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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

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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.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

I Don’t Know What to Be When I Grow Up

“So what do you do?”

I knew he was asking me what I did for work. But I responded,

“Well, I love being creative. I write, I make things. I hike and watch sunsets. I have conversations with friends and strangers. That’s some of what I do.”

He got it. Thanks, Seth from the bar, for getting it.

I never knew what I wanted to “do,” or what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. As a teenager, I coded websites as a hobby. I always did enough in school so that I could get a good grade. I was good at faking my way through tests– memorizing information I’d forget 5 minutes after an exam.

College was like that too. I did what was expected of me. I did it well. And I am so thankful for the experience. But I didn’t take true initiative over my own life until my 20s. I was hooked on external validation. After school, there wasn’t a trophy coming from anyone else but myself, and I didn’t yet view that as a good incentive.

After college, I took a job leading trips for the summer. I traveled for three years because it was fun, and a good way to spend my time while I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I view those years as an extended quarter-life crisis– so millennial of me it hurts. Every day I asked myself, what was I doing, what career was I building, what dream was I working toward? As if not having a profound answer to any of those things guaranteed my failure in life.

Well, I figured it out.

I figured out that I will never know what I want to be when I grow up. I will only know who I want to be.

When I grow up, I want to be passion. I want to be a spark so bright it lights up other people and they don’t even have to know where it came from, and when everything is on fire around us, we’ll look over at each other in the light and see each other. Really see each other.

When I grow up, I want to be empathy. I want to look into someone’s life, however deeply they let me, and sit in it with them– tell them they are understood, in whatever battle, whatever arena they may be in.

I want to be love when I grow up. I want it to steam off my skin like rain on the road in the summertime.

I want to be a person who learns. A person who grows, like a weed. A person who seeks failure, who falls and laughs at the same time, in the same moment.

I want to be a person who forgives– who looks at the reasons why she hurts and lets them go because there is only so much we should carry every day.

When I grow up, I want to be awake, plugged into the beauty in this world so I can see and feel it every day.

I want to give when I grow up, to know someone else’s pain and to know someone else’s joy. I want to contribute to the place that I stand on.

I want to be a person who creates, a person who writes and makes.

I want to be a person who takes risks because she believes so whole-heartedly and so strongly in love that she can’t imagine a life without it.

When I grow up, I want to believe in magic, regardless of if things happen for a reason or if everything is completely random. I want to believe in what gets my heart racing, what makes me cry, what gets me to look up at a full moon in awe and wonder.

I am already all of the above, because I commit to it every day.

I get asked what I do for work, and I do a lot of things. But mostly, when someone asks me what I “do,” I don’t answer with a job title unless they specify. Instead, I answer with the things that make up my everyday– the reasons I get out of bed in the morning. Love, compassion, creativity, and the courage to share it.

solojtree

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Stop Waiting for Ready

This is for the dreamers who overthink everything, the planners, the people who want a guidebook and a how-to lesson for every single step.

I know a person like that: me.

Five years ago, I went to Portugal by myself. On paper, my plan was flawless. I had a place to live, I lined up a job, I studied Portuguese, I planned out weekend trips and a whole summer of travel. I had flights and accommodations booked. I had two types of ugly beige money belts.

I thought I needed to feel ready. I thought that without copious planning, I would be totally lost. I simply could not go if I wasn’t “prepared.”

It turns out I felt totally lost regardless. All of my planning and micromanagement didn’t matter once I got there. My planning protected me from having to do things that scared me. It stifled my growth—halted my exposure to new people and experiences. Navigating your travels in real life is completely different than what you imagine sitting in front of a computer screen.

Do you know that feeling in your heart—the one that gives you butterflies and says, “I really want to do that”?

Don’t drown it out with facts and figures. Don’t say that for it to come to life, it needs meticulous plans and a year of research. How maybe you will get to it eventually, once you have a safety net. Waiting for a safety net will dull your dreams entirely.

You may never get to a moment where you feel completely ready. There will be selective preparedness and calculated unknowns, but never all-the-way ready. You figure out your own balance as you go.

Prepare enough. But risk enough too. Risk will teach you far more than over-thinking anything ever will.

Have a plan. A flexible plan. Yes, do the research on visas, health insurance, safety, what to pack. But you can probably skip buying those zip-off quick-dry “travel” pants.

If you can hear that voice, the one that says, “let’s do it,” listen to it. Trust yourself that you know where you are going. You know a lot about your own journey, after all, you’ve been walking it your entire life. Take the first step, trust that you will be caught—trust that you will learn. Trust that you will fail, you will make plenty of mistakes, and you will learn how to stop being so hard on yourself.

Trust that every message you receive from yourself is there for a reason and needs to be heard.

Ready is an excuse we tell ourselves so we can safely sit at our desks, eat another average donut and look at photos of the life we dream of. Ready is the safe word we use when we choose to go to another happy hour instead of saving money—because then we would have to start planning a trip. And that is scary, risky.

Ready is a myth. Waiting for ready means we don’t have to make ourselves vulnerable to the world. We don’t have to create, we don’t have to risk, we don’t have to do what scares us. We get to stay in our comfortable-enough world. The one that doesn’t challenge us, that doesn’t present newness.

Do not be satisfied with waiting for a “ready” that may never come. Don’t spend your time shopping for ugly beige money belts just because someone said you might want one.

If you can hear a desire you have, it’s loud enough. Listening to yourself, trusting yourself, and taking on the challenge that comes with jumping into a world of unknowns—this is what will nourish your growth. It will support you far more than waiting for ready ever could.

This post originally appeared on She Explores as “Ready is Never Going to Happen