Fifty bucks. That’s how much money Jasmine had in her pocket when she took off on her bicycle with a violin and her dog Fiji in tow. Jasmine was on a mission to cross the United States and rediscover herself. She had never camped before, was a self-described “chubby little girl,” and had zero experience in long-distance biking. But through her first journey in 2013, Jasmine has realized that it’s more about the journey and not the destination.
“It’s taken quite a while for me to get to the point where I don’t hide under a bandana, place so much importance on my physical attributes and accept myself for who I am. Because of cycling, proving to myself that I am capable of great things and also due to the kind strangers I meet on the road who accept me without conditions, I have come to — finally — like who I am and what I stand for. It’s a wonderful place to be,” said Jasmine.
The short story is that she found her confidence and identity that year. But Jasmine also gathered a few other things along the way: She met people she didn’t know who were kind. Some even invited her and Fiji into their home, gave her food and good company. She saw and experienced first-hand acts of humanity that inspired and motivated her to continue.
Lessons she learned
Jasmine transformed herself in more ways than she could have imagined on that trip. She questioned her physical limits and her body answered ‘yes.’ She questioned the limits of her comfort zone and her mind answered ‘yes.’ She questioned her mettle and her heart answered ‘yes.’ Jasmine learned that there are no limits, and that you can achieve anything if you set your mind on it. Resolve and determination, she learned, was not something only others had, but it also lived in her. Read more about what she discovered in the Q&A below.
Playing violin as a way to give back
That first journey led to another. In March 2016, she launched a new journey to bicycle around the world. With the refined purpose to explore the world and fully experience the magnitude of living outside of the comfort zone in a musical context, she took her pup and violin with the intent to use music to bridge cultural and social gaps and learn as much as possible in pursuit of her own personal dream to become a professional violinist.
She now seeks to inspire others to face their fears and pursue their dreams, giving talks in schools and other venues. Jasmine also gives house concerts. And, she is still traveling the world on her bike, with her dog and violin intact.
Epoch Times (ET): Since that first day you put your foot on the pedal of your bike to travel across the U.S., what has been THE most profound change you see in yourself? (If there is a story that goes with that, please explain briefly)
Jasmine: I don’t think I’ve changed so much, but my view of the world is a lot more positive, and I have some hope that humanity will go forward in a more progressive direction. But as far as myself, I am still that loner, chubby girl from California who smiles and tries to respect everyone I meet… Because I’ve pedaled across the U.S. and Canada, it proved to me that I was capable. And I think that’s really all I needed in life — the reassurance that “you can do what you set your mind to.” Also, I needed to learn that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, how swiftly the topography of the path one is taking may change and what obstacles might stand in one’s way. What matters is the experiences along the way.
ET: Geographically-speaking, and now that you’ve seen a good chunk of the world, is there a favorite place or one you would love to return and visit again?
Jasmine: I actually have not seen a lot of the world. I’ve seen most of North America, but even still, I haven’t seen much. Canada was the first country I visited outside of the U.S. So, you can imagine how excited I am to see the rest of the world. But I never have favorite places. I am super adaptable. Therefore, every destination has become a part of me in some way. But as a true nomad, my appetite to keep moving on seems to help me not so much forget the places I’ve been but to go forward without looking back. I think that’s really the only way one can be a nomad — always looking forward.
ET: Physically you must have challenges that most take for granted – what is the most challenging for you physically?
Jasmine: Recently, I started dealing with some joint pain [that] I believe exacerbated due to being overweight. Hunched over the bicycle for about 12 hours per day put a lot of strain on my wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back.
For me, most important are protecting joints I need to play the violin. Violin is my first true dream–my love. As soon as I felt elbow pain, it was over for me. But… I’ve learned to adapt and mold the path to my goals. I didn’t dare think of quitting traveling the world. I just thought, “Ok, now I need to find a new way to go around the world. Would it be by boat, by motorized vehicle, by foot, etc…?” That’s when I thought back to a friend who rides a recumbent trike around the world. I began to send out sponsorship letters, and ICE Trikes helped me continue on my mission, sending me a lovely ICE Adventure HD even though it’s not completely paid off! I can’t thank them enough. So, for a recumbent, it basically allows the rider to lie back which takes pressure off the arms and back. I am still pedaling but from a more comfortable and less tense angle.
ET: Today’s world is much different than when you started in 2013 – does anything jump out at you in that regard in any of your encounters with people?
Jasmine: Actually, in 2013, the Boston Marathon bombing happened, and that really made my family uneasy. They tried to convince me not to leave. But I met amazing and kind people back then with no bad experiences (at least none worth memory space) and just as many kind people now. We as humans are shaped by our environment and society in many ways — not always positive.
Face your fears, never feel incapable, always find a way, and if you’ve exhausted all the aforementioned, find a new path with no regrets. It’s ok to let go, but not without trying first. Don’t let other people influence you in negative ways. That’s pretty broad, but it’s all so important to understand.
ET: How long will you continue to do this? And then what?
Jasmine: It’s become a lifestyle, so it’s for time indefinite — until the wanderer in me ceases to exist.
ET: Homesick much?
Jasmine: My home is wherever I am at the moment, but I do miss my family. Sometimes, if a day is particularly difficult, and I am crying on the side of the road. It’s not a house or stability I want. It’s a hug from my mom and little brother.
ET: Is this still fun for you? Are you enjoying this?
Jasmine: I have learned it’s ok to let go of a dream if it’s not working out — as long as you tried. That said, if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s not always fun. It hurts. It rips me in many ways because change isn’t easy. Every time I adapt to a new situation, I shared a piece of myself, and that’s painful. But I blossom afterward, so it’s worth it.
ET: What does your pooch think of all this?!
Jasmine: She loves it! She lives a life of ultimate freedom and gets to spend 24/7 with the person who loves her most. But we are learning a lot. I sacrifice a lot on the road to make sure she’s comfortable and her needs are met. That’s becoming more so as she gets older.
ET: What is your elevator pitch about what you do and why – your message?
Jasmine: I just tell people I am a long distance cycling, violin playing vagabond. I am always looking for opportunities to give back in each community I go through, especially through volunteering and playing music.
ET: Is there such a thing as a “typical day?”
Jasmine: No, not really. Every day is so new and unpredictable. I don’t think I’ve ever had a typical day.
ET: Is there a way people can donate or where they can go to best help you on your awesome journey?
Jasmine: They can go to my website and become a patron which helps me to document my journey in a way people can follow. They can contribute the recommended amount or less at https://FiJaPAW.com/upgrade
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"I said, ‘I’m not here to solicit money; I really am here on this plane just to see my parents. And one of them said, 'I know. That’s why we’re giving it to you. Use your voice. Use your gift of talking.'"