During the summer one of my close friends and I were dreaming up destinations for a winter adventure. We were sitting in the hot sun on a hot beach sweating through another hot, humid Florida day. Well, of course Iceland in February sounded great at that particular moment of daydreaming so that’s the winter destination we set in stone.
Fast forward to January in Colorado and maybe Iceland doesn’t seem so appealing? And, if I had a nickel for every person who gave me a “are you crazy?” look when I told them where I was going this winter, I could maybe have bought a candy bar in Iceland…maybe. That’s saying something because, man, stuff is expensive in Iceland.
I fully admit that it does seem a bit insane to travel to Iceland in the winter for several reasons:
Even with some pretty influential factors going against it, I was still really excited to explore Iceland and was ready to jump in to the country with two feet (covered with wool socks and snow boots, of course). And, Iceland did not disappoint. Dramatic landscapes, quaint towns, hot springs, glaciers…just to name a few of the amazing, wonderful things I got to experience in a country whose name insinuates frigid cold.
It was one of those trips that I will never, ever forget. I am so thankful that my adventurous friend and I were daring enough to take on the unknown and brave the presumed negatives. So, armed with the post-adventure glow of my trip, I submit my plea to all of you Vela ladies. Jump into the next opportunity you have for adventure - don’t question, don’t think of all the negatives…just do.
It doesn’t have to be a trip to Iceland. It doesn’t even have to be a trip. How about an activity you thought you were too scared or intimidated to try? Or, a hike you thought was too hard? Maybe a road trip by yourself? There are so many doors in life just wanting to be opened, and we never know what is waiting for us on the other side. More importantly, we never know the kind of person we come out as once we open those proverbial doors of adventure.
I know I left Iceland with a full heart, a head full of new memories and another layer of depth of experience. I so want you to feel those feels, and I want to encourage you to open a door for adventure - no matter how small.
Ice climbing is quickly becoming winter's hottest adventure for women, and there's several reasons why women are taking on this exciting sport. Be it trying something new, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or just making some new friends, checkout why we believe ice climbing is becoming so attractive for adventurous women in Colorado.
1. Check off your bucket list
Yep. This adventure earns you some serious bragging rights and epic stories to entertain your family and friends. When it seems that so much emphasis is put on collecting stuff, we at Vela are always for collecting memories. Trying something new is always exciting, but ticking off an adventure like ice climbing from your bucket list will give you a lifetime of memories.
2. Gain confidence, feel powerful
One of our real passions at Vela is to empower women by providing a safe, supportive and exciting platform to get you out of your comfort zone. When you challenge yourself, when you push your comfort level - you grow as a person. You are adding power, strength and confidence to your beautiful self to bloom and blossom. We get a serious high from watching women do something totally epic, like ice climbing, and then light up from within as a result.
3. Love winter
We live in Colorado. We spend a lot of time with winter. And, as Coloradans, we do a really good job of embracing the cold and snow. When chilly temps and ice are in our future for the next three or four months, let's take advantge of it. Ice climbing is literally giving winter a big ole' hug and there's no better way to live in the moment than to go vertical on some ice. Winter will go much faster for those of us who yearn for the sun when we try new adventures that you can only experience when its cold.
4. Make new friends & bond with the old
We have seen it so, so, so many times...women who adventure together stay together. We've had groups of complete strangers go rock climbing, zip lining, whitewater rafting and they come out the other side as true friends. Sharing an exciting, thrilling, challenging adventure creates a bond of friendship that few other experiences can provide. We support one another when the going gets tough, we are cheerleaders when self-doubt starts to creep in and we are there with big hugs or high-fives when you get off that rope. Ice climbing is the perfect way to make some new friends or strengthen bonds with old friends.
5. Use some cool tools
When you are ice climbing you are using some sweet, new tools you probably aren't using in your everyday life. That's right, ladies - you get to swing not one, but two axes into ice. You get to put crampons on your boots to kick into the ice. You are basically kicking and swinging sharp objects into a wall of ice, which is pretty awesome. Not to mention you are harnessed into a safety rope securely held by the professional ice climbing guide so you can safely utilize these cool tools.
There are so many reasons why women are jumping feet first into winter's hottest adventure. We at Vela Adventures hire certified, professional ice climbing companies to safely introduce us to this exciting sport. Don't miss out on all the benefits ice climbing offers! Book your ice climbing experience this January or February.
Holiday shopping, parties, family gatherings, baking, eating, drinking, hosting...exhausting. Just making the shopping list stresses me out. To offset the holiday craziness, I have been practicing taking pleasure and happiness in the simple, little things in life. And, as I know so many of you may be feeling the inevitable holiday stress, I wanted to share five teeny, easy ways to keep your sanity during this holiday season.
1. Plant a Garden
Yes, yes I know it's cold and snowy and icky out. But, I am talking about bringing some happy green stuff indoors. I love cute, delicate succulents and have been wanting to get some in our updated bathroom. So, with literally 30 minutes of time and $20, I created the cute planter you see in the picture. Every time I walk into our bathroom I feel happy and peaceful with this simple ode to the outdoors.
2. Take a Moment
Seriously. this sounds so easy but it can be really hard to stop and take some time to just sit and be still. Last Sunday, I cuddled up under a fuzzy blanket, slipped on my warmest slippers, popped open a can of La Croix and just sat on the couch (no TV, no music...just quiet). I was probably only there for about 10 minutes but it was truly therapeutic. I organized the thoughts running through my mind, I prioritized my To Do list and I felt a little more grounded and more appreciative of the season.
3. Treat Yourself
So, I was at Walgreens and happened upon these really cool "breathable" nail polishes. You don't need a base coat or top coat and they are supposed to be really good for your nails. Yay! It's the simple things, right? I get excited about buying a new nail polish and I feel happy doing my nails. During a season where you are worring about doing so much for other people, you should remember the most important person in your life...YOU!
Don't roll your eyes...I know what you are thinking. "How am I supposed to fit a workout in amongst the shopping, hosting, partying, eating, drinking, etc." You don't need an hour or even 30 minutes to get a good workout in, you can treat your body with a short, intense workout like this one designed by The Ash Fitness http://theashfitness.com/total-body-fitness-training-accountability/take-a-10-minute-recess/. Ashley DePaulis calls this a 10-minute recess and you will have more energy, more clarity and more endorphins pumping through your body, which = more happiness.
5. Do Good
There are plenty of opportunities to do some good this holiday season, right? Donate those warm coats that have been outgrown, adopt a family, find a local charity where you can donate an item or a little of your time. Putting some of your good juju in the world will ignite more light in your heart. One thing my family likes to do is to create these little care packages we keep in our car and hand out to the homeless when we are driving. Doing a little good can help us remember to appreciate the truly important things in life.
Shameless self-promotion is not beneath us. This holiday, give an experience with a Vela Adventures gift card or upcoming winter adventure. We offer women a five-star outdoor adventure experience where busy ladies can just show up for an exciting outdoor activity and everything from drinks to lunch is taken care of. For the lovers of the outdoors, for the seekers of adventures, for the conquerors of challenges - give these ladies the gift of adventure. And, use code "Winter20" for $20 off any adventure booked by January 2, 2017!
$50 - $150
The Bike Commuter
If you have a dedicated bike commuter on your list, check out the latest invention on the market. It's a combo bike lock with a headlight at one end and a tail light on the other. The Lemurlock incorporates the necessary bike light and bike lock into one simple design that can mount at the front and rear. It's available for purchase starting November 15 through a Kickstarter campaign, so feel good for supporting that entrepreneurial spirit while you are gifting.
While winter can seem to last forever for some of us, give your camper a gift they can look forward to using when the weather gets warm. This lightweight hanging hammock chair can easily hang from a tree branch or sturdy object, and is easy to pack for the next camping trip. You can then adjust the position of the footrest and recline to get comfortable. The attached drink holder and built-in book pockets ensures you never have to get up while you are relaxing on your camping trip.
The Ski Bunny and/or Backcountry Shredder
We all have one on our list! This awesome orbital backpack allows you to easily flip it around to access without ever taking it off. Not only does the Wolffepack make it easy to grab your GoPro or cell phone, it also has an emergency whistle, glove-sized handles and goggle pocket. Your snow enthusiast is going to love this gift!
The Avid Paddler
With paddle sports like SUP and kayak becoming more and more popular, give your paddler the ability to track their exertion doing the sport they love. The Motionize Paddle allows users to track their distance per stroke, strokes per minute, stroke length, number of strokes per session, and ratio between technique efficiency and heart rate, among other stats.
Hiking enthusiasts know all-to-well how hard it is to find socks that will last a full hiking season. And, your hiking enthusiast will absolutely love these lightweight "Indestructawool"multi-sport socks by Smartwool. The socks have the power of Merino wool for breathability, moisture management and temperature regulation with the long-lasting quality of Smartwool.
Some of us may wear yoga pants all day every day without doing one single downward-facing dog (guilty), while some of us are at the studio every day "namaste-ing." Either way, we can all appreciate yoga pants with color and style. These Terez yoga pants make a great gift for that lady on your list who wants to up their casual-wear game or stand out from the crowd at the studio.
You can smell it, you can feel it and you can see it - Fall is here! Many would argue the year’s most colorful season with golds, burnt oranges, reds and ambers doting the landscape. But, as with everything else in our busy, busy lives, the season’s beauty will be gone before you know it. This fall, we at Vela encourage you to make a real effort to stop and SEE.
Our passion is to empower women and there are lots of ways being outdoors provides more opportunities to cultivate that inner strength. One of these ways is to step away from the work calendar, that daunting chore list, the pesky cell phone…whatever it is that drains most of YOUR time…and get reacquainted with the bestest person to spend time with - YOU.
When you are doing something for yourself without the distractions of everyday life you can take the time to really see and appreciate, and in turn, absorb the true good that nature has to offer. You’ve been dying to get out and hike - do that. And, while on the hike stop for 60 seconds and be still. Breathe in the fall air, feel the crisp breeze on your cheeks, see the greens, golds, reds in the leaves.
You’ve been in a rut and want to try something new - do that. And, while enjoying the thrill of adding to your life experiences stop for 60 seconds and be still. How does your body feel? What do you see about yourself? What have you added to your life by trying something new?
By really seeing the beauty that surrounds us in nature and the beauty that lies within we can become more peaceful, more enlightened and more appreciative. It doesn’t take long to stop and SEE, but it does take practice. To unplug, turn off and put away those distractions and step outside to absorb, be present and appreciate what is around us isn’t always easy in our hectic lives. However, allowing yourself to BE with yourself and see who you really are could be the key to living a happier and more fulfilled life.
A personal note from Vela Co-Founder Kelly Kocher
It’s been a long time, huh? I want to thank all of you loyal Vela ladies who have checked in and asked about Vela Adventures. I also want to personally explain why we have been so quiet. In November 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a pretty shocking diagnosis, especially since I ticked all of those “healthy” boxes. Young (only 39), a non-smoker, active, well-balanced diet, etc., etc., etc. As with everything, I was stubbornly convinced I could handle the emotional and physical challenges of having cancer, be present with my family, run a business and keep up with all my volunteer commitments - all with a smile on my face. I thought I could be Super Woman (thanks to a friend for sending me my own Super Woman pictured above). I was actually kinda doing OK, even after my mastectomy in January. It wasn’t until the chemotherapy started that I realized I wasn’t strong enough to do it all. I had to focus on myself and my family.
It was such aN emotional blow to let Vela go for awhile. We have grown so much over the past three years. We had successful Women in Adventure speaker nights, raising thousands of dollars for local charities. We were selling out our adventures and having a great time meeting new Vela customers. We expanded our team with two Vela Concierges leading adventures - it was a very exciting time for Vela and a really hard decision to pull back.
However, I was completely knocked off my feet with the debilitating effects of the chemo treatments. It was a really, really long four months of physical, mental and emotional stress that I would never, ever, in a million years wish on anyone. And, anyone reading this who has either gone through this hell or watched a family member deal with it, my heart goes out to you. I know watching me battle these treatments was just as hard on my family as it was on me.
With all that said - let’s get to the good part! I’ve got some hair on my head, some new boobs and a healed body that is ready to get back in the saddle with Vela again. Now more than ever, I passionately believe adventure is the magic ingredient to a strong and powerful mind and body. Exactly one month after my last chemo treatment my sister-in-law and I climbed two 14ers. It was really, really, REALLY, hard but when I reached that first summit I was so very thankful. I was thankful to my body for being strong enough to take me to the top of the mountain.
Being outdoors and active during these past 10 months has been one of the key ingredients to staying positive. While hiking in the woods I would take a few minutes to be still and breathe in the pine, memorize the views, feel the air on my skin. Being outdoors is rejuvenating and energizing and peaceful. So, I am beyond excited to get more women to try something new, to build their confidence, feel empowered and strengthen their bodies and minds.
Thank you again for your patience and loyalty to Vela, and thank you for allowing me to share my story. I can’t wait to see you on an adventure soon!
Do you ever get that empty feeling? Like you are yearning to create more meaning or be more meaningful in life? At one time or another many of us experience that feeling of not knowing our place and/or impact in the world. Feeling like an itty bitty piece of a gigantic puzzle might make one feel lost, lonely or inconsequential.
With a wonderful family, supportive friends, great job - an all-around good life - there were days when I felt like I needed to make a bigger footprint in my community. I felt a hole in my happiness and, after some reflection, realized I needed to make some kind of contribution to this big world.
What I found was the missing piece to this puzzle of emptiness…PURPOSE. And, the most important thing about this revelation was that living a life of purpose is about giving not getting.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. Through his experience as an inmate at concentration camps he came to learn the importance of finding meaning in life…even in the worst experiences. He said, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
In a nutshell and summarized from Jakob Sakol, author of “Living on Purpose – An Uncommon Guide to Finding, Living, and Rocking Your Life’s Purpose.” “You want love from people? Love people! You want more money? Help people make money! You want more joy in life? Give joy to people! Sounds so simple, right?”
Before I personally did any research about living a life of purpose I accidentally stumbled upon my missing puzzle piece. Through Vela Adventures, I became very passionate and personally invested in growing our Women in Adventure Speaker Nights. Sharing the stories of the remarkable women out there…with the intent to empower other women and to donate funds to a non-profit…became my purpose. I realized that these nights were deep labors of love and realized that the swell in my life was from having this purpose.
While I already had all those wonderful ingredients to a “charmed” life (the above-mentioned family, friends, community, etc.), and appreciating how lucky I am to have these cherished ingredients; being able to make an impact - no matter how small - added something more that I needed.
Living for a purpose doesn’t have to be a challenge or a huge undertaking or some big initiative. Dedicate a purpose by giving something of yourself…be it your time, your humor, your friendship, your money, your knowledge. Start small and figure out which of your gifts you’d like to share and purposefully share those gifts with your world. You can complete your puzzle and be someone’s puzzle piece to a happier life.
It’s cold and grey and snowy outside. Curling up with a warm blanket and a book sounds much more inviting than facing the frigid winter weather. However, there are several important reasons why staying active in the winter is good for not only your physical health but your mental health as well. First, getting active outdoors boosts your immunity by keeping the lymphatic system up and running. Second, you can keep away those aches and pains that result from sedentary behavior. Third, breathing in that fresh winter air can do much for cleansing, calming and relaxing your mind. Luckily, Colorado offers a host of fun and exciting winter adventures to keep you outdoors.
Here are five great ways to stay active this winter:
Shameless self-promotion is not beneath us. This holiday, give an experience with a Vela Adventures gift card. We offer women a five-star outdoor adventure experience where busy ladies can just show up for an exciting outdoor activity and everything from drinks to lunch is taken care of. For the lovers of the outdoors, for the seekers of adventures, for the conquerors of challenges - give these ladies the gift of adventure.
$50 - $150
The Avid Hiker
If you have a die-hard hiker on your list who treks in the winter, they will love the Katoola MICROspikes. These stainless steel spikes and chains strap on to the bottom of a hiking boot to provide extra traction on icy and slick winter trails.
The Winter Explorer
When the snow and the cold won’t keep her inside, make sure she can stay warm with the Zippo Pocket Hand Warmer. Whether she’s in snowshoes, on cross-country trails or ice skating across frozen ponds this hand warmer will ensure her hands stay toasty for hours.
The Smartphone Addict
We all have one on our list! And, they will love you for these REI Tech-Compatible All-Season Gloves that will keep their hands warm and protected from the elements while checking texts and emails.
The Ski Bunny and/or Backcountry Shredder
After spending all day in ski boots the tootsies can really need some TLC. We’ve got a great gift idea for the person in your life who spends much of their time on the slopes. Check out the Moji Foot PRO – a compact foot massager that relieves pain by digging deep into muscles and tissue.
More and more women are moving into the male-dominated sport of fly fishing. And, a Colorado-based, woman-owned company is helping this move by offering beautiful fly rods designed just for girls and women. You can build and customize your rod by selecting the color, reel, handle and more.
$435 and up
The Hot Yogi
When it’s cold outside nothing sounds better to many yogis than a steamy hot yoga session. Help her keep from sliding around on the mat when things get sweaty with Gaiam’s Bella ToeSocks. Cute colors, well-made and super functional all add up to the perfect stocking stuffer.
I have been following Bolder Bands for a while now, mainly because the founder, Amy, is a fellow entrepreneur from Colorado. I asked Amy to be a guest blogger for Vela to share with women how she has grown a company that started from her sewing machine in the living room into a national brand. You will find her blog on our website as well.
To start, I am one of those women who has to wear a headband when my hair is in a pony, which is pretty much every day. I am a high-intensity gym-class lover and am always messing with ways to keep my hair out of my eyes. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I discovered Bolder Bands - their promise is that they stay put. So, I put them to the test.
The Bolder Band Process:
The website has a zillion styles to choose from. You select the style, i.e., thinner bands, thicker bands, cold weather bands, etc. Then you choose your fabric and size. There is a size guide to help you determine the best size for your head. From there, you add your band to your cart and checkout. I received my bands in about five business days.
The Bolder Band Experience:
I received three Bolder Bands in a hot pink package. They came with suggestions and photos on how to wear and style (pictured above - center). There were also instructions for washing and care.
The Bands At Work:
The first band I put to the test was the Colorado Band (pictured above - right). It was a warm evening and I went for a jog on a local park path. The band was the perfect amount of snug without being too restrictive. It stayed in place even as I plodded up and down hills. Plus, I got a compliment on the "Colorado love" when picking my daughter up for soccer practice! I have worn this band to lead adventures like rock climbing, hot yoga, cardio classes and school drop-off - it is a great staple to the workout wardrobe.
The second band to try was the Colder Band in "Runs & Roses" (pictured above - left). It was one of those chilly, fall mornings and I was leading a hike that day. This band provided the perfect amount of warmth for the weather without any bulk or heavy material. It is double-lined with poly/microfleece, which was warm but very thin. It remained snug on my head and I never had to fuss with it. It will be my go-to for those chilly morning walks.
The third band I received is the Bigger Band in black, which is the cold-weather headband with six ways to wear it (pictured above - center). This is going to be my best friend for skiing and snowshoeing! It is very thin but still lined with warm, cozy fleece so I can wear it under my ski helmet for those really cold days. I love that it can be worn six ways so I can transition it from a band to wrap or neckwarmer when snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.
I love that this company is women-owned, Colorado-based and all their products are made in the USA. The bands are high-quality and there are many styles and fabrics to choose from. They do what they promise as well. They stay in place and provide a little style while you are being active. To learn more about Bolder Band Headbands go to www.bbolder.com.
Vela is all about fun and adventure!