It all started with a movie called Eat, Pray, Love. I remember seeing the trailer for the movie in the theater years ago and I could feel the little bird within my soul start to flap its wings with such excitement and intensity. Watching Julia Roberts on the big screen swirling her fork into fresh Italian spaghetti and riding a bike through the lush, green tropics of Bali awakened in me a passion I didn’t even know existed. Now, the movie wasn’t even out yet but I knew it would be something that would change my life forever.
Fast forward 6-9 months and I was watching the movie in my pj’s on the sofa in my living room. I was a Sophmore in college and honestly in a creative rut. I had wanted to study the arts, fashion, music, drama but my dad said to me “Cara you’ll never make a living at doing that. Study something more stable, like business. You can use that in anything you do”. So study business I did and by my 2nd economics class that year I was screaming inside. My creativity had been submerged into the deepest depths of my soul and I was so lost. Sitting there that night alone in my pajamas in the dark watching someone else get lost to find themselves was the first time in a long time I felt that passion for life return to me. I was so inspired that night by the movie I went out the next day and bought the book. I read it, highlighted, and scribbled down notes all over the pages of that book and read it backward and forwards again until every crevice of the book was crinkled and smeared with my handwritten notes.
When I could finally analyze the book no more I remember sitting down on my bed thinking “But how can I do this. How can I find my Eat, Pray, Love? How can I find my words that define me and my life?” I was only 20 years old at the time and asking some very real and big questions but I had a yearning to understand the meaning of life and my purpose that no one could stop me from finding a way. I started to research local travel companies specializing in college travel but when I went to see the total of the trip cost it was always more than what I could afford. I was in college full time, working part time 20 hours a week on $10 an hour and paying almost $600 in rent. Flying myself to far off places like Europe seemed as possible as flying to the moon. But that little voice in me told me not to give up. I took a piece of paper and wrote down all the places I wanted to go-Spain, France, and Italy. I wrote down the type of gelato I would have, the type of pizza I would eat, the monuments I would see, the type of people I would meet. I imagined every experience so thoroughly I almost felt as if I had already experienced it. I hung that piece of paper up on my closet door with two pieces of scotch tape and every day I woke up to find my bank account nearing zero dollars I would look at that piece of paper and know someday I would go to Europe.
Normally this is where I would tell you I caught a string of good luck or a miracle happened and by some chance my prayers had been answered and I was off to Europe to experience all the things my heart desired, yet that is not the case and it is often the case in many of our lives. The things we want most are given to us after much time has passed, and so it did. A year went by, and another, and another. I still didn’t have two dimes to rub together to make that trip happen. I had gotten a promotion, left school, moved back in with my parents to save money but Europe still seemed like a lifetime away. I still kept that piece of paper in a journal folded up and from time to time I would reopen it and look at it and start to visualize all the things I wanted to do, see and eat and I would fold it back and stash it away.
The most ironic part of this all was that I was working in a private jet center at the time in concierge services. I watched CEO’s and wealthy business men and women climb up and out of planes, jetting to far away places and I couldn’t even leave the front desk. I remember walking the halls at night before my shift ended and always found myself spinning the globe in the pilot’s lounge where they conducted their flight plans before each trip. I would always close my eyes, spin the globe, and let my finger land on any which continent or country and peek to see where in the world I would go to next in my mind. One day, in particular, my finger landed right in the middle of Europe. I looked down to see Italy, France, and Spain. I told myself silently ‘I will go there someday’.
Years went by, and I still hadn’t been anywhere. I was still working the same job, making the same pay rate and feeling more depressed than ever before. My parents had recently separated and then divorced after almost 25 years of marriage, I had moved to a new city with my family where friends were hard to come by, my relationship with my long term on and off again boyfriend was officially over, and our dogs had suddenly passed away. It was one of the hardest periods of my life. However looking back at that moment in my life I am not ashamed of my pain. I realize now that in order to appreciate something sometimes the universe has to strip you of everything so you can fully embrace every new experience it is about to bring forth your way. Unbenounced to me that was exactly what was happening. The universe was shaping and molding me for blessings.
I soon left my job for a large hotel chain in their corporate office. I worked weekends, holidays, overtime and was finally promoted to a management position with ample vacation time and amazing hotel perks. I finally had the means and time to travel! I went all over from Texas to Florida to California and finally to Hawaii staying in amazing hotels, visiting with old friends, curating my own adventures wine tasting, snorkeling, meditating in Buddhist temples and dancing with drag queens on South Beach. I was feeling oh so blessed in all of my new experiences but something was still missing.
Coming back from a trip my mom, sister, and I sat down for a small lunch at a local cafe and we started talking about Europe. My mom being newly divorced was ready to start traveling and experiencing her life now as a somewhat empty nester. It was then we all decided to take a mother and daughter trip to Europe. I was ecstatic! The first thing I did was research trips to Europe after lunch, calling tour companies, and looking up hotels. I ran across an ad for Norwegian cruise lines and started looking at their Europe itineraries. They had the perfect itinerary that happened to be during my 23rd birthday. I booked the trip, called my mom practically screaming with joy over the phone telling her where we were going. It didn’t occur to me until after the trip was over I happened to be cleaning out my drawers when a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up and unfolded it. It read “France, Spain, Italy”. I remember covering my mouth, tears rolling down my eyes. I had forgotten about this piece of paper, but the universe didn’t forget it’s plan for me. I pulled out all of my post cards from our trip to Europe they read- France, Spain, and Italy.
This story is so very important to me. It reminds me that not every dream happens over night. Not every blessing is given to you when you want it. It comes when you are ready for it. #blessed is not just a caption. There is a story behind that caption, that photo, that post. What did someone have to go through to be #blessed? What did they have to give up or do without? Remember your blessings are coming maybe not today or tomorrow or even next year. The universe has better timing than you could have ever imagined for yourself. So although you aren’t where you want to be now you’ll be #blessed when the time is right and you are ready to receive your blessings. Stay positive, don’t give up, and dream big. Anything is attainable.