Finding Beauty in the Struggle, Together

This pandemic just so happened to reach me during one of the toughest times in my life. Maybe because of that, it seems to have magnified every single area where I feel stuck. It has reminded me in a not so gentle way, of the things about myself that I still need to work on. Suddenly spending all of my time with another person when I am used to being alone, has reminded me to practice being more patient. Constantly making mistakes, like sanitizing groceries and later realizing I could have done something more carefully, has reminded me to not be so hard on myself. Taking things out on others because I am frustrated and sick of hearing about all of the bad going on, has reminded me to stop, breathe, and be more mindful.

It has been hard to watch these parts of myself come out. Especially during a time when there aren’t as many things to distract myself with. Its like here you go Jill, some things to work on! And you have nothing else to do so what are you waiting for. And me pretending I am sleeping so that I don’t hear anything this imaginary voice is telling me to do. But maybe this voice is right. Maybe it actually is the best time to turn inward and deal with the not so pretty parts of ourselves. What else do we have to do? Trauma tends to bring out issues. And this may be one of the most traumatic events in our lifetime whether we realize that yet or not. But there is good news. Roughly 8 billion people understand what you are going through.


When a group of people go through something together and that circumstance is infused with the are we going to make it, we might not make it, we can’t stop until we make it, drive that pushes you to your limits. You don’t know if you are going to survive but somehow you do. Together. It bonds you for life. You can go your separate ways, but you never forget.

This is why when someone asks me what my favorite countries have been so far, Cambodia is always on my list. They went through something significant and it really changed them. In the late 1970’s, a mass execution took place across the entire country, killing nearly 2 million people. This was a fourth of the country’s population. Amongst the survivors, you can feel their sense of community. It as if they understand the pain each other endured and it continues to ground their souls and connect them in the deepest way.

You can feel this the second you step foot there. The locals seem to genuinely appreciate each other and enjoy spending time together. As you walk down the street, you are greeted with warm hellos and smiles from every single person you pass. You existence is acknowledged. Your presence is welcomed. And it feels really good. In Buddhism, it is the contemplation of death that makes one understand and appreciate life. In Cambodia, it is as if they have embraced this ideology and used this tragedy to create a culture full of love and connection. If you ever visit, take the time to stop and feel the energy. It is truly a beautiful feeling.


I remember feeling this same type of energy in the United States on and after 9/11. In the days following, the pace of life was slower and it seemed quieter outside.  Being reminded of death had made us more mindful of life. Strangers were nicer to each other. We were mourning, but together. And for a moment, it felt as if we were united as one. You could just feel it in the air. If you were around, you know the feeling I am talking about.

There were even several studies done measuring collective consciousness and the energy surrounding 9/11. In a study by Princeton University, researchers found that such a large number of people around the world were affected in the same way that their collective mental energy actually altered the operation of computers!* Which shows you how powerful this energy actually is.

“Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. 

Knowing this, we can intentionally work toward a brighter, more conscious future.”

Imagine if we all changed our energy and feelings about this pandemic at the exact same time. From a perspective of fear, to one of love. If we used this situation as a catalyst to start to remember what really matters in life. One thing about collective consciousness is that whatever energy is most prevalent, is also contagious. And the stronger it is, the more sustainable it becomes. And we need now more than ever, to feel love. In order to keep us going.


The entire world is going through something that most of us if not all of us, have never experienced before. And I think that is why this could potentially end up way more traumatic than we are yet to realize. We are currently fighting a war where the enemy is invisible and silent. I think that is so incredibly scary. We know that this thing can potentially kill us and we can’t see if it is hiding in our homes. We don’t know if it is on our clothes, in our food, in our bodies. And even if it is, we don’t know much about how to fight it.

It is understandable why it took or is taking some people so long to take this seriously. It seems like something out of a movie. But it is real. And I think that as that sinks in, it is going to start hitting us pretty hard. We are going to need to lean on each other as much as possible. When everything else is stripped away, we are left only with each other. And that is what is happening right now. People are losing their jobs. Plans are ruined. We are beginning to mourn the loss of our former lives. 

We may live in different countries. Have different backgrounds, jobs, religions. None of this matters anymore. What matters now is that we are all going through this together. We need to help each other through this by remembering how similar we actually are as human beings. We have the same fears. The same daily struggles. We are simply trying to survive. We get frustrated at times. Other times, we feel trapped or are scared of the future. And sometimes, we even feel like giving up.


While the struggle of this is real, it is also incredibly beautiful. And humbling. I saw a nurse on TV today crying and it really pulled my heart strings. She had spent the last thirteen hours caring for COVID patients and it was really starting to break her down. The severity of the situation was becoming real for her.  And how hard it is for her to try and help patients all day when she doesn’t know if they will survive. She was begging people to stay home. Because it is getting worse and will stay that way until we work together to stop it. I felt her pain. I cried her tears. My heart was overflowing with love for her. This is hard for everyone. But that also means we aren’t alone. And that is the part that is beautiful.

A world where everyone is going through the same thing is a world full of empathy and understanding.

We have a huge opportunity and I think even responsibility, to use this pandemic and our current situation to reunite globally. To create a collective energy that is positive, loving, and supportive. One that is lasting and that can be felt across the world. It is a way we can create something beautiful out of this tragic situation. And the only way to change the energy of the world is to start within ourselves. It is the best time to do this. Surrounded with a world of people who understand, it creates a safe space to be vulnerable. To let other people help you. To help them as well. We can all share in this experience together and by doing that, create lasting change. 

We need to use this time to be willing to look at the not so easy to see parts of ourselves. Think about how we can grow and become better people. We can take our uncertainty and use it as a reminder to appreciate who and what we have today. Let the recent changes in our lives remind us that nothing is permanent and use it as a reminder to learn to let go. Let our fear of death remind us to embrace life. Let’s take this time to stop and reset our entire way of being in order to create a more peaceful and loving world. Now is the time to become one again. And it starts with you.

“Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness 

and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

– John Lennon


kalibiru wisata alam heart


It is easier to connect now more than ever. Everything is online, you can join groups with people from all over the world. Talk to people who are going through the same thing. Use these resources to stay connected and become more mindful.

Scared of Ants.


For those of you living in the United States, who are scared of ants, you don’t know how good you have it.

I say scared of ants, but don’t mean myrmecophobia (a specific fear of ants in general). I also don’t mean red ants that can hurt you. I mean the tiniest little black ant you have ever seen. Imagine a dinosaur but bigger. That is us. To an ant. Now, imagine you are walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood one day. As you look up, you see a ferocious dinosaur approaching. Your mouth drops open and you cover your head in fear. When the dinosaur gets closer, it looks down, sees you, and runs away screaming. A few minutes later, it returns with its dad, points at you (hand shaking in fear), and screams, “It’s over there, dad! Kill it! I am scared!” That is us, when we see an ant. And most other insects.

I know not EVERYONE in the States is scared of bugs. But we all know at least a handful of people who are. We are either the one that is scared of the bug, or the one that kills the bug. And whichever one you are, you have still experienced that moment when you open the shower curtain, only to reveal a spider, causing you to jump back, put all of your clothes back on, and yell for someone to help you. (Or if you are brave, you go bak in and take care of it yourself.)

Americans who have never travelled outside of the country. I have news for you. The insects in the United States don’t prepare you for what is out there in the real world. Our insects make you weak. If you start traveling, you are immediately put at a disadvantage as you only have bugs in the States for your reference. But it’s not your fault, it’s all you know. You just need some perspective, and over time, you will be okay.


Growing up in Missouri, or even when living in California, I never ever saw a lizard inside of someone’s house. (Unless it was a pet.) I didn’t even know that was a thing.

So I get to Thailand as an adult. While changing in my room, I have a feeling I am being watched. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. I look up. Oh my gosh. There is a lizard in my room. Okay, okay, remain calm. Slowly walk to the door and shut it as fast as you can. Whoo that was close! I walk to the front desk. Ummm excuse me. There is a small lizard in my room. A gecko? Yes, I suppose. The front desk guy just staring at me silent, unsure of what to say. Okay.

I go back in my room. Sit on the corner of my bed. Stare at it for the rest of the night. Watching in case it decides it is hungry and comes after me. I get no sleep that night.

The next day, I am sitting by the pool thinking. How can I live like this? What should I do? Should I book a plane ticket back home? A little girl next to me sees a gecko on the wall of the clubhouse next to the pool. She runs over and points to it smiling. She is nuts.

Oh, hey little guy. how are you?

I quickly learn that geckos are everywhere in tropical climates. Okay, it doesn’t make me used to them. But then after traveling for a few years, my roommate gives me some new perspective. She tells me that geckos are actually so scared of you that they will risk their life and fall backwards off a wall in an effort to get away from you. Aww poor little gecko. Don’t do that. From then on, I notice this whenever I see one. The moment I step into a room, they are watching my every move. Just like I was watching them on my bed that one night. No wonder he was staring right back at me the entire night. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. Perspective. Ahh, such an amazing thing.

Over time, I have become completely comfortable around geckos and other lizards, and even am comforted having them around. I even talk to them in the shower or when I am about to go to sleep. I am at the point where I welcome them, because this means I am somewhere tropical (the best).

lizards are one thing.

Fast forward to life on a farm in Cambodia. My brother, Sam, and I are spending a few days with the locals and living in a bamboo hut on their property. We each have our own twin bed, along with a mosquito net. The first night, I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I step down and look at the ground. AHHHHHH! WHAT IS THAT. Sam get the fuck up RIGHT NOW. Look at that. On the ground is an 8-10 inch long centipede (or millipede, I refuse to Google it because I do not want to see a photo of one), black, and about 2 inches thick. It might as well be a snake with legs. Sam. Get that thing out of here right now.

He takes a shoe and gently pushes it out of the front door. It curls into a ball as he pushes it, like a roly-poly. Sick. I make him stand guard by the bathroom door and after I get back into bed, I make him tuck my mosquito net in under my mattress, all the way around my bed, without even a crack exposed. I do not want any chance of one of those things getting in my bed when I am sleeping. During our stay, we end up seeing a few more of them in our room, but we survive to tell the story. Terrifying.


While traveling, I can honestly say I have seen more of those centipedes and it is one thing I am still scared of to this day. When I was in Malaysia, a guy at my hostel said he was sleeping and woke up with one on his neck. Twice in the same night. (There are some stories you wish you were never told. I am forever traumatized.)

But I can say that these experiences have really put things in perspective. After Sam and I’s centipede incident in Cambodia, I get back to the United States. I am in my bedroom and see a silverfish on the wall. (Previously, silverfish were my biggest enemy.) I look up at it. Awww, how cute and small! I snap a photo and send it to my brother. Laugh out loud. Look who is sleeping in my room tonight. Me to the silverfish. I will let you live little cutie!

Traveling has made me stronger. Coming into contact with all types of insects and animals that I have not previously known anything about. (I often even have monkeys in my room at night!) Paired with all of the other new experiences and cultures I am being exposed to throughout the world. I have come to learn, we are all just trying to survive. I have a new appreciation for all animals, insects, reptiles, and humans. (Except the centipede – still working on that one.)

Although this story may scare you if you are one of those people who are scared of ants, this is also a story of hope. I too, was once scared of ants. The truth is, outside of the United States, lies a world full of the same bugs we have, just super-sized. It is like every other country puts their bugs on steroids. Or maybe the US government gives ur bugs chemicals to keep them small so that we can control them. (Sound familiar? Jk Jk Jk) Regardless. When I started traveling, I quickly learned that there are big creatures out there. But I didn’t let this keep me from traveling, If I had, I would still be living my life, scared of ants. Instead, I followed the fear and kept going. 

Perspective. Such a wonderful thing.

After writing this, I realized that this entire story is actually, a metaphor for what traveling (or filling your life with more unique experiences) does for your life in general. It gives you perspective. You see that there is more out there. There are bigger things in the world and experiencing them expands your mind. You are no longer scared of a jumping spider, because It is now your roommate and the only thing you have to talk to during your 10 day silent meditation course (blog post coming soon). Instead of feeling fear, you have a new friend.

Travel will change you. You will come back with a completely different mindset. Things that used to stress you out will no longer matter. You see the bigger picture and realize what is really important in life. When you return back home, you will continue to do the same things you did before. Such as sleep. But now, when you see a spider on the wall next to you in bed. Instead of ending your day with an act of murder, you are able to close your eyes and smile, comforted that you are not alone.