March 11, 2014

Check out Our New Look!

Adventurous Women Blog has had a makeover! If you're used to visiting us through an RSS feed or if you bookmarked our looong Blogger address, you're missing the new stuff.  Click on over to our blog on The League of Adventurous Women website or visit us here:

See you real soon!

March 8, 2014

We're Getting a New Look!

We're excited to announce that the Adventurous Women Blog is getting a make over.  In the next few days we'll unveil a brand new look and some fresh new features.

Stay tuned!

March 4, 2014

My Interview with Stacy Allison

By Shannon Goff

This past week I conducted my first adventurous-women interview. To make things more nerve-racking, the woman I interviewed was the amazingly accomplished Stacy Allison: the first American woman to successfully summit Mt. Everest and Russia’s Pik Communism. Other than climbing many notable mountain ranges, she is also an accomplished mother of two, published author, president of Stacy Allison General Contracting, and Chairperson for The Oregon Lung Association’s largest fundraiser Climb for Clean Air. Needless to say, I was anxious as I called to interview her on Monday morning.

However, as she picked up the phone and we began speaking, my nerves melted away. Once we started talking I also found out she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. When I mentioned she was my first interview and that I was a little intimidated, she laughed, congratulated me and proclaimed that she “was honored.” Beaming and becoming way more at ease, we delved into the interview, which was filled with giggles and funny stories.

Me: You began major alpine climbing at the age of 21, which is how old I am, and that definitely encourages me to get off the couch and do more. It also makes me wonder what encouraged you to start climbing?
Stacy Allison: So I began climbing, and it was a fluke, a total fluke. Another student in the dorm, actually the RA, put a notice on the bulletin board that he was going to Zion National Park over Spring Break, and he was just looking for someone to share gas money with. So a friend of mine, Evelyn Lees, who is a phenomenal climber, and I thought it would just be a great adventure. We went down to Zion National Park and he taught us the very basics of climbing and that was it. That’s when I knew that this was what I was meant to do. I had no idea people could climb sheer rock cliffs. I grew up in Oregon, and we skied on Mt. Hood every weekend, so I knew people obviously climbed Mt. Hood and I thought, ‘One day I’ll climb Mt. Hood,’ but I just didn’t know. With that said this was a long time ago – 1977 – and there wasn’t that much rock climbing going on. 

Me: How did you prepare or what kind of training did you complete in order to successfully reach the top of your first mountain, Alaska's Mt. McKinley?
Stacy Allison: Well, actually that wasn’t my first mountain. I started rock climbing, and then the first mountain was a winter blizzard ascent of a very small mountain here in Oregon, Mt. Washington. Again, it was my friend Evelyn and I, and we went with two guys who had been climbing for 10 years. So they had the experience, but it was ice climbing mixed with rock climbing mixed with snow climbing. And it was awful, (laughs) it was a blizzard, it was freezing. My hands got so cold – you know how when your hands get so cold and then warmed up and it causes severe pain, have you ever experienced that? You just want to cry, (laughs) and I did (laughs). We had to cross country ski to the mountain and then obviously ski back out. I was so exhausted I felt like if I fell over, I would never get up. What that experience taught me is that I had what it took- this was a conscious thought process- I can just keep going, and going and going and move beyond what I thought I was physically ever capable of doing. I actually progressed really quickly because my friends were experienced climbers who had been climbing for years. After that I did small peaks in the northwest and then went to Alaska and climbed some other peaks, and then climbed in Canada and then, then I climbed Mt. McKinley. But I had to learn the skills and, speaking of which, I never really allowed myself to dream bigger than the skills that I had. So, I had to learn the ice climbing skills, the rock climbing skills, the snow climbing skills in order to say, “If I can do this why can’t I do that?” When I climbed McKinley we actually did one of the hardest routes on the mountain. But that was after a lot of failures and a lot of not making it to the top of mountains and having to take a good hard look at myself and say, “If I want to climb these hard routes, these big mountains, what do I need to do?” Obviously it was getting in better shape and working on my skills. Just to let you know, when I stood on top of McKinley after doing this incredibly difficult route, I sat up there and I thought, ‘if I can climb McKinley, well why not Everest?’ I was so embarrassed by that thought. I actually remember looking at my climbing partner, hoping that he couldn’t read my mind because it was like who do I think I am, to think that I can ever climb Everest? Sometimes, we give up on our dreams not because of ourselves, but because of what we think others may think of us. So I kind of just tucked that thought away in the back of my head. However, after McKinley, I actually did go to Nepal to climb with a women’s expedition. We were the first women to climb Ama Dablam, Nepal’s Matterhorn.

Me: How do you pick which mountain ranges and peaks you want to climb?Stacy Allison: I look at a mountain and the beauty of the mountain is what inspires me. It’s like I want to climb on this mountain, I want to be a part of this mountain for however many weeks it takes, or days it takes, or hours it takes. You don’t conquer mountains, you work with the mountain.

Me: So you've bested many different peaks and ranges and you're the first American woman to conquer both Pik Communism and Mt. Everest. These are all insanely incredible accomplishments, but in your opinion what is your biggest accomplishment so far in your lifetime?
Stacy Allison: (laughs) Well you’re not there yet, but any parent will tell you that the biggest accomplishment is getting their kids out of high school, and into college and then hopefully giving them the foundation to be happy, healthy, productive citizens. I-I haven’t accomplished that yet, but that is my goal right now, [with] a sophomore in college and a senior in high school.

Me: I know that you’re an author and a mother of two; how do you find balance between the demands of motherhood, achieving your climbing goals, and also being a writer? I feel like I would be so overwhelmed but you seem to achieve everything flawlessly.
Stacy Allison: It’s not flawless, and if anyone ever tells you there’s balance,
there is no balance. You have to pick and choose and timing is everything. I stopped climbing big, dangerous mountains when my kids were born. First of all, having children is a conscious decision, it’s a huge responsibility and my children need me alive, and they need me present. When you’re climbing these big mountains for example, you’re gone for a month, two months, sometimes three months at a time, and that’s no way to raise a family. During these past years, and from when they were born up until they graduate from high school- it’s not about me. It’s been about raising my two sons. I will say, in light of that, I still climb. I don’t do big dangerous mountains, but I still climb, and rock climb. My kids love to rock climb. As a family we white water raft and kayak, we mountain bike ride and we travel extensively. We try to leave, it’s a little different now, but we try to leave the country at least once a year, if not twice a year, and we travel to developing countries. So, traveling is something that’s very, very important to me so my kids have traveled very extensively. I also run and I do marathons and half marathons. Now that my kids are older I actually spent 3 weeks climbing on the border of Canada and Alaska this past summer.

Me: Well, knowing how dangerous climbing is would you endorse your kids following in your footsteps? Or would you tell them no way you’re not doing it?
Stacy Allison: Well let me just tell you they have absolutely no interest in following in my footsteps (laughs).

Me: Oh well then you don’t have to worry about it.
Stacy Allison: Well it is interesting because, my older son, this last summer (my younger son had shoulder surgery so he could not go with us) but my older son and I, just the two of us, went on a white water kayak trip. I found myself really watching over him, and tried to just keep my mouth shut and let him do what he needed to do, but I’ve been a little mother hen at times. When we’ve been on river trips, and mountain biking I’ve been known to, be the first one going downhill, telling my sons they must stay behind me. I’m very slow going downhill! You know he can go as fast as he wants up hill, but downhill...we do single track mountain biking. It’s like ‘you have to stay behind me’ because I get so nervous. That’s one thing I struggle with because I know what the dangers are in all these sports, and I’ve had friends who have died in just about every activity. But, whatever my children [want to do], as long as it’s healthy, I will work very hard to zip my lip and support them in their choices.

Me: I would like to know what caused you to become interested in general contracting and how was the transition for you between crazy adventures and expeditions to owning and operating your own company? 
Stacy Allison: My first husband was a builder and architect and that’s when I was introduced, at a very young age, to building, and I really like it. I don’t do new construction; I do all historical renovations and restorations on old houses. I love older architecture. My job is to bring houses back to life. I’ll tell you the biggest thing, and it’s not that climbing taught me this, it was my mother who taught me this: to take risks, and I’m not afraid to take risks and to fail and fall flat on my face. And I have done that. I’ve been totally humiliated before. But the key is to be able to go ahead and cry about it and then pick yourself back up and learn what you need to do so it doesn’t happen again. I’m very comfortable taking risks, and I’m not talking about taking physical risks. I mean emotional, and mental, and risking starting a business.

Me: So I know you also serve as a Chair for the American Lung Association of Oregon's largest fundraiser, Climb for Clean Air - would you like to tell a little bit more about the fundraiser and all that it entails?
Stacy Allison: It’s the Mountain Pacific Chapter of the American Lung Association, our fundraiser is Climb for Clean Air, and we include Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams in Washington, and Mt. Hood in Oregon. Our participants sign up for one of those three mountains and then have to raise a certain amount of money in order to participate. What’s great about this program is we take them through and help them with their fundraising. We have training hikes starting in February every single weekend in order help them to get into shape. We help them prepare every step of the way. Many of our climbers have never hiked in their lives and most of them have never climbed anything. We hire guides to lead the climbs safely, and we help our participants in achieving their goal. The reason I got involved and have been involved since its inception is because it’s a chance for me to give back to the community and use my skills. It’s really wonderful also for our participants because it’s a way for them to give back to the community and also do something healthy with their lives. Moreover, with the Lung Association, the educational aspects and the policy aspects of the organization are what I really support.

Me: As we bring this interview to a close, do you have any advice for young women who are aspiring adventurers or are currently trying to chase their goals and dreams?
Stacy Allison: Don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace failure and learn from it. Pick yourself back up and try again or figure out what you want to do. Once you can embrace failure you can embrace taking risk in your lives. People need to figure out what is important to them and not be so concerned with what everyone else wants and is doing. Once you figure that out, that’s what brings happiness. At this point in my life, I don’t have time to impress people, take it or leave it. Life’s too dang short. You gotta have fun. You gotta LAUGH!

February 25, 2014

Seven Most Inspiring Olympic Women

By Shannon Goff

In honor of the 2014 Olympics at Sochi, I’ve listed seven women I found most inspiring throughout the Games. These women have proven to be outstanding athletes, competitors, and humanitarians and they are the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

7. Svetlana Zhurova, Russia, Mayor of the Mountain Olympic Village
Russian speed skating champion and former Olympian, Sveltana Zhurova was more than enthusiastic about being Mayor of the Mountain Olympic Village. There are three Olympic Villages for the 2014 Sochi Games: the Coastal Village for athletes competing at indoor events, the Endurance Village for athletes competing in cross-country and biathlon, and the Mountain Village, the largest of the three, for athletes competing in all other mountain events. Each village is its own little community, complete with shops, dining areas, laundry services, fitness centers, a library, relaxation areas, a religious center, banking services, and health clinics. Zhurova, a four-time Olympian and 2006 gold-medal winner, took a lot of experience into her new position. She knew what athletes want and she planned to give them all that she could. She has dedicated her time, talents, and efforts and has said that serving has given her an opportunity to remember and relive the experiences she had during her time as an Olympian.

6. and 5. Lanny and Tracy Barnes, USA, Biathlon Women’s Individual
Earlier this year, Tracy Barnes qualified for a place on the US Olympic team, but her sister Lanny, a former Olympic biathlete, missed her opportunity due to illness. However, Tracy recognized that her sister had been in better form throughout the season and sacrificed her own spot on the team to Lanny. These two biathletes, and twin sisters, were awarded Fair Play awards by the International Fair Play Committee for acts of undoubted selflessness.

4. Eva Samkova, Czech Republic, Women’s Snowboard Cross
Eva Samkova won the women’s snowboard cross gold medal but what stands out is her carefree attitude and her funny good luck charm. Before every race, Samkova paints a moustache on her face for luck, which may have helped her beat Canadian Dominique Maltais, who was ranked number one in the world. Samkova started using this superstitious ‘stache in 2011 at her first World Championships in La Molina where she came in fifth--her best result at that time. She decided to keep using the moustache, and in Sochi she was ranked number one after the time trials. She then led from start to finish in all three final races, proving that her “silly” habit may not be so silly after all.

3. Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia, Women’s Figure Skating
It goes without saying that 15-year-old Lipnitskaia is an impressive competitor; she is also the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s figure skating history. Beginning training at the age of four, she has won countless competitions and became the youngest woman to win the European championships in January.  At Sochi 2014, she won both the short and long women’s program and received the gold for Russia’s figure skating inaugural team event. Lipnitskaia has been given Russia’s highest sporting tribute, the Honored Master of Sports award.

2. Lydia Lassila, Australia, Freestyle Skiing Women’s Aerials
You may have heard about Lydia Lassila’s amazing feat during women’s aerials. Lassila, one of the world’s top aerials specialists and a reigning Olympic champion, was trailing rival, Alla Tsuper of Belarus. Tsuper pulled off a breath-taking triple-twisting triple somersault and earned an impressive score. Knowing she needed to pull out all the stops to beat Tsuper, Lassila attempted something that has never been successfully completed by a female aerial skier: the quad-twisting triple somersault. She completed a full-twisting somersault, then a double-twisting somersault, and finished with another single-twisting somersault in the air but lost her balance on earth and landed on her back, which, cost her points and the coveted prize. What’s so inspiring is that she stood up smiling and blowing kisses to the crowd, then embraced her rival, Tsuper, who did win the gold. For Lassila, the loss didn’t matter as much as the audacious arial accomplishment that will be part of Olympic history. She later revealed that she’s wanted to try that trick for 15 years and finally got her chance in the super final. Lassila pushed the limits and her big risk paid off personally as she becomes a role model for the next generation of women aerial athletes.

1. Noelle Pikus-Pace, USA, Skeleton Women
Noelle Pikus-Pace has endured her share of disappoint and bad luck as an Olympian. She was favored to win gold at the 2006 Turin Games, but a bobsled accident shattered her leg, forcing her to withdraw from competition. During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, she made a mistake that cost her a tenth of a second and the bronze medal. The event crushed her spirit and left her in tears after the race. Two years ago she miscarried at 18 weeks during her third pregnancy. Saying she had a rough decade would be an understatement. However, her husband, Janson Pace, convinced her to return to the bobsled track after the miscarriage, knowing it was what she needed to pull through. Noelle didn’t want to leave the family but the two compromised: the family went on tour together and Noelle got back in the game. Despite vision problems and a slight case of vertigo, this bobsledding wonder woman finished second in Sochi this year, winning the Silver Medal, as well as the hearts of the crowd who know her story. 

February 22, 2014

7th Annual World Sword Swallower's Day

Today is World Sword Swallower's Day and there are events happening around the globe! Click here for more information. If you're a sword swallowing fan you'll be happy to know this is an annual event co-sponsored by Sword Swallowers Association International and Ripley's Believe it or Not! in conjunction with National Swallowing Disorders Month.

February 18, 2014

Every Adventure Counts, No Matter How Small

Commentary from guest blogger Shannon Goff

When I was fifteen I was always down to try exciting new things and go out of my comfort zone to find whatever thrills I could. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, so challenging myself and exploring new things was the only way I could get over the boredom and monotony of my rural upbringing. One day my friend Donnie asked if I wanted to go ride some mountain bike trails in our local park and I eagerly agreed to go. Little did I know it was going to be one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

My dad dropped my bike and I off and I joined Donnie, helmet in hand, to set out on the rough terrain of the closest trail. I had been riding bicycles since I was five or six so I wasn’t scared and felt more than up to the challenge of trying out mountain biking for the first time. We started pedaling and within ten minutes disaster struck. I found myself taking a sharp turn down a rough trail riddled with trees and gnarled roots. Suddenly, I lost control of my bike and began picking up a scary amount of speed. I was paralyzed with fear, thinking, “this is it, I’m going to drive my bike off the side of this hill and die.” In a snap subconscious decision that must have been pure reflex, I turned my handlebars and ran straight into a huge oak tree to stop myself. Ouch. It took me a minute to realize what was going on around me. I was on my back, looking up, shocked and confused. From a distance I could hear my friend Donnie shouting expletives and running down beside me to pick me up off the ground. But he stopped short as I sat up. I looked down and saw why – blood was pouring from my face. The helmet probably would have protected my head but it couldn’t have prevented me from smacking the bottom of my chin into the rough bark of the tree. It didn’t hurt until I touched it and realized what was happening. I immediately started freaking out and going into hysterics. I called my dad who was still close by and we sped off to the closest Urgent Care. He handed me a Veggie Tales towel, unfortunately the only thing in the car that we had to stop the bleeding, and finally said, “I hope you didn’t break any teeth, we paid a lot for those braces you just got off.” Wow, thanks dad, so sympathetic.

Turns out I hit so hard that I tore the skin and muscle all the way to my jaw bone. I ended up getting two stitches to repair the muscle underneath and five stitches to sew up the surface. Moreover, I hit so hard that I ended up receiving treatment from a chiropractor a couple years later who said the impact caused my neck and spine to drastically shift out of place and claimed that by looking at my x-ray one would think that my neck “was on backwards.” Needless to say, I never again rode a bike. That is, until a few days ago.

Since my senior semester has just started, I have very little time to go on an adventure unless it’s something local. With the cold weather, my options are even more limited. So, I decided a big adventure and huge milestone in my young adult life would be facing my fears and getting back on a bike for the first time in six years.

Early one morning before my afternoon class, I borrowed my roommate’s bike (and helmet) and shakily started pedaling down the street. I imagine I looked similar to a baby giraffe trying to ride a unicycle. It was a rough start. I gradually started picking up speed and confidence. I kept telling myself, “I’m 21 years old, I’m an adult and this is a bicycle, stop being silly, I’ve got this.” It wasn’t long before my fears started slipping away and I was riding like I used to pre-accident. With every push of the pedal I could feel my body and mind becoming stronger. My heartbeat, pulse, and happiness increased and I ended up losing myself and riding for two hours – much longer than I could have ever imagined.

Obviously this isn’t what many people would consider an exciting and life-changing adventure, but by facing my fears and doing something as simple as riding a bicycle I realized things that I had definitely forgotten. I had lost the feeling of empowerment that challenging oneself can bring. Before my bike ride I felt afraid, nervous, and silly. Afterward, I was more confident and mentally and physically stronger. It was absolutely incredible. This was a small-scale adventure but a huge risk and challenge for me, and the first step to opening my mind to larger explorations. 

Next up, skydiving.

February 11, 2014

The Importance of Adventure in Society

Commentary from guest blogger Shannon Goff

When I was a child, all I did was run outside and climb my grandmother’s weeping willow or huge apple tree. My friends and I spent every minute we could out of the house, and we thought it was just wild to run through the woods and play hide and seek for hours and hours in the yard. The thing is, these memories are the ones where I remember being truly happy and carefree.

My adventures helped me understand myself; they gave me a true image of what I could accomplish and what I could push my mind and body to do. I gained immense satisfaction and a positive sense of self-worth by setting and achieving goals for myself through adventurous activities.

Unfortunately, it seems like so many people today prefer staying indoors instead of exploring the outside world. Many kids and adults would rather stay safely locked away in their houses, attached to their phones or computers or video games. However, the need for adventure is inherent in everyone; and it’s time to revitalize it.  

As women, it is important to be the explorers of today and inspire others to follow suit. We can recollect memories of being outside romping around as a child, but for today’s youth those experiences are much rarer. An article from The Guardian cited a 2008 study by Play England,

“70% of adults had their biggest childhood adventure in outdoor spaces among trees, rivers and woods, compared with only 29% of children today… [the] majority of young people questioned said that their biggest adventures took place in playgrounds.”

I was shocked when I read this. Adventure is a crucial element of a successful and full life, and less than 50% of those children surveyed had ever had a real outdoors experience other than a jungle gym. This is insane. Now more than ever, we must stand up as strong, female members of society and motivate today’s youth to find their own adventures. Having explorations and adventures from a young age creates resilience and a strong sense of independence, which are qualities I believe every female, even every person, should acquire and maintain. Furthermore, another British study found that “around 55% of girls and young women questioned agreed there is a lack of strong aspirational women in general.” This is absurd. Let us be those women that change their minds. Strong role models in local communities and in society in general show girls and young women that they can achieve great things. Young girls need female role models that are confident, courageous and adventurous.

This doesn’t mean that we have to climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, or bike across America. By simply going outside of our comfort zones and doing things that bring risk and change to our daily routines, we are creating adventurous lives and leading others by example. There are plenty of things we can do, whether it’s going bungee jumping or learning how to kayak. The important thing is that we go out there and live life, for that’s how we can show ourselves and others exactly what we’re made of. Everyone has the ability to inspire others, and we need to take advantage of this fact and become positive role models for the rest of society. We must become the driving force that moves others, both younger and older, toward a more active future.

December 30, 2013

Yummy Snacks for Your Next Big Adventure

Adventure Bars for on-the-go snacking

A big adventure needs fuel and The League of Adventurous Women test kitchen has a tasty treat for the next time you head out the door for fishing, cycling, skydiving or even a road trip.  These Adventure Bars are packed with protein and carbs for energy.

Adventure Bars

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
¾ cup reduced fat peanut butter

4 cups Grape-nuts cereal
1 ½ cups dry roasted peanuts
1 ½ cups whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped*
1 cup Oatmeal (optional)
½ cup Coconut (optional)
1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc.)

Line 13x9 pan or jelly roll pan with parchment allowing parchment to go up the sides of the pan (or use foil and spray lightly with no-stick cooking spray).
Combine cereal, nuts, oatmeal and fruit in large bowl. Set aside.
Microwave corn syrup, sugar and peanut butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH for 2-1/2 minutes or just until mixture boils, stirring every minute (time will vary depending on the strength of your microwave).
Add cereal mixture to peanut butter mixture. Stir to coat well. Press firmly into lined pan (you may have to press with a little piece of parchment to keep the mixture from coating your hands). Cool.  When mixture has cooled completely, pull entire rectangle out of pan by pulling on parchment. Cut into bars. Wrap bars separately for travel or store in an air-tight container.

* toast whole almonds at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Let cool and chop into large pieces.