Freshman year me wrote to my senior year self in a letter, “After graduation, I hope you travel and explore, find yourself amongst cultures unfamiliar to your own. Live your life to the fullest and never look back. Learn from your mistakes, follow through on promises, and trust yourself.
Everything happens for a reason, and I am confident you are right where you are meant to be.”
What Freshman year me, nor my senior year self could have possibly known, was just how much my next adventure would transform my life.
In 2017, I embraced an opportunity to move to Shanghai, China for 6 months to continue working with someone I considered to be a great mentor and friend. My heart was filled with the anticipation of this position launching my career in international relations and digital media production. Not even a month after graduating from Butler University and I was going to be working my dream job in a country full of opportunity and adventure.
But nothing could have possibly prepared me for a betrayal that left me heartbroken, unfulfilled, and stranded in Shanghai. I quit my job after three months – although in hindsight I should have quit after two – and found myself burdened with a failure that unknowingly would be one of the greatest successes of my life.
I decided to do what I moved to Asia to do in the first place: travel the world and create connections with people whose stories are changing lives. I set off on an adventure that would take me to Western China and back, and then to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I packed a backpack and I ventured into the world completely unaware of just how powerful the stories I would discover could be. I met people who demonstrated an unconditional love without even sharing a common language. I hopped onto the back of a stranger’s motorbike and headed off into the jungle where I gained invaluable insight into trust and self-love. I ate home-cooked meals with locals who shared their history over tea.
And all the while, I felt myself transforming, morphing, and developing into someone I have grown to love without condition.
Gui Ren: Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People is the accumulation of an unforgettable six months of connection, creation, and adventure. It is the story of a post-graduate dream job gone wrong, met with the transformational journey of meaning international connections and discoveries. It is the stories of ordinary people like you and me, living in extraordinary ways simply by being themselves. Gui Ren is about adversity, travel, and a deep connection to the world around us.
My path was vastly redirected when I took the leap to move to Asia in 2017, and it continues to be transformed by the work I continue to do in the community. As a workshop facilitator, keynote speaker, and writer, I have the honor of inspiring others through meaningful reflection and self-development. I get the chance to touch the lives of those from 2nd grade to age 82, simply by sharing my stories and encouraging an evaluation of values, passions, and purpose.
This journey is only just beginning, and I’m so grateful that you’re along for the ride! This blog is devoted to the musings, adventures, and growth that occurs in my everyday life. But I’ll warn you now, you never know what you’re going to get 😉
Life is non-linear. It thrills, surprises, and inspires. Listen to it, you never know where it might take you. “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”