hold me fast, hold me fast
cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
and I will learn, I will learn
to love the skies I’m under
mumford & sons

Five years ago, I graduated from university. Since then I’ve held a handful of different jobs, lived in three countries and had a smattering of adventures that have completely reshaped and redefined the girl I was then: the girl who wasn’t afraid to dream big, but was afraid of everything else.

In those five years…
I took the the biggest road trip of my life, spanning ten states and one province.
I moved to a city where I had no friends, no job and no place to live.
I spent over 50 hours on a train… one way.
I went dogsledding in the coldest place I’ve ever been.
I saw the Aurora Borealis under the winter sky.
I watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.
I rappelled down waterfalls in Costa Rica.
I jumped out of an airplane.
I started and fell in love with running.
I have met so many amazing people who have inspired me in more ways than I can count.

Now I’m a Peace Corps volunteer.

It’s hard to imagine that this will be one of the most epic adventures I’ve ever undertaken, yet I know that it will be. My life has already changed in more profound ways than I can comprehend and will continue to transform in ways I can’t yet imagine.

I recently found a five year plan I had to draw up for one of my university courses. The three things on my plan? Peace Corps, corporate job and promotion. It’s funny to see that I pretty much followed my plan… only backwards. As much as I might want to deny the path I’ve taken, never imagining myself where I am today, the truth is that this is exactly where I thought I’d be at some point.

It hasn’t been an easy path. At times, it’s been downright scary. As a fellow PCV put it, “I was going to be scared to death, but I was going to do it anyway.” Now, sitting here in my small home on the Ethiopian highlands, I feel fulfilled and at peace. I feel as though I’ve located the piece of myself I buried deep inside me. These past five years have been good to the adventurer and the wanderer in me.

Here’s to the next five.

Just Be Happy

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
-Guillaume Apollinaire


With Glittering Eyes

via tumblr

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

On Having a Story, Saying Yes and Living with Intention

 “Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits.” – Bruce Lee & John Little, The Art of Expressing the Human Body (via Joel Runyon)

As I mentioned in my last post about WDS, two messages really resonated with me as I left Portland and absorbed everything that happened: having a story and saying yes. A third that I discovered is living with intention.

On Storytelling

The first person to really hit these topics for me was  Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ during his workshop (aptly titled): “Do Something. Do Anything.” He told us the question that propelled him into the creating a list of impossible things and changing his life was, “Are you telling a good story with your life? Would anybody want to read it?

I, admittedly, don’t have much of a story and it’s probably the major thing that I need to work on. My lack of story is a lot of things… fear, insecurities, unwillingness to be vulnerable… but it’s something that I want and am ready to change. So far, I’m just a girl who quit my corporate job, found another corporate job, pays off my debt, but sometimes does cool things on the side. Riveting, I’m sure.

Having a story is clearly one of my greatest weaknesses. I think I’m a cool enough person, but would anyone else want to read my story? Not without a little work.

On Saying Yes

I took absolutely no notes during JD Roth‘s speech on the Power of Personal Transformation (luckily, he posted the transcript yesterday). JD is a man who has gone through major transformations across all areas of his life over the past several years.

The first topic up? The power of yes. JD found that he was saying no to opportunities constantly because he was “afraid of what might happen.” Then he continued:

I made a resolution. I decided that instead of saying “no” to things because I was afraid of them, I’d “just say yes”.

Saying yes is something I’ve been working on in my life already. I don’t want to be the person that says “I wish.” I don’t want to wish, I want to do. As JD said, it is the things we do that make me who we are, not what we think we do.

I don’t wish I was brave enough to go skydiving, I do it.
I don’t wish I could travel, I make it a priority and do it.
I don’t wish I could get out of debt, I work at it everyday.
I don’t wish I had more time to read, I make it.

You never know what kind of friendships might develop or new adventures await, if you would just say yes and allow new opportunities into your life. Of all things that have terrified me the past year, attending WDS is definitely one of them, but I did it. And I think it’ll be one of the greatest decisions of my life.

On Living with Intention

Another workshop, Claim Your AUTHORity, lead by Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse, helped direct me toward my values and the realization that intention living is important to me. During one exercise, we were writing down the core values to our book (or life if we so chose), and I wrote down change, independence and gratitude.

After staring at my little circle with my three words in it, I added a fourth: intention.

It struck me that I wanted to live a life intended. How awesome and ambiguous is that? Just kidding. Intentional living is simply a life ” intentionally chosen by an individual based on awareness of her/his values and fundamental beliefs” (yes, it’s from Wikipedia). Much of the past week I’ve been considering my values and fundamental beliefs and I think I know what living with intention means to me right now: to give freely, live openly and practice gratitude.

Some things I’d already managed to incorporate into my daily life without realizing it, the others will take some time.

What stories did you hear that inspired change?


World Domination Summit: The Magic of People and Stories

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
– Alan Keightley (via Chris Guillebeau)

I felt absolutely exhausted the minute I woke up this morning. All weekend I had been running on the pure magic that was happening around me and I no longer had the stamina to sustain it.  But then a funny thing happened as the day progressed… I realized that despite how great and inspirational everything was in the moment, the magic only grew as I looked back and reflected on what exactly happened during these three days.

Despite being only the second year of the World Domination Summit, a group of  bloggers, entrepreneurs and game changers converged on Portland for three days full of unconventional speakers and workshops that invited one to think about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.

Weekend roomie & partner-in-crime


After hearing from attendees last year, it seemed so crazy that such incredible friendships could be forged in a matter of days, but that is exactly what happened. My weekend roomie, fellow “Make Sh*t Happen“-er, & soul sister Shannyn (of Frugal Beautiful) and I had a weekend full of playing “Runner!”, Rogue beer tasting, sushi eating and even some Bollywood dancing. We talked, took absurd amounts of photos and walked all over Portland, but I couldn’t have asked for a better person to do so with!

I also had the pleasure of spending time with Phil of PT Money and Jeff of Money Spruce, both really awesome people doing amazing things. Phil wrote about how many financial bloggers were in attendance at #wds2012, which excites me to see what the future holds for them. You know these are cool people if they’re willing to spend three days at a conference that talks about things like vulnerability, creativity, service and change in the context of our conventional world.

It wasn’t just those I spent the weekend with, it was people who you met briefly at lunch or on the street. I found my people.  I found people who didn’t expect me to live life in the way I’ve always been told it has to be lived. I found people who understand what I mean when I say, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” I found people who are doing awesome, crazy things with open hearts. Sometimes it was a little scary and intimidating, but when powerful forces within this unconventional community tell me, “It’s okay to not have everything figured out,” it feels like they get it and embrace it, not criticize me for it.

So to all the people I met this weekend who listened to my story and told me it’s okay to not know — thank you.

Don’t stop believin’!


There was such an outpouring of inspiration from the high caliber speakers, who ranged from world-class researchers into vulnerability and introversion to A-list bloggers and entrepreneurs. Speakers who spoke to our hearts, made us laugh, made us cry and, most of all, made us think.

  • Brené Brown had us dancing and singing first thing in the morning
  • Scott Harrison, founder of Charity: Water, made us reconsider service and convinced most (if not all) of us to give up our next birthdays
  • Cal Newport showed us how astonishingly wrong all the “follow your passion” advice has been over the past 20+ years
  • JD Roth, creator of Get Rich Slowly, spoke on the power of change

Throw in the incredible stories from $100 Startup and Attendees Stories forums, plus any given one of the 80+ attendee-led workshops, and it’s easy to understand how so much AWESOME could come out of one single weekend.

Of all the great messages I heard over the three days, two in particular stood out to me: To say YES and to have a good story. But I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

One final note today: If you’ve ever thought that there’s something more out there, I’d highly, highly encourage you to consider attending WDS next year. You never know in what way it might alter your life. Over half the tickets have already been sold to attendees, so get on the list now!!


images: Armosa Studios