Bringing out the Gloves with Angel Bovee

Website: www.boxingangel.com 

If you sat down for a cup of coffee with Angel Bovee, you’d never guess that she was one of the most accomplished female boxers in the USA. With a dimpled smile, contagious laugh, and a heart of gold, Angel is one of the most unassuming national champions you’ll ever meet. Although Angel and I used to meet for the occasional beer and chat-fest, we’ve since moved far away from one another and we recently had to have our beer session via telephone. I decided to sit down and ask Angel a more formal set of questions and realized even I didn’t know all of her amazingness. She truly is an amazing and inspiring woman and is now featured in our Amazing Women Series.

Angel was an Olympic-style boxer from 1999 – 2007 and it was her dream to compete in the 2004 Olympic games, predicted to be the first time women’s boxing would be included. At the time, Angel was ranked #1 in the country and was one of only 6 athletes to represent the USA at the first two women’s world championships ever held for Olympic-style women boxers. She was captain of Team USA for the second world championships in 2002 and won national championship status. Unfortunately, even with all the hard work in promoting equality in women’s boxing, it was still not included in the 2004 summer Olympics and Angel was still unable to compete.

2007 Golden Gloves Champion

Angel’s award winning boxing career ended bittersweet.  Due to the upper age limit of 35 in Olympic boxing, Angel had to hang up her gloves without having the chance to realize her dream as women’s boxing was still excluded from the Olympic Games.  Just before her birthday in 2007, Angel chose to finish her impressive career in her own backyard by becoming the NY Golden Gloves Champion for the third time at Madison Square Garden.

Redefining her dreams, in 2006 she was voted as the only woman on the 10 member USA Boxing Board of Directors which is responsible for Olympic-style boxing in the United States.  The focus and driving force behind Angel’s competitive career and now with her position on the Board, has been to try and promote women’s boxing and gender equality in sports, both in and out of the ring. She would like to see women get the same respect, training, resources, media exposure, and competition opportunities that male boxers receive and then increase these opportunities for both men and women boxers around the country.

We asked Angel to rap with us and here’s what she had to say:

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always thought I would be a private detective.  The TV detective shows always focused on the problem solving, the physical nature of it as well as the sense of adventure seemed like the perfect fit for me.  Only later did I realize that really only existed on TV.

In meeting you, I’d never guess you were a champion boxer with several titles on your resume. What are people’s first responses when they find out you are a boxer?

I think that is a common response when people meet me, which just goes to show you the stereotypes involved when you hear someone is a “boxer.”  I had a reporter once say to me that they had never met a boxer who smiled so much.  Boxing, like other sports, defies labels as people from all walks of life are involved. ESPN recently rated 64 sports for levels of difficulty, and boxing came out as #1. This difficulty and challenge attracts a special kind of person to enter the ring.

ESPN recently rated 64 sports for levels of difficulty, and boxing came out as #1.  This difficulty and challenge attracts a special kind of person to enter the ring.

There was recently a controversy about women boxers being required to wear skirts in the Olympic competition. What’s your opinion on the proposed requirement?

I think it is a huge slap in the face.  A bunch of us worked so hard for years to finally be the last sport in the summer Olympic Games to get included . . .and when we finally do they say they can’t tell the men from the women so the women need to wear skirts?  It’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, but it shows you the kind of entrenched sexism and challenges we have had in trying to get women included in the last bastion of male dominant sports. The message they are sending is that you can’t be a woman elite athlete with an athletic body because it makes society uncomfortable.

This particular fight we fought in the press and our International Federation finally backed down and are making skirts for women optional.  This is still problematic because for many countries, where women are lucky to have training facilities and boxing gear, the choice won’t be optional.  They are so happy for the opportunity to compete, they will do whatever their national organizing committee will tell them to do.  For example, Poland has their entire team wearing skirts.  Even in our country, there is undue pressure on our athletes to wear skirts as some of the older men in power mistakenly believe it will give our athletes some type of advantage with the judges.  We have done the statistics on this and proven that it’s just not true, but they don’t seem to be willing to listen.  Before the 2010 World Championships, one of our athletes who was the only athlete to go on to win a gold medal, was in tears because the US male coaches wanted her to wear the skirt.  That is not something an athlete should be thinking about before their world championship bout.  I am embarrassed for our sport.

What’s your opinion on prize money for male vs. female boxers?

As of 2010, Olympic boxing was an amateur sport and you received no money for competition.  Professional female boxers make about 3% or less of what their male counterparts do at the highest levels.  I managed a three-time world champion female professional boxer.  At that time she was receiving about $10,000 for a world title fight.  That was before she paid her coach, cut-man, etc.  She had a full-time job and also had to take a week off of work to compete so the small amount of salary was a wash.  A male fighter fighting for the same title makes millions.  Promoters use the excuses that women don’t sell tickets, yet they don’t put women on the cards, so they don’t have an opportunity to build fan support—it is a Catch 22 seeped in sexism.  When a woman does find a way to compete on a card, you often hear fans say it was a much more interesting and entertaining fight than any of the mens’ bouts.  The fighter I managed happened to box as the main event on the Fox’s The Best Damn Sports Show, and that episode had the highest rating of the season.  Women enter the ring for the love of their sport, NOT for the money, which inherently makes better fights!

Who handed you your first set of gloves?

I was a martial artist and kick boxer and kicking was always my strength.  AT 25 years of age I decided that I better improve my hand skills so I walked into a dirty, dark, smelly boxing gym. . . looked around. . . didn’t see a single woman in the place.  I picked up a pair of gloves and I never left.  I fell in love with the power, strength, speed and grace of boxing.

Boxing gyms historically been a place where individuals from different ethnic and religious backgrounds could come together and work at a time in this country when that wasn’t true of society at large.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that ideal didn’t hold true for a woman in the gym.  Up until that point, getting in the ring was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life.  Years later that got replaced by trying to gain gender equality in the sport, in which the boardroom replaced the ring and became the hardest challenge I ever had faced.

Gleason’s Boxing Gym, Brooklyn

You had your sights on competing (and winning) in the Olympics, 2004. How did you manage the disappointment of women’s boxing not making it there?

It was my dream and I lived every waking moment moving towards that dream.  At 25 I had no business thinking I could ever be competitive enough to compete in an Olympic Games, but I really didn’t think about that.  Lucikly, I grew up in a household where no one ever told me I couldn’t do something because I was female, because I was gay, because I was old. . .My parents were on welfare when I was real young and never were well off, yet they were such out-of-the-box problem solvers I never felt  that we were economically different than anyone else.  I grew up in an atmosphere where independence and resiliency was fostered. . .you set a goal and then work extremely hard to achieve that goal, no matter what it was.  I credit my parents and being a lifetime member of the Girl Scout organization for helping to foster those skills within me. People always look at me like I am crazy when I told them I quit my job as a television producer and moved out of my apartment and moved into my Plymouth Sundance at the Poughkeepsie Train station so I could commute everyday to the famed Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn and train full-time to achieve my dream.

People always look at me like I am crazy when I told them I quit my job as a television producer and moved out of my apartment and moved into my Plymouth Sundance at the Poughkeepsie Train station so I could commute everyday to the famed Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn and train full-time to achieve my dream.

Gleason’s, Brooklyn

Others saw it as an incredible risk but for me it was an easy decision.   Anyone can have a job for 40 years working towards the house and the white picket fence.  To me, the zest of life comes not in saving for retirement, but having as many unique life experiences as I can, when I can while trying to do some good along the way.  Boxing has allowed me to travel the world, and have so many experiences that I would not otherwise have.

Angel and Evander Holyfield, 2011

I am fortunate enough to have been open to certain experiences and have had the extreme pleasure of having experiences like: hanging out with Billy Jean King in her box at the US Open, have taken a team of 16 and 17 year olds to compete in Ecuador, another team to Istanbul, trained in Merida, Mexico for 10 weeks in a tiny gym under the stairs of an outdoor sports stadium, managed a 3-time professional world champion boxer, spent three weeks in Toyko while participating in a pay-per-view event, lived in a Clarion hotel in Scranton, PA for a month because the women’s Team USA wasn’t yet allowed to train at the Olympic Training Center, driven- by myself, without a coach, across country numerous times to compete,  assisted  in opening the Boxing Resource Center a unique athletic and educational facility, in Nashville, TN,  and just got to participate in an NBC shoot for boxing promos they are going to air for the Olympics. . .on and on. . .and those are the good experiences. . . it has been a wild ride!

Boxing has allowed me to travel the world, and have so many experiences that I would not otherwise have.

Boxing has been the conduit not only for me to have a platform to discuss and fight for gender equality in sports but also to be a positive example of an openly gay and out role model.  It is a way to show young girls and women that you can do anything you want in this world, if you are willing to fight the good fight.

When the IOC (International Olympic Committee) denied women’s inclusion in the Olympic Games in 2004 and again in 2008, boxing became the only summer sport not to have women on its Olympic program.  As you can imagine, it did not set well with me that I wasn’t allowed to compete on the worlds largest stage, not because I wasn’t good enough, but simply because I was a woman.  Of course I was angry, absolutely pissed that I could work so hard and not be able to complete my dream because someone deemed boxing wasn’t appropriate for women.  How dare they!

After a period of anger I realized it was my responsibility to restructure my dream and do everything within my power to not let any other young boxer be denied and have to feel what I was feeling.  So I got elected to the Board of Directors of USA Boxing in 2006.  I served as the only woman on the board from 2006-2010.  And boy I thought boxing was hard!  Serving on the board, up until today, has been the hardest thing I have ever done, bar none.  The sexism that exists at the top level of sport organizations is so deeply entrenched that it becomes very difficult to convince people that have been allowed to think a certain way for so many years without challenge, to change their way of thinking to be inclusive.  They see it as a personal affront to their power.   Being on the Board I have learned things I never was interested in learning—how to play politics, how to pick your fights, what issues exist that you simply can’t compromise on and have to fight to the end even when it takes a large personal toll.

I am still on the Board today and I am happy to report that in 2012 you will see the inclusion, although on a limited basis, of women’s boxing in the Olympic Games, making this the VERY FIRST Olympic Games that will include men and women in all sports.  We still have work to do to gain equality in the number of weight classes and number of female athlete slots in the Olympic Games, but we have broken through the glass ceiling.

Just in the past month, women’s boxing has been on NPR, NY Times, BBC, the View, NBC Nightly News, and almost every national news outlet there is, including a full spread in this weeks TIME magazine.  When is the last time you saw a men’s Olympic boxing story in one of these outlets?  We kept telling them this would happen but they refused to listen.  I will be in London to witness this historic first and hopefully close the chapter of that part of my life.

What was your biggest challenge as a professional boxer?

UGH!

Boxing is not all you do. You’ve had a career in television as well as an advanced degree in Recreation Management. What was the worst job you’ve ever had?

The worst jobs I have ever had were working in the dish room at the dining hall in college, delivering Auto Trader magazines to gas stations around Albany, NY, handing out towels and keys in an exclusive health club at 5am in the morning, and being a certified pool operator for another health club which involved lots of chemicals and manually draining and scrubbing the hell out of the 12 person hot-tub every week so I could have enough hours to get health insurance.

You’ve definitely influenced women’s boxing and the advancement of the sport. What has been your most valued accomplishment?

Besides being a part of getting women’s boxing included in the Olympic Games, I think representing athlete rights on the Board of Directors has been one of my biggest accomplishments.

How have you seen boxing positively impact women from other countries? 

5th Annual IOC Women in Sports Conference

It is amazing that countries like Afghanistan, Syria, China, India, and Egypt have established women’s boxing programs.  What we are doing goes so much further than just a sport.  These woman are changing the social norms of a culture.  That is so powerful.  Last month I attended the IOC’s 5th annual Women in Sports Conference where 800 delegates from all over the world attended.  To hear their stories of struggle were not only empowering, but you start to realize that you are simply one spoke in a wheel of social change in the world and you are not alone.  I have visionary sisters fighting all over the world.  While I often find myself extremely impatient for this change, it is happening, while albeit slowly, and that keeps me going!

Women’s boxing has gotten some great media coverage since entering the Olympic arena. Tell us how the Olympic battle was won.

The battle was won by all of us standing on the shoulders of the pioneers that came before us.  In my sphere of influence, it was a group of women that have been fighting since 1995 for this to happen.  I am proud to be a part of this group which includes volunteers from around the world that have been working without pay and without recognition and with numerous roadblocks from our own boxing organizations.  Women’s boxing appeared in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics and it has taken 108 years to appear again.

I am so proud to announce that one of the leaders of our group and one of the hardest working women I know, was recently recognized by the US Olympic Committee and selected as this years winner of the prestigious Olympic Torch Awards.  This Award has been won by President Gerald Ford, Bonnie Blair and other incredible individuals that have contributed to the Olympic movement.  As she was recognized by this prestigious award in a dinner hosted by NBC’s Bob Costas, our own organization, USA Boxing, didn’t even acknowledge the achievement, so you can see the types of sexism and challenges we still face.

RYS has a foundation in self-advocacy. Explain what self-advocacy is to you and why it’s been an important part of your career.

Angel and 1988 Olympians Gold Medalists Andrew Maynard and Ray Mercer at the 2011 Men’s Olympic Trials

If I didn’t learn how to be a self-advocate I would have never made it out of the local boxing gym.  To move towards my dreams, I had to learn so many skills other than boxing.  I learned early on that when you have a dream, it is contagious.  If you believe in yourself and that comes across in your body language and your passion, other people flock to you like a moth to a light.  I am not sure why that is, but excitement and passion are contagious.

Self –advocacy was crucial to my success.  Olympic boxing is an amateur sport and you receive no money for competing.  You have to fund all your own travel and training fees.  I often call my time in boxing my first master’s degree.   I had to learn how to do graphic design and photography so I could create press kits, a website, publicity photos, and marketing materials to promote myself.  I had to learn about sports performance so I could open my own personal training business to help fund all of my competitive travel as well as make sure I was optimizing my training time.  I had to learn how to fundraise and how to talk to potential sponsors and to the press, not only promote myself and women’s boxing but to also promote women’s equality in sports.  I was fortunate that these skills that I learned as well as the contagious nature of a dream kept me in the press and helped me gain many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I simply just “boxed” and didn’t learn these other skills.  You can be modest and still live your life very openly, very truthfully, and the simple sharing of your experiences can help other in unexpected ways.

For instance, when PBS “In the Life” did a documentary on my partner at the time and myself, we got so many e-mails after it aired about the importance of being out gay role models.  So many people that watched the documentary contacted us to say that we really inspired them to come out and live open and honestly and the sense of empowerment that that gave them.  We were just living the way we knew how to live.  I never knew I would have that kind of voice as a boxer.   So you really can influence people in unexpected ways simply by honestly sharing your life experiences—the good and the bad.

Important question: TP, do you crumple or fold? 

Crumple-I have no time for folding. I don’t fold my underwear, handwraps, or socks either!

What’s the future look like for Angel Bovee?

I just started a new job working for Adecco and the US Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs administering the Team USA Career Program.  I place Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls in part-time jobs that are flexible with their travel and training schedules so they can gain some career experience to help not only fund their Olympic and Paralympic dreams but also help with their transition out of sport.  Even thought I have a master’s degree and experience representing athletes, I have no HR experience and I  got the job primarily because I was an elite athlete myself.  Never in a million years would I have guessed my boxing experiences would have lead to a job.  That makes me chuckle.

I hope my future is one of great life experiences.

Money has never been a driving force in my life so that leaves me open to all sorts of non-traditional experiences.  I have also chosen to minimize fear in my life.  We only have so many minutes on this Earth, I don’t want to spend any of my minutes being afraid—afraid of being judged and hated,  afraid of not having a 401K, afraid of picking up and starting over in a new location . . .I do plan on trying to simply and get some projects off my plate.  I am learning the difficult lesson of just because you can make a difference doesn’t mean you say “yes” to every project that comes along.  I want to finish the multitude of projects I have on my plate and spend a little more time on myself and spend time strengthening the relationships in my life.

You’ve chosen “fighting” to create a sense of identity and a sense of empowerment within yourself. Discuss. 

I guess I was born a fighter.  Fights inside the ring are unique because at the end of the day, you are in there competing against yourself.  Can you be faster, stronger and more skillful than the last time you stepped through the ropes?  That is thrilling to me!

If we all had equality and were afforded the same opportunities and civil rights, I guess none of us would feel the need to fight.  My biggest fights have occurred outside the ring and I really don’t enjoy the process, but just like in boxing, knowing you can make a difference and learning from the fight makes you more effective the next time.  As you learn to become effective, your sense of responsibility increases.  I am continually surprised why people and organizations don’t just do something because it is the right thing to do.   That guiding light should be brighter than economics, personal politics, fear, or anything else that typically is used in making decisions within organizations. Things that seem so simple to me sometimes end up being my biggest fights.

Angel Bovee  was an Olympic-style boxer from 1999 – 2007 and holds multiple and impressive titles from her career. She is heavily involved in women’s Olympic boxing in the USA and still sits on the US Olympic Boxing Board of Directors. For more information or to contact Angel, e-mail christine@roamlife.com.

 

Absa Cape Epic – An Update from the Road

ABSA CAPE EPIC – PROLOGUE

Josh and Jackie are heading into day 3, stage 2 of the 2012 Absa Cape Epic. The prologue started at the Meerendel Wine Estate in Durbanville, South Africa with cooler temperatures and a lot of fans. A timed gate start, Josh and Jackie were nervous but had smiles on their faces.

Josh and Jackie at the start gate

The announcers warned that even though it was a short race (27km) it was going to be one of the hardest in terms of climbing. Climbing into the gate, it was hard to see whether these two were nervous – I’m sure they were. It was the beginning of 800km of riding and over 53,000 feet of climbing over the next 8 days.

Hill top finish

The Honey Badgers headed out for a shorter day of riding in hopes of placing mid-pack out of 1,200 riders. After 1:58 of climbing, tricky single track and some quick dirt roads, the Honey Badgers finished 350th in the pack and placed 20th in the mixed category! Way to go!

At the finish – smiles all around!

The Honey Badgers packed up the car and headed to Robertson Wine Valley for the next three stages in the race. Two hours from Meerendel, space was tight in the car on the way – lucky for the Honey Badgers, their Wrangler is incredibly small and fit in the corner of the back seat next to all the bikes.

Lots of bikes, itty bitty space

In Robertson, we found everything was incredibly organized. Showers were ready to go, marquee tent ready for dinner, signs and directions everywhere, and tent city up and ready for inhabitants.

Race Village

ABSA CAPE EPIC – STAGE 1

Stage 1 race began with a bang (literally) and temperatures quickly rose to over 100 degrees. We anticipated the Honey Badgers to finish between 7-8 hours. With the heat, it was up in the air as to how long the race would actually take. Over heating, dehydration, leg cramps, injury – it was all on the table.

After 4.5 hours, the first racers came through the finish line. 114km in 4.5 hours!?!? INSANE. With several more hours on the agenda for the Honey Badgers, anticipation began to grow as more and more racers came across the final time clock.

The Honey Badgers had to battle to pass and struggled to avoid flats with a copious amount of thorns in their tires. A small scare fairly well into the race, Josh sprayed Jackie in the face with Stan’s as his tire tried to hold together after a thorn puncture. Spraying for 15-20 seconds, Stan’s sealed up the hole and the Honey Badgers were able to continue on without stopping.

7 hours into the race, finishers from yesterday’s race were identified that finished close to when the Honey Badgers came through. They must be close.

7:23 in, the Honey Badgers crossed the finish line. With the heat and distance and crazy amounts of climbing, the Honey Badgers did better than we had anticipated AND moved up 50 spaces overall to sit at 278 out of 600 teams.

finish line fist bump

A proud moment for these Honey Badgers – they worked as a team, helped each other through, and came out above their target placement.

Currently, the Honey Badgers are off on stage 2…120km; their longest day yet. We’re in Robertson through tomorrow’s stage and then we head out to Caledon for Stages 4 & 5.

Journey to Absa Cape Epic

Today, the Giant Honey Badgers reunited on their bikes at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch, South Africa. After climbing up a dirt road, they popped off onto some twisty single track and came flying down the mountain. Jonkershoek Upper Canary Trail ties into Mid and Lower Canary for a quick and fun ride down. The ride up is well worth it.

The trails have a bit of everything – rocky, rooty, mixed with smooth and quick switchbacks. After 40k of riding today, Josh and Jackie are in tune with one another, their bikes, and S. Africa.

Josh & Jackie at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

For continued and to-the-minute updates, follow Roam Life on Twitter and Facebook!

Reaching Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone


If you want to feel secure
Do what you already know how to do.
But if you want to grow…
Go to the cutting edge of your competence,
which means a temporary loss of security.
So, whenever you don’t quite know
What you are doing
Know…..
that you are growing…

~ An exert from David Viscott’s book, Risking

Are you a risk-taker? What types of risks do you tend to take? (e.g. emotional, physical, financial, professional).

This first assignment asks you to look at your life from a different perspective, both physically and mentally. What do you see from this perspective? What do you feel? Are you feeling uncomfortable?

Looking at the world around you from a different perspective is the first step to adding a little risk to your life. Taking risks can help you grow, develop, learn, get unstuck and become transformed. Adding adventure type activities, whether it be skiing, bicycling, attending a cultural event, or visiting a new city, can help facilitate growth. Did you know women are usually not encouraged to take risks as men are? We have all heard, “The world isn’t safe for little girls” … It started for a lot of us when we were little girls. It’s called “learned helplessness.” Or, “risky behavior is bad.” Yes! There are “bad” risky behaviors… but, as women, we are very rarely taught that we can take on healthy risks!

Roam Your Soul facilitates you taking more risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s amazing how adding a little bit of adventure can be so beneficial to getting people out of their comfort zone.

Below is a model that portrays three zones. The Comfort Zone, the Learning Zone, and the Panic Zone. Understanding this model can help with your goals and become more comfortable with change.

Life can be easy in the Comfort Zone…. But this is also where we tend to feel “stuck.” It is difficult to learn and grow while you sit idle within your comfort zone. When you add adventure and take on new risks, your ability to enter the Learning Zone is much greater. The Learning Zone is characterized by uncertainty and discoveries, vulnerability, and renewed confidence, fear and delight.

Don’t hate change, embrace it!

At first, it can be scary to enter the Learning Zone. This zone allows for personal expansion and deeper reflection. It involves taking small failures and turning them into big accomplishments. When you live your life in the Learning Zone, you’ll actually increase the size of your Comfort Zone, which will help build self-esteem. When you embrace the Learning Zone, it promotes growth and increased levels of creativity, thus developing the skills and knowledge to grow and change (and be happy) throughout your lifetime. Once you have identified ways to live in the learning zone, you’ll feel alive and accomplished. You may feel much more powerful than you ever imagined.

But, be careful… you do not want to go beyond the learning zone and enter too far into the Panic Zone. Once you are in panic mode, learning is almost impossible in this zone. You’re too busy managing anxiety and fear. This level of stress can stunt learning and growth. Although, don’t be scared to enter it! The Panic Zone can create extreme exhilaration that will blast you into growth you never imagined. Just be very careful, because the Panic Zone can easily go out of control. So, venture lightly!

For each individual, this circle model varies. It’s important to identify your Comfort Zone, your Learning Zone, and your Panic Zone. Based on what you have learned here, take a few moments and draw your own diagram. How big do you think your comfort zone is? How often do you venture out into the learning zone? Where does your Panic Zone begin? What are some adventures that you could do that would place you in your Learning Zone more frequently?

Tips for taking on “controlled risks”

As you plan your adventures, keep these tips in mind and take time to answer these questions:

1) Preparation: What is the risk/adventure/trip you want to take? What are your motivators? What are the desired results? What are the best/worst consequences? Is this the right time? (Remember, there’s never a right time… you just need to make time)

What steps do you need to take? Who will support you?

2) Commitment: Jump to action! Plan the trip! Take the risk! Go for it!

3) Completion: What were the results? Did you learn? How would you do it differently next time?

 

Contact info: Christine@roamlife.com /+1 (914) 297-8446 to request more information.

 

Roam Life: Presenter Series

ROAMING TAKES ON A NEW PURPOSE: LIFE STORIES ON THE ROAD
Learning to Roam Life From Those You Meet Along the Way

Josh Fonner and Christine Perigen are self-proclaimed roamers. Nomadic in nature and both having found the freedom of life on the road and on their bicycles individually, they come together to launch Roam Life (http://roamlife.com). Josh explains the purpose of Roam Life through conversation, “So many people say to me, ‘You’re so lucky to go there.’” My response, “It’s not luck. It’s purpose. Anyone can do it. Anyone can go.”

Josh shares the philosophy of Roam Life through the stories of those he’s met on the road. He hopes that sharing the stories of those he encounters inspires those admiring his adventuresome nature to aspire to change their own lives.

Roam Life is about inspiring adventure in your daily life. In the Roam Life Presenter Series, we’ll be bringing you stories about amazing people doing amazing things to help you realize your own adventure story.

 

Whether your idea of adventure is going beyond the five block radius around your house, venturing over to the next town, or exploring the far flung reaches of the planet, we want to help you get there.”

For more information about Roam Life, Christine, and Josh or to schedule an interview, call Christine at 914.584.8760 or email at christine@roamlife.com

13 Questions for Eleanor Moseman

Amazing Women Doing Amazing Things:

13 Questions for Eleanor Moseman

Websites: http://eleanormoseman.com  & http://www.2wheels4girls.com/

In my search for amazing women to highlight in our Amazing Women Doing Amazing things, I knew I had to reach out to Ellen. I knew she was an amazing woman. Her story of traveling across China on a bicycle captivated me. I wrote Ellen to ask if she’d be a part of our community.

Ellen responded with heart and truth that I’ve learned is to be her engaging personality. Ellen is real. She’s a straight shooter. She has heart, guts, and a seriously insane sense of humor that makes me laugh when I’m alone and anticipate her next e-mail installment.

Ellen with Uyghur family

Eleanor has been in China since 2008 snapping photos and living life and a couple of years ago, she set out to from Shanghai on a project she labeled 2wheels4girls in an effort to raise funds for girls’ education in China. 18,000km later, Ellen is still on the road.  This year, she was named one of Jupiter’s Travellers and her work has shifted to a new endeavor of documenting cultures and customs that are slowly disappearing in China.

Ellen making oatmeal on the road

We sent Ellen a list of 13 questions to ponder while she was making her way along the Silk Road in the Taklmakan Desert. Wind burned and dodging police in Hotan, China, Ellen found time to respond.

1. Your cause, 2 wheels 4 girls brings to light the disparity in educational opportunities for girls in the US vs. girls in China. What impact do you hope to have through this project and what would your dream outcome be?

It was mostly to just bring about awareness to under privileged and under served children, especially girls. The goal was 10,000 miles, which I’ve already accomplished. The journey has now developed into something else. I’m a photographer and I spent my summer in Tibetan areas, Kham, Amdo…which people know this as Western Sichuan and Qinghai…along with an illegal entry into Tibet. I found myself living with nomads and the hospitality and love from them was immense. It was a total enlightening experience. So, I’m actually in the process of changing my site to the “Wander Cyclist” because I don’t really have a route. I speak/read Chinese so I go basically on what folks tell me or people I meet and chat with. The journey is now continuing as a photo project dedicated to documenting the minorities of China, especially those that are under religious persecution, and learning about the disappearing customs. Western China is on a brink of rebellion right now and things are changing, quickly.

2. How did you learn about the education of girls in China and what inspired you to create change?

I’ve done some volunteer work and living in China, I took notice of how driven these young girls were to succeed and learn. Whenever I’ve had problems, if I found a high school aged girl, she could generally speak English. I would spend time with local girls, whether eating ice cream or even going to their home for dinner.

3. You are doing something so unique and so solo, how do you get your voice heard?

I talk loudly…ha…um…I don’t know. I’m in a very unique situation and my stories and experiences are extremely unique because I have lived in China, for nearly 4 years and I can speak the language. I’m also very accustomed to the culture and what is expected of me. Networking accounts for a lot, but it’s been slow. I’ve been at this project for almost 2 years now. But I’m never solo…there have been so many people behind the scenes to help me. It would be impossible without them.

People write to me asking about photography and cycling advice and I have to tell them…China is an old shoe to me. I really go off the beaten path to find villages. There is no fear of getting lost because my language skills. Sometimes I feel a little weary of giving advice because I don’t want to be responsible for someones death.

4. Have you always been into bicycles? 

Always had one…just used it as a commuter bike. In college, between my roommates and I…we would have a large collection in the corner or hallways. I just found it as the best way to really interact with local people. When I’m on a train in China, I have to close my eyes because it’s frustrating to see all the good stuff go by.

Winter (in April) – Kashgar to Sary-Tash via the Irkeshtam Pass

5. How has the choice of using a bicycle influenced your experience and the interaction you’ve had with those you’ve met?

Of course. I get a lot of thumbs ups, a lot of “lihai” which is kind of like “cool” in Chinese. Most everyone in China has a bike or motorcycle. It’s always a conversation starter and a great way to get free meals and water.

6. What is the most commonly asked question of you when you are on the road?

In this order: “What country person are you?” “How old are you?” “Are you married?” “Do you have kids?”

7. Solo travel can be a lonely and desolate road. What keeps you going in those moments when solo feels very alone and difficult?

I make jokes or remember stories. I think a lot about past people I’ve met. Although, I’ve had a couple temporary partners along the way. At 18,000km now…I’m tired of pushing along alone. After my last partner, I realized how awesome it is to have camp company and someone to share experiences with. There may be someone joining me in a couple of weeks/months. He’s not sure yet…but I would love to have company again. It keeps some of the attention off of me when I want to sneak around for photos.

8. What’s the easiest, go to meal that you cook on the road? What’s the most difficult you’ve tried?

easiest: instant noodles
most difficult: rice pudding

9. Let’s talk TP: Do you crumple or fold?

haha, if I was Tibetan I would tell you I don’t use anything. But I’m not…I’m a folder.

10. You are inspiring and carry with you a very inspiring story. What inspires you?

meeting new people and getting some amazing stories on “film”. The Tibetans were very easy going with the camera. Loved it. Now I’m in Muslim territory and everything has been flipped for me. I’m not really sure where the hell I am right now.

11. In order to be an advocate, you have to have a strong sense of self-advocacy as well. How would you describe self-advocacy and how have you practiced it in your life?

Life ain’t easy. I come from a humble upbringing. The first to attend college on my father’s side of the family. Working class, blue collar family. I excelled at art but when college came about…I couldn’t afford the good schools I got accepted to. I found myself going to a mediocre public university that I really pushed my boundaries with. Education was really pushed on me by my parents. They didn’t care what I went to school for, just go to school. I don’t regret not going to those good schools, because I love the life I have now. But education is expensive, and can be really heartbreaking when you can’t go because of money.

Besides this, I’ve been working, near full time, since I was 18, and summers since I was 16. So, I’ve been clawing my way to the top for the past…um…awhile.

Some people may think a journey like this is vain or selfish…but I needed something epic in my life. Something to help me find me. And well…I did. I told myself I had to do something at 30. I’m pretty glad I waited because I think I enjoy this and appreciate it more than a young 20 something. No offense to any of those. But I do get a lot of girls in their early 20s wanting to do something like this. No rush ladies…when it happens, it happens.

I’ve had help from family and friends too. This has been very much a group effort.

12. One of the things we do in RYS is look at life from a new angle. How have you looked at things from a new angle since beginning your trip?

We have too much shit in our lives. Material, mental, emotional. Just way too much. It feels great to be traveling with the only necessities I need. Besides those care packages my mom sends out to me. I’m stronger, independent, self-sufficient, and somewhat fearless.

13. We’re planning a cycling trip around the world in 2015. What advice would you give to those just starting out on their journey?

You may not figure out what you are doing until about 10,000 km in…at least it took me awhile.

Also, laughter is a universal language. The past couple of weeks, these carts filled with Muslim men are just staring at me as they ride by. I started smiling and laughing and they return it. It really lightens a heavy mood.

Eleanor Moseman is an American photographer, nomad, and world traveler. She is currently cycling through Asia documenting hidden communities, disappearing traditions, and cultures in danger of being erased.

 

 

Update from Ellen on the road 3/8/2012:

Christine, I hope that made sense. I’ve been, primarily alone, in the desert for 2 weeks.

Side note. A lot of Chinese parents do not want their daughters to pursue Masters or Phd programs because, and I quote…”who would want to marry you?!” So highly educated women here are usually single, or have accepted that there may not be a man suited for her. Shameful.

I was talking to a young girl who said, “yes, my sister has a Phd and she is very lucky to have found a man that would marry her.”

Glacier is noted as being 7000m (Not Everest but close) and the lake is Namucuo, the highest in the world.

“It’s the differences in each of us that makes this world so beautiful” – Ellen Moseman

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Ellen’s Adventure Continues!

Meet Abigail Anderson

How I Found my Way Back to Adventure as a Stay-at-Home Mother
by Abigail Anderson 

The day I turned twenty, I bought my first car.  It was a white 1991 Honda Accord, with only 99,000 kilometers on it.  Within the first year I owned it, I added another 50,000 kilometers to the odometer and many more in the years that followed.

In my early twenties, I travelled anywhere my little car could take me, and my adventurous spirit would lead me.  It took me to numerous towns where I could try out independence as a young adult; it carried me home when I missed my Mom and Dad; it brought me closer to old friends who had moved away to form their own adventures and to new friends whose adventures were crossing paths with mine; and it carried me from one new job to another so that I could discover my skills, abilities, and passions in this life.

It’s been twelve years now since I bought my first car for my 20th birthday.  I still have the car, though it doesn’t see many adventures anymore.  These days, a little worse for wear and speckled with rust, the odometer slowly climbs to the 400k mark as it takes my husband to and from work, so I can enjoy the first few years of my children’s lives before they start wanting independence of their own.

But I digress.

This story is not about a car.  It’s about a journey, and even though my wonderful little car carried me safely to each destination my wandering heart desired, somewhere along the road, I forgot I was the one driving the car…

When I was 24, I went back to school, and I met my future husband.  Within a few years, we bought our first house, got married, and had two beautiful children.  This was the life I had always dreamed of.

So now what?

I started feeling lost, purposeless, and guilty – guilty that I felt purposeless while being a mother to two helpless and wonderful babies, and lost because it never occurred to me to have a ‘next’ goal after having children. It was as if in my mind, my life would be complete at that moment on, and forever more.

Needless to say, I was in need of an awakening of the spirit.  As a mother, I simply knew it wasn’t enough.  How was I going to teach my children to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals if I was too chicken to step out and show them not only how it’s done, but that it’s important?  How but by taking risks, would I teach them if the reward is great, the effort is easy.

Although I had become aware that I needed to start pursuing goals in my life again, the thought of taking any risks was terrifying.  It had been so long since I’d had any adventures.  I hadn’t met any new people in years; I hadn’t been to any new places, or travelled on my own; and because I was a stay-at-home mom, I hadn’t been supporting myself financially either.

So, I started small.  To get inspiration, I read story upon story of women and mothers who are taking the adventurous road, following their passions, and facing their fears.  To grow, I challenge myself.  I challenge myself physically by learning about fitness; I challenge myself mentally by picking up some new hobbies like painting, and going back to some old hobbies like playing guitar, writing, and crafting; I challenge myself psychologically by opening up to people about my goals and dreams and in so doing, I hold myself accountable to loved ones who have my back; and finally, I challenge myself emotionally by learning new skills to increase my compassion and understanding for both myself and for others.

I am driving the car again.

Even though my adventures look very different from the ones I had in my early twenties, I feel excited, scared, and every bit as uncertain as I did then.  But, from those small steps through the door to adventure, I am once again finding meaning in my life.  I am becoming braver with every step I take and change has once again become a love in my life.  I am filled by a sense of mystery and anticipation of what my life will look like in the coming days, months, and years.  With compassion for myself, I move forward knowing that though I will stumble here and there, memories will be created, and others will be inspired just as I have been by all the brave women I read about and hear about on a daily basis.

Final thoughts….

Whether your idea of an adventure is trotting the globe, getting out and meeting new people, or doing something different from anything you’ve ever done before, if you don’t open the door, you’ll never get out of your box.  If you’re scared, do it anyway.  And remember: just as no two people are the same, no two adventures will ever be the same, so seek out your adventure, not someone else’s.

Abigail E. Anderson is a mother, wife, blogger, and motivator, who is constantly learning new ways to enrich her life through change.  She is currently working on her first novel. To learn more about change, find out more about her story, or to simply connect with another adventurer, visit ChangedbyChange.com.

Francis Tapon: Hike Your Own Hike

Hike Your Own Hike with Francis Tapon
A yo-yo trip on the Continental Divide

Francis Tapon helps us learn about the Appalachian trail, adventures on the path less traveled, and how to live life with passion and purpose.

First in a series of presenters, Roam Life introduces you to Francis Tapon: ex-techie executive turned adventurer.  In exploring the book,  Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, Francis Tapon inspired us through sharing his experience of a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and what adventure can teach you about life. This true story combines the desire to reorient one’s life with an exciting tale of adventure with a bit of humor. Francis Tapon and Roam Life  take you adventures on the path less traveled, and illustrate how to live your life with passion and purpose.

Current Project: The Unseen Africa

In March, 2013, Francis embarked on a four-year adventure to visit all 54 countries in Africa. The journey is called The Unseen Africa.

Find out where Francis is at right now.

From Tapon’s website:

What are your goals?

  1. Visit every country in Africa.
  2. Film it to make a documentary / TV show about it.
  3. Write a book about Africa’s unseen sides.
  4. Get a tan.

What’s your general travel plan?

Follow the red line on the MAP on the right (move your mouse over the map to zoom into a section). I started in Morocco. I’ve gone through West Africa. I’m now going through Central Africa until I reach South Africa. Then I’ll travel up through East Africa, eventually traversing North Africa (making sure to hit all the countries in between).

The red line gives you a rough idea of our journey’s path. It crosses all the countries in Africa. Realistically, I will make adjustments, so don’t analyze the red line too carefully. Still, it’s been accurate so far.

I expect my real journey to be far less efficient, with lots of backtracking and circuitous ways to a destination. For example, just because the red line doesn’t go to East Angola doesn’t mean we won’t go there. The only promise is that I will try to visit every country. If I follow the red line, I’ll do just that.

For more information, visit his website: www.francistapon.com

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Roam Life is about inspiring adventure in your daily life.

In the Roam Life Presenter Series, we bring you stories about amazing people doing amazing things to help you realize your own adventure story.

Whether your idea of adventure is going beyond the five block radius around your house, venturing over to the next town, or exploring the far flung reaches of the planet, we want to help you get there.”

On the Road to Absa Cape Epic

 

Josh Fonner and Jackie Baker are taking on the South African Absa Cape Epic 2012. Training hard since October, it’s now or never as they are days away from the starting line. Absa Cape Epic is not for the faint of heart. It is the longest and most difficult team stage race in the world. 800 kilometers over 8 days of grueling and gorgeous terrain, these two will be tested on the journey through the landscape of this beautiful country.

It was Josh’s idea to sign up for the race. Looking for a race that was unique and different, Absa would combine his love of traveling with the desire to test his physical limits. That combined with the opportunity to visit South Africa again after the World Cup, he was sold. The next step was to find a partner. After several posts and no response to his calls to arms on Facebook, Jackie Baker finally responded and the Giant Honey Badgers were born.

Five months of rigorous workouts ensued. Out of 600 teams competing in the Absa Cape Epic, Josh and Jackie make up one of only 16 from the United States. These two Honey Badgers are ready. “We’ve trained hard. We’re ready to be in South Africa and we’re ready to race.” Their goal is to finish in the top 300.

Josh is a native of New Hampshire and currently resides in Lake Placid, NY. He works as the Regional Manager – East for Giant Bicycles. Josh loves bikes of all shapes and sizes and looks for new adventure around each corner.

Jackie is the Marketing Manager for Liv/giant and is based out of Newbury Park, CA. A former downhill and cross-country mountain bike racer, she’s also a fan of skiing. Jackie can be found outside enjoying these pursuits most of the time.

Sponsors: Stan’s NoTubes, Giant Bicycles, WTB Tires, Honey Stinger, POC Helmets & Armor, Sigma

 

 For more on the story of Josh and Jackie’s journey and to interview, contact Christine at Roam Life: tele.914.584.8760 / email. christine@roamlife.com


Amazing Women Doing Amazing Things: Are you ready?

Women can be an amazing force.

Over centuries, across cultures, around the world, women have been undermined, under-represented, and underestimated. We have fought for personal freedom. We have struggled to have rights. We have carried the weight of balancing our nurturing sense with our business sense. We talk a lot about “the fight” or “women power” or some other two word phrase that makes us sound like we are fierce warriors on the fight for our independence and  for our voices to be heard – and this has been an important part of women’s history but I beg to ask the question…

Is fighting the best action for a community?

Fighting can be an effective change agent. Fighting can create change quickly. Fighting can also be devastating. Harmful. Life-ending. What if, instead of “fighting the good fight,” we recognized the amazingness of the woman’s spirit and sought to highlight our amazing capabilities, support each other’s amazing endeavors, and advocated for those that are stifled by restrictions? What if our focus was to bring good through goodness and change through love, resilience, and dedication?

Roam Your Soul has begun to create a community of women adventurers using an online social forum. Adventurers come in many forms and go on amazing journeys in many different ways. You are an adventurer. We all are.

Roam Life and our Roam Your Soul project has sought to find amazing people doing amazing things so that we can introduce them to you. Through their stories we hope you find inspiration, insight, and we hope that you connect to one another through life’s stories. That’s what adventure is all about. The experience. The story. The people. We can change the world. Together.

Amazing Women Doing Amazing Things: Interviews and Stories

Abigail Anderson, Founder of Changed by Change – How I Found my Way Back to Adventure as a Stay-at-Home Mother

Eleanor Moseman, Founder of 2Wheels4Girls & Photograher – 13 Questions for Eleanor Moseman