This has been an interesting week. A week with ups and downs. With comedy and tragedy. With old friends and new ones. A week with life and death. A week of…changes.

The only constant in life is change. And change is all you need to wake up and realize what’s happening all around you.

It all started on a cold winter morning in Europe…

This was the third time that I have celebrated my birthday abroad and you cannot imagine my great happiness when my birthday present arrived at the door: My best travel friend Camille of This American Girl.

Together we were set to explore Europe’s Best Winter Destinations for this January and February and we went to celebrate the moment in one of Helsinki’s finest restaurants. We talked, we ate, we drank and as we talked about our travel plans for the following next weeks…deep down we knew that something was quite off.

Drink at Hoku Restaurant

The day I got the bad news I decided to ignore

A few days after my birthday, and after exploring some of the city of Helsinki, Camille and I set off for Estonia and it was during that fateful ferry ride that I checked my phone and I saw a disturbing message from my mother: My grandma was terminally ill and she had only a few days to live.

I couldn’t believe it, or rather, I chose not to. The next couple of days were some of the most amazing ones as I explored the winter fairytale land of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia and one of the most charming places you’ll ever see in your lifetime.

And yes, instead of confronting reality and calling back home to say my last goodbyes, I chose to ignore it and fill myself with fine food and drink in order to try to forget. Or rather, to avoid remembering it in the first place.

It wasn’t until I saw a Mexican flag hanging outside of a restaurant in Estonia that I dropped to my knees and I thought to myself: “Is it time to go home?”.

Winter in Tallinn

The death of a dream and the birth of a new one

After our short trip to Estonia, we came back to Helsinki for a Travel Conference where we met with many Finnish and International brands where we talked to them about our projects and it was during that point that both Camille and I realized the truth that was now evident:

We’re not used to travel as a team. We’re both independent spirits that like to travel alone. We both care deeply for each other and because of that, the best solution was to let each other be free to follow their own true heart calling. Their own journey of wonders.

It was the death of a dream and with that, a flame was born from the ashes of it. Communication is always essential and we’re both glad that we will always have each others’ backs no matter if we’re traveling together or alone. That’s the true power of friendship and I love it.

Sunrise at Helsinki

Coming to terms with the loss of my family

During the days of the conference, my grandma passed away. To this day, it pains me to admit that I cannot go home for the funeral. No…I don’t want to go home for the funeral. Doing so would make it real and I’m not sure if I’m ready to handle that yet.

In fact, it wasn’t until yesterday morning when a friend of mine told me about the passing of her grandma that I got the courage to finally talk about the fact that mine is gone too from this world. And it really hurts.

I’m not a believer of the afterlife in the traditional sense but the scientist in me knows that energy never dies or is destroyed, it is only transformed. I know my grandma’s essence is out there somewhere and I hope that she’s not sad because the fact that I never bothered to give her a call in her last few days. She knew me better than that. She knew the person I was and the person I am now.

And I’m not sure what to think of that.

Estonia Church

The lesson I learned from all of this…

The only constant in life is change. That has always been my mantra but deep down, I still have a hard time accepting the fact that something has changed even though it is naturally easy for me to adapt to the situation. Yes, of course I can cope with changes…but sometimes I don’t want to.

I really wanted to travel in Europe with my best travel friend. I really wanted to be able to be in Mexico to be there for my family. I really wanted for this week to be different. But the past’s the past and I’m grateful for the way this week’s events have happened since it helped me connect with a part of me that I once thought was gone and buried.

I am not Raphael Alexander Zoren. I am not the Man of Wonders. I am, simply put, a human. I am the master of my own destiny. I am the main character of the book of my life. I am the one who solves impossible situations using possible solutions.

And you know what? You are the most amazing person you’ll ever meet in the world, you just need that little push, that little boost in confidence, that little empowerment that will make you realize how life will always change around you, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

We were all born. We will all die. What you do between those two moments it’s entirely up to you. Be the master of your destiny. Am I sad for the death of a dream and the death of a loved one? Of course I am, it’s perfectly fine to be sad, it’s perfectly fine to cry.

What matters the most is what you make out of those situations. Seize the day and be responsible for your own happiness. I’m not alright…but I know I will be.

Have a good weekend my friends.

Raphael Alexander Zoren in Winter