Credit: Larry Kniskern

Last summer was the most amazing of my life. It was a summer of a dream and a vision realized. It was a summer of jumping fully into my life in a way that I have never done before. It was a summer of fearlessness.

I’ve always worked in outdoor education. Always. Starting as a Camp Fire girl at age 6, I moved into assisting in outdoor skills classes at age 10, teaching them by myself by age 13, and getting paid to teach by age 16. My favorite class was fire building. There is something incredibly magical about watching a child (or an adult!) light their very own fire for the first time. Watching that fire keep everyone warm during the night. That hand-made fire as the focal point as we sang camp fire songs, did skits, and performed our Camp Fire ceremony – a tradition that tens of thousands of girls had done before us over the last century and helped me realize that I was part of something much bigger than my own little world.

I’ve always felt that there was something that I was supposed to do with my life – a destiny, of sorts. I always felt at home outside in a way that I never felt indoors. I can’t remember the first time I felt a yearning to wander into the woods and live in a tent forever, living off of berries and nuts and nestling myself into that place of belonging permanently. Alas, I am a social being and I know that I will always have one foot in the wilderness and the other in society. My path is to lead and to share that wilderness with others.

My quest became more directed 15 years ago, when I had a profound experience with a waterfall. It was my first experience with nonduality. I sat in front of this waterfall and its mist enveloped me, a constant wind emanating from the falls and soaking my skin in its spray. For the first time in my life, I felt time disappear. I have no idea how long I was there… a half hour? 5 hours? I felt the space between me and the waterfall disappear, until the waterfall and I became parts of the same being. It spoke to me. I didn’t hear a voice in my ear, but bits of wisdom appeared in my head that I had never heard before. I could feel their truth. One of the things it told me is that “wind is the voice of spirit,” and I could feel that to be true. I knew it. When I finally stepped away, the rainbow in the mist of the falls glowed with an otherworldly, neon brightness. I could see movement everywhere all at once – in the leaves, the branches, the bees, the birds. The scent of flowers and earth and leaves filled my nostrils and the colors of the forest blinded me with their vividness. I had never experienced anything like this… it was as if my perception of the world had come alive for the first time.

A few months later I was at a conference where I learned that the Hebrew word ruach, usually translated as spirit, also meant wind, and breath. Spiritus, the Latin root of our word spirit, meant wind and breath as well. David Abram listed words from languages around the world that confirmed to me that what the waterfall told me was true! I did not imagine it. And then I knew that my path was to facilitate wilderness experiences where the wisdom of the earth could reach the hearts and minds of the people who were there with me.

Flash forward to this summer. I jumped in fully, bought my 6th canoe, and finally got my commercial permits and licenses required to launch my canoeing business on a bigger scale. My goal was to serve 200-250 people in 20 day trips on the St. Vrain River, and to lead my first vision quest through Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River in Utah. I served 226 clients on 27 day trips this year! Four amazing women joined me in Labyrinth Canyon and they told me that it was one of the most significant events of their lives, and that they were transformed forever. They all nodded in agreement. I have arrived. I have arrived!!!!! There is no more yearning. There is no more “if only I could…” I have everything in my life that I have strived for over my 36 years of life. I am who I have always wanted to be, and I have the life that I’ve always wanted to have. I’m having the impact and touching people’s lives in the way I’ve dreamed of. I have arrived! It only gets better from here.

Gratitude. I am full of gratitude for my husband, my parents, my mentors, my friends, my co-guides and business consultants, and most of all my clients. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Thank you for trusting me and trusting my vision and expertise. Thank you for joining me on the river and allowing me to reach this moment in my life. I could not have done it alone.