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!

Eating for Earth!

Mother Earth fills our bellies everyday, so in her honor I’ve decided to write about ‘food’ for Earth Day. We eat three times a day, everyday… so our food choices have a huge impact on our health and, simultaneously, the health of the planet. This topic is especially exciting for me, as I have tried eating ‘vegan’ for the last year and, after a bit of fine-tuning, I’ve never felt better! In addition to the physical ‘feel good’ benefits, I’ve realized that our daily food choices can be a powerful form of individual eco-activism, accumulating an enormous positive impact over time!

Happy Earth Day!! Our planet provides for us daily--food, air, and water. Give back to her by eating a little more Earth-friendly today! Here, organic pineapple...often organic fruit and veg options are smaller in size than non-organics, but they taste so much better! Be wary of over-sized or 'too perfect' looking foods!

Happy Earth Day!! Our planet provides for us daily–food, air, and water. Give back to her by eating a little more Earth-friendly today! Here, organic pineapple…often organic fruit and veg options are smaller in size than non-organics, but they taste so much better! Be wary of over-sized or ‘too perfect’ looking foods!

Here are a few Earth-friendly suggestions to consider:

  • Support small-scale, organic farms and alternative methods to corporate agriculture! Gardening is not always an option, but buying food from local, organic farms generally is. Between consciously-sourced markets, farmer’s markets, community gardens, co-ops, and local growers that deliver a weekly box of fresh veggies, there are lots of ways to avoid buying from corporate farms. Large-scale agriculture is the least ecologically-sensitive way to grow food. Growing the same crop over large land areas does not take advantage of the naturally beneficial plant combinations that can eliminate the need for using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Corporate farms do not consider the health of their workers, consumers, the ground water, the native plants and animals, and general public safety when they routinely spray highly toxic chemicals on our food and soil. UN: Eco Farming Feeds the World, Is Organic Farming the Key to Solving Hunger? And Climate Change?, Corporate Power in Agriculture
  • Eat less processed food! I like to think about trying to reduce the number of hands and machines and altering processes my food goes through before consuming it. During my outer island roaming and food-foraging, I decided that I liked eating whole foods because it made me feel closer to nature eating things that looked they came off a tree rather than out of a factory. Not only does eating whole food decrease the need for packaging, it ensures that you aren’t consuming artificial preservatives, flavorings, colors and any of the other thousands of often mysterious ingredients that are added to US foods. Various food dyes, Olestra brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST and arsenic are banned in other countries but still legal in US foods! There are certainly minimally processed options, but it’s worth having a closer look at food labels and reading between the lines as to what constitutes truly ‘natural’, healthy food. 9 Ways the Processed Foods Are Slowly Killing People, Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry
  • Boycott GMO-containing foods and companies!!! Despite that it is still unclear as to whether or not ‘genetically modified’ foods are safe for human consumption over time, Monsanto and the other ‘big 6’ biotech corporations–BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemicals, Dupont, and Syngentacontrol nearly every aspect of our food system. They are responsible for creating most of today’s genetically modified foods along with producing the chemicals required to grow them. They’re also attempting to control and regulate the world’s seeds, so that farmers will be have to buy their patented GMO seeds. Not only is this threatening to destroy the critical biodiversity of seeds that humans have developed since the dawn of plant cultivation, it gives them a frightening amount of power! These billion dollar corporations are paying scientists to engineer ‘franken foods’ that are not always more ‘nutritious’. Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” crops have been genetically engineered to allow direct application of the Monsanto herbicide ‘glyphosate’. This lets farmers drench both their crops and soil with this chemical to kill nearby weeds and pests without killing the plants, leaving the crops coated in this highly toxic chemical, the soil degraded, and the groundwater polluted. This is just a taste of these companies’ multitude of ecologically and socially irresponsible practices. Please educate yourself further on this issue! On March 26th of this year, The Monsanto Protection Act was signed into US law, essentially giving GMO companies immunity to the federal courts and states that even if future discoveries show that GMOs cause significant health problems. Total boycott of GMO-containing foods is a powerful way to show that we do NOT approve of all this! Documentary: ‘The World According to Monsanto’ , Surf Legend Kelly Slater Attacks GMOs and Biotech Giants, Surfing for Change’s Latest film: Pro Surfers vs GMOs by fellow Patagonia Ambassador Kyle Thiermann
  • Eat less or no meat! The large-scale factory farming of cattle, pigs, chickens and other livestock creates serious negative impacts on the environment. Greenhouses gas emissions, water pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, and habitat destruction are some of the grave consequences of mass meat production. Plus, calculations estimate that it takes anywhere from 2,500-12,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, versus 60-200 gallons for 1 pound of potatoes, wheat, corn, or rice!? (Vegsource.com & David Pimentel Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health Island Press, Washington DC, 2001). Health-wise, science has proven that people with diets high in animal protein are much more prone to heart disease and cancer. Heard of The China Study? Ever seen the ‘Cowspiracy’ Documentary?  The final straw for me to become vegan, was when I learned how horrifically animals are treated in these CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). If you aren’t ready to give up meat, try to source it from wild or more humanely raised animals. Gary Yourofsky’s Best Speech You Will Ever Hear will educate you a lot on this issue!
  • When/if eating seafood, please choose wisely… Through my years on the sea, I’ve watched and participated in fishing of many kinds. On voyages to more remote island groups, I’ve seen by comparison, how drastically reduced the fish stocks are in more populated, overfished places. These populations now look farther and more remotely to supply their seafood. Ultimately, this is not a sustainable solution. Most of our critical global fish stocks are in steep decline, and although I often enjoyed sustenance fishing, after seeing the results of overfishing first hand, I no longer feel comfortable consuming seafood. So I’ve decided to eat a plant-based diet where it’s an option. “A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.” (National Geographic)  For those not ready to give up seafood entirely, there are certainly more sustainable choices. In general, eating lower on the ocean food chain, choosing wild versus farmed, and eating locally-caught options are generally more sustainable. There are even free apps for smartphones to help you decide quickly at a restaurant which might be the most sustainable seafood on the menu.  Seafood Watch Iphone App,  FAQs for Seafood Watch App,  EDF Seafood Selector,  Tackling Overfishing on Many Fronts, National Geographic: Overfishing
  • When dining out, support restaurants that source their food from local, conscious suppliers! Try to keep up your conscious-eating standards when dining out. Asking nicely about food sourcing spreads awareness and promotes businesses to have healthier, Earth-friendly alternatives.

When I broke my neck in 2012, I spent a lot of time reading about healing through food. I wanted to be on my feet as soon as possible, so I studied up on which foods are conducive to healing and which hinder. I ate well, thought positively, and completely eliminated caffeine, refined sugar, meat, & alcohol. I healed incredibly quickly!!

Through that experience, I learned a lot about what I do and don’t want to eat. I’ve continued researching, experimenting, and using my intuition to understand what my body runs on best. It’s taken years to refine my eating habits to what they are now. I started by cutting out red meat and poultry…then reduced refined sugar and processed foods…then caffeine…then came dairy…and lastly fish. I’ve been amazed at the changes I’ve felt in my body in the past year of eating a very clean, plant-based diet. I feel strong, get sick less often, and have more energy than ever before! And all the nagging injuries I was suffering from have healed. I can’t be sure that this is all a result of my dietary changes, but I want to share that this adventure in food has been as awesome and profound as any of other.

Choosing to eat more consciously doesn’t mean you can’t make exceptions, or that dietary decisions are forever. I think we are all fabulously unique and this means no one type of diet suits everyone. If someone told me five years ago that I would stop eating cheese and not miss it, I would have laughed! This is a very personal process, and I’m not trying to tell people that eating this way is best. Rather, I’m encouraging everyone to go on their own dietary adventures and educate themselves to make more informed food choices. Doing so comes with the great benefits of better health for you and our dear Moma Earth!

***Thank you to my dear and wise sister, Kathleen Clark, for your editing help and input on this piece! She has her own amazing food story of healing her incessant migraines through a shift to mostly plant-based eating. I Love You, Leen!!

Been so fun sourcing local organic growers!

It’s been so fun sourcing local organic growers in the South Pacific…It takes a little extra work, but it’s always a fun adventure and I generally come home to Swell overwhelmed with amazing food and new friends.

photo 4

Amelia, my newly adopted crewmate, is a little less excited than I am about eating a plant-based diet. 🙂 Unlike humans, she is a real carnivore! All locally-sourced, organic foods–tomatoes, lettuce, chives, basil, breadfruit, papaya, pamplemousse, passionfruit…and my jar of probiotic-plentiful kombucha brewing in the background!!

Still crazy about coconuts!

Still crazy about coconuts! They’re high in fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, magnesium, lower cholesterol, contain lauric acid which is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, boosts immunity, and helps regulate thyroid and metabolic function. And coconut water is one of the highest known electrolyte sources!

Grating coconut. I've learned to love cooking in the last few years...

Grating coconut by hand…I use it to press for coconut milk, put in smoothies, curries, oatmeal, or just eat plain…SO tasty!!

Plant based meals under the stars!!

I’ve learned to LOVE cooking in the last few years…Here, enjoying a plant-based meal under the stars!!

Passion fruit!!

Passion fruit!! One of endless, nutritious, and absolutely delightful spoils of Mother Nature…

Ch ch ch chia!

Ch ch ch chia! Who knew the seeds we spread on clay animals in the 80s were an Aztec superfood high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and minerals! A little chia limade on a hot South Pac day…

I even got to grow a few of my own this past year!

I even got to grow a few of my own this past year! Putting my hands in the dirt felt heavenly. Watching them grow and eating from the garden was a true blessing.

Let's spread health!

Spread the word…partake in the radiance, positive impacts, and health of more plant-based nutrition for today and for the future generations who deserve to inherit a healthy Earth!! We can reduce and prevent diseases of all kinds, and reconnect with and heal our Great Mother. Here, the beautiful Hepua about to participate in a traditional Tahitian banana-carrying running race.

Hovering Neon Droplets: a moment between the sea and me

The tiny raindrops had stopped by the time I got back to the boat, but this was taken just after, so you can imagine how it looked with the raindrops falling!

The tiny raindrops had stopped by the time I got back to the boat, but this was taken just after, so you can imagine how it looked with the raindrops falling!

Despite a day of gray, the sun refuses to depart unnoticed, surprising me and the thickly-clouded sky with a lavish splash of reds and pinks. The heavens then toss the light down onto the sea, where it warps into a hypnotizing tango with the water’s evening shadows. A dark line appears ahead. I study its form and decide to paddle over it. It lifts me up, and then I fall softly down its brilliant, berry-colored back. The second of the set is bigger, fuller–its arm reaching farther to the south… I calculate my placement as it nears, turning just before it’s upon me, and stroking twice.

I rise to my feet as it picks me up. Two quick, extended pumps and I’m high-lining along a blossoming, neon-lipped water wall. A moment later, the wall stretches out well beyond me. With one more high-toed pump I think I can make it, and crouch under a translucent-pink water roof. Bracing toes, surreal excitement, all of me aimed for the exit. Briefly there is no confusion, nothing out of place–just trim and bliss behind the waterfall…

Then poof, it’s over. The sea boils and the reef sucks dry just ahead of me. Dropping back to prone, I stroke for deeper water while attempt to take my mind back inside… The vision runs fugitive but the sensation lingers like an electric shock.

Before I start the paddle home, I stop to acknowledge my tremendous Gratitude to the Greatness. No matter the time or struggle between moments like this, I am thankful for All of it. For without the bitter, how could we know sweet? I take a deep breath and cherish once more the vast silence of alone and adrift between sea and sky. How oddly comfortable it feels… How marvelously empty my mind can be when surrounded solely by raw, undivided Nature and Wildness…? It’s as if I cease to exist, or maybe it’s more like reattaching to the Rest?

I wipe my eyes and watch tiny raindrops begin to collide with the shiny pink surface of the sea. They each send out a perfect, teeny ringlet. Soon a zillion miniature gongs are singing! My eyelids drift closed and I lay my head on my board. It sounds as if I’m afloat in a giant glass of just-poured mineral water; its effervescent tickle exceedingly delightful. The patter sends fine, glowing mist onto my face and into my smiling mouth.

I become so entranced I almost loose my balance, sitting up at once. But I’m quickly stolen into the scene again by the countless neon droplets that scatter across the sea upon their impact and hover just above it for one fleeting instant–touching, but separate—for one glorious final moment of their individual journey from the sky before sinking into oneness with the endless sea again. Mesmerizing…

A chill brings me back to my body; goosebumps rise on my arms. I turn and paddle for the boat, watching those miniscule hovering droplets scatter as I go, knowing I am just like them–momentarily and illusorily separate, yet inescapably and fantastically Part of the Great Sea of Oneness.