Patricia Andersson

Founder, Heartfire Journeys 

 

My love affair with travel began with a 10-week backpacking trip through Europe the summer that I graduated from college. It was one of those sleep-on-the-train-to-save-money types of adventures, shared with two girlfriends. Not staying in any one place for more than 4 days, we managed to knock off 11 countries and countless cities in our whirlwind overview. A woman I encountered on that trip told me about an international spiritual and holistic educational community in northern Scotland called the Findhorn Foundation, which intrigued me greatly. After a series of coincidences, I visited a few years later, and felt like I had “come home.” I eventually moved there to live for six years, where I learned to facilitate groups and workshops on subjects ranging from creativity to life purpose. After returning to the States in the mid-90s, I continued to lead women’s personal growth groups, cancer support groups (I am a survivor myself), and groups for victims of domestic violence. With their shared focus on women’s experiences, I found in myself strongly drawn to making the empowerment of women my life’s work. 

I also started traveling again, exploring first Central America, and later, South America. Each trip was more enticing than the last, and for my 50th birthday, I put together a trip for three friends and myself to visit the Galapagos, Ecuador, and Peru, culminating with my bucket-list climb to the top of Machu Picchu.

It was clear that I had both passion and a knack for group travel. In 2009, an opportunity was given to me to develop a travel program for Dining for Women, which I jumped on. Dining for Women is a nonprofit that I’ve volunteered with since 2006, which raises funds for various grassroots programs in the developing world that empower women and girls living in extreme poverty. Over 400 chapters meet monthly across the United States to learn about the month’s supported program and the lives of the women in the country where the program is based. The travel program gave our members the opportunity to visit the organizations we’d supported, and to meet face-to-face the women and girls who received our funds, in their home countries. These experiences proved to be extremely meaningful and transformative for our travelers, as well as for the women we visited. Over a six-year period, our travel program visited 13 countries, and met with more than 20 supported programs.

In the spring of 2015, I ventured out on my own, officially launching Heartfire Journeys. My vision is to continue creating exceptional journeys for women, combining cultural exchanges with exploring the unique beauty of each country we visit. I believe that connecting women around the world dissolves barriers of inequality based on privilege and cultural differences. This first-hand experience can expand our understanding of ourselves as global citizens, and motivate us to help bring greater opportunity and self-determination to women and girls worldwide.

 

I am also a certified Life Coach working exclusively with women -- find out more at Heartfire Coaching!