The Things My Eyes Have Seen - Origin Story
2012: The Year Life Changed
I was just finishing high school and at that perfect age where I was blindly invincible and fearless… with everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Culture shock was never something I needed a definition on to understand. Growing up as an ‘other’ in an exclusive religious community in suburban Utah, you could say that I was in a constant state of culture shock.
Even at the ripe age of 17, I was desperate to reach out into the world connect with other humans. I yearned to meet people both similar and different from me. I craved a sense of community and connection. I knew there were things I had to learn from the world far greater than my home could offer.
I fell in love with travel memoirs and read any account I could get my hands on. I began finding travel blogs online and fantasizing about these peoples’ experiences.
One day I told my parents I was going to Kenya, they seemed to find it a little comical and quickly forgot about it. I didn’t have a plan… or a timeline…but this was my first unintentional experiment in manifestation.
After many ‘googles’ and brainstorming sessions I ended up finding a nonprofit in my own community that was formed around the idea of ‘humanitarian aid trips’ in various locations around the world. ***Please see my disclaimer below***
This group was planning a trip to Kenya and I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make my way there. I applied to join and was accepted. I fundraised the money for my trip and additionally for school supplies to donate. My parents were quickly reminded of my dreams as they got cornered into donating money for the security of my place on the ‘team’ by the nonprofit and I found sponsors to financially make this possible for my broke-ass teenage self.
On my 18th birthday, we departed from the United States to spend a few weeks ‘providing aid’ in Kenya. While the organization that I traveled with ended up being very disappointing, it allowed me to see that I could find ways to travel.
And so it begins… my (probably life-long) love affair with traveling
**DISCLAIMER: I will keep the nonprofit I worked with nameless for now and publicly state that I generally do not support or encourage people to book voluntourism type trips. After my personal experience working with the nameless nonprofit for two years, I saw corruption and gross marketing used to paint a hero complex for these primarily white and wealthy individuals.
In University I went on to evaluate humanitarian and international aid nonprofits and, while there are exceptions, many are completely unsustainable and ineffective from a community aid standpoint. These types of organizations are often times aimed to make ‘rich, white, western tourists’ feel like their thousands of dollars spent on their trip is somehow a benefit for someone other than themselves.
While this may sound critical and harsh, it is an important acknowledgment that oftentimes gets overlooked in the excitement of traveling and feeling a sense of purpose. There are probably better ways to financially and physically support a community you plan to travel to.
2017: A Travel Blog is Born
After Kenya, I dedicated a few years to attend a local University while quickly feeling trapped back home. My heart and soul were pulling me to faraway places.
I worked (and cried) a lot while going to school so that I could earn just enough money to complete my degree with online courses. This allowed me to travel and live in other countries while working towards a degree in International Relations.
During this time, I found that there were ways I could travel long-term on a small budget, oftentimes working in exchange for room and board.
I met amazing people, learned hard life lessons, made stupid mistakes, saw vistas so beautiful that tears fell from my eyes. I laughed as I struggled through foreign languages, cried at the heartbreak of distance between new love and friends, and developed into a more authentic version of myself by seeing the same shared human experience everywhere I went.
The way I had ‘managed’ to make this life of travel possible (while maintaining poverty levels of income during my early twenties) completely baffled people. I noticed that the culture in the United States molds great workers and participants in capitalism more than it forms empowered and inspired global citizens.
In 2017 while spending three months living on the Greek island of Corfu, I began to dedicate more of my Instagram account to communicate with people on how and why I traveled. I wanted to inspire people- I wanted to show them The Things My Eyes Have Seen
This was also the perfect timing of life’s mysteries that allowed me to meet a new friend who showed me the basics of creating a website. I made the first version of The Things My Eyes Have Seen to show people in my own life the beauty of the world and the ways I found to explore it.
Travel meets Craft Beer
At first, the travel blog came along naturally. I wrote about my personal experiences, created guides and encouragement for exploring small towns, and provided recipes from host families’ kitchens. (Much of this content from my original site was never transferred to this current one, maybe someday I will find the time and energy to do this.)
I have spent collective years of my life exploring over 20 countries –
laughing my way around the world through the adventures and misadventures alike.
Traveling was always the primary experience but I also explored my personal interests and passions, no matter where in the world I was. Craft beer, at some point, became one of those passions.
Many of my favorite THINGS MY EYES HAVE SEEN and moments of connecting with people have been from behind a pint glass.
Over the years, the website and instagram account slowly transitioned from exclusively travel-related content to be equally, if not more focused on documenting and promoting the local craft beer scenes as I traveled.
No matter where I was in the world, there was somebody making beer with an influence of local ingredients. It still brings me just as much joy and excitement as experiencing local cuisine. Craft beer is a beautiful combination of science and art. It is a drink of the people, and for the people in the local communities around the world.
I gained more online traction and more of a following from the global craft beer community than I had from the travel community. I have built an immense base of knowledge and passionate about the creation of craft beer and could talk about it all day with anyone. I have worked in the production and selling of craft beer through microbreweries, done plenty of craft beer writing pieces, and found a community of equally passionate people.
I dove further into the world of content creation and blogging. I took countless courses on all aspects of being a content creator/influencer. I attended conferences, networked myself out, desperately tried to prove myself as a woman in a male-dominated space of craft beer.
Current Mission Statement
I still love craft beer and traveling and don’t plan on removing either from my life. However, I don’t drink as much as I did during those times of trying to prove myself in the craft beer industry, which my body really appreciates. And while they are lovely experiences, they are just two small simple joys of the human experience.
The Things My Eyes Have Seen serves as my love letter to the world and the people I share it with. It is my creative output, my passion, my art, and how I choose to express grattitude for my experiences.
This website and all the content on it serves as a tribute to being human and all that comes with it.
I hope to bring people together and maybe by sharing what inspires me, someone else can find some inspiration too.