Update Nov, 2016: Since this post I have acquired my second tattoo which is almost as meaningful as the first. Read How to Get a Sak Yant Bamboo Tattoo in Thailand
It Had to be a Meaningful Tattoo…which is why I never got a unicorn tramp stamp
I’ve never had anything against tattoos, they can be a beautiful way to express oneself. For me however, a tattoo needed to be more than a beautiful piece of art. It had to be a meaningful tattoo combined with being a piece of art so that I knew without a doubt I’d never tire of it or regret my decision. Which is why I never got a unicorn tramp stamp…no offense to those who did. It took more than forty years and the death of my father to create a story that inspired such a piece. A meaningful tattoo and a piece of art that also inspired the name and reason for this travel life blog, ‘Live, Dream, Discover’
Life…and how I became a Hippy, Gypsy, Fairy Princess
When I was a teenager my Dad moved across the country making a conventional father/daughter relationship difficult. His decision to leave was of course very painful for all of us but thankfully rather than dissolving our relationship entirely we were able to evolve it into something different. Over time what developed between us was a bond and a friendship born out of understanding and recognition of a kindred spirit.
Whether a blessing or a curse we both shared an almost uncontrollable desire to explore and discover new things and to travel the world. Were these commonalities the result of genetics, upbringing or a combination of the two? Whatever the answer the end result is the same. My Dad is a huge part of the reason I am now living this somewhat unconventional life and why I declared at four that I wanted to be a “hippy, gypsy, fairy princess and live everywhere in the world!”
Before he moved away we traveled as a family. Having children really didn’t do much to curb my Dad’s wanderlust and, as a wife often does, my Mom indulged him. Because of this I was introduced to traveling at a very young age and soon decided that I wanted to be a
The first eleven years of my life were spent in England, giving us easy access to Europe. Although I consciously remember very little of it, I had visited most of the continent before I was of school age. I even learned to goosestep while attending kindergarten in Hungary where we lived for two years. After emigrating to Canada and having school become priority, we traveled less. Still every summer was spent exploring the beautiful natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest and every few years we would go back to the UK for a visit.
As a young adult I found myself challenged at the prospect of picking a career. I just couldn’t imagine doing the same thing for the rest of my life. There was just too much to choose from and all the things that I loved were not ‘career material’.
How was I to make a respectable life out of travel, art and writing? Years past as I tried my hand at various things, ultimately becoming an interior designer and starting my own company. It wasn’t my true passion but it was creative and at least I was my own boss which allowed me some freedom…or so I thought.
As any entrepreneur knows, you often work much harder than you do when you’re an employee. Also, although you don’t have to ask your boss for time off you are rarely able to take long holidays and if you do you don’t get paid. In the end I was traveling less and my creative juices were depleted at work leaving nothing for my art or writing. I had no balance.
At around the same time my Dad was going through a similar struggle with his career. He had started as a computer technician back in the 60’s when computers were massive machines that were pretty much exclusive to large corporations. His job was to troubleshoot and fix problems with these beasts and he was in high demand. For a while he loved his career as it allowed him to travel, be hands on and to constantly learn new things.
As the industry changed, so did his job and he eventually became a manager who sat a desk all day shuffling papers. He said it was killing him. After years of this he could take no more and he gave up a ‘successful and stable’ career to start his own business fixing home electronics.
It didn’t pay anywhere near as much but he simplified his life, moved into a small apartment across from a lake and took up sailing. He never owned anything more than a one man Byte and couldn’t afford to travel much, but he was happy and free and that was enough. He had found his balance.
Death…and how it sent me Sailing Away from the Safe Harbor
So how does all of this tie in to tattoos and a travel blog? Well sadly that is the death part of the story. After years of living simply but happily, my Dad passed away at a relatively young age from a debilitating and horrible disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s. As I was searching for inspiration on what to say at his memorial, I remembered a poem attributed to Mark Twain.
I had always found truth and comfort in this poem especially in the verse:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
It was a perfect composition for me to read to his memory in the boathouse of his little sailing club as several members hoisted their sails and the Welsh flag in tribute to him on the lake outside.
As is sadly often the case, it took tragedy to push me forward towards my own dreams and the seed was planted. I became determined to change my life, follow my dreams, learn how to be a nomad and embrace my inability to conform to the norm before it was too late.
Cliché? Probably. But clichés become clichés because they are popular enough to be used to death. Meaning that many good ideas or expressions are in danger of becoming so.
Tattoos…how I decided what to have permanently etched onto my skin
Cliché or not, I found myself in my 40’s. One year from his passing I was about to set off on a brand new location independent life. It was to be journey that I felt my whole life had been building up to and I wanted to mark it in a memorable way. With a unicorn tattoo!! Kidding. But a tattoo is how I marked the occasion.
I designed my very first (and so far only) tattoo… and it is indeed a very meaningful tattoo. The image represents my passion for travel and exploration (the world and compass) and my desire to live a balanced life (the bird for freedom and the anchor for grounding). I added the words Explore Dream Discover from the poem both for their deep meaning to me and also in memory of my Dad. I then had it permanently etched, and rather largely so, into my skin.
Travel…it really is all about Living my best life by Dreaming big and Discovering the world.
The final chapter of this story (and the first chapter of the next one) was the creation of this travel blog in preparation for a new life as a nomadic travel writer. The original intention was to document the journey for friends and family and also to share what I learned during my travels.
The vision was that by sharing our stories, we (my travel life partner, Nathan and I) hoped to help and inspire others to follow their dreams and to strive for a balanced life as we do. This is where it all became intertwined. Our love of travel, my connection to my Dad, our search for balance and our desire to share with others.
The Mark Twain poem was a perfect touchstone and inspiration for this site but unfortunately we were unable to secure the domain name Explore Dream Discover. After playing around with other names we decided on Live Dream Discover as it really is all about living your best life through dreaming big and discovering the world.
So now here we are after traveling through Mexico and Guatemala for the first year of this travel life, still standing, still happy and ready for more…much more! We really hope you join us as we continue to Live, Dream and Discover the world around us and create a meaningful life in balance. xxx
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.