Getting lost in order to find yourself

What AM I doing here?

This journey began two years ago when I found myself wandering around the jungles in Guatemala. During this time as I camped in the insect ridden, dense forests and I would ask myself, “What AM I doing here?”

Remembering times past, the clock slowing ticks forward in a new direction, taking me on it’s second hand ride. I reflect on the former times, when I used to laugh with my best friend, when we used to share our stories of triumph and defeat, our smiles and our tears.

All the while, the pain of her unexpected and premature departure still grabbing at me like a spiders web grabs it’s prey, holding me paralyzed as I wait to be completely consumed. What AM I doing here?!?!

Getting lost in order to find yourself

The Last time I hugged my best friend

The Last time I hugged my best friend

Exploring More Countries

As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, I found myself in more and more countries exploring, learning, sharing, and thinking. And I found myself asking the same questions, and kept struggling with the same pains.

Her death had become my catalyst and had catapulted me into a new realm of possibilities, questions, and perceptions. I was now in a place of constant fear versus courage, of egotism versus humility, of disharmony versus peace. And as I traveled on, an internal battle ensued and I continued to ask myself…

What AM I doing here??

Bearing the winters in Northern Europe, the salty Mediterranean Sea, and the heat and emptiness of the Sahara desert, I searched to answer this question. It is not a question of where I am geographically, but it is a question of the heart, a question of the soul. What AM I doing here?

Finding Peace

One day when my search seems to be going nowhere, I decide to talk with “GOD” as I know it to be, in a place so silent that the only sounds that can be heard are that of my own breath and heartbeat. I pray for the answers to my questions, pray for the insight I need in order to move forward and seek comfort from this pain.

I beg for release, I beg for mercy. Please, I ask… please just take this pain from me so that I may move on.

Where I camped alone in the Sahara for several days of silence...

Where I camped alone in the Sahara for several days of silence…

With the stroke of what felt like two hands across my head, it suddenly all stopped. The continuous questioning, the relentless past memories, the crippling pain of loss that has plagued me for the past 20 months. I felt it all just… disappear.

For the first time on my journey, I felt completely at peace, I felt calm, I felt centered. I thanked this “GOD”, this universal power that heard my pleas, this something that must have been listening to me and had answered my desperate request.

After a few days, I noticed that indeed this pain was definitely gone but I still have not found the answer to my most urgent question. What AM I doing here? It seems that removing the pain of loss was only part of my process. There must be more.

Fasting and Meditating

I ask for this answer and I sit silently for three days, fasting, meditating, and waiting patiently. And then, I hear some very simple instructions. Rite, Right, and Write. These three words echo through my mind like a children’s preschool song, playing over and over with a harmonious melody in the background.

Right. So I am here to continue my rites (or rituals) of peace within myself, and peace on this planet. I am here to make things right. I am here to write.


The note…

After I return to the village close to this incredible place of silence, I remember the postcards and notes that were given to me as keepsakes two years ago to take with me on this journey. Until now they have remained gently wrapped in plastic and placed in a inconspicuous spot deep within my backpack.

I decide to finally read through these beautifully written letters of encouragement and empowerment and my heart starts to beat again. And then it stops. Out of the stack, a post it note falls out that is stuck to a photo of my best friend who is no longer roaming this planet with me. On the paper are the words. You must rite, right, and write.

Cheryl Marie Mickens. RIP my snow angel and soul sista

Cheryl Marie Mickens. RIP my snow angel and soul sista

Journey Back Home

As the tears begin to flow I look into the night sky and give thanks to my friend as now I know that she continues to be with me, even though I can no longer see her. This long journey has returned me to my home.

The home within, the home that stays no matter where I go. It is said that people who take off to travel around the world are either running from something, or running toward something.

For me, I think it would be both. I was running from the grief, the pain, and the realization that life could end up unexpectedly being very short lived. I was also running towards something – an experience, a clarity, a way to find my true essence, my purpose in this human existence.

I do not know what the future holds, but at least now I have the answer to the question – What AM I doing here? Traveling has given me so many lessons, so much insight into the world, and into myself. For it is when you leave everything that is familiar, and venture into the unfamiliar, that you find your truth.

melissa jenneweinMelissa started her solo backpack trip around the world in 2012 after a series of traumatic events fueled her desire to live her life to the fullest. A former preschool teacher and administrator, Melissa loves to design programs to teach children how to see their full potential, chase their dreams, and harness the power that resides in each and every one of them. She is a writer, dancer, dreamer, designer, editor, and adventurer who has traveled to over 25 countries with just a backpack, her macbook and camera, and a desire to gain a global education. Being so completely inspired by what she has found and continues to find, she started writing and sharing these experiences with the world on her blog It is her hope that in doing so she would encourage others to chase their dreams not matter how impossible they may seem to be. Melissa believes that we are all magnificent creators and dreams of a day when the world falls gracefully into balance and harmony.


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