Lakpa’s Lucky Day

Featured

“It must have been my lucky day,” Lakpa Sherpa says, encapsulating the miracle his family performed to secure his exit from Nepal during its recent, bloody civil war.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, a Maoist communist insurgency faction fought to topple Nepal’s 240-year-old monarchy. Most members of the royal family were massacred and the ensuing decade-long conflict witnessed summary executions, purges, kidnappings, and other war crimes.

Eventually, the monarchy abdicated and the Maoists established a people’s republic; however, governance has stagnated amidst infighting and widespread corruption. Officials struggle to bring prosperity where a strict caste system determines every aspect of a person’s life. Each of Nepal’s 134 castes mandate particular clothes, customs, family names, plus occupation and marriage restrictions. Each caste also speaks its own language.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, although his last name is Sherpa, Lakpa was never a mountaineering guide hauling gear up and down the Himalayas for Western adventurers. “Sherpa” only recently acquired that connotation. Historically in Nepal, Sherpa designated a particular ethnic group living primarily in the remote, high mountain regions.

Children born into the Sherpa caste are commonly named for days of the week—more accurately, for the deity protecting that day. For example, Pasang translates to Friday. Lakpa’s day is Wednesday.

Lakpa’s family suffered persecution because they…[keep reading]

***

This excerpt is from a recent article I wrote for the Durango Adult Education Center, a 501c3 devoted to filling educational gaps to help people achieve social and economic mobility. It represents a body of work that I am very proud of. One of the most rewarding aspects I find in being a freelance writer comes from my collaborations with fantastic organizations filling deep, societal needs.

The DAEC is exactly that kind of group! I am always so honored to lend my writing to their cause. Relating these stories helps donors and grantors personally witness the benefits stemming from their contributions. Plus, as an added bonus, I get to spend time with amazing individuals like Lakpa!

As a writer for hire, I also team up with local businesses who are passionate about sustainable, ethical entrepreneurship. I love going on assignment for a company, to investigate what makes their clients, products, and customers unique and incredible. Whether that content winds up in a brochure, a marketing presentation, or company newsletter, I feel gratified having helped consumers or investors understand the impact their dollars exert.

Stay tuned. I’ll be sure to share more excellent stories in the months ahead.

As always, thanks for your readership.

Lakpa Sherpa’s family temple where his grandfather serves as a Buddhist monk and guru.

Beyawned Earth: Pillownauts and the Downside of Space Travel by Yours Truly

Featured

This Saturday, July 20, 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The feat cemented humankind’s toehold on the final frontier’s doorstep. In the coming year, engineers and scientists are poised to establish a permanently inhabited base on the lunar surface. From this launch pad, cosmic explorers and entrepreneurs hope to dive ever deeper into space.

Heather Archuletta blazed the path that today’s intrepid explorers will pursue. Over a decade ago, she was a frequent flyer to the Moon and Mars.

Er…sort of. Archuletta participated in NASA’s Pillownaut program. One among many analog missions, the Pillownaut simulation mimics the microgravity of space travel by restricting volunteers to a tilted bed for many months at time.

In so doing, NASA is able to study and mitigate space travel’s destruction on human tissues and bones.

Read all about Archuletta’s adventures in Muse magazine’s Bodies in Space issue featuring my interview with the famous Pillownaut in “Beyawned Earth: Pillownauts and the Downside of Space Travel.”

Choose Your Challenge by Yours Truly

I am so pleased to announce that Mountain Flyer‘s Issue No. 61 features my in-depth profile on the teens whose lives have cycled from average to amazing thanks to mountain biking.

“Choose Your Challenge: Durango Devo’s Winning Formula” trails a wildly popular local 501c3 organization in my community that gets young people ell beyond their normal comfort zones, riding bikes not just over mountains, but also over life’s larger challenges.

Durango Devo kindly let me follow their butt-kickin’ State Championship team on a thrashing ride through the local Star Wars trail system!

Get your copy of Mountain Flyer and shift your expectations of what’s possible.

The Limber Inventor by Yours Truly

How hard could it be to teach yourself to build and program a robotic arm that receives instructions from your thoughts?

If you’re a bored sixteen-year-old like Easton LaChappelle, the answer is: sorta not hard at all. Easton grew up rather isolated in Colorado’s Four Corners region–down the road from where I live now. All he had was YouTube, persistence, and unlimited curiosity. His robotic creation won the state science fair, which launched him into a NASA internship, which then resulted in a handshake with then President Barrack Obama.

Now almost old enough to rent a car, Easton heads up his own company which is enthusiastically revolutionizing the prosthetic limb industry, bringing affordable, wireless prostheses to the young people most in need!

You can read all about Easton’s story in the February 2019 issue of Muse magazine. I had the privilege of interviewing Easton and he kindly answered all my technical questions about programming and robotics. More importantly, he outlined how crucial it is to have a simultaneously very hungry and well-fed curiosity.

Aphrodite After Therapy

“If music be the food of love, play on,” says Duke Orsino at the opening of Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night. He goes on to request his musicians give him such an excess of music that he may kill his appetite for it entirely. And with it, his yearning for Olivia, the woman who does not yearn for him.

Without discounting the full weight of Orsino’s truth and his pain, I’d like to take a moment and focus only on that first statement. Playing on.

It’s a tricky skill — a complex finagling of fingers on keys, you might say — to learn how to play on when we lose a mighty love.

I played the trickster Maria many years ago in a community theater production of the Bard’s play. And in a twist-outcome befitting the tangled love lines in all of Shakespeare’s romantic plots, I fell for the Duke, and he for me. Sorry, fair Olivia.

When our hearts were no longer star-crossed, I had a hard time recovering. I struggled to write and create. I battled depression and grief. Playing on required a lot of help and guidance from a therapist, as well as from all my loving friends and family.

Slowly, quietly, softly, in my early morning hours always devoted to my writing, I began to hear … musical words. I jotted them down, not knowing what to do with them until my phenomenally talented musician friend, Tim Birchard, suggested turning the poems into songs. Eventually, Tim’s wife Cheryl brought her powerful voice into the studio. And together, we collaborated, crafted, and crooned. Plenty of times, I cried because the more we refined the lyrics, the more I healed my heart and coaxed my soul out of hiding.

And so, without further ado, I bring you “Aphrodite After Therapy.” An EP gathering together a quartet of songs documenting my breakdown and my rebuilding. My return to music as the food of love. My testament to the resilience of human love, that elemental universal force which never ceases to play on…and on…and on.

You can listen to the album for free from Tim’s own music site. It’s also available to stream on iTunes and Spotify. If you choose to give monetarily, please know your gift supports the supremely talented and kind musicians who helped me piece this project together. And if you’d rather give something other than funds, we welcome your feedback in posting a review, as well as your shares across your social media circles.

 

Early praise for Aphrodite After Therapy…

“It’s Meatloaf and ABBA and Dan Hicks and Queen and Grease and…wow!”–Jason from Texas

 

Justin from Colorado says Aphrodite After Therapy is a “…two-ton slab of healing…”!