At Book Expo yesterday, an author I met during lunch asked what my favorite experiences were from my Year By The Water. I shared a few and she asked if I’d put them in writing.
I smiled and told her that’s what the SOMEDAY is not a Day in the Week book is based on, but she asked if I’d distilled the best ones into a blog post. I hadn’t … but I have now (smile). Enjoy.
Robin Gerber says, “Don’t look back. We’re not going that way.” I think it’s okay – even enlightening – to look back if our reflections lead to happy memories and useful epiphanies.
As Queen Elizabeth said, “Good memories are our second chance at happiness.”
So, as I wrapped up my final day on My Year by the Water in Hawaii, watching the sun rise over Diamond Head and going for a swim in the gentle ocean off Waikiki, I reflected on the many adventures and insights from the past few years. I smiled as I thought of the four questions I heard again and again, regardless of where I was or who I was with.
Question #1. “Don’t you ever get lonely?”
Nope, I never felt lonely. My family and friends were with me, even when they weren’t with me. I loved having freedom, autonomy, independence – a road of my own. It was a welcome contrast to the crazy busy years I spent as a small business owner/single mom who was always in biz dev mode. I never felt alone, even when I was by myself. As Beth Buelow said, “I’m not anti-social; I’m pro-solitude.” My Year by the Water was the best of both worlds, a perfect blend of socialization and solitude. And, if I wanted company, new friends were a smile and a good question away.
Question #2. “How did you get to be so brave?”
I never thought heading out on this Year by the Water was brave, I thought it was FUN. I grew up riding horses. From an early age, my sister and I would be gone all day on our own. We learned to be resourceful. If something went wrong – if our bridle broke or we got bucked off – we figured it out! As a result, we see the world as an adventurous place not a dangerous place. Whatever happens, we trust we can figure it out. The new doesn’t scare us, it thrills us. We’ve come to believe that courage is just trusting we can figure things out.
Question #3. “What’s been your favorite place?”
It isn’t the places I remember; it’s the experiences. Cavorting with Zach the dolphin in Florida, emerging from a bamboo forest and seeing the famous lilly pond/green bridge in Monet’s Garden for the first time, putting my hand under the water pump where Helen Keller said her first word WATER, walking, writing and swimming in Walden Pond, the very same place Henry David Thoreau walked, wrote and swam.
Often, it was the quiet moments that left the greatest impression. Like the time I was driving to California … again. I had already criss-crossed the country three times and this time vowed to take the so-called “blue-line highways” (anything that’s not a freeway). Every time I got to a cross-roads, I simply took whatever road headed west.
I was in Texas driving at my favorite time of day – golden hour – right before the sun goes down. Many people picture Texas as flat, dry and barren. But I was there in spring and the area around Enchanted Rock surprised me with its rolling hills and sweeping vistas.
I crested a hill and there, spread out on all sides, were golden fields stretching to the horizon. It was so stunningly beautiful, I impulsively pulled over, stopped and stepped out to immerse myself in – and more deeply appreciate – this glorious scene.
The only sound was a soft breeze through the tree next to me. I was completely caught up in this magical moment, fully connected, glad to be there, grateful to be alive.
I was fortunate to visit world-class destinations. But in the end, it was visceral experiences like this – many of which didn’t cost a dime – that live on in my heart and mind.
Question #4. “So, when are you going to settle down?”
Every time I was asked that question, I smiled and said, “Well, let’s see … ‘settle’ means compromise and ‘down’ means depressed. Why would I do that?”
But then, I got two calls with good news. My sons and their wives had babies on the way and they invited me to come stay with them in Colorado and NYC and welcome Natalia and Hiro into the world. The answer was an instant yes.
The moment Tom, Patty, Andrew and Miki asked me to be part of this blessed experience, I knew that, as Bilbo Baggins said, “I am quite ready for another adventure.”
I understood what a gift it was for them to want me to be part of their lives. I wanted to honor that gift and I was ready and eager for the adventure of grandmotherhood.
Do you know the most common reaction from people when they found out I was on my Year by the Water?
They’d gaze wistfully into the distance and say something along the lines of “Someday, I’ll do something like that” and tell me their version of an adventure they wanted to take.
If it was appropriate, I would tell them the story of my dad who waited too long and never got to visit the National Parks he’d dreamed of visiting his entire life.
I’d tell them I’ve become a woman on a mission about encouraging people to get crystal clear about a dream that calls them and to act on it now, not someday.
As Paulo Coelho says,“One day, you’re going to wake up and there won’t be any time left to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.”
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do?
Water you waiting for? (Yes, that play on words is intended.)
Stop assuming there will be a better time – or you’ll have more time – later. NOW is the new LATER.
I promise, and I’m speaking from experience, you will NEVER regret doing something meaningful that puts the light on in your eyes, you will only regret not doing it sooner.
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create the life of their dreams. Her work – including her TEDx talks and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in the NY Times, on NPR and presented to Cisco, Intel and Capital One. This is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week – which is based on her Year by the Water insights.