Kristen Gill: Writer, Photographer & Adventurer
We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristen through an online writing community. Once we grew familiar with her work, it was a no-brainer to feature her in a profile. As much as we love the PNW, it’s great (and necessary) to be reminded that there’s life outside of it, too, and Kristen, a self-employed world traveler, knows plenty about that:
Name: Kristen Gill
Where did you grow up: Chicago, IL
Where do you live now: Seattle, WA
What do you consider “home”?: Either Ireland, or Baja, Mexico
What is your career path?: Writer & Photographer
What other passions do you have?: TRAVEL!
Where can others find you/your work online?: I manage multiple web sites/blogs, so here they are:
- www.kristengill.com (my travel & photography blog)
- www.happyhourqueenofseattle.com (a happy hour and restaurant review/news blog)
- www.preservingcultures.com (a web site devoted to conserving indigenous culture)
- www.kristengillmedia.com (my boutique media company’s web site)
Favorite thing about the PNW?: The combination of mountains and sea!
How do you take your coffee)?: Vanilla latte, please.
How do you like to make notes?: Voice memos on my iPhone, Notes app, and good old fashioned pen and paper
Favorite season in the PNW?: Summer (I like the sun)
When you’re out, how do you protect yourself from the rain?: I usually leave town as much as I can during winter months and try to head somewhere warm and sunny, like Baja…and once spring hits, I know I’ve made it through another year.
What is a “normal” day like for you (if such a thing exists!): Wake up and shake my fist at the alarm clock going off, drink coffee, answer emails that come in from all corners of the world, re-do my priority task list for the day, drink more coffee, daydream about my next trip, find a way to make next trip happen, read, write, submit pitches, finish articles at the eleventh hour, watch some English Premier League footie, go to a concert, watch a cool flick, talk to friends/family, and stay up late into the night dawdling.
How did you discover your passions for both travel and photography? And how did you come to blend them in your work?: I’ve always loved travel, ever since my first transatlantic flight to Ireland to compete in the World Championships of Irish Dance when I was a teenager. I loved mingling with other cultures, exploring our differences, and finding the commonality between us. I’ve also always loved photography. In high school, I borrowed my grandfather’s Pentax camera, and joined a mostly-male cast of characters in the dark room. I never really liked the chemicals, but was fascinated by what you could capture with essentially a “hole in a box”. This started a love affair with photos that will never die. So, it was natural to combine both loves into one profession.
Traveling and self-employment can each be draining on their own, let alone together – how do you stay motivated when you’re low on energy or inspiration?: Now, that is a good question! One of my biggest challenges has been learning how to balance my hectic travel schedule with my deadlines, with the hustle for new business, with hiring good people, with finding ways to collaborate on projects that are important to me, and with getting enough rest. Most times I can tell when I am fried, and just need to put everything down and take a break. I’ve learned to give myself the day off every now and then!
Your portfolio included multiple kinds of projects. What’s your favorite kind of work to do?: My favorite kinds of projects involve sharing good stories of female empowerment, conservation, adventure, and people overcoming obstacles. I know a good story when I hear it, and will think out of the box in order to help tell that story in its own unique way.
How have your extensive travel experiences shaped your view of the PNW?: Traveling a lot makes me appreciate the PNW even more. For a while there, I thought I wanted to move out of Seattle, so I was looking in earnest to find somewhere better. I could not, so here I remain! It’s really hard to find a place that has an a) an active city life (opera!), where I can b) play in the mountains, and c) sail in the Puget Sound, all in the same day. Oh, and the coffee! Superb.
And vice versa, how has the PNW shaped your views on travel?: When I travel, it’s interesting that most people I meet have a very fond impression of our Emerald City. Whether it’s because of Jimi Hendrix, Grey’s Anatomy, Frasier, the Space Needle, the (former) SuperSonics, etc. – people really seem to know and like our city even having never been here. It makes me proud to live here, makes me realize that I live in a pretty cool place, and reminds me to be a good ambassador when I travel.
Could you share how you and your partners came together and decided to launch The Adventure Angels?: The Adventure Angels are a progressive group of expeditioners who firmly believe in the transformative power of travel, friendship, and adventure. We met while at an adventure travel conference in Mexico and truly bonded. Years later, we decided to put our collective minds together in order to inspire other women to go outside of their comfort zone and to live a life full of adventure. The past two years we funded the Adventure Angels Abundance Scholarship, which supports a female business owner from a developing country where adventure tourism is life sustaining.
Has any specific woman or women in your life made a significant impact on you?: I have a lot of women role models in my life, including my mother and two sisters and some great female friends. I went to an all-women’s college in Indiana (Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame), and had many great female teachers who inspired me, including Dr. Gail Mandell, who taught me the importance of critical thinking. I’m proud to be an active member of several women’s writing groups online. Also, working in the adventure travel industry, which is largely comprised of men, I am always looking to build strong relationships with adventurous women who inspire.
What are people surprised to learn about you?: I’m a former professional dancer, and also a former boxer. It’s all in the footwork, baby!
What’s the best decision you ever made?: To refrain from immediately getting another job when I was laid off from a former employer, I ended up starting my own business, and my first client was the same company that laid me off a few months prior! I’ve been learning the ropes every since, but have totally enjoyed the trajectory my career has taken.
What are the most cherished parts of your day?: The midnight hour! When everyone else is fast asleep, I’m in my best flow researching, writing, editing, and plotting. Early bird may get the worm, but the night hawk gets the mouse.
Any big “wish list” or “bucket list” items that you’re focused on?: I’ve already ticked off a lot of bucket list items, so at this point I’m more interested in “paying it forward”, such as providing opportunities for women to succeed (like hiring women and giving them big responsibilities, or helping to set up the Adventure Angels Abundance scholarship). I’m also into “paying it back.” For example, I just took my mother on an Alaskan cruise with me, as a way to say thank you for all she’s given to me and for supporting me on my own path in life. If there’s a way I can make a difference in one person’s life, I’ll jump on it.
What would your best friends and loved ones say are your greatest skills, or greatest accomplishments?: To quote a few dear friends: “Observing and appreciating the goodness of the moment. Delighting in the Life around you, especially when you are in nature.” “You have a tremendous amount of compassion for people.” “You are doing the thing you were born to do. You had the courage to create a career in an area where most people would be afraid to try.”
What brings you joy?: Laughing with old friends over a beer, meeting new people, seeing live music, dancing (impossible not to feel good while dancing), being spontaneous, and hanging out with family.