Man versus Nature

So  last week we went to a beautiful park near-ish Sydney’s breath-taking coastal cliffs. It used to be THE Friday morning date for all the coolest (lol) mum in the area. We’d sip coffee and chat and the kids have hours of endless fun in, on and around the trees, greens and bushes there. Over the past month, however, we had boycotted Kimberly Reserve  due to bird swooping. Particularly Magpies and Butcher Birds can get quite aggressive during nesting and had attacked a couple of our most little ones several times.We knew it would only be about six week until this yearly season is over. No dramas.

Until today. We returned to the park super-cautiously sussing out whether the birds had calmed down. A couple of hours into the fun, a ranger came to chase us out. He had arrived with a huge ‘Bird Culling’ warning sign. His best man with the shotgun was commissioned by non other than our council. I was so flabbergasted I almost lacked words. Our own tax money  spent to fight nature which, apparently, we treasure all so much in this fabulous city of ours.

‘The birds have been a nuisance to humans.’ Really? Isn’t it us who are the nuisance to them, and, in fact, nature in general? Who are we humans to think that we are the greatest species born to dominate all the rest of wildlife? In fact, haven’t we proven quite incapable of safe-guarding our planet since we’ve sort of taken over, given the frightening rate at which we are extinguishing species – and therewith – our very own future?

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A Butcher Bird mum nibbling away on our compost waste in our garden

Shortly after the bird-massacre the pesticide guy came in mask and suit to spray every little corner of the park where our babies and toddlers regularly crawl and explore. Of course, with no birds left to eat the poisonous spiders and annoying insects, Man has to try and control it all.

I had thought – or hoped – that humans are slowly reaching a point where we understand that we cannot master nature, but simply have to learn to live in harmony and respect with it. Maybe living on a sailing boat should be compulsory for everyone to hammer what seems obvious to my mob, into all of us. If we don’t all work together on treasuring this shaken planet and trying to reestablish some kind of balance, humankind will soon have to learn the hard way that we are not the master of Mother Nature, but she is. She has been there before us, and will be there after us.

‘And what’s happening to the baby birds in their nest?’ my three year old asks? What am I to say – as I wonder what world are we leaving our children?

The Moron’s Case For Hillary Clinton…

An old colleague and I were having breakfast this morning when he looked up at the news (I can’t remember which network …MSNBC, I think) and noticed a split screen of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He lamented long about how terrible both candidates are in this election and I guess we just have to choose the lesser of the two evils or, as he put it, “…put on a blindfold and just pick. It doesn’t really make any difference.”

And that’s when I went off.

I am really sick and tired of people saying both candidates are equally horrible choices, how much America thoroughly hates both of them to the core, that there’s not a single positive trait in either one of them and wow, if only we had voted for that guy behind the deli counter or the neighbor’s cat, America would be WAY better off.

How owning less is Free-ing

A few days ago a friend of ours interviewed us for her book on patriarchal hierarchies. Because with three kids and the whole shibam there’s really no spare time for special decor – and also because at times raw can just be beautiful – here’s the uncut, raw version of her transcript, some of it will appear in print next year. We really enjoyed t as it went far and beyond the usual focus on sailing which we’ve had during most other interviews.

Dini – “All of our friends started climbing the career ladder getting into mortgages and the possession hierarchy and we felt that wasn’t really our plan. We had to do what felt right in our hearts and what we valued most.”

Dini – “With a family even more so we felt that’s what we have to show our children – not something that society might say you should do, as in getting the house and a mortgage and a ‘proper job’. That really didn’t resonate with us.”

Pablo – “In my case I also wanted to do something completely different. You only live once and you have to give it a go for your wildest dreams.”

Background summary, Dini – Left Australia when oldest child was almost 2 and the now middle one was a couple of months old. Sold everything, ended house lease, resigned from jobs.

Pablo – “Those are the things an adventure brings. Getting to the unknown and doing things that you’ve never done before. For me, it’s all about the feelings from the trip – buying a boat, going to amazing places. These were the highlights.”

Dini – “I think you need to be prepared that whatever your dream or adventure is, you need to want it so much in your heart that it’ll push you through very low moments, because they will come for sure.”

Dini – “The obvious highlights are a typical amazing sunny day with a nice breeze and you set off to an unknown island and ideally you make some new friends.”

Pablo – “For me I’ll always remember and I’ll always miss: waking up anchored in some beautiful bay. And the first thing I’d do is to jump in the water, as my coffee to wake me up. How amazing is that! Jumping in the water, that’s how I started my day. It cannot be a bad day because it started in the best way.”

Dini – “I’d swim to the beach, do my yoga, go for a run… and a couple of times I’d come across these ruins, especially in Turkey, that in Australia would be THE national monument because they were so beautiful, so well maintained and so OLD – but because there’s so many of them it’s not even a tourist attraction… just those moments that you totally don’t expect.”

Dini – “When you get a beautiful sail and you’re in tune with the wind and the waves, just with nature. It’s sounds quite romantic actually, you always live in tune with nature when you live on a boat. But a part of it can be quite exhausting, because if you get a few days of strong winds you might not be able to get off the boat or you’re restricted in what you can do next. But when it aligns it can be really beautiful as well. And of course the sunrises and sunsets at sea….

P – “When we were in the middle of the Med, crossing for example from Malta to Turkey, at some point it’s just water. You don’t see land anywhere. You don’t see boats. It’s just your little boat in the middle of the ocean. And you know underneath you there’s nothing but 10km of water. You feel humble, like you’re such a little thing in the world.”

D- “And at the same time empowering because you have to be so self-sustainable. All our energy came from wind and solar (except when we had to run the diesel engine) – that’s how our kids understand it. You are your own little world. You need to make sure you have enough food. We made our own water through osmosis. It’s very scary and adventurous but at the same time very empowering and very humbling. Wildlife is always another big highlight. You don’t feel like a superior human species, as we often think when we live in a city. We’re not.”

P – “You realise when you go back to normal civilisation, in a country like Australia, we have it so easy. We take everything for granted: water, electricity, food, shelter. It makes you appreciate little things in life. I think that’s why we have some sort of crisis in our time because we just don’t appreciate a lot of things that we take for granted.”

D – “Also having time… on the boat, so often we would just sit there as a family, we might read, we might play games, we might talk, we might just sit there – that’s something you never do in land life. I don’t know any family that just sits in the garden and spends time together. People are always rushing.”

D – “It’s like the ocean: the waves of the ocean slow you down, and you’re forced to adjust to it. Maybe at the beginning you fight it and you still want to do a thousand things, and then after a while you have to give in because it’s the rhythm of nature.”

P – “Most people are scared to follow their dreams.”

P – “People create their own prisons. You are a prisoner of your own freedom. I think it’s about liberating yourself from your own prison. Your own baggage plays a big part of that. It’s a mental game.”

D – “To put things into perspective, they say there are about 10,000 live-aboard sailing boats out there at any one time of those just 1% are families – so there’s only about 100 families cruising the world like we did. So we were nuts!”

P – “Me being from Argentina – having instability is normal. That is what I got from my parents; they were in some bad economic situations but they showed me you can always get up and come back.”

D – “People slide into a mortgage because in our culture you need to own your own house. The way people talk is that the bigger the house you have, the more you must have achieved or the cleverer you must be.”

P – “Society is telling you that if you want to climb the hierarchy and you want to be at the top, you have to have a lot of material possessions. You need to have the big house and your wife needs to drive the latest 4-wheel drive BMW/Mercedes.”

D – “It definitely does exist, this hierarchy, especially in terms of possessions – but there is always the option to opt out. Maybe because we grew up in different cultures, it’s easier for us to step out and see that, that you don’t have to buy into it.”

D – “I’ve got three kids, I don’t have the energy to start a Che Guevara-style revolution. But I feel that it’s a silent revolution just being a living example that you can live a different life, rather than aggressively fighting against it.”

P – “I think a lot of people are realising that there’s nothing there in possessing, or climbing up the ladder in the corporate world, or trying to get the mortgage for the biggest house. I think a lot of people like us can see there’s emptiness there and it’s not going to fulfil your spirit.”

D – “People have realised there’s limits with possessions. They don’t really make you happy.”

D – “The more people have, the more fear they have of losing it. The less material stuff you have, the more you can just go with the flow of life and see where it takes you. And get all these wonderful surprises that otherwise you’d miss out on.”

P – “If you get rid of material things that you don’t actually need, you will feel freedom somehow, you will feel lighter with more options.”

D – “For example, we bought a boat with a relatively low budget compared with many other sailing families and we never worried about getting robbed – and our lock didn’t even work properly. Whereas we have quite a few friends who have boats worth 15 times as much as our boat, and talking to them I felt they actually enjoyed their experience much less than us because they were always worried about people kidnapping their kids or stealing things from their boat. So in a way it was freeing living on a boat that always looked like the poorest in the

Busting the Bubble

It’s not about pretty pictures in the sparkling Sea today. I have been speaking more to a friend lately who has been saving refugees in the Mediterranean for the past few years. She goes out on NGO funded boats. They wait 12 nm off the coast of Libya from where they can help whichever boats make it to them. The totally overfilled boats include many young babies, pregnant women and unaccompanied children ten years up.

Then there’s me sitting on the other side of the world, surrounded by so much affluence that people get depressed not knowing what to do with all that stuff in their multi-million dollar flats in Bondi and surroundings. What has happened to this world? How could we get to such a state of injustice and unbalance? Why are so many still focusing on separation rather than union? At the end of it we are all one and the same energy, come from the same place, live on the same Earth and are headed for the same direction: A very uncertain future.

Gazing beyond the boundary of my pretty Bondi bubble, it really gets to me how as a human race can we allow for so much suffering still to happen – much of it self-induced by us humans ourselves. Why are there helpless refugees still having to die so cruelly the way these two survivors (of 500 on their boat who drowned) retell in the below TED talk?

It feels overwhelming. I keep spreading the word of yoga on, but more importantly off the mat as I strongly believe it is part of the solution towards a more peaceful and just planet. I’ll also get on to at least one or two of Melissa Flemings (communications for UN Refugee Commission) 8 suggested practical ways to do something:

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Connect with your Dreams

Life in the city goes on. Although Sydney’s pace is tranquil compared to London, Tokyo, Honk Kong and New York, it’s still easy to get caught up in endless to-dos and – out here in my beloved Bondi – supposed ultra-spiritual musts, like daily instagramable moments close to falling of a cliff; yoga-marketing; engaging in the ultimate diet trend… you name it. I’ve kicked it all – back to basics for me these days, back to my own practise, back to old-style meditating. It might seem boring, but man, it keeps me grounded in this fast-moving world.
Today I had my first 6am flying yoga class since Indi was born with my personal very favourite teacher and, in my opinion, best kept secret in Sydney, followed by my first coffee in months – was flying for the rest of the day. Total vata-aggravation, not sustainable, but fab for a day. Needed to balance it out with a glass of red just then as we grabbed pizza for improvised Friday dinner. In a nutshell, all good here.
Every morning I still get up in disbelieve how ridiculously easy land-life in a Western country is. It feels like waking up in Disney Land every day… wonder when even Disney Land is going to get boring (and I know it will, but I’m not there yet!). Until then, namaste, be grateful for what you have. And dream. Dream big – because what more is there to do?!?
We like doing it.
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Being in awe

A friend sent me a scientific article this morning which seemed to prove how optimistic feelings and moods influence positively on the body’s physcial health and well-being. More specifically, the feeling of being in awe was linked to reducing inflammation in the body.

It’s interesting how science more and more proves what is pretty obvious when you live ‘in tune’. Sailors would know that despite the challenges of living among the most hostile environments, there’s not much to beat sunrises at Sea. Parents would know there’s not much that beats that first little smile or gaze of a newborn. Anyone, who embraces live to the fullest would know, that being in awe can be a daily, casual thing which enhances our health and well-being on so many levels. So turn off your device  (I’d say it’s pretty unlikely to find  that feeling through a screen…) and look around you. Notice something to be in awe of?

With love, lightness and gratitude. Dini

Beautiiful Things

 

 

Worship the Sun Safely: Navigating towards a ‘safe sunscreen’

 

It's not easy to understand what's in our body products these days, but it's important!

It’s not easy to understand what’s in our body products these days, but it’s important to make sure we aren’t putting potentially hazardous ingredients on our bodies and into the seas and waterways.

Every since I was a kid, putting sunscreen on was considered a ‘healthy’ thing to do. Whether I was sailing small sailing dinghies, playing on the beach, or surfing, I was always caked with sunscreen. Like most consumer products, I never questioned its safety for my body or the environment. Sunscreen was something that let me surf longer and captain Swell without getting burned. In 2008, I had a filmmaker on my boat for a week that used only natural soaps, oils, toothpastes, etc, and I started to get curious about what was in the stuff I was using. I was shocked to uncover synthetic chemicals, hormone disruptors, and even plastic in the form of microbeads in some of the products I was using!? I started reading labels and learning more about what some of these hard to pronounce ingredients were. I started choosing natural alternatives to large corporate brands for everything possible. But effective natural sunscreen was still hard to find.

 

I read some studies that linked some of the ingredients of common sunscreens to harmful side effects for my body and for the sea. From health problems, to coral bleaching, to interference with plankton development–the base of the ocean food chain—I realized that the ingredients that I was putting on my body had rippling side effects!

 

But with all the sly marketing strategies and conflicting information out there, I had a hard time understanding what and if a truly ‘safe’ sunscreen option even existed?! Until I connected with Chris Wilkinson of Avasol Suncare, I had a very fuzzy understanding of what ‘safe sunscreen’ meant. He sent me links to key studies, and broke it down for me like this:

 

Sunscreens basically fall into two categories: mineral and non-mineral.

 

Mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin, providing a physical barrier between your body and harmful UV rays.  Zinc is the primary active ingredient in most mineral sunscreens, and is the safest, most effective sun protection out there.  Zinc in its natural form poses no known health or environmental risks. But recently, scientists have engineered tiny molecules of zinc and titanium in ‘nano’ form, which are proven to be problematic…We’ll come back to this in a moment.

 

Non-mineral (aka “chemical”) sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients that are designed to absorb into the skin, allowing them to rub on clear. These make up the bulk of common sunscreens like Coppertone, Sun Bum, Neutrogena, etc. Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in most chemical sunscreen formulations, however, it has been found to pose alarming risks. It is a colorless crystal used in sunscreen to absorb UVA II and UVB rays. In the body, Oxybenzone can enter the bloodstream, disrupting normal hormonal processes. Oxybenzone has been classified as a Category 1 hazard to marine wildlife! When washed into the ocean, it is highly destructive to coral reefs and the delicate ocean ecosystems that depend on them. It’s recently been scientifically proven that this compound inhibits young coral from developing and that even one drop of sunscreen can contaminate the amount of water in 6 Olympic swimming pools!?

 

Other chemicals to be cautious of include: octinoxate, avobenzone, Mexoryl SX, Mexoryle XL, tinosorb, to start. Not to mention that little is known and safety testing is shockingly absent about how these compounds react in our bodies in combination with each other and with skin penetration enhancers.

 

Overall, opt for mineral sunscreens.  They provide effective sun protection that’s better for you and better for the environment.

 

But even within the mineral sunscreen category, not all sunscreens are created equal. Here’s where nanoparticles come in…

What is a nanoparticle? It’s a chemically-manufactured substance that is 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanoparticles exhibit different physical and chemical properties than their larger counterparts and pose potential health risks to humans and to the environment.

 

Although Zinc-oxide is the safest and most effective active ingredient in sun protection, the downside is that it leaves an opaque white tint on the skin when applied. To solve for the white tint that zinc leaves, manufacturers have begun to chemically alter zinc-oxide down to the nano scale to make it rub on clear. Nanoparticle zinc or ‘Clear zinc’ sounds great in theory, but it’s the side effects remain unclear.  Nanoparticulate zinc and titanium oxides have since become common in mineral sunscreens – even the ‘organic’ ones. But the tiny particles have been engineered to be so small, that they can enter into your body circulatory system. In a scientific review, Adv Drug Delivery Rev., Dr. Kreilgaard researched the effect of human exposure to the chemical titanium dioxide, noting that, “very small titanium dioxide particles penetrate into the skin and interact with the immune system.”

Beach day with Amelia.

Beach day with Amelia and all the essentials.

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Protect where you play! It all eventually flows to the ocean, so using reef and body safe sunscreen benefits you and the ocean no matter where you live. Ingredients in common sunscreens have been found to inhibit coral and plankton embryos from developing properly. One drop of sunscreen can contaminate enough ocean water to fill 6 Olympic swimming pools!

 

The use of spray sunscreen is also cause for concern. Spray sunscreen is conveniently applied through an aerosol application. But this application can spread those nanoparticles and chemicals into the air, putting you at risk of inhaling them. Nanoparticles have been linked to have damaging effects on the lungs and intestinal tracts. Once inhaled, these are so small that they interfere with your body’s normal biological chemistry and can cause complication such as infection, or even the growth of cancer cells. When applying spray sunscreen make sure to hold your breath to avoid inhaling the chemicals, but it’s probably better to avoid the risk altogether.

 

The long-term health risks of nanoparticle use in humans remain poorly understood. There hasn’t been enough research done to truly know the degree to which these nano-scale particles are penetrating our skin and interacting with our cells, tissues and organs. What has been thoroughly studied, however, is the effect nanoparticles have on the earth’s ecosystems.  Recent bodies of research have shown that the release of these ultra-small particles into the environment accumulates as toxic pollutants in air, soil or water.

 

At the beach or lake or river, people cool off by taking a dip and their sunscreen washes off into the water polluting it with toxic chemical compounds and/or nanoparticles. Since everything flows to the ocean and since these particles are too small to filter out, you don’t need to even be in the ocean to pollute it–just taking a shower at home can do it. Sunscreen nanoparticles have been shown to be toxic to the base of the ocean food chain by damaging and disrupting the immune systems of phytoplankton and marine creature embryos.  As the bottom of the food chain becomes compromised, this creates a butterfly effect up the food chain from algae to fish to dolphins to whales.

A white sea urchin

 

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I seek shade and cover up with clothes and hats when possible! * Image by Ned Evans

 

Sunscreen companies are aware of these studies and consumers educated on the issue have raised significant and valid concerns.  As a result, manufacturers have begun clumping up a bunch of nanoparticles together and calling the formulation ‘non-nano.’  These claims are misleading, as this is a superficial attempt to disguise the true nature of a product. They key is to find products that contain solid-particle, non-nano zinc oxide.

 

Unfortunately, nanoparticles are currently not regulated by the US FDA as they are in other countries, so it is not likely we as consumers in the US will be able to find adequate information about these ingredients on product labels.

 

So, if your sunscreen rubs on clear, it’s probably not safe.  A non-toxic, non-nano-based sunscreen will always come in the form of a visible, ‘physical barrier.’

My mini sea sisters, Heimiti, Vahine, & Kohai doing their Avasol sun rituals to protect themselves while surfing but love their reefs at the same time!!

My mini sea sisters, Heimiti, Vahine, & Kohai doing their pre-surf Avasol rituals to protect their skin and love their reefs at the same time!!

 

Any time you see a formula that rubs on clear, it is going to either contain UV-absorbing actives like Oxybenzone, a chemical known to interact with human bodily processes and damage coral reefs, or if it’s a mineral formula, will contain nanoparticles, the side-effects of which are murky.

 

I’ve decided that the mild appearance of a physical sunscreen (the tan color on my skin) and the slight additional cost of all-natural, 100% bio-based, mineral ingredients far outweigh the risk in buying a cheap, corner-cutting sunscreen with unknown long-term risks.

 

For those of us dedicated to making healthy decisions for our bodies, families, and the environment, I encourage you to protect yourself from the sun with shirts and hats when possible, and ask questions and do your research when choosing a sunscreen. It has been such a pleasure for me to get to know Chris and Lisa of Avasol Suncare over the last few years. It’s so rare to meet people so dedicated to sustainability, accountability, and responsible business. Every ingredient is researched carefully, sourced responsibly, tested extensively, and combined with love to make sunscreens that actually make my skin feel happy when I put them on! Avasol ticks all my boxes for personal and environmental safety, plus the packaging is 90% less plastic than most brands. The epic face stick they make comes in a 100% biodegradable, recycled paper tube that’s waxed for water resistance! In this world where the consumer constantly feels like they have to be on-guard, I feel so lucky to know that there are people like the Wilkinson’s, trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. Order some today at Avasol.com! For international inquiries, email info@avasol.com.

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Learn. Grow. Love.

Sunday morning writing time. FIRST readers in Malta can look forward to the September issue which will include an insight into my personal journal of crossing the Australian Outback. (Blog readers will find a copy on my Media page a few months down the track). Finishing the article, I tumble across a quote which stayed with me from a visit to one of the remote Aboriginal communities out there in the vast, red land . An obvious fact which unfortunately has become less obvious in the obscure and crazy materialistic world we live in:

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love and then, we return home.

  • How to make the most of our little time on Earth;
  • Envisioning your passion, practising yoga and connecting with your dreams;
  • Bringing more clarity to your path and life;
  • Getting inspired by someone who’s stepped away from security in exchange for a life closer to her dreams than ever thought possible;

 

Fantastic Blue Water Cruiser for Sale

As we are enjoying sharing our story and inspiring others at the Sydney International Boatshow this weekend, we often get asked on what boat we’ll go for next time we set off into the sunset. Well, here’s one which dear friends of ours have just put on the market after calling her home for ten years and sailing all the way around the world with Sea Topaz. In fact, the lovely British couple living on it are a friend’s parents and sort of adopted us as cruising parents and mentors over the years. Why not shoot them out a massive thank you here, Duncan and Ria, it wouldn’t have been the same without you!

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Sea Topaz for Sale

If you wanna check out their incredibly well designed and immaculately well kept and looked after Callisto 435, go no further than here. Had she been on the market when we were looking, and had we been able to stretch our budget enough, we’d definitely would have gone for her.

The other way we often think of them these days is when parents of older children ask us if they should go, despite all their mental ‘buts’, such as “but my daughter is getting married soon.” … “but I’ve got a grand-son on the way.”… “but my parents are getting older.” Just breathe out the buts with your next full and complete exhale. With your next deep inhale into the belly space, manifest your dream and make it come true TODAY, as tomorrow might be too late.

SeaTopaz Days_135.JPGMoreover, Duncan and Ria come to show that living your dream is the most important thing a parent can do to inspire their kids to do the same. Their son and great friend of our’s, after also sailing half way around the world several years ago, is now building his own, totally sustainable straw house for himself and his family in New Zealand. You can follow the detailed steps of his inspirational project on his blog. We can’t wait to visit them to hopefully help set up a permaculture backyard with chickens and children flopping happily about.

 

Journeys to Activism Patagonia Event Tour: Our choices define us

 

Hawaii Event

Patagonia Honolulu Event with these amazing ladies: Lauren Bosworth, Jen Homcy, Ashley Lukens, and Haunani Kane. Thanks for the photo Austin Kino!

 

Last year, Patagonia contacted me about participating in a series of events about ‘women in activism’. I felt excited. To me it meant that I was being recognized as an ‘activist’ for the planet because of the choices I’ve made in my own life to cause less harm and use my voice to spread awareness about environmental issues. They gave me the liberty to shape some events to share my own ‘journey to activism’. I decided to also celebrate the lives and choices of other women living passionate lives for a better world too, and invited ladies local to each venue in Hawaii, Santa Monica, Cardiff, Atlanta, and New York City to come talk a bit about their ‘journeys’. It took a while to track these ladies down and coordinate the events, but meeting each of them and learning their stories more than made up for the time and travel it took to make these events happen! Each of their unique journeys reminded me that all of us have a calling in this lifetime and special opportunity to serve ourselves and the world with our individual desires and talents if we chose to follow our hearts and passions! Since there were many people who couldn’t attend an event, I wanted to share the intro speech I gave at the events, some photos, and a bit about each of the amazing women who made these events so special.

I’m not a natural when it comes to public speaking—in fact I get anxious for weeks in advance. But when it’s for something I believe in, I think it’s important to lean into fear for both for personal expansion and for the positive cause! So this is what I said:

 

“Good evening everyone. Thank you for your presence tonight, and thank you to Patagonia for hosting this event and supporting my voyaging dream for over 10 years. Tonight is a celebration of choices, especially the ones we make that align with our dreams and values—because we’re fortunate enough to be able to make those choices, and because they expand us into greater and greater versions of ourselves. So tonight is about reminding ourselves of the importance of re-connecting to our inner compasses and making choices that move us towards those moments when we get the feeling that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be in life.

 

At the start, my surf voyaging dream was self-centered. I wanted to surf remote waves without crowds, but living on the ocean, befriending people of other cultures, and depending on strangers in foreign ports gave me a very tangible understanding of how interconnected everything really is. I saw the same small environmental crises happening all over the world and I was frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help. It’s so easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed and negative about the state of the world today.

 

I decided that the only way that I could guarantee change, was to change myself. So I tried to focus positively on what I could do individually everyday to make a more positive impact on the world. I tried everyday to become a better person, educate myself on the issues, and make more responsible & sustainable choices that reflected my understanding of indivisible nature of our universe. I was really proud when Patagonia asked me to take part in this tour about Women in Activism because I realized that just by changing my individual habits, I was having a significant positive impact on the world.

 

It’s not always easy to make choices from the heart when they go against the norms. It’s easier when you have a support system of people who love and believe in you. I want to give a shout out my family and friends and my network of sisters around the world who make me feel that as long as I keep choosing from the heart, I can’t go wrong. It’s important to surround yourself with people who support your dreams and your happiness, and also to be that person for others.

 

So tonight I want to create a climate of sister & brotherhood—a safe zone—for us all to acknowledge and nurture our true desires, even if they seem selfish in the beginning, because I believe they are leading us to more self-love, connection, a better world, and an understanding that we are truly unlimited when we live from the heartspace.

Learning about other people’s journeys gives me more courage on my own path, so I’ve invited inspiring examples of ladies who have actively made choices to follow their curiosities and passions here tonight. I’ve also invited a yoga instructor to lead us in a few breathing and seated yoga poses, since yoga, meditation, and breath-work have been instrumental to me for finding direction in my life when I’m not sure which way to go.”
We then did some group yoga in our seats—a bit of breathing to get centered, then some individual or partners stretching to promote unity and cooperation. Next I showed my new short film titled, Steer with Your Heart. This 18-minute documentary by Teva Perrone will premiere online here in August! When the film wrapped up, we did another stretch and then invited the ladies up to join in a panel discussion to talk about their individual stories, moving beyond fear, the benefits and challenges of living their passions. I wish I had recorded all their answers for you, because they were all so brilliant and inspiring, but here is a brief bio of all of them so that you can look them up and check out their inspiring work as you’d like:

Journeys to Activism at Patagonia Honolulu, Hawaii

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Ashley had us all captivated by her knowledge and leadership of Hawaii’s fight against GMO testing and food system justice. Great capture by Austin Kino!

 

Ashley Lukens

Ashley Lukens is the Program Director for Center for Food Safety in Hawaii. Her work focuses on issues of human and environmental health as they relate to the food system. She is actively fighting GMO testing in the Hawaiian Islands and advocates public involvement in local politics along with supporting the movement for smaller-scale organic farming. She is also a founding member and the Vice President of the Hawaii Food Policy Council and continues to teach Political Science courses at UH Manoa and UH West Oahu. Follow her journey on Instagram @ashleylukens

 

Jen Homcy

Jen Homcy is a former Marine Scientist turned reclaimed woodworker. Her start up, Found Wood, diverts valuable Hawaiian grown hardwoods from the dump and creates heirloom pieces for homes and living. Using lumber from trees that have been removed for development and salvaged from the chippers of Hawaii’s tree trimmers, Jen describes her pieces as “Where art meets function.” Follow her journey on Instagram @foundwoodworking

 

Haunani Kane

Haunani Kane is an apprentice navigator aboard the Hōkūleʻa World Wide Voyage and a PhD student studying Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii. Honoring her Hawaiian heritage, Haunani’s chief focus is on past and future impacts of rising sea levels upon Pacific Island communities. Haunani also volunteers at the Polynesian Voyaging Society, where she assists with the development and training of crewmembers for Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia’s ‘Science at Sea’ projects. Follow her journey on Instagram @hihaunani

 

Lauren Bosworth

Lauren is native to San Diego but is currently teaching Happy Back Yoga on the North Shore of Oahu.  She feels that sharing this form of active therapeutic yoga with the island is her passion and guiding people through healing themselves is her purpose. Her passion for healing and people come through fantastically in her courses. You can check out her workshops and weekly schedule on her  Instagram @serenebeing or email for privates serenebeing@gmail.com.

 

Journeys to Activism in Santa Monica, California

 

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With legends Peggy Oki, Anna Cummins, Shayna Gladstone, and Casey Stroud at Patagonia Santa Monica.

Anna Cummins

A Santa Monica native, Anna is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the 5 Gyres Institute. Their mission “S.E.A.” or “Science. Education. Activism.” has led the effort to research aquatic plastic pollution and find solutions for plastic-free oceans. 5 Gyres empowers people to become leaders in combating the global health crisis of plastic pollution . They have led 16 ocean research expeditions, succeeded in passing the first ever state microbead legislation, and restoring habitat with international beach clean ups. Follow her work on Instagram @5gyres.

 

Shayna Gladstone

Shayna Gladstone is a global organizer, transformational facilitator, sustainable farmer and co-founder of Earth Journeys and NuMundo. Both organizations promote personal and planetary transformation. While Earth Journeys empowers change seekers to cultivate lifestyles that regenerate the mind, body, soul and planet through transformative journeys and earth-based education, NuMundo connects people to meaningful experiences to facilitate personal transformation and accelerate the development of impact centers. Follow her journey on Instagram @earthjourneyscollective and @nu_mundo

 

Peggy Oki

Peggy is legendary for her role as one of the primary females in the surfing & skateboarding movement in the 70s in Venice Beach, California. You may remember her part in the film, Dogtown and Z-Boys. Through her passion for surfing, she fell in love with cetaceans and began painting them. Peggy founded the Origami Whales Project in 2004, combining her love for art and cetaceans. Since 2004, the Origami Whales Project has worked to raise awareness concerning threats to dolphins and whales. She mobilized thousands of concerned citizens across the globe and created a “Curtain of 38,000 Origami Whales”. This large-scale public art project was exhibited throughout the world and served as a powerful visual statement and memorial for the thousands of individual whales killed since the 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

 

Casey Stroud

The evening’s yoga was led by yoga specialist, Casey Stroud. When Casey found yoga in 2009, her heart was set afire by yoga’s simplicity in cultivating profound physical and mental awareness. She earned her ERYT 200 and RYT 500 Yoga Alliance certifications under the tutelage of Sigrid Matthews, Noah Maze, and Matt Schwartz. Along the way to becoming a yoga teacher, she discovered AcroYoga and Thai massage in 2012, which blew the lid off of her already delighted mind, body, and spirit. She dove deeper, garnering both Level 1 and 2 certifications from AcroYoga.org, and taking multiple Thai Massage trainings. Her ability to maintain a beginner’s mind, even as her physical practice may look nowhere near beginner, keeps her offerings accessible, encouraging, and full of love. Follow her journey on Instagram @c_l_s

 

Journeys to Activism in Cardiff, California

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Patagonia Cardiff’s amazing line-up of ladies: Leah Wisner, Emi Koch, Anna Santoro & Becky Mendoza

 

Leah Wisner

Leah and her sister Talitha founded 9 for 17; a student organization at UTSA and Princeton University. 9 for 17 promotes veganism as a solution to meeting 9 of the 17 Global Goals of the U.N. for a more sustainable and loving world. The organizations chief focus is to feed the hungry in local communities a sustainable diet of fruits and vegetables and work to change nutrition and education policies in the hopes of a better world. By one person going vegan, 9 out of 17 of the UN’s Goals for Sustainable Development can be met, including: zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption, climate action, life below water, life on land, and partnerships for these goals. Follow their awesome journey on Instagram @9for17

 

Emi Koch

Surfer, humanitarian and a personal hero to me for her relentless efforts to empower underprivileged youth, Emi founded Beyond the Surface International at just 18 years old in an effort to bring equal opportunity to all youth. Her non-profit now funds organizations and community programs in 18 locations around the world using surfing, art, and digital media for youth empowerment, community development, environmental education, and ocean literacy initiatives, while addressing issues such as conflict, poor health practices, and lack of access to education.

Becky Mendoza

A surfer, action sports lawyer, humanitarian, and clean eating enthusiast, Becky recently co-founded Changing Tides Foundation with her best friends, Anna Santoro, Leah Dawson, Leane Darling, and Jianca Lazarus. Changing Tides will visit and produce media highlighting positive causes and organizations around the world in hopes of bringing attention to their work and facilitating everyday travelers with opportunities to serve these groups along their travels. I’m honored to be a board member for this organization and look forward to helping them grow this network. Website coming soon! For now you can follow their journey on Instagram @changingtidesfoundation

 

Britta Rael

The evening’s yoga was led by Britta Rael. When Britta lost her mom to colon cancer in 2006, she made a conscious choice to shift her lifestyle to eat organic, homemade food and to be more intentional about using and loving her body. She has since studied and practiced hatha yoga, sports medicine, outdoor mountaineering, partner acrobatics, slackline yoga, ocean swimming, massage therapy and a whole slew of other movement modalities. Her intention is to share the deep healing that yoga—as a complete system—offers because of its “potential to catalyze enormous positive change in my community.” She believe this change begins with the individual, through personal transformation, then expands globally as a result of real healing and connection to others. Follow her journey on Instagram @brittaraelyoga

 

Journeys to Activism in Atlanta, Georgia

 

Patagonia Atlanta's line-up included chef and urban farmer Carolynn Ladd and yoga instructor Charisse Williams.

Patagonia Atlanta’s line-up included chef and urban farmer Carolynn Ladd and the fabulous lawyer turned yoga instructor, Charisse Williams.

Carolynn Ladd

 

Carolynn is a fellow vegan, private chef, and urban farmer with Freewheel Farms. This small-scale farm looks to connect people with farmers and offer the highest quality foods in the Atlanta area. Through her work as a chef, Carolynn works to educate and inspire her clients to eat healthier and more sustainably. Freewheel farms exemplifies the importance of developing strong local economies and producing food on a human scale in an effort to support thriving community based food systems. Check out a tour of the farms here. And follow her journey on Instagram @adatewithfigs and @freewheelfarmatl

 

Charisse Williams

Chicago native Charisse M. Williams earned her BA from Cornell University before attending Northwestern University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor degree. She has over 20 years experience working in the nonprofit sector. During that time, she has served as a program staff member, Director, President, a foundation Program Officer and has also held many volunteer, board and advisory board positions. Over the course of her career she has worked with diverse populations including incarcerated youth and women in outpatient drug treatment. It was her passion for the role of the nonprofit sector in addressing complex social issues that led her to found Charisse M. Williams Consulting in June, 2015. Her enthusiasm for yoga led her to earn her yoga teacher certificate, and she now teaches yoga classes and workshops around Atlanta, including Beginner’s yoga at Kashi Atlanta on Sundays at 10am. She works to bring joy and a sense of humor to her classes and make them accessible to all abilities and bodies. She loves to experiment and is currently collaborating with cellist Okorie Johnson on yoga classes featuring live cello accompaniment! Follow her journey on Facebook at Charisse M. Williams Yoga

Journeys to Activism in New York City

 

Honored to come together with Patagonia Bowery, NYC's all-star line-up: Shaney Jo, Debi Spindelman, Caitie Rowe, Alexis Krauss

Honored to come together with Patagonia Bowery, NYC’s all-star line-up: Shaney Jo, Debi Spindelman, Caitie Rowe, Alexis Krauss!

 

Alexis Krauss

Alexis Krauss is the Co Founder of Beauty Lies Truth, an incredible online community dedicated to educating consumers about the ingredients in personal care products and promoting sustainable and non-toxic skincare. “The beauty industry needs a makeover,” the immaculate website claims. She and her co-founder create content from ‘#DIYBEAUTY’ to ‘#BEAUTYBULLSHIT’, challenging social norms and redefining what it means for women to feel beautiful. Alexis is also the singer/songwriter from the popular band Sleigh Bells. Follow her work on Instagram @beautyliestruth

 

Shaney Jo Darden

Shaney Jo is the one and only founder of two hugely successful non profit organizations: Keep a Breast Foundation and Non-Toxic Revolution. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, the Keep a Breast Foundation helps to eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support to ensure long term health and well being. Branching off of Keep a Breast Foundation, Non-Toxic Revolution also works to inform, educate, and inspire young people in a revolutionary way against the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment and food supply, especially those linked to breast cancer. Shaney Jo is a boss!! Follow her work on instagram @keepabreast @nontoxicrev

 

Debi Spindelman

Debi’s experience traveling the world as a competitive longboarder in her early twenties stoked her passion for working toward a sustainable and resilient future. Now Debi is not only a consultant to the United Nations, but an educator and researcher at Columbia University where she mentors Masters students working to improve the quality of life for people around the world. A deep believer in participatory problem solving, Debi directs applied learning initiatives for SIPA’s Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice program, where she guides early- to mid-career practitioners in sustainable development and climate resilience. Committed to education, youth empowerment, public health, and social justice, Debi paves new ground every day in the fight for a better world! She also writes for people working to make the world a better place at www.on-practice.com. Follow her on journey instagram @d_spindelinski

 

Caitie Rowe

Caitie Rowe made a courageous leap from her position as the Global Marketing Manager at Hurley to being Global Operations Director for the non profit organization, Waves for Water. Her mission is simple, but powerful: ‘Get clean water to every person that needs it.’ How does she do it? By working on with world leaders and strategic partners who take a no nonsense attitude toward making global change. She’s happy to be using her energy and talents to help alleviate worldwide clean water access issues. Some of the nonprofit’s most recent projects include earthquake relief in Ecuador, Nepal relief initiatives, and the Flint water crisis. Follow her work on Instagram @wavesforwater

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My sister, Kathleen, flew in and showed up halfway through the Honolulu event. So happy to see her!!

So grateful for sea sister support from Leane and Lolo in Hawaii!

So grateful for sea sister support from Leane and Lolo in Hawaii!

Honored to share the evening with a Hawaiian legend--Haunani Kane--apprentice navigator on the Hokulea, sea level rise expert, and volunteer ocean educator.

Honored to share the evening with a Hawaiian legend–Haunani Kane–apprentice navigator on the Hokulea, sea level rise expert, and volunteer ocean educator.

A few days of nature and seasister restoration with these beauties--Mckenzie, V, Lolo, me, & my real sister Kathleen. Mckenz, thank you for flying in to hang for the weekend! Pure love and good vibes, thank you Ana & Leane for letting us take over the Hen House!

A few days of nature and seasister restoration with these beauties–Mckenzie, Vivian, Lolo & my real sister Kathleen. Mckenz, thank you for flying in to hang for the weekend! Pure love and good vibes, thank you Anna & Leane & Leah for letting us take over the Hen House!

 

My old friend Ryan Richter showed up to the Patagonia Santa Monica event with flowers and a huge hug. Great to see you Mister Richter!

Epic turnout at my home town event at Patagonia Cardiff! Thanks to everyone who cam down it was such an honor to have you all there.

Epic turnout at my home town event at Patagonia Cardiff! Thanks to everyone who cam down it was such an honor to have you all there.

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We were all a little nervous…hahaha…

 

 

After meeting in a yoga class in San Diego 4 years ago, it was a special honor to collaborate with yogini extraordinaire and beautiful soul, Britta Rael, at the Cardiff event!!

Special serendipitous run-in with seasister supporter Yarnie in her Steer with Your Heart, Swell Voyage sweatshirt! We got a lovely surf together at Swamis!

Special serendipitous run-in with seasister supporter Yarnie in her Swell Voyage sweatshirt! We got a lovely surf together at Swamis! Thanks for the support and good vibes sister!

The brilliant Leah Wisner of 9 for 17 flew out from Laredo Texas to join us for the Cardiff event, and got to go for her first surf ever!

The beautiful and brilliant, Leah Wisner, of 9 for 17 flew out from Laredo Texas to join us for the Cardiff event, and I was stoked to bring her out for her first surf ever this morning!

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Group yoga at Cardiff!! I see you Squirrel Girl.

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After talking with Emi and Leah until 3 in the morning in our hotel room after the event, we met up with Becky and Anna the next morning for a few awesome rounds of Wim Hof breathing and meditation overlooking the sea! I hadn’t seen Emi in almost 3 years!?

 

Stoked to see Alfonso Lopez of Ocean Force Foundation at the Cardiff event!

So stoked to catch up with Alfonso Lopez of Ocean Force Foundation at the Cardiff event!

 

Mom joins me on the tour on her birthday and we’re off to Atlanta and NYC!

 

 

Pre-event yoga with Charisse Williams in Atlanta was wonderful!!

 

Yoga with Charisse

Yoga with Charisse made me so relaxed and confident for that event!

I got to visit Freewheel Farms in Atlanta where Carolynn gets all her chef supplies from her boyfriend's two urban farms that grow beautiful organic food and try to get it in low-income neighborhood shops where fresh organic produce is often scarce.

I got to visit Freewheel Farms in Atlanta where Carolynn gets all her chef supplies from her boyfriend Brent’s two urban farms that grow beautiful organic food and get it in low-income neighborhood shops where fresh organic produce is often scarce.

Carolynn took me to an incredible secret swimming hole with a Georgia peach to savor along the way!

Carolynn took me to an incredible secret swimming hole with a Georgia peach to savor along the way!

Alexis informing us about the dangerous ingredients in so many commons beauty products today.

Alexis, lead singer of Sleigh Bells, informing us about the dangerous ingredients in so many commons beauty products today. Check out Beautyliestruth.com!

NYC crowd!!

Patagonia Bowery NYC crowd!! Must have been a serious moment. 🙂

 

Shaney Jo of keep a Breast and Non Toxic Revolution on the mic!

Shaney Jo, founder of keep a Breast and Non Toxic Revolution on the mic!

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Wonderful to meet these fabulous passion pursuers in person!

 

Epic breakfast visit with Steven Sadoff, longtime Swell Voyage supporter, at his delicious and popular coffee stop, Ground Support in the SoHo district.

Epic breakfast visit with Steven Sadoff, longtime Swell Voyage supporter, at his delicious and popular coffee stop, Ground Support in the SoHo district of NYC.

Such an amazing time with Mom in NYC! Blown away by the all the expressive energy and creativity of this wild area of human congregation!

Such an amazing time with Mom in NYC! Blown away by the all the expressive energy and creativity of this wild area of human congregation!

Lucky to be invited out for some rest and relaxation after the tour by my friend Laura in Montauk!

Lucky to be invited out for some rest and relaxation after the tour with my friend Laura in Montauk!

And a little wave sliding too!

And a little ray catching and wave sliding too!

Mom soaking up the backyard...

Mom soaking up the relaxing backyard…

 

Then hopped a few trains to Rhode Island to meet up with North Sails for a possible collaboration about upcycling sails and making new sails for Swell! Thank you for everything Bill and Kenny!

 

 

 

And then off for some more unforgettable moments with mom to fulfill her east coast dreams!!

Grateful and blessed for all the beautiful people, experiences, and learning that were part of this tour. More from the South Seas soon!

Grateful and blessed for all the beautiful people, experiences, and learning that were part of this tour. More from Swell and the South Seas soon!