I am a writer, speaker, runner, mountaineer, and an activist in the movement to end sexual violence. My memoir – Caged Eyes: An Air Force Cadet’s Story of Rape and Resilience – released from Beacon Press in February 2017.
I have a thing for altitude, an unexplainable and unquenchable pull to be high (no, the other kind of Colorado “high”).
My fascination with the sky started when I was a teenager, when I often rode my bike to a vacant cul-de-sac in the middle of a Missouri forest. I’d lie down on the gravel and watch planes and their contrails crisscross overhead. I was in love with the vibrant blue and fantasizing about the lives of the pilots inside the planes. Those afternoons spent dreamily looking to the heavens set the course of my life.
Though I became a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I never became the pilot of my dreams. Sexual abuse and rape led to an infection, meningitis, that would prevent me from graduating from the Academy and earning my commission in the Air Force.
Just as my love of altitude led me to the military, it gave me the pathway to heal from the trauma I experienced as a young adult. Today I am a mountaineer who has climbed all 58 of Colorado’s highest 14,000-foot peaks. I’m also an ultra-runner who loves routes through and over Colorado’s mountain trails. In 2014, I was selected for the Medtronic Global Heroes Team, and in 2015, I completed my first 100-mile ultra. In January 2017, I successfully summited Mt. Aconcagua – 22,841 feet – the highest peak outside of Asia.
Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and abuse at a rape crisis center and a treatment center for children who experienced severe trauma.
I’m currently working on a second memoir, the follow-up story to Caged Eyes. The narrative is centered around my journey to climb Colorado’s 58 highest 14,000-foot peaks, and it is the story of how I overcame and grew (post-traumatic growth!) after the ordeal I wrote about in Caged Eyes.