I had an epiphany a few years ago. I was sitting in a cubicle surrounded by office clatter, gossip mongers, and an aura of drudgery. I reread the same page half a dozen times. Nothing registered. So, I blankly stared at my screen trying to look busy. I couldn’t remember how I arrived here, at this place, in this office, doing a job that I didn’t enjoy and, frankly, didn’t want. I couldn’t determine precisely where or when I took this detour, so far removed from everything I’d hoped for, dreamed about, and planned. I felt lost. Utterly and completely lost.
I was a science major. I graduated with honors from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Biology, with special emphasis in animal behavior. I love and deeply appreciate nature, and particularly animals of all kinds. My love of nature and wildlife began when I was just a little girl. I spent my days trekking through streams looking for turtles, frogs, and crayfish. I loved to observe them. I wanted to better understand them. I yearned to be a naturalist or a National Geographic Photographer traveling the world and photographing strange and amazing creatures. I was a creative soul at my core. I loved to write, always scoring well on my writing projects. In the 8th grade, I joined the yearbook team as a photographer and have been in love with photography ever since.
So, how on Earth did I end up working in the finance field inputing data all day long? Reflecting back on my formative years, I distinctly remember chattering away ad nauseum about my future as a globe-trekking adventurer. One fateful day, I shared my dream with a trusted adult who gave some misguided advice that I should, instead, be content to be a secretary or assistant. I remember feeling as though all the blood had drained from my body. Even then, as a naive youth, I knew I didn’t want such a job. Nevertheless, I chose to study business and communications my first year away at college. I was bored to tears. So, I tried law. I guess I tolerated it well enough to spend nearly a decade working as a legal assistant in various firms, but not before quitting college and marrying the wrong man way too young. But that’s another story entirely!
I was lucky enough to be a full-time mom to my now grown children. However, I wasn’t really the domestic type. I sold real estate and built a highly successful portrait photography studio from the ground up. I worked 16 hour days while juggling the demands of a busy family. It was grueling, but I thrived on the creative work. I was in my element. Business was great! I won some awards, blogged about my work, met great people, taught photography classes in my community, and then … the economy tanked.
Many years later, after a painful divorce and loss of several loved ones, I realized that I was not living my best life. I was disconnected from my values and beliefs. I needed to find my way back to that energetic little girl who loved exploring and learning. I went back to college and completed my degree in Biology. I may have been one of the oldest students in my lecture courses at the time, but it didn’t stop me from earning a 4.0 GPA or participating in some ground-breaking research studies on animal behavior. I was on top of the world. Nothing could derail my plans this time, or so I thought.
Sadly, the science field is very competitive. The jobs I wanted required a PhD, and I simply didn’t want to rack up more student loan debt in a race against time to earn an advanced degree before I was too old to utilize it. So, when a dear friend secured a job for me at the courthouse, I put my legal hat back on and filed my dreams away.
A few years later, I again felt that gnawing urge to reconnect with my inner child – the adventurer, naturalist, and photographer. I wanted to travel so much it literally hurt. For real. Now a mid-centurion, I saw a shorter road ahead of me than behind. I was still in great shape, an admired photographer with accolades, an intense love and respect for nature, and an even stronger sense for adventure. If not now, then when? That was the burning question.
So, I planned, saved, and eventually bought a 2019 Ram ProMaster Van. I was determined to convert that van into a mini home on wheels, travel as far and as much as I could, photograph nature and wildlife, and write about it. Maybe, if I was lucky, I might even find my way back to a creative job that could travel with me. I’m still working on that last part, but the van is complete and ready to roll.
I decided that I wanted to, once again, share my stories – this time while living a more authentic life. This is the real me – the silly, energetic, still naive little girl who believes in a dream and won’t let anything, not even a terrible pandemic, get in the way.
This is how my journey of adventure begins!