There seems to be this idea, a somewhat urban legend that traveling is always better than not traveling, that travel can transform you and turn you into a better person, make you happy and fulfill you like nothing else.
Sometimes and for some this is true. It was true for me for many years. Until 2017 happened. This year has proven really rough in many aspects that went way beyond my heartbreak*.
*Which I vow to not speak of again, I am sick of it and I am sure you are too. But let me say that writing about it and knowing that someone is out there reading and understanding has helped me tremendously.
It already started last year when I was in Bali at the beautiful Amankila resort where I did a wellness retreat with the amazing Vijay. To her question as to what was wrong or what I wanted to change in my life, I eventually burst out: I am not as happy as I should or want to be. That summed it up nicely for me and unfortunately it didn't change in the year that followed.
I wasn't happy even though I did the most amazing things. I wrote and published my book that got good reviews and really seemed to resonate with many. I traveled more than ever and even managed to start making a modest income with my writing. And I met the most amazing man. On paper, it was all perfect but I cannot remember when I felt truly happy during this time. I had it all or so it seemed but I became more and more aware that I couldn't enjoy it as I wanted to. The pressure of people telling me what an amazing life I had and the overwhelming love of this man became all a bit too much for me because I just didn’t feel it. I burnt all my bridges and only after I did it, I realized what I had done.
Eventually, I realized that something was just really wrong, that nothing had changed since last year when I declared that I wasn’t happy. And so after months of traveling and crying on the road I decided to go home and sort myself out. Traveling can be transformative but it is not the cure for everything.
I have traveled far and wide over the past few months and nothing seemed to help me get out of my emotional and physical slump. First I thought it was India's 'fault' but Thailand didn't make it better. Then I went to Singapore and I could barely attend all my business meetings I felt so ... lackluster. Not even being back on a liveaboard afterward helped me to get my groove back and that's when I knew it was high time to go home and start to look at myself.
At home, I went to a kinesiologist who tested me for various things and attested that I was not depressed. That was a relief but I also felt slightly disappointed. A certified depression would have been such a 'good' excuse for everything that had gone wrong or that I had done wrong. He did, however, give me a whole mixture of various Bachflowers, homeopathic remedies my mother had introduced me to years ago (they are best known for their Rescue but have a whole range of flowers that are assigned to various emotional traumas and issues). The result for me was no surprise - little patience with myself and others and some serious self-love issues.
This was something that didn't come as a surprise as I had already discussed this with Vijay before. I am not sure when it started to accumulate but here I was not liking myself very much. Whether it was the fact that I was definitely closer to 40 than 30, couldn't shed all the pad thai pounds I had gained or the fact I had been too broke for a year to afford a hair appointment.
I wanted things, I wanted me to change inside and out and so it was just the right timing when Naturigin reached out to see if I wanted to do a hair color review for them. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first - this is a travel blog after all. But then I realized that I have never been your cookie cutter travel blogger. Some travel bloggers write about the 15 best ways on how to spot a ladyboy in Thailand (why oh why??), I like to tell somewhat funny stories of eating with my hands, taxi drivers and elephants. Some travel bloggers review packing cubes, I need a makeover.
I know that I sometimes treat this space like a diary, not only because it helps me but also hopefully helps others at times. Sometimes we just need to read something to relate to, to know that we are not alone in it. Whatever IT may be, it usually ain't a top ten listicle.
But I would lie if I didn't say it hasn't been a struggle. Especially in a time of social media algorithms that change by the minute, a growing number of SEO gurus and their disciples, and still that overall feeling that in order to cut it in this business you need to be young, white and skinny.
Luckily just when I hit rock bottom with these thoughts, I got a few incredibly kind messages within two days by readers and colleagues telling me that they love what I do and to not ever change it. I got also introduced on Culture Trip as one of the travel bloggers to watch in 2018 and it was all in all exactly what I needed to hear. I won't change what I do or write. Sometimes I can write and appreciate the transformative side of travel, sometimes I need to take a more introspect approach to my stories. Especially as traveling doesn’t bring me the transformation I need at the moment.
So I started to take my Bachflowers regularly, took a good look at my eating habits (that is still a story for another day, I shall have a pad thai in the meanwhile) and started to write stories that were closer to my heart than any SEO guidelines. And I decided to do something with my hair. After spending a lot underwater my hair needed some TLC and I still couldn't afford to get my color done at a salon. Seriously, I looked like a badger for months thanks to two very blonde streaks framing my face. Some may have called it sunkissed but that would be a kind lie.
I took my two boxes Naturigin and flew to Marrakech. Because after all I am still a travel blogger and what kind of travel blogger would I be if I just colored my hair at home, right?
No, to be honest, within two weeks of returning home I just had a full agenda again and for the first time in a long time was looking forward to my upcoming trips too. I went to Marrakech with my brother for a job and he happens to be an incredibly talented beauty & hair photographer - perfect opportunity to let my newly colored hair down.
Naturigin Hair Color Review
* They have a total of 19 natural hair colors to choose from and I chose Natural Medium Blonde which was a great choice, albeit still a little bit too red for my taste. I hope that the copper will go away with a few more washes.
* Naturigin is the leading supplier of natural based hair colors with organic ingredients. That means more care for your hair while you color and of course, a cruelty-free product.
* Unlike most other home hair colors I have tried, the box doesn't come with a conditioner but with a color lock shampoo. I usually need lots of conditioner so I recommend you have some on hand (they do make their own conditioner too, one I am keen to try now).
* If you have long or thick hair, I recommend you use two boxes. I did for the first time and not only was the whole process so much easier, the color also turned out more evenly (important for a no-badger look!).
* The application was easy but the real highlight was that the color didn't stain my skin (I used to use cold ash to rub color off of my skin, I don't know why but it works really well). Naturigin also doesn't contain any ammonia or other stinky substances - such a pleasure if your bathroom is small.
* And most important to me, the color covered any grey hairs perfectly. So once again, age is just a number.
Not all has changed. That would be too much to ask from a trip to Marrakech or a new hair color. But something in me has clicked. Transformation can have many forms, can happen on the road or at home, on the inside or the outside. And sometimes you just need to be a girl with shiny instead of messy hair for a day or two to get it all started.
This post was done in cooperation with Naturigin.
A special thank you to Stephan Ziehen and to Frauke Bergemann who spent 45 minutes to make my hair all shiny!