Every year I try to push my physical and mental limits, and analyze my actions to inevitably become a better version of myself than when I started off that year. In 2017, I did just that.
It started off with a whole lot of stress and angst, in a race against time, (peacefully) fighting my way to a Guinness World Record. January started off with a trip to Sierra Leone, Syria, and Turkmenistan before finally entering Yemen on February 2nd, and successfully traveling to all 196+ countries alone, thus completing Expedition 196. What came to follow were two Guinness World Records and the career and notoriety that I had only dreamt about prior to and during the Expedition. In the months thereafter, all my hard work paid off, and viral features on CNN, the Today Show and Forbes, to name a few, made my brand a valuable one. But the biggest honor was when I was featured in TIME Magazines ‘Female Firsts’ beside prominent women such as Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Selena Gomez, and Hillary Clinton. In the Spring, the National Women’s History Museum reserved a place for me in their ‘Outdoor Adventurers’ exhibit, a true testament to all I had accomplished as a young woman. I shot my first magazine cover for Experience Life Magazine, flew in two Cessna’s and a helicopter over LA, got to go on a cruise around the Mediterranean with my best friend, made my first six-figures, was interviewed by Lewis Howe’s for his ‘School of Greatness’ podcast, and was honored the ‘Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award’ by the Amelia Earhart Festival.
Just because the Expedition was over, did not mean that my travels ceased! Immediately thereafter, I had the great opportunity to embark on the most exhilarating trip of my life, a journey to Antarctica. Up next? New York, Spain, Hong Kong, Maldives, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, France and Honduras. I modeled in my first fashion campaign for G2000 in HK, spoke at the Women's Travel Fest in Louisiana (knocking off one more state of the 4 I had left to visit - Alaska, Washington and Maine), and gave my first major TEDx Talk at the TEDxMileHigh in Denver. In front of a live audience of 2,500 individuals, I spilled my guts on the deep dark matter of what made me embark on Expedition 196. In the aftermath, I felt terrible for sharing something that was so personal to me that only those close to me knew about. However, to my surprise, I’ve since received thousands of messages from individuals so inspired by my speech, that they too have chosen to overcome barriers and make great change within their own lives. I’ve also learned that many successful and prominent people struggle with depression and anxiety, and that the light at the end of the tunnel is waking up each morning to take one step closer towards that light by pursuing whatever it is that excites you.
Driving across country for the 5th time in my life and especially after such a worldwide travel experience, enabled me to really absorb this beautiful country that I call home. It also confirmed my reasoning behind why the USA is my favorite out of all; it’s an eclectic blend of cultures, religions, cuisine and cultural heritage, from small town Aitchison, Kansas, to New York City. I found solace in some of my favorite spots along the way; from the Rockies to Zion to the Moab, memories and reflection was what made this solo cross-country trip so peaceful.
Once back in LA, I found the perfect apartment, a place that for the first time in my life I’ve been able to call “home”. In October, I adopted a Persian kitten named Kishmere, an angel who has been of great help to my mind and my soul ever since, he’s my partner in crime . My parents and brother came out to visit me for Thanksgiving, our first family vacation since I believe, high school.
Fitness-wise, I didn’t race in as many triathlons as I would have liked, but I did manage to register for my first full Ironman, IRONMAN Boulder, coming up this June of 2018. In September, I raced the Nautica Malibu Triathlon alongside celebs like Zac Efron and my previous supporter of the Expedition, Paul Lieberstein. And in October, I competed in the Les 20 Kilomètres de Paris for a half marathon. The good thing is, I learned of my current fitness level to ensure a successful 2018 race year, through ABT/BF%/RMR/VO2Max testing and hiring an amazing Ironman/Female Sports Nutritionist.
But above all else, something I’m very proud to have launched this past October is Her International Inc., a registered 501(c)3 non-profit that has enabled me to further my own legacy by supporting the projects of young women who share the same desire of changing our world for the better. With Her International, came my first Workshop in Los Angeles, the first of many that 2018 will bring, where 10-25% of the profits go directly towards the organization.
Frankly, I don’t know what could possibly top 2017, but I know I’m keeping my head up, as challenging as it is, for what the future will bring. 2018 will be full of another round of actionable goals. So, here’s to the immense failures, the outrageous successes, trials and tribulations... here’s to heartbreak and happiness. Here’s to another year and another round.
Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers