Board Member Profile – Wendy Lyon


unnamed-9Two of my greatest passions, travel and books, became so because two great women in
my life thought it important to share their passion. If not for them, I may not have discovered or
embraced them as much on my own. Understanding what an impact they have had on my life, I
want everyone to share in and know the benefits traveling and reading can bring to one’s

unnamed-1For many, one book can be attributed to influencing their lives in a very profound way.
For me, I find it difficult to hone in on just one but would rather talk about how reading became
an important part of my life. As a child, my mother had us read as a family. I remember
finishing dinner and all of us taking turns around the dining room table. It was a great way for us
all to share in the experience of the story. I particularly remember reading Where The Red Fern
Grows. We were reading a part of the story that had us all choked up. One of us would get
through several paragraphs, forcing the words through sobs and pass it on to the next person to
read out loud when we just couldn’t read any more. The collective experience of that endearing,
yet gut-wrenching story was embossed in my mind forever.

Although I have many emotional memories from which to draw, reading has given me so
much more. It is one of the greatest returns on investment. Through books, I’ve been
introduced to different perspectives regarding other cultures, socio and economic privileges,
racism, sexism, addictions. What once was black and white is now grey; no one person has all
the answers. I’ve been amazed and inspired by the strength and humanity a single person can
demonstrate when finding oneself in an extreme situation. I’ve been shown that it’s alright, even
healthy, to laugh at my own shortcomings because we all have them. I’ve learned that there is
so much more to learn and to truly experience some of the things that I’ve read about, I must
see it with my own eyes. Thus bringing me to my second and even larger passion, travel.

unnamedMy grandmother loved to travel and she made sure that her grandchildren had a chance
to travel so that we could grab onto and share her passion. As a 13 year old, my junior high
class was going to England and Scotland for two weeks in the summer. It was an easy, first time-
out-of-the-country trip. I was surrounded by friends and food that wasn’t too exotic to
frighten me off. We saw a lot of castles, Stone Hedge, Shakespeare’s home, plays and general
English life. One of the memories that stuck happened when I was in a pub. I received a warm
Coke and was shocked there was no ice in it. Trying to accommodate our American needs, one
of the staff left the pub to get ice for our group. It was my first experience witnessing a culture
doing something differently than the way in which I was accustomed. Although trivial, it showed
me that the way I did things wasn’t the only way to do things. I got my ice along with the bite of
the insatiable and incurable travel bug.

Traveling feeds my soul. I have traveled alone, with friends, with family, with fellow
travelers sharing a similar itinerary. I have been to over 20 countries and itch when I haven’t
used my passport in over a year. Every purchase made is questioned as it could be money
saved toward a trip. It challenges me in ways that no one or nothing else can do. Forcing me to
question how I see the world, it helps me to rethink how I live my life at home. Pushing me past
my normal comfort zone, travel has given me a lifetime of adventures I never could have
imagined. I have run through a rain forest during a lightning storm, climbed a volcano, danced
tango on a stage, seen some of the most majestic scenery that a photo can never truly
represent and met the most fascinating, extraordinary people. The stories are endless and
there are still so many more to create. It is this gift of embracing life with all it has to offer that I
want everyone to experience just once in their lifetime. I’m always preaching to people to make
travel a priority in their life. I know that if someone seized the opportunity to use their passport,
it would be a game changer. I want to share the passion my mother and grandmother invoked
in me, to have someone’s eyes opened to the riches of the world that books and travel can give
you and to have the quote I recently read in my hostel in Buenos Aires resonate with them as
much as it does with me. “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

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