Tag Archives: photography

Generating Hope: using travel to heal trauma

This is the first of many blogs I plan to write on the topic of travel and post-traumatic stress. They will all be posted under the “mental health” category on the left and tagged with “ptsd” if you wish to search for more in the future. 


AWARENESS. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. MINDFULNESS. 

 3 ways I use travel to reclaim hope for my life and recovery from PTSD.

Awareness: Being grounded in your present reality. Fully encapsulated in the present moment: your environment, thoughts, and human experience. 

Being in a new place, a new culture, requires that I be fully engaged in my present moment. I wont find my way through a foreign airport or metro station if I am stuck in my past fears/experiences.  There is not a lot of room for flashbacks or dissociating in these situations. 

Traveling forces me to be present and aware. I use these moments to reinforce my ability to stay present in all moments. This reinforcement generates hope for myself, and my ability to function in day-to-day life.

Acknowledgement: Fully accepting who you are and where you are. Your strengths and limitations. Your progress and your struggles. 

There are many things I love about traveling. The biggest of those is how traveling always teaches me new things about myself. Travel pushes me to my limits. Physically (hiking, cliff jumping) and mentally. With every trip I learn more and more about who I am as a person: how I engage in my values, where my strengths are, where my limitations lie, and where I can still experience growth. It gives me the opportunity to step-back and re-evaluate my experiences.

This space to re-assess and learn comes only when I am able to acknowledge myself and my current existence. It allows me to generate hope for my future and the process I am on. It challenges all the negative/false beliefs that come with a PTSD diagnosis such as I have no future, I don’t deserve a future, I am weak. You know what I am talking about.

Mindfulness: the ability to focus on your current external and internal experiences. Its the ability to navigate thoughts and emotions in healthy way.

Mindfulness is similar to both awareness and acknowledgement in that it requires both awareness and acceptance. The difference is that mindfulness is more about the ability to focus inward, to focus on thoughts and emotions that are empowering.

One of the things about being a “good traveler” is learning to be in touch with your thoughts/emotions/intuitions and following those as much as possible. When are you somewhere new, you don’t know where the “safe” and “unsafe” places are- you have to rely on internal hunches. Traveling also creates space for empowerment and validation of self.

Travel allows me to 1) practice being mindful of my internal ques/emotions and 2) gain trust in those internal ques and emotions. 

This generates hope in my recovery because it develops a stronger, and more trusting relationship between my body and my emotions: a relationship that gets damaged with PTSD. 

 


*I plan to write a blog in the future on travel developing trust in self as a means to healing. Stay tuned.

**this blog is inspired in part by a post from the younique foundation

***photos are from Dawson City, Youkon. See more about this location here

5 Self-Care ideas while Traveling

We hear it all the time: self-care, self-care, self-care. We understand the importance of self-care. Yet, we all struggle to intentionally prioritize self-care in our day to day lives let alone while traveling. 

I know some reading this are probably thinking 🤔 wait, traveling is self-care so why would I practice self-care while I am traveling? Like many of you, travel is also my more efficient form of self-care. In one counseling theory “taking a vacation” is a skill of mastery. I am really good at this skill. I hear you all, travel is self-care. 

Travel is also stress-inducing. Especially when the destination is in a different culture/country or for longer periods of time. The stress of navigating various forms of transportation, languages, currencies, can take a much larger toll on the body and the brain that we often times realize. 

With no further wait, 5 practical ways to implement self-care while traveling: 

1- know who your people are and reach out.  Support is important in the day to day lives of everyone. Travel exemplifies this need as cultures and language barriers can highlight our loneliness and create feelings of isolation. The first thing I do when I get to my hotel is FaceTime with someone who I know cares about me. I retell the journey of getting to where I am and share the view of my room. This makes me feel less isolated and disconnected from the people who have my back. 


2- Spend an evening  in your hotel: take a long shower and drink a bottle of water. Running through airports, train stations, city buses, and subways is not as glamours as our instagram photos may appear. It’s actually very dirty and very dehydrating. Give yourself a guilt free night to clean up and hydrate your body. I also recommend traveling with lotion; the processed air hurts the skin. 

3- Journal. Take time every day to reflect on your journey. What have you experienced, what have you learned? Gain insight into yourself, and never forget your adventures. 

4- Exercise. The need to excerice as self care in normal life is obvious. But it is also important while traveling. I’m not saying you need to go on a 10 mile run (unless that is what you enjoy) or find a gym to lift weights. But I am saying to take a hike or rent a bike for a day. Explore other modes of seeing your location than buses and taxis. A way that stretches your legs and connects you to nature. 


5- Implement your spirituality practices. Visit a local church, engage in prayer, practice yoga, implement breath work. Whatever your spiritual practice is that keeps you grounded in your purpose- implement it. You won’t regret giving time to your practice! 

Mirroring to Insta

I am starting on a new adventure to mirror my blog and my instagram together more. Follow me on insta (fr33sp1r1t.traveler). All of my travel photos have a second version behind them sharing mental health stats and self care strategies. You will notice my photos have a pink hue to them- this is pink is a known color of compassion, nurture, insight, and empathy. My core values as a professional, a person, and a traveler. 

Thank you to all my followers. 

Xoxo

-melinda 

Kansas City, Im so in love 

Gypsy woman, you know every place I go Even a thousand miles away from home You don’t care if I’m asleep or I’m awake This fickle heart just turn to stone 

      I’m going back to Kansas City 

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Similarly to Austin and Amsterdam; Kansas City has its own city love, city pride, sign. 

Located at 1919 Baltimore Ave, Kansas City Missouri. 


Sometimes; a picture with the city sign is exactly what you need to show off your travels! 

Amsterdam; Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri

Old Red Bridge, Kansas City


The Kansas City Old red bridge is our version of the Paris Love Bridge. 

Check out this news article about the day it became our love bridge: https://www.google.com/amp/fox4kc.com/2016/02/12/the-story-behind-the-kc-love-lock-bridge/amp/?client=safari


The old red bridge, use to be the only red bridge, and it resides just before the MO and KS state line. 

The new red bridge was finally opened a few years ago. They created it as a memorial to several highly influential people with sculptures and information as you walk across. It’s quite amazing! 

Jason and I got a few good shots to share our love with each other and all of you. 


And then I got the honor of taking photos for my sister and her family! 


The bridge has even become a semi-popular place for outdoor weddings throughout the spring and summer. It’s weird to think that this bridge I once drove down every day for years is now a Kansas City highlight and wedding venue. Crazy how fast time changes everything. 

Xoxo

River Trail, Blue River 

River Trail is another trail route that follows the Blue River in Kansas City.

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We took the dogs with us on this hike with us. It was not my favorite trail with them for a few reasons:

  1. The river- I am not against letting my dogs play in the water; however, this river is not exactly the cleanest around the edges, lots of seaweed and brush. Our dogs can’t even eat each others food without having problems… river water is a NO.
  2. The trail is rock in a lot of areas which means you need a minute to plant your feet- our dogs don’t give us that time very often so we twisted a few ankles a long the way.

Other than near the water, the path was great for the pups and the fall colors are beautiful!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day:

 

Oh and I did a tree pose on a dead tree… Love!

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Hiking Kansas City: Basement Trail, Blue River

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Blue River trail is a popular hiking and mountain biking loop that follows the Blue River. There are several different trail options to create a loop with- this weekend Jason and I hike the River trail and the Basement trail.

 

The Basement trail is on the east side of Blue River road.

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It winds through a wooded area and has a few rock formations to gaze at (and play on) if your heart so desires.

 

We took our dogs with us, and they handled well on the Basement trail.

 


The Sun Set right as we finished up the Basement trail and got back to the Mini!

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