the story behind DURGA, my short film in Nepal

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.

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serendipity

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.

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unpacking is messy.

Five days and four nights of Patagonian trekking and camping in Torres del Paine started a week ago today – and flew by in the blink of an eye, as I knew it would. I’m certainly different now from the girl who stepped into that adventure one week ago, and really, that’s one of many takeaways I love about time in nature. Disconnecting from what has become the hustle and bustle of life allows for infinite genuine connections with ourselves, the people around us and some of the most important parts of this planet we’re so lucky to call home – and Torres del Paine is one special place.

I carried so much on the trail with me throughout those five days. Some anticipated. Some unanticipated. It’s been an emotional adventure, to say the least, and I am grateful in the depths of my soul for every step of the journey. Quite literally. It was amazing to see the expanse of the park on Monday as we drove back to Puerto Natales. The postcard view was something we hadn’t yet seen, and as we drove further from the mountains, we could more or less see all the ground we’d traversed as each mountainous benchmark became visible. Every day. Every kilometer. Every memory. It’s crazy how time flies and, really, how the world can feel so small and ginormous all at once.

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spending the night on Table Mountain in Overseers Cottage

Our Overseers Cottage adventure on Table Mountain is by far one of my favorite moments from my month in Cape Town, and as is the case with most adventures, this story doesn’t start with the trek itself. It starts roughly three days before — when I knew nothing of Overseers Cottage.

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why I’m choosing to live Unsettled a second time

I wrote the following reflection in early April following a month with Unsettled in Medellín, Colombia. I never published it on my blog nor have I shared it with anyone, until now. I’ve been sitting on this post as I wanted to get it “right.” I wanted to capture exactly what my month with Unsettled meant to and for me.

In hindsight, I realize I’ll likely never get it “right” in that way. A month with Unsettled is something that needs to be experienced to be understood.

That said, rather than keep the reflection that follows to myself, I thought I’d share it here — on the eve of embarking on my second Unsettled experience in Cape Town, South Africa. I think it captures a large part of my motivation for living Unsettled a second time. So cheers to this next adventure, my expanding Unsettled family and many more moments spent embracing the unknown.

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leaving is not easy.

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney

I don’t know that there’s a better set of words to capture the feeling of exploring the world and building home and community in more than one place. Michigan will always be home – this visit was a good reminder of that – but every time I travel and connect, or reconnect, with people and places, I feel a pull on my heart; I feel the truth of Miriam’s words.

Leaving is not easy. Saying “goodbye” and “see you later” is tough – sometimes painfully so – for me. Especially when it comes to my family, pets, good friends, the places I love most and experiences that dig deep and leave me wanting more.

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travel, and life, does not go according to plan.

Today is a Nuquí day. A reminder that travel, and life, does not always go according to plan.

I woke up at 5:20 a.m. today to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus to Osorno, Chile. (I need to cross the border to renew my passport.) I brushed my teeth, washed my face, got dressed, packed my backpack and then walked to the neighborhood bus stop to catch the local bus to the terminal in town. It was 5:50 a.m. Mornings are slow, still and silent in Argentina, especially 12 kilometers out from Bariloche.

At the bus stop, I stood in the little shelter as rain drizzled outside. I waited 40 minutes for any bus heading into town to appear. I counted four or five buses heading in the opposite direction, but there was nothing coming my way. For 40 minutes. Nada.

At 6:30, a bus came into view. It wouldn’t take me directly to the terminal, but it was the first bus to show up in the direction I needed to go and I figured it would get me close.

Wrong.

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