Fighting Saddam’s Ghost

It started with a photo. Standing in the Dead Sea with a huge grin on my face, my eyes were squeezed shut because I had accidentally opened them in the saltiest water on earth and gone temporarily blind. The water was blue, the sky was clear, the rocks shone brightly with flecks of salt reflecting[…]

A Black Hole of Possibilities: Redefining Success at GORUCK Selection 019

*Selection photos by GORUCK “This is how people die on Mt. Everest,” I thought. Gazing at the stars through the canopy of swamp vegetation, anchored to the ground by the 60+ pound ruck on my back, I was a turtle; there was no possibility of flipping myself over. My mind was giving my body instructions[…]

Drowning in the River Arnon

  “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  Dylan Thomas  (   One moment we were swimming and wading down the Biblical River Arnon in Wadi Mujib, Jordan, the next moment I was drowning. It happened so fast. I turned around to tell Larry I would[…]

Fasting and the Firing Line of Life: Turning Tents into a School for Syrian Refugees

Last week I started a fast. For five days I wouldn’t eat anything; I’d only drink water, herbal tea, and a concoction made from fresh-squeezed lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. My goal was three-fold: to give my stomach a rest, to clear my mind, and to re-focus on what is important. Though it is[…]

Camel Races and Smiling Faces

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -Iain S. Thomas   As we bumped along discreet[…]

Improbable Jordan

The tires of the pickup whined as they hugged each turn. It was difficult to look at the young driver, head wrapped with a keffiyeh, making two cell calls simultaneously in a language I didn’t understand. I felt the back of the pickup floating as small waves in the road sent it slightly into the[…]

The Dark Night Sky and Unbroken Dreams

The sun is setting over the Pacific Ocean. I stare at the last sliver of light, hands on knees, slightly bent over so I can breathe more efficiently. Sweat drips off the tip of my nose and I watch it hit the dirt; it is one of the driest summers in the last decade in[…]

Self Arrest: Slowing Down to Train for Selection

As Larry plunged backwards head first down a steep icy slope, I watched nervously hoping he could stop. Flipping over quickly and orienting himself properly uphill, he plunged his ice axe into the snow. He laughed and said, “I’ll try that again, cleaner this time.” I giggled nervously and said, “You want me to do[…]

Meeting the challenge: Fields of Flowers and Selection 017

It was 2003 and I had claimed my very own seat on a city bus in Chengdu, China. I had already won a small battle; this was the first time I wasn’t stuck under some sweaty shirtless man’s armpit standing pressed against another 100 people trying to see the street from the fogged up windows.[…]

Altitude Training

With the absence of oxygen, a human will die. But, strangely, with just a little oxygen the human body will become stronger. Ever since the 1968 Olympics, which were held at about 7,000 feet altitude in Mexico City, Mexico, people have been curious about what competing at or training at altitude does to the body[…]