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4 Tactics For Becoming an Unconventional Tourist

The following is a guest post. My love of unconventional travel started when I was 12 years old. My dad had decided that, of all the ways to spend Christmas, we should go on a cycling tour around Cuba. And so we did it. We figured out how to...

I Hate Hair: Reasons Why Shaving Your Head Skyrockets Confidence

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Aron James: Hair loss is something that happens to our grandfathers. It is the sign of the wisdom that comes with old age; a rite of...

How to Be a Solo-Female Hiker: Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes shares how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Hayley Turner (a.k.a. Little Foot): I can still remember everything about that day, from waking up and walking 12 miles by noon, the dogs...

Do You Really “Find Yourself” When You Travel?

"I know this sounds cliché, but I have to ask—do you really 'find yourself' when you travel?" the girl asked me. Her young friend crouched next to my table, gently stroking the cats as they slept. Café Neko is a small coffee shop in Vienna that allows cats to wander...

When Not Everything Goes as Planned, It Still Goes: A Story About Finding Your Passion

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Jen: As a kid, I was told that I was lucky that I already knew what I wanted to do with my life. From age four, I knew I wanted to be...

The Digital Nomad’s Roadmap – A Complete Guide: Successfully Live, Work, and Travel Anywhere

So you wanna be a digital nomad. I’m not surprised: the future is bright for freelancers and location independent workers. Statistics show 40% of Americans will be contingent workers by 2020. That’s a lot of potential for digital nomads! Yet there’s no hands-on guide...

Limitations: Why the 9–5 Job Doesn’t Need To Stop You

Over the years I’ve had a number of conversations with people who talk about cool things they want to do, see, or make. A lot of these conversations end with “Well, I’d love to do it, but unfortunately I have XYZ,” and many times those XYZs are very valid limitations...

Stealing Second Base: From Side Gig to Self Employed Full Time

Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world. Enter Katherine Stimson: “You can’t steal second base with one foot still on first.” In the spring of 2010, a Facebook ad posted by a total...

Dreams Are Like Pirate Treasure: Hard to Find, But Worth the Risk

All dreams start somewhere and typically, no matter the size of the overall dream, most dreams start small. Let’s say yours is to feel better at work every day. You focus on sitting up straight in week one. Week two finds you taking a 10-minute walk at lunchtime. Week...

I Will Not Wallow: Whales, Baked Goods, and Peru

My name is Kat. I think I look a little bit like a librarian. Most people think I look a little bit like a 16 year old. Or, in one particular instance, a middle school student.
I really like overalls and wearing multiple plaid shirts. At once. Also, I think this post suggests my life is really exciting, but 97% of the time, I’m actually a homebody.


My friend El hates my overalls. She even named them my punishment pants with the belief that they punish anyone with the misfortune of seeing them. I am here to tell you that my overalls are swell. 

When I was in fourth grade I wanted to grow up and live in a tree. Not even a tree house, just a tree. A few years later, my plan changed and I decided I wanted to grow up and paint a picture, put it in one of those gold-encrusted frames and sell it for a million dollars. I even listed it as a future life event on my sixth-grade timeline assignment.


My future home

After high school, I moved to Montana. I told people I was going there to study journalism, which was a complete lie. I really just liked the scenery. Then I actually studied journalism, so go figure.

At that point in my life I became interested in having grand adventures, which seemed like a silly thing to be interested in since I am very, very shy and very, very timid. Then I up and surprised myself and worked in a national park with mountains for a summer.


Here is a drawing of a mountain 

Adventure determination set in and the following summer I cold-called newspapers, borrowed my parents’ minivan and drove it to Maine with the promise of a photography internship and no place to live. It worked out.

Sometime during this mess I decided that I would one day to move to South America. Instead I moved to Alaska. Do you know what Alaska has? Whales. Whales are great.


Whales are so super swell!

After Alaska came a brief stint at a park in Washington (where I picked every blackberry in the vicinity and did little else). Then I moved to Kansas where I promptly had a little life crisis, which is silly because I had a roof and a job and family and food and few responsibilities and absolutely no business having a little life crisis.

Finally it hit me: I was afraid that I would never adventure again! Well shucks.

I decided to double my adventure efforts. I didn’t get Internet, because if you don’t have Internet, you’ll never be bored –true story. Instead of spending hours on the Internet, I got cookbooks from the library and baked my own bread nearly every week.


Mmm bread!

I built a bed and started composting. Bike maintenance got easier as I forced myself to learn how to change a tube and rewrap my handlebars. I found a cheap sewing class and started sewing terribly.


My bed was actually more like a bench. Also, I slept in my sleeping bag for two years. (This is just a terrible drawing.)

Life was good. But then I remembered that my goal of moving to South America was slowly turning into a four-year goal, and soon it would be my five-year goal. So I quit my job that I really, really liked and moved to Peru. When you do something drastic like this, sometimes you need to adopt a cat to calm your nerves. So I adopted a really soft cat.


Softest kitty ever

Peru was nice. I lived with very kind Catholic Sisters and washed a lot of dishes. I became a champion dishwasher and learned a lot of Spanish words associated with dishwashing. Jabón! Toalla! Llavar!


Sparklin’ clean

 So here I am in Memphis, unemployed, but with a really soft cat. Also my boyfriend lives in Memphis too and sometimes he helps me make kites when I feel the urge to make kites and fly them down the street in front of the all neighbors I’m too scared to introduce myself to. Moving to a new place is scary and sometimes I start wallowing, but I tell myself:


Then I think for a second and get real:

statement pt 2

Contrary to what the Internet and your friends’ social media pages might tell you, life’s not necessarily having the biggest, grandest adventure ever. I think life might really be about meeting nice people and trying to be a nice person yourself and taking time to learn new things and being excited for other people. And sometimes that turns into the biggest, grandest adventure ever, but more often that not, it turns into a really nice day.

That’s why I’m excited about Without Boxes. Without Boxes is here to give us a gentle nudge as we pursue the things we’re interested in learning and in doing. It’s not about being the coolest person ever; it’s about being excited about our own lives and living them fully.

Welcome to Without Boxes. Climb on in.

(Or should that be climb on out? Because it’s without boxes? Not with boxes? Shucks.)

(I tried to learn something new and draw these in Illustrator, but that got exhausting after an hour. So instead I drew it on the back of my cat’s favorite brown paper bag and that only took ten minutes.)





  1. Anne Dorko

    Kat, you are so awesome and I am so excited to have you joining with me on this project!

    I also think you nailed it with this: “It’s not about being the coolest person ever; it’s about being excited about our own lives and living them fully.”

  2. Avatar

    Anne! You’re awesome too! Thanks for having me along on the adventure.


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