In 2009, my then-fiancé (now husband) and I packed everything we owned into two suitcases and moved thousands of miles away to the Dominican Republic. A year and a half later, we did it again—that time, to Vietnam.
Before we left, I had been living life scared. I was the girl who would wait for the crosswalk to indicate “walk” before stepping a foot onto the street; less than two years later, I played a maniacal game of Frogger as I dodged in and out of traffic to cross the streets of Saigon. Before we left, I avoided scary or challenging adventures; not long after, I climbed up and then jumped or slid down twenty-seven waterfalls in the Dominican Republic. I hiked the Ta Kou Mountain to see the reclining Buddha in Mui Ne, Vietnam; was robbed at gunpoint in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and explored the island of Ko Chang, Thailand. I ate street food, danced the merengue, zip lined through trees filled with monkeys, and went pendulum jumping . . . without a guide.
I came back to the U.S. changed. I came back brave.
Traveling also helped me expand my vision. I now see nearly every corner of the world as a possibility—a place waiting to be explored. My home is Boise, but my vision is bigger than even the U.S. This whole-world perspective is part of why my clients are scattered around the globe and I feel completely comfortable working with someone in Boise or Dublin. Spending time in different cultures has helped me develop an openness and ability to understand different viewpoints. The bravery I gained has led me to say “yes” to new, exciting opportunities. Fear of failure doesn’t keep me from jumping into a project headfirst, and that is due in part to confronting my fears abroad.
My world expanded once again when I became a mom. In the same way that living abroad helped open me up to the world around me, having kids opened up my life and heart in ways I never thought possible. Those two little ones keep me aware of the beat of life. They have taught me to notice the small, precious aspects of the everyday. That awareness is a tough task for someone like me who is always looking out for the next thing, the future opportunity.
Being the sole earner of my family of four has been a great challenge supported by my wonderful husband, Doug. We are an atypical family: Doug stays home with the kids, does the cooking, attends client events as “Stacy’s husband,” and does so with complete humility and love. He’s a brilliant man in his own right, with a master’s in education and deep roots in literature and philosophy. Yet he’s temporarily put his own aspirations aside to support mine, and for that I will always be grateful.
Fear is not a part of my life anymore. It will not be a part of my future, or my kids’ futures. The people and experiences I’ve had have helped push that fear aside so I could invite in bravery. With this perspective, I’ll continue to welcome the opportunities that come along.