I’m on the plane headed back to the States with Somi (one of my favorite African artists) playing on my AirPods. As I reflect on my last 6 weeks I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how many miles I have walked, how many sites I have seen, how many interactions I have had, and how many lessons I have learned. I have given my time in Europe the justice it deserves. I have intentionally and meaningfully inhabited it. I have become one with it from the streets that led me to my homes during my stay, to the countryside that set the perfect backdrop for sunrises and sunsets. I have walked and talked with and among locals. l have dwelled with them, alongside them. I have knelt to pray in their churches and I have learned what it truly means to be accepted. I have seen and learned so much. The most precious gift is the feelings I am left with, the most precious souvenirs if you will. I have felt kindness from the the people that have helped me and offered to help me whether it be making sure I knew where I was going, the elderly man who saw me struggling with my luggage and directions in Milan at the metro station, sacrificing his plans to follow me to my train to make sure I knew where I was going so that I didn’t miss it, to the workers who saw me coming into their establishments and greeting me with happiness and excitement, to the employees at Ditta Artigianale bringing me to tears with hugs on my last day. I have felt such great kindness. I have felt immense gratitude. Gratitude for the Most High who has been more a part of this journey than I even know from the moment it even became a thought. I have felt immense gratitude for my parents who sacrificed and invested in me to be able to go to school and seek a profession such as this to travel and learn about the other parts of the world. They have rooted me on every step of the way. I have gratitude and thankfulness for the ability to be fearless in sitting with myself, my thoughts, and feelings in such an intentional way. I also have gratitude for distance and the clarity it provides. I knew that this journey was going to be challenging and amazing in so many ways. But I had no idea it would be as impactful as it has been.
I am going home to the States knowing and believing that I can stand alone and be okay. I am brave, I am capable. I know that I have the strong support of my family and chosen family. I am powerful. I am adaptable. I am okay. I am in love with this life. I didn’t always feel that way. I had to work through my relationship with myself to get to this place. My goal is to unapologetically live a life that makes me genuinely happy. Europe taught me that I am in charge of that. I am the gatekeeper of relationships, beliefs, and feelings that contribute to my overall happiness and wellness. I am responsible for the decisions that I make that are not in alignment with my overall happiness and wellness. I am going home different in my mindset about what I want for myself, my environment, my choices, and life in general. I am taking with me the ability to slow down. In Europe I proved to myself that there is time for rest and exploration even as an entrepreneur. I just have to make the time. I learned the importance of changing up my routine and how even just a subtle shift can make the biggest difference in how I feel, how I think, and how it manifests throughout the day. While being away I have had a very loose routine, but the majority of the day was for exploring on days that I wasn’t working. I would love to be more open to getting out of my comfort zones at home. I will also shop local every chance I can. I saw the importance of markets and the community it created in every city I went to. I see Farmers Markets for fresh organic foods in my very near future. Last but not least, I am bringing home with me the plan to expand Self Work With Jess into a more interactive service through coaching. In the upcoming months I will be rolling out coaching services on self discovery and reflection with an emphasis on challenging and stretching individuals to get out of their comfort zones to grow. Everything we want is on the other side of our comfort zone. We just have to figure out where to start. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and so many other things keep us from growth and the life we want. When I first started on the path of my own self discovery, one of my biggest fears was what if everything I believed and made sense to me became something I was unsure about or maybe didn’t believe anymore at all? What should I do? I quickly learned that learning something new allowed me the ability to choose. Learning new things, challenging yourself to think differently, learning more about yourself and your beliefs about life give you the ability to choose who you want to be and make choices that are good for you. Choices are freedom. I hope that through working with individuals in a coaching environment I can help people open the door to the life they never knew they could have, to freedom. I’m excited about the months ahead.
I am sad to return home to the States. Not because I don’t want to be there per se, but because the way of life in Europe is very different from home. The beauty, the food, the sheer kindness, the community, the built in self reflection time will all be missed. Seeing the importance of all of the above in Europe helps me to know that I must recreate them at home. Thankful for an experience of a lifetime. Life is but a dream. Live it as loudly and vividly as you can. La vita è bella.