A Journey Worth Taking: A Conversation with Adrienne Wilson

Live Unchained had the pleasure of chatting with Adrienne Wilson. Adrienne is a photographer, author, and traveler. Here she shares her experiences with travel, photography and thoughts on following her own path.

I love stories about coming to voice. If people looked at your life now, they might never realize that you were once very timid and, as you say, “clung to the wall tighter than any wallpaper pasted at parties.” Of course, we are constantly finding ourselves and learning to become more open, but was there a particular event that was a turning point for you?

Laughter and smiling is contagious. It’s as simple as that. I wouldn’t say I was hit by a freight train and decided to not be shy anymore. I got tired of seeing everyone else have a good time. Fun was within my reach too. If I can share a moment of laughter or a dance with a friend, family member or stranger, then my life is pretty fulfilled. Even though I’ve peeled myself away from the wall, I still have my moments. I’m the extrovert that still likes to keep it cool, quiet and private from time to time.

You say your travels were not only external, but internal. That really resonated with me. Can you tell us more about what it means for you to take a journey within? Are there any particular examples that you can think of?

Traveling has been the biggest gateway to self-discovery. For me it all starts with packing. I consider this a very internal process. How much to pack? What items can I do without and why can I do without them? Why can’t I be without something? Traveling light is key and keeping my tangible possessions to a minimum with my trip objective clear is important. Next, I like to ponder my reasons for going to whichever destination. I always ask myself whether I’m avoiding something (like the real-world) or what is it I want to accomplish by going?

Most of my travel is either leisure of volunteer related vacations. It’s addictive. The world as a whole is like a fantasy land to me with so much good, bad, beauty and diversity. As an artist I want to capture it with my camera and be apart of it. However much I lust for travel, I do see the potential for escapism and for busying ones self with the feeling of movement without any real movement in one’s life. I’m sure there are others out there who can relate.

After so many external journeys, the time comes when you have to pause in order to fulfill big and small goals simply by sitting still in one place. That’s where the internal battle begins–fighting over the addiction to getting that stamp in the passport. That sweet travel hit. So the new journey begins.

Can you share some examples of your travel photography?

Toronto Island, Canada 2009

Ethiopia 2008

Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan 2006

Is photography something that you think comes naturally to you?

I just point and shoot. Its part of my Lomographic state-of-mind even when I’m shooting digital. Rarely do I have time to think about all the right conditions and technical mumbo-jumbo. I like pleasant surprises.

Rolls of 100 ISO Fuji Velvia slide film x-processed give me tingling feelings as well as multi-exposures. I’ve always enjoyed photography and I’ve received a few compliments on my work from time to time, so I guess it comes fairly naturally.

Do you have any funny travel stories for us?

Does having Tajik kids in Dushanbe chase you with their camera phones count? There wasn’t anything funny about the nose dive I took in a busy Camden Town crosswalk while visiting London. Even after the fact, I still cringe with embarrassment for that one.

I can’t say that I’ve had any real gut-busting trip stories. They’ve all been vibrant and memorable, but funny doesn’t leap out at me.

What is a typical day for you?

One word: Different. What is typical today may not be typical next week.

I think it’s easy to look at all of the things that you have accomplished, which is a lot, and recognize that if you can do it, so can someone else. But, oftentimes, people don’t see the process it takes to realize big dreams like yours–including running a marathon! I don’t think people accomplish the types of things you have without resilience and commitment because there comes a time when you have to take some blows. Is there anything you can share about managing the challenges along the way? Any challenges you think are typical for big dreamers like our followers?

There are definitely challenges that are typical for us big dreamers. 9 to 5, bills, and nay-sayers are just a few of them. I’ve worked jobs that have provided zero fulfillment and have sucked my energy dry to the bone.

Whatever your goal is, make it a priority to make time for it. Write a little a day. The book will get done. Run a little a day. The pounds will come off. Keep positive people around who will encourage your big dreams even if they sometimes think they’re far-fetched.

My mother is one of my greatest motivators in life and supporters. She once admitted to me that she thought some of my creative projects were impossible, but she had my back no matter what. Find someone who will always have your back.

Believe in yourself!

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained personally means living without clutter and without tons of material things. The fewer possessions I have, the more I open up to my spiritual, emotional, and physical self.

Adrienne Wilson


Adrienne is leading a team of volunteers to Ethiopia this year. Learn more via the trip blog at: http://ethiopiaglobalvillage.wordpress.com/

Follow Adrienne on twitter: @AdrienneIs

Website: http://adrienne-is.com/

Blog: http://adrienne-is.com/blog/

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