Done and Done.

We were four days into a five day journey and at the highest peak of the trip. We'd fearlessly overcome the fatigue and blisters that always accompany an initial backpacking voyage and felt like hardened warriors. While we were no strangers to camping, hauling our stuff over mountains and streams was new territory for us five teenage girls on a mission to conquer the world, or at least the Presidential Mountain Range of New Hampshire.

The top of Mount Washington looked beautiful that warm breezy, summer day. The sweat stains on our shirts only amplified the pride we felt having ascended the mountain on our own. Throngs of tourists crowded the peak and jostled to get in line for a bumper sticker that proudly read, "This car climbed Mt. Washington." We joked about buying one and replacing the word 'car' with 'girl' and sticking it on our packs. We laughed and took pictures and talked to a few strangers before settling in and consulting the map for our next leg of the journey back home. It didn't take us long to figure out we had another eight miles to go before we hit the closest lean-to camping spot. Our hearts sank and our knees buckled. We did all we could not to cry right then and there. Looking at each other, and then around the parking lot, we came to a decision: We would hitchhike down the mountain. However, we really didn't want to get murdered, so we decided we couldn't split up. But who in their right mind was going to offer a ride to five smelly, exhausted teenage girls with five ridiculously cumbersome packs? The hunt was on.

I'm not sure if it was our awkwardly angled thumbs or just how pathetic and lost we all looked hanging out on the curb that made the man and his young son stop and ask if we needed a ride. His huge truck was the only vehicle in the vicinity that even resembled anything all five of us plus packs could fit into at once. We were actually saved! And the driver had no plans to murder us! So with that, we suddenly became five girls who'd climbed Mt. Washington AND been hitchhiking. Done and Done.

I'm still learning not to be afraid of checking hard things off my bucket list. It's a work in progress, but every year it gets a little less painful to step outside my comfort zone and try something new.

Gurley exists to inspire girls to be confident and challenge the status quo; get out and be courageous! Just try not to get murdered while you're at it.

The quiet power of things

In high school I suffered the introverts' dilemma: I was an athlete, captain of my two track teams, and an honor roll student (usually), but when placed in a room full of outgoing, popular kids I was a deaf mute. I often sat by myself or sought the shelter of my more social friends. I wasn't teased or mistreated, but I never quite felt like I fit in there.

However, something strange happened every time I wore my varsity track jacket to school: I felt normal. Maybe not quite "popular" or "cool", but definitely normal - like I actually belonged there and wasn't just faking my way in. Just one jacket held this strange power. One black and red jacket with my name stitched on the chest. We talk of liquid courage, well, this was my polyester courage.

It has been years since high school (don't ask how many!) and I can't quite seem to throw that jacket away. The medals have gone, the varsity patches long discarded, even my prom dress bit the dust - but that jacket still hangs in my closet, its owner not quite ready to let go of that sense of belonging.

The Gurley Bag holds its own quiet power. It is a symbol of something I believe in: feminine strength, versatility, and fearlessness. This bag, while still just a bag, suggests that girls have been looked over far too long. It suggests within us there is untapped power to change the world and overcome stereotypes. There is nothing weak or flimsy about the Gurley Bag, nothing racy or stereotypical. It is strong in its own right, quietly taking on the world.

 So I suggest you try on this symbol of feminine strength and see what happens. If nothing else, you'll fit right in at my table. :)