Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Stacey Champion is a champion of air quality. She likes her green eggs and ham with a green approach to building and construction. As the very Diva owner of Champion Indoor Environmental Services, LLC, www.championindoors.com, Ms. Champion is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE).

That’s right- we’re always so concerned about the air outside that we totally forget about the air quality right in our own homes. Stacey was forced to reckon with indoor air quality and environmental issues when her family bought what they would later discover was a “sick house” in 2002. She has been interested in healthy living and green building for as long as she can remember. You might say it’s her favorite color, and it looks great on her!

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this published writer and national speaker has also resided in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Maui, prior to moving to the Verde Valley in beautiful Northern Arizona. In her previous lives she has worked as a freelance writer, the creative director of a theatre, a counselor/coordinator for a teenage group home, and has dabbled in public relations, television casting and advertising. She is currently writing her acceptance speech for an Entrepreneurial Excellence Award under the “Innovator” category by the Sedona Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), for which she serves as past and present Program Chair.

She is also active on the steering committee of Sustainable Arizona (www.sustainablearizona.org) an organization dedicated to creating a healthy and sustainable future. Her favorite quote by Mahatma Gandhi is: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Funny, that’s one of our favorite quotes here at Tango Diva, too!

Never one to just stay at home and enjoy the very clean air there, Stacey Champion is currently in the process of opening Champion Indoors, LLC, which will supply her community with green building materials, educational resources and healthy home furnishings and apparel. She is also slowly but surely writing a book about her journey.

When she is not consumed by her passion, Stacey can be found frolicking by the river near her home in Cottonwood, Arizona with her son Zane and her soul mate Tim, listening to her daughter Leah’s college tales of adventure, welding functional art and sculptures, writing poetry, or laughing with friends. No, no- we’re green with environmental fervor not envy for this renaissance life!

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Visionary Diva Questions:

1. What was the best decision you made in your life?

The best decision that I ever made was to stop living for others and start living for myself! This happened when I started to trust my gut instincts and intuition, and grasp the concept that if I was truly happy with my decisions and life, everything else would fall into place. I tell my clients on a daily basis that “no one has your best interest more at heart than you do” – and I firmly believe this, and apply it to my own life every day. Wish it. Dream it. Do it!

2. What is your most memorable travel moment?

Gosh, I have so many… I guess I would have to say the time that I was on Andros Island in the Bahamas and started playing with a group of children in the street. Their mother came out and we began to chat. She ended up inviting me into their house and taught me how to make conch salad, then sent me on my way with a big Tupperware container of it, along with the recipe and lots of hugs and kisses. It was one of those beautiful moments where you are reminded of the genuine kindness and caring that exists within humanity, no matter how far away from home you happen to be.

3. What was the worst travel experience you had?

When I was in my early 20’s, my girlfriend and I took a 3 ½ month, 10,000 mile road trip. We would split up on occasion to do our own thing. I ended up having to take a Greyhound bus from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM to meet back up with her, and was trapped in the very back seat next to the very smelly bathroom and an obnoxious man who didn’t smell so lovely himself… It was one of the longest days of my life!

4. What have you learned about yourself through traveling?

I have learned that I am the kind of person who definitely thrives being outside of their “comfort zone!” I have learned that the best planned itineraries are bound to have glitches, so it’s imperative to “go with the flow.” I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned when I venture off the beaten path I almost always have an amazing adventure. I have learned to be self-sufficient and creative. I have learned that it’s very important to not judge a book by its cover, or you just may miss out on meeting a potential life-long friend. I have learned the importance of accepting cultural differences and having good manners.

5. If you could choose your ultimate travel companion, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be?

It would have to be a tie between the love of my life, Tim, who is the most amazing travel companion ever, and Hunter S. Thompson, because I know his “perception” would have made me laugh and spew things out of my nose!

6. What moment in your life did you feel the most alive?

Besides giving birth, I would have to say the time when I was on the 3 ½ month road trip… Waking up with a moose standing over me in Banff, Canada, sleeping in a teepee on Vashon Island, Washington and having rain drip on me all night; almost having a grizzly bear encounter in Yellowstone Natl. Park, playing ping pong with Jerry Garcia backstage at a Dead concert in San Francisco, hanging out at the Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico, finally getting to see bighorn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park, it goes on and on! It was an amazing summer in the sense that it changed my life forever, and set me up for having an insatiable thirst for travel and adventure – and not being scared to do it on my own!

7. If money and time were no object, where on earth would you go?

I would start in the Yucatan of Mexico (one of my favorite places), then travel through Central and South America, exploring all of the ruins, rain forests, outlying islands, etc. The different cultures and history fascinate me!

8. Who is your hero?

I have many… Maya Angelou, Mahatma Gandhi, British Philosopher Edmund Burke, Mae West, and Dr. Seuss just to name a few. I love people who live their lives as an example to the rest of us, make it more beautiful, make us think, and are not afraid to piss someone off by standing up for what’s right! I do my best to surround myself with dynamic, positive people, so I’d put them into this category as well, even though they may not be “famous.” I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Well behaved women seldom make history!”

9. Name a place in the world that you know a lot about and would make a great resource for our Divas. Tell us about it.

The Mayan Riviera (Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico is incredible. Though places like Tulum and Playa del Carmen have gotten popular and built up in the last 10 years, I still find it to be a very warm and friendly place. I feel comfortable traveling there alone as a woman, even though my Spanish is only so-so. It’s also pretty easy to get to (flying in from Cancun) but if you want, you can be out in the middle of the jungle or alone on a stretch of beach rather quickly.

10. And finally a word from our Featured Diva, you in your own words- give us a stirring, Diva-worthy battle cry for women everywhere to hear!

Follow your dreams and never use the word “can’t!” We have but one life to live – so make it spectacular! Walk your talk, talk your walk, and don’t forget to leave something positive for future generations to come!!! I would also add that if you have children; teach them how to be great travelers as well. Give them “experiences” versus “stuff” – they’ll thank you for it in the future!

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