Retracing Your Roots


I was raised in the woods of upstate New York and was raised from a pack of wonderful and weird women, and I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with them the other week. My sisters, mom, and I were a juggernaut of blonde-haired women wherever we went. Although they still know how to humble me, I have a blast with them because we all inherited my mother’s sense of humor. My family is the type that will start dancing in the dairy section of a grocery store if  Michael Jackson if comes on.  

I was pretty overworked and overwhelmed by taking a day off to be with them, but the feeling of my stomach hurting from laughing so much on the way down to Coney Island got me to forget about all the work I was neglecting. We got out and walked on the beach by the calm Atlantic in the blustery air. I had a sense of tranquility I hadn’t felt in a while, a lightness and laughter I had almost left behind.  My family reminds me how important it is to be brought back to your roots, remind yourself of parts forgotten or grown out of ( like how my sister reminded me I used to eat Lucky Charms marshmallows in order of the song).

I miss them the most when I travel. They are the hardest leaving sometimes because I feel like I’m abandoning them. But I know that if I stayed, I wouldn’t be true to myself and it helps me relish and appreciate the times I do get to be with them. I get to come back with stories for them to listen to and laugh about how I made a fool of myself abroad.


The End of a Journey


It’s such a weird feeling to wake up one morning and to not have to work on the project that you have been pouring your time, energy, and mind into for the better part of three years. And my rat brain was immediately like, “ ON TO SEASON TWO.”

I am always in the stifling grip of the productivity monster- that Protestant work ethic that has been hammered into my being and makes me think I need to keep WORKING and CREATING and DOING something all the time. I have this feeling even when I have returned from a trip and think, “ When and where is my next flight?” I need to keep GOING.

Now, I know this is a cliche, but it feels like I’m sprinting during the New York City marathon. I’m trying to bypass all of these other runners who are pacing themselves, thinking that they are such suckers and I’m beating them, and I’m seeing more faster, when in reality I’m the sucker who be left on the side of the road on mile 4 because I have pulled a calf muscle and am caught guzzling Gatorade and Ketamine for electrolytes and painkillers in order to keep going. And because I keep thinking I need to keep running, running, running and catch up to everyone who is so far ahead of me, I feel paralyzingly overwhelmed.  And as a runner, I have found that my stronger runs have been when I allow my body to take breaks in between them.

So I’m giving myself a creative break, to give myself time to reflect on all of my adventures, all of my passport stamps, and all of the achievements I have made. It is important to look back once you have reached the apex of a mountain, to reflect on who you were and who you have become before looking at the top of another mountain. Since I have given myself some breathing room I have found is creativity and inspiration in places I wouldn’t have explored. My creative mornings are messy and honest and playful, and I’m enjoying it more than if I just jumped right back into working, working, working, working. I don’t want my work to be perceived as work; I want it to be play. Take a break, look back, and relish in all that you have achieved.

Of All the Stories in the World, the Best are those between the Pages of a Passport

Three years ago, I was sitting on an uninspired carpet on my living room floor in Portland, OR and was planning my trip to Latin America. I was living in a sterol apartment with a partner who didn’t understand me, a job that was exhausting my passions, and a parasitic feeling of having no direction, which would leave me crying on that irksome carpet. I had always used travel to run away from my problems and knew I needed to leave.

So I as was sitting on my plasticy couch and I started off at the uninterested walls of my apartment, I thought about how could I document what was about to happen, and I had been listening to podcasts non-stop at my baking job and thought “maybe I could start one?”

I was extremely lonely in Portland and felt uptight, not able to catch the West Coast chill. So I would escape into the world of podcasts because it was people who were sharing stories about things I was interested in and felt like I had commonalities with.

While I was bouncing from unsatisfying job to the next, I always found myself sneaking in a podcast or two while at work, to escape my unsettling reality. I loved the feeling of being transported somewhere else, being simultaneously inspired by stories and intellectually stimulated, and be able to pause and rewind when what was said to me was too beautiful or honest to keep listening. And above all, I just loved voices.

I was someone who has always had a creative drive, an energy that would wake me in the middle of the night and needed to MAKE something. But I loved talking about a wide breadth of topics and wanted something that overlapped with storytelling and deep topics, and at that point blogging was the only way to do that.

I started feeling embarrassed by how many blog ideas I started and stopped thinking THIS will be my next great project, and weeks later I would be staring at stuck staring at an incomplete website with half-finished thoughts and basic stock photos, unmotivated to clean any of it up. It felt like when I would “journal” as a kid. I had a tower of beautiful journals in my bedroom that I would impulsively buy and all of them contained two entries- one entry detailing my excitement over my new journal and all the things that happened that day and the second one six months later….. At the age of 8, I knew I had no inspiration for the written word because I didn’t have the understanding that the written word wasn’t for me.

Because here I stand, years older, with one full season of a PODCAST completed.

Once I had the idea, I was jazzed about recording conversations and found myself hunting for interesting individuals whom I could convince to be on my podcast. At the beginning of my journey, my iPad cracked and became precarious to work with but it didn’t stop me from trying to record as much as I could. And although I had no sound engineering experience, no software experience, or recording experience, it didn’t stop me from teaching myself.

I never woke up any morning thinking I HAVE to do this; my need to work on it is what got me out of bed.  I remember coming back from traveling and working at my dad’s nursery listening to podcasts and felt an anxious, nauseating pain in my chest because the voices on the other side of my earbuds were doing what I wanted to do, what I needed to do.

It took me too long to realize that the human voice was what captivated me. To me, one of the simplest pleasures about traveling is getting to hear all the different voices and accents that the human voice can take on. I love hearing one’s personality, idiosyncrasies, and ability to peek into who people are through their diction, syntax, and accent, and I promised myself to have as many diverse voices on my podcast as possible.

For me, it is an ineffable pleasure to craft an audio experience, transport, and influence people with more than your words but your voice and the stories you have to share, which I have found is my most powerful tool.

I wanted to curate an intimate experience for my listeners and make them feel like I was beside them while they are walking their dogs, cooking, or on a long commute and help guide them through whatever hesitations and excuses they give themselves to not travel.

With podcasting, I found my ideal medium and am able to finally unite storytelling learning in a way that resonates with me- and I wouldn’t have been able to find that if I didn’t go off and travel. I gave myself time to experiment with something new, to dive into untapped potential, and deviate from the limitations my environment had on me.

I am my truest self when I am telling stories with my voice and I thank you all for the support and encouragement.

Don’t worry, the story’s not over….this is just the beginning.

It’s Not the Mountains We Conquer but Ourselves


Huacachina, Peru

I met Doron at the beginning of his journey and in my last days of traveling. Although we were at the opposite ends of travel, we still shared one striking commonality: home. Where he had been walking around just hours earlier, was a place I hadn’t stood on in months and while he was ready to jump out into the big wide world, I was ready to cozy up in a familiar bed.

Doron is a social and geographical mountain climber. He sets large goals and aspires to reach a physical or metaphorical apex, but knows how to pace himself and enjoy the ride- something that travel has taught him. His travels have grounded him from the insanity and often superficial aspects of his home city and have helped him focus on self-care and how to not waste the rare opportunity of being alive.

Our conversation happens when we are back in New York and we discuss the relationship between home and the world and how leaving home can help you discover who you are when it isn’t coddling you. In this episode, we reflect on the benefits of long-term backpacking, why he feels connected when he is alone in nature, and why home tastes sweeter when you have been gone for a while.

Enjoy Life: You Just Have One

E24- I Find Home In Weird Places 

Blanca, from Spain, and I met at the top of a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. I know how that sounds. As we walked around the town of Machu Picchu, I was immediately captivated not only by her reenactments about the ancient man-made feat we were experiencing together but with all of the stories of her adventures around the world. At the time, her and her partner, Heiko, from Germany were traveling for a year, dividing their time between Latin America and Asia and challenging themselves to go to places most people don’t travel to. She tells us all the areas that surprised her, how travel influenced her relationship with her partner, and how the world still has lessons to teach her.


Hiking Machu Picchu

E23.5 The Lost City & The Last Soul 

Machu Picchu is a mountainous citadel hidden deep in the Andes. A citadel is a “little city” with a fortified area situated as it’s core. Anthropologists believe that it was originally a place where the ruler of the Incas would take vacations but was repurposed once the Conquistadors arrived. It is rumored that Machu Picchu became a hideout for the Incas from the bearded men on horses who arrived from the sea because the Spanish left no written record of Machu Picchu. There has always been the omnipresent myth of the lost city of the Incas, but the Spanish never got there. It is still not considered the lost city of the Incas- that is another place, Choquequirao, which is even deeper in the jungle that is STILL difficult to get to. The Inca’s ability to live in such hidden places is evidence of human endurance and adaptability.

Machu Picchu slowly deflated in population after being exposed to western diseases and the Conquistadors plundering their land and people; however, the jungle continued to protect this sacred space from outsiders as it remained isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years, tended only by a few remaining families and llamas.

It was discovered by the Western World almost 100 years ago and since then it has become a place of spiritual refuge and inspiration. In 1911 American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham traveled the region looking for the old Inca capital and was shown to Machu Picchu by a local farmer. Bingham brought Machu Picchu to international attention and organized another expedition in 1912 to undertake major clearing and excavation. He returned in 1914 and 1915 to continue with excavation. It has since then been overtaken by tourists, trekkers, and explorers from every corner of the planet.

It was 6:30 am by the time I arrive at the base of MP.  I sat for a minute to collect my breath and watched the rested passengers get off the buses. I walked around some of the city, made eye contact with an alpaca, and decided to keep hiking before the other mountain closed off for the day- another hour and a half hike directly up.

Once I arrived at the top, I ignored the loud Canadians and Americans taking shots of pisco at 9am, found myself a ledge to sit on and just stared out into the sky, the mountains, and the world below me. I turned away from them and blocked out the sounds of the world, I sat in awe of what was before me. I was at eye level with the apexes of the Andes-some of the most paramount accomplishments that our earth has to offer- and became hypnotized watching a distant bird playfully swoop in and around the azure mountains magnifying their magnitude-like a plastic bag caught in the wind. This was the closest I had ever been to the sun without flying.

But sitting in solitude upon that mountaintop- with the world below my feet- the feeling of loneliness evaporated and I had never felt more connected to the larger universe. It was a moment of pure acceptance of my position in the collective consciousness- a word in a larger story- a neuron in a mind- a spec of dust on a clover shouting out “We are here, we are here, we are here.” An energy that ebbs and flows, with no particular direction, and there is nothing to do but go along for the ride. I was overcome with everything I had done in these past five months-traveling alone, being humbled by the world over and over again, and chiseling away at the slab of stone of who I was and wanted to be. I was fully present- knowing the only thing I have is this moment.

I cried, more accurately, I wept. I am frequently overwhelmed with my own existence and when the daily dynamics of the mind have subsided and I am present, everything becomes illuminated. Is when for a flashing moment my brain tries to fathom how expansive this universe is and zooms out to observe the world, then zooms out to our solar system, then zooms out to our galaxy, and zooms out to our universe. I feel tiny, and insignificant, but peaceful, knowing that I am part of a larger, complicated system that is so unfathomable to my species. These moments are what I call “emotional orgasms” being in the presences of something so beyond me and being humbled by it, expressing itself through tears of acceptance and peace with the universe. The universe is in no position to explain itself to you. The silence of the mountains was deafening.

Escaping Hollywood

E22- Be Like Water

Matt and I met under extreme circumstances one evening when we were trapped inside of the chocolate shop due to aggressive protests in the streets of Arequipa, Peru. We were stuck in the cafe for a few hours, and being the only Americans, it was an opportunity for Matt and me to reflect upon our culture and country. We continued the conversation once it was safe to leave the cafe, and Matt and I found a restaurant still open and our conversation floated between our country, traveling to less developed countries, and why he was in Peru in the first place. He was doing a motorcycle trip around the “Gringo trail”, which is a path in Peru in the shape of a triangle from Arequipa, Cusco, and Lima, which hits all the big tourist attractions of the country but allows him to ride along the often unseen corners of the country. Matt uses motorcycling, not as a way to see all of the landscape quickly but to explore the topography of himself.

He casually mentioned that he works in Hollywood and has worked on several blockbuster films and TV shows. We discussed how traveling has helped him find a balance and maintain a humbling perspective about the world when he is working with the upper crust of Hollywood.

In this episode, we discuss

  • What it is like to work in Hollywood
  • Why he chooses to motorcycle around instead of drive
  • What some of the best motorcycling rides have been for him
  • How motorcycling is a form of meditation
  • Why he chooses to visit remote areas of the world
  • Why and how he tries to submerge himself into a different culture
  • Why he avoids tourist traps and what kind of traveling he prefers doing
  • Why he finds it important to balance the craziness of Hollywood with traveling to developing nations
  • How he tries to stay humble in a superficial career field
  • What he has learned in his time in Peru
  • Why he believes travel is important for self-growth

Educating Peruvian Youth

E22-Teach the Heart to Inspire the Mind

Cindy was my Spanish tutor whom I met through Thomas ( from the previous episode) who worked with him through HOOP- the non-for-profit that provides lower-income students with opportunities for higher learning. Cindy’s primary job was to teach English to children living in lower socioeconomic areas and provide them with the tools to learn English and other languages. 

I needed a teacher who wouldn’t judge me for the eclectic Spanish I had learned over my months of traveling throughout different Spanish speaking countries and inconsistent studying.

Cindy embraced my enthusiasm and created a soft landing pad for me to fall and make mistakes on without embarrassment. Like the one time I was trying to describe how beautiful the volcanos were and instead of saying “ Los volcans de Ariquipa son moi hermosa” I said “Lost volcans de Arquipa son moi hermano”- which means brother. She could never stop herself from laughing but never made me feel like she was laughing at me- it would become an inside joke between the two of us. Together, we were able to be reflective of our our languages and criticize them together- the difference between scary and horrifying or avoiding the mistake of mejor, major, and mujer. She was someone I was able to play and nerd out within the land of languages.  

As my Spanish improved, Cindy’s story became clearer and I she taught me more than just her language- the history and problems of her country, the gender inequality, and the day to day musings of living in Peru, which is what we discuss here in this episode. Forgive the screeching of cars and the shouts of Spanish in the background- you are getting the live action soundtrack to Arequipa Peru. Here is her story.

In this episode, we discuss

  • How she decided to learn and teach English
  • What it is like to be a teacher
  • What makes her happiest when teaching
  • What it is like to teach English
  • What it is like to teach Spanish
  • Why she believes learning other languages is important
  • Why she believes learning English is important
  • What teaching English and Spanish provides her
  • What affect her social work has had on her community
  • Why she enjoys social work
  • What it is like being a woman in Peru
  • How gender roles are changing in Peru


Note: Quechua /ˈkɛwə/, known as Runasimi (“people’s language”) in the Quechuan language, is an indigenous language family, with variations spoken by the Quechua peoples, primarily living in the Andes and highlands of South America  (Wikipedia).

Quit Corperate for Global Social Justice

E21- Your Mountain is Waiting

Thomas, from England, and I met at my first “hangover ceviche” which was always the Sunday morning after a late night of dancing and drinking around Arequipa. He mentioned to the table that a wonderful coworker was teaching him Spanish, and it was refreshing to hear another English speaker find it important to learn the countries language, while so many refuse to put in the effort.  Shouting over clinking plates, in between bites of octopus in chimichurri and lime-soaked fish, I asked what he was doing in Arequipa and he mentioned that he was working for a non-for profit called HOOP that focused on afterschool programs for underprivileged children in the outskirts of the city. I loved his straight-forward sensibility about social justice as if it should be a logical default for everyone to practice. Together, we discuss why he chose to leave his corporate job to work for an NGO Abroad, how living in Peru had changed him, and how he had translated his privilege in the world and chooses to use it for the benefit of others.

In this episode, we discuss

  • Why he left his corporate job to travel and decided to work in social justice
  • Why he decided to travel the world and what that provided him with
  • Why he decided to unite work and travel
  • Why he decided to work in Peru
  • His thoughts on the “white savior” complex
  • His thoughts on working in an NGO vs a corporation
  • The costs and benefits of NGOs in developing countries
  • What is HOOP and their social justice focus
  • What it is like to work and teach children
  • What it is like to work with people from other cultures
  • How living in Peru has changed him

Here is more information about HOOP if you would like to work or volunteer with them! It attracts the gems of the world 😀

Oh The Places You’ll Go

Rodrigo was a local Peruvian teen who worked at Chaq Chau. While working together, we would do our own twist on language exchange: he helped me with my Spanish slang and I helped him create clever DJ names in English. He was always wonderful to talk to about Peruvian culture, identity, and history. But as much as he loves his home country, working in a community of travelers has fed a growing desire to go out and travel around the world. In this episode, we discuss what it is like to grow up in Peru, how working in an expat community has influenced his identity, perception of his own culture, and future goals to explore the world. We get the chance to talk to someone who is still untouched from the changes of travel, but I admire Rodrigo’s ambitions to see what lies beyond his homeland and hope his desire to learn never leaves him.

In this episode, we discuss

  • What growing up in Peru is like
  • What growing up in a machismo culture is like
  • Why he wanted to learn English
  • The insecurities around speaking a new language
  • What had learning English provided him
  • Why he wants to go to school in an English speaking country
  • If he finds it respectful to talk in Spanish when visiting Spanish speaking countries
  • What it is like to work with travelers and has provided him
  • Why he enjoys talking to foreigners
  • Why he enjoys sharing his culture with foreigners
  • What it is like to share your culture with foreigners
  • How gender roles are changing in Peru
  • What it is like being a teenager in Peru
  • Feminism in Peru
  • Homosexuality in Peru
  • What is on his destination bucket list
  • Why he wants to travel alone vs. with his family