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The "Adventure Lab" is an idea incubator and collaborative resource hub for women over 40 who are hungry to create epic adventures, even on a shoestring budget. With a focus on asset-building and mentoring, we deal with the whole person in a way that is inclusive, regardless of financial means, and that creates opportunities for women at risk both in our local communities, and in developing nations.

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You are browsing the archive for asset building Archives - ᘡ Adventure Lab ᘠ ... rock paper estrogen.

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.

Little altars: re-imagining our social networking spaces to empower a life of adventure.

February 24, 2015 in by Sue Braiden

Little Altars

How often do you find yourself wanting to pull the plug on your favourite digital kitchen tables? Facebook and Twitter can be wonderful ways to connect with kindred souls. They can also become noisy, toxic drains of energy, contentment and peace.

How do we look at the virtual kitchen tables that we choose to put our elbows on, including the ones we do here, and re-imagine them as the healthy, happy spaces we want them to be?

I had an “Aha!” moment today. A few things came up on my Facebook feed that lifted me up in a wonderful way. As I was sitting there thinking about it, trying to imagine how I might distill that moment into one of intent, it occurred to me that I try to treat my Facebook wall as a “little altar”: a place to leave gifts for myself, and for my friends to discover, that allow me to invest my energy in ways that uplift and inspire, that invite reflection and action, and that feed my own soul.

It might be a tiny thing, to simply change the way that we -think- about our shared virtual playgrounds, but the shift is an important one. Our attitudes drive so much of both our emotional well being, and also our physical health. If we’re going to prepare ourselves to have epic adventures, it makes sense to surround ourselves with the people and things and thoughts that move us forward in significant ways.

It occurs to me that this is an example of “the positive flip,” something a colleague once taught me to embrace. In a nutshell, it’s the difference between asking “what works?” instead of “what’s broken?” We tend to see life as a series of problems to be solved, and this “problem addiction loop” comes with a lot of baggage attached. I want to take some time to share a bit more thinking on these two things in a post of their own, because as tools they are very, very empowering.

When you think about this shift of perspective in the context of how it empowers a life of adventure, it makes a whole lot of sense. We learn the wisdom of packing light; and how jettisoning the heavy baggage frees us up to get off the beaten path, go further and deeper into wonderful places.

Instead of focusing on the work of the journey, we can simply enjoy the journey itself.

What kinds of treasures do you love tucking into your own “little altars”? How do they shape you as a person, as an ally and friend? When you’re thinking about a life of adventure, how can you use them to lead the way?

Why not join me at our own kitchen table to share your thoughts?

Visual Soul Pepper: a fun way to begin equipping yourself for adventures!

February 13, 2015 in , by Sue Braiden

Building our capacity to create happy, healthy, epic adventures. The assets that we’re going to focus on here at the Adventure Lab are focused on our internal toolkit. They are “a way of being” combined with “character” and “know-how”. Consider these intrinsic assets as a sort of bank account that we can make deposits into to invest in future adventures, and withdrawals from when we launch them. They have tremendous worth. These assets are our “super powers”!

Let’s get our hands dirty and do something!

Baby steps, right? Ever pinned a picture to your fridge as a motivator for some goal you’d like to achieve? Well, this is sort of like that 🙂

Let’s make a YOU map. Let’s pick some of the words that paint a picture of the kind of Adventure Diva you want to be. Let’s use them to create a visual that we can stick to our computer desktop, or print out and frame to keep that in sight.

I’ve got just the tool. C’mon in and check it out …

Boundless Adventures: busting the myth of limitations, baby!

February 12, 2015 in , , by Sue Braiden

Sue Austin goes deep-sea diving in her wheelchair!

Reason #107 why I frigging love my job: I get to research Adventure Divas who have been out there proving that our notion of limitations is pure B.S., AND fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole at the same time 😉 Tell me it’s not a great job when you get to be inspired by a woman who goes deep-sea diving in her wheelchair, another who does belly dancing in the same, and a quadruple amputee who lost all of her limbs to bacterial meningitis, and is kicking butt as a fashion model? Remind me again why I think I can’t have epic adventures? Yeah …

Assets: our “Super Powers” for creating epic adventures!

February 2, 2015 in by Sue Braiden

Exactly what kind of “assets” are we talking about when we want to “build our capacity” to create happy, healthy, epic adventures?

While extrinsic resources — especially the “money” part of things — can certainly ease our way into adventures of all shapes and sizes, the assets that we’re going to focus on here at the lab have more to do with our internal toolkit. They are “a way of being” combined with “character” and “know-how”.

Consider these intrinsic assets as a sort of bank account that we can make deposits into to invest in future adventures, and withdrawals from when we launch them. They have tremendous worth. These assets are our “super powers”!

Each of us is equipped with a unique set of assets. With each new adventure, we may find we are called on to meet it with something we feel we don’t have quite enough of yet.

C’mon in and let’s talk about the assets YOU want to work on next!

On embracing vulnerability as an asset, and banishing shame.

in by Sue Braiden

On embracing vulnerability as an asset, and banishing shame.

Seems like a heavy talking point in a space about adventures, doesn’t it? Let’s just call it “clearing the log-jam” that causes some of us to stumble right out of the gate.

ALL of us want to have adventures, but sometimes we struggle with the unspoken idea that we don’t entirely deserve them.

Seem silly? More people struggle with this than you might realize! There are a whole lot of reasons for this, and we’re going to devote an entire section on unpacking them really soon.

For now, let’s just acknowledge that “vulnerability” and “shame” can be stumbling blocks that get in the way of even starting to plot our adventures, and put them into a context that helps us find our way through.

We have all, at some point in our lives, experienced deep and profound shame. We are also likely to have caused it for someone else. This is not a kind part of human nature.

Today I found a teacher in an unlikely place. She is a person whose caricature has been allowed to stand in her place for 16 years. She became a pariah at the tender age of 22, and remains an almost universal allegory for the fall from grace. I am ashamed to admit that, like most of the public, I have been guilty of holding this young woman in a place of disdain for many years. I allowed the media circus to define both her truth and her value.

16 years later, Monica Lewinsky did something impossible: she stood up and became an advocate, and a voice of wisdom, about something that everyone of us has felt, witnessed and perpetuated.

You did it too, didn’t you? — flinched when I just said her name. I’m inviting you to invest the next 25 minutes to listen to something that will change the way you think not only about Monica Lewinsky, but about the internet, about assumptions, and about the responsibility we each bear to create safe spaces that don’t include shaming. Click on the tab to the right when you’re ready to listen to what Monica has to say.

This talk affected me in the same way that vulnerability researcher Brené Brown’s callings-out do, and I’d encourage you to take a few more minutes to listen to those too. You’ll find that I’ve shared them in a tab to the right as well.

I suspect every single one of us will find a take-away in these moments of wisdom, first, from Monica, and then from Brené. At a time when such big parts of our lives are lived online, openly, publicly, fragile-ly, taking the blinders off and thinking about the impact of that is a very good thing.

Give your inner critic a hall pass: Janet Echelman on using imagination and trusting your gut to fuel your own epic adventures.

December 10, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Janet Echelman - TED 2011

Janet Echelman’s TED Talk on taking imagination seriously was a brilliant piece of serendipity for me when I discovered it in 2012, and worth sharing as a tool for adventure divas struggling with doubt.

Having been rejected by seven different art schools after graduation, Janet forged out to become an artist on her own terms. That faith in herself was eventually rewarded with a Fulbright scholarship, and a trip to India. The loss of her art tools enroute led to an accidental discovery that changed her life, and saw her heading up the development of entirely new concepts and programs in architecture, engineering and art.

She shares her journey in this 10 1/2 minute TED Talk, and went on to elaborate on the value of taking imagination seriously in a subsequent article that appeared in the Huffington Post. I found this little snippet full of wisdom and power:

When developing an idea, I remind myself not to start with compromise. I envision the ideal manifestation of the idea, as if I had no limits in resources, materials, or permission. I’ve learned there’s a cost to eliminating options too soon, as some might be more viable than they initially appear.

In early design phases, I try to give my “inner critic” a hall pass to get lost for a while, and that goes for external critics as well. When ideas are young and vulnerable, criticism can be lethal.

I try to imagine my goal as a reality, and then work backwards to figure out all the steps I need to take to make it so. I look to the examples of people who accomplished unimaginable changes. Sometimes, I try to imagine how Gandhi must have felt as he set off on the Salt March, somehow believing his footsteps could change nations. He was able to hold the final vision in his mind, and understand each step needed to make it reality. We all have the potential to do that, but it’s a skill that takes practice.

You can see more of Janet’s beautiful sculptures at her web site, and learn more about how her willing “suspension of disbelief” has turned magical brainstorming into something larger than life:

http://www.echelman.com/

How Drew Carey’s “Mimi” ditched the pancake makeup and obnoxious bent to help make you “Queen of Your Own Life”.

August 12, 2014 in , , by Sue Braiden

How Drew Carey's "Mimi" ditched the pancake makeup and obnoxious bent to help make you "Queen of Your Own Life".

She’s not Drew’s Mimi anymore! Kathy Kinney wants to make you the Queen of Your Own Life!

You’re going to find that we’re really into “asset building” as a way of helping ourselves get ready for awesome adventures. In a nutshell, it’s a way of taking stock of the things we are equipped with to meet life’s challenges, and figuring out where we need to shore things up, or sometimes add new things to our toolkit altogether. Things like determination, strength, resilience, self-esteem and courage don’t always come as easily as we wish they would, so we’re going to do our best to share resources and create spaces that help you build these assets — and many others — for yourself.

While this may sound like dull, boring work, it’s anything but! In fact, I’ve got a terrific tool I want to give you for your kit to get you started.

I wanted to share this with you because it’s something really simple that inspires me throughout the week, without it needing a lot of time or attention.

If you’ve ever watched “The Drew Carey Show”, you’ll likely remember a really over-the-top character named Mimi. She wore gaudy blue eye shadow and was obnoxious as hell. She was played by an actress named Kathy Kinney who couldn’t be more opposite that character than a person could be.

She’s gone on to do some really neat things, including writing children’s books and producing and acting in a show for kids, but the coolest thing is this little project she has with her friend, Cindy Ratzlaff. They run a blog called “Queen of your own life” and send out newsletters with these little tiny nuggets of wisdom tucked in each week. They’ve drawn from their blog to create a quirky and equally insightful book, with the same intention of helping women claim happiness in midlife.

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!

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