Hike and Draw Your Dreams
Freedom to explore your dreams is not a gift given, it is a choice we make for ourselves.
Our paths crossed in April 2016 when we both attended a stop on Chris Guillebeau's book tour in Nashville Tennessee. When the voice located five rows ahead of me called out that her and her husband were about to kick off their two-year quest to travel the country, I suddenly didn’t feel so alone. I knew I had just stumbled upon a fellow tribe member.
Ironically, we never officially met that evening. I left the event as I was on my own deadline which was more of a starting line. The following morning, I was setting out to travel to South Carolina beginning my quest to travel across country interviewing strangers on the art of coming alive.
Even though I walked away that evening without meeting them, I couldn’t shake the pull to investigate them further. I checked out their website and realized even though we were strangers, we were part of an army of people slowly rising around the world that simply wanted to live bigger, but not in the traditional sense. I wanted to connect someday with these people.
And we did.
After returning from South Carolina where I slept in a school bus and danced under the Great Angel Oak Tree, I searched the couple online again. After reaching out to her, I interviewed her over the phone and we instantly connected. Her sweet tone spoke of her kind heart and her passion for living outside the lines made me thankful for the inspiring connection. I shared with her a project I was working on and it was instantly clear, she was the woman I was searching for to help with the creation of my Heart Map. The invisible pull was becoming clear.
Who is this Badass Couple?
After meeting in Italy, Karla and Andres began creating travel maps together and sharing their dreams with each other. Who would have known this couple would get married, quit their 9-5 jobs and travel the country on a 2-year quest to visit all the national parks in the United States! As if written in the stars, their journey would test and strengthen their own relationship and instantly make thousands of people question their own existence. (in a good, bad ass kind of way)
Karla was always a creative kid. When she reflects on her life she always felt most happy when she was creating. Like Karla I was pulled to attend Chris’s event after reading several of his books and actively signing on to join his army of non-conformists. Karla began with reading “$100 Startup” and then “The Art of Non-Conformity”. She said she ate up his wisdom and proclaimed, “This is so me”. From there, their quest was born and her creatively was fed.
Her story of what and how she creates seems to be an evolving practice. From painting to studying the environment, Karla has now turned her journey with her husband into visual keepsakes for others to enjoy.
When you feel you should be doing something else, something greater than you but your current gig doesn’t support it, is it possible to walk away from it all to follow your heart? And if so, will you succeed?
Working a 9-5 gig is the definition of a killjoy to us creatives and especially to those of us who are addicts of personal freedom. Karla wanted to know “Why can’t we live in our natural world? “This was the question that burned in Karla’s brain and was the question seeded in her gut that became her compass to pursue a new journey.
Karla and her husband Andres decided to take a leap of faith, ditch the 9-5 job and put freedom, nature and artistic expression on their life altar and pray to it for two years straight.
They set out on a quest to visit all national parks in the United States. They committed to documenting the entire experience through their blog and social media. They vowed to let nature be their muse and teacher in creating, what is now, a plethora of breath taking national park maps.
What does Karla want people to know the most?
“People think that it’s not possible. I want them to know initially I thought that too. But it is.”
I asked her what people thought when she initially told them she was leaving on a 2-year quest. Karla said she received a lot of “Oh you are so lucky”.
Is it luck or is it choice?
“Just because I am fulfilling my dream, doesn’t mean it’s easy or a luxury. This is how I want to live my life. You have the power to craft a life. This is a choice”
As these words fell from her mouth and tumbled out into our conversation, it made me want to stand up and give a virtual high five to the army of non-conformists of this world. Karla also made it very clear that her and her husband spent a couple of years planning for this. They saved and meticulously planned for this. This was a strategic life move. Most people assumed they had tons of money and that’s why they think they are just “lucky people”. Karla confirmed it simply wasn’t true.
She’s the dreamers dream.
We all have dreams that get crushed by lack of money and a whole list of excuses of why we can’t obtain them. We put up boundaries between us and our dreams. Karla is here to prove they are mostly just hurdles and you yourself are probably the biggest hurdle to get over. She lives out her dream with gumption and curiosity, she didn’t obtain them with a lucky pot of gold someone randomly handed her. And that’s what we ultimately hope for, isn’t it? Deep down we hope that our dreams are possible in this lifetime, with real life solutions to obtain them.
We Finally Meet
After interviewing Karla to help fulfill my quest and working with her to help create my Heart Map, we never officially met in person. When the couple were due to arrive in the Smoky Mountains a few months later, the plan to meet up for dinner in Asheville North Carolina was a no brainer.
When Serendipity has its way with you, it is a tell-tale sign you’re on the right path.
What makes Karla Come Alive? “Create my own art”
Today Karla and Andres continue exploring and creating. She told me early on she wanted to combine the environment and art in some way. She didn’t have a complete picture of what that would look like but it felt right.
By the looks of their beautiful online store that is full of their art, they have aligned purpose with passion. They have definitely succeeded well before their journey has ended.
What's the Latest?
On their website, it was announced Karla split from the quest to take advantage of opportunities that landed her way. Andres has continued on the mission of their quest and to me, the plot seems to have thickened. I cannot wait to see what is born next.
They inspire me. I love how they don’t need to tell anyone of the life lessons they have learned or tell anyone the importance of living their truth. They simple show us. They teach us by example. By transparency of their struggles and their accomplishments. By living life by crafting it, not just accepting it. By discovering what makes them feel alive and pursuing it with passion, love and strength.
Photos provided by Karla with permission of use.