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INSPIRATION JOURNAL TRAVEL

The Places You Meet Yourself

As a result of seeking an adventurous life through travel, I have met many people.

Amazing people. People who have changed me and the maze of my life forever.

But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also met myself.

Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.

When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.

I see the loneliness standing on the roof of my apartment in Portugal, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.

I see meeting one of the loves of my life at a campsite in Belgium, and knowing he was important. And I see us two years later in Christchurch, crying in our hotel room, not knowing if we would ever hold each other that way again.

I see myself in the eyes of every ex-lover, the ones I knew for a night in cities I did not know well. The ones I never even touched physically, but who shared a conversation through broken English or Spanish, and in doing that, shared a part of themselves.

I see myself under a beat up old red barn, covered in hay, shoveling bags of sheep shit.

I see myself walking through caves of glow worms and thinking they looked like the whole universe.

I see dusty motorcycle rides and boats that made me seasick. I see the faces of all the people who were and are all on their own grand adventure, and it’s beautiful to me to know that I shared a brief moment in time with them. Just knowing that is so powerful. And it’s naïve. But it’s enough.

I have never been able to afford nice hotels or nice restaurants, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort, and it might never be.

It’s about the deep brown in the eyes of the woman you met on the streets of Budapest; the way her hair smelled like jasmine and dust.

It’s about the whiskey you did not need to drink, the moon bright on the jagged peaks and pine trees, the wobble in your steps on the walk back to your cabin on icy roads.

It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the glow worms– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.

The depth and variety within the flip book of your life is easy to forget about. We get sucked in to our daily mundane. We forget about all of these moments we have lived.

When you remember all the places you met yourself– the places you can put on a map and the places you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And worth experiencing in the first place.

JOURNAL REAL SH!T

Love Only Wins If

I have been back in America for a few days now.

I watched this election happen from a hotel room alone in Bogotá, Colombia. I’m not surprised by the outcome, but that doesn’t make me less sad. It doesn’t make me less angry.

I cried a lot. A whole lot. But I am not writing to tell you about my tears. Who cares? They do nothing if they don’t motivate me to do more than just cry. My grief as a white woman is pretty damn shallow if it ends at grief.

My community assures me that we have to love harder. That love is the answer. That love conquers.

Love will get us absolutely nowhere without action.

I am tired. I am tired. Do you get why that is bad?

I am not an immigrant. I am not Muslim. I am not a person of color, Jewish, or LGBTQ-identifying. And if I am too tired to speak up, stand up or show up, what happens to those who cannot? What happens to our planet at large, our wild spaces, our environment?

If fear, anger and sadness have brought you to the ground, make absolutely certain that you do not stay there. Get off your knees. Motivate, mobilize.

I know that a lot of you reading this are travel-loving outdoorsy folk, like me. And we’re a funny bunch. We love making ourselves uncomfortable. We go out (voluntarily) to climb really tall, scary things. We sleep outside in freezing temperatures. How many natural objects have you wiped your ass with? I can count a few. We thrive on discomfort. But when things get this kind of uncomfortable, what, we peace out and say we’re moving to Canada? No.

I am uncomfortable beyond belief, but I won’t even joke about leaving this country because of it. I am not going to leave marginalized groups to fend for themselves right now, just because I can– just because the privilege I grew up in allows me to make that choice. I am not going to leave the issues of this planet, and its limited resources, to fend for themselves right now.

I will not tune out. I won’t make light of very real issues. I will not write “love wins” on this chapter and close the book.

Yes, I will take care of myself, I will spend time with my friends, and I will remember to laugh, but only because self-care is also vital in doing this work.

I feel wobbly, do you feel it too? I feel flattened, do you feel it too? I recognize that I am not where I want to be in this fight, but I am getting there, and I hope you will meet me somewhere along this road because it is long as hell and people have been asking many of us to get on it for a long, long time. It’s not their fault that we’re just seeing it now. Get. On. That. Road.

When you believe in the call that comes out, join in with the chorus demanding change. It must be a rallying cry that listens to one another and demands inclusion in the process.

The discomfort will not stop– neither will the work. It doesn’t go away just because we think about it, pray about it, or post about it. It doesn’t go away because we decided we were gonna love each other more– it’s uglier than that sometimes because it is disruptive, and that often is not pretty. What is happening is important. It is uncomfortable.

Does it seem like it’s going to be a lot of work? It is and it will be.

I will speak for myself: I know that I cannot be silent. Don’t tell me that love can conquer. I know that love has won many battles. I fucking know. But I believe that love will only win if we partner it, thoroughly and intimately, with action.

Our love is only as strong as the impact it drives. What side of history will you be on?

 


JOURNAL

Reflections on Roaming

This post is sponsored by Zappos & Blundstone.

What happens when you set out on a trip with the intention of finding yourself? What happens when you don’t have any intention at all?

I never stopped roaming, but the way I did it changed.

I am writing this from my living room in Boulder, Colorado. I’m working in my pajamas, drinking coffee on an overcast day. The wind is gusty outside my window.

I have called this apartment home for two years. It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since being in school. I stayed here because I got tired of living out of a backpack, tired of wandering, tired of always having to plan the next thing. Because I felt like when I was planning the next thing, I lost sight of the moment I was in.

So I found somewhere I liked, and I called it home base. But it’s been two years and this is on my mind. Maybe I will move on, but I like having somewhere to come home to.

When you have a home base, you acquire things. Furniture. Kitchen appliances. Art in nice frames. Candles. Plants. Things that didn’t really belong in my backpack.

I have learned just as much living in one place as I have on the road. I explore my backyard, I develop new hobbies, I continue to find community, I invest in friendships without an expiration date. I go out on solo day hikes and long mountain drives.

I think the point here is that I didn’t stop roaming, I just changed the way I did it and what it meant to me. And I know I talk about the way social media portrays things a lot– but it’s important. You don’t need a vintage van or the best gear to roam anywhere, because you define what that means.

How I roam is however I want to. We all define our own exploration.

 


 

Thank you to my friends at Zappos for sponsoring this post! Zappos shipping & return policies and customer service is awesome– I got free next-day shipping on the Blundstone boots in the photos above. I wore Blundstones working in the Australian outback and on farms in New Zealand– now they are just my everyday boot. Here’s a link to the pair I have.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

You Don’t Know What Will Stick

I have never really known exactly what I wanted. It has always been a combination of best guesses, trial and error, and face-down-in-the-mud failure followed by a shower beer and picking myself up off the metaphorical floor.

As you may know,* a little over a year ago I got fired, went on a big solo road trip, came back to Colorado and figured my shit out. Not nearly all of it, just enough.

I’ve been riding that wave of having figured out just enough for a while now.

This past summer for me was an absolute whirlwind– one that didn’t stop or slow down. But when it did, it came to a screeching halt. My life asked me what I was going to do next, and I really didn’t know. I have been struggling to know what to write about, what new projects to initiate. There have been times that I felt like a fraud.

But I think that the worst thing you can do is nothing. So slowly, I started playing with my ideas. And I’m reminded, very clearly and loudly, that I am making all of this up as I go along. The projects I take on, this blog, the video channel, the stuff I write here or anywhere else.

NOW MORE THAN EVER, I FEEL LIKE I AM THROWING SPAGHETTI AT THE WALL AND SEEING WHAT STICKS.

I am throwing a fuck ton of spaghetti. Buckets of it. Some of it is honestly, way overcooked, and some of it isn’t even cooked at all, but even some of the uncooked stuff is sticking. Weird.

I’ve been throwing jello. Bread. Frying pans. Bouncy balls, just ‘cuz. Tennis shoes. Shampoo. Beer.

As it turns out, the ideas that you think are the best… won’t always be the ones that stick. Sometimes, the ideas that you think aren’t that great or innovative or special will be like superglue to someone else.

A lot of my ideas aren’t fully cooked. Some of them, I think, are straight-up bad. But I have made an agreement with my bad ideas, that if they stick, I will give them a chance. So that’s what I am doing.

Try everything, knowing that not everything you do will be the best thing you do. Not everything you write will be the best thing you write. Not everything you make will be the best thing you make. But you are doing and making, and that’s what matters.

Put pen to paper. Pick up the camera. Send the email. Write that thing that has been in your head, or that thing that hasn’t been in your head at all– just write something.

Engage with your own growth. You don’t know what will stick until you throw it.

Start throwing.

 


 

*and if you didn’t know, now you do. Did we just become best friends?

JOURNAL OUTDOORS

The Biggest Backpacking Trip I’ve Ever Led

I don’t mean big like length of time. I don’t mean it was the hardest trip I’ve led. It wasn’t the trip where my pack was heaviest.

But it was the most impactful.

I was an adventure trip leader for teenagers all over the world, on-and-off for about seven years. I guided on a freelance basis. The job took me to big cities and to remote mountain passes. On this particular trip, it took me to Australia.

When Backpacks.com approached me and asked me what my most meaningful backpacking experience was, I had memories of this specific trip in my head and heart immediately.

Here is the link to the story, now live on Backpacks.com. I hope you’ll check it out!

Backpacks.com is a new site that just launched, aiming to house the right pack for every journey– be it city, mountain, or somewhere in between. My new pack has been hiking, kayaking, and has spent a lot of time inside a less-exciting convention center, at meetings and coffee shops.


 

This post was sponsored by Backpacks.com. My voice is always my own.

JOURNAL REAL SH!T

The Real Reason Why I’m Lucky


“You’re so lucky. I’m so jealous.”

These two phrases spin around me often. People are jealous of my lifestyle, and they think it fell into my lap. Well, it did.

But it is not luck. It is privilege.

I was born a white girl in an upper middle-class family in 1989. My parents were employed, and if they lost their jobs, I bet they could have gotten new ones pretty easily. I graduated from high school, then from college without really blinking an eye. I then saw opportunities and took them, and as a result I have seen a lot of the world. I have traveled, I have gotten paid to do things I find fun. And I do not take any of that for granted.

But if I were not a white woman from Connecticut, things would have been different. Things would be different.

So, allow me to clarify:

This is not luck. This is privilege.

This post is about me, because this is my blog and I write about my experience. I have the experience of a white person in this country.

Luck is that I was born white. Privilege is that my family will never know the hardship that Alton Sterling’s family faces today. Mike Brown’s family. Sandra Bland’s family.

Luck is finding $5 in the pocket of my old jeans. Privilege is that if I wanted to, I could simply not pay attention to reports of murders of people of color. I could go on with my day and post a photo with a caption about nature or trees or travel or whatever else. Privilege is that yeah, I can feel bad about this, I can feel my heart hurting, but then I can say oh well and sweep it under the rug. And if I did, nobody would bat an eye.

I literally never have to think about my race, because the entire society that surrounds me is built for me. I work in an industry designed to sell stuff… to me. Designed to engage with me. I live at a time where I can talk my way out of a speeding ticket, and if you don’t think that is about race, then good goddamn morning to you, it’s time to wake up.

I do not discredit your hardship. I don’t invalidate your excuses. But let me tell you, this world is full of excuses and well White People, we are full of them. So if you feel fragile or attacked by this, I’m gonna need you to get over that, because this society, this culture has literally been built for you. It revolves around you.

If you think we are all equal, open your eyes and see color. See that people of color are being murdered for existing and meanwhile, I’m getting a stern talking to for being rude to a cop.

My life goes on like normal today because I am white. I get to make choices that Philando Castile cannot make today because I am white. And when I get pulled over for a busted tail light, I get let off with a warning.

If you face similar circumstances as I do– if you are living in privilege like I am– do not for one second think I am some kind of lucky special flower. I just made different choices than you. Choices I did make not because of luck.

Choices I made because of privilege.

Start seeing your privilege. Start caring, start talking, start doing, and do not stop. And yes, care, talk and do for yourself. Themes of my blog are travel and the outdoors, and if that’s what brought you here, I am so happy it did and I hope you pursue whatever it is that is calling to you.

But we need to care, talk and do for the humans that are being murdered in front of us because of their skin color. Right now it is not enough. Prayers and thoughts are useless without action.

My life today is not my life because of luck. I have built my life the way it is because I have a foundation of privilege to do so from.

Get over your excuses and how you feel you should be doing more or saying more. Instead, say it.

#BlackLivesMatter

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Get Out of Your Head and Do It

I have spent a lot of time in my head.

So long. Working things out. Figuring out who I am, what drives me. What I’m passionate about. Thinking about the best way to say something, the most efficient way to act or do or make.

I get so far into my head. I get stuck there.

It takes me a long time, longer than most people I think, to move from thought into action.

I build things up to be much bigger than they are, to take more time than I’d actually need if I just sat down and did them. I’ve always done things last minute– and I’d hate to label myself a procrastinator, but that’s my process and it always has been.

Sometimes we need to knock the wind out of ourselves. We need to put pen to paper, to light the match, to get out of bed, to make the hard choice, to quit the job, to end the relationship. None of these things are the same, but we have to push ourselves past the deliberation of the mind in order to do them.

There is such value in thinking. But get out of your head and off your ass.

This message is as much for me as it is for you.

The line between letting an idea marinate and choosing to procrastinate on something is a very, very thin one. Waiting can be helpful– it can be the germination time you need. But we get away too often with putting off our great ideas by saying we’re not ready.

We might not feel ready, but we could give ourselves the gift of momentum if we’d only get started.

The idea in your head does not need a name, it does not need a label. Not right now. Right now, it just needs for you to get started.

Let go of the thought that you have to be anything close to perfect, because you aren’t. You are uniquely flawed and it is beautiful.

Trust that you’ll have days when you don’t know anything, when you’re drained of your idea. There will be late nights when you have to figure it out, when it’s a puzzle you don’t have the pieces to, when it doesn’t make sense or fit together the way you might have imagined.

Embarking on a new project, idea or chapter is dynamic and will be, regardless of when you start. This isn’t a reason to wait. Get out of your head.

 


 

Photos by Ali V.