We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Long and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, how do you think about risk?
Exactly 4 years ago I risked it all, uprooting my entire life to move to Colorado. It was the adventure I had been dreaming of for a lifetime. When I moved to Colorado for the first time when I was 22, the mountains instantly felt like home. I always promised myself that one day I would move to the mountains permanently, start my own business, and live a life full of adventure. After I got my Master’s in Education, I made the move for good. Leaving my friends, family, and a stable career in Pittsburgh to move to Summit County was difficult.
Finding my place in a new community was challenging, but making a home in the mountains has brought me so much peace and happiness. If I wouldn’t have risked it all, I would have missed out on one of the most incredible opportunities of my life.
When confronted with risk, do not be afraid to ask yourself, “If I don’t take this risk, will I look back and regret it?” The truth is, your brain is wired to protect you. Oftentimes, you would rather stay in a familiar situation even if it makes you unhappy. But do not allow yourself to get stuck. I encourage you to keep asking yourself, “If I don’t take the leap, will I look back in 5 years with regrets?” If any part of your soul says yes, run straight towards your fears without looking back. Take the leap into the unknown and out of your comfort zone. When you’re scared to jump, that’s exactly when you jump. Do it scared!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Two years ago the world as we knew it was put on pause. When I got the news of suspension of all travel from Europe to the United States, I was teaching English abroad in Rome, Italy. On March 4th, 2020, I made the difficult decision to fly home. On that same day, not only did Italy close all of its schools, but the Government of Italy also implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19. I anxiously boarded one of the last international flights back into the United States without a clue that my entire world view was about to change. Upon my return, I would be confronted with 2 long years of teaching through a pandemic. Days, weeks, and months would go by where I would not get to see my students’ smiles. Being a travel blogger and teacher in the midst of a pandemic was definitely not easy. Through it all, I learned that I would never take for granted the little things: building back stronger relationships, making connections, and being present for those that matter most.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’d wakeup at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise over the mountains as we make our way to Sunshine or Haywood Cafe for daybreak. After fueling up with a locals breakfast and steaming hot cup of coffee, we’d head out to enjoy Summit County’s mountain oasis. In this snow globe town, one of my favorite ways to start the morning is by heading down to the “beach” at Abasin or LaBonte’s Smokehouse BBQ at Keystone to crack a cold one to warm up for lapping fresh powder in the hot Colorado sun. When the snow melts, I’d take my friends on a hike up our local 14’er, Quandary, or a bike ride around the Peninsula Trail. After a long day, we’d cheers over Outer Range beers and head down to the lake to catch a show at Dillon Amphitheater and watch the sunset over the water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The travel bug bit me across the pond in Australia 5 short years ago. From there, I have found myself shipwrecked in Fiji, driving around in a Scooby Doo-style Mystery Machine in New Zealand, and soaking up the Sydney sun with my best friends: Leanne, Marissa, Michelle, and Erica. Thank you to my family and friends for fueling my love of travel and joining me through every step of this wild journey.
To my resilient students from all over the globe: North Allegheny Middle and High School in Pittsburgh, Saint Francis International School in Rome, and Snowy Peaks High School in Summit County. You tackled learning in a pandemic with grace. You inspire me each and every day.
Last but not least, to my work family: thank you for allowing me to unite mental health and education by building character and community through adventure!