30 is one of those milestones in life that our culture assigns great value to. While the voting age is 18, it is really until the legal drinking age of 19 that you’re a kid. The 20s is a time of exploration and turning 30 is when things are supposed to be more or less figured out. While I think I will always have an exploring spirit and certainly have not figured my life out yet…looking back, I have definitely made the most of my time so far!!
In my first 30 years of my life, I have traveled in 43 countries including China, UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Belize, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. I have visited 5 out of the 7 continents on our planet (only Australia and Anarticica remain) and many of these countries I visited multiple times. For instance, I have visited Egypt three times….three times visiting the awe inspiring pyramids and getting a bit of a new experience each time.
Some of my travel photos…I wonder if they still exist anymore like the medieval cities in Kathmandu, Nepal and Palmyra and other places I visited in Syria.
I kayaked and lived off the land for three months from Vancouver to Alaska, cycled from Vancouver to Argentina, dived on shipwrecks and with schooling hammerhead sharks, climbed to Mt. Everest base camp and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro.
I’ve been in a Carnival parade in Guatemala, experienced the intense pain of being bitten by a bullet ant and camped out in the desert by the ruins of Petra with a couple of Bedouin in Jordan. I got my yoga teacher certification from a 6 week residential course in India and taught at a beachside resort in Egypt for a couple weeks.
I completed two degrees, including a Masters in Medical Anthropology where I completed two summers of fieldwork living in a small fishing village in Tanzania. I worked as a frontline mental health worker and research consultant in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and was the president of a small NGO that a few friends started in Kenya working with health and gender equality. I lived and worked in a remote province of Ethiopia where I volunteered as the communications and health education advisor to the local Regional Health Bureau for reproductive, maternal and child health promotion with local indigenous groups.
Best of all, I feel closer than ever to my lovely family, both the Woo’s and the Kinshella’s. I am so blessed to have over 11 years and counting with my amazing soul-mate and partner in life, Bryan. We’re coming up to our four years of marriage this year and it is only getting better. My sister, Jenn, inspires me daily with her strength and passion and my mom and dad are simply the best. I could not have wished for better in-laws like Pat and Bill, who are some of the kindest people I know. I am so happy that friends and colleagues I have met from all over the world still keep in touch and it has been great to reconnect with my high school friends recently.
In my 30 years of life and my far-flung travels, I have learned to have goals but not expectations, that a wealth in experiences and friendship is worth more than money, that impossible is only a frame of mind and that passion drives the world. I learned that I don’t get along with everyone and that’s ok. I learned that making your own cheese is a liberating and empowering experience and that I really like hotsprings.