“My hopes the wind done scattered” — or happy travels

[Inspiration & happy]

I write this 30,000 feet above ground. in my favorite place: amongst the clouds. returning from my 4th trip in this 2012 year. Again returning reinvigorated and reinspired. (I”m noticing a trend here.)

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

By the time I was 17, and having known only Chicago, Durango, Mexico, and the mostly desolate highway that connects it all, I knew that travel was necessary. Even if it meant traveling 30 minutes away, I was intrigued to see what the world had to offer. Some might consider my upbringing “sheltered.” I, knowing my culture and more importantly my family, consider it a typical Mexican upbringing — which, for those of you who may be unaware of the subtleties that lie in this, includes overprotective parents who work long hours and expect you to do the same, at any age, never getting more than you need, never asking for more than you need, and never, under most all circumstances, having fun for the simple sake of having fun.

So is that all it takes to reach some happy? A trip away from typical? An escape from routine? A respite from usual? Going away for its own simple sake? Perhaps so. Or perhaps there’s something more.

Let’s explore you say? Okay, if you insist.

My first trip this year came in March out of spontaneity. and necessity. and the simple fact that I would probably fall apart more than had already occurred had I not hopped on a plane at that very moment.

I traveled to the place I had left part of my heart and my being almost a full year prior; Chicago. In city filled streets, from success-driven downtown to cultura-filled La Villita to lost-in-violence Back of the Yards, lied remnants of forgotten memories, trails of struggle’s tears, fragments of a developing identity, parts of me. In humble homes, sisterhoods begun as friendships remained intact yet missing the frequent connection once present. This is what I returned to.

Inspiration. Growth. Healing.

The second trip was a bit more thought out and partially required. In May, I traveled to Mexico. La Ciudad de Mexico. for the first time. Reflections made. Mi Mexico altered. Unexpected reactions examined. Somewhere between the security-guarded, excess-driven gated homes and the emotion-invoking trips filled with cultura and fe, I changed; transformed more accurately. This is what I experienced.

Inspiration. Growth. Healing.

3rd trip: more academic and professional development in August. this time in Orlando, Florida. In place of Mickey –> a professional conference and my first presentation on a national platform. Nervousness. Small audience. Still, accomplishment recognized and mentors appreciated, including my peer who inspires me daily. Included in this trip  were also needed moments of solitude. near water, surrounded by sunshine and reflection. This is what I took away.

Inspiration. Growth. Healing.

And the fourth and current? New Brunswick, New Jersey. A small east coast town filled with suburban beauty, a fall feeling, college pride, a Latino presence, and void of stereotype New Jersey (for the most part). The reason? another professional conference; this one more personal and connected, focus placed on culture. right up my alley. and in line with my purpose. Again, more presentations, national platform, biannual conference. This time, topics allowed more personal reflections leaving me vulnerable, especially given the presence of countless people I admire: individuals who mentor me for reasons I don’t think I’ll ever understand; Latinas with a power that I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve; individuals united by a purpose I don’t ever want to lose sight of.

Well, while I haven’t quite made it home, reflections are being in my favorite place, scribbled on a notepad in writing perhaps only I can decipher as I write feverishly attempting to capture my thoughts as they come, too quickly yet not fast enough, hand shaking with the wind’s mostly gentle tap.

so what am I leaving with this time around? or rather, how am I leaving?

Inspiration. Growth. Healing.

…funny how, through this, I think I found some pretty essential pieces of my happy. and yes, through this all, I’m still here; inspired. growing. healing.

Still Here

I’ve been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me, sun has baked me.
Looks like between ‘em
They done tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’ –
Bu I don’t care!
I’m still here!

-Langston Hughes

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