Open doors and open hearts
Pictured here is my beautiful friend May, who I met by chance on a spontaneous nationwide women's rock climbing meetup in Alabama with the Ladies Climbing Coalition. When May learned that I was traveling to Base Camp with Driftwood Adventures, she eagerly jumped at the opportunity to join us. Her presence brought such a radiant, bright, and peaceful energy to our group. I'm so grateful for the sisterly bond that we developed as roommates over the course of our 17-day trek.
What's special about this photo is May is seated by the beautiful bay window in the home of our sherpa, Tshering, and if you research trekking groups in Nepal, you'll soon understand how uncommon it is for tourists to be able to stay at the home of their sherpa, let alone spend the day at their local village school, receive cooking lessons in their kitchen, or sit around the dinner table with their local friends and family from the village and dance together - more on all of this soon.
We shared many memorable moments by this window, gazing at the mountains, sketching, writing poetry, drinking tea, and speaking of dreams. It was our home base before our departure to Everest, and it also welcomed us back upon returning from the mountains - all of us, inevitably changed from the people who we were when we first laid our heads to rest on the comfortable beds of our sherpa's guest rooms.
Tshering's home felt like a reflection of his heart: it offered a peaceful reprise for us to gather ourselves and be joyfully present in the moment.
I believe that one of the greatest strengths of Driftwood's programming is the level of trust and connection that founder Bri Gallo works so hard to seek and establish with all of her expedition leaders, as well as program participants. Bri has a gift for connecting with people across cultures and fostering a sense camaraderie within groups that is interwoven into every expedition she leads. Her lighthearted, gregarious, and deeply-caring energy seems to attract the kinds of guides and leaders who have a twinkle in their eye, an expert knowledge base, and are genuinely interested in offering guests authentic experiences that are full of connection and meaning.
I'm excited to share more about this in the weeks ahead.
My greatest gift from Nepal
While it's been over 7 months since my first trip to Nepal with Driftwood Adventures, I've only recently begun to revisit memories of this incredible journey from a place of quiet contemplation.
This might sound strange, but the trip was such a profound experience for me that I grew fearful to look back on my photos for quite a long time. I was afraid of the intensity memory, scared of the whelm of emotions it might stir up, and believed that touching back in with my longing to return might just possibly break my heart. I have to laugh now, as it's so obvious that these fears were all constructs of my imagination. In other words, my fears were all in my head.
This realization was perhaps Nepal's greatest gift for me. Simply being in Nepal and connecting with so many calm, heart-centered people helped me realize how much of my life I tend to live "in my head", rushing around, reacting, taking on too much too quickly, forcing things, living in fear, forgetting to trust my intuition, putting myself down.
Yes, even as a yoga teacher and coach, I go through phrases where I struggle and get caught up with these things, and it tends to happen when I fall out of daily mindfulness practices. I think this is only natural, given the pace, pressures, and demands of today's society.
Immersing myself in the energy of the Himalayas, connecting with with friends who grew to become family, and taking in the calm energy of the Nepali people, all served as powerful reminders for me to slow down, and connect back in with my heart, with greater frequency and intention.
Nepal didn't just feel like a reboot - it felt like a system upgrade.
I feel privileged to offer my best attempt at lending words to describe more experiences from Nepal that moved me in the weeks ahead, as well as giving voice to what makes the Driftwood trekking experience so unique.
A Dreamscape With A Mission
I am pleased to now offer my Himalayan Dreamscape pen & ink drawing as a sticker. Put it on your water bottle, journal, even add to your bike or car bumper.
10% of all sales from this image will be donated to the LRI School in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Scroll down to read more about this incredible school, and click here to purchase a sticker.
Curious to travel to Nepal? Click here to learn how you can trek the Annapurna with me this April with Driftwood Adventures.
Created over the course of a 17 day trek in the Kombu valley of Nepal to Everest Base Camp with Driftwood Adventure Treks, this piece began as a plein air sketch (meaning, drawn on location) of mount Thamserku, a mountain in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal.
I outlined an initial impression of the mountain range a few days in to our trek, and every evening, following a long day of moving meditation, I'd return back to the drawing as we would gather with our Nepali guides and warm our bodies around the stove. There was a tingling sensation in my fingertips from the altitude that I have never before experienced, and by the time the drawing was nearly finished, I could barely feel my hands connect with the page anymore as they grew colder and colder from the ascension.
My dreams were impressionably vivid during this time, and tears would burst forth from my eyes every single day on the trip, to the point where it became a running joke in our group that something quite powerful was moving within and through me, and indeed, it was. Something about immersing myself in these mountains and connecting with the people here felt like a direct pathway to the Heart, in all its radiant purity.
I worked with Tshering, our kind, wise, and compassionate sherpa, a man with the strength and endurance of a seasoned mountaineer balanced with a childlike levity of spirit, to add the Nepalese spelling of the mountain peaks, as well as "Shanti", or Peace, in Nepali script, in the lower right corner.
This image is as near and dear to my heart as the landscape and people of Nepal, and I'm thrilled to offer this as a sticker as well as an archival print.
Click here to learn how you can join us in Nepal this April.
The LRI School
During my visit to Nepal with Driftwood Adventure Treks, I had the honor of visiting the LRI School in Kathmandu and offering the Shri Yoga Curriculum, following in the footsteps of another Shri teacher who did her graduate residency at the school and offered mindfulness and trauma recovery skills to students and staff after the devastating earthquake of 2015.
On my final day in Kathmandu, the leadership team, including the founder of the school, Yashodhara Pant, welcomed me with generosity and kindness, and I spent the entire day working with the students, building community between Nepalese and US students from the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, as well as connecting with the founders, development director, principal, and teachers, learning more about LRI's mission, and seeing the school's values in action.
I was blown away with the level of engagement I felt from the staff as well as from the students. LRI is equipping young people in Nepal to become actively engaged global citizens who lead with empathy, compassion, and a deep-rooted sense of social responsibility. I'm excited to find ways to bring more of LRI's mission and values to school and after-school curricula right here in Rhode Island.
Additionally, LRI also offers sponsorship programs for students whose families otherwise could not otherwise afford to send them to school, an also acts as a boarding school for children from rural villages to access education by living and studying in Kathmandu. Please stay tuned for more information on how you can sponsor a Nepali student's education from across the ocean.
I'll never forget Yashodhara's eyes light up as she shared with me,
"We may not be rich in money, but we are rich in heart, and in community."
This couldn't have been more apparent to me by the generosity, kindness, and enthusiasm that I felt flowing through everyone who I connected with - students, teachers, and leadership team.
Please consider purchasing a print or sticker of my Himalayan Dreamscape image and help support equal access to innovative education for the next generation of global citizens.