Giving Tuesday | A New Reason to Celebrate

giving tuesday

Yesterday I was researching stories, looking for a new spin to put on Thanksgiving Day and coming up empty. I can make a list of creative ways to celebrate the day or things I’m grateful for, but it feels lackluster, maybe even trite. The problem is that Thanksgiving is overshadowed by consumer madness, which impinges on the day and dilutes its focus. Now there’s new light on the weekend with the creation of #GivingTuesday.

Don’t get me wrong. Even though gratitude is something to practice every day, I love the idea of a day dedicated to collectively showing gratitude for the abundance we enjoy. And it’s certainly wonderful that many families choose this as the one time of year that they come together in celebration and appreciation.

GT_2014Web-Banner_250x250_3-150x150There’s some debate over the origin of the term Black Friday, but what’s not in question is that it’s marked the official kickoff to Christmas shopping since the mid 1920’s. With Canadian retailers struggling to compete, it’s caught on north of the border as well. Not to miss the burgeoning of online shopping, Cyber Monday came along in 2005 after a survey showed just how popular it was.

With all that money going out for gifts, charities were suffering at a time of year when many people are most in need. Two years ago, #GivingTuesday was created by the UN Foundation and the 92nd Street Y, designating the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day dedicated to social giving and volunteerism.

The movement is already global and there’s no shortage of ideas on how to participate. A quick twitter search on #givingtuesday shows the momentum which has already built, both from those wishing to give, and those receiving. Businesses and philanthropic organizations are matching donations or giving back in multiples.

Screenshot-2014-05-30-10.15.08Here are a few of my favorite ways to get involved:

  1. On #GivingTuesday, post an unselfie of yourself making a difference.
  2. Express gratitude to your friends on your favorite social network.
  3. Contribute to a local charity.
  4. Volunteer for a local charity.
  5. Get involved with a community organization.
  6. Make a donation on behalf of someone instead of purchasing a gift.
  7. Make a family project out of going through your home, collecting up what is not being used (that’s clean and in good shape), and donate it to a charity that sets up homes for families in need.
  8. Don’t drive for a day. Or better yet, find a way to reduce your consumption of fossil fuels. You’re giving back to the earth, and future generations.
  9. Challenge colleagues to come up with a way to mark the day, and then celebrate your successes together.
  10. Publish a story in your company’s newsletter or blog about how their community investment has made a difference.

Tomorrow is a day for giving thanks, followed by two days for getting deals, and now a day to give back. How will you make a difference on #GivingTuesday?

Still stuck for an idea? Check out these sites and get inspired.

 

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Posted in Leadership, Personal Growth

9 Ways to Enjoy Cold Weather Travel

by Liz Jansen

In my neck of the woods, late season travel invariably means cold weather travel, and it can be just as enjoyable as riding at any other time.  A new annual tradition started in 2009. Friends, more like family really, moved from San Francisco to Atlanta and invited me to visit them in mid-October. Seeing an opportunity to visit family I see far too little, and get some late season riding in, of course I accepted. Getting together has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition, one I look forward to all year. Unfortunately it won’t work out this year, so these tips go out to those of you lucky enough to still be riding during this unseasonably cold autumn.

In spite of all my years of riding, I was still relatively green about prolonged cold weather riding on that first trip. My  only heated gear was an electric vest. I figured I could manage the temperatures with snowmobile gloves and layers. Wrong. I got off luckier than my bike, and learned valuable lessons.

cold weather travelIn addition to celebrating in Atlanta, we’ve spent the holiday on Jekyll Island, SC, and Edisto Island, SC, at lovely beach hangouts. Traveling there while staying warm, dry and cozy, and feeling the cool air when you lift your visor is exhilarating. With the leaves off the trees, you see things now that you don’t see at any other time of the year.

Since that first trip I’ve collected better, more appropriate gear and am wiser about late season riding. For those of you who also love to extend your season safely, here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Wear the right gear. The secret to staying comfortable and alert with cold weather riding is having the right gear. I’m now outfitted from ankles to neck with electric gear and can ride all day in -5 deg. C temps, staying toasty warm. My helmet is quiet, draft-free and the best I’ve ever worn.
  1. Manage layering effectively. I now wear an Icebreaker merino wool base layer top, leggings and socks. They add insulation without adding bulk and are perfect for under heated gear.
  1. Carry spare fuses. When turned up on high, heated gear can draw a lot of energy. The year I added my electric pant liners, I blew a fuse because I hadn’t (read the instructions) swapped in a higher amp fuse. In any case, it’s good to have spares. The heat is essential.
  1. Adjust travel time. Daylight is scarce at this time of year and I don’t like riding through the mountains in the dark. It’s also harder to read the road surface and detect unsafe surface conditions. That means getting an early start and calling it a day sooner than I normally would. It’s actually a good thing because your body needs more rest.
  1. Be flexible. The weather is unpredictable at this time of year. I’ll leave a day or two early and have contingency plans built into my schedule to allow for unfavourable weather.
  1. Stay hydrated. Even bundled up so you’d think no moisture could escape, you lose water. Carry water that’s easily accessible, like in your tank bag, so you can sip safely while riding. The downside with multiple layers is that stopping for a bio break is a big inconvenience.
  1. Take frequent breaks. Riding can lull you into a false sense of wellbeing. It’s important to get off the bike, even if just to stretch your legs for five minutes every hour. I usually try and time bio breaks and fuel stops accordingly, to economize time.
  1. Know where you’re going. You don’t want to burn daylight looking for directions or a place to stop enroute. Until this year, my only GPS was the one on my iPhone, so I planned more precisely at this time of year, given the importance of time.
  1. Have a back up plan. The weather is unpredictable and safety is the top priority. Cold is manageable but I draw the line on ice and snow.

If you’d like to extend your season and try cold weather riding,  you don’t need to ride across the country. Start small and test it out. You may find, as I did, that it can be very enjoyable. Typically, once I get back, it’s time for the bike to go into hibernation. And getting it ready for a smooth spring start-up.

 

photo credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via photopin cc

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Posted in Motorcycle Tips, Travel

Ron Grace | Lost for a Reason

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 6.02.44 PM

Ron Grace and Mark Levesque co-founded Lost for a Reason.org (LFAR)  as a way to say THANK YOU to the children and families on the Navajo reservation for the use of the land on which they ride, run and explore. It’s a way to help children and families in need. They listen to the families and do their best to fill whatever needs they have from personal items to playgrounds.

LFAR3LFAR has ONE real mission: To help children and families. Whether they are buying food for the food bank, supplies for school kids, playgrounds for kids to just be kids their ONE real mission can be accomplished with your help.

In this episode, Ron Grace talks about the concept  behind LFAR, how a chance meeting with a Navajo Police Officer ignited an idea, and how the movement has evolved.

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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The story behind LFAR
  • How the actions of several an make a difference for many
  • How developing relationships facilitates positive change—and how you can do it
  • How to introduce a long term, sustainable difference
  • How anyone can make a difference
  • A fantastic way to combine motorcycling and giving back in awesome riding areas
  • Other ways to participate in LFAR
  • How you can make a difference in your geographic area

LFAR2Ron had been riding in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah for 10-15 years, traveling there with his dad. It’s a beautiful area to ride, with places like Mexican Hat, Valley of the Gods, and Monument Valley. He had his dream bike—a BMW Dakar and wanted to ride it everywhere. He loved that he got to meet people on a quick individual basis.

LFAR1

“When you get lost, you go and talk to people and ask them for directions. If you allow yourself a little bit of time to ask a couple of extra questions—like, how long they’ve lived there, or how they like it there, you start to develop a relationship.”  On a motorcycle that’s the best thing in the world and he allowed himself plenty of time to do that. “It might take six hours as opposed to four hours to travel anywhere, but so be it.”

A meeting with a Navajo Police Officer at the side of the road started an idea, which through action and small changes, is making a big difference in the lives of others.

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“You can’t just pass by and not do anything. It burns a hole in you.”  Ron Grace

“Do something small. It makes a big difference.” Ron Grace 

“People are good to the core. If you let them know about things, they’ll help you.” Ron Grace 

Resources

Watch Ron’s interview about Lost for a Reason here:


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Posted in Adventure, Leadership, Podcasts

Reader Survey | Get the Content You Want

small_10497578506When you’ve mastered two wheels, you can master anything. This winter, you’ve got an opportunity to enjoy the content you need, to do what you really want with your life. Whether that’s fine-tuning what you’re already doing, making life changes, or getting ready for next season’s travel, I’d like to hear about it.

Since my Wheels to Wisdom quest has taken me off the motorcycle and brought me back to Ontario for a while (in the winter), I’m using the time to do something else I love: create webinars, articles, and events with topics you’re looking for and tools you can use right away to put what you learn into practice in your life.

But I need to know what that is.

Please help by completing this brief survey by Friday November 21. I’ll be sure to share the results with anyone who responds. Thank you!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
photo credit: chrissinerantzi via photopin cc

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Posted in Leadership, Life Lessons from Motorcycles, Personal Growth

13 World Kindness Day Ideas

by Liz Jansen

small__15204320555It seems absurd to have to call specific attention to being kind when it’s part of our nature, especially to an audience of motorcycle riders. As a group, we’re known for our acts of charity and kindness. Just look at any summer riding calendar and observe the charity events schedule. Yet committing an intentional act of kindness is exactly the idea behind World Kindness Day.

Yet since genuine displays of kindness have far-reaching effects and change not only the recipient but also the donor, it bears visiting on today, World Kindness Day. Your selfless actions also set an example and encourage others to follow suit. After all, the world needs kindness now more than ever. Read: Can Kindness Be Taught

The list of kindness gestures is endless and if you’re open to them, you’ll spot opportunities throughout the day. Pledge to commit one random act of kindness today, and then do it.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Donate books, food or clothes to your local community organization.
  2. Hold the door open for a stranger.
  3. Compliment someone you don’t usually see eye to eye with (even a competitor) on a creative idea they’ve had.
  4. Bring your neighbor’s recycle boxes in from the curb (so they don’t get blown onto the road and run over as mine did).
  5. Mail someone a card to let him or her know you’re thinking about him.
  6. Email a personal message of encouragement to someone who’s going through a challenging time. This has been extremely touching to me over the past few months.
  7. Offer to run an errand for someone who’s having difficulty getting around.
  8. Let someone with fewer items in the grocery checkout go ahead of you.
  9. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk as well as your own.
  10. Offer to give someone a ride to his or her destination.
  11. Make and deliver a meal to a shut-in. (Our local Youth Shelter loves it when people bring in ready-cooked meals, and they offer a tax receipt.)
  12. Offer to give a friend who’s stressed from childcare or eldercare an afternoon off while you watch their loved one.
  13. Pick up the phone and call someone you’ve lost touch with.

Rather than teaching children to give in to irrational fear and stay away from public events because of a one in a million chance that something might happen, show them how kindness neutralizes fear. You’re teaching them empowerment and helping to change the world.

However you decide to celebrate, World  Day doesn’t have to cost a thing and it pays off in spades.

What acts of kindness can you add to this list?  Enter them in the comments.

 

Other Resources: The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

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Posted in Leadership, Personal Growth

Remembrance Day

by Liz Jansen

Today on Remembrance Day 2014, we pay special tribute to all those who have served our countries in the military. Their sacrifices, courage and patriotism have given us the way of life we enjoy today.

We will never know the horrors of war and peacekeeping they have endured or what they’ve had to do in the name of service. Ironically, being removed from conflict while enjoying our liberties makes it easy to become complacent and forget the price of freedom. Those who have actively fought for them will never forget.

Remembrance Day

There are many military motorcycle units who are actively reaching out to their comrades, especially those suffering from PSTD. Motorcycles – and the heroes who ride them – are therapy.  Watch the touching videos on the CAV’s (Canadian Army Veterans) home page. The CAV Motorcycle Unit. (You may need to switch browsers to view the full screen.)

We also recognize soldiers who have served, but died when they’ve chosen to take their own life. These are fallen soldiers just as are those who die during battle. Check out this website Soldiers of Suicide. Hold these soldiers in gratitude for their service and offer sympathy and support to their families. A huge word of appreciation goes to Lise Charron for birthing this project.

When you see active or retired military men and women, take a moment to say “Thank you.” They need to hear it and we need to remember.

 

Related articles:

Reprinted from November 11, 2013. 

photo credit: fatboyke (Luc) via photopin cc

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Posted in Leadership

Change Messes With Your Head

messes with your headby Liz Jansen

I have but one closet in my new apartment. It’s long and narrow so storage has to be strategically organized, with the things I use most easily accessible. Since it also houses Measha’s lavatory, the door has to stay open, which means I’m looking at the closet’s contents often. While I may not have a lot of stuff, what I have is diverse.

Invariably what catches my eye is the riding gear and everything that was to be my home away from home for the next year—tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. It’s hung up high, because that’s the stuff I won’t be using for a while. I can’t help but notice it, but oddly enough, I become aware of a sense of disconnection. Like those things belong to someone other than me.

That person on that trip, is not someone I identify with right now. That person was fit, intact, and independent, traveling solo by motorcycle, camping, meeting up with fellow travelers and having a wonderful time. An accident broke my shoulder and totaled my motorcycle.

At that moment, everything changed.

I’ve gratefully accepted support and positive energy from friends and community. I’m relatively self-sufficient now, but I needed a lot of help.

Three months ago I lived and worked in a country cottage where I’d been for seven years, had a car, and a motorcycle. I divested of the first two, along with other possessions in preparation for a year or more on the road. Three weeks down the road, I wasn’t even settled in the role of a nomad when I had an accident in Western Canada, spent six days in hospital and recuperated at the home of new friends. Just over a month ago, I ended up geographically back where I started, moving into town, with no car or motorcycle and few clothes, other than my travel clothes. I walk a lot and I ask for help when I need it. This is who I identify with now. This person cannot ride a motorcycle, camp, or even contemplate travel right now. She’s still resourceful, confident, and spirited.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not feeling sorry for myself for even a second and I know that there are many in far worse circumstances. Loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or a grim diagnosis can feel devastating. All I’m saying is that there have been significant changes in rapid succession and they’ve messed with my head. Which one is Liz?

This week during my meditations and journaling, an “aha” moment brought it all together. I’m not either of those people. Those are merely several of the many roles that I’ve had in my lifetime. Underneath those characters and circumstances, I’m the same person; the same spirit. It’s not news and I’ve even written about this before. It’s just come home in a very tangible and meaningful way.

Whatever roles we have, whether they’re defined by motorcycle gear, education, title, physical condition, status, or whatever external garb you choose, do not define who we are. What they do however, is teach us lessons that we only learn by accepting and living those roles. For that reason, it’s important not to get caught up in them because without question, they’ll change many times during our lifetime, some lasting longer than others. If you are wrapped up in a role, who are you when it changes?

Besides our spirit, the other thing that remains consistent across roles are our behavior patterns. I habitually overcommit my time so I spend too much time working and not enough on body and spirit. It’s something I work on and have made a great deal of progress with. You’d think getting out on the open road would change that pattern but no. I recognized the same pattern after filling up my work schedule during a 2013 road trip. I’d pictured lots of free time to decompress, but left myself little room for that. Perhaps it’s why we need to experience diverse roles—it takes multiple perspectives before we learn the lesson.

Change, particularly when it’s unexpected and dramatic, messes with your head. But it doesn’t have to be in a bad way, no matter how much you want to go back and undo the change. Don’t be too hard on yourself, accept support, and allow time for the change to process. The important thing is how you respond and the lessons you learn.

Even if you take on what appears to be the same role again, you’ll be doing so with a new consciousness, awareness, and appreciation for others. That’s what I’ll be doing when I resume riding.

Posted in Liz's Stories, Personal Growth

Allan Karl | Navigating After Sudden Change

 

navigating changeAllan Karl spent nearly three years riding around the world, alone on a motorcycle. Along the way and high in the Bolivian Andes he crashed and crushed his leg. But this didn’t stop him. While he was devastated by this painful abrupt and potential end to his journey, dozens of strangers kept his spirits alive through their selfless succor to his safety and well-being.

1185927_10151799563935831_233632489_nAfter an agonizing recovery period he returned to Bolivia, fetched his bike, and continued his journey, ultimately logging nearly 62,000 miles while traversing five continents and through 35 countries.

Allan is principal of WorldRider Productions. where he focuses on speaking, publishing, coaching, and creating content that brings to life his stories and experiences around the world—demonstrating again and again how the discoveries he has made and the lessons learned can help all of us lead more rewarding lives.

He’s is an photographer, marketing entrepreneur, professional keynote speaker, committed adventurer—and the author of FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection that chronicles his three-year solo journey around the world alone on a motorcycle.

Listen Now:

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llama-carIn this episode you’ll learn:

  • How sudden and unexpected external events can change our lives
  • How to navigate through change in your own life
  • The value of community in dealing with change
  • Daily practices you can take proactively to minimize the effect of change
  • How to filter out irrelevant opinions of others
  • Why it’s important to periodically assess your actions
  • How to look for opportunities, even in the midst of change when it’s hard
  • How your perspective can influence the outcome of change

Allan had a long-held dream of traveling the world by motorcycle. After a job loss and a divorce, he recognized an opportunity to unleash this dream and follow his passions and left on July 4, 2005.

After his divorce in 2003, he did what most of us do—resorted to what was comfortable for him and started another company. It didn’t take long until he realized he just wasn’t happy doing the same old thing with just a different sign on the door. He recognized this as a time to revive that dream and follow his passion.

thumb.phpHe was in Bolivia, at 14,000’, having ridden through cold, rain, even snow, chasing a goal to camp out on the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Because of the weather he’d been worried about whether or not he’d be able to get there when it was dry. He’d been told the Salar was dry. He wasn’t told about the road to get there which was rutted and muddy and slippery. His rear wheel slid out and his bike landed on top of him, crushing his leg, breaking it in three places. He’d come to the end of the metaphorical road.

It’s easy to get bogged down by self-pity and worry, sometimes placed on you by others, but we need to fail in order to succeed. At that time, there were other forks, other roads to travel down.

Tweetable (Click to Tweet)

“Often it takes a new perspective to see what we think are obstacles are really opportunities.”  Allan Karl

“My journey wasn’t about me. It was about bringing the world back home and sharing it.”  Allan Karl

Resources

Watch Allan’s interview on navigating change here:

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Posted in Personal Growth, Podcasts, Travel

5 Insights on the Road to Here

by Liz Jansen

road to hereThree months down the road on my Wheels to Wisdom quest, it’s time to take stock of the road to here. How could I have known when I set out on August 4th after preparing for months, that I’d only be on the road for just over three weeks, little of it new to me, before hitting a detour around a lengthy stretch of construction?

As multiple land-speed record holder Laura Klock loves to point out, the blessings are in the detours. She knows. Laura’s been down many roads and many detours, some of them VERY quickly.

Two months into my detour, these five insights have taken on extra meaning.

Strength of community. To say that my heart is full of gratitude towards the incredible people that surround me, who have liberally directed positive, healing energy my way is an understatement. That applies to everyone reading these words.

Last week I saw my shoulder surgeon in Toronto, the first visit since I was seen 1½ weeks post-op in Calgary. Since 6-8 weeks is a pivotal marker for bone healing and mine was by all accounts a very complex fracture, I approached this appointment with some trepidation. I’d been told the risks and the probabilities. The surgeon, who’s at the top of his field in shoulder trauma, read the X-ray and confirmed what I intuitively felt—that the healing of my humerus (upper arm bone) was remarkable and it was time to ramp up my physio. I KNOW that your prayers, emails, phone calls, and visits played a huge role in this. Thank you.

Wheels to Wisdom priorities. I love that you know me so well that you ask when not if I’ll resume my journey. The truth is, this detour is part of that same journey, so I’m still on it. As an aside, it’s never occurred to me that I wouldn’t ride again. But then you knew that. Realistically, I still don’t know when I’ll get back on the physical road. There’s still a minimum of 10 months until I reach maximum recovery—whatever that is for me—although I expect to be riding (with Dr.’s blessing and amusement) by spring.

The ultimate goal of the Wheels to Wisdom quest, is to better understand and apply indigenous wisdom, how our cultures have shaped us, and how we restore harmony and balance for ourselves, our communities and our earth. Doing it entirely by motorcycle has always been a secondary priority. There are many variations on how that can be done. As things progress, I’ll know which one is right for me.

Importance of caring for self. I’ve had lots of time to think about the importance of being in optimal physical, emotional, and mental shape so I can be of greatest service. Being sidelined by an unexpected injury dramatically illustrates this, but the reality is, taking care of our bodies, no matter what shape they’re in, must be part of our daily practice for us to be of most value to ourselves and others. That includes a healthy diet, adequate rest, physical activity, social interaction, and daily time to connect with Spirit.

Old habits die hard. Even before my accident, after only three weeks on the road, I knew I’d have to adjust my schedule if I was going to accomplish what I’d set out to do. I’d divested a lot, but I was still carrying too much, and I’m not talking about the load on my bike. Intentionally cutting back on work responsibilities and a detailed travel plan so I could be open to what the Road delivered, I’d only fooled myself. I hadn’t appreciated how much time the object of my quest would take. To be fair, I hadn’t even settled into the rhythm of the road, so it’s likely I would have adjusted my “load” in any event. But there’s nothing like enforced downtime to challenge one’s thinking and perspectives.

Injuries are painful. They hurt physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Healing the body takes longer at 60 than it does at 50, or 40. As much as I intend to get full function back, looking at the world through the eyes of pain distorts one’s outlook and invites all sorts of unhealthy mental chatter. Fortunately, I go back to #1 above —the strength of community—and the tremendous role models who have recovered from far greater trauma than what I’m experiencing. My little bump on the road doesn’t even get on the scale. That realigns things!

And although I don’t recommend it, a second shoulder fracture is easier to bear because you’ve got something to calibrate against. My recovery from breaking the other shoulder during an off-road training course six years ago was very different. That was a dark time because I couldn’t accept that it had happened to me, the degree of my limitations, or what seemed like a snail’s paced recovery. Now I know these things don’t resolve overnight, but they will get better. I’ve noted progress right from the start and have avoided the denial and frustration that haunted me the first time. At least most of it.

Any life carries risks and unexpected detours on the road to here, wherever you are. One’s lifestyle determines the nature of those risks and potential outcomes when the unexpected happens. The most important lesson for anyone is to not succumb to defeat when life throws us a curve. It gets dark for a while, but the sun always rises at dawn.

 

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

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Posted in Adventure

Embracing the Adventuress Lifestyle

by Liz Jansen

AdventuressIt was my honor to be interviewed recently by Carolyn Hamilton, Editor & Chief Adventuress for Adventuress Travel Magazine, an e-zine for active women over 50 doing all sorts of fun things. The site’s a dynamic travel source, offering true experiences, sound travel tips, and stories of adventuresses in history, books and film.

Carolyn asked me about my riding experience, why I recommend motorcycling for women (I don’t), and how women can find a supportive motorcycle community. You may be surprised at some of my answers. In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Read the article here.

There’s a ton of engaging and inspiring material on this site. Two of my favorite pages were Adventuress Travel Tales and Profiles—stories of women living meaningful lives to the fullest.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s there.

There’s also a fabulous opportunity to discover South America while learning how to write and sell articles and photos to travel magazines. Imagine having a pro teach you how to do this and then using your new skills to travel the world.

Set aside time to browse this site. As a fellow adventuress, I trust you’ll find it as engaging as I did. But beware. It may well ignite creative interests that have been in hibernation. There’s no time like the present to wake them up!

 

Photo credit: Rodney Barnes

Posted in Adventure
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