A Real Estate Butterfly In Need Of Home

A Real Estate Butterfly In Need Of Home

One of the reasons for my travels was the opportunity to defy the idea that material possessions defined me. The free-spirited me, the real estate butterfly, the forever visitor – I was a skeleton made out of stardust and a bit of water. I didn’t need anything else to be me. Except I did.

Our home for the next few weeks in Mérida, Mexico | Photo by Ola Moszumanska

Of course, I was missing friends and family. I always miss them. It’s a part of the deal. As a European living in Australia, I carry an immense sense of guilt for leaving my beloved ones on the Old Continent to lead a life on the opposite hemisphere. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss them. And so since I ventured out on my travels, I have been away from the family and friends in Europe – and also from my people in Australia. It sucks, and I miss them all immensely, but somehow I knew that would be the case.

What took me by surprise was the fact that I started missing home too. In fact, I started missing having one. 

I missed my own place. A safe space. The private pocket of the world where I didn’t have to be anything to anyone. The place where I didn’t have to repack my bags continually. A little oasis where all the house plants had names (I miss you Paul, Blake, Blake II, Blake Junior and Rosie!). 

I missed my Sydney house even though it was never actually mine, and the rent was bloody expensive. My local coffee shop. And the hill behind the house I could see the whole city panorama from.  

I missed familiarity, a sense of belonging, the feeling that I knew the place.

My travels, for good reasons, have always found themselves on the opposite side of those qualities. And it was fine when it was all but a holiday, but not when long term travel was going to be a way of life for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the sense of detachment, ability to immerse myself in something unknown and to cherish the moments taking place outside of my comfort zone are some of the most exciting things about travelling for me.

So, here’s what we did to make sure we can do what we love while we build a sense of belonging in the constant motion of travels.

No Rush

In the beginning, we were moving from one place to another reasonably fast. But when life started feeling a little too rushed, we decided we’d stay longer at every new location.

At the start, it was a week – which quickly turned into a month. Now, we try to stick to that rule to be able to feel at home at a place we’re visiting. Getting friendly with a gentleman who runs the local laundromat usually is a good sign we’re doing well.

The bonus is that once you settle somewhere for a bit, then you get to miss that place too when you leave! But your heart expands too. It’s a good thing.

Celebrate Things That Make You Feel Like Home

While we love discovering the new, we also celebrate some well-known and grounding rituals we associate with home. They help to create a soothing routine and give us a sense of belonging.

For me, it can be reading before falling asleep. Or yoga. For my fiance, it’s signing up to a local gym or chopping vegetables. So everywhere we go, he carries a chef’s knife with him.

We also always, no matter what, have a morning coffee together. And we make sure that at least once a week, we wake up and do absolutely nothing (in other words, we stay in, order takeaways and binge on Netflix for hours).

Make An Effort With People You Meet Along The Way

The value of a shared moment doesn’t depend on time. The most precious encounters in life can be fleeting but momentous.

As much as nothing tops a long, supportive and loving relationship, allowing yourself to be present, mindful and focused on those quick interactions with people you meet on your way can help you feel more grounded – and develop a sense of belonging to the moment itself. Not to mention doing wonders for your social life on the road!

Stay In Touch With Friends And Family

Especially if you can FaceTime/ Skype them. Nothing feels better than seeing a familiar face in their natural surroundings that you happen to know and love as well.

But the most essential part of the process was actually coming to terms with the realisation that I am not, in fact, as much of a butterfly as I thought – and accepting it with an open heart. Because even if I like to settle into the foliage for more extended periods, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love flying.

You Will Be Your Same Old Sad Self. Just Somewhere Else.

You Will Be Your Same Old Sad Self. Just Somewhere Else.

Anybody else here silently hoped that traveling would turn them into a different, better kind of person? Well, I did. 

The last couple of years in Sydney, I struggled with anxiety, lack of direction or sense of what shape I wanted for my life to take. And so I thought that the moment I would step onto the plane taking me into the unknown, I would advance my general coolness, creativity, decisiveness and clarity of mind quite dramatically.

Perhaps I watched ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ way too often when I was little. And perhaps I thought I could emerge on the other side of that plane door completely transformed. So did the plane journey leave me feeling incredibly inspired and crystal clear on what my next creative endeavour is going to be? Well, no. But did I feel like I could do anything I put my mind to and right there and then was the time to do it? Also definitely not. However, did I feel energised and ready to explore the world? Not exactly. 

All that happened during the flight was me spilling a glass of champagne on my fiance’s Qantas blanket and then watching five movies in a row pretty chuffed with the fact that my blanket was dry. And because I didn’t sleep much, I felt anxious and tired, and not ready for all of the amazing adventures I was about to have. I felt lazy and worried, and quite confused as to what it was that I wanted to do during the travels. 

And as I sit here, in a different country, with a very different national cuisine and general weather patterns, I still battle with those feelings. And as inspiring as the travels have been, I’m very much the same person, with the same challenges and problems, with the same anxious thoughts and occasional catastrophic visions of my life feeling empty forever. What I have learnt (or perhaps simply remembered because I feel like I had known it all along) is that it takes a tremendous amount of constant effort, time, single-minded focus, hard work and conviction mixed with the ability to relax and being able to give in to boredom to even attempt to introduce meaningful change and sharpen your sense of purpose.  And that’s OK. 

Sometimes traveling makes it more difficult – sometimes it makes it much easier. But for me, it was key to realise the simple act of travel wouldn’t do it for me. In the SNL Romano Tours sketch Adam Sandler said it first – and he said it best – when he caveated a holiday tour he was promoting: “If you’re sad now, you might still feel sad there.”

So my first misconception about traveling was that embarking on the journey would close doors on some of the feelings I had been struggling with and completely – effortlessly even – transform me as an individual. Well, guess what? I’m still drying that metaphorical Qantas blanket as I work hard and do my best to figure out who I am.