Nobody wants to be boring.
Part of the drive to live an unconventional life is tied up with an incredible fear of complacency. Getting too comfortable, getting settled, getting stale. These are things that have been on my mind lately as Mike and I relax into a more fixed life here in Seattle. We have a couch, a social life, a freaking lease, and that is cool but also fundamentally very scary.
Although this is what I wanted, and I am enjoying our new fixed life, there is still that constant craving for more. Just because we are living more conventionally doesn’t mean I am ready to fully surrender myself back to “normal life.” So, where do I go from here?The Happiness of Pursuit
You guys know that I read a lot, but one book I read recently, has really stuck with me. It was, the Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau, which was sent to me for review by Random House. I breezed through it in one weekend, totally enthralled with story after story of ordinary people who have made extraordinary choices.
Guillebeau (who’s name I cannot spell correctly to save me life), has long been an inspiration of mine. I read his first book The Art of Non-Conformity and promptly tried to loan it to everyone I know who has even vaguely expressed an interest in living unconventionally. I met him once, at TBEX in Girona and basically fangirled out and lost the ability of speech. He was very nice even though I clearly looked like a moron.
Anyways, back to the book. In the Happiness of Pursuit, Guillebeau primarily talks about the idea of the quest. A quest, by Guillebeau’s definition at least, is a passionate undertaking with a set of rules and a clear end point. Guillebeau’s quest was to visit every country in the world by his 35th birthday, a feat he accomplished, and writes about in vignettes throughout the book.
A quest is meant to give you a purpose, to inspire personal growth and to be, well, fun!Notable Questers
There are literally hundreds of examples in the book, including a few people I actually know personally. Here are a couple of my favorite examples of people who’ve undertaken marvelous quests.
Sasha Martin- set out to cook a traditional meal from every country in the world, and documented her experiences and recipes on her blog Global Table Adventure. Cooking the entire world (at the rate of 1 country a week) took her nearly 4 years, exposed her picky Oklahoma family to a whole world of possibilities and landed her a book deal.
Nate Damm- walked across America entirely on foot, camping and relying on the kindness of strangers. You can read about his adventures on his blog, Nate Walks America. He wrote a guide for perspective walkers and even made a second attempt at the walk later on. He also used to read this blog, but I am not sure if he still does…
Adam Warner- checked off a bucket list, but with a heartbreaking twist. The list was written by his late wife, Meghan, who passed away a month after they were married. Adam took it on himself to complete her list for her, including items like visit 30 countries, attend a Blue Jay’s game and learn to knit.
A lot of quests involve travel, but not all of them. The goal can be pretty much anything as long as it’s extraordinary, difficult to achieve, but not impossible. Through the course of the book Guillebeau outlines how to craft a quest and how to actually achieve those goals you set out for yourself.Where is MY Quest?
Ultimately The Happiness of Pursuit is a powerful book because it left me inspired to make a change in my own life. Only I’m not sure what that change should be. I would like to have a quest of my own, something that I can pursue with passion.
But Stephanie, you say, you travel all the time, isn’t that basically a quest? Not really. I love travel, and my slapdash random approach is fun, but at this point it’s still my job. I don’t even have bucket list of items I’m trying to check off, I just go where wind and opportunity take me. Which as been great, but maybe I would feel more fulfilled if I was traveling with a purpose.
Some travelers I know have the goal of visiting every UNESCO site in the world, others have traveled overland from Alaska to Patagonia or hitchhiked across Canada. In the past I’ve rejected these sorts of projects for myself as needlessly competitive, but I’m coming around now. I would like to have a quest, something to pursue and check off as I slowly make my way around the world.
When it comes down to it, what I’m really looking for is direction. For this blog, for myself. I’m turning 30 this month and while I am actually pretty excited about starting a whole new decade, the future is stretched out before me like a giant question mark.
So I’m going to start brainstorming and hopefully an exciting mission will find me. Don’t worry, you will be sure to hear about it.Giveaway
I’m giving away 1 copy of The Happiness of Pursuit to one of your lucky readers! (US-shipping only-sorry guys) Enter below by leaving a comment or following me on Twitter.
Deadline for the giveaway is September 10th.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Random House. All opinions are my own.
During a recent holiday in Turkey, I indulged in the ultimate pampering: a visit to a hamam. I had heard talk amongst my Turkish friends of their habitual visits to what can be compared to a spa or bath house. They always seemed so relaxed following a trip to the hamam, and after traveling around Turkey for several days, I needed some refreshment!
So, off I went to a local hamam, ready for a good steam and scrub. Little did I know, I was in for some of the most indulgent and relaxing hours of my life.
Interested in learning more about what’s in store for you at the Turkish hamam? It certainly isn’t for everyone, so here’s a brief introduction:A bit of history
The art of the hamam has been an important part of Turkish culture for thousands of years. These bath houses flourished throughout the Ottoman Empire, with grand, elaborate structures built in its then capital Constantinople, which is present-day Istanbul. Allowing for covered bathing, hamams showcase stunning embroidered walls and marble. Historically, these bath houses served as the social epicenter of Turkish culture. Nowadays, they’re just a great place to get a good scrub down.
The Turkish hamam traditionally holds three rooms: the hot room, where the steam or sauna portion occurs, the warm room, where the washing-up and soap massage occurs, and the cool room, where you relax and drink coffee or tea. One traverses from the hottest room to the coolest room, preparing the body for exfoliation and massage and then allowing for rest.Types of hamams
There are a variety of options when it comes to choosing a hamam. Here are some classic break-downs:
Traditional vs. Self Service
A traditional hamam will guarantee you the full experience. You can arrive empty-handed, as towels and soap will be provided. For this service, someone will massage you with soap and wash you off. A traditional trip to the hamam will cost anywhere from $14-$46.
A self-service hamam is the cheaper route, understandably. You will have to bring your own stuff, and wash yourself. This is probably not the best choice for your first time at the hamam, as you will have no idea what to do. But if you’re trying to save money, it is something to consider. Self service can cost anywhere from $5-$14.
Local vs. Tourist
This is a very important distinction in my opinion. Most neighbourhoods in Turkey will have their own hamam, where locals go either weekly or monthly to get squeaky clean. Accordingly, the prices can be quite cheap, ranging from roughly $5 – $19. It is likely that no one will speak English at these hamams, so you could be in for a bit of a language barrier unless you plan ahead.
In big cities like Istanbul and Izmur, you will find many Turkish hamams made specifically for tourists. This means that the attendants will speak English and they will be happy to guide you through the experience. They may offer package deals including oil massages and manicure/pedicure. These tourist-targetted spots are more expensive, and can range from roughly $32 -$55.An overview of the experience
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to dive in. When you arrive at the hamam, you will be asked to change out of your clothes, and into a Turkish towel. You’ll be given some slippers, and then you’re ready to go.
As I explained, the Turkish hamam will often be divided into three rooms: hot, warm and cool. You will begin with the hot room. For me, this meant sitting for 15 minutes in an almost unthinkably hot sauna. It was hard to take, but I knew it would pay off. After my time was up, I took a dip in the mineral water pool, and then was led back to the sauna for another grueling 15 minutes.
Next, you will enter the “cool” room. This is wear the bathing happens. Normally, this will entail lying on a large marble slab as an attendant scrubs your skin, and then massages it with bubbles. Then, you’ll be washed down with water, and you’ll never feel more clean.
After washing up, you’ll be given fresh towels to dry off, and led to the “cool” room. Here, you can relax and reflect on the wonderfully indulgent experience you’ve had. This will usually include Turkish coffee or tea, lounging and perhaps a light nap.
Once you’re ready to go, you can change into your clothes and be on your way!Helpful tips
- If it’s your first time visiting a hamam, tell your attendant. They will hopefully help to introduce you to the experience.
- Don’t skimp on the sauna. It may be hard to take the heat, but you won’t regret it in the long run.
- Going on a beach holiday? Visit the hamam beforehand, as all the scrubbing can work down a perfectly good tan.
- Be vocal about what you want and you don’t want from your experience. If you’re visiting a local hamam, it might be helpful to learn some basic Turkish.
- If you’re looking to save money, don’t go to the hamam in Istanbul. Hamams are more expensive in the capital city, and busier. You’ll have better luck in a smaller city or town.
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