I'm Tara.

I'm just a silly little girl who likes to go places and tell her silly little stories.

SLK documents the adventures I've had across 5 continents & who I've become on my journeys. 

You can read my full story in the 'About' tab! 

27 // state of the union address

27 // state of the union address

Without fail, I write a state of the union address every year on my birthday. You can read other birthday state of the unions on the blog here: 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

If you would have told me that I'd be back in Laos to celebrate my birthday for the third year in a row, I would have laughed and probably thought you a liar. What kind of strange magic the Universe has, aye? It can bring you exactly where you need to be at exactly the right time. 

I'm turning 27 today, on the 7th day of September in the year 2017. A lot of a 'seven' happening 'round here. Which, is extra special given the significance of the number seven where I am. When the Buddha was 'born', he is said to have walked seven steps. Seven is also the number of ascent. Then there is the broader Eastern belief that seven is the number of connection. It's believed to be good luck for relationships {especially romantic}. You can find that significant or spiritual or stupid. 

 But I totally dig it. 

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My twenties continue to be filled with exploring new places, revisiting destinations I've found 'home' in, a lot of learning {both in the world of academia and the School of Reality}, and seriously significant moments. I visited 7 states and too many cities to count {only because I'm lazy}. I spent time in Laos, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Cuba. I got an offer for a book. I finished my M.A. and upgraded my TEFL. I got a Global Certification in Yoga Instruction. But, for whatever reason, I had a hard time figuring out what 26 has been all about. 

It has taken me a while to determine what makes 26 different than the years before it. I lived overseas, again. I travelled internationally and domestically, again. I made mistakes and learned from them, again. And, as always, I loved fucking hard.

So what was 26?

What special significance can I label the last 365 with? If I did the usual-- travel, love, learn, rinse, repeat...what makes this year special at all? 

I truly believe that I feel more empowered than I've felt since I last left New Zealand in 2015. Actually, I think, I feel more empowered than I've ever felt. Full stop. I feel sexier, stronger, healthier, and smarter than I have in a long time. I'm living in a more aligned way with my own values, whether it's doing my part to live a more conscious life or giving my time to people who truly and authentically love me {and don't just say it when it's convenient for them}. I've loved harder on the people in my life, who are actual sunshine and laughter personified. I've said 'no', which is a serious task for someone who lives her life with a 'yes' philosophy {I mean, when your tramp stamp says "for the joy of it", you kind of have to be a 'yes' person, right?}. 

My 26th year, I did this kind of 'rising from the ashes' trick. One I didn't know I had in me. I had major health shit go down, lost Poppy, lost an uncle, watched my grandfather's health get from bad to worse, saw the realities of my 'dream job' in a true dream place, saw my mother through surgeries, survived an internship where people compete in a cut-throat kind of way, and learned the reality behind the saying, 'nothing worth anything ever came easy,' when it comes to visas and relationships. 

In my 26th spin, I've looked in the mirror harder than ever before and recognized the rigid dichotomies that exist in my life. My unconditional love for people is both my ultimate strength and my greatest weakness. My passion for seeing new places and experiencing cultures first-hand is both what motivates me and leads me to utter exhaustion from planning, prepping, packing, and physically getting from Point A to Point B. My emotions are both a gift in a world where we all play coy and cool and hide behind half-truths and screens and also a curse that results in me making rash decisions based on feelings. My openness makes me 'honest' to those who know me and care, but vulnerable to comments from those who check this space regularly to check-in on my personal life.

These hard looks in the mirror haven't just lead me to careful understandings about the dualities which exist in myself. They have also lead changes in my own behaviour. Mainly, the realization that my tolerance of bullshit out of kindness looks like naivety and lets people, procedures, and policies off the hook too easily. 

It might be Laos. It might be knowing I get to visit my favourite little island at the end of the year. It might be something else entirely. But this year, my 27th year of life on this planet, I'm holding onto this magical 'clicking-into-place' that's happening. 

I'll keep traveling. I'll keep loving without hesitation. I'll keep being kind and compassionate. It'll be more of the same, which is to say more unpredictable moves and adventure-seeking. But, 27-year-old me is smarter thanks to everything 26-year-old me learned. 

And 27-year-old me is bolder because of it.

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I'm not the girl who waits or wishes or wants or pushes others down out of envy or fear. And I'm not a cheap imitation. I'm the woman who works and writes and loves and cares and fights for things she believes in and goes places and recognizes her shortcomings and doesn't try to mask her flaws, of which there is an abundance. I'm someone who lives and breathes in a very real space of alignment. 

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So, yeah, 26 was a year of truth-seeing-by-way-of-rose-coloured-glasses-falling-off-from-whiplash. 26 was significant and different because I didn't ignore the lessons or try to cover them in sugar. The 'me' I thought I knew got a boost in the 'toughness' and 'bravery' department. I feel like the fullest version of myself I've seen since 2015. I feel like the 'me' I've been discovering along my journies across 5 continents got a serious upgrade. 

Am I this vastly different person from who I was in my 26th year? Mostly no. 

But also absolutely fucking yes. 

what I wore to Kuang Si Waterfalls on my birthday

what I wore to Kuang Si Waterfalls on my birthday

27 things I've learned from 27 years of travel

27 things I've learned from 27 years of travel