What I've learned from living out of a backpack.

What a whirl wind 2016 has been. We lost some great artists, actors, loved ones and even a bit of our sanity. We've witnessed civil wars in foreign countries yet mourned over the death of a gorilla, been divided by a presidential election, but won a small victory with shutting down the Dakota access pipeline. Saw too many videos of people standing still, got a glimpse into the corruption of big media and learned that it is possible for a nation to leave the European Union. Celebrated as the cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, watched a celebrated Olympian become an international criminal, and held our breath in hopes of not contracting Zika and Ebola.  It's been a roller coaster year in the news, but if you focus more on you, 2016 really wasn't that bad.

In 2016 I found peace in a small backpack with 4 shirts, 3 tank tops, 3 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of pants and a rain jacket. A camera, two lenses, tripod, stabilizer, computer, GoPro, and some poi. I learned how to make interesting videos, edit photos more professionally and how to use my new skills in order to sustain life on the road. I've visited 24 countries on 4 different continents. Completely filled up a passport less than two years old, grew a beard (twice), and volunteered in 3 different countries (plans for much more of that). I've started building a media and photography portfolio, met incredible people in beautiful places, and ate more street food than the health department would suggest. I've hiked mountains I've always dreamed of, swam with sharks, sea turtles, manatees and visited the seventh continent. Completed my advanced open water certification, and went diving in the Galápagos Islands, Mexico, Thailand, and the Philippines. I cut out the excuses and decided to venture fearlessly in the direction of my dreams.

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In short, I have learned that life is what you make of it. It's not about what you have at home, what you do for work, or what kind of car you drive. Life is about doing what drives you. Finding out what makes you different and relentlessly pursuing it. Following your heart and inspiring others to do the same. Helping where you can, and giving the gift of your time and presence. Making promises to yourself and never allowing excuses to get in the way. As 2016 comes to a close I hope you all can find the beauty in what has come to pass and comfort in being in the moment. Resolve to be truer to yourself, friendlier to strangers, and more welcoming to whatever the world dishes out. Make time to watch more sunsets, donate the things that no longer fulfill you, and forgive those grudges that you've been holding on to. Take care of your body, find your peace, share your love and get ready for 2017, the greatest year of your life.

Signing out of 2016 with love and gratitude.

Stay wild,

-Joe