About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

September 15, 2010

Tales from My Favorite Vagabond

This is a guest post by my friend Regina Heller.   Her personal bio describes herself as a "vagabond"and I have long been captivated by her brilliant descriptions of meetings with interesting people from around the world, the places she has seen, and the photos that she shares in her never frequent enough e-mails to friends and family. I asked her if she would please share some of her experiences here on my blog, and am delighted that she agreed. She talks about slowly eliminating her belongings, going to one of poorest countries in the world, and experiencing extraordinary wealth that has nothing to do with personal possessions . . . Ro.

In May 2007, I planned to hold a yard sale. I had decided to take a trip abroad for the next few months, and knew that I had to clean out, pack up, and reduce my belongings down to a few neatly packed boxes before I could go. Images of spices, smoke, sparkling waters, soaring peaks, danced in my head. Needless to say, I was motivated to tackle the task at hand!

I had all the creature comforts of what I considered to be average for a young 20s living in Los Angeles. I rented an apartment, had some odd furniture here and there. Some clothes. Picture frames. Books. Paintings. Art supplies. Shoes. A car. I had just finished school, and didn't have what I felt to be an abundance of belongings. Of course I dreamed of one day having all my books (plus so, so many more) lining my own mini library. I dreamed of the colors I would paint the walls in my future home. And I always thought that no matter what, I would have a place one day to call home—not because I wanted to STAY there, but because the idea of all my belongings having a place to belong, the idea of all my mail having a solid, permanent place to go... these ideas were what tempted me.

I started bringing things out to the yard, and carefully laying them out temptingly for buyers to be able to see. The trips back and forth between apartment and yard became more frequent, and I began to realize that perhaps I hadn’t done too poorly over the years, amassing my so-called treasures and trinkets. It turned out that I had a lot—a lot of what I could easily classify as just… STUFF. I put up signs all over the neighborhood, sold a majority of my things, and donated the rest. Packed up a few boxes of things I couldn’t bare to sell or throw away. Then I packed a small duffle bag and school backpack, and flew across the world.

As I traveled, I learned that if there was anything I planned to buy, I had also plan to carry it with me! This prevented almost all purchases, and even led to some reductions. I was reluctant to buy clothes, souvenirs, and instead opted to take more pictures, write my experiences in a travel journal, and paint them in my sketchbook… rather than buy an item and take it with me. I found that I had more money to buy more plane tickets, to go more exotic and interesting places. I sampled foreign foods, took buses and trains, and met amazing people. Everywhere I went my backpack and duffel bag came with me. I even began to feel I might have packed too much.

The trip abroad lasted six months. Then it stretched out another few months. And another few months. And before long, it was May 2010. By this point I had started giving up more things I had previously deemed crucial. In addition to using chez Mom and Dad as my permanent address and storage unit, I had already sold my car, and gotten rid of most my things. I came back to Los Angeles to visit.

I started to go through those few neatly packed boxes that I had deemed un-throw-away-able. It was the most mortifying experience! I pulled out a furry pink boa, beat up skirts from high school, textbooks from university that I would never read again, and more. Not seeing my belongings for three years gave me perspective… the perspective that most things that I had clung to were not in fact missed or necessary, and that 90% of the things I had kept could just as easily have been given away to close friends or donated, or even trashed!

As I live abroad and continue to take trips, I am constantly mindful of acquiring and hording new belongings. Incredibly, I managed to meet my perfect match. Not only does he keep the clutter down to a minimum, but because of his work, we will find ourselves moving to a different country, and a different home every two to three years, mostly to already furnished apartments and houses. Home is what we ourselves make, and what we carry on and within us, and as I’ve found, can indeed be reduced to as small as the purse I take out with me.


Notes from Ro:  Regina's current home base is Anakar, Turkey. In the past few years she has lived in Switzerland and Israel, and traveled extensively throughout Asia, Europe and Africa. She has a bachelor degrees in both art and psychology, and a masters degree in marital and family therapy with an emphasis in art therapy. She specializes in working with children, and in fact recently worked with children, giving lessons in art, English, and culture, and using these subjects as a means through which to enhance development.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rousing Rowena blog rocks! I loved this post!