Do It In A Dress!

This October I’m joining a bunch of passionate and fun people around the world who are wearing school dresses and doing crazy shit so girls in Africa can go to school.  Why?  Read on, friend.

Me with Chantelle Baxter, co-founder of OneGirl.org, sporting our school dresses at the World Domination Summit in July 2012

It costs only $240 Australian to send a girl in Sierra Leone to school for an entire year. I plan to raise at least $240 by doing what I do – traveling – in a school dress!

I’ll be wearing my school dress on the plane from Asheville to Boston this evening to raise awareness and hopefully a few bucks.

You know I’m going to make a few new friends :)  Want pictures? Look for them on Twitter (@helloaud) and Facebook If you’d like to donate, I would honored to have your support ~ any amount is welcome. My campaign page is http://doitinadress.com/helloaud

Thank you for reading this post.  You can learn more information about this movement at http://doitinadress.com and http://www.onegirl.org.au  Or boogie your way over to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

And remember, the month is still young – why not start a campaign of your own? Be the change, y’all! ♥ Audrey

THE MANIFESTO

Humanity is at a crossroads.

Poverty. Inequality. Rape. Hunger. Violence. And that’s just the beginning. These issues affect women and girls the most. Out of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty, more than 70% are women and girls.

But why? We’re more educated than we’ve ever been. We’re more connected than at any time in history. There is more money and technology in the world today than there’s ever been before.

And yet, 60 MILLION GIRLS are UNABLE to access the ONE thing that will CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER.

Something simple. Something basic. Something that we take for granted. AN EDUCATION.

The time has come to create a movement that will shift the future of humanity. This movement will be led by a 12 year old girl.

A 12 year old girl born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. A girl who is more likely to be sexually assaulted than to attend high school. Without an education, she’s likely to be married before her 15th birthday, and pregnant before her body is ready. If she survives childbirth, she might have to sell her body to feed her family. This exposes her to HIV. She’s stuck in the cycle of poverty.

But it doesn’t have to look like this -
EDUCATION CHANGES EVERYTHING.

When a girl is educated, she’ll get married later and have a healthier family.

For every year she stays in school she’ll increase her income by at least 10%. With the money she earns, she’ll invest 90% of it back into her family. An educated girl becomes an educated woman. A woman who ensures her children go to school, just like she did.

When you educate a girl, she can change her world. And when 60 MILLION GIRLS around the world are educated? That, my friend, is a revolution.

But change doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because WE DEMAND IT. Because we stand for it. Because we DO something about it.

And this October, we’re doing something. We’re going to Do It In A Dress. The time has come for you to wear a school dress, so a girl in Africa can wear one too.

Grab two of your friends, create your team, pick a challenge and raise $240 – enough to give one girl access to education. Do your challenge in a school dress and send a girl to school.

Last year, Dave Dean ran 21km in a school dress. Deanna Hood wore a school dress everyday for a week. Chelsea Brice jumped off a building in a school dress. Roger Grant held a boxing class in a school dress.

This October, 1000 people from all over the world will wear a school dress, and together we’ll CHANGE THE LIVES of thousands of women and girls across Africa.

We know that when you educate a girl, she can change her world.

We’re doing it. WILL YOU?

Postcard from Charleston, SC

This gallery contains 18 photos.

I’m starting a new series called Postcards. I’ve taken some great trips this summer and have several more planned over the next 8 weeks. I’ve decided to post my long-form trip reports on my personal blog but I also felt drawn to share some snippets with you here. I hope you enjoy reading about my … Continue reading

2011 travel recap + gallery

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Woohoo!  I traveled quite a bit in 2011, despite AND because of being unemployed part of the year. Or rather – not traditionally employed  I will be sharing stories and pictures in trip reports, but below is a recap of my 2011 travel adventures.  I’ve included a small photo gallery at the bottom of the … Continue reading

Gratitude ~ November 2011

During Thanksgiving, Americans typically express gratitude for the many blessings we’ve received.  I have much to be grateful for, including the whirlwind of positive changes in my life since last Thanksgiving.  My Word of the Year for 2011 was nimble and I think I embodied that one pretty well!  Here’s the recap for those following along:

In November 2010 (twelve short months ago), I was living in Austin, Texas.  I had put my house on the market, planning to downsize into a smaller living space.  After 2 pitiful showings in 2 weeks,  I learned my position as a Business Analyst at UT had been eliminated (read: I was laid off from my secure state job 2 days before Thanksgiving).   I assessed my options and decided to rent the house fully furnished.  In early January, I moved myself and my cat to Rockport, Texas, where I spent a wonderful winter living in my parent’s garage apartment and falling in love with the many birds who migrate to the Texas coast when it gets cold.

During this down time, I thought a lot about my priorities and the concept of lifestyle design.  I made a commitment to begin crafting a job for myself that better supports the lifestyle I desire.   I want to spend my time traveling and experiencing new things, building relationships with passionate people and solving interesting problems.  I want to be in control of my time.  And I want to generate a solid, steady income.  So I decided to become an entrepreneur.  There were a million ideas rolling around in my head and I had no clue what I was going to do (or when), just why.  I named my fledgling business Nimble Creatives, because that’s pretty much what we all need to be these days (nimble & creative).

In late March, I had the opportunity to return to Austin for a 4 month gig as a software developer.  By June, I was clear that I was ready to leave town.  I put an ad on Craigslist for a summer sublet, a tenant materialized and I was free to go.   I quickly put together a trip I dubbed my America the Beautiful tour, using the National Parks Pass I won in a photography contest as an “anchor activity”.  The idea was to see more of my country’s natural beauty while scoping out my next home. If you missed it completely, you can read about the tour here and here.

In late July, I kicked off the first leg of the trip, which primarily involved visiting friends & family in the southeast and midwest.   I spent a week house sitting for a friend in Asheville, NC  and instantly recognized that Asheville had everything I was looking for in a home base: a locally-oriented community with a progressive mindset, a strong music & art scene, an abundance of great restaurants, more craft beer than I should really drink, a moderate climate and easy access to hiking in stunning mountains. The only thing missing is the beach and happily Charleston SC is an easy 4 hours away!  (note: I just spent Thanksgiving in the Charleston area – trip report coming soon)

I was reluctant to commit to a place without finishing my tour of the country.  Plus I’d already lived in nearby Boone, NC for most of the 90′s and was pretty keen to explore a new part of the country.  Still I applied for a couple of jobs that stood out and pretty soon I had secured a full-time position as a Business Operations Analyst with a not-for-profit organization.  I took this as a sign, and, in the spirit of being nimble, I cut my America the Beautiful tour short, loaded up the wagon and moved myself to Asheville.  I flew from LA to Austin on October 5, arrived on Asheville on October 11 (just in time for peak leaf season) and started my new job on October 13!  Wow!

I’ve been back in the arms of the Appalachian mountains for 6 weeks now and  I am so happy to be here!

But wait – there’s more!  I’m thrilled to announce that I’m creating a Travel Coaching and Facilitation business.  My mission is to help people travel more!  I meet a lot of people who have taken epic trips (sabbaticals, round-the-world trips, living somewhere new for 6 months, etc).  I also meet a lot of people who say “I wish I could do that…” to which I find myself enthusiastically saying “You can!”  I know it can be very overwhelming to research, plan and prepare for a big trip on your own. So I’m creating a program called Be Your Own Travel Hero that helps people with their trip planning and preparation.  You can read all about it on the Travel Coaching page :-)

I am _so_ excited for my new adventures!  Please tune in as Be Your Own Travel Hero evolves over the next few months.

Oh and remember that lay-off?  Although it was painful at the time, it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me.  I’m having so much fun redefining my life (again) and I have tremendous gratitude that the universe knew what I needed, even when I did not.

Wishing you all much love and abundance this winter!

♥ Audrey

ps I’ve moved all of the content from my personal blog over to this new site and will only be posting new content here.  You can use the widget in the sidebar to “subscribe” and receive posts by email (or just add it to your blog reader)

Photo – Day 26 of #indie30

Prompt #26: PHOTO

Post a photo of your favorite place and tell us what you love about it.

I try to stay present and enjoy wherever it is I am.  So my favorite place is where I’m currently visiting! On the day this prompt was released, I was wandering around spectacular Boneyard Beach on Bulls Island, off the coast of Charleston, SC.

note: read all about The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project (#indie30) over at Boots-n-All.

Quote – Day 14 of #indie30

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~ Seneca

I’m participating in The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project over at Boots-n-All.

Prompt #14: QUOTE

 What’s your favorite quote about travel? Why does it stand out to you?

I love quotes about travel.  It’s the rare quote that doesn’t resonate. I know when it’s time to get out of town, when I’m craving some different stimulation. The words by Seneca at the top of this post are probably my favorite because they are simple and they are my truth.

Cloudrest, Yosemite NP

New perspective - top of Cloudrest, Yosemite NP

The clarity and zeal I feel from a change of scene – and the corresponding change in perspective – are qualities I’m not able to reproduce through any other method.  I guess that’s what makes travel so addictive for me – that shot of vitality I get from experiencing a new place.

I know when it’s time to get out of town for a while.  I start to feel antsy then cranky then tragically dissatisfied with wherever I am, no matter how awesome that place is. The feelings have little to do with wherever I am. They simply reflect my desire for an infusion of the new and unknown.

It doesn’t take a big trip to satisfy most urges.  A 2 hour road trip to visit a friend or a quick jaunt to the beach or camping for the weekend is usually enough to give me my fix.  Sometimes, a simple day trip can turn my whole mood right-side up.

How does travel make you feel?

♥ Audrey

ps do you long to take a trip but get bogged down in the planning process?  I can help – learn more on my Travel Coaching page.

Celebrate – Day 7 of #indie30

Hi all! I meant to get in on The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project over at Boots-n-All a little earlier, but between moving this site to it’s new home here at audrey-reynolds.com beyourowntravelhero.com and moving myself (literally) to Asheville, I’ve been slow to join the party.

Prompt #7: CELEBRATE

Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.

Well, I’m immediately going to stretch the interpretation because I’ve been so excited to share the video below.  In a recent post, Chris Guillebeau talks about why you shouldn’t save the good stuff for later.  What he says makes a lot of sense to me.  So in the spirit of putting it out there now (and imperfectly), here is my post on Celebration.  Enjoy!  (note: I’m having trouble embedding the video, so it will open in a new window.)

In early October, I spent a few days at the spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore (north of San Francisco).  One afternoon, I was driving around in the fog and rain, hoping for some way to redeem an otherwise crap day.  I stumbled upon a team from The Marine Mammal Center  who were about to return four seals to the sea and was invited to watch the release.

Watch the seal release, Point Reyes National Seashore

The seals had been in rehabilitation for many weeks and experiencing these beauties say ADIOS to captivity _completely_ made my day!  The second set released (the 2 in the video) were not a pair, yet they coupled up as they hit the sea.  The volunteers seemed to think they would stay together.  It was beyond cool.

While this wasn’t a formal celebration, it most certainly was a special event:  FREEDOM!  The seals’ body language screamed WOO-HOO PEOPLE ~ WE ARE FREE-FREE-FREE!!!  They celebrated all the way to the ocean.

Have you ever witnessed a spontaneous, joyful celebration while traveling?  How did you feel afterward?  Does the memory still bring a smile to your face?  I know this one will forever bring one to mine.

♥ Audrey

Consider a Career Break…

The title of this post on NationalGeographic.com caught my eye – How Taking a Break to Travel Can Benefit Your Career

I completely agree! With a little creativity and clarity, it is relatively easy to spin a Career Break or Sabbatical in your favor.  In 2007, I left my job of 7 years to travel around Europe.  When I returned to the workforce, I decided to include the experience on my resume.  The entry specifically looked like this:

Personal Sabbatical     September 2007 – December 2007
Citizen of the Planet
Traveled independently, experienced new cultures and honed 
foreign language skills while enhancing resourcefulness,
decision-making abilities and people skills.

When I decided to take the trip, I was burnt out on work and healing from a divorce – I couldn’t think productively about what I wanted to do next. It turned out to be a great experience on a personal level. I got my sparkle back and ultimately that trip was the inspiration for this site (although I didn’t know it at the time…)

Career-wise, I returned to an economy in the proverbial toilet.  The rationale for including the Career Break on my resume was two-fold: I wanted employers to know that I made a conscious choice to leave (this was before the mass layoffs) and I wanted to communicate that travel is an important part of my life. After several interviews where I answered extensive questions about my trip from starry-eyed desk-bound HR directors and IT team leaders, I began to understand my break also communicated exactly what I’d said in the position description – that I’m independent, adaptable, resourceful, and a people person. It also said to would-be employers that I am brave and perhaps not desperately tied to a job.  In the job-hopping field of IT, where tenure is not a huge issue, I feel it gave me an edge.  If nothing else, it made me memorable.  And talking about my adventures helped me feel at ease in stressful interview situations AND allowed me to speak with passion about something, which also made me memorable.

Are you dreaming about taking an extended trip?  If you answered yes and are lucky enough to be in one of the cities hosting a Meet, Plan, Go! event on October 18, 2011 (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Toronto) then sign up right now (seriously – go here right now and kick down the $15 for what could be the inspiration of a lifetime!)

If you are not in one of those cities, or would enjoy a one-on-one conversation about your dreams, your fears and your questions, contact me for a complimentary assessment and to learn more about the travel coaching and facilitation services I offer.

Onward and upward!
♥ Audrey

Surfing! (test post)

I took a surf lesson yesterday, over on Mustang Island, which is a barrier island on the south Texas coast. I’m totally hooked – I loved it, even though I couldn’t stand up for more than a few seconds! So now I’m plotting to do a one month Spanish-n-Surf program somewhere in Central America. So many fun things on my list!

It would be so nice if Americans had all of August off from work (or December), wouldn’t it?  How would you spend YOUR break?

Sent from my mobile…testing mobile posting…watch out ;-)

AtB reboot

reboot: to start anew with fresh ideas in a way that is consistent with the principals of the original, but not unnecessarily constrained by what has taken place before. – from Urban Dictionary

There are times while traveling – especially independently – when you’re faced with modifying your plans. Sometimes it’s for fun reasons, like you were headed over here but someone told you about a really cool place over there…or you click with some fellow travelers and decide to wander with them for a while. Occasionally it’s because of something more serious, like a natural disaster or a personal crisis. There are travelers who get sick or hit a wall they can’t get over and decided to just go home, travelers who fall for a place and decide they are home, travelers who completely change up their trip to travel with a new lover or friend, and travelers who start on a journey only to realize it’s not the right path for them.

I promised myself when I started planning my America the Beautiful tour, that I would respect my body (and my bank account).  After driving 4500+ miles in just over 5 weeks, I was challenged to do just that. Continue reading