Tag Archives: travel

Why Travel Is Good for Your Brain, and Your Business

Photo credit: Jen McClurg

I hear a lot of complaints about air travel these days.

Airports are too slow. Too crowded. Too this. Too that.

But me? I love airports. I love the sheer variety of human beings and their stories that are played out on those concourses every hour. I love thinking about where they’ve all come from and where they’re all going. 

It probably helps that I love flying, too. :)

These photos are from a trip I took to upstate New York in July.  You don’t see things like this when you’re stuck behind your desk.

But it’s not just flying. I love driving just as much. Exploring a new road, wandering through a new town, driving across a new state. I find that equally fascinating. If you have an open and curious mind, just seeing the way the land changes across the miles can make you think.

I grew up with parents who loved to travel, and clearly they’ve passed that love on to me. I don’t even care about the hassle factor.

The expansion – and delight – that I experience with travel is worth whatever I have to do to get there.

But not only is travel pleasurable, it’s good for you.

As you’re reading this, I’m on yet another Adventure, exploring the land and lilting music of Ireland. While here, I’ve been invited to speak to a large group of entrepreneurs in Dublin about how they can build more confidence and be more successful in their businesses.

And I created that talk on the plane to New York last month.

Getting out of your familiar surroundings frees up physical and mental energy in ways that you probably feel, but may not recognize.

And if you’re an entrepreneur, travel is an especially effective way to get your creative juices going.

Have you been anywhere new lately? If not, you may be missing out.

Here’s what travel will do for your brain – and your business.

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What to Do When You Lose Your Way

Compass -frankieleonHave you ever been lost? Like – really lost?

I have – so many times it’s not funny. Well actually, it IS funny.

Sometimes very funny.

Once, I drove almost 60 miles on the back roads of my own county, just trying to find my way to a main road. (It’s easy to do that where I live.)

Another time, I wandered almost 100 miles out of my way driving across Virginia. Have I told you that story?

I love traveling, even when I can’t afford the time nor the money to do so. So when I was invited to visit Virginia Beach for a one day workshop that I knew would help my business, I really wanted to go.

I tossed and turned and worked on it in the back of my mind. Flying wouldn’t work – too expensive. Riding a bus wouldn’t work – no direct routes. As for driving, it was  too far (at least 9 hours each way) to make sense for a one day event.

And then, in the middle of the night, it hit me.  Continue reading

Why not add a Little Adventure to your holidays?

Christmas Drivers - by Dustin Gaffke

So how are those holiday preparations coming?

Are you one of those who had everything bought and wrapped back in July? Or perhaps you’re more like me, one who can’t shop for a Christmas gift until I hear Christmas music – after Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is a loaded time of year for so many of us.

For some, it really is a time of happy chaos and joyful anticipation. For others, it means insane workloads and tremendous pressure. (Talk to a mail carrier or a church choir leader lately?)

As for those of you who follow other traditions, I don’t know what kind of preparation pressures you’re under, but I’m sure you’ve got ’em too!

And then there are many for whom the holiday season is just something to get through, a really hard time of year for all kinds of reasons.

So it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ about now.

We should BE this. We should DO that. We should FEEL this. We should WANT that. If we’re not careful, we can talk ourselves into a tizzy about all the things we ‘should’ do at Christmas.

Sometimes, though, I think it helps to shake things up a bit. Who says we have to do everything the exact same way year after year? Who says we have to do everything the exact same way our parents did? Or the way our neighbors do?

If it’s okay to try new recipes in the kitchen, isn’t it okay to try a new twist on other traditions as well?

Sure it is.

So I thought I’d share with you some unique holiday ideas I’ve heard over the years that struck my fancy. Call it the Adventure of the Unexpected – the adventure that comes when we add something a little unexpected to some time honored traditions.

Who knows? Maybe one of these will strike your fancy.

Ready? Here you go: 6 ways to add some unexpected to YOUR holiday.

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C2C Apps: Life Lessons from the Back of a Canoe

SACW #27 - Little River Canoe Trip

Little River Canoe Trip                                                                                  Photo Credit – Wendy Pitts Reeves

There is no such thing as a straight path – to anywhere you really want to go.

Whether you’re talking about the path to love, the path to self-confidence, the path to success, there will be surprises and lessons at every bend along your way.

In fact, no matter where you want to go or what you want to achieve – your journey there will be messy and unpredictable. It will carry you forward in ways you will never really expect.

Sometimes you’ll spin around in circles, sometimes you’ll get stuck. Sometimes you’ll fly forward and sometimes you’ll just…drift.

Much like floating down a river, don’t you think?

That was just one of the things I thought about during our recent Secret Adventure for Courageous Women.

Last weekend, a small group of Courageous (and trusting) Women joined me for a day of Adventure, with no idea what we’d be doing. They signed up for the August trip, the kickoff to our 4th season, knowing that whatever we did that day, we would learn something interesting, meet some wonderful folks, and have – most likely – a boatload of fun.

Pun intended.

And yes, that’s exactly what happened. :)

We took a long, winding canoe trip, paddling just over 7 miles down the Little River. This lovely river has headwaters that start way up high at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and flows over 60 miles before emptying into what will become the Tennessee River.

The not-so-large and often unassuming Little River is the source of all drinking water for over 100,000 residents in Blount County, Tennessee, and brings untold millions in recreation and tourism dollars to this region of the state.

It’s a beautiful stretch of water.

If you live around here, you’ve followed that river a thousand times, driving beside it as most of us do when visiting Cades Cove for a family picnic or a Sunday drive.  You may have even done a little tubing up at the “Wye”, a popular spot where locals cool off on hot summer days.

But moving with the river from its center,
with a paddle in your hand,
is a completely different experience.

This is a gentle river, a perfect place for those who want a day of peace, with just enough excitement for anyone just learning how to paddle a canoe or kayak.

And it has much to teach us.

Our guide for the day was Jon Michael Mollish, the son of River John, who owns a little bit of paradise in the form of an island downstream. Jon Michael grew up on that river. He’s an aquatics biologist for the TVA, so he knows everything there is to know about what lives in, under, on or around most of our southern waterways.

He was a terrific guide, patient with our inexpert paddling, brave during sharp turns and what rapids there were. At times, he stood waist deep in the water and acted like a human bumper shield, pushing us away from trouble and back out to safe water.

He poked around to find young dragon flies (they don’t look anything like their pretty adult selves) and used words like “cartilaginous”. (Say THAT three times fast!) He pointed out historical places and river willow and taught us the most significant source of water pollutant in the world.

(It’s not what you’d think.)

But in addition to the ecological, biological, and economical impact of a healthy river, there were other lessons waiting for us as well.

Here’s a few we took from our day.

Life Lessons from the Little River

1. You don’t really have to know exactly where you’re going, to get there.

Just keep moving forward. No matter how winding and wandering your path, you will eventually reach your goal, even when you’re not entirely sure what it looks like.

2. Teamwork takes practice.

Sometimes you’ll be a better fit at the front of the boat, driving the engine, making things go. Sometimes you’ll be a better fit for the back of the boat, charting the course, steering the craft. You won’t know that, though, unless you try both roles, and are patient with your partners – and yourself – while you figure that out.

3. Trying something new is good for you.

If you’re willing to step outside the safe routine of your daily life and try something new, you’ll be proud of yourself for trying it, no matter what you do or how well it goes.

4. Laughter makes everything easier.

If you’re willing to make mistakes with gusto, and hold on to your sense of humor, you’ll enjoy the trip (that is, your life) a lot more.  :)

5. Hiring the right help makes all the difference.

Having the right guide on any journey makes a huge difference in the quality of your experience, the speed at which you learn, and the ease with which you arrive. That applies to everything from learning how to float a river to learning a new language to building a business.

6. You can always turn a negative into a positive.

If you’re creative, everything is a lesson, and even mistakes become a work of art.

One boat perfected their signature move, The Twirl, as they twirled their way through every rapid we crossed ;-) How often do you feel like you’re just spinning in circles, going nowhere? Just go with it, and you’ll straighten right back up again soon enough. Eventually, you’ll find that you’ve actually made progress – though you couldn’t tell at the time.

Another Courageous pair got better and better at getting stuck on rocks – and getting off them again. Doesn’t that happen to all of us? We get stuck on those same rocks all the time. We get overwhelmed and shut down. Or we run into a problem we (think we) can’t solve.

The key is to avoid the rocks when you can, of course.  But when you can’t, just figure out what you need to help you get unstuck, and be on your way.

One pair zigzagged from one bank to the other, like a drunk driver weaving down the river. That’s what happened when my paddling partner graciously offered me a chance to be in the back of the canoe. (I do so much better in a kayak!) Thank heavens she had a sense of humor!

Sometimes owning a business feels a little like that, as we careen from one idea to the next, one opportunity to the next. But with time, and practice, we will eventually get the hang of it, settling down into a path that flows forward with ease.

And if I can just get back into a canoe soon and get a little more practice under my belt, I might just get there myself! So I’m thinking of repeating this experience in early October. Let me know if you’d like to come. We might even throw in dinner and a campfire on the island next time.

In the meantime, be patient with yourself. You’re doing better than you think you are, and the river – that is time, circumstance and experience – is carrying you towards your goals too, in it’s own winding, messy way. Just keep paddling, and enjoy the journey.

You’ll get there soon enough. 

Courageous Women

A Defeat, A Detour, and A Grand Adventure: The Rest of the Story

Remember: I was defeated, lost, and afraid

(Read last week’s post for the beginning of this story.)

I was 22 years old, on my own, no family within 500 miles, and no prospects for my future. I was trapped in an entry level job making $4.20 an hour. I desperately needed a way to get my confidence back. And I had No Idea What to Do.

So, I’d decided to go to Switzerland.

Heck, what would you have done? :)

I’d wanted to go to Switzerland ever since seeing the TV movie “Heidi” as a girl. It wasn’t the story that got me so much, although that was nice enough.

It was the scenery.

I live in the shadow of Appalachian mountains that are millions of years old, mountains for which I carry a deep love. The Alps are their giant, younger cousins across the ocean, and I felt an instant connection to them from the start.

But I’d never known anyone who’d been to Europe; only “rich people” did things like that. To me, a trip to Europe might as well be a trip to the moon.

Then college opened my eyes to new possibilities. Suddenly, I knew real people, other students, making minimum wage themselves, who went to Europe all the time! They carried backpacks, rode trains, and stayed in something called a ‘hostel’, which sounded mysterious and intriguing.

And they weren’t rich; in fact, they were usually pretty broke. Surely if they could do it, I could too.

THIS was something I could control.

No one had to let me in.

Whether I went, or not, was successful or not, made it or not, was totally up to me.

I didn’t need anyone’s permission to go.

And I had no one but myself to blame if I didn’t.

I liked that. :)

So this is what I did.

1. I bought a map.
First, I bought a map, a real map, that showed Switzerland, Austria and what was then “West” Germany. Then I went to the public library and checked out every book I could find on those three countries, and on European travel.

2. I asked for advice.
Next, I visited a travel agency. I thought you had to PAY to use their services. I didn’t know you could just walk in, ask a few questions, and get a ton of help – for free! Once I learned that, I was there all the time. I started collecting brochures, maps and any literature that had anything to do with Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

3. I studied.
I went to the bookstore and bought a couple of Fodors and Michelin travel guides. I read them voraciously, pen in hand, marking key points, and highlighting places that sounded really interesting. Between the books and the maps, a route began to take shape.

4. I made a plan – and a budget.
Eventually, I developed a rough budget, with a goal for the money I thought I’d need to spend a month overseas.

Yes. A Month.

(If I’m going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I’m gonna make it count.)

I set a target date two years out. I divided the total amount I would need by the months left to that target, and set a monthly savings goal.

In other words, if I saved X dollars a month for 2 years, I would have what I needed to spend a month in Europe: riding trains, staying in hostels,

…and seeing the Swiss Alps, for real.

5. I learned the language.

I know. Sounds crazy.

I signed up for ‘real’ German classes taught at the university; not the quickie, ‘How to Speak German in 5 Weeks or Less” courses you see here or there. These were for-credit courses, tailored to undergraduate students, starting from the ground up.

Vocabulary tests. Conjugating verbs. The whole works.

Mind you, I’d already graduated, but if I was going to travel to a foreign country I wanted to be able to understand the language.

Two years of high school Spanish wouldn’t help in Switzerland. Two years of German, would.

6. I went to Switzerland. And Germany. And Austria. :)

Two years later, I flew to Munich, rented a car, and began a two week drive around the Alps of Central Europe.

I explored the beautiful Bavarian region of southern W. Germany, had a pint at the real Oktoberfest, and cried at Dachau.

I drove to Switzerland, where I stayed in a miniature castle on the shores of Lake Geneva, drove right up to the base of the Matterhorn, and walked on an Alpine glacier.

In Austria, I toured the sprawling Salzburg castle where “The Sound of Music” was filmed, saw the home of Freud, and toured the opulent Vienna State Opera.

Mont Blanc, Switzerland

Mont Blanc, Switzerland

And through it all, the mountains were beyond
anything I could have imagined.

My boss cut my trip to two weeks at the last minute. So five years later I went back, and that time – I did stay for a full month.

On my second trip, I completed what many call the “Grand Tour”, driving to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Lichtenstein, Belgium, Holland, France…. And later, England and Scotland, as well.

As life unfolded, I went on to complete a Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work, and was trained in a way that, for me, is a MUCH better fit than a psychologist ever would have been.

And I’ve created a successful career doing exactly what I love, exactly as I’d hoped.

So yes, I got my confidence back. :)

The story here is about one hard time in my life, and what I did to cope. I was young then.

But as any woman who’s been around for any length of time knows, life throws us curve balls all the time. There have been many, many times since then when I’ve found myself up against a wall: scared, worried, pounded with self doubt, and no idea what to do.

And the skills I gained from that first brush with failure have carried me through all the tough times since.

You see – I didn’t know it then, but the truth is, I was already a Courageous Woman.

I just didn’t know it.

Like so many of you.

I just lost my nerve for a while and didn’t have the confidence to find my way forward.  It was in choosing to tackle something bigger than me that I began to discover, or maybe re-discover, what I could really do.

By doing something that scared me to death, I moved from Courage to Confidence.

And that’s why I do what I do today.

And why when you don’t know what to do, I challenge you, too.

Go. Do something Big.

Photo Credits: Kecko, Peuplier on Flickr