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And off she goes again.

Every day since I got home from Europe on Thanksgiving, I have thought about writing the blog and uploading the photos from my time traveling through the region. I had semi written paragraphs, photos organized to be uploaded to an album, a spreadsheet for people’s responses ready to be filled in. And every day since I got home from Europe on Thanksgiving, I have thought of a perfectly good way to spend my time that did not allow the above items to get done. Half started, never completed.

Today, over a month since Thanksgiving, with clothes in piles on my bed and an open suitcase just waiting to be filled and taken on an adventure, the pressure of what isn’t done weighs.

My favorite excuse for not tackling the to-do list is my 16-month old niece, Gianna. My sister has been going through a divorce since Gianna was just 6 months old and now we’re all under the same roof at our childhood home with my parents in Minnesota. While it makes for some fun days, it’s quite easy to feel like a college break rather than a professional one. And the best part about college break outside of mom doing laundry and making dinner every night? No homework.

But even Gianna has been more cooperative these past few days, allowing our together time to be her watching YouTube cartoons while I type in BSW data, instead of the usual playing with trolls or something else hardly conducive to productivity…

This morning, as I was taking stock of the piles to pack and the things I still needed to get together, my mother asked, “Are you sure you want to keep doing this? I mean nobody would think less of you if you just stop.” This, from a woman who used to scold me if I wanted to bail on a play date growing up. “You committed to hanging out with her, I’m not going to call and cancel for you an hour before.”

But that’s the irony of it, my mother made me who I am. Despite her struggle to understand my intense desire to live an international life, it was her support that allowed me to grow into the person I am today. And my family continues to inspire and inform my life decisions, including the idea to go on this Big Shared World journey. This entire idea wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for being pulled out of the new life I was establishing in Washington DC the moment my sister called me to tell me of her husband’s indiscretions. That morning changed everything. Not only did it start the unraveling of the perfect life and family she had planned to have, but my own life as I flew back and forth to support her, and of course, Gianna. And in those days that life turned upside down, the idea to travel the world and talk to people about the meaning behind it all was born.

Over the past few months, Big Shared World has been the introduction to conversations about big issues in life. Sometimes these are global, sometimes they are personal. But one thing is for certain – every person, family, neighborhood, company, country… we all have issues. I’ve had incredible conversations with people about everything from worldly events to their own life-altering events. I’ve laughed and cried with strangers as they’ve shared their passions, their goals, and their fears. And with over 200 BSW interactions to date, I’ve learned that while sometimes life doesn’t make sense, it does go on, and that the ability to power through is a great one.

From now on, Big Shared World is going to be about just that, sharing. Here, for those who follow, it’ll be about the journey of a young woman trying to make sense of this imperfect world we live in. Asking questions, sharing perspectives, and learning about life through stories from people who live it around the world. With an open passport and mind, I can assure you, it’ll be an interesting and incredible journey ahead. Through the good days and the bad, I hope you’ll join me. It may not be perfect, but I promise it will be real.

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