Workplace Harassment

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I think it is about time to do a post on this. I can write a book on my experiences, but I decided not to. I will write a book on my travels and adventures, but not on this. This is is not worthy of re-living. Nurses are healers and caregivers. Most of us go into this profession to help and heal. We work long hours, holidays, and often skip breaks, because we care to put strangers first. We are highly skilled and trained, having gone to the best schools, and universities, taken most rigorous exams, and know how to combine knowledge with compassion. Sometimes, the very people we care for are the ones that hurt us. It is a very strange and ironic phenomena.

My first experience with harassment was 3 years ago when I was a new grad NP. I mastered all the skills and knowledge to do my job, and I was so happy and passionate to get to be in this role. Little did I know that sexual harassment against females in the workplace happened in healthcare too.  Being young 26 year old NP at the time, looking 10 years younger than my age, being petite, although none of that should matter, it did. My older female colleagues and men colleagues were not harassed like I was. The janitor would stalk me, my office, and follow me around the building. I had to stay late charting as that is typical of the job, and sometimes, I would be isolated, except he would follow me around. I thought he was a janitor just doing his job. He would then open the bathroom door while I was in there. He would then walk up to me the nurse’s station and rub my back. He would then stare at me head to toe making comments about my body. As a new employee, I did not know how to speak up. My friend finally convinced me this is wrong. I spoke up. This was not the end of it. I am thankful it did not go any further with this scenario, but for so many women, it does. My workplace should be a safe haven for me, not constant threats of harassment.

Second scenario was at the same place. Apparently, this happens a lot, from what I was told. I was told that it is normal to be threatened. I was told to drop any complaints. I was held in a contract unable to quit without owing them $10,000 even-though my life was at risk and security measures were lacking. A patient had threatened to kill me. There I was helping her, only one to care for her when others refused to see her, and when I reached out to her more help for her, others declined intervening to stop the escalating behavior. No one listened to me to try to get her the help she needed so she would not reach a point of having psychosis and homicidal ideations. I was left alone in a room with a homicidal patient. She ended up making threatening phone calls. In Ohio, NPs cannot pink slip, so I tried to get colleagues to do that, and they did not when it was needed. They waited and waited until after the threats got worse. I was barely 26 at the time, so young, and was told too bad you experienced this so early on in your career. It is normal though. Is it normal to be threatened to be killed, to be sexually harassed, and yelled at and cussed at? We did not go to graduate school to be treated like this.

This does not end there. It would be nice if it did. Almost daily, I get yelled at and cussed at by people for things out of my control such as payments. I do not own the place I work, so I do not make the rules or what the payments are. I got cussed at for 15 minutes a week ago for closing the clinic and going home because it was closing time, and I had just worked 10 hours, super busy. I had to stand there and take abuse for 15 minutes. No one backed me up. Another patient after that, who saw the rude lady treat me like trash, felt bad for me though, and she hugged me. She told me I was too kind to take that, and I was the best healthcare provider she had. I stayed past closing time 830pm to see her. She was apologizing for the other lady who cussed me out. I saw hint of humanity, but I also should not have been abused like that. We are highly trained healthcare providers, who go out of our ways to help others. Last thing we should face is abuse and harassment on a daily basis, or at all, for things out of our control.

This is NOT ok. Abuse is abuse. Harassment is harassment. It does not make it ok to deal with this daily just because we have to be professional and constantly smile while being screamed and cussed at.  It does not make it ok to be hurt by the very people we try to help. There is a clear disparity in those harassed too. I notice women are harassed far more. Most people do not talk like that or behave poorly with men providers, or older women. Being young, and short, and looking Indian, also has something to do with it. A lot to do with it actually. There is a name for this. It is against the law, yet we have to be all professional and smile.

Enough is enough.

Be a free spirit…

I am all about nonconventional, avoiding status quo, following your dreams and calling, taking risks, being different, being yourself, being real, and I am turning my passion of writing into publishing a book. Well, I have some ideas. I have started drafts in the past. My current work leaves me so exhausted, but I plan to start soon. I keep hoping to inspire others to do what makes them come alive. It may mean being away from family and friends, or the familiar, or taking a pay cut. Whatever it is, money does not buy happiness. Real friends and family will always be with you no matter how far you wander. Also, travel forces you to make new friends on the road.

Naam rab ka naam Sai ka Ali Ali Ali.. I believe in all religions and respect all faiths. I feel at home in Cathedrals, as I do in Temples. I know Christian and Buddhist prayers. I know Islam and Sikh prayers. I learned them at Manav Sadhna, Gandhi Ashram in India.

 

Pagli Hawaein mujhe jaha bhi le jaye, hawa ki saheli hu mein

The crazy air takes me wherever, I am the air’s friend.

Mein ek pal hu yaha, ek pal hu waha

I am here one moment, and somewhere else another momemt

 

 

Aakash hai koi prem kavi, mein hu uski likhi kavita

The sky is a a lovely poet, I am its written poem.

I love poetry. I used to write short stories and poems in 3 languages. Mostly English and Hindi.

To breathe is to live

To live is to explore

To explore is to wander

To wander is to discover

To grow, to learn, to be humbled by our world

A world like a kaleidoscope

of many perspectives

of many colors

for an Indian American female to travel the world and break barriers speaking Spanish and Japanese, French or Somali, Hindi or Gujarati, or whatever new languages I try to learn, I try to be mindful of local cultures. The world needs more peace makers. Spread kindness. Do not be tied down by status quo and dogma. I am going to be a 70 year old lady dancing to old songs and hip hop! Always embrace your inner child.

I have been harassed and abused almost daily at my job, and I have experienced nothing but kindness when I travel to other places. My own hometown, where I care for others, people have treated me like trash and so much disgust. On the other hand, around the world, I have received so much love and respect, kindness, hospitality. I go where love and respect are. I am always safe abroad. I am always well protected by God and strangers abroad. I feel at home in different parts of the world. I am going to take off once again. No one is entitled to treat you poorly, and just because I am a young female who looks 10 years younger than her age, is petite, does not mean people can scream and cuss at me for things out of my control. I have decided to travel again for extended period of time, live as an expat may be, and work on writing and publishing some books. I also want to try teaching English online. I may do volunteer work along the way. I plan to take my medical supplies with me. Volunteering is my passion. Here, I get treated like trash for saving lives. In other parts of the world, people treat me with so much love and gratitude for helping them. All I ask for is respect and kindness, basic humanity principles.

 

Spirituality

“Faith and Prayer are both invisible, but they make impossible things possible.” _Buddha

 

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As I love blogging, here is yet another entry. Lately, I have been re-evaluating a lot of my life’s choices and outcomes. I am at crossroads considering doing a travel/volunteer trip. The only thing is that this time, I prefer to go with others who share similar ideals and vision to help others. I have NGOs in mind, but I want to do my own thing and travel and do free health screenings and education classes for locals. There are so many logistics to take into account, and it is not a one person thing. I would need to have a team, or at least one other person. I can use assistance with this. It would a dream project, but really, a prayer or offering to God.

How is it that a girl so shy and quiet, ends up so outgoing and a world traveler. I consider myself a global citizen, and I have made friends from all over the world. I think my spirituality has a lot to do with it. For me, spirituality is something very personal, and I don’t judge others based on their views and connection with God, higher power, universe, or however they see it. For me, I was raised as a Hindu, but I love to learn about all faiths and religions. I felt at home in a Synagogue in Fort Kochi, as I did in a famous Cathedral in London, or temple in my hometown. When I travel, I do not impose my thoughts on anyone. Instead, I try to learn about their belief system. I have always been highly spiritual. I see God as my best friend.

However, I am not a fan of orthodox rituals from the 1800s that use religion as a way to discriminate people due to caste or for being a female going through menses. I have volunteered in India with NGOs to fight such prejudice and educate on health and unity.  I lived in Gandhi Ashram NGO Manav Sadhna’s volunteer house for few months and emersed myself in local culture. I washed my clothes by hand, played with neighbor’s kids, did bunch of child development education and assessment to local preschool/daycares called anganwadis. My spirituality took me there. It connected me to strangers like family. I make friends fast, and they feel like family to me when I travel, sometimes, even closer than family. One of my favorite spiritual quests besides my stay at Manav Sadhna, was at Sarnath, Banaras, UP, India. I visited the Banyan tree under which Buddha gave first sermons. I went alone, taking a rikshaw from Banaras hostel to the town of Sarnath. It was so enlightening. I promised myself to remember the moments and teachings, but it is easy to get carried away in day to day life, especially work life in the states.

People from other countries take it easy and relax more, but here, is it all about climbing the ladder and making money. That does not suit well with me. I am a strong believer that God will give my fair dues, and my job is not to be a millionaire. My job is to help others, as it is my way of praying, and being a nurse/nurse practitioner is a medium that allows me to do so.

Traveling and meeting strangers allows me to gain a better perspective of life in other parts of the world. All of this is due to my spirituality. Without my connection to God, and trust in the universe to have my back, how would I have hikes mountains in Salento, Colombia alone, or taken overnight bus rides to Bogota, trains in India in Kerala, or dared to do any of my solo travels?! Faith in God, and faith in myself. My dream is to open a NGO, or free clinic. Especially for pediatrics. I would love to be able to travel, and get paid for it, so I can spread kindness and love while helping the sick medically. So far, I have done short volunteer trips and bunch of backpacking, but to be able to have the funds, resources, and keep my Nursing/NP licenses up to date, and travel like that, would be a dream. I also would need the right people with me. I have been a solo backpacker enough, but somethings in life, you need help or a buddy. Most people care to work 9 to 5 and earn a paycheck. Which is great too, and I have done that too. I will do that in the future too, especially when I have children to raise. I am set on giving them a world class education and teaching empathy by traveling with them, and teaching values of volunteering and giving.

However, the world needs more storytellers, people who go out of their way to help others, even if there is no hefty pay involved. Traveling is my passion, and I travel as a minimalist. Nursing is also my passion. Through my spirituality, I have been trying to combine the two. I cannot just be jobless and travel all the time and volunteer as I have thousands of dollars to pay for annual malpractice insurance, license/credentialing updates, and whatnot. I have to keep up to date working locally in the states somehow. I see possibilities where others see barriers.

20180404_130152_HDR.jpgTraveling opens the mind to that, and it helps expand one’s horizons. Often, people do not understand me, but I understand them. Sometimes, the people that are supposed to be closest to you, don’t get you, because they have not traveled the world or seen through different perspectives the way you have. I say, travel whenever you can. It is the best education you can give yourself. Spirituality for me, allowed me to travel so much, especially solo as a young female. Most importantly, faith in yourself is all you need to follow your dreams. Like the lamp in Aladdin, let your faith be the lamp and the universe or God be the geenie, whoever you believe in. The magic carpet is your imagination. If you beleive in something without doubts, it will happen. I made world travel possible when everyone doubted me. When my friends and family dis not understand or support my decisions. People in my life did not get my spontaneous plans or need for adventure. I listened to my calling, faith, and the universe made my dreams a reality. Do not let status quo or dogma limit your life. Everything is possible. This is from my 29th birthday. Don’t mind the food/chocolate stains on my shirt. People always say I look younger than my age. I used to wear glasses to make me look older, but I hated them, so got lasic. I think in when you can laugh at yourself, make others laugh, and smile from within, not fake smile, you will always look young as that is what children do. Children do not let society rip their dreams yet, so do not let anyone do that as an adult. Let your inner child out, and always be silly. Well, there are times to be serious…. but but for the most part, it is ok to be weird or different. Life would be boring if we all were the same. Like all women in my family, I will always look 10 yeqrs younger than my age. I used to let it get to me as people would not take me seriously. I diagnose and treat people fot a living, do not call me sweetheart. I hated that. Now, I just joke right back. Not as sweet as I look if you call me that one more time.. the injection is in my hand. have wrinkles from laughing, not from stress. Give yourself a whole new world…. one of my fav songs. I feel like I am living the song whenever I travel.4 I love airports and my bookbag. New places and new people. I may be an introvert, own it, but sure am very outgoing thanks to my faith helping me build myself up traveling the world. Faith and spirituality gave me a life I thought only celebrities can live, going to Switzerland, Interlaken is one of my fav towns in the world! ❤ All I learned how to say in German is thank you, but for me gratitude for all blessings, only brings more to you. Thanking strangees for their kindness is priceless where you go in the world mis amigos!20190710_222509

Hip Hop Baila Baila

Hello my readers,

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This is me dancing away at my cousin’s reception. I usually do group performances with friends, but I have done some solo dances, one for my brother’s engagement party many years ago, and one for my cousin’s reception. This reception dance made me have palpitations and anxiety before I got on the dance floor as there were 100 eyes on me. I sipped down the champagne on the table right before they announced my name. 🙂 Then my dress was so heavy that the skirt/chaniyo kept sliding down my waist, and by the end of it, I was like why does my abdomen feel so cold?! luckily, I had champagne, so I could care less, and I was barely 100 pounds back then, not like it matters. Embrace your body however it is! I motivated my parents to dance, and now they even go to the gym more than me!

Everyone has passions, and dancing is one of my passions. How does this tie to traveling? Well, when on the road, as I say, I have to keep fit. I love exercising, and the gym is my second home. However, when traveling, I do not always have access to a gym; ok, I usually don’t. Therefore, I find creative ways to workout. I have to be what I preach. Dancing is something that is so much fun, a full body workout, mood booster, can do anywhere, and can be done for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, and heck, even 2 hours. Yes, I have danced for 2 hours straight before! I firmly believe that one does not have to be a “good” dancer to dance. What is a good dancer anyway? Life is no competition. I love dancing in the rain, dancing in the kitchen, the gym, at events, and even in my office once I shut the door. It is about doing what makes you happy. If dancing makes you miserable, don’t do it, but if you can let go of fear of what people think, and shake a hip or move that arm without any rhythm, all power to you! Life is not about what others think of you. I love when people who are non-dancers try to dance. It is the cutest and sweetest thing! Just being yourself and letting go. Having a good time without a care in the world! I may be dancing from before I could walk in a straight line, and done a lot of stage shows and trained in different dance forms, but my fav is impromptu. I love breaking it down to random music, especially Latino.. Baila baila.. Despacito ❤ I remember taking classes in Bogota, Colombia and this was my song! I also love hip hop at my gym; we have classes 2x a week, but I go based on my work schedule. Some of my fav Hip Hop/random songs to dance to are: Disclaimer: The lyrics are well, its hip hop.. not PG 13. I am a feminist, as I believe in equality, so naturally, I do NOT endorse these lyrics. I find most of the songs, except for that’s my girl/Havanna/MIC Drop (well I don’t understand Korean),as having really disrespectful lyrics. I don’t like the womanizer/objectifying women lyrics, but the songs are fun to dance to nonetheless. Music is music. I dance to hip hop, pop, slow contemporary, I dance to bunch of Indian Hindi songs, I dance to Latino jam.. dance is dance. No hatin allowed.

Good ol Livin la vida loca

Mic Drop

TIMBER!! Pitbull/Kesha

Trampoline

Work from home

That’s my girl

Hey Mama

and of course, my all time fav: Despacito

my South America, Colombia, Jam: Havana. This was my South America Backpacking Trip anthem. I played this and Despacito on repeat for 2 months.

Here are my Indian (Hindi/Punjabi) jams to break it down to:

my childhood jam that they made into a remix: aankh maare

have your own dance parties! I miss my friends and I dancing randomly in basements and acting out scenes from movies using table clothes as dresses and being all weirdos. Good times.

 

Of course there is always 90s pop: Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s Child, Brittany Spears: my guilty pleasure. You drive me crazy… bye bye byeee

If you dance to these songs (no need to be in rhythm, just dance however or walk in a straight line waving your hands), I can guarantee you will burn some calories and get a great workout in. It is about having fun. Dancing releases endorphins which help with Serotonin in the brain causing feelings of happiness!

Music does not discriminate. DO your thing. Dance like no one is watching, and well if someone is, then who cares?! Be happy, live, smile, laugh, dance, and make others laugh!

Be thyself

This song and dance is so real for me!

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I love crop tops and poka dots. I love the 70s fashion. This was in Costa Rica in a Volcano town where I hiked on lava rocks and zip lined through the jungle. Why change to fit in when you were born to stand out. I love my free spirit and adventurous soul. To each their own 🙂 people who keep up with me stand by my side, but those who try to “tame” me to be closed minded or conservative, bye bye bye. Props N Sync.
I keep this blog real, and for my readers and followers, I will do just that. My job as a writer is to keep it real. See, in my culture, well 50% of my culture. I am 50% Indian by birth and family, and American by well living here most of my life and growing up in the states since I was 7, so much frustrates me. Women and girls, and even men and boys, are told what they should be like or do in life. I am all about self growth, having own identity, going after dreams and passions, and breaking status quo. I am not the typical Indian girl by any means. I grew up climbing trees and was the most adventurous one. I speak my mind and aay it as it is. I can be blunt. I don’t suck up to people to be accepted. I love myself enough to stand my ground and stand up for what I believe in. I do not use others to validate myself unlike what the Indian part of my culture tried to teach me. Keepin it real, it gets really frustrating and annoying when people think they know what is best for me or what I should do, or who I should be with, or not be with, where to live, etc. I am worlds apart from my parents and their generation, yet they think it is best for me to be with someone as conservative and traditional as them. News flash: I drink alcohol. Not a lot, but when I feel like it especially during my travels. I make hostel buddies and we go to happy hour and try local Pisco Sour in Chile. Forget what people think of my body, I will shave if I want and not shave if I don’t feel like it and wear skirts and dresses. I love dresses. I love being in the water and wore 2 piece. I don’t care what others think of me. I love myself and my body that I work so hard to tone and keep fit. My parents generation would not even wear shorts, let alone get in a pool! I am a total water baby, and love the water. My parents’ generation lives off of traditional Gujarati food daal bhaat shaak roti, whereas I cannot stand daal. I Hate Daal with a passion. I like food from all cultures. My fav is Mexican. I love pani puri and palak paneer, but do not eat Indian food daily. I don’t eat it, so I won’t make it. My parents only hang out with Indians. My friends, on the other hand, are from different ethnicities and backgrounds. I speak Spanish too. I connect with Europeans, Australians, Asians, Africans, etc. I do not discriminate. My closest friends re from Africa. I have shared dorms with strangers with respect and appreciation. My mind is 100x more open minded thanks to my travels and my profession. I take care of everyone no matter what their skin color is. My job is to give people comfort and improve their health. I do not understand why my loved ones think that they know what is best for me and try to shape me to be someone I am not. I am not a conservative traditional woman. I value my spirituality and culture, but I also pray at Cathedrals and read the Bible along with the Gita. My parents idea of my life is to be a weak daughter in law and obey in laws. They give my brother full freedom to live his life separately, yet I am told to be ok with things that crush my soul. I have done more for my parents than any person I know, and I have a right to be with a person who genuinly makes me happy and compliments my lifestyle. People think they know who I should and should not date. Who I should and should not see as a potential partner. What about what I want. The job I want, the city or place I want to live, or the type of person I truly see myself with. I always made sacrifices for others in the past at the expense of my own happiness and well being. I gave up so much, perfect jobs, perfect colleges, even chances to get to know people who deserved my time. Instead, I wasted on mediocre things and people who treated me like cra*, yet they looked perfect on paper for the checklist my parents have, not mine. I was told its ok to be treated like that. I should be bigger person. I was told its ok to be cheated on and used. I was told its ok by my own family and some friends. On the other hand, I know myself and know its not ok. Its ruthless. I save lives for a living; I deserve respect at least. Sometimes, your own loved ones do not know what is best for you or who is best for you. I know my life is worth more than to be tossed around. Listen to your own inner voice, and follow your goals and dreams. You live with consequences of your actions. No one else. I wish I could turn back time and followed my heart and inner voice more instead of what others thought was right for me or wasn’t. I wish I could pick up my life and move to a city I would find my dream job in. Titles, degrees, paycheck, do not matter to me. Passion and hard work does. Integrity and making others feel better is priceless. Follow your heart and take those risks. Do not let anyone tell yoh what is right or wrong for you. They have not had same life experiences as you to shape the perspective through which you see things and people. We are all different and unique in a million ways. Be yourself. Be thyself. You can have many shades to you. Beauty of life is to constantly grow and change as humans. No change is boring. I for me, love and embrace change, may be why I am so fond of traveling. I used to love Kathak, a classical Indian dance form that I trained in, for 3-4 years. I now love hip hop! I love dancing in general, but hip hop is my jam! I love old Hindi songs, but I break it down to Timber and Mic Drop. My fav activity of the week is going to hip hop class at the gym!! I find myself in the kitchen dancing in my PJs as I wait for the microwave to heat something up. I am not meant to be all “proper”, cook gourmet Gujarati food, rub my in laws’ feet, blah blah blah. I hate Sarees. I never wear Sarees. I tried 2x in my life, and I felt suffocated, and that was 10 years ago. I love my uniqueness and I respect others’ differences. I wish each of you out there embrace your unique self, and do not think you have to meet a certain timeline or be someone you are not. It is one thing to change and grow/adapt with life, and it is another sacrifice your inner peace for what society wants. What I see for myself is completely different than what my parents see. I see myself in my dream job, in my own place, in a place I feel at home, with someone as open-minded as me, nontraditional, who knows how to respect women, wants to build a life with me, and makes me laugh. Someone who actually travels with me, not just say he would. A dream job in pediatrics or family medicine. That is what I see for myself. Money does not impress me. How someone treats me and others and how they make me feel says everything about their character. So my internet friends, do not cave into someone else’s vision of what is right for you. Know thyself enough to be thyself in this vast universe of billions of combinations of neurons and matter. Be weird. Be free. Be you.

Minimalist Traveling

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My lovely backpack. This backpack has been with me to India twice, South America for 2.5 months, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Canada. I had an even smaller backpack when I had done my Euro trip 6 years ago. 

1. How to budget travel:

Traveling can be as cheap or expensive as you make it. I don’t know about you, but I do not have a million dollars. Even if I did, I would use that money to fund children’s education and healthcare or start NGOs. Traveling is a side hobby, while being a Nurse Practitioner is my calling and passion. I make time for both. Even before I became a NP, I had a low new RN salary/wage, and it was even below minimum wage for RNs as I was a Pediatric nurse. I was a grad student too back then. I worked my way through school and graduated debt free. Nonetheless, I got a crazy idea to travel to Europe on my own for 2.5 weeks. I saved overtime pay, doing 60 hours a week in addition to grad school, and booked my Europe backpacking tickets. My 2.5 week Euro trip across U.K., Greece, Italy, and Switzerland, cost me about $3000 including plane tickets, lodging, food, and excursions/activities. That is actually a lot of money for backpacking, but I was a novice back then. I also spent $4000 for 2.5 months in South America last year. You learn and grow with more experience. Flight to London from US was too expensive and took up 50% of my budget when I did Europe. On the other hand, for South America, I used airline points/miles with Southwest and flew to Tampa for $5. Then I took flight to Cartagena, Colombia via Ft. Lauderdale for $250. The intercontinental flights in both, Europe, and South America, are super cheap if you look at the right places. I paid as little as $25 for plane tickets in Europe, which was cheaper than the trains even. I paid 60 Euros to get from Italy to Switzerland via train. I love train rides though, and I wanted to experience the nature and mountains. Therefore, it was worth it. All in all, it is about budgeting the cost of travel versus what is a priority on your to do list/or to experience list, and what can be sacrificed for make things works. I paid less to travel across South America in 2.5 months than I would have for rent for that much time is a large city. Budget wisely. If resorts and Margaritas are your thing, then you will not be able to travel as much unless you have a lot more money. Now, if you adjust or are flexible to hostel living, and Air bnbs (which rock IMO), then you got it dude! If it helps, many hostels have welcome drinks and happy hour. I have tried so many free drinks and samples through hostels, and I don’t even drink that much. I just like to try local beverages as part of the new cultures I am trying to experience. My fav so far: Pisco Sour in Peru and Chile. My Japanese, Canadian, and Dutch friends that I made at hostels/air bnb/and on a group tour of Machu Picchu, were with me. I could not even finish the whole glass because I have such low tolerance of alcohol. Also, as a nurse, I try to be very careful about my health and well-being and everything in moderation. I like my liver, thank you very much! I do spend a lot of money on food when I travel as I am a total foodie, but I try to budget and cook at the hostel or air bnb host’s kitchen by going grocery shopping at local supermarkets. I make friends with families I stay with and they also invite me for their meals. I rarely eat alone when traveling even if I went solo. Sometimes, hostels have free breakfast. Even air bnbs can provide that sometimes. I lived off of breakfast free Nutella and bread in Italy. Budget the cost of food by planning where you will stay and what food options are available. 

2. Something has got to give

Cannot have it all, or can you? So this is where being a minimalist works in my favor. I do not like make up, curling irons, high heels, a million pairs of clothes (besides my Indian clothes collection, guilty of that). Everyone is different, and some love to take 10 pairs of shoes with them for a 1 week trip. Some like to take 2 bags of make up for a hike. I like to take my boots, flip flops, 3-4 pairs of clothes, usually a bathing suit, travel towel that is microfiber antibacterial (https://www.amazon.com/Microfiber-Set-Absorbent-Antibacterial-Swimming-Camping/dp/B072LYLND2/ref=sr_1_34?keywords=travel+towel&qid=1563278676&s=gateway&sr=8-34), travel size shampoo/skin care products, sunscreen, my journal, a book may be. Not much. I still have extra room in my bag because I take lightweight clothes such as leggings, skinny jeans, skirts/dresses, shorts, tanks, and wear the heavy fleece or jacket during my flights or bus/train rides to save room in my bag. I layer up at airports to save money on check in if I have to. A little compromise and adjusting is needed. That $50 for check in fees can be used for food or a discount airline ticket. It is totally OK to travel with whatever “stuff” you want, as it is your journey, and to each their own! However, this is what works for me. I met girls in my hostel female dorms who full out unpack a make up kit and hair straightener. I have also met people that are more simple like me. Nothing is right or wrong, but just what is right for you. You can make it work by choosing what is a necessity, and what can be left at home. If you want to travel for longer on a $500 budget lets say, you have options. Do you want to stay in the fancy resort with all you can eat, room service, wallpaper, lemon fresh toiletries (take them if you pay so much for a hotel room and use them on your next trip!), heated pool and spa (ok I do love heated pools and Jacuzzis, but that is a sacrifice I will make for my longer trips)!? you can, but that budget is not going to go for more than 2-3 days if you count the plan ticket and how an average resort room costs $100-300 per night. If you want to turn that budget into funding a week long trip, staying at air bnb for $20-100 per night can give you more bang for your buck! I go to medical conferences funded by my work because as a NP, I am required to do Continuing Medical Education (CME) to keep Up to Date on medical advances and knowledge/skills/renew licenses. Those conferences are always at super fancy expensive hotels and resorts. Needless to say, they are costly!! Out of pocket, I cannot afford that. I use my CME allowance wisely. I love learning and growing, and I love connecting with colleagues and updating my knowledge bank to provide the best care for my patients, but I am still on a budget. I use my CME allowance very wisely. I have stayed in resorts if the cost is covered, or else, I stay in Air bnb or a different hotel nearby and uber/walk to the conference. I did that in Orlando and Chicago. I am not impressed by fancy resorts. They are pretty to look at, but do not offer much in terms of comfort and adventure. I need the homely feeling I get at air bnbs, and even hostels where my dorm/roommates feel like family or friends. I recently stayed at a hotel in Asheville, and I did not like it. I felt so secluded. If I stayed at airbnb lodge, I may have made friends with the owner or other travelers. There is always a good and bad to every side of things. 

3. Backpacking

Oh I can write a book on this. Again, to each their own, but I discovered how backpacking is the traveling style of minimalists. Backpacking can be many things. It can be long multi-day hikes through the mountain ranges. It can be day trips. It can be weekend getaways. It can be around the world for 1 year, 1 week, 1 month, or whatever duration, which ever place (s). As the name implies, it is traveling with a backpack. All of your stuff goes in a backpack, instead of a suitcase. Backpacks actually are stretchable with more space, they are nifty as you can take them essentially anywhere. It is hard to take a big suitcase on a 1 mile walk from the bus station to the hostel/air bnb/lodge. On the other hand, the backpack can be used a pillow for long layovers. I nap all the time in airports. I crawl up in a corner of on some chairs. I can also hide my backpack under a chair and go use to restroom or get food without being afraid of someone stealing my stuff. Even if they do, there is nothing valuable in there. I do not take large electronics with me. My valuables are hidden on me at all times. That is a secret. Backpacking allows for saving money on check in bags, only taking what you absolutely need, so you spend more time with the place, people, and experiences, than trying to decide on an outfit. Trust me on this, when you are down to the only pain of clean clothes, because you have to find a Laundromat in the international town, or wash clothes by hand, it will take you 5 minutes to get ready. I washed my clothes by hand in India and Europe. I used laundry services in hostels and community laundromats in South America. Some Air bnb owners happily let me use their machines and even gave me their detergent and fabric softeners. so sweet! I make sure I do not spoil myself too much. I like to feel like I earned the trips. I because a pro at washing clothes by hand, which was a foreign concept to me having grown up in states. Apparently, in India, it is very common though, and same with many countries. However, it is sometimes hard to dry clothes outside. When I was in Valparaiso, Chile, I used air bnb owner’s washer, but had to hang clothes outside to dry. It was pouring rain that night, and my clothes were soaked. I had nothing left to wear, so I had to turn the fan on in my room and spread my clothes out on the furniture. Meanwhile, I found a local clothing store and got myself a pair of pants and shirt while my clothes dried. Backpacking is not all fun and games, but I love the unknown, and the adventure of these things. If I had a suitcase, I could have put 10 pairs of clothes in there, but a backpack only allows so much room for clothes. It makes me think out of the box and be creative. Backpacking is a way of traveling for me that I thoroughly enjoyed in the past for those reasons. Save money, be simplistic and minimalist, and my favorite, a great workout! Talk about strength training and cardio all in one! I feel strong with my backpack as I can whip it in someone’s face if they try to harm me. I can also run really fast with it on unlike with a suitcase. I have climbed mountains with it. 

I had done a whole post on credit card miles. That is a different story. 

Sometimes, I do travel with a suitcase/rolling bag. That is usually not associated as much with my budget travel trips unless there is a free carry on allowance, or I have to pack heavy clothes for some event. There is no right or wrong, but this is just how I make it work. I hope to inspire others to follow their dreams and live vivaciously. Travel has made me so open-minded, and I realize that I would not have gotten this worldly education had I never left my hometown. Follow your dreams and passions. Nothing is impossible. I M POSSIBLE. Money, degrees, awards, status, titles, are all blah. Happiness from those things is temporary. Happiness from creating a life for yourself by pursuing your dreams and passions, no matter what challenges are along the way, is priceless. That is the satisfaction I get from travels because I created this life for myself. Growing up, I could not even afford school lunches. I slept on the floor a lot. I did not know what family vacations felt like. Now, I have attended medical conferences at the Disney’s Grand Floridian. I went to Epcot as an adult and loved it! Happiness comes from sharing your joys with others. That is why I love blogging. I wish to share my experiences with strangers in hope to inspire them to go after what they want in life, especially people that can relate to me with traveling. Earning money does not make me as happy as being able to take care of my patients. I know I deserve much more than I earn, and I have done the math many times. Regardless, my profession is that of caring and helping others. The joy from seeing people’s health improve, or child get better, is priceless. When I travel, connecting with locals and other travelers makes me happy, not how fancy the shower curtain or granite countertops are. 

Last year of my 20s!

20180318_183124-1I tried to add images of the mountains and the town/city of Asheville, but I am so technology deficient. The images are not loading. May be can try later again. Anyway, I am so blessed to get to live life another year! I planned to do lots of hiking on my bday. I had read that Asheville was a top solo travel spot and has lots of trails in the Blue ridge mountains. I did not grt to do those trails sadly. Its ok. I have traveled so much, but for the 1st time in my life, I did not enjoy this trip as much. I did enjoy downtown and this garden area I checked out. NC Arberatum..can never pronounce or spell that! I like the hippie vibe and veg friendly places. I eat so much. It got so hot, but mountain breeze felt good. I could have chilled in a pool had I not firgotten my bathing suit! I always forget it. Well I do not know why I even took it to Montreal when it was cold and chilly. I cannot believe I travel so much and have become so adventurous in last decade. I surprise myself. Sometimes, I am shy girl in the corner not making eye contact with anyone in my own little world. Sometimes, I am chatting up a storm with strangers who feel like family. It is all mood dependent.. and caffiene dependent. I used to be so shy and homebody. I climbed trees as a kid, but was not outgoing at all. Traving in the last 8 years or so made me so outgoing and less shy. I am still an introvert who enjoys her own company, and needs time alone. I leave loud noises and too many people to go sit alone under a tree or go through pictures on my phone. Nursing also made me more outgoing. I know how to connect with patients well. I enjoy it. At the same time, I can be so socially awkward. I am not always able to go up to people and say hi. That shy little girl in me comes out from time to time. I may be outgoing, but still am an introvert. An outgoing introvert, with hints of shyness that pops up in some situations. I used to always hate the shy part of my personality. People would tell me we won’t bite you, you can talk. Now, I am accepting of all shades of my personality. I am never the loudest in the room. I shy away from attention. I like to write and reflect. I journal and blog. As a new 29 year old female, I love myself for who I am. I am proud of my self growth journey and am patient with myself. I used to always put others 1st. As a nurse, daughter, and friend. I burnt out. I learned self care. I treat myself to trips, food, rest days, naps, and jamming to 80s and 90s pop and hip hop. Aint no shame in that. You can dance, having the time of your life..ooo see that girl.. singing the dancing queen. I love retro. I love meeting young girls and encouraging them to be who they want to be. Not what society says, but what their heart says. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I was given, but mostly worked crazy hard for. I am so happy and grateful for all the amazing relationships with friends and family in my life. It is so easy to complain and forget the good things. I choose to see the positive in others. I choose to forgive and not hold grudges. I choose peace. I choose to live life to the fullest. I had always wanted to visit Asheville, and I made it happen. I had always wanted to visit Montreal, which I went to a month ago. I choose to work hard and make things happen. Life is a gift. God is kind. All the bad experiences and trauma I have been through have given me new insight on life and taught me tolerance and preserverence. I am eternally grateful to the universe for giving me a chance at life when so many babies die in utero at conception as an embryo, or in childhood. I have seen so many people lose their lives or live with horrific diseases. I am blessed to be healthy and try to be fit. Being 29 means I have white hair now, but I also have years of wisdom. I call the white strands wise highlights. That does not change the inner child in me. I love blasting a whole new world and let it go! I love playing with and caring for kids! It makes me so happy.. here is to another year to live. I cannot say thank you enough to God. I am blessed. Everything is always working out best case scenario for me thanks to God and my faith. Stay smiling and never give up on your dreams. I dream to be a NP in pediatric primary care or primarily practice serving peds in family med. I am thankful for my job though. I get to see some kids and I love those encounters! Always find the positive in life. There are always multiple choices, and the best answer is your intuition. Tomorow is a gift. Go after what you want, withour fear or inhibition. Choose positivity.

Music and Travel, Mountains and cute little town Asheville

20190709_06295120190709_19324920190709_194644I am in Asheville, North Carolina. I had always wanted to come here. 3 years ago, I was offered a nurse practitioner job here which I turned down to stay in Ohio. I kind of regret it, but oh well. Everything happens for a reason. I lobe the mointains and fresh air, except all the construction here now. I love walkable places, and I walked around downtown for hours. I enjoyed watching the kiddos play by the fountains. That is how it shouls be. Play outdoors and be active, not on video games 24/7. The pediatric nurse in me was happy! My dream job would be pediatric primary care NP. I love kids and miss working in pediatrics. My5 years at Children’s hospital felt like a hobby, not a job. I am drawn to kids everywhere I go. I stare at others’ kids out of love. I cannot help it. Somethinf about being a cancerian may be?! It is my bday tomorow, and I have no one to celebrate it with, but God. I am thankful though. So much to appreciate about life and the gifts God gave me. I always wondered what it felt to have a big family or siblings and cousins who actually call me or ask how I am doing. Not a single cousin calls me in my bday or holidays even. None care to text me unless they need something. My sibling is so far away as well and so disconnected from me. My friends, who feel like family, are all far away now too. I have amazing friends though. Theg feel like my brothers and sisters. I had the sweetest gesture, my friend, whose wedding reception it was, her and her husband got me a present for my bday before leaving for their trip. I was like it is your wedding day, I gift you guys, not the other way around! I was so touched by their kindness and thougthfulness. I wish them so much happiness and blessings. I normally never get presents on my bday or any holidays. I always gift others things. It was strange feeling receiving a present.  I only dream what it would be like to be in a large family that cares about me and wants to call or spend time with me. If something happened to me, who wouls even be there for me. I go saving lives daily, but if I needed help, who would help. I wonder what love of siblings feels like. I wonder what it feels like to have someone look after you and protect you as a sister. I learned to be my own bodyguard and brave traveler. I built muscles through strength training going from slim to toned. It would be nice to celebrate a bday with loved ones. I am such a family oriented person, yet I have been deprived. I make plans and my own siblings cancel them. Through teaveling, I get to connect with strangers who feel like family when I stay at their homes or air bnbs. They look after me and ask about my day or life more than my own blood relatives. I guess I will cut my own cake tomorow. Whats the point. I will spend it with nature and mountains in this cute little town. It is so hippie, but in a good way. Loving the open-minded vibe. For me, music is tied tighly to traveling. I think is is natural for humans to attach meaning or experiences to songs. I am yet on another trip, and trying to entertain myself during this early morning flight. Waiting at the gate.. Havana na na na.. this song takes me back to Colombia! Especially Cartagena. I was obsessed and played this on repeat during the start of my South America backpacking trip last year.          https://youtu.be/HCjNJDNzw8Y       The other song that takes me back to South America is Despacito. I love that song by Luis Fonsi. The original one that is.. so many more. Music is soul food. It can bring so much joy and peace. I am introverted and sometimes music and dance is all I need to shut myself off to the world.

Mt. Royal

A mountain in center of city!! Also, namesake for Montreal! I wish I had hiked more but I was starving and when I am hungry, I get hangry.  I needed to find food. So after I switched rooms from room with my new friend to a room alone, which I hate, I headed to Mont Royal. It was a 45min walk. Well 1 hour to get to the bottom then like 20 min to climb to the view point. Hunger made me leave and find food. I was craving pasta and Italian. It is the hormones. I am so bloated from PMS. Just got my period today. I needed food. I really wanted to do a longer hike. Next time.. I always find hikes where ever I go. So I could not find a cheap Italian place. They were all overpriced. I therefore went  back to same Mexican place. Then went to hostel to nap as my period was making me fatigued and weak. I hate hormones controlling my mind and body. It is the worst. I have been so active in last 4 days, yet I am so bloated and retaining water making me feel like a  balloon. With this much exercise, I should have lost 5 pounds by now. Whatever.. so over it. Stupid metabolism. I used to not even weight 100lb and do same physical activities as not gain wight 3 years ago. In that time, my body changed so much! I cannot fit into any of my dresses for my friend’s wedding. I need new dresses asap and have nowhere to get them. I am so moody and irritable right now. It is the hormones estrogen and progesterone messing with my serotonin. Being a healthcare provider, I know exactly what this is. Women go through so much. Not fair. I could not even nap despite needing it because the new dorm room they moved me to has been squeking noises from the window every 5 seconds! And the cleaning staff keep blasting loud music while doing their job! On the bright side, I was like screw this. I left and came for gelato. I need to find some funny onesies for my friend’s baby. She wants one, and I am in no shape or mood or have time to go to old montreal again. My body and mind feel like a hot mess! I just wanna take a hot shower, play relaxing music, grab a drink with my Australian friend tonight, and sleep peacefully without the noisy squeky dorm room. Have to catch a flight tomorow. Last full day in montreal not so good. Its the period ruining it. I need to buy more tampons and pads too. My period came early. Did not expect it on my trip. Always ruining plans. So need to find a pharmacy and a baby store.. urggh.  Its raining now. This period symptoms are too much. If men lived one day experiencing what being on a period felt like with hormones shifting and body changes.. they would see women differently forever. It is like a cloud over me for a week. My belly was flat yesterday, and today my skirt is so tight and bulging. I walked like 10 miles and ate mostly healthy.. well not. Oh well. 20190604_12173520190604_12131320190604_12071320190604_12015120190604_12180820190604_12014620190604_163731I just need comfort food. Nuttella gelato! Reminds me of my Eurotrip!!

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