Lifestyle | July 28, 2022

Friend of Ned: Xavier Bravo

By Rory Coulter
Friend of Ned: Xavier Bravo
Meet Xavier Bravo — Outward Bound field instructor and Friend of Ned. We chat with him about our favorite organization, helping youth to connect with nature and become environmentally conscious leaders, and the joys of waking up to birdsong.

Ned: How would you describe yourself?

Xavier: If I could summarize my personality into a single word I think I would choose curious! I’m curious about other people, I’m always trying to explore new places, and I like to learn new skills. I think 90% of learning happens outside of a traditional classroom setting and you should never stop trying to improve yourself. Learning is a lifelong skill that has the potential to not only improve one’s perspective of themselves, but improve their relationships with friends, family, and strangers alike. I think my sense of curiosity is what has allowed all the opportunities in my life to present themselves and pushed me well out of my comfort zone so I can continually grow.

Ned: Can you tell us about COBS and your impact as a field instructor?

Xavier: The Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) is an outdoor education organization that promotes technical and socio-emotional learning for its students. Every outing we challenge them to be socially effective and environmentally conscious leaders by using the natural environment and outdoor education principles to promote their strength of character, leadership abilities, and desire to serve others. In the end, they gain a powerful perspective on their lives, their communities, and how they fit into a global landscape. Personally, I hope in my field instructor role I can introduce our students to the wonders of the outdoors and they can develop a sense of stewardship to protect it as they are the future of this Earth.

Ned: What are the core values that guide you in your daily life?

Xavier: Family, honesty, and curiosity. I have been very fortunate to grow up in a family as close, loving, and supportive as mine. I grew up within a 5 min drive from grandparents’ houses (on both sides) and they, along with my aunts, uncles, and cousins would watch out for us when my sister and I were young. Many people would think their Mom, Dad, siblings, and maybe even their dogs to be immediate family, but I consider all of my “extended” family to be. I feel like honesty summarizes a lot of other values people hold close (truth, authenticity, loyalty, etc.) but with more emotional intentionality. People feel safe around those that are honest to them and they can be honest with. It is the fastest way to bring down barriers and attract other people who value the same traits. As far as curiosity goes, I kind of explained this before but there is so much to learn about the world and those around you that it would be a mistake not to take advantage of it. When I think about this, I’m often brought back to the idea of sonder: the fact that every single person on earth - from your parents, to the random stranger you pass by for a split second on the street, and even those across the globe you’ll likely never meet - live a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Ned: What brings you the most joy?

Xavier: I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint one thing that brings me the most joy persay, but I have a bunch of little moments in life that bring me joy: when a butterfly unexpectedly flies in front of me, sipping warm tea by a window while reading a good book, rocking back and forth in a hammock and soaking in the sun, discovering groovy new music, and spending time with my family. The more I talk about it honestly, the more I realize this list could go on forever, which I’m very grateful for.

Ned: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Xavier: It was a quote a very good friend of mine shared from the famous author Albert Camus: “Live to the point of tears.” I love this small adage because it reminds me that life is always going to be a rollercoaster of emotions and that I should embrace them wholeheartedly, both the good and the bad. The events that bring me tears of joy and tears of pain are equally a human experience and that I should never feel embarrassed to show one or another. There is no happiness without ever having felt the pain of sadness, and we should welcome sorrow as it reminds us we have once felt the warmth of bliss.

Ned: What’s the kindest thing anyone’s ever said/done for you?

Xavier: Honestly, it happens daily by people simply giving me a chance: a chance to speak my mind, a chance to work a certain job, or a chance to be their friend. The world can sometimes feel overwhelming with all of its bad news, but the fact that people decide to push away that pessimism and welcome me with open arms into certain communities or relationships is always appreciated. I will never lose sight of the fact that it takes an incredible amount of trust and courage to give someone those chances at times and it is always a beautiful connection when it happens.

Ned: What’s something you’ve learned this past year?

Xavier: I’ve learned to be more flexible with my plans. I live pretty religiously by my calendar, penciling in even the smallest events so I don’t forget them. As the world felt like it was crashing down around most of us this past year, I - like many others - had opportunities canceled left and right. I’ve learned to take advantage of moments like that to be more spontaneous or even dedicate a little more time for self-care. During my formal schooling years, I was always involved in many extracurriculars and after I graduated, I didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship with my free time, so what did I do? I got 3 jobs. But this year allowed me to reset my priorities and realize what is truly important for me to have a better work-life balance.

Ned: What’s wellness to you?

Xavier: Wellness for me is a triangle between mind, body, and spirit. Usually I find that if I exercise regularly and have a nutritional diet, I feel more energized and have a ton more self-confidence. This also has a positive feedback loop on my mentality because if I physically feel good, my mind will want to exercise more too. Mentally, if I feel great, I’ll have enough energy to socialize with family, friends, and strangers alike. When I feel drained, I typically recede into a non-social headspace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (time to yourself for introspection and reflection is necessary too), but I just find that I notice myself socializing more if I am feeling good mentally as well. As far as spirituality goes, I’m not necessarily talking about religion, but feeling part of something greater than yourself. That can be something like your community, a certain activity group, or one with nature. Growing up in America, I think competition and rugged individualism is taught to us - both directly and subconsciously - and it feels good to fight against the notion that we are alone in this world and have to fight our way to the top. When I feel part of something greater, I tend to want to help others more. I think the world would be a better place if we all felt a little more connected to each other than we do now.

Ned: What’s your best tip for managing stress?

Xavier: Exercise or some sort of activity that gets your body moving. All of our bodies are different and you just have to find the right way your body responds positively to movement! Dancing, running, climbing, lifting, swimming, walking, yoga, stretching, and so much more I could never get them all down on paper.

Ned: What’s a super simple practice you do that’s improved your life?

Xavier: Turned off my push notifications for all the apps on my phone. I don’t check social media as often, I don’t get distracted as often like when my phone was always vibrating, and I can stay more present when I’m with friends and family instead of having that nagging feeling that I should reply to something that's waiting for me on my phone. I sometimes put on my “Do Not Disturb” mode if I have something really important I have to get done but I usually don’t want to miss calls from family so I find turning off the push notifications just as helpful.

Ned: What’s the smallest change you’ve made that’s had the biggest impact?

Xavier: Going to bed earlier. I used to be so bad at going to bed at a reasonable hour that my parents thought I suffered from insomnia. Sometimes, my sleep cycle got so bad it eventually corrected itself because I would wake up hours later than the previous day! I still wouldn’t consider myself a “morning” person but I don’t feel like death when I wake up anymore which is a win in my book.

Ned: What’s something you want to start doing?

Xavier: I want to start managing my money a little more intelligently. Invest, diversify, save, etc. It does nothing for me just sitting in my checking account, and I need to start paying off my student loans! I also want to retire at a reasonable age so I don’t spend my golden years working when I could be playing.

Ned: What’s something you want to stop doing?

Xavier: I hope to stop procrastinating on washing the dishes. Sometimes I let them “soak” just a little too long, and it builds up to an hour long dishwashing session when it could have been a one minute session every time.

Ned: What’s your morning ritual?

Xavier: Wake up around 7 or 8am to my birdsong alarm (I love this alarm and have never gotten tired of it), listen to my Google Home tell me my news of the day (often I am in the woods and don’t know what’s going on in the world so it’s nice to catch up on it when I get the chance), listen to music while I shower and brush my teeth and, something that I picked up from a friend, eat my food in silence - no music, no tv, no phone. It helps me connect with my food more and appreciate where it came from and all the labor it took to get to my plate.

Ned: What’s your bedtime ritual?

Xavier: Around 10 or 11pm, I typically wind down for bed by turning off all electronics and placing my phone a couple feet from my bed so I’m not tempted to reach for it. I’ll brush my teeth and floss one last time, and fill up a cup of water to put by my bedside while I cozy up under some blankets and read a good book until my eyelids get heavy. Nothing special but it helps my mind relax a little more.

Ned: Who do you follow that really inspires you?

Xavier: Anyone who does work in and for their communities is always a source of inspiration for me. There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of unsung heros doing some sort of community organizing and activism right now that is changing the lives of thousands of people for the better. They sacrifice their time, energy, and resources to help others and I think many don’t get the credit they deserve for the incredible work they do every day.

Ned: What’s something you’re grateful for?

Xavier: I am grateful to have a family as supportive as my own. You don’t choose who your parents are or what kind of parents they will be, but to have someone that will champion your cause and love you unconditionally is all I could ever ask for. It has allowed me to pursue my dreams and stand back up after failures. They have shown me what it means to have a strong work ethic, resilience, humility, kindness, authenticity and so many other qualities that make a well-rounded individual and I am grateful to them for that.

Ned: What’s something that would make the world a better place?

Xavier: I think if we all danced a little more we would be much happier as a species :)

Ned: What’s your favorite Ned product and why?

Xavier: Sleep Blend because I love a good night’s rest and think it sets the tone for the rest of my day!

Want to wake up to birdsong too? Go into your Health App (the red heart with the white background), choose the “Sleep” health category, set a recurring alarm that will tell you when to wind down for the night and when to start waking up in the morning, and select the birdsong option. Xavier says: “What’s nice about this, as opposed to the normal alarm my iPhone has, is the alarm gradually gets louder so I’m not sprung awake by a blasting sound.”


“Outward Bound's mission is very close to our own mission here at Ned of helping people find a deeper connection to the natural world. As a teenager, I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend an Outward Bound course in Maine. That course would change my life. Today, one of my greatest honors is the opportunity to pay it forward and provide others with scholarships. All thanks to you, Ned has been able to donate thousands to Outward Bound, enabling countless youth to connect with nature and become environmentally conscious leaders.”
—Ret, co-founder of Ned and member of the Colorado Outward Bound’s Board of Advocates


Outward Bound is looking for new field instructors!