One more iron in the fire. That’s all I need. But, I can never pass up a free book and a great read.
• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (January 24, 2017)
A young woman follows winter across five continents on a physical and spiritual journey that tests her body and soul, in this transformative memoir, full of heart and courage, that speaks to the adventurousness in all of us.
Steph Jagger had always been a force of nature. Dissatisfied with the passive, limited roles she saw for women growing up, she emulated the men in her life—chasing success, climbing the corporate ladder, ticking the boxes, playing by the rules of a masculine ideal. She was accomplished. She was living “The Dream.” But it wasn’t her dream.
Then the universe caught her attention with a sign: Raise Restraining Device. Steph had seen this ski lift sign on countless occasions in the past, but the familiar words suddenly became a personal call to shake off the life she had built in a search for something different, something more.
Steph soon decided to walk away from the success and security she had worked long and hard to obtain. She quit her job, took a second mortgage on her house, sold everything except her ski equipment and her laptop, and bought a bundle of plane tickets. For the next year, she followed winter across North and South America, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand—and up and down the mountains of nine countries—on a mission to ski four million vertical feet in a year.
What hiking was for Cheryl Strayed, skiing became for Steph: a crucible in which to crack open her life and get to the very center of herself. But she would have to break herself down—first physically, then emotionally—before she could start to rebuild. And it was through this journey that she came to understand how to be a woman, how to love, and how to live authentically.
Electrifying, heartfelt, and full of humor, Unbound is Steph’s story—an odyssey of courage and self-discovery that, like Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, will inspire readers to remove their own restraining devices and pursue the life they are meant to lead.
About Steph Jagger
Steph Jagger splits her time between Southern California and British Columbia where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She holds a CEC (certified Executive Coach) degree from Royal Roads University and she believes courageous living doesn’t happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber.
What I thought:
Although I was a fan of Wild and Eat, Pray, Love (to which this book is compared), I am not a fan of self-help, self-discovery mumbo-jumbo. Although Jagger does delve into hallucinogenic dreams, listening to her inner voice, vagina worshiping and some gong cleansing, this is not one of those books. Jagger’s quest of self-discovery is balanced with her sense of self-deprecating humor. I could forgive her a bit of “mumbo-jumbo” because I was laughing so hard.
My favorite portion of the book depicted her New Zealand leg. One of her first introductions to the country is the entire plane spontaneously launching into John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” What a Kiwi friendly introduction to the country. As she described the mountains, hills and surroundings of “Middle Earth” and the true friendly sincerity of the inhabitants, I wanted to tag along. I think I even blurted out to The Hubs, “Got your passport yet?”
The beauty of the country didn’t keep New Zealand from kicking her ass with one misadventure after another:
From the moment I first arrived in New Zealand, I’d had a tumultuous relationship with her mountains—day after day of weather delays, truckloads of shit, nutcrackers, and more weather delays. It seemed clear that the mountains of New Zealand weren’t all that interested in having me on them. I took my fall in Whakapapa as their final warning. (138)
Please note that Whakapapa (New Zealand’s largest ski resort) is pronounced “Fack-a-papa” which Jagger soon realizes should have been her “first facking clue to steer clear.”
Even as Jagger “explodes” at “a Michael-Schumacher’s-Formula-One kind of speed,” she meets it all with humor (at least after the fact). I won’t share her explicit prayer as she realizes she is experiencing the wipe out of all wipe outs.
New Zealand wasn’t all bad. She experienced the people, met a potential love of her life (and a lust of her life), and her rental car had JJ Cale in the CD player (added bonus). Jagger later reveals that her life changes in New Zealand. This ass-kicking was a catalyst. Her goal of the trip shifted from one trying to ski 4 million vertical feet to discovering who she wanted and needed to be.
She starts her journey as a goat-ram—“a woman whose only way of relating to the world is to man up” (152). Her competitive nature is the reason she set off on another “I can do it better than you” quest. Let’s just say that she skied into another person.
My culinary inspiration as inspired by Unbound:
This is not a culinary-themed memoir but there was lots of food found in the pages of Unbound.
- Mushroom Pizza 28
- King of Sushi 35
- “Meat Seats” (steaks and tomatoes) 56
- Lentil soup 63
- Pizza at Chris’ 69
- Fresh trout 79
- Waffles out of a back of a van 84
- Bratwurst “thingies” 111
- Rhubarb Pie 115
- Bavarian schnitzel 139
- Buckets of white wine 142
- Pickled herring, Christmas ham, nasi goreng and gado-gado, suckling pig and coconut milk (145) (These were not all served at the same meal. )
- Banana pancakes, ginger tea and peanut sauce 147
- Chicken satay 149
- A good frittata 166
- Miso soup and steaming hot ramen 176
- Sake and strange pickled fish 182
- “a beautiful Chiquita banana” 188
- New York bagels 216
- “Pizzapastawine” 231
- Italian breakfasts 232
- Sauteed porcini mushrooms and pecorino cheese 232
- Wild fennel 233
- Charcuterie platters, wine (all colors), braised lamb shank, cutlets of veal, pasta, tiramisu, coffee and cognac 235
- Bison burgers 251
- Fish tacos 258
See, that’s a pretty long list. Jagger had to have a lot of calories to ski those miles. Notice that the food follows the geography of her travels from Chile (Meat seats and lentil soup) to Bali, Japan, Italy, Wyoming, and finally, San Diego.
I wanted to make that lentil soup that she and her skiing partner ate for every lunch while in Cerro Catedral (Patagonia). The ate so much of this soup their “pee started to smell weird.” (That’s a great endorsement to make this soup, don’t you think? My motivation came from her description that it was sooooo good that they ate it every day.)
Lentil Soup with Chorizo
Hearty and delicious and inspired from reading Unbound
- 1 c. lentils, rinsed
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 (15 oz. can) diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 3 c. chicken stock
- 7 oz. diced Spanish chorizo
- Combine the lentils and water in a large sauce pan. Add bay leaf. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until limp, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, celery, carrot and bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes more, stirring often.
- Remove the bay leaf from the lentils.
- Add the veggies, tomatoes, potato, chicken stock and chorizo to the lentils and simmer until potatoes are cooked and fork tender.
Yield: 6 hearty servings.
I used French lentils. You can also make this with a bulk sausage, just brown and fully cook the sausage before adding it to the pot. For a vegetarian friendly version, leave out the sausage and use vegetable stock.
This is a hearty dish and I would eat it everyday for lunch as well if I could.
You can check out my review of Unbound on Goodreads.
Sharing this with Deb’s Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen.