For ten years, I’ve traveled the globe creating stories for mainstream media outlets like BBC, BuzzFeed, National Geographic Traveler, USA Today, Yahoo, Live Happy Magazine, and more. My job has carried me to 24 countries and I’ve done the whole digital nomad thing by living longer term in a few epic places – Argentina and Indonesia were my favorites. Part of my purpose on this planet is to live a crazy, wild life filled with passion and excitement, which means I’ve done some pretty crazy things, like setting a Guinness World Recording for surfing, participating in the largest food fight in the world, and spending six months living on a ranch with Gauchos (Argentinian cowboys) where we road horses a million hours a day.
Beyond travel, I care a lot about spreading joy and kindness. I was named one of Maria Shriver’s Architects for Change, and in my free time I am a volunteer mentor for the Pablove Shutterbugs Program where I teach photography skills to children with cancer.
When I was a kid, I fell in love with the element of surprise. So recently, I decided to start doing acts of kindness for worthy humans I’ve felt deserved to be celebrated. That includes surprising a stranger with gifts and flowers after I found out her father passed unexpectedly just months before her wedding day (this all happened in the context of a first date btw). I have more kind acts in the works I can’t wait to share with you! More details soon.
*** I’m about to get real and drop a vulnerability bomb right here, so get out the tissues!!
There are these moments where you are chugging along as the normal you and then all of the sudden you are delivered news that — within a fraction of a second — dramatically alters your course. From that moment onward, you know you can’t go back to who you were before.
In my short existence, I’ve experienced this a handful of times:
On Easter 1991, my mom and I had just returned from an Easter egg hunt, and I was sitting on the floor counting my candy when the phone rang. After she answered, I saw all of the color drain from her face as she heard the news: my brother had been hit by a car while crossing the street. We only just made it to the hospital in time to say goodbye to him forever. He was eight years old.
Then on July 2, 2011 I got another of those wretched phone calls. While on a train home from New Jersey, a family friend called and said, “a plane crashed in the Sierra Mountains and we think it was your dad’s.”
Throat constrained, I demanded, “how will I know if it was his or not?” The voice said back, “if you call your mom’s house and the sheriff is there, then you will know.” I hurried home to my apartment in New York City, threw together a suitcase, then hopped in a cab to the airport. When I called my mom, her friend answered:
“I want to talk to my mom,” I said.
“You can’t,” she replied.
There was a long pause, then …. “because she’s at the front door talking to the sheriff.”
I really do believe that even if you’ve been through some crazy stuff, you still have a shot at creating a life that feels whole. Metaphorically speaking, photography has helped me reframe my perspective on the world and see if as a colorful, good-intentioned place filled with wonderful people. I still battle with grief – as anyone who has ever lost someone understands, it just becomes part of your life experience. As hard as it gets sometimes, being acutely aware of the brevity of life has made me appreciate it even more and savor every second I have every day, which is probably why I’m motivated to capture it.
Life might not look the way you expected it to all play out, but by the same token, different isn’t necessarily bad. There’s also half chance your life could turn out even better than what you would have planned.
Got a question, or wanna collaborate? Contact me here.
These days, I occasionally write about travel for mainstream media outlets, but am most interested in guest blogging + sharing the joy of travel on Instagram. I more commonly cover self-help, optimistic living, and overcoming adversity for MariaShriver, Elephant Journal, the Huffington Post, and others.
Right now, I am suuuuuper pumped to collaborate with brands and engage in social good stunts, charitable deeds, or random acts of kindness. Send me your ideas and lets’s change the world together.