Last week I had the opportunity to speak at one of Altitude Seven's SHE Ventures events. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share my story with a room of over 200 amazing individuals. I had just come off my first ever overnight rafting trip, felt semi-prepared, but beyond excited to dive in. I thought I would share my speaking notes here, just incase you missed the event!
Two years ago I took my first ever solo trip. My Subaru was packed with all my camp gear, and Rhodie and I were ready to go road trip for two weeks all on our own. I had camped plenty and traveled a lot, but never on my own. About a week in I was looking to camp near Moab along the Colorado River. If you have ever been there before, you know there are camp sites all along the river and it is beautiful! Although, when I pulled up to the sites they were all full. A fellow solo traveler, a guy about my age, saw me on the search and he offered to split his spot in the walk up area. There were two other women in the site as well. Of course I ran thru the safety concerns and then I took the offer. I decided to have faith in trusting my gut and trust in myself.
That night was filled with memories I will never forget. We made a fire, shared stories, drank whiskey, sang, and laughed all night. As a storm rolled in we drove into Arches National Park and hiked to some of the arches and just laid under the stars watching the storm in the distance. I hold this memory near and dear to my heart because it was that experience that launched me forward into the idea that we have our own story to write, it doesn't have to follow the normal path that we can so often find ourselves trapped in. It was also the catalyst for letting go of fear and worry, instead having faith and trust in myself.
Jump forward to today and I have found myself living a life true to my heart. Focusing on living my story that lights my fire. Today, I call a beautiful Econoline my home. It's intersting for me, because yes, I love to travel and explore, but it wasn't a dream to live in a van. Although, the van is the catalyst for living a life that fills me up. The van is the catalyist to the countless lessons that I have learned thru the experience.
This #vanlife experience has helped me dive into my true self more than ever. It is not all rainbows and butterflies though. I do work full time and I am in grad school. My days are busy, I spend a lot of nights in WalMart parking lots and on city streets. It's in these uncomfortable moments that I question this lifestyle. It's also these moments that I have to constantly remind myself why I am living this "unconventional" life. Bringing myself back to making space in my life and filling my days with experiences that fill me with joy.
The experience of learning how to balance work, school, travel, family, friendships, and personal time has taught me that we have the opportunity to create that life story, the one that makes our hearts skip a beat, every day. No matter what your job is or what is on your to-do list, you can always make time and put energy into the things that fill your heart. Dive into those, may that be a solo van life, hiking with your girlfriends, or taking yourself out on a date, the opportunity is there. Stepping onto the path that might not be clear is perfect! It has the opportunity to throw you for a loop, make you step way outside of your comfort zone, but also gives you the opportunity to dive even deeper into your heart.
One lesson I have learned while stepping onto this unconventaional path is that things seems to fall into place and community starts to form in a way that is pretty unreal when you make space for it. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most incredible people that don't only encourage me but hold me and lift me up when life feels heavy. These people range from family, life long friends, strangers, new soul sisters, and all the inbetween. Share your goals and life vision with those around you. Let your story be inspirational and your community will be there to cheer you on!
I keep coming back to this one idea lately, the idea that time is on our side. So let time be on your side. Let go of the glorification of busy, of the to-do list, and put your energy and heart into the things that bring you joy and allow you to flourish!