Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mongolia - Day 1

     Gandan Monastery - Prayer Wheels

Day 1 of our trip may be deemed the "tourist day", as we drove around the city of Ulaanbaatar hitting up the most iconic historical spots. Not to mention, we were also getting over a 14 hour jet lag, and a 36 hour travel day, so we were moving at a pretty slow pace.

 First stop on our list was the Gandan Monastery, which holds an 85 foot (26 meter) gilded Buddha statue. All around the temple, both inside and out, they had these beautiful prayer wheels. Each prayer wheel had the mantra "Om Mani Pedi Hum" in Sanskrit, which is a blessing for love and compassion. It is said that when these wheels are spun, it's the equivalent of saying this mantra out loud, and  that these prayers of love and compassion are sent out into the Universe. You can bet your bottom dollar that I spun every one of these prayer wheels at every single temple and monastery we went to throughout Mongolia.

Next up, we went to the Genghis (which they pronounce as Chinggis) Khan monument on the square, as well as the National Mongolian Museum. Here we were able to learn about the Khan empire, and the impact they had on Mongolian history. It was definitely interesting to hear the local's side of the story rather than the information we learned growing up in school here in the States. 

    Ulaanbaatar - City view from Zaisan Memorial

Zaisan Memorial

                                  Buddha's Park

As you can see Ulaanbaatar is a HUGE city. There is so much to do, and so much to see around here. It was quite the culture shock compared to Texas, but it was all very welcomed and needed.

Buddha's Park

       BogdKhaan's Palace

One of my favorite stops of the day was when we went to visit the BogdKhaan's Palace, the residence of the last king of Mongolia. The architecture here was truly amazing. There were so many beautiful sun-washed colors, and little details around the residence that my camera was filled with random pictures of roofs, corners, walls, and doors so I wouldn't forget any its beauty. What was even crazier, is how something so historical and precious was in the middle of the city surrounded by modern apartment buildings, and grocery stores. 

Since this was our last night in the city, we made sure to take advantage of our hotel room. We ate like Queen's this night at the Kempinski Hotel, and each took a nice and hot shower since there were no guarantees for hot water the remainder of the trip. 

Our Selena Travel Group - My Sister (Hannah), Myself, Amelie, Deborah (soon to be known as Lady Deborah) and Ross.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mongolia - my path to happiness

As many of you know, I recently took a 2 week sabbatical to travel and backpack across Mongolia. I'm sure you, like many of my other friends and family thought to yourself "Mongolia?! Really, Ceci?" So, allow me to explain myself. 

This year has been a year of transition for me. I don't know if anyone else had this experience, but after I graduated college I took upon the role of "being an adult". I figured since I graduated, it was time for me to get a "real job", move out of my parent's house, and start living the "adult life". For years I tried to live a life that I thought I was supposed to. I made plans and decisions based on what I was "supposed" to do, rather than what I really wanted to do, in fear that I would be judged for my actions. Most of the time I ended up being really stressed out...especially when things or events didn't turn out as I planned. As the months went on I merely coasted through, accomplishing the bare minimum of what needed to be done in all aspects of my life...whether it was with my work, my relationship, or even my health. And then, 2015 happened. 

Towards the beginning of the year, life simply happened. I had an event occur where I could either take the destructive route, or the high road. Of course, I definitely went down the not-so-great-road for a bit, but with the help of my friends and family I have landed in the present, which is thankfully full of life, and restoration. And that is exactly what Mongolia was for me, a trip full of healing, peace and restoration.

Meet my Mom's friend Amelie; a world traveler, practicing Buddhist, and all around good person. When my mom was 18, she packed up her things, jumped in a van and moved from Michigan to Austin. When she arrived in Austin, her neighbor ended up being Amelie, and from that moment on they have been the best of friends. 

To keep the long story short, I will summarize by saying if it weren't for Amelie, this trip to Mongolia wouldn't have been possible. When I was first given this invite to travel along with her, I had some hesitations. Before 2015, I wasn't the type of person to say "yes" to traveling abroad, let alone to Mongolia. For reasons based out of fear. Fear that I couldn't handle the culture shock, fear that I would get sick, fear that I wouldn't like any of the food, and more importantly fear that I would feel lonely. However with much convincing from friends and family, I realized that that as scared as I was, this somehow seemed to be the perfect solution to find peace within. This was my opportunity to push fear aside, and live outside my comfort zone...and thank goodness I did.

This trip to Mongolia made me realize many things. It made me appreciate all the little things in life. It also put my so called "first world problems" into perspective. I realized it's a luxury to have paved roads, toilets, and hot water. We spent many nights in the country side of Mongolia where there was no internet or electricity, which led many of the nomadic families to spend time having some good ol' fashioned fun. With Mongolia having about 16 hours of sunlight in the Summer, the families and camp employees would spend countless hours playing in the fields. Whatever little items they had, they were their prized possessions, whether it be a volleyball, a bouncy ball or bubbles.

Every day I was learning something new, not only about Mongolia, but something about myself. It wasn't until I got back home that I realized how much this trip changed my much it saved my life. I no longer live in that "adult" mindset I once did. Sure, I have some adult responsibilities, but my perception on how I should live my "adult life" is completely different than the one before. I no longer live life according to what's" normal", or what "should" be done. I simply live life for me. 

This trip was an opportunity for me to re-invent myself. A time where I was allowed to be free. 
Free to be bold. Free to be strong. Free to be adventurous. Free to be fearless. 

For the next few days, I plan on posting a few pictures here and there to show you the beauty of Mongolia, in hopes that they will inspire you to travel the world. I know this blog post is lengthy, but if you are to take one message, remember this. Life has no remote. If you aren't happy it's up to you to get up and change it yourself. Don't go around blaming others, as you are the one responsible for making the change. Happiness starts with you. Not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with you

So, now you know...the reason behind my trip to Mongolia. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

bonnell gypsy bracelet

Tomorrow (July 10th) is the last day to order some Little Pieces of Hope before I go on my two week sabbatical! During those two weeks offline, feel free to check out our local LPOH Stockists in your area.

Outfit Details

Shorts // Tula 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Red, White & Jeweled

Happy 4th of July! 
We figured since it's our favorite holiday, and we are about to close up shop for a while, that we would release a little summin' summin' for y'all. 

For the ENTIRE 4th of July weekend, take 15% off your Little Pieces of Hope order by typing in "FIREWORK15" before checking out. 


Outfit Details

Bottoms // Free People
Hat // Yellow 108