Who the hell am I?
My name is Krista, or Kris to some. I am a Canadian Traveller and Artist, on a mission to say I’ve seen and done it all. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, you’ll be sure to find me excited about it. My life isn’t exactly conventional, nor am I. I am a painter from just North of Toronto and spend most of my time painting, travelling (or thinking about travelling), playing with my dog Marley, practicing yoga, or google-ing fun things to do and places to go. Outside of being self-employed as a painter (which sometimes brings home the bacon, and others leaves me with no income for months… the typical artist struggle), I’ve got a part time job in my hometown of Aurora where I am known to a lot of the locals as the “Beer Store Girl!” I love both of my jobs, though they’re far from easy or “cushy.” I’m certainly not rich, but I’ve found that the more money people have, the more they want anyways, and my mission is to leave nothing behind in this world but some really awesome stories, so I’ve become increasingly comfortable with the idea of saving up money just to spend it doing what I love.
Where it all started…
I started travelling the year after I completed my BFA at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario, in 2014. I was 21 years old and had just received a grant of fifteen thousand dollars from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation (I’m still pinching myself). The grant was awarded to me so that I could travel to Israel and India where I would learn as much as I could about the dominant cultures and religions of the world since my interest in spirituality and faith had become a central theme in my work as an artist. I travelled for 40 days in total and returned home at the end of my trip with wide eyes and itchy feet. While I had travelled quite a bit in my childhood with my family, it had never been anything like this, and I had never left the country alone. I had discovered my love for travelling, learning and trying new things, as well as writing… and I immediately began planning my next adventure.
In the end, my most fond memories travelling aren’t the ones you’d expect. Not watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat or standing in front of the Taj Mahal … What I remember the most from my travels are the people I’ve met, and the in-between moments in which I have felt myself growing and changing into a smarter, stronger version of myself, trying something I hadn’t before or taking risks and putting my faith in the unknown.
My trips have confirmed to me that even as a type one diabetic (currently on an insulin pump), long term travel is possible. I now know that even with nothing but my backpack, I can make it happen for at least 3-4 months at a time, which isn’t something many people would try to do with a preexisting condition that requires so many supplies and so much work, and I only hope to inspire others to step outside of their comfort zone as I have, even if it feels terrifying. Most importantly though, my travelling experiences have confirmed something that I learned in India during a 10 day Vipassana meditation course in 2014 and have continued to grow from since… The fact that once we accept impermanence in all things and work towards breaking down our egos, happiness will follow. Happiness is not a big mission, checklist, dollar amount or “thing,” it is predominantly a matter of the mind.
One of my friends whom I met in Thailand sat beside me one day and introduced me to a simple concept that changed the way I thought about travel and life. He looked at me and said “Would you rather live inside the Palace, or across from it?” At first I didn’t understand the question… And with a puzzled look on my face he elaborated (and I am paraphrasing), “The people inside the Palace never really get to appreciate the beauty of where they live, they’re stuck inside most of the time without any reason to leave, and when they look out the window they look down upon the other people of the city, from the middle class to those living in poverty… But the people across from the Palace would wake up every day with a million dollar view that cost them nothing. They are surrounded by other people, often unaware of the “poverty” around them from up close, living happy lives outside of the Palace walls.” As I have travelled, I’ve heard the words repeating in my mind daily. In Asia I stayed in places that cost me an average of $10 per night, some that felt like luxury suites, others with cockroaches.
In the end, I spent more time outside than anywhere else, especially when our rooms were “modest”… It’s easy to believe that the more we have, the happier we’ll be, but it’s simply not the case. I’ve seen kids running around with nothing but a few makeshift toy cars made of water bottles, caps and string, laughing and smiling (…from outside of the palace) far more than any kid I’ve seen with an ipad back home.
I hope that my blog will inspire others to travel as well, regardless of their budget, and I plan on sharing as much information as possible about what I’m doing, where I’m doing it, how much it costs, how to get from place to place, and what to expect when travelling in certain areas. Outside of the informative facts though, I am a storyteller, and I hope that you’ll enjoy reading as you follow me on my ongoing journey around the world.
I can’t begin to explain how much travelling has helped me learn about myself and others, individuals and countries, old friends and new friends… but I have grown immensely, and I won’t ever forget these experiences. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it requires a lot of patience, hard work and penny pinching, but I’m doing what I love, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
P.S. Incase you happen to be interested in my artwork, you can find my paintings on my website here: http://www.kristaarnold.tumblr.com