On Sunday, February 14, 2021, I was baptized at Kensington Church in Traverse City, Michigan. That morning, I shared the following words – my testimony – with my family, friends and members of the church.
I grew up going to First Presbyterian Church of Northville with my family. I was baptized as a baby and confirmed as a freshman in high school. In high school, I joined youth and adults from my church on two mission trips to Mexico. Those were transformative experiences for me, and looking back, I can see how they played a role in shaping who I am today and planted a seed for the life I’m living now.
Growing up, church was always something I did with my family. My faith and relationship with God didn’t come to feel like my own until I was 23 years old and living and working in Berkeley, California.
30. I’m supposed to have it all figured out, right? Husband, house, kids, stable job. That’s what society tells me, at least. I turned 30 at the start of February and check none of those boxes. In a lot of ways, I’m more confused than ever before. But I also know those boxes aren’t for me at this moment in my life. If I were in those shoes, so to speak, I would likely feel as though I’m selling myself short. I would likely yearn for this life I’m living now – with all its beauty, adventure, potential, freedom, fear, self-doubt, [occasional] loneliness, unknowns, challenges, etc.
As I start life in my 30s, I’m searching. And I’m quite sure anyone who’s spent time with me in recent days, weeks and months knows or can see this. I’m searching for who I am, what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m searching for my purpose, my place and who I am in and with and through God.
And while I’m mostly living in the present and looking forward these days, as I started this new year in my life in February, I couldn’t help but look back on all that 29 was. Here’s where I landed.
On Sunday, March 8, I took off on a five-day road trip from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, my home base, to Pucón, Chile with a family of four friends from Traverse City, Michigan, who are in their third month of a three-month sabbatical in Argentina. Now, a week later, I look back on photos and videos from our day crossing over to Chile—and also me launching a crowdfunding campaign for a short documentary I’m directing and producing—and feel as though that was a lifetime ago. It’s amazing how time altogether sped up and slowed down this week. The world is certainly different than it was a week ago.
My friends and I were all aware of Covid-19 and, more or less, how and where it was spreading, but the reality of what this strain of coronavirus is and how quickly and easily it has and can spread hadn’t hit home yet. Wednesday evening, our last night in Chile before crossing back to Argentina, that all changed.
I am currently directing and producing a short documentary film about female guide Durga Rawal in Nepal. More detailed info on the film can be found on our crowdfunding campaign page. Whenever I speak about DURGA: Forging a New Trail, the title of our film, I am typically asked how I came to know Durga and her story. For those interested, here’s the story behind the story.
My story with DURGA starts in 2015, when I was working for One World Play Project in Berkeley, California. Around the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we launched and ran a marketing campaign called All Girls Can Play. Through the campaign, we collaborated with Women Win to give ultra-durable soccer balls to organizations working with girls and women in communities around the world.
Intrigued by Women Win’s global network in the female empowerment and gender equality space, I spent time on their website reading about their partner organizations and what each of them does. Empowering Women of Nepal, a nonprofit organization that trains and supports Nepalese women to become hiking guides and work in tourism, caught my interest immediately for its connection to outdoor adventure as well as female empowerment and gender equality. I had never heard of an organization doing such work, or with such a mission, in the United States, let alone elsewhere in the world.
That week at work, I told my boss, who collaborated closely with me on our company’s storytelling about the impact of play, in all its forms, around the world, that I felt there was a story with EWN worth exploring, telling and sharing. She agreed, and while we never pursued that story at One World Play Project, the idea remained with me.
Life is pretty wild and serendipitous. Three years ago – on February 16, 2017, to be exact – my friend Laurel sent me a message on Instagram with a photo of the coziest-looking dome in Chilean Patagonia. “Apparently, this is in Chile,” she wrote. “I think we should try to find it when I come visit you!”
“OMG! Yes! How soon can you get here?” I responded.
We chatted a little about dates and travel plans and left it at that. Nothing really came of it that year.
Then, in December 2017, my story with Torres del Paine began, as I spent five days hiking and camping the “W” with my friend Lindsay. I’ve since written about that experience for Stay Wild Magazine and Osprey.
There’s magic in the park. I firmly believe that. Be it the water, the calafate berries, the larger-than-life mountains, the ever-changing [and dramatic and intense] weather or something else altogether, there is something to Torres del Paine.
The park, and southern Patagonia, seem to always leave me wanting more. More time. More moments of connection. More adventures. Just more.