In March 2014, I made what many viewed as a questionable decision to leave the life I’d known in the United States. The walls of my world crumbled around me like a building’s demolition. My three structural pillars—marriage, career, and homestead—were leveled, and I controlled the wrecking ball. When the dust settled from my life’s destruction, I found myself lost in a land of unknowns with no blueprints for reconstruction.
I did, however, have this insistent force that kept gnawing at me, compelling me to drastically alter my course. I resisted and fought myself, adverse to the idea of change, but eventually I made an unlikely plan: pausing life as I knew it in America and resuming play in India. I had only two intentions when I left on my one-way flight, to find my highest self and a new creative path for my future.
Out of my twenty-eight-month healing journey across five continents came this book. Meant to be a healing text, I recount the transformative people and experiences that ultimately elevated me to a place of sustained contentment and true happiness. These were traits that had eluded me; their absence tormented me in the life I’d left behind. Only when I came to find a healthy version of myself did I fully realize how emotionally unhealthy I’d been, all while putting on a pretty face and functioning “happily” in society.
I’ve come to see there’s a void we have, most of us—an emptiness and internal suffering we don’t talk about at parties or even amongst our families and friends. We’ve become masters at filling this void and hiding from it so cunningly with food or TV, sex or relationships, shopping, working out, drugs, or alcohol, all high on the list of fillers.
Most of my life, I tried desperately to escape this void, clawing at life as the quicksand of negative inner dialogue, depression, and societal expectations worked to consume and suffocate me. I was surviving, yes, but gasping for air, never quite able to catch my breath. In all the energy spent on survival and personal destruction, I never considered the possible benefit of simply surrendering to the void and exploring it. My fears and insecurities held too much power over me then, and I’d been afraid of what I’d find.
Then one day in the foothills of the Himalayas, I dove headfirst into myself and began an inward journey. It was painful and confronting—but necessary and cathartic. This was the beginning of something, an opening. I began stripping away the layers of fear that had shaped the first half of my life, and I finally saw promise for the future. I began the reconstruction process, laying new foundations of love and compassion with walls of newfound wisdom and emotional equanimity; day by day, country by country, I was building anew, traveling an unfamiliar path back to my true self.
The Purpose of This Book
The purpose of this book is to inspire you, to motivate you, to challenge and encourage you to find the best version of yourself.
I’ve structured the book in a way that brings you into the story of my personal evolution, through traveling, where I came to question every aspect of who I was—my insecurities, fears, prejudices, and belief structures. These were the layers I needed to investigate to find my higher self. The true hope though is that it brings you to investigate the foundations of your own story and inspires you to elevate beyond it. We all have challenges and pain, perhaps trauma that’s left us emotionally wounded, but it’s how we rise above it that matters. In this rising up there is great power. When we choose the freedom of forgiveness and acceptance and prioritize our emotional well-being, we begin the healing process, and the past no longer dictates our future.
In every country, in every chapter, I learned something new about myself, and it led me question, well, everything. This book is part travel story, part lessons learned, and part free-flowing questions of self as I roamed the globe. I’ve also included “expansion exercises” where I invite you to travel inwardly and think introspectively on your own life; how we form destructive patterns, to question our limiting beliefs and how we view our place in the world.
This is about how we value ourselves and how that dictates our lives. It’s about finding purpose, regaining our personal power, and reclaiming our authentic selves. I’ve come to feel it’s when these elements are out of alignment that we suffer the more outwardly noticeable symptoms of low self-esteem, depression, neurosis, unhealthy habits, and addictions.
I titled the book Facing Freedom after a practice I developed in month sixteen of my travels but also because I found such freedom in facing myself in full truth. There were many immersive experiences I took part in overseas that were unique to my geographic location, so they’re likely unavailable to you, but the Facing Freedom practice is a personal healing journey that can be done in your own home. The idea came to me one tumultuous night in north Thailand, and it had such dramatic effects I had to share it with you. Ultimately, that practice led me to write this travel memoir with a healing theme.
I’ll tell you about my own Facing Freedom transformation, where I went from low self-worth to radical self-acceptance and sustaining self-love. Then I’ll give you simple instructions so you can navigate this immersive experience for yourself.
This book was written with the deep belief that our people, our societies, and our planet are in desperate need of healing and positive transformation. When we rise up into our higher selves, we can then project love, grace, and compassion into the world instead of fear, greed, and skepticism. I believe this may be the greatest challenge of our time, to prioritize our individual shifts in order to propel a collective quantum leap.