When you lite a little match, a lot of heat comes out.

I’ve been led to believe that you have to go through a period of suffering before you can truly experience happiness. The rut that I found myself in last fall has made me acutely aware of how wonderful life is. I wake up each morning and identify something I’m grateful for, one time I couldn’t see because it was still dark- I was so happy for my eye sight and paid careful attention to observe everything closely that day.

This winter I’ve lived between St. Pete and Miami, flying drones for some insanely brilliant coaches- trying to be a human sponge and absorb as much as my brain would allow. My sailing has been limited: a few days on an M32, the Islands Race on a Mills 68 (story below), and getting back into the 470- my true love! Aside from diving into the coaching aspect of the sport, I’ve opened a new chapter with my health by seeing a holistic doctor. She’s taught me about managing PH levels in order to absorb certain nutrients, and eating the foods beneficial for my blood type, do you know yours?

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Here is a short description from the race from Long Beach to San Diego:
It’s 1.30 am, I just came on deck after partially snoozing for 2 hours and then packing the kite that just came down. Once my eyes adjust and I get a sense of my surroundings, Tim hands me the spinnaker sheet, “ you know what you’re doing, here you go”. It’s dark, no moon but wow an insane amount of stars. I feel the sheet around the drum, three wraps. Test the load, and look up. Marty driving and Dave behind me on the main. I immediately find the rhythm of the relatively flat 8-12 knot conditions. Up one, trim one, hold angle, and back down. Ease sheet, find the curl, dancing on the edge of easing without losing the kite- I better not loose the kite! I see a streak of green light out of the corner of my eye, bioluminescence, hear dolphins, check our numbers, ease again. This continues, a quiet communication between driver, grinder and I with the confidence of Dave on the main verifying my comms. Take a deep breath and enjoy the silence. Sail change to the zero, lock off spin sheet, transfer sheets, overhaul new sheet in the dark, calm fast pulls, ease spinnaker sheet, trim new sheet, find new angle. Sit down, look up, feel, see, are we on target? I could do this for hours. A beautiful boat to sail!

I’m currently reading Hotel Scarface, committed to gaining muscle and mobility, and enjoying the Miami springtime 🙂 Happy Trails.



Dogs Don’t Debate

A word from Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, on being versus thinking: “We (humans) are the only species that follow unstable pack leaders. When you’re thinking you’re hesitating and the animal doesn’t know what to do. You’re thinking but they don’t know you’re thinking, what they know is you’re not coming out with a conclusion or direction. For them, leadership is protection and direction, and the direction has to be given when it’s needed, not when you’re ready.” Dogs don’t debate things, and they don’t know how to lie. They are the most honest friends we can have, so how do we learn from them?

“If you come from ego, selfishness and envy, you aren’t clear about how you feel.” We can erase the ego through awareness, and with awareness we can take responsibility and surrender, and then we are ready to learn!

Maggiepuppy ShermanTravis, Rocky, Charlie

The winter solstice is always great for reflection and slowing down, only this year I will turn my focus on observing, rather than over thinking.

“Connect the soul, the spirit and the heart to truly feel, everything else is secondary.”

The Voices I hear

“The comforts and conveniences of modern life have come to pamper us so much that much of the excitement has been drained from our daily existence. Our bodies are so coddled that we crave physical challenges. On top of that, we have grown mentally soft, and we know it and vaguely despise ourselves for it.”


I have a unique personality type. INFP in Myers Briggs terms, which is phrased, “I Never Find Perfection”. It’s true, I use my eyes and my ears to constantly take in information; I ask questions even when I know the answer or have a strong opinion. I rarely offer unsolicited advice and frequently call on those I trust to help me weigh decisions out loud. What this means is that I have a library of quotes, words of advice, and admirable actions that affect the way I travel through life and have to sort the criticism from the critique, only retaining the useful information.

I hear my cross-country coaches when working out, I hear their encouragement (yelling) to push through the pain, also my basketball coaches who had zero sympathy for the countless towel drills we ran, and my dance teacher who conditioned me to find comfort in the pain of sitting in our splits for what felt like hours.

I hear my parents positive words of encouragement. From them I gained a positive self-image and confidence.

Finally, my least favorite, I hear doubt from the negative teammates and I let it get to me. It’s difficult to decipher between reality: being told I will never be as strong as a male my size, and opinions: due to my size and gender I will have fewer sailing opportunities. Because of my situational awareness, excellent hearing, and desire to constantly get better, I cue into useless criticism that often stems from someone else’s unhappiness. I have been told I will never succeed because I don’t have the looks or the personality, been physically pushed around the boat because teammates don’t communicate how they want me to move differently. I have been accused of flirting or wanting to sleep with someone simply because I crave learning and just want to hang out after racing, and I am accustomed to hearing about the “sluts, horses, chasers, etc” used to describe other females and pray none of this is ever used in the same sentence as my name. I am so used to hearing that there is no place for women on boats that when I do find myself on teams I deserve to be on, these awful negative voices in my head squash my confidence. I sometimes question why people have me onboard rather than owning it. My hope is that by writing this I can move on from anything effecting me, I know there is no space for harsh negativity. To be respected for what I know and do, that is what I strive for.

When I reflect, I hold on tightly to the compliments received from the pros who rarely hand them out. I sort through the BS and remind myself that I am truly one of the luckiest people for living my passion. And I focus on forgetting the useless voices and getting better every day.

Below is a video from inside a recycling plant, I have always wondered what happened after recycling was collected. A reminder that our actions do all matter down to the smallest scale!

*Photos are from Harbor Springs on a C&C30, onboard media with Maxi 72 Cannonball, and learning to sail a Star. Very different experiences, I loved them all.



Be as Great in Act as You Have Been in Thought.

“Be as great in act as you have been in thought” William Shakespeare.

I absolutely love fall because life slows down a bit and I am 100% okay with hibernating until my mind and body are back in balance. This summer I lived richly. I traveled, I experienced, and enjoyed exceptionally quality time with good friends, new friends and my family. The only downfall, which I only just recognized, was the sacrifice of my personal vision and growth for too long of a period. My mind and body became completely off base and it took a while to reign everything back in. One of the most frustrating feelings is to have the awareness that you aren’t where you want to be but not knowing how to get on track!

The realization that things weren’t going the way I envisioned came when I visited one of my most dear friends in Vermont. She knows I want people to think everything is alright when it probably isn’t, and she knows when something bothers me before I have even the slightest clue. For her friendship I am eternally grateful. After having a very honest conversation about money, relationships, and the future, I vocalized my fears and then called a few important mentors and realized I wasn’t clear with my goals and it was effecting every aspect of my life.

I made a short-term goal for the week, which cleared my mind a bit and allowed me to exercise and find work and eventually get the ball moving in the right direction

So what’s next? I have no sailing commitments for this first time… I believe the first time ever! My short-term goals are to gain my flexibility back; I used to dance and getting into right, left, and center splits were a necessity, now I’m getting it back! And to improve my memory by learning 10 new Italian words each day.

Long term? Life has always had the perfect way of letting me know where I need to be and when, and I will continue to listen hard.

Photos from the J/24 worlds, I had a great time sailing with my team (nicknamed the cookie monsters) which included my 470 skipper, Nikki. We haven’t sailed together in a few years and it was refreshing to reunite with the familiar!

j24 worlds 2017

Learning to Start

Savasana is when the yoga practice begins. The physical activity prior is to get the body worn down so it wont interfere with meditation.DSC01035DSC01099DSC01259IOD NSW

I take a lot of notes, most of them are specific to tuning different sailboats, venues raced at, and quotes I’ve heard from successful mentors or podcasts. Today I scrolled down through my cell phone notes and randomly stopped on a day of snipe training last July when Kim and I learned how to properly start the boat. We had Luke stand on shore at the end of Fort Adams, gave him some beer, and rolled into a succession of starts between two lobster traps. In between each rolling start we sailed past land to get feedback. There was a lot of current and inconsistent breeze, and after about 50 starts, only once were we actually on the line. Here is what we learned about starting a snipe:

-during the acceleration, keep the main fully or over trimmed and control boat speed with the angle to the wind. My tendency was to play the main, or to accelerate with a final ease and trim, a habit I had from college sailing, and something I see all the time! I think the load feels good through the trimming hand. Most crew luff the jib as a form of deceleration. We learned how to sail down speed without letting sails luff! Keeping sails in and moving the boat in relation to wind keeps the load on the foils and makes for a faster acceleration when the boat turns down. It also keeps both sailors 100% in tune with the exact direction and force of the current breeze.

-the next step in our acceleration process was to turn down, around 8 seconds before the start, but this number always changed depending on the next puff or wave set. To initiate the turn we both leaned out, as a driver, I didn’t lean much. Next, I slid my butt in and Kim jumped to leeward (force depended on the next puff to come, which we communicated about), then it was up to me to tell Kim how much and when to hike.

-After we were flat and hiking, the final step of our acceleration was to ease the main to head the boat up. This was new to me as well. Learning to use my sails to steering the start versus the rudder was incredibly efficient and made our starting routine smooth!

Photos above are from the J Class Worlds in Newport, the first ever worlds for the class and incredible event to see, my good friends Stacy and Jesse came to town to watch day one and we were in absolute awe at the classic beauties racing in front of hundreds of spectators! And the last photo is my team at the Nantucket Race Week Celebrity IOD Invitational, we placed third and our celebrity tactician was Mike Marshall. I was the only crew on board to have sailed the boats before: 7000 lb beasts, and the type of boat you sail with what you know not what you feel because they are so heavy!

I’ll end with a great quote I recently heard from Ted Turner, “Losing is just learning how to win.”

Holding Tension


This morning during yoga, my instructor reminded her students to not hold tension in our bodies as we were strengthening our abs, and also not to told it anywhere in our lives.

The sequence of events that unfolded throughout my summer has made it difficult for me to be anything but appreciative and positive:

FIRST I traveled. To Greece for sailing media, Croatia for sailing media, Ireland and Scotland with my parents, Michigan to race C&C30s, Minnesota for race committee work with dad and finally San Francisco for Melges 20 training. The travel made me hyper conscious of different lifestyles, specifically how people seek happiness and measure success. With this new awareness I made the decision to reach out to both teammates and strangers, asking questions and inviting any new advice. Where should my life go? What is truly important?

One of the decisions I made was to pit stop during a run to visit Fletcher Driscoll, a mentor of mine, while I was in Minnesota. Aside from being an expert in Geology and hydrogeology, Fletcher is both a student of life and a teacher. He is an author, was a professor, and his knowledge in the business world is one to look up to. An avid sailor, he and his wife keep seven A scows at their home on White Bear Lake. Somehow he knew just what to say to me when I showed up on his doorstep; below is the summary:

1. Ask myparents what my passion was as a child and use that as guidance for my current path

2. Surround myself with those who are smarter than me

3. Have a skill that I am exceptionally competent with to teach or talk to people about; not necessarily to pursue as a career but to give me a unique student/teacher relationship with different people jillian fellows photo

NEXT, as I was home celebrating the life of my cousin Adrian, who passed away last fall, I found out about the death of Andrew Spaulding. He was the mast position on the first boat I consistently raced with, the Bandit. Hearing the news late at night, I woke up still upset and opened my email to find one of my published articles from Quantum. I had written the article a few months ago and forgotten about it, one of the people I interviewed was my friend Andrew. See ARTICLE Andrew was funny, caring and full of life. This solidifies the fact that I have absolutely nothing to complain about, ever!

FINALLY, I’ve sailed with two phenomenal business people in the past month. They are both different, yet alike. Incredibly successful monetarily speaking, but also genuinely happy. One of them gave me confidence, taking the time to let me know I’m smart, and competent and should not be afraid to speak up, I’m a part of the team for a reason and my opinion holds value. I probably smiled for the next week straight because it felt so great to know people have my back.

The other leader, I admire for arriving at the boat each morning and addressing everyone by first name, for taking the time to get to know each crew member, and also cutting to the chase. He always knows the exact questions to ask in order to get the best possible results in the least amount of time. It’s eye opening to be in the presence of different leadership styles, quite inspiring.

Everything leading up to where I am right now makes me confident that I’m right where I should be.

I just spent the past week sailing Melges 20s in San Francosco, a fantastic venue to practice windy sailing in different sea states (depending on the tide cycle). There was a whale that kept us company throughout the week, staying near where the depth changed from 100-400′ to collect easy meals! I was also shocked with how much freighter traffic passed by, a constant stream. And when I wasn’t on the water or taking notes on the Melges 20 training, I was busy preparing for this years J/24 World Championships! It takes place this September and I will be sailing with a wonderful group of females.

Photos: 2014 Bandit racing with Andrew Spaulding on the mast, the Themis in Harbor Springs (photo Jillian Fellows), and some yoga balance practice on the Melges 20 in San Fran!

The Time In between

Silence. Reflection. Removing oneself from the vortex of screens and social media.

Photos below: 1. Crew work on the Maxi 72, Proteus 2. working hard on an angle with Cannonball 3. beautiful rock formations in Croatia 4. eating with new friends at a traditional dinner while practicing the Italian language in CroatiaDSC07453

I have always been fascinated with how people spend their time. Part of my love for travel comes from the desire to arrive somewhere, camouflage into the local scene, and experience firsthand how others fill their days. First, it’s necessary to mention I have a deep gratitude for the fact that I can choose how to life my life! I’ve had a few recent conversations with sailing friends about time; the first two both felt life was a matter of finding things to do in between regattas. This seemed dangerous to me, meaning sailing is a high. I’m sure there is some psychology behind loving the familiarity of the different teams I race with, getting used to being around my “family” members, and then wondering if this phase of my life is coming to an end soon. Yes, I do think it’s better to be addicted to sport than drugs, but is there a way to love the time in between?
How have I filled the time in between? My mother has an incredible energy, she’s always searching for new exciting experiences. I’ve learned from her to check newspapers, websites, and coffee shops for things to do, to be okay with the unfamiliar. Art classes, live music, and anything related to exercise are what excite me (next week I’m signed up for yoga with goats, stay tuned).
The month of July was perfect. I traveled to Corfu, Greece to write press releases and do PR for the Maxi 72 class, working closely with my friend Nick, an insanely talented drone pilot. I sailed on three of the five boats, SO INCREDIBLE, and picked up a few things:
-onboard the crew are all very quiet, there are really only a few people communicating
-the boats are constantly making small changes, so each regatta speeds and sailing angles are being compared, making for a lot of on the dock conversation. And there is so much data to keep one busy onboard: heel angle, load measurements, percentage at which the boat is sailing to target numbers, speeds, etc.
-there is nothing like the sound of the runner unloading from the back corner of the boat -Corfu was a new venue to everyone, which leveled out the playing field
-you CAN match race a 72-foot race boat, and with good crew work it’s relatively simple: CLICK FOR VIDEO
After Greece, I went to Sardinia for two days to see The Yacht Club Costa Smerelda, which exceeded my expectations, and then to Sibenik, Croatia to work with the Melges 20 European class. While there, I met a very muscular Ukrainian biker and asked him to train me in the gym, he spoke limited English, here’s how it went: he said run 30 minutes, I did. Then we did abs, I copied everything he did. Then he asked if I was finished, I said, “I don’t know, am I?” He said, “do this” so I did back exercises. Then we did more planks. I knew I was doing something right because he would say, “very good”. And I knew I was doing something wrong when he touched my back or whatever part of my body my form was incorrect.
Finally, I met my parents for a trip through Scotland. My dad and I were standing in an old cathedral, much older than the United States, looking at a detailed stained glass window and I brought up my world view about time as described above. We started talking about skills people used to have, specifically farmers. They encountered new challenges each day and survival depended on the ability to problem solve. When the world shifted to indoor factories, people drastically changed how they used their bodies physically and mentally. I think I always instinctively search for ways to eat, exercise, communicate, and experience life as if my survival counted on it.

Happy trails!