I’ve always done things differently — it’s baked into the fiber of my being. Over time, I’ve found delight in being able to surprise friends and family with my next move.
I didn’t spend my teenage summers boating and sunbathing on the chain of lakes in my hometown, despite protests from my tight-knit group of girlfriends. You could find me leading wilderness expeditions, not showering for days, and cooking over campfires amongst mosquitoes and black bears.
(Below: Me, circa 2006 leading a group hiking for 17 days on Isle Royale)
In college, when many of my friends were studying abroad, I was bound and determined for my sorority to win a competition called Humorology. Myself and a group of 30 others spent the better part of four years creating annual 20-minute musicals with original scripts, song lyrics to popular tunes, and choreography. Six teams would compete each year for the glory of 1st place… all along the way, raising money for local charities. I’ve starred in leading roles like Princess Peach, the Queen of England, and Miss Piggy.
In 2010, I told my family I was leaving my dream job as a style editor of a magazine and moving to Utah, chasing after a California guy I’d met just six months earlier.
(Below: Me, emcee-ing a fashion show in Madison, Wis. in my favorite pair of 3-inch heels)
In the years that followed, I married that guy, started a nonprofit, learned to backcountry ski (which had a steep learning curve from my hometown “hills” of Wisconsin!), explored mountains on five continents, and opened four yoga studios.
(Below: Sean and I on our first ski/snowboard expedition to arctic Norway in 2013)
When originally announced to my friends and family that Sean and I were going to live off the grid, I had a lot of explaining to do… namely, what precisely that meant, and how we were going to build a livable home (a yurt, and later a small cabin) with exactly zero building experience.
Years later when I decided to move to Alaska, you’d think I’d announced I was moving to the moon! Would I ever come back to visit? Was it safe? Was I sure?
Yes yes yes, I assured them. By the time everyone got used to Alaska (alongside the fact we were amassing more dogs than was socially “acceptable” anywhere but here!), I announced that Sean and I would be building a wilderness retreat destination and our home above the arctic circle, 270 miles from civilization, in a village of 12 people.
The crowd went silent.
My best curveball to date! And look at me now :-) My life has been filled with surprises, and I’ve been so fortunate to have the support network that I do. And while my off-the-beaten-path adventures have been posted on social media, televised to global audiences, and cataloged through my writing, blogs and newsletters, my spiritual journey over the past 7 years has been more behind the scenes — and surprisingly, I consider it one of the most rewarding adventures of my life.
It was a peculiar thing, starting down a spiritual path that was undeniably different from anyone else in my life. Normally, I’d embrace this and proclaim it loud and proud. But for whatever reason, I kept my initial progress quiet. If we’re being honest, it was one of the first times I was terrified to do things differently.
I’ll tell you why tomorrow.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.