Welcome to the Adventure Lab!

Have fun. Do good.

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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Our Eighteenth Kiva Diva: The Mothers of Chandika, Nepal (September 2015)

September 29, 2015 in by Sue Braiden

Our Eighteenth Kiva Entrepreneur - The Mothers of Chandika, Nepal - September 2015

This month we’re celebrating our seventeenth “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship by helping Ingrid, a 49-year-old widow and mother in Columbia. Ingrid has a dream about rebooting her business in a way that will allow her to share her own designs, and we were excited to have the chance to help her with that adventure! Read on to learn more about how you can too …

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 …

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.

Because of YOU, Nomagugu in Zimbabwe was able rent rent a shop, expand her business and send her kids to school.

December 21, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

Nomagugu in Zimbabwe

Hey, sister Adventure Divas! You might know how excited we get around here about the “Do Good” part of our Mini Mission statement, so it’s a happy day when we can report back on how an investment in a sister diva made a difference!

Remember Nomagugu in Zimbabwe? We were able to help her give herself a hand up this past June. Nomagugu is a 35 year old widow with 3 children. She not only runs a grocery store (which our investment is helped to restock), but also makes time to volunteer as a Learning Guide, teaching students life skills, and as a behavior change facilitator at the local clinic. You can imagine how eager we were to invest in someone who invests so much of herself in others.

Even better? We can share her success story with you now! Nomagugu used the loan we helped provide to purchase goods for her business, and also to rent a shop at the local shopping center. The injection of capital made the business more viable, and that helped her make more profits.

She is now able to send her children to school without problems, and provide food for her family, which has been a struggle in the past since she is a single mother.

Of course every Adventure Diva has big dreams, and Nomagugu is no exception. She wants to expand her business, and perhaps venture into something new in her community.

We’re grateful to Sinikiwe Makove from Camfed in Nkayi, Zimbabwe for sharing Nomagugu’s good news with us.

Our Eighth Kiva Diva: Tahire in Azerbaijan (November 2014)

November 9, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

Our Eighth Kiva Diva - Tahire in Azerbaijan - November 2014

This month we’re celebrating our eighth “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship by helping a 49-year-old widow whose work is devoted to helping others. We’re helping 49 year old widow, Tahire, buy new lab equipment for disease research.

Tahire has been raising her 2 children alone since her husband was killed in the Karabakh War. Her family members are IDP (internally displaced persons) from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan. They have been in Agdam city over 22 years and now they are living in the Absheron region. Her older daughter is married and her younger daughter graduated school and is preparing for exams to enter university.

We’re helping Tahire buy new lab equipment so she can expand her research of diseases with our November “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship.

Our Seventh Kiva Diva: Sandra in Haiti (October 2014)

October 1, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

Our Seventh Kiva Diva - Sandra in Haiti - October 2014

This month we’re celebrating our seventh “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship by helping a woman with a real entrepreneurial spirit rebuild her dream after her shop was completely destroyed by the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

Sandra has been making and selling different kinds of scarves and sarongs since 1980. She has two big shops in Grenada and in the States. Thanks to a previous Kiva loan she was able to re-launch after the quake by buying paint and textile fabrics directly from China. She successfully repaid the loan within a year.

Now she is looking for funds to build a production workshop and a storefront in her current space. The money will help her buying wood, corrugated metal sheets and iron bars for the workshop. A slight improvement is also needed in the stock room as well. This is where we are able to help a little today with our “Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship.

Our Sixth Kiva Diva: Francisca in Kenya (September 2014)

September 30, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

Our Sixth Kiva Diva - Francisca in Kenya - September 2014

This month we’re celebrating our sixth “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” Kiva sponsorship by helping a mom with 4 children renovate her home in Tiribe, Kenya.

Francisca is a married woman with four children, all of whom still attend school and are still under her care. They live in a rental house that has electricity but not piped water. Her greatest monthly expenses are food and school fees for the children.

Francisca operates a rental housing business and town dwellers are her customers. She dreams of establishing a boutique some day, and I hope we can help her with that too!

Today we’re helping her purchase cement, iron sheets, paint and building blocks to renovate her house.

Our Fifth Kiva Diva: Mme in Haiti (August 2014)

July 31, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

We’re sneaking our August loan to a Kiva entrepreneur in a little early, because we just couldn’t wait to give Mme Raphael a hand up! Mme is an 80-year-old single mother of 7, and she’s anxious to connect to Haiti’s first solar-powered smart electricity micro-grid to get reliable, clean electricity at home.

Mme is a farmer and lives in a small yellow and brown house in Les Anglais, in southern Haiti. She worries that regular kerosene use is harming her and her family’s long-term health.

Our Fourth Kiva Diva: Arafa in Kenya (July 2014)

in by Sue Braiden

This month we’re helping “Arafa”, a widow in Kisauni, Kenya, purchase a water tank and install a water tap for her business. Our fourth loan will also help Arafa and her four children, who live in a house with no electricity or piped water.

Arafa has operated a business selling fresh water for the past five years, selling from home to her neighbours. She faces a major challenge of seasonality, especially during the rainy season when business is slow.

She dreams of expanding her business and establishing another business in the near future.

Our Third Kiva Diva: Nomagugu in Zimbabwe (June 2014)

June 17, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

This month we are investing in “Nomagugu”. She is a pleasure to sponsor as our June Kiva entrepreneur. While she has a hard road ahead of her, she gives back so very much to her community.

Nomagugu is a 35 year old widow with 3 children in Zimbabwe. She not only runs a grocery store (which our investment is helping to restock), but also makes time to volunteer as a Learning Guide, teaching students life skills, and as a behavior change facilitator at the local clinic.

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