The Life of an Environmentalist – Ashley Kunesh

Get to know Ashley Kunesh – an environmentalist, student, and travel enthusiast with a keen eye for the perfect date and life mantras to live the SuperShe way. She’s not only traveling the world, working by day, studying by night, managing her health, beauty, and balance… She’s saving the planet.

What would be your perfect day?
I’d have to flip a three-sided coin…

Either waking up in the forest to the aroma of toasty pine needles, jumping in a heart-stopping icy river, climbing a long adventure climb in the shade, sharing a sandwich at the top with my boyfriend, scrambling down to soak in some hot springs and finally falling asleep under the milky way

OR

A morning trail run and paddling all day in salty water with one of my best friends, mid-day pitaya bowls, and a sunset with a campfire and bottle of wine

OR

A day anywhere with my Aunt Heidi where I’d be guaranteed 24 hours of hilarity. I guess I’d have to see who’s available to hang 🙂

 

If you could go anywhere in the world, tomorrow, where would you go?
My traveling experiences these days revolve around contributing my skills and knowledge to community capacity building in developing nations. I’d love to spend more time in Southeast Asia.

What’s your top three favorite travel destinations and why?
Maui, Lesvos, and Nusa Lembongan. The energy that can be drawn on these islands can be transformative. In general, people seem to have a larger spiritual component to their lives than where I call home. There’s a strong connection to the nature that surrounds these places and a raw sense of joy that is hard to describe.

How has travel impacted your life?
It has no doubt shaped me into the person I am today. There is a limited understanding of the world if you don’t ever escape your own backyard. Travel has made me actually enjoy conundrums, view time in a different scale, build empathy, and trust my intuition. It has given me the space and perspective I need on my quest to become my best self.

Do you have any travel items you can’t live without?
Essential oil hydrosol and headphones. Whether you’re on a train or in the jungle… a bottle with some water and a few drops of essential oil for misting your face just makes me feel good. Favorites include jasmine, rose, or lily of the valley. Additionally, headphones and a playlist are key. I promise that if you listen to the same playlist over and over while in a certain place, in the future when you’re home doing your daily grind you can play that same playlist and you will be instantly transported to a very happy place.

What’s the best advice you could give to your 15 year old self?
Don’t get caught up in making life plans and deadlines based on your age. It will only deter you from doing things you want to do based on some arbitrary number. You might think you’re doing yourself a favor by setting a goal based on how old you want to be when that something is achieved… but life doesn’t give a damn how old you are. It’s how what you’re doing makes you feel at that moment that matters.

If you’re 50 doing backflips on your skis, 25 and quitting your career to travel, or 30 and going back to school to finish your degree, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t let time pass by doing something that doesn’t bring joy to your life or isn’t building on a foundation that will eventually bring joy to your life because you won’t ever get that time back…so honor yourself by respecting time.

What’s the best advice you could give to your 75 year old self?
Keep thinking big. Don’t ever lose sight of the forest for the trees, keep surrounding yourself with inspiring people and keep inspiring them. Remember, you fought the hard fight because it mattered. Always show gratitude.

What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
The afternoon I bushwhacked through the forest to climb a few hundred feet up a Doug Fir with beer and chocolate in tow to watch the strawberry sunset over Mt. Hood.

What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
Causing a ruckus at Portland’s amateur porn fest.

What are you reading?
Spiritual Ecology, The Cry of the Earth, a collection of essays edited by Llewllyn Vaughan-Lee.

Do you listen to podcasts, which ones?
Thought about it, but no.

Dogs or Cats?
No pets… how would I go anywhere?

Name 5 items that are currently around you.
Elk skull, typewriter, beeswax candle, yoga mat, & world map.

What’s a word that would describe your life.
Fierce

How do you decompress?
Friend time.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a student taking side projects or paid internships as I can envision them. Blogging has given me an outlet to share my travel and research experiences while taking classes.

What do you wish you could do for a living?
I want to find work in the field of conservation that will directly benefit communities experiencing the brunt of climate change, despite their much smaller carbon footprint. I want to work on a creative team that is inspiring and hard-working that definitely doesn’t think in linear terms. I could see myself being a project manager for an international NGO or nonprofit someday! But please, sometimes let me work outside 🙂

What’s next for you? Goals? Dreams?
In the immediate future I’m hoping to land an Americorps position after I graduate in the spring where I can learn, educate, and passionately serve my community for a year. The program has the potential to assist me in a Master’s program I would like to pursue in Natural Resource Management. In the meantime… I plan to find inspiration from environmental projects happening in other parts of the world, swap revolutionary ideas, and create travel plans that have the ability to bring all of these components into an integrative vision!

Favorite quote or mantra?
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created aworld that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift” -Albert Einstein

Favorite guilty pleasure?
Raw desserts

Drink of choice?
Cazadores, lime, soda. But I love those fancy drinks with frothed egg whites… whaaa?!

Clearly, you are a SuperShe, what do you think makes you a SuperShe?
Persistence and flexibility are critical to carry the girl power flag as well as a certain toughness that gets you through some obstacles in a field dominated by men. I grew up with two older brothers and they helped me build many of my defining characteristics. I have a strong sense of self and an intuitive sense of value that fuels my passions. I’ve been able to allow the things that light me up and feel truly meaningful to guide my future and still resist the conformity of my peers. This takes a lot of patience and grit.

Who is another a SuperShe in your eyes? If you were to nominate someone, who would it be?
My Aunt Heidi is a SuperShe because she lives her life intentionally- from being vegan since a teenager to landing her dream job writing for wildlife conservation magazines. She was the one who opened my eyes to the world, taking me backpacking in Europe at 18. Heidi dispenses advice like no other and inspires women of all ages to live to their full potential and believe in themselves. Her sense of humor is infectious (even if you don’t speak the same language, I can attest). She taught me that with time, if you remain open when things present themselves, everything will eventually fall into its place. She is independent, passionate, non-stop laughs, and is sarcastic as hell.