I admitted my life's dream to a total stranger.

A year later I was living that dream as a published travel writer.

 

I met The Avid Cruiser as one should expect to meet him, on a ship in an exotic locale. I was sailing the Danube, hopping from one fabled Christmas market to the next, with no idea how radically my life was about to change.

Ralph Grizzle and I ended up in the ship's empty dining room at the same time, and proceeded to have a conversation that catalyzed my life's dream of being a travel writer. Our discussion ranged from the casual (work, climate, favorite travel destinations, lost luggage), to the provocative (our affinity for socialism, love of creativity, our vagabond souls, life in Denmark). Near the end of our lunch, I rudely pulled out my iPhone to instagram the beautiful dessert. Naturally. The conversation turned to mobile photography, we connected to each other's Instagram feeds, and the flame was officially lit.

Even before that fateful lunch with Ralph, I'd been timidly flirting with the idea that my life (my very identity) no longer needed to be defined by a stressful 9-5 j.o.b.

 

I'd been toying with the notion that creativity was no longer a luxury, but a state of being that I needed to achieve and maintain daily. When I got home I started hosting a monthly brunch + book group dedicated to exploring happiness and Core Desired Feelings. I was starting to say it out loud...  I finally admitted it to myself... I was owning the exciting, terrifying, seemingly impossible truth: I cannot continue living my life as I'd lived it to that point. I am at my best when I'm in motion. I'm in a state of centered bliss when I'm untethered. I need to travel. It's not an option or a nice thing to do a couple times a year if I can save my pennies and vacation days. It's a profound ache that hash tagging "wanderlust" on a Facebook photo doesn't begin to satiate.

 Exploring Regensburg, Germany with Kris (left) 

Exploring Regensburg, Germany with Kris (left) 

Enter one of the most successful digital nomads I've ever met. Ralph had no idea he was changing my life.

He questioned me a number of times throughout the trip: "Why don't you do this professionally?" And "These photos are legitimately good. This is something you could pursue." And "Tell me where you work again? Why?" And eventually "I'm happy to help you make contact with..."

Almost 18 months and hundreds of gmails later, in May 2014 I sailed to Alaska courtesy of Princess Cruises, writing and photographing the adventure for The Avid Cruiser Live Voyage Report website. I don't need to wax poetic about dreams coming true - it feels indulgent - but do let me leave it at this: That opportunity was, in the most literal sense, a dream come true.

 

After I wrapped up my reporting in Alaska (basically the coolest job interview in the history of job interviews), Ralph invited me to become a member of his Avid Cruiser team.

I now cruise as often as I can and file daily Live Voyage Reports along the way. Click the photos below to read about the adventures I've had so far. Bookmark the Live Voyage Report website and follow along as Ralph and Aaron Saunders sail the world full time. Bon voyage!