Jacci is one of our best friends and came to visit us in Spain last month. I asked her to provide a guest post with her thoughts on and experiences with traveling which she was more than happy to do. So without further ado, here it is! Thanks, Jacci!
All Photos Taken by Erica K Photography and Sam Boroff, The Manini Experience
First off, I just have to say how honored I am to be a guest writer for Michael’s blog. My heart bursts just thinking I am important enough in their lives to be asked to write this and share my thoughts and experiences!!! Love you guys ❤
When I read people’s bucket lists of what they want to do in life or if someone is asked the question, “What would you do if you were told you only had a few days left on earth?” traveling the world is one of the most common items on everyone’s list/responses. It is something everyone wants to do, but not many people get the chance of actually doing. Society has this set way of how we are supposed to live. School, job, marriage, babies… that’s not to say these things in life aren’t equally as important, but why wait until you retire to travel?
I met with a co-worker last week and she told me how her father had passed away about a year ago. He dedicated his entire life to his job and saved all his money. Then, two months after he retired, he suddenly passed away. This isn’t the first time I have heard this kind of story either. It broke my heart thinking this man spent his entire life planning to relax and be able to enjoy life after work, but never got the chance. NOTHING is guaranteed in life: your job, finances, relationships, you and your family’s health, or even tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, there are always outside forces that can impact these things that you have absolutely no control over.
In my opinion, I think Michael and Lauren are wise beyond their years. I mean, it’s risky, and not everyone has the same opportunity, but they saw that they had the chance and they took it without hesitation. They followed their dreams and although I am sure it’s not easy, they are having the experience of a lifetime.
A year ago today, my life was much different. I thought at the mere age of 24, I had it all figured out. I didn’t party a lot in college, I studied hard, and by the time I graduated, I landed my dream job: working at a retail company in HR. I’m young, but I pressured myself to have it all together and be an adult, focus on finances, and get to the next level in my career. I have always been a very driven person and failure was not an option for me. I didn’t realize at the time, but I look back now and realized I was so focused on succeeding that I forgot the most important part of life…to enjoy it!
I have dubbed 2017 as the year of change for me. Literally, every aspect of my life changed, and with that, I have a fresh perspective on what is important to me. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and I think the reason for me was to get a reality check and start loving life again.
So.. what have I learned during this year of change? Lots of life lessons. Since nothing is really guaranteed, you truly need to live every day with a purpose. You need to learn to get the most out of life that you can, while you can. YOLO is often said to be funny, but I find myself saying it more than ever and actually meaning it! In the blink of an eye, it can all be gone. So take the time to put your phone down and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you every day. Take 5 minutes out of your day to talk to a stranger and make a new friend. Laugh when you can, cry when life gets hard, but learn to move on and do what makes you happy. The best parts of life are hiding in plain sight, so learn to embrace the ordinary. There is no set timeline you need to follow in life; your journey is your own. You need to ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits to live YOUR best life.
Before this year of change, traveling was never a priority for me, but now I feel it’s something I cannot live without.
So my traveling experiences….
HAWAII! My first place I went to was actually before my year of change and my friends literally FORCED me to stop whining about money and go. Thanks, Amanda! Then, I forced my sister to do the same. You’re welcome, Sam! OMG, you guys, I REALLY want to live in Hawaii! It is literally the most beautiful place I have ever been. The culture, food, beaches, and sunsets were all amazing! I truly loved Hawaii. Our friend Sam is also in love with Hawaii and made the brave decision to pack up and move there. Luckily, we were all able to coordinate to visit her for her birthday! We did so many incredible things – ATV riding, attending a luau, lots of hiking, and even skydiving! I have always wanted to skydive and I’m so glad I got to do it on the North Shore of Hawaii because it was the most beautiful view I have ever seen!
My next stop was Puerto Rico. I went through my friends Sam and Erica’s company they created – The Manini Experience. They build the itinerary for trips and then you pay them directly. It was awesome because I didn’t have to plan a single thing. I paid them, bought my flight, and showed up. Again, I convinced my sister go with me. We had a blast! Probably the most eye-opening thing was volunteering at Save a Sato, an animal rescue organization. I learned about the culture and history of Puerto Rico and did things I had never done before – saw so many beautiful sites, went kayaking in the bayou, hiked to some awesome waterfalls, and even went cave rappelling!
Next stop was Nashville. It was just a small weekend trip with friends, but probably one of the best short trips I have ever gone on. I mean, have you ever been to Crazy Town in Nashville? One night we went to the third floor and jammed out to 90’s music…all night. It was literally one of the best nights I have ever had!
My first trip (it won’t be my last!) to Europe was to Spain to visit Lauren and Michael. They were all in on this master plan of having our friend Amanda surprise me at the airport, which I had no clue about. The four of us are unlikely friends. Lauren and I became friends when we had a class together in high school when she was with dating Michael. Then, after high school we started hanging out with Amanda and we all became best friends, even though Amanda and I had gone to school and played sports together since fourth grade! It’s weird how things like that work out! The four of us used to hang out all the time, so it was great for all of us to be back together again. I ate SO much food while I was in Spain haha – food and coffee were definitely abundant – but somehow I did not gain any weight, probably because we walked all over the place exploring new cities every day. The weather was so nice, but then I had to come back to Ohio where it was snowing. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy I got to spend it with three of my favorite people.
In the coming months, my next stop will be Costa Rica and I truly can’t explain how excited I am! This is another Manini trip so I know it will be planned out perfectly!
Traveling is something I cannot put into words. It’s a matter of being able to see the beauty around the world. It really puts things into perspective of how small you really are in the world and how much there is to learn and see. I am so jealous of Lauren and Michael that they are currently traveling the world together and get to have all these great experiences. They are people who really have learned to embrace life and make it their own. They aren’t following the status quo, they are doing something in life that most people don’t take the risk of doing, but they are killing it and I am so proud of them. I will continue on my traveling excursions, but I can only hope my life takes me on an adventure like theirs someday!