To the One Who Inspired My Wanderlust

So the truth is out, I love to travel! Some people tease me about how much I travel in a good natured manner and others think that I am nuts to leave the comforts of the United States. Let’s face it, in this world there are nesters and wanderers, and there is nothing wrong with that. Since we moved to Brazil, there is rarely a weekend when we are not traveling. It gets exhausting at times, but there is so much I still need to see and do, and life is so short! So yes, I have a passion for travel, to see and do as much as I can, as long as I can, and to continually grow and learn. But how do some people develop that love of adventure and travel, and others prefer the comfort of home? Some say it is biological, that some of us are born with that travel and adventure gene.  I don’t really know if this is true or not, but I do know that it is very scary to leave your comfort zone, and I might never have done so, if it were not for one of the most influential people in my life.

My big sister Rita is the key person whom really influenced me growing up and introduced me to the world beyond my small hometown of Clearlake Oaks.  In fact I would have to say that Rita is the biggest influence in my decision to see as much of the world as I can.  She joined the United States Armed Forces after she completed High School, left home; and travelled all over the world. She showed me that it is possible to lay down roots and still explore. As a child, she always thought of me, and would send me gifts from the countries she visited, many of which I still have. Rita would also share pictures of all the places she visited. She told me stories of her life in the Army, hiking miles carrying a heavy pack on her back, testing out gas mask equipment, and other physical and mental exerting things she had to do. My sister was stationed in South Korea for some time, which is a place I eventually lived as an English teacher. My interest in Korea came from seeing the pictures Rita shared with me as a child, and hearing her stories.

1-5-24-2015

My sister on leave from Korea teaching me how to catch a ball. I loved that jacket!

I find myself extremely lucky to have such a great role model in my sister, who I now count as one of my closest friends. She taught me that women can be strong and determined. Rita has always lived life, unafraid and on her own terms. She also awakened a curiosity in me; that made me desire to go beyond my own comfort zone and see the rest of what the world has to offer. She taught me about what it is to be independent, strong, brave, and open to different perspectives and cultures. You see, as a child I was very shy and timid.  I would turn bright red when attention was called to me. I was also curious and ready for new adventures and just needed that push and influence. Rita was the perfect person to show me the rewards of taking risks and the joy of travel. She helped shape me into who I am today.

My sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double lumpectomy. She is currently recovering from surgery and awaiting more test results. Through all of this she has continued to inspire me with her strength and mental fortitude. I have faith that she will get through this because she is one of the most mentally tough people I know.

It is extremely difficult living so far away while Rita goes through this fight with cancer, probably one of the biggest drawbacks to living abroad. I count myself extremely blessed to have grown up with such an amazing role model and to continue to have her in my life to inspire me, even though we are both much older. So I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to my older sister for being such a positive influence on my life in the past and present!