I was born, raised, and continue to live in the rural interior of Catalina Island. My roots rundeep here as a fourth generation islander. While the island is just 22 miles off the coast of the concrete jungle known as L.A or what I call “The Mainland”, this place feels as if it were a world away.
Being that this little island is the only place I’ve ever called home, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized just how unique my childhood was compared to most in today’s world.
I am constantly asked by visitors to the island if I ever get “island fever” or have the urge to get over to “the real world”. Honestly though, in my opinion, this place is as real as it gets. I know there are millions of beautiful places around the world, many in which I hope to one day visit, possibly even live. But I do know, that I will be eternally thankful for getting to grow up here on my island home, and that I have this place to thank for making me who I am today.
As a kid I was able to grow up slow. I spent my days immersed in some of the best that nature has to offer. Whether I was out hiking the endless trails, running through the mountains in my backyard or playing in the surf at a beach on the backside of the island. Another question I am often asked is “Don’t you get bored living here; there is no mall or movie theater, not much to do.” To which I can honestly reply, “Nope, never!”
Even when I was young, an all day hike was never out of the ordinary. My brother, sister, and I would spend hours outdoors, letting our imaginations run wild, and only return home to the sound of our mother calling us in as the sun sunk below the horizon. We would come running, usually a bit battered and bruised from the day’s adventure. We would greet our mother with a bouquet of wild flowers in one hand, and often an injured animal in the other, because we were determined to nurse back to health.
I was young when I came to understand that all things in the world are connected, that the great outdoors was also a great teacher, and that there was beauty and a lesson to be found in everything. The way the fullness of the moon pulls the tides in the ocean.
The way the location of the sunrise and sunset coordinated with the seasons. How the birds danced and feasted on the water before a storm. I learned to trust my instincts when crossing paths with a herd of buffalo or a coiled snake.
Learned to look them in the eye and study their mannerisms to figure out whether I could respectfully pass them or whether I should take the long way around.
These childhood adventures and exploration of the land and oceans around me evolved into the lifestyle I live today. This land is my playground, my gym, my sanctum. It has sparked, lit, and been the fire behind many of my endeavors including my success as an athlete, my love for being active outdoors, appreciation for the ocean, my pursuit of growing my own organic garden, sustainable living, giving back to the community, and learning something new every day. It has taught me that what’s simple is true and that you can live large even with very little, because it’s the little things in life that matter the most.