Sunset on the Pacific Ocean in Miraflores, Peru
I have been very lucky lately. I've been able to start this company and create products that people all over the world use with confidence and cherish. I get to travel and meet incredible people who are passionate and share that passion with me which inspires me. Last year I met a Canadian woman living in Istanbul who started an organic boutique right in the middle of the Arasta Bazaar because she wanted to help preserve the art of Turkish hand looming. She was motivated and enthusiastic and I will never forget her. Her name is Jennifer. This year I met Jose and William (both not their birth names, but the Spanish names they had changed to because of discrimination towards the Quechuan people) who were my tour guides in Machu Picchu and Cusco. Jose and William were very kind and full of interesting facts about Peru, but it was quickly evident how much they loved their country and were so proud to share it with me. William and I talked about his grandfather who lived in the Peruvian Amazon and was healthy and happy growing his little garden full of exotic vegetables. He told me he wanted to travel and see the States and the Statue of Liberty. Jose also dreamt of traveling to Brazil and to the US and was curious if Texas was full of cowboys and cows roaming green grassfields, both men had read books about places and sights they wanted to see. They had dreams and goals and were full of exciting ideas. They made me feel welcome and wondrous. It was then that I knew how truly fortunate I was to be able to speak to them in the place of my dreams with the beauty that surrounded me so far away from home.
I didn't grow up with much money and my family became a one parent family very early in my life. My Mom was a go getter and what she emphasized for me and my siblings was education. She was a smart lady then and is a smart lady now who geared her kids towards having a key to unlock the many challenges we would have. She pointed us towards learning and reading which redirected me towards dreaming and adventure. You can bet that Huckleberry Finn influenced my little adventurous spirit and even today my sisters and I talk about how bold (or crazy) it was for me to take the public bus at seven and decide to learn my way around Chicago so I would never get lost. (I will challenge any cab driver in my town to know it as well) Mostly, I lived in a fantastic world of books. Books were magic. They took me places I wanted to go in my real life early on and because I had an active imagination and was constantly inspired by good ole' Huck I was traveling in my head a lot! I was also pretty aware early on that there were challenges thrown in my path and I may not be so lucky to go to these magical places. When you're poor and acutely aware of it it can be devastating, but I was determined and had set up little goals for myself to one day fly around the world and see places I had imagined and speak to interesting people about their homes and customs and foods and farming and lives some place very far away from the noisy and busy city in which I was growing up. So there I was, standing on a mountain in Machu Picchu, which was abundant in my favorite color, green...where the Inca King had once also worshiped the sun, traveling with beloved friends, meeting incredible people along the way and I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation and gratitude for somehow being lucky enough to have made it all the way there.
It is a humbling feeling and one that puts a person in perspective in the realm of this great big and beautiful world. There is so much to see, many people to yet meet, dreams to chase and mountains to climb. So I urge others, respect your fellow person who is also dreaming and working to achieve their goals, respect the earth and help to preserve her bounty and beauty with your little part, and for goodness sake, go someplace! Save your pennies for years or work an extra job if you must and fly to that Italian vacation of your dreams or drive across the country to see the sun set on the ocean, but "Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your
sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Chasing your dreams will make you more beautiful!
Early morning at Machu Picchu-Photo taken by Jenna Lee
My new friend Elsie the Llama
The Cusco Valley where amazing things grow and the Andes Mountains backdrop