Worship the Sun Safely: Navigating towards a ‘safe sunscreen’

It's not easy to understand what's in our body products these days, but it's important!

It’s not easy to understand what’s in our body products these days, but it’s important to make sure we aren’t putting potentially hazardous ingredients on our bodies and into the seas and waterways.

Every since I was a kid, putting sunscreen on was considered a ‘healthy’ thing to do. Whether I was sailing small sailing dinghies, playing on the beach, or surfing, I was always caked with sunscreen. Like most consumer products, I never questioned its safety for my body or the environment. Sunscreen was something that let me surf longer and captain Swell without getting burned. In 2008, I had a filmmaker on my boat for a week that used only natural soaps, oils, toothpastes, etc, and I started to get curious about what was in the stuff I was using. I was shocked to uncover synthetic chemicals, hormone disruptors, and even plastic in the form of microbeads in some of the products I was using!? I started reading labels and learning more about what some of these hard to pronounce ingredients were. I started choosing natural alternatives to large corporate brands for everything possible. But effective natural sunscreen was still hard to find.

I read some studies that linked some of the ingredients of common sunscreens to harmful side effects for my body and for the sea. From health problems, to coral bleaching, to interference with plankton development–the base of the ocean food chain—I realized that the ingredients that I was putting on my body had rippling side effects!

But with all the sly marketing strategies and conflicting information out there, I had a hard time understanding what and if a truly ‘safe’ sunscreen option even existed?! Until I connected with Chris Wilkinson of Avasol Suncare, I had a very fuzzy understanding of what ‘safe sunscreen’ meant. He sent me links to key studies, and broke it down for me like this:

Sunscreens basically fall into two categories: mineral and non-mineral.

Mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin, providing a physical barrier between your body and harmful UV rays.  Zinc is the primary active ingredient in most mineral sunscreens, and is the safest, most effective sun protection out there.  Zinc in its natural form poses no known health or environmental risks. But recently, scientists have engineered tiny molecules of zinc and titanium in ‘nano’ form, which are proven to be problematic…We’ll come back to this in a moment.

Non-mineral (aka “chemical”) sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients that are designed to absorb into the skin, allowing them to rub on clear. These make up the bulk of common sunscreens like Coppertone, Sun Bum, Neutrogena, etc. Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in most chemical sunscreen formulations, however, it has been found to pose alarming risks. It is a colorless crystal used in sunscreen to absorb UVA II and UVB rays. In the body, Oxybenzone can enter the bloodstream, disrupting normal hormonal processes. Oxybenzone has been classified as a Category 1 hazard to marine wildlife! When washed into the ocean, it is highly destructive to coral reefs and the delicate ocean ecosystems that depend on them. It’s recently been scientifically proven that this compound inhibits young coral from developing and that even one drop of sunscreen can contaminate the amount of water in 6 Olympic swimming pools!?

Other chemicals to be cautious of include: octinoxate, avobenzone, Mexoryl SX, Mexoryle XL, tinosorb, to start. Not to mention that little is known and safety testing is shockingly absent about how these compounds react in our bodies in combination with each other and with skin penetration enhancers.

Overall, opt for mineral sunscreens.  They provide effective sun protection that’s better for you and better for the environment.

But even within the mineral sunscreen category, not all sunscreens are created equal. Here’s where nanoparticles come in…

What is a nanoparticle? It’s a chemically-manufactured substance that is 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanoparticles exhibit different physical and chemical properties than their larger counterparts and pose potential health risks to humans and to the environment.

Although Zinc-oxide is the safest and most effective active ingredient in sun protection, the downside is that it leaves an opaque white tint on the skin when applied. To solve for the white tint that zinc leaves, manufacturers have begun to chemically alter zinc-oxide down to the nano scale to make it rub on clear. Nanoparticle zinc or ‘Clear zinc’ sounds great in theory, but it’s the side effects remain unclear.  Nanoparticulate zinc and titanium oxides have since become common in mineral sunscreens – even the ‘organic’ ones. But the tiny particles have been engineered to be so small, that they can enter into your body circulatory system. In a scientific review, Adv Drug Delivery Rev., Dr. Kreilgaard researched the effect of human exposure to the chemical titanium dioxide, noting that, “very small titanium dioxide particles penetrate into the skin and interact with the immune system.”

Beach day with Amelia.

Beach day with Amelia and all the essentials.


Protect where you play! It all eventually flows to the ocean, so using reef and body safe sunscreen benefits you and the ocean no matter where you live. Ingredients in common sunscreens have been found to inhibit coral and plankton embryos from developing properly. One drop of sunscreen can contaminate enough ocean water to fill 6 Olympic swimming pools!

The use of spray sunscreen is also cause for concern. Spray sunscreen is conveniently applied through an aerosol application. But this application can spread those nanoparticles and chemicals into the air, putting you at risk of inhaling them. Nanoparticles have been linked to have damaging effects on the lungs and intestinal tracts. Once inhaled, these are so small that they interfere with your body’s normal biological chemistry and can cause complication such as infection, or even the growth of cancer cells. When applying spray sunscreen make sure to hold your breath to avoid inhaling the chemicals, but it’s probably better to avoid the risk altogether.

The long-term health risks of nanoparticle use in humans remain poorly understood. There hasn’t been enough research done to truly know the degree to which these nano-scale particles are penetrating our skin and interacting with our cells, tissues and organs. What has been thoroughly studied, however, is the effect nanoparticles have on the earth’s ecosystems.  Recent bodies of research have shown that the release of these ultra-small particles into the environment accumulates as toxic pollutants in air, soil or water.

At the beach or lake or river, people cool off by taking a dip and their sunscreen washes off into the water polluting it with toxic chemical compounds and/or nanoparticles. Since everything flows to the ocean and since these particles are too small to filter out, you don’t need to even be in the ocean to pollute it–just taking a shower at home can do it. Sunscreen nanoparticles have been shown to be toxic to the base of the ocean food chain by damaging and disrupting the immune systems of phytoplankton and marine creature embryos.  As the bottom of the food chain becomes compromised, this creates a butterfly effect up the food chain from algae to fish to dolphins to whales.

A white sea urchin

A white sea urchin embryo that was exposed to nontoxic levels of nano-zinc oxide. The green dye shows that other toxins are retained when exposed to nanoparticles. Click here to read more.


I seek shade and cover up with clothes and hats when possible! * Image by Ned Evans

Sunscreen companies are aware of these studies and consumers educated on the issue have raised significant and valid concerns.  As a result, manufacturers have begun clumping up a bunch of nanoparticles together and calling the formulation ‘non-nano.’  These claims are misleading, as this is a superficial attempt to disguise the true nature of a product. They key is to find products that contain solid-particle, non-nano zinc oxide.

Unfortunately, nanoparticles are currently not regulated by the US FDA as they are in other countries, so it is not likely we as consumers in the US will be able to find adequate information about these ingredients on product labels.

So, if your sunscreen rubs on clear, it’s probably not safe.  A non-toxic, non-nano-based sunscreen will always come in the form of a visible, ‘physical barrier.’

My mini sea sisters, Heimiti, Vahine, & Kohai doing their Avasol sun rituals to protect themselves while surfing but love their reefs at the same time!!

My mini sea sisters, Heimiti, Vahine, & Kohai doing their pre-surf Avasol rituals to protect their skin and love their reefs at the same time!!

Any time you see a formula that rubs on clear, it is going to either contain UV-absorbing actives like Oxybenzone, a chemical known to interact with human bodily processes and damage coral reefs, or if it’s a mineral formula, will contain nanoparticles, the side-effects of which are murky.

I’ve decided that the mild appearance of a physical sunscreen (the tan color on my skin) and the slight additional cost of all-natural, 100% bio-based, mineral ingredients far outweigh the risk in buying a cheap, corner-cutting sunscreen with unknown long-term risks.

For those of us dedicated to making healthy decisions for our bodies, families, and the environment, I encourage you to protect yourself from the sun with shirts and hats when possible, and ask questions and do your research when choosing a sunscreen. It has been such a pleasure for me to get to know Chris and Lisa of Avasol Suncare over the last few years. It’s so rare to meet people so dedicated to sustainability, accountability, and responsible business. Every ingredient is researched carefully, sourced responsibly, tested extensively, and combined with love to make sunscreens that actually make my skin feel happy when I put them on! Avasol ticks all my boxes for personal and environmental safety, plus the packaging is 90% less plastic than most brands. The epic face stick they make comes in a 100% biodegradable, recycled paper tube that’s waxed for water resistance! In this world where the consumer constantly feels like they have to be on-guard, I feel so lucky to know that there are people like the Wilkinson’s, trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. Order some today at Avasol.com! For international inquiries, email info@avasol.com.


Avasol is the most effective, conscious, versatile solution for ‘safe’ sunscreen that I know of! Order at Avasol.com.

Gathering of sea sisters at the Avasol headquarters in Santa Barbara. Lisa and Chris Wilkinson created Avasol out of passion and persistence, right in their own backyard. They are on the far right!

Journeys to Activism Patagonia Event Tour: Our choices define us

Hawaii Event

Patagonia Honolulu Event with these amazing ladies: Lauren Bosworth, Jen Homcy, Ashley Lukens, and Haunani Kane. Thanks for the photo Austin Kino!

Last year, Patagonia contacted me about participating in a series of events about ‘women in activism’. I felt excited. To me it meant that I was being recognized as an ‘activist’ for the planet because of the choices I’ve made in my own life to cause less harm and use my voice to spread awareness about environmental issues. They gave me the liberty to shape some events to share my own ‘journey to activism’. I decided to also celebrate the lives and choices of other women living passionate lives for a better world too, and invited ladies local to each venue in Hawaii, Santa Monica, Cardiff, Atlanta, and New York City to come talk a bit about their ‘journeys’. It took a while to track these ladies down and coordinate the events, but meeting each of them and learning their stories more than made up for the time and travel it took to make these events happen! Each of their unique journeys reminded me that all of us have a calling in this lifetime and special opportunity to serve ourselves and the world with our individual desires and talents if we chose to follow our hearts and passions! Since there were many people who couldn’t attend an event, I wanted to share the intro speech I gave at the events, some photos, and a bit about each of the amazing women who made these events so special.

I’m not a natural when it comes to public speaking—in fact I get anxious for weeks in advance. But when it’s for something I believe in, I think it’s important to lean into fear for both for personal expansion and for the positive cause! So this is what I said:

“Good evening everyone. Thank you for your presence tonight, and thank you to Patagonia for hosting this event and supporting my voyaging dream for over 10 years. Tonight is a celebration of choices, especially the ones we make that align with our dreams and values—because we’re fortunate enough to be able to make those choices, and because they expand us into greater and greater versions of ourselves. So tonight is about reminding ourselves of the importance of re-connecting to our inner compasses and making choices that move us towards those moments when we get the feeling that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be in life.

At the start, my surf voyaging dream was self-centered. I wanted to surf remote waves without crowds, but living on the ocean, befriending people of other cultures, and depending on strangers in foreign ports gave me a very tangible understanding of how interconnected everything really is. I saw the same small environmental crises happening all over the world and I was frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help. It’s so easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed and negative about the state of the world today.

I decided that the only way that I could guarantee change, was to change myself. So I tried to focus positively on what I could do individually everyday to make a more positive impact on the world. I tried everyday to become a better person, educate myself on the issues, and make more responsible & sustainable choices that reflected my understanding of indivisible nature of our universe. I was really proud when Patagonia asked me to take part in this tour about Women in Activism because I realized that just by changing my individual habits, I was having a significant positive impact on the world.

It’s not always easy to make choices from the heart when they go against the norms. It’s easier when you have a support system of people who love and believe in you. I want to give a shout out my family and friends and my network of sisters around the world who make me feel that as long as I keep choosing from the heart, I can’t go wrong. It’s important to surround yourself with people who support your dreams and your happiness, and also to be that person for others.

So tonight I want to create a climate of sister & brotherhood—a safe zone—for us all to acknowledge and nurture our true desires, even if they seem selfish in the beginning, because I believe they are leading us to more self-love, connection, a better world, and an understanding that we are truly unlimited when we live from the heartspace.

Learning about other people’s journeys gives me more courage on my own path, so I’ve invited inspiring examples of ladies who have actively made choices to follow their curiosities and passions here tonight. I’ve also invited a yoga instructor to lead us in a few breathing and seated yoga poses, since yoga, meditation, and breath-work have been instrumental to me for finding direction in my life when I’m not sure which way to go.”
We then did some group yoga in our seats—a bit of breathing to get centered, then some individual or partners stretching to promote unity and cooperation. Next I showed my new short film titled, Steer with Your Heart. This 18-minute documentary by Teva Perrone will premiere online here in August! When the film wrapped up, we did another stretch and then invited the ladies up to join in a panel discussion to talk about their individual stories, moving beyond fear, the benefits and challenges of living their passions. I wish I had recorded all their answers for you, because they were all so brilliant and inspiring, but here is a brief bio of all of them so that you can look them up and check out their inspiring work as you’d like:

Journeys to Activism at Patagonia Honolulu, Hawaii


Ashley had us all captivated by her knowledge and leadership of Hawaii’s fight against GMO testing and food system justice. Great capture by Austin Kino!

Ashley Lukens

Ashley Lukens is the Program Director for Center for Food Safety in Hawaii. Her work focuses on issues of human and environmental health as they relate to the food system. She is actively fighting GMO testing in the Hawaiian Islands and advocates public involvement in local politics along with supporting the movement for smaller-scale organic farming. She is also a founding member and the Vice President of the Hawaii Food Policy Council and continues to teach Political Science courses at UH Manoa and UH West Oahu. Follow her journey on Instagram @ashleylukens

Jen Homcy

Jen Homcy is a former Marine Scientist turned reclaimed woodworker. Her start up, Found Wood, diverts valuable Hawaiian grown hardwoods from the dump and creates heirloom pieces for homes and living. Using lumber from trees that have been removed for development and salvaged from the chippers of Hawaii’s tree trimmers, Jen describes her pieces as “Where art meets function.” Follow her journey on Instagram @foundwoodworking

Haunani Kane

Haunani Kane is an apprentice navigator aboard the Hōkūleʻa World Wide Voyage and a PhD student studying Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii. Honoring her Hawaiian heritage, Haunani’s chief focus is on past and future impacts of rising sea levels upon Pacific Island communities. Haunani also volunteers at the Polynesian Voyaging Society, where she assists with the development and training of crewmembers for Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia’s ‘Science at Sea’ projects. Follow her journey on Instagram @hihaunani

Lauren Bosworth

Lauren is native to San Diego but is currently teaching Happy Back Yoga on the North Shore of Oahu.  She feels that sharing this form of active therapeutic yoga with the island is her passion and guiding people through healing themselves is her purpose. Her passion for healing and people come through fantastically in her courses. You can check out her workshops and weekly schedule on her  Instagram @serenebeing or email for privates serenebeing@gmail.com.

Journeys to Activism in Santa Monica, California


With legends Peggy Oki, Anna Cummins, Shayna Gladstone, and Casey Stroud at Patagonia Santa Monica.

Anna Cummins

A Santa Monica native, Anna is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the 5 Gyres Institute. Their mission “S.E.A.” or “Science. Education. Activism.” has led the effort to research aquatic plastic pollution and find solutions for plastic-free oceans. 5 Gyres empowers people to become leaders in combating the global health crisis of plastic pollution . They have led 16 ocean research expeditions, succeeded in passing the first ever state microbead legislation, and restoring habitat with international beach clean ups. Follow her work on Instagram @5gyres.

Shayna Gladstone

Shayna Gladstone is a global organizer, transformational facilitator, sustainable farmer and co-founder of Earth Journeys and NuMundo. Both organizations promote personal and planetary transformation. While Earth Journeys empowers change seekers to cultivate lifestyles that regenerate the mind, body, soul and planet through transformative journeys and earth-based education, NuMundo connects people to meaningful experiences to facilitate personal transformation and accelerate the development of impact centers. Follow her journey on Instagram @earthjourneyscollective and @nu_mundo

Peggy Oki

Peggy is legendary for her role as one of the primary females in the surfing & skateboarding movement in the 70s in Venice Beach, California. You may remember her part in the film, Dogtown and Z-Boys. Through her passion for surfing, she fell in love with cetaceans and began painting them. Peggy founded the Origami Whales Project in 2004, combining her love for art and cetaceans. Since 2004, the Origami Whales Project has worked to raise awareness concerning threats to dolphins and whales. She mobilized thousands of concerned citizens across the globe and created a “Curtain of 38,000 Origami Whales”. This large-scale public art project was exhibited throughout the world and served as a powerful visual statement and memorial for the thousands of individual whales killed since the 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

Casey Stroud

The evening’s yoga was led by yoga specialist, Casey Stroud. When Casey found yoga in 2009, her heart was set afire by yoga’s simplicity in cultivating profound physical and mental awareness. She earned her ERYT 200 and RYT 500 Yoga Alliance certifications under the tutelage of Sigrid Matthews, Noah Maze, and Matt Schwartz. Along the way to becoming a yoga teacher, she discovered AcroYoga and Thai massage in 2012, which blew the lid off of her already delighted mind, body, and spirit. She dove deeper, garnering both Level 1 and 2 certifications from AcroYoga.org, and taking multiple Thai Massage trainings. Her ability to maintain a beginner’s mind, even as her physical practice may look nowhere near beginner, keeps her offerings accessible, encouraging, and full of love. Follow her journey on Instagram @c_l_s

Journeys to Activism in Cardiff, California

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Patagonia Cardiff’s amazing line-up of ladies: Leah Wisner, Emi Koch, Anna Santoro & Becky Mendoza

Leah Wisner

Leah and her sister Talitha founded 9 for 17; a student organization at UTSA and Princeton University. 9 for 17 promotes veganism as a solution to meeting 9 of the 17 Global Goals of the U.N. for a more sustainable and loving world. The organizations chief focus is to feed the hungry in local communities a sustainable diet of fruits and vegetables and work to change nutrition and education policies in the hopes of a better world. By one person going vegan, 9 out of 17 of the UN’s Goals for Sustainable Development can be met, including: zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption, climate action, life below water, life on land, and partnerships for these goals. Follow their awesome journey on Instagram @9for17

Emi Koch

Surfer, humanitarian and a personal hero to me for her relentless efforts to empower underprivileged youth, Emi founded Beyond the Surface International at just 18 years old in an effort to bring equal opportunity to all youth. Her non-profit now funds organizations and community programs in 18 locations around the world using surfing, art, and digital media for youth empowerment, community development, environmental education, and ocean literacy initiatives, while addressing issues such as conflict, poor health practices, and lack of access to education. Check out some of her latest videos from her Coast to Coast initiative here! Follow her journey on Instagram @beyondthesurfaceintl

Becky Mendoza

A surfer, action sports lawyer, humanitarian, and clean eating enthusiast, Becky recently co-founded Changing Tides Foundation with her best friends, Anna Santoro, Leah Dawson, Leane Darling, and Jianca Lazarus. Changing Tides will visit and produce media highlighting positive causes and organizations around the world in hopes of bringing attention to their work and facilitating everyday travelers with opportunities to serve these groups along their travels. I’m honored to be a board member for this organization and look forward to helping them grow this network. Website coming soon! For now you can follow their journey on Instagram @changingtidesfoundation

Britta Rael

The evening’s yoga was led by Britta Rael. When Britta lost her mom to colon cancer in 2006, she made a conscious choice to shift her lifestyle to eat organic, homemade food and to be more intentional about using and loving her body. She has since studied and practiced hatha yoga, sports medicine, outdoor mountaineering, partner acrobatics, slackline yoga, ocean swimming, massage therapy and a whole slew of other movement modalities. Her intention is to share the deep healing that yoga—as a complete system—offers because of its “potential to catalyze enormous positive change in my community.” She believe this change begins with the individual, through personal transformation, then expands globally as a result of real healing and connection to others. Follow her journey on Instagram @brittaraelyoga

Journeys to Activism in Atlanta, Georgia

Patagonia Atlanta's line-up included chef and urban farmer Carolynn Ladd and yoga instructor Charisse Williams.

Patagonia Atlanta’s line-up included chef and urban farmer Carolynn Ladd and the fabulous lawyer turned yoga instructor, Charisse Williams.

Carolynn Ladd

Carolynn is a fellow vegan, private chef, and urban farmer with Freewheel Farms. This small-scale farm looks to connect people with farmers and offer the highest quality foods in the Atlanta area. Through her work as a chef, Carolynn works to educate and inspire her clients to eat healthier and more sustainably. Freewheel farms exemplifies the importance of developing strong local economies and producing food on a human scale in an effort to support thriving community based food systems. Check out a tour of the farms here. And follow her journey on Instagram @adatewithfigs and @freewheelfarmatl

Charisse Williams

Chicago native Charisse M. Williams earned her BA from Cornell University before attending Northwestern University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor degree. She has over 20 years experience working in the nonprofit sector. During that time, she has served as a program staff member, Director, President, a foundation Program Officer and has also held many volunteer, board and advisory board positions. Over the course of her career she has worked with diverse populations including incarcerated youth and women in outpatient drug treatment. It was her passion for the role of the nonprofit sector in addressing complex social issues that led her to found Charisse M. Williams Consulting in June, 2015. Her enthusiasm for yoga led her to earn her yoga teacher certificate, and she now teaches yoga classes and workshops around Atlanta, including Beginner’s yoga at Kashi Atlanta on Sundays at 10am. She works to bring joy and a sense of humor to her classes and make them accessible to all abilities and bodies. She loves to experiment and is currently collaborating with cellist Okorie Johnson on yoga classes featuring live cello accompaniment! Follow her journey on Facebook at Charisse M. Williams Yoga

Journeys to Activism in New York City

Honored to come together with Patagonia Bowery, NYC's all-star line-up: Shaney Jo, Debi Spindelman, Caitie Rowe, Alexis Krauss

Honored to come together with Patagonia Bowery, NYC’s all-star line-up: Shaney Jo, Debi Spindelman, Caitie Rowe, Alexis Krauss!

Alexis Krauss

Alexis Krauss is the Co Founder of Beauty Lies Truth, an incredible online community dedicated to educating consumers about the ingredients in personal care products and promoting sustainable and non-toxic skincare. “The beauty industry needs a makeover,” the immaculate website claims. She and her co-founder create content from ‘#DIYBEAUTY’ to ‘#BEAUTYBULLSHIT’, challenging social norms and redefining what it means for women to feel beautiful. Alexis is also the singer/songwriter from the popular band Sleigh Bells. Follow her work on Instagram @beautyliestruth

Shaney Jo Darden

Shaney Jo is the one and only founder of two hugely successful non profit organizations: Keep a Breast Foundation and Non-Toxic Revolution. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, the Keep a Breast Foundation helps to eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support to ensure long term health and well being. Branching off of Keep a Breast Foundation, Non-Toxic Revolution also works to inform, educate, and inspire young people in a revolutionary way against the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment and food supply, especially those linked to breast cancer. Shaney Jo is a boss!! Follow her work on instagram @keepabreast @nontoxicrev

Debi Spindelman

Debi’s experience traveling the world as a competitive longboarder in her early twenties stoked her passion for working toward a sustainable and resilient future. Now Debi is not only a consultant to the United Nations, but an educator and researcher at Columbia University where she mentors Masters students working to improve the quality of life for people around the world. A deep believer in participatory problem solving, Debi directs applied learning initiatives for SIPA’s Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice program, where she guides early- to mid-career practitioners in sustainable development and climate resilience. Committed to education, youth empowerment, public health, and social justice, Debi paves new ground every day in the fight for a better world! She also writes for people working to make the world a better place at www.on-practice.com. Follow her on journey instagram @d_spindelinski

Caitie Rowe

Caitie Rowe made a courageous leap from her position as the Global Marketing Manager at Hurley to being Global Operations Director for the non profit organization, Waves for Water. Her mission is simple, but powerful: ‘Get clean water to every person that needs it.’ How does she do it? By working on with world leaders and strategic partners who take a no nonsense attitude toward making global change. She’s happy to be using her energy and talents to help alleviate worldwide clean water access issues. Some of the nonprofit’s most recent projects include earthquake relief in Ecuador, Nepal relief initiatives, and the Flint water crisis. Follow her work on Instagram @wavesforwater

A special thanks to Laura Rubin with Left Left Right Consulting and All Swell Creative (Instagram @allswellcreative) for helping organize the NYC event, and inviting my mom and I for a wonderful weekend at her home in Montauk!

Here’s some other great moments from the tour!


My sister, Kathleen, flew in and showed up halfway through the Honolulu event. So happy to see her!!

So grateful for sea sister support from Leane and Lolo in Hawaii!

So grateful for sea sister support from Leane and Lolo in Hawaii!

Honored to share the evening with a Hawaiian legend--Haunani Kane--apprentice navigator on the Hokulea, sea level rise expert, and volunteer ocean educator.

Honored to share the evening with a Hawaiian legend–Haunani Kane–apprentice navigator on the Hokulea, sea level rise expert, and volunteer ocean educator.

A few days of nature and seasister restoration with these beauties--Mckenzie, V, Lolo, me, & my real sister Kathleen. Mckenz, thank you for flying in to hang for the weekend! Pure love and good vibes, thank you Ana & Leane for letting us take over the Hen House!

A few days of nature and seasister restoration with these beauties–Mckenzie, Vivian, Lolo & my real sister Kathleen. Mckenz, thank you for flying in to hang for the weekend! Pure love and good vibes, thank you Anna & Leane & Leah for letting us take over the Hen House!

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My old friend Ryan Richter showed up to the Patagonia Santa Monica event with flowers and a huge hug. Great to see you Mister Richter!

Epic turnout at my home town event at Patagonia Cardiff! Thanks to everyone who cam down it was such an honor to have you all there.

Epic turnout at my home town event at Patagonia Cardiff! Thanks to everyone who cam down it was such an honor to have you all there.


We were all a little nervous…hahaha…

After meeting in a yoga class in San Diego 5 years ago, it was a special honor to collaborate with yogini extraordinaire and beautiful soul, Britta Rael, at the Cardiff event!!

After meeting in a yoga class in San Diego 4 years ago, it was a special honor to collaborate with yogini extraordinaire and beautiful soul, Britta Rael, at the Cardiff event!!

Special serendipitous run-in with seasister supporter Yarnie in her Steer with Your Heart, Swell Voyage sweatshirt! We got a lovely surf together at Swamis!

Special serendipitous run-in with seasister supporter Yarnie in her Swell Voyage sweatshirt! We got a lovely surf together at Swamis! Thanks for the support and good vibes sister!

The brilliant Leah Wisner of 9 for 17 flew out from Laredo Texas to join us for the Cardiff event, and got to go for her first surf ever!

The beautiful and brilliant, Leah Wisner, of 9 for 17 flew out from Laredo Texas to join us for the Cardiff event, and I was stoked to bring her out for her first surf ever this morning!


Group yoga at Cardiff!! I see you Squirrel Girl.


After talking with Emi and Leah until 3 in the morning in our hotel room after the event, we met up with Becky and Anna the next morning for a few awesome rounds of Wim Hof breathing and meditation overlooking the sea! I hadn’t seen Emi in almost 3 years!?

Stoked to see Alfonso Lopez of Ocean Force Foundation at the Cardiff event!

So stoked to catch up with Alfonso Lopez of Ocean Force Foundation at the Cardiff event!

Mom joins the tour and we're off to Atlanta and NYC!

Mom joins me on the tour on her birthday and we’re off to Atlanta and NYC!

Pre-event yoga with Charisse Williams was wonderful!!

Pre-event yoga with Charisse Williams in Atlanta was wonderful!!

Yoga with Charisse

Yoga with Charisse made me so relaxed and confident for that event!

I got to visit Freewheel Farms in Atlanta where Carolynn gets all her chef supplies from her boyfriend's two urban farms that grow beautiful organic food and try to get it in low-income neighborhood shops where fresh organic produce is often scarce.

I got to visit Freewheel Farms in Atlanta where Carolynn gets all her chef supplies from her boyfriend Brent’s two urban farms that grow beautiful organic food and get it in low-income neighborhood shops where fresh organic produce is often scarce.

Carolynn took me to an incredible secret swimming hole with a Georgia peach to savor along the way!

Carolynn took me to an incredible secret swimming hole with a Georgia peach to savor along the way!

Alexis informing us about the dangerous ingredients in so many commons beauty products today.

Alexis, lead singer of Sleigh Bells, informing us about the dangerous ingredients in so many commons beauty products today. Check out Beautyliestruth.com!

NYC crowd!!

Patagonia Bowery NYC crowd!! Must have been a serious moment. 🙂

Shaney Jo of keep a Breast and Non Toxic Revolution on the mic!

Shaney Jo, founder of keep a Breast and Non Toxic Revolution on the mic!

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Wonderful to meet these fabulous passion pursuers in person!

Epic breakfast visit with Steven Sadoff, longtime Swell Voyage supporter, at his delicious and popular coffee stop, Ground Support in the SoHo district.

Epic breakfast visit with Steven Sadoff, longtime Swell Voyage supporter, at his delicious and popular coffee stop, Ground Support in the SoHo district of NYC.

Such an amazing time with Mom in NYC! Blown away by the all the expressive energy and creativity of this wild area of human congregation!

Such an amazing time with Mom in NYC! Blown away by the all the expressive energy and creativity of this wild area of human congregation!

Lucky to be invited out for some rest and relaxation after the tour by my friend Laura in Montauk!

Lucky to be invited out for some rest and relaxation after the tour with my friend Laura in Montauk!

And a little wave sliding too!

And a little ray catching and wave sliding too!

Mom soaking up the backyard...

Mom soaking up the relaxing backyard…

To meet up with North Sails for a possible collaboration about upcycling sails and making new sails for Swell!

Then hopped a few trains to Rhode Island to meet up with North Sails for a possible collaboration about upcycling sails and making new sails for Swell! Thank you for everything Bill and Kenny!

And then off for some more unforgettable moments with mom to fulfill her east coast dreams!!

And then off for some more unforgettable moments with mom to fulfill her east coast dreams!!

Grateful and blessed for all the beautiful people, experiences, and learning that were part of this tour. More from the South Seas soon!

Grateful and blessed for all the beautiful people, experiences, and learning that were part of this tour. More from Swell and the South Seas soon!

Empowering the Sisterhood: voyaging with two amazing sea sisters

Last year I got to meet fellow Patagonia ambassadors Kimi Werner and Léa Brassy for the first time. Patagonia generously arranged for all of us to meet upon the waters of some remote atolls that have come to be my beloved backyard and playground. From all that I knew about them, I expected we’d have an enjoyable time but I never imagined that we would connect in such a way that, by the end of our time together, it felt like I had gained two sisters. The videos above and below are compilations of our time together, beautifully created by Patagonia.

All three of us share similar interests—wilderness, wildlife, waves, conscious eating, etc.—but I feel like it was our open minds and hearts that made this time together so genuine and so special. Whether we were diving, sharing waves, giggling under the stars at night, wandering on the motu looking for coconuts or just watching the seabirds circle and dive, it was like they saw exactly what I saw: divinity, freedom, peace, respect. Being with Kimi and Léa in nature felt like being completely understood.

Kimi shines in and out of the water, but being underwater with her was like swimming with a real mermaid. She’s completely in her element down there. Kimi dives with a beautiful combination of feminine power, humility and wisdom. She’s excited but calm, confident but cautious, and so very present and aware of everything that’s going on around her. She doesn’t try to control what happens. She lets go and stays open to whatever comes, something that I have had to learn as a sailor. She honors the process of fishing from start to finish, everything from prepping her equipment to cleaning her catch to putting love into it as a meal to share with her friends and loved ones. You can tell she sees the whole as a sum of each part, none more important than another and all sacred.        Macdonald_j_0081Kimi explores the reefs of French Polynesia. Photo: Jody MacDonald

Macdonald_j_0070Kimi cleans her early morning catch. Photo: Jody MacDonald

Lea faithfully standing watch up the mast for coral heads in the uncharted lagoon waters.

Lea faithfully standing watch up the mast for coral heads in the uncharted lagoon waters.

One of the most beautiful dynamics of our time together was how open and excited Kimi was about teaching Léa to spearfish. Léa is a powerful lioness. She’s fearless and has the kind of drive and fortitude that makes her successful at anything she wants to do. She’s a natural athlete and powerful waterwoman. Instead of seeing Léa as a threat or taking up her time, Kimi embraced Léa’s desire to learn completely and wholeheartedly.

So often our society encourages women to compete rather than cooperate and we end up losing out on so much. When we come together and help each other to be our best, it opens up channels of new power within us and enriches our lives beyond measure! Their relationship was a beautiful example of this. Léa’s respect for Kimi, and the patience and joy with which Kimi imparted her wisdom and passion to Léa, were absolutely inspiring to witness. Under such loving and gracious tutelage, Léa excelled quickly and brought back some gorgeous fish.

Since turning to a vegan diet, I have lost my appetite for hunting, but in the area where we were sailing, the fisheries are still plentiful and I felt ok about eating some of their catch since it was taken with the utmost respect, consciousness, and love.

Macdonald_j_0080Kimi and Léa get ready for a spearfishing session. Photo: Jody MacDonald

Léa stayed aboard Swell longer than Kimi and we sailed together for a few more wonder-filled weeks. She was so helpful as crew. She wanted to learn everything, carry the heavy loads and experience the dirty work. The way that she looked out at the open horizon or the empty lineups, it was like she understood exactly why I do what I do. We felt so free.

In those wild corners of the Pacific, with no one around, we could howl at the moon, wear any sort of odd ensemble and go a week without brushing our hair. We made no plans. We just flowed with the weather and swell, enjoying series of magical experiences together: bathing in turquoise sea rivers, cooking over a fire on an empty beach under a zillion stars, underwater backflips with mantas, morning yoga, flawless surf, holding hands while swimming with humpback whales.

At one point we got into some pretty messy seas on a passage. We were both wind-chapped, salty and seasick, but loving it! I never thought someone so seasick could be so happy. Even if it meant nausea, sleeping in the rain, exhaustion or uncertainty, the freedom and the adventure was worth it and Léa was game for it all.

There’s something about having these kinds of adventures with girlfriends that’s so empowering and nurturing to the female soul. My time spent with Kimi and Léa really helped validate who I am and where I’m headed right now. Every moment we shared was positive, authentic and encouraging. We cooperated with one another, learned together and supported each other. Our hope is that this journey will inspire other women to come together in similar ways. The steps we take toward chasing our dreams and becoming the best versions of ourselves are steps taken not only for each of us individually, but also for the rise of the humanity too. So, go sisters, go! Break the mold, follow your heart, don’t be afraid to be who you truly want to be! Move towards friends who lift you up, share, don’t add drama to your life, and always want the very best for you!


Kimi proudly serving up her catch!


Wind-whipped, hungry, salt-crusted, sea sick…and so stoked!! Spontaneous outerisland pit-stop…

Lea setting up on a solid one. Rewards after a rough two day passage.

Lea setting up on a solid one. Rewards after a rough two day passage.


Sunrise descent from a surf check up the mast… Photo by Jody MacDonald


I snagged a few of these wide sets that swung through the pass…

Nothing warms the soul like time with your girlfriends and a beach bonfire!!

Nothing warms the soul like time with your girlfriends and a beach bonfire!!


Simple yet ultra satisfying beach dinner of Lea’s fresh-caught fish and some local sweet potatoes cooked on the fire. Leaf plates too!


Headed to land to bath in the turquoise ocean rivers pouring into the lagoon…well, not Tropicat…she was busy climbing trees.


Whipped up a vegan meal after finding a local permaculture farm to restock our veggie supply!


Our fine sea chariot.


Sisters of the sea.

Procrastination in paradise: book-writing on board

Typical afternoon in the mountain office.

Typical afternoon in the ‘mountain office’.

Blog updates have been limited this year because I’m writing a book! Last year, Patagonia Books proposed that I write the story of my voyage. The timing felt right, and now that I am more than halfway through, I have mustered the courage to announce it here. It’s been a about 11 months since I started trying to write what I hope will portray my personal story of growth and transformation since I started sailing Swell.

Everyone has a different approach to creative projects. In my case, the process has taken me through a gamut of emotions and phases. I spent the first four months with a heavy sense of dread, haunted by acute procrastination and approach avoidance. It felt as if I was attempting to roll a boulder up a steep hill. For a while I just had to walk around it and look at it from all sides, think, fret, and finally take a stab at it. Once I finally got started and I entered a period of self-doubt. I would make a little progress, but didn’t love what was surfacing, so I was happy to be distracted by anything else that arose, like boat tasks, my Nat Geo nomination, the new website, local friends, surf, etc. Any momentum I had could easily be halted, followed by regression into dread once more. I’d have to hype myself up to get the boulder moving again, but there was always an excuse not to write. Whether it was too hot or I was hungry, or I needed to scrub the hull or clip my fingernails, there was always something else to do.

One thing I’ve learned through this process is that, for me, the activities that appear to be completely dissociated pursuits, are actually contributing to my creative process in their own mysterious, but important way. Keeping the balance of life must remain first priority, and so the floor must be cleaned, the veggies chopped, the dishes done, the surf surfed, and yoga practiced in order to sit down in front of the screen and have the words flow properly.

At the outset of the project I decided I would need a separate workspace from my usual little navstation/dining table/everything space, where I could leave the computer and all my journals and log books without having to put everything away every time. So I removed the wooden door to the head (bathroom) and my friend Simon helped me convert it into a temporary desk space in the forward cabin. We then found an old three-legged school chair in the local dump which fit perfectly into the miniature space. I loved it. There was more air flow up there, and I could look up and see the sky out of the forward hatch. Plus, it felt so official—like I had a real ‘office’.

I wrote there for a few months during the ‘dread phase’, but come rainy season, the hatch above proved to have a stubborn leak, so the computer and all the hand written journals and diaries were constantly in jeopardy there. No amount of caulking or covers would stop the ceaseless drip in the heaviest of downpours, and it wasn’t the time for a major hatch overhaul. Gradually everything that couldn’t get wet was moved off the ‘desk’, and soon the old door was piled with dirty clothes and salty surfboards, instead of pens and books and papers.

I migrated back to my usual spot in the middle of the cabin. Mornings and evenings, I could sit outside in the cockpit without too much glare on the screen. But after Amelia the Tropicat returned from her island sabbatical I knew I had to find a way to spend more time on land where she could roam while I typed. So we started hiking into the mountains with my hammock, and I soon found that the different scenery, and maybe the oxygen boost from the forest, proved superb for my creative flow. Kitty was thrilled, and I felt freer too, without her staring at me wondering when we were going to go do something fun.

The project took a hiatus to a few tropical storms, the lost cat, some epic swells, visiting friends or strangers, a love affair or two, and a short trip to see my mom and sister. Deadlines came and went, but I realized that i could not go faster than was the nature of living on the boat in a remote place where I have to cook all my own meals, haul water in jerry cans, and keep up with basic maintenance aboard Swell to assure our safety. But by and by I kept just tapping away at it, little by little. Then one day i turned the corner and realized I was truly enjoying the process. My friend, Tahui, helped me build a table and bench in the forest, using only the fast-growing Purau tree and its bark to lash it all together. With of view of Swell and the reef, I suddenly had the office of my dreams. Until it rained one day and my backpack leaked and I lost about last six weeks of work due to my computer getting wet!? Data recovery places want a fortune to get it off the damaged drive, so hopefully the second draft of the 42 lost pages will be better than the first. Everything happens for a reason, right?

As I have pondered and peered at the story line, read though my diaries and log books, I am amazed to see just how far I have come. I now see how all the difficulties appeared so perfectly along my path for my growth and expansion. Moments that at the time felt like the end of the world, are now part of the beautiful mandala that is my story. Realizing this has opened me to sharing more than I ever thought I would, mostly in hopes that other people will be encouraged to affront their own challenges and see that I am not some superwoman to whom destiny opened the door to a perfect sailing dream life. I attempt to show my faults, reveal my thoughts, and help people understand just how challenging and rewarding following your dreams can be.

The new spot has worked wonders on my productivity and I look forward to long hours in the forest—typing, doing yoga when my body needs, and cooking uru or heating tea on the fire. Except on rainy days!! The project has taken on a life of its own now and I feel as if I’m just the conduit. By adhering to what has gotten me this far, I’m doing my best to let what feels right be the guide.

SO without further delay, I return to task!!

TROPICAT UPDATE***For those of you curious as to how my relationship with Amelia the Tropicat has evolved since her return…all i can say is, Wow!…what an amazing experience it has been. In order to keep her feeling like her free and wild self, we continue taking land adventures, although each time I realize that she could decide to run off again at any moment, making each time we go ashore an amazing venture in trust. There have been at least a half dozen moments where I thought she was gone and I would have to launch the search efforts again, but each time she teaches me in her own way what she needs and likes, and we grow. I often end up sitting for an hour in the dark somewhere being bitten by mosquitoes because she’s not ready to come out, but in those times I’ve learned how to calm myself down, and connect with her through meditation. I first learned this meditation from my Animal Communication friends Jonquil and Thom’ s website when she had gone missing. The more I do it, the more she comes through louder and clearer in my mind, it’s so wild! So thank you, Amelia, you constantly keep me in check and have helped me expand my own borders of what I believed was possible. As I write this she is splayed across my arms in a deep sleep.

The infamous 3-legged school chair that i found at the local dump fit perfectly in my little forward cabin office space.

The infamous 3-legged school chair that i found at the local dump fit perfectly in my little forward cabin office space.

The forward cabin writing station made from the old door to the head (bathroom).

The forward cabin writing station made from the old door to the head (nautical term for bathroom).

At the mid-cabin workstation with Amelia in the first mate position.

At the mid-cabin workstation with Amelia in the first mate writing position.

Morning surfs with my barrel-riding coach Kepi to get the creativity flowing.

Morning surfs with my barrel-riding coach Kepi to get the creativity flowing. Plus she has kept me alive with her food deliveries when i’m on a roll and can’t stop typing to cook for myself!!

An epic birthday care package from my Auntie JulieAnn to keep the spirits high!

An epic birthday care package from my Auntie Julie Ann helped keep the spirits high!

Algae scrubbing makes for great procrastination.

Algae scrubbing makes for great procrastination.

An afternoon surf excursion every now and then too...

An afternoon surf excursion every now and then too…

The portable hammock office is sweet too.

The portable hammock office.

Got to take a little side trip to join Mom and sister Leen for their 65th & 30th birthdays!

Got to take a little side trip to join Mom and sister Leen for their 65th & 30th birthdays!

There's always some wonderful people passing thru...here, a visit from the unforgettable Spalding family!!

Gotta take a break when wonderful people are passing thru…here, a visit from the unforgettable Spalding family!!


A few details of the bark lashings Tahui and I used to make the table in the forest…

photo 4

At work in the forest…

Hungry? Climb a tree and cook an uru (breadfruit).

Hungry? Climb a tree and cook an uru (breadfruit).

Reminder: back up your work often!! especially when you work in an office with no roof! Rain on the hard drive. Lost about six weeks worth of work... :(

Reminder: back up your work often!! especially when you work in an office with no roof! Rain on the hard drive. Lost about six weeks worth of work… 🙁

Happy homecoming.

Happy evening homecoming.

Took a break to climb a mountain...A few more months of book writing and we will have climbed that mountain too!

We all need a break sometimes…A few more months of book writing and we will have climbed both this and the book writing mountain too!

Reunited and it feels so Good!! Tropicat is BACK

Reunited after 42 days!!

 In case you haven’t heard via IG or FB, Amelia turned up about a week after I posted the blog about ‘letting go’!?! It’s ironic how often when we stop trying to control things, accept, and trust the Universe…beautiful surprises are in store! I was overjoyed to get a phone call from the manager of the bed & breakfast on the islet saying that Tropicat had shown up looking fit and healthy, but thirsty and ready for some love. She’d been on her own for 42 days!?

My experience with the pet psychic was interesting to say the least. I would never have thought to call one, until someone on Instagram suggested it. I did a Google search and found Animalhealings.com and set up an appointment via skype with Jonquil Williams. I certainly wasn’t sure it would do any good, but 3 weeks after she’d disappeared I was desperate to have any sort of lead or clarity on the situation. Jonquil ‘connected’ easily with Amelia and asked her the questions that I was hoping to have answered. Amelia was apparently alive and well and still on the islet, but just needed some land time. Amelia told Jonquil that she would come to me in a dream when she was ready to come home.

After our ‘session’ I had no Amelia dreams, but I was impatient to see her and camped out multiple times, calling for her and walking all over the island. I left food and clothes and still saw no sign of her. Time went on and I started to doubt Jonquil’s information. On my last search effort, a man on the islet told me that he’d found a tiger striped cat dead. My hopes were dashed and figured it was time to give up. Just a few days later I started having vivid dreams about reuniting with Tropicat for 4 or 5 nights in a row. I decided to schedule a follow up appt via skype with Jonquil and see what she thought.

 That very morning of our second appointment, I got the call from the manager of the pension saying they’d found her!? I kept my appointment with Jonquil anyway, hoping she could ask Amelia if she wanted to come home to Swell or stay on the island. Jonquil said Amelia was in high spirits and ready to come home to her ‘best friend’, but she asked Jonquil to tell me that she’s ever ready to go back for another island sabbatical she will let me know by ‘tapping on the porthole with her paw’!?

Overjoyed, I headed for the islet directly that afternoon. When I saw her for the first time again, she came running over and rubbed up on my legs and told me all kinds of meowing stories! I still couldn’t believe I was really seeing her again. The emptiness that I’d felt since she went missing was instantly gone. I still wasn’t sure what to do about bringing her back to the boat, though. I thought maybe she would be better off at the pension where she could happily help catch rats and lead a more normal cat life. But when I went to leave, she followed me all the way out the little dock. I got in the boat then looked at her and asked her if she was sure she wanted to come home. She looked at me for a moment, then casually stepped into the boat…

Since her return, our relationship has changed some. I appreciate her more and take her needs more seriously. I’ve promised her we’ll camp out on land more often, and a friend helped me build a little desk in the forest where I can work on my book and Tropicat can climb trees and chase chickens!! The more freedom I give her, the more she seems to trust me. She still follows me all over the mountains and on beach walks, and if I’m patient and let her do it in her cat-like way, she hops right in the dinghy when it’s time to go home.

So in the end, everything Jonquil had told me was correct! Although everybody laughed at me when I said ‘the pet psychic told me…’, I’m now even more certain that anything is possible and that people can develop their intuitive and clairvoyant powers just like we can learn to surf big waves or climb mountain peaks or learn to hear our own hearts more clearly. Thanks Jonquil for reminding me that it is only our beliefs that limit us!! Anything is possible and True Love always prevails!

And so far so good… no porthole tapping… pheew!! 😀 😀 😀


Amelia saying goodbye to her sabbatical paradise…

She was exhausted for about a week–kitty looking like she just came off a 42 day bender.

Amelia the Tropicat , queen of the forest.

Stretching her legs at sunset…

Building a table so i can work on the book in the forest while kitty climbs trees.

The new office !!

Ultra tired kitty after a long days hike.

SO grateful to have my adventure buddy back!!

Amelia the Tropicat: Sometimes love is letting go

I’ve had a few pets on Swell over the last 9 years, but most of them made their way aboard on their own. Aside from a lost baby seabird I found after a cyclone, my non-human guests have been uninvited. I don’t mind the geckos that often show up in a banana stock. They make cute coughing noises in the evening and cause no harm. I’ve hosted a wide variety of ants too—from teeny fuzzy black ones to enormous shiny red ones. They’re always extremely busy and don’t like being distracted, so I can’t say much for their company. A roving wasp colony lives in my spinnaker pole from time to time, but we tend to give each other our space. Once a cricket turned up out of nowhere. I never saw him but I adored his evening serenades until they were no more. While I was away on a trip to California, a newlywed rat couple from the boatyard where Swell was hauled thought they’d scored themselves a slick new pad. They promptly moved aboard and raised four handsome rat babies who explored, and chewed, and pooped inside Swell from bow to stern. Their story has a rather gruesome ending, but let’s just say it was either them or me…same song for the prolific cockroach family that sailed with me to Kiribati.

Amelia was different, though. I’m not sure whether I found her or she found me that fateful afternoon in November of 2013, but it felt fairly clear that we were meant to be together. She was a skinny little adolescent then–about 6 months old and hungry for food and love. Something about her commanding lioness air and carefree bravado made me want to give her both. I can’t estimate the innumerable forlorn cats and dogs I’ve longed to adopt over my years of travel, but it never seemed fair to drag them into my nomadic, non-routine lifestyle. Nor was I sure that I had time to properly care for a pet with my already full plate of captain’s duties. So, I don’t exactly know what got into me that day, I only remember it being unbearable to leave without her. I called her, Amelia, after the revered Miss Earhart, sensing right away that we shared a similar thirst for adventure.

Adjusting to boat life wasn’t easy at first. Life on a slippery, 40’ by 11’ hunk of fiberglass surrounded by ocean was a radical contrast to the lonesome jungle living she knew at the empty mountain mansion where we met. The new backdrop didn’t seem to phase her for long, and she adored the constant supply of cat food and caresses. She scoured every nook and locker of Swell daily for any living thing to torment. She resorted to ambushing flies, although she despised their buzzing antics. She nuzzled her food dish, watched sunsets from atop the dodger, and spent twilight dawns on the bow eyeing our fish neighbors. Her high-fangled, over-the-water acrobatics routines, soon led to a few ‘kitty overboard’ incidents. She quickly learned to dread the sea. Despite her distaste for swimming, she was amazingly good at it. She’d claw her way up my rubber dinghy to get back on board. I worried she might fall over when I was away, though, so I devised a ‘ladder’ made from a long strip of old towel that hung over the side and dangled into the sea. I came back from surfing one morning to find her wet and madly preening; she had obviously made good use of that ladder.

Amelia liked to run the show, and whenever possible, I let her. She always had a wily, determined look in her eye–as if the world was out to get her, but she was going to get it first. She was the star of her own mystery film–a sexy, heartless secret agent always on a mission. Business was business. She would constantly stalk me from above the dodger as I came out of the cabin, pouncing viciously on my head or come flying at me from across the cabin out of nowhere as I walked through innocently. She’d stalk fish over the side and birds flying above. I built her a ‘tree’ from a yoga mat wrapped around the mast, tied strings everywhere, made her a fishing platform, and often brought home fresh palm fronds to whip around and let her chase. She did enjoy a bit of luxury in her down time, though, sprawling indulgently across her pillows. On visits to various fancy yachts–after a thorough search for anything to kill—she would always post herself assertively smack in the middle of the scene. For the most part, Amelia the Tropicat had a one-track mind–it was all about the ‘hunt’.

I knew she missed climbing trees and bounding through tall grasses, so I started bringing her ashore on beach walks and jungle hikes. I figured if she really disliked life afloat, she’d just run away, but by and by she followed. We found a flat, shady spot in the mountain on one of our explorations, and returned often in the late afternoons so she could play in the forest, while I practiced yoga. She started coming with me to parties, outdoor restaurants, and friends’ houses. She never much enjoyed the rides in the dinghy, canoe, car, and even a few times on a motor scooter, but she was  happy to arrive and discover new turf. After a few months of these sorts of adventures, she seemed to understand the routine, and she’d climb in and out of the dinghy on her own.

I’m sure she had psychic powers, too. Nothing else could explain the way she knew exactly which drawer or locker I needed to open before I even got near it. She’d casually make her way there in time to plop herself boldly in front of the access just before I arrived, then stare off coolly, like she was busy daydreaming. I was constantly obligated to coax or nudge her begrudgingly out of the way.

She charmed most and ignored the others. Either she hated being coddled and kissed, or was too proud to show it. She’d let me snuggle her for a few fleeting moments, then I’d feel her body tense up and she’d become desperate for a way to escape. I understood…a warrior princess secret agent couldn’t be seen as weak or needy. Now and then she’d curl up on me as if she’d finally found a few moments between her unrelenting quests for a bit of affection, but it was always on her time. We understood each other. We both needed freedom and love, we both got seasick, and we both loved challenge and exploration.

She taught me how to wait patiently for something you want (to kill in her case), how to relax now and then, and the importance of carrying oneself as distinguished and unphased as a noble Lioness–no matter the conditions or company. She could be viscous. Dogs feared her. I didn’t trust her around babies. I was constantly marred with scratches and even got Cat Scratch Fever from her! Once she killed a seabird about her size while I was ashore. The poor unsuspecting fellow had landed aboard Swell for a brief rest, only to be stalked, hauled down into the cabin, and massacred. Sigh. In fact, I’m sure that if she were big enough, she would have killed me too. I know she loved me, and might have regretted it afterward, but her merciless nature was just too strong.

A few weeks ago, Tropicat and I got invited on a little surf excursion on the other side of the island. Due to a mix of unexpected follies, we found ourselves on the back of a kind stranger’s canoe, headed for an islet about 300 yards offshore. She slipped off the shiny angled canoe twice on the way. I quickly scooped her aboard both times, but I knew she was horrified. I don’t think it helped that I found it impossible not to giggle at her drenched, rat-like body. We safely reached the other side, where she followed me out a palm-lined trail to the surf spot. I dropped my bag and spread out my pareo so she’d have a notion of ‘home base’, then paddled out for a quick surf. When I came in Amelia was nowhere to be found. I didn’t want the others to wait around, so they headed home while I tromped around the 1/2 mile squared islet, calling her name and apologizing for laughing at her earlier. She never appeared.

That afternoon, a stiff west wind was mounting. I grew worried about Swell, as she was anchored in a fairly exposed bay. I knew there was a cute little bed & breakfast on the island, I figured she would be happy chasing rats and lizards for the night, and could go see the people there if she was lonely or hungry.

I went back the next day and numerous times since. I camped out multiple times where she was last seen, left my stinky clothes for her to smell, and piles of cat food and fish. I even called a pet psychic. She still has not surfaced. All I can figure is that she is either enjoying the endless game of chasing lizards, rats, and crabs, or she may have been picked up by another visitor? Her disappearance remains a mystery; maybe it was fated in the name? I can only hope she loves her newfound paradise, or chose her new home well. I haven’t been able to put away the reminders of her company; the litter box is empty and her toys lie still and lifeless scattered about. I miss her.

Part of me is stunned by the loss I feel without my beloved little companion, but another part of me knows that, like me, she needs to feel free. I never owned her; we chose each other. I did my best to keep her happy during her spell afloat, but as the rainy season and my book project kept us more and more often aboard Swell over the last month or so, I would notice a far-off look of longing and boredom in her eyes. Maybe the string of calamities that happened at the motu that day was meant to be? As much as I badly want to see her again, there’s a part of me that thinks she’s likely happier in her new land life.

Her untamable spirit will always stay with me. But I believe that true love is wanting for the other, what she or he truly desires for her/himself. So be free, Amelia the Tropicat…I wish you endless new adventures, a full belly, loving new hands to caress you, and a life of the non-stop ever-thrilling ‘hunt’ that I know keeps the fire blazing in your feline goddess heart.

Women and cats

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” –Robert Heinlein


Tropicat was always the life of the party, even if she peed in the planter box… Photo by Lea Brassy during the epic Swell/Patagonia/Cabrihna Quest rendezvous in the outer islands.

Land Ho!!

Kitty on watch duty.

She would never admit it, but she loved the limelight.

She would never admit it, but she loved the limelight.

She also enjoyed long walks on the beach...

She also enjoyed long walks on the beach…

And always managed to be right in my way...

And always managed to be right in my way…


Her job as navigator got a lot easier when I got our amazing new B&G chartplotter installed.

She taught me a lot about relaxing...

She taught me a lot about relaxing…

And was always up for land excursions...

But she was always ready to seize the moment…heading ashore with my beloved fellow Patagonia Surf Ambassador, Lea Brassy, to stretch our sea legs.

Afternoons in the mountains for yoga and tree climbing...

We spent many afternoons in the mountain together for yoga and tree climbing…

Boat, car, dinghy, canoe, or motor scooter...no limits to adventure for Tropicat.

Boat, car, dinghy, canoe, or motor scooter…there were no limits to adventure for Tropicat.


The only times she was desperate to cuddle were underway…kitty and captain taking a rest at sea.


She was endlessly curious…

Swimming was not her favorite activity.

But she quickly discovered that swimming was NOT her favorite activity.

Nor did she care much for my plant-based diet...

Nor did she care much for my plant-based diet…


She made herself right at home aboard the yachts we visited, especially the splendid Josefina…

She loved climbing trees, but this particular one frustrated her...

She adored climbing trees, but this particular one frustrated the hell out of her…


“Now who’s looking up…?”

Always right in the middle of things...

Always right in the middle of things…


Damn birds…

She wanted my job...

Kitty mutiny? She really wished she could be in charge…

Her new home...

Kitty’s new paradise…

Never too late…


A beautiful shot of determined Doba in his open ocean ‘kayak’, showing us that age is no excuse to leave dreams un-lived…

“If 67 years young can do it, you can do it, too.” —Aleksander Doba

A huge congrats and a stinging high five to, Aleksander Doba, who received the mega honor of earning the most votes for the National Geographic People’s choice award, making him the official NG Adventurer of the Year 2014. I was beyond stoked to have been nominated, and I appreciate all of you who took a moment or many to cast a vote for the incredible list of nominees! I’m deeply grateful to National Geographic for recognizing me amongst them.

“At 67 years old, the Polish adventurer made the longest open-water kayak crossing of the Atlantic in history. Using just his arm strength and considerable willpower, Doba paddled 7,700 miles in his 23-foot kayak, OLO, departing in October 2013 from Lisbon and arriving six months later in Florida. The retired mechanical engineer, now 68, is the only person to kayak across the Atlantic, continent-to-continent, alone, unassisted, and under his own power. He battled 30-foot waves and got entangled in the Bermuda Triangle. His engineering skills were tested time and time again.” –from National Geographic Adventure

Click here to read more about his mind-blowing adventure across the Atlantic!

My HUGEST respect and gratitude to fellow ocean voyager, Aleksander, who reminds us that it is never too late to live your dreams!! Courage and luck to you on your next adventure, Aleksander!!

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year??!!


What an epic surprise to recently receive news that National Geographic has selected me as one of ten nominees for this year’s ‘Adventurer of the Year’ award!?!

I’m deeply honored and grateful to be recognized for what I love most: LIVING ADVENTURE!!!

As far back as I can remember, I was always the one who got excited when the car broke down, or oddly pleased when I was stuck up a tree or lost without directions. Something about the unknown, with its the possibilities and surprises, never ceases to thrill me. No matter where you live or what you love, life is an open-ended adventure if you choose to see it that way. That I’ve been able to turn my voyaging dream into the backdrop for my inner and outer adventures is something I’m grateful for every single day. I never know quite where it will lead tomorrow, but in a way that’s what keeps me going. I remain open and do my best to heed the evolving calls of my heart.

To live on faith and passion has been a wild, wonderful, and often challenging ride, and the opportunities it’s afforded me to grow into a better and better version of myself have been worth every moment of difficulty, fear, and darkness. Like Patagonia Ambassador Steve House said so perfectly… “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.”

The nominees for this year’s award are truly extraordinary humans. They have each charted their own unique, fearless course and I am honored and humbled to be recognized alongside them. For the next two and a half months, you are invited to learn about each of our stories and vote every day for the People’s Choice award that they will announce in the end of January. Reading about all of the nominees filled me with pride for the tenacity and strength of the human spirit. One story struck me in particular.

A woman from Bangladesh named, Wasfia Nazreen, has been climbing the worlds highest mountains with a hula hoop strapped to her pack. Why? To raise awareness about women’s oppression and sex trade in her country. She wasn’t allowed to hula hoop as a child because it involved too much swinging of the hips. After working as part of an aid group to free 3,000 women from brothels a few years back, her organization lost its foreign funding leaving all those women in limbo and Wasfia feeling helpless. She decided to take the matter into her own hands, starting her own non-profit and learning how to climb mountains. Her story is an example of adventuring for something bigger than yourself. Against all odds–from a country where the majority of people have never even seen a mountain–Wasfia is bringing hope and pride for a new era for women in her country and around the world.

I opened my FaceBook a few days ago, after posting about her incredible story, only to receive a message from her, welcoming me to visit her in Bangladesh!! And that’s just it. For me, it’s about using this nomination to connect with more like-minded people like Wasfia and the other amazing nominees, to spread the world-bettering messages that this 9-year adventure has given me the opportunity to develop and refine.

Here is a link to read about all of the nominees: http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2015/

You can vote every day until Jan 31st if you feel! Here is the link to vote:  http://on.natgeo.com/1y8STod

Click here to redirect to voting page!!

Click here to redirect to voting page!!

A few moments from the many adventures…

Swell disappears behind in the rolling blue Pacific.

Swell disappears behind in the rolling blue Pacific.

Through the heart of the squall...by McKenzie Clark

Through the heart of the squall…by McKenzie Clark


Rain or shine…always ready for an adventure!!

Land adventures too...

Land adventures too…


Some rest between captain’s duties.


Headed out the pass with my fuzzy crewmate, Amelia.


Because for every dark or difficult moment comes an oppositely glorious one!!

Thank you being on board with me all these years!!

Thank you being on board with me all these years!!

Solidarity and the Sisterhood: United we rise

With my cherished seasister, Anna Santoro.

Whether we’re up or down, we sistas always gotta be there for each other! Anna Santoro–heart as expansive as the universe–thank you for embodying unconditional sister love! #seasistasforlife  Photo by Mark Welsh!

“Seriously???” Was the only word out of the police officer’s mouth as she leaned in to the driver side window of Anna’s 91′ Nissan truck “Charlie”.

I cringed and sunk low in the passenger seat. It was my fault. Rules had slipped my mind… In the height of our sunny day joyride to the organic market, I didn’t think anything of climbing out the passenger window to ask Demi in the truckbed where we wanted to be dropped off…(insert emoji with the teeth)…

“We’re so sorry.” Leah pleaded from the driver’s seat. “Our friend is kinda feral. She just got back to the US and didn’t mean to do anything wrong…”

We were respectful and apologetic, but also suspiciously sandy, smiley & shoeless with wild hair and streaks of sunscreen on our faces. She wrote us three tickets: Leah had left her license at home, the car registration was expired, and I got a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt. And she let us off easy… But by the time she walked away, she was holding back her grin. We kinda wished Sista could hop in and join us…

We buckled up and took off, and after about 15 dispondent seconds the car erupted in laughter and we returned to the Soundcloud playlist blaring out of the Blaster, wind in our hair, deep breaths of salt air, and a bond between sisters that meant that everything was perfect–even the three costly yellow slips of paper blowing around on the dashboard…

After hanging with the wonderful Patagonia crew on the North Shore, my dear friend Anna had invited me to stay on at her place for a while. Little did I know, I was moving into a revolving world of glorious goddesses! They came and went like the breeze, some lived there, some didn’t… but all of them were loving and open-hearted. Everyday was a new adventure … every moment was flow and synchronicity … helping or encouraging each other towards individual goals or working together for our collective needs … smiles and laughter all the way. If one person was down, everyone gathered to lift them up. Epic healthy meals began with hands held around the table and a loud chorus of “I Love You…SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE!”. Sister surf sessions meant Leanne bodysurfing past in perfect form me on a set wave, Leah lighting up each wave with her gloriously stylish and powerful surf prowess, and Anna charging close-out tubes and beaming in the sea like always. Finally I wasn’t the only one on the beach participating in post-session ‘sand therapy’, my all-time favorite beach activity of rolling around in the hot, one-of-a-kind North Shore sand to warm up from the sea. Charlie the truck charmed me with his broken driver side door, bent speedometer, and sexy lurch from first to second gear…Rocky lefts on the wave storm, dodging turtles, Leah’s healing hands and ukulele magic, card readings, bonfires, greens delivered by Ethalia, Happy Back yoga with LoLo, the scent of essential oils, moon gazing, sunsets, a very friendly praying mantis, and spontaneous group healing sessions…

Hanging with the hens (and the wonderful roosters that came by now and then…) affirmed that it’s perfectly fine to want to feel free and loved, live simply and close to nature, pursue personal growth, make room for magic, find true love, go without a plan, be barefoot and wild, live positively, nuture our bodies, change the world, want the best for everyone…It wasn’t that we were all the same, it was that everyone respected each others’ unique perfection and way of expressing her divine feminine however felt right.

So this was life at the ‘Hen House’ on the North Shore of Oahu, and a great place to kick off the topic of this blog: the Sisterhood.


The Hens in Charlie…Anna, Leah, Lauren, me (& Leanne and all the others not pictured!!) Thank you, sisters, for such an uplifting, empowering, and MAGICAL time! It was a true affirmation of who I am and where I am headed.  #ILOVEYOUSQUEEZE #Hennanigans

I was a little lost and low after the relationship dramas of last year and a couple other disappointing situations. I was a little afraid to put myself out there again, being so sensitive and fragile to negative energy. But I rolled with it, using my heightened sensitivity to consciously flee from any notion of bad vibes as soon as they arose. To my surprise, the universe started raining strong, loving, confident, and open-hearted ladies! I decided to Leap and Trust. I’m already ultra-blessed to have an incredibly loving circle of long-time girlfriends, but new fantastic Sisters (and brothers!) were popping up everywhere! They were new friends that felt like old ones–the kind of easy and intimate connection that happens instantly and doesn’t even have to be explained. The kind of people who make you feel safe and loved, creating a sacred space where you can let down your guard and really be you.

Our society so often poses women against each other, making it easy to forget that we can be our own endless resource of strength and love. We’re made to think we are in a constant competition for beauty, men, talent, status, etc. And this continued comparison makes us feel like we’re never enough, causing us to look at each other with jealousy or longing to be something other than our unique and wonderful Selves. Feeding this fear and envy makes us feel small and isolated. In the meantime, we miss out entirely on developing our own awesomeness because we’re so worried about what we aren’t, rather than what we ARE. I know because I’ve done too much of it myself.

But when approached on the contrary–seeing other women as part of your precious tribe–new worlds burst wide open! Worlds of infinite love, magic, support, strength, hope, FUN, and positivity become available. These are courageous women who don’t have time to ponder others, because they are too busy bettering themselves. I may not yet have a line on Mr. Right (although, Simon, brother, huge thanks to you… you taught me SO MUCH about Love!!!), but shared with friends like these—no matter where we live: life is a celebration! There is always a love-space available in which to share, cry, laugh, and feel completely supported and accepted. One year since finding myself at an all-time low, I feel more strong, connected, and grateful than ever before–especially for all the love in my life!

It would take volumes to explain all the sisterly magic of the last 9 months. I can’t possibly do the bliss and magic of it justice with words or photos, but here is a brief photographic depiction and a manifesto of what this ‘Sisterhood’ seems to embody. Please feel free to add in the comments!

And Brothers! Please don’t feel left out here! There is absolutely NO intention for exclusion or discrimination…just a simple acknowledgement of the world’s awesome females and the special bond we all share. Enormous thanks to those of you who understand, embrace, and encourage this unity because that makes it even BETTER!!

We Love and Respect all sister and brother humans, regardless of where they are on their journey.

We see the Best in each other, and foster each others’ Highest Potential.

We Trust and Listen to our Intuition.

We embrace the Present.

We are Warriors and Stewards for our sacred Mother Earth, ready to sacrifice and innovate for her.

We remain Open, always ready to learn and/or erase what we think we know.

We don’t ask others to change, we Change Ourselves.

We Feel more, and think less.

We don’t Judge nor Gossip, but we laugh a lot.

We know our Power and use it with Positive Intentions.

We don’t fight, we Flow and Follow Good Feelings.

We embrace our Femininity however it feels right.

We are happy to Help.

We Give without expectations.

We Let Go of that which does not serve us.

We let pain open our hearts Wider, and offer victory to our ‘transgressors’.

We can Apologize, and Forgive.

We can Pee in the Bushes, in fact, we often prefer it.

We love when our Friends Look & Feel Beautiful.

We take our Time because #HurryKills.

We cherish and nurture our Bodies whatever Size, Shape, or Age.

We celebrate our Blessings, and turn our adversities into Opportunities.

We look for the Perfection in the seemingly imperfect, and eventually find it.

We are not afraid to seek our own Truth, and manifest Big Dreams.

We know we are Limitless and Eternal.

We are happy to Share because we trust in Abundance.

We remain Humble, always seeing others as our precious Teachers.

We know Inner Beauty is the source of True Beauty.

We choose Positive Thoughts, and mentally karate chop negative ones.

We see a god or goddesss in Everyone.

We do our best to maintain Positive Vibrations.

We are always seeking Balance, but sometimes we tip the scales.

We keep Trusting that “Everything little thing is going to be Alright.”

We don’t settle, but we do compromise.

We accept that Change is necessary to growth.

We can Laugh and Cry at the same time.

We are not afraid to be Alone, for that is where we learn our own Strength.

We seek to Bring All Other Beings Up, because knowing our Oneness, we understand that we cannot rise alone.


I often don’t live up to these words, but I strive to do so everyday because it’s fun, rewarding, and because I believe in a more peaceful, loving, and unified world… Knowing there are other sisters out there doing and wanting the same provides deep reserves of strength to go forward when all seems backwards. Whether I know you personally or through social media or email or not at all, I want to thank all the badass ladies (and gents) out there who aren’t afraid to be themselves, and live and love wide-open!! A universal CHEERS and SQUEEZE to you all!!


I didn’t know Monique Champon very well when she took me in at my lowest moment last year–nursing me back to strength post-shingles/Bells Palsy/relationship escape in her clean quiet seaside bungalow with healthy food, positive energy, and her big, warm heart. Once healed, her door remained open—for a family meal, a load of laundry, a mooring, a laugh. Never asking anything in return, and always happy to help… Gratitude and Love to Monique and the wonderful Champon family!! #healwithgoodvibrations


Simple joys–love, sea, and freedom in the South Pacific with Pau, Poema, and Lu. If it weren’t for Poema, I would likely still be crumpled in wad somewhere at the boatyard! #LeapandTrust

Words could never say enough about the love between my blood sister, Leen and I. She welcomed me back to California in March with wide open arms, tea, blueberries, chocolate, creepy dolls, salads, you name it…clearing a space for me in her already tight apartment between her 2 dogs and boyfriend and insisting I feel at home. Despite my impossible schedule, packing messes, and near citylife breakdowns, she was the rock that filled me up with love and reason and damn…if only I had an ounce of her wit and humor!?!? #iwanttobeyou

Reunited!!! Words could NOT explain the precious love between my blood sister, Kathleen and I. I was welcomed back to California with this beaming smile!! Wide open arms, tea, blueberries, chocolate, creepy dolls, unlimited cuddles…clearing a space for me in her apartment. Despite my impossible schedule, packing messes, and near city-life breakdowns, she was the rock that filled me up with love and reason…and dammit…if only I was born with an ounce of her wit and humor!?!? #iwanttobeyou #cantyoujustputthisinyourmachine?


Me, Leah, Anna, and Leanne and so many wonderful brothers and sisters came together for the celebration of life for Anna’s lost love, Kirk McNulty. Rest in peace, brother. We love you so much. #lifeiseternal #RIPKirkMcNulty


My guapa Spanish migratory bird amgias, Lucia and Paula, teaching me the fine art of ‘prisa mata’ or ‘hurry kills’… #GoStanley!!


A dream come true… and sisters at first sight!!! Fellow Patagonia ambassadors and seagoddesses, Kimi Werner and Lea Brassy, plus badass photog sista Jody MacDonald, and the unshakably positive and open-hearted Michaela Laserer, met up with Swell & me in the outer islands recently for 2 weeks of ultimate sea adventures, sisterhood chats, star gazing, fish hunting, coconut foraging, and organic local cooking!! #badasses #meanttobe


Good thing surf queen, spearfisherwoman, and all-around tough-as-hell adventure Lioness, Lea Brassy, stuck around for two more weeks of sister bliss aboard Swell…we had TOO MUCH FUN! Here Lea, kitty, and me are heading off for an ultimate princess bath in the crystal clear atoll sea river, with sand exfoliation, sunset pink hues, monoi oil, in the breathtaking turquoise sea!!!! Unforgettable!!! #nurtureyourself #youcandoanythingLeaBrassy


Lauren, Anna, Leah and I forked off at this sacred site of ancient Hawaiian birthing stones on Oahu to reflect and connect with our sisters from another time who surely gave each other strength, love, and support during the birthing process. #weneedeachother


The indescribable sheer bliss of  laying under the stars on the beach, surrounded by the love of sisters… #teamnanopuff #lookUP


Leen and Mom. Oh the fun we have…Nothing feels more comfortable, close, open, loving, and right than being with these two wild, wonderful women!! Mom to Leen before our golf round, “Well, Leen, it’s really only between you and I…Liz never golfs…” Who took em down?? The barefoot hippie who ‘doesn’t golf’…Y’all got WHOOPED and dont forget it!!!! #10situpsforeverycussword #ilovemyfamily

Sun is always shining with legend Sista and tube-riding guru, Katy aka ‘Kepitan’–this generous SUPERmom, nick-naming genius, fearless she-ninja, and all-around goddess badass is always there to call me into a wave, whip up a healthy delicacy, deliver me a cold smoothie, let me do another load of laundry, squeeze my fefe, analyze my potential suitors, and kill me with her quiet one liners…The fun never stops in KepiTown. #justanotherdayofyouandmeinparadise #corgettA #Dora #ifGayawashere


I’m 10 years old again when I get a visit from these fun, fearless, day-brightening mini sea-sisters Kailea, Heimiti, Tehere, and Kohai!!! Playing in the sea with you girls is pure joy!! Look out world, these surfer girls are going to push the gender barriers like never before!! Kailea–you and me behind Moc’s boat on boogieboards is AS FUN AS IT GETS!! I love you girls so much and look forward to watching you all blossom and make your paths. #imsofancy #mylittleopihi #puttheropeswingupalready #ifyoufallifall #lizzyloulovesyou


Yogini sistas Lauren and Andrea in a spontaneous moment of acro awesomeness!! #lifteachotherup!! #followyourbliss


Testing out the Hawaiian birthing stones with love and respect for the pain each of the women once endured here to bring new life into the world!! #hangon #naturalchildbirth


Typical morning at the hen house…Smoothies, yoga, Leah on Ukulele, Leanne & Anna & me singing our hearts to celebrate another blessed day!! #PrincessRestingHour #yourflowisouttacontrolanditsbeautiful!


Post session sista #sandtherapy is just SO GOOD>>>>>>>> Thanks for the eco-sunnies, Zeal Optics!!


Celebrating new life, motherhood, and sisterhood with Sista Lindsey Mickelson of CMD-Z clothing…sunshine and love to welcome baby Soleil into the world!!

What an honor

What a positive BOOST to get to spend time with spearfishing legend and sisterhood specialist Kimi Werner–this beyond talented lady blew me away with her underwater skills, grace, loving-kindness, humility, and wisdom in ocean conservation, food foraging and preparation, and especially in matters of flowing and following the HEART. #whenyouthinkyoushouldspeedupslowdown #hero #InfiniteHeart


Mom and Leen delivering me to LAX yet again…and I had to make one last stop at the crystal shop, eat 2 orders of tempe tacos with Walnut quaking on my lap, and try to fit this enormous cast iron pan in my bag??? Up to our final goodbyes, EVERY second with these two is packed with love and hilarity. Epic smile frown, Moma!!! #unconditionallove #iMISSyou


The original Ya-ya sisters reunited behind the bar this spring where we met and worked together 10 years ago. Heather!! You’ve taught me so much about being open, positive, and dedicated to personal growth and the sisterhood!!! Here we are pouring drinks to raise money for our sister of social change– Emi Koch–and her organization, Beyond the Surface International– which empowers youth through surfing and story-telling in impoverished communities around the world. #doubletime #fernetaboutit #daveisinthesidewindow #findusatlivereggae


Her grandmother named her, Ishita, which means, ‘Goddess of godesses’ in Hindi. You nailed it Grandma!! Reunited on the other side of the world after meeting one year ago in India for the Beyond the Surface film–what a blessing to hang with sister Ishita Malaviya (and Brother Tushar!!), the first female surfer from India and ‘meant-to-be’ leader of a new generation of free & empowered sisters in India. She beams with positivity, love, grace, humor, FUN, humility, and an open heart ready for adventures!!! Miss you already!! #roadtrippinwithPolininsky #cosmictiming #tushita #howdoigetoutofthiswetsuit?


Hangin on Swell with the beautiful Uturaerae tamahine!! My little Tahitian sisters always remind me to smile big, slow down and seize the day, and stay forever young!! #empoweryouth


Ni’au fruit basket weaving lessons from my precious little sister, Haunale. XOXO #letthemteachyou


Salty good vibrations with sista Lu!!! Sun, surf, bad jokes, sexy brown men paddling canoes, and plastic collection in the line-up… #pervertsinparadise


When intuition isn’t loud enough…sista surf goddess Leah Dawson asks yogini warrioress LoLo Bosworth to help with some applied kinesiology testing to feel out what’s best…  #yourbodyknows


A visit with pioneer, legend, and and big sister Audrey Sutherland who paved the way for today’s  adventurous sisters on her innumerable solo swimming/kayaking missions in Molokai and Alaska over the last 30 years. This mother of 4, seeker, nature lover, wild spirit, and courageous leader always made her own rules and insisted on living out her biggest dreams on a dime, in a time when it was absolutely unheard of for a woman to do what she did…what a role model she is for all of us!! Check out her books: Paddling Your Own Canoe & Paddling North #gosimplegosologonow


Sister Ethalia!! This beautiful spirit shows up at the hen house with daily greens, lemongrass tea, and stories of her youth in the Philippines…her massive garden next door is bursting with love…as is her youthful heart!! #growfoodnotlawns #weloveyouEthalia


Tatoos!! Post-ink buzzing with free spirit amiga, Lucia!!

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.03.16

SO grateful for the technology that keeps me close to my sister pillars, despite our physical separation… Chrissy!! Leen!!!…what would i do without our skype sessions of pendulum swinging advice, goddess card readings, hilarious frozen screens, and your unconditional love. I’m so thankful to be able to grow and learn and laugh with you two!!! #ipoopedtoday #creepydoll


Some souls are meant to fly beside you in this life…my Auntie Julie Ann is one of mine. She’s ALWAYS THERE. No questions. No judgements. No hesitation. Since I was a tiny girl, she’s helped me blossom and find direction amongst the storms of my life…I’m eternally grateful for her love and dedication to helping me become the greatest Me. Love you Sista Auntie dearest!!!! #morethanallthestars

A month earlier, sista Kepitan had bravely squeezed the pus out of the hideous staff boil that surfaced on my ass...and when it resurfaced in Hawaii, healer sister Leah was there to do the same day in and day out...without batting an eye. #healeachother #f&^kingfaifai #DoTerraEssentialOils

A month earlier, Kepi had bravely squeezed the pus out of the hideous staff boil that surfaced on my ass…and when it resurfaced in Hawaii, Leah was there to do the same, day after day…without batting an eye. #healEachOther #DoTerraEssentialOils #medicinewoman


Nikki Deleon knows where to find the good vibes!!! Thanks for always having your doors open to me, Sister! And always motivating me to find a wave to ride, indulge in a steamy hot yoga class, farmers market crusade, or a high-vibes Zumba dance hour!! We seem to be evolving but our humor doesnt?? #waynedyerOHMS #shakeit #whatwouldEckartdo? #selfdepricationandpenisjokes


We must teach our little sisters that anything is possible!!! Post chat at the SDYC youth sailing program with these two lovely young sailorette dream-chasers!! #dreamBIG

Sister Bria!! So blessed to have a sister-in-law always ready to open her home and heart to me, no matter my odd schedule. I'm always inspired by your positivity, selflessness, ability to adapt, and the way you always make people feel so special. I love you and the James Robert Clarks SO MUCH!!!! THanks for making my Texas bday so fun! #vegancake #JesuslovesTexans

Sister Bria!! I’m SO blessed to have a sister-in-law always ready to open her home and heart to me, no matter what my odd schedule or habits!! I’m always inspired by your relentless positivity, selflessness, ability to adapt to anything, and the way you always make people feel so special. I love you and the James Robert Clarks SO MUCH!!!! Thanks for making my Texas bday so full of love! #vegancake #backhoespotting


Off to Indo to fulfill her barrel riding dreams, wave-riding guru, Leah Dawson, pulls a final Goddess Card with me and Anna on the airport sidewalk for divine strength and guidance before her next adventure. Check out her amazing short films at seaappreciationproject.com, with the latest from that trip already up, about grace and tuberiding and oneness with Mother Ocean!!! #TRUST #becomeonewithyouMommaocean


Shake it Sistas!!! Paula and the Tahitian sisters celebrating culture, unity, and their beautiful bodies as they practice for the big Heiva dance show! #moveasOne #unite

Sista KatieLady...you

Sista KatieLady–gorgeous friend and soul inside & out–no matter where our journeys take us, I feel your love every single day. Thanks for always believing I could do it … and always being ready to jump right into the hole to help me climb out–literally sometimes!! #neveralone #inmypocket


SQUEEZE your sisters!!! Anna is the #besthuggerintheworld!


Paula in flight…FLY HIGH, FLY FREE, FLY FAR DEAR SISTERS!! United we rise because #WEAREONE

‘Dear & Yonder’ Capt Lizzy section released… 8 minutes from life on Swell

In the midst of running around So Cal–seeing friends and family and gathering supplies for this year’s sea-bound adventures, I got word from Dear & Yonder surf film creators Tiffany Campbell and Andria Lessler, that I could release my section of the film for public viewing!! Dear & Yonder “Daring Stories of Ladies United by the Sea” was filmed in 2007/8 and released in 2009. My section in the movie took three separate attempts to capture over nine months, and across two island nations and thousands of miles of open sea!! These beautiful images were captured by Tiffany & Thomas Campbell, Andria Lessler, Dave Homcy, & Bali Strickland. Huge thank yous to everyone involved! What an incredible souvenir for me to look back on…For more about the film go to dearandyonder.com or email tiffany@villavillacola.com. Enjoy!


Tiffany Campbell and Andria Lessler, the creators of the film, Dear and Yonder, aboard Swell in French Polynesia in 2007. Their film captures the lives of many talented ocean women for the world to see. And I gained two incredible sea sisters! Thank you, ladies for encouraging all women to live out their highest potential!