Hi there! I’m Priscilla and live in the San Francisco Bay area. Welcome to my blog. I am an athlete, outdoor professional and adventuress who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) 35 years ago at age 23. In spite of the odds, I am thriving today at 57. This is the first time I have been so public about living with RA. Most people have no clue about RA so I hope this effort will serve to shine light on RA for the public and for those who live with RA. For more on my life with RA, go to “Chronic Life” on this site.
I have a rich professional history of guiding in the Himalayas, teaching climbing and mountaineering in the NW and California, teaching sea kayak expedition courses in Alaska and Baja. Much of my outdoor adventure program work has had a particular focus on working with and developing women and girls programs. Outdoor adventure programs can offer profound lessons useful for our everyday life such as self care, overcoming challenges, conflict resolution and leadership development that are interwoven with an expedition or climbing a peak. Mother nature is a great teacher. Currently, I work for Girl Scouts of Northern California supporting girls and women getting outdoors through volunteer run programs and troop camping. For more details on my professional background, go to my LinkedIn profile or for something a little less formal, click to Go! Girls Outdoors profile.
The outdoors has always been one of my main teachers beginning at the early age of 5 while climbing trees in the woods of New Hampshire. From there, ski racing and sailing with my family opened my life to more adventure- the good the bad and ugly along with thriving and surviving! I am grateful for these early outdoor experiences that shaped the foundation of my character especially one of resilience and perseverence.
Currently, my outdoor pursuit of choice and passion is paddling, namely outrigger canoes. For the past four years, I have been focused on learning the skills needed to compete in races in Hawaii as well as our local NorCal races, requiring significant hours of training each week. Why am I on this path now?
Returning to the ocean has been coming full circle for me. I grew up sailing on the ocean and later in my teens and young adult years I started paddling rivers. In the 1990’s, I picked up a sea kayak paddle to began mastering those skills and deepen my understanding of the ocean, tides, wind and waves. I have also come full circle to be a racing again.
Ski racing and competition was also part of my early life into young adulthood until I discovered rock climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing. Up high on a rock face or a knife edge snowy ridge, there is no escape from the internal voices of fear and doubt but a need for tuning in to listen for the voice of competence and confidence. Racing outrigger canoes, especially the one person canoe, brings together all of my past outdoor experience- ocean and river paddling, navigation, reading wind and waves, tides and current- and challenges me in new ways. I like challenging myself because it gets me out of my comfort zone, keeps me learning, sometimes re-learning and is humbling. The community of paddlers I have grown to know has also been a gift and my teacher. I have a deep respect of the ocean and of the Hawaiian culture that reminds me of our deep spiritual (mana) connection to our earth (honua), ocean (moana) and to each other, all one family (ohana).
This blog is dedicated to those living with chronic illness and pain who continue to pursue their dreams while navigating the journey of self care. There are many lessons to glean from living with pain. Listen to your body wisdom. I think we are inherently designed to heal. Look for future blogs on this topic.
It is also dedicated to women and girls who are spunky, brave and curious and who seek the outdoors as their refuge, teacher and friend. Look for future blogs on this topic.
Another intention of this blog is to interweave snapshots of my life living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, as an athlete, outdoor professional and a woman with many layers and interests. I hope to inspire all readers, especially those who live with chronic pain or a chronic illness. I am one who has followed her dreams in spite of being told over 30 years ago to let go of them upon being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 23.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. I have talked about writing from personal experiences with a dream that these efforts may morph into a book. I have published several times in academics related to girls outdoor programs and recently I had an article published in Sea Kayaker magazine on completing an ultra-marathon paddle race called the Cal 100. Read my article here on the 100 mile race, click: Cal 100 . Blogging is the beginning of this writing journey.
Thriving is something I have strived for in my life through outdoor adventure, paddling, healthy choices and meaningful work alongside friends, family and community. In my role as an outdoor leader, I have emphasized thriving, self care and stepping outside the comfort zone to students and clients even in the backcountry, “roughing it.” I feel grateful for the lifestyle, privilege and opportunity I have experienced along this path.
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where you will find playlists that have videos of outrigger paddling, sea kayaking, paddling info, and a slide of women and girls climbing/mountaineering with Cyndi Lauper’s girls just wanna have fun. This slide show is a collection of photos from my years of working with women and girls in the outdoors. It is dedicated to Miss Dish and my dear friend Kathy Phibbs who died in a tragic mountaineering accident in 1991. Click here for slide show: Women and Girls Outdoor Adventures.
I want to thank Hammer Nutrition for supporting me through their sponsored athlete program. Also grateful to Patagonia and Ibex for their professional programs. Love all of these products and use them daily!
Thank you for visiting my blog!