Category Archives: Freedompreneurs

I Turned 40 and Became a Superwoman

My costume as a superwoman. Watch out for my walking sticks.

“40”

What a scary number for most women. Well, in 2016, 40 came to my life and stayed. It looks like it’s not going anywhere either.

While most women struggled transitioning out from their 30s and transitioning into “40,” my circumstances were highly unlike most, and for that, I’m grateful. Before turning 40 myself, I heard heart-wrenching stories from women about their harrowing experiences with it. The difficult transition can be minor, chronic or severe. I recall a female friend who was having difficulty with the notion as she was single, never married and without kids at the age of 40. Her choices in life were driven by desperation and overwhelming need to feel good that ultimately led to her own pain and suffering. To receive some form of validation, she engaged in this unhealthy habit of dating men who were married or already in relationships. Little did she know, that cycle wasn’t going to get her a long-term commitment from anyone — the very core of what she desires.

That friend’s approach to life never left my mind. Partly, it’s because witnessing her go through a tough time with the age made me wonder if I’ll go through a similar unpleasant situation. The thought scared me. Subconsciously, over the years, I have kept that image of her in my mind as a contrast to how I wish my transition into the 40s to be.

In my case, I turned 40 while camping and hiking with friends in Acadia, and like my friend — single, never married and with no kids. There was no real celebration as on my actual birthday I was on the road driving back to Washington, D.C. As expected, people sent me their birthday wishes in various forms, but all in all, there were no fireworks to celebrate the milestone, which is exactly how I intended it to be.

Internally, however, it was a different experience altogether. There was a sense of peace and calmness within me and yet a loud voice saying, YES! Quite frankly, turning 40 felt like a major achievement in my case because despite all the dangerous solo trekking I did the past decade, I successfully made it to 40, nonetheless. I also felt rather enlightened by the many lessons I have learned both on my travels and in my regular life. I even managed to write about the 40 lessons I learned on my blog to celebrate my entry into the 40s zone. In essence, I had no fear whatsoever when 40 entered my life. Instead, I felt tremendously excited about the new decade settling in. In my mind, it only means more adventures to come for a wiser and more mature version of myself.

So, as you can see, my reaction to 40 was different from how my friend reacted. It wasn’t an overnight process. My 30s involved making mistakes and learning, getting hurt and growing, and even hating myself in order to finally love myself. When you figure out a way to the path of becoming a self-made individual, you then discover your powers to create your own world that is aligned with your true essence. This then develops your ability to dismiss any negativity in the external world.

In other words,

You no longer have the urge to please everyone or even anyone for that matter. You learn to value pleasing yourself. You no longer feel obligated to look, act or speak as dictated by society. You are 100% YOU. You no longer follow other’s desires. You only follow yours. You no longer judge others. More importantly, you no longer judge yourself. You no longer fear anything or anyone but fear itself.

This all leads me to say, “40 turned me into my own hero.”

By permitting yourself to embrace the person you are now and in the future, you dive into a version of freedom that only a handful of humans can relate to. You become fully awakened by your potential to expand and create your own path. You become your own superhero — in my case, a superwoman.

Forty can be an enlightening moment — a moment to be your own version of a hero to yourself so you can be of service to others and beam light on people’s lives in the darkest of days.

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Interested in joining solo travelers for trekking tours to Peru, Nepal, Kilimanjaro & many others?  See PEAK EXPLORATIONS.

FREEDOMPRENEUR: Mayra of Crossing Lines, Finding Love

I wanted to start out the FREEDOMPRENEURS segment of Brown Gal Trekker with the ultimate topic in life – LOVE!  It can’t get any more passionate than talking about travel and love.  If you haven’t read up on what this segment is about, you can check out the introduction HERE.

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Brown Gal Trekker Meets Mayra

Of all the people I met on the road, one passionate individual continues to garner my respect and admiration – Mayra.  We met at the Old Town Kotor Hostel in the old town of Kotor in Montenegro.  Kotor is full of adventurous souls including those traveling solo.  Mayra happened to be one of them.  I was well into my 10th month of traveling and trekking when Mayra and I crossed paths.  My stop in Kotor was brief as a layover before I hit the mountains of Durmitor.  Nonetheless, Kotor is a great place to visit with its historical roots and the gorgeous views of the lake and the mountains surrounding the town.  With this as a backdrop, who wouldn’t fall inlove?

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As it turned out, both  Mayra and I were already inlove even before Kotor.  Mayra and I were both in pursuit of our passions.  While I was busy with my love for the mountains, in Mayra’s case, she was in Kotor to meet couples and talk about love.  I was intrigued by Mayra’s purpose on her travels so I asked her more questions from which I learned that she had been photographing couples on her travels for months at that point while documenting their love story.  For Mayra, the ultimate goal is to publish the photos and their stories to share with the world the universal truth – that love can overcome any boundaries, both physical and otherwise.

In her quest for completing this project, Mayra wasted no time as she ventured into various cities in Europe to meet, photograph and interview couples.  While many of us travelers are busy taking our time enjoying the museums, Mayra’s focus is on her project and will only venture to do sightseeing, if time permits.  Her fast-paced approach to traveling resonated with me because when I met her, I was speeding through cities and towns, just to get myself to the next mountain trail on my list.  In some ways, Mayra and I shared a unique similarity – intense focus on our object of passion – for Mayra it was LOVE.  For me, it was my beloved MOUNTAINS.

Since our initial meeting in 2015, Mayra and I have kept in touch as friends on Facebook.  Mayra is a photographer.  She is currently in New York City but is originally from Arizona.  Mayra’s photo series is called Crossing Lines, Finding Love.  I’m very ecstatic to feature her and share with you her unique endeavor.

MAYRA FERRA of  CROSSING LINES, FINDING LOVE

What inspired you to start the project, Crossing Lines, Finding Love?

This photo series was inspired by my  last relationship.  We met in New York City while we were both living here in 2012.  The chemistry between us was almost instant.  The more we got to know one another, the more we liked each other, and the more we realized we could never marry because of our cultural background.  He is from  Jordan and I’m not.  That was unacceptable to his family.  Coming from a very open-minded family, I had a hard time understanding this but came to terms with it.  Instead of falling apart, I decided not to give up on love.  I decided to combine three of my favorite things: photography, travel and love. Crossing Lines, Finding Love was born.

As we can see, out of an experience of love comes more love.  When did you launch your project?  

In December of 2012, this lovely project came to mind.  I didn’t actually begin my series until June of 2014, probably out of fear, though I decided to blame it on money 🙂  All that matters to me is that I finally had the courage to do it, eventually!

Yes, fear is a culprit in most cases where we try to pursue our passions.  I can totally agree with Mayra on that.  I then asked her how far along she is in the process of completing her project.  

The plan is to travel to 196 countries.  I have completed 25% of that!

That’s already an accomplishment in and of itself.  When I asked Mayra as to the ultimate goal of her project, she noted:

To show that everyone should be allowed to marry the one they love regardless of cultural differences, and everything in between.

Mayra’s goal is noble indeed.  The purpose itself can easily be a point of contention, even in modern times.  So, I asked about the challenges she faced along the way in making this goal a reality which she continues to work on overcoming just like all of us. 

I was lucky to experience kindness in every country I’ve visited so far.  I think the biggest challenges are almost within – the fear that I won’t accomplish  my goal.  The fear that I won’t have enough  money to do it.  I feel we are always getting in our own way.

What is your favorite part of this process?  

Oh my gosh!  Listening to love story after love story is amazing!  I love the happy feelings it gives me.  It just proves that I am right and everyone does have a right to feel those emotions and those awesome butterflies in the belly!

Diving into some of Mayra’s favorite moments on her travels, she then shares with us four of them through the following photographs:

Mayra’s couples

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The beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower in the early morning sunlight
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The food in almost every country

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Petra, Jordan

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What lessons have you learned from working on this project about relationships?  

This probably doesn’t answer the question but I feel that with all the advise I was given last year from each couple, my next relationship will be a success…haha!

I think Mayra might have left us out on the secret of successful relationships!  It’s a good thing we captured some of the wonderful wisdom on love through Mayra’s guest post – click HERE.  

On a different note, I asked her what she discovered about herself as part of the process? 

As a solo female traveler, I have learned to trust myself, be more aware, have more confidence in myself, as well.  It was extremely empowering.  I’m not going to say I didn’t miss a familiar face every now and then.  It was hard at times but that would last only a few minutes before the strong, empowering feeling would sink in even deeper.

How do you manage to afford traveling? 

I saved as much as I could while living in New York City.  I couchsurfed, stayed in hostels, never refused a meal that was offered (except for shark), I took the cheapest form of transportation , whether a train, car, bus, or plane.  

For a comprehensive list of ways to save money for travels, read THIS ARTICLE.

What advise do you have to those who are thinking of pursing their passion?  

I say don’t let yourself stand in the way.  Go for it!  Remember, if it wasn’t what you thought, no harm.  You tried and now you can go back to whatever you were doing or try something different.

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To wrap it up, I asked Mayra just a few more QUICK travel-related questions:

What type of travel do you like the most?  Solo traveling for sure!

How many countries have you been to?  I have been to 50 countries. 

What other countries are on your list?   I want to visit all the countries in the world!

Name one thing you miss the most when on the road?  My family and close friends.

Do you plan ahead or are you spontaneous?  Both. I’m very spontaneous but also like to check off lists at times.

Which country do you think is the most romantic for couples?  Oh boy, that’s a tough one!  I can tell you the city where I wished I had my partner by my side – VERONA, ITALY.  I loved it very much…I mean Romeo and Juliet were from there, as well 🙂

Mountains or city life?  I love both very much.  It depends on what my heart desires at the time.

Name one word that describes the word LOVE. Support.

Name 3 qualities that you think are the most important in accomplishing one’s dreams?  Courage.  Love.  Acceptance.

But there’s more!  Mayra was gracious enough to share with us some of the couple stories she documented on her travels.  To read about them, see Photos & Stories of Love.

There you have it.  Now, you know why I’m such a fan of hers.  Mayra has taken that jump off the cliff that I dreaded for a while myself and now she is soaring and living a life full of love.  Ah, the life of a freedompreneur!

Follow Mayra via her website: MAYRA FERRA & her instagram: @crossinglinesfindinglove

For tips on how to prepare for your first solo adventure, see 8 Ways to Mentally Prepare for a Solo Adventure.

For more, read I Told My Fears to Take a Hike & This is What Happened

If you wish to be featured or know of someone who should be, let Brown Gal know & email her at bgtrekker@peakexplorations.com

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I Told My Fears to Take a Hike & This is What Happened

My life these days seems reminiscent of the law school days of the past: intense, highly motivated by caffeine and filled with self imposed anticipation of what is to come next alongside the constant questioning of whether I’m cut out for this or not.

There’s a redeeming difference, however, this time around.  As much as I wish I could say my attending law school was a true desire,  I’d say it was partly a desire; and partly a peer pressure induced move in my life.   This time around what I’m pursuing is completely part of every inch of my existence and further beyond I have ever imagined to behold my dreams and creativity.  In the real world, it’s called ENTREPRENEURSHIP.  In my world, I deem it as FREEDOMPRENEURSHIP.

Coming back from a one year sabbatical from my legal career in 2015, I must admit I was a complete mess.

Sure, I quickly adapted and retrained my brain to function yet again as its legal minded counterpart but deep within the core of my being my peace was disrupted by the rallying of new age thoughts that developed while in full access to a life of freedom on the road.  Mind you, the thoughts were not harmful in anyway.  They were life-changing.  They were the voices that I have successfully pushed aside all these years because of one thing:

FEAR

So, as I walked back into the house I have lived in for a decade on my first day back in the U.S., the familiar sense of home I once knew was no longer there.  I became a stranger in a space I called home for ten years. I discovered that my path was changing.  I didn’t have a clue as to how, when or what.  I knew, however, that I had no choice but to follow the flow.  For the first time in a long while, I saw a big sign on the road telling me to go a certain way.  It was loud and clear.  There was no way for me to push down on the brakes.  There was no way out of it except the exit door that life was presenting before me. There were no more excuses to keep me from unlocking the door and walking through it.  I dove right in without pre-planning anything or everything.  I was free and yet completely lost in the midst of this  pool of creation and energy, the physical built up of which was the formation of a social enterprise.

Peak Explorations, which is Brown Gal Trekker’s virtual mountain home, didn’t materialize out of boredom or the need to partake in a lucrative endeavor.  

It all started because of a burning desire to impart on every person that manages to join a trek the notion of freedom – the way I experienced it on my one year away.  To speak truthfully about this, the freedom they will experience on a two week trek in Nepal will merely be a fraction of what I have experienced, but good enough to afford them the idea that there’s more to life than the status quo that we created in our respective lives.

Peak Explorations aims to put in the forefront of the trekker’s mind the meaning of fear.  Fear is an illusion. But our desire to travel is real.  The nagging voice that tells us to take a break from our job to explore or to quit our job altogether to pursue our passion is your voice in its most authentic form.   Drowning it any further is futile.  It’s our inner being finally  grabbing a hold of that microphone to be heard loud enough by your ego.

Life is about freedom, joy, love and inner peace.  

Since being back to the U.S., people have asked me repeatedly about the lessons learned on the trails and unequivocally seek for words of wisdom based on my love affair with the world and the mountains.  So, I tell them my best guess and hope that they instead search inwardly for the answers they’re looking for.  In a chaotic world where our lives are mediocre at best, it is up to us to recreate and refurbished the complexities of our lives and transform them into a much more comprehensible and simpler version of living.  I know it can be done. I have met the people who have executed this premise flawlessly and now living the life that they initially pushed away because of fear-based excuses.

Entrepreneurship has a way to pave the path towards freedom.

By this, I mean in a broader sense, we should never leave the major decisions in our lives at the discretion of our bosses or mates or friends.   The lifelong questions of where we go and who we are lie solely within our sole capacity as humans to address, understand and accept in their entirety.  That’s part  of coming face to face with true freedom.

As to entrepreneurship, by transforming myself to becoming my own boss, I know I’m half-way there.  The second half would merely entail the grunt work that the  outside world often gets to witness.   Mind you, the process is scary as hell as I worry about safety of my clients all the time.  After all, mountain trekking is a serious endeavor with some serious consequences in the event of mishaps on the trails.  This is when faith is crucial – faith in that everything will work out.  That your passion outweighs your doubts.  That your mission is noble enough to render the risks minimal.

You tell yourself, YOU GOT THIS! Yeah, YOU GOT THIS!  Soon enough, you will believe it and the world will, too.

It’s been overdue.  But, finally, every step of the way, I’m telling my fears to take a hike.

In my traveling life, I have figured rather quickly that as humans we crave freedom more than we care to acknowledge.  As a new entrepreneur, freedom turned out to be everything that I always wanted for the sake of creativity, self-expression and actualization of  the authentic version of myself.

For more, see also

Freedompreneurs

She Becomes a Judge and I Become a Mountain Nomad

Trekking Has Taken Over My Life But I’m Ok With It

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Trekking Has Taken Over My Life But I’m OK With It

etna
I’m not going to deny it. Lack of time to do millions of things is akin to climbing up Mt. Etna’s high points. Tough and slow going.

I stopped dating.  It’s not because I’m jaded.  Neither is it about lack of options.  It’s just that I married the mountains.  

Let me explain what I mean.  By profession, I’m a lawyer.  But since June of 2016, I made a bold move in my life.  I obtained a business license and started running a social enterprise to market trekking tours globally. This decision took shape based on over 15 years of traveling whenever I could while still practicing law.  In the past decade, I discovered my passion for mountain trekking.  I’ve been hooked since the start, so much so, that I have decided to dedicate my life to running my business, Peak Explorations, and the non-profit, Trails Without Borders.  The icing on the cake is of course my blog, Brown Gal Trekker.

I say all this to explain to you how I balance my love for travel and trekking alongside my role as a lawyer.  It’s a given that I do my duty as an attorney in my office like I always have since I started 13 years ago.  Every minute of the day outside of that is spent on running my three enterprises.  The upside is that my enterprises allow me to hike and travel.  What’s great about this transition and marriage with the mountains is that any hiking trips I do is part-business and part-pleasure.  So, balancing between these two is a bit strange because I’m doing something as work which is also something I love simultaneously.  I can’t complain really.  It’s the best imaginable syncing of my passion and work that I can possibly conjure in my head.  The thought manifesting into its physical form is happening as we speak!

So, where is the balance?

On a more concrete level, I do allow a couple of weekends for hiking or trekking per month.  I have 2-3 major treks I schedule a year that amount to 4-6 weeks of being with nature on the mountain trails.  I also do yoga at least three times a week and running at least twice a week.  These things are part of my regimen as the CEO of Peak Explorations since on some occasions I’ll be trekking up mountains alongside my clients.  The most relevant means of maintaining balance in my life, however, is to shut my brain and let it rest for sometime. I do this best by meditating which include sitting in a quiet room, dancing, taking a drive or hiking on a nearby trail.  All the rest your brain gets is so important especially when you spend significant time on social media to market and share your thoughts, let alone the amount of time you spend writing and creating.

Ah, this so-called balance can be elusive!  I must admit I’m still trying to learn the best way to balance my life given the new marriage I got myself into.  Right now, due to the newness of my being an entrepreneur and the experience of blogging, I am embracing the need for me to spend considerable time to establish the foundation for my three enterprises.  Interwoven among these three endeavors is my best effort to continue hiking and traveling.  However, as daunting as this task may seem, one fundamental thing I learned is to listen to that inner voice in me.  If I have to devote more time away from work, then that voice within will tell me so.  My job then is to listen.  When I do, my effort to find balance becomes easier.  So yes, I’ve yet to return to the dating scene which is unlikely to happen for a while.  Maybe my passion for trekking has taken over my life, but at least it’s of my own choosing.  Hence, life is as balanced as it’ll get only for now especially when what I do every minute is filled with joy and love.

…Which leads me to say this,

Regardless of the extent in which the outdoors plays a role in your life, there is such thing as overdoing it.  So, make sure to find the kind of balance that suits you.

And, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, just remember:

The experience of transitioning into a life filled with more freedom and a job that is based solely on my terms is analogous to climbing that last bit of summit.  It’s tough and slow going.  More likely than not, you’ll have to make certain sacrifices along the way, but the rewards you get from the views on top are vast and life changing.  I know it’s physically exhausting but I also have to admit that working towards my dreams fills my soul with so much ease and satisfaction that were foreign to me prior to taking this leap of faith.  With that in mind, I trudge along full speed ahead knowing that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

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The views can only get better as you get higher. Keep on trekking – on the trail to Mt. Whitney (USA).

For more, see

Freedompreneurs

I Told My Fears to Take a Hike and This is What Happened

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