“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. – Helen Keller
When I started my blog on a whim back in January 2011, I honestly had no idea what on earth I was doing. As a stay-at-home mom of two young children, I was desperately looking for a little piece of me. An outlet. A voice. A way of doing something different than changing diapers and playing with legos and dolls. I had done a lot of traveling and had kept my stories in a series of hard-covered journals stuffed in a dusty box in the back of the closet.
Yet a life-changing trip to Nepal in November 2010 was the defining moment that pushed me into action and prompted me to put away my pen and paper and do something more daring. To share my stories online for anyone to read. I typed up my first series of posts (which looking back now admittedly are not very good but I can’t delete them for nostalgic reasons) and have never stopped writing since.
Fast forward six years and my blog has become an enormous part of my life. I have shared over 1,200 stories and thousands of pictures documenting the highs and lows, adventures and misadventures of my life. I have made amazing connections with new friends from all over the world, and have experienced new opportunities that never would have come my way without my blog. It has opened doors and also has opened my own mind and heart to some of the injustices in the world.
My blog has literally changed my life in so many profound ways, and in an essence my blog has become a shadow of me.
“When walking through a valley of shadows, remember that shadows are cast by a light.” – H.K Barclay
Traveling to India in the spring of 2013 as part of Mom Bloggers for Social Good where I visited slums and saw light, darkness, pain and hope. Seeing hope and light within the dark shadows changed my life. I continued to explore this avenue of social good and advocacy work by visiting Haiti, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Tanzania. And I hope to do more!
“Much of life becomes background, but it is the province of art to throw buckets of light into the shadows and make life new again.” – Diane Ackerman
Blogging has pushed me to explore and try a lot of things I probably never would have without it. I have become an advocate meeting with my representatives on Capital Hill. I went to an all women’s learn to surf camp in Nicaragua overcoming my fears of tackling the waves. I climbed Kilimanjaro with an all women’s team to raise awareness for solar electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve attended the Social Good Summit for five years in a row in NYC, reconnecting with my blogging friends from around the country. I have interviewed tons of fascinating people ranging from National Geographic Photographers to social entrepreneurs and every day people who have done amazing, inspiring things for good. None of this would have been possible without starting my blog.
“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us”.- Samuel Smiles
Blogging has also taught me to be more positive and search for hope in difficult situations. Some of the stories I’ve covered have been difficult but have also brought so much hope. I think often of the people I’ve met during my travels and of the stories I’ve told. I hope that raising awareness of their plight has made a difference. On a personal level, my blog has helped me sort through difficult times in my life where I have been able to use my words and photography to bring me calm and peace. I am forever grateful.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”.- Buddha
My blog has also forced me to reflect more deeply than ever before. To think back to the moments and feel gratitude. There is something therapeutic in retelling stories of my travels. The memories flood back in and suddenly I’m there again reliving a magical moment in time. Right now, I’m slowly recounting my recent trip to Costa Rica and if I close my eyes, I can be right there watching that sunrise again over the Osa Peninsula.
“Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things reverence thyself.” – Pythagoras
Best of all, my blog is a testament of me. A shadow of my life that will be etched here as long as I keep it online. There is no greater gift than having an eternal voice. A voice that I can look back upon and read someday with my grandchildren.
“Pleasure is a shadow, wealth is vanity, and power a pageant; but knowledge is ecstatic in enjoyment, perennial in frame, unlimited in space and indefinite in duration”. – DeWitt Clinton
In celebration of my six years of blogging, I want to leave you with a few of my most beloved posts. The ones I feel speak from the heart and are a shadow of me. Hope you enjoy! Thanks so much for all who have followed me along for the journey. It has been so amazing and I sincerely appreciate your support and comments!
Too Young To Wed: Photojournalist Stephan Sinclair’s fight to end child marriage
Learning the Art of Making Masaai Jewelry in Tanzania
Hope in the Struggle for Ethiopian Maternal and Newborn Care
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow.
Congratulations! I just read your Nepal post and loved it. I had a similar experience of love in the country. it’s an amazing place.
Thank you! Yes Nepal was such a magical experience that has lead to many more. The world is an amazing place!
You are not going to stop, are you, Nicolle???
Nope I’m still going to blog! 😊
I hear you, Nicole. I feel the same way about my blog, although I haven’t done all the “things for good” that you have. But it is in a way like a journal and such a joy to have done and to continue to do. I’m happy to have gotten to know you a bit through your blog and am waiting patiently for your next trip to Chicago. :-0
Thanks Janet! I’m happy to have gotten to know you too and am always inspired by your posts! Blogging is definitely a labor of love! Yes I hope to get to Chicago someday soon! Would love to meet you in person!
Congratulations on 6 years of blogging. I enjoyed the shadow-themed quotations.
Thank you so much! 😌
Happy Anniversary!! 🙂
Thank you so much Dina!
Congrats Nicole for being a great blogger,inspiring others on the way!
Thank you Arv for your kind words!
you are welcome Nicole 🙂
A great take on Shadow….
Thank you Sue! Had to get creative and think out of the box!
And you did!
I love your blog Nicole and am so happy that blogging brought us together! You are a constant source of inspiration to me, and I look forward to following your next six years of adventures.
Thank you Elizabeth! It has been so wonderful getting to know you! We need
More adventures together!
Congratulations on all you have achieved in that time Nicole. I too feel blogging has been a life altering path I chose. I often say it happened accidentally and yet is one of the most profound crossroads.
Thank you Sue! I have loved following your blog as well over the years! It has been wonderful getting to know you!
The feeling is mutual! Xo
questi magnifici pensieri sono una cornice ideale che segue il corso dei tuoi pensieri
qualcuno a detto
fare un libro non è niente se il libro fatto non rifà la gente
si potrebbe dire anche per il blog, non credi?
It is a fun and interesting journey…long may it last.
Thanks Debra! I think your blog is one of the first I followed too! 😌
Wow what a journey! Sounds like you have learnt and been challenged on lots of levels but come through it and already have a legacy to leave your grand children how amazing is that! Look forward to the next 6 years!
Thank you so much! Yes it has been a lot of fun! Don’t know what I’d do without blogging!
Nicole I think I must had the same initial reaction as Louise Talley. When I read the title in the reader I thought oh no she’s going to stop blogging! I had also read a comment you made on one of Miriam’s posts recently about being behind with your blog and competing demands so in a microsecond I had put two and two together. And came up with five, Thank goodness I was wrong. Anyway this is a beautiful post, really lovely Nicole. Just keep leaving those shadows across the blogosphere, It is a better place for it. Louise
Oh thank you Louise! Yes life has been busy but I need my outlet more than ever before! Blogging has become a part of my life that I will never stop. I plan on writing for years to come! Thanks for being there! 😌
Fantastic photos and reminders! Congratulations on 6 beautiful years of blogging and sharing the beauty with us!
Cheers to more to come!
Thank you Jul! I’m surprised I still do it but it is now a part of me. I love it. Thanks for the encouragement! 😊
Ditto! 5 years in, almost 6. Having very much fun writing and sharing beauty!
Much fun to follow you along!
Wonderful! I feel if we had made it this far we will never stop. 😌
Feels the same way here… 😊
One of the reasons that I enjoy your blog is that your voice inspires as you take us on journeys around the world. Its not just another loud sound echoing through the blogosphere demanding attention.
Hope that the next 6 years brings even more inspiration and adventure!
Oh thanks so much for your comment. It means a lot to me. Yes me too! It is scary to think how much will change in the next six years. When I started my kids were very little and in six more years they will be almost out of the house. It puts life in perspective. 😊
I identify with blogging helping you to be more positive. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you! 🌟
You’ve done such a nice job developing your blog and your voice, and your blog attracts people because of your sincerity about everything you chronicle. Keep up the great work!
Oh thank you Lexi! When did you start blogging and what compelled you to do so?
About 3 years ago – I’m still a newbie! I started just to document my travels for the future, and to my delight, I have found a real community!
Many congratulations for completing good 6 years of learning and teaching life lessons, sharing stories from your experiences and continuing to do the good work.I am sure you have a very long way to go and know that your grandchildren will have the best grandmother, who will share stories, that will make them better humans. As always, I love reading your write up. Love from India.
Oh thank you! 😌
What a lovely post Nicole – congrats on your many accomplishments, and on your wonderful blog.
Thank you Tina! Your blog inspires me a lot. Love your photographic view of nature and your island.
I’m in awe….
I’ve been captivated reading your first blog post and how you came to name your beautiful blog. You are truly an inspiration to us all in the art of travelling well and altruistically.
Thank you so much. I shall work my way through the other posts you have added in this post.
And did you realise as you were tying off your first post, you said the experience had been ‘eye opening’…. truer words have not been spoken my friend.
Congratulations dear Nicole. You are one amazing girl 💕
Oh thank you Di! Yes now that I look back it amazing how much time, energy and love I’ve put into this site. Hours and hours of work. It is cool to reflect on it for a
Moment. So glad I’ve gotten to know you! Your warm support is so amazing and inspiring! 😌
That’s really lovely of you dear Nicole and thank you. But it is you who inspires me to do more and be more 🙏🏼🙏🏼💜
Congratulations on 6 years! I love that a life changing experience started your blogging journey. I look forward to following your adventures in the coming years!
Thank you Cathy!!!!
Thank you for taking us on your journey with you Nicole x
Thank you for coming along Sas!
You’re among the first bloggers that I followed in my early years of blogging, Nicole. I remember it was a post on Morocco that piqued my interest in your blog. Speaking of old posts, I understand what you feel. I can’t delete them both for nostalgic reasons and for the readers, especially those who are new to blogging, so they know that as our travel style changes, so does the way we write. We should remember to always enjoy our journeys, as well as the journey of our blogs. Congratulations for your six years of blogging!
Yes you and James are some of the first bloggers I followed too! Some of us have come and gone but it is great we still have our crew of bloggers still there! Thanks for inspiring me!
Thanks for stepping out there and finding a purpose and then sharing it with all of us. The web you are weaving keeps growing and inspiring others who in turn weave their own webs. Traveling and learning to communicate with people is often difficult, but the rewards for all are invaluable. Hopefully we can all lead each other in positive directions! Keep up the good work.
Thank you Marilyn! 😊😊
Nicely summarized and heartfelt…it’s a pleasure to have found you in cyberspace and learn about your advocacy.
Thank you Sally! I feel the same about the connection we have made. You inspire me to pay more attention to nature. Thank you!
What a great journey. I’ve only been blogging for a few months but feel I have so much to discuss from what I learned in life thus far. I too am a SAHM mom after putting my carrier on hold to raise our boys. I struggle with it but have found peace along the way when I know other moms feel the same.
Thank you! Keep it up! You will be amazed at the connections and friendships you make through blogging. Life changing!
Hello!I have just landed on your beautiful blog.I will definitely check out your posts as soon as I can.You have written how blogging has made an impact in your life and I am simply in awe of the effects.Means so much to a person like me who has just started.I look forward to know more about you!
Oh thank you so much! It is great to know that you liked the post. Keep up the blogging. You will see how rewarding it is and what a lovely community is out there on WordPress. 🙂
What a lovely story to read of your blogging journey. Many congrats! x
Thank you so much! It has been a lot of fun and very rewarding! 😌
Thank you for linking to your blog beginnings, especially your Nepal trip. What an eye-opening experience – so glad that you adopted the mindset that travel has to be an exchange rather than a taking (and so much of traveling is about taking despite the money left behind).
Thank you so much for going back and reading that post of mine. I truly appreciate it. Yes that trip changed my life in so many ways. Since then I’ve constantly have been looking for more ways to give back and to experience traveling in a different way than simply being a tourist.
It is how I like to travel – doing volunteer work, staying with “real” people (not hotels), finding a way I can make life better for people with less (e.g., I collected used children’s books and sent them to the Caribbean and Africa).
Me too. That is wonderful. We need more people to want to help out.
I remember reading your third eye mom articles a few years ago. 🙂
Lovely post and photos!
Six years? Wow! a huge work and long journey, hah? Im doing travel business but just started a blog account the end of last year and my first post is still in processing :). How admirable you are! Congratulation n keep going 🙂
Thank you! Yes it has truly become a part of me. An extension of myself and my voice. I love it. Good luck on your blog! Keep at it! 🙂
Can I ask did you take your kids with you on your travels? I’m asking as a single mum who would love these types of adventures and I think it would be good for the kids to learn how other live too.
Thanks for the comment! I don’t take my kids on my international travels mostly due to cost. It is very expensive to fly from the US. So for now most of our trips are domestic but I hope to someday bring them along!
Thanks for the reply. yes i could see cost as being an issue. you’re lucky in the US theres so many different states, so many different experiences and landscapes to see and have there. enjoy!
Yes so true but we always want the exotic don’t we? At least that is how I am.
definetly! the saying “grass is always greener on the other side” springs to mind.
Yes indeed so true!
Yours has always been one of my very favorite blogs. Both your prose and your photography are very uplifting.
Oh thank you so much LuAnn. I have always loved your blog too and your friendship is amazing. 🙂
Your blog is one of the jewels of the blogosphere Nicole. Congratulation on six amazing years. Look forward to all that is to come. Warmest wishes…Andrew
Thanks as always for your incredible support Andrew. It is so appreciated!!!!
Always my pleasure Nicole