Letting the Dust Settle

To be honest, I haven’t felt very creative or motivated lately. I feel this transition brewing, but I am not feeling ready to dive in. So, what is it really that’s holding me back from diving in to the next big thing?

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I’m a big goal setter. I’m an intention setter. I hold myself accountable and I fully dive into new experiences with intention, passion, and balance. Although, that feeling has dwindled a bit over the past few months, which has thrown me off. Instead of fighting this feeling I decided to lean into it. I realized I needed to give myself a permission slip to actually slow down. Over the past few months I did just that, I took that permission slip, slowed down, and let go of the pressure I put on myself. Instead I listened to what my soul was craving. 

This past year was a bit of a dust storm. I️t was full of change, personal growth, and constant movement. I realized for the first time ever in my life I needed to actually processing life for myself and by myself.  So, this slow down wasn’t so bad. I wanted and needed the time for those lessons, my development and my challenges to sink into my bones. I needed all of those things from the past to settle into my soul. It’s all a part of who I am, but if I didn’t allow those lessons, those challenges, the wins and losses to settle, they wouldn’t help me move forward from a grounded place. Instead they would be floating around pushing me in some direction with little intention.

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I let the dust settle. I slowed down. I let myself feel less creative. I let myself settle into my bones. And now, the outcome? I learned that life isn't always about the next big thing. Sometimes it is about appreciating yourself for all of who you are. The next big thing is fun and exciting but over the past few months I have realized I can't move into the next storm without allowing myself a bit of calm. I am now feeling like I can move forward from a rooted and intentional place. I now know there is safety in stillness. Most of all, I have built a deeper appreciation for myself.

And truth is, I’m still going to have moments that I lack creativity and motivation. But, in those moments I’m going to once again give myself that permission slip to settle into my stillness and let the dust settle just a bit so I can have a brighter vision of the future. 

Have you allowed your dust to settle lately? 

With Love, 
Morgan

Working from the Road: The Balancing Act

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I often get asked, "How do you balance it all?" 

How do you balance travel, work, school, and still allow yourself time to explore, adventure and sleep? It is a great question, because I constantly find myself curled up in the back of the van having a semi-breakdown wondering how am I going to do it all. Since moving into my van full-time six months ago and driving over 25,000 miles around the country, I have realized that the main piece to the puzzle is passion.

Above all else, passion is key.

First and foremost, my passion for adventure and exploration. I thrive on new experiences: visiting new places, exploring a new trail, finding the best local brewery in every town I visit, and driving down that random dirt road looking for home. I also have a passion for connection, and I am grateful to work a job that is all about connecting with communities and like-minded people. Living my life with passion allows me to enter my day with a powerful energy that fuels me way beyond those countless amounts of coffee (although coffee is a big player in my life, don't worry). 

With the baseline of passion I find a way to balance the rest. This usually includes a lot of planning and managing my time effectively. In the evening I ask myself certain questions to plan for the next day. How far away am I from the nearest coffee shop? Where do I need to be next? Where am I going to sleep next? When do I need to start work so I can get out on a hike/run/paddle before the sun goes down? Where do I want to go explore? It is rare that I don’t have a whole day planned to the minute when I am on the move and balancing work, school, and travel. 

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Then come the logistics...

Another big piece to the puzzle includes answering the question, "how am I going to work?" I try to steer clear of city time, which makes it a bit more challenging to find effective Wi-Fi and places to post up and work. I sometimes find myself a great little coffee shop, but other times I find myself in a small town on a side street with the van doors open and tethering off my hotspot.

When posting up someplace to work, I always need to think about my sweet dog Rhodie. The van has ventilation and is cozy for him, but I know he doesn't want to stay in there all day! So, I try to find outside work spaces such as a park, a brewery patio, or a dirt road that has cell phone service. The common problem here is charging my devices, but luckily we live in a world where there's technology to solve almost anything. With my Goal Zero battery by my side, charging my computer and phone while Rhodie's out on a search for squirrels, we find a peaceful place to work through that seemingly endless to-do list.  

Always stay on your toes.

With all of this said, let’s just say that it is common that those minute-by-minute scheduled days don’t always come together as planned. I constantly find myself working later than expected or not being able to find reliable service and driving further than expected to find a work space or signal. Work and school come first for me and that usually puts the adventures on the backburner on those days that plans don't fall into place. It is challenging, and I often have the thought that I could leave this life in the dust and live an easier life back in the city...but that wouldn’t be a life that I am passionate about, and that passion (plus the morning views out of my van window) makes the challenges so worth it!  

So, my answer to how do I balance it all? I approach each day with passion and make sure the things that are on my to-do list bring me joy. To balance it, I plan accordingly and make sure I have the resources I need to be successful. Sometimes that means finding a coffee shop, sometimes it's relying on my Goal Zero power setup or finding a brewery patio, and sometimes that resource is a trail into the backcountry to go explore with Rhodie.

As long as my passion stays strong, the balancing act that is Van Life will always be worth it to me.

With Love, 
Morgan

SHE Ventures

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at one of Altitude Seven's SHE Ventures events.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share my story with a room of over 200 amazing individuals. I had just come off my first ever overnight rafting trip, felt semi-prepared, but beyond excited to dive in. I thought I would share my speaking notes here, just incase you missed the event! 

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Two years ago I took my first ever solo trip. My Subaru was packed with all my camp gear, and Rhodie and I were ready to go road trip for two weeks all on our own. I had camped plenty and traveled a lot, but never on my own. About a week in I was looking to camp near Moab along the Colorado River. If you have ever been there before, you know there are camp sites all along the river and it is beautiful! Although, when I pulled up to the sites they were all full. A fellow solo traveler, a guy about my age, saw me on the search and he offered to split his spot in the walk up area. There were two other women in the site as well. Of course I ran thru the safety concerns and then I took the offer. I decided to have faith in trusting my gut and trust in myself. 

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That night was filled with memories I will never forget. We made a fire, shared stories, drank whiskey, sang, and laughed all night. As a storm rolled in we drove into Arches National Park and hiked to some of the arches and just laid under the stars watching the storm in the distance. I hold this memory near and dear to my heart because it was that experience that launched me forward into the idea that we have our own story to write, it doesn't have to follow the normal path that we can so often find ourselves trapped in. It was also the catalyst for letting go of fear and worry, instead having faith and trust in myself. 

Jump forward to today and I have found myself living a life true to my heart. Focusing on living my story that lights my fire. Today, I call a beautiful Econoline my home. It's intersting for me, because yes, I love to travel and explore, but it wasn't a dream to live in a van. Although, the van is the catalyst for living a life that fills me up. The van is the catalyist to the countless lessons that I have learned thru the experience. 

This #vanlife experience has helped me dive into my true self more than ever. It is not all rainbows and butterflies though. I do work full time and I am in grad school. My days are busy, I spend a lot of nights in WalMart parking lots and on city streets. It's in these uncomfortable moments that I question this lifestyle. It's also these moments that I have to constantly remind myself why I am living this "unconventional" life. Bringing myself back to making space in my life and filling my days with experiences that fill me with joy. 

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The experience of learning how to balance work, school, travel, family, friendships, and personal time has taught me that we have the opportunity to create that life story, the one that makes our hearts skip a beat, every day. No matter what your job is or what is on your to-do list, you can always make time and put energy into the things that fill your heart. Dive into those, may that be a solo van life, hiking with your girlfriends, or taking yourself out on a date, the opportunity is there. Stepping onto the path that might not be clear is perfect! It has the opportunity to throw you for a loop,  make you step way outside of your comfort zone, but also gives you the opportunity to dive even deeper into your heart. 

One lesson I have learned while stepping onto this unconventaional path is that things seems to fall into place and community starts to form in a way that is pretty unreal when you make space for it. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most incredible people that don't only encourage me but hold me and lift me up when life feels heavy. These people range from family, life long friends, strangers, new soul sisters, and all the inbetween. Share your goals and life vision with those around you. Let your story be inspirational and your community will be there to cheer you on! 

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I keep coming back to this one idea lately, the idea that time is on our side. So let time be on your side. Let go of the glorification of busy, of the to-do list, and put your energy and heart into the things that bring you joy and allow you to flourish! 

With Love, 
Morgan

Solo Adventure

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Exactly five months ago a moved into this van. At that time my life was turned a bit upside down. I was working through a breakup, moving out of a home, selling everything, and it all was moving so damn fast. This van life idea came to fruition within a month, seriously, one month!! I had this idea of van life, but that really wasn't the dream. The dream was this idea of solo travel. I had been on this search for something, something more, some spark that was missing within my heart. I knew deep down in my heart that entering a solo adventure would lead me in the right direction. 

My first night alone on the road I was on my way from Portland to San Francisco. I was going to stay with friends there and then head out on a ladies trip with the wonderful Trail Mavens crew. I had planned on stopping somewhere along the way to sleep. I checked out google and found a road off of I5 and near a lake that I thought would be perfect. I ended up driving around this 'perfect' area for probably about 2 hours, I over thought every turn off. I finally stopped, turned off the car, crawled into bed, multi-tool in hand and then I laid there. I didn't close my eyes, instead I had a minor break down. There was a wind blowing and I could have sworn it was someone next to my van. So, after about an hour of this breakdown I decided to move because this place was for sure unsafe (it was for sure safe). Then I drove for awhile, and found another spot. Crawled into bed, multi-tool in hand (you guys a multi-tool is NOT going to save me!) and once again lost it. I didn't know what I was doing, why was I so scared, what is wrong!? What sort of idea was it to move into a van? I was in a serious downward spiral to say the least. So, I moved again. At this point it is close to 4 am, I was exhausted and I pulled over on some dirt road, near some farm houses and laid down once again, multi-tool in hand. Rhodie heard dogs barking and sat looking out the back window as I tried to sleep. Pure exhaustion finally took me out, but I maybe slept 2 hours that night. All I could think was really?! why did I think I could live in a van, alone with my dog! This is crazy! I quickly got to San Francisco and was so thankful to have a friend with an open futon. I don't want to say I gave up, but I was very happy for a 'home'. 

These minor breakdowns didn't end. For about the first month they continued. I would drive around for hours looking for a 'good' spot to sleep. I didn't know what I got myself into, I was so damn scared. Where was the glamour? Where were the perfect river spots? I knew this lifestyle wouldn't be easy, but I felt so lost and so alone very quickly. But, in my heart I knew I was in this for a reason. There was something there, something I was looking for, that spark. So, I continued, and I quickly became more comfortable with this lifestyle. 

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Five months later, I have had some wonderful experiences that have helped me overcome many fears. Give me a dirt road, or random roadside pull of and I now feel at home. I mean, I even find little slivers of home on city streets and Walmart parking lots these days. I never imaged that would be real five months ago. 

Although, really this story isn't about learning how to find somewhere to sleep. It is about that void I was feeling five months ago. Moving into this van wasn't about the perfect van photos or the dreamy river camp spots. It was about diving into connection. I wanted to let go and be fully in, fully in to meeting new people, experiencing new places, connecting, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and being all in to life. I fear stagnation in life and this lifestyle was the furthest from stagnation to say the least.

I now look back on the past five months and all I can do is smile. Solo travel isn't easy. I have found myself in some of the most challenges situations of my life. I have found myself scared, I have found myself asking why am I doing this, why do I keep moving in a direction alone. It would be so easy to follow the pack, to stay in one place and feel safe. But that safe place isn't where my soul shines. My soul shines in the moments that I overcome fear. The moments that I connect with new friends. And my soul shines it brightest now that I have fully connected with myself. 

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Solo travel is real. It means I spend a lot of time alone (and talking to Rhodie). Five months ago I set the intention to be open and to connect with anyone and everyone. And I set the intention to deeply connect with myself. I feel so much pure love for myself. I feel like I know myself so deeply and because of that I can show up into any situation as myself whole heartedly. That is new, and it is beautiful. I feel this swell in my chest and it is filled with so much gratitude and care for myself. Solo travel allowed for this growth. 

People have their doubts as well as their praise for solo female travel. So, to the guy in Kansas who asked "when will you get over this and be ready to move into a real four walled home" - I am in it, I have the most beautiful four walls not only in my van but within myself. To the women at JJ's Cafe in Old Station, CA who said " you are the most fearless badass women" - thank you, your words fill my soul. To Jay in Canmore, BC who said "wow, I just thought you were with a guy, no girl travels on their own" - I am with the best guy in the world, his name is Rhodie and he is my best friend and best adventure partner. 

Most of all, to each and every dear friend and family member of mine who encourages me, you all are my rock. Cheers to the ones who call when they know I am broken down on the side of the road in Utah and tell me that this is still the best life for me. Cheers to the ones that remind me I'm living my best life, every damn day. Cheers to the ones that say I am an inspiration. Cheers to each and every one of you who remind me that we only have one life to live, so we might as well start following our hearts and step outside of fear. You all know who you are and I love each and every one of you so deeply. 

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So, did I find that something I was looking for? HELL YES!! That spark I was in search of, I feel it every single day and it fuels me to dive deep, to connect with others and to continue this connection with myself. But do know, it has taken me months to really dive into that and open that suitcase full of sparks, it wasn't an easy path. 

And what has solo travel really taught me? It has taught me that this story is our own to create. The fear, the social norms, the naysayers, it is all there, but it isn't your story. Let that go, be you and be all in. If you are searching for something, searching for a spark, I have a feeling it is sitting within your heart, you just have to dive in and connect with yourself. Solo travel stretches you to find it. You have the power within yourself to overcome anything, you just have to be all in. So, be all in, that suitcase full of sparks is sitting within your heart waiting to be set free! 

This adventure isn't over, I'm excited to see what comes next! 

With love, 
Morgan

 

Living a Mirrorless Life

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When I was in the process of selling a lot of the items I owned in order to pair down and move into my van I sold a beautiful full length mirror that had moved around with me for years. When I traded $20 for this mirror in a New Season's parking lot in Portland, I had no idea that transaction would make such a profound impact on my life. 

It is interesting, when I was building out the van I got a lot of random questions, but a common one was what will I do for a mirror. In those moments, I honestly didn't even think about it. I have a rearview mirror and if need be I would find mirrors in public restrooms and friends houses. Although, after about a month of not standing in front of a mirror daily, I noticed a massive shift. I wasn't diving into all the things that were wrong with my body or changing outfits 5 times because it didn't look "good", instead I was running with this feeling of feeling good versus looking good. I realized how much this damn full length mirror had played such a negative role in my life. 

How many times have you found yourself staring into the mirror doing circles checking out your bod, but not necessarily being very nice to yourself about the beautify which is you. In one way or another it is common to struggle with body image. For myself, I have always needed to stay looking "fit" and when I did gain those few pounds or ate that whole pizza I would immediately downward spiral when in front of the mirror. Worried about my butt being too big, if there was cellulite on my legs, what was that bulge that is supposed to be my flat stomach? Although, all of that was complete bullshit, because in each and every one of those moments, I was still doing my best and living the lifestyle that made me thrive. Also, what we see in the mirror in those moments is far from the reality of what others see in you. 

For the past four and a half months I have rarely changed in front of a mirror, instead I have been grabbing what I am drawn to for the day, tossing it on in the back of the van and then just head out. Not spending the extra time to dive into what I look like in my daily outfits, but rather noting how I feel in whatever I have on. A lot of the time, that means a wrinkled dress or running shorts, and those outfits make me feel amazing. As for putting on makeup, that went away just days after moving into the van. I lost my mascara, put away everything else and embraced the sun kissed, dust covered look with tired eyes.

I still have my moments when I get in front of a mirror that I start to downward spiral, although now I quickly pull myself out of it. I pull myself back to the moments that I was hiking up a mountain and looked down at my thighs noticed the muscles which were carrying me, or the moment my arms pulled my up a rock face. My body is strong, it takes me up mountains. I don't need a mirror to tell me that, I can feel that. 

Living on the road sometimes leads me to pizza joints and numerous pints of beer which of course make me feel "fit". But, I have made the shift to not downward spiral because of what I eat, because guess what, that beer was delicious and I connected with new or old friends over that beer and there is a more inspiring story there other than the story of fuck I drank a beer and now feel bloated. 

This no mirror thing has made such a positive shift on how I see myself. The shift from dressing in front of a mirror checking out every detail of my body and outfit, to putting on something that makes me feel good, throwing up my dirty unwashed hair and getting outside. Feeling the sun on my face, the wind blowing through my greasy dust filled hair, and looking down at my wrinkled dress brings me so much joy. This is what makes me feel beautiful, fit and alive. No mirror can give me that feeling. 

Try it out, try turning around your full length mirror around for a week (or even just one day) and see what shifts. Our bodies are so damn beautiful, and when we allow ourselves the moments to feel that there is a beautiful shift in our love towards ourselves. Love yourself for how you feel and that huge smile on your face that lights up a room, not for what you think you look like in a mirror, that ins't the deep reality of who you are. 

With love,
Morgan

FINDING HOME ON THE GO

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A year ago I moved out to a small town in the Columbia River Gorge. My idea behind this move was to 'settle in' and feel at home somewhere. Portland had filled my life with so much joy, but I was was feeling ready to grow some roots in a new small town. I started to build up this house and fill it with stuff. The couches, new dressers, all the kitchen stuff, and art on the walls. I had this idea of what 'home' was and I was trying so hard to make this house feel like home. That house holds a special place in my heart, no doubt, but it was never home. Now, a year later, I have sold the couch, the dresser, the random décor, and moved into my home on wheels. Instead of building roots in this small town, I have finally found my sense of home in the sound of my tires on a dirt road.  

I am now constantly on the move. Over the past four months I have driven over 15,000 miles, hit 7 states (some of them twice), and one Canadian province. I have to laugh at myself as I have 'commuted' all of I-84, east and west, more times than I would like to count this summer. But, through all of the miles, I have realized that the emergency pulls off, friends driveways, long dirt roads, Walmart parking lots, and picturesque dispersed lake camping spots, those little pieces of land are my home. I don't stay one place very long these days but I feel more rooted than I have in a very long time.

This past week I was in Bend for a whole week, this is the longest I have hung out in one place for almost four months. I was able to find a little piece of land next to Sparks Lake, in the Deschutes National Forest, to call home for the week and it was pure bliss. Although, as I soaked in my last firey sunrise over the lake, I found myself feeling a bit sad to leave. I realized that I had most definitely put down roots on this lake side dirt road. It felt a bit heavy to leave it. I think this was the first time that I really settled into the feeling of home on the road and even though I was feeling so much joy in that moment, I was sad to leave this special place. I spent a moment settling into this feeling. It was in that moment that I realized that I have officially fully settled into this life on the move. I realized how I have found little slices of home all over those 15,000 miles, those 7 states, and that one Canadian province. I realized it wasn't sadness that I was feeling but an overwhelming sense of home and belonging, a feeling that I have been searching for for years. I realized that the home and belonging that I have been searching for has been with me this whole time. The home and belonging is in the adventure for me, it is the sound of my tires on the road, the glass of wine at sunset, the wind in my dirty hair, bathing in a river, snuggling up with Rhodie off a random dirt road,  and the new and old friends across the country. Yes, Sparks Lake felt like home. It was filled with beautiful experiences, lake side wine nights with some of the best friends a girl could ask for, morning runs, and night paddles. This place filled my heart and it is home. But, I am on the move, and I have little slices of home to find on these dirt roads that fill our land. 

This realization for me was just another reminder that we all get to create our own journey, create our own sense of home. My sense of home isn't the traditional four walls filled with furniture, my home is something different. But, that is totally okay. We are all different and all on a different path. Find the path that fills you with the sense of belonging and being home! 

With love, 
Morgan

 

 

 

Sharing is Caring

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I have recently been feeling this draw to share my story in a deeper more meaningful way, or I guess share my story outside of just Instagram posts. So, I am putting intention behind the feeling and making the goal to write and share my experiences. 

I have now been living in my little home on wheels for 4 months and man has it been filled with adventures, moments of pure joy, and moments of 'what the hell was I thinking'. I have started to dive into so many personal lessons that are guiding me in such a huge direction of growth. Sharing these challenges and lessons is something I do with my closest friends but I find myself holding back on using my voice often and even though it is WAY outside of my comfort zone, I'm setting the goal to dive in deeper and using my writing voice to share this story. I have a few goals with this which include: inspiring others to dream big and take big leaps towards their big audacious goals, give myself some self love by being proud of this life I live, using my voice in a new way, and creating a space for vulnerable and real stories to be shared. No more excuses, I won't tell myself I'm too busy or that I am not up to anything special. I am proud of the life I live, what I have done to get here, the challenges I face, and the ridiculous experiences I live. 

Here we go, I'm diving into a goal that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I will be sharing my stories from the road, my challenges, my experiences, the ups, the downs, all of it. I plan to be vulnerable, real and honest. My goal is to get one post up every other week. Although, my life is never on a real schedule so it will be a lesson on how to balance my time and make writing a priority! 

Thank you in advance for following along. Even if just my mom and brother that read this (hi Jason and mom!!) that is okay by me. I'm stoked to use my voice and share my story. 

With Love, 
Morgan