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Hello 2021 - Whew Am I Glad To See You!

Hey 2021, Heeeyyyyy!!!

Whew, we made it ya'll!! Everything that 2020 tossed at us, and all that it tried, with intention, and on purpose, we are still here. We have experienced a lot of 2020 fast balls and quite a few curve balls, and friends, despite everything, and all things 2020 ya'll, WE MADE IT!! Yeah, I'm screaming, and you should be too. Beyond all that happened, which will not be named here, you know what it was, we survived it all. Personally, I am not utterly disgusted at all of 2020. A whole lot of goodness happened in 2020.

Sadly; however, not everyone entered 2021. We lost beautiful friends and family, whose memory we will forever hold in our heart as we make the most of the goodness 2021 has to offer.

The year of 2020 ended with us, this ch8sing waterfalls family accepting the first ever Wander With Grant from Wander North, GA and the Outdoor Journal Tour. The grant is building relationships which will increase the visibility and reach of our mission to encourage more women of color to change the narrative of outdoors. The grant and the relationships are encouraging Sistas to explore nature with us and embr8ce the ch8se, one adventure at a time.

Josh & Alex are our friends at Wander North GA, Michelle & Kenya are our Outdoor Journal Tour Sistas. Listen, each of them are exceptional in their own right. Simply following them on social media is giving me so much, and so many ideas. They have already invented the wheel, i'm asking questions, taking notes, and following their lead to help us grow. I look to them as mentors, as experts in outdoors and stuff. We are blessed to be able to call on them for help. I'm telling ya'll, I feel like I have won the lottery.

Josh did a stockholders report, which is actually a reflection of their impact in 2020. It got me to thinking that we have never publicly shared our impact. This is that.

Our first year, began at the end. We left the first ch8se feeling fulfilled, yet not complete. Or at least, I did. I knew there should have been more, but I didn't plan for it. Hell, I didn't plan for over 5 people to show up, and I think we had over twenty. Nevertheless, we did not go out afterwards to lunch. Well that definitely changed.

The first four months were epic. I was on a natural high and elated to be positioned to lead this charge. It was New Years Eve, December 31, 2017 that we captured our largest number of ch8sers at thirty-seven. We ended the year leaving it all behind at High Falls in Jackson, GA. It was a ch8se of epic proportions. It was one of the most beautiful and memorable ch8ses of 2017, and still to this date. Imagine thirty-seven black women, hiking in the woods of GA, on the last day of the year, just imagine how phenomenal that was. I encourage you to check out that blog. It was a beatiful day.

By the time we got to 2018, I had a greater understanding of my purpose. I better understood what this movement meant to me, as well as what it meant to my black and brown sistas who trusted me to lead them through the woods.

2017 forced me into a position I would have never in a million years dreamt I would be. This city girl, from the roughest area of Memphis, TN, (Orange Mound to be exact) made it out of the hood and into the woods. Who would have ever thunk it? Not me. Yeah, I know that is not proper grammar, but it fit my vibe, don't judge me, just keep reading.

2018 took us out of GA. We were ch8sing waterfalls in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Ya'll, we were on the move and I was so proud of us. These brown faces in green spaces were changing the narrative of the outdoors. We were hiking ya'll. Outfitted in hiking boots, outdoor attire, hiking poles, hiking sticks, backpacks, bladder packs, first aid kits. Ya'll we were legit, official, black girls hiking in the mother freaking woods. In this moment, I feel like Harriet Tubman would be proud. We were stepping outside of the norm, changing our life's trajectory, impacting our community, inspiring our daughters, being extraordinary, sharing our shine, boasting in our black girl magic.

2018 we unfolded what it means to embrace the chase, one adventure at a time, ch8sing waterfalls.

For those who do not know our story, I encourage you to read the four excerpts under our about section. For those who do, you know that this is a movement birthed out of pain, turned into passion. You also know that my husband, Richie got us here to this space in time. Additionally, you know that GirlTrek, is the vehicle that fostered our growth. I would always say, we are ch8sing waterfalls powered by GirlTrek, because they have a platform of awesome ladies, that allowed me to share my adventures on the national map, where women from all over could join us. It was actually in 2018, that one of my home girls from Memphis, joined our ch8se because she saw it on the map.

For Richie I am forever thankful for him introducing me to waterfalls. He helped me heal, that I can help others. To GirlTrek, I am forever grateful for being able to birth this ch8se movement, within the GirlTrek movement.

Ya'll 2019 took us to some pretty special places. Though we ch8se waterfalls once a month, I have a few ch8se champions I call on to scout locations with me, prior to leading a group. It is important for me to know what i'm getting myself into as well as what i'm introducing to my ladies. For this reason, you see more than twelve ch8ses. Each is different, unique, special, and memorable for life.

It was in 2019 that we introduced the ch8se van. We had been carpooling to each location, in our personal vehicles. We got this grand idea to rent a fifteen passenger van. This proved to be one of our best ideas to date. Each passenger shared the cost of the rental, and the gas. This worked so well. There are countless stories, memories, and laughs from those van rides. The van rides gave us the opportunity to bond and learn from one another. It allowed the ch8sers the opportunity to sit back and relax, and nap on the way back, and sometimes even on the way there. We have had some priceless memories. I cannot wait to return to our ch8se normal.

Listen, let me just drop this out to the universe, and everyone reading. Friend, if you have a passenger van you need or want to donate to the ch8se, we accept. If you are affiliated with a van rental and wish to be a blessing, we accept. If you dare to sow a seed into the mission of ch8sing waterfalls, yes, my friend, we accept. Mama said, a closed mouth is never fed, and you never know until you ask, right? So there, universe it is on you now, we have let the desires of our hearts be known, we have asked. With open arms, we will wait.

Now 2020 hit a little different. Challenging, yes, impossible no. January 1, 2020 brought us our largest number of ch8sers to date. We had thirty-nine ch8sers to start off 2020. I told you, there was goodness in 2020.

We started off strong, and pivoted with the world. We respected the CDC guidelines, and actually paused our ch8se for a few months. We ceased the convenience, and comfort of the ch8se van, and returned to our caravan of personal vehicles. We have fostered new relationships and continue to cherish and nurture existing relationships.

We shared a few small ch8se giveaways, and look forward to bigger and better ones in the future. We have met some amazing people along the way, and look forward to truly returning to some ch8se normalcy. Hell, we are all looking forward to normalcy, period.

The ch8se year ended as it did in 2017, at High Falls State Park, Jackson, GA. This time instead of thirty-seven, there were four of us. That blog will drop shortly after this one.

We are ch8sing waterfalls.

We are changing the narrative of outdoors.

We are brown faces in green spaces.

We are embracing and embr8cing the ch8se.

We are adventurers exploring the great outdoors.

We are here to stay, to grow, to inspire, and to share our shine, one adventure at a time.

For pain turned passion, this ch8se champ is proud of where we are. I am blessed at where we have been, and I am excited for where we are going. I am extremely proud of our impact and what the next chapters hold for ch8sing waterfalls. 2021, here we come.

Thank you for choosing to #Embr8ceTheCh8se with #Ch8singWaterfalls.

Until we ch8se again, your Ch8se Champ,

Deborah McGlawn




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