Vicarious living! We’ve all done it in this age of social media. Gorgeous photos, exciting books and TV shows, instagram, you name it! This is who I travel for besides myself.
- I travel for my family.
My grandma Cathy wanted to know every word about Argentina and the beautiful horses I’d get to work with. My grandma has health problems and loves horses as deeply as I do. She grew up on a ranch. She is an incredible seamstress and a mother of (HOW DID SHE SURVIVE) four crazy boys. After giving her every detail I could think of, she pulled me into the tightest hug. When she pulled back she looked me dead in the eyes with tears on her face and told me, “Don’t ever stop chasing your dreams. I’m so proud of you.” I got all choked up. I was bewildered as to why it was so important to my grandmother. My mother, who has infinite wisdom, explained that I’m probably the only person in her life that dares to dream. She said, “Sarah for her you’re magic. You are incredibly different from the rest of your dad’s family.” They live mediocre unhappy lives- they’d probably tell you that themselves.My cousin got pregnant at 16 and I just about set a bomb off in the kitchen when I mentioned birth control. They work random, unfulfilling, low paid jobs. The family lives on gossip like an opera. All this to say substance isn’t high and dreams are practically crushed upon arrival.
My grandma Emily is a rightful badass. For the last 15 years she has had severe depression. Her health has been a struggle. We sit and I ask her about her life, as much as her memory allows her to remember. She was a writer and editor in New York at a time when it wasn’t common. She saw Broadway shows every weekend and was generally an incredible supporter of the arts. She drove all the way across the country with a BABY, a four year old, and a dog to follow my grandfather… not to mention gave up her career. She was a champion skier and she traveled, journaling all the while, later in life with my grandfather. When she found out I was leaving on another trip she called my cellphone twice. My grandma is not a technological user. She wanted to make sure she wished me a good trip. I called her back today and although she had anxiety over my missing Christmas she said it sounded wonderful, that I was very special to her, that she was sure they would love me, and that she was very, very proud of me.
My aunt Diane is a world traveler herself. She’s seen far more of the world than I have. She worked for the airlines and then married a man who seemed to have family EVERYWHERE. I love my aunt, but if you met her you’d think classic vanilla accountant. BUT, one day she locked eyes in traffic with a man in another car, he motioned for her to pull off the freeway, and as they say the rest is history. They got married for his citizenship and they had 3 children before a divorce. This man, whom she’s still friends with and who still maintains a relationship with the family, is from Iran. It’s one of the main reasons why Iran is at the top of my places to visit list. Persian food is my very favorite type of food and I absolutely adore the hugely giving and compassionate culture. She earned a full ride scholarship for being an INCREDIBLE swimmer. She told me many people, herself included, were living through me and that I must post many photos and share stories.
My uncle Jeff is a banker. He hasn’t done much traveling and has the biggest heart I’ve ever known. He’s my cheerleader (well, they all are and I’m super lucky.) He is inspirational on reaching his goals. He achieved almost every single goal on his 10 year plan. He played in an international bridge tournament with my grandmother,purchased a house on a lake and owns a boat,got married and had children, worked his way up to the managing position he wanted, and many more. He gives and gives some more. It is incredible how sensitive and loving he is toward others and is the best at lending an ear.
My two little brothers Nathan and Josh. They’re amazing. I love them so much and I’d do most anything for them. They’re smart, cheeky, kind, and wonderful. Nathan’s studying game design and production at a college campus at 16 years old! He teaches himself coding languages for fun on his own time.He’s bested me at math for years and creates the most elaborate board games and clay creations I’ve ever seen. Josh plays soccer (We all do. Soccer family. I’m sure I’ll write about it.), loves taking things apart, is also engrossed in video game programming, dances, sings, acts, climbs all over everything, welds, and aspires to be a billionaire and has many plans on how to do it. He wants to travel with me one day and I can’t wait. As bright young aspiring…. teens?…. I want them to know their dreams are possible.
My mother. She hasn’t done much traveling outside of the United States. She is life coach, accountant, and head of household. She has the most wicked ability for soccer goals that aspire her to many tournaments. She was a swimmer and diver for many years. She’s written a book. She’s been through a lot and is one tough cookie. We have the best relationship when I’m traveling. Email and Facebook conversations are super good for us. We talk about our personal growth and the world at large. Perhaps I’m a coaching guinea pig, but I don’t mind. She pushes me to go after my dreams. I’ve invited her to visit me on several trips and one day I’ll succeed in getting her to come. She reads non-fiction like it’s going out of style and is probably more educated on alternative medicine, nutrition, psychology, and religion than anyone I know.
My dad. He hasn’t done much traveling and doesn’t quite understand what I do, but he loves me for it. One day we’ll take a trip together. We had a very rocky relationship through my 12-18 years, but now he’s my rock. We win most improved. My father has been a: director of religious education, copy repairman, cook, restaurant manager, personal chef, and Chuck E. Cheese manager. He is an amazing and very aggressive soccer player. He taught me how to throw a punch and boxes. My pops can draw really well, is AMAZING with small children and people in general, is an avid outdoorsmen and hiker, has a gift with animals, and studied drafting. We drafted inventions when I was growing up and built things from scratch.
2. I travel for my students.
This is still a funny one for me to say, but I’m a teacher. In a less than conventional sense, but let me explain. In farm school I teach about: gardening, salmon, honey bees, goats, spiders, bunnies, soil, chickens, pigs, sheep, cows, horses, tractors, conservation, watersheds… you name it! The kiddos love asking me about exotic plants and animals. Stories are a great teaching tool! The more I expand the more I have to share.
I’m a horseback riding instructor (mainly 2-12 years old)and I work as a mentor in our Riding Club program for teens. My experiences through learning new languages, seeing the British mounted cavalry, watching the Spanish Riding School, seeing the treatment of horses in developing nations, and now training at a competitive Arabian endurance barn in Argentina (which is known throughout the world for their horsemanship.), help inspire the next generation. Teens in particular want to know more about the world and how they’ll fit into it. The more people and cultures I interact with the better,more compassionate, & aware teacher I become. They look up to me and with that comes a big responsibility. I want them to dream big and know anything is possible.
This includes my animal friends. I owe it to them to become the best person I can be. Educating myself and learning more about how they work and developing that mutual relationship of horse, rider, and trainer. One must be balanced and confident, listening and aware, kind and consistent, create and maintain trust, establish boundaries and expectations, and be the very best they can be in working with horses.
3. I travel for my friends.
Traveling is hard and requires many sacrifices of time, money, relationships, and career. If you’re creative and stubborn enough you can make it all work, but that requires a lot of trial and error as well as commitment. It’s not for everyone. For those of my friends that long to travel, but are held back by many obstacles this is for you. For those of my friends that have no desire to travel, but love seeing pictures and stories from a traveler this is for you.
In the end I hope my travels aren’t completely selfish, but if they only teach me more about myself and the world I’m okay with that as well. You never know how your actions may inspire others.