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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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Tomorrow is 90. Today’s the day to do it! (…or as Lorraine says: time to grab life by the balls!)

June 11, 2016 in , by Sue Braiden

Every now and then someone points me in the direction of an “Adventure Diva” that’s is just so full of sass that I end up with tears rolling down my cheeks for hours after from laughing so hard.

90-something New Yorker, Lorraine, is one of those sassy divas. She has a channel called “Ask My Neighbor Lorraine” on YouTube. She invites people to ask her questions, and she answers personally, full of hilarious irreverence, colourful epithets and all.

I wish I had this woman over the backyard fence. I’d invite her in for coffee every, single day … 😀

This is one of her tamer responses. Her parting words tell you all you need to know:

“Don’t forget: tomorrow is 90. Today’s the day to do it!”

Cut through the sass, and this woman’s figured out a thing or two in her 90+ years that the rest of us would do well to tap into <3

Making Peace with Your Body and Aging

May 15, 2016 in , by Sue Braiden

Sue Braiden -- making peace with aging.

Today I am incredibly aware of the way age is invading my body — the crows feet around my eyes, the smile lines at the corners of my mouth, the loosening of my skin around my neck and jowls, the wrinkles on my hands, the Botticelli curves — and I’m oddly at peace with it. When did this happen? This learning to be cool with being in my 50s? It scared the hell out of me for so long, and yet when I look in the mirror I see every story that I’ve lived written all over my face, and I love it. When did we buy into the script that getting older — looking older — is less? I’m tossing it out. It’s crap. I’ve never been happier in my life. Old chicks rock!

What have you done that took you past your comfort zone?

May 13, 2016 in , , by Sue Braiden

David Bowie on Authenticity. What have YOU done that took you out of your comfort zone?

David Bowie has some gorgeous wisdom about pushing out of your comfort zone. In fact, I took his advice to heart and pushed way outside of my own. (Click through and I’ll tell you a little bit about that, and then I’m going to bust out my magic wand.)

So, Adventure Divas, what have YOU done that took you past your comfort zone? How did it turn out? Was it the kind of “Aha! moment” that makes you want to do it again?

If you haven’t gone there yet, would you like to? What is it that calls to your soul and scares the hell out of you, all at the same time?

Let’s talk! I’ve set a place for you over at the digital kitchen table, and I’m making it my personal mission to be YOUR fairy godmother! I am going to have your back, girl, and together, with a little help from our friends, we’re going to figure out how to have that Adventure that has been calling you too!

Carpe diem, baby!
Sue.

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 embracing vulnerability as an asset, and banishing shame.

February 2, 2015 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.

Spontaneity: the gateway drug to mirth, and an Adventure Diva’s best friend.

February 1, 2015 in , by Sue Braiden

Spontaneity: the gateway drug to mirth, and an Adventure Diva's best friend.

I’ve been thinking about a moment riding the bus, when a mother boarded, pushing her son in a stroller. As she stopped to pay the fare, the toddler looked straight down the aisle, then hollered “Hey, everybody! How ya doin’?” The entire bus erupted into laughter, and in an instant the invisible cord that had tied us all to our seats, silently bound by some misguided sense of propriety, had been broken. Everyone was talking with each other and laughing the entire way home. It was brilliant!

Kids have such incredible social capital. How do we manage to rob ourselves of that as we grow up?

And what does that have to do with this picture? Well, it captured a moment when I knew the value of that. It was snapped just hours before an earlier picture I shared of a couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at the Banff Springs Hotel. (If my clothes don’t give it away, this was in the early 80s … lol). I was on a business trip in the west, and before going to dinner my colleagues and I were driving through the mountains, and stumbled upon the icy Bow Valley river where Marilyn Monroe had sprained her ankle filming in her first starring role in a western back in 1953. Not one to miss an opportunity for hijinks, I dragged one of my allies out onto the rocks in our heels. She had the sense to take hers off and leave them on the shore, but there I was, heading out to a spot just below the rapids, dragging her in.

It’s one of those moments that’s stuck with me all my life, because, 30 years later, I can still remember how good it felt to say “to hell with propriety, we’re going in!” and how much we laughed our heads off the entire time. Spontaneity is highly under-rated. It’s the gateway drug to mirth, and an Adventure Diva’s best friend.

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/

Collect “experiences” instead of “things”: how a new dad’s advice might be the ticket to kickstarting your own adventures.

in by Sue Braiden

Adam Baker - TEDx Asheville

Challenge: collect “experiences” instead of “things”.

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”
 
— Nigel Marsh.

This video really resonated with me when it first came out awhile ago on TEDx, and I was grateful for the chance to reflect on it again. Good gut-check with a whole new crop of New Year’s resolutions waiting to be broken just around the corner again.

You’ve seen some iteration of this wisdom before:

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

It’s a quote from Nigel Marsh, shared by a young man name Adam Baker who has a whole lot of wisdom beyond his own 20-something years on the planet.

The day they brought their newborn baby home from the hospital, Adam and his wife sat down and asked themselves some really hard questions about the kind of life they wanted, and whether or not that was congruent with the one they had. Not surprising that the typical western cycle of mountains of student debt fueled by the hunger of consumerism and the need to “keep up with the Jones-es” takes many of us about as far away from our own ideals as we possibly could be. The Bakers made a really courageous decision, and while we kind of get bombarded with this stuff until it just feels like a whole lot of saccharine tripe, this isn’t that.

There was something in particular video that sat me back on my heels, and that was Adam’s challenge to start collecting “experiences” instead of “things”. It’s funny, because my business coach, Linda Lord, had me do an assignment not long ago asking me to prioritize what was of value to me. In a page full of words, I was only allowed to choose 4. The first thing I circled? Experiences. Receiving this reminder today reinforces it.

Adam nails it in less than 20 minutes, and it was this video that had me make a lot of my own tough choices when it first came out, at a time when I’d put the adventure I’m now embarking on with the Estrogen Army project on the back burner for more than a decade.

Worth sharing! Grab a mugga joe and settle in for a few, then head over and put your elbows on the kitchen table toshare your own ideas about and experiences.

Have you made the switch to collecting “experiences” instead of “things”? How did you do it? Was it hard? Exciting? What words of wisdom and resources might you share with your sister adventure divas who are thinking of taking the challenge to fuel epic new adventures?

I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to share!

Ellen, on finding your own way, mustering up courage, and living with integrity.

August 14, 2014 in , , by Sue Braiden

Ellen Degeneres - Tulane Commencement - 2009

Sometimes being comfortable in our own skin can be one of the toughest battles we face. It can also be fuel for really great adventures. When we think about the things we fear the most, there are often hidden gems inside, things that can be a powerful springboard to new experiences we’ve never really had the courage to embrace.

Ellen DeGeneres transformed the tragedy of the death of someone she loved at an early age into an opportunity to have a comedic conversation with God, opening the door to a truly unexpected life. She made her mind up that she was going to be on the Johnny Carson show, and be the first woman to be invited to sit down. She did, and she was, and well, you likely know the rest.

In spite of her success, happiness still eluded her because she lived with a secret that threatened to ruin it all, and it did. Ellen went on to turn shame and fear inside out to simply be herself, and it’s no surprise that this is one midlife diva who has gone on to have some of the most incredible adventures.

In 2009 she was invited back to Tulane University to give the Commencement speech in her home town of New Orleans, and in a way only Ellen could do, gifted everyone who listened moments of laughter, bumper crops of wisdom, and the way to take hold of a handful of elusive assets and make them your own: living with integrity, courage, resilience, determination, purpose and joy.

Grab a mugga joe (and a box of kleenex) and settle in for the most empowering 17 minutes and 54 seconds of your day …

Stop worrying about what everyone else might think and just do it.

July 16, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Stop worrying about what everyone else might think and just do it.

This morning an email landed in my in-basket from the Hallmark Channel. They invited me to enter for a chance to travel to the set of one of their t.v. shows, which was a gorgeous, pine-tree-lined, seaside escape that made me immediately sigh out loud and long to be there. On clicking through, I found an engaging website that got me clicking to learn more about the characters just so I could see the beautiful scenery. It was idyllic. It was me. It looked exactly like the place I see in my head when I imagine so many of my own adventures. It was where I wanted to be, and somewhere along the way I got hooked on the idea of the show itself. It had that warm, homespun feel to it, like a visual and emotional cocoon, where you knew you were going to be surrounded by people you cared about in the kind of place that made you feel absolutely homesick not to be there.

I had to watch it.

And then there it was: the sound of the other shoe dropping.

What would people think? It doesn’t look like the kind of high-minded, intellectual, save-the-world, life-changing thing I was supposed to feed my brain with.

Uh huh.

Of course it sounded stupid even in my own head, and yet there was this gnawing anxiety that someone might find out about my guilty pleasure and stand apart just a little looking at me askew.

When did this happen? When did I start caring so much about what other people thought? (Okay, always, and many of us are definitely burdened with this game). But more importantly, how do I climb off that ride?

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