Updated: Feb 27, 2021
I read a quote in Nuvo Magazine from the article: "Do you really want to live forever? Lessons form an immortal jellyfish." In this article, the author explores what defines a well-lived life. Goethe once said that the secret is in balance" We must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection and we are butes."
This month marks one year since the virus started in Wuhan, China in December and accelerated in January of 2020. For many of us in the past year, that meant forgoing our travel plans, to our graduations plans to Europe or another destination, or even moving to college and university for the first time. Many of us have lost our jobs, our sense of real and the imaginary and we have begun to distinguish the importance of our real friends during this pandemic. Some of us have turned to religious means or God to assure ourselves that suffering is temporary, and that God has a plan for everyone.There is a old and historic saying that it is in time of crisis and atrocities that people expose their true selves. However cruel this year has been, I hope you end the last days of 2020 with a feeling of clarity, of your self-worth, of your ambition and your dreams for the next year. I hope this year teaches you and has taught you, like it has taught me, to never turn down a opportunity because life is fleeting, and we can’t be scared to take risks because time is against us.
The Christmas holidays are usually when I travel to many locations and explore the festivities, from past trips to Rome, Miami, San Diego and others. However, this year we don’t have the opportunities to take those same trips again. Is this the pandemic’s way of saying: Start planning now for next year and reminisce on the memories from before?This year, I was hesitant to put up my christmas tree because I wouldn’t have any memories to share this year, but that’s when I realized that is all the more memorable. Sometimes, we want to celebrate the memories because they are all we have when we die. In this article, I want share some of my favourite holiday memories over the years. The holidays are great time to reflect on the passing year to make goals and become excited for the coming year. One quote from Gone with The Wind has stuck with me throughout the years: when Ashley says to Scarlett that “Life is under no obligation to give us what we want, we take what we are given, and are thankful that it is no worse than it already is." I think that our parents generation and the generation before theirs lived through periods of prolonged suffering, from world wars to dictators to environmental disasters that tested their courage and their tenacity. Today with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing suffering, but not to the same degree as our parents and grandparents generation. As humans, we are stronger than we think and more capable than we are made up to be.
Many times we cannot control our destinies in life, and especially 2020 has shown that with the pandemic by changing our plans and our livelihoods. But it is through those moments in life that we should reflect on what is truly important: strong values and a sense of character in yourself, helpful and caring family and friends, meaningful relationships in life, and most importantly your sense of self-worth and dignity. I spent some time this year connecting with my old high school friend and she recommended a sermon to me that her father preached on some of the teachings of Christianity. I was never a religious person,but the pandemic has got me questioning my values in life. I don’t believe there is a god out there that cares for us, but I do believe that having faith in your values and having strength during times of suffering is important. I think that many times when we believe we have someone or a god to rely on in times of uncertainty in life does help us overcome our struggles because we feel like we are not alone in this life. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that jobs come and go, money comes and goes, people come and go, but your will for change and your courage to move forward always prevails.
There are so many wonderful places in the world that are unexplored which the pandemic has taken the time away from us to explore. This holiday, I want to reminisce on my past memories and the wonderful times I had in these vibrant cities over the winter holidays.
1)Rome - Holiday Season
Rome is such a romantic and exciting city to explore during the holiday season because the entire streets light up with lights and artwork. My favourite memories from this city during the holiday season include touring the restaurants, as they would all offer outdoor seating and be heated. I vividly remember the waiters who used to stand outside the restaurant to show the menus and sitting in particular, directly across the Pantheon at one meal.The inviting and friendly vibe of the Italian people are very appreciated and felt during the holiday season. I went to Rome during my exchange around 5 years ago, and it’s nostalgic to say that I miss the cobble-lined streets, street performers, and occasional army solider on the crosswalk. Rome and Italy have been through many struggles with the first wave of the pandemic back in March, but Italians have always been known as a people to rebuild themselves throughout history, and humankind has always had the perseverance to move ahead despite atrocity and darkness. In 2021, I wish for Rome and Italy to come to life again and light the streets of despair up with joy and celebrations.
2) Miami - Holiday Season
Traveling to Miami during the holiday season is such a treat because it is relatively warm there all year round and the latin atmosphere there infuses you with vibrancy. From touring the Vizcaya Gardens to strolling around South Beach, there is something to do for every explorer. It was actually at this time before heading to Miami that I was dealing with some mental health struggles and I was in a worse state then today with the pandemic, which has evidently causes many people’s mental health to decline.I think one of the most important lessons the pandemic has taught us is that you have to be courageous in this world, because time acts against you, and you have to follow your gut even even though new situations may be daunting. When I was in Miami, I loved being my true self and exploring openly without any hesitation or anxiety about the future. From looking for a taxi in the Coral Gables district and walking up and down the streets for hours because a certain attraction closed to touring the murals in Wynnwood on a small golf cart life is more enjoyed when you try things outside of your comfort zone.
3) San Diego- San Diego
I saw the fireworks during the new year above the Hyatt Hotel in San Diego in 2019 without knowing what 2020 would have in store. Many people did think it was going to be the best year yet, however that turned out to be entirely false. Nevertheless, San Diego is such a enjoyable city to be in all year round, with warm temperatures and sunny skies year-round. San Diego is such a compact and family friendly city, known for SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and it’s beautiful beaches. One of my favourite things was eating the fish tacos on the downtown bayside in the open-air dining area and watching street performers play music.I believe that 2021 will be better, even when we can’t celebrate in a different city or watch fireworks with our friends and extended family this new year. 2020 has been a great reflection year for me because as life slowed down, I could truly see my true friends,mentors and took the time to reflect on my dreams and ambitions in life.
During the holiday season, I have writing a travel book to be released next summer titled: After COVID- 8 Trips to Take Before You Die to give you guys inspiration on the must see destinations after COVID-19 and for next year and share a bit of my own story of my inspiration for travelling. This book will be available on Amazon so get excited guys, the countdown is down ! In the meantime, I will be continually writing weekly city guides( Top Things to Do) on my blog: www.worldtravelswithchelsea.com and give you guys inspiration to plan your trips for next year!
With the vaccine already on the horizon and been used, we are ending 2020 on a positive note and many of us can see the light at the end of the tunnel already. However, so much has changed in our lives, so can we really go back to our regular lives?Everyone of us either knows someone who was infected with COVID-19 or passed away, so how can anything be the same? Every experience changes us, makes us see the world in a different light, and the people that we meet,although virtually, help us shape our worldview. Suffering only makes us appreciate life for it is, people for who they are, and opportunities and experiences for what their worth. In 2021 and beyond, let’s be motivated to enlarge our world views and expand our horizons to new sights and experiences.