Every year around this time, I get a sense of heartfelt introspectiveness. In those moments, as the thoughts and feelings come pouring out of me, I set them down here hoping someone out there will connect with them.
Today I pack. Tomorrow I hop on a plane and head back home to spend Thanksgiving with my family as I have for many years, but this one is different. This will be the first without our beloved Pop who passed away in September.
We’re all gathering at my sister’s house again as she’s done an amazing job hosting it for many years now, but with one (not so) small addition. There, at the end of the holiday extended table in her living/dining area will sit Pop’s baby grand piano. The piano we all sat at countless times growing up, turning the pages for him or making our best attempt at playing a song (I’d say for entertainment purposes, but none of us ever took our piano studies too seriously). We’re not even sure the thing can hold a tune anymore, at least not since my mom put a beautifully hand made, leaky terrarium on top of it for decoration. Poor mom, she always meant well.
My dad was the kind of man that would be the calm while everyone is chattering. When any one of us would impulsively spout out my grandiose plans or incredibly unfeasible schemes, there would be no shortage of naysayers or realists about, doing their best to help us “think clearly…wake up…get real…” Best intentions, of course, but though it may alter some behavior, the core being remains the same and I was, by nature, always going to have one foot in so-called reality and the other splashing about in the waters of my own world.
No matter how sensible a life creatives try to make out for themselves, the essence of who they really are eventually seeps through. I found a happy medium within the grey areas. Naysayers on the other hand hate grey areas, they leave wiggle room. “It is black.” and that’s the end of their discussion. How frustrating it must be for them to be around creatives, constantly countering with, “That’s not how I see it.” Or worse, just continuing on making splashes of color after the order of black and white has been well established for all. Still, I am very grateful for my experiences in the black and white world, because it taught me how to be self reliant. It teaches all the importance of balance, that a little mix of black and white is just as good for our world as a brushstroke of color is for theirs. And if you are constantly going against the grain, you are either in the wrong or in the wrong place.
Only we can answer whether we are where we need to be and only we can take the steps necessary to put ourselves in the right place (though the universe has been known to give us a good kick in the right direction from time to time).
For years now, I have been taking risks only the unfeasibly optimistic kid in me would have agreed to. She went from being a vague memory to front and center, the pied piper. Thanks to her influence I/we’ve experienced several firsts since 2010; publishing 2 humorous cancer survival guides that prepare and inspire others to fight the disease, becoming a sports photographer with a highlight of covering David Beckham and many other MLS greats, recording a full length CD of our original songs, traveling to places we’ve been dreaming of our whole life and most recently, standing in the arctic circle, in awe as the northern lights danced around us. She didn’t let financial or physical limitations get in the way. She dreamt it up, then we went for it and whenever a road block came up, she put our inventive mind to work and found a way around it.
So, that said, What are you waiting for? You’ve got some pretty amazing ideas yourself, whether it’s a career change, a dream holiday, invention, design and more. So, make it happen~ Ah, but that’s a naive outlook on life, I know. “If I took more than my 2 weeks off I’d lose my job.” “I’m too old for that now.” “No one will go with me.” “I can’t afford that.” Maybe, but this “naive outlook” is coming from someone who accomplished all the above improbable things AFTER being diagnosed with late stage cancer, with several physical/mental constraints and on a very minimal income, so let’s put it another way, “If I did it, pretty much anyone can do it, so what are you waiting for?” Seriously, I was talking to a woman yesterday who sighed as she said she couldn’t afford to travel to Europe then later, I saw her drive off in a high end SUV…
Ok, so Rome wasn’t built in a day nor will everyone’s mind change about flipping the bird at improbability just from reading one blog post. Like in the movie What About Bob, “baby steps.” Start thinking now about the possibilities and then, do this:
Step 1 – Make a list
Write down 12 (bucketlist) adventures you’d like to go on in your lifetime.
Step 2 – Ask others to make a list
For the Thanksgiving gathering, ask the others to write their own list. If anyone laughs or nay says, pay no mind. You’re just saying something that scares them and that’s how some people deal with things that scare them or make them uncomfortable. Remember, to lead a more adventurous life you’ve gotta step out of your comfort zone and if you’re going to embark on a far more adventurous life, you have to be willing to make an ass of yourself from time to time (not be an ass, make an ass, big difference). So invite, encourage and if they still won’t get into the spirit of it, don’t worry. To expect everyone to go along would be very black and white now wouldn’t it…
Step 3 – Pick one
Pick one. Pick one of the 12 adventures from your list and make a pact that you will make this one happen within the next 12 months.
Step 4 – Share with others
At some point on Thanksgiving day either before, during or after the meal, ask everyone to share their list and top pick. It’ll be entertaining, enlightening and who knows, you might learn something new about someone you thought you knew everything about~
At this point you can keep your discovery to your inner circle or you can come over to the 12 adventures webspace and share them with fellow adventurers for mutual support, encouragement and inspiration. No adventure is too big or too small as long as it’s the one you genuinely want to make happen. Just post the short list of 12 adventures on the 12 Adventures Facebook page and if you don’t mind, end it with any of the following hashtags: #WhatsYour12? #WhatAreYouWaitingFor? #12Adventures
Later in the year, when your mission is accomplished, come on over to the 12 Adventures contact page on the website and tell us all about it. What hurdles did you overcome? How did it feel to accomplish it? Who was with you and what’s next on the list? Maybe someone out there googling to see if their bucket list adventure is possible will come across your story and be inspired to go for it too. Now, how cool is that~
It is scary to put yourself out there. Not everyone will be supportive or encouraging. I brace myself every time I announce I’m going to bring another one of my outlandish dreams to fruition. My favorite response is, “She has no idea what it takes to (insert thing I’m about to do: live abroad, change careers mid-life, publish a book, record a CD, make a web series, etc.). It’s incredibly uncomfortable to ask people to support something improbable, for perfect strangers to put their trust in you and even more so at the thought of being in front of the camera, putting my imperfections on display for all to see, but all the more rewarding when you follow through with it. And when I start to doubt my ability or direction I remember these words Pop said to me when I was afraid to make the first, big, improbable leap, “If anyone is going to do it kiddo, it’ll be you. You’re my great, white hope.” Feel free to hold onto those words if you ever need them. Pop was always willing to be shared among those who needed a wise-old, great uncle Bulgaria.
Right then, back to packing for me and pen to paper for you~