In the last few years, you must have felt the division in our county.
No matter what "side of the aisle" you're on... That's just it. We've chosen "sides" instead of coming together to find solutions.
A few years ago, I had an idea of what I wanted my life after college to look like.
I was dating a good guy, interning for a great job. I was asked to create my own position at a nonprofit.
I was going to graduate Summa Cum Laude with straight A's in a Journalism and Sociology degree.
I was working four jobs, living comfortably.
First, my romanic relationship fell apart and we broke up.
I quit my jobs in preparation for my new full time job.
Then, a new governor got elected and non-profits saw budget cuts that eliminated my position. I didn't get the job.
I didn't resign my apartment lease.
I walked across the stage with 3 credits to go and found myself jobless, homeless, and single with one last student loan.
So I decided it was time for a change of scenery. I packed my Kia Spectra (Mia) and took off for a two month road trip that would change my life.
Exploring 24 National Parks and Forests, I felt completely at peace for the first time in my life.
I connected with strangers like I never had before.
I felt like I was Home.
When I returned, I was jobless, homeless, single, and now completely broke.
I easily felt myself slip into old habits and old stressors.
I became a Store Manager and Marketing Director of a small business, then a year later, become a Marketing Director for an author, then a year after that served as Executive Assistant to CEO and Executive Marketing Support for a multi-million dollar company while also taking clients as a Freelance Marketing Consultant.
I was pushing hard. I was working all the time.
I was constantly anxious and always in a rush, preoccupied by the next thing.
And on top of that, I was falling out of love with my country.
The division could be felt in my immediate family and friends, the people I loved most in the world, and with strangers I'd meet. I felt angry all of the time. Personally offended and separated from half of society.
I got laid off in November 2017 and traveled to Australia because I needed to get away. I got offered a job there, and strongly considered taking it.
But I loved my family and knew it would be a struggle to bring my dog there.
But in order to make peace with staying, I needed to fall back in love with America. And I needed to find peace.
I looked through my past, searching for a time when I felt peace and connection and remembered my road trip in 2015. I remembered the peace I felt in our National Parks. My heart swelled with the idea of going to all of them. Spending time by myself and on the road again.
My heart would race whenever I thought of the idea.
A plan started to formulate.
My biggest worry was keeping it sustainable.
I had to address the loneliness I had felt on the road, I knew that I had ran home after two months because I didn't maintain communication with friends and family. I wanted this to be different. I wanted to share my experiences with others and keep in contact with the new friends I met along the way.
I wanted to utilize my Journalism passion and make a podcast to share my stories and help others fall in love with America and with our parks.
I knew that financially I had to sustain my travels. So I posted on FB asking if anyone was looking for a virtual assistant. I found a couple of clients that I loved. Later, I would launch a Patreon to see if anyone wanted to support me personally.
Lastly, I knew that I had to be comfortable if I wanted to live on the road full time. So I started looking into renovating a van.
I took out a loan for $8,000 and got a 2012 Ford Transit Connect. Friends and family helped me build it out. And YouTube tutorials became my Bible.
In July, ready or not, I set off, chosing to start in Alaska so I could prove to myself and others that I was serious about this in a very big way.
Right now, I still feel overwhelmed. I have dozens of recorded interviews and no experience creating a podcast. It's hard to know where to start and I've put it off for months.
I sometimes get stressed about where to park my home at night and I get exhausted after driving hundreds of miles.
I lost my spare key and so I have to work in a cafe, with my car on and unlocked so Rocky doesn't get too hot or cold.
I deal with migraines and am trying to get health insurance and get medical tests to get them figured out.
I want to make sure I'm giving back as much, if not more, than people are giving me. I can't believe I have 41 people willing to not only give me the time of day, but also reach into their wallets to support me and this journey and the stories I'm going to share.
It brings tears to my eyes. And it is not something I take lightly.
Ultimately, this journey is all about reconnecting with my country's landscapes and people to inspire me and hopefully to inspire you to fall back in love with the people and places of America.
We have a lot more in common than we may realize.
I've yet to meet a single person on the road that I didn't share at least one commonality with.
And one thing that almost every single person can agree with is the beauty and awe of our National Parks.
I know for a fact that my listeners and supporters are so wide and varied, across many spectrums, but we all can agree on our love of National Parks.
Thank you for inspiring me, my friends.
Thank you so much for coming along on this journey.
What are your thoughts?
I'd love to hear from you.
Let's be in this together. ♥️