I have been traveling around the world and volunteering for more than 20 years. My travels have allowed me to combine my passion for philanthropy with my insatiable curiosity about the world, giving me the chance to more deeply understand other cultures while practicing a “leave your trace” style of travel.
I grew up in the Midwest, deeply curious about the world that existed beyond the wheat fields, suburbs and interstates. My first experience as a foreigner was in Spain as a young adult, and I have since focused my journeys on opportunities to leave some meaningful mark on people or communities through volunteerism.
I hold a journalism degree and a graduate degree in environmental policy and management. I have always loved writing and nature. Beyond my professional endeavors as a consultant for NGOs, I have contributed to causes I care about through efforts at home and abroad, serving in volunteer roles in South Africa, India, Peru, Costa Rica, Belize, and Thailand and most recently in Moore, Oklahoma, where I provided aide to tornado victims immediately following 2013’s devastating storms.
I’m not counting countries or fulfilling a “bucket list.” By sharing my experiences through journals, photography and video, I simply hope to show others what a beautiful, surprising and compassionate world we live in. Sometimes we have to look for it, but it’s in the search that so much is revealed.
I’m currently serving as a Kiva Fellow in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
What’s this “Leave The Boots” business?
The expression “leave the boots” was lifted from a passage from my India travel blog. It is a reference from a trip I took to Africa in 2004. The passage from the original blog post was:
As I lay there, what occurred to me first were my boots. I bought them new for the trip, and they were a bit pricey. I mentioned to Rebecca my idea to leave my boots, as there were a few gentlemen I’m sure they would have fit. Rebecca (understandably) discouraged this, ensuring me I’d be wishing I had those boots during our last few days camping. I agreed, but with this parting remark: “We will be here, now, only once. Whatever it is that we mean to give, we should give it now.”
It’s true, I did need my boots the following days. But when I got back home and unpacked everything, I stared at those boots and calculated how I could have gone without them if I had really wanted to. I stared at those damned boots for a good 30 minutes, and wished and wished I had left them with the bushmen…
I wished and I wished I had left the boots…
(The full post and the rest of my India travel blog from 2005 can be read here.)
For me, “leaving the boots” became synonymous with the idea that our lives are very fleeting, and whatever good we wish to do for another person — or for the world at large — is not something we should skimp on or delay. There are opportunities every day to touch someone else’s life. To neglect those opportunities is to also neglect our own innate need to give, to help, to comfort, to celebrate, to connect.
Leave The Boots is both a great memory, and an important reminder.
Thanks for reading!