[intro music plays]
Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of naked mentionable. This week, we have a special guest Irina Leoni, and she works on travel because Irina is a digital nomad. I guess is that how you would describe your travel journey at the moment?
Irina Leoni 1:08
I guess I still feel like an imposter when people would describe me that way, but that’s that’s what I do. Yes.
Alyssa Patmos 1:14
Oh, where in the world are you joining us from right now?
Irina Leoni 1:19
I am in Florence, Italy right now – just popped into the town because hey, I’ve never been here I got to see and I wanted to have some time to you know, go to other places too. In Tuscany. That’s why I’m basically here right now.
Alyssa Patmos 1:34
Tuscany! I’ve never been to Tuscany, I’ve been parts of Italy, but never Tuscany. And I feel like people, like you said before, before we hit record, like people, romanticize travel and a lot of ways. So I’m really excited for the things that rarely made mentionable today. But before we dive into that, tell, tell listeners slash viewers a little bit about yourself.
Irina Leoni 2:00
I was born in Latvia, it’s a former USSR Republic, if, if you guys don’t know, it’s a tiny little country on the Baltic Sea, it’s really cold there. And I ran away from there. After finishing college, ran away to United States work there for a couple of years, then I was got I got lucky. And won the Green Card Lottery, dragged my ex husband there with the baby, brand new baby. And I had a career in it back then I loved it at the creativity of creating something creating something new from nothing has always been appealing to me. And, but that got boring really quickly. So I transitioned into photography, my whole life, I’ve been transitioning from one thing to another if you like, you know, it could be a good thing or a bad thing. Go figure. And now I’m just traveling the world. Because I’ve always felt like everybody goes places. Everybody’s been to these, this, this, this. And that place. And I’ve always had a major FOMO in that regard. Like I’ve never envied people who have a lot of money or have Gucci verses or anything or husbands great families. But I envy people who travel more than me. It’s like, it’s something. So I decided, hey, right now my kid has graduated high school, he wants to college, it doesn’t make me anymore. And I want wanted this life. I wanted to be able to go anywhere I want and live there as long as I want to, or at least as long as I’m allowed by government.
Alyssa Patmos 3:37
So you brought up some that I want to ask you about. One is going to be transitions, but But first off, I want to dive into some of what the decision making process has been. And we did an episode on eliminating decision fatigue, which I feel like you’re making decisions all the time, all the time about the best and where you’re going to stick and whatnot. But before we get into those things, what talk a little bit about the decision to go after this because some people have these big dreams. And I love that you highlighted different ones. You know, some people have the dream of the amazing family. Some people have the dream of like, the most luxurious feeling clothes, you know, other people, it’s it’s being able to stay in five star resorts. And so for you it’s travel and so what did what look like getting to the point where you had you had I’ve just want to “the balls”, where you had the balls to say yes, I am freaking going for this.
Irina Leoni 4:45
I think they’ve cut or I never got the gene of being afraid to travel. There was never a question that I will not do, the uh, the only reason I was in New Jersey for almost 20 years. because I had a kid growing up, and his father and I split up and I was bound to New Jersey, that was the only reason that I was staying put in one place. Otherwise, we would have probably traveled with the kid all over the world because I don’t know. It’s just, it’s just the thing to do. I don’t know how to what else to do. That’s it. It’s it’s not a decision for me. It wasn’t a question.
Alyssa Patmos 5:29
I love that, I love that. It’s always fun when you see people who like you who can just go out and go out and have we all have fear that creeps in, but it creeps in in different places for each of us. And so I can imagine some people would be completely terrified to do what we’re doing and make that move. And and then other people it sounds like you are just like, This is what my soul is longing for, like, there’s no question this is this is what has to be done. So a lot of transitions. I love I love the concepts of transitions, because I love talking about pivoting. I feel like you know so much life can be defined by the moments where we embrace change. And there’s so much beauty in that. So for you how you talked about transitions, to photography to traveling in the in the photography courses you ran off? And then also, how often are you transitioning where you are like what’s been the pattern thus far in this journey?
Irina Leoni 6:34
I’m thinking the best for me is to live somewhere between anywhere between three to six months. This past year, I moved into Morocco, I went to several places before I went to UAE stayed in Dubai with a friend for a month or so. But then I moved to Morocco, kind of partly because of the COVID situation was so great there, it was the safest place to be in the world. And I found a beautiful beach town and stay there and totally enjoyed myself until it was just time to leave because the government was like, come on, you overstayed your welcome. No. So now I’m planning to stay in Italy for as long as I feel like I have to want to whatever. And then I don’t have any plan after that. And it’s I really love the night knowing I like to see what unravels. I don’t know.
Alyssa Patmos 7:26
Have you always been okay with that? Because, you know, that is something talking about where fear comes up from people fear of the unknown, an inability or reluctance to embrace uncertainty cripples so many people. And that’s okay. You know, it’s like, it comes from how we were raised and, and chaos and wanting feelings of certainty. But But what do you love? How did you develop this relationship with like, being totally chill with the unknown?
Irina Leoni 7:59
Like, that’s, that’s what I am trying to tell you that I don’t have that thing. Somehow they didn’t encrypt it in me, I don’t have that fear of the unknown. I need the variety. This is one of my biggest values. I don’t need to change my relationships every now and again. It’s totally I love people. Everything is fine in that regard. But to move around from place to place and discover the world, once I realized how similar we all are yet how different the cultures can be and how enticing that is. I mean, it’s safe everywhere. I was perfectly safe in Morocco, though a lot of people will go like whoo, really? Yes, nicest people ever. I’m very different. Like you can walk down the street and be terrified. And then the same time it’s like, nothing is going on, it’s safe. These people just want to be loved and they want to eat.
Alyssa Patmos 9:00
We are so also similar. And then their language barriers for a napkin pass fear sometimes. So I love that. It sounds like for you to let the fear component that’s just way down back in this in this scenario. There’s a there’s a book I can’t I should totally know this author’s name, but I can’t remember right now. She wrote a book called Why Him Why Her? And you know, in relationships, there’s the two things there’s like opposites attract. And then there’s like birds of a feather flock together. And so she talks about differences there. And so she talks about Explorers versus Builders, and like Builders love tradition, like building a family and having the focus beyond that and then explores like variety and novelty all the way. And so she talks about in that case, you need the birds of a feather flock together if you’re interested or in a relationship with a Builder, it might cause a lot of pain. But then there she has this other description of how people can view which is Director versus Negotiator. And so Directors you know, very like, they want to control the situation, they shape how things sell, like, there’s tends to be more masculine traits in there. But she talks about the difference between those being estrogen versus testosterone driven people and then they explore and builder, one is dopamine driven, and one is serotonin driven. So I love the way she weaves like neuro chemicals and neuroscience into this discussion around opposites attract and breads and others laugh together, because a director and a director might butt heads. But a director or a negotiator like they’re usually the opposites attract sort of. And so I just gave a very high level description of this fabulous book I find interesting. But you sound so much like an Explorer to me, I’m the same way like that’s why I pick up and have no problem picking up and moving cities on a whim. And I love it like to me it feeds my soul, but my brother is the complete opposite. And what he could not do what you’re doing.
Irina Leoni 11:21
My brother is the same way! He’s like, I have no desire of ever leaving my town. How is this possible that you’re my brother?
Alyssa Patmos 11:32
So one thing so I, everyone who is with me, if you want fun Instagram stories go follow Irina because she takes you along on her travels. And so a few weeks ago, you and who knows exactly when this episode is coming out. So it might be back a little bit for but a reason say recently you did a story series on burn off. And it’s something you and I have talked about before. And I just want I house burnout impacting you as you’re traveling because we romanticize so many aspects of it. But then at the same time, you’re uprooting your life pretty frequently, as of most recently.
Irina Leoni 12:19
Yes. So the first time I realized that I’m being burnt out was when I arrived in Provence, in South of France, gorgeous, rolling valleys and hills, covered with lavender meadows and vineyards. And I’m looking at all this and I feel nothing. It scared the bejesus out of me was like, What is going on, I started digging a little bit. I use breathwork as a tool to uncover any of my anxiety or anything that’s going on. And I’ve breathed a lot that week. And I realized that I’ve just been moving too much. That’s what came up for me. I came to Latvia, I was buying a car so I can afford this whole Euro tour. Because right now I’m not hopping on the plane. And I’m not stuck with just one suitcase in the carry on. So I can fit on the plane and not be these extreme charges. Everything is in my car. I basically traveled with a bunch of kitchen stuff with me because I like my smoothies and all that weird stuff that I like. Um, so there was a lot that had to go into it. And then before that I was for two weeks in Iceland living in a van. And then before I was in the United States, gallivanting across the entire country, because I had clients who needed me so I was in Texas, I was in Mexico, I was in Colorado, I was in New Jersey, seeing my son, I was just basically non stop since beginning of June. Wow. And then I was Yeah, before getting to Provence I was one week and in English, that visiting my friend who’s who’s living there, has lived there for 20 years now and seen her. It was crazy. And of course, going through that, I managed to stumble upon one of these Russian influencers I follow she was sharing a workshop with a psychologist that she’s working with, and she was going through depression actually not even burnout she was shooting, her condition was much more serious. So they put together this amazing workshop series of three, talking about procrastination, burnout, and depression, how to identify them how they’re different, and how to how to deal with them all. And we’re not going to go into depression because I’ve never been there, thank God. But burnout is a serious thing. And if we don’t address it, we end up depressed and then the only way out or there’s doctors.
Alyssa Patmos 14:44
So, so what did you learn about burnout. If you can remember how did you learn the difference between identifying procrastination from burnout because procrastination I think creeps in a lot and so I’ve done I’ve done research on now because “procrastisnacking”, it was my thing where I go to the fridge to procrastinate when I didn’t want to deal with it much to deal with something like tough that was something for work. And but I’ve also been burnt out in the past you and see things interesting that they’re that those buckets get so tied to so closely tied together, but it makes sense. So so how did you learn to to identify burnout and some of the differences there?
Irina Leoni 15:33
Right? So procrastination is basically we still have the energy for doing stuff, we’re still motivated we use, we use the, okay, so my dishes are not done, I’m gonna do those because I can’t, I can’t sit here and do work and write a blog post. Looking at the dirty dishes. That’s procrastination, pure form. Any kind of avoidance of something harder is procrastination. If you’re still doing something, you’re not in bed, you’re not binging on some serious on Netflix, then then then you’re not burned out, then you have to just get your act together and start working. But once you find yourself basically without energy at all, and no motivation, nothing interests you and Nothing excites you, you don’t know what you want. And why you wanted something that you’re doing right now in the first place. That’s burnout. And the longer you stay there, the quicker it turns into depression. Yeah.
Alyssa Patmos 16:33
And the harder it is, I said and the harder it can be to get out of it. And so for you, then you’re in Provence, and suddenly find yourself with no energy. Is that right?
Irina Leoni 16:51
That’s right. I was dog-sitting in this at that same moment at that time and provides for a month so I had these two cute current Ariel’s terriers that are supposed to walk twice a day. And they were basically what would drag me out of bed in the morning and outside every day, I and one of the ways to treat burnout is to go on walks and be nature. So I had a lot of that going on that helped me and of course listening to these two ladies talk about burnout for you know, two or three hours. I’ve, I felt like very well supported, and they were giving so many examples of what works for them. The The key is to not follow anybody anybody specific advice and find what works for you. Because for some people walked would not work. Some people just hate walking without purpose. Right? They can’t stand being in nature, for example, they prefer I don’t know what they prefer. Everybody’s different. And for everybody, the recipe will be different. So I spend those two days while I’m listening to these workshops, putting the list of things that make me happy. More things that have shown in the past that they somehow put me in a better mood, obviously was exercise, obviously was meditation. Definitely breathwork a lot of walking. Cooking a home cooked meal is big deal for me. And I learned that I don’t really like cooking Alyssa, like, I find it it’s a waste of time. I don’t want to be doing it. I would rather have somebody else. Do it in Morocco was a great setup. I had a lady come in and cook them clean. For me it was just perfect. I loved it. And their food is delicious. But here I found that it is easier for me to settle down in a new place. If I immediately after unpacking and organizing. Go to the grocery store no matter how tired I am. Bring in certain even made a menu like it’s a moving menu. I bring it home, I chopped some stuff, I saute some veggies, I make some lentils, there’s stuff that I need in my fridge in order to make it feel like okay, I will survive this. This is good.
Alyssa Patmos 19:10
That is so so so great. I love first I love that you said the recipe is different for everyone because that’s so true in general like with any advice that’s given we have to be able to filter it through our own critical thinking lens and I don’t always see people doing that again they’re just so happy to take on this this dream so people took on jury of other people’s right now just because we see so many of the same pictures on social media and the time to to reconnect with yourself. I find that for new burnout has happened to me in the times where I’ve just become disconnected from myself like doing something but not really sure why I’m doing it and losing that sense of of purpose in and then I go into the painful part and so the list of like what Is he happy? What? What is going well? What do we what do you enjoy that has been helpful for me in the past two, I find it funny that you don’t like cooking. I love cooking. Cooking is like the creative outlet for me, I don’t get to cook, I get frustrated. And then also what you said about the menu, Ramsey back to the decision to the decision fatigue element. And just having that moment it cuts out what you have to buy at the grocery store. Each time we’ll meet in a new place, you’re not having to make these same decisions over and over and over again. And I imagine is like this unconscious breath of fresh air to be like, Okay, no, the plane on for at least the first day their days off, like when I’m here.
Irina Leoni 20:52
Yes, and because because every country is different. You don’t know what kind of foods your food you’re going to encounter in the stores. So I’m limiting myself to the fresh food section, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits. And this list is always there. Like I have not not found lentils in the store in my entire life. Seriously, it’s like a staple food everywhere.
Alyssa Patmos 21:13
So so so when you found yourself there, then how once you started actively doing some of those things, if you don’t mind sharing, how long did it take you to feel like you could recognize your energy again.
Irina Leoni 21:31
Right away. Basically, it was very quick. For me. One major mistake that I was doing that they had identified for me is you shouldn’t be binging on anything or watching any movies during the burnout. It’s much better read the book, read the book, but nothing like dramatic like nothing, nothing where you’re holding your breath until the five pages pass. Because this drama is is seeping into our life and is contributing to burnout. So I immediately stopped doing that. Because the first thing I would lean on, when I feel tired, I’m like, I’m just gonna watch something and let the life pass. Yeah, once you stop that, once you just start, and I always get enough sleep, I love sleep. This is this is the thing that nobody can take away from me. And so it was quick once I knew what not to do. And also the fact that they have discovered this new knowledge, which is always contributing to your excitement, yeah. Oh my god, they landed on something.
Alyssa Patmos 22:36
That’s great! And I think it’s always good to hear that it doesn’t always have to take a super long time to have a shift. And I love what you said about not binge watching things. Because, you know, we take and just like we take in all the pictures on social media, like be taken the plotlines of all of these super dramatic shows, of which there are so many now like I remember, you know, back when AWS were just watching Schabel there’s like, a limited set of choices for what to watch. But now, there’s really no plates in Amazon Prime, and they all have originals, and there’s 50 million obvious exaggeration, but not really. They’re so good to watch. And then and then everyone’s talking about it. And it’s like, have you seen this? I know. But there is such a high mental cost to that in absorbing these narratives. And, and the thing is, is that when in a plotline, three quarters of the plot is meant to have tension, and suspense, and drama, and to play on all of these things that really experience in a glorified dramatic fashion. It’s not always great for us to consume, especially if we’re not in a place where we’re clearly able to delineate like, this isn’t my reality. This is fiction. And yet these moments of turmoil and inner turmoil, we may end up by over identify with the storylines. I feel like.
Irina Leoni 24:12
yes, social media is also contributing to burnout watching TV, definitely all these news.
Alyssa Patmos 24:23
So there’s nothing that I think I always like making mentionable, and that’s, you know, building community we had an episode on building community, but also friendships. So you know, you’re traveling around, you’re going to these new places, and I know that you know, people all over the world because even when you were in Colorado, you popped in and we met at the airport, which I loved. But you’re going to all these new places, renting new spaces, so you have new places and spaces, but then you also have all these new faces. And so what What is it like building relationships in these areas? Is it a priority for you? Is it how do we go about it?
Irina Leoni 25:07
It definitely is. So one thing I have to mention is that during the burnout phase I indentified, that spending time with people suits me, even though I’m an introvert. So that was a surprise. This is why I’m telling everybody don’t follow anybody’s advice. Find your own recipe for the burnout fix. So yes, I’m making it a point to actually meet people. I will talk to anybody on the street who I can have even a little bit of the report like in in Nice, I was talking to the banana guy downstairs right next to the door entrance to my hotel. For some reason he found it entertainment that I entertaining that I didn’t speak any French and he was making fun of the ways a banana were. And I use Tinder actually to meet people. I have it on my profile, that I am not specifically looking for a date, even though I’m single and open. But I’m passing through and I would like to learn a language. So I would love to meet you for language exchange. In return. I’m this interesting person, blah, blah, blah, give them my little bio, and, you know, shrimp top version of who I am. And I’ve met some people like this, and it has been incredible. It’s like making friends who I have to leave behind in some time. But it’s incredible what you learn from local people like that somebody introduced me to keynote though a drink that I would have never otherwise tried in Italy. It was one one of my first dates through Tinder. And it’s not, you know, Tinder is not that terrible. It has a bad rap. But I’m having fun. My friend also mentioned that Meetup is very popular in Europe. I have not tried it yet because I keep forgetting. But I have my notes in front of me about this. From this friend who is also a nomad. She she’s struggling slightly different goal for her. And also, since we’re on point, on the topic of the relationships, I have to mention that my existing friendships with people in Latvia in the United States are, I would say, better these relationships because people actually make it a point to spend time with me when I when I’m there, kind of drop everything. And it makes me feel loved. And we have much more of a quality time, sometimes like two days in a row because they we didn’t have enough. And when I leave, I feel satiated with that, so it kind of works out.
Alyssa Patmos 27:46
I wouldn’t I don’t know that I would have expected you to say that. But but it makes sense with higher slang. I will I think it’s great to the you said being around people superzoom. And I’m the weird person who like the for me to get into like the most flow state like I love working in a loud bar. Which is weird, I’m aware. But I love being around strangers, but able to be like in my own bubble. So like, I will play loud bar noise on YouTube when I’m working sometimes.
Irina Leoni 28:22
That’s cool. What a great idea.
Alyssa Patmos 28:26
Right? The people and so there’s a track for like that sort of loud noise on YouTube. And there’s one on Spotify too. But I the coffee shops aren’t the same for me because they’re too quiet. Like you can zone in on one conversation. That doesn’t work for me. And so oh love being around strangers. And I love what you said about talking to the banana die. Because I feel like we often forget about the micro moments of our humanity were to feel connection with someone, it doesn’t have to be this this lifelong friendship or even like, we’re going to become best friends. It’s like when we miss each other feel good in these tiny little freaking moments. And then for people not to be threatened by that like especially if you’re in relationship but like the people not to be threatened by that for people to embrace it. And like take the risk of five minute conversation that just like feels really good or brightens my day. I think that’s so so so powerful. So do you How often are you engaging in those and how does it make you feel when you’re traveling?
Irina Leoni 29:37
Engaging in what those?
Alyssa Patmos 29:39
These micro conversations like the banana guy like are you constantly trying to talk to anybody who will talk to you? My grandma is the queen of that or, or how does it work for you?
Irina Leoni 29:49
I have to force myself into actually when I remember to do it because this is what makes things fun. Every smile somebody shares with me basically brightens my day. I mean, it’s cheesy, but it’s true. And so I have to put a mask on at first and go and be a goof somewhere and make a fool of myself and make a silly joke. Don’t jokes don’t translate very well. So you have to kind of just act it out in the way and just be clumsy, obviously clumsy, sometimes exaggerated. Somehow people are attracted to that and then they start taking care of you. All of a sudden, and long story short, you’re talking and somehow like this, this old lady in the store the other day in, I was Petya, which is inching Butera. I was in the grocery store, I was late, it was raining, I’m standing in line. And then there’s an old lady appears next to me. I’m next in line, she shows up next to me. And she’s standing holding, I don’t remember yogurt or something in her hands. And I’m like, Just gesturing to her to get in front of me and go ahead. Like, I should have asked people behind me, but I just did it. And all of a sudden, she’s talking to me, I don’t understand anything. She’s saying. It’s all in Italian, yada, yada. It sounds wonderful. So I’m smiling like a goon. And a few minutes later, I realized she’s going to introduce me to her nephew that I understand a few things. I’m already being introduced. And the friend outside waiting for her. And she was so happy that it just let her whatever. That’s those things happen. And I kind of have to be open to them. And when you’re traveling and you’re alone, all the time, you’re, you have to make an effort, because otherwise you’re just in that zone of observation and survival mode.
Alyssa Patmos 31:39
Yeah. So you mentioned lonely, and I wanted to ask you, like, in this journey, like you made this journey for yourself of like, I want to travel the world and like this is it just needs to happen. And you’re also doing it by himself. And so like, Isn’t lonely. Like what comes up?
Irina Leoni 32:01
Um, I have not felt lonely in a very long time, unless I’m down when we feel down. And the reason could be anything. It could be hormones, it could be weather, it could be that you haven’t worked on your business for a couple of days, and you’re behind and then you’re feeling like your will never get where you want to get, you know, things just accumulate and crush on you. But normal feeling of loneliness. It’s been maybe four or five years since I felt that way. I’ve enjoyed my company. I like my space. I like that I don’t have to compromise with anybody. I have not been in a good, serious relationship in like, ever. So I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I see my friends and I’m happy for them. But like I said, I never ended good relationship. It’s the travel that I want. And the fact that I can just take off and go anywhere I want and not discuss with anybody what kind of apartment we have to rent or I mean, it can get really complicated really fast. Unless the guy is really easygoing, because I’m anal. I need everything the way I want it to be.
Alyssa Patmos 33:13
Yeah, and it is what you said about like, you know, company because you know, some people, they get the itch to travel, but really, it’s the inch to avoid something like me to take a vacation. Because I want to avoid something but you can’t avoid yourself you end up with yourself wherever you are in the world.
Irina Leoni 33:38
Okay, I something just came up for me. I laughed at my in my head. Have you ever wanted to like after you had a breakup? Have you ever wanted to just drop everything and move to another town or another state or another country have have it? Has it ever happened to you?
Alyssa Patmos 33:52
I’ve done it. I’ve done it twice.
Irina Leoni 33:55
Actually you did, yes. So I always wanted to do it but I never had actual chance to do it. And I must report to you this thing works amazingly basically no matter how what kind of a bad thing occurred to you in your travels. In today’s you don’t remember it happened because you You’re never in the same environment you’re always trying to survive something or or get from place to place and again, it’s survival mode the entire time survive, survive survive. So I don’t remember what was last week that I got really sick or something or somebody was really rude to me, or nothing comes to mind because I don’t remember these things and this stuff is amazing. So if you’re trying to run away from your life and forget something that just broke your heart and feels like the end of the world, go travel.
Alyssa Patmos 34:55
You say it’s like the Eat Pray Love love journey you know, like, especially as if you use it As a way to, like, form this relationship with yourself, like for the people who do want a relationship, like the best way that we can be in one is to have a solid relationship with ourselves. And if we’re constantly just like trying to avoid those emotions, then that’s not going to go so well because it’s going to come back up. But I love being able to take a break and change your environment because our environments influence our thoughts. So profoundly like the spaces that we’re in. I really struggled. This sounds so weird, but I struggle if there’s one time, in an apartment I had, I had bookshelves on opposite walls. And it was this huge towering bookshelf on opposite walls. And it’s the only way that they fit in there. Because it was an apartment, it wasn’t huge. And I hated it. Every time I walked into that room, I freaking hated it. And I still just like, got to a bad mood. And then he says, to space, and environment, and being that sensitive and might not be as calm. But we are influenced by our environment. So this leads me to two things. One, just what you were saying about being able to if if something isn’t working, sometimes even going outside, like changing our environment has so much power. But second, how doing being in so many other people’s spaces and mice their energy? I don’t know if that would be easy for me or not? Because I’m so sensitive to that. So So how’s it going for you? That is a great question.
Irina Leoni 36:41
And a lot I can share on that, that I thought until today. So thank you. So first of all, I’m usually renting an Airbnb, which is a an apartment that is clean of energy. I would love it if somebody lived here before they started renting it out, because then they know what kind of little things it’s missing. A lot of people don’t do that. Like yes, they were few days ago when I arrived here, they didn’t even have a dishwashing liquid. Like what if I had to go and buy it. If I arrived here on the plane, I’d be pissed. There were a few things missing a few things that I already had with me. And if you so this apartment has never been lived in by anybody, like permanently. So it’s clean, it’s clear of the anything like there’s nothing here that shouldn’t be here. As opposed to when I was dog sitting house sitting, it’s a thing. There are websites where you can go register, have your friends refer you. And you can go and travel the world basically feel free except for the plane ticket and stay in beautiful places and other people’s homes, basically, by just feeding their cats or walking their dogs. It’s a great way and a lot of people do it that way. So I decided to try it because hey, I like saving money. And it was great. I was in Provence for one month and the dogs were cute another big deal to do any of that. But the house was somebody else’s house. And as nice as it was. There was other somebody else’s energy there. Now the woman is very interesting person and all the books that she had on her bookshelves I actually had fun with. But also there were things that just I wouldn’t have them the way they were. And it was just basically accepting how it is and knowing that I will move eventually from here and and it being what it is three days later stops bothering you. Because how much can you be annoyed that bit?
Alyssa Patmos 38:40
Right, as I feel like they’re getting to the acceptance phase, like you said the word acceptance, I think big fans really, really important for me with the competing workshops, I definitely could not let go like I could not tell the acceptance phase space. And that was struggle. But there’s a there was a piece of furniture that Jeff had when we were moving in together. And I was sure that I loved it. You would love it. I wish I could put my computer like it’s great for prototyping and your and different colors. So like I hear your voice in my head. I’m going through that. And so it’s a great piece, but I wasn’t sure that I could accept it. So a friend came over. And she she gave me this idea she She sounded like sitting uncomfortably in it when we first started talking, and by the end she slowly started seeing me like sink into it. And then she’s like, you can do a photo shoot in this image show some crystals and cushions and just like own it. And I’m not an overly crystal oriented person, but I have two or three that means something to me. And so that’s an I freaking like owned this piece of furniture and completely accepted it and now it’s it’s in my office, but it’s funny how these things in our spaces that we can get to Super fixated on them. And sometimes our, our moods of getting to that place of acceptance can be so, so, so important.
Irina Leoni 40:09
Yes, I guess it’s different for everything. I was lucky so far.
Alyssa Patmos 40:14
It was great. That’s great. And, and, and when you’re when you’re when I’m gonna backtrack, if someone was thinking, like, Okay, I’m sitting at home and this is I know I’ve had this issue and and maybe this conversation is like the sign that they asked for where it’s like I should go challenge what would you tell someone just start that journey?
Irina Leoni 40:43
Prepare a list of things that please you things that you only do for yourself. lighting candles, listening to your favorite artists on on Spotify, listen to podcast, like all the things that will prevent your burnout. Make a system and don’t plant don’t plan to oh my god, something just came to my head. Don’t rent an apartment for a month at one spot. Like if you are not sure whether you’re going to like that city or not just booked something for a week. Stay for a week. If you like it if you like you want to stay there, then go out and rent something more long term and through locals which will be a little more affordable and accessible when you’re already there. Most important thing. Go. So the other thing to think about is what is your goal? I do you want to make it your life? Like my did I got rid of my home in New Jersey car, everything, all my possessions, whatever. I wanted to keep some memorabilia, not memorabilia. What’s the word? Memories? Sorry. English is my third or fourth language, I forget. Everything was gone. And I took all the money that I would typically pay us to pay my bills. I use that money to travel. So I’m actually saving money by traveling as opposed to living in the United States, which will be the case for most people. I know. Unless you live somewhere completely in suburbs of something. Something in the middle of America, maybe that? No, yes. But anywhere on the coast. Seriously, seriously. Cheaper to travel than to live there. So it’s affordable, you can do it. If money is what stops you you can do this. You don’t have to pay the rent and travel. You don’t have to pay the mortgage and travel King. If it’s a good time to sell your house, sell your house and go traveling you can always buy another house. Unless you’re so in love with your house. That’s a different story. preparing yourself for this. Just go where you where you want. Where you dreamed of going like I wanted to live in Morocco. I wanted to live in Italy. So I’m covering these two bases now. Not sure where else I want to live. I already lived in United States. You have any ideas? Let me know.
Alyssa Patmos 43:14
I don’t know. Actually, there is a gorgeous place in Italy. I was in a small town. Samio, I might have butchered the name but it’s right near Lake Como. It’s it’s it’s a very very small town from the mountains but not reaching gorgeous. And the the guy who was dating at the time his his mom is a town and so she grew up there and so her entire family knew like she has extended cousins like the whole town is her family. And, and so we went there for a month and he stayed in there. It’s just something that’s so different about going somewhere and living here versus it just being a vacation. There’s something that can be really, really fun about that but that is gorgeous. So I would recommend while you’re in Italy, but have you done the North yet.
Irina Leoni 44:08
That’s just where I was. I’ve been there with my son. That was our first trip to Italy. I loved it. Absolutely. But I want to go back and stay. I’m planning to live in Verona for a few months after after the winter is over. I like warmth. I’m going to spend the time in Sicily and then drive north when it’s warmer. Verona see the Dolomites explore the entire region there. It’s gorgeous. I love to almost heaven on earth.
Alyssa Patmos 44:35
Oh my goodness. Yes. We would drive over there and get gelato and look at the water and it’s it’s it’s amazing. Um, when I had it, but it’s blanking me at the moment, which occasionally happens. Do you ever feel like like is it in the cards for you to have to have a home base again.
Irina Leoni 45:04
I would like to have a home base, I would, I would like to have a home base just because I love all the things that I find during and I can’t really send them into stories. There’s nobody there to accept the package. So now I have some things in Morocco, some things in Latvia, some things in New Jersey, some things in Colorado. And at some point, I would like to bring it all back together because some of these things I really love because they mean something to me like Moroccan boobs and blankets with those fluffy ends and, and the pottery Oh, I love pottery.
Alyssa Patmos 45:48
Gorgeous. Okay, so So this brings me to one other thing I want to talk about. So you’re a photographer, and you’re obsessed with the senses. And what I love about the photos that you take is that they incorporate different elements than just the eyes, you know, so many designers just designed for, for our eyes. So the visual component of it, but what about how things feel? What about like, what his sounds in his face? Like? What is it smell like? And, and that was a lot of what your philosophy is in a photo? And so how is your travel informing your photography in that way?
Irina Leoni 46:28
It’s finding textures, like, I don’t know about you and your experience living in the United States. But in New Jersey, I found it extremely boring to photograph anybody like I had to be so creative. To find something interesting to incorporate as a part of a location, like props and props, we can figure out props. But where do I take a client where it looks cool, or peaceful or, or warm, or you know, soft, there’s no textures. They’ve designed America without any United States, I mean, without any really relation, ship with senses. If you look at Europe, everything is stone, there’s a lot of stone, sometimes it’s iron, but it’s a lot of stone, a lot of texture, a lot of wood, a lot of warmth, a lot of grain, a lot of smells. Where do I begin? On location, every time I show up somewhere, my professional training that I took myself through is finding places that I like. And I typically just mark them on my Google Maps and leave a label saying, Ah, it’s a weird tree triangle with with these branches that leaned down so nicely that if you put a person in front of them, then the portrait will be like very geometrical things like that. So I just leave myself notes like that. If at some point somebody around that location hires me, I know the spot already. And we’re I know what to look for, at least
Alyssa Patmos 48:09
I love that, and your photos are so beautiful as a result. Also, like you’re drone footage that you’ve been taking, especially in Italy, I’m obsessed, like you like the richness that comes through and the type of photos that you take, because you pay attention to those details is so important. Like I added a plan here because of you in in the background when we film this. And it’s not perfect. Like my goal is to eventually have two sides. So it’s symmetrical matching plants. Like other textures, I normally throw blanket over this chair behind me because I’m like, Irina would say to.
Irina Leoni 48:48
And I’m watching something textures, something soft, you can also use a candle but bigger one, because we all know what it smells like. So it stimulates the sense of smell, the smell of wax, everybody knows what candles smell like. So it doesn’t have to burn just sits there in the background. We know it it’s familiar to us.
Alyssa Patmos 49:06
I love that like the fact that visual cues can bring other elements of the census I think it makes it so so much more powerful. So for you, if you if you if someone is like, Okay, I’m going, I’m going they’re on the fence. So we talked about the person who’s like ready to leap off the fence. And they’re like, I’m going to do I want to try and you told them to prepare with the list. We talked about the person who might be facing burnout and what are some things that worked for you some things that worked for me to be able to move yourself out of that. So for someone who is on the fence and like they feel the burn, they know, they know that travel is something that they want to do but maybe they feel you know some of the other responsibilities Getting in way, do you have any advice for that, as someone who took the lead?
Irina Leoni 50:05
I feel like responsibilities are there for us, in order to hold us in a certain framework certain boundaries in the way, we’re not ready, that means I feel like I mean, obviously, I wouldn’t leave my son anytime sooner than I did. He had to grow up. And I, it was a lot more important for me to be a mother to him than going traveling. Like, if somebody told me you will have to be a mother for the rest of your life, you will never travel, I’ll be totally fine with it, because that’s just what motherhood is to me. So nothing else has held me back. So I can’t really relate to that. But they imagine just my philosophy is life is what it’s supposed to be, and things will work out. And you will have your chance to do what you want to do as long as you really want to do it. And are not just tricking yourself into thinking that this is your dream, because a lot of people once they get on the road, I imagined they would freak out. Because this, this journey that I’m on is more spiritual than just moving around, you facing all kinds of stuff coming up, and it’s coming up fast. And these patterns that are not working for you are much easier identifiable. Because they’re constantly in a way they’re like, they’re like branches in front of your eyes, they are not they’re blocking your your revision. So you have to work them out faster.
Alyssa Patmos 51:33
Yeah, otherwise, then your decision and you’re, you’re the only one there to deal with them. So I love that like travel as a spiritual journey. There’s always things in life that, that push us along that, you know, for some people it’s relationships for, and that causes you to see your stuff. For other people, it’s their business, a lot of times like that will cause you to see your stuff real. And it’s I think it’s awesome that travel can do the same thing. Like if people are willing to lean into that I can be so powerful for the healing journey, which gets me so excited. So the last thing –
Irina Leoni 52:12
Alyssa Patmos 52:14
Go ahead –
Irina Leoni 52:14
Sorry, in relationships, a lot of people, I’ve seen people I’ve met friends who would think about their relationship like is it whether whether it’s a real deal, whether this is what’s meant to be, I think the best test to relationship is to go traveling with somebody for like a long trip, not a weekend and not in the resort, not on the cruise, where everything is taken care of. And you’re just drinking the whole time, it has to be something hard, something not dangerous, nothing is dangerous, unless you’re going to warzone. So I just get uncomfortable together because a lot of stuff comes up them. And people will go through this. And either they survive together and their religious relationship will never be any stronger than this. I mean with time of course, of course, but if they survive a year of traveling, it’s meant to be. Dude. Put a ring on it.
Alyssa Patmos 53:15
You brought up something else that I completely forgotten that I wanted to ask you about. So do you have a few minutes so I can ask you about it?
Irina Leoni 53:20
Yes, of course.
Alyssa Patmos 53:21
Okay. Okay, so you brought up drinking. A lot of times, you know, traveled, it’s oriented with this lifestyle of let’s go and it’s just gonna be like a binge fest for the weekend, or, or, or at least more than one might consume alcohol. And so I feel for you that you stopped drinking. I think you said four years ago, right?
Irina Leoni 53:43
I think so. Yes.
Alyssa Patmos 53:47
So I know a little bit about that story. And, and the reason why is is is I think so many of us like in today’s culture, we default to booze being the like, social lubricant, where it’s like, I get more comfortable interacting with people or it’s like, oh, we’re going to dinner and it’s like about the drinks. I like it rather than these other culture building things. So I want to know what your journey has been like being sober while traveling. And I also I think the reason why you decided to stop drinking is really interesting, too. So if you’re willing to share that I would love for people to hear.
Irina Leoni 54:26
Being sober while traveling. I can’t imagine that being any other way because I’ve not started traveling that long ago, and this entire journey has been sober. Since I’ve moved out here a year, a year and a few months ago from United States. I would say I would the thought of drinking while I’m living this life makes me anxious to be honest. Because you have to be on point you’re you’re in a survival mode. I can’t imagine.
Alyssa Patmos 55:02
That makes sense. Like you said one of the reasons that you decided to quit drinking in the first place like you didn’t do it through [inaudible] like for clarity of mind. That’s is that right?
Irina Leoni 55:14
It’s been a long journey. quitting drinking was tougher for me, I am the kind of person who really enjoys things like that, like I, I was in a in a wine club, I love Negronis and Spritz and like anything with Aperol I love tequila. These things were, you know, they’re delicious things. And wine is supposed to be good for you and things like that, like the marketing around that stuff is just crazy. Wow. People are so I’m not gonna get on my soapbox box. Stay away from politics about it. But for me, personally, let’s stick to that. Alcohol has always been an inhibitor of what I’m capable of. I found that the depth of my emotions, my emotional capacities, increased dramatically. And I knew that what’s going to happen I have tried quitting. Before. The most I was able to go without alcohol before I quit for good was one year and that year was one of the clearest years of my life. And being able to step away from it and look from the side lines on to the scene of people drinking and how they act. Seeing myself in these situations, remembering how I acted, all the all the inhibitions are gone. Well, that’s just mean that we’re not going to be stopped by anything. When we’re saying something stupid and hurting people. We just were the social lubricant. It’s an illusion. We are still doing what we would do. But we’re not. There is no blog, no social block anymore. That’s not a good thing. Yeah, emotional depth, the clarity of mind, oh, my goodness, I think I let lived in the fog my entire life. And it also affected my relationships, I would accept people in my life, who without the lubricant were not acceptable. Really. I dated a guy for a very long time lubricating myself, just because otherwise I just wouldn’t accept him. Who does this? It was so easy for me to make that decision, I once I was out of that relationship, I was like, What are you doing to yourself, why you’re a mother, you have a wonderful kid growing up what kind of an example. Just no brainer, it was harder to quit, than to decide to.
Alyssa Patmos 57:52
Yeah, I love that maybe, like in terms of making better life. But that’s been really worth mentioning. Because, because there’s so much pressure that people can feel when they want to stop drinking. And like, the thing is, is like, it doesn’t have to be this big announcement, either. Like, if you want this prefer it to be the big announcement, then by all means, like whatever floats your boat again, find your own recipe. But if you want to, if you want to stop drinking for a period of months, just so you can have this creative period, or this clarity of mind, like great, that’s, that’s wonderful. And it’s being able to own our choices and our desires. And I think there are so many things that inhibit us from from really stepping into truly what what we want. And so for me, I There are many periods where I’ve gone like, month at a time where I don’t want to drink because for me, I feel the same way and blends with my faith tivity and I just don’t feel as good and body. And I noticed my hormones are weird. And I have more down days. And I I don’t like that. I don’t, I don’t like what it brings out all the time. So now like if I’m gonna drink in Espresso Martini isn’t the favorite because I like I like the balance there. But I think I probably have like one or two drinks a week and that’s what works for me right now. And it’s a conscious decision to do it. There’s there’s a huge difference for me, between what I was unconsciously drinking to avoid emotions, or to put up with things or just because it was like, what’s happening around me versus like, I’m consciously okay with me finding this drink right now. I know I’m not feel the same might not be in the exact same one. But I can accept that and it’s okay. But that I feel like people often tend to have a have an aversion, like they’re worried that people are going to judge them when they’re out. If they say no, like I’m not having any alcohol, whatnot. So how have you dealt with that? Has that been a thing for you at all?
Irina Leoni 59:52
Um, I really care what people think about me. So again, genetics. That’s good. Um, I would say being confident and owning it is the only way to be about it. You can go around and wiggle yourself and make yourself smaller and try to excuse yourself. But at the end of the day, you have to own it. It’s your decision. And it’s no discussion. It’s not on the table. It’s just not on the table for me. When I’m out somewhere and somebody is already pouring and hanging, handing me a wine like, friends, Italy, seriously, people look at me wrong, like what? Are you sick? Are you dying? Now you just you don’t even you don’t take time to explain it. And they have to accept it. That’s all this is just the basic, I guess communication maneuver. You can you can if you don’t want to talk about something, you don’t talk about something and you switch to another topic and that everybody moved on. Yeah. Not making us a big deal. Yeah.
Alyssa Patmos 1:00:56
So basic but at the same time, it’s something that’s like so hard for people to do. It’s so hard for some people. A lot of the people I work with it’s very very difficult for them at first to own their designs and so then their boundaries are non existent because they’re not only that, but then it becomes very hard to like set that boundary that so I love like the we have to own.
Irina Leoni 1:01:20
Yeah. And then the thing, it’s funny, but I used it, I would just tell people that I’m in AA, they leave you alone. You can make it a joke, you can do it with a serious face. I love goofing off with people. So if it’s a completely straight complete stranger, I might use that joke. I used to have friends. They took it seriously. The joke went too far. It was not pretty, but they forgot to forgive me.
Alyssa Patmos 1:01:46
It’s messy. It’s never it’s never perfect. So I wanted this conversation. I feel like there’s so much in here for people owning their dreams, whatever it may be, even if it’s even if it’s not travel, but but making the decision to do like what feels freakin good to you. There’s so much power and freedom in that I love it. So if people want to follow along on your travels, where can they do that? What’s the best place?
Irina Leoni 1:02:13
The best place is to find me on Instagram at I am @IAmIrinaLeoni, one word. I post stories, all my travels are in stories. It’s a business account. So I promote my work and my product. Sometimes I’m a branding photographer. So I post a lot about branding tips for online coaches. But there’s there’s some travel popping up here and there.
Alyssa Patmos 1:02:38
Well, good tips that like if anyone’s traveling, your photo tips go hand in hand because they’re gonna have way better photos from whatever they’re doing in just so sweet. Ah, thank you so much for being here. And for those of you listening, if you want to join the community, we talk about communication and we dive deeper into podcast episodes. You can do so AlyssaPatmos.com/Community. We can continue the conversation now. I would love to see you if we know. Thank you so so much for being here.
Irina Leoni 1:03:13
Thank you for having me. This was fun.
Alyssa Patmos 1:03:16
And tune in next time for another episode of Make it Mentionable. See you soon!
You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Alyssapatmos.com/thepeel. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.
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