In my opinion, the coolest thing about life is that we have some control of it’s direction. We may not end up at our preconceived destination but we can surely set our GPS north or south. And most of the time, when you take a leap and head north when everyone else is headed south… you end up somewhere that you couldn’t have dreamed of. I believe God has the master map but we can choose where we want to live, our friends, our profession, our life partners. The power to be in control of your path is sometime overwhelming to think about. I am so inspired by the women in my life. My mother has been encouraging me from the day I was born. Every time I have some big idea like applying to study the environment in Belize, she was there filling out the application with me and sending me on the plane with a waterproof camera 3 months later. Or when I wanted to study film in Germany, she was there buying maps of the Germany rail system. Or when I wanted to study in Germany again, she re-packed the rail maps. Having someone push you to try new things, see new things, embrace new things, is a gift that is almost too great to ever repay.
Since we started this blog I’ve had people that I barely know and people I know intimately reach out to me about what they’ve always wanted to do or places they’ve always wanted to go. Their dreams. Sometime that is all it ever is for a person. But an overwhelming number of people have told me what they are doing to reach those dreams. Like I am talkin’ big stuff. I get so filled with (hmm… what is the right word here)… joy. (I always thought that was an old person word but I’m starting to understand it more.) I am so fulfilled when I hear about a friend or family member chasing after something they never thought possible. If 2 years ago you told me that I would be a business owner living in Hawaii I am not sure I would have believed you. I had big plans but who would have ever predicted this? Okay, God did but we knew that.
Today, I want to share with you two women who inspire me. Who give me so much joy in knowing them and are allowing me to share their stories with you.
Meet Amanda: Miss Amanda and I have known each other since childhood. We grew up on the same street and in each other’s houses. We ate Shock Tarts all summer until we were convinced we ruined our tongues for life, video recorded countless plays we wrote, directed and starred in and could still tell you all of our Barbies’ names. Amanda branched out to see the world years before me and I admire her so much for all the things she has accomplished, seen and shared. I’ll let her tell you about it…
I caught the travel bug while working at a summer camp in CA. A lot of the counselors that worked there were from all over the world. I quickly befriended many of the foreigners, especially people from both Australia and New Zealand. I learned a lot about their countries, their cultures, and I realized how very normal it was for people to “go abroad” during the early 20’s. Families and their cultures really encourage traveling and seeing how other people live before settling down, getting married, having kids, attending university, and getting a real world job. Quite different than how we are raised in the states. From our early years we are encouraged to graduate high school, attend college, and get a job soon after graduating. Most people never leave their own state or town that they have lived in their whole life. I realized that the plans I had made for myself after graduating college were not set in stone and could be altered. After really thinking about this, I knew that I needed to make my own path and begin the life of a nomad!
After a lot of prayers and soul searching I decided I wanted to live in both Australia and New Zealand. I wanted to know what it was like to temporarily live in another country instead of just traveling through. I quickly became known as the “Australia girl” in my Elementary Education college classes. Many of my peers thought I was crazy, but also let me know that they were incredibly jealous and wished they had the courage to pick up and go! I completed another summer at the camp in CA, recruited four other people to come to Australia with me, and off I went! I lived there for 8 months with other people from the states, worked odd end jobs, and traveled around the country. After my 8 month stint there I came back to the states for another summer in CA and then headed off to New Zealand for another 8 months.
I really enjoyed living in both countries and learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned about other lifestyles, cultures, and opinions and how to truly appreciate them. I befriended a lot of people from all of the world and met some of the most amazing people I will ever know. I gained a lot of independence and confidence while living overseas as I had to conquer unexpected challenges without my mom or dad right by my side. I also humbly realized just how small I am in such a big world and what being a US citizen really means to me and to other countries. I really enjoyed it when people told me that I was the first American they had met, and that they actually liked me! They had had a preconceived notion that we are all like Paris Hilton and talked with a surfer accent. I truly felt like I did my part in representing a true American midwesterner and encouraging them to visit our wonderful country as well. I really believe that my travels have continued to help me when meeting, working, and interacting with others.
I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity and am so grateful for the support of my friends and family. Yes, had the advantage of knowing several Aussies/Kiwis and their wonderful families, however, not knowing anyone would not have stopped me! Although it can be scary, I believe that everyone should step outside their comfort zone, take that leap of faith, and put themselves in uncomfortable situations from time to time. You will be surprised at what you learn from yourself and what a humbling experience it can be!
Meet Bailey: I met Bailey when we were both attending Butler University. Bailey and I were connected through mutual friends and became closer once we both had graduated. She is music guru and can make the best playlists for any emotion. She has strong opinions and has always owned herself and her presence. But what I didn’t realize is that at that time in Indy I hadn’t met the real Bailey. The real Bailey lives her life for the things that makes her happy and is discovering new things about life and herself all the time. I think our mutual understanding of how branching out and doing what you want to do, no matter how difficult or out of the “norm” it is, has brought us closer. I’ll let her tell you about it….
Two weeks ago I celebrated my Seattleversary; 1 year living 2,400 miles away from my family and my home of 24 years has been, at times, a struggle. More often than not, however, it’s been, to sum it up in one word, EPIC. For those who haven’t been to Seattle, I’ll describe it briefly for you . . . two big lakes and a sound encircle and divide the city, while two mountain ranges border it. So, on a good day, you see the city rise up the hills from the water below and the mountains peak up behind the skyscrapers and houses. It’s a far cry from the corn fields and gravel pit that circled my house growing up. I call this move out to Seattle my life makeover, and I made a conscious decision to have more fun, focus on what really was important to me, and find out exactly what I wanted to do. I’m entering my 2nd year in law school, interning at an amazing organization helping low-income people get their benefits back after the government has messed up and taken it away from them for improper reasons, living on my own for the first time in my life, and every day finding out a little bit more about myself. “New Bailey” is a lot more relaxed, confident, and content.
In the past year there have been days when I’ve cried because I miss my friends and family so much, and feared I’d never have the types of relationships here that I worked so hard to cultivate in Indiana, but those days are far out-numbered by the ones where I simply can’t believe the amazing turn that my life has taken since I moved. I’ve never once regretted the decision to move to Seattle, not even in the gray months between October and June when it rained everyday and the sun rarely made an appearance, or when I had another bad date with a nerdy, unsociable guy who worked at Google or some other tech company (of which there have been many), or when I (a former straight-A student) felt so stupid in law school that I couldn’t imagine that I’d ever understand anything well enough to actually practice law. If I’d never moved to Seattle I don’t know that I’d ever really have gotten to know this “New Bailey,” and I like her a lot, actually. Plus, the food and music here are crazy good.
Now what is that you want to do? Write a book? Buy an RV and head across country? Move to Europe? I’ll help you find a way. Although I do have to warn you… sometimes your well planned path might take a sharp turn into the mud. But isn’t that the best place for mud pies?