Freedom: The place I call home

(as featured on We Said Go Travel website)

I used to think that going for a music festival abroad with friends, heading to the countryside for the weekend or even skydiving was the ultimate meaning of being free, of being independent. To be honest, and now looking in retrospective, many things I did were merely brief moments of freedom, or a sneak peak of what it could mean. I thought I was free, but I wasn’t. I was attached to all sorts of things and beliefs, so how could I ever be free?

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Hang gliding in Évora, Alentejo, Portugal

I also used to think that home for me is Lisbon, the delicious and ever so beautiful city by the west side of lovely Europe. Well… in a way it is, but I also realized that more than a place, home is where my heart feels free. Being “home”, for me, is feeling “free”. So, as soon as I asked myself what was freedom for me, I hoped to find my way home.

I believe I embarked on my journey to freedom when I decided to quit my job and travel the world. Not for being the brave gal everyone seemed to be proud of, the crazy Rita, the adventurous girl who isn’t afraid of a thing…. But for allowing myself to honestly and heartfelt answer the question “what do you want to do now?

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Hang-gliding, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I know it isn’t a big deal for many, as the world is full of stories of brave, adventurous people who are willing to let go the safety of a 9 to 5 job along with all the commodities attached to it. But it was a big decision for me. I was giving my first step towards independence… I was going to be free! I was going to hang glide over Rio de Janeiro, go rafting in New Zealand, climb Machu Picchu, horse ride in Brazil, snorkel in Hawaii and drive a Vespa in Italy. It was going to be me, my passport and the whole world!

But freedom was a step further. I used to go abroad for one, two or even three weeks a year and although I would feel free for a while, I was still chained to a life in Lisbon, to a working schedule and to a serious of commitments that kept me attached to my “main” life. And in a similar way, even while traveling long term one would be stuck to too many plans.

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Death valley, Atacama Desert, Chile

So I found out that being free was to set myself free from all the plans I had. It was scary as hell to travel the world one day at a time, to decide things as I go, to not know what I would be doing the next day… But once I did that, I knew it: I was FREE!

I learned to embrace what I have rather than what I might have. I started being present in the present and not live constantly in a preparation stage of something that will eventually come. Living in the future is a trap. I realized that I was always looking forward to something instead of fully enjoying what I was experiencing that very moment.

I used to spend an entire year wishing July (or whichever month) to come quickly so I could go to that amazing place I’d decided to visit. Now I travel as it comes, I live as it comes. I don’t skip a moment in favor of the next one (that might or might not come the way I expect)… I live every and each day as my last day (I know… it’s such a cliché, right?), I make the most of the present and guess what? Happiness doesn’t seem to fit in a plan, and every moment I am surprised with something truly, genuinely, unexpectedly amazing.

The moment I realized this I was a happy, free, independent girl who was ready to conquer the world.

I still am.

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Maui, Hawaii

(as featured on We Said Go Travel website)