I do believe it’s time for another adventure!


Last year I was on a trip by myself. I don’t mind traveling alone, I dive and read during the day and go to bed early. It’s really quite lovely. But I decided on that trip that the next one was not going to be alone. And alone I was not. I just returned from a trip to St. Maarten with 21 other people. Arriving, I knew 4 of these people but spent the week getting to know the other 17. Awesome group, so much fun!
As has become the norm with me and air travel, my flight did not exactly go off without a hitch! As you might remember from an earlier post I try to stay positive and not stress about things that are out of my control. I stayed calm and read a book when we boarded and sat at the gate.  The departure time came and went and we were still sitting there. The pilot came on to let us know that we were just waiting for the baggage to be loaded, another 10 minutes he said.  20 minutes later, the pilot came back and told us that there was an “issue”.  He said that our luggage had been loaded onto a plane headed for Cuba!  What? How does that happen?!?!?! Fortunately the plane headed for Cuba had to be de-iced and wasn’t in the air yet.  It was taxiing though, so it had to turn around and come back to the gate.  Our luggage was unloaded from that plane and loaded onto our plane, and TWO HOURS later we were on our way! It’s interesting because before take off I always say a prayer asking God to get the plane safely to the destination. Based on my last flight when I landed in Albuquerque and my luggage was still in Toronto, I added to the prayer. I also asked God to ensure that my luggage arrived in St. Maarten with me.  I said this prayer 5 minutes before the pilot told us about the issue!
When people mention excursions or tours on vacation I cringe. I get very bad motion sickness. Anything that starts with “We will pick you up in a van/shuttle/bus at your hotel at 7:30 am” makes me feel ill just thinking about it. So when there was mention of all of us going on a tour, I was hesitant. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, I just didn’t want to spend the entire day feeling terrible.
The group wanted to rent a boat and go to the other islands around St. Maarten. But going to the tour desk and booking the tour (like most tourists do) just seemed too boring and mainstream. Instead we stopped a guy walking down the beach wearing a lifejacket. Seriously. We asked him if he knew where we could get a boat to rent.  He did.  He said he knew a guy (I can’t make this stuff up). In the morning, 2 vans showed up. The driver said “Are you going on the boat trip?”  The question didn’t seem very specific to me.  We’re on a Caribbean island, there are probably a lot of people going on a “boat trip”. But we said yes and got in the van.  We drove for about 15 minutes and pulled into the parking lot of an Italian restaurant with gates on the front of the building.  I thought it was a bit concerning, in addition to the gates I didn’t see any water. (This reminds me of the trip to the Polish Yacht Club, a yacht club with no water in site!) The driver took us through a door next to the restaurant.  What we walked into was a beautiful wooden bar with a marina in the back.  Who knew?
Despite the sketchiness of how the whole booking process went down, there were 2 nice boats with 2 amazing guides. It was indeed the price that the guy in the lifejacket on the beach quoted us! We had an AMAZING day! Our first stop was Tintamarre. We jumped off the boat, swam, snorkelled and saw 3 turtles! Next we headed to Pinel Island.  The island is a nature reserve but there is a restaurant, bar and lounge chairs and umbrellas to rent for the day.  This beach is picture perfect! Our next stops were Creole Rock for more snorkelling and Friars Bay Beach which, being on the French side, was topless much to the delight of the guys in our group.
Lunch was at a “local” restaurant in Grand Case. This is not the type of restaurant that I would necessarily have gone into if I had been walking down the street. BUT as we know, never judge a book by it’s cover (or a restaurant by it’s facade – more similarities to the Polish Yacht Club). The BBQ was fantastic!  Ribs or chicken with 5 side dishes on each plate!
What an incredible day! Not everyone is comfortable going off the beaten path and finding locals to take you out, but it is more often a far better and authentic experience than booking the trip through the tour desk. In fact, as we were coming back into the marina we saw an enclosed boat going out with rows of tourists looking out the windows.  I was sad for those poor tourists!
A Caribe Cargo ship went down in Hurricane Luis in 1995. This was the destination of the first of 4 dives that I did in St. Maarten. It was an amazing dive!  70 feet down, I saw turtles, many sharks (3-5 foot reef and nurse sharks), huge lobsters, a giant stingray hiding in the sand and a barracuda which I steered clear of!
An amazing trip with new friends and old, fun, relaxation and adventure! Hope they invite me back next year!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the wind in your sails.

Your Turn to Make a RUCKUS ~ Seth Godin


Writing this post is a huge step out of my comfort zone.  Part of me, well really most of me, doesn’t want to publish it.  But I have come to realize that, when we have that fear, is when we know that it’s exactly what we need to do.  So I am going to tell you something that I haven’t really ever shared.  It’s how I thought, what I wrongly believed for the past 42 years…

I have been living my life, quietly, waiting for other people to take the lead, happy to follow but never really thinking it was my place to lead.  Never thinking that I was smart enough to speak my mind, make a decision… when I say this out loud I realize how ridiculous it sounds.  But I just didn’t have the self confidence to believe that I had a say in things… even my own life.  I left it up to other people to decide things, including what my opinion should be on, well, everything.  I think my opinion on things changed depending on who I was talking to at the time!  It was like I thought I didn’t know enough, I thought everybody else was more knowledgeable and therefore they must have the “right” opinion.
I feel like I’ve spent my life waiting for somebody to come and tell me what to do next.  I kinda felt like that was how it was supposed to be.  I would ask other people what type of job I should have, where I should live.  And I would do what they told me, even when I knew in my heart it wasn’t what I really wanted. I was asking people smarter than me, so they must have the right answer… right?
I received a gift from one of my coaches recently. It is an amazing book and it truly has changed the way I think.  There have been many influences which have helped me to change my mindset in the past year but this book just screamed it at me.  It is a book by Seth Godin, who if you don’t know him, is a best-selling author / blogger / entrepreneur / speaker.  The name of the book is (and I love this) “What to do when it’s your turn [and it’s always your turn]
When I received the book I quickly flipped through it and on the first page it says
Your turn to:
Speak up.
Stand out.
Build a following.
Market a product.
Make a connection.
Solve an interesting problem.
Write, sing, invent, create, ask a question, launch a project, organize a protest, open the door for someone, question authority, make a short film, direct, produce, create, or adopt.
Learn a new skill.
Help someone who needs you.
Be missed if you’re gone.
and at the bottom it says “YOUR TURN TO MAKE A RUCKUS”  – I love it!
I feel like this book was written for me!  That’s exactly how I feel with all of the crazy things I’m doing now.  It’s my turn to make a ruckus!  I am no longer sitting quietly and waiting.  I may will do things that other people don’t agree with. I have no idea what the path looks like, but I’m following my vision and trying new things. One (or more) of them will be the right thing.  Did I mention the latest?  I just signed up for a Travel Writing course!  I love to travel and I love to write… sounds perfect!
It’s really quite liberating to take control of my own life.  I now make the decisions.  I get to decide that I am going to go after some pretty crazy goals and dreams. It’s like a new found freedom!
I was just reading Seth Godin’s book when it struck that I needed to tell this story.  I read the line “If you demand that everything that happens be something you are adequately prepared for, we wonder if you’ve chosen never to leap in ways that we need you to leap”.  This relates to the post from a couple of weeks ago about having courage.  I just need to do things even when I don’t have any idea how to do them. And even if the people “smarter” than me don’t think it’s a good idea. I’ll figure it out, or maybe I won’t and I’ll move onto the next thing. But living a life of boredom and safety and doing what others think I should do, is no longer an option.

If you judge a book by it’s cover, you might miss out on an amazing story

Every week I think about the fact that I need an idea, something to write about.  In the beginning it concerned me, but over the past four months I have come to realize that I will do or read or hear something and I will just know what to write.  To add to that there are now people who are reading the posts who are “challenging” me to EPIC adventures.  I think they’re hoping to become famous, as a character in one of my posts 😉
I showed up for lunch with two friends in Troy, Michigan on Friday.  I assumed we would go to a nice restaurant in the suburb of Detroit, have good conversation and that would be the end of it.  I was going for the company, I hadn’t really thought about the location.
When I arrived they asked if I was ready for an EPIC adventure.  Absolutely, I replied. Ok, but it’s a surprise they told me.  I was a little scared…
We started driving down I-75 South towards Detroit, when we got south of 8 Mile the fear increased! Then we headed east… this really isn’t the direction you want to be going…
We exited the highway and the first thing we saw were two police cruisers and a vehicle with all of the doors and the trunk open being searched…
We continued driving, deeper into what I will call the ghetto.  There are few people, there are many burned out, abandoned buildings.
We pulled up in front of a building, which at first glance you would think was abandoned.  The windows are covered with screens, it’s not very welcoming.  There is a guy out front who waves and points to a parking spot on the street.  We park and give him $10 to “watch” the car.  I am certain that this man had no ability to provide security if someone were to make an effort to steal the car, but I’m ok with helping out a local guy trying to make a living in a neighbourhood with few job opportunities.
If you don’t do a lot of crazy things when you’re young, you won’t have funny stories to tell when you’re old!
There is a small sign above the door that says “Polish Yacht Club”.  This is interesting as there isn’t a body of water anywhere near this place.
Eleven years ago when I traveled around the world, my brother said to me “nobody wants to hear stories about you sitting by the pool at the Marriott”. I still remember those words.  Stories and experiences don’t happen on the beaten path.  Taking adventures and trying new things are what life is made of. So we went in.  The restaurant was established in 1909 and really not much has changed since!  The table we sat at had a few chairs, a church pew and a plastic table cloth.  The room had so much to look at including the wall of photos of the past commodores (again, interesting due to the lack of somewhere to dock a boat) and an old grandfather clock with the bottom hollowed out, now housing bottles of hot sauce!?!?
It was worth the trip to the bathroom – I felt like I was in my great-grandmother’s house (not my grandmother, my great-grandmother!)  There was an old vanity with a large bouquet of flowers, lace doilies and other trinkets.  On the other wall there was a shelving unit with the shelves full of bottles and bottles of cream and hairspray circa 1970.  The strangest part of this was, right in the middle of this ancient room they have a motion censored paper towel dispenser… that’s what they decided to update??
The food was great, homemade Polish food.  A testament to this is the fact that the place was full of business men.  I don’t know how people know about this place but it’s busy.
I love places like this, places with character and history and stories.  Places where people have been going for over a century.  If the walls could talk…
It was a very different experience than if we had gone to a chain restaurant!
Veer off of the beaten path, try something different!
If you have a chance to seize a moment that you know will be memorable, grab it!  Always think that the next time may never be the same.
This won’t be a lunch that I soon forget!  And we’ve already planned for the next adventure to another local Detroit establishment… can’t wait!!

The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start ~ John Bingham


I recently read a book called the 4 C’s Formula by Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach.  It is such a simple concept but it was like an AHA moment for me.  The basis of the book is that, when achieving goals or trying to make things happen there are 4 C’s that you go through (and in this order) – Commitment, Courage, Capability and Confidence.  I think this book really struck me as I have been going through this cycle a lot lately.  The really huge message that I got out of this is that you need the Courage before you will have the Capability.  And I think this is what stops most people from reaching their goals.  People think that because they don’t have the Capability or Confidence to do something that they can’t or shouldn’t do it.  You will never have the Capability or Confidence to do something until you do it and you will never do it until you have the Courage.  Seems really simple when I say it but in reality we struggle with it.

It always seems impossible until it’s done ~ Nelson Mandela
If your goal is to run a 5K race but your excuse is that you don’t know how to run, you are lacking the Capability (running) and obviously the Confidence (believing that you can do it).  You will never know how to run until… well until you run!  So you start off running some distance less than 5K, say 1K and you just build on that.  It’s not expected that when you have a goal you will just be able to do it.  You work towards it.  Step small.  The problem is most of us forget that part and think, because we can’t accomplish the end result today, that we can’t do it ever.
I certainly went through this cycle when starting this blog.  I made the Commitment to myself that I was going to do it but I had zero Capability.  I had never written a post before, I had only ever read a handful of blogs… ever.  I had no idea how long a post was supposed to be, how often I should post, what I should write about… zero Capability (and for the record there is no right answer to any of those questions!)  But I somehow found the Courage and just started doing it.  As I write each week my Capability increases.  And this is post #15 and people are still reading it so my confidence is growing.  And this is how we grow. By constantly pushing ourselves to do things that we didn’t know how to do yesterday.  By making what seemed impossible, possible, just by doing it.  And the beauty of it is as your Confidence grows your next Commitment gets bigger!
I definitely needed Courage to start this blog.  I was definitely stepping into fear.  I was definitely stepping out of the comfort zone.
Was it scary? Yes.  Did I know what I was doing? No.  Can I imagine now, not having this outlet and not having the ability to let you know what I’m thinking? Absolutely not!  You see, if we go back to the picture in my first post, when you get out of your comfort zone, that is definitely where the magic happens!  You need to try it… it’s awesome!  Scary, but awesome!
Think about something that you’ve wanted to do but haven’t done.  Why haven’t you done it?  What’s stopping you?  Is it because you don’t know how to do it?  Is it because you don’t think you can do it?  Remember, the Courage comes before the Capability and Confidence.  Just take the first step… Just Do It!
Imagine a new story for your life and start living it ~ Paulo Coelho