True
Nature Valley

Amanda Sandlin is only 27, but she's lived in a van, on a ship, and on both ends of the world.

And not in a clichéd, "quit your job and pursue your dreams" sort of way. In fact, through hard work and determination, she's found a way to make adventuring her job. You could almost call adventuring her family's business.

Photo by Kris Holbrook, used with permission.


“I grew up on cruise ships,” she explains, where her mom taught arts and crafts and ballroom dancing. Beginning after first grade, she was homeschooled — or, rather, “shipschooled” half the year, and homeschooled on a farm in Pennsylvania for the remaining time.

“It’s pretty bizarre,” she laughs, looking back on how unusual her upbringing was.

Amanda's unconventional start in life led her to develop a courageous spirit — one that would take her to places that most only dream of.

"It’s so easy for me to be moving," she says. Though she returned to the mainland for high school and college, it took only a few months in the traditional work world for Amanda to realize that she belonged back out on an adventure.

This time, she turned to the outdoors, reading about and watching people who went climbing, biking, surfing. “I grew up traveling but I never really did much outdoors stuff,” she says. "I started thinking, 'I would love that kind of life.’”

Photo by Gianni S. Visciano, used with permission.

Finally, she decided to stop longing for it and start living it. "I packed up my car and my cat, and I drove to San Francisco."

Throwing caution to the wind, Amanda chased her desires wherever they led her — all the way around the world.

But not before getting a writing job at a company whose employees worked remotely, allowing her to travel and climb wherever she chose. When she tired of weekends in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, she took off for New Zealand.

After a year, she returned to the States, but her adventures were far from over.

“That’s when I was like, you know, I’m single, I don’t feel like anywhere is home to me, so why don’t I just build out a van and travel until I find the place that feels good?”

Photo by Amanda Sandlin, used with permission.

In her van, affectionately named Penny, Amanda looped her way all over North America.

"I started in Florida and went up the east coast to Maine. Then I drove out to Colorado, up through Oregon and Washington to British Columbia, and I stayed there for a while," she remembers. "I drove down to southern California, up through New Mexico, and then made a loop back to Colorado."

She decided to settle in Denver, where she lives now with her rescue dog, Dewey.

Though she's no longer traveling full-time, Amanda is by no means back on the beaten path.

While out on the road, her work shifted gradually from writing into design and now, she's a full-time freelance artist.

Photo by Amanda Sandlin, used with permission.

"It happened pretty naturally," she says. As her work assignments became more and more visual, she started teaching herself graphic design and creating projects of her own on the side.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

She began posting her projects online, and people started seeking her out for commissioned work. "That's how I got my freelance clients," she says. "They came to me."

Soon after, she left her remote job to live off her art alone.

In her art, Amanda strives to capture the spirit of adventurousness — her own, and that of women like her.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

“I’m really inspired by the women who are willing to venture into the wilderness, whether that’s mountains and forests or weeding through the difficult stuff you’re doing on the inside,” she says. That exploration inspires the portraits she draws of wild women.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

“I draw a lot of women with their hair blowing in the wind. I think I like that motion of the hair,” she says.

“You know when you’re walking outside, on a ferry or something, and your hair keeps blowing and you keep trying to put it back, bobby pin it, put it in a ponytail, but it keeps blowing in your face, and finally there’s that moment where you just let it go?" she asks.

"It’s like a complete release, and that, to me, is the type of feeling that I aim to capture in my artwork.”

Image via Amanda Sandlin

Perhaps most interesting about Amanda is the fact that she doesn't think of herself as brave.

In fact, she thinks that anyone, really, could do what she does. Adventuring, she says, is not necessarily packing up a van named Penny and heading out on the road. "The wilderness is the internal and the external and being OK with not being OK."

The satisfaction that she has gotten from being free to be outdoors, on adventures, to climb across the country and capturing art in nature, is well worth the struggle required to make her lifestyle work. And, she says, she hopes that others are inspired to find ways to pursue their own adventures, too.

"It's scary to make a change, or to chase after what you want," she says. "But it's never, it's rarely easy. It's never going to feel only good. But it's a challenge, and that's what makes you grow."

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

Researchers nail down scientific 'biomarker' for SIDS and it could be a lifesaver

This discovery is groundbreaking for parents, doctors and scientists worldwide.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Scientist identify a marker for babies at risk of SIDS.

Worrying over a sleeping baby comes with the territory of being a new parent. There are so many rules about safe sleep that it can be hard for parents to keep it all straight. Never let the baby sleep on their tummies. Don’t put soft things in the crib. That crib bumper is super cute but you can’t keep it on there when the baby comes. Don’t ever co-sleep. Never cover a baby with a blanket. The list of infant sleep rules designed to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is endless.

SIDS is described as an unexplained death of an infant under the age of 1 year old. There is no determined cause and no warning signs, which is what makes it so terribly tragic when it happens. The worry over a sleeping baby stays with some parents far longer than it should. I recall my own mother coming to check in on me as a teenager, and I sometimes do the same to my own children, even though they’re well over the age of being at risk for SIDS. The fact that there is no cause, no explanation, no warning and nothing to reassure parents that their children will fare just fine means worrying about a sleeping child becomes second nature to most parents. It’s just what you do.

Keep Reading Show less