• Cultivate Connections

    At times my travel memories make me sad. There are places I want to re-visit, new places I’d like to explore, and so many foreign friends who I miss and want to see again. More travel isn’t impossible, but at this point it’s unlikely given the constraints of health and finances. That’s why my correspondence with pen pals and faraway friends is so precious to me. It helps keep me connected with other people. One of my favorite connections is Xiao Song, a young medical student in China.

  • An Athens Afternoon

    On an afternoon in Athens years ago, I explored some of the city’s “must see” sights but saw more than just the Parthenon, Acropolis, and Roman Stadium. As I’ve often found in my travels, there are unexpected lessons lurking around the corner in every city in the world. In Athens I met a man my mom had warned me about many times: the starving artist.
  • Happy & Full

    I have a young Chinese friend, a pen pal who comes from a difficult, impoverished background but is determined to become a doctor. The next step in his career is a postgraduate entrance examination that will determine what medical school he attends, and at times that exam looms over him like a dark cloud. Recently he told me “my dream is very big and it is difficult to realize it” and “I can hardly breathe under such great pressure every day.” He asked me, “Have you ever encountered this problem in your life?”

    Have you ever felt that your ambitions were impossibly difficult to achieve? I certainly have, and this is what I wrote to him.

  • A Winter Day in Istanbul

    It wasn’t until I visited Turkey on a business trip in my early 40’s that I learned the truth of the legendary term une dame d’un certain âge. It's a French phrase for a woman over 40 who leads a chic and adventurous life, and whose youthful verve is balanced by the wisdom and experience of a mature person. This worldly woman is also likely to have a handsome young male escort on her arm as she attends parties, shops, travels, and otherwise enjoys life to the fullest. When I first heard the term in a college French class when I was 19, it was hard to believe such a thing could be true, but an encounter in Istanbul set me straight.


  • Around the World with Knife and Fork....and Chopsticks - Part One

    Trying new foods everywhere I go has been both educational and enriching. And sometimes fattening. But mostly, yummy! So I tell you now what my mother used to say, “Don’t knock it until you try it.”


  • The First Step

    I am a veteran traveler. In the past 66 years, I have explored the world, at first as a child with my parents in the USA, Canada, and UK, and late...
  • Strong Women on a Journey - May 2020

    Did you know what you wanted to do with your life when you graduated high school? I thought I did. I got myself accepted to the University of Tennessee Dental school at age 19 and took off to Memphis. After only two weeks I was completely miserable and able to add “dental school dropout” to my resume. All this came to mind when I was interviewing this month’s “Strong Woman on a Journey.”

    I can’t remember the first time I met April Parnell, and I was surprised at how little of her story I even knew. At OUTsideIN, I let folks tell me what they want me to know about their lives. What I did know about April’s life was that her mom and our employee, Lisa Salazar, was very proud of her. I wanted to know why.

  • Mother's Day 2020

    It’s hard to be separated from your mother, isn’t it? Not just in the midst of a pandemic on Mother’s Day, but any day. But although my mother passed away in 2009, I sometimes think that she is with me and always will be.
  • My Journey to Wuhan

    Actually, I've been there twice. The first time was in September 2001. Have you ever heard an interviewer ask an interviewee this question? “If you could relive any moment in your life, what would that moment be”? For me, it would be the moment my daughter was placed in my arms. That moment happened in Wuhan, China.  
  • The Story of a Real Influencer

    INFLUENCE. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Do you? One reason is because of all the talk we hear about Instagram “Influencers.” They’re on my radar because I believe they could be so very helpful in helping get the word out about our little social enterprise, OUTsideIN.  

    And yet, it seems to me that there is something innately wrong about using the word influence in the context of something so impersonal as Instagram. Allow me to share two stories of real influence that I recently experienced. 



    Pat Stoeken is our February 2020 Woman on a Journey. Her amazing sail through life makes me think of cruises, coconuts, and Gilligan's Island. When I say she's a "strong woman on a journey", I guess it'd be more accurate to say her whole life has been a journey. She's sailed thousands of miles in her 73 years, allowing folks like me to live the "Gilligan" life, if only for a three-hour tour.

    Each month this year I will tell the story of a strong woman on a journey. We’ve of course adopted that as part of our tagline at OUTsideIN. The phrase “Strong Women on a Journey Making Travel Gear for Yours” has become an important part of our brand as it perfectly describes not only the fact that we make gear for travel but that the women who make it are on a journey to reinvent their lives.