While I was completing courses in Exercise Science and Outdoor Recreation Management, I took a handful of business classes and was intrigued by the course material and projects. I loved being able to apply what I learned in school the very next day in my pursuits with my vaulting performance troupe and coaching program. I thought that I might want to get a Master's in Business Administration one day.
However, by the time I was a senior in college, I was done with being a student and done with being tied down. I wanted to move outside of Utah. I dreamed of joining a performance troupe and traveling the country.
I moved to Denver, Colorado and completed my Bachelor's Degree in 2014. My first goal after that was to certify as a personal trainer. I studied intently while I interned at a gym for 8 months and passed my certification exam in 2015. After that, I certified as a stand up paddle boarding instructor, got into competitive whitewater SUP, and started representing Hala Gear.
That summer, I started a non-profit with teammate John Blackshire, called the Colorado SUP Club, but I couldn't help but be commitment-phobic. I knew that I needed to take advantage of my freedom and pursue performing. I picked up and moved to Florida for the first time and trained with Cavallo Equestrian Arts in the fall of 2015.
After spending the winter in Florida, I had to decide whether I should keep on trying to be a performer or go back to Colorado to take advantage of the opportunity I had to be a professional sponsored stand up paddle boarder. I missed the culture of Colorado and decided that I was going to go for the SUP life and see what happened. I worked at Rocky Mountain Paddleboard as a SUP instructor for kid's camps and lessons and hit the whitewater races hard the summer of 2016.
2016 was an awesome year for me. I worked my butt off to improve my paddle boarding skills while I was in Florida and spent every day on the water. I won at the GoPro Games and podiumed in pretty much every race that I entered. I picked up an ammbassadorship from 404 SUP and got the chance to travel to the Pacific Paddle Games. That summer, I won a grant to go to Chile to help introduce the sport of whitewater SUP to the country and planned an expedition for January of 2017.
Leading up to my expedition, I lived with my parents for two months in Utah and two months in Mexico so that I could save money and practice my Spanish while I prepared for Chile. In January, I traveled throughout Chile with Hala teammates, Joey Saputo and Andy O'Brien.
After Chile, my financial life changed dramatically. I bought a ticket to Europe on the pretense that I was going to teach SUP clinics there in the spring, but that fell through. Lesson learned: always have a contract and always buy flight insurance on business trips. I lost a lot of money that I planned on earning upon completion of the clinics. If that wasn't enough, two days before I went to Chile, my car got rear-ended in a collision that involved three other brand-new cars and an underinsured driver. Long story short, six months after the accident, I got about $300 for my car.
So when I got back from Chile, I had three months to save up for a new car and find a place to live in Boulder, Colorado for the summer - all while recovering from a 6 month stint of no work and international traveling.
I worked my butt off in Park City, Utah doing ski rental delivery and managed to save enough to buy a 1999 GMC Savana with a new engine. My strategy was to consolidate my expenses and stressors by living in my van. I say it all the time. I never romanticized van-life. I only considered it because it seemed to suit my lifestyle and I only actually did it because I was terribly desperate. I didn't choose the van life. The van life chose me. ;)
During the summer of 2017 I lived in my van outfitted with only a bed frame and some Tupperware containers to store my food and cooking supplies that I had from my backpacking collection. I worked in Boulder, Colorado as a SUP instructor and lived in the parking lot of the Movement Climbing Gym. It was actually pretty awesome living in a van in Boulder because there are tons of other van dwellers around, so I never felt as isolated and crappy as it sounds.
Once my job ended for the season, I moved to Arizona with my boyfriend and together we, but mostly my boyfriend, built-out my van into the lovely home that it is today. I finished up my van then moved to Florida for the remainder of the winter and pursued the performer life once again.
I spent three months in Florida training on my SUP and on the horses with Cavallo Equestrian Arts. In April of 2018, I ventured to Tennessee and paddle boarded the Nolichucky Gorge on my way back to drop my van off in Utah, then I flew out to Washington state. I performed with the troupe at the Washington State Fair then drove with them to Minnesota for another show. I loved performing and living on the road, but after coming home and putting a lot of thought into it, I realized that it was not a sustainable lifestyle for me at this time.
The struggle has been real this past year... but I needed to experience these things to come to the conclusion that I need to go back to school. I feel like the FOMO isn't going to be as bad now that I've done a lot of the things that made me "commitment-phobic." I have a multitude of life-experience and could tell you amazing stories from my adventures and my past travels, but when it comes to moving forward and being financially stable and comfortable, I'm no where near where I want to be. And that scares me.
I don't want to be struggling to pay the bills for the rest of my life. I want to make money. I want to be smart with my money and invest well, but I know that I have a lot to learn. I want to go back to school and study business so that I can learn how to be better at marketing and growing a business. I want to have a better competitive advantage when I'm applying for jobs. I want to have a job that will give me freedom to be able to own a horse without being a slave to the financial commitments that a horse entails. I want to be able to paddle board without having to worry about getting injured and not being able to pay for treatment. I want to be completely financially independent and not rely on another person to get by. The past four years have been awesome, but these are the lessons that I have learned and my they are my primary motivation to strive to learn more and grow my own skills.
Just like I trained, practiced, and studied to become a better whitewater stand up paddle boarder, I am utilizing a strategy to prepare to apply for an MBA for the fall of 2019. I know that I have to do really well on the GMAT and kill it in the essays. My goal is to get a scholarship with a stipend. We shall see what happens. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.
Lastly, this does NOT mean that I am retiring from all the things that I do. I'm still going to paddle, ride, and van, and whatever else I do for fun. Always have, always will!