adventure

Day Right Quote #35: I Like To Get Myself In Over My Head

This is the sign of an entrepreneur, someone who sees life as the adventure it's meant to be. Someone who, like Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, likes to get in over your head because you welcome challenges, love being stretched, and even when things are upside down-inside out, you're confident you can figure them out.

Is that you?

BTW - this is an example of an insight-image you can create with SparkPost. If you know me, you know I believe it's important to INK IT WHEN YOU THINK IT.

Well, these days, capturing and communicating WORDS isn't enough. By matching in-the-moment INSIGHTS and attributed QUOTES with an IMAGE, you can create on-brand messages that connect with people and take your work viral.

Want to know how to do that? I'm be sharing that - AND answering your questions - in our monthly ASK SAM call (no charge) on May 17th.

This is our way of staying connected with our community and sharing some of the gee-whiz stuff we're doing and want to share so you can run with it in your own business, career and life.

Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency - at 805 528-4351 - for details and to register.

I like to get myself in over my head . mariss mayer

Day Right Quote #34: Nearly All The Best Things That Came to Me in Life Have Been Unexpected, Unplanned by Me

After an intense and rewarding week of consults, I pronounced yesterday ADVENTURE FRIDAY and decided to go to Estes Park, 30 miles away, because I'd never been there. As I drove into that stunning mountain valley, I saw a white lodge high on a hill. I didn't know what it was, but it looked intriguing, so I started taking roads that led UP until I arrived HERE.

This is the famous Stanley Hotel. You may have seen it in the movie The Shining. Remember Jack Nicholson's immortal words, "I'll be b-a-c-k."

As I strolled the grounds, marveled at the "didn't know that" history of this grand hotel, and gazed at the majestic snow-capped mountains, I was reminded all over again that SECURITY is not the spice of life, DISCOVERY is.

Do you do same-old, same-old, day in and day out? Do you feel locked into routines?

This week, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Change things up. Follow an intuitive nudge to go here, do this. Re-experience the power curiosity and discovery have to put the light on in your eyes. Set something in motion and see what unfolds

Your SerenDestiny is on the other side of routine.

Carl Sandburg is right. Nearly all the best things that come to us in life are unexpected, unplanned

carl sandberg

Lesson #8 From My Year by the Water: Figure Out Your NEXT and Start Doing it NOW

I had an opportunity to speak for a national convention on the topic of "Is the Light On In Your Eyes?" The conference theme was "Reflections on Success" and I started by saying many of us spend more time reflecting on what movie to watch this weekend than on what we're going to do with the rest of our life. Sound familiar?

Many of the people in the audience were successful entrepreneurs who have so many different projects and people counting on them, they feel they can't take time off. Many work 60-70 hour weeks and haven't taken a vacation for years. Some are ready to retire, but can't imagine what they're going to do NEXT that could be as satisfying and productive as what they're currently doing.

I told them we were going to spend the next ninety minutes reflecting on what's working, what's not and what we're going to do about it NEXT. I shared a quiz that can help anyone figure out in 4 minutes what's supporting their happiness, what's sabotaging it.

One of the options we talked about is how to make our passion - what puts the light on in our eyes - part of our profession. Many people told me they're too "busy" to do the hobbies that used to bring them joy. I told them, they can COMBINE their recreation WITH their work in a win-win way - instead of seeing them as being mutually exclusive.

Here's what I mean.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the largest networking organization in the world. After hearing about my full calendar of #speaking, #consulting and #traveling, he asked, "What do you do for fun?"

Long pause. I finally dug deep and came up with "I walk my dog around the lake."

Please don't get me wrong. I love what I do and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do work with smart talented people who are making a positive difference in the world ... it's just that I was going 24/7.

That conversation and several other wake-up calls motivated me to set out on a Year by the Water. I didn't abandon my business ... I just took it on the road. As James Taylor said when he took a break from touring to compose new lyrics and produce a new album; "I didn't quit work - I did a different kind of work. " I went from non-stop productivity to full-time creativity. I did the opposite of my always and the contrast filled me with joy.

What I learned on my travels is that you don't have to be torn between two worlds - you can have the best of both worlds. You don't have to put aside what puts the light on in your eyes - you can integrate it into your work so you feel more balanced and blessed. You don't have to lose your "hobby" because you're always working, you can leverage your hobby to make your work fun and productive.

Want an example of how this works?

When I lived on#Maui, I had a friend named Kathy who was a 4.5 tennis player and a Realtor. We played a couple times a week until the economy slumped and she told me she was too bus" finding clients to play tennis anymore.

I suggested her hobby wasn't an indulgence she do only when she had spare time - it was a competitive edge that could give her access to ideal clients. I suggested she approach the concierges at the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea Resort (both 5 diamond properties catering to affluent travelers - Kathy's target demographic) and let them know they could recommend her to guests looking for a good game of singles. They eagerly did this because Kathy had lived on the island for years, was a respected member of the community, and they trusted her to make this a good experience for their resort guests.

This turned into a win for everyone. Within a month, Kathy was back to playing tennis 3-5 times a week AND had several new clients buying houses. She didn't offend anyone with hard selling. It was natural while sharing an iced-tea after a satisfying match for guests to ask "What do you do?" When they found out she was a Realtor, they'd often ask if she had any available properties for a good price. Not only was Kathy back to being active outside doing something she loved - it became an organic marketing tool that kept her visible and became her secret sauce to success in a down market.

Want other ways to figure out how you can integrate your passion into your profession and keep the light on in your eyes? Want to leverage your years of experience into a new NEXT that makes a positive difference for all involved?

I'm working on a book that shows how to do that, and will be sharing some of the steps on my www.SamHorn.com site and on my LinkedIn page.

You're invited to check out these sample posts to access some of the specific steps on how to create a unique niche ... and shape work you love that matters NOW, not someday ... so you're creating a life-work integration that is personally and professionally satisfying.

Hope you'll visit those sites. You will never regret clarifying what's important to you and bringing more of that into your life ... you will only regret not doing it sooner.

what is your next - do now

Lesson #4 From My Year by the Water: We'll Not Alone, We're All One

I am driving from Houston to California for the third time and vow NOT to go through El Paso or take Route 10, ever again. When I get to a cross-road, I just took whatever road heads WEST. That choice sets up one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip.

Many people think of Texas as dry and barren, but its famous hill country surprised me with its rolling, sweeping vistas. I'm driving at my favorite time of day, golden hour, the gentle moments just before the sun goes down and the air calms and becomes a transcendent shimmery gold.

I crest a hill and discover a golden field stretched out in front of me to the horizon. In awe, I pull over and shut off the car engine. The only sound is a slight breeze through a nearby tree. Otherwise, it is majestically silent. I'm completely immersed in the moment. I feel blissfully connected. One with everything.

Connected? How could I feel connected? There's no one around.

But there's all kinds of connection. There's connection to the place, to the magnificence of nature, and to how grateful I feel for being alive and present in that moment.

I smile as I think about the most frequently asked question on my Year by the Water: "Don't you ever get lonely?”

The answer to that is a resounding NO. What I feel is … connected. Connected to my family and friends who are with me even when they’re not with me. Connected to the Audible books I listen to, to the places I've discovered, the people I've met, the experiences I've had.

People also asked if I get "bored" driving cross-country by myself.

Once again, the answer is an emphatic NO.

When I am driving along for hours (or days) at a time; I'm not bored, I'm 100% engaged in the ideas and stories shared by these insightful authors. I'm completely engaged in discovering and exploring new places, of never knowing what's over the next knoll.

It's crystal clear to me. If I ever feel lonely or bored; it means I'm not paying attention.

As I say good-bye - and thank you - to this sacred spot and drive away, I turn on the Audible book I'm listening to (Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit) just in time to hear her say, “Every creative project needs a spine.”

What an intriguing insight. I wonder, "What's the spine of this adventure, of my life?"

The answer comes to me, clear as a bell, "Discovery is my North Star, connection is my Holy Grail. Loving and being loved is the spine of my life."

And what I know deep within my soul, as a result of this Year by the Water, is we don't have to be with other people to be engaged and connected - we just need to be alert and appreciative of the wonders that surround us, all day, every day.

We are never really alone. If we truly pay attention to our surroundings, we are all one. We are complete, content. The connection we seek is, literally and figuratively, a moment's notice away.

twyla tharp

Lesson #3 From My Year by the Water: Stop Driving Into Hurricanes!

The very first day of my adventure, I was driving to Chesapeake Bay to stay in a beachfront home a friend had graciously loaned me. The only problem? A hurricane was also headed there. As the winds whipped up and I could hardly see the road through the rainstorm, a thought bubble appeared above my head, "Why drive into a hurricane?!" Why to keep my commitment, of course. That's what I was taught to do. We keep our commitments - no matter what. . But this was unsafe. Maybe under the circumstances, it would be okay, even advisable, to "break a promise?"

I called my friend and told her I had changed my mind. She didn't hesitate, she said, "Good decision. There will be another, better time to stay at the beach-house."

An hour later, I was safely ensconced in a historic B & B in Annapolis, half-asleep under a fluffy down comforter. What a relief.

My epiphany? "Where else in my life am I automatically keeping commitments - out of habit or "integrity" - that were made long ago that are no longer relevant or healthy? Where else am I honoring promises I made to people who don't care if I change my mind; they may even applaud or be grateful for my decision?"

My friend Mary LoVerde says this has become a "go-to" phrase in her family. When she or one of her kids is about to head into a stormy situation, they stop and ask themselves, "Am I driving into a hurricane?"

If we know in advance we're heading into a hot mess, and we're doing it simply because we said we would, maybe it's wise to NOT DO IT. Maybe there are other options that are a win for all involved.

Sometimes it's not selfish to break a promise or opt out of a commitment; it's smart.

You may be thinking, "But we've got to keep our commitments. That's they only way people can trust us."

That makes sense and that's what I thought for thirty years. However, this experience opened my eyes to the fact that keeping commitments - no matter what - is not always optimal.

Honoring our "word" is an important characteristic. But a strength taken to an extreme can become our Achilles Heel.

If a relationship or commitment is not working anymore, if it's become toxic or stormy; if you wish you hadn't made this promise and want to change things; why not have a conversation with your client, colleague or partner to get their point of view?

Maybe they feel the same way. Maybe they have an idea on how to adapt or update the agreement so it works better for all involved. Maybe, together, you can come up with a more current, effective course correction and collaboration that benefits both of you.

A colleague told me this phrase, "Are we about to drive into a hurricane? WHY?!" has become part of their family lore.

For example, her daughter and son-in-law dreaded going to his parents' house for Thanksgiving because it was always a war zone. It was a day of uncles, aunts, and cousins all complaining and at each others' throat. Not a pleasant way to spend a holiday, yet this couple went year after year out of a sense of obligation. Even though it upset them to be in the midst of such conflict; they kept doing it because they'd made a commitment.

This past year, they got creative. They got in touch with his folks and invited them to join them on a different weekend at a timeshare they'd purchased. Instead of spending money on traveling to his parents' house for Thanksgiving, they offered to pay the grandparents' way to join them at this beach resort.

What a brilliant solution. The kids were happy because there was plenty to do at this oceanfront property, and the parents and grandparents were happy because they had together time without juggling everyone else's personalities and demands.

Next time you're about to drive into a hurricane, ask yourself, "Why? Are there options I haven't explored yet?"

You just might discover a better route, a new route, that bypasses the drama and trauma and ends up being a win for everyone.

stop driving into hurricanes

Four FAQ's from Sam's Year by the Water

Robin Gerber says, "Don’t look back. We’re not going that way." I think it’s okay, even enlightening, to look back if the reflections lead to epiphanies. So, as I wrap up my final day on My Year by the Water watching the sun rise over Diamond Head and going for a swim in the gentle ocean here in Hawaii, I reflect on the many blessed adventures and insights from the past 15 months. 4 faq from year by water

I smile as I think of the same four questions I heard again and again, regardless of where I was or who I was with.

1. “Don’t you ever get lonely?”

Nope, I never felt lonely. I felt … connected. My family and friends were with me, even when they weren't with me. Plus, I agree with Beth Buelow who said, “I’m not anti-social; I’m pro solitude.” I loved having autonomy and a road of my own. I felt connected to LIFE.

2. “How did you get to be so brave?”

I never thought of it as brave. Thanks to riding horses when I grew up, I learned how to be resourceful when things went wrong. Your bridle breaks? You get bucked off? Figure it out! As a result, I see the world as a safe vs. a dangerous place. I trust I'll be able to handle whatever happens. Being adventurous, exploring new places, doesn’t scare me, it thrills me.

3. “What’s been your favorite place?”

It isn’t the places I remember. It’s the experiences. Swimming with Zach the dolphin and watching him LEAP into the air into a triple back flip will always be one of my favorite memories.

But often, it was the quiet moments that left the greatest impression.

Like the time I was driving from Houston to California. I had already criss-crossed the country three times and had vowed NOT to go through El Paso or take HWY 10, ever again. So, I’m on back-roads. Every time I get to a cross-roads, I simply take whatever road heads west. Many people think Texas is dry and barren, but its famous hill country after a rain can surprise you with sweeping vistas of green. I am driving at my favorite time of day, golden hour, the gentle moments just before the sun goes down. I crest a hill and discover a golden field spread out in front of me stretching to the horizon. I pull over and step out into a vast silence. The only sound is a soft breeze through the tree next to me. I am immersed in this magical moment, deeply glad to be there, grateful to be alive.

4. “So, when are you going to settle down?” bilbo

Every time I was asked that, I thought, “’Settle’ means compromise. ‘Down’ means depressed. Why would I do that?” But then my sons and their lady loves have new babies on the way and they’ve invited me to come stay with them in Colorado and NYC.

As Bilbo Baggins says, “I am quite ready for another adventure.” I know it's a gift that Tom, Patty, Andrew and Miki want me to be part of their lives. I want to honor that gift, and I am ready and eager for the adventure of grandmother-hood. Receive, receive, receive. Revel, revel, revel.

By the way, the most common reaction I got when people found out I was on my Year by the Water?

“Gee, I wish I could do something like that” or “Someday, I’d like to ….” and then people would fill in their dream, their own version of the adventure they’ve always wanted to take.

When it was appropriate, I would share these three quotes.

“The problem is, you think you have time.” - the Buddha

“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.” – Paulo Coelho

"If you want more luck; take more chances." - Brian Tracy

I would gently suggest that instead of assuming they’ll be able to fulfill that dream or take that adventure LATER; they take a chance on themselves, jump-start their SerenDestiny and start doing a little more of what puts the light on in their eyes ... now, not someday.

Want more epiphanies from my Year by the Water? My book There is No Present Like the Time, featuring adventures and insights from my Year by the Water, will be available in early 2018. Sample chapters include:

• Stop Watering Dead Plants

• Water You Waiting For?

• Why Am I Driving into a Hurricane?

• Start with an OPEN Mind, not the END in Mind

• Jumping off the Aircraft Carrier

• We CAN Go Home Again

• Leave Room for Whims

* Why Limit Happy to an Hour?

- - -

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create quality, one-of-a-kind projects that add value for all involved. Her work - including her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - have been featured in the NY Times and presented to Cisco, Boeing, Intel.

The Trip to China That Almost Didn't Happen

I am here in the deserted lobby of the 5 star JiaHua Hotel in Beijing at 4 am, reveling in - and writing about - the extraordinary experiences I’ve had these past few days. What a privilege it was speaking for an appreciative audience of 1800 people at China’s 12th Annual Direct Selling convention. I even had a rather unique Justin Bieber experience (minus the screaming girls) and was mobbed after my presentation by eager picture-takers.

I luxuriated in jasmine hot springs, had my toes nibbled on by tiny fish, enjoyed the benefits of a rigorous head-to-toe Thai massage, and was hosted 24-7 by Ms. Cathy, my gracious interpreter who attended to my every need (pictured here with my lucky Mr. Blue Heron journal, flying with his Chinese brethren). Processed with Snapseed.

What I’m embarrassed to tell you is … this trip almost didn’t happen. Here’s why.

I’m normally an adventurous person. A frequently-asked question these past 12 months on my YEAR BY THE WATER has been some version of, “How did you get the courage to give away 95% of your possessions and take off on the road … all by yourself? That’s so brave. I could never do that.”

Well, I never thought setting off on this venture was brave. I grew up riding horses. Even when we were 8 and 9 years old, my sister Cheri and I would be gone all day riding with our friends and our parents never worried. If something went wrong, and things often did, they trusted us to “figure it out.”

What if our bridle broke and we’re out in the middle of nowhere? Figure it out.

What if we got bucked off or our horse ran away with us? Figure it out.

I’ll always be grateful to Mom and Dad because the underlying theme of our growing up years was “Life is an adventure; you're supposed to get out in the world and experience it.”

Instead of seeing the world as a dangerous place to be scared of – we grew up seeing it as a safe place to explore. Instead of worrying “What if something goes wrong?” we kind of expected things to go right. If things did go wrong, no worries, we had faith we could figure them out.

So, I was shocked when a course of events led me to “playing it safe” and almost backing out of this China trip. Here’s what happened.

My sister (who’s run my business for 15 years) and I have been negotiating this trip for more than three months. We finally signed the contract two weeks (yes, two weeks, and no, that’s not the norm) before I was to jump on a plane. In the confirmation email, our contact casually mentioned I needed to get a visa.

Need to get a visa?! That had never been mentioned in the three months of negotiating this trip. I’ve had the privilege of speaking around the world – from South Korea to Germany – and never had to apply for a visa before.

I went online to research it and discovered you couldn’t do this online; you needed to go to a Chinese consulate in your state of residence, apply in person and return four-five days later to pick up the approved visa.

Well, that was a deal-breaker.

I’m on the road, my schedule’s fully committed with clients the next two weeks, and I’m nowhere near my home state (not that I even have one anymore).

Plus, the fact that this requirement had come “out of the blue” at this late date made me wonder, “What else hasn’t been mentioned that I need to know?”

Then, a fluke event threw me even deeper into doubt. The day I found out about the visa requirement was the day numerous major internet sites crashed. As you may remember, there were a lot of theories about who caused this and why – and one of the theories was that China or Russia was behind this cyber-attack.

Yikes. Normally, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but all of a sudden I had big trust issues with this trip. I was flying half-way around the world to a country where I didn’t speak the language and was putting myself in the hands of people I didn’t know. What if the internet went down while I was there and I had no way of contacting loved ones? What did I really know about this organization anyway?

There was another factor contributing to my rapidly multiplying doubts. Over the years, I’ve learned to compartmentalize my travels so I don’t get overwhelmed. I focus on one event at a time as the date gets closer, and that works just fine.

But our contact had not sent us ANY details about my speaking engagement. I didn’t know what hotel I’d be staying at, the event logistics or audience profile, whether there’d be simultaneous translation, etc.

We normally have ALL the W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why – spelled out months in advance on our contract, but that hadn’t happened with this particular client and I hadn’t been paying attention. Red flags were flying.

I’m a fan of Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” but I found myself uncharacteristically consumed with doubts and fears about this trip. Normally, I wouldn’t think of backing out of a commitment, but I wasn’t sure I could trust this organization. Should I get on that plane or not?

Well, enter my son Tom and daughter-in-law Patty to the rescue. I called them for advice and spelled out the situation. They had been to China and I trusted them to offer a much-needed fresh, objective perspective.

Thank heaven for Millennials and their wise counsel and proactive mentality.

Two minutes into our conversation, Tom had already Googled where I was staying, (Denver), and told me, “Mom, there’s a place called Mile High Visa that has a courier service that can handle this for you. They’ll pick up your application, process it, and return it to you.

Plus, there’s no need to put yourself at the mercy of someone you’re not sure you can count on. Here’s the contact info for the U.S. Embassy in China. Print it out and take it with you. If anything goes wrong, head there. Be sure to get an international phone card for your cell. And write your contact today and tell her exactly what you need from her to feel safe making this trip.”

Patty chimed in to say there was English signage throughout Beijing so I would be able to find my way around if necessary. “We loved our trip there, found the people very friendly, and look forward to going back some day.”

That was enough to “flip the mental switch” from the left side of the ledger where doubts and fears reside - to the right side of the ledger where faith and trust live.

If you know me, you know I love to juxtapose things. I think it’s the quickest way to make complex ideas (and decisions) crystal clear.

What do I mean by juxtaposition? Get a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. The left column stands for what’s WRONG. The right column stands for what’s RIGHT.

Or the left column stands for what SABOTAGES or COMPROMISES our effectiveness and success. The right column stands for what SUPPORTS and CONTRIBUTES to our effectiveness and success.

Or, the left column stands for the PAST, the right column stands for the FUTURE.

You get the idea. When you are trying to make a decision, you can put down all the CONS and WORST CASE SCENARIOS (reasons to say NO or NOT GO) on the left. Put down all the PROS and the BEST CASE SCENARIOS (reasons to say YES or TO GO) on the right.

When I did this, it was clear to me that I had drifted over to the doubts and fears on the left side of the ledger because I had AN ABSENCE of INFORMATION.

Anxiety is defined as “not knowing.” I didn’t know what was happening and that absence of information caused a mild state of panic. When we don’t know, we start filling in the blanks, and those blanks often dwell on worse-case scenarios.

But, as Tom and Patty demonstrated, lack of information can be fixed. They gave me tangible resources that helped me regain confidence I could take care of myself and “figure it out” if things went wrong. They filled up the right side of the ledger with their positive experience and expectations that I could have the same.

I needed to do one more thing. When facing a big decision, I’ve always advised my sons to “take the bolder of the options.” I needed to project ahead and ask myself, “Would I regret being a ‘chicken’ and backing out of this trip?”

I think backing out of things is a slippery slope. It’s easy to start being cautious. Playing it safe can become a habit. That’s not who I want to be ... and that's not the path to our SerenDestiny.

George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

We have a choice when considering whether to take a trip – and I mean “trip” in every sense of the word. Trip to a new job. Trip to a new country. Trip to a new relationship. We can stay on the left side of the ledger and focus on worries and worse-case scenarios and talk ourselves out of going.

Or we can focus on the right side of the ledger, secure the information we need to feel safe, see the world as an adventurous place waiting to be explored and experienced ... and GO.

I chose the right side of the ledger and I’ll always be glad I did.

What Do I Know for SHORE?

Here at the point in Balboa Park near San Diego, CA. I’m smiling because I’ve decided that, as we near October 1st - the “official” end of my Year by the Water - I’m nowhere near ready for this to end.

As my friend Joan Fallon said, “Looks like this is transitioning into LIFE by the Water.” She’s right.

At this stage and season of life, if we're fortunate, we get to wrap our life around what we know for sure.

What I know for SHORE is I believe water is the best metaphor for life. What I know for SHORE is:

• I am happiest when I am by sun and water. • I am more creative when I am by sun and water. • I am more connected when I am by sun and water. • I am more healthy and active when I am by sun/water.

Ergo, since I am happier and more connected, creative, healthy and active when I am by sun and water … I shall continue to live on, in, by and around water.

I remember reading a poem years ago by Jenny Joseph called “When I Grow Old, I Shall Wear Purple.”

The essence of the poem is that in our “senior years,” we can finally stop playing by society’s rules and start honoring OUR interests, start doing what WE want to do.

I’ve always heard that if we go to a retirement home, we’ll find a lot of people who FEEL like they’re thirty inside who are wondering, “How did it go by so fast? I want it back.”

I don’t want it back. I want it NOW.

What I want is to continue to lead a life in alignment with my priorities and values. Those are:

• Staying connected with the people I love • Creating and contributing work I hope adds value • Exploring and experiencing this wonderful world of ours • Leading a life of SerenDestiny - a life where the light is on in my eyes • Being healthy and living each day in grateful joy

For me, that means being by the sun and water.

How about you?

Image may contain: 1 person , outdoor

So, When Are You Going to Settle Down?

As we wrap up September and head into October, my Year by the Water is supposed to be “over.”  settle down - small I’m getting emails asking “Where are you going to settle down?” or “What are you going to do when it’s over?”

Suffice it to say, I’m not ready for this to be over.  And the words “settle down” are not in my vocabulary.

Why would I want to stop having the best of all worlds?

I remember something James Taylor said while being interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning.  The reporter asked why it had taken him so long between albums.  Taylor said he had been touring non-stop and hadn’t had the time or energy to compose or create.

The reporter asked, “So, you took time off work?”

Taylor smiled and said, “I didn’t take time off work; I did a different kind of work.”

That’s how I feel.  I’m still productive, still speaking, coaching and consulting. I’m just doing it while traveling to bodies of water around the world and writing about my experiences and epiphanies.

I’m not taking time OFF work. I’m working in a new way - an even more meaningful, joyous way.

Sir Frances Bacon said, “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity.  We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, melting like a snowflake.”

I know I’m fortunate.  I’m in a season of my life where I have the freedom, autonomy and health to do this.   I have a “portable” business I can run from anywhere.  My sons are grown, out in the world and thriving. As Tom and Andrew told me, “Mom, we got this.”  I understand one of the best gifts I can give them now is to model that we have the power to create our own SerenDestiny - a life where the light is on in our eyes.

So, what’s next?  Well, I’m headed to Pismo Beach where I’ll be keynoting the Central Coach Writers Conference.  Then, on to DC to provide media training for NASA and to attend the Washington West Film Festival.  Then … CHINA.  More details on that coming up.

One of the many reasons I want to continue my Year by the Water is because there’s still so many places I haven’t seen yet.  I still haven’t been to Helen Keller’s lake where she said her first word, “Water.”  I still haven’t explored Hudson Valley, Lake Louise and Banff, and the Great Lakes, (which, by the way, is THE most frequently recommended body of water people say I should visit when I ask for suggestions.)

And, I’m looking forward to returning to Montana.  I was just there last week speaking for Senator Daine’s team.  State Director Charles Robison graciously arranged to take me fly-fishing on the Madison River, which was featured in the movie A River Runs Through It.  Processed with Snapseed.

Alas, I got food poisoning and this guy at the airport was the closest I got to fly-fishing.  So, I’ve got a sun-check (what we used to call rain-checks in Hawaii) to go back to Yellowstone and Big Sky Country.

How about you?  Are you doing what you want to do?  Even if you have responsibilities – you’re raising a family, taking care of your parents, working full-time plus, paying bills, out-of-work, dealing with a health challenge – what is one thing you could do this week that would put the light on in your eyes?  How can you bring more of that into your life on an ongoing basis?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year it’s how important it is for us to NOT WAIT for some future date to do what makes us happy.

I was having breakfast at an outdoor café near Morro Bay, CA on September 11.  A group of seniors at a nearby table were talking about how the country has “gone to hell in a hand basket” since then.  A rather grizzled gentleman in the group hadn’t said a word.  One of the women turned to him and said, “What do you think, Al?” He growled, “I think every day is a gift and we should act like it.”

Agreed.  Later that morning, I was driving through Santa Barbara on the way to LAX and stopped to get in my daily walk.  I encountered this stirring memorial on the beach by the pier.  I will always remember these flags, one for every person lost at the World Trade Center on 9/11, waving in the sea breeze.  A sobering reminder to cherish  ... every ... single ... day.

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Golden Times

I’m here in Morro Bay this week as part of my Year by the Water. I am filled with sweet and bittersweet memories. This is the where my mom and dad lived – actually nearby Los Osos - for the last years of their life. pelican fly bys golden hour morro rock

I remember holiday family reunions at their home, where my brother, sister and I returned as adults to gather around the table and go down Memory Row. For example, “Remember the Christmas Mom and Dad gave Dave a horse, and they got creative and placed some horse manure in a beautifully wrapped box to surprise him?"

I can picture it as if it were yesterday. Our entire extended family sat in a circle, each of us opening one present at a time. As soon as Dave unwrapped his gift, he knew what it meant. He threw the box up in the air and ran outside. Unfortunately, there was … gravity ... and the manure rained down on Mom’s beautiful red wool knit Christmas outfit.

One year, Dad (aka Warren Reed) rented ten horses and we made like Lawrence of Arabia and went riding over the sand dunes pictured in the background of this photo. What fun we had.

Dad also rented a large red canoe that held all ten of us and we paddled around the bay, getting up close to the herons, otters, seals, sailboats and pelicans.

As the Director of Vocational Ag Education for the State of California, Dad spent twenty years and thousands of hours driving around the state, visiting schools, county and state fairs, advising teachers and Future Farmers of America students on their projects.

Within weeks of retiring, he set off on a long-deferred dream to drive across America and visit all the national parks. It was something he’d always wanted to do – but had never had time due to his 7-day a week dedication to his job and serving others.

A week after setting off on his grand adventure, Dad had a stroke. Thankfully, he recovered, but he never did fulfill his life-long dream to see all those national parks.

A couple months after Dad had his stroke, I visited him from Hawaii and we went for a hike at nearby Montana Del Oro State Park. If you’ve been in this area, you know it’s a magnificent golden plateau with a trail that winds along dramatic sea cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great place to watch humpback whales, bask in the sun and sea breeze, and marvel at the foamy waves crashing on the shore below.

You know how you keep your head down when you’re hiking on uneven ground? Well, Dad and I were walking along with our eyes focused on the trail, when a premonition prompted us to look up.

There, fifty yards away, was a full-sized buck with an impressive rack of antlers. We had no idea where he came from or how he got there. There was no tall brush or trees, just an open field. the buck gazed at us without an ounce of fear. We gazed back at him.

If you live in California, you know that bucks simply don’t come out in the open. Even when it’s not hunting season, they usually head the other direction as soon as they get a whiff of human beings. This was so unusual, we both understood it was a gift, a blessing.

And so it is that I feel full-circle blessed experiencing this golden hour at Morro Rock. I am here with my sister and we too are going down Memory Row. Yes, we’re getting caught up on business, but we’ll also looking up in wonderment every once in a while as we marvel at our life-long journey together.

Cheri’s daughter is working in her business and helping with mine. Cheri is so grateful that Christina values what she does and has elected to learn the business and honor what she’s created. We talk about Andrew and Miki getting engaged, and Tom and Patty loving their son Mateo, and marvel that it seems like a few months ago we were riding horses over the dunes in Morro Bay.

midnight in parisAs part of my 60th birthday weekend in Washington DC, my family, friends and I saw Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris.” In that movie, the lead character, Owen Wilson, longs to go back to the era when Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali and Gertrude Stein hung out in Paris together. Through film-making magic and suspension of disbelief, Owen’s character gets his wish and gets to go back in time and kibbitz with these creative geniuses at the height of their powers.

Toward the end of the movie, a woman finds out “Owen” has time-traveled and begs him to share the magic and make it happen for her. Her dream is to go back to the age of the Renaissance and meet Rembrandt, Monet and Matisse.

Owen takes her by the shoulders and beseeches her, implores her to understand what he's discovered, “No, THESE are the golden days, THESE are the golden times.” She doesn’t listen to him. She’s convinced the grass is greener somewhere, sometime, else.

I knew it then and I know it now.

Anytime we are fortunate to be with people we love, THOSE are the golden times. Every day we are blessed with health, THOSE are the golden days. Every moment we get to explore this incredible country of ours and experience her natural wonders, THOSE are the golden moments. Every hour we get to do work we love that matters with people we enjoy and respect, THOSE are the golden hours.

So, here’s to the golden times, the golden days, the golden moments, the golden hours. May we steep ourselves in these blessings, imprint and appreciate them - right here, right now.

Sail OM

What a joy it was sailing on Chesapeake Bay with Captain Jen. I was in Annapolis, saw a flyer for Woodwind Schooners, called to sign up, and BOOM, was on the water later that afternoon.

Jen graciously gave me a go at the Woodwind II’s helm (yes, the same beautiful 74 foot schooner that was featured in the movie The Wedding Crashers.)

If you sail, you know what a visceral thrill it is when the sails fill with wind and the boat lifts, heels and digs in … all at the same time.  It is - in a word - uplifting.

I was so happy, I found myself humming Christopher Croft’s “Sailing” and The Commodores “Sail On.”

Part of the lyrics are:

“It's not far back to sanity at least it's not for me And when the wind is right you can sail away and find serenity Oh the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me

Sailing, takes me away To where I've always heard it Just a dream and the wind to carry me Soon I will be free”

And the melody in “Sail On” is: “Good times never felt so good”

A new friend on the boat snapped this picture and said, “You were so obviously in your element.  You were beaming.”

I laughed out loud and instantly realized what I was going to caption this photo.

Sail OM.

“Om” is defined as a “cosmic sound,” a “divine affirmation,” the “essence of breath” and “with which one is liberated.”

Yes … that is what it’s like sailing on a perfect, sunny day ...  alive, healthy, free and filled with gratitude.

How about you?

Do you sail?  What are some of your favorite memories of sailing?  What’s it mean to you?  What do you do that fills you with OM -  a "divine affirmation?"

It's not Serendipity ... It's SerenDestiny

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, "There will always be serendipity involved with discovery." You've know what I've found? "There will always be SerenDestiny involved with discovery."

Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

Do you know what I've found?  Chance favors the aligned mind.

Here's what I mean.

I've been driving west for the past week as part of my YEAR BY THE WATER.

smoky mountains

It was time to look for a place to stay. I deliberately don't book myself into hotels in advance because I like to make it up as I go. Sometimes I'm listening to a fascinating Audible (like Gloria Steinem's Life on the Road) and will drive for hours nonstop. Other times I discover an interesting town and decide to explore it, even if I've only been on the road an hour.

I was driving through the glorious Rocky and Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

They were so beautiful, I thought it'd be a crime to stay at a cookie-cutter "highway hotel" (e.g., Quality Inn or Comfort Inn) so I was keeping my eyes open for something green and in nature.

I saw a sign for Fairfield Glade Resort and thought, "That sounds green." I had no idea what it was, didn't know f they had places to rent, or if they'd have anything available, but it was worth checking it out, right? What did I have to lose?

Six miles down the road I found a reception center, walked in and asked if they had room at the inn. (smile).

Which is how, 20 minutes later, was I checking into a luxurious two bedroom condo with a washing machine, kitchen and spacious back porch overlooking woodlands - for about the same price as I would have paid for that Comfort Inn.

making waves and catching rays ... on the pontoon

Which is also how, bright and early the next morning, I found myself "making waves and catching rays (thanks Little Big Town) and piloting a pontoon boat on beautiful Lake Dartmoor, lined by the greenest golf courses I've ever seen.

What's the lesson? I didn't PLAN this. I didn't even KNOW this place existed.

All I did was get clear about what I did NOT want (no highway hotels, thank you) - and what I DID want (something green and in nature) - and then I kept my antenna up for it.

When I saw something that was in alignment with my wants and wishes, I investigated. There were no guarantees. I didn't know what was going to happen, but my instincts and intuition were saying CHECK IT OUT.

I remember seeing security consultant Gavin de Becker interviewed on a TV show. He said he discovered something profound when interviewing people who had survived an assault or kidnapping for his book "The Gift of Fear." His first question to them was, "Did you have any wrning?'

Guess what they all said? "I knew something was wrong."

But they let their intellect over-ride their instincts. They looked around and thought, "It's broad daylight. I'm in an armored car. What could happen?"

I thought, "If our instincts alert us when something's about to go WRONG; don't they also alert us when something's about to go RIGHT?"

If we have a sixth sense that alerts us to DISSONANCE (something to avoid, run from) ... don't we also have a sixth sense that alerts us to RESONANCE (something to approach, head towards)?

Again and again on my Year by the Water, I have encountered and experienced mini-miracles (swimming with Zach the Dolphin, sailing on Chesapeake Bay with Captain Jen) - and not one of them did I PLAN.

I simply kept my antenna up and when something CAUGHT my attention, I PAID attention. When something resonated that was in alignment with my instincts and interests, I pursued it.

And it invariably delighted me. Because, as discussed in previous posts, our instincts have our best interests at heart.

If you want a life where the light is on in your eyes - start honoring your instincts. Get clear about what you don't want - and what you do want.

our instincts are our headlights

When your instincts warn you away from someone or something that is dissonant - DON'T GO THERE. When your instincts alert you to someone or something who is resonant - CHECK IT OUT.

Beat-the-odds opportunities are not luck, an accident or coincidence. They are not serendipity; they are your SerenDestiny, your best future meeting you halfway.

Author E.L. Doctorow was asked what it was like writing a novel. He said, "It's kind of like driving a car at night. You can only see to the end of your headlights; but you can make the whole trip that way."

Our instincts are our headlights.

Honor them. Act on them. They can help create a trip (and a life) that is in alignment with your interests, and that puts and keeps the light on in your eyes.

P.S. That beautiful photo of the flower above? That was taken on a sunset walk in my Oak Knoll neighborhood here at Fairfield Glade. More proof of the beauty we find when we pay attention to what catches our attention.

Abandon Absolutes

Several years ago, my friend Mary LoVerde (Oprah favorite and author of The Invitation) gave me a gift.

IMG_2612

She took a week to work with me to feng shui my home, and in doing so, feng shui'd my life.

You may be familiar with Maria Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That’s what Mary did for me. It was indeed a life-changing experience.

Here is just one of the metaphorical insights of those eye-opening days.

For anyone who knows me, it’s no surprise to learn I used to live neck-up. I lived in my brain, not my body. Material things didn’t matter much to me.

My bedroom faced Lake Audubon. Because it looked out on trees (not people’s houses) I didn’t have drapes on the windows so nothing obstructed my gaze outside.

Mary said, “Want to try some sheers on those windows?”

I stated rather unequivocally, ”Why? We can’t improve on Mother Nature.”

Mary smiled and said in her inimitably gentle way, “Well, let’s experiment. We can always take them back.”

So, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, my first trip ever to this domestic emporium.

I don’t know what came over me. I made my way to the curtain department, spied some diaphanous sheers with a delicate design, walked over, put my arms around them and said, “These.” We added some gold tassels, made some other purchases and headed home.

As soon as Mary put up the sheers, their sublime combination with the windows settled in my soul. I realized how RIGHT they were together.

What an epiphany. We can improve on Mother Nature. Water, trees and exquisite beauty weren’t an either/or … they were the best of BOTH worlds.

It made me wonder, “Where ELSE in my world was I making absolutes I should revisit? Where else had I reached unequivocal, either/or, right/wrong conclusions that were … wrong?”

One of the absolutes I decided to revisit was the promise I made to myself years ago to never read books in my genre.

This originated because of something that happened early in my career. A man came up to me after a Tongue Fu! workshop and said, “You must have read a lot of Tony Robbins. Your work is a lot like his.”

Maybe he meant it as a compliment, but it came across as if he thought I’d copied Tony’s work. I knew Tony (a little). He had been gracious enough to endorse myTongue Fu! book, and I could understand there might be some similarities in our approaches; but I certainly hadn’t ripped off his techniques and it bothered me that someone might think I had.

I realized I couldn’t control what other people thought; but I could be sure I wasn’t cribbing peers’ work by not reading their books. So, for years, I watchedCBS Sunday Morning, read newspapers and magazines and referenced people outside our industry; but was careful not to read peers’ work.

These last few months on my Year by the Water, I decided it was time to revisit that absolute. I started listening to and reading Elon Musk, Gloria Steinem, Cheryl Strayed, Mindy Kaling and Paulo Coehlo.

And, after the owner of the Stinson Beach book store recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book EAT PRAY LOVE... MADE ME DO ITI found myself inspired by the stories of individuals who had been moved to make changes because her book inspired them to realize, “Life doesn’t have to look like this.”

I know I’m getting ahead of myself, and realize this may sound rather grandiose  because the first book YEAR BY THE WATER hasn’t even come out yet.

However, I hope that someday there will be a follow-up book called YEAR BY THE WATER ... MADE ME DO IT.

The good news is, I’m already hearing inspiring stories of people who have been motivated to jump off their aircraft carrier career and explore other parts of the ocean.

I’m already hearing what’s happened as a result of someone putting a date on the calendar.

I’m already hearing how people are leaving room for whimsputting themselves in their own story, and seeing life as an open (not empty) nest.

So, here’s my request.

If any of these posts resonate with you and inspire you to do something different – whether it’s to appreciate your freedom of movement or to not wait for work you love – will you let me know?

With your permission, I’ll share your story with other people following this adventure.

Maybe your story will be the one that strikes a chord.

Maybe your tale of how you were motivated to abandon an absolute will be the one that shows them life doesn’t have to look like this and they choose to change things up (I love that phrase).

I look forward to hearing from you – as do others.

Has My Career Become an Aircraft Carrier?

 I had the pleasure of sharing my "What's Your Legacy Message?" workshop with ‪#‎CAM‬ - Conversation Among Masters - last week in Las Vegas.

This is a unique group of the world's top master coaches who have the tangible joy of doing work they love that matters.

aircraft carrier

The thing is, many have been doing this type of work for 20-30 years.

What can we do NEXT when we really like where we are?  How can we evolve and move forward in fresh, perhaps even more meaningful, ways instead of doing what we've always done?

Many participants came up after my workshop to tell me my "aircraft carrier" metaphor really resonated with them.

One said, "I never saw my career as an aircraft carrier. Now that I do, I see how easy it would be to just keep steaming along in the same direction unless I choose to do things differently."

I shared with the group that a Navy pilot who used to fly off aircraft carriers told me something about them I've never forgotten.

"Do you know how you STOP an aircraft carrier? You DON'T. You can turn off the engines, but it keeps going for miles because of its mass and momentum. Even if you put the engines in FULL REVERSE, it takes up to 4 miles to come to a complete halt. Just to TURN an aircraft carrier can take up to 10 miles."

I shared that one of the reasons I decided to take off on my YEAR BY THE WATER adventure is because I realized my life/work had become an aircraft carrier, A GOOD one, but still, an aircraft carrier.

I'd lived in the same area for 14 years. I've been speaking, writing and consulting for 25 years. I've engaged in the same hobbies/habits for 30 years.

There was nothing WRONG with my life. I was happy. I loved my family, friends, job, the people I get to work with, where I lived.

But if we agree with Jeff Bezos that it's a danger not to evolve ...

If we agree with Helen Keller that life is abundant and supposed to be an adventure, an experiment ...

And I do ...

Then it was time to jump off the carrier and do something different.

It's a big ocean out there and I was only seeing/experiencing part of it.

In our program, I shared many reasons people DON'T get off their aircraft carriers. Responsibilities. Obligations. People depending on them. Fear. Bills to pay. Perceived lack of money or education. The default of habits. The anchor of the status quo.

Some of us simply don't know what to do next and we're not about to abandon a "sure thing" for the uncertain.

We addressed those "barriers to exit," and I shared inspiring success stories of people who overcame their initial "failure to launch."

I shared that one barrier that's come up for me, and that seems to be an issue for many people, is that jumping off an aircraft carrier can come across as "selfish" when we have others relying on us.

Such is the case for George R.R. Martin. Yes, the author of the incredibly successful Game of Thrones series.

george r r martin

I read a startling excerpt from a Daily Mash interview where GRRM (as he's called in the biz) said,

“I was a hundred thousand words into Winds of Winter. I’ve got armies in one continent, zombies in another, dragons burning things all over the place and numerous uninteresting sub-plots involving minor noblemen whose names I cannot currently recall. It is, by anyone’s reckoning, a ... nightmare.

I was looking at several more months of inhumanly hard graft and even then everyone is bound to slag it off as ‘unsatisfying’.

Meanwhile it is a lovely day outside and I am an older man with more money than I can possibly ever spend.

You tell me why I should finish this? It’s an honest question. Someone else can do it if they like, I’m cool with that.”

WOW. George R. R. Martin is seriously considering JUMPING SHIP.

As you can imagine, his publisher, HBO and millions of fans are pressuring him not to. They want, need, expect him to continue producing the books they love.

The question is, "WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?"

After dedicating decades of his life to creating a series that has delighted people around the world and made millions of dollars - for him and others - does he have the RIGHT to do what HE wants at this stage of his career and life?  To put his commitments aside and enjoy the lovely day outside?

Who is he beholden to? His fans and followers? Or himself?

How about you?

Has your life and career become an aircraft carrier? A successful aircraft carrier? Will you keep steaming along because lots of people are counting on you to keep doing what you're doing? At what cost?

Do you have the right to do what YOU want? Is that selfish? Whose life is it, anyway?

Even if your life and career are headed in good directions, are they the SAME directions they've been going in for decades?

Is it time to evolve, to explore other areas of the ocean you haven't yet seen?

There are options of course.

Maybe we don't have to jump off the carrier. Maybe we just fly off the carrier now and then to take side trips. Maybe we can turn the carrier in new directions, explore different parts of the ocean, stop in new ports.

What are your thoughts about this?

 

Roads Less Traveled

I'd like to introduce my new friend ... GPS.. Can you believe, before this trip, I never used GPS?

I remember when my son Tom, a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, moved from Reston, VA to Houston to start working at Mission Control at Johnson Space Center.

I asked him, 'What route are you going to take? Through the Smoky Mountains or along the Gulf Coast?"

He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "GPS, Mom."

I now know what he means.

After crisscrossing the country from coast to coast, I don't know how I could have navigated it without its much-welcomed voice telling me where to turn and when.

I'm also grateful to the little GPS lady for helping me discover treasures off the beaten (or grid-locked) path.

I was driving from Duck, NC to Washington DC on the notorious 95. This was a Sunday, not a work day, so there shouldn't have been much traffic, right?

Wrong!  95 was backed up for miles. Thank heaven, the trusty little GPS lady pinged me with a "faster route now available."

But it wasn't just a faster route ... it was a fresher route.

I've traveled that stretch of 95 dozens of times. Been there, driven that. But I've never explored the green back roads through rolling horse country and experienced the charming small towns that exist minutes away from that congested interstate.

I couldn't get over the fact that I might not have ever known about this lovely part of Virginia if it hadn't been for that "detour."  I also couldn't get over the fact that this unexpected beauty ran almost parallel, often less than a mile away, from that crowded highway.

Metaphorically speaking, it made me wonder what other "roads less traveled" exist off our beaten path?

Where else are we taking an obvious, habitual route instead of exploring different options?

Where else are we settling for crowded paths instead of striking out on our own?

What delights await us if we dare to do the new instead of the tried and true?

Another well-deserved shout-out to Audible, my constant driving companion on my Year by the Water.

Over the last 10,000 miles (really, started Oct. 1 and my loyal Toyota Highlander just logged its 10,420th mile), I have never been alone or lonely.

First, because I stay connected via a current of loving relationships with my friends and family who are with me -  even when they're not with me.

Second, because I've laughed out loud, reflected, been endlessly intrigued and even shed some tears as I listen to fascinating authors share their life stories and insights.

A favorite has been Gloria Steinem's "My Life on the Road." In her thought-provoking memoir,  she recalls campaigning for both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton as they competed for the 2008 Democratic nomination. When it was time to make a choice, she couldn't make up her mind who to endorse.

She finally had an epiphany.

Barack Obama would probably NOT feel betrayed or lose the nomination if she did not endorse him. But Hilary might; so she endorsed Hilary.

Hmmm ....

Back to deciding which routes to take in our life.

I think, at some level, we betray ourselves when we consistently take the crowded route.

A more interesting life lies just off the congested path.

A more memorable, roads less traveledmeaningful life unfolds when we have the courage and curiosity to strike out on our own and take roads less traveled.

Your thoughts?