotional moment!
Okay, not all of those things were a blast, but the tough times have shown me that I can get through stuff, achieve stuff and do stuff that makes for some really funny blog posts when I’m dying of food poisoning in China.
In all, the travel has been awesome. It’s also been tiring, which is why we are hunkered down on the Caribbean coast of Mexico for a couple of months. Staying put and experiencing just one country for three whole months is ensuring we don’t burn out from country-hopping or contract a case of the dreaded Traveller’s Blues…
Chichen Itza, Mexico
So What’s Next?
I’ve learned that it’s good to make plans, but it’s also good to make them flexible. For the next six weeks or so, we’ll be in Playa del Carmen, swimming in the ocean, eating amazing food, and working on our respective projects.
Tyrhone is building a couple of websites for clients in Australia, and may even have some design work lined up here in Playa. I’m doing quite a bit of work on the Rickshaw Run Diaries project. We have just secured some pretty big sponsors to help us cover costs, and we are doing some guest blogging on various websites to promote the expedition and raise more money for our charity, Frank Water.
We have already raised 850 GBP, or 42% of our goal, and we couldn’t be more delighted with the support you have all given us. Honestly, no donation is too small, and whilst we’re very grateful for some very generous donations we have received, every little bit counts.
When we leave our apartment on November 8th, Tyrhone and I will be traveling around Mexico for 2-3 weeks, before flying back to Perth. Soon after that, we’ll be parting ways again, with me going off to India to have christmas with Hannah in Goa whilst Tyrhone goes to London for a much overdue visit with his Mum and sister.
After chilling out for a week or so after The Rickshaw Run, I will head up to the UK and we will do some travelling in Europe for a while. We’re hoping to do some house sitting to save on accommodation costs, and we’d like to take Tyrhone’s family on a nice holiday too.
But that is all a long way off…
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I really can’t thank you all enough for coming on this journey with me. Some of you have been with me since the beginning, and haven’t blocked me from your email in boxes yet, so that’s gotta be a good sign! I really do consider it a privilege to invade your lives twice a week with stories about mine, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement.
Here’s to another year at Sarah Somewhere!
And more amazing sunsets…
We’re very pleased to announced Atlas Cruises and Tours as our latest supporter of The Rickshaw Run Diaries! Operating for over 25 years in the luxury travel arena, Sue and her team are dedicated to providing their customers premium tours and cruises all over the world, at great prices. Plus, I know through dealing with Sue personally that the service you will receive will be second to none. You can check out our latest guest post on their travel blog here.
Fancy another year of Sarah Somewhere? You can receive FREE email updates here, and I promise I’ll try to keep my bowels under control this year…