Live More Happy
Living Loving and Traveling the World
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My dear friend Jolie Dawn just featured me as an “Empowered, Sexy & Free” woman in her book re-launch.

It feels inauthentic when I look at it. I have not felt any of those things lately.

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How fitting though, that Jolie was one of the key people who pushed me to begin writing more openly and honestly so here I am, challenging myself to share myself and once again feel empowered & free.

Its been very hard to write lately.

I take that back.

Its been very hard to share lately.

Not only because I have been so busy with my new project, a renovation of a run down beach house in Baja into a vacation rental, but for many reasons.

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My spirit has felt broken.

I feel like I have suffered some serious losses lately. I lost my passion project business, Givebackpackers to a lovestruck, obsessive computer programmer that stole the company by creating a competing website with the same name, to force me to work with him. I’ve been harassed by this “friend” who wanted more than friendship for months now, causing me to fear for my safety and my security.  

I lost my boyfriend of a year because of his health issues and have felt like I am constantly defending our mutual decision to people who just don’t understand how “love just wasn’t enough.”

I lost a lot more money than I anticipated on this Mexico house, discovering everything from the floors, kitchen, windows to the plumbing and electrical needed to be completely replaced before even beginning to furnish.

And besides just money, I have lost time and faith, hiring people who stole from me, took advantage of my kindness and lacked the support of the neighborhood that I was expecting going into this project.

Watching my stepmom’s health struggle to return with more chemo than was expected while my best friend is going through the same heartbreak of watching her mom fight cancer has been emotionally exhausting.

I am living in a constant state of defending myself, picking myself back up and forcing a smile.

I’m a strong person because of everything that I have been through my whole life, parenting myself from the time I was 5 years old to starting a business in a recession after dropping out of college to traveling the world alone.

There’s so much I can face without fear but being on the defense all the time is exhausting.

I can play offense. It’s easy to be the one running down the field but much scarier to have someone running at you.

I’ve defended my choices and my business, my house and my freedom. I’ve even had to defend my writing.

I’ve been hurt by the things people have said to me and behind my back. I’ve been tired of defending who I am, what I have created and why.

I feel tired of defending and tired of being vulnerable. I want to shut it all down and hide away.

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I’m afraid of being rejected or hurt any more. I’m afraid I won’t be able to be strong through any more of it.

I’m a strong person but I am sensitive. I know that I do not have to defend myself to the people who matter. The ones that matter already know me and love and support me and the ones who I feel defensive to, do not matter.

I have held off for months on sharing my writing and my thoughts and these insane experiences. I have been biting my tongue to feel safe and supported. I have been seeking comfort and stability and ways to nurture myself.

I am writing and sharing this because I find strength in my honesty. I am not a fake person. I do not need to be adored by the masses and make everyone else feel comfortable at the expense of my own freedom.

So if you are reading this with anything but love, why are you reading?

If you are reading this with love and support in your heart, thank you. You are why I share.

 

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I haven’t been home in San Diego a full month and here I am in the Mayan Riviera in the Yucatan,  Mexico, on a completely spontaneous and unplanned trip.

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Monday I was heading to Vegas, working as a social media and event coordinator for a client at the Consumer Electronics Show for four days, when my friend asked me to come to Playa Del Carmen with her for the BPM music festival. It was way too last minute, way out of my budget and totally inconvenient.

She promised a free place to stay and the flight came from her stockpile of air miles from her even busier travel lifestyle. (Can you believe I have friends who travel MORE than me?)  I had no choice but to say yes.

Then panic hit me. Its always there, the anxiety and racing thoughts of all the shoulds and the responsibilities I am constantly taking on.

“I have so much to do.”

“I just got back from a major trip”

“I’m being irresponsible”

I had to answer all of these questions and doubts in my mind with what was being said in my heart.

“Just Go.”

I truly believe these opportunities open up for a reason. There is no accident my friend was in need of someone to come with her at the same time I was feeling the most pressure I have felt (from myself) in years.

Launching my second business, Givebackpackers, has been one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences of my life.  I am not just a consultant for a project or working for a specific campaign or event. Its entirely on me. However, its the first time I have had a business partner, and so its not entirely mine.

Working, traveling and having a very close friendship with someone is a wonderful and delicate situation. I love working with Krissy, I love traveling with her and seeing our dream come to life. We are living our purpose together. Helping people, while sharing the stories and creating a community of travelers with purpose, is the most rewarding thing either of us have ever done. Its also the most challenging.

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Having a business partner is like getting married. Both of those things have terrified me more than anything because of the risk of loss, heartache and betrayal. You have to trust completely, be open and honest and WORK on the communication, with patience, love and commitment.  I was finally willing to give the marriage thing a try a year ago and the whole thing crumbled around me leaving me with this feeling of absolute loss of control over my own life. It’s been an interesting year of examining my broken heart, my loss of all trust and what I learned from it. I want to throw myself back into that space of being open and trusting and glad I have a “wife” like Krissy to live this amazing life with. ;)

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I’m the kind of person that pours my heart and soul into something, weather it is my work, my volunteering or my partner, I want to give the best and deepest parts of myself but find myself hurt when I don’t get the same in return or things don’t work out like I planned. Thats one reason my new years resolution for 2015 was No Expectations.

This brings me to the Yucatan. While I was in Bali last month I kept thinking to myself, “This place is great, but its so far away and so touristy. I really love the Yucatan best.”

I thought this several times, knowing that I wanted to come back here and revisit the place I spent a few weeks backpacking in 2013. It was calling my heart and then the opportunity arose, completely unplanned and unexpected.

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I haven’t planned out the next week. My girlfriend only stayed the weekend and went back to LA for work commitments. Here I am now, “alone” but surrounded by amazing, intelligent, fun and spontaneous travelers from around the world. I’ve got my new amazing camera and laptop, a shitty rental car that makes my 98 ford escort seem luxurious and a week of no expectations.

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I need this week of unplanned, solo adventures. While on our trip around the world I was completely consumed by Givebackpackers, the kickstarter campaign, updating the site, creating content, working with artisans, touring non profit projects, sleeping a few hours to make the most of the daylight and work hours and while I enjoyed the trip, it was definitely a lot of work. When I got home I didn’t slow down for a second. I had fundraising events and a volunteer trip to Mexico the same weekend. I went to LA for a GUESS event and developer meetings, then Palm Springs for a Givebackpackers photo shoot and every minute in between was meetings and working on the website I am building for Givebackpackers and other website projects for LMH Promotions clients. 

I spent Christmas alone, working. While I am not a big Christmas person at all, I still realize how much I have been pushing myself to achieve and accomplish too much, too quickly, under too much pressure. Last week I spent 3 days straight at my desk without leaving or eating. My friends were worried and would come by to get me out of the house for coffee or make me dinner so I ate. I realize I am an intense person and sometimes, you just have to take a break.

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No expectations. Just taking a break to breathe and get back to me. Thanks for reading. While I am not publishing this to justify to you why I am here, I am doing it to justify to me, while hopefully inspiring you to see where you might need to lessen your expectations of yourself and others as well. Take a breath, you deserve it.

P.S. If you need a real break, Tulum is Heaven on Earth

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WOW! What an honor! I was on a 48 hour wifi detox relaxing on the tiny island of Gili Meno in Indonesia when I tracked down some internet to Skype my grandma on Thanksgiving and Krissy had sent me this link: www.mappingmegan.com/sexiest-female-travelers-alive

I was listed in the Sexiest Female Travelers Alive list with some pretty amazing  world traveling women.

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The word “sexy” is used in many ways, obviously with its root word being sex, it usually implies exactly that, however when I see this list of women I see it as an empowering term and one that I am proud to be called. So what is sexy to me?

Sexy is not being afraid to head out on a journey into the unknown, with just a backpack and no cell phone service, relying on common sense, street smarts and a love of the adventure to navigate your way.

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Sexy is adapting and appreciating a foreign culture, learning to play the cajon in a drum circle at sunset, climbing a mountain or to the top of a temple to watch the sunrise.

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Sexy is having only a few functional items in your backpack but still pulling off a fashionable look for a night out for drinks in Bangkok and trekking through a jungle in Chiang Mai the next day.  Sexy isn’t just looking good in a bikini and nailing that perfect instagram shot, sexy is living a life full of passion and meaning and following your purpose. 

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That is why Krissy and I created Givebackpackers. We want our travel experiences to be more than exotic parties, photo opps and souvenir collecting. We want to make an impact with our travels, to inspire others to just book the ticket and go. We want to create a difference with the money we spend, the tours we book and the handmade cultural goods we purchase. 

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We want to give back to the NGO’s and community groups working every day to create sustainable change and alleviating poverty in the world’s most beautiful places. We want our journey to be one that makes us better people as well as improves the world we are so in love with seeing.

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This to me is sexy traveling. What is sexy to you?

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Traveling can be such an adventure, but it isn’t a vacation, especially this trip. Krissy and I left New York for Milan, Italy with one week left still on our kickstarter campaign for givebackpackers, our new company, creating revenue for small business and non profits through travel and fashion. The entire first week of our trip was full of sleepless nights working and delirious days trying to make the most of our time. We felt incredible pressure to beat the clock ticking down to the final cutoff for kickstarter and juggling the expectations of our hosts and friends wanting us to have fun with them during our short visits.

I want so badly to turn off the technology or connection with the rest of the world and be completely present to the experience I will only have once in my life. I want to go where the flow takes me and feel the freedom I crave and love so much from this kind of travel. However, I made many commitments during this trip, to people, to causes and to myself and my business partner. I’m so grateful the kickstarter was a success and to have so much support but now I feel like I owe everyone an explanation on how I spend my time on this trip.

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I haven’t even touched my journal or my book. My spare time is spent creating spreadsheets, setting up meetings and writing emails and website content. Every spare second I am awake my thoughts and efforts are all on our business plan, and Europe was supposed to be “slower” than Asia! I can’t believe

Time has gone by so fast but it feels like ages ago we were leaving Italy for Turkey and it has only been two weeks. 

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I realized yesterday, while staring into the massive golden astronomical clock in the Prague square, that time is a game we cannot win. If I could turn back time, relive special days, or even press pause, to hold the best moments with the people I cherish in the places I love, it would be the greatest super power of all time. We continue to spin around the sun, even if we sit still on our planet, or fly around it in the opposite direction. You cannot hold time, you can only cherish it.

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In ten days I will be flying all the way around the world, stopping in at least 8 different countries, without any real itinerary or schedule to follow. I am traveling with a few girlfriends at different times, meeting up with different friends all over the world, and working on my newest project, Givebackpackers.

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The givebackpackers kickstarter is in full swing, with 17 days to go, and the goal of raising $8,000 so my partner, Krissy and I can effectively create sustainable business solutions to artisans in poverty.

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I will also be working on several new social media campaigns for brands I really love, building the givebackpackers blog, and Krissy’s new website and the ecommerce shop for the goods we find around the globe.

To top it off, I am coordinating 20 volunteers to visit Baja Mexico and volunteer at the Door of Faith Orphanage with Fortune 421 for our Share The Fortune program in December, the week I get back from the trip.

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We had the best time visiting Mexico last year, delivering our donation of 5k raised from the parties and clothing sales Fortune did throughout the year.

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This year, we have stepped it up, with the goal of raising 7,500 to remodel the teenage boys dorm, putting in a kitchen and new furniture for them to comfortably live in their space.

Since last year, DOFO has expanded and improved their orphanage so much, by adding a computer lab for the high school students to work separately from the young children after school. They moved the toddler girls’ dorm from a difficult upstairs location to a ground floor, easy to access room. They put in a soccer field and have continued to feed, clothe and provide love and support to over 120 kids who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents.

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This Friday, 10/10 I am helping to host a fundraiser for DOFO at Duck Dive in Pacific Beach, to help us reach our goal by December, as well as my annual Hawleyween fiesta and now also, my “going away awhile” party. I would love to see you all before I take off on this epic adventure, and hopefully I will see your name in my email when you sign up for our Mexico Trip on December 7-9!

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Remember, its a Hawleyween party so wear something funky and festive and get your face painted like a Dia De Los Muertos skull by my talented friend Nicole who is donating her time and collecting donations for DOFO!

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As I wrote all of this I felt a little bit overwhelmed with how much I have on my plate, but I wouldn’t change a thing. When you are following your purpose and doing what makes you most passionate, it feels less like work and a lot more fulfilling.
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My third time on Necker Island has been more special than any other visit. I was here twice before with different groups of entrepreneurs to learn from each other, from Richard Branson and his team and to “relax” with every water sport, themed party and hilarious adventure imaginable.

It’s true, Richard is quite the prankster, myself falling for his tricks, sending me in the completely wrong direction during a hike, challenging me to climb straight up a cliff, daring me to jump in the jacuzzi with my clothes on or pretending to be a masseuse and whispering sweet nothings in my friend Steve’s ear. He has a sense of humor to match his big business sense and getting the personal time with him is always exciting, eye opening and inspiring.

temp-post-image Most people know of his business accomplishments, his funny antics and cheeky personality but few know that his main passion in life right now is saving endangered species.

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My last visit I had several meetings with him about our shared passion for nature, conservation and species preservation. In the two years since my first visit in Necker in June of 2012, I had put together a nature education project for the island to inspire and educate guests about the passion and hard work Richard personally does to rescue and revive species that are rapidly disappearing. Richard loved my ideas and gave me his support to pursue my passion.

The last week was so special to me because I had the opportunity to experience the island and all its magic through the eyes of 5 incredible children who had never been to Necker and were in awe of the unique and exciting experiences available, especially the animals. I had planned activities for them that included a walk around the island, observing plants and animals and exploring parts of the island that have been left untouched and still look like what the island looked like when Richard first purchased the land. We discussed what plants and animals are native to the Caribbean and what were brought in from places losing habitat, like Madagascar.

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Nature hiking and bird watching!

temp-post-imageLindsay and Alex, age 4 observing the Scarlet Ibis on Necker Island.

temp-post-image   We even had a scavenger hunt for animals around the island!

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The lemurs and the giant tortoises are always the favorite. We got to feed the lemurs everyday and interact with these hilarious primates with soft little hands, furry bodies and the funniest personalities. A few species of lemurs on Necker are endangered and are having more success on Necker with breeding than anywhere else in the world. 

temp-post-image The tortoises are so big and ancient looking it is no surprise they have been around as long as dinosaurs.

 

temp-post-imageRichard loved the Nature Explorer Journal we made for him. Each page was a different animal that one of the children drew with some fun facts we learned together about the different species. It was the high light of my week seeing the kids work so hard to present such a thoughtful gift to our host and friend, Richard.

temp-post-imageSince my visit and consultations with Richard and Necker management in April they have produced several new videos and blog posts about the Nature on Necker as well as began using hashtags #NeckerAnimals and #NatureOnNecker for sharing their photos and progress. Here is the most recent video with Richard and the nature director, Vaman.

Be sure to follow @NatureOnNecker on Instagram!

 

Animals of Necker Island

 

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In 2013 Live More Happy &  Fortune 421 has raised enough money, through parties and fashion sales, to provide school supplies to 100 orphans and children rescued from abuse in La Mision, Mexico, just about 30 minutes south of San Diego in Baja.

Click the image to watch the video of our trip to Door Of Faith Orphanage in October, 2013.

In 2014, with Fortune events and clothing sales, we raised 7,000 to help remodel the boys dorms and put in a new bathroom and a kitchen at Door of Faith.

We led numerous groups of volunteers last year and already in 2015 and are excited to announce that with our new venture, Givebackpackers, we are raising money for DOFO through the sales of handmade accessories from Mexico.

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003IMG_0368-La Mission Goddess WeekendBuy a backpack, headband, bracelet, anklet and help supply kids in need at DOFO with school supplies.

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If you would like to apply to attend one of these incredible trips, send us a message here

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