My 10 Travel Takeaways
New Zealand was a beautiful, beautiful place. Beautiful scenery engulfed me. Mountains surrounded me. Bodies of water filled with life flowed all around me. There were so many places to see, so many people to meet, and so many things to learn. There were some things I took away from that trip… some things that taught me about life and love and faith. I’ve created 10 takeaways from my travels I’d like to share with you:
1. God is everywhere.
Whether I was kayaking in the middle of the ocean, whale-watching high in the air in a helicopter, hiking to the top of a mountain, or bungee jumping off a bridge, God was with me every step of the way. He was there listening to my prayers to not be eaten by a shark, my prayers that my cord wouldn’t snap as I jumped, my prayers that the helicopter wouldn’t malfunction and break down. He was there to hear me thank Him for all the beauties He’s created. He was there to hold my hand when I felt afraid or insecure. He was there to comfort me, to love me, to be by my side. He was there to carry me when I felt like I couldn’t do it on my own. He was there. In the ripples of the ocean, the wind through the trees, the air that I breathed right before I jumped. He was there. And He is here. Always.
2. It’s mind over matter.
This is the line I kept telling myself before I jumped off of that bridge. “It’s mind over matter, Madison. It’s mind over matter.” It wasn’t about physically worrying whether or not I would go through with the bungee jump. It was all mental. Too often in life we think we can’t do things. We think we can’t do what we want to. We build up walls for ourselves and make ourselves believe that we really can’t accomplish what we have set out to. We overthink. We doubt. We let our thoughts creep in. The mental limitations we place on ourselves keep us from succeeding. Let those thoughts go. Don’t overthink. Jump. God will either catch you or teach you how to fly.
3. The world does not revolve around you.
There was a girl on our trip that over and over said, “I feel so small.” We’d look up at the huge mountains that surrounded us and the huge bodies of water that engulfed us and thought just that: we are so small. It got me thinking about my place in the world. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that my momentary troubles and worries are so big. The things that I have to deal with and overcome seem huge. This trip was a good reminder that those things I worry about so much are actually quite small. The huge problems I think I have really aren’t that big. There is so much more to life than the small road bumps we think are mountains. Look out. Don’t just look in. Don’t become so consumed with what’s going on in your own life that you forget what’s going on around you.
4. Life is not about the numbers.
We get caught up in numbers, in followers, in likes, in fans, in the number of people that like us, in the number of people that don’t. We worry about how much money we have. We worry about how many days our loved ones or ourselves have left. We become consumed with numbers. In amounts. In abundances. But success is not defined by a number. It’s determined by impact.
While I was in New Zealand, views on my website went way down. I wasn’t posting things. I wasn’t engaging as much with those following my writing. I didn’t have time to maintain these “numbers.” Although my views dropped quite substantially, I had some of the most meaningful messages from people who reached out and told me how they had been impacted by my writings. And I had some of the most beautiful moments with God’s creation.
I will tell you this right now: it is not near as important the number of people who follow you, but the impact you have on those people. It could be one person or one million people. But if you’re impacting and affecting just one, that’s what matters.
We are all so small. But it’s not about our size. It’s about our impact.
5. Every person you encounter has a story to tell.
Everyone is the way they are for a reason. Get to know them. Ask questions. See the good and not the bad. Focus on their strengths. Understand that they have struggles. Bring out the best in them. Want the best for them. There were so many things I learned about people on this trip, but that’s only because I asked questions and made an effort. Get to know people. Hear their story.
6. Risk taking and facing fears are a must.
I decided to bungee jump about a week before we actually went and did it. I really don’t love heights, and I was scared. Each time someone mentioned the jump leading up to it, I shut the conversation down and plugged my ears. I didn’t even want to think about it. On the morning we were to jump, I immediately broke into a sweat as soon as I woke up. But as I stood at the edge of that platform and prayed to God He would keep me alive, I realized I was facing a fear. I was staring it right in the face and was about to jump right into it. You’ve got to be able to do that in order to grow. You’ve got to be able to take risks and be uncomfortable. You can train your body to be more fearless. It’s mind over matter, remember? ;)
7. Happiness lives today.
Happiness lives right here, right now in this moment. Do not defer it to the future. Don’t wait for that one thing that you think will fix everything and make you feel fulfilled and truly happy. Even when you attain that thing you’re waiting for, something will still feel like it’s missing. Enjoy the ride and embrace the happiness that lives today. Joy is around you just waiting to be chosen.
8. Differences are what make us special.
Differences are not bad things. Differences make us stronger. They make us aware. They educate us. They expand our knowledge. They help us grow. We met with the Maori people in New Zealand and were able to learn so much from them. While their lifestyle was very different from ours, they welcomed us in and taught us about their beautiful ways. We ate with them, sang with them, and played games with them. Those differences created something beautiful.
Embrace those differences. Don’t shy away from them. Don’t be turned off by them. Use them as opportunities to learn. Turn away from being a cookie cutter image. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Step outside of the comfort box.
9. Things don’t always go according to plan.
If getting stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere didn’t teach me that on my way to California a while back, then I don’t know what would. There were many times throughout the trip to New Zealand where things didn’t go according to plan. We were supposed to visit a night sky observatory to look at the stars, but it ended up being too cloudy. We were supposed to see whales on our helicopter ride, with only a 3% chance that we wouldn’t get to see any… our group didn’t. We were supposed to go to the top of a glacier, but the weather kept us from doing that. At one point our van get stuck in the mud… I must be bad luck :) The point is that not everything always goes according to plan. We have to accept that. And when things don’t go as planned, we have to look at possible alternatives and move forward. Complaining won’t help, moping around won’t make things better, and pouting won’t improve the situation. Keep your head up, count your blessings, and move forward. Life goes on.
10. Nobody has it all figured out.
I really love this takeaway. It’s so easy to think that some people have all the answers, that some people have everything figured out. The truth of the matter is that no one really does. Everyone’s got their own struggles and their own problems. There isn’t a single soul on this earth that has all the answers. We’re all broken people in some sort of way. We’re beautiful, but we’re broken. So there’s no need to compare your brokenness to someone else’s. I promise you that there is no use in it. Quit looking around and thinking that everyone else has all their squeaky clean ducks in a row. Because they don’t. Embrace who you are, who God has made you to be, and love this life you’re given.
So there are my travel takeaways. I know I have a lot more to learn, but wow, I sure do appreciate all the people and situations and experiences God has placed in my life to teach me things. Make sure to look up today. See this beautiful life God has given you. Embrace who He has made you to be, and listen to what He is trying to teach you too. Adventure awaits.