by Carmel on May 7, 2014 · 41 comments


A week before we left on our round-the-world trip feeling fearless and excited about the future

Months ago I wrote a post for a submission in the My Fearful Adventure content Torre DeRoche ran for her blog and the release of her fantastic book, Love With a Chance of Drowning. That post described a deep seated fear I have of being underwater for too long. My challenge? To face my fear by learning to scuba dive. Nearly 8 months into our travels and I have long abandoned that idea.

See, the problem is…I lied. That’s not my biggest fear. Yes, the idea of scuba diving still scares the bejesus out of me and if I’m being honest, it’ll be years before I get the idea to try it again. But there’s something bigger that haunts me on a daily basis. Something I’ve spent years avoiding and if it not for my current challenge of figuring out where to take this blog in the future, I might continue to avoid for years to come.

I’ve been participating in a blogging workshop this week with a number of talented and enthusiastic writers under the direction of Christine Gilbert from Almost Fearless. When Christine announced the Barcelona workshop would take place around the time we were planning to be in the area, I jumped at the chance to work with someone whose insight would help me take my blogging and writing to the next level. Now that I’m working on it, I feel lost. I’ve been asked the very direct (and fair) question: what do you want? What do I want from this blog? What do I want in life? What do you want to say? All these questions should be easy enough to answer, but I can’t form the words.

I’m afraid to say what I want.

After spending a number of hours after the workshop today crying, feeling sorry for myself, and talking to my husband, I finally went looking for advice in the best place I could think of – my own brain. I went back to a post I wrote last year and, oddly enough, noticed I had written exactly a year from this date. In it, I finally realize that the best voice I have is the one I have when I’m talking to Shawn. He is the person who allows me to be my most honest and true self.

“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
-Marilyn Monroe

As Shawn and I spoke tonight, post-meltdown, I finally realized that I’m allowing the fear of saying what I want hold me back. Why am I afraid of letting it be known what I want in life? I’ve had people in my life tear me down and ridicule my ideas. I’m afraid that I don’t have the confidence in my dreams to let them be known to the world, so I’d rather hold them close. In doing so, I’m not stating my intentions and I’m losing my focus and my voice.

The truth is – I survived those toxic people in my life. More importantly, I got rid of them.

So I’m going to face my fears right now. I’ve had enough of holding my dreams dear and allowing the fear of my truth hold me back.

I want to own a business. I want to go to culinary school to get my pastry certificate and eventually work for myself. I want to open a bakery or deli in about 5 years. Why 5 years? Because I want to have kids soon after we get back and want to have time to see them in their very early years. I’ll be close to 40 by the time this is all in motion. So what? Luckily I come from a long line of energetic, ambitious women who work hard well into their 60s and 70s.

There it is. I don’t know what life has in store for me the next few years. I do know a few things – I’m a survivor. I’m a hard worker. And I can be really damned stubborn when I want something.


Feeling determined and ready to face challenges head on


{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? May 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Do you feel like your trip has helped you in this discovery, and ultimately, helped prepare you better for overcoming your real fears? I was just thinking the other day about what my trip has done for me aside from the obvious (learning about the world, practicing my writing, finding balance), and how I have changed in not so obvious ways. I feel like I know so much more about myself because I’ve had so much more time to myself without the distractions of life in Portland (namely, a full time job). I’ve had this luxury of sitting quietly and thinking about my life, having long talks with Peter, and really being able to reflect exactly where I am at in my life right now. I think the greatest gifts from this year will be not as much the experience of traveling (as amazing as that has been too) but more so the time I had to really take care of myself and understand what my next steps are.

What I haven’t done yet, and I will take inspiration from you, is pinpoint what my real barriers are to leading a fully intentional life upon returning to Portland. But I feel like I’m close, really close, and your post is going to help me nail it. Thanks, Carmel.

I can’t wait to go to that bakery, cafe, food cart, or whatever fantastic enterprise you create! If it has even half of the hard work, energy, love, and dedication you put into this blog, it will be amazing.
Lindsay @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Parque Llao Llao, Patagonia, ArgentinaMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Great question, Lindsay. I absolutely believe that taking this year has given me the space I needed to identify and start chipping away at what’s been holding me back. Travel has obviously opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities, but I think that accomplishing this first dream of ours has given me the motivation and especially confidence to tackle other things. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Well, I feel like I’m recovering from a negative perception of myself. I’m trying to free myself from the negative old biddy in my head that tells me I can’t do something because it’s too risky.

I can’t wait to see what you do. You have a lot of positive energy that can carry you really far in life. Don’t let that slip away. Can’t wait to have some yummy IPAs and talk this over soon!!


Kellie May 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I love this Carmel. I love that you talk about your melt down, people so often skirt over this bit. I find it often takes this vital step to get somewhere. Its feels so good to get there doesn’t it? And we’re so lucky that this life we’ve built allows us time to do that, to think about what we want.

I’ve every faith that if you want something it’ll happen. And I’d definitely be a regular customer. You will do international shipping won’t you?
Kellie recently posted…Oh la la! A guide to San Cristobal – In photosMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Oh, I’m a master at the meltdown. I really believe that sometimes you have to break down the old bad ways in order to rebuild. It does feel good. I am so grateful for the wonderful comments and support I’m getting, but I feel the best just for allowing myself to say it. I can’t tell you how much weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

For you, of course I’ll ship internationally!


Emily May 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I can completely relate to your post. I have a history of people-pleasing and so if I don’t feel 100% myself around folks I tend to be super quiet rather than letting people know my opinion (and not caring if they agree or not). One thing we’ve noticed since starting our trip is that our true selves has leaked through our blog – Ewan even commented he’s surprised with how open I am sometimes in my writing. It’s those revelations that really make me wonder why I typically hide the way I did. I am so thankful to have the epiphanies I’ve had and know that I will learn a lot more about myself – I just hope I have the courage to stay true to myself and conquer those fears once we’re done travelling!
Emily recently posted…Valparaiso: Who Needs A Canvas When You Have Walls?My Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I hope you continue to find ways to break down those barriers. I love that old saying, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Shawn told me that I have to go with my gut. This is what my gut tells me daily and I’m finally learning to listen up.


Emy May 7, 2014 at 2:38 pm

You are fantastic my dear and never cease to amaze me with your ambitions, actions and never ending quest to conquer life. xoxo.


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Thank you! I appreciate your constant quest to make me feel really good about myself.


Sarah Somewhere May 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Hooray!!! Congratualtions on speaking your dream out loud. I have also found that since achieving this dream of travel, my dreams are constantly shifting. I also hope you know that while I one hundred percent believe you can do this, if things change again and you feel like moving in another direction, honour that too. Just because you have declared this a dream for now, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind! I love you and love this post (and will say I love your cooking/baking WHEN I try it!). Can’t wait!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted…The real workMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm

That’s such a good reminder, Sarah. I completely agree that we have to allow ourselves to change the course. Getting stuck too much on one idea can steer us away from an opportunity maybe we never considered.

Cooking for you is one of my personal missions!


Karen May 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Honestly written. Carmel, you can do anything you want to, and doing what you love and loving what you are doing is a rare gift that most people never open up. Do what makes you happy. Share your gifts Enjoy the journey we call life. All of us, as your family and friends, will love and support you.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Perfect quote. Boy am I lucky to have so much support!


Kim May 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Honey, I have no doubt that you will succeed as I have been one of the lucky ones who has enjoyed your AMAZING talent in the kitchen. The first step is saying out loud what you want. Keep saying it aloud and you will get there, just as you did your dream of travel. XOXOXOXO


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm

It reminds me a lot of our conversations about stating intentions to travel and write. It’s only intimidating when you allow it to intimidate it. I know I have the resources to make this happen, just like I did with saving for this trip. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we both did it. Thanks for continuing to be a huge inspiration to me!


Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? May 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Sounds like you’re off to a good start. Sign me up for them pastries!
Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Parque Llao Llao, Patagonia, ArgentinaMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm

You got it!


Janice Stringer May 8, 2014 at 1:33 am

Hi Carmel,
I think I can honestly say, this is the post I’ve liked the most out of all you have written!
I suppose because it gives an insight into you… I like to get to know the people I read about, then I too can care about what they want and send encouraging waves out into the ether to hopefully be of assistance to them – namely you achieving your dreams.
I too have a dream – in the short term I want to be able to travel, write and relax. (For me this means earning a living whilst doing so)Build my writing so it is my business, utilising all I learn and experience in the forward movement towards owning my very own tentvillage in New Zealand. Will it all happen, who knows, but I’m going to give it a go! So thanks for sharing. There are folks out here, who may not know you but still care about what you want to achieve.
Janice Stringer recently posted…5 Top Tapas Dishes to TryMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm

That means a lot, Janice. I think I’ve relied a lot on my reputation amongst the bloggers I’ve read and whose writing I’ve commented on for so long. For me, it’s been easier to sit on the sidelines and be the cheerleader than it has to stand up and say I have a dream. Good luck on your writing!


Janice Stringer May 21, 2014 at 12:11 am

Hi again Carmel,
I love what you say – I want to own a business and then in the next sentence you have found a way to do that and in the process you can have the best time building a family. It all sounds totally achievable and wonderful. I too want to own my own business, I am ready now to do so, for the first time in my life I think but sometimes things get mixed up and I can’t work them out. That’s life I suppose!
Take care
Janice Stringer recently posted…Live, Die, RepeatMy Profile


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 8, 2014 at 4:24 am

It’s really nice to see you stating your dream so decisively and proudly in this way and I definitely believe 100% that if you want to go to culinary school and make food your career then you absolutely will do that. I’ve always known that food is one of your big passions and it only makes sense to me that you would do something with that. Even if it has been hard for you to reach a place where you feel at peace in stating this dream, I’m glad that you’ve made it and have pushed through to the other side. I guess they don’t call them breakthroughs for nothing!

Good luck to you as you start navigating the next steps on your journey. You may find you have to break some more eggs along the way (ha?) but inevitably it will be worth it so long as it’s the path you want to walk. I for one am very excited that I’ll one day have the chance to eat something you’ve cooked—it’s been such torture looking at the beautiful meals you’ve created and blogged about but not being able to taste them!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…The Country We Just Can’t QuitMy Profile


Carmel May 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Ah Steph, I can always count on you for a pun. 🙂 I can’t wait to get your feedback one day (soon!).


Rhonda May 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm

A lovely post. I agree with some of the comments above, just STATING the intention seems to be the perfect jumping off point to achieve your goals. Just look at how far you’ve come in the year since you took off to wander the world, saying “so there!” to any naysayers opinions. I believe that traveling the world opens up so many doors, not just to the world, but to our inner desires as well. I can’t wait until you open that bakery 🙂
Rhonda recently posted…The Art of OverlandingMy Profile


Carmel May 10, 2014 at 2:44 am

Absolutely. Like Sarah said earlier, it’s ok if this doesn’t happen exactly as I’ve just stated, but the intention is out there and I feel good about that. Things may change, but like with this trip, I had to say I wanted it and start the work. Taking this trip has definitely been a launchpad for our other life goals.


Charlie May 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Good for you, girl 🙂 too many of us go through life wasting opportunities because we’re too scared to admit what we want. I think you’ve won half the battle by just taking the time to work out and realise what you want then state it, that’s not easy in itself.
Charlie recently posted…Tea time! Afternoon tea in the British countrysideMy Profile


Carmel May 10, 2014 at 2:45 am

I think we all secretly know what we want, but maybe we’ve just buried it under fear or the old tapes we’ve created telling us what a dumb idea it is. Slowly, I’m starting to chip away at those things. It’s a process, but a worthwhile endeavor.


Donna Gumaer May 10, 2014 at 3:35 am


There is no doubt in my mind that you will accomplish everything you want. With as much insight you have about your goals, how can there be any doubt. Looking so forward to yours and Shawn’s visit!!


Carmel May 13, 2014 at 4:29 am

Thanks Mrs. G! We’re looking forward to our visit, too. I can’t believe it’s so soon!


Maddie May 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I sometimes think the hardest part is knowing and admitting what you really want out of life so massive congrats for getting to that point. Long term travel gives you that kick up the butt to realise that you can achieve what others might think impossible and it also gives you the luxury of lots of free time to figure out a plan in your head. Can’t wait to see what the next 5 years brings you Carmel 🙂
Maddie recently posted…Tips for finding a job after long term travelMy Profile


Carmel May 13, 2014 at 4:31 am

It’s SO hard to figure out. I think just taking a step will help me figure out the details. It doesn’t all have to be clear right now – that might be one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during our travels.


Rob May 12, 2014 at 10:21 am

Well done for admitting your fears and for getting rid of toxic people. I recently met someone who said he only has friends who enhance his life. It sounded harsh at first, but the more he explained the more I got it. Whether they make you laugh, or are a shoulder to cry your, they bring something positive to your life. If they didn’t he just got rid of them. I liked his style 🙂

Good luck!
Rob recently posted…A Feast in Oaxaca – Mexican cooking courseMy Profile


Carmel May 13, 2014 at 4:33 am

Yeah, it sounds harsh, but it’s only fair. People like to pass of pessimism as realism, but I don’t buy it. I think you can be realistic and still be a positive person. The truth doesn’t have to be mean or destructive.


Catherine May 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

This is a great plan and I’m sure you’re going to be a very successful deli owner 🙂 Best of luck for all your future plans and congratulations for working out what you want and be brave enough to tell the whole world!
Catherine recently posted…Cheesecake: A Random StoryMy Profile


Carmel May 13, 2014 at 4:34 am

Thank you Catherine! It’s the first time I’ve admitted something and felt really excited to go do the work rather than intimidated by it. That’s probably a good sign. 🙂


Ali May 14, 2014 at 8:03 am

I love this! I can totally relate to not having enough confidence in myself and being afraid to say (or even think) what I want. Sometimes what I want feels so buried and accustomed to being ignored that I can’t find it. And I *just* got done having my own mini meltdown to my husband about some very related topics.

I think going to culinary school and owning your own business sounds like an awesome idea!
Ali recently posted…Packing Made Simple: A Simple Guide to Packing Light e-bookMy Profile


Carmel May 19, 2014 at 2:20 am

Ali, I spent so many years doing the same thing, so trust me when I say I understand. I think I buried my dreams for such a long time, it’s taken me this entire year to catch a glimpse of them again and start digging them out. Keep searching and be honest with yourself. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s very worthwhile. This is what I’ll be repeating to myself as I continue down my path of discovery!


Satu VW / Destination Unknown May 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

I read this post while in Barcelona but then I had an open bottle of cava in front on me hence I wanted to revisit it later (i.e. not slightly tipsy…) 🙂 I love the honesty in your writing and your fearlessness to lay it all out there. It was in inspiration to meet you last week and I am so excited for you – can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the coming weeks and months! I look forward to following your journey <3
Satu VW / Destination Unknown recently posted…The many returns – over ten years of Italian village life revisitedMy Profile


Carmel May 19, 2014 at 2:21 am

Thank you so much Satu! I am eternally grateful for the group there because you all created a safe space for me to spill my guts! I cannot say enough about how inspired I felt (and still feel!) after that week. I felt a pull to sign up and now I know why!


Bethany ~ twoOregonians September 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

I feel you.

Fear is such a beast. Keep on overcoming, though! The stubbornness pays off, right? 🙂
Bethany ~ twoOregonians recently posted…Closer to ClosingMy Profile


Carmel September 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

It’s a good thing I have stubbornness in spades. 😉


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 2 trackbacks }