One week from now I'll be burying my feet in the sands of Playa del Carmen while I start the next chapter of my life. My friends and family are never surprised when I present this kind of news, although some of them might be finding out via this blog post! This time though, the journey comes with a renewed sense of motivation, determination and vision. I only possessed two of those characteristics in travels past.

Recent years have come with exhilarating ups and overwhelming downs; I can honestly say that I've progressed more as a human being during this span of time than any other in my life. I felt lost throughout most of my 20's, without a clear vision of where I was going- or even what I wanted. I knew that I had the capacity to be "successful" and do great things in this world, but I couldn't figure out in what way.

I was putting an enormous amount of pressure on myself to get it figured out, though, and with every passing day, the weight on my shoulders grew heavier. I was reaching out, like a person suddenly blinded, unsure of where or for what I was grasping. I was relying so heavily on the external world around me for guidance that when I could no longer see my path, I had no idea where I was going. Nothing was fulfilling to me anymore- my work, my love life, my location. 

The stress I was carrying from uncertainty was bubbling up, and my discontent with the state and direction of my life continued to grow. It seemed as though everything I got excited about eventually turned into dust, and it was beginning to disrupt my confidence. I wanted to prove to myself and to everybody else that I could reach the great heights that I had set out to achieve. I didn't want to be a disappointment. And that's what I mean about relying on the external world for guidance. 

Eventually, the stresses went from bubbling up to boiled over, and I snapped. I lost all sense of identity, and no longer felt in and of my body. I felt like I was on some psychedelic trip that I couldn't control. My mind went from light speed to warp speed, and I was overtaken by fear and suffering. I was forced to reconsider what I was doing with my life and eventually I came to the realization that I had gotten away from the things that I loved to do. This was the "Epiphany" I spoke of in my first post. Once I began to look inward, I began to "see" again. I was reminded of the things that made me happy, and I began to focus my energy on them.

The stresses, I realized, were the result of imaginary forces manifested by fear- fear that I would never be good enough, fear that I would be a failure. I disregarded the concept of "time" and the society-induced "timeline" of what we should have accomplished by when, and I no longer felt blinded. True success is doing what we love to do. It's remaining ever-present and connected to the world around us. It's waking up in the morning. It's breathing in the fresh air. It's observing the wonderment of nature. It's going to sleep with a smile on our face because we did everything we could that day to spread love. The struggle I went through was necessary for me to realize my full potential, and to redefine my idea of success. 

During this "learning period" I was exposed to a commencement speech made by Comedian, Jim Carrey, for the graduating class of 2014 at the Maharishi University of Management. The entire speech is profound, but one key thing jumped out at me. He said, "As far as I can tell, it's just about letting the Universe know what you want, and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass. Your job is not to figure out how it's going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head. And when the door opens in real life, just walk through it!"

I applied that wisdom to my life, and began letting the Universe know what I wanted, and I began working toward it. I started cutting videos together again, cooking again, and listening to my body and what it was trying to say to me. I began working on this website and with an unprecedented amount of determination, I have been witnessing the benefits of my focus and my efforts. I have never felt so confident and content with what I am doing, and I am completely certain that I am on the right path. I left the doors open in my head, and the first door to open in real life was the one to Mexico. 

My friends Juliana, Juan, and their dog Penelope.

My friends Juliana, Juan, and their dog Penelope.

In Mexico, I will reconnect with my friend Juan; my brother, and my spiritual guide. It couldn't come at a better time in my life, and I couldn't be more excited to join forces with him again. He is a living example of following your heart, and he is happily making the world a better place with his girlfriend, Juliana, and their joint dedication to spreading love. They currently run a business together called Juli y Juan, and they've dedicated all of their time and energy into spreading awareness through healthy cooking and eating. We are going to put our heads together again, and with this newfound ability to focus, the sky is the limit with what we can accomplish.

The first time I moved to Mexico was with Juan, back in 2006, after we had graduated college together. We were ready to take on the world- which, at this time, was an isolated fishing town called San Felipe. We were green as grass when it came to "real world" experience, and despite our motivation to start a successful graphic design business, we still had many things to learn about business and about life. 

Although our first attempt at a business didn't yield the initial results we had hoped for, we both learned a lot from our experience. It was the first time I had lived out of the country, and it was the first time I ever truly experienced peace. The slower pace of life in the beach town of San Felipe allowed me to reorganize certain priorities and values. I became part of Juan's family, and experienced the true meaning of hospitality. The people had less than where I was from, but they seemed to be happier.

When my chapter ended in San Felipe, I returned to the U.S. a different person. Everything seemed to be moving too quickly. Nobody was ever stopping to "smell the roses." When I tried to explain my perspective to people and encourage change, they didn't seem to fully understand, and I found myself reflecting a lot on my experience and what I had learned. I realized that as compelling as words can be, there is no substitute for first-hand experience. The only real way for others to gain the same eye-opening, life-changing experience would be for them to travel too. So, I shifted my efforts from convincing them to change to convincing them to travel

Many years and many adventures later, I find myself with a website dedicated to inspiring others to travel, and another opportunity to return to Mexico- this time a seasoned veteran. I realize now that everything really does happen for a reason, and just because the reason may not be evident to us in the moment, just because it is not on our radar screen, doesn't mean it's not there- it's just off the map! My previous journey to Mexico, and everything that followed, has led me to my upcoming journey. Now I go with purpose, with vision

I will have an opportunity to continue doing the things I love- traveling, exploring a new world and a new city. I'll have the opportunity to perfect my Spanish while collecting much-needed rays of sunshine everyday. I'll be in the best company anyone could ever ask for with my supportive friends, and I'll have the opportunity to let my creative and spiritual sides flourish. No more misguided energy spent on doing things I'm not passionate about. No more pressure from the invisible but demanding timeline of society. This is not an escape- this is a focused mission with purpose. This is what my life is about! 

Next week, I write you from the Riviera Maya! My parting words to friends and family are: Don't worry; be happy, and be inspired!

  Juan and I at his brother's wedding in Mérida, México, 2008

  Juan and I at his brother's wedding in Mérida, México, 2008