Source: Best Health magazine, January/February 2016
When Gloria Vidovich attended a weekend seminar in 2012, she never imagined it would be the catalyst that would steer her on a year-long trek across Southeast Asia and Australia.
‘We did some meditation where we were asked to examine our life as it was and where we wanted it to be if there were no restrictions,’ she recalls. ‘It was a big ‘aha’ moment, as I realized there was a big disconnect between the way I was living my life and what I had envisioned.’
Choosing Nepal as the focal point, Vidovich started planning her trip soon after, selling her house and leaving a full-time job in Toronto to make it happen. ‘People around me were very supportive, saying they wished they could do something like this,’ says the 44-year-old. ‘I was super-excited but nervous because I was at a point where my life was pretty structured and I was putting myself in a situation where I really didn’t know how things would unfold.’
Other than a few volunteer activities she had organized ahead of time, Vidovich booked her travels as she went. ‘I remember landing in Kathmandu and experiencing severe culture shock with all the chaos around me: pedestrians, cars and cows sharing the road,’ she says. ‘It took some time for my mind and body to adjust.’
Over the course of those next 52 weeks, Vidovich completed a gruelling 10-day trek in the Himalayas, bathed elephants in a Thailand sanctuary and attended a four-day teaching given by the Dalai Lama in India. Shy by nature and travelling alone, she says that over time she was forced out of her comfort zone and developed more confidence as a result. ‘I’ve also become a better observer because, to acclimatize to a different culture, I had to be prepared to put myself on a shelf and be open to learning.’
Her biggest takeaway is how similar people are the world over and how little we really need to live a happy life. ‘I now know that I want to simplify my life, and I’m placing more value on experiences than things,’ she says. ‘I lived out of a backpack the whole time and it was strangely liberating.’
Vidovich admits that coming back has been a culture shock all over again. ‘I feel like I’m changing direction, and I had hoped I would have figured out my next step, which hasn’t quite happened yet,’ she admits. ‘But life is like a jigsaw puzzle and I know the pieces are coming together.’