I’m nostalgic. Compiling lists that require me to look back is an opportunity to don my rose tinted glasses and remember everything—the good, the great, the tough, the disappointing—with new, appreciative eyes. 2013 was many things for me. What I will remember most is how certain pieces all came together to give me a much needed wake up call.

 

1. Returning to England

 

England will always have a piece of my heart. From the moment the plane begins it’s descent—almost always in a cloudy drizzle—my heart starts to beat a little slower and I know I’ve come home. Two things made this trip for me, friends and walking. Catching up with old friends and picking up like a day hasn’t gone by is a rare quality. To have that with women I met on my travels at age 22 when I was a bit mad, is even rarer.

 

Yes, walking was my second greatest achievement in England. The British countryside is lined with public footpaths. There is nothing I romanticize more than these public footpaths. These little wooden posts and blue and white signs are everywhere inviting you to take a walk into a Jane Austen novel or so I imagine. But I’ve mostly seen them as blurs from the car. Not this time. I put on my wellies and I walked from town to town by public footpath and if I didn’t feel like Elizabeth Bennet.

England

2. Meeting Jeff Jochum

 

Meeting Jeff Jochum last January was a catalyst for many things. On the first day in the first hour of listening to him talk, my mind was blown. It was perfect. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Jeff changed my business and changed me. Or rather he helped me to find me again and I hadn’t even realized I was lost.

Jeff Jochum

3. Saying Goodbye to George

 

Tears still cling to my eyes when I remember that George is gone. I miss his smile and his sense of humor. I miss his prodding questions and the twinkle in his eye. This is the last photograph I took of him where you can still see all of that.

Grandfather-George

4. Traveling to Anna Maria: My First Destination Wedding

 

When I was asked to make a trip to Anna Maria, FL I think I was already on the plane before I had time to say yes. I really get destination weddings. There is an automatic intimacy when you bring people together, especially strangers, in a place that is unfamiliar. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to celebrate love than by bringing everyone together through travel.

ColleenSean

5. Hilton Head and Charleston, SC

 

A dear friend married the love of her life in Hilton Head this September and I was fortunate enough to join the talented Kene Sperry and Niles Jeran in capturing the event. Really there aren’t words for what an incredible weekend this was. It was like being a kid again except with all the perks and independence of adulthood. All three of us felt a huge sense of gratitude that experiences like this are our “work.”

Hilton Head Wedding

 

6. Rafting the Grand Canyon: Take Two

 

Two and a half years ago I rafted down the entire Grand Canyon. 280 river miles, 23 days, 16 people and 7 rafts. My rafting experience prior to the Grand Canyon was very little. My overnight rafting experience, none. Very quickly into the trip I realized I had no idea what I was doing on a small raft in class five rapids for three weeks. Did I mention my raft was rowed by my boyfriend who had never rowed a rapid in his life?

 

We made it through and developed a love hate relationship with the Colorado. Ok, mine was a lot of hate and fear. But we both left the river with a feeling that we had to go again. Last May our second chance came.

 

From the moment my eyes caught sight of the Colorado again I knew something big was in store. I started out the trip as one version of myself and I left it another. The combination of camping, living a simple life, rafting really big water and the camaraderie of new and old friends made me realize that for a long time I had stopped living. Being really dirty probably helped too. (See picture below of the last day, I may look really tan but that’s really dirt.) I have nothing but gratitude for the mighty Colorado and the walls of the Grand.

Grand

If you ever have the chance to raft the grand canyon, especially on a private trip, do it!

Love,

Tori