There comes a point in each of our lives when what was working before no longer works for us. We reach this tipping point, several times in life actually, when we crave something different; we crave something new. One of those moments came for me one year ago, on my 29th birthday. I had always thought that by the age of 30, I would be ready for a new phase in my life—settling down, thinking about a family and starting to soon have children.
Instead, when I took inventory of my life (single, living with a roommate in LA, working my life away), I realized I was far from wanting to settle down. I hadn't lived enough. I hadn’t traveled enough. I hadn’t experienced enough. I hadn't lived for myself. I spent the past 10 years of my life working on my career, which makes for a very non-spontaneous life. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old actually, always paying for my own things and making my way slowly up the ladder. But now, I had my own creative services agency, ōSHen Creative, with international and domestic clients—meaning I could work from anywhere that has a wifi connection.
So, for all of those reasons, I decided to make a commitment to myself: As much as possible, I would travel outside of LA during the work week—just to get away, work from somewhere new and experience life before my 30th birthday. And what came from this yearlong experience is so much more than I could have ever expected! It created a new opportunity to connect with people. Now, the creative agency is hosting creative retreats for people to join me—learning the art of working remotely, experiencing life, keeping up with our wellness routines, all the while ticking things off the to-do list.
By way of example, here’s a recap of my 2018, the destinations and how they each changed my life:
January — Baltimore, MD
My hometown. I like to spend time with my family over the holidays. Living in LA, we don’t get to experience winter like they do on the East Coast. I soaked up every shivering night and bundled up to keep warm. Then, I came back to LA shortly after the New Year with even more appreciation for the warmth, sunshine and quick access to the seaside.
February — Ojai, CA
I was working a lot and needed a serious break from the daily grind of hustling and driving all over LA for meetings. I booked a last minute airbnb and got out of town with a friend. The nature, the space to breathe and the change of scenery helped me to map out the year ahead for my business and plan for what was to come. I also brought home local honey, which I used in my tea for several months after, and that subconsciously always brought me back to that memory of my time in Ojai.
March — Oahu, HI
While I was on my trip to Ojai, I received a call from a girlfriend saying that she had an extra room at her spring break home in Hawaii and that she’d love for me to join her! I immediately said yes and, before I knew it, I was surfing two to three hours a day at Waikiki Beach. I came home craving a group of surfing buddies and then, months later, my girlfriends and I joined forces and created “The Bad Surfers Club.”
April — The Cayman Islands
I had a friend who was living there for a month. I ended up spending a lot of time alone because my friend had to work a lot. I met a lot of locals, worked on the sand and drove around on the opposite side of the street. My heart burst open on that trip: showing up for people you care about really makes your heart open, vulnerable and raw.
May — Joshua Tree, CA
Along with running ōSHen Creative, a creative services agency for holistic wellness brands, I am the founder of Coconut Yoga, a children’s yoga and wellness company. I teach every May and October at the Joshua Tree Music Festival. The community, the acceptance, the camping and the love is enough to change any person’s life, and I’m so grateful to experience this twice a year. Oh, and how could I forget the sunrises and sunsets that you can witness while sleeping in a tent under the stars?
June — Tulum, Mexico
This was the first time in two years that I took an actual vacation. I booked my first retreat for five days with the simple intention of disconnecting from my work, my computer and technology and reconnecting with myself, nature and my heart. I connected with the community, learning about ayurveda and loving kindness meditation. The most profound moment was when I literally felt my soul drop into my body during a walking meditation on the sand, under the tall trees on the retreat grounds.
July — New York, NY
I lived in New York for five years. It was hard a lot of the time, but there’s something special about the summers. The vibrancy in the air. The summer Fridays. I went back to see my loved ones, absorb some of that NYC energy and do work with a client. The best part of the entire trip was realizing that NYC will always be the same and that I’m not missing anything there. I’m not sure when I’ll be back next; this trip will last me for awhile.
August — Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
My family and I are fortunate enough to still go on yearly summer vacations together. Cabo is not a typical family destination, but we’re not a typical family. My mom and dad live in Maryland, my brother lives in Boston and I am in LA. We don’t see each other often, but we all are open to new experiences and just want to see places for what they are. We explored a bit, but mainly just laughed and had a great time together. I left with my heart filled to the brim with the love from my family.
September — Sydney, Australia
This was ōSHen’s first international client trip. I flew to Australia to help my client create a video e-course. I was there for a week. I had never been on such a long flight before and this was really a big deal for our agency. If we could pull this off, we could truly start to do more international travel on behalf of the agency. I learned how to manage my team back in The States, manage other clients and stay present enough on my trip too. It was truly life-changing and I will be back, hopefully soon!
October — Palm Springs, CA
I took a road trip with my girlfriend out to Wanderlust’s Wellspring convention for a weekend. We took my car and spent the weekend exploring together— connecting, talking about life, getting our work done in between going to the convention center and various health food stores. And we had the most heartfelt talk while sipping margaritas at the Ace Hotel swimming pool. We even met the owners of the El Rey Court hotel, where I was going in December, and they gave us a personalized list of things to do while we were there. Note to self: always pack a bathing suit—even if you think you wont need it!
November — Yucca Valley, CA
I spent a night in a motel room in Yucca, which is right outside Joshua Tree and Pioneer Town, because I needed to get away and go somewhere new. Despite having a ton of meetings that day, I was able to get it all done—thank goodness for hotel wifi and mediocre lobby coffee. The best part was going to a local Mexican spot by myself, enjoying a Corona and feeling so free.
December — Santa Fe, NM
Last trip of the year! Over the past 12 months, I had become obsessed with two things: Georgia O’Keeffe and the El Rey Court Hotel branding. All I wanted to do for my 30th birthday was to sit at a bar in Santa Fe, where no one knew me, and just have a beer (and stay at that hotel and go to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum). Nothing more than that. I told a couple of my girlfriends I was doing this, and they jumped on board to join me. All of a sudden, I had a girlfriend from Maryland and a girlfriend from San Francisco meeting me in Albuquerque, NM for a midweek trip. Instantly, we bonded, laughing and sharing stories that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I also asked people to donate to Shine On Sierra Leone to help feed the children lunches while they are at school. I’ve reached this point where I just want to give back, give more love, give more support, give more to others who need more than I do.
This year blew me away. The best part was that all of those trips gave me the experience I need to host creative retreats for others. My working trips, far from taking me away from what I needed to do, opened up more opportunities for me!
Our first creative work/life balance retreat is in San Diego, February 26-28th. Join us for an opportunity to travel outside of your comfort zone, experience a creative workshop, meet like-minded individuals, try new foods and explore new places—all while crossing things off that to-do list.
Interested in joining a creative workshop but not able to join us in SD? No problem. We’re going to be recording live, so you can join digitally from anywhere you have wifi! Learn more here.
If you have any questions, simply send me a note. I’d love to hear from you and help you live your happiest life, one trip at a time!