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You are browsing the archive for Later in Life Archives - ᘡ Adventure Lab ᘠ ... rock paper estrogen.

J. K. Rowling on the Power of Failure and Imagination

March 31, 2016 in , , , by Sue Braiden

J. K. Rowling's inspiring commencement address to Harvard University graduates, June 5, 2008

As adventure divas we may be faced with similar fears: we’re too old, we don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough courage. These old scripts that we read from don’t serve us well. They become self-limiting beliefs, blocking the way to living our fullest lives. How can we possibly have great adventures when we are faced with such daunting challenges?

The power of two simple words — “what if?” — become wonderfully apparent when we look at the incredible journeys of other women who are just like us, and who have shaped inspiring adventures in spite of those challenges.

When I say “women just like us” we might not think of those who have eclipsed any sense of what our own “normal” might be. We might assume that people in positions of power, or lifestyles of privilege or status, are people to whom we could not possibly relate; and in doing so miss the lessons of kindred spirits whose paths started out very much like our own. One of those souls is author J.K. Rowling, one of the richest women in the world, and certainly one of the most renowned in our time.

Would you be surprised to learn that she came from a place of great poverty and suffering, endured domestic violence, and experienced spectacular failure? In spite of this, or perhaps fueled by it, she reinvented her life in inspiring ways, and it’s these experiences that shape the very moving commencement address that she gave to Harvard graduates on June 5th, 2008.

We don’t have to be 20-something to relate to Jo’s chat. Commencement is a wonderful world. It means “to begin”, and for many of us, entering this part of our journey feels like exactly that. In a way, when we enter “act two” in our lives — when our children have grown, when some of us might be retiring from lifelong careers, when we enter that sacred space that is finally “all about us” — we are graduating. And while we are graduating, really, from a lifetime of lessons, some of us may feel woefully ill-equipped to embrace this rich new time in our life.

The case for micro-adventures, and getting out of your own way.

April 22, 2015 in , , by Sue Braiden

I live with something called “Graves Disease.” It reared it’s ugly head the week Hurricane Katrina blew in back in 2005, a fitting harbinger for the health storm that was about to come along for the ride. When I get sick, instead of my immune system attacking the illness, it attacks my organs. There is no cure, and at the moment it’s kicking my butt.

While there’s no magic bullet to knock it down, there are certainly things I could be doing better to manage it. A lot of us underestimate the importance of getting enough rest, managing the stress in our lives effectively, and maintaining a healthy headspace. I’m finding as I get older, ignoring these 3 comes with a much greater price. There are days I am physically ill, others when I can barely hold up the weight of my own head, and more when the pain is crippling.

So how the heck do I expect to live the life of an Adventure Diva with that mess on my plate?

Quite well, not in spite of it, but -because- of it.

Making choices that make me happier, less stressed, help me sleep better and feel more connected are also the choices that will keep me well. Adventure has medicinal effects. It lowers stress, reducing the flow of cortisol that wreaks havoc on our system (high blood pressure, lower metabolism, depression, diabetes and osteoporosis). It releases endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, the “happy drugs” our body self-medicates with, reducing depression and improving memory. It gets us moving, connecting, and changing habits and behaviours that have been feeding into a cycle of at-risk health.

The kicker? You don’t have to be rich to do it, to get out there and start having those adventures.

So I’m on a mission.

I’m going to experiment boldly and broadly until I find the secret sauce: micro-adventures, epic adventures, volunteer adventures, pilgrimages, and more. I’m starting small, and bootstrapping my way up.

Click through to learn more about my journey with micro-adventures, and to share some of your own …

What are you afraid of? (Not much after watching 82-year-old nurse-turned-action-hero, Kay D’Arcy!)

April 20, 2015 in , , , , by Sue Braiden

What are you afraid of? Not much after watching 82-year-old nurse-turned-action-hero, Kay D’Arcy!

Ten years ago if you had asked me what I was afraid of, I would have told you: heights, a world chocolate shortage, and snakes.

Today? Getting old, getting sick, being alone, being irrelevant, peeing my pants and dying.

Aging has a funny way of shifting the lens. (And yes, dignity is often one of the first things to go).

When we understand what we are afraid of, we also understand what we need, and that is the key to asset building.

There are all kinds of clichés I could apply to this (things like “what we fear we give power”, and it would be true), but instead of waxing poetic, I’ve decided I’m going to take that litany of self-conjured horrors and turn it on it’s head. I’m going to turn it into the best damned fuel for a bucket list. Ever.

Isabel Allende, on aging, living with passion, and the wisdom of having fun while doing good.

March 1, 2015 in , by Sue Braiden

Isabel Allende, TED Talk, Vancouver 2014

I fell down a rabbit hole this morning, and it left me anxious to share this TED Talk given by 71-year-old Chilean author, Isabel Allende. There was astonishing synchronicity for me, from the quote she shared by another favourite author, Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one precious and wild life?”

to her invitations to embrace the wisdom of adopting an ageless attitude; of living in the moment; a hearkening to care deeply for others, fueled by her mentor, Olga Murray (another Adventure Diva who found her calling at age 60, rescuing more than 12,000 young girls from domestic bondage, changing both the culture and the laws, and ensuring an education for more than 4,000 children); and even a later revelation, as I went on a hunt to learn more about her, in a serendipitous trip to India (something I have been planning for myself).

As I dug deeper it simply left me overwhelmed. There is so much about this woman that I wanted to come back and share, but I didn’t know where to start. I worried about doing her justice, and finding a simple way to bring back such a complex berth of wisdom and “Aha! moments” that I thought I should simply put this aside.

But I’m learning that it’s best to be in the moment, while it’s fresh and full of life something that Isabel reiterates in her talk), so, I simply asked myself the question: “What do you want to say?”. Click through to learn more.

On the objects of my affection, and the lessons of a captain and his bride.

January 29, 2015 in , by Sue Braiden

The Captain and His Bride

30 years ago I was a very young woman on a very big adventure. Traveling West through several provinces on business, I was treated to a night up in the mountains at the Banff Springs Hotel. My colleagues and I were dining at a table next to the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team, who had just the day before won the Stanley Cup. Their boisterous celebration was eclipsed by this amazing couple, gliding around the ballroom floor with their feet barely touching the ground. They were on a trip around the world, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, and the way they looked at each other made you absolutely, positively believe in true (and lifelong) love.

We sent a bottle of champagne over to their table, and they came and joined us. He introduced himself as “The Captain,” and his wife was simply beaming as they shared stories from their incredible life together.

Their biggest adventure? Raising a family.

To this day their picture remains within reach on my desk. In front of them rests a mala, blessed by the Dalai Llama, and given to me by my friend, Pam, during a really hard time. Next to these treasures is a bird to remind me of my late mum. Every important thing in life is held in celebration here. ❤

In case you hadn’t noticed, age isn’t a 4-lettered word (and how a drag queen’s pink coat might be your next parade) …

August 8, 2014 in , , , by Sue Braiden

In case you hadn’t noticed, age isn’t a 4-lettered word (and how a drag queen’s pink coat might be your next parade) …

It’s cold out today. Last night was so chilly I actually pulled my fleece lounge pants on. This wouldn’t be so surprising if it wasn’t still early in August, the supposed “dog days of summer”.

I was thinking about this as I was making a cup of tea to warm up, and it occurred to me that I had already been pining the “near end” of summer way back in July. I catch myself doing this each year, already ringing my hands over the loss of the precious heat and inevitable slide into fall, even though the season might be just weeks old. As much as I love fall, look forward to picking apples and making pumpkin pies, I never really shake off the notion of it as “an end”.

And this is why I still have not learned to embrace being 51. It feels like my autumn. My hair is more than touched with frost, and there are plenty of the tiny but ever-marching betrayals of my body as it sheds the gifts of youth and becomes something I no longer recognize as myself.

Why does aging come with so much grief? Why do we dread it? Go to such lengths to hide it and push it off? And how do we turn this wasted angst into something more productive that helps us learn to love this very moment where we are right now?

On bucket lists, and planning your own funeral (just because it’s fun)

July 2, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

It’s no surprise that as we get older the topic of death rents a lot more real-estate in our head. We lose parents, friends, and sometimes even our children, with each of these deaths being held up like a mirror reflecting the inevitability of our own.

What we fear we give power.

Why not take it back?

Many of us talk about our “bucket list”. It’s the sexy portmanteau we stuff all the supposedly important things into on our journey to the end, generally cramming it chock full in our heads, but not always taking the time to get it down on paper and sorting it out to map the way. There are all kinds of fiddly bits hanging out: dreams of treks to exotic places, passionate love affairs rekindled with long lost souls, and maybe even writing the Great Canadian Novel. But it would likely be a cold day in hell before you heard the soundtrack from your own funeral trailing lovingly behind. Where on earth would be the fun in that?

While we’re blazing a trail to great adventures with ecclesiastical zeal, is it possible that in overlooking it — that celebration of the glorious end — we’re actually throwing away one of the most powerful tools of all? What if leaving a legacy started with knowing exactly what you hoped people would be saying about you in that colossal eulogy? What kind of person would you hope they’d say you’d been? What kinds of things would they celebrate your having done? And hell yes, while we’re at it, exactly what bloody music IS that playing while they’re all waxing poetic about the saga of your last (and ever so many more) days?

Do you honestly want to picture a bunch of people hunched together sobbing? Wouldn’t it be so much more epic to plan a wake to end all wakes, where people were laughing and spinning inspired tales about the awesomeness of what was gloriously -you- until the wee hours of the day? Hell yes, you would!

Tiny Budget. Big Adventures.

April 4, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Is it possible to have great adventures with very little money, experience or courage? That’s what I’m setting out to find out … Two and a half years ago I moved into a house of my own, newly single for the first time in decades.  Today, turning 51 years old, I’ve neither crumbled nor entirely […]

Ready for the Rocker? You Had Me at “Hell, No!”

April 1, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Are ya ready for the rocker? You had me at "Hell, No!"

Ready to retire to that rocking chair on the porch and gaze off into the sunset now that the kids are grown?  Me neither!  This is where the good stuff starts.

You’ve devoted your life to your kids, your partner, your job, your community.  Maybe you’re about to be an empty-nester.  Maybe you already are.  Maybe you found yourself lopping off big parts of who you were in order to make the choices you’ve made along the way fit.  Maybe, just maybe, you’re finding yourself saying “now it’s time for me” …

Choosing to realign your goals and wishes to be more focused on you isn’t selfish, and act two in your life doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down.  What do you want to do for the first time?  What. do you want to take back?  What do you crave?  Where do you want to reinvest your energy and passion?

So you’re ready for an adventure …

Maybe a big one.  Maybe one that will change your life.  But where to start?  There are so many things to think about, and maybe it seems like it’s just too big to -really- be do-able.

Your first job is actually quite simple, and an awful lot of fun:  you’re going to tell your own story to make it real.  You’re going to describe that perfect moment, that perfect place, that perfect adventure.

Close your eyes.  Picture what it looks like.  How do you feel when you’re there?

That’s where you start.

You’re not going to think about limits.  It doesn’t matter if you think you can afford it, if you’re brave enough to do it, or if you know how.  All you’re going to do right now is dream out loud.

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