I was born in Ukraine and raised in ATL, and have called NYC home for the past 6 years up until December 2015. On Feb 8th, 2016 I embarked on an 18 month solo backpacking world tour across 6 continents in search of self discovery and documenting kindness around the world ( I've been dreaming of this trip for 7 years!).

First and foremost, I'm an adventurer and storyteller, who likes to kick off my  mornings with Beyonce dance parties. I'm also a MOTH StorySLAM winner and a contributing writer for VICE, and feel most alive when giving a voice to people/things that matter and hoping to make the world a little sunnier, a little kinder, and a little more magical as a result.

In Search of Bread Crumb Miracles: Start with WHY

I’m 18 hours into my 18 month world tour and it just doesn’t feel real. Currently sitting under the stars typing somewhere in the vastness of Costa Rican jungle, trying to understand how I actually followed through on a little dream my 22 year old self concocted so many years ago.

I remember watching Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk: Start with Why  last year while working in my former  dog-eat-dog advertising sales career and it struck me to the bone: this goal of backpacking the world was my WHY. Sure, I wanted to be successful and while I enjoyed hugely the client relationships, closing big deals, making my family proud with my hard work, the WHY factor was this world tour. It has served as my main driving force, and made the late nights and early mornings bearable – because I knew I was earning my wanderlusting freedom back one day at a time.  To keep me focused on the dream, I bought this beautiful water colored map beautiful watercolor world map and planted it firmly as the backsplash to my desk. Every time I wanted to quit, I visualized the feeling of freedom and exploration that I could almost taste conjuring up my favorite memories from my first Cambodia trip to pull me through the worst days. In the meantime, I took smaller weekend trips to satiate my wanderlust and squirreled away my savings  for 6 years. Being able to execute on the vision, I found was just as important as having the vision to begin with.

There were a few false alarms, notably 3 years ago when I broke off a 3 year live in relationship and my adopted mom died of cancer 24 hours later, that booking a one way ticket to Vietnam looked really appealing. But my mother and sisters made me see that if I left NYC as a means of running from pain, it would never be the trip I envisioned. So I stayed, I went to therapy for a bit, I surrounded myself with brilliant emotionally intelligent humans,  I did a lot of work to get happy and many years later I can proudly say I left NYC on the highest note, super proud of the beautiful life I created as an independent, joyful woman. So for me, it wasn’t just the WHY but also the WHEN. Treating the next 18 months as a sacred education meant I had to be ready to learn with a happy heart, open mind, and no unresolved baggage boiling to the surface.

I’m ready for this now.  Like an Olympian, I’ve been training for 6 years ensuring and trusting this hero’s journey will change the course of my life. I won’t end up on the cover of a Wheaties box, but I will end up much closer to understanding life through a variety of lenses, what makes me happy, and my purpose for age 30 and beyond.

My old GT college professor once said, ” A dream is only a dream until you write it down and then it becomes a goal thats actionable.” So, in the spirit of keeping myself accountable, these are the top 5 goals I have as I embark on day 1 of this journey:

  1. Self Love – To the naked eye I’m hyper confident and pretty fearless. However, part of what made living in NYC so hard was my inability to say NO to others, which meant I rarely said YES to myself. Spreading myself out a mile wide and an inch deep made me feel burnt out, and guilty for always disappointing someone by not giving enough time, effort, or myself to them both in romantic and platonic relationships. I struggle with creating boundaries, and I think that stems from a lack of self love. I hope in 18 months I’ll feel comfortable saying yes to myself a whole lot more and strip away the unnecessary guilt that fuels much of my actions.
  2. Forgiveness – I used to expect that people treated me as I would treat them, and this led to a lot of hurt feelings and disappointment. I want to cultivate compassion towards the people that have hurt me, trusting that they were just doing the best they could, and loving me as much as they knew how. And really in forgiving them for failing me, I’m going to forgive myself for allowing that kind of treatment. Ultimately, I know forgiveness via compassion will bring me a peace and lightness that I haven’t had in 7 years.
  3. Write. Write. Write. Ever since my first backpacking trip to SE Asia, I’ve been talking about writing a book about those travels. A combination of fear, procrastination, and lack of confidence in my writing ability paralyzed me from following through which is a damn shame because there’s a really powerful story to be told. I’m going to nurture my writing talent by capturing the moments of awe on the road in this blog, as well as instituting a daily morning practice of writing small sections of my novel.
  4. Growth & Paying it Forward – I feel really lucky to get to take 18 months of normal life to indulge on every whim. I’ve been aching for years to do:  a 10 day silent vipassana retreat, deepen my knowledge of Vedic meditation in an ashram in India, live a super simple life for a month in a Buddhist monastery in Burma, yoga retreat/teacher training in Bali, cooking classes in every country, international dinner parties, attend mind opening festivals like Envision, Burning Man, and more. I want to find out how my skill set can translate out of advertising and into storytelling, and getting hired to teach two workshops at Envision two storytelling workshops at Envision  in late Feb in Costa Rica has already a game changer for me because its shows me that I have a voice. A big part of creating www.yearofkind.com is to use that voice for good, to highlight the best of humanity as I witness acts of kindness around the world. I can’t wait to work with the kiddos and volunteer at orphanages on the road as well, which always brings me joy.
  5. Trust My Gut – The obvious and most difficult goal on here because trusting my gut would mean that self love and forgiveness would have to be achieved first in order to allow myself to follow my instinct free of the old narratives I’ve been convincing myself of.  Trusting my gut would mean I would be able to walk through pain with grace, that I would understand that anything going wrong is just making space for better things to go right, that I would internalize first with my own sounding committee before approaching anyone else’s opinion’s for guidance. Trusting my gut means I trust myself fully to walk away from the things/people that are not good for me, while whole heartedly allowing myself to follow the internal pull towards the things/people that are. This will be the most seismic shift in how I approach every future decision.

Cheers to the search for bread crumb miracles around the world….

I welcome all notes, feedback, ideas, and calls from you all as I will sometimes stumble and eventually soar with your support.

Light & Laughter,

Vicki

Vicki Rox

Adventurer. Storyteller. Hunter of Wonder.

4 Comments
  • Tetyana
    Reply February 9, 2016 at 7:13 am

    You make this world so much brighter with you sparkling light. You simply make everything shine with your loving touch. I am forever grateful for the day we met. So inspiring to read your stories.. In my heart I pray for your comfort and an incredible journey! <3

  • Jessica
    Reply February 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Beautiful! Your writing and storytelling is a magical gift to the world and I am so excited to hear more. My only thought to share – in the name of Self Love, take the words “these people failed me” out of your vocabulary.That is giving them the power. Really they were placed there at exactly that time to teach exactly what you needed to learn. I hope this year can bring you to a place of appreciation and gratitude for all of it, it’s made you the shining star you are! Love you so so much!

  • Sean
    Reply February 12, 2016 at 6:12 am

    This is awesome. I look forward to all your stories and watching you grow through this great adventure. Wasn’t long ago you and Boris were both interns at ignition, now this… unbelievable. Peace be with you.

  • sandy f
    Reply February 19, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Vicki
    I read your goals for this adventure – and think maybe I should live my life all over again and thank more as i walk through it.l I am so excited for you – and for all of us who will follow your journey. Thanks for doing this blog – it’s wonderful to share your thoughts and adventures. All the best – love you – sf

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