Some people want tattoos of yin and yang, I want one of a head of lettuce and a donut…

I know I promised that I (Evin) wouldn’t make another super long post…but I did (sorry not sorry). But this time I am writing my first, of many, blog posts about food. The is my first attempt at my witty food blog, so it will get better!!! Or it will plummit and increasingly become worse. So sit back, grab a head of lettuce, bag of salt and vinegar chips, or your own snack of choice and settle in for my first novel about food. 
I was standing in the hostel kitchen cooking my dehydrated pasta carbonara (because cheap and nomz) and just as I thought I was done writing this blog post I decided this post would never be done. This topic is way too large for me and constantly becoming more complex at the same time as it becomes less complex (what? Did I just type that… Yes I did). I was listening to some of my fellow hostel-mates talking about vegans and and all that vegan jazz. I found myself annoyed without a real reason. Maybe cause I was having separation anxiety from my vegan days?….ha. I sat in the bathroom for a second (I find the bathroom a sacred space) and reached this conclusion. 

I love eating like a vegan and doing crossfit. I also love eating bread, cheese, donuts, cheese, Nutella, and absurd amounts of strange things. I like them both. And I want them both to be a part of my life. This past year I thought it was one or the other. But it’s not, because neither one all the time is healthy. So I guess where I’m at or where I am trying to get, is my personal balance. Which I will have to figure out on my own. I have also had to come to terms that it’s not going to happen all of the sudden or be super easy all the time. 

Since traveling, this has been on my mind a lot because sometimes we have to buy what’s cheaper and not always the most healthy option. Or I simply want to enjoy the experience of food and so I say fuck it, let’s eat gelato every day in Hvar because damn, it’s amazing. Hmmmm and then maybe eat a head of lettuce here and there.

 I’ve been thinking about how to go about writing this for awhile. I have been thinking of clever ways of starting, instead of just starting. So here it is. Word vomit of my experience and struggle with being the always “slightly curvier” friend and my love hate relationship I have with food. Everyone who knows me only really knows the love side, the side that could almost out-eat any guy. And don’t get me wrong, I’m proud when I do. I am wanting to experience all the food and not worry that my body may change as a result. 

Some people know that I recently added meat back into my diet. I did this because while traveling, I wanted to be able to experience all that a place had to offer. And I am thrilled with that choice! Food is such a large part of culture, and I felt if I was constantly saying “is there meat in that” or asking for the meat dish without the meat (because I have done that) I would not only be that annoying American, but I would also be missing out on a key part of a culture. 

This is my view towards a lot of things: try everything, and experience it all. From the ham and cheese paninis, from the small take out bakeries to the traditional black pudding (pigs blood) in the Scottish breakfast. I am happy that I am trying everything! So there is the positive side, but something many people don’t see is the struggle I have experienced since puberty – being the curvier of the friends. But always wanting to “keep up” with all the junk food sleep overs and experiencing delicious food. After I started becoming increasingly self conscious as well as becoming interested in crossfit I decided to try something I had never committed to. Loosing weight. So last summer I went to one extreme which was good in some ways but bad in others. I learned I could control how I look but only if I became obsessive about the foods I was eating and the work outs I was doing. I ate the same thing for almost three months (delicious at times and bland at others), had dessert once every two weeks, did cross fit 4 days a week, ran for an hour two days a week, walked for an hour one day a week, and had one light rest day. Sound exhausting? It was. As happy as I was with my body transforming closer and closer to my , and other peoples “ideal,” I also was loosing a relationship that I have had since I was young. The one with food! And some of the positivity towards my views about my body. And I was loosing some of the ones that are created and flourish when food is a part of them. 

Hmmmm isn’t this the opposite of what should happen? I became obsessive. That obsession then drove me to the other end of the spectrum. The “fuck it” attitude. I should eat want I want and not worry about what will happen to my body and then lead to the way society will view me. 

Currently I find my self back and forth between the two as I travel abroad. Part of me is very confident in the person I am and stands by my love for enjoying all that life has to give, especially with all that comes from trying and indulging in food! I love food! Can you tell I enjoy to eat food? I am not ashamed of that! But this is where I tell who ever is reading, for the first time in a public setting about the negative side. There have been days that I said I just won’t eat anything all day so that I can eat some thing wonderful at dinner with Izze and Amelia. Then for sure I will be eating less calories and with all the walking I won’t gain any weight. Sure I could sustain this…. Of course not! For one, my love of food. And second, thinking “Evin, this is not mentally healthy.” And yet I come to the same place as usual. What am I doing and why am I doing it. I wish I could end this with “I feel great about my relationship with food and how it affects the one with my body.” But I can’t because it changes every day. 

This is NOT a cry for help. This is my way of trying to process while I am traveling abroad while also trying to enjoy and process all the amazing things I am experiencing here. I am taking life day by day, I have come to terms with the fact that I can feel something one moment and it can change the next. One thing I am certain of and that I do not question is this: I have a love for food, our relationship is a special one 😉 (no one will understand us), I love experiencing a culture through food, and creating relationships when sharing meals. And lastly I appreciate my body. Like with any relationships there are ups and downs, good days and bad days. Yes, I am comparing my relationship with food to those I share with humans. I know I am not the only woman who struggles with the fear of gaining weight while traveling or just in general! And this is a fear I want to tell myself is a silly one, but if it truly were so silly, I could dismiss it easily. But I cannot. 

There will be days that I will eat meat, bread and cheese and feel absolutely wonderful about it. And there will be days that I eat nothing but vegetables all day. But as I think more and more and go further with my travels, I have also realized that I should be present here in my travels and that gaining some weight is inevitable! I would rather be trying street food and cultural dishes than worrying excessively about eating this or that and how it will make me look. Here are some tips that I have been incorporating into my life to try and find my balance:

1. Stop constantly looking in the mirror (easier said than done…classic. But the more you do it the easier it gets) 

2. Not comparing my body to that of my travel companions and other women (be original Evin… But it’s true. And, again, easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But catching myself while I do it and just saying “I don’t need to do this” truly makes it a practice. 

3. Smiling at myself in the mirror. Do it! 

4. Doing squats when I have spare time, literally at random moments. Great squat times: while brushing your teeth, while waiting for water to boil, in the shower (carefully)… You get it. Also we try and do 50 squats a day! Fun group activity… Kinda.

5. Yoga!!! Stretching!!! And meditation!!! And this isn’t to try and build up physical strength (well, part of it is) but I find myself building up my mental strength with each practice. Doing yoga for ten minutes with a quick meditation after leaves me feeling blissful.

5. Incorporating veggies and fruits when I can. Sometimes it’s not buying a bunch of both, cause that expensive. But buying a bag of apples or chowing down on a head of lettuce, or your veggies and fruits of choice, is more cost effective and yummy. 

6. Not completely restricting! Don’t not eat all day just for that one meal at the end of the day!

7. Eat when I’m hungry, (unless of course there is gelato involved). 

8. And the easiest of all is walking! We walk pretty much everywhere! It feels great to be able to get pretty much anywhere with my two feet! And it burns calories! 

9. Talk to the parts of my body I feel least comfortable about. Yes just sit down and have a nice convo with my tummy.

10. Laugh!! Laugh so hard you almost pee! Laugh so hard it hurts. Relish in the moments with (insert your friendly humans here) 

I hope that this is as helpful to others to read as it was for me to write it. 

Much love and appreciation. 

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Traveler’s Exhaustion 

It’s real, unfortunately. It’s a real thing that travelers, like myself, experience from time to time. We get to the point where every church looks the same, every city center is just as full of good food as any other, and we just feel done with it all, it doesn’t have the same effect that it all once did. 
I felt like an ass when I started feeling like this. I thought “Izze, you’re traveling the world right now, you’re literally backpacking through Europe, aka realizing one of your dreams, and you’re unhappy?” I honestly wanted so badly to just throw the towel in and go home. I thought I couldn’t take it any more. 
I had been traveling for almost four months by this time, and I basically felt that my hypothetical experience cup was full. I felt saturated in culture, in new cities, in exploring, in being uncomfortable and I just wanted to have some normalcy, some routine. I had been so many beautiful places, walked through some great museums and town squares, met loads of wonderful people, and ate a ton of delicious food. But these things were beginning to lose their exotic magic in my head. 
I had a moment which I was standing on top of a mountain in Croatia, overlooking the entire island and then a few others, if I looked hard enough I could probably see Italy – and I felt nothing. No feeling of awe, no wonder, no feeling of striking beauty. And after that, I continued to feel a lot of nothing. 
My backpack was feeling heavier and heavier and I thought that if I had to pick it up one more time, I’d just let it pull me over and I’d stay right there on the ground. If I had to take one more overnight bus ride, I’d ask the driver to just take me to the nearest airport. 
The traveler inside me was spent. I thought that I didn’t have the energy which I wanted to put into this journey. If you read my last post, I talk about how I believe the energy which we put into an experience greatly affects how we will then experience it. And for the most part, I had been able to keep my energy up and put what I wanted to into everyday. But now it felt like I just had no more energy to use. It wasn’t bad or good energy, there just wasn’t any. 
I want to remember every place that I’ve been to, to have stories to share at the ready at all times, I want to be able to process everything and be able to use my experiences for growth. 
But I realized a few things.
First, that’s not totally realistic. We don’t remember everyday of our lives, that’s what journals and photos and the Internet is for, to remember things for us. 
Secondly, I don’t have to process everything right way. A lot of my reflection will come when I actually am home, and have this whole experience to look at. For now, I need to remember to just be here. I’ll repeat – just be here. Be present, be active, just be, and then let the reflection come afterwards. If I try to process it all now, I’ll be distracted from where I’m actually at. 
Thirdly, after a talk with my parents and some time to myself, I remembered that it’s okay to be tired, to feel burnt out. I constantly had this feeling that because I’m traveling, that I need everyday to be full of some profound experience, that I need to squeeze in as much as I possibly can to each place I visit. I felt guilty when we had a day doing almost nothing. 
But I realized that my expectations for myself and this trip were set a little too high. Everyday isn’t going to be a crazy adventure. Some days will be spent in our beds watching tv and eating entire blocks of cheese – and that’s okay. It’s okay to be tired. People might think that this is just a long vacation, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the luxury of no homework or really any responsibilities besides keeping my backpack safe and myself alive for the last four months, but it gets tiring from time to time. It’s hard work navigating the world. And we need to remember to take care of ourselves, listen to what our bodies need, what our heads need. 
So I did, I listened to my body and my mind, we had some really good talks. I came so close to coming home, I even looked up tickets back to Denver. I gave myself four days to decide what I’d do, to allow both options to be options for all four days while I let myself relax and think and recharge a little bit. 
I’ve made the ultimate decision to stay on this journey. This was a dream that my two best friends and I created together and I intend to see it through. All I needed was some fresh air, some time on the beach, and a little help from my community of friends and family to get through my traveler’s exhaustion. 
I’m lucky to say that I’m traveling with two of the most supportive people in the world. They allowed me to talk through my mental state with them, listening closely, offering advice and ideas, confessing that of course they’d be bummed to see me go, but if it’s what I need to do, then they’ll support me.
So I guess traveler’s exhaustion is a thing, and if you are someone who ever experiences it, or any kind of life exhaustion, just remember first & foremost, it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to have a day in. Listen to what your body, mind, soul, etc. needs and interact with it. Talk with yourself. Seek help from others if you need it. Disregarding it can only make it worse. And then do the things that you need to do to recharge, re-inspire yourself. 
Create a space for yourself to do so. Maybe it’s going to get coffee on your own, or taking a 30 minute shower and then sitting on your bed in your towel until your hair dries, or maybe it’s going for a run or maybe it’s eating a full pizza by yourself. You know you best, and if you’re still getting to know you, allow yourself to interact with you, to find & create you. We’re not robots, we’re imperfect as human beings, and all we can do is our best. 
This is starting to get cheesier than I originally intended, but those are the words I have for you today. Now I’m off to eat an entire pizza to myself (and probably won’t finish so Evin will end up finishing it for me).

Amelia Landenberger on – the BLARF

Backpacking is tricky for the variety of human who enjoys stuff.

That may sound vague. By “stuff” I mean just stuff in general. All/any kind of stuff. Clothes, blankets, toiletries, sports equipment, mugs, that one book you probably won’t read because you’ve started about 5 times and don’t get past the third chapter. Stuff.

Hello. My name is Amelia and I too am a “stuff addict.” This addiction usually manifests for me in clothes. And so naturally I spent a guiltily large amount of time planning for this trip thinking about what I would pack. We were backpacking after all. There’s just so little space!! We also had to plan for various different climates. Some hot, some cold, some in posh metropolitan cities and some off in some mountain miles from a town. I had a lot of elements to think about.

In this article I will let you in on a little secret. A packing tip, one might say, although I would argue that it has nothing to do with packing, something to do with style, and all to do with the BLARF.

What is a BLARF you ask? Well a BLARF, or less commonly called a Skanket, is a magical, magical little item. It is versatile, it is cozy, it’s relatively easy to pack, and it’s classy fuck.
The BLARF is a blanket, any pattern or fabric of your choice, that, wrapped around your shoulders and or neck, become a type of scarf or poncho.
-But Amelia, you are describing a shawl.
Oh, simpleton, how wrong you are. A BLARF is far more majestic than a common shawl. A shawl is made and bred for wearing. A BLARF, like a wild horse, was forced into your control; it is a blanket you have broken to become a scarf. That is one of the many wonders of the BLARF.

Another of its many talents is versatility. For this reason, it becomes a packing essential. It is warm, can be added on top of almost anything, and -if done right- can make you look effortlessly cozy-casual.
Cold on a bus ride? Blanket!
Neck uncomfortable on a plane? Pillow!
Only have dirty wrinkled tank tops? Cover up!
Suddenly starts raining? Hooded shawl!
Need to burry your face is shame? No problem!

Added bonus- BLARF is incredibly fun to say. Just try it yourself. Do it. Try it!

I could go on but then I would be taking the fun out of discovering the magic of the BLARF for yourself.

Update from Evin… Finally

“Monday March 28- Well I haven’t journaled at all since leaving school. I was really good at finding excuses, like not having time. Which was sometimes valid. But I also think that a big part of it was that I was in a pretty good place mentally and wasn’t struggling with processing a lot. It was actually amazing that there wasn’t many things that happened that I didn’t have anyone to talk to about . At the beginning of my stay in breck I was worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about personal or odd things. Izze and Amelia were on a different content! But little did I know I would become so close with many wonderful people that I could share beautiful things with…”

….that was the beginning of my (Evin) first journal entry out of the states. Literally. I was in a plane probably over the ocean. Saying goodbye to my cozy mountain habitat that I had become very in love with. I had a wonderful 3 months and exactly 85 days of work. Packed with waist

deep powder days, karaoke nights, humans that have become dearto me and so many other unforgettable moments. As I kept saying in my Instagram posts, leaving breck was bittersweet. I couldn’t possibly be too saddened when I was leaving to travel other countries with my two favorite ladies. I should tell you all that plans have changed from our ordinal itinerary. Which we could have guessed because nothing ever goes as planned, as it should be. That would make life quite boring. So instead of stating out devious plans and then telling our new ones. I am just going to say our new ones, again this is what we know of as now, but there’s always the chance and opportunity for them changing. First I met Izze and Amelia in London. That same night we bussed from London to Manchester . From Manchester we found ourselves in our current location, Edinburgh, Scotland. Now that we are caught up to the present, let’s discuss the future (as we know it). From Edinburgh we will travel to Croatia, from there we will go onto Thailand, next comes Paris and (this is a little fuzzy), but we do know that from Paris and if any other places that we do small trips from we will go to Iceland and then back to the states! The end of our trip becomes a little different for each of us. I will be staying in Iceland for about a month and then heading home to the states. Oh man oh man. 

My excitement hasn’t ceased, each day a rush of excitement comes over me when I realize the journey that we are on. It’s been about 15 days since I left breck and although it’s been quite the transition. I am thankful for all that I have and will learn and this opportunity. As Dr. Seuss says in one of my favorite books: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”. It’s up to us all individually what we will do with our lives and HOW we will will go about living. Much Love- Evin 

P.S. My next post won’t be nearly as long. I just wanted to update everyone. 

  

U oK? Mini Update 

So here  we are in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You might be wondering why the hell we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland and not in Italy. 

Here’s the deal. During our original planning and researching period, we were looking up visas and the laws about traveling in & out of all these countries, and we came across this thing called the Schengen area. Have you heard of it? No? Well let me fill you in. 

The Schengen area is, truly, a fabulous thing. It allows most of the countries in Europe to function as one big country, more or less, meaning that those with European or UK passports or visas can travel through the area easily. Doesn’t it sound great? 

It is. But not for us rather naive set of travelers. For people with American passports and no visas, it means that we cannot be in any combination of the member countries for longer than 90 days. So we couldn’t be in Spain for 2.5 months, then go to Italy for another month, and THEN go to Iceland for one more month without a visa. They’re all member countries and we would have been there for closer to 150 days, and then get kicked out and banned from entering the area again for five years. 

No thanks. 

So, anyway, we read about this thing early on in our planning, with enough time to apply for and get a visa – had we done that. But we were a little confused about this area and what it really meant for us, so we asked a travel agent friend about it. Through some possible miscommunication and/or general confusion, we somehow came to the conclusion that this thing wasn’t actually going to be a problem for us. 

Oh how wrong we were. 

A few months later, literally days before Amelia and I were set to leave for Spain, we revisited our Schengen research and, not really to our surprise, our original fears were confirmed. Our original travel plans were to be thrown out the window. Since Amelia & I had committed ourselves to these families in Spain, we couldn’t get out of spending 2.5 months in the Schengen, and there was no way we were about to get a visa in time, of course. 

So we were presented with a new challenge, to completely reconstruct our journey. One thing we did do right in this situation was that we only had two tickets purchased – our ticket to Spain and our ticket home from Iceland, but everything in between was open, so we didn’t have to worry about canceling any tickets. 

For me, Izze here, this challenge was more exciting than anything. There was a moment of fear at the beginning when we first discovered our new fate. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do any trip. Plus I felt like a total idiot. But what is a journey without a radical change of plans? Amongst these three jolly wanderers. 

After the brief wave of fear and uncertainty moved over, I got excited. We now had another chance to make our trip into almost anything we wanted it to be. We got to create a new journey with different destinations and possibilities for adventure. How cool is that?

 I’ve always prided myself in being incredibly adaptable. I can sleep anywhere, eat almost anything, and remain content. I find it much better to roll with the punches and see what experiences I can gain from saying YES to things, embracing change, and taking out of it what I can find or generate on my own. (This has created an interesting relationship with myself and my ability to say no and ask for what I want, but that’s another post).

In one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe, there’s a dinner conversation happening between an uncle and a nephew. The nephew is explaining his reasoning for dropping out of Yale, and the uncle is telling him about how that’s a horrible idea and his ruining his future and blah blah blah. Eventually it comes down to the Max, the nephew, saying “Isn’t it about who I am and not what I do?” To which uncle Teddy replies “No, Maxwell, what you do defines who you are.” And Max coming back with “No, uncle Teddy, who you are defines what you do.” After which he turns to his new, English friend Jude and says “What do you think, Jude?” And after being put directly on the spot, he very sheepishly answers “Well…surely it’s not what you do…but how you do it.” 

This interaction can be applied too many parts of my life, and may aspects of this journey, as well, but for now I’ll make it about this adaptability talk.

Basically, I believe that the way which we are inside of a specific situation has much more influence than the situation itself, in terms of how we will experience it and what we will get out of it. The energy and intention we bring into an experience, whether it be a relationship, a new job, a family dinner, a five month trip around the world, literally anything else, is just as important as what exactly it is we’re doing. 

I agree with Jude – it’s not what you do, but how you do it. And I’ve decided to be intentional with the way I am doing this journey. If I am able to bring the energy and values which I want to ultimately get out into a situation, then it has a much higher potential of actually generating that energy and those values. 

This doesn’t mean I have ultimate control of what happens on a day to day basis or of how I will react to something or deal with something. This doesn’t mean that my intentions and values won’t change and alter and shift as the world does around me. But it does mean that I’m conscious of what I am bringing into my everyday life at the beginning of the day, that I am in constant interaction with the ‘how’ of my life. 

And this is what has opened me up to the possibility of intense adaptability. I know that I can be content in many situations because it’s not about what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it. 

So I knew wherever we were, whatever we were doing, I am there to learn, to explore, to expand, to challenge myself, to practice what I had already learned so far in my life, to generate new relationships with others and with myself, and to find out a little bit more about my personal ‘how.’ 

Anyway, this meant that we had to think about some new places we wanted to visit which are also outside of the Schengen area. One of those places is the UK! Good ol’ Great Britain is not a member of the Schengen area, so I chose to bring us here. It has been beautiful and grey, full of music, history, art, and tons of tea.

If you’re ever planning a trip to Europe, make sure you know what the Schengen is and how it works. And if you’re ever planning a trip anywhere overseas, make sure you do better research than we did.