About Ell

When I was little (after realizing I could never grow up to be a professional race-car driver), I decided I’d grow up to be a field journalist. I wanted to interview people, learn their stories, and then write about them. This trek is a realization of that dream.


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Toes in the sand. It’s a metaphor for me—active, participating, and searching. It also symbolizes stillness for me, a feeling that’s eluded me my whole life—until I started this trek.

Not long ago I became an empty nester. My two youngest went off to college far away. When I realized they didn’t need me anymore, I began searching for a new purpose in my life.


I tried to make my purpose my sweetie. But he was just fine. I tried to make my purpose my friends. But they were just fine. I pondered writing my fifth novel. But it didn’t seem like the right time. I tried sewing and making things with my Cricut, and then I found myself binge-watching a reality TV show about building things off the grid in Alaska. One night I’d had enough.


That night I lay in bed for six hours with insomnia and was fully miserable. I thought about all the things that were making me so unhappy. Besides feeling as though I had no purpose in life, I also felt the darkness and pain of America in chaos. Every day’s news filled with violence, pain, tragedy, environmental upheaval, and civil unrest assaulted my hope. With every fiber of my being, I felt it.


Then I began to name the things that brought me real joy. Writing. Yes, that definitely brings me joy. But it’s not the right time to write a novel, I thought. Travel. Oh, that certainly makes me happy. Then I thought about God. Then it hit me—pure inspiration.


 When I was little, I dreamed of being a field journalist. I wanted to interview people to learn their stories and then write about them. By the time I was twenty, my dream was violently shoved back and away, irretrievable—or so I thought.


In that moment of inspiration, my mind was illuminated with an idea—a purpose. Right then I imagined trekking across America to witness ordinary people who were compassionately doing good. I decided to interview these people and write their stories to be featured in my next book. Yes, I will chase the light, I thought. That’s when Ell’s Trek across America was born.

Please, help me find ordinary people who are doing good by nominating them.