Home. A place of refuge and warmth. Familiar and welcoming. Withstanding the test of time.


Home. A place of community, laughter, and memories that last a lifetime.




Home. A place of peace and calm among unfamiliar surroundings.


Home. A place that resonates with your soul, and brings back memories of a past long gone.

Home. A place with furry tails and frosted faces that remind you of the unconditional love you have been given for eight years.


Home. A place of true connection, despite its physical location.


Home. A place of adventure with others who share life visions.

Home. A place you will always have in your heart, no matter where you are.


©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


New Adventures and Travel Skincare Routine

Time has a way of flying by lately, and it is already time for me to say goodbye to this beautiful country. In many ways I feel as though I just got here, and in others I feel as though I have been here for much longer. Lately the years have felt like that, both flying by and standing still. Each day is full of moments and memories, and before I know it a new day, week, month, and year has begun.

I started this adventure on the first day of June, and now it is almost the middle of July. I have spent time in different communities, being welcomed and feeling as though I was truly part of every place that I went. I learned new words, and facts about places, and I learned about myself.

As I set off on new adventures, I know that the memories that I have made here will last a lifetime. As my first solo trip, there was a lot that I had to learn. But I am excited to continue the adventure of life, and I know that I will be returning here in the future.

So where am I off to? Costa Rica! I am super excited to have the opportunity to join the EcoTour being held by Save the Frogs! I hope to share with you what I learn about the importance of amphibian and environmental conservation, and to show you the beautiful landscapes that make up Costa Rica!

But with going on new adventures comes travel, and with travel comes long days, potential stress, and changes in climate. My skin is quite sensitive to these changes, so the night before a long travel day (in my case, 26 hours) I like to give it a little more attention than usual. As I was going through this routine, I thought it would be something you might be interested in if you will be traveling soon! (This is not sponsored in any way).

Those of you who know me quite well will know that a few of the things that I like to invest in are good food and skincare products. I like to take care of my body, both inside and out. Eating a nourishing plant-based diet helps my skin to shine, but sometimes it needs a bit more help.

I start by washing my face with the Stone Crop Gel Wash by Éminence Organic Skincare, and gently pat dry. I then take a few taps of the Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant and add a spritz (I love that word!) of water. This turns the powder into a liquid exfoliant, which is perfect for getting rid of any skin woes! I rinse and pat dry once again, with my skin feeling super clean!

I then take two drops of the Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster-Serum (seriously love this stuff, plus it has Willow in it 🙂 ) and smooth it over my face. I wait about one minute to let it absorb into the skin, before continuing on to the next step.

I then take a pea-sized drop of the Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer (a little goes a long way!) and gently dab it into my face and smooth out any excess. For my eyes, I use the Tarte Maracuja-C Eye Treatment and smooth it gently over my eyelid and under my eye to moisturize and protect.

The final step involves smoothing a small amount of the Clear Skin Probiotic Masque over any problem areas, like acne spots or redness. This has a cooling feeling to it, and is perfect for getting rid of skin problems before they worsen!

And that’s it! In the morning I will use just the regular gel wash and moisturizer as well as a mineral tinted sunscreen (another one of my must-haves) and be good to go! What is your travel skincare routine? Let me know in the comments!

If you want to see where I have been for the past few days, check out the video I filmed about Iquique below! And make sure to follow my Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date on my journey! 🙂

© 2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


6 Minimalist (and green!) Travel Tech Essentials

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

I have been traveling abroad for one month and two days now, and I have learned a lot about what I use on a daily basis. As a minimalist traveler, I had to choose carefully what I packed with me on this trip. After one full month I have realized that I keep reaching for the same six items over and over–so I wanted to share them with you!

1. RFID Blocking Passport Holder

I knew that I was going to be traveling through airports and streets, and was aware of having my passport physically taken or lost. However, I was not aware of digital data that can be taken from passports as you travel. I decided to get the Travelambo RFID Blocking Passport Holder, and store my passport with all of my important IDs in it. Not only does this make it easier for me to keep track of my passport (I got it in purple, my favorite color and one that is easy to see in my bag), but it gives me peace of mind during my extended travel. It also makes it easier to go through security!

2. PowerAdd Portable Charger

I have definitely been in one of those travel situations where my phone is running low on battery and there are no charging stations available. This adds extra stress, especially if you are traveling somewhere you have never been before. I bought the PowerAdd Slim Portable Charger to use for my phone, and I can tell you that I have reached for it quite a few times after long travel days. Each full charge will give me an extra 8 hours of full phone use, which has saved me from many a stressful situation. On my second weekend we had a massive storm that cut the power where I was staying for a full day. I had charged up my portable battery in preparation, and am so glad that I did! I was able to let everyone know that I was safe, and to keep updated on conditions and use my phone flashlight.

3. Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt

Many of you know that I own what I call my “keychain of life” aka a lanyard that has the most anyone has probably tried to put on a lanyard… and I knew that this would not be the ideal wallet to use while abroad. It had many items I did not need (cards for local stores, etc.), and was bulky to carry around. I knew that I would be carrying three bags on my own, and have only one free hand. I decided to use this Eagle Creek Money Belt to store my cash and credit/debit cards under my clothes. This made it discreet, but also allowed me to easily access money without being worried about holding on to lots of items. It is also very comfortable for walking long distances or wearing for long periods of time (I have definitely tested this out), and sometimes I forget that I’m wearing it!

4. Reusable Water Bottle

I decided to leave my Nalgene water bottle at home for my travels, because one liter is simply too big to carry around consistently and with ease. However, sustainability and health are two of my primary concerns when it comes to minimalist travel so a reusable water bottle was a must. I opted for one that was easy to distinguish, and that holds half a liter of water. It is easy to clean, and has saved me lots of money at airports when I can pass on buying $6 disposable plastic water bottles. As someone who recognizes the importance of hydration as well, it has ensured that I stay healthy and minimize dehydration risks from long travel days and changing climates.

5. Mable Bamboo Toothbrush

Sustainability is something that I am very passionate about, and bamboo products are one of the best ways to manage your environmental impact while traveling. MABLE bamboo toothbrushes are self-standing and gentle on the gums, which makes them perfect for my sensitive teeth. They also have removable bristles so that you can reuse the handle for sustainable projects! (I think I am going to use mine as a label for an herb garden). For $10 they are more than worth the investment! You can read more about their initiative and goals here!

6. Dollar Shave Club Razor

Last–but not least–is a Dollar Shave Club razor. I joined back in May when I realized that I was paying way too much for a razor. As someone with dark hair, I shave quite often. I was intrigued by the idea of a razor subscription service, and decided to give it a go! Now I am someone who uses blades for longer than they probably should, but the Dollar Shave Club lets you change how often you receive replacements. As someone who cares about the environment but who knew that a safety razor would be hard to take traveling, this made perfect sense. The handle is durable and well-made, with detachable razor blade cartridges. It cost a grand total of $5 for me to get a razor and five blades, and I still have four of them left. I used to pay $10 for a good disposable razor that would last me a few months, but would have to throw the entire thing away and repurchase). Not only did I spend a lot of money, but I created a lot of trash. Now I have reduced my costs and my environmental impact! If you are interested in joining, click here!

These are the six items that I find myself using almost every day, and ones that I know I will continue to use as I travel through Costa Rica and Serbia for the rest of the year. What are your minimalist travel tech essentials?

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.



What the Health?! Documentary Review

As you have probably gathered by now, I am a vegan. And no, I haven’t always been this way. In fact, if you knew me in high school and had the experience of watching me eat breakfast, you would know that I went through bowl after bowl of cereal with milk. That’s right, full-on dairy multiple times per day. At that point in my life, I would also eat meat on occasion–telling myself that I might as well because the animal had already been killed and it would be a waste if I didn’t.

Besides the ethical issues at hand (of which I’m sure you have seen me elaborate on through my social media accounts), there were many personal health considerations that I was simply ignoring. Things that I attributed to school stress, puberty, and other events. Even when I entered college I wasn’t vegan (or again, strictly vegetarian) and there was a series of events that led me to commit to veganism in April of 2016.

Like many people, I ate dairy and meat products without much thought. I remember that Costco had cupcakes that were literally the size of my head and that contained more dairy than I can even think about. I would eat those, cakes at birthday parties, milkshakes after long summer days. All without much thought. Milk was normal. So were eggs. Cheese. All of the things that now seem so abnormal to me as I browse the grocery store shelves.

So, what changed? Well I didn’t notice the consistent problems that I had been having until I stopped consuming dairy. That being said, however, when I was a senior in high school I started to notice a change. Instead of being happy after eating a big ice cream cone or slice of cake, I was extremely nauseous. My stomach would feel like I had eaten both a large brick as well as a bunch of air. You know the bird, Kevin, in the movie Up? When it swallowed all of the balloons on top of the house? That’s basically what I felt like.

Despite feeling this way, I was hesitant to give up dairy. I mean, it is in so many things! How was I just supposed to give it up? This was the attitude that I maintained for the majority of my senior year, not changing my dietary habits. If anything, I started eating more dairy in an effort to improve my overall fitness. I would eat greek yogurts, protein powders, and even eggs in an effort to get in shape and maintain my fitness. These are all of the things that I had heard were the best way to get fit, through commercials, the internet, and from fitness centers.

I saw little improvement over the year in terms of the symptoms that I had been experiencing, and finally decided to look up the symptoms for a sensitivity to dairy. I had all of them. All of a sudden, it started to make perfect sense. Not only what I had experienced that year, but also what I had been experiencing for years.

Fast forward to now, the documentary What the Health was just released on Netflix. I decided to give it a watch this past weekend, excited because it was produced by the same people who made the film Cowspiracy. As soon as the film started, I knew that it was going to be groundbreaking.

Veganism has many aspects to it. Animal rights, human rights, environmental rights/protections, and health. This final aspect is the one that many people don’t consider when they think about going vegan. People are under the impression that unless you cannot eat meat and/or dairy products, it is healthier for you to eat meat and dairy. In other words, Veganism is often perceived as something that is only for those who care about animal rights and protections.

Even though I had heard about many of the health issues involved in the consumption of meat and dairy products, I was unaware of the extreme connections between health associations in the United States and meat/dairy producers. The level of interconnectedness was shocking to me, as was their resistance to answering honest questions about their health suggestions for those diagnosed with heart conditions and diabetes.

As I grew older, I started to question what I had heard about the health benefits of meat and dairy. It seemed, to me, there was no way that something produced in such mass quantities and in such terrible conditions could be good for your health.

When I was in 8th grade I did my first research project on factory farming. This was the first time in which I started to take an interest in the effects of animal agriculture on the world, and what I learned was shocking. As I watched this documentary, I felt the same shock that I had when I first delved into research on factory farm policies, ethics, and their impact.

Factory farming is an issue that expands beyond veganism and animal rights. Here are some of the facts explored in What the Health (all facts are bolded and in all caps, and can be found here with their respective sources).


Which leads into the next fact:


I found this next fact interesting, especially given that most people consider ‘white’ meat to be a healthier alternative:


I also found the following quite interesting, given that eggs are considered a staple in many vegetarian diets:


How can this be? Haven’t we always been told that these foods are good for us? Well I remember learning about “pseudoscience,” a.k.a scientific reports that make themselves look as though they have legitimate findings through sound scientific practices. In reality, however, these reports often tell the truth in their fine print and are frequently funded by the industries in question themselves. 


In other words,


Another fact that I found really interesting, especially given my seemingly ‘rare’ intolerance to dairy, is the following:


Along the same line of thinking with pseudoscientific reports, the dairy industry thrives on the idea that dairy products have calcium that supports strong bone growth. This is, in fact, often an inverse relationship:


In another demonstration of the relationship between brands and health industries, the Susan G. Komen ribbons can be found on yogurt containers and other dairy products. However, it has been shown that


And another relationship that I had not previously considered: that between the pharmaceutical industry and the animal agriculture industry. It is well-known that these animals have to be fed antibiotics due to their confinement to ensure that they live long enough to reach prime profit-bearing stages of growth. However, the degree of interdependence between these two industries is astounding:


As many of you know, I go to college in Iowa. As a result, I am no stranger to the eye-watering manure spray that passes by when the wind blows (which is often). My college is at least a few miles away from these industrial farms, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be right next to them. This is a reality that many live each day, and not only that but


As if that wasn’t enough of an issue, on a global scale


What’s difficult about these realities is that there are laws in place to ensure that what happens behind closed doors stays there. This went as far as bringing a woman to trial after she gave severely dehydrated pigs water as they arrived in trucks for slaughter. She was not pressed with charges, but this one case lasted for months. But what happens when workers abuse the animals already being sent to an inhumane and abusive slaughter? Absolutely nothing, in most cases. 


As someone who is vegan, and has been for a year now, you can imagine how often I get the following question: “but where do you get your protein?” or even the statement “you’re definitely not getting enough protein”. The following facts in the documentary made me rejoice with relief:


Since going vegan, I think I am actually getting more protein. How? I am making much healthier eating and lifestyle choices overall and eating many more whole plant foods on a daily basis. I have grown more muscle mass, eliminated excess fat, and generally feel a million times better on a daily basis than I did when I wasn’t vegan.

Vegan food isn’t hard to come by, and often isn’t more expensive. I recently tried the Hampton Creek Just Mayo Vegan Eggless Soy-Free Kosher Mayonnaise  and I am a bit obsessed with it! It was affordable and oh so good! (It also got raving reviews from non vegans). In fact, I’m not alone in how much I love this brand!


This documentary resonated with so many things that I already knew, but it also managed to shock me about the interdependence of industries. Are you interested in learning more? I highly suggest that you give What the Health a watch! (You can find it on Netflix!)

Have you watched it? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

© 2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


6 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy Abroad

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

When it comes to traveling abroad, there are many things to consider. Location, clothing, emergency planning, work, and sightseeing. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something that most people forget to consider prior to going abroad.

As you all know, I observe a vegan lifestyle. I also love to travel. My declaration of this combo is often met by many with “good luck” and “you will probably end up reverting back to a ‘regular’ diet,” but I am here to tell you that maintaining your current lifestyle abroad is both possible and important.

Seeing as I am currently abroad, I wanted to give you a list of things to consider in order to stay healthy while abroad.

Know your Limits

Regardless of what lifestyle you observe, nobody knows your health better than you do. You know how much you can change without upsetting your body’s natural rhythm, and that should be your first consideration.

For me, I know that I must avoid consuming meat and dairy products to avoid major imbalances. But, I can generally change the time of day that I eat without experiencing problems (I attribute that to my very varied college schedule! 😛 ).

Research and Prepare

Many people forget to think about what resources their destination will have prior to arriving. As a vegan, this was something that I wanted to research ahead of time. Arriving hungry and without viable options is definitely something that you want to avoid! I learned that Chile’s agriculture laws prevent anyone from bringing in food items to the country, and am so glad I knew this ahead of time.

I was able to eat at the airport before my long flight, and make sure I wasn’t brining any items that could have caused me problems upon my arrival with customs.

I had also informed as many people as possible about my dietary restrictions and health preferences ahead of time. Something that I considered after I arrived (and was adjusting to the food) is remembering to eat foods as similar to my diet back in college as possible. I didn’t do this for the first week or so (lots and lots of rice and bread, which I have to admit I love). The result was that I felt very drowsy and unbalanced all week long, and I am still trying to regain the balance that I had during the semester. It takes a lot of self control to reach for more fruit after a long day (I really want to treat myself to bread sometimes!) but if I am feeling a bit unbalanced already I know that eating these other foods will be better in the long run.

Be prepared to politely decline offered food

As a vegan (and someone that has a sensitivity to dairy), declining offered food is something I do many times per day. This can be quite difficult at times, as you don’t want to seem ungracious. However, it’s important to maintain your diet in all situations (especially if you have it for sensitivity reasons).

In as many circumstances as possible, I quickly explain the reason for my declaration and assure them not to worry about it at all (as I have often eaten beforehand). I love to offer to buy ingredients and cook meals, as cooking is one of my hobbies and it makes me feel as though I am contributing instead of creating special circumstances for meals. 🙂

Think about how to realistically commit to an exercise regimen

This is one of the most difficult aspects, especially if you are traveling to multiple places or never in one consistent location. For me, I am staying for at least one month in most places and have the opportunity to create a schedule for exercise. However, I have learned that walking is one of the best modes of exercise that you can engage in everywhere. I walk as many places as possible, loving the combination of the fresh air and the exercise. 🙂 If you have access to internet, Blogilates and Yoga with Adriene are amazing resources for staying fit in a small space! Definitely check them out!

As I mentioned in my most recent travel post, it’s important to also be open to spontaneous opportunities! For example, I went to a zumba lesson on my first full day here and had a blast! I met so many new people and it was an amazing workout!

Be prepared with snacks throughout the day

Regardless of your dietary preferences, being prepared with snacks throughout the day is super important for keeping balance and for fighting off low blood sugar moments! As a vegan, this can be a challenge. However, GoMacro bars are both delicious and portable! They have a lot of flavors (cashew caramel is one of my favorites, and if you know me you know I’m a bit obsessed with cashews…). These bars are available on many different sites, including Amazon and ThriveMarket! (If you want to get a subscription to Thrive, it’s very easy and much like an online version of Costco with wellness items!).

Fresh fruits and veggies are also great options, and the possibilities are endless! Having snacks available is a great way to be able to eat while at gatherings or during work breaks.

Bring remedies and other natural products

In the past two weeks that I have been abroad, I have learned that it is a good idea to have remedies and medicines with you in order to recover as quickly as possible from inevitable ‘under the weather’ days. I have had a few recently, but have been able to get back on track with a few remedies and by eating more fresh fruits and veggies.

I hope that you enjoyed this post about staying healthy and fit while abroad! It is something that not many people think about ahead of time, but it’s so important for wellbeing and enjoying your experience!

What have you learned about staying healthy and fit while abroad or while traveling? I would love to know what you recommend!

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


Two Weeks Abroad: What I’ve Learned

I have now been in Chile for about two weeks, and have already learned more than I thought possible. I have learned my way around the local community, and even got to take a weekend trip to the Chilean coast!

From prior solo trips, I learned that being confident and comfortable from the moment you land goes a long way! Asking questions and bringing your best to everything you do is the best way to get a strong start in a new community.

On my first full day in Chile (the 3rd of June), I was asked to go to a local zumba class. I accepted without second thought, knowing that the best way to adjust to the rush of feelings and overwhelm that I was experiencing would be to meet more people and learn my way around. Plus, dancing was a great way to start the trip off after flying for 23 hours! I met many new people, and the feelings of overwhelm started to lessen.

I had a full weekend before starting my work at the local school, which was great for getting accustomed to a new schedule. When I started my work on Monday, I felt prepared and ready to take on more change. I’ve learned that it’s important to plan ahead as much as possible, to make transitions less stressful. When you already have a lot of change, it’s better to make sure that you give yourself time to slowly adjust.

In the case of traveling to another country, the language adjustment adds a new dimension. During the first few days of my work at the school, I was taking naps for two or three hours when I returned for the day. I could feel my mind getting a workout from switching between English and Spanish so often. I no longer feel as mentally exhausted now that I am starting my second week helping in the classroom.

Maintaining my vegan diet has been easier than I initially thought, though there have been times when I have accidentally consumed something with dairy. Learning how to re-adjust my diet has posed some challenges, but I have to say the fruit and veggies here are the best that I have ever had. Maintaining an exercise regimen has also posed challenges, but I have a few tips that I will be sharing with you soon! (Very soon!) 🙂

Two weeks in, it’s easy for me to forget that I am just visiting for a short time. The community here is wonderful, and it has been more than I could have ever asked for. This past weekend I was able to travel to the coast (something that I wasn’t sure I would get the opportunity to do!) and it was one of the best weekends that I have had in a long time!

I did a small vlog of the trip to show you all the amazing places that I went, because it was simply too stunning not to film! I hope you enjoy it!

What have you learned from your travels (or from living) abroad? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


Mi Primer Día en Chile (2 Junio 2017)

Quiero escribir sobre mis experiencias durante este verano cuando ocurrieron porque viajes a cualquier lugar tiene ajustes y momentos que va a recordar por su vida.

Mi vuelo a Santiago de Chile empezó a las nueve de la noche ayer. Cuando encontré a mi asiento dentro del avión y puse mi maleta en su propio lugar, sonreí a la mujer que sienta al otro lado (¡no había alguien en el asiento del centro!). Ella sonrió también, y dice “habla español?” a que respondí “¡Si”. “Eres Chilano?” ella preguntó, y la conversación empezaba con mi respuesta de donde vengo. Hablo español por la duración del vuelo, y era un viaje cómodo.

Dormí por cuatro de las nueve horas, y cuando levanta esta mañana la gente tiene sus ventanas abiertas para ver a las montañas y el océano. Hablaba con esta mujer por el resto del vuelo, y ella era la persona más simpática que siento con en un avión en todo mi vida. Ella dice “¡Mira! A este lado (la izquierda) hay montañas grandes, y a este lado (la derecha) hay el océano. Chile es tan largo (ella muestra con sus manos) pero muy ancho!” . Lo que dijo era verdad, la naturaleza del país es diferente a algo que veo en el pasado. Cuando terminó el vuelo, ella dice “¡Quiero darte un beso! ¡Espero que viajes bien y que disfruta a esta país magnífica!”.

Tomé un bus por tres horas hasta el sur del país, y era una experiencia interesante para alguien que está viajando por primera vez en un lugar. Pero, hablo con la gente durante el viaje y miraba al película “The Martian” en español que fue presentando en el bus. Tomaba más café porque definitivamente estaba cansada, y finalmente conocer a la familia que estoy quedando con durante mi tiempo aquí.

Con esto, estaba en Chile. Es mi primer tiempo viajar sola por el mundo, y mentira si digo que no tiene miedo. Para viajar es algo que cambia a personas. Hay experiencias diferentes y muchas personas que conocerá durante sus viajes. Es mi primer día, y si en algunos aspectos hay mucho cambio. Casa, idioma, personas, países, tiempos de comer, horarios, y todo eso. Pero, pienso que viajar es uno de las cosas que cambian a la manera en que ve al mundo. He estudiado español hasta que tenía once años, y siento que fue tiempo para viajar y conectar con las culturas y personas que hablan sobre durante mis estudios.

Empieza mi tiempo ayudar en la escuela lunes, entonces tengo el fin de semana para disfrutar y ajustar.

Quiero terminar todos mis reflexiones con una lista de todo que estoy agradecida por durante mi tiempo aquí, porque si hay obstáculos y cosas difíciles pero lo que importa es las cosas que traigan comunidad y memorias.

Lo que estoy agradecida por hasta este punto en mis viajes: 

  • La mujer simpática en el vuelo, nunca voy a olvidar a ella
  • Las personas que me ayudan cuando estaba tomando los dos buses
  • Que tengo todo mi equipaje (no fue perdido durante el viaje)
  • Que puedo encontrar comida vegana sin problema aquí para mantener esta parte de mi vida
  • El apoyo de mis conexiones aquí en Chile, y de la familia que estoy quedando con
  • La oportunidad para ver al mundo, y la apoyo que tengo por mi misma para lo que siento

¡A próximo! 🙂


I want to write about my experiences as they occur, because trips like these have adjustments and moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.

My flight to Santiago, Chile boarded at 9pm last night. When I boarded the plane and put my luggage in the overhead bin above my seat, I sat and smiled at the woman sitting on the other end (there wasn’t anyone in the middle, which gave us both extra room!). She smiled back and asked if I spoke Spanish, I responded with yes and she proceeded to ask if I was Chilean. Our conversation flowed from there, and after dinner I was able to sleep for four of the nine hours.

When I woke up in the morning, everyone had their windows open and was looking at the landscape. She looked over at me and said “Look! Out this side (the left) there are mountains, and out that side (right) there’s the ocean! While Chile is very long, it’s very skinny!”. What she said was true, it is by far one of the most unique landscapes that I have ever seen! When the flight landed, she turned to me and said “Let me give you a kiss! I hope you have great travels and that you enjoy your stay in this magnificent country!”

After I left the airport, I took two buses. The last bus ride was three hours long, and took me to Talca where I met my wonderful host family. During the bus ride, I talked with many people (and tried to keep up with their fast-paced Spanish!) and watched the movie “The Martian” that was playing on all of the screens.

With that, I was in Chile. It is my first time traveling the world alone, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all. But traveling is something that changes people. It is my first day, and yes there are a lot of things that have changed. House, language, people, meal times, schedules, and more. But I think that traveling is something that changes the way that you see the world around you. I have been studying the Spanish language since I was eleven years old, and I felt like it was time to immerse myself in the places that I have learned so much about.

I start helping at the local school on Monday, so I have the weekend to relax and adjust. I want to end all of my posts with a list of all that I am grateful for, because although there might be obstacles and challenges, what matters most is remembering what brings us joy and happiness.

What I am grateful for at this point in my travels: 

  • The kind woman who sat near me on the plane and wanted to talk about my travels and wish me well, I will never forget her
  • The people who helped me navigate the airport and bus systems, and who wished me well in my travels
  • That all of my luggage arrived with me (none of it was lost in the journey)
  • That I can continue with my vegan diet here easily
  • The support of my connections here in Chile, and the host family that I am staying with
  • The opportunity to travel the world, and the support that I give to myself when I am feeling uncertain or overwhelmed

Until next time! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


The Art of Abandoning Your Comfort Zone

I will soon be leaving for what is the biggest adventure of my life to date, and I have been meaning to do a public reflection on what it means to me. As I have talked about before on this blog, leaving my comfort zone is something that 17 year old Alyssa would have done reluctantly. I enjoyed having a routine and a predictable life, but 20 year old me feels like it’s time to move on.

Back in spring of 2016 I took a huge leap and did a solo trip sponsored by my college to shadow an alum in Virginia. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, landing and staying with complete strangers on a whim and having an unpredictable life pattern for an entire week. It was invigorating, exhilarating, and left me feeling as though I could never go back to living a life of routine.

In the summer of 2017 I lived on my own for the first time, managing a 45 hour per week job and all of the maintenance that comes with being an ‘adult’. I grew leaps and bounds that summer, managing my finances, groceries, and building connections. I also got to spend the entire summer with my best friend which was absolutely amazing! 🙂

This past spring I did another solo travel trip, this time to Kansas, and had a great experience yet again. This gave me the confidence to apply for a study abroad term and to further pursue the adventures that I am about to have.

In high school my desire to travel the world grew as I followed travel bloggers and vloggers on their adventures. I never knew that one day that would be me.

As I set off on new adventures I can’t help but feel full of joy and excitement. I am following my dreams and my passions, and living in the present moment as I have learned to do over the past year.

I feel enriched and full of live, like I am truly living.

I can’t wait to bring you along with me as I embark on these adventures! I will be posting here on my blog, as well as on Twitter and Instagram. I will also be making more videos (hopefully), so feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel! 🙂

I would love to hear about how your recent journeys have brought you into alignment with your true self. <3

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


Clothes: Minimal Packing to go Abroad

Since I will be leaving on my travels soon, I decided to film a video today of how I have been preparing! I will be abroad for two months this summer, and will be taking one bag of clothes, one bag of wellness items, and one carry-on!

In this first video, I explain all of the clothes that I am bringing with me (most of them are thrift store purchases!) and how I fit them all into one bag!

I have a few more days until my journey begins, and I wanted to update you on the process and how I have been preparing for the past week or so. I hope that you enjoy this post and video, and if you know of anyone preparing to travel soon feel free to send it their way! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


Vegan Sweet Potato Burgers: Recipe and Vlog!


I have been wanting to post more of the recipes that I have been making recently (now that I’m home!), and this was one that definitely had to be shared! I have always been a fan of recipes like this, but they usually take longer than I have time for. With this recipe though, there are options to make it take less time!

Since I had more time and regular sweet potatoes were on sale, I decided to take the time to prepare them. I peeled four potatoes and diced them into smaller sections. I placed these sections into a pot of boiling water, and let them boil for about twelve minutes (until softened). Once they were soft, I strained them into a ceramic bowl and mashed them.

I also prepared a box of quinoa (simmering for 15 minutes), and combined this with the sweet potato. Finally, I also added one can of black beans (slightly mashed). I stirred all of these ingredients together, and combined a paste of flaxseed meal and water (3T of water to 1T flaxseed meal) with the rest of the mixture to make them stick together more (flaxseed meal is a vegan egg replacement).

Once all of these ingredients were combined, I formed them into patties and placed them onto a heated pan with a small amount of olive oil. I cooked them for five to six minutes on each side, and placed them on a separate serving plate.

I toasted the hamburger buns, and took the sweet potato fries (that I made out of the leftover potatoes I bought) out of the oven. I decided to use my Hampton Creek Just Mayo (DELICIOUS vegan mayo!!) and local medium salsa as toppings, and it was so good!!

I decided to make a vlog to go along with this post as well, and I will be making a lot of videos in the near future! 🙂

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.


Alyssa DeBella

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! I'm a third-year college student passionate about writing, minimalism, vegan living, and coffee. I would love for you to join my online family!
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