Traveling Without A Compass

From the time I was a little girl, I have always been a daydreamer. In school, I remember finding my mind drifting off and imagining and dreaming up my life when I grew up. I always have been a romantic, and so most of my daydreams involved a handsome prince riding in on his white horse to the castle where I was stuck and rescuing me. Just like the fairytale stories, I envisioned being taken away from all I’d ever known, and riding off into the distance where the unknown existed. Where the unknown was new, scary, and unfamiliar, making it all the more alluring. I dreamed of distant lands and being caught up in all kinds of adventures.

I experienced my first true taste of travel when I was in college. I found myself in Mexico, which was indeed a distant land to this girl who had never been out of the country before, and had spent all of her travels in the States, mostly in her home state of Texas.

Being on foreign soil for the first time, I was enamored with this place where everything was different from everything I’d ever seen. I fell in love with the feeling of being immersed in the unfamiliar – the unknown. I didn’t know the language, but it was so beautiful to me and I desperately wanted to be fluent so that I could carry on conversations with the locals. I wanted to soak up everything – this new, exciting, and vibrant culture that was so different from the culture back home. This time being abroad made me realize there was so much to learn – there was a whole world to see. While living with a local missionary family for six weeks in the colorful, culturally infused city of Guanajuato, I got a feel for what “real life” was like in a foreign land. I learned, along the way, that I have a deep appreciation for other cultures. I learned that I had a wanderlust spirit within me, and I soon found myself praying to find someone with this same type of blood flowing within their veins.

My prince finally came riding in on his white horse in the winter of 2009. His name was Josh, and I fell head over heels in love with him within a week of first meeting him. One of our first conversations, we were riding in his pickup truck on the way to our first date, and he told me of his most recent travels to London, where he had studied abroad. He spoke of his love for photography (one of my own passions) and we soon learned that we shared the same dream . . . to work for National Geographic one day and to live our lives traveling the world. “Who was this boy?” I thought to myself, and where had he been all this time?

We both knew right away that we were soulmates, that we had found the one our hearts had been searching for our whole lives, and we were married on the 30th of April, 2011.


Photography Credit: Brandi Burkett Photography 

And so began a new chapter in both of our lives . . . we began to follow and actually live out our dreams. After being married only six months, and still getting used to married life, us newlyweds sold pretty much everything we owned, quit our jobs, said difficult goodbyes to our families, and moved across the globe. We moved over 8,000 miles away from our home in Texas to the dream-like world of New Zealand. While there, we experienced the ups and downs of traveling, including culture shock and homesickness. But we also had unforgettable adventures that to this day make us long for the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Overlooking Wellington, New Zealand from Mount Kaukau

Since then, our travels have included Europe, Central America, and also Josh’s most recent solo trip to the Middle East.

Life changed for us in a wonderful way in October of 2014 when we welcomed into this world our beautiful daughter. Being parents has been a new adventure for both of us, and we are so grateful for this little girl who keeps us on our toes and fills our hearts with love and happiness.

Along the way of being married, traveling the world, and becoming parents, we have learned that life is unpredictable and that, we really don’t have a whole lot of control over anything. Life is a lot like traveling – in that we shouldn’t have our life (or travels) mapped out and like we are carrying around a compass that tells us which direction to go. There is no compass for life – it’s simply not that easy. And I am thankful that it is not so. Instead, I want to live a life where I don’t have everything mapped and planned out like I like it to be, but where I am a free spirit again, like the daydreamer I once was as a little girl. Back then, I was more comfortable with the idea of the unknown. Life is all about the unknown. Travel is all about the unknown. And so, though we may not always know the direction in which we are going, what matters is that we are going. That we are going somewhere. That we are moving forward.

And that we are always exploring new and distant lands, with no compass to guide us in our hands.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

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