Lost Girl of the Week: Stefani WilliamsLost Girl of the Week — By Lost Girls on June 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm
This week’s Lost Girl of the Week is Stefani Williams. Stefani, a former corporate sales person, lost her mother a year ago after a battle with breast cancer. But even though her mother is gone, her words of wisdom have stayed with Stefani, and continue to help her get, and stay, lost. She is currently living in Paris and training to be a bicycle tour guide. You can follow her adventures at tatteredsuitcase.blogspot.com. Here she shares her story with us.
Last year I suffered an excruciating loss when my mom, who doubled as my best friend, died after a fierce battle against metastatic breast cancer. A passion for both writing and traveling is something we shared. We went on holiday to Europe three times during her nine years of treatment. We were lost in Italy a few summers ago – I was driving and she was navigating with one of those giant impossible-to-fold maps you get from rental car companies in the ‘olden days’ before GPS. I was getting frustrated and she said to me, “Stefani, it’s hard to know where you are going when you don’t know where you are.” Those words stuck on me like a wet spaghetti noodle, because the same can be said for life.
A few months ago, I decided to find exactly where I am. I resigned from a corporate software sales position I really loved, packed my life neatly into boxes and tucked it away in a storage unit. After saying goodbye to friends and family, I set off on a solo around-the-world journey. With very few details planned, I have followed the cheerful navigation of the wind and waves.
Since then, I have jumped from an airplane, rolled down a hill in a giant inflatable ball and rafted over the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. I did a free-fall backward into the Zambezi River gorge and dived the Great Barrier Reef. I have savored the flavors of pastries and gelato and embraced a wardrobe of stretchy clothes. I spent three weeks camping through four countries in southern Africa. Since it had been a decade since I last camped this qualified as a “growth” activity for me. I even had a terrifying encounter with a baboon who let himself in my passenger door while I was driving and ransacked my gear (he took my camera case with him and I sincerely hope he is putting it to good use).
It’s not all been smooth sailing: lost bag, BA strike and canceled flight, nowhere to sleep, scary train rides. A trip like this leaves you no option but to follow the current. Travel isn’t always glamorous, but situations tend to work out with an unexpected adventure beyond the water’s edge.
For me, travel is not just about the activities I have done. It is really the people I have met, the lessons I have learned about our world, and discoveries I have made about myself that impact me the most. This summer I can temporarily be found in Paris working as a guide for Fat Tire Bike Tours. No, I don’t speak French, and a few weeks ago I rode a bike for the first time in years! What I do have is an enthusiasm for travel and for Paris that I will spout on my tours. I hope to inspire other globetrotters like someone did for me 10 years ago when I first backpacked through Europe after college.
I heard it said that if something is lost it’s gone forever, but if it’s misplaced it will come back to you. I’m not misplaced; I’m exactly where I should be on any given day, which could be anywhere in the world. And since I hope to never return as the same person as when I left, I’m officially lost.
Are you or someone you know interested in being a Lost Girl of the Week? Send your nominations to [email protected].
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