Traveling is my destiny. Ever since I was a toddler I dreamt of far off lands. From time to time I would become obsessed with random countries and check out every library book I could find about them. I still have a poster I made in second grade with facts about Greece and common Greek words. I even memorized the entire Greek alphabet! For me, traveling the world was about as likely to happen as life's two guarantees; death and paying taxes. It just came sooner rather than later. 

I like to think I lead a life of grand wagers. I am absurdly addicted to freedom and possibly too independent for my own good. I have been known to close my eyes and leap into the unknown just for the thrill of what could be waiting on the other side.

Four years ago my dream was to live in California. When I set my mind to something it is damn well going to happen, and soon enough I was thriving in the Golden State. I woke up every morning in disbelief that I was actually living in California, and that it was through my determination and hard work that I called this beautiful place home. Eventually, I knew that if I wanted to realize my dream of traveling the world I would have to give up my beautiful life in California; my friends, a job in the midst of a recession and my savings account; everything that made me comfortable. Giving up a good life for the possibility of one that could be better was exhilaratingly terrifying. But, as I always seem to do, I accepted the challenge, closed my eyes and leapt into the unknown. 

Here I am today, 21 countries and a million miles later. I sit overlooking the Bangkok skyline as I write this, gazing upon this beautiful masterpiece that has become the past seven months. Of course the journey has had its ups and downs and almost nothing has turned out the way I planned. I've been scammed to the high heavens, lost out of my mind, scared of the unknown and there have been days I wanted to give it all up and go home. But that is all part of the travel experience. On the other hand, I have experienced bottomless undeserved kindness from locals, laid eyes upon some of the most beautiful places in the world and been greeted with thousands of smiles along the way. It has been an amazingly challenging, exhilarating and rewarding adventure that I wouldn't change for the world.

I look back on all the gracious people I've met--the ones who gave me a ride, shared a meal with me, or simply sent me words of encouragement from far away--and thank them for shaping my world. Not only am I more open minded, compassionate and knowledgeable now, I have a new view of the world--one I can carry with me to places where the world seems so small and to people who can't know the world. I travel with the purpose to leave each place I visit knowing it's now better because I have been there. A bold statement and I acknowledge that I have many shortcomings, but I feel I have done my little part for this world I am madly in love with. I will continue giving, giving, and giving until grace falls from the skies like rain. 

My journey has come to a turning point, this season is over, but this is no means the end. In typical Ember fashion--constantly searching for a new adventure--I'm beginning a new chapter that I'm sure will be just as rewarding. I've got a work visa in one hand and a one way ticket to Melbourne in the other...I'm moving to Australia!

A part of me is sad that this chapter of my journey is over, but a part of me knows it's time to move on. This is it; my wager is placed, I am closing my eyes and embracing the freedom of the unknown. 

Now it's just me and the Red Dirt Continent in for some fine times together. 
 



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