:: Down with Detroit ::
10 cities! That’s the number of cities I’ve called home in the Detroit area. As I grab a cup of Guatemalan java and reflect, each and every city has made a memorable impression and fostered my love of Detroit a bit more than the last. The characteristics of people from Detroit impress me…tough, hard working, and resilient are a few traits that rise to the top of the list. As a self-proclaimed global citizen who is passionate about raising global kiddos, I can’t think of a better home base than the Motor City.
IMO, Detroit is a cultural mecca of sorts – a hub of theaters, galleries, and museums. I love the diversity and multi-cultural influences of food, music, and festivals. As a multi-cultural family, the Detroit area provides so much learning and exploration that allows us to live an enriched global life. And we have a lot of fun – which is fitting since FUN is my word for 2018!
:: My Life ::
I had a bit of an early start in life, venturing out younger than most. That quickly set the tone for how my life would go…work hard, do hard work, and then work a little harder. Oakland University is my alma mater from which I received a degree in International Studies with a Japanese concentration. I took a year to study and work in Japan. One of my favorite memories from living there was hiking Mt. Fuji. Some words of wisdom? When you’re about to hike a country’s biggest mountain, take a healthy selection of snacks. A Coke, Hershey’s bar, and some Pringles won’t sustain you well. I was young… Regardless, Fuji was amazing and dancing in the clouds was priceless!
With plenty of work experience and nearing graduation at age 20, I started my own business. After a few trial and errors, I was a founding owner of an international brand strategy and design firm for global leaders and world-renowned clients. I worked a lot and I traveled a lot. Some of the coolest adventures in life *so far* have been living in Guatemala (while running my business remotely), tunneling through caves in France, traveling by train from London to Edinburgh, being ushered under the streets in South Korea due to a bomb threat from North Korea, taking in the beauty of The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, having my first-ever McCafé experience in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and having monkeys climb on me in Ethiopia.
So what am I doing today? Well, I eventually sold my branding business and more or less went into full-time momming after kiddo #2. Of course, designing and creating is part of my DNA, so I was always involved in one project or another until one day I became really serious about being a children’s book author and illustrator. That’s what I’m doing today – creating books that nurture givers, growers, and gigglers. I’m passionate about raising healthy + happy global citizens, being an advocate of love, and fighting for all children to have a family of their own.
:: Babies and Beyond ::
In my late twenties, after many personal obstacles, health challenges, and a very tiring work schedule, I decided I wanted a family and so I started one. Why not, right? Best decision of my life!
I threw together a backpack, caught a flight to Florida, and disconnected from life for a week while I gathered my thoughts. During that time, I realized I was already a mom. I just didn’t have my child yet. Within a few days, I started the process to adopt internationally from Guatemala. Fast-forward four months and I was matched with a child, my son. I was a mom. Just then, Guatemala announced they’d be closing the doors to international adoption. I countered that by hopping on a plane and moved to Guatemala where I could be my son’s legal foster mom until the suspension lifted and the adoption finalized.
Most of 2008 was lived making tamales and tortillas, walking the cobblestone streets of Antigua in flip-flops (again, my choices could have been better), carrying my baby in a sling, co-sleeping, waking at 5am to take in the beauty of volcanoes and treating my senses to fresh baked pan dulce. It was magical and life changing. So much so that when my son and I moved back to the states in late 2008, I immediately started another adoption process. This time: destination Ethiopia.
In 2010, I traveled twice to Ethiopia, the second time bringing home my daughter. I was in love all over again. One look in my daughter’s eyes and I knew she had so much to teach me and my heart grew larger so that I had so much new love to give her. In Ethiopia, I had an opportunity to explore a few cities; Addis Ababa and Awassa hold the most memories. I walked down the narrow walkways of markets, experienced tribal dancing (I even participated – now that’s one for the books!), journeyed out on a boat to see hippos up close and personal, and was introduced to injera (sourdough-risen flatbread); how to make it, use it as a utensil, and feast on the labor of love.
Ok, I just refilled my coffee cup so that I can tell you about something truly special. In between 2008 and 2010, lies 2009, which was an equally monumental year in my life. I started dating my now husband. I remember a friend asking at the onset of my second adoption, “What if you meet the man of your dreams, but he doesn’t want to date a woman with two children?”
My answer couldn’t have been simpler, “He would never be the man of my dreams.” I say that to make note of how remarkable my husband is. He knows me…like, really knows me. He loves our children (he legally adopted them after we married). Our life is not often easy, we have challenges and struggles that extend beyond what’s deemed normal or appropriate, but we get through it together. We’ve learned to lean in on each other and turn to each for support and guidance. I treasure him.
With one child on my hip and another by my knees, in 2011 we had the most wonderful, simple, and meaningful family wedding. This past spring, we had our seventh year anniversary. To celebrate, our son, Aeson, skipped a few days of 5th grade and our daughter, Aiyana – 3rd grade, played hooky from school so that we could travel to DC, Virginia and Maryland.
Remember how I love to travel? Well, our family is on a journey together to visit all 50 states + DC before Aeson’s high school graduation. 7 years remaining to squeeze in about another 40 states. We’ll get there! Want to come along on our journey?
I’d love to connect over on Instagram: @xoKimberlyWyman