Travel can be many things: delightful, educational, exhausting, eye-opening, exciting, and sometimes downright miserable.
But even on the most disastrous of trips, something positive comes out of it. And that something is gratitude.
I’m turning 28 on Sunday — and I’ve never been more filled with gratitude in my entire life. A lot of that is due to the people who surround me, but a lot of it is also due to how many other lives and lifestyles I’ve seen.
Last year, I reflected on what I’d learned in 27 years, and this year, I’m thinking more about where I’m at right now.
I recently attended my 10-year high school reunion (go, class of ‘04!), and it’s funny to think about how I pictured my future back then. I figured that, by now, I’d be working some high-powered PR job in New York City, marching about in stilettos and talking on a flip phone. (Wait, what? Are you saying Razrs aren’t the bomb anymore?)
I never thought I would be…
living in the Alaskan rainforest.
working a location-independent career.
every day most days, showering on the good ones.
not eating meat (dirty hippie!).
dating a commercial fisherman.
and helping people to travel the world.
[Tweet “But life has a funny way of surprising you. And there is beauty in the surprises.”]
To celebrate life, I celebrate birthdays… hard. They are definitely my favorite holiday — whether mine, a friend’s, or some rando’s at the bar. I’ve celebrated my own in New York, Chapel Hill, Breckenridge, South Korea, France, Kenya, and now, for the third time in Alaska.
Last year, I celebrated by raising money for a charity that was very close to my heart: La Esperanza Granada. This year, I’m raising money for charity: water, an amazing organization that funds clean water projects in developing countries. Their young founder, Scott Harrison, used to be a nightclub promoter and has really upped the charity game. (Read his inspiring story here.)
Their overhead costs are covered by private donors, so they use 100% of donations to fund projects, and they’ll even show you where your money’s gone. In case you don’t know why water’s important, here are a few quick facts:
Why Water Matters
- Nearly 800 million people around the world are living with no access to clean water.
- More people die from lack of clean water and sanitation each year than are killed by all forms of violence, including war.
- [Tweet “4,200 kids will die TODAY from diseases related to unsafe #water. Help @charitywater:”]
- Diarrheal disease caused by unclean water is the second leading killer of children worldwide.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, 16 million hours EACH DAY are spent by women collecting water. This takes time away from work, school, and family.
- The average American uses 150 gallons per water a day. The average person in a developing nation struggles to find five.
I’m having a bar night fundraiser here in Ketchikan on Saturday, but I’m assuming that most of you won’t be able to make it. (If you can, swing by — we’d love to have you!)
If you think this causes sounds cool (it is!), you can donate directly to the fundraiser online. And if you’re not in a position to give right now, then do me a favor and share this page.
But even if you’re not into either of those things, there is one thing you can do, and it’s the most important:
The next time you turn on your faucet to get a drink of water, brush your teeth, or wash your hands, be grateful.
The next time you make coffee with water from your sink, be grateful.
The next time you take a shower or flush a toilet, be grateful.
[Tweet “Share that gratitude w/those around you. That’s the one gift that’ll make my bday truly special.”]
Happy birthday to me! What are YOU grateful for?