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LacLeman_Montreux_SwitzerlandSorry about that… Yeah, over the past months I slacked off a lot in terms of blogging. If it wasn’t for my Instagram you could pretty much assume I was dead. I wasn’t. But it’s a pity days are only 24h long.

Time… It’s funny how day-by-day everything feels the same, but when we look back all’s different. Over the last 12 months my life changed enormously. From those 12, it’s been almost 9 since I left Angola. You’ve accompanied some of my ‘adventures’ there, but, when getting back I didn’t say much about it. “Why?”, you might wonder. Because I felt that loss as such a failure I couldn’t deal with it right away. I see now it wasn’t any kind of failure, quite the contrary. But it took me some time to realize it. It took me a while to understand how all that struggle made me a better person. How over time, I healed my wounds and feel now stronger (even wiser, maybe?) than ever before.

I’m not one to complain much. Never was. I’m the ‘suck it and let’s do this’ type. We all take validation from different things in life. I take it from being able to do things on my own. The why isn’t important, but I learned to live with it over the years. For me, being strong and independent while going after things that challenge me are things that make me more proud of myself. They come with downsides, but they are definitely a key part of who I am. I’m also a bit of a control freak. I like to be in charge of my life, so it bothers me tremendously when that does not happen. I feel trapped and impotent and kinda loose sight of myself. That’s what happened over time while I was in Angola, due to a set of reasons now irrelevant. I got stuck. And as I know my limits (and believe me, I’ve pushed them) I decided to leave and start over. So I came back, defeated. It was a Saturday. For a day and a half I cried in the dark in my room. On Monday, I stopped it and began again.

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“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”, said Susan Sontag. Yet, it could’ve been me – I’ve been dreaming of traveling the world my whole life. I do still every day (for instance). The only traveling I was allowed to do until I become an official adult, though, was through my imagination (and I did and awesome job there, I might add) with the help of books and movies and stuff like that. Then, when I was 18, I traveled for the first time – to my beloved Paris. In an impulse – I had 4 days off from work, I had to go – I booked a ticket and just did it. It felt great. After that, a few short trips followed, mostly with my ex-boyfriend, and in the summer of 2010 I had my last ‘big’ trip – a girls thing, short but so fun. Ever since (counting out my Angola adventures), for various reasons, I haven’t seen much from my list of everywhere and I have to admit it kills me inside…

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Ph. Connor Bleakley (via Flickr)

I miss traveling. I do. But I miss traveling in a way I don’t even know. I miss something I never had. I dream about getting a damn backpack and run out the door into the world. Before, I wanted to do it with friends or a significant other (whatever that means); I used to think I couldn’t do it alone, because it would be so depressing not to have anyone to share the whole thing with. Then, over time, I realized it would be way more sad to spend my life waiting for someone to tag along in the pursuit of my dreams. Relationships end, friends have their own agendas, everyone has their plans and timing. That’s just how life is and it’s OK. It only happens that I hate being dependable. This way I’ve been convincing myself I can do it, I have to do it, I need to do it, despite all the naysayers and general misunderstanding of my purpose, which, to be honest, I’m not even aware of for real. I know I want to see the world with all its wonders and flaws, to meet new people and their stories, to experience things out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself and to grow. Perhaps I fall in that ‘finding myself’ cliché. Perhaps I do. After all clichés exist for a reason. I know I want to live more than I’ve lived until now, and I’m not getting any younger.

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Ph. PetPicsBlog.com (via Flickr)

Some people enjoy stories of alcohol, sex, drugs and rock&roll (the ones that usually start with “oh, I was so wasted!”). Yeah, I’ve done that for little while. Not for me. I kinda need more than that. Not that I don’t like a good booze every now and then (far less frequently than before as I get older), dancing in the rain, making out under the stars, wait for the sunrise and have long conversations over the sunset. I love it all. I also love long walks, discovering ‘secret’ places, conversations with strangers, improvised pick-nicks, and so many other things that for me make life worth living. Maybe I crave newness too much, maybe I want so much out of life it I make it actually harder to live. Today I found a quote by Simone de Beauvoir that basically sums it all up: “I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” And BAM!! – I believe I just found one of my (dead) soulmates – see you in the afterlife S.! Perhaps the thing is I don’t know what I want for real, who I am deep down my core, but I do know I really really want to put my finger on it. And I figured The World could be a pretty good school for that. After all, to travel is never a waste of time or money and all the rest is manageable.

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Ph. Moyan Brenn (via Flickr)

Over the past couple of years (as I’ve nurtured these thoughts more seriously) I’ve had the chance to meet plenty of people who’ve inspired me with their stories (mostly guys, sadly), and have also given me ideas about how I can make this work (you know, without going brooke after a month) – I guess it is true that you attract what you wish for. I also found these 2 awesome blogs about solo female travel that have been working their spell on me: World Of Wanderlust and Grease & Glamour, both from ladies with incredible stories I envy in a very healthy way.

I’d be lying to you if I said I’m not scared of it all (and this isn’t something I admit very easily) – I am scared of failing, of it all going terribly wrong, but most of all I am scared I might never really find the courage to take that step… Lame, uh? Yeah, so that’s why I’ve got to star planning! That’s the thing about dreams… when you find the courage to go after them they’re not dreams anymore, they become your reality and it might not be as pretty as you’d imagine. Yet, it’s real. And you’ll have to dream new dreams.

Anyway, enough of this, because this post is supposed to inspire YOU! I’m inspired enough already. 😉 So, if you happen to find yourself daydreamin’ about traveling too (and through my experience, a lot of people are), here are some of my favorite travel quotes to, who knows, maybe push you a bit more out the door. 😉

1. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” / Augustine of Hippo

2. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” / Lao Tzu

3. “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” / Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32)

4. “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” / Anita Desai

5. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” / Mark Twain

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Ph. Alex Saurel (via Flickr)

6. “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”Samuel Johnson

7. “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”Samuel Johnson

8. “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”Cesare Pavese

9. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” / Henry Miller

10. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” / Mark Twain

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Ph. Vicki Mar (via Flickr)

11. “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” / Miriam Beard

12. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”Paul Theroux

13. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” / Bill Bryson

14. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” / Ralph Waldo Emerson

15. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” / James Michener

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Ph. Patrick Smith (via Flickr)

16. “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” / Pat Conroy

17. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” / Maya Angelou

18. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” / William Least Heat Moon

19. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” / Mark Jenkins

20. “Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.” / Blaise Pascal

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Ph. Maurizio Peddis (via Flickr)

21. “As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.” / Margaret Mead

22. “Too often… I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” / Louis L’Amour

23. “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” / Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

24. “Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” / Alan Keightley

25. “Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” / Ray Bradbury

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Ph. Rushen (via Flickr)

26. “A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of a faraway place. A traveler on the plane sees the farmhouse… and thinks of home.” / Carl Burns

27. “One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it’s left behind.” / Charles Dickens

28. “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” / John Muir

29. “To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.”Sam Keen

30. “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” / Ernest Hemingway

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Ph. Jesse Estes (via Flickr)

31. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”Marcel Proust

32. “Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” / Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

33. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” / Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

34. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson’s Essays

35. “Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”Judith Thurman

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Ph. Willem Kaspers (via Flickr)

36. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” / Gustave Flaubert

37. “But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” Bill Bryson, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

38. “because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…” / Jack Kerouac, On the Road

39. “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” Mary Anne Radmacher

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Ph. Larpoon (via Flickr)

40. “I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.”Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy

41. “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” / Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

42. “We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.”Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

43. “No matter where you are, you’re always a bit on your own, always an outsider.”Banana Yoshimoto, Goodbye Tsugumi

44. “Every one of a hundred thousand cities around the world had its own special sunset and it was worth going there, just once, if only to see the sun go down.” / Ryū Murakami, Coin Locker Babies

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Ph. Maurizio Peddis (via Flickr)

45. “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” / Christopher McCandless

46. “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

47. “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”George Moore, The Brook Kerith

48. “My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.” / Maira Kalman, The Principles of Uncertainty

49. “The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s easy to fall off.” Anderson Cooper

50. “It is always sad to leave a place to which one knows one will never return. Such are the melancolies du voyage: perhaps they are one of the most rewarding things about traveling.” Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Never in my life I was called beautiful so many times as in the past months. Really. I don’t know what shifted from the past – I’m not fishing for compliments here, let me set that straight, because I’m aware I’m not ugly, per se, but I was also always pretty conscious that I am nothing above average – I was always the funny & nice girl of the group, who talks too much and too loud and can’t live without sarcasm, and I am comfortable in that role. Now, apparently, I grew up and sport easily a certain poise and grace (I’m not really aware of but it’s really good to know). Truth be told, I take it a bit offensively to be called ‘pretty’, especially from men, especially when that’s too emphasized, too many times. Beauty is fleeting and relative and I don’t want people to like me, approach me or favor me because I’m pretty or sexy. Yes, I like to feel and be found beautiful – who doesn’t?! I won’t be an hypocrite about it – but I don’t like to hear it all the time or get special treatment for it. It’s annoying, diminishing and makes me feel like a decor piece.

Beauty is a rather complex concept that always had me wonder – what does make a person beautiful? And why does it have such an huge impact on us? Why is looking good of such value when it’s something fundamentally out of our control?! Everyone likes a pretty girl, but a pretty girl for me might not be the same thing as a pretty girl for you. As well as with men: what makes a man attractive? I was never very fond of ‘the hunk’ – the hunk is a sight for sore eyes, but it’s pretty much that, most of the times. And for landscaping appreciation I’d rather travel and see the world.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, and even though we’re programmed by advertising, pop culture, society, etc, to insert ourselves in certain parameters of beauty, I still believe that true beauty lies way beneath and has much more to do with the raw and real than with the fantasy created by an industry (and you’re reading this from a true Fashion lover who wants to someday too be a part of that industry). For me, a woman is beautiful when she’s authentic, open, smart, strong, funny, witty, slightly innocent but graceful and true to herself and others. Sexiness comes after, from confidence. This is the kind of women I value, admire and aspire to be. The rest is genetics and cosmetics – the first a matter of luck, the second a matter of balance.

 

You know what’s really, powerfully sexy? A sense of humor. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab on to. Openness. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition. … Smart-ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent-looking lady. … A storyteller. A genius. A doctor. A new mother.
A woman who realizes how beautiful she is.

– Courtney E Martin (via That Kind of Woman)

 

So, it was with great delight that I watched this Cameron Russell (27, American, Model) TED Talk D. (who’s quite addicted to TED Talks and I should follow) recommended me. I’ve got to confess I didn’t know her very well, before. I’ve seen her in plenty of adds and magazines of course, but I didn’t know her story. Turns out she’s beauty + lots of brains + strong values, therefor a new found icon of mine. Easy. 😉

And now, the said TED Talk (among the 20 most popular):

 

Thoughts? 🙂

 

Related readings:
>>  Cameron Russell, the renegade model  //  Telegraph.co.uk
>>  Cameron Russell, a Model, puts looks aside  //  The New York Times
>>  Model Cameron Russell: I get what I don’t deserve  //  CNN

 

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There are probably very few women in the world who’d say no to a beautiful pair of shoes – remember Carrie (in here, and well, in here)? I am no exception, and as probably most of you girls, I also have way more pairs than I actually need. And yet it always seems like ‘that’ pair is the ‘one’ (just like men), either that identification comes from love or lust. Usually it never is (just like men) but we still hope and we fall (for them and sometimes because of them). But the thing is, the right pair of shoes does make in fact all the difference between a terrific or terrifying ensemble.

Luckily for our hearts – not so luckily for our bank accounts and overloaded closets – we tend to fall far more frequently for the right/wrong pair of shoes than we do for the prince-charming runner ups of our lives. My latest passions in the shoe department are these ZILIAN beauties: the perfect black suede stilletos, essential to any girl, and the red version, to spice up even the preppiest outfit; plus these two pairs of flats I desperatly need since all my sandals and ballerinas are asking for retirement – one with a cool rock’n’roll vibe, the other to slightly revive the tomboy in me.

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PS: This quote is usually attributed to Marylin Monroe, but some say it’s actually Better Middler’s. Either one, she has a point. Why? Because the right pair of shoes (probably different from one to another) gives a girl a boost of aditional confidence (of course confidence per se doesn’t live in a pair of shoes…), and well, excuse me, but a girl that exudes confidence can conquer anyone.