Crossing Off a Bucket List Item: Iceland 2018!

On March 1, 2018 for one week, I will finally get to visit the birthplace of my husband. That’s right. Jake and I are finally going on a honeymoon and we’re going to the place he first called home: Iceland. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever left the country and one of my biggest bucket list items. (He’s happy because it’s been a few years since he was last there and he really wants me to try the hot dogs — I’m really happy because I want to see my Northern Lights and March will be the last good month for them.)

We’ve been doing a ton of research to make sure everything from the hotel, to the public bus service, to the tours and the flights are wheelchair accessible (I may have failed to mention it, but I’ve been in a wheelchair since January of this year). Everyone I’ve talked to, including accessibility travel experts and the tour agents, have been so incredibly helpful and have reassured me that none of this will be out of my capabilities. We are staying downtown, the flight there isn’t too long, and we’ll have a comfy hotel for me to take many naps in. I am so excited that we’re making this happen and it’s giving me something to look forward to outside all of my medical issues. And Jake is excited he finally gets to share his favorite place with me.

In honor of this little excursion, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite photos of Iceland that my best friend Lee Jaszlics took on their recent trip there. Lee is an incredible photographer and I’ll be sharing more of their work in an upcoming post (think of this as a preview).

If you like any of these photos, prints can be purchased on Lee’s SmugMug Iceland gallery and you can see more of gorgeous Iceland on their Flickr page. Make sure you also follow Lee on Twitter!

2018 is going to be a good year. 💙❄️

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Happy International Women’s Day! I’m actually more fond of what they refer to it elsewhere: International Women’s Rights Day, but regardless of what it’s called, this is a wonderful day to celebrate the amazing women in our lives that have inspired and motivated us. I have a lot of personal female heroes. So many that it was really hard to narrow it down so I limited myself to women who are currently still on Earth making it a better place while they live and breathe.

Mae Jemison

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How could I not choose Mae Jemison? She (along with Sally Ride) has been such a guiding star in my love of and yearning for space travel. Mae Jemison was the first African American to ever travel to space PLUS she’s been on Star Trek so she has most definitely boldy gone where no man has gone before (it’s extra cool because she was first inspired to join NASA because of Nichelle Nichols’ character Uhura). Not only is she an intelligent scientists, she’s also a talented dancer, and has founded numerous companies and foundations to advance technology in every day human life. Learn more about Mae Jemison.

Michelle Obama

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As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has been pretty much everywhere in the past eight years. Her dedication to improving the health of our nation’s children and passion for community gardens have been inspirational. She is one of the few First Ladies to ever directly address the issue of childhood obesity and her “Let’s Move” movement has been a huge success in schools. The Obamas even built the first garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt AND had beehives installed on the South Lawn. Her motivation is astounding and I am constantly floored by all of the projects this woman has going. I am so sad that her time in the White House is coming to an end, but I know that no matter where she lives, she will continue her good work. Learn more about Michelle Obama.

Jane Goodall

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When I was in sixth grade, we had to do an oral book report. Most kids just stood up front and read from a piece of paper. But me? I was already a little ham (and a nerd) – I dressed up as Jane Goodall and did a report on Through A Window, complete with a stuffed Gorilla at my side and lots of crouched over antics impersonating Jane impersonating the gorillas. Jane Goodall isn’t just someone I admire now, she had a very large impact on me growing up. I even ended up going to college to become and outdoor educator like her. Jane Goodall’s books and teachings have opened our eyes to the animals around us and have been instrumental in how we perceive the natural world. Her work is deeply inspiring to me and her words continue to remind that there is still a sense of wonder to be found in our planet Earth. Learn more about Jane Goodall.

Commander Shepard

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Okay so she’s not a real person but I am not limiting this list to just reality. Commander Shepard means a lot to me. Her courage and her commitment to getting things done no matter how hard and long the battle is are an inspiration to me over and over again (no matter how many times I play these games). She’s a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. She’s a leader and a friend and a hero to not just humanity – but to the whole galaxy. She is fearsome and snarky and always willing to get the job done. She’s there for her friends when they need her and she knows just what to say to piss the right people off. My Shepard might be just who I want her to be, but she’s who I want myself to be too and through her I can model my own action and remind myself of the path that I want to follow through life. She is a survivor and a reminder that I am too. Learn more about my love for Commander Shepard.

Nellie Jeninga

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Now this is a name that most people probably won’t know. Nellie Jeninga was born and raised in Heerlen, Holland in 1935. Growing up, she and her sister loved to perform and sing and eventually became quite good at it – they were even recorded and had a very promising future. But Nellie was headstrong and in love. In 1958, she threw away her fears and followed her heart to Toronto, Canada to be with the man she loved. She left behind her country, her home, her family and everything she knew for a new continent with people who didn’t speak her language. It wasn’t the last time her stubborn nature would lead her on adventure. In 1961, Nellie, her husband, and their two children moved to the United States, to Wisconsin, in the middle of a severe snowstorm. Settling down in Wisconsin didn’t stop her tenacious thirst for travel though and over the years, they would often pack up the kids and roadtrip around the country. She passed down that wanderlust and bravery to her oldest daughter (another of my personal heroines) who then passed it down to her daughter. Which would be me. Nellie Jeninga is my Oma and my favorite person in the world (that’s us in that picture). She has never let fear stop her from following her heart and she has been the steadfast rock in my life that I can always come home to. I am proud to say I have her bravery to travel and experience the unknown and I most definitely have her stubborness and headstrong nature. Because of this, I have to add her to my list of inspirational women because she has made my life better over and over again. I love her dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day!

These are only five of a very long list of women who are important to me. Others include Sally Ride, Madeleine L’Engle, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, J.K. Rowling, Laverne Cox, Grace Murray Hopper, George Sand, Audrey Hepburn, Ada Lovelace, and so many many more. Thank you for paving the way and making it known that women can do anything they absolutely want! We are strong and empowered and we have a voice. You can find out more about Internation Women’s Day here.

Who are you celebrating today?

In honor of the raging storm outside my window and the fact that I started reading A Wrinkle in Time tonight (for the hundredth time), here are some amazing photos (and some photo manips) of gorgeous lightning and thunderclouds by the talented Mathieu Degrotte.

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“Wild nights are my glory,” Mrs Whatsit said. “I just got caught in a down draft and blown off course.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

I just love the colors on these. Gorgeous work. Check out more of his artwork (he is also a talented artist) and photography on his deviantart page. You can also find him on Facebook and Tumblr.

When I was still in college, I spent four months of my senior year living at the Audubon Center for the Northwoods in Sandstone, Minnesota. It was one of the most wonderful times of my life and I learned more in those four months than I did during my entire four years of college. This was thanks to, primarily, the incredible and motivating teachings of Mike Link and his wife Kate Crowley.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

The Full Length Mississippi Kickstarter Project

Last year, Mike and Kate took on Lake Superior, walking around the entire freshwater resource, educating and creating awareness for their beloved great lake. Next year, the pair want to bike up and down the entire length of the nation’s largest river system. Their adventure has sparked the creation of the Full Length Mississippi Kickstarter Project.

In less than 48 hours, the Full Length Mississippi Kickstarter project will end and they still need about $500 to reach their goal. This is an all or nothing campaign – if they don’t meet that goal, they get nothing.

I am reaching out to all of you to please donate even just a little big. This endeavor can’t happen without you. Mike and Kate aim to raise awareness and educate the public about the health of our natures freshwater ways. They will bike the river and use their knowledge to create educational programs for schools and organizations and share what they discover along the way both in person and online. It’s an incredible journey and you can take part and help make this happen.

Support The Mississippi River!

Please support this project. I owe Mike and Kate a lot – they are inspiring people and have taught me so much. Help me help them by donating to this cause. Please support Full Length Mississippi!

Update 4.19.12, 8:12 CST: We did it! Thanks to you amazing people, Mike and Kate reached their Kickstarter goal with 22 hours to spare! You all rock! THANK YOU!