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

Field Report: Sandra rebuilt her Haiti workshop & hired 5 people!

November 20, 2016 in , by Sue Braiden

Kiva Diva Field Report: Sandra in Haiti - November 20, 2016

It’s always exciting when we receive a field report on one of the women that we have invested in through the “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” project. This one is especially cool because it comes from the entrepreneur herself!

Back in October 2014 we helped an artist named Sandra rebuild her workshop in Haiti after her entire shop was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. It’s a relief that this report comes in on the heels of yet another natural disaster in Haiti, the recent hurricane, and that it finds Sandra safe and well.

Yet more great news? She not only used the Kiva loan we helped provide to rebuild her shop, but actually created jobs for 5 more people! Watch and share her inspiring story.

Sandra has been making and selling different kinds of scarves and sarongs since 1980. Here’s a bit more about our original investment in this wonderful artist back in 2014.

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.

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 …

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. ❤

[VIDEO] Wondering about the inspiration behind the Estrogen Army project? Here’s a 2 1/2 minute primer …

December 24, 2014 in by Sue Braiden

Sue Braiden welcomes you to the Adventure Lab

Hi! I’m Sue Braiden of “Rock. Paper. Estrogen” and I want to tell you about the “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” project.

I’m 51 years old, and like many of you, I’ve been a mom, a wife, a career woman and a community servant, and now that I’m about to be an empty-nester, I’m ready for an adventure! The catch? I have to do it on a shoestring budget, and I bet many of you have the same challenge too.

So I’m setting the digital kitchen table and inviting you to put your elbows on it with me. It’s a place where we can share our stories about the things we crave, what worked for each of us, and how we might help each other have those epic adventures we’ve been dreaming of all our lives.

We’ll be sharing ideas, tools and resources to make it easier to give ourselves a hand up, and doing it in a way that doesn’t leave people out. Not everyone with big dreams has a big budget, and this project is about finding ways of making sure every adventure diva has a chance to make her bucket list a “been there … done that” list.

Giving Women-at-Risk at Hand Up

In fact I’m so committed to ensuring that women from every walk of life have a fair shot that I’ll be investing 20% of the profits from the “Adventures with the Estrogen Army” project into non-profit programs that help women at risk give themselves a hand-up.

Have fun. Do good. Not a bad way to embrace act 2 in our lives, huh?

Want to help build the Adventure Lab?

For as little as $10 you can become a Founding Member. (Psst! Great Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa present for the Adventure Diva in your life!) Our Indiegogo campaign runs until January 20, 2015:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/adventure-lab-rock-paper-estrogen/x/730644

Join me at the kitchen table …

I hope you’ll join me over at the kitchen table. Roll your sleeves up, girl, and put your elbows on it!

What’s YOUR adventure? I can’t wait to find out! In fact, why not drop in and say hi right now? See you at the table!

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!

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