and I was born a wee flower bud on a giant family tree of adventurers. And these adventures were not just the little, everyday adventures, but also great big sweeping adventures.
Like, grandparents moving across oceans to live in new countries. Grandmothers who flew the world as flight attendants, who competed in the Miss Universe pageant representing the USA as a diplomat in dozens of countries, and who opened business after business as the CEO. Grandfathers, who skied mountains and rode jet skis well into his 80’s and who piloted air crafts full of hundreds of souls around the globe. This is my blood and my legacy. Growing up, adventure wasn’t something you did, it was the air we breathed. It was in our very nature.
I was born in a village called Lexington, Ohio which is small, but never felt that way as a kid. I was surrounded by family – I was the oldest of 4 siblings, having three younger brothers (Jaren, Johnny and Jansen), but 10th in a line of 26 (sibling-like) cousins. So, I felt both like a big sister AND a middle sibling, equal parts leader and peace keeper. It was here in the middle of this giant group that my curiosity was nurtured and unconditional love was taught.
Some of the best lessons of my life were taught in the school of family.
My parents and the aunts and uncles of this giant family clan were always pushing us to try new things, to be brave when afraid, and to jump (and fail on occasion) knowing that the giant net of love would always be there to catch us. So there we were, 2 months old and on a jet ski or ATV for the first time, 3 years old and learning to ski and swim, 7 and taking on our first Colorado black diamond, 12 venturing to the top of ancient Mayan ruins (while ensuring we kept days of our trip to give back to the local communities), 14 climbing waterfalls in Jamaica, 16 learning that sometimes boys will break your heart (but your family will be there to mend it) and on and on into college and then into adulthood. Unequivocally, without this particular upbringing in childhood in this particular family, I would not have the outlook and life I have today. You can read about my family and one of my favorite traditions here.
I went off to college at the largest university in the country, The Ohio State University. Here is where I got my first real taste of culture shock – and I was hooked. No longer was I nestled in the vast family of mine, but tossed into new and interesting groups and ideas all on my own. Yet again my curiosity was piqued in classes such as “Biological Anthropology,” “The Psychology of Sex” and “Modern Dance.” So many new ideas presented by such incredible and passionate experts. It showcased how satisfying a real deep learning experience can be – and that, if presented well, anything can be interesting!
I graduated with a degree in psychology on June 13, 2011 and started my Masters Degree on June 14, 2011. The next year would become a whirlwind of joy, curiosity, learning and mastery. I became an intern teacher at both a kindergarten classroom and a first grade classroom – which will stay with me as two of the most joyful experiences of my life. I learned that teaching little humans how to grow into their best big humans is some of the most satisfying work on the planet. Also, some of the hardest.
After graduating with my masters degree, I decided to take a pit-stop at a science museum to have a fun adventure as a traveling teacher for a year before I got on with my “adult life.” This adventurous pit-stop lasted about 8 years.
In my years at COSI I took on many interesting roles. I started out as a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Taylor Swift, putting on giant science shows for thousands of students a week across the mid-west. This roll evolved into designing educational programming, creating new lines of business, and cultivating relationships. In my final years at COSI I was leading the Education Department and helping to build the first ever COSI Science Festival – two of my greatest accomplishments. These years helped me to craft skills I never knew I had and learn so much about so many things (SCIENCE IS EVERYWHERE!) Most importantly, these years gave me the best friendships I have ever known creating a friend-family that has yet to be matched. These people are still my family to this day. You can read more about the best boss I ever had during my time at COSI here.
My 24th birthday was the anniversary of my first full year at COSI. It was also the day I received the call to be on the bachelor.
My family and I were gathered in my living room, about to head out to Marcella’s in the Short North for a delicious birthday meal. When the LA area code popped up on my cell, I ran back into the bedroom of my apartment to take the call. My brothers and parents piled up against the door to listen as the caller told me on that the producers would like me to be a contestant on the 18th season of The Bachelor, vying for the heart of the Latin lover, Juan Pablo. They would be sending me a packing list shortly. It was a birthday to remember.
The Bachelor is an experience I will forever be grateful for! I plan to share many of the experiences, lessons and behind the scenes scoop from my journey on Wo// Wa// Wild//. Some of the most frequently asked Bachelor questions are answered on my FAQ page here.
The Here and Now
Post Bachelor, post COSI, I am now here. And the here and now might be my favorite time of my life yet. In the last 365 days I turned 30, moved in with the love of my life, traveled to France, New York City, Belgium, the Netherlands and Harry Potter World. I’ve adventured to tops of mountains with my best friends and watch those same best friends get married, buy houses, get pets and become better versions of themselves.
And, most recently, I decided that there is no better time than the present to start sharing these experiences with a broader community and push myself out of my comfort zone yet again with Wonder Wander Wildflower.
So here I am with you, at a new beginning, a shared adventure of the digital kind. I hope you will journey on with me as we share ideas, travel to new places, experience vulnerabilities and set backs, and grow together. It’s an exciting place to be, at the beginning. It means there is so much more to come.
So, lets wander on, wildlings.
So, what’s your story? Where do you see influences on your life from your ancestors? What parts of your personality do you want to explore deeper? Tell me in the comments below or share a story here.
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