This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

I'm now blogging via Medium. For other life updates, including opportunities or requests to collaborate, visit my personal website.





Hi, I'm Shirah. I'm glad you're here. 
The purpose of my blog is to delight and inspire readers everywhere.

I'm convinced that being born into the paradise of California's central coast had something to do with my inherently sunny disposition. Within ten years, mom and dad added five little Foys after me and we grew up together in what I think is about the best childhood imaginable. I flew the coop at the ripe old age of 16 and traveled for seven years, working and studying my way around the globe. These travel experiences were the inspiration for the 4-year bachelor program I designed in International Entrepreneurship through Belmont University's Honors Program.

By the time I got to country #31, "home" sounded like a good idea, so, naturally, I set up camp in the coldest, most remote place I could think of. 
I'm currently pursuing a Master's in Strategy at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. 

Why "No Journey Wasted"?
The title of my blog was inspired by a man whose work I've loved and looked up to for many years. Huston Smith has built a life and career around seeking out the good in the religions, or "wisdom traditions" of the world, as he calls them. At the age of 94 today, Smith is a fine example of the attitude with which I strive to embrace life's journeys....in pursuit of the positive and with the conviction that no journey is wasted.

Below, a credo I wrote several years ago as part of my first-year college writing course. Amazing how, when we talk about the big questions in life, not much has changed since then. My credo expresses the foundation of my values and beliefs and, as such, provides a strong purpose statement for my life.  I'd like to think that hints of these values are reflected in my blog posts. 

Created September 2, 2008

“This is what I shall do:
Greet each day with vigor;
Put time, work, and energy into familial relationships;
Live below my means and conserve whenever possible;
Nourish my body with wholesome foods;
Exercise often;
Have meaningful discussions with people in their own language;
Show my appreciation for nature by spending time therein;
Pass a portion of my life abroad, without the comforts of life in America, that I might better appreciate what God has blessed this country with;
Support American soldiers and revere the flag always;
Think for myself and exercise critical thinking daily;
Not underestimate the power of a smile;
Be optimistic;
Remember the ones that came before me;
Weigh the facts and avoid hasty decisions;
Pursue truth, wisdom and knowledge ‘til the day I die;
Put others before myself;
Let God be the judge;
Take opportunities, even risky ones, as they are presented to me;
Rise with the sun;
Go above and beyond my duties to others that they might know my respect for them;
Periodically evaluate the accordance of my actions with these said values.”

Although many of the values expressed in my credo were instilled in me by my parents from a young age, a large number of them have been acquired throughout the past few years.  I have spent twenty-one of the last twenty-four months living and studying overseas.  During my time in countries such as Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, China, England, Italy, and Switzerland, not one of my values or beliefs was left unchallenged.  Whether they were outright opposed or simply unacknowledged and misunderstood, the values I hold today have run the cultural gauntlet. 
In addition to having my already-established beliefs put to the test, I came to value and appreciate many new ideas over the course of my travels.  For example, in line eight of my credo I mention my appreciation for nature.  Growing up in California and Oregon, I was never far from a forest.  My family owns 350 acres in northern California and we have spent many summers in the deer cabin, picking blackberries and building dams in the creek.  It wasn’t until my fourth month in Belgium that I realized the absence of forests; there is not one undiscovered stretch of land.  The country is simply too populated to devote prime real estate to such a frivolous concept.  In fact, you couldn’t get lost in Belgium if you wanted to; you’re bound to run across someone or something within a few miles. 
Within four days of my return to America I drove from Oregon to Tennessee and cherished every mile of undeveloped countryside.

Another deep conviction which surfaced during my year in Belgium is my commitment to “put others before myself.”  Despite the hundreds of hours of community service I had accumulated by the age of sixteen, I still had not discovered the real blessing which lies in serving.  It took an almost complete emotional breakdown to see it; serving was the only means of getting my mind off my problems and interacting with other people.  In this way I learned that it truly is better to give than to receive. 
It’s unquestionable that my time abroad has broadened my worldview and deepened my appreciation and understanding of other cultures, but what is perhaps less predictable is the effect my exposure to other cultures has had on the view I have of my own country.
I now see America through the eyes of the immigrants who so valued our freedoms and economical opportunities that they were willing to give up their homes and friends to pursue a new life here.  I have a new respect for our soldiers after spending time in some of the dangerous and inconvenient places they are posted. 
All this has resulted in an increased sense of patriotism and a new, deep appreciation of our history, national identity, and legacy.  The reason I value spending considerable amounts of time abroad: the American lifestyle is that much sweeter every time I return. 

The last line of my credo expresses my commitment to “periodically evaluate the accordance of my actions with these said values.”  That is to say, I know I’m not perfect; I strive to live up to every one of these virtuous concepts, but realistically, it’s not going to happen all the time.  I think self-reflection and progress reports are an important part of achieving any goal.  With this closing thought I provide room for temporary shortcomings, but more importantly, long term success. 
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