A toast to you today from my writing room – Domaine de la Corniche on the River Seine, Paris built in 1908 for the King of Belgium - complete with Handel’s Water Music playing in the background. Did you know this adventure almost didn’t happen?
After I told my son Andrew I was exhausted and didn’t even want to get on a plane that night, he said: “Mom, there’s something about you I don’t understand. You’ve created a life where you can do anything you want … and you’re not taking advantage of it.”
Wow. The instant he said it, I knew he was right.
Yet it took me TWO YEARS to act on his insight.
It wasn’t until I had an epiphany about what exactly I was going to do differently - and put a date on the calendar - that this went from being ephemeral to empirical.
Instead of just wishfully thinking about visiting bodies of water and writing about them, it became something real I started planning.
Something similar happened years before.
I lived on Lake Audubon outside of Washington DC. Every Memorial day, they host Jim McDonnell 1 and 2 mile Lake Swims. It was literally in my back yard, so my dog Murph and I went over to check it out.
After an inspiring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner from a local violinist, they started sending off nationally-ranked competitors and then the age groups. 30-40 age group. 40-50 50-60. 60-70. 70-80. 80 and above.
80 and above?! I watched these fit octogenarians splash into the lake and asked myself, “What’s my excuse?!”
See, I used to be a competitive swimmer/coach. I swam for my small town team growing up and for my high school, and coached for my local recreation district in Auburn. As a college student, I took an advanced fitness class at Sac State where Mark Sullivan (future Olympic coach) told me I had one of the most natural backstrokes he’d even seen. When I lived in Hawaii, I swam at dawn with my friend Dorothy Douthit atAla Moana Beach Park and competed in the 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim.
Here I was though, living on a lake and across from a pool, and I wasn’t swimming at all. No excuse!
This time however, instead of simply telling myself I “should” get back into swimming, I came home, logged on to my computer, searched for the Waikiki Rough Water Swim website and registered.
The instant I acted, I became accountable.
This was no longer just an idea, it was a commitment. I needed to book flights/hotels, and schedule in training swims before Labor Day weekend so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.
We turned it into a family holiday. Andrew swam in the race (and beat me, the noogie). Tom served as land crew and long-time friends Dianne Gerard, Traci Bennet and Leslie Horn were there at the finish line on the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort to help celebrate.
Back to my Year by the Water. The second I put OCTOBER 1 on the calendar as the official day I would head out on my adventure, it became a PROJECT.
That abstract idea now had FORM with practical logistics that needed to be figured out. What was I going to do with my house, my belongings, my mail, my car? How much speaking, consulting was I going to do? Where would I go first ... and next? How would we (my sister Cheri Grimm and I) run my business from the road?
To put this in perspective, if I hadn’t put a date on the calendar, I wouldn't be here in France about to attend a private workshop at Monet's Garden. That idea would probably still be in my head and I’d be thinking about doing it … someday. As they say, someday is not a day on the calendar.
How about you?
Tony Robbins says, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you've taken a new action. If there's no action, you haven't truly decided.”
What is something you’d like to experience or achieve by the end of this year?
Want to travel someplace new? Compete in an event? Honor your mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary? Plan a reunion with some college friends? Re-activate a once beloved skill?
Put a date on the calendar. The second you do, that intention will start becoming a reality instead of wishful thinking.