I love you Instagram but you’re bringing my travel life down.


Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. When we compare ourselves to others while seeing the worst of us then, yes, it is true. When we compare and say “I can achieve that too!” or “If they can then I can!” it does not apply.  However, in this particular case it is sadly is the former. Although I am not the most tech savvy I have made decent use of the technology around us. I use much of it in my daily life. And I frequently use social media. In fact, my favourite platform is Instagram. I enjoy sharing my photos and videos on my feed and in ‘My Stories’. I peruse the posts of those I follow and of various hashtags, delighting in the bright colours and locales of far away. I read the descriptions to learn of the photo’s story. I comment on stellar photos and wish to be there to snap similar pictures. I even use it for research – looking up and saving photos of places that strike me as potential sights for my sojourns. My commute times are filled with with Instagram images.

As much as I love Instagram I have, as of late, found myself thinking I should see as much as so-and-so user. Or look all the places that ‘they’ have visited. Sigh, I should go there because it’s trending!! I’m not posting anything new! And so on and so on. It’s enough to make me feel like I don’t travel far or wide enough. The more I look the more I think my travels are paltry and too few. Comparison is the thief of joy. What brought me so many ideas for future wayfaring is slowing being dismantled, photo by online photo. Comparison is thief of joy.

What brought this on I am not certain. Perhaps it is because I haven’t been travelling much or even being able to plan anything for some time. Perhaps because I have not had a specific destination in mind to focus on while figuring out where and when to go. Or simply I am unfairly comparing my life to those of others. That saying by Mr Roosevelt rings far too true. I have lost that bit where I can see my life for all the things travel has brought to me. I need a shift of perspective as well as a reminder. I may not have travelled to as many destinations as someone who I follow. Or live life as a digital nomad, living and working travel. Yet I have seen what I have seen. Experienced what I have experienced. I’ve nearly forgotten that I am so very very fortunate, lucky, and privileged to live and work in a country where I can travel with such freedom.  

It may be a good thing that this slump has happened. I’m still finding it hard when I am on Instagram these days. I try to remember that I can tell myself a different story. One where I will go where I want to go. And when I can. To work towards it and take the joy that comes from the entire process. I travel for me. To places that interest me. And for my own reasons, whatever they may be, in hopes of understanding more, seeing more and to love our world more. No photos on any social media platform should dictate this for me otherwise. So, Instagram I still like you and will continue to post and browse though I will change my story back to taking joy in hearing about various places. No comparison to that.

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Next Trip, Blog Additions, and Videos


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Time for new adventures!

I am so very excited to be taking my first trip out of the country in over a year! I will be heading to Hong Kong at the end of January and I am thrilled. It’ll be a quick trip (1 week) and the airfare could not be beat as it’s low-seaon. I hear Hong Kong is warmer than Vancouver and drier at that time of year. Win-Win! So you will see posts about Hong Kong then. I will also be making a trip to visit my folks mid-January.  The stark cold winter may be enough to make me post some snow. We’ll see. 

Some other works I have in progress…okay plan to have in progress shortly, and that  is to add some pages to my blog about travel basics. My intention has never been to provide “how to’s” for travel as the Internet has more than its fair share. However, in the last several months I have had friends and acquaintances ask me about some travel basics, as I call them. So I have decided to add them here as pages that people can refer to. The other thing I may add to my blog, Facebook page and my Instagram account (@wanderstheworld) is video posts. I am hoping Santa (or Boxing Day sales) help me out in getting a GoPro camera. I’ll be video happy I’m sure! So stay tuned to some new things coming and as always, there is the weekly Sunday Special.

Photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World 

My Top 5 Man-Made Sights


Last month I posted about My Top 5 Cities to Wander. This month my Top 5 is about man-made places or things. These places or works of art hold a special place in my memories, my heart, and bring a smile to my lips.

  1. Michelangelo’s Slave and Bound Slave, Louvre Museum (Paris) – I have never been more captivated by art than these two unfinished statues. They are complete by being incomplete. I do not know how Michelangelo did it but there is feeling, emotion in those statues. I have seen them three times and still my heart stops each time. 
  2. Eiffel Tower, Paris – Anyone who knows me, knows I love this building. It was among the first iconic buildings I had seen when I first visited Europe and has been imprinted on my heart ever since.  I have been to the top twice, once on my birthday where I drank sweet sweet champagne with my sister and friends.  If I had never seen Michelangelo’s Slaves this building would be number one.
  3. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur – The circular and geometric designs of its spires and the walkway them give them a unique look.  I learned of them shortly after they were built I had wanted to view them for myself ever since.  They did not disappoint. I think they are most beautiful lit up at night against the backdrop of the dark sky and city lights
  4. Taj Mahal, India – I had wanted to see the Taj Mahal since I was a child. For a short span of years I thought I may never see and tried to downplay its importance, that it could not be that spectacular.  Silliness really. Yet I did make it to Agra. A hot, humid and crowded experience that was all shed to the side when I finally saw the splendour of this magnificent building. It stands majestically and rightly so.
  5. Pagodas of Bagan, Myanmar – There are so many things I could put for number five. Yet the pagodas throughout Bagan are the first I think of. The entire area astounds me with the sheer amount of pagodas to be found. I loved wandering through the back roads on my scooter and viewing the beauty and importance of these buildings  to the people. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

 

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Michelangelo’s talent is breathtaking

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Gustave Eiffel’s treasure to Paris.

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Those brightly shining Petronas Twin Towers.

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The Taj Mahal, a labour of love.

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One of the numerous pagodas in Bagan

A Chance To Be Brave


The plan had been for me to blog about my travels and experiences from my trip to SE Asia this winter. I had hoped to spend time elaborating on my stories and adding some fun photos. I did make one entry after my trip here, and of course my Sunday Specials. I had wanted to write more yet I did not. It was not due to lack of time or content that is certain. It’s that the last little while has been trying, scary and had me deep in thought. Five days after I returned to Vancouver I ended up in the Emergency department of the hospital. I had unexplained and severe abdominal pain for over two hours before I realized it was not going away. So I called a cab (yes a cab when an ambulance might have been smarter but…) and was admitted immediately. Ends up I had an orange-sized mass on my left ovary that had either ruptured or twisted thus causing the worst pain I have ever felt. After two days and numerous diagnostic imaging tests I was told that this endometrial mass contained a tumour. That meant it might be malignant. They were uncertain and a biopsy was not an option (due to a high risk of rupture). Yet it also meant that it might be benign. It was actually good that this happened as the mass may never have been found otherwise.  The plan was to have it removed surgically and should it be malignant then the next step would happen. So in the meantime I had to wait for the diagnosis until surgery day – six weeks from emergency admittance to surgery day. Why the wait? They did not know for certain and everything was contained within the mass so they hoped for the best and scheduled my surgery based on that. If it the doctors new for certain it was cancer my surgery would have been the next day.

That gave me time to work a bit, tell friends, visit my folks, and try to process the whole situation. Cancer is one of the scariest words. Ever. Evening thinking that I may have been victim to ovarian cancer was tear inducing. I like my ovaries. I wanted to keep them. Thoughts of chemo or radiation was debilitating. Also having to endure surgical menopause was an idea I could not entertain. So I did what I knew best – avoidance. I did that in the form of not talking about the possibility of cancer as much as possible. I aimed to focus on the positives I was told. I had to, especially when talking to others about it. I gave it my best to look at the best case scenario. I would cry if I didn’t. Naturally it was not all positive outlooks and I was sad at times, worried. Though I held my own okay. I even had some fun times with friends and family. I surprised myself. I was anxious as the date for my surgery grew near and concerned how it would go.  A few freak outs and some bad dreams. Oh the dreams were awful, simply awful.  Yet throughout this wait I was wanting more than anything to have it dealt with and a diagnosis, preferably a positive one.

Finally the morning of my surgery arrived. Doctors and nurses asking questions, reviewing my chart and my best friend standing by quietly supporting me. I remember cool air in the surgery room and seeing the stark light about me as I lay on the table, feeling rather nervous. Then the anesthesiologist placing an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. Then nothing until I awoke in the recovery room. My mouth was very dry, I asked for water and was given a small ice chip. The nurses doted on me. I was aware but still a bit groggy, anxious to hear the results. I slept some more. I was soon moved. I hear the news.

I cried a bit.

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Simultaneously the most unflattering and best photo of myself. Just received the good news (and dopey).

Then I smiled and felt immense relief. The mass, the tumour was benign. BENIGN! The sweetest word I have ever heard! I am so freaking lucky! So lucky. I honestly am so fortunate to have had such great news. Even my oncologist wrote in her report “This is excellent news!!!”. Since that surgery 6 weeks ago I returned to work as of last week (thanks to my sis for her help in caring for me) and have been fully discharged from the BC Cancer Agency. And my surgical scar is my reminder that I am so very fortunate. For anyone who has or has had cancer, you are incredibly brave and strong. I have no idea how I would have dealt if I had had another diagnosis.

So now what? I certainly have had time to think about a number of things. Some I share, others are privy only to my mind. Changes may come about and still things will remain the same. I am thinking continually now of so many things in our world and my life. The constant (at least I hope) is gratitude and of course travel. 

“When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.” Lupytha Hermin