Welcome to My Snapshot Traveler! I’ve worn many hats in my life: student, program manager, teacher, and now blogger. So how exactly did I make the leap to travel blogging? Funny enough, travel and culture have been a common thread throughout my life – it just took me a bit of time to realize it. I’ve always had an interest in things that were new and different – culture, religion, language, ethnicity. My interest was first piqued when I was in the single digits – maybe 7 – and I was reading the book Come Over to my House by Theo LeSieg (the lovely Dr. Seuss). With its colorful pages of homes around the globe – huts, igloos, houseboats, rowhouses, cabins, and castles. It was a bit of an “aha” moment for me, like, not everyone lives in a split-level house in a cul-de-sac? Although the story is a bit stereotypical, it was still a wonderful introduction for me.
My love for culture grew as the years rolled by. I worked my buns off when I was sixteen to pay for a summer exchange program to France. I went on to college to study cultural anthropology and later, earned a master’s degree in Adult Education with an English as a Second Language certification.
For nearly a decade, I worked as a basic skills instructor at a community college just outside of Seattle. I worked with both youth and adults to improve their reading, writing, and math skills, earn a high school credential, and move to college-level coursework. Much of the work I did was incredibly rewarding. The students – often battling through their own life barriers – were exceptional, and I was blown away, again and again, by their tenacity and success.
Over the years, our small basic skills program expanded, and with any new growth, comes growing pains. On top of quarterly classroom observations, I revised curriculum, served as co-department chair, helped hire and onboard new instructors, and taught a full-load of reading, writing, and math. I moved through each quarter, feeling myself sink deeper and deeper into my work until it became the sole focus in my life. Family, friends, my relationship with my husband, Eric, my health, sleep, heck – even my love for reading and writing – went by the wayside. Even during the quarterly breaks, I found myself back in an empty college campus trying to get ready for the following quarter. I never quite felt caught up with work, and it tore at me.
I knew this extreme imbalance was unhealthy, so I made the choice to get out of town for a bit during the summer. I flew across the country to spend a few weeks with my sister-in-law, my 3-year-old niece, and my 6-month-old nephew. We colored – A LOT. Sang along to Toddler Radio on Pandora. Ran around in the sunshine at the park. Read bedtime stories every night. My time with my family was medicine for my soul, and I finally got a little reprieve.
This much needed breather gave me a chance to sort through my emotions and evaluate where I was heading with my career. After those three weeks, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what I was going to do: say farewell to teaching. To an outsider, leaving a tenure-track position one quarter shy of completion seems absolutely bananas. Why would I leave life-long stability? Guaranteed insurance? A retirement plan?
My gratitude for my time at the college is immense. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned, the groundwork that I’ve laid, the student success I’ve seen, and the friendships I’ve cultivated.
It’s strange not being in the classroom any longer, but even more so, it’s exhilarating. I’m donning my new “hat” as travel blogger, and like the students who start class at the beginning of every quarter, I’m a bundle of nerves and excitement about what the future holds. This is exactly where I need to be.
WHAT IS A SNAPSHOT STORY?
In a world flooded with distraction, it’s important to take the time focus on the present – even if it’s for a few precious minutes. All too often, we meticulously plan out a vacation or holiday: The car is gassed up. Tickets are bought. Itinerary is set. Bags are packed. You get to your destination and BAM… those same distractions that haunted you before you left town have followed you on the plane/train/car/hike. It’s so important to make an concerted effort to focus on the NOW. Tuck your phones and laptops away, forget about social media, and just be present. This is the entire premise of My Snapshot Traveler. To give you an idea, think about a favorite trip you have taken… where were you? The beach, city, forest, country, mountains… heck, maybe even a backyard? Now think about the best moment from your trip. Were your toes in the sand? Were you lost in a city of thousands? Surrounded by friends or family? Zooming on a rollercoaster and hanging on for dear life? My Snapshot Traveler highlights a singular special moment – called a snapshot story – from your travels. What’s your snapshot? We all have a story to tell, and I would love to hear yours! Contact Me.