I was talking to my younger brother the other day, and he made a comment about how much I had changed – that he still remembered the girl I was only a few years ago, obsessed with designer labels and completely addicted to shopping retail. And he was right. I was constantly running in the world’s hamster wheel, and it forced me to always want more. More shoes. More money. More clothes. More bags. More labels. I realized at one point that this need for excess was fueled by my desire to be happy, but the funny thing is, none of it was actually making me happy. It’s crazy to think about how much, fast forward a few months, I’ve transformed by being on the road.

Sunset in Dubrovnika, Croatia | Travel | Grease & Glamour

I ran across Contiki Legends, featuring the life-changing stories of fellow travelers. I’m scrolling through these stories, one of my favorites being the Canadian girl’s first time seeing an ocean in person, and they got me thinking about my own life-changing moment. What was the exact moment that I realized that I was on my way to being truly happy? When did I know in my heart that my life had changed?

Sunrise in Croatia | Travel | Grease & Glamour

For me, it was when I started to appreciate the simpler things in life.

Oh, how cliche.

Yeah, cliche, but true. After traveling through Iceland, London, France and Italy, I booked a last minute flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia. My trip started off with crazy adventures, running around, hopping on and off trains, being photographed in front of major tourist attractions with a lifesize cutout of my father, and it ended in one of the most beautiful destinations I had ever seen.

And this was the exact moment I realized that something in me had changed – this sunrise in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Sunrise in Croatia | GREASE & GLAMOUR

Well, what’s the big deal?

When I was younger, my father used to try for years to drag me out of the bed to watch the sunrise with him in my hometown of Virginia Beach, VA. I never woke up. It was always too early, and I’d pull the sheets over my head and ask him to shut the door and let me sleep. Why watch the sunrise? What was the point?

Yet here I was, in a foreign country off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, watching the skies change colors, in complete bliss. The waves crashing against the rocks on the cliff, the fence filled with love locks inspired by the iconic bridge in Paris, the local man walking across the bridge becoming the perfect silhouette for my photograph – I can’t explain the stillness that surrounded me and how it soothed my soul. I watched the sun rise from the sea into the sky, the world coming to life, and I was the happiest that I had been in years.

Sunrise in Croatia | Travel | Grease & Glamour

I was so grateful to be there in that exact moment, witnessing something so simple yet so magnificently beautiful. No matter where you are, watching the sunrise forces you to be in the present moment – your mind isn’t bothered by thoughts of the past or the future. The world speaks to your soul through your eyes, and it costs you absolutely nothing. And you know what they say – the best things in life are free.

Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to follow me on Instagram for day to day updates on my travels: @projectinspo

With love,

  • just stumbled upon your blog recently. i’m from vb too 🙂

    • Hey Kristin! Thanks for stopping by and yay for virginia beachers!!! 🙂

  • Danielle McCormack

    I can completely relate to your post. I walked around the city walls and watched the sunset in Dubrovnik last year- the most beautiful sight I have ever seen!

  • Olga

    i am growing to appreciate more simple things in life too after traveling for a few months! And I am going to Durovnik next weekend; I am now even more excited after reading your post!


    • Olga I am SO EXCITED for you! You’re going to have so much fun. If you can and like to ride jet skis, you should absolutely get on one and ride around the coast instead of getting on a boat or something. The view is absolutely wonderful and it’s the most freeing feeling I’ve ever felt while there. And visit Lokrum. It’s a small island and there are peacocks everywhere! Absolutely beautiful and unreal. Keep me posted!

      • thank you for the tip about lokrum. I will definitely go there! 🙂 any other recommendations?

  • When I was in Rome recently with my boyfriend we sat outside the Colosseum and watched the sunrise and the city come to life. It was some utterly breath taking. Like watching this private little piece of life that so many people take for granted.

    • Sooooo romantic! I can only imagine. You know what – I was never a romantic until I started traveling and appreciating things like sunsets and sunrises. Now I’m like, wouldn’t it be awesome if I had a boyfriend to share this with? Haha thanks so much for your comment girl! Sending you lots of love and yes, the colloseum is AWESOME at sunset!

  • My aha moment also happened in Croatia 🙂 I went sailing in week 26 of The Yacht Week. We spent our days sailing, island hopping, and eating. We spent our nights partying like the world was ending. I met so many people from so many places… Germany, Sweden, Egypt, Brasil, Australia, the UK. It was intoxicating (pun totally intended). Watching the regatta from the deck of our yacht was surreal. I knew I needed more experiences like that in my life. I’m changed forever.

    • Omg quia I have heard of yacht week and have never had a chance to go but I need to go now that I heard this! How amazing was your experience? Meeting people is part of the reason why I love traveling. Building friendships with people and sharing stories and experiences with them? Over awesome food and cocktails? Amazing. Priceless memories. I’m so happy for you and thank you so much for sharing your story with me! ♡

  • This is beautiful. Those moments are so, so important. I, too, just sold/gave away basically everything and moved to England. Don’t have a place to live yet, so we’re staying with my in-laws. It’s so nice to eat dinner and have someone say “leave the dishes till the morning, let’s just relax.” Just trying to learn that it’s ok for the main goal of any given day to be being happy. I never noticed or realized that when I was working as a designer in NYC. It was always about how much work I could do, how much money I could make, and how many people I could impress. But I’ve got very little to do these days and it’s just wonderful. The sunset last night was so pink as I walked home from the supermarket, cheese and baguette and a bottle of wine in my handbag, and that’s really all I needed to be happy yesterday. Just… being.

    <3 dani

    • Dani! I’m so grateful for your comment. It’s wonderful to hear of your strength and positive outlook. I can only imagine how awesome it feels for you to realize how happy you are. We are constantly searching in the wrong places, I’m convinced that some people never stop looking in the wrong places, but I’m happy to know that we are connected in a way where we are finding pleasures in simple things! I’m wishing you and your family so much love success and happiness. You’re awesome and a total inspiration to me. Please keep me updated!!!

  • Carolyn

    Amazing! What a beautiful transformation! I cried when I read this because it hit so close to home. Material things can’t bring happiness for me either. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Carolyn I was crying when I wrote it haha sending you love and I love that we’re on the same page. Reminds me of how grateful I am to be able to read and share stories of people who find the simple things so meaningful. 🙂

  • I love your posts because I can relate to all of them! My a-ha moment was when I went on a run in Florence, on the last day of a 2 week trip. I ran to the top of some hill and looked out at the town below that was so beautiful and different from any place I’d ever known. I’ve been searching for moments like that ever since!

    • Gosh Caitlin!!! Yes I know the feeling and it’s such an amazing feeling to be so moved by something so… simple. You’re amazing keep traveling and keep me posted on your adventures. You’re an inspiration to me 🙂

  • I love this post. I used to be obsessed with finding the perfect “thing” to sum up the essence of me in one object. As if that’s possible. I’ve got some big changes coming in my near future, and I feel like I’m right on the edge of my a-ha moment, too. I can feel change coming, and I know I’m on the right track. Soon. So soon.

    • Man, Ashley I love your Outlook so much. You’re giving me life right now! It’s so awesome to hear how positive, focused you are and it’s inspirational to say the least. I don’t think it’s coming soon. I think change is already here for u because it starts with your perspective. And I can’t wait to see your journey unfold. Keep me posted girl! Sending you love.

  • Jessica, he was so right! Sad that I didn’t have the chance to watch it with him in the flesh, but this is just something he passed onto me that will stay with me forever. 🙂

  • I loved the
    pictures, in case you are interested in
    belts, check out

  • Julia S

    Amazing post!!! You should really appreciate the little things in life and not waiting for weekends the next summer holiday the next birthday….just enjoying the moment and making the best of it! 🙂

    wrote about my travel experiences yesterday, maybe you wanna check it out?! 🙂

    xx from AUSTRIA.

  • Aline Molleri

    Oh my god, beautiful text, reflexion, i really cried she i read this cause i think i’ve never stopped to watch the sunrise and sometimes i need that peace . I’m trying to be more grateful with the life, see the little big things good in this life.

    Thank to do my day more happy.

    I’m sorry about my english, i’m brazilian and don’t write and speak very well.

  • Ashley

    This is a beautiful reminder of the things that are right in the world. I myself recently went through a major life change and have been having a bit of trouble finding my inner happiness, even though all the changes are wonderful and adventurous. The way I found my happiness before was with the little things, like standing in my kitchen every morning listening to my dog crunch kibble, while I sip coffee. Thank you for this reminder 🙂

  • I love those moments when you can really /feel/ the moment. This post reminded me of the times in my life when I have felt that peace and certainty that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Your writing and pictures are so beautiful!

  • Queenie Lee

    Another beautiful post – your dad would be so proud, Jinna! xxx

  • Anna

    This happened to me when i was little and i was at the seaside with my parents who were always trying to wake me up to go on the beach and see the sunrise, but i was like you pulling the sheets on my head and wanted more to sleep. Until i grew up and realized how beautiful the sunrise can be. You get lost in that moment and you wish it could last longer 🙂

  • Louie David

    I came from Virginia beach. I miss it so much, such a lovely place.

  • penny

    Beautiful, it is amazing that all you have to do is open your eyes and heart to GOD’S beauty, are heavenly FATHER is so wonderful, and I am so glad you found your happiness. GOD bless

  • You’re right. It’s so obvious now you say it – every sunrise DOES force you to BE in the moment.

  • Oui In France

    Beautifully written. It’s crazy how a seemingly simple moment can change everything. And yea, Croatia really is spectacular. Hope I get to go back someday…

  • Cinny

    I find this post quite relatable since my mother said to me a while ago, The small things in life are the most beautiful things in life. In this chaotic life with busyness of bills, entertainment , internet, social media and deadlines ,we get so sucked up in these things that we don’t appreciate/ be grateful for the small stuff like the old granny who says hello each morning or having enough to eat on our plate each day. The realisation of this opens our eyes and goes to show that we can change and small things do matter, this also is applicable to achieving goals.

  • So beautiful. Personal growth is the most important one. Travel and books are the only things that a person can buy that will make him or her richer.

  • Mabelle Engler

    Your blog spoke to me as if your words came out of my own mouth. These words are as if my own, coming straight from my heart! Thank you!

  • MissLilly

    Beautiful!!! The most important things in life are priceless anyway! Watching a sunset or a sunrise. Laughing with your best friends, a hug when you needed the most 🙂

  • Charlotte Francis

    Great post. It’s true that marvelling at nature brings us into the present moment.

  • Beth

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Loved it.

  • Wonderful post Jinna! You’re truly an inspiration. I have always believed that the best moments in life are the little ones you share with your friends/family. Sitting down and having an ice cream together, saying the same word at the same time, smiling with them… those small things you’ll always remember.
    Best rewards,

  • Beautiful pictures. It’s amazing how much the perception of your day can change when you can appreciate the little things. I’m a middle school teacher and I hear lots of complaints during the day (more from the adults than the kids!). I find that they can drag me down very quickly, but there are these small, amazing moments that bring me joy every day that would be so easy to miss if I wasn’t paying attention. This is a concept I really am trying to pass down to my sons as well.