Updated: Mar 12
Being misunderstood reeks havoc on any type of forward progress. So let me just start by helping those misunderstandings find their places into boxes that can be put away.
For most of my life I have been highly misunderstood. My emotions get in the way of communication, my driven personality reaches levels that make others feel smothered by expectations, and the passion that burns inside of me displays itself in unconventional ways. All of these experiences build up over time and leave me screaming from the inside while the world around me continues to move. I have often wondered why I can't seem to get others to feel what I feel and see what I see. Honestly, I am beginning to see that these personality traits are the tools I have and use to "see" others.
I have learned that no one will ever fully see and experience what I do. Not because they don't have the capacity or that they won't try. No, it's because no one walks the same path as any other person. No one has identical experiences with identical reactions. It's a beautiful muddled mess where we are left with the daunting feeling of solitude. Choices, choices, choices. Either let it consume you or see it for what it really is, a tool to blaze the trail ahead of you.
I have never fit into conventional boxes. When I try I end up confusing everyone around me. So I gave that up a long time ago. I met CJ when I was 18. I was a server at a Mexican restaurant, still in high school, and living with my grandparents. As I waited on CJ and his father that night forces that I still can't explain to this day (something about a sharp object underneath the enchilada I had just served him trying to kill him) Is how our story began.
I am going to be completely transparent here, because I think it's important to really know who you are currently engaging with. Neither of us have college degrees, our family started with the birth of our twins at the age of 19, we married after they were born because we don't believe in a forced marriage because of the creation of a baby, or in this case babies. We struggled, but we worked hard, we had many who said it would never stick. 23 years and 5 children later, here we are!
For a long time the misunderstanding of our life by others weighed heavy on my heart. So I adjusted and tried to be what others hoped I would be. Believe me, it didn't matter because the passion and curiosity to do unconventional things always burned it's way out. I always gravitated towards the opposite of normal or easy. As a result I have become the wearer of countless hats. No degree? It didn't matter to me because if I wanted to know about something I picked up books or took outside classes to learn it. CJ is the same. You want something, to do something, to see something? You find out what you can about it and you just go! It's one of the things I am most proud to have modeled to our kids. Misunderstanding Alert...."You didn't teach your kids how important college is." "You don't support your kids' education." "You won't pay for their schooling."
All false! We are open and supportive about all paths towards success. We have shown it is possible to be successful without a degree. We raised them to look at each path and try the one that most fit them as individuals. We are even supportive when they change their minds.
I am the leader of change. Deemed as fickle at an early age. I call it adaptive. Self teaching and learning skills have been nurtured all throughout our growing years. All 5 kids have developed the art. The oldest 3 have varying levels of education based on their person. Thayden and Boss are still working their way through public school. All have had augmented homeschool time due to my opinions on areas lacking in the public school sector. Supported they are. To cap off this topic, the funds are available to each of them if they decide a degree is how they want get to the next step on their path.
Some of these skills taught at home have set the kids outside of their peer groups. Let's just say that they do an excellent job in adult conversation situations and show up as mature for their ages. This hasn't been easy on them, but as they enter the adult world, all of them will tell you that they hold it in high value when it comes to speaking, interviewing, or problem solving.
Hands down the best thing we have done for our kids is to teach traveling skills and help them become confident travelers. Maybe it's a side effect of being a military child, growing up in the world and not in just a city or a state. Through living in the world, immersed in the peoples of it, you understand your place in it. Humility sets in, appreciation follows, and generosity is nurtured. All this is creates depth and drive to be better not just for yourself but, for the lives you have the potential to touch. This is where the next set of misunderstandings creep in. 'You travel just for fun." "You are always on vacation." that one gets tangled up in the education one too. "You must not think work is important."
Travel is fun and exciting, we love it. However, we always have a purpose that accompanies our trips. Ask the kids, I have a knack for jam packing each trip with as much educational activities as I can. We have had to compromise over the years. Like I said, I am intense when I find a passion. Education is a passion of mine. It is the foundation for growth and in understanding the world around you. The foundation and earliest beginnings of 7 Wandering Backpacks' are wrapped in learning about the world and the peoples in it. As we grew through our travels and found ourselves experiencing others in need, we had an element to add to our vision.
Vacation? Yes, from the day to day jobs and school, but relaxing? Not usually. We spend this time connecting with others, fulfilling projects, seeking out others in need, and documenting what we are doing so that we can inspire and encourage others to reach outside of themselves, to become citizens of the world. It really is an amazing way to be in it.
Work? Trust me we know how important work is. It is what supports what we are able to do. Without our jobs or driven work ethic there would be no money to fund the travel, fund the support to help others, or provide the networking to meet and share, let alone the means for us to survive. This so graciously leads me to the biggest misunderstanding of all..."Non profits use the money of others to support themselves.
I can't speak for others, or past events regarding non profits as a whole. However, I can speak to ours and what ours represents for our family and the lives it touches. Up until this past January, when we were officially given the green light from the IRS to move forward with this venture, we were 100% funding our service for others by ourselves. The outreach and interest of others to join us in making a difference is what pushed us into creating the 7 Wandering Backpack mission. We were inspired to make this a team effort that could include the communities around us. Trust me the creation and the ins and outs of what that all entails is not for the faint of heart. We pushed through for over a year to get all the ducks in a row to make this happen.
Why? because of the passion that burns inside of me, inside of CJ, and inside the kids to be bigger than just ourselves. We want to do this with others and to have a community centered around the goal of being citizens of the world that look out and take care of all it's sentient beings. The passion is great and the drive is strong. We are still financially contributing to our projects just as you would be. All the proceeds go to the support of each group we touch and will continue through out the entirety of this venture!
We want to make it fun. We want to make it interesting. We want to help you gain that sense of purpose that we have found throughout the years.
We are excited to make that achievable for each person who’s interested in what we’re doing, for everyone who wants to interact, and include all those who want to support and make a difference in the world. THIS is the passion, THIS is the goal. It is what we’ve wanted from the very beginning of the dream.
From when it was just a family traveling around the world gaining experiences and learning how to be world citizens, to what it has given birth to. By leaning into the desire to touch, lives and support others, we were seeing through our eyes that there are many others in the world that need to be seen and understood. This is where I tie it back to the beginning about misunderstanding. What is the creator of misunderstandings? Lack of knowledge, false information, and at the end of the day the inability to see outside of one's own being.
Well, we want to change that. We want to be the blazers of the path that leads to open eyes, open ears, open minds, and open hearts! That is the WHY. We want to do that with others. To include those who our mission resonates with. To take what has been learned from being misunderstood and become a force that sees, hears, and understands. The world needs this. People need this. I don’t think it’s just a small percentage of us as humans who feel the weight of solidarity. I think most of us feel it.
It has come full circle. My lessons and path as a soul have bled into my family and into the mission we uphold. It's become a tool that we can use on a platform where I can stand up and say, "You know what? It's OK to be standing at the chasm of misunderstandings." It's an opportunity to blaze ahead so that others may follow more easily. Here, is the fertile ground of change. Showing that many paths can lead to the destination.
We welcome you to come join the mission. Come be part of the family. Come wander with us. So that we can see others, hear others, and put ALL our misunderstandings behind us.