I didn’t know I would end up building a business by creating Culture Trekking. I have been traveling since I was 14 with my Dad. He does special events for gigs like Orange Bowl Half Time, Sugar Bowl, All-Stars, Final Four (all sports related stuff). He is creative and taught me how to be creative when he would paint pictures of prancing gorillas, evil sorceress’ when trying to learn to play the piano or take a shape of a cloud we were viewing on the trampoline and create a story from it.
Naturally this creativity and love for travel combined and frankly I was just tired of people asking me ‘what to do when in ______’ or ‘Is _______ safe?’, or ‘Where should I go for my _________’. So I created a website, somehow ended up in several different website workshops (I didn’t even know how to upload a photo into WordPress) – found Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging Course and now I am truly building my own empire and Culture Trekking Community.
I still work full time as a Physician Assistant at forty hours per week, talk all the time on the phone, and when I would go home I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. I was also living with my Grandmother at the time who would go to bed at 7 pm. I loved her too much to make her worried by going out to make friends or have the TV upstairs on loud. So I made a home in her unfinished basement while my own home was being built. I worked so hard, sacrificed a lot to get where I’m at – so don’t think this journey is easy.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about where I have been so you can comprehend just where I’m at right now. It will give you a better idea of the amount of work required to run your own business, and work full time. I hope it also inspires you, for those who are sensitive or
When I started PA school, I will never forget when the Dean of the school stood up in front of us and told us, “This will be the hardest thing you will do in your life. We will be turning on a fire hose into your face, and asking you to drink as much as possible”. My stomach dropped, and I had two thoughts… ‘oh shit’ and ‘well….roll tide bitches’.
This is my attitude with everything in life now. Physician Assistant School was indeed hard, and after the first semester I almost gave up. I felt as if I would end up committed in the Psychiatric Unit somewhere. I sacrificed so much while getting my Master’s Degree. I sacrificed my time – 8 hours in school, 8 hours studying for a year and a half. Then I sacrificed my social life, working 12-16 hour days in offices for my education for another year. Then sacrificed another 4 years after that to gain even more knowledge, because when someone puts their life in your hands it can be daunting.
I would go to work, listen to patient’s tell me their deepest darkest secrets – without any reserve – because they trusted me, and knew I was dedicated to their care. I have some pretty funny stories from my PA school rotations to tell, let’s just say I was very naive back then, lol.
I worked in Las Vegas at an underserved Hispanic Clinic and also did home care for patients who couldn’t leave their homes. (I have loads of crazy stories from this one, lol). I moved all over the country and now have one of the best jobs in the world. Taking care of the Veterans who gave their own time and sacrificed their own bodies to protect this country; which has given me the right to be a female provider.
My life as a PA isn’t perfect, it is far from it, it is hard for me to be social still. I have had to tell families that end of life measures are the best option. I listened as patient’s cried and asked me what they can do to survive, when I knew the outcome they wanted wasn’t a feasible option. I have seen family members let their parents rot from the inside out for the social security check. I have seen the worst of humankind and I have seen the best of humankind, with more good stories than bad. When you are a first hand witness to things like this, it is hard to know what to say when your girlfriends are complaining about their husbands, or people complain about what they were served on the plane. I’m reminded every day just how precious life is — and I choose every day to celebrate the good.
Travel has always been healing for
When working in the Thoracic and Surgical Intensive Care Unit in Texas – I was so desperate to make friends. I was so desperate in fact, that I ended up getting a job at a restaurant working as a waiter. I would leave the ICU, then 2-3 days a week would turn around and wait tables to make some friends. Turns out if you don’t drink, you don’t get invited to much. I became so lonely I ended up putting myself into a bad situation. While my therapist argues that I shouldn’t say it like that, I still blame myself more often than not (this will always be a constant battle for me). I should have known better, I was naïve, and all the other things people say or think when I tell them was raped. I couldn’t have stopped what happened is the honest truth, and many of my nightmares surround this argument. I only remember parts of it, and I still have nightmares of suffocating. I had to move to another state, sell all my furniture, buy a whole new wardrobe and gained 70 lbs in the process.
I still go to therapy every week, and now have joint issues from all the weight. I get frequent urinary tract infections when I NEVER used to. I had to have a colonoscopy at 32 because I kept bleeding from my colon, but didn’t have any hemorrhoids or autoimmune disease that could point to why — other than stress. I don’t black out when having bowel movements anymore, which makes me feel like maybe things are getting better.
I have come a long way from when my trauma happened to where I am now. I can talk to co-workers now, I am able to walk in the grocery store without sweating and wanting to run out. My nightmares are not longer a nightly or even a weekly thing. I still get them from time to time, I still ‘spin out’ from time to time – but the pain and loss is more manageable.
Then my family, who all live in Utah, found out some things about my Dad. How he had been leading a double life for the last 15 years. He was a good Father, I know he loved me, I know he had his own pain he was dealing with….but he succumbed to the drugs, alcohol, and the strip club life. Even at the age he is, I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.
I tried to talk to him and tell him that I couldn’t support him when he was doing and financing activities that contributed to what happened to me in Texas. Yet, the child within me still loves her Dad that would sit up with her at midnight and listen to the thunder and watch it rattle the lamp off the table. There is still the little girl inside of me that remembers the trips across the United States with him. There is still the little girl in me who remembers her Dad for who I always knew him to be, yet the woman who is confused because she knows what those activities he participates in really are.
I know exactly what goes on in Strip Clubs, behind closed doors, because I have treated addicts, I screened strippers for STD’s, I listened to wives distraught and suicidal with grief after learning that their husbands
A few months after learning about this, my Grandma died, my best friend, the woman I would call almost daily – who checked on me two sometimes three times a day from thousands of miles away. It set my recovery back quite a bit, I get suicidal thoughts sometimes….just because I want to be with her. I know she wouldn’t want that though, I know she would want me to live my best life.
So I keep going…..for her….and because I promised her and my Grandpa I would….because I know she would want me to be happy. I still have waves of sadness that lands me in at the top of the stairwell at work, red-rimmed eyes…sobbing for her absence. When the sun shines, and the air is clear I think about how much I need to call her…then remember she is gone…and the crushing sense of loss comes again. This will lessen with time, but I still fear the pain of loss decreasing because I associate it with forgetting about her.
Balancing Pain and Triumph
Despite all of this, I still come to work with a smile on my face. I still dedicate many of my free hours to crafting this website as a way of healing, coping, and restoring my faith in humanity again. So my passion in
I try to appreciate the little things like that I have a window in my office that is as wide as I am tall, and on those hard days, it helps to see the sunshine. My roommate Breanna has been a crucial part of my survival and resurgence into this new version of me. We have our dogs, we have our travel YouTube Channels – and we enjoy the escape to Southern Utah to rest and recharge.
The thing with deep seeded pain, PTSD, and trauma is that it never goes away. My therapist in Texas always told me that I would see the world through different glasses from now on, but it doesn’t mean it still can’t be beautiful. The pain will never go away completely, and I don’t know that the nightmares will either – but unlike the rest of society – I have learned to make space for those bad days. It is ok to cry sometimes, it is ok to feel overwhelmed – the beauty comes when you know how to be kind to yourself and allow those days to happen.
I force myself to close the computer, I force myself to go for a walk with Zoey even though I feel frantic about the self imposed deadlines. I force myself to take baths, get a Pedicure, take a trip to see friends, slow down, put the camera down and just live in the moment.
The greatest thing I ever did for myself was to get my diving certification. There are studies that show those with PTSD, when diving at the deeper depths, the sensory deprivation and pressure rewires their brain slowly from a trauma state of mind to something more manageable. The day before my Grandma died, I went diving at Homestead Crater with Scuba Utah. Rachelle Weseman was great, she volunteers at the VA for Vets that have PTSD, and let me come to the class to get certified. I met her there and she helped me get in the water to blow bubbles. I was crying in my mask as I descended, and once there, I had a moment floating just beyond their group to leave a prayer, and some of the pain of loss seeped into my surroundings.
So if I have any advice for you on how to balance your professional life, hobbies, and personal life – it is to MAKE TIME. If it is important enough you will make time for it. Give the stressors in your life time to breath, ask yourself if worrying about it will change anything. As my Grandma would always say, ‘Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, expecting to go somewhere’.
How I Am Constantly Changing – And Make Room For Change
Culture Trekking has been a big change for me in my life. It pushes me outside my comfort zone, and allows me space to put thoughts, feelings, and passions into a practical format. It helps me connect with other people with similar passions in a positive and constructive way.
I always thought I would have children, but the universe didn’t think that was a good idea apparently, so it gave me an amazing community instead. Full of people who are kind, funny, giving, and in so many ways I feel like have done more for me than I have done for them. It is a beautiful thing, that when you are open to change, and put something positive out there – it comes back to you tend fold. So that no matter what you try to do to pay it forward, you just can’t seem to catch up.
Life is just that….life….we are never going to have it perfect. As cliché as it is, it is when we are at the bottom of the swamp that it teaches us how beautiful life can be on that mountain top over looking a gorgeous valley at sunset with your friends.
Change is inevitable, sometimes change happens because of choices OTHER people make. So I have learned to make room for it. I still have my days….trust me….some of them are quite ugly and revolve around very mean quotes towards myself – but then kindness wins in the end and I smile will creep back on my face.
Put Your Health First
This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. For a long time I haven’t put my health first, it was secondary to everything else. I quickly found that by putting my health first, and not just treating everyone elses ailments was what I needed. While I feel selfish even saying that, being kind to yourself doesn’t mean that you are selfish – it means your filling your own cup, so you can keep filling others with positive vibes, love and light.
While being a regular gym rat really isn’t feasible with my current back issues (no disc space in my L5-S1, and shooting pain down my legs almost constantly). I am meeting with a trainer to help craft a routine specific to my health needs and also met with my local doctor to see what else could be contributing to the weight gain besides stress. I soon found out that I have Hypothyroidism, and a Progesterone level of that a Post-Menopausal woman—-great
So now I’m going to see a Gynecologist to figure out this whole hormone thing and if I should just give up
My self-motivation is slowly returning. I no longer feel like I need to call in sick because of pure exhaustion. I’m not crying at Disney movies, or if someone looks at me wrong at work. I was called dramatic, over-sensitive, and erratic in my decisions I was making in my life. The fact is….no one knows me better than I know myself – and now I’m properly addressing it and putting my health first things seem to be beautifully falling into place.
Learn Something New Everyday
With things stacking up, I needed an outlet – something to keep my mind occupied so that I wouldn’t just sit around and feel sorry for myself. This is where this website comes in. It give me an outlet to keep learning, keep my mind occupied when things seem to be too much or too grim. It gives me hope that there are good people in this world, and that all men are not evil. I get hope from people like Glo Graphics, Minority Nomad, Chubby Diaries, The Hackerette, The Blonde Abroad, Nomadic Matt and Be My Travel Muse.
There is something new everyday, there are friends I have made and been able to connect with on a deep level. Jenn from Coleman Concierge and her husband invited me to Florida to snorkel with manatees. Heather from Trimm Travels is my confidant when life just sucks and we vent to each other. Breanna (my roommate) from Nomadic Buff (or Buffalo) forces me to get out of the house and escape work when I need it. I now get invitations from friends all over the world to come and visit them. So much so, that I have had to decline quite a few offers.
I’m telling you this not as a means of bragging, but as a way of showing you what is possible when you open yourself up for new possibilities. You don’t have to do it all at once, hell if I did, I would already be in a grave from the stress of it. Make small,
Have Courage, and Be Kind
I was mean for a long time, cynical really. It took loads of looking at where the anger stemmed from and creating an image of who I wanted to be that allowed for that ‘mean girl’ within to change.
The root of my
I know this will sound crazy to most of you – but it took dating a Jordanian man in Texas to snap me out of it. I met him in a car repair shop off of one of the shadiest streets in town. There were shootings on a daily basis. I became friends with the Palestinians that worked there and ended up working at their shop a few times because of the
He made me
He is married now, and we check in on each other from time to time. The moral of the story is….find people who teach you how to be your best self if you can’t do it for yourself. Have the courage to change the parts within that are holding you back. It is ok to admit you can’t do it all on your own – it doesn’t make you weak – it makes you human. So have courage, and be kind to those around you, including towards yourself. You never know who is going to help you be your BEST self – or at least put you on the path to doing so.
Try Not To Live In The Black And White
For all my fellow
If you have read up until this point, it likely means you are a mover and a shaker who is wanting to find that key ingredient for the success you are looking for. I would get so frustrated when people would tell me ‘this takes years to perfect’, yet here I am years later, and I still don’t feel like I have perfected my website, my look, my brand etc…. As human beings we are always changing, we are always finding new things to do, be or see. So why do we force ourselves to live in the black and white of either ‘successful’ or ‘failure’ – ‘kind’ or ‘mean’ – ‘crazy’ or ‘cool’. The labels don’t help, so stop putting the labels on yourself and start a journal of how grateful you are for where you are on your journey for right now & where you would like to see your journey pause or continue when you hit that 6
Try not to live the Black and White, it is a very stressful place to be – no one survives there – trust me I’m a Medical Professional.
Get An Animal
I might be partial to this one, but Zoey has been a saving grace for me. I got her by accident, well really after going into a puppy store to just pet the dogs – and then saw she was 75% off. My friend told me they put the dogs to sleep that aren’t
Getting an animal, especially if you are a single female, can help you pour love into something besides yourself. It helps create memories, and gives you something to talk about with your friends who are all married with children. I feel that the older you get the harder it is to make friends, and have things to talk about with them.
Having an dog (or animal) forces you to get outside, to take them on walks, to post ridiculous amounts of photos bragging about how cute their morning snuggles are – which helps open conversations. I also feel that it helps to keep me from getting ‘set in my ways’, because Zoey’s personality is always changing – just as animals grow and change, we can too.
Don’t Push Yourself To Be Something Your Not
I’m not a social butterfly in my everyday life. I don’t like going out to the club, I don’t like massive groups of people. I have a tendency to diagnose physical ailments in new people I meet, and do psychological profiling on them – this is a subconscious action from doing this with my work. I think this is why I love traveling internationally, it is harder to socially diagnose someone when you aren’t as familiar with their culture or social norms. It keeps me guessing, intrigued, and frankly is a much needed mental relief.
I have tried to be the party girl, I would hold massive parties at my house in Las Vegas. I have been in charge of large gatherings where we would all cook food for 30 people or more. I have danced in the Sugar Bowl, danced at the Biltmore, milked cows in Colorado and done a whole lot of social interaction. It is strange to look back and see how much I have changed over the years. I used to get so
For some reason, getting this advice, was a MASSIVE relief. I guess I hadn’t heard it put like that, and it was the first time anyone had really given me permission to be myself. It is easy to get caught up in this digital world, it is incredibly competitive. The thing is, there will always be that one internet Troll, there will always be someone prettier, better, stronger in your eyes if you cannot make peace with your own uniqueness. Granted I’m not perfect at this myself, but it is something I try to live by everyday, and if I forget I mentally sit myself down and remind myself why I am unique and worthy. I give myself permission to do what I love, to share what I find to be beautiful in my own voice, on my own timetable, and in a way that resonates with my soul.
I’m creating an empire for myself, in a way that is sustainable for my mental health, my physical health – and surprisingly, I’m attracting friends from around the world that feel the same way; and express things in a similar way that I do.
We all have our own story to tell, in a digital world of copycats – be your own kind of unique, embrace your story and find a way that you can share it in your own words. If you are having trouble, then I suggest reading ‘Star Girl‘ – it is a young adult book with some powerful lessons I think we can all learn, no matter our age.
All You Need Is One….Ask The Universe & It Will Come
It may not look exactly how you imagined it would look, but it will be exactly what you need for that moment. We all have this idea of what our life should look like, what we imagine it would be at each stage. Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls and massive blockades.
Growing up as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we were always taught that women should get married, have children and that family is the most important thing. They encouraged women to get degrees, read scriptures, interact with those of the same beliefs and respect those who felt differently. There is a part of me that feels it set me up for a bit of disappointment to be honest. As an impressionable young person, I had it in my mind that I would get married, have seven children who would have curls bouncing with smiles on their faces while we had a picnic in the park. I would have dinner ready for my husband who would be kind, gentle, and know exactly what I needed.
Don’t worry, I know now that this was an unrealistic expectation – but when you are taught at a young age that this is what families look like and can be attainable for anyone – it takes out that human element, and that life doesn’t always go the way you plan.
It still is difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I may not have an opportunity to have children. My family physician and therapist have heard me cry over this countless times, but all of us are powerless to change this. For this to happen it would require a perfect set of circumstances, lots of medical intervention, I don’t know if I can have children at this point with all my medical issues – but I still have hope – and will continue to hang onto it until I know for certain this is no longer a possibility.
So I put my heart out into the world, I am putting all my efforts into healing, finding friends, restoring my faith in humanity. I am putting faith in myself and trusting the process of the path I’m on right now. I am a lot more at peace with the loss of the perfect life I had imagined for myself – but look at the opportunities that have presented themselves in the meantime.
I am trying very hard to not create a perfect picture, but to let life unfold itself one page at a time. I like to compare life to a puzzle, where if you look at each individual piece – it isn’t that pretty and can feel overwhelming to try and get it done all at once. If, however, you focus on one piece of that puzzle at a time; organize them into sections – then start putting them together, you find that after time you can take a step back and view the beautiful picture in the complexity of what you just created.
So put faith in the process, put love out into the world, and it will come back and present itself to you in a beautiful picture. It is only when you allow yourself to let go of the illusion of control over it and let the page turn one at a time in a guided, and measured way that things will really start to come together for you.
Journaling Your Thoughts
One way you can start to see this beautiful picture unfold is by journaling. Journal your goals for the day, journal what you are grateful for, journal what issues you would like to work through. Make them small! It is hard to not feel overly competitive and feel you have to do it ALL AT ONCE, AND RIGHT NOW!
Journaling my thoughts has helped me slow down and really ask myself if the goals I set for the day/week are realistic in my current circumstances. Doing this is a very mindful way, while being kind to the parts of me that are still struggling and in pain, has helped me be far more productive, creative, and excited in the process of where Culture Trekking is headed.
My relationships and friendships are more meaningful and more honest. I allow people into my life who are not
I’m not just talking about ‘changing your attitude’ or ‘just being more positive’ – people who say these things are just in a place they cannot handle those who struggle because they either don’t have the time, energy, or by helping you look at your pain it would force them to look at their own pain. Be kind to them, and just put one foot in front of the other. Journal your feelings, because there is something that is incredibly freeing about having things written down. It helps my brain feel that it has been addressed, or at least recorded so that I can address it later.
Take your time, give it real thought and intention and then I promise you will start to see your life change in very small ways. If you are consistent, you will find a beautiful masterpiece a few years from now – and your intentions will lead you to a more perfect version than you could have imagined for yourself.
Don’t Compare Yourself, They Are Thinking About Themselves, Not About You
This is my last and best piece of advice: STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS! I still struggle with this, and have to remind myself all the time to live in my own skin, in my own story.
I remember, vividly, working in the Operating room, it was ten o’clock at night. It had been a really rough day and I had to go prep all the operating rooms with the machines required for the procedures the next day. I walked into the room, and a Nurse said, “I promise I’m not hiding in here – I am trying to find a specific tourniquet and cannot find it”. It seems like a stupid story, but I just remember being floored. If the roles were reversed, I would have been nervous about the same thing, what people thought I was doing instead of living in my own truth and trusting that what I was doing was being done with integrity and honesty. So I told her, ‘I wasn’t thinking about anything other than how much I have to do in order to go home and continue studying’.
There are so many times I have compared myself to people in the gym, those in my job, and even questioned my own intelligence more times than I can count. I think about what other people are thinking about me, so much so that I don’t even allow them to have their own thoughts because I have made up their mind for them. So let other people think for themselves, live in your own truth, stay on your path and lovingly invite others along your path with you.
It is so difficult to not think to myself, “I’m never going to be successful in this if I don’t ____”, “No one will want to work with you if you aren’t skinny”, “Your too old to do this” — yet the only truths that are real, are the ones we decide to give power to become so. Love who you are, for where you are right now – serve others and lose yourself in the joy you wished for another. Life will get a lot simpler if you find joy in your own journey, instead of constantly barraging yourself with self depreciating thoughts. Drop that anchor of self-doubt, self-judgement and compareison and you will quickly find possibilities blossom in abundance.
And She Lived Happily Ever After….
I don’t know if I will have all things I think I want for my life; but I’m creating a life of all the things I know I need. I am a survivor, I’m beautiful in my own way, I know in my heart that I’m trying my best for where I am right now. I am a work in progress, I’m open to change, and am holding on to hope and courage in order to make those changes permanent. I’m not waiting for the ending or my happily ever after – I’m living my happily ever after in this moment, with the energy and mental capacity I have available, and in the best way I know how.
Find the path of your happily ever after, make peace with your past, never lose hope for the future, don’t give up on your dreams – but allow them to morph and change into what they need to so that you can stay true to who you are. If you don’t know who you are, what you want, or what you stand for – then make that your top priority until you do. Explore, connect, discover, adventure and never lose the child within – I promise you will find it – just have the patience for it to come. Your path will be hard, you will experience a vast spectrum of emotions in order to truly find it – but in the end it will be more beautiful than you could ever imagine.