Dani Reyes-Acosta is a hard-charging, passionate and magnetic force that roams the world in search of adventure and self-actualization. She faces challenges and opportunities head on. If you are looking for your daily dose of inspiration, look no further. For more on Dani, see our photo story.
Describe yourself to a stranger so that they could find you on a crowded street...
Keep your eyes peeled for a tall-ish, tan brunette of unidentifiable national origin speaking either Spanish or English. The biggest giveaway: I’ll be animatedly talking to another stranger (using my hands) or dancing down the sidewalk. Yes, all those are real things that actually happen.
What are your three most prized accomplishments?
Realizing in 2013 that my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be….and coming into my own to realize that I had the power to change it. (Involved within that: quitting my job at a Fortune 100 company, packing my life into a storage unit in Portland, and buying a one-way ticket to South America.) This is where the Not Lost, Just Discovering project first began: as a dedication to those who are exploring both themselves and the world, those who are inspired by the beauty of the outdoors, and those who seek to do something more purposeful with their lives. This project, honestly, is dedicated to anyone on the path to self-actualization. The idea? That the journeys on the outside strengthen the ones within.
Learning to forgive others...and myself. It’s really difficult to face challenges when both internal and external factors play into how you perform and behave. “I can’t do this climb,” “I shouldn’t paddle out today,” “I’m angry that X coworker/family member did this,” or “I’m so frustrated that Y happened to me” are all really annoying and frustrating and pissed me off—both, that these things happened and then, that I let my head wrap around them even more. My biggest accomplishment in this sense has been learning how to slow down, forgive, and not let actions/emotions/events out of my control determine my reaction. (Note: this has been a great emotion-saver!)
Solo summit attempts up 3 Chilean volcanoes! This was my first big “adventure” when I struck out in South America, and there was a lot of fear and anxiety involved on each expedition. The most exciting part: snow sliding down!
What are your three favorite things to do?
Play, every day. In this order, my preferences: surf, climb, snowboard. And, if the conditions aren’t suitable for those activities, I’ll find some other way to get my kicks. Dependent upon where I am, that could mean exploring the neighborhood market, hiking through the jungle, or scrambling up a chossy trail.
Reflect: my meditation and yoga practices are areas I’m trying to grow into every day. They keep me grounded, help me make better decisions, and force me to breathe in ways I might not if I didn’t make the time to do them.
Cook! I love to create nourishing meals that feed the body and soul. Cooking, for me, is a heart-opening exercise in keeping your loved ones close. You can put effort and emotion into creating something that nourishes, while you doing the activity with them. The kitchen—ever since I was a child—was a place where family and friends gathered, and over our meals we shared experiences that brought us closer. That’s an important tradition for me to continue.
Where are your three favorite places to be?
The ocean, and recently, the local break in Mexico where I’m spending the winter.
Hanging out with a few select friends on a foreign adventure. So far, the Frey, Piedra Parada, Cobquecura, Arequipa, Iquique, Las Trancas, Sayulita, and Punta Hermosa are a few of my favorite places.
Climbing something with my partner, Johnny. Going on vertical adventures with him is always eye-opening, educational, and fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot through climbing with him that applies to life, personal growth, and relationships. WARNING: Climbing with boyfriends is a hazardous activity.
What is your greatest passion?
I have a lot—I’m a Leo! Ultimately, being in the outdoors, and sharing those experiences, is why I wake up in the morning. My goal, whether I’m playing outside or creating a storytelling campaign for one of my clients at Nomad Creativa, is to funnel that energy to a place where more of us can use the lessons of the outdoors to guide how we live our lives.
What keeps your passion alive?
Every day I wake up and think about how I’m going to try and do something just a little bit differently than the day before. Maybe it’s trying to be better, i.e. working on my patience with myself or little things that frustrate me, maybe it’s working on a certain jamming technique or how I drop into a wave. In following this desire to keep improving, my passion becomes a positive feedback cycle. (Note: some of you may call this being a perfectionist. I just call it getting better at life.)
What is one thing that people don't know about you, but should?
I love self-deprecating humor, and think that if you can’t laugh a little bit at yourself, then you’re taking everything just a little bit too seriously. What’s that Oscar Wilde quote…”Life is too important to be taken seriously?”
What is your wildest adventure?
Every day is an adventure! Sometimes it’s a work adventure (Will the designer finish the files on time? Will the client want to move a meeting? How will this pitch be received?). Sometimes it’s a travel adventure (please, please, don’t give me another 10 hour layover in JFK). And sometimes it’s a play adventure (“today: my first big wall in the Black Canyon!”). I try to approach life as if it’s a game, and see how the moves that I make affect the outcome of what that adventure will be. Choose your own adventure? Yes, please.
If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be?
I would go everywhere and do everything: work, play, and live the world over. And actually, I’m working on this right now: I’m putting this dream into action by building my location-independent agency, Nomad Creativa into a robust, full-service content marketing consultancy that works exclusively with clients who touch upon some element of social good through their work in the outdoors, sustainability, and inclusivity. I’m currently based out of Mexico, with upcoming trips to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The idea is to keep traveling, living, and growing for as long as humanly possible. I like to explore local spiritual and culinary traditions, even while figuring out some of my own habits and practices. Needless to say, I should be an interesting person in 5 years!
What is your personal definition of feminism?
Rejection of the patriarchy, and the values it represents defines feminism. This “social system in which power is held by men, through cultural norms and customs that favor men and withhold opportunity from women” permeates our everyday lives, from our work relationships to our new backcountry partnerships, and unfortunately manifests in ways that we ladies can find frustrating, infuriating, and tiring. I don’t think feminism equals man-bashing, though: all those un-woke dudes need some lovin’ and ultimately need us (even if they don’t care to admit it). If ladies educated ourselves enough on how to have intelligent conversations about gender equality, speak up for what we need and want, and make sure that we’re being inclusive, we’re headed on the right track. Also, it’s important to remember that calling someone sexist—just like calling someone racist—doesn’t solve the problem.
What do you find valuable in being a woman in the adventure/outdoor industry?
It’s fun to subvert societal norms and defy expectations. From continually being asked in South America “where is your husband,” while driving between mountain towns on a peak-bagging mission, to being the person that wants to double check our knots on climbs. I appreciate the opportunity that both defying expectations and speaking up when no one else does presents. Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of being a woman in action sports is also one of it’s greatest strengths: being an outsider. As an outsider, you can see things that insiders can’t and you’re willing to ask questions that the entrenched majority don’t. Whether that means asking questions while acquiring new outdoors skills or championing women’s representation and racial inclusion in the outdoors, embracing the diversity of thought that comes with our unique position is an exciting opportunity to help the industry evolve as our nation confronts shifting socioeconomic demographics.
Who is another woman who inspires you?
Ever since I was a scrawny 13-year-old paddling out at Lowers, Keala Kennelly has been my hero. She’s the ultimate hard charging badass lady.
In the coming years, where would you like to see women in sports?
Plain and simple? Pushing the limits, just like the boys do.