This piece is written by NMLFF Ambassador, Dana Wilfahrt. 

Growing up on the North Shore of Massachusetts showed me how comfortable life can be lived... but what fun is that? I developed an affinity for the ocean and all things water when I was about 2 weeks old and my toes got their first taste of the salty goodness. I spent my early years (and later than I care to admit) begging my parents for a sibling…or five. My friends with huge families always looked like they had so much fun and their houses were always full of noise and commotion. What a dream! I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents for raising me an only child. I can’t imagine I would have the same appreciation for solitude and independence that I now see as one of life’s most valuable lessons.

Sophomore year of college I began to hear my friends talk about studying abroad. I had dreamt about studying abroad in college - I knew traveling was in my bones from my first trip to Turks and Cacaos at 6 months old - but the time had finally come and no destination was calling my name. Until the day I learned about SEA. A few months later I stepped foot on one of the biggest ships I had seen and my new home for the next two months. This journey opened my eyes to quite a fulfilling future. Sailing 3,000 nautical miles on a 134’ Schooner across the Pacific Ocean showed me just how vital solitude, independence, and relying on Mother Nature really is.

Those months at sea were spent studying celestial navigation, learning about crazy sea creatures, and playing dominos, but most importantly collecting plastic debris scattered throughout the Pacific. The beauty and immensity of the open ocean deepened my love and respect for such a magical place. The shear amount of trash we found helped me discover that one of my purposes of being on this planet is to live as simply as possible and educate or inspire others to do the same.

Lots of odd-jobs, wandering, and self-searching later, I am now residing on the Boston harbor, where I can wake up and paddleboard (a little slice of heaven in a city that is not so heavenly) and work for Patagonia - a company that allows me to do all of those things and more.

“The more you know, the less you need.” –Yvon Chouinard

A badass female solo sailor, surfer, and explorer, Liz Clark, constantly inspires and reminds me that there’s nothing we can’t do…especially and specifically as women. One thing she’s learned through solo adventuring that has become my mantra is, “being alone is scary. You have a lot of time to think about yourself. But overcoming that fear has been the most liberating part of my journey. Without a schedule or another person's expectations, I was free to listen to my instincts.”  

My daily yoga practice and study of Metapsychiatry helps me to simply enjoy every day, to appreciate the people that come and go in my life, and to take lessons from each experience. This is what truly guides my life and leads me to my next adventures! 

As a woman that has never lived by or with any expectations of gender roles, I am so stoked to be a part of such a radical experience and share the love and ideas that No Man’s Land has to offer!