In the spring of 2020, Tyrel Nelson lost his mother. And he lost his job in the summer. Isolated by the pandemic and hamstrung by agony, he felt forgotten by the world as it marched on. Unhappy, uneasy, and unemployed, he began picking himself up by putting down his thoughts on a yellow legal pad.
Battling through his bereavement on paper proved to be cathartic. But he needed more – a writing project he could sink his grief into. So he sorted through many of the narratives he had composed over the last dozen years. Reflecting and reexamining his existence, Tyrel brainstormed what to do with the pieces which pulled at him the most. A compilation describing significant individuals, places, and moments during the past decade-plus started to take shape.
Travels and Tribulations is an emotional collection of vignettes, which commences in 2008 and concludes in 2020. While readers follow him on excursions in North, Central, and South America, they also accompany Nelson to the peaks and valleys of his personal life. Profoundly impacted by the deaths of both his parents, the author guides the audience through his anguish, depicting reminiscences and regrets as he openly tries to make sense of everything.
“In his latest book of short stories, Tyrel Nelson immerses you in his peripatetic world, transporting you to old haunts and sharing his latest meditations. Through Tyrel's personal and spiritual meanderings you become fully invested in people from all walks of life. You appreciate Doña Vicky treating you like family, imagining her sending an unmentioned smile your way. You seek escape in a sweaty adventure with eager explorers wanting to lend a helping hand. You sit by his mother's bedside each day, as she grows weaker. These stories build upon each other and draw you into transformative relationships that linger—from bittersweet moments of tearful overseas goodbyes to heartbreaking devastation at the loss of two parents. With intimate simplicity and a playful tone, the writing style invites you to observe the narrator gradually coming to terms with regret and loss but ultimately finding inspiration and meaning in both his past and present.”—Andra Bosneag
"The author either takes the reader on an adventure to an amazing place or stirs the emotions with heartfelt stories of his life and family. Overall this is an extremely well written collection, and the author’s descriptive ability is amazing."
"Without question, Tyrel Nelson handles grief with grace. Painful at times, but ultimately healing, Travels and Tribulations is truly a celebration of life and a reminder to express our love for one another while there is time left to do so."
"A tribute to self-reflection and to the effect of loving and being loved in return, this is a beautiful memoir that I recommend to all."
"Travels and Tribulations by Tyrel Nelson is a very well-written, insightful book; the sort that one doesn't come across very often. The author's honest thoughts and reasoning comes across as very raw; meaning the truth is fully revealed without any hesitations."
"Nelson guides us through his grief and regrets. He writes a genuinely heartwarming travel biography and displays an emotional voyage through love, loss, and change."
"Travels and Tribulations by Tyrel Nelson is a moving, emotional set of stories spanning life experiences, relationships, with a spiritual tone. The writing is mature and observational, and readers will enjoy the connections they may make with this author’s work."
"This heartwarming book is more than a collection of his travels; it documents his personal struggles and the challenges of losing his parents."
"An insightful book with a strong spiritual element. Highly recommended!"
Travels and Tribulations tells your story of grief and travels, and how they have made you the person you are now. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Travels and Tribulations provided an outlet for my heartbreak after my mom passed away in May 2020. Losing my second parent wrecked me, and I felt an incredible sense of urgency to not only honor my mother but also my father, who is in several of the chapters. This book was a means for me to preserve their memory.
Working on this collection gave me a purpose too, keeping me from sinking even deeper into depression when I was laid off shortly after Mom died. It rolled me out of bed when I just wished to dawdle in my despair and let life happen to me.
Finally, I included lots of travel vignettes for a couple of reasons. I primarily wanted to show how such excursions shaped my course. But I further sought to give the audience a way to escape during a time when globetrotting wasn’t possible.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The section revolving around my mom’s death was the toughest for me. The emotions are especially raw in the stories because I composed them not long after she died. In fact, I still get a lump in my throat when I read those chapters because they transport me right back to such poignant moments. Yet I’m glad I wrote the narratives as soon as I did. Otherwise, I would’ve lost the perspective of my intense grief.
What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?
My dad said the only way to change the world was through people. He’d stress that we can stand as many walls as we want, but we make a real impact by building relationships. I’ve taken volunteer trips to various parts of the Americas over the years, and his message has been a driving force behind my journeys. A lot of the projects have been interesting, but the individuals whom I’ve gotten to know in these places truly made them memorable.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?
A few months ago, a reader told me that Travels and Tribulations inspired her to reconnect with her parents. That’s the reaction I hoped to evoke when I engrossed myself in this undertaking. I want my book to motivate others to not take time for granted, to do and say meaningful things before it’s too late.