My 30s So Far - 54 Pics Progression

My 30s So Far - 54 Pics Progression

Nov 18, 2023

"Hear, hear" to my 30s so far, to 7 years spent wandering "on the outside", away from my home-country and place of birth. I sat down and asked myself "how did I get here?", and because I love talking to myself (we're cool now), I answered far from comprehensively with these 54 pictures.

The below selection of pictures does not represent the story of how I got from living as a fearful people pleaser and overachiever to living in a lot more respect, love and authenticity towards myself and others. There's a whole saga there, with so many nuances, and pending sequels, that I'm not sure how long of a book that will it be when I finally write it down.

Take this as it is: 54 anecdotes about my life, set in chronological order, with pictures that I selected based on the look in my eyes, a glimpse in my past that made me "hm!" at the time of the selection.

1) First time visiting the Kalemegdan Fortress, a city break - late October 2016, Belgrade, Serbia:

2) At my last office job, before being fired into freedom, masking hard, trying harder - early December 2016, Timisoara, Romania :

3) A me who lived for a couple of months in a cheap hotel in the center of Belgrade, trying to make sense of senseless situations - early June 2017, Belgrade, Serbia :

4) Near Zvezdara Forest, where I was often going for walking fast (because I don't like running) and where I also found that little dark demon (a cat, a great cat, actually) for whom I stayed 6 months longer in the country - mid June 2018, Belgrade, Serbia :

5) "The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Give up all questions except one: 'Who am I?' After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The 'I am' is certain. The 'I am this' is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not - body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that - nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being" (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj). Returning from the mountains to the sea after a 10 days silent yoga retreat - early May 2019, Lefkada, Greece :

6) Day 2 or 3 of walking Camino de Santiago, a thing I've always wanted to do - late August 2019:

7) Camino de Santiago is known by some as a Christian pilgrimage, but like many other spiritually charged places, this path was walked by pagans (mentioning the Celts) for a lot longer before it was rebranded by the Christians. The pagan pilgrims used to walk down to Finisterre ("Land's End", "End of the Earth"), where some took off and burnt their old clothes, renouncing their previous life, to start anew - early October 2019, Cape Finisterre, Spain :

8) Leaving Europe for the first time. I was wearing a mask "just in case", because words of Covid just started spreading, and I was flying to Asia - early February 2020, Bucharest, Romania :

9) Post Holy celebration selfie - early March 2020, at the Kriya Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, India :

10) Civil disobedience: evading lockdown in the forest, up the mountain, chasing waterfalls - early May 2020, Rishikesh, India :

11) That time when we rented scooters for $2-3 / day and roamed for as far as the still-in-place travel restrictions allowed us to - end of June 2020, Uttarakhand, India :

12) As a November child, I was always cold on my birthday, and never liked it, I wanted to be by the sea. So I went to the sea, and gifted this to myself - early November 2020, Goa, India :

13) Going to my morning Tai Chi class - early March 2021, Playas de Coco, Costa Rica :

14) Hiking through some drizzle to my first Ayahuasca retreat, because I'm better at walking than at explaining to people that I need a ride (and not because I'm hyper independent) - late May 2021, Santa Elena, Costa Rica :

15) During my second diving lesson, returning from hanging out with a bunch of lovely sharks. To ignore my awkward-in-the-water-too picture posture, focus on the heart of bubbles above my head - early June 2021, Playas del Coco, Costa Rica :

16) Shamanic Reiki level 2 training in the jungle - mid August 2021, Samara, Costa Rica :

17) The fanciest cage I which I was trapped had a pool, although the ocean was just 5 minutes away, and I made me good coffee - Playas del Coco, late November 2021 :

18) The last picture I took in Playas del Coco, on the morning I left to the capital, to spend there the last 3 out 14 days needed after the second dose of anti-Covid vaccine, in order to enter Colombia :

19) Visiting Guatape - round one - early February 2022, Antioquia, Colombia :

20) On my way out of Medellin, I lost my favourite blankie: a soft, warm and cozy cashmere shawl, that I bought 2 years before in India, that I used to take with me everywhere, for emotional support, for warmth, for protection from the sun. It was one of the very few objects that I would've never left behind, and it felt like a protection layer got severed with no warning. By the time I made it to Jardin, I understood that I can make it without it, and it was bittersweet - mid February 2022, Antioquia, Colombia :

21) I love animals more than people, so yes, I went for the accommodation with cats, at the edge of the town - mid February 2022, Jardin, Colombia :

22) First time in a long time all alone in the nature, top of the hill, me and the birds slowly flying at level. I got sunburnt that day, and I have absolutely no regrets about it - Jardin, Colombia :

23) A very relaxed me, watching for days in a row the clouds fogging and defogging the hills behind the hostel's garden - end of February 2022, Filandia, Colombia :

24) The reward for walking 18 km through the hot desert: finding puppies! - early March 2022, Tatacoa Desert, Colombia :

25) Cycling to the Witches' Patio in a spontaneous high altitude training / soul searching pilgrimage - mid March 2022, Raquira, Colombia:

26) Proudly enjoying lots of free walks and hikes around Villa de Leyva, while the tourists paid for the crowded tours - mid March 2022, Boyaca, Colombia :

27) Finally getting that side cut that I wanted and feeling great with it. It's both sides now, I do it myself, and I love it - San Gil, late March 2022 :

28) The me who just came down from the sky after half hour of paragliding. I look silly and I was very happy with what I just did - late March 2022, Chicamocha Canyon, Santander, Colombia :

29) With my ferocious, young, female friend and protector, in the Amazonas, waiting for the sunset to do the daily dolphin watching - beginning of April 2022, Puerto Narino, Colombia :

30) Late evening drinking ayahuasca and getting educated in the wonders of local traditional medicine, at Don Alberto's, the local healer, and the only curandero and herbalist in the region recommended by our Ticuna soul mother. He saw something in me and invited me to stay there 1-2 months, whenever I'm ready, to learn the rest of what he knows, an offering usually reserved for men only - early April 2022, Puerto Esperanza, Colombia :

31) The face of me knowing that, although I didn't really want to, it is time to leave Colombia, because angry people with guns - early June 2022, Bucaramanga, Colombia :

32) Very fake smile on top of my bio mum, unknowingly to me, threw away everything I owned, including the diplomas and certifications that I needed for my plan B in case something bad happens, and my fiancé and I don't get married in 2 months as previously planned in detail; which bad thing did happen, my fiancé never made it back to me, nor did he bother telling me anything about it. Not a fun time - August 2022, Timisoara, Romania :

33) Back to Costa Rica, going for the things I knew as joyful and uplifting, like beautiful nature and puppies - mid September 2022, Tamarindo, Costa Rica :

34) Beekeeping with my very talented friend and soul brother - late September 2022, Guanacaste, Costa Rica:

35) A me who remembered me, once again - early October 2022:

36) Day 3 / 15 of my very fast, not furious, backpacking trip through Central America - late October 2022, Ometepe, Nicaragua:

37) By the time I made it to Mexico and had a chance to disconnect from all the running to make it there, I was very tired and I knew I've reached the end of my "quick, solo traveller, backpacking, jump to the next bus, I love this life" days. With the future I envisioned gone, I had no clue where I'll go next, and I was pushing through big time, defying the impending burnout - late November 2022, Oaxaca, Mexico :

38) My "I know something you don't know" face - first part of December 2022, Cancun, Mexico:

39) On the plane to Aruba, obsessively listening to and humming the Kokomo song ("Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya..."), almost afraid to acknowledge that the future I've previously envisioned and then definitively lost, was back on, but so much better and for real this time, and hours away - mid-December 2022, Bogota, Colombia:

40) If you talk to all the animals, love them, and they love you back, you're a Disney princess, no matter what gender you identify with. Sorry, I don't make the rules - mid-December, Aruba, Caribbean Sea:

41) I spend a lot of time looking inside, to see what it is. And what I found there, through all the fuckery with my vanishing fiancé, was that I was longing for a family as in roots, parents, not for a better partner, or a perfect lover, or a miracle to enlighten my exes, because truthfully I would still fuck that up without proper parenting. I wished for parents and I wept, knowing I'm never going to have that. And I was wrong again, because Fortuna is a capricious goddess, and one day you lose everything, the next day you're given the impossible. I found the parents I wished for as a child, pagan parents who loved my wild spirit and blunt nature, who celebrated me for everything my biological family tried to beat out of me, with whom I share more quirks, preferences and habits than I ever did with any of my blood relatives. It's absurd to see before your adult eyes seven unrealistic Christmas wishes from your childhood materialising like they were always meant for you, yet here we are - late December 2022, Baby Beach, Aruba:

42) First time sailing, autopilot not working, focused on hand steering (not angry) - beginning of January 2023, somewhere between Aruba and Curaçao:

43) We had to wait in all sorts of places for immigrations & customs paperwork, and other stuff, and if there's a dog, you'll find me with the dog, avoiding people - likely early January 2023, Curaçao:

44) By the third time we went out sailing, I wasn't feeling seasick at all, I was in my element - mid-January 2023, Netherlands Antilles:

45) The turning point, a time in my life when I had everything I ever needed and more, and I knew it. It was enough - early March 2023, Tortola, British Virgin Islands:

46) At the end of my last night watch, with Michael (our solstice cat and everyone's favourite) glued to me because he knew I am leaving soon - early April 2023, Guadeloupe:

47) The me with the baguette, making it to France, taking in the strange familiarity of Europe - mid April 2023:

48) Growing up, I loved watching Highlander: The Series, and Duncan MacLeod lived on a barge, in France. I've always wished for that, and this is me living that fantasy, while processing and integrating the life lessons the previous months offered - early May 2023, Pont de Vaux, France

49) This ends up being cryptic, you kinda have to be there, but here it goes. Living in isolation and doing inner child work and reparenting oneself is not glamorous at all. Each layer of pain, and fear, and anger has its own layers of pain, fear and anger. There's crippling guilt and disorientation that come with opening all the drawers, of all the hidden corners of your inner world, and all you want to do is run away. But you also know that you have to feel it, all, otherwise the same things that broke you all those times before, will break you again and again. And you sit with it, and pray that someone will come and save you; and no one comes. It's on you to flip the script, to stop abandoning yourself, to stop punishing yourself for being human, to show up in the exact way you needed someone to show up for you when you're at your most vulnerable, and you cannot keep asking others to do for you what you refuse to. So you do it. I didn't do this entirely on my own, although I was alone. "They say if you travel far enough, you will eventually meet yourself" (yes, I'm quoting Star Trek), and I did. To have a perfect mirror in front of you is the most troublesome experience, that breaks apart everything in you that is not you - if you allow it - even your most comfortable and beautifully constructed defences, leaving you naked and whole. And I loved, feared, hated, rejected, missed, lost and found myself again in it, over and over again, until I came undone, and one thing remained: love. Yes, the other me person was real, it's not just a metaphor, but they were no longer in my life at this point - June 2023, France:

50) When faced with the choice between investing in doing what I love and my fear of failure, I went for love, and bought the basics for starting silversmithing on my own, committing to relentlessly be on my team - mid July 2023, France:

51) I'm autistic and I love trains, so when I left France, I left by train - mid-August 2023, Lyon, France:

52) I went to have my coffees where I felt I can help the most, while staying true to my values, and working towards building the ND safe haven that I needed - and understood others need too - when I reached burnout in France - early September 2023, Romadriu, Spain:

53) Winter was coming, so eventually I bought myself proper shoes, and went up the mountain (yes, in pyjamas, as they were warmer than anything I owned after years near the equator) to test them, and it was amazing, I'm flying in them, proper shoes are priceless - mid October 2023, Parc Natural de l'Alt Pirineu, Spain:

54) And then someone close insulted me, throwing cruel things at me while being triggered, with the sole purpose of hurting my feelings, because they were in fight mode. And for the first time, although I was feeling extremely sick unrelated to this, I didn't take that personal, and I didn't engage into fighting. I saw I'm not powerless, I didn't forget who I am, and I said "no, you're wrong, and that's not true", I diffused the situation, made sure everyone is safe and proceeded to make arrangements to bring myself out of that situation calmly, within a reasonable amount of time, without creating rupture. This is my "never been so proud" face from later on, when I was finally feeling well enough to go out for a hike and to do some maintenance work - early November 2023, Spain:

If I learnt something from all the times I've hit the ground between 2016 and 2023 - and there were quite a few, most of them I never even mentioned - is that I got up every single time. In a world where most people don't even try, that's cool AF and I'll keep trying.

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