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I met Melanie Cobb when she asked me to design her website about a year ago. We've swapped many travel stories and tips since then. Melanie's travels are motivated by personal growth and connection to nature, so I thought an interview with her would be a perfect way to end this series. Melanie now lives in Santa Cruz, California, and works as a Writer, Life Transformation Coach, and Professional Wild Woman. When she is not frolicking in the massive redwood forests or coastal cliffs near her home, she is working with her inspiring base of clients. She has grown a successful Life Coaching business, and especially loves working with adventurous, spiritually-minded, nature-loving clients to help them get un-stuck, rediscover their badassery, and master their lives. Under her care, her clients have quit dead-end jobs, clarified their visions, and manifested the lives of their dreams. And lucky you - she is offering FREE sessions to the first five Eye and Pen readers who write to her after reading this article! Read on.
Hello wonderful Brandon and wonderful Eye and Pen readers! I am a Writer, Life Transformation Coach, and Professional Wild Woman. (Yep, those are my actual titles for my actual, self-employed, location-independent work.)
How I got here? After five years as a Middle School English teacher, I was promoted to Head of the Middle School at age 27. I got more money and higher status, but also way more hours and stress. It ended up not being a very rewarding tradeoff.
Pretty soon I was living for my vacations. I’d wait longingly for spring, summer, or winter break (even three-day weekends!) so I could travel and have adventures away from my life of routine. It took two years of this before I realized I had it backwards.
On a trail in Glacier National Park in Montana, I made the decision to let myself be pulled by joy, not obligation. From now on, my life choices would be motivated by love, not fear. I was grateful for the seven years I had at my school, and now it was time to move on.
I finished the school year with as much grace as I could muster, shed 90% of my belongings, and set off into an unknown sunset. I lived out of my car for six months. I traveled 9000 solo miles, visited 49 states, and never once paid for accommodation (couchsurfing and camping, baby).
I blogged my entire adventure. Strangers began writing to me for advice. When I settled in Santa Cruz, California, I figured I’d put my life experience, as well as my MA in Transformative Leadership and Social Change, to good use and start a Life Coaching business. Now I do this work full time with clients all over the country. I get a front row seat to others’ transformations. It’s the best job in the world for me!
–What exactly is your fascination with the ‘Wild’?
I love traveling to wild, untamed places because they keep me connected to my inner wildness – that place deep inside all of us that is intrinsically, inextricably, innately connected to all other life on this planet.
Nature is my greatest teacher. To quote from my e-book, “We remember our power in the presence of a waterfall, our rootedness in the presence of a tree, and our expansiveness in the presence of the ocean. We learn compassion from the elephant, boundaries from the skunk, decisiveness from the lightening, communication from the whale, cooperation from the ant, and letting go from the falling leaves.”
- What was the single most important experience of your traveling career, which set fire to who you are and what you live for today?
Without question, it was backpacking around Europe for six weeks by myself. I had just left my marriage and was ready to see the world. I had to get my passport for the trip (the first in my family to have one), and I was absolutely terrified. I cried silently as the plane took off. I didn’t think I’d make it through.
I discovered a new version of myself on that trip. The version that opens up to strangers until they are friends, jumps out of planes over the Swiss Alps, and swims topless in the French Riviera. In short, I discovered my badassery, and I realized that travel was the quickest, most sure-fire way for me to access it from then on. I was hooked.
–You offer Life Transformation coaching services on your website – please tell my readers a little about this. Also, if you would, please talk a little about what all you do for your clients, how things have gone thus far, and how you’re accomplished enough to offer these very delicate sessions:
With pleasure! Throughout those six months on the road, I became an unexpected expert on changing your life. Not only was I changing mine, I was met dozens of other people doing the same thing. I noticed common factors, and could pretty quickly identify which behaviors enabled lasting, positive change, as opposed to those that fizzled out in quick bursts of good intention.
The main thing I noticed was that 100% of the people that really changed their lives for good – I mean people who doubled, tripled or quadrupled their income, attracted their life partner, or manifested their dream job – did it with support. I never met anyone that did it alone. I also realized that I was actually pretty damn good at providing that kind of support. Helping other people become the most badass version of themselves was like a superpower I never knew I had. And hey, I had an MA in Transformative Leadership – why not make this a new career?
The way Life Transformation Coaching works is this: I meet with my clients once a week via Skype for six months to a year, or until they get their desired results – whichever comes first. Basically their lives become a petri dish of healing and growth so that they cannot help but make their dream life their reality. My clients find that the outrageous goals they only hoped were impossible soon come knocking their door down. It’s pretty awesome to watch!
(Note: I’ve got a special coaching offer just for Eye and Pen readers at the end of this article!)
–Let’s talk a little about travel – you’ve traveled to 49 U.S. states, yet have never visited Alaska. Is this on your list?
Yes, Alaska is on my list for sure. I hope to make it there this year, and am still deciding exactly how to approach the trip – backpacking? Kayaking? General overland exploring? I’m open to suggestions. :)
- What draws you to the locations you choose?
I choose travel destinations for a variety of reasons. For example, I was drawn to Oaxaca for the rich culture, Europe because I could see so much in such a short time, and Hawaii because I found a cheap ticket while casually browsing fares in the middle of the night and thought, “Why not?”
- Could you tell us what has been the best and also the worst experience from your travels? What molded you the most, the people, the places, or the situational experiences?
My best travel experiences were all about connection – connection to nature, people, or my Source. For example, the time I surprisingly found myself backpacking right through the middle of a herd of over 100 elk deep in the temperate rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Or the time I couchsurfed with a generous family in California and ended up living with them for six months. Or the time I made peace with my spirituality on the side of a Utah highway at sunset. Those are the moments I remember most.
The worst times? Well, they were when I allowed myself to worry how it would all work out. When I stopped being open, generous, and trusting of the benevolent Universe. When I walled myself in a prison of self-pity and doubt and missed all the beauty around me. Ick. I don’t recommend traveling that way.
–For those individuals who are interested in changing their lives, perhaps away from the typical soul-sucking corporate lifestyle, what advice can you offer to them? How can they find their ‘wildness’? What steps can one take to improve their mood, and overall, their happiness?
Excellent question. The good news is that you can start right now by taking a deep breath and acknowledging your dissatisfaction with your current situation. Stop trying to deny it, minimize it, or tell yourself you should be feeling otherwise. If it sucks, embrace the suckage so you can make space to allow yourself to want something better. I find that many of my clients delayed making the decision to change their lives for the better because they felt like they weren’t allowed to want that – as though wanting happiness was asking for too much.
From there, the path to moving from overwhelm to action is unique to each person, which is why I do what I do. But the steps usually involve some combination of getting a clear vision, making a game plan, strategizing action, improving your skills, and mastering your psychology.
–What do you do when you find yourself upset, confused, lost, and/or particularly weak?
I do just what I recommended above. I take a deep breath. I feel the feeling I’m having rather than trying to change it or cover it up. I ask the universe for help, and then I simply live. I used to crumble under those uncomfortable feelings, but I know now that no one ever died from having an emotion. I know now that feelings pass, and that I will be even more badass from having experienced them. (I’m all about being as badass as I can be, if you can’t tell.)
–Well Melanie, it’s been a nice time speaking with you, and I look forward to continue working with you in the future. This is the last and final feature for my 20 Weeks of Travel: Interview series, and I believe it’s been one hell of an experience, and next year, I think I’ll do this all over again. But Melanie, I’d like to ask you to end this year’s series with that special offer you mentioned. What goodness do you have for Eye and Pen readers?
Absolutely. As a gesture of gratitude to you, Brandon, and your courageous, badass readers, I am giving away free, one-hour Clarity Sessions to the first five Eye and Pen readers who contact me!
In this Clarity Session, you will:
- Renew your life’s current mission statement. What are you about right now?
- Clarify what in your life supports that mission, and what doesn’t.
- Walk away with at least one action item to get you on the path to rediscovering your badassery.
To claim your free session, simply send me a message through the Contact page on my site with the comment, Eye and Pen Clarity Session. If you are one of the first five, I’ll let you know and we’ll get your session on the calendar!