This year, I decided to forget about my journalism degree and learn how to master the art of life through my own personal experience.
Sure I say it loud and proud now, but after making the ballsy move to become a college-dropout, I was filled with a sense of shame when friends asked me how school was going.
Until that one time my badass friend, Tracy Mullen, took the initiative and answered the intimidating question for me — “She’s majoring in Life 101.”
Tracy is the kind of woman who understands the importance in taking the time to experience life. She believes it’s what gives us the confidence, determination and strength needed to go for whatever it is your heart desires.
I was quickly drawn to her positive spirit, and raunchy sarcastic humor. So naturally we began to share our big-time dreams (and dirty jokes) with each other.
One day, Tracy explained how she came across the chance to study in Africa, working one-on-one with lions in their natural habitat.
However, like most opportunities there’s always that nagging little “but…” keeping us from fully believing we are capable of achieving our goals, and in this case it was the, “but…they only take graduate students.”
Do you think that stopped Tracy from applying!?
Not a damn chance, because she’s a badass mermaid who is fully aware of what she wants and what she has to offer.
Sure enough, she was accepted into the program and before we knew it Tracy was whisked away to Africa where she spent the summer pursuing her passions while making a difference in our world.
So without further a due, allow me to introduce to you September’s Mermaid of the Month — The Lion Queen, Tracy Mullen.
+ Tell us about yourself.
The name’s Tracy. I moved from Washington State to Hawaii nearly 7 years ago now, and have never looked back. I spend my free time trying to better myself and the world I live in. I believe people should be nice, and I wish more people would cut down their intake of meat. My family means the world to me, and I really love hummus. Oh, and I’m 26 years adventurous.
+ How did you passion for animal conservation begin?
As a kid, I used to tell my friends that I was raised by a pack of wolves and my family had adopted me. I have always felt a connection, not just to nature, but deeply to animals. I constantly had pets, was out trying to capture lizards or snakes, and doing any project in school on animals (my favorite being a Komodo Dragon, of which I had a plastic replica of that I’d take on walks around my neighborhood…I was a weird one). As I got older I realized that these animals I care so much about need help, and they don’t have a way of saying so themselves. I decided I wanted to be that voice for them, I want to create a world where we don’t give one animal our bed to lay in, while another suffers from being unnecessarily killed and packaged for people’s eating pleasures. Where we can’t take away their natural habitat to build a new mall, and then wonder why we have bears wandering through our communities. I want all living species to be equal, so here I am.
+ What was the greatest memory you had interning this summer?
That’s a hard one.
(That’s what she said.) I had so many moments I could say were my favorite. I think my top two would have to be when we darted and transported a full-grown male lion. I was helping take his vitals while sitting in the back of the truck we had him in. Nothing separating me from his 3” K-9’s but a few drops of tranquilizer. You see lions up close, but basically sitting on him and being able to put my hand up to his paw was just awe-inspiring. They are massive creatures!
The other amazing memory is my cubs. When I arrived there, they had two 3 week old cubs who had been abandoned by their mother at 2 days old. So it was the responsibility of my co-intern and myself to take care of them every day. Bottle feeding lion cubs was something I can’t even describe. We watched them grow, introduced them to minced meat, then chunks of meat. Taught them how to play and chase things like lions would, curled up for naps occasionally with them, and became their mothers. Having two cubs run to greet you every afternoon as if you were their actual mother is a time in my life I will never forget. I miss those babies more than I miss basically any human being.
+ Why is it important for our generation to travel?
To open your heart, eyes, soul, spirit, mind…whatever you want to call it. Traveling opens you up to it. Seeing all life in different spectrums gives you such a great perspective on what is really important in the world. In the first world we have become to accustom to what we have at our finger tips, and take the small things for granted. Seeing how people live in other parts of the world helps you understand how good you really have it, and re-evaluate the important parts of your life. When you see this beautiful world for what it is, it also makes you want to help save it.
+ What have you learned from working with animals?
Patience. So. Much. Patience. As I stated before, animals don’t have a voice, so dealing with them can be very trying. They rarely ever do what you are hoping they do, or come around when you’re hoping they will be there. It’s a lot of waiting around, and attempting try after try to get what you need done. But it’s also taught me an amazing amount of compassion and awe. One of my favorite things about some animals is watching their sheer power, then they turn around to carefully groom their new-born. It teaches me respect and makes me humble.
+ Where do you see your passion for animals leading?
To every corner of this planet. Hopefully back to Africa for good, but I plan on going anywhere I can to help create even a little bit of difference in the lives of all wild animals of this world. I would like to be a traveling researcher, having Hawaii always be my home point so I can continue working with shark conservation.
+ What’s your quick fix to happiness?
Whiskey. Ha. Only (slightly) kidding. Being part of the research team at oneoceandiving.com as a student assistant definitely is my happiness fix. To be able to help in whatever way I can, whenever I can, makes me feel like I’m making a difference for the conservation of sharks, which the sharks need all the help they can get. Working with such incredible animals in their natural environment reminds me how we are all a piece to this bigger picture of the world, and even the small steps can go a long way.
+ Share your Mermaid Mantra.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” which translates to something along the lines of wishing for all beings of the world to be happy and free, and hopes that all my words, thoughts, actions of my own life contribute to the happiness and freedom of all those beings.
+ What advice do you have for fellow mermaids.
Make your passion your life. I know that sounds cliché, but coming from someone who has only ever wanted to do one thing with my life-from being laughed at, made fun of, and told it was a ridiculous dream, to making it happen-I am living proof you can do anything you set your heart and mind too.
Also, maybe cut down your ecological footprint. Walk or ride a bike to the store instead of drive, don’t use plastic, buy local, recycle…all that hippie shit you hear on the regular.
Oh, and one last thing, don’t forget to smile along your journey, life is beautiful in every dysfunctional way possible. Love it and embrace it. It’s a magnificent world out there mermaids, give it all you’ve got, every chance you get.
I will never forget the day Tracy got the news — no joke, we screamed like some crying 14-year-old girls at a one direction concert.
She applied with the intention of “hey, at least I tried” and without a doubt Tracy was accepted into the program.
All because she decided to take a chance on life and say to hell with the college graduates, I’ve got experience.
This remarkable woman has inspired me in many different ways and I hope her story encourages you too. I challenge you to take the time and major in Life 101, because when you discover what you want out of life nothing can stand in your way — not even a college degree.
To learn more about Tracy’s conservation mission and what you can do to help visit http://www.lionalert.org
xx Fins & Kisses,