From the category archives:

Outer Journey & Travel Tales

My good friend Kelly Morgan Merly of Bucket List Retreats recently paid me a huge compliment by featuring me as a guest on her Travel Talk YouTube show. At Kelly’s suggestion and true to my adventurous spirit, I made the short journey to one of my favorite places – the beach – to discuss my favorite topics: spirituality, travel, exploration and how they all connect.

(I’m a little squint-y from the sun, but hey, no journey is perfect!)

We take many journeys in life: some internal, some external. I’ve found  more often than not, where we go and what we do in the outer world is a reflection of what is evolving inside us. An outer journey in the form of travel, exploration, or a retreat can ignite an inner journey (whether we want it to or not). At the very least, it enhances and accelerates any interior journey which may already in progress.

Perhaps you have experienced the same? I certainly have, which is a big reason I keep traveling. But you be the judge. Watch the video and share your take on the subject in comments below.


World Domination? Maybe It's Just Conscious Living

As I write this, I’m soaring 33,000 feet somewhere over Montana on the final leg of my journey from Florida to Portland, Oregon for the third annual World Domination Summit (affectionately known as WDS).  By the time you read this, I’ll be immersed in the juicy mix of 3,000 bloggers, entrepreneurs, travelers, artists, nomads and seekers responding to the call of chief nonconformist Chris Guillebeau to live a remarkable life in a conventional world.

The Transformational Power of WDS

2012’s World Domination Summit was my first, and as I reflect on the incredible connections, powerful speakers and life-altering moments it delivered (more in my before and after posts) I can’t help but wonder how this year’s event will shape up and how it can possibly top last year’s. It is tripling in size, for one, from 1,000 souls last year to three times that many in 2013 and it still sold out six months ahead of time.

After having been a fan of Chris for several years plus hearing about the success of his inaugural WDS in 2011, I attended last year without hesitation but with plenty of trepidation. I ventured forth alone, knowing no one but finding it effortless and exhilarating to meet so many kindred spirits.

What a difference a year makes. One of those kindred spirits turned out to be [click to continue…]


My $100 for Charity Water

The Newmark Theater was packed for the closing session of the second annual World Domination Summit early July in Portland, Oregon. As I glanced around me it was clear every one of the exactly one thousand seats was filled. After final speaker J.D. Roth presented, Chris Guillebeau took the stage to deliver the official send-off.

I tuned-out for a bit as he recapped the brief history of the World Domination Summit (WDS), newly minted but a year prior, and much unlike its name having more to do with conscious evolution, world peace, individual courage and “love domination” than what most people tend to associate with the words “world domination”. Guillebeau, a writer, blogger, entrepreneur and traveler extraordinaire, had created the event to unite nonconformists like him passionate about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.

He wildly succeeded, doubling the event in size from 500 to 1,000 people between its inaugural run in 2011 and its second time out in 2012. While he continued recapping the opportunities that had arisen and the many additional decisions that needed to be made in planning the second WDS, at which I sat, he began to tell the story of an anonymous donor. Despite being approached by numerous corporations, organizations and individuals alike, Chris and his team had made a firm decision that WDS would be entirely sponsor-free: no big brands, no speaker pitches, no logo fests; you get the idea. Despite knowing that, an individual wishing to remain anonymous had approached Chris and insisted on giving him $100,000 to use toward WDS 2012 in the way Chris deemed best with no expectations in return.

By then I was fully tuned back in, paying sharp attention to Chris’ story and beginning to notice murmurs throughout the audience, like the woman next to me gasping, then choking up in tears, muttering “Oh my god” under her breath in [click to continue…]

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It was barely a month ago that I was on my way to the second annual World Domination Summit (WDS). Since then, my life has been a continuous whirlwind of a ride into one new realm after the next.

Actually this period of acceleration, exploration and rising intensity started more than a month ago. In the last six weeks I have journeyed through legions of virgin territory both literally and figuratively.


It began as my parents, siblings, in-laws and I successfully navigated our first adult whole-family vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – virgin territory for all of us despite several who boast passports filled to overflowing. Family Vacation Photo Cape Hatteras Beach, Outer Banks, North CarolinaSince then I’ve windsurfed, bodysurfed, stand-up-paddle-boarded and built bonfires on the beach. I reconnected with seldom-seen cousins, nieces and nephews at all ages and life stages (even valiantly – and successfully – defeating breast cancer. Go Liz!).

One trip followed another as I jetted to Portland, Oregon for my inaugural WDS. The City of Roses in July was an unexpected gem and welcome change from my usual tropical paradise. The event itself (more on that in next week’s post – I’m still synthesizing this transformational experience) was filled to capacity with awe-inspiring unconventional people, heart-opening motivational speakers, and endless opportunities to make new friends and meet kindred spirits. Enjoying Voodoo Doughnuts mobile food cart at WDS 2012I ate Voodoo doughnuts, ordered street-cart tacos (yum), drank craft beer, and savored the weekend farmers’ market. I walked the waterfront, rode the trams, and basically reveled in the amazing outdoor scene of the Pacific Northwest. (and hell yeah I’ll be back for WDS 2013).

After a one week stop home to welcome my daughter’s two teenage cousins from Mexico it was off to [click to continue…]


Virgin Territory in Portland, Oregon's Mt. Hood
Creative Commons License photo credit: JessyeAnne

I’m headed to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (WDS) tomorrow, and honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. I’m going alone, and although I tangentially know some of the people who will be there, it’s starting out at least as a solo journey. Yet the mix of trepidation, anticipation and mystery I sense feels all too familiar to me as a seasoned traveler. It’s the same presentiment that always arises before a move into virgin territory.

That’s the thing about virgin territory – there’s an open-endedness, a blank slate quality, even an obscurity to it that disables you from seeing beyond but is exhilarating and provocative all the same, irresistibly luring you forward.

(By way of background, I’m attending the event this year because I considered Chris’ inaugural WDS last year, couldn’t make up my mind, and in the end missed my chance when it sold out. Regretting my decision, I knew I’d not repeat that mistake in 2012.)

Two nagging questions always arise before exploring virgin territory, and this time is no exception: 1) Will I be back? and 2) How will I be back?

That’s an oversimplified way of expressing my mind’s natural fear and curiosity over several things: [click to continue…]


Amsterdam Canal on New Year's Eve
Creative Commons License photo credit: LenDog64

As you know if you’ve traveled yourself or read my other outer journey adventures every new journey reveals a special gift otherwise unavailable to you.

This trip is delivering early. That’s the thing about travel. You never know when the gifts will appear. They so often show up in the quiet spaces between big planned events, and of course when you least expect them.

I’m writing this on January 1 at 35,000 feet on a flight from Amsterdam to Istanbul on my latest outer journey accompanied by husband and daughter.

Amsterdam was meant to be [click to continue…]

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The Dragonfly
Creative Commons License photo credit: pr0d1gy

Recently this story about a journey crossed my path.  You may have run across it yourself; it’s often read at funeral and memorial services:

The Dragonfly

Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions.

Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened their friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, [click to continue…]


Camelback Mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale

My tales from the outer journey continue.  If you didn’t catch the first one, check it out here.

I thought after meeting Daniel in the foothills of the Chilean Andes it might be a while before I ran across another wise old man on a mountain.  Little did I know I’d meet Sam barely a month later.

Early in August I made a trip to Phoenix to see my new baby nephew who is, without question, way cuter than the average newborn.  Coming from south Florida, I knew it would be hot in Arizona, but I am at least somewhat used to (and gravitate toward) heat.  I figured there’s a good chance that ninety-five and humid in Florida is equivalent to 110 degrees in Arizona.  And if you read my first post on the outer journey, you’ll know I can’t go anywhere without trying to squeeze in some outdoor native terrain time.  Thus, my rationale for deciding to summit Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, the hottest month of the year in that desert city.

Camelback, Hiking, and the Arizona Desert

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is unique in that it literally sits smack in the middle of the entire city, not just Phoenix proper but the whole metro area.  So, it’s an ultra-convenient outdoor escape into the native Arizona environment for urban residents.  Easy to get to, challenging for a beginner, fast yet fulfilling for a pro, Camelback boasts an elevation gain of 1,200 feet from its base and two different one-and-one-half mile trails to its 2,704 ft. summit.  People hike to the summit every day.

I’ve done it before myself on several occasions, although always [click to continue…]


The Outer Journey

View from my Trail Ride in the Chilean Andes

Lately I’ve focused considerably on the inner journey – specifically, the path through my own most recent evolutionary shift in consciousness and personal growth, likely one of many such shifts any seeker undergoes in a lifetime.  After moving through that growth cycle this spring, I had an amazing summer, abundant with travel to beautiful, familiar and far-flung places alike.

It reminded me of something: life isn’t all about the inner journey.  The outer journey – in particular, the fact that you have one – is just as important.  And naturally, the two are inextricably connected, for the outer journey sparks and fuels the inner; the inner is mirrored in live lessons and the physical reality of the outer. At least that‘s how it’s always been for me.

Insatiable Wanderlust

Those who’ve read the “meet Karen” page of this blog will know that the outer journey – I’m talking about literal travel here – is one I have been incredibly blessed to have with great ease and little effort of my own.  It’s also been one of immense variety and constancy since I was a child.  And it’s something I’d like to [click to continue…]